2019 BEST BOOKS
WHAT A CRAZY YEAR IN BOOKS
From short story anthologies to independent author batshit crazy fantasies, it was an amazing and slightly batshit year for books.
This year has been so informative for me as a reader. I have discovered new genres, made many friends in the reviewing community and basically had a blast. The books listed below are some of my 4s and 5 starred books. Weird to include 4s? Maybe, but I went by how the book overall affected me. Did it leave me with the feels? These all did that to one degree or another. They left me spent and excited or crying and maudlin. They taught me to think in a new way and for that I am truly grateful.
Rob J. Hayes
Ein is on a mission from God. A God of Death.
Time is up for the Emperor of Ten Kings and it falls to a murdered eight year old boy to render the judgement of a God. Ein knows he can’t do it alone, but the empire is rife with heroes. The only problem; in order to serve, they must first die.
Ein has four legendary heroes in mind, names from story books read to him by his father. Now he must find them and kill them, so he can bring them back to fight the Reaper’s war.
Why did I love this? This was a refreshing and fantastic wuxia fantasy. A little bit like The Boys, but set in a wuxia fantasy world. The backstories were interesting as hell and the pace gripped your throat and wouldn’t let go.
MASTER OF SORROWS
You have heard the story before – of a young boy, orphaned through tragic circumstances, raised by a wise old man, who comes to a fuller knowledge of his magic and uses it to fight the great evil that threatens his world.
But what if the boy hero and the malevolent, threatening taint were one and the same?
What if the boy slowly came to realize he was the reincarnation of an evil god? Would he save the world . . . or destroy it?
Among the Academy’s warrior-thieves, Annev de Breth is an outlier. Unlike his classmates who were stolen as infants from the capital city, Annev was born in the small village of Chaenbalu, was believed to be executed, and then unknowingly raised by his parents’ killers.
Seventeen years later, Annev struggles with the burdens of a forbidden magic, a forgotten heritage, and a secret deformity. When he is subsequently caught between the warring ideologies of his priestly mentor and the Academy’s masters, he must choose between forfeiting his promising future at the Academy or betraying his closest friends. Each decision leads to a deeper dilemma until Annev finds himself pressed into a quest he does not wish to fulfill.
Will he finally embrace the doctrine of his tutors, murder a stranger, and abandon his mentor? Or will he accept the more difficult truth of who he is . . . and the darker truth of what he may become . . .
Why did I love this? Justin Call might just be the next powerhouse in fantasy writing. This was one of the best “coming of age” fantasy novels I think I have ever read. I am looking forwards to the next installment to say the least.
FATE OF THE FALLEN
The Shroud of Prophecy tests fate to discover what happens when the path of good and right, the triumph of light over darkness, the only path to salvation… fails.
Everyone loves Mathias. So naturally, when he discovers it’s his destiny to save the world, he dives in head first, pulling his best friend Aaslo along for the ride.
Mathias is thrilled for the adventure! There’s nothing better than a road beneath his feet and adventure in the air. Aaslo, on the other hand, has never cared for the world beyond the borders of his sleepy village and would be much happier alone and in the woods. But, someone has to keep the Chosen One’s head on his shoulders and his feet on the ground.
It turns out saving the world isn’t as easy, or exciting, as it sounds in the stories. Mathias is more than willing to place his life on the line, but Aaslo would love nothing more than to forget about all the talk of arcane bloodlines and magical fae creatures. When the going gets rough, folks start to believe their only chance for survival is to surrender to the forces of evil, which isn’t how the stories go. At all. To make matters worse Aaslo is beginning to fear that he may have lost his mind…
Why did I love this?, damn was this a fun story. I love anything that takes tropes and flips them all around. That is exactly what the author did.
GODS, MONSTERS, AND THE LUCKY PEACH
Discover a shifting history of adventure as humanity clashes over whether to repair their ruined planet or luxuriate in a less tainted past.
In 2267, Earth has just begun to recover from worldwide ecological disasters. Minh is part of the generation that first moved back up to the surface of the Earth from the underground hells, to reclaim humanity’s ancestral habitat. She’s spent her entire life restoring river ecosystems, but lately the kind of long-term restoration projects Minh works on have been stalled due to the invention of time travel. When she gets the opportunity take a team to 2000 BC to survey the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, she jumps at the chance to uncover the secrets of the shadowy think tank that controls time travel technology.
Why did I love this? This is a story that took the “what if” to places I didn’t even think I could go. Part environmental disaster book, part time travel. This book will have you scratching your head and wanting to read more from the author.
THE ARMORED SAINT SERIES
In a world where any act of magic could open a portal to hell, the Order insures that no wizard will live to summon devils, and will kill as many innocent people as they must to prevent that greater horror. After witnessing a horrendous slaughter, the village girl Heloise opposes the Order, and risks bringing their wrath down on herself, her family, and her village.
Why did I love this? Myke Cole wrote a hero that we all need right now. Queer, passionate, female, determined and flawed.
THE REFRIGERATOR MONOLOGUES
Catherynne M. Valente
SHORT STORY COLLECTION
The lives of six female superheroes and the girlfriends of superheroes. A ferocious riff on women in superhero comics.
A series of linked stories from the points of view of the wives and girlfriends of superheroes, female heroes, and anyone who’s ever been “refrigerated”: comic book women who are killed, raped, brainwashed, driven mad, disabled, or had their powers taken so that a male superhero’s storyline will progress.
Why did I love this? This book single handedly made me think about women in comics. Women are more than just a means of pushing the protagonist.
A decadent rock star. A deeply religious radio host. A disgraced scientist. And a teenage girl who may be the world’s last hope.
Shana wakes up one morning to discover her little sister in the grip of a strange malady. She appears to be sleepwalking. She cannot talk and cannot be woken up. And she is heading with inexorable determination to a destination that only she knows. But Shana and her sister are not alone. Soon they are joined by a flock of sleepwalkers from across America, on the same mysterious journey. And like Shana, there are other “shepherds” who follow the flock to protect their friends and family on the long dark road ahead.
For on their journey, they will discover an America convulsed with terror and violence, where this apocalyptic epidemic proves less dangerous than the fear of it. As the rest of society collapses all around them–and an ultraviolent militia threatens to exterminate them–the fate of the sleepwalkers depends on unraveling the mystery behind the epidemic. The terrifying secret will either tear the nation apart–or bring the survivors together to remake a shattered world.
Why I loved this story? I had the love hate relationship with this story till about 75% and then it grabbed me by the heart. I still think of it time to time. I think about the predictability of some parts of societies actions and also how unpredictable people can be. It is an amazing tome of a book.
THE TEN THOUSAND DOORS OF JANUARY
Alix E. Harrow
In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.
In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.
Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.
Lush and richly imagined, a tale of impossible journeys, unforgettable love, and the enduring power of stories awaits in Alix E. Harrow’s spellbinding debut–step inside and discover its magic.
Why I loved this Book? Who doesn’t love this book? It is a story that celebrates the magic of stories. How meta and how wonderful.
Dragons vs Firefighters vs the Phoenix. The scorching fantasy sequel to Smoke Eaters.
With ex-firefighter Cole Brannigan in command of the Smoke Eaters, the dragon menace is under control. Thanks to non-lethal Canadian tech, the beasts are tranquilized and locked up, rather than killed. But for Tamerica Williams, this job filled with action and danger, has become tediously routine.
When a new threat emerges, a legendary bird of fire – the Phoenix – it’s the perfect task for Williams. But killing the Phoenix just brings it back stronger, spreading fire like a plague and whipping dragons into a frenzy. Will it prove to be too much excitement, even for adrenalin-junkie Williams?
Why I love this book? This is on here to celebrate how fun books can be. Ass kicking firefighters that kill dragons. Hell yes. It was fun, books should be entertaining, but they need to make you feel like a badass for reading it. This does that.
Could be his job as a janitor at an insane asylum, could be the meaninglessness of existence, could be the unwanted cilantro on his tacos. Whatever the reason, Jim has elected to commit suicide. But before he can do the deed, a mysterious resident at work equips him with a dog and a bag of ash, and throws him into a secret game known as Cryptofauna. Cryptofauna is played by Operators, persons of special abilities who battle one another to influence important events around the world. To become an Operator, Jim must survive being stranded in the Pacific Ocean, pass a bizarre examination by leprous French monks, and pluck the existential splinter from his troubled soul. If there’s time, he must also stop a rival player from ending all life on the planet. Underwater Norwegian lairs, obsession with a decent pair of socks, and shapeshifting animals obsessed with AM radio all make up the strange world of Cryptofauna, which might help Jim discover a reason to live, assuming he doesn’t die in the process.
Why I love this Book? I am here to sing the praises of this book. Patrick contacted me and asked me to review this, and how could I not. This is pure creativity. It is nuts, but fun. You connect with the characters and want to know more about what the hell they are going to do next.
This year has been so informative for me as a reader. I have discovered new genres, made many friends in the reviewing community and basically had a blast. The books listed below are some of my 4s and 5 starred books. Weird to include 4s? Maybe, but I went by how the book overall affected me. Did it leave me with the feels? These all did that to one degree or another. They left me spent and excited or crying and maudlin. They taught me to think in a new way and for that, I am truly grateful.