Thursday, May 2, 2019

Best of 2019 Reading (So Far)

Posted by: Nicole Luiken

We are one third of the way into 2019. I have read close to 100 novels/novellas already this year, and I’m stumped for a blog topic so here we go!
Epic Fantasy
I very much enjoyed both The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang and the first two books of Glenda Larke’s Stormlord trilogy.

I’ve also been on a bit of a Kate Elliott kick. I read Black Wolves and loved it--but was dismayed to learn that book two isn’t due out until December 2020. My husband pointed out that we had the first book in her Spiritwalker series. I read Cold Magic and loved it so much I rushed out and bought Cold Fire, which I hope to finish reading tonight. Although both epic in scope, the two series have quite different feels to them. Black Wolves has lots of different POV while Spiritwalker is first person.
Urban Fantasy
Lots of really good continuing-in-a-series books here: Circle of the Moon--Faith Hunter, Grave Destiny-- Kalayna Price, Bitter Bite, Unraveled and Snared--all by Jennifer Estep, Grey Sister--Mark Lawrence, That Ain’t Witchcraft--Seanan McGuire, Phoenix Falling--Laura Bickle, and Wild Country--Anne Bishop.
Last year, when a bunch of my favourite UF series came to a close, I decided to seek out UF series that I missed when they debuted but had a strong fanbase and a big backlist. This led me to discover Jeaniene Frost and Jennifer Estep. This year I tried Touch the Dark by Karen Chance, first in her Cassie Palmer series, and loved it. I predict this will be my new glom.
Vicious by V.E. Schwab, first in a dark superhero/supervillain series.  It has a double timeline structure that really works.
Spark by Devon Monk, second in her West Hell series which mixes shifters and wizards with hockey in a very fun way. I was blown away by the Dark Moment in this book. It hit so hard yet still allowed a happy ending.
Young Adult
I’ve read a lot of good teen novels this year already (Queen of Air and Darkness--Cassandra Clare, Dark Days Deceit--Alison Goodman, Honor Among Thieves--Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre, Purple Hearts--Michael Grant, Deathcaster--Cinda Williams Chima, A Blade So Black--L.L. McKinney, Siege & Storm--Leigh Bardugo) but the absolute standout for me has been Maggie Stiefvatar’s Raven Cycle.

I. Love. This. Series.
I borrowed book one, The Raven Boys, from the library and read it. Then I went to the bookstore and bought the rest of the series in its entirety and read it soon after. I am super-excited to learn that there is a sequel series in the works.

I love the characters: doomed rich-boy Gansey with his obsession for ancient kings, public-school Blue who is the only non-psychic in a family of psychics, abused Adam who works so hard to lift himself out of poverty,  and angry, abrasive, grieving Ronan who can create real things out of dreams. Even the villains are fascinating.
I have a favourite for each subgenre.
Contemporary: Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang. I read very little contemporary romance, but the combination of Stella’s autism and the reverse Pretty Woman really grabbed me. Steamy AND tender. I can’t wait for The Bride Test.
Historical: Devil’s Daughter by Lisa Kleypas is both the latest in her Ravenel historical romance series and a next-generation Wallflowers book. Kleypas once again shows why she’s one of my favourite romance authors with an enemies-to-lovers story. Reading this made me binge-reread another Kleypas series because I couldn’t bear for it to end.
Paranormal: American Witch by Thea Harrison. While still in the same world as the Elder Races, this one concentrates on human witches. This one had me from the first chapter and never let go. I loved the push-pull between the two leads.

SFR: Polaris Rising by Jessie Mihalik is the beginning of an awesome SFR series. Non-stop tension and action plus plenty of sparks between the two main characters.

Again, this is a genre that I don’t read much of, but I have two authors who write fantasy that also have strong thriller series with very capable heroines that I followed over.
Wolfhunter River by Rachel Caine. This is book three in her Gwen Proctor series, if you haven’t read Stillhouse Lake yet, try it. The tension. The emotions. I can’t even. Just try it.
Watcher in the Woods by Kelley Armstrong. Last year, I glommed the first three books in her Rockton series featuring a female police detective who goes to live in a mysterious and secretive off-the-grid Yukon community. Plot twists, cool setting and a hot romantic subplot. Watcher is book four.
Most Anticipated for May
Storm Cursed by Patricia Briggs. Latest in the Mercedes Thompson UF series. I. Can't. Wait. I've been rereading the series in anticipation. Only one week to go!
Middlegame by Seanan McGuire. I believe this is a standalone, not in any of her series, but its Seanan and that's enough to sell me on it. 

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