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Top Ten Reads of 2020 July-September Edition

Hey all, Dani here.

Well, today was supposed to be my wedding day. So I figured why not do something fun today…like talk about my top ten reads in the third quarter of the year. That means I’m going to talk about my favorite reads from the months of July, August, and September. Now, as with all of my previous top ten lists, I can’t include something that is a re-read as a top ten, nor can I include a book that has not yet been released. Although…now that I think about it…one of my top ten books actually doesn’t come out until October 27th…oops. I guess I’m going to have to change that real quick. Okay, I fixed it and will talk about it more in a moment.

Also, I put these books in order of when I read them, not necessarily a least-to-most favorite or anything like that. Oh, and if I do have a review up for any of the books mentioned, I will include the link in case you’d like to get a little more of my in-depth thoughts on the book.

Okay, so before I jump into the official list, let’s first talk about my honorable mentions, the books that I still want to talk about, but that didn’t quite make it onto my Top Ten List.

Not Like the Movies by Kerry Winfrey, The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty, The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinska, The Harp of Kings by Juliet Marillier, Crazy Stupid Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams

Obviously The City of Brass is a re-read for me, so it can’t count as a top ten, though it definitely would have made the list otherwise. I really need to continue on with this trilogy, because the lore and the world-building and the descriptions were just so wonderfully done. Also on this list because it can’t be on the top ten list is Crazy Stupid Bromance because I was lucky enough to read a digital arc for it and it doesn’t actually come out until October 27th. Honestly if it came out here in a few days I probably would have put it on the list anyway, but I have really enjoyed this series and I definitely recommend it.

Oh, I should talk about Not Like the Movies because it is set in Columbus, Ohio, which is somewhat local to me, and I loved it just like I did Waiting for Tom Hanks, and whoa…it’s actually kind of funny that NLtM and CSB are both on the honorable mentions list because they actually share some similarities. Okay, mostly that they involve friends-to-lovers and one of said friends is a cafe owner. That’s pretty fun actually.

The Dark Tide was also a really interesting read, and I really wish I had the time to write up reviews for all of these books I’ve read these past few months, but I just have so much else going on. But anyway, the cover is rather striking and the story concept was intriguing, and I just really enjoyed diving into this story.

Finally, The Harp of Kings, which I really should have read last year when it came out, but I put it off, and now I just feel really bad about it. Now this one I will have a review up at some point–hopefully sooner rather than later–because I owe the review to the publisher and NetGalley for granting me access to this book and then being patient at my getting distracted and bogged down for so long. This was such a cool historical fantasy tale, and I’ve really been wanting to jump into the sequel, so I’m hoping to pick that up from B&N on the way to my cabin getaway.

Lobizona by Romina Garber, Bookish and the Beast by Ashley Poston, Forest of Souls by Lori M. Lee

Okay, so these are the first three books in my Top Ten List. Actually I’m pretty proud of the balance between fantasy and contemporary, as well as the diversity that makes up this list. There’s only one non-fiction book in the top ten, but that’s okay. I know I definitely do read a whole lot more fiction than non-fiction.

Lobizona was definitely an eye-opening story. I’m actually really glad that I’ve made an active drive to read more diversely this year, because otherwise I might have missed this important and relevant and magical read. Also, I really should have included this book in my Calendar Girls October 2020 post since the theme was all about werewolves. I honestly feel silly for forgetting this book when I was rounding up books for that list. Anyway, we take a little while to really get into the more fantastical elements of this story, and the beginning really just deals with the undocumented immigrant life, which I found rather interesting. But then the magical fantastical elements start weaving in, and this story just captivated me.

Obviously I really enjoyed Bookish and the Beast. The Once Upon a Con series has been consistently some of my favorite reads. I just adore books that deal with fandom life, and okay, so these are still a bunch of teenage drama issues too, but I don’t care. With the previous two books, they were set actually at the convention, but this one was not, so the change of scenery honestly makes this one stand out even more. I loved how elements of the classic Beauty and the Beast story wove through this contemporary fandom tale, and also…I want that house and that library.

Then there’s Forest of Souls, which had a bit of a darker atmosphere and a bit of a spooky feel to it at times. I think this would have been a wonderful fall read. The magic system and the political intrigue elements wove into this intriguing tapestry of characters and plot. I was drawn into this story very early, and wanted to know more. The farther in I went, the more I wanted to keep reading. Now I can say that I am definitely intrigued about picking up the sequel.

Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade, The Faithless Hawk by Margaret Owen, The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

For a release that just barely makes it into my Top Ten list, I’m so glad that I get to include Spoiler Alert, which was released on October 6th, though I read it a good six weeks early. I do still need to write up and post my review for this story, but it is also a fandom-centric contemporary. This time however, it is an adult romance. Both main characters are fanfiction writers, though one is also a popular actor. Our other main character is a wonderful and curvy woman. Look, I am not morbidly obese or anything, but I am an overweight woman, and so it is nice to feel like I’m getting a little more representation in books. Of course I can also say this about fandom books. I will gladly read more and more of these releases. This book does deal with fatshaming, and learning disabilities, but I think the inclusion of those aspects just brought the book to whole new heights of greatness.

Next up is The Faithless Hawk, which was one of my most anticipated releases of the year, and I’ve been so excited for it since finishing The Merciful Crow. Both books are definitely worth the read…though since it deals with a magical plague, make sure you’re in a good place mentally. I understand that dealing with COVID has been a trying time for so many, and right now these books might not be for everyone. Oh, and the way this book opens is so similar to the way the first book opens and I actually really adored the symmetry. And the plague drama, relationship drama, political drama…this duology is simply wonderful and I look forward to reading both of them again and again…plus, whatever other books Margaret Owen releases.

Then I finally get to talk about this book that just might be my #1 read of the year, or at least pretty darn close to it; there’s still a few months to go, so we’ll see if it maintains its high ranking. I’m talking about The House in the Cerulean Sea. So, after you’ve read some dark and spooky and thrilling reads and you want a book to come in like a huge cozy blanket next to a warm crackling fire with your favorite warm beverage waiting for you…pick this book up. It was so precious and wonderful and just fluffy. Okay, yes, it deals with found family, and some of the kids have not had the greatest lives so far, but watching all of these characters learn to open up and love and protect one another is just the heart-warming story I think the world needs right now.

Queen of Volts by Amanda Foody, Legendborn by Tracy Deonn, Well Played by Jen DeLuca, , Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh

Whew, gosh, sorry, this is going to be a little bit of a lengthy post.

Next on the list is Queen of Volts, an action-packed, magical, fantastic conclusion to a trilogy, and a book/series that I will definitely recommend. There is also just so much tension and built up lack of communication between some of these characters. It will make you laugh, cry, groan, sigh, and sit on the edge of your seat in anticipation for what will happen next. I’m not going to go super into this book here because I do already have a review up; actually there are reviews for the whole trilogy.

Another book that ranks super high on my favorite reads of the YEAR list is Legendborn, and I feel like pretty much everyone is talking about this book right now, but here’s the thing…this book deserves all the talk and the hype and the accolades. It is simply fantastic, and I kind of want to pick it up and read it again…and I just read it a few weeks ago. It’s that good. And I’ve heard it’s just as good on a re-read, so I want to find out if it’s true. This book deals with grief and trauma and racism in such a real and relatable and powerful way. Plus throw in the intriguing magic system and Arthurian lore and heck yes! I was obsessively absorbed into this book and this world, and I’m so happy that this book hit the NYT Bestsellers List and the Indie Bestsellers List, and that so many people are talking about it.

Well Played is the second book in a contemporary romance series set at a small town Ren Faire, and it was just what I needed with the Ohio Renaissance Festival being cancelled for 2020. I just love joining the characters as they dress up in garb, slip into their Faire personas, and fall in love. Unlike the first book which only takes place over the summer, this book takes us from the end of one Faire through the whole next year’s Faire (plus a few months later thanks to the epilogue), so we get to see as the mistaken-identity digital communication happens, and we get to enjoy the characters falling in love when we already know the identity of the real love interest on the other side of the text/e-mail. Plus there is plenty of geeky conversation, wedding planning, and hints at the next book in the series. What I’m curious for is discovering the identity of the couple for the fourth book in the series.

Finally, wrapping up this Top Ten list is the only non-fiction book in the group, and that is Solutions and Other Problems. I have been waiting for this book for 5 years, and I had thought that perhaps it would never happen. A good portion of this book explains why. Allie has been through so much, and the fact that she can detail it for us, filled with all the randomness and wackiness and of course her awesomely horribly just barely better than stick figure doodles makes it even more amusing. This book deals with grief and anxiety and divorce and medical issues and new beginnings and hilarious anecdotes about pets. While I perhaps did enjoy her first book, Hyperbole and a Half, a little bit better, overall this is still a book I rate pretty high.

Whew, okay, that is all the bookish gushing I can manage for one post today. Let me know some of your favorite recent reads because I would love to know, and I’ll be back soon with more bookish content.

4 thoughts on “Top Ten Reads of 2020 July-September Edition”

  1. I barely read any of these.. But The House in the Cerulean Sea is so high on my TBR! I also really want to read Legendborn and Forest of Souls!

    (www.evelynreads.com)

    Liked by 1 person

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