The Tiptop Books of 2020

Hello Book Lovers!

Thanks for enjoying Episode 19 so much you decided to click through to this list. As mentioned, the links below are affiliate links, which is why I can’t include them in the regular show notes. Rules, rules rules, right?

Anyway, there’s absolutely no extra charge to you if you do any shopping after clicking on them, but I earn an itty bitty commission that helps keep the show running.

Oh, also, this list is in a slightly different order than the list in the episode, but I’m sure you’ll figure it out :))

Thanks for listening, for reading, and for all your support!

Hold on, Let Me Put on my Marketing Hat for a Sec…

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Okay Onto the Best Books of 2020

Crikey, this is going to be a challenge. Looking over the tally, it looks like I read over 100 books this year.

Before you think I must lounge around with a book in my hands all day, at least half of those were audiobooks which I gobble up while poking around in the garden, running, and doing house chores.

Still, I better break this down a bit into novels, series, etc.

First up, let’s just drop any pretense of suspense and get right to….

My Absolute Top Pick(s) of 2020

This couldn’t be decided, so there’s a tie for #1

  • The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune – Find this book and add it to your to-read-next list ASAP!! The best word I can use to describe this story is lovely. Sounds trite, but it really is a lovely tale about acceptance and belonging. While I could go on and on about this book, I’ll just say it’s simply a story that works perfectly on so many levels.
  • Darkness by Ragnar Jonasson – All I can say is WOW!!! I finished this book in record time because I could not stop reading. The mystery element, the personal struggle the (unexpected) main character is going through, and the pacing were all done to a T. And the ending!! Well, let’s just say it is not your typical thriller/mystery ending.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, it’s time for the rest. Under each category, the books are listed in order of favorite-ness.

Favorite Novels

  • The Last Passenger by Charles Finch – Highly recommended without question! I’ve loved the Lenox mysteries since book one and this was no exception. The characters and situations never stop feeling real and continue to be engaging, which seems to be a rare thing when mystery series get to this point.
  • False Value by Ben Aaronovitch – What can I say? It’s always a treat to wander back into the Peter Grant world.
  • Fools & Mortals by Bernard Cornwell – This was a wonderfully engaging book. Cornwell captures the frenetic energy, hopes, and superstitions of the backstage players in Shakespeare’s performances, then throws in a little mystery and a little romance to create a satisfying story.
  • A Prisoner of Birth  by Jeffery Archer – Wow! Just wow. This is an amazing and clever reimagining of The Count of Monte Cristo. Unlike the original, this book (despite its length) never has a dull moment.

Favorite Series of 2020

Ha! I’m kind of getting away with tough decision making with this one by squeezing in several books under one listing. Still, each of the books in these series was stellar!!

  • The Hidden Iceland series (aka “The Hulda series”) by Ragnar Jonasson (this includes the novel Darkness mentioned above) – The instant I finished one book in this trilogy, I immediately put the next one on hold at my library. An amazing, and chilling series.

    Book One in the Tales of Pell…let the hilarity begin!
  • The Tales of Pell by Delilah Dawson & Kevin Hearne – Juvenile potty jokes, over-the-top characters, a wacky plot line…this series is just what I needed for 2020! Underneath all the jokes though is a wonderful theme of belonging and accepting yourself for who you are. And then some more potty jokes! Note: There is a marked difference between reviews for the audiobooks and the eyeball books. Get the audiobooks if you can…the narrator is the best I’ve ever heard!!
  • The Gaius Petreius Ruso series by Ruth Downie – I’m cheating here because I started the series in 2019 and haven’t gotten all the way through it, but I haven’t come across one I didn’t like
  • The Newbury and Hobbes series by George Mann – Steampunk meets mystery in this fast-paced, highly addictive series.

Note: Links above go to the first book in the series.

Favorite Graphic Novels

  • The Complete Far Side by Gary Larson – There was a whole lotta out loud laughter as I read through these classic comics!
  • Wallace & Gromit: The Complete Newspaper Comic Strips Collection – Puns. Half-baked inventions. Too much fun.
  • Newbury and Hobbes: The Undying by George Mann – This was my first introduction into the Newbury & Hobbes series and I loved it!

Favorite Non-Fiction

  • Utopia for Realists by Rutger Bregman – This was outstanding! I went into this book with 1) no real idea what it was about, and 2) no strong opinions about topics such as universal basic income, leisure time, and the various other topics he covers. But holy utopian dream, was I impressed!
  • I Loved Rogues: The Life of an Elephant Tramp by George Lewis – If you love elephants or are just curious about a side of life around the 1930s you rarely hear about, search this one out and give it a read. It’s a bit hard to read about the utter cruelty the elephants endured in circuses and zoos, but George “Slim” Lewis’s love of elephants shines through. Some of his tales and mishaps are absolutely hilarious, some will have you gritting your teeth, and some will leave you with a little “something in your eye.”
  • The Ravenmaster: My Life with the Ravens at the Tower of London by Christopher Skaife – I’m a sucker for anything “London”, so getting a better insight into the lives of the ravens and the Yeoman Warders was fascinating. What earns the book five stars though is Skaife’s writing. It’s conversational, funny, shows off his honest admiration for the birds, and had me ripping through this like a raven whose just got his claws on a pigeon (read the book!).


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