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My Year in Reading, Part 2: Series

In 2020, I read more fantasy novels than any other genre. Most bestselling fantasy titles are part of a series, from Dune to Lord of the Rings to A Song of Ice and Fire. Young adult fantasy follows this pattern. In fact, some of the books on the standalone list are probably starters for series yet unwritten.

I only finished a few series on this list. Most held my attention for a book or two before I moved on. However, I read at least one book in every series listed below. If I didn’t even finish the first book, I don’t include it on this list. Why write about a book I couldn’t even finish? 2020 was the year I stopped giving books much of a chance; if I wasn’t feeling a book by the 25% mark, I just returned it to the library.

Since so many series are titled after the first book, I’ve bolded series names instead of italicizing them. For example: A Court of Thorns and Roses refers to the entire series, while A Court of Thorns and Roses is about the first book in the series. I think italicizing both would be really confusing in this post.

Most of the links below are affiliate links. If you click on an affiliate link and then buy something from Amazon, I may get a commission from that sale. It won’t cost you anything, and I always appreciate support. It’s up to you. And now you know.

I should also say that the list below contains spoilers for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Yes, that’s right, I’m about to spoil a book that’s old enough to drink in its home country. If you’ve somehow avoided both the movie and the book, fair warning.

 

A blonde girl about eight swims with a pelican, a raven, a mouse, a weasel, and a crab.
“The Pool of Tears,” one of Arthur Rackham’s illustrations of Alice in Wonderland.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll – I played the White Rabbit in a school play, but I’d never read either of these stories from beginning to end. It was interesting to see how much imagery, in both books, came from playing cards and chess.

All Souls Trilogy* by Deborah Harkness – What happens when a witch and a vampire get together? How will they navigate the complexities of their situation with families, friends, and the wider witch and vampire communities? These questions are answered in A Discovery of Witches, the first book in the All Souls trilogy.

This isn’t a young adult fantasy, but it has many themes familiar to YA fantasy readers, including worries about identity and belonging, love against tradition, and exploring one’s own powers. The series also includes daemons, highly creative beings who are liable to go off the rails–think David Bowie or Vincent Van Gogh with a supernatural side. I’d read a book just about them, to be honest; they’re very interesting and a bit underutilized, especially in the first book.

This series didn’t really grab me the way some of the series on this list did. It wasn’t bad, but once I finished the first book, I had no desire to read the next book. I know that the second book deals with time travel to the past.

The cover of American Royals by Katharine McGee, showing a young woman in sunglasses and a blue lace top with red and white striped/starred nail polish.American Royals* by Katherine McGee – What would happen if George Washington accepted the crown and became America’s first king? The American Royals series explores this question by examining the intersecting lives of four young women: Princess Beatrice, the heir to the throne; Princess Samantha, Beatrice’s younger sister and the twin of Prince Jefferson; Nina, Samantha’s best friend; and Daphne, Jefferson’s ex-girlfriend and social climber extraordinaire.

Princess Beatrice has a growing flirtation with one of her body guards, a relationship she cannot pursue. Princess Samantha is tired of growing up in her sister’s shadow, and feels her relationship with her best friend, Nina, slipping off the rails. Nina starts to get involved with Prince Jefferson, though she has no idea how to tell her best friend. And Daphne will take her place in the royal family, no matter the cost.

The first book has a really interesting ending: just when you think everything is going to work out for at least three of the characters, the plot pulls the rug out from under them and traps them, denying them a happily-ever-after. I have Majesty, the sequel, on my Audible account, but I haven’t read it yet; I’ve been too busy reading library books to read the books I actually own.

Angelology by Danielle Trussoni – Angelology introduces the reader to an interesting world of caged angels, elite nephilim (humans with angel blood), a secretive school of angelologists, a hidden war between angels and mortals, and a mysterious convent. The first book, Angelology, is heavy on exposition, and the language can be a little dense at times. There’s a middle section that flashes back into the past, in another city, with different characters. That said, the story is very interesting, and the mythology and angel lore is very absorbing and interesting throughout. The sequel, Angelopolis, is shorter and has better pacing. I’m looking forward to the third installment.

Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian – The Kalovaxians have conquered the Astraeans and taken over their mines, which are full of magical gems that imbue people with powers over the elements. Princess Theodosia lives as a prisoner in the Kalovaxian court; at the start of the first book, she’s compelled to kill her own father in front of a crowd. In the next three books, Princess Theodosia must navigate fragile alliances, secret passages, and a love triangle between the Kalovaxian heir and an Astrean man with powerful magic.

The plot of Ash Princess, the first book in this series, has eerie parallels to Red Queen, the first novel in Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen series. Their covers even look similar. This happens sometimes in art; something in the collective unconscious influences multiple people who may not know each other. The marketing departments may have responded to similar themes in both books. And the worlds of Ash Princess and Red Queen are very different. But it was strange to read one right after the other. It made me wonder how we could study the collective unconscious, or if we could only observe it in action.

A side-by-side comparison of the covers of Red Queen and Ash Princess. Red Queen shows an upside-down crown dripping with blood on a white-blue background. Ash Princess shows a crown made of ashes and embers on a dark black background.

The Beautiful* by Renee Ahdieh – Magic, espionage, and romance in 19th Century New Orleans. The first book follows Celine Rousseau, who fled Paris for a New Orleans convent. We learn why she fled, and what she’s fleeing from, at the same time that Celine discovers the magical underworld of the city, a magical secret society, and a mysterious count. The Beautiful, which I haven’t yet read, continues Celine’s story after a devastating loss. I’m interested to see how Ahdieh will continue the story.

Camelot Rising* by Kiersten White – What if Guinevere died before she could marry King Arthur, and her replacement had a shadowy backstory that she couldn’t even remember? This is the premise of The Guinevere Deception, and what a premise! I knew very little about Arthurian legend before starting this book, but I still found it easy to follow. There’s a love triangle, several mysteries about magic, a woman disguised as a man, and a vivid portrait of Camelot as a place both real and mythical. I look forward to reading The Camelot Betrayal.

Cassidy Blake by Victoria Schwab – A teenage girl, and her ghost companion, visit European cities and solve supernatural mysteries. In City of Ghosts, Cassidy travels to Edinburgh, Scotland. Her parents are hosting a tv show about the world’s most haunted places, but she’s the one who has the authentic ghostly adventures. Tunnel of Bones is set in Paris, specifically the catacombs. The next book, A Bridge of Souls, is set in New Orleans, and comes out on March 2, 2021.

The audiobook cover of A Court of Thorns and Roses. This square image showing the torso of a white woman with brown hair in a black dress covered in fur and scales. Behind her is a red background with black outlined trees.
Where everything started.

A Court of Thorns and Roses* by Sarah J. Maas – The first chapter of the first book had me absolutely hooked, both on the book and on young adult fantasy. My reading list for 2020 would be very, very different if I hadn’t read this book last May. This series follows Feyre, a young human girl, as she’s taken from her home to a faerie kingdom. The first novel has many parallels to both “Beauty and the Beast” and “Cupid and Psyche.” Later novels continue Feyre’s story as she navigates several different fae courts and complex webs of magical, social, and political intrigue.

These are long books, but 2020 was a long year. I read everything but part of the last book, A Court of Frost and Starlight. I plan to finish it now, since the next volume, A Court of Silver Flames, is coming out this year.

Dragon Heart Legacy (The Awakening) by Nora Roberts – A young woman discovers, in short order, that her long lost father invested millions of dollars on her behalf, her mother’s been hiding the money from her, and she has a strong connection to a fairy kingdom in Ireland, her father’s birthplace. How she deals with this series of fortunate events takes up most of the book, as Breen Kelly explores the fairy kingdom, tries to discover what happened to her father, and forges a new romance.

I’d never read a Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb book before this one, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I really enjoyed it. The story was easy to follow and there were a lot of hints at the developing story. It’s also nice to imagine what you would do if you found out, overnight, that you were a millionaire with a connection to a fairy kingdom.

The sequel, The Becoming, is set to be released on November 21, 2021. The wait for The Awakening was considerable–I think I waited at least six weeks to borrow a copy–so if this series is dear to your heart, I strongly suggest you buy a copy, unless you can wait for weeks or months to find out what happens next.

Fairy Tale Royals* by Emily Deady – A rare no-audio read for me, since there’s no audiobook yet for these books. Thorn of Rose is the second book in this series, a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I enjoyed this book, and the glimpse I had of the greater world of this series. If there were audiobook versions of these books, I would pick them up in a heartbeat. (Pro tip: if you have Kindle Unlimited, you can get the reduced price for an audiobook by borrowing the ebook first.)

Graceling Realm* by Kristin Cashore – Katsa’s Grace, or special talent, is killing. She must always obey the orders of King, and kill at his pleasure. One day, she decides to stop obeying, even if it costs her her life. Katsa, and her friends, then have to live with the consequences.

I only read the first book in this series, Graceling. It was well-written, but at the time I was feeling a little burned out on YA fantasy, and didn’t really enjoy it. I’m still not sure why I finished it, probably because I still wanted to know what happened next. This response is not due to any fault in the storytelling, it’s really the fault of 2020 and all its associated trials. I plan to read it again later this year, or at least give it another chance.

The Greystone Secrets by Margaret Peterson Haddix – A tense, creepy, otherworldly/dystopian series that’s written for kids. The story follows the three Greystone kids, plus and minus various friends and family members, as they try to find their mom after she goes missing out of the blue. They make several shocking discoveries, and have to fight for their lives.

These books were some of the creepiest books I read all year, and there’s nary a ghost nor a vampire in sight. The first book was incredibly eerie and suspenseful; you can just feel something is dreadfully wrong from the jump. The second book is scary in a completely different way; imagine hiding in the house of your worst enemy, and having to find a way back without being discovered or making a sound. Would highly recommend these books to anyone who likes scary stories without jump scares or gore.

An illustration of a yellow nine-tailed fox with green fur at the tips of its tails. Background is black and white outline illustration, showing a rock and some wood.
“Nine-tailed fox” by Beautifulforce, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Gumiho* by Kat Cho – Picture this: you’re a teenage girl in modern-day Seoul. You’re also an incarnation of a nine-tailed fox, who must feed on the souls of evil men to survive. What’s that like? Spoiler alert: it’s complicated. Gu Miyoung lures men with her youthful appearance and apparent vulnerability, then kills them and eats their souls. She also has a difficult relationship with her mother, and an ambivalent relationship with her own cannibalistic nature. A few chance and not-so-chance encounters in the forest, and her own angst about her nature, are about to change Gu Miyoung’s life forever.

The first book, Wicked Fox, is an interesting window into both contemporary Korean culture and ancient Korean mythology. The second book, Vicious Spirits, jettisons most of the supernatural elements in the first third, which is when I stopped reading. It reminded me a little of the second act in some John Hughes movies, where the characters are just talking to each other about their feelings for each other. Sometimes I’m in the mood for that, but this year, I wasn’t. I would like to come back to this series at some point.

A portrait of Hogwarts castle, high on a hill, in green. A green light comes from a high window in the tower.Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling – My second time rereading this series from start to finish. It’s easy to see how it’s become such an iconic series. There’s some x factor in Rowling’s writing that makes you want to keep reading. Other people have pointed out all the fallacies and inconsistencies with the magic systems, but when you’re reading, it doesn’t really matter. That feeling of “what happens next?” kept me engaged throughout the entire series, even when I pretty much knew what happened next.

Rowling is very, very good at naming characters, notwithstanding a few misfires like Cho Chang. Some YA fantasy books are really difficult to read because the characters, and their names, are a bit interchangeable. You put the book down for a day, then come back and are completely at sea. Wait, who is Colton again? Why is he mad at Avery? Is she the one whose dad died in a fire, or the one with an eating disorder? Who is Nina? There’s none of this confusion with Harry Potter, in part because minor and supporting characters are introduced with their first and last names, in part because their names are memorable, in part because the movies make the characters easier to remember.

It also helps that the characters have clearly defined roles, however minor they are. Cho Chang is not just a student at Hogwarts: she’s a Ravenclaw, a Seeker for Ravenclaw’s Quidditch team, and a secondary victim of the tragedy that ends The Goblet of Fire. Filius Flitwick isn’t just a diminutive teacher: he’s the Charms Master and the head of Ravenclaw house. In many young adult novels, the characters don’t have very defined roles beyond “rich girl” or “so-and-so’s friend.” Unless you’re really invested, it’s hard to keep track of that.

A picture of Gary Oldman as Sirius Black, with long unkempt brown hair, a goatee, an olive green jacket with stripes, and a striped purple shirt.
Everything happens to you, doesn’t it?

This time around, I started to dislike the third book in the series, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. For most of the book, all the available data suggests that Sirius Black is a horrible person. Then, in the climactic scene at the Shrieking Shack, we discover that a massive, Rube Goldberg-style conspiracy framed Sirius for a betrayal and murder. Everything broke in just the right way to make him seem guilty and send him to jail. Therefore, Sirius is not only blameless, but a wonderful person who means the best for Harry. This reminds me of all the people I’ve known who invent massive conspiracies to explain how they’re never to blame, no matter how improbable.

It sits badly with me that a popular franchise features a story where someone dangerous turns out to be benign thanks to a massive conspiracy. Frame-ups and misunderstandings do occur, but that’s not the way to bet. If some madman has you cornered in a shack, it’s best not to assume that the rat is responsible. The Sirius Black arc in this book reminds me of all those movies that urge women to “give a guy a chance” even if he’s not attractive or deeply damaged. It’s a bad message with a good intention behind it.

The Hazel Wood* by Melissa Albert – Alice has spent most of her life on the run. She and her mother have bounced from motel room to bedsit to stranger’s house. Strange things often happen to them, and Alice has a lot of memories that don’t make sense. They’re also estranged from Alice’s grandmother, the author of a strange book of fairy tales. When her grandmother dies, and a shadowy figure steals her mother away, Alice has only one lead: a note that says “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Spoiler alert: she doesn’t.

This book blends sinister fairytales with modern American life on the margins. The story moves from prep schools to truckstops to fairy tale forests without missing a beat. It reminds me a bit of The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black, and some videogames like The Wolf Among Us and Life is Strange, where depressing mundane reality has a supernatural edge. I haven’t yet read the sequel, The Night Country, or the Tales from the Hinterlands that just came out.

Hunter* by Mercedes Lackey – Monsters from the Otherworld threaten mankind’s survival. In order to survive, men have built huge fortresses against the monsters, while some others become Hunters, elite warriors who protect humanity, usually in front of an adoring television audience. The book features gruesome fights, magic, and magical animals. It’s very well-paced and full of action. I really enjoyed reading it.

In this book, Joyeaux calls Christians “Christers” and lambasts them for being too exclusionary in their beliefs. However, we never get a good view of what those beliefs are, or what flavor of Christianity (Christerism?) is on offer here. Roman Catholicism? Non-denominational-megachurchianity? Sci-fi Christianity, a la Prometheus? Some branch of the Huguenots? We mainly see the religion through Joyeaux’s relationship with a Christian boy, but the first book lacks any in-depth conversations or bull sessions between the two, so we’re left to wonder.

Vague criticism of religion is a common theme in a lot of YA fantasy novels, even when the religion only exists in the books. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always offer a compelling alternative. I can think of at least five books that espouse “moralistic therapeutic deism,” even ones set in the middle ages. Or even worse, a few books just offer bromides like “Don’t be a dick” (thanks, that’s a big help). I would love to see the kind of frank confrontation  you see in a few other narratives, like 1973’s The Wicker Man. It would work really, really well in this genre.

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes – The daughter of a poor single mom discovers that she’s inherited a random billionaire’s entire fortune. There’s one catch–she has to live in the billionaire’s house for a year. Also living in the house: his extended family, including his very hot, very available grandsons. Our protagonist needs to figure out why she was named as heir, while dealing with assassination attempts, passive and active aggression from the billionaire’s family, and all the grifters that come out of the woodwork.

The Magisterium* by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare – Another middle-grade magical academy series, this one with horror and dark fantasy themes. Cal, the main character, is accepted to a magical academy based in an underground cave network, though his father really, really does not want him to go. Cal discovers he’s harboring a deadly secret, one that may or may not determine the course of his life, whether or not he wants it to.

Each book in this series is named after an increasingly fine metal. So far, I’ve read The Iron TrialThe Copper Gauntlet, and The Bronze Key. They’re all fairly compelling so far, although some of the horror elements make me wonder if this series is really appropriate for kids. It feels more like a tween book, i.e. for kids 12-14, than for 9 and 10 year-olds.

Legacy of Orïsha (Children of Blood and Bone)* by Tomi Adeyemi – Magic has disappeared from Orisha. Maji are persecuted; anyone who wields magic takes his or her life in their hands. After her powers awaken, Zélie Adebola has to make some tough choices about who she trusts, especially when she’s taken on a quest to return magic to the world.

These books are told in multiple perspectives, so you get a greater sense of the world of Orisha. It can be hard to keep everyone straight in your head, or figure out where everyone is relative to one another at various points in the plot. I think this is a book worth borrowing from the library or buying a physical book, where it’s much easier to go back a few pages and check, or refer back to the map at the front of the book. The action was compelling enough to keep me interested for the first book, but I tapped out about halfway through the second book, Children of Virtue and Vengeance.

Magpie Murders* by Anthony Horowitz – I read the second book in this series, The Moonflower Murders, which features two mystery novels in one: the main narrative, set in contemporary Britain, and an Agatha-Christie-like novel-within-a-novel that supposedly solves the mystery of the main book. I can never figure out whodunit in advance, and I definitely couldn’t this time, but I really enjoyed the novel-within-a-novel device and how it was employed in this book.

Matched* by Ally Condie – A somewhat implausible dystopia where people are matched by computer, almost all literature is banned, and an incredibly powerful Society with a capital S controls everything. There’s a love triangle as well, involving the main character’s “double match” with two other boys. The highlight of the first book is the samizdat Dylan Thomas poem that’s referenced throughout the book.

I personally would not recommend this series. The dystopia and the love triangle felt a little half-baked to me. I don’t see myself revisiting these books, but I’m glad they reintroduced me to Dylan Thomas.

Merlin* by T.A. Barron – Middle-grade Arthurian legend, this series follows the early years of Merlin’s life in both the mundane and supernatural worlds. In the first book, Merlin and his mother wash ashore on a beach. Merlin has no idea who he is or where he came from, and his mother’s not saying. After a vengeful act goes wrong, Merlin loses his eyesight, and must develop his second sight, as well as his magic powers.

Merlin journeys to Fincayra, a land between heaven and earth, where magic, giants, goblins, and fairies all exist. Each book takes Merlin on a quest in or related to Fincayra, as he does battle with the fearsome Rita Gawr with an assortment of sputniks, from a faithful hawk to a terribly incompetent bard.

So far, I love these books. The narration by Ken Isola helps a lot. If you’re a fan of The Dark is Rising series, then I highly recommend these books to you.

The Mortal Instruments* by Cassandra Clare – This long series has it all: faeries, vampires, witches, supernatural battles, evildoers, love triangles, murders, supernatural fights to the death. This series follows Shadowhunters, supernatural beings who fight demons, vampires, evil sorcerers, and other paranormal baddies that threaten life on earth. Like Sarah J. Maas and J.K.Rowling, Cassandra Clare’s writing has a propulsive quality that’s hard to explain. You just want to know what happens next. Clare is apparently infamous in the writing community for plagiarism. That’s unfortunate, but I’m not going to stop reading her work because of it. I’m willing to read Charles Dickens and Norman Mailer, after all.

With that said, I only read the first two books, City of Bones and City of Ashes, and I’m not looking to read any more right now. The second book seemed to be pushing a romance angle that is, let’s just say, geneologically unfortunate. However, I liked the Magisterium series, so I’m open to reading more.

The Never Girls by Various – A cute series of chapter books about a group of girls who discover fairies, and a portal to fairyland, in their own backyard. In each book, the girls learn important lessons about sharing, being kind, and being honest. A really nice counterpoint to the social insanities of 2020.

Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend – A middle-grade magical academy series starring Morrigan Crow, an Emily the Strange near-lookalike whose parents blame her for everything that goes wrong. Literally everything, even the rain. She’s almost killed when she’s whisked off to an academy. This series is more whimsical and light-hearted than the Magisterium series, and I think it’s a better fit for kids in the middle grade reading range.

The Old Kingdom by Garth Nix – Below the wall, life is more or less like 1940s England. Above the wall, everything is different: technology won’t work, magic is thick in the air, and necromancers can summon the dead or send them into the afterlife with seven powerful bells.

This was one of my absolute favorite reads this year. This book combines a unique magic system with memorable characters and an absorbing plot. There are no cheesy love triangles or creepy bully romances. The little romance that does exist is wonderfully understated. And I love the supporting characters, especially Mogget, a free magic creature bound into cat form by a collar. I want to read this series again in the next year.

The first three audiobooks in this series are narrated by Tim Curry, who does an excellent job. I can’t emphasize that enough. If you find an audiobook narrated by Tim Curry, you should listen to it, even if you’re not a huge fan of the author. Clariel and Goldenhand‘s narrators can’t quite fill his shoes, but the books help round out the Old Kingdom and the magic within it.

The Queen’s Thief* by Megan Whalen Turner – another fantasy epic, this one with references to Ancient Greece. So far I’ve only read The Thief. I mostly read/listened to it before bed, so it was difficult for me to keep track of the different kingdoms and alliances. I did enjoy it. It reminded me a little of Soldier of the Mist, about a Roman mercenary whose memory wipes after each day. I want to reread the first book, and hopefully dive into this series later this year.

The Raven Boys* by Maggie Stiefvater – I read the first book in this series, The Raven Boys, about a few prep school boys and a townie girl trying to find the mythical Welsh king, Glendower, who they believe is buried somewhere in upstate New York.

An illustration of a young woman, gazing intently at the viewer, with lightning erupting from her palm and crackling in the air around her.
An illustration of Mare Barrow, protagonist of the Red Queen series, by morgana0anagrom (Instagram / Tumblr).

Red Queen* by Victoria Aveyard – In this world, there are two distinct castes, literally separated by blood. The Reds, with red blood, live under the heel of the Silvers, whose silver blood also allows them to perform magic. Mare Barrow is the first known red blood with magical powers.

Reincarnated as a Familiar* by D.S. Craig – A light novel based on Isekai (“otherworld”) novels from Japan, where a protagonist is either summoned or reborn into a new world, often as a superhero or a magical being. In this series, the protagonist begins as a school teacher, then dies and comes back as an “astral cat” whose presence amplifies her witch’s powers.

Light novels are often dialogue-heavy, short, and geared towards a teen audience. This book is one of a few light novels published by English-language authors in the last few years. There’s no weird sexual content; it’s only the references to black magic and demon creatures that make this a non-kid-friendly book.

Re:Zero: Starting Life in Another World* by Tappei Nagatsuki – One of two comic books I actually read back to front in 2020. This is also an isekai story. Unlike Reincarnated as a Familiar, the main character doesn’t die–well, not at first–he’s simply summoned into a parallel dimension when walking home from a convenience store. I didn’t really like the character design, especially for the female characters, so I doubt I’ll pick this up again. But I do like the concept of isekai very much.

The Selection by Kiera Cass – Royalty. Numbered castes. Love triangle between a hot old money guy and a hot muscular arriviste guy. A plot against the crown. Mean girls. These books held my attention throughout, and I read all of them, including the short story collection. For all the misery of the caste system, it was nice to imagine a world where people could gather in groups, go ballroom dancing, or eat together with strangers.

Serpent & Dove* – The first book details the forced, fake marriage between a witch hunter and a witch, set in a New Orleans-style fictional city. 

Simon Snow by Rainbow Rowell – Another magical academy series, this one is for young adults rather than kids. Imagine the two guys from every YA love triangle hooked up with each other instead. And they both have magical powers. And one of them might be the chosen one, and the other is a vampire. That should tell you if you’ll enjoy reading this series or not.

Slayer* by Kiersten White – This series is set in the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, some years into the future. The protagonist is the daughter of a woman on the Watcher’s Council who got slimed by a paranormal creature a few milliseconds before magic disappeared, activating her and turning her into the last slayer…ever. A fun series that builds on the world of Buffy without leaning too heavily on nostalgia.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han – Just what I needed this year, an entertaining, light, relationship-focused drama from the Before Times, when you could go to Shake Shack after dancing your heart out at prom. To All the Boys… is escapism in the best sense of the word.

Vampire Academy* – I’m a sucker for vampire romances. Pun completely intended. I’ve enjoyed this series, with its melodrama and its dark plots various factions of vampires. So far, I’ve read two of the books in the main series, Vampire Academy and Frostbite. I hope to finish the series by the end of this year.

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown – This middle-grade science fiction duology explores the inner world of a robot as she adapts to life on a wild island. A really charming and interesting series about the nature of consciousness, without any ponderous Blade Runner-style monologues. Proof that you don’t have to be dark or gritty to be philosophical or moving. Really good reading for kids. Highly recommended.

Wings of Fire: Legends by Tui T. Sutherland – These standalone novels provide some ancient backstory to the Wings of Fire series. You don’t need to know anything about the series, and both books feature a prologue describing the different types of dragons. Darkstalker follows the decline and fall of a talented dragon who becomes more self-serving and power-hungry as he becomes more powerful. Dragonslayer follows a few human children, called scavengers,

The Wolves of Mercy Falls* by Maggie Stiefvater – I’m still reading this series about a group of werewolves that live in the woods outside Mercy Falls, Minnesota. These werewolves turn human when it’s warm and wolf out when it’s cold. The longer they’re infected, the more easily they turn into wolves, until eventually they’re wolves all the time. Lots of teen angst, class issues, fears for the future, and enviornmental concerns.

The X-Files* by Various – After its so-so reboot a few years ago, the X-Files’s original tie-in novels–plus a few new ones, like the X-Files: Origins series–have found new life as ebooks, audiobooks, and graphic novels. Most of these novels and short stories are originals, not novelizations of existing episodes. Most of them follow a “monster of the week” format, including the book I read last year, Goblins. This book combines science fiction, fantasy, and paranoia about technological overreach. Nothing too heavy. I’d recommend it. I’m looking forward to more X-Files in 2021.

 

That’s it y’all. For now. I might think of a few other books I read in the coming weeks, but I have to publish this before it goes stale. Whew! I didn’t realize I read this much. I really, really needed to escape 2020, and here’s the proof.

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