Sabaa Tahir grabbed readers' attention with her first novel, An Ember in the Ashes, which quickly became a best seller and the start of a series by the same name. Now we've come to the end of that series with the fourth book, A Sky Beyond the Storm, and it is a bittersweet moment for those of us who have devoured each new installment over the last five years.
In A Sky Beyond the Storm unlikely alliances are formed, secrets the Nightbringer buried deep in the past are brought to light, and love and heartbreak tug at your emotions with every chapter. It is a powerful and satisfying finale to a highly acclaimed series. We chose A Sky Beyond the Storm as one of our Best Books of the Month for December, as well as one of the Best Young Adult Books of 2020.
As Tahir has brought her series to an end, we wondered what she read and loved in 2020. Here are four books she chose and a bit about what reading has meant for her in this difficult year:
"When I was a kid growing up in the Mojave Desert, I needed an escape from my reality. Now, of course, I (and many others) find myself in that situation once more. Though I have always been a reader, something about reading now, during this fraught time, feels magical. Maybe it’s just that the books I’ve been reading are great. Or maybe books become what you need them to be, when you need them: not just an escape, but a reminder of what is good and beautiful in the world, and of how lucky we are, despite everything, to live in it."
Skyhunter by Marie Lu
With Skyhunter, Marie has created something truly phenomenal: the story of a refugee warrior fighting desperately to save a country that doesn’t seem to want her, and a tortured enemy soldier to whom she is inextricably linked. The fight scenes are incredible, the world building immersive, and the character relationships complex and consuming. Probably my favorite book this year.
I have long wished to master the art of cooking vegetables, and what better time than when we are all stuck at home, having to figure out every meal? The mouth-watering pictures kept me inspired and the food has a depth of flavor that belies the easy-to-follow recipes. If you’re sick of making the same old stuff, or if you struggle to eat your vegetables, this is the book for you.
Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust
A lush, dream-like tale about a princess whose very skin in poison, and whose isolation leads her to a journey of discovery that is both harrowing and beautiful. The author dives deep into ancient Persian myth. At the same time, she subverts fantasy tropes while delving into philosophical questions of personhood, individuation, and societal impositions—all with a narrative that is perfectly paced.
Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolker
Hidden Valley Road is this immersive deep dive into the extraordinary and tragic journey of the Galvins, a family with 12 children, six of whom were diagnosed with schizophrenia. The story of the family is told with great empathy and expertly juxtaposed with the history of schizophrenia and its treatment.
The best-selling author of the four-book An Ember in the Ashes series shares her thoughts on reading in 2020 and some of her favorite books from the year.