My 10 Favourite Books of 2020

It’s been a great year for catching up with reading. Although I’ve been writing a lot too, I have managed to connect with some fabulous independent and small publishing house authors over the past few months. I also write reviews for Other World’s Ink blog tours and occasionally for WROTE Podcast, as well as writing one-shots on Wattpad. So yes, it has been a bit hectic in the reading and writing department!

I know why I’ve never done a top ten before, because it’s so darned hard to choose! When I began this post it was with an attitude of “how hard can it be?” Three hours later….

Anyway, I hope you enjoy my top ten of 2020. It would be hard to say which is my overall favourite, but I’ve decided to limit it to 10 because it’s a couple of days before Christmas and I’m running out of time! As the COVID crisis rumbles on, I hope I can introduce you to some great new authors to explore. It’s hard to put these books in order because they are all different genres and as you know, sometimes you’re in the mood for romance, sometimes swords and sorcery. My overall outstanding novel, ie., the one I know for sure I will read over and over again, is at No. 1. Before then, they are in no particular order. (And yes, there are three series included in here, so even more books to choose from!)

Stay safe and sane over the holiday period. I wish you all a very peaceful, prosperous and healthy 2021. Thank you all for reading this blog.

Jayne xx

My Top Ten Books of 2020

10. The King Trials by D. L. Sims

I read this book early this year, and loved it so much for the diverse characters, the easy-to-follow yet complex plot, the angst and the author’s courage in getting the reader to care about characters before killing them off. Great fun to read. My review can be found here.

Book cover for the Player, showing two handsome men, one in Twenties clothes and one playing the piano in present day clothes against an old-fashioned room setting.

9. The Player by Joe Cosentino

Eras collide when a 21st century man and a 1920’s ghost fall in love and solve crimes together in the apartment building where they live. Two stories, one in the city, one in the countryside, are a feel-good mix of humour, wit and sharp dialogue. Hugely entertaining. See my review here.

8. The Dakota del Toro series by Julia Barrioz

A kick-ass, mixed-race heroine with curves and a weakness for a handsome vampire, yet doesn’t need him to get herself out of trouble. Girl power at it’s finest. A massively enjoyable series set on the US/Mexican borderlands. Four books in the series so far. Read my review of the series.

Book cover of Romeo and Julien, a graphic novel.

7. Romeo & Julien – a graphic novel by Mary Dumas and Bettina Kurkoski (NSFW)

A blog tour read, and such a lot of fun. This is “not the Shakespeare story” but takes aspects of it as well as adding a jolly, bawdy, gay twist. The illustrations are lush and vibrant, the story funny as hell, with warring parents, gay uncles, interfering friends, and the two protagonists are adorable. Shy Romeo and outgoing Julien, who just wants to look pretty. Acceptance, love and forgiveness are the order of the day. Review can be found here.

6. Broken Things by A. L. Garcia

Heartbreaking, inspiring memoir of a childhood blighted by abuse. The author recounts their experiences in a starkly beautiful style which highlights the horror of their situation, but also the way in which they rose above it. Read my review.

5. Los Zetas Cartel series by A. J. Adams

I never fail to be entertained by this author’s violent, sexy mob. The books aren’t for the faint-hearted. There are tortures and killings as well as tough love and rough justice. The women are just as feisty as the men, with some memorable characters and hot love scenes to counteract all the brutal gangster stuff. I’ve loved this series since the first book and they just keep getting better. There are seven books in the series. Read one of my reviews here.

A mysterious figure perches in a lone tree.

4. The Prime Series by Catrin Russell

If a series can capture the attention of a reader who tends to avoid the sword n’ sorcery genre, then it is something special. The story of Anaya and Samael, the priestess and the demon, and their love spanning conflicts between nations, personal angst and bigotry, is an underestimated masterpiece. Four books in the series. Read my review here.

3. Hallelujah by Kim Fielding and F. E. Feeley Jr.

If you’ve never read either of these superlative authors’ books, I urge you to check them out. In this story there’s a road trip, magic, a running theme based around Leonard Cohen’s masterful rendition of Hallelujah and a powerful, satisfying denouement. The writing was excellent, the plotting off the scale. (Quoted from my Goodreads review. Read it here.)

2. Love on the Hudson by K.D. Fisher

This MM romance stole my heart. It had been sitting on my Kindle for two years before I finally picked it up, and when I did, I couldn’t put it down. A beautiful story of wounded men who find love under trying circumstances. Gorgeous and evocative. See my review here.

My Favourite Book of the Year

Young black girl with a lion and a lioness.

A Queen’s Pride (Feline Nation Book 1) by N. D. Jones

It was so difficult to choose, but this has to be my No. 1 choice, as the sequel is coming out soon and I can’t wait. I know I’ll be reading this again in the future. I’m not a huge fan of shifter books, so when I find one which ticks all my boxes (entertaining, strong-ass women at the top of their game, big cats, hot sex, great plot) it HAS to be right up there. Add in bang up-to-date cultural and social commentary and you have a book that is pretty special. See my review here.

BLURB

A Coming of Age Shifter Story 

Lies. Murder. Vengeance. 

For centuries, full-humans have descended on shifters’ lands, killing and claiming. Like sharks scenting blood in the water, they devoured all in their murderous path–gold, God, and glory their battle cries. From the flames of destruction, two nations emerged–the full-human territory of Vumaris and the feline nation of Shona. For eighteen-year-old Asha, traveling to Vumaris with her parents, lion alphas of the Kingdom of Shona, should’ve been a simple matter. Recommitting to an eighty-year-old peace treaty between their countries should’ve been easier still. Yet, greed and corruption know no boundaries of time and place, thus turning a family trip into the bloodiest night of Asha’s life. 

Will Asha survive the night of terror? If so, will she forgive her enemies or seek divine retribution? 

Ekon is a young bodyguard to the Shona princess. He also happens to be in love with Asha. When a group of mercenaries converges on Sanctum Hotel, hellbent on kidnapping Asha and slaughtering anyone who stands in their way, how can he save his beloved when the odds are stacked against him? 

Safety. Protection. Love. 

Asha and Ekon want all three, but none are guaranteed. 

Warning: Gun violence and torture (non-sexual) 

Honorable mentions

Book cover for Make Do and Mend, with two faces rising as steam from a teacup.

Make Do and Mend by Samuel Miles Miles McGee

A young married couple cope with grief and their own demons, told through the eyes of a dead grandmother who guides them through rocky waters. Read my review here.

Touch of Heaven (short story) by Rebecka Jäger

A beautifully described husky ride on an Arctic night. Read my review here.

Finally Home – Josiah by K-lee Klein

A young man has to return to his family home to face his abusive father’s death, finding love with a childhood friend. Read my review here.

An attractive black woman's legs next to a flight bag.

Have You Seen Her by Chicki Brown

A wealthy black woman escapes an abusive marriage and changes her identity, scraping together a new life in Atlantic City. Read my review here.

These books didn’t make my top 10 but were wonderful stories; creative, entertaining and just plain enjoyable to read.

Published by Lady J's Pawsome Readers

As well as reviewing books, I'm a writer of romantic suspense, MM fiction and LGBTQIA sci-fi. One of the original founders of WROTE Podcast, a medium for showcasing queer storytelling in all forms.

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