Hey everyone! Today I’m here to talk about my favorite books of 2019. It’s no secret that 2019 wasn’t the best reading year for me. I’ve read 100 books (personal record!), but it doesn’t feel that way because the year was overshadowed by disappointing reads. However, there are 10 books that really stood out and I’m excited to talk about them.
Before I talk about my favorite reads, I want to give a quick shout out to a few books. Although they didn’t make the top 10, I really enjoyed reading them.
- The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah – I cried. A lot.
- The Bride Test by Helen Hoang – sweet and adorable romance
- The Winner’s Curse trilogy by Marie Rutkoski – I got my entire life reading this trilogy
- The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi – Haitian rep in YA fantasy!!!
And now, let’s talk about the top 10 books I read this year.
The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang – The Ending Destroyed Me
In the aftermath of the Third Poppy War, shaman and warrior Rin is on the run: haunted by the atrocity she committed to end the war, addicted to opium, and hiding from the murderous commands of her vengeful god, the fiery Phoenix. Her only reason for living is to get revenge on the traitorous Empress who sold out Nikan to their enemies.
With no other options, Rin joins forces with the powerful Dragon Warlord, who has a plan to conquer Nikan, unseat the Empress, and create a new Republic. Rin throws herself into his war. After all, making war is all she knows how to do.
Friends, I’m still recovering from the ending of this book. I thought I was ready for The Dragon Republic, but turns out I wasn’t prepared for the heartache and pain. Despite the pain, I loved the geographical expansion of this world, the naval warfare, and the character dynamics. I’m a big fan of the way Kuang blends history, mythology, and military strategy. The Dragon Republic takes the number one spot as my favorite book of 2019. I can’t wait for the big showdown in The Burning God.
Scythe by Neal Shusterman – Surprised The Hell Out of Me
Thou shalt kill.
A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.
Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.
I’ll be honest, I had low expectations for Scythe. It’s very popular in the book community so I was worried that it wouldn’t live up to the hype for me. I’m so happy I gave it a chance because Scythe rekindled my love for dystopian. I loved the world, the characters, the political maneuverings and the commentary on mortality. I finished the series this year and even though I didn’t love The Toll as much as Scythe and Thunderhead, I can’t believe I slept on this series for so long. The biggest surprise of the year.
On The Come Up by Angie Thomas – Best Audiobook Experience
Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least make it out of her neighborhood one day. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died before he hit big, Bri’s got big shoes to fill. But now that her mom has unexpectedly lost her job, food banks and shutoff notices are as much a part of Bri’s life as beats and rhymes. With bills piling up and homelessness staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it—she has to make it.
On the Come Up is Angie Thomas’s homage to hip-hop, the art that sparked her passion for storytelling and continues to inspire her to this day. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; of the struggle to become who you are and not who everyone expects you to be; and of the desperate realities of poor and working-class black families.
I had a lot of reservations going into this because of mixed reviews and personal feelings, but I ended up loving it! I listened to the audiobook in my car during a trip and it was honestly one of the best reading experiences. I wish you all could’ve seen me in my car that day because I was so hyped during the rap battles. Bahni Turpin killed it as the narrator, Bri was super relatable, the rap battles were PHENOMENAL, the friend group and supporting characters were refreshing, and the humor was fantastic. I loved this book so much. Angie Thomas was in her bag when she wrote this.
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah – Book That Made Me Boo Hoo Cry
Unpredictable. Unforgiving. Untamed.
For a family in crisis, the ultimate test of survival.
Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.
Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if it means following him into the unknown
The Great Alone is the first book I read this year and it’s stayed with me all year. That’s a pretty big deal because I don’t like historical fiction. I think that’s a testament to Kristin Hannah’s writing. I loved the way she depicted Alaska’s contrasts and how it mirrored this family’s relationship with each other. I sobbed through most of this book because of how authentic and relatable the characters were. Such a memorable hard hitting novel.
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang – The Steamiest Book
Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases — a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.
It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice — with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan — from foreplay to more-than-missionary position.
Holy smokes! This book was really fun, steamy and so freaking adorable! I loved the characters, the plot, and of course, the smut scenes. I also loved that Hoang doesn’t shame sex work or gloss over consent in this. After reading this and The Bride Test, Helen Hoang officially became an auto-buy, auto-read, auto-pick-up-whatever-the-hell-she-releases author.
The Beauty of the Moment by Tanaz Bhathena – The Cutest Romance
Susan is the new girl—she’s sharp and driven, and strives to meet her parents’ expectations of excellence. Malcolm is the bad boy—he started raising hell at age fifteen, after his mom died of cancer, and has had a reputation ever since.
Susan’s parents are on the verge of divorce. Malcolm’s dad is a known adulterer.
Susan hasn’t told anyone, but she wants to be an artist. Malcolm doesn’t know what he wants—until he meets her.
Love is messy and families are messier, but in spite of their burdens, Susan and Malcolm fall for each other. The ways they drift apart and come back together are testaments to family, culture, and being true to who you are.
I picked up this book on whim while I was at Barnes & Noble. I read the first two lines in the synopsis and immediately abandoned my magical readathon TBR to read it because I love the good girl/bad boy trope. This is one of my favorite YA romances. It’s mature, cute and fluffy. Also, this book tackled other things like immigration, grief, and family in a very beautiful way.
A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer – Favorite B&tB Retelling
Fall in love, break the curse.
Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year, Prince Rhen, the heir of Emberfall, thought he could be saved easily if a girl fell for him. But that was before he turned into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. Before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.
Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, Harper learned to be tough enough to survive. When she tries to save a stranger on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s pulled into a magical world.
Break the curse, save the kingdom.
This is one of the best Beauty and the Beast retellings I’ve had the pleasure of reading. The plot was different, unique, and a lot of fun. I loved the setting, the way Kemmerer blends modern setting with this magical land. It was super addictive and the disability rep was fantastic. I’m really glad I gave into the hype.
The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson – I Slayed A Fucking Dragon
Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.
It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them.
This is the longest book I’ve ever read and my identity as a reader who’s “intimidated by books over 500 pages” is still shooketh. The Way of Kings is an epic fantasy with a million characters and an intricate world. I was afraid I wouldn’t be invested in the story or that I’d lose interest because it’s so fucking long, but I was wrong. Somehow, this kept me engaged. I was a lot more interested in Kaladin’s story because I love underdogs, but the whole thing was fun to read and the world was fascinating. I really can’t believe this behemoth was my introduction to Sanderson’s Cosmere world. I feel powerful.
There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon – Favorite New Character
Ashish Patel didn’t know love could be so…sucky. After he’s dumped by his ex-girlfriend, his mojo goes AWOL. Even worse, his parents are annoyingly, smugly confident they could find him a better match. So, in a moment of weakness, Ash challenges them to set him up.
The Patels insist that Ashish date an Indian-American girl—under contract. Per subclause 1(a), he’ll be taking his date on “fun” excursions like visiting the Hindu temple and his eccentric Gita Auntie. Kill him now. How is this ever going to work?
Sweetie Nair is many things: a formidable track athlete who can outrun most people in California, a loyal friend, a shower-singing champion. Oh, and she’s also fat. To Sweetie’s traditional parents, this last detail is the kiss of death.
I liked When Dimple Meet Rishi, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as enjoyed this book. This was such an adorable swoony read. The romance was amazing, the characters were fantastic and the way it tackled fatphobia was incredible. I freaking loved Sweetie and I hope to see her again in another book.
Skyward by Brandon Sanderson – Best Character Development
Spensa’s world has been under attack for decades. Now pilots are the heroes of what’s left of the human race, and becoming one has always been Spensa’s dream. Since she was a little girl, she has imagined soaring skyward and proving her bravery. But her fate is intertwined with that of her father’s—a pilot himself who was killed years ago when he abruptly deserted his team, leaving Spensa the daughter of a coward, her chances of attending Flight School slim to none.
No one will let Spensa forget what her father did, yet fate works in mysterious ways. Flight school might be a long shot, but she is determined to fly. And an accidental discovery in a long-forgotten cavern might just provide her with a way to claim the stars.
I’m going to be completely honest, I didn’t understand most of the aerodynamic stuff in this book because I’m not that into science fiction or high-speed flying (that’s a me + hard sciences + heights don’t go together thing). HOWEVER, I enjoyed this immensely and couldn’t put it down. The characters were great, the humor was on point, the plot unfolded nicely, and the battle scenes were thrilling. I was really impressed with Sanderson’s storytelling, world-building, but what really stood out to me was Spensa’s growth. Beautifully done.
What were your favorite books of 2019?
Check out the other posts in my end of year series here.