My Top Ten Books for 2019

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As ever, I’m tremendously excited to talk about my favourite books from this year (pretty much bouncing off the walls!!!). And as ever, this is a really mixed list in terms of genre- though all of them are top quality! Of course, not all of these were released in 2019, though there are a few! And of course, I’m not including rereads. All book covers link to reviews as well. Okay, I think I’ve covered all my bases- let’s just jump into it and talk about some *brilliant books*!!!

number 10

skyward

Skyward– here’s a joyous read to kick off the list. Spensa has stolen my heart and become one of my all-time favourite heroines. This was so much fun and drama from beginning to end- really recommend this space opera and can’t wait to continue with the series!

number 9

wolf in the whale

Wolf in the Whale– this deliciously dark and highly unusual captured my imagination. A wintry fantasy, where Vikings meet Inuit culture, has been a bit of a divisive new release this year. And I get why- some of the events were pretty chilling, so obviously it’s not going to be for everyone. Yet, I found this completely absorbing and was impressed that it wasn’t afraid to show the past as it really was.

number 8

wayward son

Wayward Son– this very late addition was another book that brought me joy (though not always joyful). Really though, given how I’ve carried on about Carry On over the years, is it any surprise I had a soft spot for this second Simon Snow story? Guaranteed to satisfy long term fans and make you smile- even through tough times.

number 7

radio silence

Radio Silence– this book just meant so much for me. I know that there a lot of people who say “this book spoke to me”, but guys, this book really felt like it was speaking to me. That’s the magic of a truly relatable story- somehow it connects with so many different people, from all different backgrounds.

number 6

Impossible Times trilogy– aka One Word Kill/Limited Wish/Dispel Illusion– yeah, yeah, I know I’m cheating by counting this as one book, but I do it every year, so are you surprised? 😉 Also, you can whizz through them so fast you may very well feel like it was one book/you have a time machine 😉 To be honest, every book in this series earned its place here. No other book series has entertained me as much as this in 2019! And I was blown away by the cleverness. I know that in the future, I’m gonna look back on this with nothing but happy memories 😊

number 5

winter of the witch

Winter of the Witch– Arden *one hundred percent* managed to stick the landing. The Winternight series has easily become one of my favourite series of all time. A perfect ending to a perfect trilogy. What’s amazing is how good the other books were to beat this out of the top three. Any other year and this easily could’ve taken the number 1 spot, which is just my way of telling you to get excited about the books that are above this on the list 😉

number 4

beowulf

Beowulf– I loved every second of this. I’m so happy I finally picked this up- but even more grateful I read the Seamus Heaney version, thanks to Joelendil, because it truly was a masterclass in translation.

number 3

in order to live

In Order to Live– now we’re getting to books that made me emotional. I don’t have a full review for this one, because I just struggle to find the words, so I’m gonna try my best to describe how poignant, powerful and important this book is. This memoir was a memorable portrayal of life in North Korea. I learnt so much from it and was moved to tears. It’s just one of those *must-read* books, so you must read it if you haven’t already!

number 2

the man in the white sharkskin suit

Man in the White Sharkskin Suit– this is another book which made me cry. It’s the story of the 1950s Jewish Exodus from Egypt, told in a very personal way, where Lagnado really showcases her relationship with her father. Rather sadly, Lagnado passed away this year, after a lifelong struggle with cancer. Her voice survives in this beautiful book.

number 1

sadie

Sadie– ahh this book- I can’t seem to stop recommending it! Beautifully told and immensely powerful, the reason this book is so good is because too often serials/podcasts/true crime focuses on the perpetrators. I think it’s time we gave the victims a voice and no book could have done a better job than this. It also introduced me to the wonders of a well-done audiobook- for which I am immensely grateful. And yes, it made me cry (a lot).

So, have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? And what was your favourite book(s) of 2018? Let me know in the comments!

Monthly Monkey Mini Reviews – A Long December

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Soooo November was a month and a half… It started out pretty quiet- and then I found out I will be moving flat before the end of the year– which to be fair has been in the works for a while, but I only got confirmation when that’ll be happening mid-November. That’s obviously meant I’ve been a bit all over the place when it comes to blogging- and unfortunately might mean a bit more disruption in the next few weeks- though I do have some posts planned/scheduled. Needless to say, this could end up being a long December- WISH ME LUCK!

moving monkey

Annnd to top it all off, I also managed to get a bit sick, which wasn’t a fun state to be in while lugging boxes of books…

sick monkey

O-k-a-y I think we’ve covered all the life updates- I’ll keep you posted on all of that- until then let’s talk about what really matters: BOOKS! Fortunately, I managed to get some reading in this month, though granted it tailed off towards the end. So here we go!

grace and fury cover

Grace and Fury– I was pleasantly surprised by this YA! It was one of the books I got from Naty and I’m so glad, because I probably wouldn’t have read it otherwise! Opening with a nice bait and switch (which I can’t reveal cos it’s quite spoiler) I was instantly drawn into the intense and fast-paced plot. With a graceful writing style and furious world building, I quickly got the sense that this story was basically Handmaid’s Tale meets Italian culture. Personally, I liked how the narrative played with themes like knowledge is power, whilst very much keeping the entertainment value going. That said, though I didn’t guess everything, there were elements that were a tad predictable. One of the biggest issues being that a very famous book (written at the same time) had the exact same plot twist- which is just unlucky. Since I could see various things coming, there were times when I was screaming at Nomi “don’t you know you’re a YA heroine?” Serina ended up being far more interesting to me, because she had so much more room for growth. Still, the dual perspective really worked for me and I definitely want to read more! I’ve already reserved the next one at my library 😊

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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in order to live

In Order to Live– I don’t have a lot to say about this autobiography from a young North Korean defector other than you should read it! Such an incredible and moving story, this is by far one of the best things I’ve read this year. It reduced me to a blubbering mess. There were two things that struck a chord with me the most: firstly, that there is only a one-year age difference between Park and me, which is a crazy thing to put in context; and secondly, Park talking about how Animal Farm and 1984 opened up her understanding of North Korea, which I think is so important for those who doubt the veracity of these works. This book could well be the puzzle piece linking Orwell’s prophetic vision with the real world. I know that Park taught me so much about the realities of living in a communist state and I believe it has the power to shake the world. I regret that I don’t have more to say, I was just too absorbed in it to write notes. So just read it, okay?

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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bright side

Bright Side– I’ve been meaning to read this Adult Romance for *years*- and I finally did it! Ever since I read Deanna @A Novel Glimpse’s glowing reviews and generally chatting about it, I bought it on kindle and was saving it for a rainy day. It did take me a while to get into the writing style, but I slowly but surely really warmed to the heroine and the cute (and sometimes steamy) romance. In fact, I defy anyone not to fall for the main character- she’s the kind of person guaranteed to make anyone smile! Buuut this is also the kind of story to drive you to tears (which seems like a bit of a theme this month 😉). Cos OOF- this gets emotional. So, thanks Deanna for that 😉 (just kidding, I love when books make me cry 😉 this is going down as one of the best book blogging recs! ❤ ). I absolutely recommend this if you like the genre- just make sure you have a box of tissues handy, cos you’re gonna need it!

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

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turn of the key

Turn of the Key– I’ve been really into thrillers the last few months and this one was high on my radar- because I loved the Smart House modern twist on Turn of the Screw– what a genius idea! And I have to say, that was the part Ware really pulled out all the stops. The creepy setting and chilling atmosphere was the book’s biggest strength. It was super addictive as well- the kind of thriller you won’t want to put down. As a retelling, it did have subtle hints of the original, including the unreliable narrator and unlikeable characters. I also appreciated some of the *bombshell* secrets along the way; some of those plot twists were insane! That said, it’s quite hard not to draw comparisons with the original and find this comes up short at times. One of the biggest draws of Henry’s narrative is the ambiguity- which I understand isn’t a massive selling point to the modern audience- so when the final reveal twist came… I wasn’t entirely behind it. Partly because I’m not a huge fan of that particular twist in fiction, but mostly because sometimes it’s better not knowing all the answers. Still, a really solid contemporary thriller:

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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call down the hawk

Call Down the Hawk– this book was like reading a dream. Everything is slightly hard to pin down- while you know there is meaning in there somewhere, if you can only grab it and pull it out, it’s kind of a trippy experience travelling through the narrative. From the mesmerising opening, the simply stunning writing draws you back into the world of the Raven Cycle. Except this sequel series is more focused on the Dreamer, Ronan, who just so happened to be my favourite character! I loved seeing some of the old gang- the Lynch brothers, Adam, Chainsaw and Opal all starred in this again. I did also come to like some of the new characters- especially Jordan Henessey- whose story was unique and fitting and took the plot in a good direction. Ultimately, I did enjoy this, though it was certainly an unusual read.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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So, have you read any of these? What did you think of them? Or do you plan to pick any of them up? Let me know in the comments!