Kitty’s Top Ten Books of 2020

We’ve all relied on distractions this year. I know I have. Books have been a lifeline and have taken us to other places, far away from the world we’ve had to live in.

I have read so many wonderful books over the past twelve months, so choosing a Top Ten has been extremely difficult. Only three have been pure romance and each of the three were exceptional. Two were mystery and crime stories and among the best I’ve ever read in that genre. The remaining books on my list veered into other genres – science fiction, fantasy and the supernatural. I needed some escapism it seems. 

I recommend each and every one and hope that you will have a look at my reviews and maybe try them for yourselves. Here are my Top Ten, in alphabetical order

Finding Jessica Lambert by Clare Ashton

The Lost Temple of Psiere by K Aten

The Thing About Tilly by G Benson

Never Too Late for Heroes by A.L. Brooks

Spirited by Julie Cohen

Alsea Rising: The Seventh Star by Fletcher Delancey

Without A Trace by Mari Hannah 

Christmas in Mistletoe by Clare Lydon

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

Whispering Wildwood by Emma Sterner-Radley

 

Review of ‘Alsea Rising: The Seventh Star’ by Fletcher DeLancey

I have read the entire Chronicles of Alsea series and I am astounded at the talent of Fletcher DeLancey. Her writing is superb and the imagination that went into the plotting of the series is beyond belief. The final book is a fitting end to the series. ‘Alsea Rising: The Seventh Star’ was a truly satisfying and emotionally overwhelming book. So many threads were brought together and woven into a perfect tapestry. Each and every character played a part and they were given well deserved closure. It was about being with the people and in the place you are meant to be. About fulfilling a destiny.  It was an utter joy to read and I fervently hope that the author is not finished with this universe. I must also make a special mention of the wonderful cover art for this book and the rest of the series. It is stunning and looks amazing on my bookshelves. ‘Alsea Rising: The Seventh Star was a beautiful end to a masterpiece of a series. 

Review of ‘Alsea Rising: Gathering Storm’ by Fletcher Delancey

This book begins a new phase for our favourite characters and starts to bring some threads together. But there is so much more to this story and Fletcher Delancey has ensured that no reader will be able to resist immediately buying the finale. 

Ekatya’s life has never been easy since she first entered Alsean space. Some in the Protectorate do not regard her in the high esteem she deserves. And one particular Admiral is determined to make her life difficult. But not every aspect of her life causes stress. For all of the main protagonists, changes begin and realisations become clear. As the much needed space elevator nears completion, fears of a Voloth attack weigh on the minds of those responsible for the safety of Alsea. There’s a feeling of something important coming, of the culmination of destiny. For all of them. High drama and the most delicious cliffhanger will have you screaming for more. Be warned- you will want to have the next book ready to go. Completely and utterly wonderful. 

Review of ‘Uprising’ by Fletcher DeLancey

‘Uprising’ is book 8 in The Chronicles of Alsea series and another masterpiece. This time the overall theme is of different people learning about each other and realising we are all the same. It’s also about hate that could rip everything apart.They were brought together in war and mayhem. Now the repercussions start to play out as different groups live together on Alsea – Alseans, Gaians and Voloth. It’s about taking a stand and demanding change. There’s a sense of empowerment, of coming together. It was inspiring.

Review of ‘Resilience’ by Fletcher DeLancey

‘Resilience’ is the 7th book in the Chronicles of Alsea series. And it’s another marvel. Fletcher DeLancey takes us further into and her universe and the wonders within. Rahel is onboard the Phoenix and has to find a way to coexist with the Gaians serving there. It’s not easy. This story focused on relationships of various kinds, and the importance of communication. I loved getting to know Dr Wells especially. There was something so appealing about her – the gruff and the caring sides of her nature made her a wonderful character. I hope we get to see more of her in future books too. As for some other new characters, they made a deep impression on me. But to say any more would wander into the area of spoilers. An excellent story, with exquisite writing and imagination. 

Review of ‘Outcaste’ by Fletcher DeLancey

Rahel Sayana wants to forge her own path, but in a society where choosing your own caste is not easy, her wishes are disregarded. Seeing no other way out, she runs away to Whitesun and a life on the edges of society. A life fraught with danger. Struggles become part of who she is and lead her into battles not of her own making. 

This has been the most challenging, but the most satisfying of the Chronicles of Alsea books for me so far. I must admit some of the subject matter was difficult. But it had to be done. Fletcher Delancey’s masterful storytelling took me to the depths and then turned it all around. Rachel’s story was multi-layered, with fascinating connections woven throughout. Seeing the story of Alsea from a different perspective, a different point of view added a richness I could not have anticipated.New characters so unlike any in the previous books opened up my mind. There were a few surprises that made me sit back and wonder at the imagination and skill of Fletcher DeLancey.  Utterly outstanding. There’s no other way to describe it. 

Review of ‘Vellmar The Blade’ by Fletcher DeLancey

‘Vellmar the Blade’ is the fifth book in The Chronicles of Alsea series and takes us in a new direction. This time we get to know one of the other characters, Lead Guard Fianna Vellmar. Her blade throwing skills are well known from previous books, but we get to see just how respected she is when she has the chance to take part in the championships and attempt to become No.1. 

I liked getting to find out more about Fianna, her background and her family. I also loved the hints of more to come with this character. By focusing on a character other than the main four protagonists in the series, it enriched the world of Alsea for me. I can’t get enough of these chronicles and my bookshelf is rapidly filling up as I race towards completing them.

Review of ‘Catalyst’ by Fletcher DeLancey

‘Catalyst’ takes us back to the aftermath of The Battle of Alsea and the true repercussions for Ekatya and Lhyn. The strength of their bond becomes more evident with each passing day. As the political ambitions of others begin to impact them, they are caught in a dangerous situation with a potentially deadly outcome. 

We get to find out more about Ekatya’s life on board ship and about the protectorate in this book. The plot involves a mission that was exciting and full of action and we get to see her in her element. I loved that it was so much about Ekatya. She’s become my favourite character in the series and I wanted to know more about her background and her life before Alsea. This gave us that insight. 

I think what really impressed me most about ‘Catalyst’ was the blending of a very emotional story set on Alsea and the action and adventure of Ekatya and Lhyn’s story. I found myself being surprised at some of the revelations and it changed how I felt about certain people. It was a powerfully emotional, visceral experience.  It was brilliant.

Review of ‘Without A Front: The Warrior’s Challenge’ by Fletcher DeLancey

After an unexpected attack Lancer Tal and Salomen find out just what their relationship really means. Their bond brings a strength neither could have imagined, but they face decisions that are bound to change their lives forever. Is Salomen ready to take a leap into the unknown? As Andira fights forces plotting against her, will she be able to save her political career and ensure her own happiness? The future of Alsea depends on it.

I loved seeing the development of Andira and Salomen’s relationship. It was never going to be easy forming a bond in the glare of publicity, but the couple were wading through the repercussions of the attack, with all of its implications. The importance of their bond became more evident as the story progressed – and what a story! This exciting and fast-paced adventure expanded on what we knew about Alsea, and into the inter-caste machinations and politicking of those in government. I am in awe of the world-building skills of Fletcher DeLancey. The more I find out about Alsea, the more I want to know. Each book in the series adds to the mythology and convinces me that someone has to pick up The Chronicles of Alsea and film it. And yes, I’ve already bought book 4! 

Review of ‘ Without A Front: The Producer’s Challenge’ by Fletcher DeLancey

After discovering the Chronicles of Alsea Series by Fletcher DeLancey in ‘The Caphenon’ I started on Book 2 right away. It is in ‘Without A Front: The Producer’s Challenge’ that we get to see more of Alsean society and especially the life of Lancer Tal. In the aftermath of the battle with the Voloth, Alsea must heal, and it is up to Andira Tal to see that happens. But their society can never be the same again, and they must learn to live with the changes. When The Caphenon landed on Alsea it brought the realisation that life existed beyond Alsea. It also brought new technology, and it is this new tech that is causing ruptures within the castes. When a vocal young woman from the Producer caste challenges Lancer Tal to try out her way of life for a month, as a way of understanding the concerns, Andira rises to the challenge. Will her new experiences change her views? She ends up finding more than she bargained for, and life will never be quite the same again.

This story was a change of pace and more about the life of the Lancer. Many hard decisions had to be made and moral dilemmas faced. We find out more about the different castes and the love lives of the Alseans. It made for a powerfully emotional read. It was a warm story of family and love and responsibility. I enjoyed seeing a different side to Andira. Salomen was the perfect woman to challenge her and her views. Their interactions were thought-provoking. I loved it and as I turned the last page I felt compelled to go straight to Amazon and buy book 3 for my Kindle. Immediately. I couldn’t wait a single second to read the next part of this amazing series. Highly recommended.