I saw this post from Shanah the Bionic Book Worm and had to jump in!
2019 has been an absolutely wild ride for books this year. Halfway through the year and I’ve already read 113 books. It’s slowed down considerably since my wife got home earlier this month, however, so I will probably not end up reading 200 books this year (but I will still be way over my usual 150). Her homecoming is also why my posts have shriveled away into nearly nothing—BUT! I’m still super happy I took the plunge and started this blog.
While 2019 was not the greatest work-wise (I left my job due to a not-so-great coworker and am still job hunting), it has been fantastic in terms of books and writing. My debut novella, The Book Woman, was published by Less Than Three Press in March, my short story “Recipe for a Love Spell” was approved for a queer werewolf anthology (that hopefully goes somewhere—c’mon kickstarter campaign!), and last week my short story “Vasilisa and the Night Witches” was selected for publication by Helios Quarterly Magazine. Granted, I won’t see it in print until September 2021, but after nearly a year of submitting and 12 rejections, I’m happy to go with lucky number 13!
I’ve also been writing a little more, and just wrapped up the first drafts of two queer dieselpunk stories (one with lesbians and aircraft carriers, the other a nonbinary retelling of Empress Matilda in a reimagined 1930s-inspired world). I’m working on getting back into finishing the first draft of Lesbian Cinderella (new adult novella), and this year my goal is to finally finish editing my YA fantasy novel, A Princess of Chaladry. I have so many ideas, but need a cattle prod or something to get my ass writing instead of farting around on Twitter all day.
But to the books
1 — THE BEST BOOK YOU’VE READ SO FAR IN 2019
Like I could narrow this down to one. Ha. I took 10 days to do my 2018 Instagram book wrap up, with the top 10-ish books from each category, and then tried to boil it down to my top 20. As an eclectic mood reader, my favorites are all over the place, and I’ve read so many good books this year!
2 — MY FAVORITE SEQUEL THIS YEAR
Another hard one to choose, with a toss-up between a long-standing favorite (Mercy Thompson) and one of my new favorite authors/series—The Stariel Quartet by A.J. Lancaster. I could gush on and on and on about both of these, but they are so damn good. I can’t wait for the next book in both of these series!
3 — A NEW RELEASE THAT YOU HAVEN’T READ YET BUT REALLY WANT TO
Highlighting my eclectic taste, lol. After reading Shoot Like A Girl, I felt ready to read more books about female veterans and the struggles we face both in the military and in civilian life. Plus, Unbecoming is about a queer Marine Corps officer whose parents weren’t too keen on her joining and I highly relate to that. I’m also hopping on both the Elizabeth Acevedo and Christina Lauren trains after just finishing The Poet X and My Favorite Half-Night Stand last month. I’ve read more contemporary romance and YA contemporary and I’ve enjoyed a lot of it!
4 — MOST ANTICIPATED RELEASE FOR THE SECOND HALF OF THE YEAR
However, my most anticipated reads for the second half of the year are all SFF (my one true love). This year I’ve been transitioning away from YA SFF and moving back into adult, and holy hell has it not disappointed. But The Queen of Nothing is hitting shelves in November and I am here for that! And I love Leigh Bardugo and am excited to see where she goes in her adult debut. And space opera, necromancy, swords and lesbians? Um, yes please Gideon The Ninth!
5 — YOUR BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT
So far June has been filled with disappointments. Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t the fun, contemporary romance I thought it would be (curse you, adorable cover and fluffy blurb) and it suffered from poor editing. I just finished The Friend Zone and holy hell it was a major disappointment, from the cringe-worthy incorrectness of how the military works, to holy-heterosexuality batman to some not-so-great infertility rep (spoiler: miracle pregnancy) to tragedy porn in the last third. Both books were ARCs graciously given to me by the publishers, and I wish I had enjoyed them more.
6 — BIGGEST SURPRISE OF THE YEAR
I tend to avoid anything fiction about 9/11, mostly because I find a lot of books about it either come off as tragedy porn or Islamophobic as hell. But seeing an #ownvoices YA contemporary (well, technically historical fiction now I suppose since it was 18 years ago and I am an old) set in 2002 with a Muslim main character—I just had to read it. And it was so fucking good and resonated so fucking much (I am not Muslim, but like Shirin I was a freshman when 9/11 hit). Read it. And Internment is the frighteningly possible (and is actually happening in the US today to a large number of detained immigrants) dystopian novel that takes the current level of nationalist extremism and Islamophobia and just…takes it to the next logical step of authoritarianism.
7 — FAVORITE NEW TO YOU OR DEBUT
I received an ARC of Dragon Pearl last year, and read it just before the debut. It was incredible—a witty, action-packed middle-grade space opera with Korean mythology. I’d never read anything it geared towards middle-grade readers, and am so happy that Rick Riordan has been publishing diverse stories inspired by the author’s culture. Dragon Pearl pushed me to ~finally~ pick up Ninefox Gambit from where it had been languishing on my kindle, and it was amazing. It took a bit to get into, but overall—space fortress sieges!
8—YOUR NEW FICTIONAL CRUSH
This one was hard, because I don’t generally crush on book characters? Mostly because I read a lot of YA and find that crushing on teenagers is super creepy as a middle-aged woman (I still have carry-overs from my own teen years, however). But I must admit that Shitty (yup, that is his name) is probably one of my favorites. Shitty, or Susan (and McGraw) from the amazing Giant Days comics. How the hell could I ever crush on a hockey playing jock nicknamed Shitty? Well, he happens to be one of the best characters in this utterly adorable comic (his “will affirm all sexual identities” tag made me sob), and that is saying something because Bitty is just precious. Volume 2 can’t get here fast enough.
9 — NEW FAVORITE CHARACTER
Without a doubt, my new favorite character (from 2019, so I can’t count Hetta from The Lord of Stariel) is General Shuos Jedao, the twisty nine-foxed ghost general determined to destroy the Hexarch for reasons known only to him. My favorite quote?
“Remember that despite the fact that I’m a traitor and a mass murderer, one of us is expendable, and it isn’t me.”
10 — A BOOK THAT MADE YOU CRY
While beautifully written, this book had me bawling like a little baby from just about page one. My horrible summary: Kiko graduates from high school, fails to get into the art school of her choice, and tries to break away from her emotionally abusive mother and stand on her own two feet with the help of a childhood crush. This is an incredible book, but um, definitely pay attention to those trigger warnings. There is no way I could have read this when I was a teenager, but I’m finally at a point where I can read books with emotionally abusive parents.
11 — A BOOK THAT MADE YOU HAPPY
It’s been a while since I read a book that made me so unimaginably happy. But that book is The Princess and the Fangirl. It hit every single happiness cell in my body, and I fell in love with a fandom that doesn’t even exist. There’s a fairy tale retelling, nerd culture, commentary on the toxicity and darkness that exists within fandoms and in nerd culture, and a lovely lesbian romance. I also put in Crown Duel, which is a favorite from high school, because it pulled me from the brink of a book slump and honestly, isn’t that what old favorites are for?
12 — YOUR FAVORITE BOOK TO MOVIE ADAPTATION THAT YOU’VE SEEN THIS YEAR
I don’t watch a whole lot of adaptations (at least, I haven’t watched too many this year where I’ve read the book) and—confession time: I haven’t actually read Good Omens. I’m not the biggest Neil Gaiman fan (love the man, can’t really get into his work besides Stardust) and I like Terry Pratchett but his humor level doesn’t really correlate to mine very much. But. This show. Holy fuck. Michael Sheen is absolutely precious and everyone should watch it just for him.
13 — FAVORITE BLOG POST YOU’VE PUBLISHED THIS YEAR
I just started this blog last month, so I’d have to say all of them! I’ve wanted to start a book blog for years now, but was worried that no one would read it (true) or care (also true). Then I realized that I remembered how much joy I’ve found connecting with fellow readers over the past two years on Goodreads (after being a recluse for the previous five) and that this blog was to bring me joy and maybe help other readers find some new reads they enjoy. Plus I also kinda needed to make an author’s website and this was a decent compromise.
14 — THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOK THAT YOU’VE BOUGHT/RECEIVED THIS YEAR
Isn’t this cover just gorgeous? I was impressed with the writing too, as it took the history of the Night Witches and turned it into a magical secondary fantasy world featuring female friendship. There’s disability rep as well, which was really nice to see.
Also, King of Scars has a beautiful cover as well, particularly once the dust jacket comes off.
15 WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BOOKS THAT YOU NEED TO READ BY THE END OF THE YEAR?
In addition to my ARCs, I want to get through a lot of SFF backlist titles that I just haven’t gotten around to yet, particularly those from my Sci Fi Friday: TBR Part 1 post. My plan is to make September and October into themed reading months (curse those for having some really awesome books coming out): Sci Fi (and fantasy) September and Owned Books October.
And that’s it!
So far, 2019 has had a lot of books, and I’m bouncing up and down on my toes waiting for the next great read. June has been a disappointment so far, but there are some absolutely amazing books I’m anticipating later in the year and I can’t wait to get to them.