No one has tagged me for this, but I’m doing it anyway. I’m such a rebel.
1. Best Book You’ve Read So Far in 2019
There isn’t a single book that I would declare “the best” of 2019, if only because I like the books for different reasons. So the following are my top books for the first half of 2019:
- Wolf Hall (Thomas Cromwell #1) by Hilary Mantel. The Tudor era of British history is my favorite to read about, and Thomas Cromwell is one of the most intriguing figures from that time. Hilary Mantel’s writing is incredible and tells a very human story about a series of larger-than-life historical figures.
- The Murderbot Diaries (series) by Martha Wells. These novellas tell the story of Murderbot, a sentient half-human/half-robot construct who gets tangled up in human dramas when it really just wants to be left alone to watch space television. It’s a compelling look at humanity and identity.
- Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come: An Introvert’s Year of Living Dangerously by Jessica Pan. This isn’t the best-written memoir I’ve ever read, but Pan’s story has encouraged me to go out and do things I probably wouldn’t have done without her gentle nudging. This has made my life that much better, which helps land this book toward the top of the list for 2019 so far.
2. Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far
Again, there isn’t one single book I can declare as “best sequel”. I’d say the top two are Exit Strategy (The Murderbot Diaries #4) by Martha Wells and Soul of the Sword (Shadow of the Fox #2) by Julie Kagawa.
3. A New Release You Haven’t Read Yet But Want To
African Samurai: The True Story of Yasuke, an African Samurai in Feudal Japan by Thomas Lockely. This looks fascinating. An African man ends up in feudal Japan and becomes a samurai? How is this not already a Hollywood blockbuster starring Michael B. Jordan?
4. Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of 2019
Snow, Glass, Apples and The Seven Sisters, both by Neil Gaiman. Snow, Glass, Apples is an illustrated fairy tale with artwork by Colleen Doran. The Seven Sisters is the sequel to Neverwhere, which is one of my favorite books of all time. The Goodreads page has two publication dates listed- September 2019, and sometime in 2020. *shrugs* Whenever it comes out, I will be first in line at my local bookstore to get a copy. Snow, Glass, Apples is due out in August.
5. Biggest Disappointment
The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon. A large world filled with palace intrigue. An ancient sacred order of women warriors. Dragons. I should have loved this book, but it ended up being an overwritten, overstuffed, and sprawling mass where Shannon wanted to show off this massive world she had built and all the research that went into it. The result is a tome that is far too long for the story it contains, and a plot that doesn’t take shape until about page 500. If Shannon can control the urge to show off in later books, she could be a stellar author. We will see how she does.
Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan. A gothic world of eldritch gods, set in gloomy cathedrals and eerie forests. Again, this should have been a home run for me, but it succumbed to badly written YA fantasy tropes and even more poorly written dialogue. After a stumbling beginning, I enjoyed part of it, but once I reached 52% I hit a point where I stopped reading, glared at the book, and said, “You’re going to go THERE?”. It was all downhill from there. Duncan apparently wrote this book, her debut, while finishing graduate school. I wish she had waited until she had graduated so could devote more time and attention to her story.
6. Best Surprise
The Narrow Road to the Interior by Matsuo Bashō. I’d read some of Bashō’s haiku before and enjoyed it, but I wasn’t expecting his travel journal to be as humorous as it was. Usually, when you think of classics, you think of something deep and serious, but Bashō’s writing is light and often funny and has lovely insights into humanity and aging.
7. Favorite New Author
Hilary Mantel and Martha Wells. They are not new authors, but they are new to me, so it counts.
8. Newest Fictional Crush
I don’t do crushes, fictional or otherwise.
9. New Favorite Character
Murderbot! Martha Wells has a wonderful ability to make a non-human character extremely relatable without being untrue to the character, whose perspective is far from human. Wells also manages to create distinct and realistic side characters without straying away from the reality of Murderbot’s point of view. I am looking forward to the full-length novel, Network Effect, which is due out in 2020.
10. A Book that Made You Cry
The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa. It’s such a lovely and sweet little book, but there are parts of it that are devastatingly sad. That said, I highly recommend it.
11. A Book that Made You Happy
I’m Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come. It was an entertaining read while I had it in my hands, but because I have taken Pan’s advice to heart and pushed myself to go out and do more things I might have otherwise avoided, I have seen some cool stuff and made a new friend– my new German language teacher!
12. Favorite Book to Movie Adaptation
Lucifer. Sure, I only read one of the comic collections, and that was after, but the TV show is one of my favorite of the year. It’s drastically different from the comic, but the show is a lot of fun, and Tom Ellis does a fantastic job of playing Lucifer.
13. Favorite Review That You’ve Written
Even though I didn’t really enjoy the book, I like the review I wrote for The Priory of the Orange Tree.
14. Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought This Year
The Priory of the Orange Tree was beautiful, but I didn’t care for it in the end. At least I had a coupon and didn’t pay full price. I found Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent at the used bookstore, and The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert on the library’s sale bookshelf. I haven’t read either one of them, but they are beautiful, and I didn’t spend very much on nearly-new hardbacks!
15. Books You Need to Read by the End of the Year
Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, A Hero Born by Jin Yong, The Long Call by Ann Cleeves, and The Adventure of the Peculiar Protocols by Nicholas Meyer. These are my current ARCs from NetGalley. There are serveral other titles I have on my TBR that I have scheduled to read later in the year, but these are the ones I have an obligation to finish.
The first half of 2019 has been great so far. I’ve found some new favorites as well as some authors whose books I will not go back to. But at least I gave them a try. Here’s to hoping that the second half of 2019 goes as well as, if not better than, the first half!