Though lockdown’s been pretty awful in most ways, it’s been great for my reading! I’m 13 books ahead of schedule on my Goodreads challenge, I’ve read almost my entire 2020 bucket list, and I’ve filled in all but one square on my book bingo challenge, making for 10 of a potential 12 bingos so far! 🎊 And the things that I’ve read have mostly been pretty great, too. 😊 That said, though, here are some of the highs and lows of this strange year so far, in handy tag form:
1) What’s the best book you’ve read so far in 2020?
Much to my surprise, it was I Was Born for This by Alice Oseman! Though I had very high expectations for this book when I bought it, I’ve had such terrible luck with contemporaries since then that I was very nervous about picking it up… but it turned out really great! 😁 The writing was noticeably improved from Oseman’s last book, the characters and relationships were all beautiful, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. 💕 (I was also tempted to pick the illustrated edition of Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban for this, which I read for the first time earlier this year and loved, but it’s only kind of a new-to-me book, so I don’t really feel that it qualifies…)
2) What’s the best sequel you’ve read so far in 2020?
That would be Assassin’s Quest by Robin Hobb, which was the finale to the Farseer Trilogy; it kept me absolutely hooked the whole way through, and ended on such a perfect note! Royal Assassin, the second book in the series, was also a contender, but although the highs of that book were very high indeed, the lows were correspondingly low, and the middle section of the book dragged a lot…
3) What’s a new release that you haven’t read yet, but want to?
Loveless by Alice Oseman was just released a few days ago, and I’m eager to get my hands on it! My experience with I Was Born for This has set my expectations sky-high, so hopefully I won’t be disappointed. 🤞
4) What’s your most anticipated release for the second half of the year?
If I’d tried to do this tag a few days earlier I’d have had no idea how to answer this question, as, to be honest, I haven’t really been keeping track of new releases this year, but luckily Serpentine by Philip Pullman just got announced! And while it’s not the next volume of The Book of Dust, I’ve loved all of the His Dark Materials short stories so far, and am very much hyped. 😁
5) What’s your biggest disappointment of the year?
Probably The Princess & the Captain by Anne-Laure Bondoux, which I had had a really good feeling about for a really long time (and for no real reason whatsoever). It isn’t the worst book I’ve read this year by a long shot, but none of the other books I’ve rated low this year – most recently The King’s General and Rainforest – were ones that I had any real expectations for, so “disappointment” isn’t really the right word for them… 😑
6) And the biggest surprise?
This one’s a repeat: I Was Born for This! And I’ve already mentioned the reason why, as well, but in case you skipped it, I’ve been slowly going off contemporary novels for a while now – and it might just be that I’m picking the wrong ones, but I have a feeling otherwise. ☹️ It’s good to know, however, that there are still exceptions to my general reading taste! 👍
7) Do you have a new favourite author?
I wouldn’t call her a favourite exactly, but I finally decided to pick up a Georgette Heyer book a little while ago, and have purchased a couple more since. While her books aren’t something I’d want to be reading all the time, Arabella was the perfect pick for the moment in which I read it, and I’m hoping that I’ll feel similarly about the other ones I’ve bought… For those unfamiliar with her work, Heyer wrote regency romances (and detective novels, which I’m less interested in) in the 60s and 70s.
8) Or a new fictional crush?
I’ve got nothing for you here, I’m afraid.
9) Who’s your newest favourite character?
This was a tricky one, too, as most of the characters I’ve come across this year that I loved were ones that I loved already (for instance Fitz from the Farseer trilogy, or Nick and Lirael from the Old Kingdom series), but I decided to go for Cassandra Cain from Sarah Kuhn’s Shadow of the Batgirl (illustrated by Nicole Goux). While I first read about Cass years ago in the 2000-2009 runs of Batgirl, Kuhn’s interpretation of her is quite different, and utterly endearing. 💕
10) What book made you cry?
No book has made me properly cry in a very long time, but Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb was an incredibly emotional journey.
11) What book made you happy?
I debated a few books for this question (& Arabella and An Enchantment of Ravens were the closest competitors), but in the end I just had to pick Goldenhand by Garth Nix, which is nowhere near as good as the previous books in this series story-wise, but had so many great character moments – and made my favourite ship canon! ⚓️
12) What’s the most beautiful book you’ve bought (or been given) this year?
That would be Glass Town by Isabel Greenberg, which I bought as a present for myself not long before lockdown started. Greenberg is probably my favourite comic book author/artist, and this story, inspired by the early writings of the Brontës, is absolutely gorgeous – and a great read, too!
13) What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
Well, I’ve been pretty pro-active with my 2020 bucket list (especially when compared to the ones I made for the last couple of years), but the two on it that I have yet to read are A Closed & Common Orbit by Becky Chambers – the second book in the Wayfarers series – and The Nightjar by Deborah Hewitt, which I put on the list for very predictable reasons. 😅 But other than that, I’d like to continue on with Robin Hobb’s Realm of the Elderlings series, the next of which is Ship of Magic, and it’d be nice to finish up The Books of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin this year as well – and since I only have a few short stories left of it, that shouldn’t be too much of a struggle. 😊