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If YouTube videos are your thing, I’d love some watch time on my Mid-Year Freak Out tag video over on The Westveil Archives channel, embedded below. If you’d rather read my responses, read on!
1. The Best Book I’ve Read So Far in 2020
Felix is a transgender, black bi-racial teen navigating love, friendship, ongoing gender identity questions, and university applications. This is a beautiful story about learning to love and be loved, and that sometimes people deserve a second chance.
YA Contemporary, Own Voices
Answer 2 of 2: The Savior’s Sister by Jenna Moreci. This is the companion novel to The Savior’s Champion (2018) and book 2 of 4 in The Savior’s Series. We’ve read about The Sovereign’s Tournament from the perspective of Tobias, one of the competitors and the one to watch according to Thessen’s citizens.
The Savior’s Sister is Leila’s perspective from within the palace, and more specifically the Savior’s court. There’s more going on than just a stupid traditional bloodbath…
5 Stars, Adult Dark Fantasy / Romance
2. The Best Sequel I’ve Read So Far in 2020
I want to say The Savior’s Sister again, but I just gave you a teaser and it isn’t chronologically a sequel, so let’s go with…
Assassin’s Fate by Robin Hobb. This is the conclusion to the Fitz and the Fool trilogy, and in many ways a greater conclusion to the story of The White Prophet Beloved and his catalyst FitzChivalry Farseer.
I have yet to write reviews for these novels, as I’ve been reading them on and off for a couple years so I would really need to at least skim through again first, but Robin Hobb’s books always get 5 stars from me!
3. The New Release I Haven’t Read Yet, But Want To.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett. This is a very highly rated new release in the Adult Contemporary category, and I hear there’s a TV deal in the wrks already.
Twins from a biracial family in 1950s USA drift apart and lead separate lives. One sister who’s white-passing moves away and breaks off all connections with the family. She lives as a white woman, correcting no one on her heritage, not even her husband and daughter. Several decades later, the paths of the next generation cross.
4. My Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of 2020
Ink & Sigil by Kevin Hearne (August 2020). If you read or watched my Five Authors I No Longer Read list, the you already know I didn’t continue reading Kevin Hearne after he abruptly declared that The Iron Druid Chronciles had come to an end. I’m still salty about how the final book didn’t feel like a final book, and we weren’t told it was the final when it was coming out. I wasn’t interested in reading his new books, thinking it was a new long series and not the duology it ended up being. Now he’s starting a new series with a new cast in the same world as Iron Druid, and I’m ready to give it a chance.
5. My Biggest Disappointment So Far in 2020
The Game of VORs by Andrew Orange. This is a YA/NA Dystopian Science Fiction set in the distant future. You’re either a VOR, born into the aristocracy, or you’re a Simple. Kier is a VOR, the youngest son of a VOR to be exact, but he seems to be the black sheep of the family. He’s living away from home with his bodyguard and bodyguard’s daughter, they don’t have much money, and 18 year old Kier has failed all of his final exams.
This was my first DNF of the year, and I left a 2 star review on Goodreads with the disclaimer that is was a free review copy and that I DNFd it.
Kier is meant to be 18, but we either get info dump inner monologue Kier who thinks like a seasoned adult, or normal Kier who thinks and acts like a pre-teen. The narrative voice calls him “the youth” or “the child” constantly, which also doesn’t screen 18 and got annoying fast. Kier’s inner monologue info dumps are world building dumps, but strictly history, not “how stuff works now.” We get nothing about the densely packed vocabulary of jargon specific to this world.
The plot can’t start, the call to action can’t happen, until Kier has indeed received his failing grades. According to my ereader app, this occurs 20% into the book. That’s what I call a slow start! Oh, and before we get there we’ve thoroughly established that the rape of lower-class girls and women is normalized, acceptable and even somewhat praiseworthy in this world.
It also had some odd editing mistakes. As an example, the first page of the second chapter contains a sentence that starts off: “He had fell fallen asleep.” (Note that Grammarly isn’t yelling at me for typing that. This is a cautionary tale for young writers: technology cannot be your only editor!)
6. My Biggest Surprise so far in 2020
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. I haven’t read it yet, though I really want to. The reason this is my biggest surprise is rather silly. You see, Merphy Napier has been recommending this book so hard that I just had to get it and out it close to the top of my TBR. The thing is, a couple days after I caved and ordered it and it was marked as shipped, I re-arranged my books and found a copy. I already own it! I don’t remember when I bought it, but clearly I was already interested in this book at some point before Merphy started telling me to read it.
7. My New Favourite Author
Kacen Callender, author of Felix Ever After. I loved Felix so much I’m now determined to eventually track down, buy, and read everything they’ve ever written!
8. My Newest Fictional Crush
Diane from The Soul Thief by Majanka Verstraete. I’ve already reviewed this novel on Goodreads (5 stars) and will be reviewing it here on the blog and on YouTube in the near future. I’m planning a YA round-up review video to include this, Djinn, Esme’s Wish, and possibly one or two others.
Diane is the angel of death Riley witnesses in the beginning of the novel, and the reason she finds out that she’s also an angel of death. Every time Diane shows up in the narrative, she reminds me of Negasonic Teenage Warhead from the Deadpool films, and I’m so here for it!
9. My Newest Favourite Character
Okay, technically Delphi isn’t a new character to me. She is introduced in The Savior’s Champion, and I did buy that book when it was released in 2018. That said, I re-read TSC and ARC read TSS this year as part of my duties as a volunteer member of Jenna Moreci’s street team, and I’ve fallen in love with this sassy queen. Delphi is absolutely the best part of the series so far, and I think if you read the books, you’ll love her too! Especially after reading TSS.
I drew the fan art portrait you see here on my art channel about a month ago.
10. A Book That Made You Cry
Again, Assassin’s Fate. This whole trilogy, really. The whole trilogy has been dealing with loss and vengeance. Loss of a wife and mother. Loss of an abducted child (presumed dead for a long time.) Separation from a father. Accidentally hurting a beloved friend. Coming to terms with uncomfortable truths about a beloved friend and their connection to your daughter. Death of a beloved friend.
I’ve been doing a lot of my reading of this trilogy during trips to the cabin, and thankfully I always manage to hit the parts that make me cry after everyone else has gone to bed.
11. A Book That Made You Happy
As someone who read the Bartimaeus trilogy by Johnathan Stroud as a teenager when the books were new, I’ve always been quick to pick up anything that has something to do with djinni. When I saw this YA Fantasy called Djinn waiting for reviews on NetGalley I just had to request it! Sang Kormah did not disappoint.
12. My Favourite Book to Movie Adaptation of 2020
…do any exist? Were any released? I haven’t been to a theatre since I saw the latest Star Wars in early January, and my toddler only wants to watch Frozen, Frozen 2, Moana, and Onward. Sometimes if we switch from Disney+ over to Netflix she’ll accept The Lorax. I guess that’s my answer then? The Lorax? It’s not a 2020 film, though.
13. My Favourite Review I’ve Written So Far in 2020
I read (listened to the audiobook) The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman for the first time ever this year. Previously I thought it was a contemporary fiction memoir, and I could never justify the price of the hardback when it was new because the book is so short, but I caved and used an Audible credit.
You guys, this is Coraline for adults!
I had so much fun writing the review! 5 stars, find my review on Goodreads.
14. The Most Beautiful Book I’ve Bought So Far in 2020
The cover of White Stag by Kara Barbieri is absolutely what caught my eye. Then I read the synopsis, and now I’m convinced this is a Scandinavian inspired setting, and possibly draws from Scandinavian folklore. We shall see! I haven’t read it yet.
The characters named in the first paragraph of the synopsis are Janneke, Lyndian, and Soren. Well, I had a childhood friend named Janneke (spelled Jannika), and one of my own characters is Søren. They’ve won my heart already!
15. What Books do I Need to Read by the End of the Year?
So many books. SOOO many books! My Voracious Readers platform TBR is currently 14 books long, and I’m trying to build up my reputation on NetGalley, so I’m taking on review copies there as well.
I’ve been selected to ARC read Meg LaTorre’s debut novel The Cyborg Tinkerer, which comes out November 17th, and this month I’m beta reading for Joseph Harkreader.
On top of all that, my favourite Sci-Fi author Robert J. Sawyer has a new book out this year, The Oppenheimer Alternative. I own a copy, it’s been marked as a current read on my Goodreads shelves for a few weeks now, and I haven’t had a chance to actually start!