Favorite Books 2020
Recently, it occurred to me I've read scads of books during this year of pandemonium. Here are a few that, for one reason or another, stood out.
Apollo's Arrow by Nicholas Christakis
This book stands out in its timeliness since it deals directly with the COVID-19 pandemic. Pandemics throughout the ages are also discussed in detail. All in all, it's a fascinating read that includes the rather depressing prediction that life won't return to normal, the "new normal", until 2024.
The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth
Admittedly, the characters in this book are paper thin. Forsyth more than makes up for that with the meticulous and fascinating detailing of the tradecraft of both the assassin and the security services. Every scene drips with tension and suspense. This is a classic thriller worthy of study by any aspiring author.
Red Country by Joe Abercrombie
I'm not a fan of every novel I read by Abercrombie, but he really hits it out of the park with Red Country. It feels as much a classic western as it does a grimdark fantasy. A combination of strong new characters and a who's who of favorite characters from earlier novels makes for an outstanding read.
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
This is the first book in one of the more memorable fantasy trilogies I've read lately. The characters are great. The world of multiple Londons, each with its own shade of magic, is fascinating. What really sets this book and series apart is the sense of mystery Schwab imbues the writing with. Top-notch.
Wow. Easily one of my favorite YA series of all time. To read one of Westerfeld's books is to know you're in the hands of a master storyteller. Perhaps his greatest skill is choosing words that succinctly describe his immersive fantastical worlds.
Mecha Samurai Empire by Peter Tieryas
The United States of Japan series is just awesome. Think Man in the High Castle with anime-style robots. These are always great reads.
Show, Don't Tell by Sandra Gerth
If you've ever been told you need to show instead of telling with your writing, read this book. At only about 100 pages, it's a quick read and entirely worth your time.
The Saxon Tales Series Bernard Cornwell
I read a bunch of these books this year. Each one is freaking amazing. When I was a young lad, I was always disappointed when an excellent series ended. I didn't want the story to end. As an adult, I'm usually glad when a series ends–especially if the climax is outstanding. I can say right now, I think I'll be disappointed when I read the final page of The Saxon Tales. Uhtred's adventures are simply enthralling.