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!

The Wolf in the Whale was EVERY KIND OF COOL!

*Received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review- but the  gushing you’re about to see is all me*

wolf in the whaleYeah, there’s a lot of yelling in that title- but THAT’S COS I’M EXCITED DAMMIT! Sometimes a book just floats on up to you and you simply have to read it. This was absolutely the case when I saw Liis’ wonderful review for the Wolf in the Whale. A story that somehow married Inuit and Viking cultures- WHOA- that grabbed my attention right away!

Enter into a narrative couched in storytelling and I knew this was the book for me. By now, you’ve probably heard me go on a million times about how much I love stories within stories- and this book was no exception to that rule. Not only was the overarching plot an amazing tale to tell, each section began with a mythic story, illustrating and foreshadowing all the wondrous events to come.

It was an experience delving into this icy realm. Cloaked in atmosphere, every step into this book gave a sense of the setting and culture. Cosy in my room, I was transported to the frozen wastes of the Arctic (a perfect setting for this time of the year 😉 ). The writing was impeccably detailed and the imagery in line with the landscape. Above all, that image of the wolf in the whale WORKED SO WELL. To say this was sophisticated world building would be a massive understatement.

What’s especially clever is how the magic system goes beyond the setting and lends itself to the main character’s arc. In a transformative journey, the spiritual concepts are used to address questions of identity. While Omat goes through innumerable changes, she fundamentally must learn to be comfortable with every side of herself and to find the strength to fight back when things get bad. Above all, it is this that makes her a heroine- though I loved every aspect of her character- from her skills to her cleverness- it was the way she fought when her back was up against the wall that made me truly admire her.

And she really does go through a hell of a time. There is traumatic content in here, but it’s really well handled. It is both realistic and emotive. Personally, I am glad Brodsky didn’t forsake accuracy when it came to exploring the brutality of history. Instead, the book was a triumph- because it represents that real power is dreaming a way out and never giving up.

The plot follows this idea, weaving into ever-more imaginative territory. With little surprises along the way, the truth of the stories we tell ourselves is revealed. The very distinct mythologies of Inuit and Norse are expertly intertwined; the ominous forces at work are revealed. Far from chill, there are some serious stakes at play here. All that building tension finally breaks in an exquisite apotheosis of drama. It is a performance worthy of the gods. All the while presenting very human relationships, making every victory and moment of redemption feel earned.

Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed what Wolf in the Whale did with folklore. It was complex and beautiful and ahhh-mazing!! Forgive me just losing my cool there- by the end of the book I was just writing “awws” and “squeaks” and been reduced to tears. I will add that this is the definition of a slow burn- so make sure you’re in the right mood to really sink your teeth into a book. Granted, it is a little on the long side, yet the upside of this is it really absorbs you into the world and you can take your time with this standalone fantasy. This book is a rarity in every regard and I simply can’t cover all the ways that it made me feverishly happy- all I can do is give it:

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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So what do you think? Do you plan to read this now? Let me know in the comments!