January 7, 2021

Alexa & Macky's Best Reads of 2020

A new year has started! This is the second of two posts where Macky & I highlight some favorites from the past year. The shoutouts we're doing today are just as special as the ones in the previous post, since these were more fictional words (and illustrations) we escaped into. Without further ado, here are our favorites (and a bonus set of 2021 releases that I think you should check out)! 

I'm really excited to share my top fifteen books (or series) that I read in 2020! Reading was definitely one of my favored escapes, especially when the real world got too stressful, so I'm glad I read so many excellent stories (and actually had a hard time narrowing my list down). The one thing I'm sure you'll notice is that I had a lot of fantasy favorites, which isn't too surprising since that was the genre that I read the most from in 2020. So, join me as I count down to my number one read!

15. The Eye of the World, The Great Hunt & The Dragon Reborn: The series centers around three young men from the same village - Perrin, Rand and Mat - whose fates appear to be crucial in determining the fate of their world. I was admittedly intimidated by the idea of starting a long (it's 15 books in total) adult epic fantasy series, but I needn't have worried since these books were compelling from the get go. I was swept up in each installment that I read, my appetite for the story satisfied and whetted all at once, and I'm determined to get a little further into it this year. (Check out my review for these three books!)

14. Kingdom of the Wicked: When Emilia's twin sister Vittoria is brutally murdered, Emilia is determined to investigate the circumstances to clear things up and winds up summoning a Prince from Hell who she suspects is the culprit but who instead winds up allying with her to continue the investigation. The atmospheric setting (including the mouthwatering descriptions of food) was immersive, and getting to tag along on Emilia's individual character journey is a real treat. After the way this one ends, it's imperative that I get the second one in my hands. For reasons. (Check out my review!)

13. These Violent Delights: A Shakespeare-inspired tale set against the backdrop of 1920s Shanghai, this novel centers around two former paramours who agree to team up in order to discover the cause of the dreadful murders happening all over their territories. It was compelling to see how Gong (who is very young!) manages to tell her tale with solid prose, as well as easy to appreciate all the references to the Shakespearean play. The tantalizing combination of setting, character and plot really clicked for me, and I'm eager to get my hands on the sequel. (Check out my review!)

12. Wonder Woman: Warbringer: When Diana rescues Alia from a shipwreck just off her island home, she discovers that she is actually a Warbringer (a person fated with potentially ushering in an age of chaos) and it sets the pair off on an adventure to prevent terrible things from happening. This book was basically a superhero movie distilled into novel form, complete with humor, heart and nods to the comics and films about Diana. (Check out Macky's review! And my mini-review!)

11. Beach Read: Romance writer January and literary writer Gus happen to be neighbors for the summer and are both experiencing writer's block, which results in challenging each other to try writing in the other person's genre to see who can sell their new book first. While this does have a lovely romance that I was totally invested in, I also really appreciated the fact that the story also depicts the individual character journey each of them has to go through in order to become who they are at the end of the story. (Check out my mini-review!)

10. Fable: Abandoned on an island of cutthroats and thieves by her father after her mother's death, Fable has finally found a ship that will get her off the island and to him so that she can be a part of his crew only to discover that not everything is as straightforward as it seems. I'm a sucker for stories set on the open sea or about pirates (of a sort), and I especially loved the way Adrienne brought this world, these characters (the found family crew, especially!) and the story to life. (Check out my mini-review!)

9. The Lost Book of the White: The second novel in The Eldest Curses series has Alec, Magnus and their friends chasing after two old acquaintances who have stolen something powerful and dangerous from Magnus' apartment. I've affectionately dubbed this novel as the one with "Shadowhunter shenanigans in Shanghai" (we love alliteration over here), and that pretty much sums up the entire book. I'll always enjoy being back in the Shadowhunters universe, especially if we get to spend time with my favorites! (Check out my review!)

8. The Happy Ever After Playlist: Sloan Monroe's life is turned on its head when a dog falls into her lap, only to find things get even more jumbled up when she catches feelings for his owner. I mean it in the most complimentary way when I say that this story gives me the same feels as reading a really good fan fic! I loved the characters (main and secondary) so damn much, and I was rooting for Sloan and Jason to overcome their individual and couple obstacles so that they could get their much deserved happily ever after. (Check out my review!)

7. Guild Hunter series: I just loved reading this series so much! Set in a world where archangels, angels, vampires and humans coexist, the books primarily focus on the Archangel of New York Raphael and Guild Hunter Elena Deveraux, who are initially drawn together by Raphael's need for assistance in tracking down and capturing a powerful being who has gone rogue. I was impressed by Singh's storytelling ability, her creativity with the world and her ability to convince me to care so deeply for the characters she brought to life. (Check out my series review! I also have series favorites and a playlist!)

6. The Illuminae Files: The trilogy centers around the large corporation BeiTech doing their best to ensure that no word of the mess on Kerenza becomes public knowledge, including attempts to attack ships bearing survivors from their attack on the planet, hijack the nearest space station and cleaning up the remnants planetside. I ended up reading this one physically and listening to the audio, thanks to my friend Hannah's recommendation, which fully elevated the reading experience. I genuinely think I would have enjoyed this if I'd gone either route separately, but the combination cemented my overall sensory experience of these stories and got me even more invested in these space shenanigans and battles than I ever thought I could be. (Check out my series review! Check out Macky's review of Illuminae! Check out Macky's review of Gemina!)

5. Legacy (+ Nightfall, Unlocked): Surprising no one, I'm sure, the Keeper of the Lost Cities series has a few books making an appearance on my best reads list for 2020! I'm finally caught up on this MG adventure about Sophie Foster, who discovers she's actually an elf and a special one created by an organization known as the Black Swan that has the ability to ultimately affect the conflicts and changes in the world of the elves in a big way. I really enjoyed my time diving further into this story, including learning more about the world, hanging out with the characters (familiar faces and new acquaintances alike) and accompanying them on their emotional journeys. (Check out my series review!)

4. Shadow of the Fox Trilogy: As an otaku who loves anime and manga, it was a treat to read this entire trilogy this year as it centers around a half-kitsune who teams up with a shadow clan assassin in order to protect a special scroll that can summon a dragon who will grant a wish if used. These novels take you on the sort of adventure that is characteristic of a shojo anime, including the appearance of new characters to fall in love (or fear), budding relationships of all sorts, clashes and conflicts with enemy forces and the continued dropping of details pertaining to the legend and the world as our protagonists continue on our journey. (Check out my series review!)

3. Chain of Gold: The first book in Cassandra Clare's series The Last Hours centers around Shadowhunter society in London at a time of relative peace when the arrival of two families - the Blackthorns and the Carstairs - marks the start of a series of catastrophic and terrific events that shift the world as everyone has known it. I fell in love so easily with this brand new part of the Shadowhunters universe, and that's mostly due to the fact that I loved the cast of characters in this novel with my whole heart. Throw in a compelling tale, new Shadowhunter lore to explore and the London Institute (and some familiar faces) and I was absolutely destined to love this one. (Check out my review!)

2. House of Earth and Blood: It doesn't surprise me that the latest novel release from Sarah J. Maas ranks so highly on my list of favorites. This novel centers around Bryce Quinlan, still grieving over the death of her best friend, who is forced to confront that pain and horror all over again when said best friend's murder case is opened up for reinvestigation and she ends up paired up with an angel to be part of it. I'll always love Sarah's storytelling style to pieces, and I basically devoured this novel when it came into my hands. I loved getting a brand new world from her, as well as a cast of characters that I thoroughly enjoyed meeting (and require more page time with), and this novel definitely packed one hell of a punch while keeping me thoroughly entertained. (Check out my review!)

1. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue: In 1700s, Addie LaRue makes a Faustian bargain where she is granted the ability to live forever but with the curse of being forgotten by everyone she meets. 300 years later, she meets a young man in a bookstore in NYC who remembers her name and that changes everything. I loved this novel so much, and found it to be a clever, compelling character study that sucked me right it. It's a reading experience unlike any I've had recently, and I want everyone to check it out. (Check out my review!)


Macky's actually split his picks up into categories, instead of doing a countdown for his favorites. So feel free to hop around to the sections that interest you the most in order to see what he picked for his top fifteen reads of the year.

Everafter: Set roughly a decade after the events of the Fables graphic novel series, Ever After features some of the next generation fables (as well as some old-timers) managing a post-finale Fables world. Totally worth a peek if you loved the Fables series!

Coffin Hill Eve Coffin, the most recent of a long line of Coffin witches. tries to right the wrongs of her terribly wayward youth, so the horrors therein that have returned to haunt her present are dealt with once and for all. Reminiscent of the late 90s to early 2000’s paranormal TV shows like Buffy, Angel, Charmed and Supernatural, it’s got all the good, all great and all the fun that I never knew I missed and needed so much until I started reading.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 12:  The canon series finale before the big reboot of the Buffyverse! So hungry for a resolution to the canon comics continuation that I am way too biased to be trusted to view this properly. Still, it was great and did its best to hit all the emotional notes that the Buffy and Angel TV finales tried to hit.

Sandman (audiobook): Having an audiobook that lifts lines directly from the graphic novel while adding narrative (from none other than Neil Gaiman himself) to make up for the pictures you can’t see, is a work of magnificence. Superb voice acting, direction and score! If you felt that the text and art alone were enough to pull you into the world of the endless, wait until you kick back and let your ears be your guide.

The Old Guard series: Immortal warriors who, in spite of not really knowing how or why they are immortal but fight for the greater good in the shadows? Check. Found families and badass characters? Check. Scratching that “epic stories about immortals – and oh, how refreshing that they aren’t vampires” itch? Triple check. Old Guard is dope. Read the comics. Watch it on Netflix. Totally worth your while.

Boruto: Naruto Next Generations: It’s the next generation’s turn to make their mark on the shinobi world. And a time of peace certainly doesn’t mean perpetual safety, and the new bonds being forged among these young shinobi will make make or break everything they hold dear and aspire to. 

Fushigi Yugi: Byakko Senki Where Fushigi Yuugi told the tale of Miyaka and Yui, who crossed over to the universe of the four gods to assume the mantle of summoning the gods Suzaku and Seiryuu, and the Genbu Kaiden told the tale of Takiko who crossed over first and summoned the god Genbu, the Byakko Senki tells the fourth tale in this saga, thus filling a void in my life I desperately needed.

Detective Comics Vol 5: A Lonely Place of Living and Super Sons of Tomorrow: Read these in tandem, and you’ll see how some of the best contributions from Geoff Johns during his Titans run clash with the Rebirth DC universe, specifically with Tim Drake (who is one of the titular characters in the Detective Comics Rebirth series) and Damian Wayne and Jon Kent. If you loved the Geoff Johns Teen Titans run and the BatFamily, get into these titles stat!

House ofX/Powers of X and Dawn of X: The mutants are finally on the front foot, and for the first time in history (and certainly not for a lack of trying, I’m looking at you, Moira), totally united under one code, creed and nation. They are officially a superpower in the world and nothing will ever be the same again. My personal favorite X-men saga of all time will be this collection of mad genius by Jonathan Hickman.

Tempests and Slaughter: Tamora Pierce does it again! This time, she centers her storytelling prowess around a fan fave from her Tortall universe. Set a decade before Alanna the First Adventure, this book follows a young Arram Draper at the beginning of his journey to being the famed mage Numair Salmalin, in his first year or so at the mage academy in Carthak. Yet another book reinforcing my aspirations to be a creator of Tamora Pierce’s ilk!

War of the Spark duology: Set on a plane introduced in my all-time favorite Magic the Gathering expansions, the War of the Spark features a new breed of planeswalkers (beings of immense power with the ability to traverse different planes across the multiverse) in their epic final showdown with the ancient evil dragon-god Nicol Bolas. This duology is the culmination of a series of events that will determine whether or not the multiverse will fall.

The Lost Book of the White and Chain of Gold: To nobody’s surprise these two Shadowhunters books set in the past and the “kinda present day” have made it to my top books of the year, with Chain of Gold (the first in the sequel trilogy to the Infernal Devices series) ranking at the tippy top of my list. There’s just something about a well established world and a story about legacies and generations that, if done right, hit me where I live emotionally. And thus, tracing the lineage of the characters in the modern Shadowhunters series to the London Institute folks is a phenomenon that has happily blindsided my fandom life. Cassandra Clare just literally writes better and better books and I’m here for every single one.


As promised, here's a brief list of the 2021 releases that I read before the end of 2020. I wanted to make sure to give them their own special shoutout to put them on your radar since I enjoyed all five of these novels so very much!

Lore (Jan 5): I loved Alex Bracken's new YA standalone fantasy so much! This novel follows Melora "Lore" Perseus as she finds herself drawn back into the world she thought she'd left behind years ago where designated bloodlines compete every seven years in an Agon where they can hunt down the gods whose punishment this tournament is in order to inherit their immortality and bloodlines. It's compelling and heartfelt, powerful and brutal (in the way many Greek myths actually are), and it has the absolute bonus of a New York City setting. (Check out my review!)

You Have a Match (Jan 12): What would you do if you took one of those online genetics tests and discovered that you had a full-blooded sibling you hadn't known about? Abby has to come to terms with that exact situation, teaming up with her until-now unknown sister Savannah to figure out what went down with their parents years ago while they both attend the same summer camp. This novel has the hallmarks of an Emma Lord story: charming setting, complicated and interesting characters and a compelling plot.

Shipped (Jan 19): There is a job promotion just within reach for Henley Evans, who has sacrificed most things to attain this opportunity, but there's just one catch: she's up against her coworker Graeme for it. They are both tasked to create a proposal to encourage customers to book their company's Galapagos cruise, and this includes going on the cruise themselves... which is the first time they'll get to meet in person. While this one did start off a touch clunky, I still wound up really enjoying the budding romance between our main couple! The travel and work bits added a nice touch too.

The Ex Talk (Jan 26): Rachel Lynn Solomon's adult contemporary romance debut was stellar. Sparks fly between Shay Goldstein and Dominic Yun, coworkers at a Seattle public radio station who inadvertently find themselves co-hosting a radio show that requires them to pretend to be exes dispensing relationship advice. It was equal parts romantic and comedic, and there was so much heart to it as well. I definitely rooted for our main couple right from the get go, and really enjoyed the journey of watching them overcome all the obstacles (individual and together) that stood in the way of their happy ending.

The Mask Falling (Jan 26): If you're a Bone Season series fan, you'll likely already have this upcoming fourth book on your radar! If you haven't started the series yet, now is the time. Samantha Shannon's fantasy dystopian world is one where clairvoyants are being pursued, used and eradicated by the Scion London government, underground London thrives at the hands of voyants hiding in plain sight and a larger force is actually holding the strings that tie everything together. It's an epic tale that has been a thrill to read from start to finish, whether it's rejoicing with our characters or sympathizing with their failures or losses. I love this series so much, and I can't wait for you all to read this next installment!

Whew! We've finally come to the end of this massively long blog post. I hope you enjoyed getting a chance to see all of our favorite reads from 2020, as well as this little section highlighting some 2021 releases. Definitely let us know - What were your favorite reads of 2020? Any 2021 book releases you are excited about?


  1. So glad to see Eye of the World on your list! And not at all surprised by Legacy or the Shadowhunter books! I'm excited for so many of the new releases you mentioned! I think I'm going to give the Guild Hunter series a go this year!


Thanks for leaving a comment! I love seeing what you have to say, and will try to reply (here or on Twitter) as soon as I can :)