Best Reads of 2019


Everyone's busy going on-and-on about "new year, new me," meanwhile, I'm still over here reminiscing about last year!


I get the sense that there's a general consensus that 2019 was harder than most years. People battled terminal illnesses, lost their homes, lost loved ones. I'm not going to sit here and say that the year was all sunshine and rainbows, but I can't help but think about all of the good things that happened in 2019. My kiddo turned one last year, he learned to walk, he started talking, he started going to daycare—and yes, 99.9% of my 2019 highlights are about my son. Sorry-not-sorry.


And in the world of reading, 2019 was a great year! I read some phenomenal books last year, and I discovered two new favorite book series! That might seem small, but in the midst of all the chaos and negativity life has to offer, we got to find these small gems to hold onto. And for me, books are life-savers. They get me through the rough patches, they help me escape, and as an author, they also inspire me.


So I'd like to share with you all my 5 Favorite Reads of 2019, in the hopes that, if you ever need an escape, you might find it in one of these books. Also, if you wind up liking the books on this list, don't forget to read my favorite reads of 2018 post too!


Before we begin, there are a couple of things you should know about me and this post.

  1. I am a reader of all things fantasy, with a strong inclination toward dark fantasy, magical realism, and young adult. I read novels, novellas, and comics, so you can expect all forms to appear in my annual book recommendation lists.

  2. The books selected below were pulled from the 74 books I read last year (a new record for me!). It does not mean that these books came out in 2019, simply that I {finally} got around to reading them in 2019.

Okay, let's begin!


5. Reign of the Fallen (by Sarah Glenn Marsh)


To be completely honest, I struggled to pick the book that would come in fifth place, mostly because I'd like to maintain true to my reader-base but I did a lot of reading last year that was outside my usual comfort zones (and liked it!).


But, instead of having some seemingly rando children's book on this list, I decided that Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh was a good pick.


Something about last year got me super pumped for necromancer novels and I'm not sure why! Maybe it was because of the anticipation of Gideon the Ninth (which I couldn't get into...), or maybe it's just because I'm a twisted soul who loves reading about death, but necromancers were in in 2019. What's better than necromancers? What about necromancers with dead rulers.


Yes. Give me.


This is an action-packed story about Odessa and her fight for her kingdom and community of necromancers. It's also LGBTQ-friendly, which is always a plus!


4. NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

Next up is NOS4A2—and I'm still not sure if it's pronounced phonetically or like Nosferatuby Joe Hill. BUT WAIT! Don't start reading this supernatural suspense book just yet! Get back her and let me tell you exactly when you should start reading.


I meant to read NOS4A2 during my Halloctober festivities, but sadly there was a looooong line of folks waiting for this one. So I waited. And waited. And it finally became available...two weeks before Christmas. As much as I love Halloween, I am also a fan of the Christmas spirit, so I was skeptical to start a horror book when I was already struggling to get into the Christmas cheer—again, it's been a rough year. But I decided what the heck. Why not. And I was so glad I did!


I don't typically re-read book blurbs before I start reading them. I assume if I have possession of a book it's because it appealed to me, so I just started reading. I had no idea this book was Christmas-themed! Sort of...


NOS4A2... how do I describe NOS4A2? NOS4A2 is about a little girl named Vic McQueen who can create an "inscape," a place where she can go visit when she needs to. She's not the only one. There's another like her, Charlie Manx, but his inscape is Christmasland, a place where he lures children to suck the innocence out of their souls. Vic manages to escape him as a child, but as an adult, Manx gets a hold of her son.


And thus the true horror of the novel begins.


I'm a new parent, so it's entirely possible the only reason I enjoyed this book was because it had me TRULY TERRIFIED in a way I've never been before! But I like to believe it was more than that. NOS4A2 was about childhood innocence and the challenges of adulthood. It was about addiction, about family, about trauma. The characters didn't feel like characters, they felt like real living people.


You can read my full review on Goodreads, but suffice it to say, if you decide to read this book, the time to do it is Christmas 2020.


3. Red Winter by Annette Marie

In fact, welcome to the part in this count-up where I start recommending full book series as opposed to single novels.


I found Red Winter by Annette Marie by complete accident. I was laying in bed and I had just opened my Kindle app and was on the search for a new book to read, when Kindle suggested Red Winter by Annette Marie. The cover was beautiful, the book itself had a number of positively glowing reviews, and the blurb suggested it was a Japanese-inspired fantasy story, something I'd never read before but found myself intrigued by. But the best part was that it was free.


Free convinced me to download it.


And I never looked back.


All you need to know about this book is that Emi is a kamigakari, which means she was chosen and has spent her entire life preparing to be the human host for a Goddess. As a kamigakari, she has to be protected from the yokai, who are said to try to destroy her before the Goddess can ascend.


There are three books in this trilogy and I devoured them in less than two weeks (which is fast for me). I bought them all immediately after I finished the series too because I needed to own hard copies of them, to display in my home so that I can tell anyone who asks about them just how great they are.


If you're still not convinced, I wrote a pretty lengthy and gushing review for Red Winter on Goodreads (as well as lengthy and gushing reviews for the other two books too lol), but really, if you don't read anything else this year, read Annette Marie's Red Winter trilogy!


2. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Another series that left me speechless was Seanan McGuire's Wayward Children series. However, although I want to rant and rave about the entire series, I will do my best to keep the focus on Every Heart a Doorway, a truly enticing first book to an ever-magical series.


In Every Heart a Doorway we meet Nancy, a teenager who's just returned from a world of the dead and is bent on finding a way back. But because doors sometimes never return, Nancy might be stuck back on Earth (or a similar place) forever. The book opens when she arrives at a boarding school for Wayward Children, disguised as an inpatient therapy center. There, she meets Sumi, the roommate who had been in a high nonsense world for years and is BY FAR the greatest character I've ever met. Everything seems mostly fine and dandy until students start dropping like flies. Like, brutally. And Nancy finds herself caught up in trying to figure out who done it.


Somehow McGuire managed to fit different worlds and dimensions into this quick 170-paged novel SEAMLESSLY and it was so addicting. Diverse character, revolutionary fantasy worlds, and a phenomenal prose that put McGuire right up there with all of my favorites: Stephen King, Laini Taylor, Terry Goodkind, and Sarah J. Maas.


Small plug: each book is {mostly} a separate story, although they use characters from the previous books, showing what their life had been like in their world/through their doorway. They're loads of fun to read and, again, really quick!


1. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas

Speaking of Sarah J. Maas, last but not least, my all-time favorite read of 2019 was Sarah J. Maas' A Court of Thorns and Roses series. This book might've had a slight advantage to reaching the number one spot on this list, as it is my favorite book of all time (well, #2 is anyways, A Court of Mist and Fury), but even as a re-read, I really do think it stood the test of time nearly five years later!


ACOTAR—as us avid fans affectionately call it—is about a nineteen-year-old girl named Feyre who, while she is out hunting for food for her father and two sisters, spies large wolf, recognizes it as a faerie, and shoots and kills it. Shortly after Tamlin, a High Lord Faerie arrived at her cottage, and Feyre is whisked away to the faerie realm where she is forced to live out the rest of her life, as compensation for breaking the peace treaty. But while she’s there, she learns about the blight that plagues Prynthia (the faerie lands) and threatens her own human world, and she gets caught up in faerie politics.


I feel like ACOTAR set the bar for faerie stories and retellings, and even though neither of those tropes are really my "thing," I think it'll remain as my favorite book for a while to come because Maas is simply that talented of a storyteller.

Now that you know my list, what are some of your favorite reads from 2019? Or, better yet, which books did I miss that you think everyone should read? Tell us in the comments below!


Stay nerdy,


Jessaca

Fantasy Author

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