Top 10 Reads of 2019

December feels like it was 10 years ago. Among everything that’s happened in the last six months, I realized that I never shared my favorite reads from 2019. If you, like me, are in need of something really good to get you out of your stress induced reading slump, consider giving one of these a try.

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman
Nina works at a bookstore and hangs out at trivia nights with her friends. Her mom sends occasional postcards from her travels, and everything is right with the world. But then the father Nina never knew dies, and suddenly she has family members coming out of the woodwork, all of whom want to get to know her. Worse, her trivia nemesis seems interested in getting to know her better. All Nina wants is peace and quiet. Can she adjust to a new normal?
This one was delightfully quirky and funny, and I made it my very first staff pick at the bookstore when I started working there. More people should read romantic comedies.

May Bird Warrior Princess by Jodi Lynn Anderson (Full Review)
This is the final installment in a children’s trilogy about a girl who gets sucked into the land of the dead, known as the Ever After, and has to find her way home. After two books, May and her hairless cat, Somber Kitty, have only just returned to the land of the living when the unthinkable happens. A prediction about the end of the world, and the Ever After, comes true.
This whole series blew me away. The character development, the world building, was all phenomenal. The first book honestly creeped me out, but I kept coming back for more. May grows from a scared child into a brave young woman, capable of taking on the “big bad”, along with all of the ghouls and monsters out to get her. With the help of some friendly ghosts and monsters of her own, May is the kick-butt heroine kids need.

Well Met by Jen DeLuca (Full Review)
Emily has just moved to town to take care of her sister and niece when she is thrown into participating in the local renaissance faire. She tries to keep an open mind, but Simon, one of the organizers, just will not let any missteps slide. Which would be frustrating enough if he didn’t look so good in pirate’s leathers. Now Emily is trying to balance caring for her family with the topsy-turvy events of her weekends, and she’s not completely sure she can keep up.
First of all, a rom-com at a renaissance faire?! With a side of bookstore?? Sign. Me. Up. I read this in one sitting, and I was very happy with how well the relationship was written. It was real, and characters had good boundaries, and I just loved it so much. 10/10, will reread regularly. The sequel, Well Played, is due out Sept. 22nd, 2020.

The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djeli Clark (Full Review)
Agent Hamed al-Nasr and his partner Agent Onsi investigate a mysterious tram car in this alternate universe, early 1900’s Egypt set novella. Humans and Djinn live in quasi-harmony in the city of Cairo, where magic makes mass transportation and many other things possible. Women are gathering to fight for the right to vote, and the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities deals with anything out of the ordinary.
This novella blew me away. I was captivated from the first page, and when it ended I desperately wanted to know what case the agents would be assigned next.

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
For as long as they can remember, the people of The Protectorate have given up a baby to the evil witch who poisons the forest so she will let them live in peace. That’s just the way it is. For as long as she can remember, Xan has rescued a child from the same grove of trees every year and brings them to the villages far away from the poisoned forest. As she travels, she feeds them star dust to keep them full and healthy. Xan is getting old though, and one year she makes a mistake. She feeds an infant moon dust instead of star dust, and just like that the little girl is en-magicked. Now Xan, her swamp monster Glerk, and her dragon Fyrian have a little witch on their hands to train and care for, and to keep safe from the dangers looming in the long silent shadows of the forest.
This magical middle grade novel was both heart wrenching and heart warming at the same time. Mystery and truth were so tightly wound that I could hardly tell one from the other, which made the ending that much sweeter.

Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny (Full Review)
A man wakes from a coma, at first unsure of who he is, but then sure of one thing. He is Corwin, a son of Oberon, and a rightful heir to the throne of the one true world, Amber. If only he can remember how to get back there.
This book so tightly winds world building with character development that it is hard to separate one from the other. What is true and what is imagined? Who can be trusted, and how does our world factor in to Amber? With vague ties to Arthurian and Merlinian legends, the 10-book Chronicles of Amber series is one every fantasy lover should pick up.

Gift of the Shaper by D.L. Jennings (Full Review)
On a routine trip into the neighboring town of Lusk, Thornton and his best friend, Miera, barely escape from black-clad thugs who claim to want something other than money from the pair. Their return trip moves even more dangerous, and by the time they reach Highglade, Thornton’s father is nowhere to be found. Convinced the thugs have kidnapped him, the young apprentice will stop at nothing to find the only family he has.
This debut novel was just the quest fantasy I needed. Wars, prophecies, and gods are all wrapped up in a neat package with great world building reminiscent of Tolkien. The sequel, Awaken The Three, hits shelves August 11th, 2020.

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik (Full Review)
A story of faeries and witches and demons who try to push the seasons around for their own gain, Spinning Silver is a masterpiece of interwoven storylines. Heroes all, Miryem, Wanda, and Irina must band together to bring nature back into balance and return peace to their families and their kingdom.
This was the second book I’ve read by Novik, and while I think this one was slightly harder to follow, given the mutli-POV, it was so interesting to see similar people react to things in totally different ways.

Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston (Full Review)
This whirlwind adventure takes the old-as-time story of Anastasia and launches it into space, where it takes on a life of its own.
This book was my second staff rec pick when I was the bookstore. It’s so well written, and all the characters are such colorful individuals that I just couldn’t help loving them all. Lots and lots of queer and POC rep in this one too! The sequel and end of the duology, Soul of Stars, is now available as well.

Temptation Ridge by Robyn Carr (Virgin River #6)
Luke Riordan is a retired Blackhawk Pilot, ready for some peace and quiet in the mountain town of Virgin River. Shelby is ready to get back to living after five years of caring for her very sick mother. She’s just settled into her uncle’s home in Virgin River when she meets Luke and sparks fly, but their difference might be too much for them to overcome.
I love just about all of the Virgin River books, but Luke and Shelby’s story has a very special place in my heart. They’ve both been through a lot, and come from military families, and there’s also a 13-year age difference rearing it’s ugly head to keep them apart. If you’re looking for a happy ending despite the odds, this whole series is for you.

Honorable Mentions:
Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen
The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow (Full Review)
Shades of Magic Vol 1: The Steel Prince by V.E. Schwab

Top 10 Reads of 2018


Despite working full-time and attending graduate school, I managed to read 36 books in 2018. I’m pretty happy with that number given 16 of those were in October or later. I think this means I’m learning to balance everything a little bit better. The fact that I’m getting around to sharing them before May is a visible improvement as well. You all just got gift certificates to bookstores for the holidays, right? Now you have something to spend them on! In no particular order, here are my Top 10 Reads of 2018.

1 – Sorcery & Cecelia, or, The Enchanted Chocolate Pot – Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
Magic is in the air in Regency England, and I am totally into it. Kate and Cece are two cousins whose narrative is told solely through letters written to each other. The escapades these two get into rival some romance novels and magical adventure novels. The letter format is a little strange to get used to, but once you’re in it, it blows you away.

2 – A Dark and Stormy Murder – Julia Buckley
A struggling writer is handed the opportunity of a lifetime when her best friend sets her up with a job as the assistant and ghostwriter to her favorite author of all time. Chaos ensues when someone shows up murdered on the property. Small towns, Gothic houses, lots of mystery and a dash of romance set this series in motion. Always a recipe for success in my book.

3 – The Secret – Julie Garwood
If your name is some variation of Julie/Julia, chances are I read and loved your book in 2018. This one takes a well-born British lady and drops her into the Scottish Highlands. Secrets and midwifery abound, as do hefty doses of rivalry and romance. No secret that this is one of my all time favorites, and my mom’s favorite as well. A review is forthcoming!

4 – Supergirl: Being Super – Mariko Tamaki, Illustrated by Joëlle Jones
Aside from the obvious parts of this origin story, I’d like to take a moment to truly appreciate the diversity in the town of Midvale. Sure, Kara still looks like the quintessential American cheerleader, but her friends and colleagues have varying appearances, making Midvale much more realistic than in past renderings.

5 – The Bear and The Nightingale – Katherine Arden
As if you all didn’t already know of my love for fairytale retellings, let this be a testament. The Winternight Trilogy features god-like sorcerers, dangerous winters in the Russian highlands, and one girl who is the key to peace between life and death, should she accept her fate… And she’s not sure she wants to.

6 – Geekerella – Ashley Poston
An absolutely wonderful Cinderella retelling, bringing together all of my favorite things: fairytales, Sci-Fi fandoms, and food.

7 – Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
Except for a strange sex-doll scene that I could have done without, this book was exceptional. The 80s references are all on-point, and I’m sure I even missed a few that I might catch in a re-read. While the movie was a totally different experience later in the year, the novel was a Sci-Fi and Game lovers dream.

8 – Virgin River – Robyn Carr
Small mountain town chock-full of retired marines, check. Old Doctor who needs a young assistant, check. The Virgin River series is different from others because it’s not just about the romances, but about rebuilding a town that has all but gone to seed. Each book builds on the businesses and townsfolk in a new twist on a constant front-running genre. A review is forthcoming.

9 – The Lido – Libby Page
I can’t get over how wonderful this book was. Showing loss, depression, and anxiety in a completely understandable and real way while depicting a town on the verge of community collapse, it rocked my socks. Libby Page is a debut author and I am already dying to read anything and everything else she is willing to write.

10 – The Viscount Who Loved Me – Julia Quinn
This may be the second book in a series, but it is undoubtedly my favorite in The Bridgerton Saga. The characters are so colorful and their actions are laugh-out-loud funny. Kate and Anthony are hands-down my favorite Bridgerton couple, and my face always hurts from smiling while I read this one.


What were some of your favorite reads in 2018? I’m always looking for great recommendations!


Other Best of the Year Lists:
Top 10 Reads of 2017

Top 10 Books I Read in 2017

2017 Top 10 (1)

It’s already MAY, but I had such a hard time choosing between the 56 books I managed to read last year. I am SO PROUD of that number. I worked hard for it. I figured that now is as good a time as any to share them with you because maybe you’ll want to pick them up over the summer. People read then, right?

In an effort to shorten the judging process that got me to this point, I decided to only nominate books that I read for the first time, and to exclude all re-reads from this contest. In no particular order, here are the top 10 books I read in 2017.

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Source: Goodreads

1 – Grace, Not Perfection – Emily Ley
This book changed my life. I read it while I was nannying for my baby cousin, so even the more maternal bits really hit home. Whether you are young and virtually single like me, or raising a bunch of munchkins, or just living your best life, this book will help you make it even better. I can’t wait to pick up Emily’s second book, A Simplified Life, this year.

Diviners-The-Diviners-Libba-Bray

2 – The Diviners – Libba Bray
1920s New York City + strange magical abilities + teens sleuthing to stop a supernatural serial killer? SIGN ME UP. This is one of those books that you pick up at the library because of the cool cover and then run away with it once you finish reading the blurb because it’s so cool. And even at a whopping 500+ pages it just flies by because the writing is just that good. I’m saving my reviews of this series for October. Look out for it then!

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Source: Goodreads

3 – A Novel Bookstore – Laurence Cossé
Let me just say… WOW. This birth-of-a-bookstore/mystery novel about the fictional The Good Novel bookstore in Paris and its founders blew me away. A tiny bit slow in some places, but the intertwining narratives of the founders, reviewers, and their loved ones was wonderfully written and lovingly translated from the original French.

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Source: Goodreads

4 – A Gathering of Shadows – V. E. Schwab
This whole series is wonderful. I’ve never read anything like the Shades of Magic trilogy, and I am so SO excited that Schwab will be blessing us with a spinoff sequel trilogy, as well as a prequel comic book. Of the trilogy, the second novel was my favorite, and the cover art especially drew me in. The character development is just expert level here, and I can’t wait to get my hands on more of Schwab’s work.

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Source: Goodreads

5 – Uprooted – Naomi Novik
This book. THIS. BOOK. I haven’t read a story like this since I picked up the actual Grimm’s Fairytales. The plot is phenomenal, the characters aren’t perfect, or entirely lovable or hateable, and the forest. is. alive.

Uprooted gets a lot of hate for the romance aspect of it, but I think it was handled really well and people need to get used to the idea that semi-immortal beings need love too. You don’t hear people complaining about Bella and Edward being together because Edward is like 900 years older than her, do you? So don’t come at me about Agnieszka’s romance. It’s as healthy a love as she is going to get in these crazy times.

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Source: Goodreads

6 – Elantris – Brandon Sanderson
An arranged marriage alliance + a religious war + a mysterious plague that only effects the god-like people of Elantris? Trust me when I say the roughly 600 pages are worth it. I haven’t read worldbuilding like this since Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time saga — which makes sense if you think about it because Jordan chose Sanderson to finish his work when he was passing.

M-Train-Patti-Smith

7 – M Train – Patti Smith
I’ve never read a memoir written by a musician before, and let me tell you, this was delightful. Patti Smith is not just a musician, poet, and author, but also a mother, wife, icon, and member of a former mysterious society. This memoir is written mostly stream-of-consciousness style, but that only adds to the magic of the words. From writing in coffee shops (like I am now), to traveling the globe, to singing in cafeterias at midnight, M Train is sure to inspire you to write more of your own work and see the everyday magic around you.

Tyme-Disenchanted-The-Trials-Of-Cinderella-Megan-Morrison

8 – Disenchanted: The Trials of Cinderella – Megan Morrison
It’s no secret that I adored the first Tyme novel by Morrison, Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel,  but Disenchanted did me one better if that’s possible. “Cinderella” comes from a family of fashion. Her new stepmother is a trial, but she probably means well. The private school she goes to is full of rich and royal brats, most of whom will grow up to work in the family business: that is, fashion. The entire Blue Kingdom runs on fashion. But not everyone loves it. Ella knows which families use sweatshop labor, and sets out to bring. them. down. Even if it means ruining her chances with the cute but cursed prince in the process. I can’t wait for the third installment (involving the Frog Prince!), due out in the next year.

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9 – In Other Lands – Sarah Rees Brennan
If you’ve been reading fantasy your entire life and wondering why tropes are what they are — the guy gets the girl, everyone loves the hero, the maidens need rescuing, etc. etc… LOOK NO FURTHER. Brennan turns every single trope on its head and it’s flawless. Not only does everyone hate Elliot, he doesn’t even get the girl, or get to save the world, or have a touching reunion with his parents. Nope. Elliot gets shipped off to a school in a war zone in a magical land because his teacher doesn’t like him, and spends most of his time in the library wishing he could meet mermaids despite everyone telling him how dangerous they are. Elliot is not a hero, and he certainly doesn’t like the would-be hero, Luke Sunborn, with the beautiful golden locks. Nope. Not one bit.

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10 – Lois Lane: Fallout – Gwenda Bond
I didn’t even know I needed a series about Lois before Clark until I saw Bond’s book on the shelf, and now I need her to be consulted with on anything and everything to do with Superman and Lois Lane that is ever created in the future. I have always loved Lois, but never before have I gotten the chance to really get to know her. Now that the military brat has settled in one place for the first time, attending a Metropolis high school and interning at The Daily Planet, she has a bit of free time on her hands, and a lot of bad guys to take down. Now if only she could convince her online crush SmallvilleGuy to meet in person.

Honorable Mentions:
Elise Kova’s The Alchemists of Loom
Helen Simonson’s Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand
Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451