The Crimson Five series

Books that Made my Year

Did you achieve your reading goal this year? I didn’t even come close! I honestly thought I would though, especially with all the days we spent in quarantine. But, I’m trying not to be too hard on myself because although I didn’t read as many books as I wanted to, I did write one and publish another. That has to count for something, right?

Besides, it’s not the quantity of books that matters, but the experience. In 2020, I realized how much I like reading at night right before I go to sleep. I also realized how much I like reading books that are a part of a series. Every single one of my favorites this year we’re the beginning of a series, the ending of one, or some place in the middle.

So, this post is not a “best books of 2020” list. It’s a round up of a few chosen novels… ones that meant something to me this year:

• KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES. As I read this amazing middle grade book by Shannon Messenger, I felt like I had discovered a treasure. The only problem now is that all of the books are incredibly long and there are 8 books in the series. That’s right…eight! It’s going to take me forever to get through them! But, I’ll follow Sophie, Fitz, Keefe, and Dex anywhere, especially through a crystal world of magic and elves.

• THE BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS AND SNAKES. The Hunger Games trilogy prequel made a lasting impression on me, not because it was the best book of them all, but because through it, Suzanne Collins brought me back to the unforgettable world of Panem that I had missed so much. President Snow’s story may not have included Katniss, Peeta, and Gale but I’ll read anything that pulls the curtain back on the early years of the Capital and reveals why he became such a vile villain. Now, can we please have a story about Effie Trinket too?

• LEGENDARY. I was afraid the sequel to the spectacular CARAVEL by Stephanie Garber might night live up to my expectations, so I put off reading it. Have you ever done that? Well, I didn’t need to worry because I was thrilled to be thrown back into Legend’s mysteriously magical game. Following Scarlett’s sister, Tella this time was a fun change that revealed so much more than I expected. It left me eager to read the final book in the trilogy… but also a little sad knowing it was only a trilogy.

• FINALE. Turning the last page of a series is always bittersweet. Finale was no different. I devoured every word about Scarlett, Tella, Legend, and the entire incredible cast of characters. It was satisfying to see how their story wrapped up but devastating to know there would be no more. This series quickly became one of my favorites and how could it not? It had an imaginative world, intrigue, romance, games, and an enchanted gown. What else does any book need?

• POP THE BRONZE BALLOON. It’s my list, so I’m allowed to include my own book! Early in 2020, I read the final pass pages to this last book in my Crimson Five trilogy. I read it again when I received my author copies in October. Suffice it to say, I cried both sad and happy tears both times. I began writing the first book in the series in 2012. I had no clue back then that the story would turn into three books and become such a big part of my life for the next eight years! Saying goodbye to Kia, Ander, Mare, Jax & Jillian has been so much harder than I expected. But knowing their adventure will live on in the hands of readers has made my heart swell at least 67 times it’s normal size… like the number of invention ideas in Kia’s someday box.

I’m so grateful to have read the stories that I did. The great thing about books is that they take us to places we never could go without them. So, it’s possible I adore these books even more than I normally would have because I read them in a pandemic year that left us all reeling and feeling a little trapped. I’m not sure. All I know is that I loved them all and won’t soon forget any of them.

Books are a gift and I hope you managed to read some memorable ones of your own this year too… and that you will always remember them as the books that helped you get through the year that was 2020.