Book Recommendation

The Best & the Brightest: My Favorite 2019 Releases

Hello friends! If you’re a part of the book-blogging community, and/or if you have a Goodreads account, I’m sure you’ve heard about the Goodreads Choice Awards, a yearly readers’ choice (πŸ˜‚) award where we are supposed to be celebrating the best books of 2019.

Of course, this could be a great thing, however, there have been lots of valid criticism brought up against Goodreads, and I happen to be in agreement with the critics.

The issue could have stopped there, with a few bloggers frowning at Goodreads, but, as you probably know, bloggers get shit done, and so we have multiple blogger hosted bookish awards happening this year that, besides being built on, ya know, readers’ choice, feel a whole lot more diverse and inclusive than Goodreads Choice.

I encourage you to go and vote on these awards – you can do so via a google form in each case.

After spending around an hour on picking the best books for Kal’s (Reader Voracious) awards, I decided to do what she suggests in her post – come to my blog and shout about explain my choices.

At the end of the first half of 2019, I did comprehensive best and worst reads of 2019 posts, and I’m planning on doing something similar (i.e. the same) at the end of the year. To avoid being too repetitive, I’m going to concentrate on Kal’s “fun” categories, which means that you’re getting a look into topics like my favorite villains, couples, and squads, all of them from 2019 releases.

Quick note – I nominated more than one book for each of Kal’s fun categories, however, in an attempt not to overcrowd this post, I’m only mentioning one book per category. Even so, I made sure to shout out each book I nominated; for instance, Jade War by Fonda Lee is highlighted under two categories in my post, but in reality I nominated it in more categories than that.

FAVORITE VILLAIN

Ayt Madashi from Jade War
(adult)

I’m not terribly fond of villains in books, so I never thought there’d come a time when I absolutely love – but simultaneously detest – a villain to this extent, and yet here we are. Ayt is always at least two steps ahead of everyone else and, as someone who is not afraid to act, is pro at getting what she wants. She’s easily the best villain I’ve ever read about, and I’d kill to read her villain origin story.


Nita from Only Ashes Remain
(YA)

Nita is someone who’s started out as an incredibly morally gray character, and she’s venturing into true villain territory more and more. She is fierce and will do anything to protect herself – at that point I was all: yes, finally a character who is actively fighting for their dreams and goals and life, and not the whole world’s. She sets down lines she knows she shouldn’t cross… and then stomps right through them; in other words, Nita is a smol disaster and I love her with my whole heart.

πŸ’œ related post: Why I Love Market of Monsters by Rebecca Schaeffer

FAVORITE OTP

I read a lot of romance – no, like a lot – so there were quite a few contenders for this position… and yet, Kai and EsmΓ© came out as clear winners. Their interactions were so pure and beautiful, and the way they adapted to living with each other and tried to help each other made my heart melt.

πŸ’œ related post: Discussing The Bride Test by Helen Hoang


Zayneb and Adam from Love From A to Z
(YA)

Love From A to Z is, frankly, one of the best YA romance novels I’ve ever read – it’s lovely and cute, while also digging deep into serious topics like the Islamophobia Zayneb faces. It’s a whole treat, in part because of Zayneb’s fierceness, and in another part because the romance was layered and precious. I can’t recommend this book enough, both to romance and realistic fiction fans.

πŸ’œ related post: Ruzi reviewed Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali

FAVORITE BOOK SETTING

the Psy-Changeling Universe from Wolf Rain
(adult)

Here’s the deal about this series – Singh could write it well into my old age, and I’d be still all over it. In part that’s thanks to her ability to create unique, distinct characters and couples even after 10+ books in the series, but even more so, it’s because she manages to show something new in each book. She’s still building the Psy-Changeling world, and I genuinely hope she’ll keep building it for many-many years.


Hungry Hearts Row from Hungry Hearts
(YA)

In all of 2019, there have been few books that made me as content as Hungry Hearts did. Filled with thirteen tales of food, family, and culture, Hungry Hearts is a book y’all should not be missing out on. Even though each story is written by a different author and centers around different characters, the setting is the same – Hungry Hearts Row, a place of wonder, magic, and comfort.

FAVORITE SEQUEL

That Kind of Guy by Talia Hibbert
(adult)

I haven’t exactly made it a secret that I love Talia Hibbert’s novels with all my heart, so of course, That Kind of Guy was one of my most awaited novels of 2019 – and it did not disappoint! I was swept off of my feet by the friendship (and later, the romance) between the two main characters, and I cannot recommend this novel enough. A demisexual hero! Friends to lovers! There’s only one bed trope! Older woman! A dog!
See? It has all the good things.


The Burning Shadow by Jennifer L. Armentrout
(YA)

I think we all know that Jennifer L. Armentrout writes some of the most entertaining, heart-warming novels; her couples feel so real and lovable that your heart has to be made of stone not to root for them. I mean, Evie and Luc? An iconic duo if I’ve ever seen one. That said, what makes The Burning Shadow truly stand out for me are all the twists and reveals that shocked me to my core – shit hit the fan big time, and I’m eagerly awaiting the third novel already.

FAVORITE DEBUT

Little Darlings by Melanie Golding
(adult)

Books hardly scare me – particularly not mystery thrillers – but there is something about Little Darlings that creeped me the hell out. All the questions about what’s real and what isn’t made me second guess everything, and I was completely engrossed in the characters and plot. I hope to hell Golding will come back with another thriller – or, perhaps, write a sequel for this one? – because I’d love to read more novels by her.

πŸ’œ related post: My Review of Little Darlings


Have a Little Faith in Me by Sonia Hartl
(YA)

Have a Little Faith in Me was not on my radar originally, but it quickly jumped onto the top of my to-read pile as a started to hear more about it. This is a wonderfully sex positive, friends to lovers YA novel that has a terrific example of female friendship, and important discussions on sex ed. Besides that, it’s also charming, laugh out loud funny, and just an all around emotional and wonderful reading experience that y’all should dive into asap. You won’t regret it.

FAVORITE COVER

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert
(adult)

I love graphic design covers, and Get a Life, Chloe Brown‘s is no exception – it’s so cute, and it has two awesome things going for it – a fat, black heroine depicted as she is, and a cat. As for the content, I, of course, loved this wonderful novel from start to finish; Chloe and Reid go from enemies to lovers, which, indeed, is the best trope ever, and the novel also has #OwnVoices chronic illness rep. It’s perfect, is what I’m saying, so get it already!

πŸ’œ related post: My Review of Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert


I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver
(YA)

Ahh, this book was nearly the death of me! It broke my heart – the way Ben is treated by their parents after they come out as nonbinary is disgusting – but it put all the broken pieces back together. The friendship (which later turns into an A+ romance) was so comforting and beautiful, and I adored the complex relationship between Ben and their sister. As for the cover – we’ve seen an abundance of graphic design covers this year, and yet, this one really stands out to me.

πŸ’œ related post: Mini Review of I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver

FAVORITE SQUAD

Jade War by Fonda Lee
(adult)

I’ve already praised the villain of The Green Bone Saga above, but it is absolutely necessary to highlight those on the other side, namely the No Peak Clan. I’m especially thinking of the Kaul family, namely Hilo, Shae, Anden, Wen, and the Maik brothers, all of whom are such well-written characters, with complex relationships to each other.


Ruse by Cindy Pon
(YA)

Y’all, I absolutely adore the Want duology, and I need you to hop onto these books. Besides its smart criticism of capitalism and its brutal portrayal of pollution, this duology also offers one of the best squads I’ve ever seen. The characters are super-different from each other, but they form one epic team – and, more importantly, a loving family – that adds a lot of delight to these books.

THE BOOK I COULDN’T STOP SCREAMING ABOUT

A Prince on Paper by Alyssa Cole
(adult)

I love the Reluctant Royals series to the moon and back, so A Prince on Paper had a lot to live up to, and I’m pleased to say it’s my favorite from the series. (This series has come to the end, but there’s a spin-off coming!) Alyssa Cole made excellent use of the fake dating trope, and made me care for Nya and Johan so deeply. I loved their relationship, as well as their life outside of their relationship, and A Prince on Paper is definitely one of my favorite books of 2019.


Only Ashes Remain by Rebecca Schaeffer
(YA)

I’ve talked about Nita above, but I haven’t gone truly into why I love this series, so here we go. Market of Monsters is one of those special series that doesn’t just promise to be dark, but actually goes there, over and over again. It has an utterly morally gray cast, and despite their flaws and villain-like qualities I still found myself rooting for them. I just.. I love these books and characters, and I couldn’t recommend the series enough.

πŸ’œ related post: Why I Love Market of Monsters by Rebecca Schaeffer

FAVORITE BOOK

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager
(adult)

At this point I have read so many mystery-thrillers that it’s hard to find ones that impress me the way Sager’s books do. He creates fantastic characters and tells such captivating stories that I genuinely can’t put them down until I get to the very last page. Lock Every Door was no exception; I was shocked when I read the twist, but, at the same time, it made perfect sense when I went back to revisit the clues. Brilliant.

πŸ’œ related post: My Review of Lock Every Door by Riley Sager


Have a Little Faith in Me by Sonia Hartl
(YA)

It was a tough choice, picking my favorite YA novel for this post, as all three of the books I nominated, including Have a Little Faith in Me, already appear on this list. Ultimately, I really wanted to highlight this one again, because it deserves so much more love and appreciation than it has received so far. It’s an incredibly charming, important, and funny novel that is a must-read for anyone who enjoys Contemporary YA.

Let’s chat!

Have you voted for the Bookish Readers’ Choice Awards? What were your favorites books in 2019? Have you read any of these books? Do you plan to?

22 thoughts on “The Best & the Brightest: My Favorite 2019 Releases

  1. Ahh, I love this post so much! Focusing on the fun categories was such a great idea and I love your answers. I still really need to read Not Even Bones… I own it but it’s languished on my bookshelf for over a year. You’re motivating me to try to fit it in!

    Thanks for boosting not only the Bookish Reader’s Choice Awards, but the others as well!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I haven’t heard about the whole controversy about the Goodreads awards (I don’t vote in them anymore, because I usually don’t know many of the books), but this list gave me a couple of new books I’d like to read, so thanks for that!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am doing a happy dance, because Have a Little Faith in Me showed up on this list. I thought that book was so fabulous, and I am glad you are talking about it. I love both your OTPs to death, and Chloe Brown was as great as the cover.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I feel the Goodreads awards problem is the fact that the most famous books win, not necessarily the best ones. I normally just vote the ones I have read or sometimes put another book for consideration. And I really wanna read Lock Every Door by Riley Sager and Jade City

    Liked by 1 person

    1. True, that’s a big problem, although I’m not sure how it could be avoided, tbh. It really is a popularity contest, so even though GR proudly displays the badge next to the winning titles, it’s never made me pick up a book before. Let me know when you get to those two! πŸ™‚

      Like

  5. Kai and Esme were so precious together! I love how accepting they were of one another. And The Burning Shadow as best sequel… YES! Could not agree more! I Wish You All the Best broke my heart but I loved that it ended on such a hopeful note.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great post and love how many different bookish there are going on since Goodreads is usually a total let down and this year isn’t much different. I feel like I can’t do a favourites post for this year when it’s still November! But I am seeing good books on here I’ve both read and need to read. Just finished Get A Life Chloe Brown and that book! And A Prince on Paper was excellent too. I do need to read some Fonda Lee, though, I feel like everyone has been talking about Jade City and Jade War so I will read the first book!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!! πŸ™‚ Yeah, I’m still definitely doing separate best and worst book posts in late-December/early-January, this was just because I really love Kal’s categories, and wanted to give a shout out to the awards. πŸ˜€ Chloe Brown is such a good book – I can’t wait for the second in the series. I need to read more by Fonda Lee, because Jade City and Jade War are some of my all time favorites. Let me know when you pick JC up, I’d love to hear your thoughts!! πŸ™‚

      Like

  7. I definitely think the criticisms of the awards are well deserved! So happy to see a lot of the ones on my to read list like: Jade War, The Bride Test, Love from A to Z and Get a Life, Chloe Brown, on this list of yours!

    Liked by 1 person

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