My Top 10 Books of 2019
A recent live chat I did asked what my top book of 2019 was. And, though I realize most people shared their favorites weeks ago, it got me thinking about what my favorite reads were last year. So, here's my top 10, not necessarily in order. If you haven't read these great books, be sure to add them to your TBR!
When I think of my favorite books from last year, Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard is always one of the first to come to mind. I’m a diehard Witchlander and DenNerd. I’ll devour anything that woman writes. The fourth (though some will say third) book in the Witchlands series, Bloodwitch was the first book that I’d bothered to preorder since the last Harry Potter book came out. I was looking forward to it with a level of excitement that I haven’t felt since those days, and it did not disappoint.
For those who haven’t read the Witchlands, the correct order is Truthwitch, Windwitch, Sightwitch, Bloodwitch.
Maggie Stiefvater is another author I love. Not only are her stories fantastic, but her writing is simply beautiful. There are individual sentences in her books that give me more feelings than some full-length novels—they’re just that beautiful. I picked this one up at someone else’s suggestion on Twitter, and because I loved the Raven Cycle. And it instantly became my favorite book by this author.
The setting is incredible, the characters complex, and the plot exciting. Plus, horses. Horses make any book better.
This indie-published book by Elana A. Mugdan is really a hidden gem for fantasy lovers. I got the ebook for free when she was doing a promotion, but I loved it so much that I asked for the hardcopy for Christmas, as well as its sequel, Dragon Child. These books are epic fantasy done incredibly well, and the author really holds nothing back. She’s not afraid to put her characters—and her readers—through agonizing, heart-wrenching trials, but darn it if I wasn’t here for every torment and then still begging for more.
Side note: I just finished Dragon Child, and it’s even better than the first!
You might have heard of this book because there was some initial controversy surrounding it before it was even released, and the author actually postponed publication because of it. I won’t get into that here. But this was the second book I preordered last year, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I passed it on to a friend the moment I was done, because I just had to share it.
It’s unique, complex, and gritty. I loved the main character and how she lingered in the gray area between hero and villain, constantly at war with the “little monster” inside of her. And of course, the charming criminal was another excellent anti-hero type. And that ending? Wow. Talk about a rollercoaster of emotions. I hope the sequel comes along soon, because I need some more closure after what that book put me through!
Okay, so this is a series, so I’m cheating a little. But I read them all in 2019, so that counts for something, right? I loved the use of parallel Londons in these books, and the MCs are incredibly charming—especially together. The snark-filled, slow-burn romance was everything I could dream of and more. I felt completely immersed in these worlds every step of the way, and I never wanted the stories to end.
I know, I know, I know. Another series… But it’s sooooooo good! I tore through the entire series as fast as my library could get the books to me. This series has the same epic fantasy feel as the Wheel of Time series, so if you loved those books, get this series by Jim Butcher ASAP. These books were exciting from the first page of the first book down to the last sentence in the series, and I was dreaming about what kind of Crafter I would be for weeks afterward.
There’s a broad cast of characters whose perspectives we get to see, and I found myself emotionally attached to each and every one of them. Especially Max. And once you read it, you will understand.
By now you’re probably wondering, “Do you read anything but fantasy, Erin?” And the answer is “Yes, but just barely.” I seriously think I read like five non-fantasy books last year, and Legion was one of them. I picked it up because it’s by Brandon Sanderson, who I greatly admire. But unlike every other book I’ve read by him, this one is not a fantasy.
The story (which was actually originally three novellas) follows a man with dozens of “aspects,” which exist somewhere between split personalities and vivid hallucinations. These aspects are each experts in a separate field—vessels for knowledge that he’s accumulated in the past—and they assist him in solving cases as a sort of private investigator. It was a fascinating and unusual story, forcing you to think about where the line between genius and madness truly lies.
And frankly, I don’t know how I became invested so invested in characters that were not only fictional, but fictional within their own fictional world. I loved those aspects more than I probably should.
This is the second non-fantasy book on my top 10 list. I saw this one recommended again and again in a book club group that I’m part of on Facebook, so I finally decided to pick it up. This book was like The Breakfast Club, but instead of all coming together during their detention, one of them ends up dead. The mystery that follows—solving a murder that happened in a closed room with only a handful of other people present—is fascinating.
You see the perspectives of every single suspect in this murder, and they all have motive, but of course you can’t believe any of them actually did it. I kept trying to guess who the killer was, but frankly, the author connected me with the characters so much I couldn’t imagine accusing any of them. And the truth of the matter was definitely not disappointing.
Zero is also not a fantasy book, but is closely related, as it’s part of the sci-fi genre. Despite how often sci-fi and fantasy get lumped together, I’m actually not a huge sci-fi person. I do enjoy it at times, but I don’t go out of my way for it. The author of Zero was kind enough to gift me with the first and second books in this series, and I really enjoyed them both.
The main character is a smart, capable heroine, and the plot twist towards the end of the book literally made me gasp out loud. (I also think I might have said, “Oh snap…”) It was well written and full of action. The second book, Chasing Zero, was also really fun to read. It covers the same events, so the “plot twist” isn’t as exciting being revealed again, but the narrator’s voice is so unique, fun, and wonderfully sarcastic that I didn’t even mind that. If you're into sci-fi, particularly of the alien invasion variety, then you'll love this book. And if you're like me and aren't huge into the genre, you should still give it a try. You might be surprised how much you like it, as I was.
And last but not least is Pomegranate, by Nicole Scarano. Another indie-published book that I found through the writing community on Twitter, I absolutely loved this unique, gender-bent twist on the Hades mythos. As someone who loves Greek mythology, I got incredibly excited to see how the original story was worked into this very different retelling. And watching the main character evolve from broken-hearted victim to one of the most powerful gods was fun and exciting, but with a darker edge that made me wonder if I really should be rooting for her.
And I’ve recently learned this book has a sequel, so I’ll definitely be getting that one read this year.
So there you have it. Ten books that you need to add to your TBR lists for this year. You won't be disappointed.