A roundup of all the books I’ve read this year πŸ˜±

In which I write mini-reviews.

You know how, despite loving books and writing a lot, I don’t tend to actually…read a lot? I can’t remember the last time I read more than twelve books in a year. Well, y’all. This year I read THIRTY-SEVEN BOOKS, according to Goodreads. I know that’s not a lot compared to some of you freaks superheroes who are out here reading 200 books a year, but it’s still way more than I usually read and I’m really happy about that! Getting an overdrive account allowed me to read SO many more books than I usually do. I have a feeling I’m not going to be able to keep it up next year, what with college and all, so…RIP my reading streak lmao. (Also I don’t think people who read 200 books a year are freaks, I’m just simultaneously impressed and jealous XD)

We Hunt the Flame, by Hafsah Faizal–Hafsah Faizal really said ‘f*ck it’ and wrote a self-indulgent hurt-comfort Assassin’s Creed fic that was the best thing I’ve ever read. She’s a wizard. Also STOP HURTING NASIR YOU’RE SO MEAN AHHH. This is the kind of book I wish I could write. I love fictional men in pain.

Muse of Nightmares, by Laini Taylor–*long, long sigh* Full review here.

The Guinevere Deception, by Kiersten White–Mordred deserved better. And Guinevere, light of my life, my queen, deserved a personality. Also Arthur sucked. The book kind of felt like it was jumping from plot point to plot point without bothering to connect them? Lancelot and Brangien were super cool, though! Full review here. I had fun reading it, but I probably wouldn’t read it again unless I was bored.

House of Salt and Sorrows, by Erin A. Craig–The character development wasn’t too great, and it wasn’t that memorable–also, a dead sister should have WAY more effect on the characters, please don’t use dead women as plot devices–but the setting and monsters were uber cool, so we’re still good.

Song of the Crimson Flower, by Julie C. Dao–πŸ₯Ί So cute…So soft…The setting is amazing and the descriptions are so vivid!10/10 would live in this world. The characters are adorable. Anyway, y’all should all go read this. It’s set in the same world as some of the author’s other books, but it’s a standalone.

The Story of Hong Gil-Dong–Y’all are sleeping on this Korean classic. It’s kind of like Robin Hood? It’s VERY fun. And also pretty short.

Sorcery of Thorns, by Margaret Rogerson–A reread! I love this book so much. It has the same tone and feel to it that a lot of the books I grew up with had, so this fills me with nostalgia even though I only read it last year.

Tian Guan Ci Fu, by Mo Xiang Tongxiu–MY FAVORITE BOOK EVER. I READ IT IN A WEEK EVEN THOUGH IT’S LONGER THAN THE BIBLE APPARENTLY. NO I HAVE NOT READ THE BIBLE COVER TO COVER YET. (I am a bad Christian.)

This book is everything. It has a demon king who would burn the world for his loved ones but will content himself with fixing his loved one’s house and complimenting his bad cooking because he knows his loved one doesn’t want to burn down the world. It has a god who has seen the worst of humanity and been through the lowest misfortune and still chooses to do the right thing anyway. The world-building is so creative. The side characters are amazing. IT’S SO GOOD YOU HAVE TO READ IT. GO DO IT NOW, YOU CAN FIND FAN-TRANSLATIONS ONLINE. IN FACT LET ME LINK YOU THE ONES I READ. The translation I read was split into two parts.

The Poet X, by Elizabeth Acevedo–I found this kind of forgettable, but it’s true that contemporary is not my genre, so take my opinions with a grain of salt. The abusive mom was forgiven way too easily, though. While I admire the effort it must have taken to write the story in verse, I think it would have worked way better in prose. The poetry created too much of a distance from the reader. Full review here.

Thorn, by Intisar Khanani–Not the best book I ever read, but pretty fun! I haven’t read a lot of Goose Girl retellings, and I liked what this did with the story. Full review here.

Ash, by Malinda Lo–This was disappointment in a book. Needed more lesbian fairies. 0/10. Full review here.

Avalon High, by Meg Cabot–This book enraged me. Yes I’m aware I hateread it and thus brought it on myself but it was so worse than I expected. I can’t encompass the breadth of my rage in a brief paragraph, so please see my review for my thoughts.

Into the Grey, by Margaret Killjoy–yeah this is a short story, but I’m including this here because I can! It was great. Carnivorous mermaid girlfriends are the best girlfriends. Also probably the first honest-to-God trans rep I’ve come across? (Don’t quote me on that.)

Lullaby for a Lost World, by Aliette de Bodard–another short story. This one was wild! Pretty fun though.

The Kingdom of Back, by Marie Lu–This one disappointed me so much. Nannerl kept making stupid decisions, the pacing SUCKED, and did I mention that Nannerl kept making stupid decisions? Did someone take her brain and replace it with a brick? Also, I’m not docking any points for this and I didn’t mention it in my review, but there’s a lot of speculation on whether or not Wolfgang was autistic and it wouldn’t kill you to write him as autistic. You know what I’m saying? Full review here.

Lady Windermere’s Fan, by Oscar WildeWilde did it again, folks! I didn’t expect to like this as much as I did, but I was almost in tears by the end. So good. Also I went to AO3 to see if there were any OT3 fics about Lord Windermere, Lady Windermere, and Darlington and there WEREN’T. Internet I have never been so disappointed in thee.

Tales of India–a book of fairy tales. The illustrations were great and I loved the stories! 10/10.

We Should All be Feminists, by Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie–So I will preface this by saying that I think the author might be a TERF? People were saying she was, at least, and I couldn’t really get to the bottom of it? But this book was still pretty good and I think you should read it. It’s short, to the point, and reasonable. The writing is really good. [Edit: Adichie said JK Rowling’s essay was reasonable, apparently? Which, I don’t know if we read the same essay, because bitch, where? Ma’am, I’m not a lesbian in denial desperately looking for straight acceptance, I’m a whole bi-ace enby. Leave me alone.]

The Lightest, Heaviest Things, by Weez Phillips–A sweet middle-grade about a young mentally-ill girl saving the giants in her hometown! It was really whimsical and charming. Full review here.

Cruel Beauty, by Rosamund Hodge–A reread! This book is legit hilarious. The relationships are all toxic, but it kind of seems more self-aware than a lot of YA, so I forgive it. I like toxic relationships as long as I don’t get the impression that the author thinks everything’s adorable and fluffy, you know? (To an extent, at least. It can be kind of hard to handle.) And I really like heroines who make hard decisions and aren’t always the most sympathetic. This is probably my favorite Beauty and the Beast retelling, to be honest, although Beauty by Robin Mckinley is a close runner-up of course

The Art of Feeling, by Laura Tims— …

…One of my favorite reads this year was a contemporary????

No, seriously. This might be my favorite book ever. I think it’s because stuff actually happens. Like the main characters have to deal with bullies and the heroine’s drug dealer high school ex-friend is out to get them both. This book is HILARIOUS too, which helps. The characters are so good 😳 It also has great mental illness rep and both main characters are disabled, and–drum roll, please–ace representation that is actually really good! (fucking FINALLY.) Sam, the heroine, has a bad leg after a car accident and needs crutches, and Eliot, the hero, has a rare condition where he can’t feel pain, which sounds really great until you think about it and realize exactly what that would mean. (as in, he literally can’t tell when he’s injured himself and needs medical attention.) This book was so good. I swear I could read it over and over. Anyway, my full review

The Boy Who Steals Houses, by C.G. Drews–I loved the writing style! Really poetic and descriptive. I could have used a better ending and more of the hero’s brother, though. Also the heroine just felt…weirdly not 3d. And for the last time, I have no idea why I’m supposed to think Sam is so in the wrong for beating up the guys who harassed his autistic brother. We might not be able to go after the people who are mean to our siblings, but anyone would want to, and isn’t the joy of characters that they can do the things we want to do with little to no consequences? Full review here.

A Match Made in Mehendi, by Nandini Bajpai–This was dumb but so CUTE. I’m not linking my review because I wrote it right after class (which was a mistake) and I’m mildly ashamed of it.

A Good Man is Hard to Find, by Flannery O’Connor–This was wild. Wow.

An Enchantment of Ravens, by Margaret Rogerson–Another reread! This is such a comfort book for me 😭 I love it so much. One of the rare fairy YA books that really does it for me. Full review here.

With the Fire on High, by Elizabeth Acevedo–I KNEW I would like Acevedo’s non-poetry stuff better. This was so good. Slight magical realism vibes? Just slightly? It’s about a girl who wants to become a chef and is raising her little daughter. I didn’t want to read it at first because I thought it was going to be a depressing book about the Hard Life of Teen Moms Living in Poverty (which is a valid book to write, but it’s 2020, you know, and I can’t do that right now), but this was actually really uplifting.

A Quiet Kind of Thunder, by Sara Barnard–This was okay! It’s a contemporary romance about a girl with selective mutism and a deaf boy. I missed the fact that it was a romance when I picked up, though, and there is way too much sex and kissing for my comfort. (They. Are. Teens. I am asexual. And also they are teens. There are several reasons I do NOT want to read that.) Full review here.

The Dark Lord Clementine, by Sarah Jean Horowitz–So cute πŸ₯Ί I do wish certain adult characters had been called out more on their actions, but I think they aren’t because it’s from the perspective of a child. As in, you don’t realize how messed up that is until you’re older. The child characters and the sheep are adorable, though, and the magic is really creative! I love stories about characters who are trying to be villains.

The Dragon Pearl, by Yoon Ha Lee–This blew me away. I’ve never read anything like it before. It’s SO good. Full review here.

Gods of Jade and Shadow, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia–Meh. A ton of really good ideas ruined by poor pacing and underdeveloped characters. And WHY were the villain’s motivations hidden for 3/4ths of the novel. That was such a bad choice. If I have to hear how dumb and evil Martin is ONE more time I am going to bash my head into a wall. That being said, I loved the ending and Loray. Loray is my aesthetic encompassed in a character. Full review here.

Mexican Gothic, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia–I loved the ideas of GOJAS, even though it wasn’t perfect, so I thought that, surely, I would love her other books that she might have fleshed out more. And then I got hit in the face with *&#$* mushrooms.

I’m sorry, did I wander into a Star Trek episode? Is this where I ended up? This isn’t as fun as Star Trek, though. I need my Spock. My Uhura. My McCoy. At least the hero and the villains were more fleshed out then in GOJAS. I actually really like Francis, the hero. I just wish this hadn’t tried to take such a ridiculous plot so very seriously. If you’re going to go camp, then go camp. Don’t try to be artistic about it.

A Modest Proposal, by Jonathon Swift–I read this for school when I was exhausted, so I feel it isn’t fair of me to speak ill of it. I’m pretty sure I got a good grade on the paper, though! yaaay

Maimonides, by Ilil Arbel–a biography of Maimonides, a medieval Jewish scholar. This was really fun to read! I felt like I learned a lot.

Akata Witch, by Nnedi Okorafor–I wasn’t thrilled with this, but it was okay. Full review here.

I’m not going to get into my life because ahahaha. But at least my reading year was pretty fun! I hope I keep it up.

22 thoughts on “A roundup of all the books I’ve read this year πŸ˜±

  1. 37 books? That’s a good number. Very impressive. Ooh, I love The Boy Who Steals Houses! Such a great book. And, ugh, yes, Avalon High is HORRIBLE, and just blech. I haven’t read any of the other ones. I’ll have to check them out. I’m glad your reading year went well.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Looks like a collection of (mostly) great books here! I read your review on Avalon High and found it hilarious. I haven’t read that book in particular, but I know the ilk it comes from and its so frustrating. They make me rage.
    With the Fire On High was so good! It was one of my favourite this year, despite me really hating YA contemporary. I think it was the food that did it for me.
    And I agree on the Boy Who Steals Houses. I liked Avery more than Sam and I wished there’d been more of a focus on Avery, or at least that he’d been in it more. He was such a good character and while I liked Sam, he was a little more “regular YA” character.
    And I didn’t know you were asexual! *Ace solidarity* I read Loveless by Alice Oseman this year and though the story wasn’t really my thing, the ace rep was very good so you might try that one πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was pleasantly surprised to find so many good books this year! Blatant, unremitting sexism put into books for kids makes me rage, not that it would have been a good book regardless. Everything about it was SO bad. I’m not sure if the author researched Arthuriana or the medieval era at all.

      Same on hating YA contemporary but loving WtFOH! It was such a sweet book.

      Exactly! I liked Sam, but Avery was a more interesting character, and Moxie didn’t really do it for me. I wish it had focused more on the two brothers.

      *fistbump of ace solidarity* I’ll check the book out! Thanks for the rec!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved The Poet X but I do tend to love books written in verse. Not sure why. I’m looking forward to picking up With The Fire On High but I’m worried I won’t like it as much because of the fact that it’s written in prose.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: 2020’s Best Reads (Books That Made 2020 a Better Experience) – an ordinary pen

  5. Yesss we hunt the flame was so good. I really enjoyed it and yes fictional men in pain is great to read about I agree!! 🀣
    Yep you have definitely convinced me I need to read Song of the Crimson Flower ASAP!!
    Tian Guan Ci Fu sounds really interesting, thank you for the link!!
    I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy Kingdom of the Back, my library just got it and I was kind of curious about it but sounds like it had a few issues!!

    I really liked reading all your mini reviews and seeing what you read this year!! πŸ₯°

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nasir was AMAZING and I simultaneously want to rescue him from this author bent on torturing him and watch him be tortured more XD
      Song of the Crimson Flower was so great! It’s what I would call quiet fantasy and I know that’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it was right up my alley. It reminded me of the best of middle grade, which is nothing but a compliment in my book.
      Yeah, it was a shame, because Kingdom of Back had a great premise, but it just didn’t really do it for me!

      Thanks so much!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. “I love fictional men in pain.” Haha, yeah…me too.
    I really enjoyed The Boy Who Steals Houses! It was so sweet, and I really like C.G. Drews’ writing style for that type of book.
    I’m glad you discovered some new favorites this year. That’s always a nice thing.
    (And HOW do people read 200 books a year? Are they actually human? I don’t think I’ve ever even gotten near a hundred in a year. But we need book turtles as well as book hares I guess, right?)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve watched so many dramas this year involving men in beautiful historical clothes bleeding all over the floor, it’s been amazing. XD
      I know, I loved the writing style too! Kind of rare for contemporary, I find. (A lot of the ones I’ve read have cute characters and good plots but they really skimp on the writing style, I’m not sure why. Of course, I like more purple stuff, though.)
      I DON’T KNOW HOW PEOPLE READ THAT MUCH BUT I WISH I WERE THEM. On the other hand, though, I need my time.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I loved reading all these mini-reviews πŸ™‚
    I read House of Salt and Sorrows this summer, and “also, a dead sister should have WAY more effect on the characters, please don’t use dead women as plot devices” sounds pretty accurate XD
    I read A Good Man is Hard to Find a few years ago for a class. I remember sitting there after I finished it like “…What. What. What.”

    Liked by 1 person

  8. “I love fictional men in pain.” Well, I feel bad about myself now, because same. And I’m looking forward to reading We Hunt the Flame! I’m not sure why I haven’t yet. I guess I’m just a huge mood reader. Also people keep lending me books, which I feel the need to finish and return before I read something of my OWN/from the library.

    Tian Guan Ci Fu. It just sounds…fabulous.

    Ugh, making light of abuse (ESPECIALLY child abuse) in books drives me crazy. I get that forgiveness is a good thing, and people CAN change, but you can’t just act like it’s not a big thing! It’s a really big thing! With really big consequences! That need to be addressed!

    I haven’t read The Boy Who Steals Houses, but I FULLY support Sam defending his brother. I fully support Sam in general. He sounds great.

    “If you’re going to go camp, then go camp.” <<This. (also, STAR TREK. SPOCK. They are the best. Have you read Illuminae? I felt like that was kind of Star-Trek-ish, and it just had fun with it [but was also super creepy] and yeah. It was good.)

    An Enchantment of Ravens was lovely. I would like to read Sorcery of Thorns sometime! I'd like to read a fair number of these, actually. I'm glad you had such a good reading year, and I hope it continues. (Also mini book reviews are the best so I love this post.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hope you enjoy We Hunt the Flame! I really liked it. I feel you on being a mood reader, though. I have a ton of books I need to read that sound really good, but I WILL read some absolutely terrible library book at two in the morning.

      I know, doesn’t it?!

      I really didn’t like that at all. :\ It wasn’t TRYING to make light of the abuse, but I did think the ending was way too pat. The character change was not convincing, especially for such a serious thing the mother did.

      Sam and Avery deserve all the support!

      I’ll check out Illuminae! It looks like my library has it.

      I LOVED Enchantment of Ravens (so many people don’t bother to give their fey characters a sense of humor or…any interesting personality traits, actually, it’s tragic). I hope you get the chance to read some of them! Thanks a lot!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. So many good reads here I don’t even know where to start!
    I’m glad you gave with the fire on high a try – it’s definitely such an uplifting & gorgeous book! Also I LOVE the short chapters – why aren’t they more of a thing??
    I’m sad about mexican gothic though – I was quite excited about that 😦 Is it scary at all? Or just a bit lame?
    If you want to read some feminist literature then I’d suggest women don’t owe you pretty for a more millennial take or if you want a more mature & insightful essay then Woolf’s a room of one’s own is fantastic (but will make your brain ache)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I loved With the Fire On High! It was such a beautifully written book.
      I think it depends–I didn’t personally find Mexican Gothic THAT scary, but it is pretty creepy. I just thought some of the reveals were super hokey and lame, but other people have really liked the book! So you might like it.
      I really need to read Woolf! Thanks for the rec!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. omg i did a round up of all the books i read in 2020 too and it was so hard, you did such a good job!! lol i hated we hunt the flame, but i’m so happy you enjoyed it more than i did i see the appeal of angsty characters, i just didn’t get the romance at all HAHA. i’ve heard all about tian guan ci fu, and it seems like i’d be a sucker for the romance, though i was disappointed by mo dao zu shi by the same author & it’s so long rip my attention span :(( i’m soo disappointed that chimamanda ngozi adichie turned out to be terf. (if you’re still wondering she said that jk rowling’s anti-trans article was a perfectly reasonable piece..)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, it was pretty hard, but luckily I enjoy mini-reviews! I remember seeing your post! I can’t remember if I commented on it or not because college was hectic, but just in case I didn’t I really enjoyed it.
      I feel like We Hunt the Flame is one of those books where you either love it or think it’s the most cliche thing ever, lol.
      Hmm I do feel like Tian Guan Ci Fu holds together better than Mo Dao Zu Shi so there’s a possibility you might like it more? (I love Mo Dao Zu Shi to death but I DID have a few problems with it.) On the other hand Tian Guan Ci Fu is indeed very very long lmao, so I don’t blame you for not wanting to start it if you aren’t sure you’ll like it.
      Oh. Ow. Did we read the same essay, Adichie. Well, I’m disappointed but not surprised!

      Like

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