Naturally, after reading 40 books this past year, some really wowed me and others disappointed me. I had a pretty meh reading year personally, but there were a few books that out-shined the others.
Everyone’s preferences and likes are different, so if you hated a book on this list for any reason, remember that these books are ones I liked better than other books that I read in 2019. These may not be my all time favorite books because I am comparing their enjoyability to other books I read in the same year. Plus I just may have a different opinion than you, and that’s fine.
If you would like me to make a list of my top books of All Time, then like this post or comment below!
I would love to put that list together.
These are the top five books I read in 2019 in order of rank:
5. Wishtree by Katherine Applegate,
My fifth favorite book is a children’s novel that I listened to using my library app, and wow did it surprise me. This is a story told from the perspective of a tree in a neighborhood where a Muslim family just moved in and is experiencing some racism.
The narrator for this audiobook is perfect for the story, has a sweet grandma voice, and executed this narration perfectly. This book will probably shock you with its unexpected emotional impact. This is not a silly little children’s book, and I recommend it to adults all the time.
I will definitely purchase this book for my own kids in the future because it is that good. The characters are funny and interesting, and the plot engaging. Not a lot actually happens in this book, but the plot isn’t really the about things happening. The focus is on characters, their relationships, and an important lesson about being kind.
In general, this is just a really wholesome, well-written book for all ages that is well worth the time. This book will (most likely) stick with you for a long time; I know it has for me. I literally cried at the end of this book and couldn’t stop thinking about it for at least a month.
I think you can read this in any season since the story spans all seasons if I remember correctly. Plus it is just a wholesome and heartwarming story about friends and community.
4. Assassin’s Apprentice (The Farseer Trilogy #1) by Robin Hobb
In fourth place is an adult fantasy series that is pretty old compared to what I usually read, but I do not feel like that is evident while reading it. The age of this series does not correlate with its enjoyability and quality.
This story follows the narrator as a boy from the time he is around six years old to his preteens. The narrator seems to be the main character as an old man looking back on his life and telling his story.
In this world, names reflect who you will become in the royal family. Our main character is the bastard born son of prince Chivalry, but is raised by his stable keep due to the nature of his conception. The main character is never given a real name; he is mostly referred to as Boy or Fitz Chivalry or Fitz or bastard ( I know, so rude), which says a lot in a world that puts so much weight behind names.
This world has a unique magic system that has more psychological aspects than elemental or telepathic. It is a sort of a hive mentality dealing with communication through the mind. However, the catch is that only the royal blood line is said to have this ability, not bastards.
In this book, we follow Fitz growing up under the care of the animal keep who worked for his father, trying to gain recognition as a part of the royal family, coming into his abilities, and training as the new royal assassin under the current mysterious assassin who works for the king, his grandfather. During his upbringing sailors from an enemy country are raiding towns and returning captives as sort of feral zombies. So, while the king and his sons are trying to figure out this invasion issue, Fitz is trying to tap into his abilities, stay under the radar, and prove himself to be more than just his father’s bastard son.
This is not a book you go to for wild plot, but this is a book you go to for strong characters, politics, relationships, and great world building. The plot is “slow”, but it is not the focus. I didn’t even notice the lack of plot because I was so invested in these characters and in this world.
With that said, this is a slower paced fantasy that really focuses on characters, relationships, coming of age when everyone wishes you didn’t exist, and the world around the characters and their politics. The pacing lends hand to the fact that this is like a memory and a recollection of history. The beginning is not a fast glide over his childhood, because his childhood felt long and dragging, so naturally the reader feels that (in a good way) due to the purposeful writing style that feels almost like you are remembering with the narrator this other world ages ago when he was a boy.
I could go on about this book for days, but just know that this book has amazing writing (a bit flowery at times) and a meaningful story that will hopefully stick with you. I love the characters, I feel for them, and I am so excited to continue with this series.
3. Good Omens: The BBC Radio 4 dramatisation by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett
In third place is an amazing audiobook dramatisation. This is the best audio version of a book that I have ever listened to.
I will be listening to this audiobook every Fall from now on.
This story is about an angel and a demon who are frenimies of sorts but in secret.
The story starts with the demon, Crowley, who is tasked with delivering the infant Antichrist to a church of satanic nuns who are to swap the baby of an American diplomat with the Antichrist in order to set into motion Armageddon, the end of the world.
But, due to a humerous mix-up, the Antichrist is misplaced causing Crowley and the angel, Aziraphale, to embark on a comical and banter filled search just days before the world is set to end.
There are crazy witch hunters, witches, satanic nuns, kids who hear demonic voices, hell hounds, and so much more. The story is interesting, characters hilarious, and situations unforgettable.
Not to mention, the story is narrated by a dead witch, Agnes Nutter, who prophesied the future in a book that some characters try to decipher in the story. Some of her prophecies are quite funny, but all of them are accurate.
There is an Amazon Prime TV show for Good Omens now, but I haven’t finished it as of this review. So far it seems pretty good, but not quite as funny as the BBC Radio 4 dramatisation.
If you aren’t super religious, like supernatural humor, and don’t get offended easily, then this book might be for you. With that said, if you are the close-minded religious type, are not tolerant of other opinions/beliefs, and can’t take a joke about religious related things, then you may not like this book. All to their own, so proceed with caution.
2. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Well deserving of its second place position, this YA fantasy follows a group of morally grey characters on an impossible heist. Some characters have an old-rooted hatred for another race of being in the group, and others traumatic pasts that hold them from making meaningful connections, but they all must put their differences and traumas aside in order to accomplish the impossible: infiltrating an impenetrable and unusually religious foreign country in order to capture a highly valuable prisoner for good money.
There is a unique magic system, heavy politics, war, and tons of gang activity in this fantasy world that I absolutely love.
The characters are fairly realistic and flawed, and you will probably fall head over heels for them like I did if you like anti-hero type characters.
There is a few background romances that slow burn but in a tasteful way. I don’t usually like slow burn romances, but I loved this one. The romance is very background story though, and the story is mainly about the heist and discovery of this rouge drug that takes over (and eventually kills) magic users.
Trigger warning: there are heavier topics including human trafficking, war, gang violence, torture, discrimination, drugs, and brothels with enslaved girls/women. There is not any active sexual violence, but the process of selling women is detailed in one flashback scene.
Me, a wimp who swore off all negative and triggering things, did not have any trouble with this book, except the short human trafficking part, so take that as you will.
This is a great Winter read since it takes place in the snow for a majority of the heist. Plus I personally enjoy darker fantasy in Winter.
1. Age of Myth + Age of Swords
(The Legends of the First Empire #1-2) by Michael J. Sullivan
There are two books in first place because they are part of the same series, and I loved them both so so much.
I could not possibly decide between such connected and amazing books. Sue me (shruggie).
This Adult Fantasy series is one that I love more than I can describe. I will be doing a separate review for this series when I finish it, so I will try not to fangirl too hard in this one.
This series is a lighter fantasy (meaning not too heavy with lots to memorize/learn) so it is a great place for those not used to fantasy to start. The characters are all so real and flawed in the best of ways, and they are so easy to become attached to as a reader. There are so many interesting perspectives in this series that give you both sides of the story and there are still twists that will surprise you.
I have not been this invested in a story in years. The plot is well paced and incredibly interesting. The world building is flawless, in my opinion, and the world is just so old even though it is just the beginning of it. The characters are my friends and some my enemy who I can’t help but to respect. The relationships are complicated enough to be real and interesting, but not so complicated as to be hard to follow. The use of linguistics is stunning and the writing incredible. This is art.
I listened to the audiobooks in addition to reading the physical books for this series, and I was so lucky as to receive this series signed in hard back for the holidays from my soon-to-be mother-in-law. The audiobook is wonderfully made, because the narrator is hilarious and super talented.
I am stupid excited to continue the rest of this series, and I am stoked to see what Sullivan has in store for the future.
Thank you so much for following my reading journey in 2019, and I can’t wait to see who the winners are for 2020!
Don’t forget to check out the books that I regret NOT reading in 2019!
If you would like to see a full dedicated review to any of these books, comment below!
-Knight of Cups ❤
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3 thoughts on “Best 5 Books (of 2019)”
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I really have to read the legends of the first empire!
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