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So far, 2019 has been an incredible reading year for me. Between January 1st and June 30th I read right around 60 books, and have found a number of new favorites. It was incredibly difficult to narrow my list down to ten books, but I finally managed it. There will be a handful of honorable mentions at the end of this post, for those I just couldn’t bare to not include. I’m taking a page from Petrik and following three rules for my list:
1. Only one book per author.
2. Rereads don’t count.
3. The books were new to me, but didn’t have to be published this year.
For the first time, I’m ranking my reads. That being said, every single book on this list was a 5 star read and I highly recommend them all. You can view my full review of each book (including the honorable mentions) by clicking the link in each title. And now, without further ado, here are my favorite books of the past six months.
10. Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie (The First Law, #2)
Abercrombie could (and should) give classes on crafting amazing character development. Every single perspective character grew by leaps and bounds in this book. Even those whose point of view chapters were scant in The Blade Itself were incredibly compelling and vibrant and sympathetic. I cared about every single perspective character, and was always a teensy bit desperate for my time with them to last a little longer before the point of view shifted. Abercrombie did an amazing job of imbuing each plot line with a sense of urgency that kept me on the edge of my seat for the duration of the book. It was honestly a little exhausting, but in the best way possible. This book is grimdark done absolutely right.
9. The Martian by Andy Weir
Publisher: Del Rey
I highly recommend The Martian to everyone, especially if you enjoy audiobooks as R.C. Bray does a phenomenal job with his narration. Whether you’re a fan of science fiction or not, this is a book everyone should read. It’s the ultimate survival story, and you’ll be rooting for Mark Watney with your entire being. His is a story of man versus the void, vanquishing certain death time and again with science. His optimism and snarky attitude and determination make him one of my favorite fictional characters of all time.
8. A Time of Blood by John Gwynne (Of Blood and Bone, #2)
The third installment of this trilogy is a book that I will be eagerly awaiting and will start reading as soon as I can get a copy. Everything else will have to wait. There was nothing about A Time of Blood that I would change. Not a single solitary thing. Gwynne has become on of those rare authors whose books I will immediately preorder as soon as they’re available. If he writes it, I’ll read it, no matter what it is. I don’t think I can give an author higher praise than that.
7. Holy Sister by Mark Lawrence (Book of the Ancestor, #3)
I can’t recommend this trilogy highly enough. Whether you’re a fantasy fan or not, this is a series well worth your time. It has so much to offer to so many, and I dearly hope that it acquires the audience and notoriety it deserves. I feel that Nona’s story offers many profound lessons that could bring our world healing and understanding of one another if we would all take its words to heart. There is tragedy in Holy Sister, and the mourning it brings, but there is also vitality and passion and selflessness. It’s a beautiful book that I can’t wait for the world to read.
6. In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire (Wayward Children, #4)
What blows my mind about In an Absent Dream is the fact that, going in, I already knew how it was going to end. And yet the ending still absolutely wrecked me. I’m baffled by how much Lundy’s story impacted me emotionally. Do I recommend this book? Without reservation, to anyone and everyone. Whether you read fantasy or literary fiction, whether you love YA or hate it, whether you’ve read the preceding books in the series or not, In an Absent Dream is absolutely worth reading. While having read Every Heart a Doorway first is suggested, as you will first meet this book’s protagonist within its pages, it’s not required. And if you happen to be a fan of the Labyrinth, Bowie’s cult classic film, you will undoubtedly have a soft spot for the Goblin Market as presented in these pages. This is a stunning story exquisitely told, and it deserves to be read.
5. Recursion by Blake Crouch
This is a book that I can tell is going to stay with me for a long time. While it reminded me a bit of movies like Minority Report and The Butterfly Effect due to the moral and philosophical questions it raised, Recursion is completely, uniquely itself, and I don’t think there’s another story like it. It’s mysterious, speculative, suspenseful, thrilling, romantic, and unfathomably deep. I strongly recommend that every reader, no matter your taste in genres, pick up a copy of Recursion. You won’t regret it.
4. Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publisher: Ballantine Books
I don’t know if this is a story that other readers will connect to as strongly as I did, but I do think that the audiobook is compelling enough to entrance even the skeptical. If you’re a musician or a music lover, I beg you to give this a listen. Even if you’re not, if there’s any passion in your life you would throw yourself into for art’s sake, even at the possible cost of your health and happiness, you shouldn’t miss this book. It’s wild and crude and moving, and will have you humming songs that don’t actually exist. It’ll speak to your soul in the way that only music can.
3. The Troupe by Robert Jackson Bennett
As much as I adored the Divine Cities, this book surpassed that trilogy for me. The Troupe moved me, and it spoke so deeply to my heart. I loved the characters, and the setting, and the writing. But most of all, I loved the Song. This is a standalone novel, and though I can compare it loosely to The Night Circus in setting and The Ocean at the End of the Lane in tone, it is utterly unique among the hundreds upon hundreds of books I’ve read in my life. It’s an instant favorite for me, and I implore you to read it and experience that same magical, musical power for yourself.
2. Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames (The Band, #2)
What I didn’t expect was how powerfully emotional Bloody Rose ended up being. Eames did an impeccable job of reminding readers that the term “tragic artist” evolved for a reason and is generally at least somewhat true. Almost all art, in whatever form it takes, stems from an emotion so vast that the artist has to pour it out in some fashion or they’ll explode. This is especially true of music, and the songs that touch us the most deeply are those that are raw and visceral, like the artist melted the heart in their chest and poured it from their lips for all the world to experience. Bloody Rose is fun and heartfelt and will have you singing “Don’t Stop Believing” at the top of your lungs. Or, at least, inside your head. Fable is headlining, and seeing them is more than worth the cost of admission. They’ll rock your world.
1. The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow
Harrow is more than an author; she is a Wordsmith, a sorceress wielding a pen in place of a wand. Her writing is effortlessly stunning and unconsciously literary. Not only does Harrow have a gorgeous way with words, but she appreciates the building blocks of language in a way that I’ve rarely if ever seen in fiction. Something she did that I felt was incredibly unique was drawing attention to letters themselves. For the first time in my adult life, I’m honestly contemplating rereading a book immediately, or at least within the same year. Maybe I’ll hold out until release day, and experience it again when I receive my preordered copy. I haven’t read a book twice in one year since I was in middle school. I can already tell that January is going to be one of my dearest friends, and that I’ll be revisiting her often. The Ten Thousand Doors of January is a marvel, and I can’t wait for the world to read it.
And honorable mentions go out to:
Never Die by Rob J. Hayes, The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon, Storm Cursed by Patricia Briggs, Conversations with Oscar Wilde by Merlin Holland, and Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson.
Thank you to all the authors of these amazing books for sharing them with the world. I can’t wait to see what wonderful stories the rest of 2019 holds.
What are your favorite books of the year so far?