Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Best Books of 2019

Best Contemporary

This Song Will Save Your Life

This book felt so....real.  I'm really picky when music shows up in my books, and although this was not a classical music book I can always tell when an author really doesn't get what it means to be a performer or musician.  This author? She gets it.  There's a lot to unpack in this one - social misfit, bad relationships, suicide attempts, but it somehow it manages to keep to story engaging without hurling you into an emotional tail wind. (I run away from heavy books generally speaking. I read like...one a year). I would recommend this one even to people like me who don't read a lot of contemporary fiction!

Honorable mentions: Moxie by Jennifer Matthieu
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Best Fantasy

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang
The Poppy War (The Poppy War, #1)

Non-Western based fantasy is one of my favourite types of settings, and The Poppy War does not fail to be everything I dreamed of on that front.    Based on Chinese history (specifically the Second Sino-Japanese War which I definitely read up on after finishing the book).  There's some badass magic, absolutely GORGEOUS world-building, and characters who you will love and hate in equal measures.  If you want brutal heart stomping as well, then yeah this is your book.

Honorable mentions: The Seventh Bride by T. Kingfisher

Best Paranormal Fantasy

An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire

An Artificial Night (October Daye, #3)

It's no surprise that Seanan shows up on this list, I've been a huge fan of her work under the name Mira Grant.  This is the first time I've tried one of her paranormal series and by god the things she manages to do!  This is book 3 of the series, and it's the book where I think the series really starts to find it's pacing.  It is ridiculous how Seanan is able to keep the stakes so high in each book (I'm on book 12 right now I think) - it never feels like she is copping out or that things get easier.  The stakes just change, and the relationships change and it is so crazy to me seeing where the characters start out.  I will definitely be rereading this series frequently because there are so many things you don't realize she's planned out by planting small things in these early books.  

Honorable Mentions: Dime Store Magic by Kelley Armstrong
Iron and Magic by Ilona Andrews

Best Science Fiction

Dry by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman

I have mentioned SO MANY TIMES on the blog that Shusterman's Unwind is basically  a life changing book that everyone needs to read.  And guess what?  So is Dry.  It has all of the intense adrenaline pumping moments of Unwind, the utterly heart wrenching emotional beats, and characters you love (and love to hate).   It is also particularly relevant in today's world with all the wildfires in Australia, and the fires in California and...it's just so scarily easy to see this world happening.  I grew up in the area that they are describing, so it felt especially real to me.  I've been there for the drought rations, I know the parts of the cities the name.


Honorable Mentions: The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson
Renegades by Marissa Meyer

Best Novella

The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan

The Governess Affair (Brothers Sinister, #0.5)

Considering how much I ADORE Milan's Brothers Sinister series, it is incredible that she managed to write a novella I love even more - especially because I'm usually not much of a novella girl.  This had ALL the feels, and the characters are heart breaking and gorgeous and wonderful and UGGHHHH.  Plus, it obviously has that hot x factor I get in Milan's stories.  If you haven't read her Brothers Sinister series DO, and this is a great place to start!

Honorable Mentions: How to Marry a Werewolf by Gail Carriger 
Small Magics by Ilona Andrews

Best Non-Fiction

Don't Panic: The Official Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Companion

It's probably no surprise to any of you that a book about Douglas Adams (and specifically his work on Hitchhiker's Guide) made it onto my favourites list.  What is surprising is just how well Neil Gaiman was suited to write it - particularly since at the time he was basically a no-name writer. I'm not sure I'd recommend this for non-Adams aficionados..but really everyone should be so I am saying that.

Best Thriller/Mystery

The Trespasser by Tana French

The Trespasser (Dublin Murder Squad #6)

This book was INSANE.  Tana French always manages to create a weirdly atmospheric/fabulism kind of vibe to her books (which is a very odd choice for a thriller generally speaking, but has become the most iconic part of her writing in my opinion).  This one is no different...except that it REALLY messes with your head. You're solving mysteries on so many different levels...this is probably my favourite Tana French so far.  Definitely recommend listening to it on audio as well, the narrator, Hilda Fay, was fabulous!

Best Graphic Novel

The Prince and the Dressmaker

This book is absolutely ADORABLE.  If you need something that is thoughtful, pretty, and pure fun pick this one up.  It was the perfect palate cleanser after reading Neal Shusterman and Patrick Ness back to back (...which...tell me why I did that again?)

Best Historical Romance

The Suffragette Scandal by Courtney Milan

The Suffragette Scandal (Brothers Sinister, #4)

The Brothers Sinister series is one of my all time favourites in historical romance, and Milan manages to top my already high standards with this one.  Free has been a favourite character of mine who pops up in the other books and god I just LOVE her!  I really struggle with remembering names and keeping characters straight across romance, but she is definitely one I never mix up.  It's dark, it's funny, you've got a male lead who loves everything about how strong Free is...it's like it was written specifically with everything I love in mind.

Honorable mentions: The Soldier's Scoundrel by Cat Sebastian
     The Other Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

Best Contemporary Romance

Trade Me by Courtney Milan

Trade Me (Cyclone, #1)

Ok so I didn't mean to pick so many Courtney Milan books as my favourites but...I can't lie about it right?  This book was EVERYTHING.  EVERYTHING.  So many things about the gender roles are flipped, it's interracial, it's so thoughtful with how it deals with some pretty tricky subject material, family is featured, friendship is featured.  It had all the feels, all the swoons, and beautiful writing to boot.  When I saw my library didn't have the rest of this series I immediately bought the next one (Which is, shockingly, excellent.  Who would have guessed?)

Honorable Mentions: One and Only by Jenny Holiday
 A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole

Best "Other" Romance

Guardian by Emmy Chandler

Guardian (Prison Planet, #1)

This book basically changed the entire trajectory of my reading for the next couple years is my guess.  Until this year I pretty much exclusively read historical romances.  I started reading contemporaries and my mind was kind of blown that there were so many out there that really spoke to me.  I thought I was going out of my comfort zone and reading really diversely!


This book is so far from a historical romance.  It's crazy dark, (TW: rape, violence, etc) and somehow managed to make consent at the forefront all the time, it's ridiculously hot, and there's this whole massive world building involved.

GUYS. ROMANCE. WITH HUGE AMOUNTS OF WORLD BUILDING.  This is a thing that exists??? I can have all the sci-fi/fantasy places I want and it can be dark and intense AND I can be guaranteed a happily ever after???  As someone who read high fantasy for 90% of my reading life, I've felt a little lost now that I've lost my stomach for the brutal big fantasies.  This? This could save my reading life.

Late as usual, but again...not a surprise for anyone still reading.  What were your 2019 favourites?