Best Books of the Year (so far!) and 2020 Reading Stats

top books 2017

Happy day! Today I wanna talk about all my favorite books that I’ve read so far this year! And after that, I wanna look a bit at my reading stats, as I’ve been keeping track of them as one of my 2020 Reading Goals.

I have nine books to talk about today – all of them got at least a 4.5 star rating from me, and over half got a five!

For those unfamiliar with my rating system, to get a five stars from me, the book has to be perfect to me. Objectively it can have flaws but to me, it’s the bees knees. Basically I have to read it and think ‘man this is a new all-time favorite’. So a 4.5 star book is still a fantastic book, and while I consider it a favorite of the year, it might not quite be an ‘all-time’ favorite. So usually I tend to only have a handful of five star books a year. But so far this year I already have quite a few – it’s a good year! These are ordered from least-most-favorite to most-most-favorite.


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All You Need Is Kill

All You Need is Kill by Takeshi Obata4.5 stars – This is a one-shot manga about a man who gets stuck in a time loop while fighting alien invaders. Sound familiar? This is the source material of the Tom Cruise movie, Edge of Tomorrow. The movie took some liberties for sure, but it’s pretty entertaining. This manga though, I loved it. It’s so gritty, but has hints of humor at the same time. It conveys the emotional state of the main character as he lives the same day over and over and over and over, each time knowing he’s going to die and restart again. It’s a good psychological book, and has plenty of action and suspense as well. And it’s short! One volume!

Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen4.5 stars – I know, I know, I’m late to this one. I have a weird aversion to classics, what can I say (Though when I do read them I tend to actually like them, so, like, what gives). I buddy read this book early this year with a couple friends, one of whom has read this book a million times and is an all-time favorite of hers, and the other who had attempted to read it a couple times and never had finished. So we were all at different levels of exposure, so it was neat to see how each of us reacted differently to the story. Me, personally, I ended up taking pictures of passages, scribbling on the pictures, and sending them to the friend that’d read the book a million times. Didn’t wanna spoil the other friend or I would have sent to her too. If you’re interested, here is the post I made with all my scribbles. But yeah I ended up really, really liking this book, and I’m kinda mad I put it off for so long.

A Natural History of Dragons (The Memoirs of Lady Trent, #1)

A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan4.5 stars – I picked this book up back in April, and I still think about it almost every day. There’s just something about it. This book follows the fantasy-equivalent of a Victorian era woman as she goes on a research exploration to study and document dragons. It has sketches in the book that she draws, and tells the narrative from her point of view, as if you’re reading her memoir. It has a lot of charm and wit, along with some fascinating illustrations, some neat plot twists, and some memorable characters. I seriously loved this one.

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing (An Absolutely Remarkable Thing #1)

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green4.75 stars – I’m late on this one too, I know. It was a big thing a couple years ago when it first came out. But in my mind for some reason I had categorized it as something I wouldn’t be interested in. Why, I don’t know. The hype? I don’t knowwww. But honestly, this book is right up my alley. It contains one of my favorite tropes: the big dumb object. You know, when something weird just appears, and nobody knows where it came from or what it is. The object itself may or may not be dumb, but the trope is the trope. But I really loved this – I liked how the main character was so incredibly human. Her flaws – the way she handled relationships, the way the fame got to her head after she told herself it wouldn’t – was all so incredibly believable. It was like a character study, almost. It’s so incredibly good.

I Want to Eat Your Pancreas

I Want to Eat Your Pancreas by Yoru Sumino5 stars – This manga made me feel very distinctly, consciously mortal, and I didn’t like it. But that also made me love the book. This manga is a one-shot, and follows a teenage boy who befriends a teenage girl with terminal pancreatic cancer. The girl though, is determined to live her life while she can, and is always taking an almost dead-pan humor take on her situation, like saying things like ‘we should go do this before I die and worms eat me’ and stuff like that. It’s morbid, funny, and heartbreaking all in one. I still get the happysads when I think about this one.

Interview with the Vampire (The Vampire Chronicles, #1)

Interview With the Vampire by Anne Rice5 stars – This book has been on my radar since I was about fifteen years old. I remember borrowing it from a friend and trying to read it, then got distracted about a third of the way through and never finishing. So when I picked it back up, I had it in my head that I was going to get stuck in a similar fashion. But then it surprised me with its atmosphere and tone. This book is seductive, for lack of a better word. It pulled me right in and kept me there, and I enjoyed every page.

Our Dining Table

Our Dining Table by Mita Ori5 stars – This is a oneshot manga, following a young man who has trouble eating in front of others and another young man who wants to learn how to cook for his younger brother. It’s a fluffy, sweet romance, and it melted my heart. It deals with the issues around the main character’s food issues, and also touches on topics relating to adoption, absentee parenting, and more. It’s really wholesome and really nice.

If We Were Villains

If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio5 stars – This is officially my favorite novel of 2020 so far. And honestly it’s very outside my usual genre of fantasy. This is a literary suspense novel following a group of college students studying Shakespeare at a liberal arts college. The writing is lyrical, sprinkled with Shakespearean verse and at times paralleling its themes. This book really knocked my socks off. Originally, I had given it a 4.5 – I knew I loved it, but I didn’t think it would be an all-time fave. But after sitting on it for a month and not going a single day without thinking of it at least once, I just had to bring it up to a five. This book was really something.

Black Butler, Vol. 1 (Black Butler, #1)

Black Butler by Yana Toboso5 stars – For anyone even remotely following my blog this should really come as no surprise, because since I started reading it I have not shut up about it. I technically cheated by picking a series as my ‘favorite book so far’, well, favorite manga – favorite read – you know what I mean. But with manga it’s really hard to separate the story out into individual volumes. It’s just one story – it’s one entity. And Black Butler, man. Individual volumes rated I think at the lowest 3.5 stars for one volume, and then many 4 or 4.5, and then more a full 5 stars. Overall though, this series in my opinion is five stars. It’s just fantastic and I cannot recommend it enough.

It follows a thirteen year old boy who sells his soul to a devil, bent on gaining the means necessary to take revenge after his family was slaughtered in their homes and he was taken and tortured by the same people. The story is set in Victorian England, and the boy’s father was an earl of the queen. The boy inherits the title, and using his demon – posing as a butler of the family – the boy works to get closer to those who wronged him.

This series has action, comedy (weirdly a lot of comedy), horror, suspense, thrills, sads, all of it. It literally has a bit of everything, and I cannot understate how much I love this. It’s really the best thing I’ve read all year, especially with the latest arc in the most recent volumes. It shook me to my bones, man. It’s so fantastic.

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And that’s all of my favorite books! I’m actually rather proud of myself for actually ranking them for once. Onto the stats!


Total books read: 136

  • Manga: 114
  • Novels: 17
  • Novellas: 2
  • Anthologies: 1
  • Graphic novels: 1

Breakdown by….

Genre:

  • Literary fiction: 3
  • Science fiction: 6
  • Fantasy: 25
  • Romance: 32
  • Horror: 2
  • Magical realism: 2
  • Shojo: 30
  • Slice of Life: 3
  • Historical Fantasy: 29
  • Humor: 3
  • Classic: 1

Age Group:

  • Adult: 14
  • Young Adult: 5
  • Kids/picture books: 1
  • New Adult: 1
  • Manga – Teen(13+): 34
  • Manga – Older Teen(16+): 68
  • Manga – Mature(18+): 13

TBR:

  • 85 read from books added to TBR this year
  • 17 read from books already existing on TBR before 2020
  • 34 read from books borrowed from friends/services/library
  • 4 rereads

Month:

  • Jan: 14 books – 3749 pages
  • Feb: 7 books – 2078 pages
  • Mar: 32 books – 8031 pages
  • Apr: 39 books – 7778 pages
  • May: 22 books – 4661 pages
  • June: 19 books – 5284 pages
  • July (so far): 2 books – 550 pages

Rating:

  • 1 star: 1 (DNF’d)
  • 2 stars: 2
  • 2.5 stars: 1
  • 3 stars: 8
  • 3.5 stars: 33
  • 3.75 stars: 13
  • 4 stars: 42
  • 4.25 stars: 4
  • 4.5 stars: 21
  • 4.75 stars: 1
  • 5 stars: 10

Avg rating: 3.9

Author gender:

  • Male: 16
  • Female: 119
  • Unknown: 1

Author country:

  • United States: 20
  • United Kingdom: 1
  • Japan: 112
  • South Korea: 3

Diversity:

  • Race: 64
  • LGBTQIA: 5
  • Author: 6
  • Combo of more than one diversity (including race, lgbt+, mental illness, disability, author, chronic illness and ownvoices): 49
  • None: 12

And that’s it! I’m gonna save all the fancy bar graphs and pie charts until the end of the year when all of the books from 2020 are present and accounted for. That being said, my end of year faves may contain totally different books! There’s still just under half a year to go. All of these books could totally get swept away by even better books, who knows!

If you read all of this, thank you so much, I really appreciate it! And if you’ve read any of the above or have been keeping stats of your own, lemme know! Happy reading!

 

 

Top 5 books of 2018 so far

Copy of Top 5 Wednesday Banner

Hello, happy Hump Day! As you’re reading this, I’m not at work (woo, 4th of July and paid holidays. I’m gonna cherish it). Today’s topic is favorite books of the year so far! I’ve actually already hit my goodreads goal of 40 books, so I have quite the selection to pick from. All of the below books were a solid five stars. Rating them 5 through 1 is a bit superfluous, so take their order with a grain of salt.

If you’d like to participate in Top 5 Wednesday, you can do so here!


5. A River in Darkness: One Man’s Escape From North Korea by Masaji Ishikawa

A River in Darkness:  One Man's Escape from North KoreaGenre: Nonfiction – Memoir

This is a very recent read for me, I just finished it last week, but it’s definitely made its way into my heart. This book is a memoir written by a man who somehow escaped from the North Korean totalitarian regime. It’s written in a very matter-of-fact way – it doesn’t shy away from the suffering that Ishikawa or his family felt. It doesn’t give you an illusion of a happy ending.

This book is powerful, heart breaking, and will stick with me for a long time.

 

 

 

4. The Broken Eye by Brent Weeks

The Broken Eye (Lightbringer, #3)Genre: Fantasy

The Broken Eye is the third book in Weeks’ Lightbringer series, which is one that I’ve been raving about for a long time. The series follows a slew of characters in world of political and magical upheaval. The magic system, based on colors, is really, really cool. The users of the magic are able to visualize a color and morph it into physical matter. Most can do one or two colors, but the Prism, one of the main characters, can draft them all.

And each time a magic user drafts a color, it brings them slightly closer to their deaths.

The world that Weeks has created is so great. I love the plot development, I love the characters, I love the humor. I love it all. I’m currently reading the fourth book, The Blood Mirror and am loving that as well. I hope the fifth (and final??) book comes out soon so I’m not left in a deprived state. DON’T LEAVE ME HANGIN’ WEEKS, OKAY? OKAY.

3. Prince’s Gambit by C. S. Pacat

Prince's Gambit (Captive Prince, #2)Genre: Fantasy, M/M Romance

Really, this one and King’s Rising deserve this spot, but I’m keeping it to single books, and I’m trying to keep one series from hogging multiple spots in the list. So think of it as this book with the third book peeking over its shoulder.

Prince’s Gambit is the second book in the Captive Prince trilogy, which has also become one of my favorites this year. Out of the three, this one in my opinion is by far the best. The other two are good as well, but this one is my fave.

This series, taking place is a fantasy world and dealing with politics and war, is not for the feint of heart. It contains gruesome violence, rape, and just unpleasant situations. It’s gritty. But it’s just so addicting to read. The two main characters – the prince of one land and the prince of the other, find themselves in a situation where… well, read the synopsis of the first book and it’ll be rather clear.

This series is not by any means a modern classic, but holy cow did I have fun reading it. I couldn’t put it down.

2. Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku vol 1 by Fujita

Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku, Vol 1 (Otakoi: Otaku Can't Fall in Love?!)Genre: Manga – Slice of life/Romance

Yep, a single volume of a manga gets the number two spot. I loved this so much.

It kinda came out of nowhere – a comedy youtube channel I follow did a review of the first three episodes of the accompanying anime, and it made me curious enough to go pick it up. I buzzed through the first season in two days, and then I got the ‘need more’ itch I couldn’t scratch. So, my husband bought me the first volume of the manga as a surprise, because I’d been blabbering about it non-stop. I thought that I would like the manga less, only because I had just finished watching the same plot material and figured it might be repetitive from the closeness of consuming to two.

But hoo-boy was I wrong. This manga is even better than the anime. I absolutely adored it and am a fan for life. And I’ve only read the first volume! There are two currently out, the third being released in English in October. You bet your butt I’m going to suck them into my collection.

My favorite part about this series is its simplicity. It follows two mid-20s working individuals, both nerds in their own way, who decide to date each other because they’re most likely to understand each other’s obsessions. It’s cute, it’s light, and it’s drama-free. There’s no teenage angst, there’s no miscommunication… it’s just fun and adorable and funny and I really, really enjoyed it.

1. Golden Fool by Robin Hobb

Golden Fool (Tawny Man, #2)Genre: Fantasy

Again this is another ‘this book and the third one in the trilogy’. Not saying the first wasn’t just as good – it was, but technically I read it in 2017. 😛

I’ve been making my way through Robin Hobb’s Realm of the Elderlings world for almost two years now. I started Assassin’s Apprentice back in 2016 I think, and by the time I got to Assassin’s Quest (Or was it Royal Assassin?!) I had begun buddy-reading everything with Zezee @Zezeewithbooks. We’ve covered all the books since then up through this series… and this one by far is both of our favorites. Golden Fool in particular was just so wonderful. So much character development! So much heart-throbbing-ness, so much suspense! AH, BELOVED. ❤

This series will be getting a blabber from me very soon – I still haven’t been able to calm down enough after the end of Fool’s Fate (book 3) to articulate my thoughts in an even semi-coherent manner. I’m reeling! I’ll get there.

But this series, this book, by far, is my favorite read of the year so far. It’s tops, and I love it. Robin Hobb has a fan for life.


And that’s it! Out of the forty books I’ve read so far this year, these ones are the top of the top, they’re the cat’s pajamas, they’re the bee’s knees!

Have you read any of the above? What were your faves? Happy reading!