Favourite Reads of 2019; Part Two

Title in white on pale starry skies

As mentioned in Part One, it was awful trying to pick only ten of my favourite books from last year, so I haven’t. Somewhat later than I was expecting(!), here are ten more books I loved last year.

Some of these books may have lower star ratings than I’d expect for a top ten list (i.e. not 5 stars) but those are books where my gut reaction was 4/4.5 stars, but I’ve since not been able to stop thinking about them.


11. WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER, by Rae Carson

walk on earth a stranger

I love Rae Carson’s Fire and Thorns trilogy (probably my favourite books ever), so I’m staggered at how long it took me to pick this series up (four years!!!) WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER is a historical fiction novel with a hint of magic (the main character can sense gold) and is set against the gold rush.

What stood out most to me about this book was that the primary enemy was nature as Leah strikes out west with a train of gold hunters. It’s not an enemy that can be defeated, which was what made the danger so relentless.

12. A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY, by Brigid Kemmerer

At the start of 2019, I was NOT a fan of retellings. However, A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY (and other books) slowly brought me around over the year.

It is a Beauty and the Beast retelling, but with a Groundhog Day twist. Prince Rhen is curse to live the autumn of his 18th year over and over again until he can find a girl who falls in love with him. Harper is a 21st century DC girl brought into Rhen’s magical land. Unable to return for a season, she decides to help him protect his crumbling kingdom by pretending to be a princess.

13. SORCERY OF THORNS, by Margaret Rogerson

Book cover for SORCERY OF THORNS by Margaret Rogerson. Girl with wind-whipped blonde hair holding a ruby-encrusted sword. Thorns climb up her arm

SORCERY OF THORNS is a standalone sophomore novel I really hope gets a sequel because it was so much fun and I want more time in this world. Books are dangerous, and Elizabeth is a keeper. But when books start escaping, she must team up with a mysterious noble and his demon butler to step the kingdom being destroyed by the magic within books.

The cast is such fun to spend time with, and I loved the idea of books being physically dangerous. It’s a rattlestop adventure, and I need more time with them!

14. THE WICKED KING, by Holly Black

Book cover for THE WICKED KIN: a crown falling into water

An insanely hyped book, THE WICKED KING lived up to it in my opinion. Though short, this book packs a lot of punch into the slim spine.

Full of schemes, an intense chemistry of enemies-to-lovers between unflinchingly ruthless Jude and charismatic but cruel Cardan (even I was on board the ship, though there are problems with it!), this is the book that made me decide the series was worth reading. Besides, the final twist was heart-stopping shocking and thus I was so glad when the finale’s publication date was moved forwards.

15. HOUSE OF SALT AND SORROWS, by Erin A. Craig

house of salt and sorrows

A gorgeous, creepy debut, HOUSE OF SALT AND SORROWS is a retelling of the twelves dancing princesses. Set in a house by the sea, the family’s girls are slowly dying one by one, and their dancing shoes wear through as they dance the night away in an enchanted ball. But who are they dancing with and why?

Full of gothic unease and so atmospheric, Erin A. Craig’s debut made waves. If you like questioning what’s true and what’s an enchantment playing with the character’s mind, you cannot afford to let this book pass you by.

16. THE PAPER AND HEARTS SOCIETY, by Lucy Powrie

Book cover for THE PAPER AND HEARTS SOCIETY: title on yellow above a girl reading on a bench

A contemporary book? What’s this doing on a fantasy-lover’s favourite reads list?

Yeah, I’m surprised too! THE PAPER AND HEARTS SOCIETY is a UKYA debut features bookish friends somewhat bullied into forming a book club, and new-comer Tabby struggling to find the confidence to fit in to the group. Bookish hijinks fill the pages of this heart warming book, full of references for a book lover to pick up. Plus it’s set in the UK, which seems to help me when it comes to contemporaries.

17. CIRCE, by Madeline Miller

circe

A general fiction book that’s apparently brought me into the genre (yes, it’s a mythology telling, I’m not straying that far!), CIRCE is a stunning look at a woman woven through Greek myths but reviled for being a woman.

It’s feminist, beautifully written and derserves to be read by all. I was lucky enough to attend her London event last spring, and Madeline Miller read two passages. This is a book that should be listened to (who am I saying this?!), as it’s told in the Homeric style (minus the boring lists of number of spears per ship!).

18. AMERICAN ROYALS, by Katherine McGee

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

I was shocked by how much I loved this book. A contemporary rom-com set in an alternative America where there’s a royal family who are an absolute monarchy? Full of hook ups and drama they could have got around by talking to one another (which is one of my many romance pet peeves)?

But I did, and AMERICAN ROYALS got me out of a horrible book slump.

It has the one romance trope I adore – guard and princess – but the cast are so charismatic. Bring on the next book!

19. SONG OF SORROW, by Melinda Salisbury

song of sorrow

One of my top 10 most anticipated reads of 2019, the fact this is so low on the list shows what an incredible year 2019 was for books. SONG OF SORROW was the wonderful conclusion to Melinda Salisbury’s State of Sorrow duology. It’s beautifully written and paced, as you’d expect from Mel.

Sorrow might have won the election, but she’s been cornered by her enemy into giving him what he wants – the exact opposite of why she was running against her brother. Unable to trust those around her, Sorrow must find a way to save her country and work out what she wants for herself.

20. LOVEBOAT, TAIPEI, by Abigal Hing Wen

Book cover for LOVEBOAT, TAIPEI: title in white around image of girl on black background

Isn’t LOVEBOAT, TAIPEI a 2020 release? Yes, but as I read the ARC in 2019 so it counts for this list.

It is another surprising entry because this is a YA contemporary romance (I honestly don’t usually read this many contemporaries or romances in a year – I think that’s a good indication of how burnt out I was last year.) It takes place over eight weeks in Taipei. Ever’s been sent to a camp to learn Mandarin, and is expecting dreary weeks of lessons away from her friends. However, she gets a summer of rebellion, discovery, clubs and romance.


What books did you love in 2019?

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