my favorite reads of 2019

If you follow me on Twitter, you might have seen these favorites before. That’s because I made a thread of my favorite reads of 2019 on there because I couldn’t find the will to actually write a blog post about it. For those of you who don’t follow me on Twitter, don’t wish to, or don’t have a Twitter account, here’s my list compiled in a blog post.

These are in no particular order! I couldn’t pick a favorite from these whatsoever. I adored all of these books for different reasons, and they all deserve an equal place in my list. Let’s get started.

The City of Brass (Daevabad #1) by S.A. Chakraborty
This fantasy novel brought back my love for the genre. It’s such an atmospheric and captivating read! I ended up binge-reading the book in only a few sittings simply because I didn’t want to put it down.

Here’s my description of this book on Twitter:
⭐ made me fall in love with fantasy novels all over again
⭐ couldn’t put this down, I was attached to it until it was done
⭐ gorgeous, atmospheric, fantastic

Fence volumes 1, 2 and 3 by C.S. Pacat
Did I read all three volumes in one go? Yes. Have I been desperate for the next volume ever since? YES. This is an adorable series about a boy who competes to join the fencing team at a private school so he can become the best and show the father who left him for a new family. It’s got adorable friendships and what I’m hoping will become an epic romance.

Twitter description
⭐ fantastic group of characters
⭐ boys fencing team and competitions
⭐ slow-burn romance
⭐ LGBTQ+

A Girl Like Her by Talia Hibbert
I’m so grateful to Destiny for putting this author on my radar, because I hadn’t enjoyed a romance book as much as I did this one in a long time. This restored my faith in the entire genre. Yes, it’s that good.

Twitter description
⭐ comic book/webcomic creator and Chris Evans (more or less…)
⭐ #ownvoices
⭐ black, plus-sized, autistic main character
⭐ healthy relationships and communication, yes!!

Noteworthy by Riley Redgate
I can’t believe it took me so long to read Noteworthy because it might be one of my all-time favorite YA contemporaries. It’s about a girl who disguises as a guy to join the all-male a cappella group in her school because she can’t get the lead role in a musical as an Alto 2. There’s SO much to love about this book, and I’ll gladly redirect you to my full review of it.

Twitter description
⭐ girl disguises as guy and joins all-male a cappella group
⭐ Chinese-American, bisexual MC
#ownvoices
⭐ discussion of gender/sexuality

I Hear the Sunspot by Yuki Fumino
The reason I fell in love with manga this year. I saw this series on an app (translated) and proceeded to buy paperbacks of it immediately, then binge-reading them all. I screamed about this series to literally everyone, and if you haven’t read them yet PLEASE DO.

Twitter description:
⭐ made me fall in love with manga
⭐ LGBTQ+ contemporary
⭐ disability rep: hard of hearing MC
⭐ so adorable!!
⭐ got way too invested in this and stayed up too late to read it

The Shadowglass (The Bone Witch #3) by Rin Chupeco
I know I’ve been talking about this YA fantasy trilogy for literal years, yet here I am doing so once more. I won’t stop until everyone has read it. This Asian-inspired fantasy series centers around a girl who discovers she’s a Dark Asha (“bone witch”) when she accidentally raises her brother from the dead.

Twitter description
⭐ the finale I’ve been waiting for!!
⭐ made me cry on public transport
⭐ catch me rereading this soon
⭐ if you haven’t read this Asian fantasy about a bone witch, what are you doing??

Death Note by Tsugumi Ohba
After reading I Hear the Sunspot, I wanted to truly dive into the world of manga. And what better way to start than by reading some of the most iconic manga in existence? Death Note did not disappoint whatsoever. I binge-read all the volumes, was absolutely glued to the pages.

Twitter description
⭐ binge-read the entire manga
⭐ teenager with God complex, killing people by writing their name in a notebook
⭐ watch him spiral out of control
⭐ what is right or wrong?
⭐ L!!

Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa
After tackling Death Note, I jumped over to Fullmetal Alchemist. Once again, I absolutely fell in love with the manga and read the entirety of it in a matter of months. I’m quite proud of that accomplishment, as there are 27 volumes of FMA!

Twitter description:
⭐ also binge-read the entire manga
⭐ adorable brothers
⭐ characters you will become too attached to
⭐ alchemy!
⭐ just two boys trying to get their bodies back

The Black Tides of Heaven by J.Y. Yang
THIS NOVELLA! I’ve already recommended it to multiple people who have added it to their list of books to buy. While this is not a novella that is entirely unknown, it hurts me to see so few people in the bookish community mention it. Maybe I’m just not following the right people? Anyway, if you want an SFF read and LGBTQ+ representation, you need to pick this up. J.Y. Yang is brilliant, and I will read everything they write.

Twitter description:
⭐ EPIC fantasy novella
⭐ people born without gender, confirm gender themselves whenever it becomes clear to them
⭐ twins!
⭐ rebellion
⭐ literally everything you could ever want

Our Dreams at Dusk volume 1 by Yuhki Kamatani
An #ownvoices LGBTQ+ novel from a non-binary author? Sign me the hell up. And look at that artwork!! I don’t even know what to say about this manga because I’ve only read a few volumes and feel like it’s far more character-centered than plot-centered. All I can tell you is that you need this in your life.

Twitter description:
⭐ LGBTQ+ manga
⭐ about a boy finding a safe space
⭐ exploring gender and sexuality
⭐ adorable!! gorgeous drawings!!
⭐ author is non-binary

Girls on the Verge by Sharon Biggs Waller
This YA contemporary novel made me so angry. I was hurt and filled with rage and indignation. This is the story of a girl in the US who discovers she’s pregnant and wants to get an abortion. She can only do so with legal permission though, which she doesn’t receive. Abortion is illegal in her state, prompting her to go on a road trip with friends to get the procedure.

Twitter description
⭐ heartbreaking coming-of-age story
⭐ girl has to go on “roadtrip” to get an abortion
⭐ friendship
⭐ such an important read!!

The Poppy War (The Poppy War #1) by R.F. Kuang
I put off reading this fantasy novel for quite a while because I was intimidated by it. I knew I’d probably end up loving it, but wasn’t sure whether I was ready for that. That sounds absolutely ridiculous, I know, but I hope at least one of you can relate. I should never have put this one off because it was incredible.

Twitter description
⭐ fantasy novel inspired by China/Chinese history
⭐ engrossing, captivating and mind-blowing
⭐ brutal
⭐ main character who is neither good nor bad

The Wise Man’s Fear (Kingkiller Chronicles #2) by Patrick Rothfuss
I finally did it. I read the first book in the series in 2015, then decided to put off reading the sequel for so long I forgot what happened in book 1, making me even more “scared” to continue reading. As this is the favorite series of one of the best people in my life, I decided it was time to buckle up and re-read the first book so I could continue the series. I read them quite quickly, considering the size of the books, and ADORED THEM. This series is SO GOOD.

Twitter description:
⭐ epic sequel to an already incredible first novel
⭐ keeps taking me on a surprising journey
⭐ too attached to the characters already…
⭐ can’t recommend it enough


Those were my favorite reads of 2019! Have you read any of these books?
Which books made your favorites list?

My favorite books of the year | best in books (2018)

It’s time for my most anticipated blog post of the year. Even though it’s already 2019 and I’m really the only one anticipating its release. Anyway! Today, I’m talking about my favorite books of the past year. I didn’t create this list with a specific number in mind. I simply went through the books I read in 2018 and picked out the ones I truly loved, and I still think about today. Not every book I gave 5 stars will be on this list. I can’t really explain why that is, but I hope you’ll understand. These are the BEST books I read in 2018 – not necessarily released in the past year.

Titles of the books/series will take you to the Goodreads page.

BOOK OF THE ANCESTOR BY MARK LAWRENCE

This year I fell in love with Mark Lawrence’s writing. Specifically, his Book of the Ancestor series. Red Sister was one of the first books I read in 2018 and it completely blew my mind. It’s a series about assassin nuns, spy nuns, and magic-wielding nuns that focuses on Nona. When the books start Nona is very young (around 8 I think) and you watch her grow up and train at the Convent of Sweet Mercy. It’s SO GOOD. After loving the first book, I was afraid Grey Sister wouldn’t live up to my expectation. Color me surprised when I ended up loving it just as much/even more than I did the first book. I can’t wait for the release of the last book, Holy Sister.

Read my review of Red sister here.
Read my review of Grey Sister here.

IF WE WERE VILLAINS BY M.L. RIO

This book caught me by surprise. I picked it up on a whim at the library because it was described as ideal for fans of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History. You may know that said book is one of my all-time favorites, so reading that made me take it with me. It blew my mind! It was so good. I had never heard anyone talk about  If We Were Villains before, although I’ve seen some more reviews pop up in the past 6 months. If you don’t know what this is about, it follows a guy called Oliver who just served 10 years for a murder he may or may not have committed. The victim? One of his conservatory friends. They all attended the same elite conservatory where they studied Shakespeare. Seriously, read this.

Read my review of If We Were Villains here.

THE LONG WAY TO A SMALL, ANGRY PLANET BY BECKY CHAMBERS

I can’t count the amount of times this book was recommended to me before I bought myself a copy. It was on every science fiction recommendation list. It was on every LGBT+ SFF recommendation list. After reading it, I can see why. This is a very slow-paced science fiction novel, focused more on character development than action. You follow the crew of the Wayfarer as they take on a big job – they tunnel wormholes through space. If somehow you haven’t read this, please give it a try. Even if you don’t like science fiction!

I was going to link my review here, but then realized I never actually wrote one. Oops.

PACHINKO BY MIN JIN LEE

Prepare to feel your heart break in a million little pieces while reading this novel. If you don’t know, this is an adult fiction book set in Korea and Japan spanning 8 decades. It follows multiple generations of a Korean family as they try to survive in trying times. I’ll just say it now: not many good things happen in their lives. This is a SAD book. But it’s absolutely brilliant at the same time. Plus, it’ll teach you some of Korea’s history as well as their relationship with Japan – during and after its annexation of Korea.

Read my review of Pachinko here.

THE KISS QUOTIENT BY HELEN HOANG

I think this book left such an impact on me because it’s the first romance book I’ve truly loved in a while. It’s centered around Stella and Michael. It has an #ownvoices autistic storyline as Stella has Asperger’s and the love interest, Michael, is Vietnamese-Swedish. It’s sweet, sexy and absolutely wonderful. I read it in the span of a few hours on the train because I just couldn’t put it down.

Also didn’t write a review of this one apparently. Get yourself together, Jolien.

EVERY FALLING STAR BY SUNGJU LEE & SUSAN MCCLELLAND

This is an autobiography I picked up at YALC during the summer, and I knew I wanted to read it as soon as possible. In Every Falling Star, Sungju Lee describes his life growing up in North Korea and his eventual escape from the country. It pretty much reads like a YA fiction book, and I had to keep reminding myself that his actually happened to him. As a child, he lived in Pyongyang and had a pretty pampered (and indoctrinated) life. Until his family was forced to move to the countryside and exiled into poverty. Sungju Lee ended up alone on the streets at age 12, stealing and begging to survive. It is a book everyone should read. I especially enjoyed hearing his thoughts on what the West (and South Korea, China, etc.) should do to prepare for an eventual reunification of Korea.

Read my review of Every Falling Star here.

THE HATE U GIVE BY ANGIE THOMAS

I know everyone already read this book in 2017 but I didn’t, okay? I’m apparently a procrastinator like that. Which is odd because I don’t tend to procrastinate much in other aspects of my life? I listened to the audiobook of The Hate U Give which I would highly recommend. I don’t think I need to say too much about this, as I’m certain most of you have already read it.

ILLUMINAE BY JAY KRISTOFF & AMIE KAUFMAN

I didn’t think I would ever read this book. I know everyone and their mother raved about this YA science fiction novel, but it just didn’t seem like a book I’d enjoy. I randomly decided to read it on a day I had to spent about 7 hours on public transport because the audiobook was available on Scribd. I’m so glad I gave it a chance! It was absolutely epic, and the audiobook is one of the best I’ve ever listened to.

THE FIFTH SEASON BY N.K. JEMISIN

Last year, I read two books from her Inheritance series and absolutely loved them. When I realized that everyone raves about this series, Broken Earth, in particular I knew I had to read it too. This book was phenomenal. I don’t quite know how to talk about it without spoiling anything, so I’ll just say this has become one of my favorite SFF books and I need you all to read it too. It’s probably best to go into it knowing as little as possible so you can discover everything by yourself.

THE WAY OF KINGS BY BRANDON SANDERSON

I finally conquered this giant book! It was worth every second. Once again, I don’t know how to explain this story to you all… It’s a high fantasy novel told through multiple POVs. It’s got magic, battle, royalty, schemes, assassins, long lost legendary Knights, and epic swords. Honestly, it’s everything I’ve ever wanted.

NIGHT BY ELIE WIESEL

I’m ending my list with my most recent read on here, and the one I’ll be thinking about for months/years to come. This is a short autobiography in which Elie Wiesel talks about his deportation to and life in Auschwitz-Birkenau. It made me feel like vomiting at times, because I find it so hard to read what humans put other humans through. But it’s important to read books like these, and talk about them, especially in these times. Not only is fascism and hate on the rise again, the number of concentration camp survivors is dwindling. We can’t forget their stories, and need to remember it happened only a few generations ago.


My favorite books of 2018. It feels weird to say that, and truly end this (reading) year! Have you read any of these? What were your favorite novels of 2018?

Best Books of the Year So Far | Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly event hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers #1) by Becky Chambers // I finally read this one (and the sequel). I’m hoping to meet Becky Chambers at YALC this year, so I wanted to be prepared. This blew me away. It’s an incredible science fiction story and I adore the characters so much.

Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor #1) by Mark Lawrence // This is the first Mark Lawrence book I’ve ever read, even though he’s a really well-known fantasy author. This is the story of Nona who starts training at the Convent of Sweet Mercy when she’s very young. Basically: ASSASSIN NUNS (and mini-assassin-nuns-in-training!).

Morning Star (Red Rising #3) by Pierce Brown // I thought this was a really great ending to the trilogy. Yes, I’m aware that he’s continuing the series but it’s still split up in trilogies (to my knowledge). This is a true dystopian science fiction story -honestly, they don’t spare you with the battle/war stories.

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli // Who is surprised? Absolutely no one. I know this book isn’t perfect (talking about the way Leah reacts when someone comes out to her) but I still adore it. I relate to Leah so much. Every time I think Becky Albertalli can’t write a character who is more like me, she proves me wrong.

If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio // This was a completely random read. I saw it at my local library and thought it looked really interesting. It was recommended for fans of The Secret History by Donna Tartt (me) and then it has villains in the title. I was pleasantly surprised. Even though I don’t know anything about Shakespeare and this book is about college theater students who study Shakespeare, I loved it. I am still not over that ending though!!

I only chose 5 books for this topic because I’ve only read 19 books this year. Of course there are more that I’ve enjoyed reading, but then it wouldn’t be a true favorites list, right?


Have you read any of these books? Which books are your favorites of the year so far?