Top Ten Tuesday – My Favourite Debut Novels of 2020

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that currently resides at The Artsy Reader Girl and features bloggers sharing lists on various book topics.  For this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, participants get a freebie to celebrate Valentine’s Day, and I thought that I would take this opportunity to highlight some of the best debut novels from 2020.  I really wanted to highlight some of the best debut novels of last year and I had originally intended to do this list a little earlier, but I could not fit it into my schedule, so I leapt at this chance.

2020 proved to be a fun year for new novels as several fantastic authors appeared on the scene.  I was lucky enough to receive an excellent selection of debut novels from across several different genres last year, and many of these debuts proved to be exceptional and outstanding reads.  As a result, I was easily able to come up with 10 impressive releases for this list and each of the entries below come highly recommended, especially as several were amongst my favourite books (and audiobooks) of 2020.  I also decided to feature a couple pre-2020 debut novels that I read last year in the honourable mentions section to highlight these as well, as they were some impressive and captivating reads.  The result was a pretty awesome list, so let us see what made the cut.

 

Honourable Mentions:


We Are The Dead
by Mike Shackle

We are the Dead Cover

 

The Black Hawks by David Wragg

The Black Hawks Cover

 

Top Ten List:


Stormblood
by Jeremy Szal

Stormblood Cover

 

The Kingdom of Liars by Nick Martell

The Kingdom of Liars Cover

 

The Last Smile in Sunder City by Luke Arnold

The Last Smile in Sunder City

 

The Viennese Girl by Jenny Lecoat

The Viennese Girl Cover

 

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

The Thursday Murder Club Cover

 

Altered Realms: Ascension by B. F. Rockriver

Altered Realms cover

 

Night Lessons in Little Jerusalem by Rick Held

Night Lessons in Little Jerusalem Cover

 

The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

The Space Between Worlds Cover

 

Assault by Fire by Hunter Ripley Rawlings

Assault by Fire Cover

 

The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart

The Bone Shard Daughter Cover

 

That’s my Top Ten list for this week. I am pretty happy with the varied collection of debut novels I read last year, and I think that all the above authors are going to go on to do amazing things.  Several of them already have second novels on the way this year, and I fully intend to grab them when they come out.  2021 is also shaping up to be an excellent year for debut novels, and I have already enjoyed a couple of awesome debuts that will no doubt make the 2021 version of this list.  While I spend this year compiling which debuts of 2021 are my favourite, make sure to let me know what your favourite 2020 debut novels are in the comments below.

Quick Review – The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

The Space Between Worlds Cover

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (Trade Paperback – 11 August 2020)

Series: Standalone

Length: 329 pages

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Interested in reading a compelling and clever science fiction novel that takes place across multiple alternate dimensions? You need to check out The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson, one of the most fascinating debuts of 2020.

The Space Between Worlds was an intriguing novel that I was lucky enough to receive and read last year.  This fantastic first novel from Johnson was an exciting and deep read, but I completely failed to review it after finishing it and I have been meaning to write something up for a while.  As we have just gotten into the second month of 2021, I have finally had a chance to rectify this by doing a quick review of The Space Between Worlds, which was a truly impressive and captivating first outing from Johnson.

Synopsis:

A stunning science fiction debut, The Space Between Worlds is both a cross-dimensional adventure and a powerful examination of identity, privilege, and belonging.

‘My mother used to say I was born reaching, which is true. She also used to say it would get me killed, which it hasn’t. Not yet, anyway.’

Born in the dirt of the wasteland, Cara has fought her entire life just to survive. Now she has done the impossible, and landed herself a comfortable life on the lower levels of the wealthy and walled-off Wiley City. So long as she can keep her head down and avoid trouble, she’s on a sure path to citizenship and security – on this world, at least.

Of the 380 realities that have been unlocked, Cara is dead in all but 8.

Cara’s parallel selves are exceptionally good at dying – from disease, turf wars, or vendettas they couldn’t outrun – which makes Cara wary, and valuable. Because while multiverse travel is possible, no one can visit a world in which their counterpart is still alive. And no one has fewer counterparts than Cara.

But then one of her eight doppelgangers dies under mysterious circumstances, and Cara is plunged into a new world with an old secret. What she discovers will connect her past and future in ways she never could have imagined – and reveal her own role in a plot that endangers not just her earth, but the entire multiverse.

Johnson has come up with a very compelling story in The Space Between Worlds that follows Cara, who makes a living hopping across alternate realities to obtain useful data and information that her parent company can utilise.  Cara, who originally lived in a violent wasteland slum outside the gleaming city where her employers are based, is given a new reality to visit when her doppelganger from that reality apparently dies.  However, when she arrives at the new world, she finds that not everything is as it seems, and she encounters a vastly different and infinitely more dangerous version of the town that she grew up in.  Her visit to this reality places her in even more danger when it uncovers some long-buried secrets about her own world, including something from Cara’s own past that she has long tried to keep hidden.  This was an extremely compelling and fast-paced story that proved very easy to get addicted to.  Johnson’s narrative is filled with some fantastic and impressive twists and turns as Cara finds herself amid a dark conspiracy that has its roots in the dimensional travel that keeps her employed.  While it is easy to read this book only for the cool science fiction thriller elements, readers will also become enthralled with the deep character moments as the protagonist tries to come to term with who she is and whether all the versions of her are cursed or damaged in the same way.  All of this makes for an excellent story which is extremely fun to read.

My favourite part of The Space Between Worlds had to be the exceptional alternate reality elements that were such a distinctive part of the book’s plot.  In this dystopian future, Earth contains at least 380 alternate realities that can only be visited by someone whose duplicate in that universe is already dead.  Each of these realities is slightly different, with differing personal decisions resulting in changes to the lives and personalities of its inhabitants.  Johnson did a fantastic job introducing the entire concept around the alternate reality travel to the reader, including with a few entertaining quotes and anecdotes, and I liked how the author envisioned how travelling between dimensions could be utilised and how it could happen.  The scenes featuring the jump to the alternate realities are really trippy, and I loved the quasi-religious nature that those interdimensional travellers take as they view the space that exists between realities.

While all the theory, science and practicalities behind Johnson’s version of reality-jumping is cool, the real beauty is the way in which the author works it into the plot of the book.  Throughout the course of The Space Between Worlds you see several different alternate versions of the same dystopian future, and it was really intriguing to see the subtle differences between them.  The real shock is when the latest world Cara visits turns out to be completely upside down, as several key people in her lives have changed dramatically, including Nik Nik, a brutal warlord to whom Cara’s destiny is constantly tied no matter which reality they are in.  Seeing a completely different version of some of the featured characters in this novel really drives home just how significant a single moment can be and how certain events can change everything about someone.  The author works a lot of the cool revelations, similar character histories and unique details about each character across the cosmos into the overarching plot, helping to create a thrilling tale with some powerful and intense character studies.  I had an outstanding time seeing these cool alternate reality science fiction elements coming into play throughout the book and they proved to be a fantastic and clever addition to the narrative.

The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson was an extremely compelling and cleverly inventive science fiction debut that is really worth checking out.  I loved the complex and fascinating tale of choices, fate and thrilling betrayals that the author wove through the course of this book, and this was a fantastic book to check out.  I look forward to seeing what Johnson will cook up next and I am sure that it will result in another intriguing and captivating read.

WWW Wednesday – 2 September 2020

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words, where bloggers share the books that they’ve recently finished, what they are currently reading and what books they are planning to read next. Essentially you have to answer three questions (the Three Ws):

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

So, let’s get to it.

What are you currently reading?

V2 by Robert Harris (Ebook)

V2 Cover

V2 is the latest historical fiction novel from bestselling author Robert Harris.  This new book follows a World War II espionage mission to stop the German’s deadly V2 rocket attacks.  I only started this one today, but so far it is proving to be a rather interesting read.

Relentless by R. A. Salvatore (Audiobook)

Relentless Cover

I started listening to this a few days ago and I have been powering through it ever since.  Relentless is the final book in the latest trilogy of Drizzt Do’Urden novels, following on from Timeless and Boundless.  This has so far been another epic read from Salvatore and I am having an amazing time listening to it.  I cannot wait to see how this current trilogy ends and I should hopefully finish this audiobook off in the next day or so.

What did you recently finish reading?

Blunt Force by Lynda La Plante (Trade Paperback)

Blunt Force Cover


Harrow the Ninth
 by Tamsyn Muir (Audiobook)

Harrow the Ninth Cover


The Space Between Worlds
by Micaiah Johnson (Trade Paperback)

The Space Between Worlds Cover

What do you think you’ll read next?

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini (Trade Paperback)

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars Cover

 

That’s it for this week, check back in next Wednesday to see what progress I’ve made on my reading and what books I’ll be looking at next.

Book Haul – 23 July 2020

I have been having an absolutely fantastic week for books, as I have been lucky enough to receive several incredible and amazing new novels from some of my local publishers.  As I am anticipating getting a few more books in the near future, I thought I would take this opportunity to highlight some of the recent releases I have received before my new book pile got too big.  These novels include some truly awesome new releases, several of which I have been eagerly awaiting for some time.  I am extremely keen to read all of the books below and I cannot wait to check them out.

Demon in White by Christopher Ruocchio

Demon in White Cover 1

The first book that I received is the compelling third book in the Sun Eater series, Demon in White, by Christopher Ruocchio.  I have been loving the Sun Eater series over the last couple of years, and both of Ruocchio’s prior books, Empire of Silence and Howling Dark, have been extremely impressive reads.  As a result, I have been really looking forward to Demon in White and it is actually one of my most anticipate releases of 2020.  I am planning to read this next, although it is a rather lengthy book that could take me some time to get through.

A Dance with Fate by Juliet Marillier

A Dance With Fate Cover

The next entry in this Book Haul post is the intriguing fantasy novel A Dance with Fate by Juliet Marillier.  I enjoyed the first book in this series, The Harp of Kings, last year and I look forward to seeing how Marillier continues the story in her latest novel.

The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton

The Devil and the Dark Water Cover

This is another fantastic book that I have been really looking forward to.  This is the second novel from Turton whose debut book, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, was simply outstanding.  I am extremely keen to see how The Devil and the Dark Water turns out and it should prove to be a really incredible read.

The Suicide House by Charlie Donlea

The Suicide House Cover

This is an intriguing sounding murder mystery that looks set to utilise the always enjoyable true crime podcast plot device.  I have heard some good things about this author and I look forward to seeing how this book turns out.

Under Pressure by Robert Pobi

Under Pressure Cover

Now this could be a fun one.  Under Pressure is an exciting new thriller with a very cool premise behind it.  I have high hopes for this book and it should prove to be an enjoyable and captivating read.

The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

The Space Between Worlds Cover

The Space Between Worlds is an amazing sounding science fiction debut that follows someone with the ability to walk through various parallel universes.  I really like the plot concept that Johnson has come up with and I think it is going to result in an excellent book.

When I was Ten by Fiona Cummins

When I Was Ten Cover

This is another interesting murder mystery that will also utlise some true crime documentary elements in its story.  This one sounds like it is going to be rather dark and it should make for a gripping read.

Queen of Storms by Raymond E. Feist

Queen of Storms Cover

The final entry on this list is Queen of Storms by Raymond E. Feist.  I saw this book in the book store the other day and could resist buying a copy, mainly because I am a major fan of Feist as he is easily one of my favourite authorsQueen of Storms is the sequel to Feist’s 2018 release, King of Ashes, and I know that I am absolutely going to love this new book.

 

Well that’s the end of this latest Book Haul post.  As you can see I have quite a bit of reading to do at the moment thanks to all these awesome books that have come in.  Let me know which of the above you are most interested in and make sure to check back in a few weeks to see my reviews of them.