The featured image above was specifically designed by Felix Ortiz for Novel Notions’ Top 20 Lists.
Ok, I’ll admit it, I’m cheating… my Best Books of 2019 post is a little different from the rest of the Novel Notions team.
It’s felt like a bit of a strange reading year for me, with a lot of study, non-fiction, and comfort rereads. My number is sitting at 164 so far, with a whole load getting that very respectable 4 star rating. However, there have only been a small amount that have truly floored me, that have deserved the 4.5 or the big, shiny 5 star rating. These are the kind of books that stay in your memory forever, that you recommend EVERYWHERE and as often as possible. They’re the ones where it’s almost impossible to stop your eyes from flicking forward to see what’s coming next because you’re so excited to get there. When I made that feeling the criteria for my list, it made things immediately clear. I don’t have 20, I have 10. They were all published this year and I loved them all. I hope you consider giving them a go too…
I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher (Orbit) in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Oh man. I wish time travel was a thing so I could dart into the future and get my hands on the last book of this trilogy. I need the final installment immediately.
“We live our lives by Truth and Courage. Love and loyalty, friendship and honour are our guiding lights.”
I absolutely adored The Faithful and the Fallen. The entire quartet was insanely epic, and each book was better than the last. I was crazy excited to get my hands on A Time of Dread, the first book of Gwynne’s followup series Of Blood and Bone. As much as I enjoyed it, that book had more of a grimdark feel to it than the original series, which saddened me and kept me from loving it to quite the same extent, though I see now that it was a necessary writing decision. A Time of Blood more than made up for that. While still dark and definitely bloody, this second installment had more of the optimism that made TFatF so wonderful, shining a light into the darkness and fighting to overcome it. I was ecstatic to feel the return of that hopefulness even in the midst of dark and terrible times. Something that Gwynne does wonderfully well is balance sorrow with hope. We should mourn and avenge our fallen, but we should also preserve our memories of them and honor them by living life to the fullest. …
The world is big, the young are restless, and girls just want to have fun.
Bloody Rose made me feel all of the feelings; I want to follow Tam’s lead and sing its praises from the rooftops.Kings of the Wyld was incredibly fun, and I expected the same from its followup, but Eames managed to pull on my heartstrings with Bloody Rose in ways that his first novel did not. I picked up Bloody Rose excited to embark on an Easter egg hunt for classic rock and other pop culture references. While I found what I was looking for in spades, Eames delivered so much more than that. I read the last twenty pages or so through a veil of tears, which is the opposite of what I expected going in.
“Glory fades. Gold slips through our fingers like water, or sand. Love is the only thing worth fighting for.”
“Once a king or queen of Narnia, always a king or queen of Narnia.”
This book has always been so special to me. I know that a lot of people read it as children without knowing about the allegorical aspects, and that some of these people feel tricked or even betrayed when they learn of those elements as adults. These readers were there for the fantasy of the story, and for it alone. I came to Narnia for wholly different reasons.
This review is really going to be more of an exploration of my faith and how this book impacted it. While I definitely am not trying to preach at anyone, you might want to avoid the rest of this review if you’re triggered by or sensitive regarding overtly Christian topics.
“There are some lessons that must be written in scars.”
Grey Sister is an action-packed thrill ride that packs a heavy emotional punch. It’s everything a second book in a trilogy should be. So many writers miss that mark when it comes to a middle book, but not so with this series. There was not a single chapter that felt boggy or unimportant to me; I was entranced by every page. Lawrence took the story and relationships he crafted in Red Sister and managed to make them both more playful and more poignant and, most importantly, more powerful. I have never come across another fictional character to whom friendship is more important and personality-defining as it is with Nona Grey. I think this quote illustrates that importance beautifully:
“Those…are my friends and I would die for them. I would face a terror for them that I haven’t the courage to stand against on my own behalf.”
I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. While I appreciate the gift, the giving of it in no way impacted my opinion.
“Your name is your heart, and you don’t give your heart away.”
In an Absent Dream is heartbreaking in the most beautiful way. McGuire gives us a story that early readers of the Wayward Children series already know ends in tragedy, but she does so in a way that maintains both interest and, amazingly, hope. I honestly didn’t think Down Among the Sticks and Bones could be topped, but I stand corrected. What a way to start off 2019. …
“It’s not until you’re broken that you find your sharpest edge.”
Upon rereading both the novel and my review of it, I stand beside every word written below. This is a phenomenal story that has catapulted itself into the company of my very favorite books.
I was late to the Mark Lawrence game. And I was missing out. Red Sister is Lawrence’s seventh full-length novel, and the first in a new series entitled “Book of the Ancestor.” Reading his other trilogies has definitely made its way onto my agenda, because this book was fantastic. I am so insanely excited to continue reading Nona’s story.…
I am completely blown away by Nora’s newest venture. Chronicles of the One is a perfect blending of post-apocalyptic dystopia and epic fantasy. The fact that Nora, after decades of writing romance laced with tendrils of the supernatural, would take such a giant leap into writing a radically different story, is commendable. The fact that she not only pulled it off by absolutely nailed it commands respect. She has mine.
If you put Warm Bodies and Twilight in a blender and add a heaping helping of sarcasm, you would end up with Chemistry. It’s billed as a “sassy, body-positive, snarky twist on Twilight,” and it is absolutely the truth. I love the Twilight Saga and probably always will; it’s incredibly addictive and one of my ultimate guilty pleasure reads, even though I know it’s problematic on multiple levels. But Lynch added an element to her parody that was missing in the original; humor in droves. While Twilight might make you giggle or roll your eyes in places, it never made me physically bust out laughing, which this book did countless times. …