• Kathryn Ford

Top 10 Books of 2020

Hi Everyone

I hope you are all doing well, and that you had a very Merry Christmas and will have a happy new year. Surely 2021 has to be better than this year.

This year I’ve read over 70 books and I thought that I’d like to share my top ten books, or sometimes, series with you. They are in no particular order. So let’s start.

House of Salt and sorrows by Erin A. Craig.

This is a retelling of the fairytale about the 12 dancing princesses. We follow Annaleigh, the now second oldest of the daughters of the Duke of Falmor. At the beginning of the book 4 sisters have already died due to horrible accidents. Annaleigh begins to think that her sisters’ deaths weren’t pure accident but that someone had murdered them. The sisters find a portal that takes them anywhere in the Kingdom where there is a ball and they dance the night away. Slowly Annaleigh is going crazy she’s sees and hears things that others can’t. This book is full of dark Gods and trixters, it is all quite disturbing, but a really good book. And the love interest, Cassian, isn’t all that bad either.

Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson.

This is the fourth instalment in the Stormlight Archives series… over 1200 pages, or 58 hours of audio…it was a mammoth book, but so so good. The book deals with very dark themes of mental health, Kalladin’s battle shock and depression and Shallon’s multiple personality disorder. For me, it wasn’t easy to read. Some new great characters were introduced such as Leshwe and Rebonial, both fused, but not insane like so many of the others. Rebonial hatches a plan to take Yiruthuru, once Dallinar goes to war. Nevani is encouraged to continue with her experiments by Rebonial. The fused even helps and together they discover the opposite of void light, which has a whole bunch of implications. Meanwhile, Shallon and Adelon go into Shadesmar to visit the Honour spren in Lasting Integrity to see if they would bond more humans to make more raidiants. So far I think this is the best book in the series and I can’t wait for the last book. The flashbacks in this book were Venley’s, which were quite interesting.

The Bear and The Nightingale, Winternight trilogy by Katherine Arden.

These books are Russian folklore mixed in with 14 century Russian history. They were really good. We follow Vasia as she grows up in the north of Russia. She has witch blood in her veins, passed down from her Mother who sadly died in childbirth. A new priest gets sent to the area, then things begin to go wrong. The bear is waking and getting stronger and his brother, Morozko, the winter king has chosen Vasia to bind his essence to so that he won’t disappear because of her witch blood. Vasia’s Father finally remarries, but Anna thinks she is seeing demons everywhere and she hates Vasia. She tries to marry her off, but that goes wrong. She tries to send her to a convent but Vasia escapes to the forest in deapist winter. Morozko finds her and nurses her back to health. After a big battle at the end of book 1, Vasia decides not to return home but become a traveler. In the 2nd and 3rd book, she learns more about herself and her powers. She acts as a bridge between the cherchtzi, the folklore creatures, and the new church. I really liked Morozko and how he falls for Vasia. This is a really good trilogy, you really feel like you are there in that period of time.

The Bonewitch by Rin Chupeco.

At first I struggled to make sense of the magic, it wasn’t explained very well in book 1, but after that in the following books, it was quite detailed. This series is told very strangely. Tia, calls a bard to her while she is exiled at the sea of sculls. She tells him her story and how she came to be where she is. So the chapter is divided into two sections, Tia’s past, followed by a a part of the present. Tia’s story starts when she is about 12 and accidentally resurrected her dead brother, Fox. This means she is a bone witch or dark Asha. Makayla, another dark asha finds Tia and takes her to the kingdom of Keon where she learns and trains in her powers. Tia and Makayla are the last of the dark asha, and Makayla is ill and grows weaker every day. Tia and Fox have a really good sibling relationship, it is very touching. Tia looks to find a way to make Fox fully alive again and unattached to her life force. As she drives towards this goal she fights against 3 evil beings known as The Faceless who use dark magic and who have corrupted many things in their wake. Tia is clever and determained. The end was super sad and I sobbed my heart out. This is a great series that just gets better as it goes along.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik.

There is a valley with villages in it. At one side of the valley is a strange forest and on the other side, the white tower of the wizard known as the dragon. Every ten years the dragon chooses a girl to live with him. Kasha was meant to be chosen, she was the best of her age group. But when the Dragon comes to choose, he takes Agnishka, a rather plain girl and given to mishaps. But she has magic and the Dragon feels it is his duty to tutor her. She can’t cook well or clean, or stay put together. So her stay with the Dragon is not pleasant. One day the forest takes Kasha and Agnishka goes into the forest after her. She finds her incased in a heart tree, she persuades the tree to let Kasha go. She has however been corrupted and it takes the Dragon and Agnishka to purify her with a complex spell. Unfortunately the Prince of the realm hears of this and insists that they rescue his mother who was also taken by the forest many years ago. The truth of the forest and its malevelance is slowly shown to Agnishka. It is a really sad story. I love books with creepy forests and this is one of the best I’ve ever read.

Lord of the flies by William Golding.

This classic is well worth the read. A bunch of 12 year old boys find themselves on a deserted island. The book tells of how at first they try set up a social structure with rules like adults would do. But Ralf and Jack come to blows and eventually the boys split into two groups. Jack hunts the pigs on the island and bribes the other boys with fresh meat. But things go horribly wrong as society slowly crumbles and the boys deteriate into a more carnal form of themselves. It is quite horrific what happens. It was a very well executed book.

Ettiquette and Espionage, Finishing school by Gail Carriger.

Sophronia is one huge disappointment to her mother, she is always taking things apart, ripping her dresses and has a terrible curtsey. Finally, at age 14 Sophronia gets accepted at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s academy for young girls of quality. When she arrives at the school, which is an airship that floats over the moors, she realizes it is quite a different kind of finishing school. She is taught not just etiquette but espionage and self defence as well. Sophronia has a nack for disobeying rules. She climbs all over the school at night and finally finds the boiler room where sooties work to keep the school going. She makes a friend Soap. This book takes place in the 1850’s in England. There are werewolves, vampires, the secretive society of the Picklemen and Westminister government all trying to rule and Sophronia finds herself right in the middle of it all. My favourite word I learnt from this series is, discombobulated, it means to be confused, but it sounds so cool.

The Kiss of Deception, Remnant Cronicles by Mary E. Pearson.

Princess Arabella Jezalia is meant to marry the Prince of Delbrik, but she runs away with her maid servant, Pauline on her wedding day. They go to a quaint seaside village and become tavern maids. The Prince of Delbrik and an assassin from Venda are sent to find Lia. You know the two gentlemen are called Rafe and Kaden, but you don’t know who is who because the chapter titles will either give their names or “The Prince” and “The Assassin” so you don’t know who is who. So, it was quite a surprise when I discovered who was who. Lia gets kidnapped and taken to Venda. The Prince follows her. The 2nd book has the best escape plan I’ve ever read. The 3rd book has a lovely big war. I cried at the ending it was so beautiful.

The Black Witch by Laurie Forest

Elloren Gardner has been sheltered all her life by living in a small village with her Uncle and 2 brothers, Wraith and Tristen. It is believed she has no magic. She is the grand daughter of Carnissa Gardner who was The Black Witch who helped her country grow and prosper. Ren’s aunt Vivien comes to take her away from her Uncle when she is 17. All she wants is for Ren to wandfast [marry] Lucas Grey. Ren is enchanted with her Aunt’s house and wealth and the capital, Valguard, of the country. Ren however refuses to wandfast until her education is finished. She goes to Verpatia to the University there to become an apophagry. Ren mixes with many different races and starts finding out truths about her grand mother’s rule and what really happened to the conquered teratories and people. Meanwhile, Marcus Vogal plans to take over the Mage Council, and there is something very wrong with him. The series isn’t finished yet, only 3 books have been released, but they are all brilliant and the character development is seriously good. I’m most definitely in love with Lucas Grey. I can’t wait for the 4th book to be released next year.

Dreamer's Pool, Blackthorn and Grim, by Juliet Marillier.

Blackthorn and Grim are both prisoners in Mothowyn of Leash’s prison. Blackthorn is to have her trial after a year of imprisonment where she plans to speak up about how Mothowyn abuses women. But, she is informed by the guard that she is to be executed at dawn on the day of the trial. A fae Conmail, comes to offer her a deal. He will help her escape if she goes to Delriarda and serves the villages there, she is only to use her powers for good, to help anyone who asks for it and not seek revenge on Mothowyn for 7 years. She reluctantly agrees. Conmail destroys the prison and Blackthorn and Grim escape. Grim has always looked after Blackthorn in prison trying to make things better for her. Now they trek across the land until they come to Delriarda, and more specific Winterhold where there is a a dilapidated cottage on the edge of Dreamer’s Wood. They fix up the cottage. Blackthorn is a wisewoman and offers medical treatment to the villagers. While Grim who is a hulk of a man does odd jobs around the village. They solve a mystery together of a missing girl. So Prince Orin who is to marry Lady Fliddis comes to them with a problem. The Lady Fliddis in the letters they had exchanged and the Lady Fliddis Prince Orin finally meets don’t seem to be the same person. He asks Blackthorn and Grim to solve the mystery. It is all very interesting. We get Blackthorn’s terrible back story which is extremely sad. In book 2 we get Grim’s back story which is equally sad. And the third book, they show how both of them have developed over the series, by their actions and deeds. It is a very well written series and I think I’ll try some other series’ from the same author.

Well, that’s it. I hope you enjoyed my list and that it inspires you to at least try some of the books I have suggested.

Thank you for reading.

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