Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Discoveries I made in 2019

"Tope Ten Tuesday" in a white font mimicking handwriting on navy starry skies

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly mean, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Everyone is welcome to join in the fun.

This is such a fun prompt that lets me reflect on the year to highlight the best authors and genres and other discoveries that made this year amazing.

1. Reading Communities

Maybe this doesn’t feel like a discovery to many, but I fell into some amazing bookish groups this year. In particular the UKYA bloggers group has been one of the most amazing communities – books, adaptations, blogging and life. They’re so kind and supportive.

I also got to meet friends I’d made through bookish groups online for the first time. I’ve loved meeting them in person, once the slight awkward “Hi, I’m Sifa from [insert group]” is over.

2. YA Thrillers

a good girl's guide to murder

In February, I picked up a few YA thrillers that’d I’d seen talked about a lot on social media because they were on special in Waterstones. I was hooked and haven’t looked back, expanding my collection throughout the year and adding a dash of diversity to the genres I’ve read this year.

Yeah, there have been a few disappointments (mainly books that were mis-labelled as thrillers when they were primarily contemporaries), but overall it’s been an amazing year for thrillers. One, A GOOD GIRL’S GUIDE TO MURDER, was even my favourite book of 2019.

3. I actually like some contemporaries?

book cover fore AMERICAN ROYALS: painted head of a girl in sunglasses, with a crown ring on her finger

For years I’ve stayed well clear of YA contemporaries, because the lack of magic is not my cup of tea. Romance even less so because it all felt so unrealistic (and the obstacles so unrealistic).

However, this year, I’ve tried to push the boat out more with what I’ve been reading. While there have been some contemporaries that fell really flat, there are others I like. Some were even romances – albeit alternative-world contemporaries with additional royalty (like AMERICAN ROYALS) because who doesn’t love the glitz and glamour of royalty?

the paper and hearts society

On the non-alternative world contemporaries, the ones I’ve loved most have been written by UK authors, set in the UK, and don’t have a large, central romance. In particularly, I’ve really enjoyed THE PAPER & HEARTS SOCIETY and SOFA SURFER (Blog tour in Feb).

I think the UK setting and UK author is half the reason I really enjoyed them – because the world is mine. I’m not fighting to get my head around to a different cultural reference point, so the setting is effortless and familiar. Not to mention that THE PAPER & HEARTS SOCIETY is about finding your bookish place in the world!

4. Danielle L. Jensen

danielle jensen.jpg

On a whim, I picked up DARK SHORES at YALC this year – because I’d seen it mentioned once or twice on Instagram by authors I follow. Also, it’s a fantasy book with a blue cover. Yes, I am that shallow about my favourite colour.

I devoured the book, and then went hunting for other books by her. I love it when you find authors like that, instant favourites who send you scrambling for more of their books – particularly ones with a backlist who you can binge read your way through. Her two 2020 releases are on my list of “can’t waits”.

5. I’m starting to warm to retellings again

During the first half of the year, I gradually got more and more exasperated by the sheer number of retellings in the YA and adult fantasy markets. It’s was often the same handful of fairy tales being retold, and I was struggling with the fact that I knew the major beats.

Book cover for SPEAK THE OCEAN: a pink, humanoid like hand with frog-like webbing between fingers pressed against the cover against a green background

However, at the end of the summer and then as the decade drew to its end, I found myself reaching for more retellings (at the time of writing, my current read is a retelling). Some of these were rarer stories being retold, but at the same time I read two little mermaid retellings and liked both (SPEAK THE OCEAN and SEA WITCH).

Having several months without retellings helped, and then spacing those that I read out. I’m still not immediately reaching for retellings, but I’m also not rolling my eyes when a new one gets announced. There are some exceptions, which are mostly stories that are constantly retold.

6. I may be getting more lenient with sci-fi

Sci-fi is one of my smaller read genres, but I’ve read more of it – and more widely in the genre – than normal. From adult military space sci-fi, to YA space opera where the rules of physics are secondary, I’ve largely enjoyed the sci-fi I’ve read this year.

Most crucially, I’ve worried less about the scientific accuracy of what I’ve read because I’ve been able to turn off that part of my brain more than I used to. I’m hoping that this trend continues, because I really want to get back into sci-fi (a dominant genre when I was much younger).

7. Middle Grade is for everyone

Is that obvious, Sifa? Well, yes, but I haven’t been reading MG seriously for years. That changed in 2019, and I picked up several on a whim in Waterstones on recommendations from girls at church – including swapping books with them. MG now makes up about 5% of my shelves, and I’ve got several books I’m eager to read this year.

8. Put yourself out there with publishers

During the final three months of the year, I pushed myself to request ARCs from publishers. It’s not always been successful, but I’ve been sent more ARCs than I thought I would ever get. I, frankly, have pretty terrible stats, but I’ve discovered that the enthusiasm of the request often counts for more.

9. I like books set on the sea

I may avoid boats in real life (no idea why – I’m a proficient swimmer) but if a book has boats or pirates or the sea, I tend to reach for it quickly. Pirates are certainly a trend at the moment, and I am not complaining. From VIPER to SEAFIRE to my favourite THESE REBEL WAVES, pirates and magic are ruling the shelves at the moment. But there are other sea books too making waves, and I’m loving it.

10. Foyles is amazing for US books

For many years, I have been a Waterstones loyalist, but I have recently discovered that Foyles is amazing for getting the US books that aren’t published over here. So I guess I will be heading over to that shop from time to time.

What bookish discoveries did you make in 2019?

9 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Discoveries I made in 2019

    1. Unfortunately, society often doesn’t see it that way. “Why are you reading a kids’ book?” I get that with YA too.


  1. Lots of great discoveries. I’ve not heard of A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder. It sounds intriguing! And The Paper & Hearts Society looks ADORABLE.

    I definitely went through a period of ignoring middle grade as well, and I was surprised when I came back a few years ago (entirely by accident; I just browsed the closest section to the entrance while waiting for someone), and found it had some really interesting new titles. Why had I assumed they’d all be short and boring? I guess I was stuck in the mindset I had when I quit that section the first time at age 12 and moved on to the ~more exciting~ YA. But now that I’ve unlocked all the levels, I can appreciate them all for what they are.

    My TTT.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes – they are amazing books! You should definitely put them on your TBR. And I’ve heard aot recently about rediscovering MG, which implies there’s a societal issue here too – the “moved on” mindset, as you put it


  2. I became more involved in bookish communities last year, too, and oh my gosh, what a difference it makes! This blogging thing is soooo much more enjoyable when you’re not this little island off in some big ocean somewhere. I’ve been trying to read more middle grade stuff, too, and finding a lot of books I’ve enjoyed in that age range!
    Here’s my TTT post.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I still need to read These Rebel Waves. It’s on my TBR shelf and everything, but I keep prioritizing other books, haha. And The Good Girl’s Guide to Murder is on my TBR for when it pubs here in the US.

    Also, finding your reading community is so satisfying. It’s fun to watch it grow and change too. I’m still friends with a few of the bloggers I knew when we started back in 2013, but I’ve met several others in more recent years.

    My TTT:

    Liked by 1 person

    1. TRW is a book I hardly shut up about! And I’m so excited that AGGGTM comes out in a matter of weeks across the pond


  4. I just joined the blogging world and yes, the bookish community has been amazing. I’ve finally found people to talk with about books! It’s been so much fun!

    My TTT

    Liked by 1 person

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