Top Reads of the Year: CW’s Top Ten Reads of 2020

What a year 2020 has been. I’m actively resisting the urge to talk and reflect on 2020 as a year, because I am sure that there will be an overabundance of thinkpieces. But all I’ll say that – it’s been a tough year, friends, and I’m so proud and glad that we all made it through together.

With books though, I think this has been one of my favourite reading years. 2017 was my last favourite reading year – that was the year where I made the conscious decision to diversify my reading choices, and I discovered so many wonderful stories. Though the years after were also good, I think 2020 was the year where I just read a series of phenomenal books that now live in a tender place in my heart and memory.

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Book Recommendations – 20 Books Inspired by Mythology & Folktales (Other than Greek Mythology)

Book Recommendations - 20 Books Inspired by Mythology & Folktales (Other than Greek Mythology)

In case you’re new to the Pond’s book recommendation posts, the recommendation posts are brought to you by Varian, the Pond’s very own Toadshifter who is knowledgeable in all kinds of magic! One of Varian’s ambitions is to get better at sewing, hence why whenever Varian has come up with their latest costume, they will always recommend a few books that inspired them!

I love stories inspired by mythology. I love when mythology-inspired stories feel familiar, taking elements and ideas and motifs from stories that have stood the test of time, and telling them in a fresh, contemporary, and exciting way.

Varian the toad dressed up as Hou Yi the archer from Chinese mythology.

But, I’ve noticed that whenever I look for new books inspired by mythology, the lists often recommend books that are inspired by Greek mythology. Don’t get me wrong – I think Greek mythology is awesome and books inspired by Greek mythology are pretty rad. For instance, The Star-Touched Queen is a retelling of Persephone and Hades blended with Indian folklore and Promise of Shadows has a Black main character that is also a Harpy.

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Book Review: Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia – A Historical Fantasy Inspired by Mexican Folklore, in which a Girl, a God of Death, and I (After Reading This) are Forever Changed

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. A badge at the bottom-left that says, 'Reviewed by CW, The Quiet Pond'. In the centre is a image of Xiaolong, the pink axolotl wearing a flower hat, waving at you.

Synopsis:

The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own.

Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it—and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.

In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City—and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.

CW’s Review:

After I finished Gods of Jade and Shadow, I gently placed the book down on my pillow, closed it shut, tucked the book into its rightful place in my bookshelf, and promptly sobbed my eyes out. Because I wasn’t kidding in the title – as a reader, one of my greatest pleasures (and in extension, my greatest heartaches) is finding books that change me forever; books that challenge what I know what it means to love and feel deeply, break down what I thought I knew, and then elevate me by showing me a new and profound understanding.

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