T. A. Hernandez
My Top Ten Reads of 2019
2019 was SUCH a great year in reading for me. After graduating in May and leaving textbooks and required class reading behind, I found that (as I had hoped) my ability and desire to read for fun more frequently and consistently returned. I also participated in Indiecember for the second time and read a bunch of good indie books for that in November and December. In fact, 20 of the 38 books I read in 2019 were indie books, and 8 of the 10 books on this list are indie books. I surpassed my personal goal of reading 30 books throughout the year, and I discovered some incredible new favorites that made a huge impact on me. In no particular order, here's a look at my 10 favorite reads of 2019.
Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo
I know I'm a few years late to the party with this one, and these books have been sitting on my TBR list for a while, but I'm so so so glad I decided to finally pick them up this year, because they were amazing. They had pretty much everything I want in a fantasy story - engaging characters, complex character relationships, an exciting plot, underdogs fighting for their place in the world, an interesting magic system, and a unique world. I loved every second of this series and am already planning a reread in 2020 as the books achieve a lot of the same things I want to work into my own YA fantasy duology WIP.
Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
Remember all those things I said above about everything I want in a fantasy story? Sanderson delivers those same things in Mistborn, so it's no surprise that I loved this book, too. Despite my love for fantasy, this was actually the first book I've read of Sanderson's (I know, I know - I'm sorry), and while the last two books in the series were a little lackluster for me, I can definitely see the appeal of these books and understand why so many people love them. Vin quickly became one of my favorite literary protagonists ever, and I look forward to reading more of Sanderson's work in the future.
Wayward Stars by Mary Fan
This YA sci-fi series swept me off my feet in book one (Starswept), and I was very much looking forward to reading the second book, so when Wayward Stars finally arrived, I was thrilled. The book delivered everything I wanted and more in a sequel, including more art and music woven into the very fabric of the story and a deeper exploration of the dystopian alien world Fan has created. It was incredibly emotional journey that had me fully invested from beginning to end. I can't wait to read book 3, which is set to come out sometime next year.
The Electrical Menagerie by Mollie E. Reeder
With stunning visuals, intriguing characters, and an exciting premise, The Electrical Menagerie took me on an unforgettable journey from the first page to the last. I absolutely loved the world Reeder created here and was almost sad to leave it behind once the book was over. The characters are also very well-written, with complex histories and motivations that kept me fully engaged with them as the story progressed.
Fracture by EJ Fisch
I'm a huge fan of the Ziva Payvan novels, and after waiting 4 whole years to read this one after the original trilogy ended, I was so excited when it finally came. As always, Fisch's skill for crafting complex characters is very evident here, and it's the relationships between those characters that drive much of the plot and really ramp up the tension throughout. If you enjoy sci-fi and you're looking for something that will keep you on the edge of your seat, give these books a chance.
Aletheia by Megan Tennant Set in a dystopian world where a deadly virus has decimated much of the human race, Aletheia takes readers on a grim but thoroughly gripping ride from the first page to the last. As a writer of dystopian novels, I'm obviously a fan of the genre, and this one has been on my TBR for a while. I'm so glad I finally gave it a read because it was amazing. The world-building is spectacular, and seeing the world through protagonist 736's eyes makes the story all the more intriguing and emotional.
Vinyl by Sophia Elaine Hanson
This was another excellent dystopian read. I wasn't at all familiar with this series before and kind of just picked it up on a whim for Indiecember (the cover guys....you know I'm a sucker for a good book cover). I loved the premise of using music to control people, and it was so interesting to see how that concept was woven into all different facets of the world. It was very well done and I'm excited to continue the series in 2020.
The Navigator by Erin Michelle Sky and Steven Brown
This was another book two in a series I was eagerly anticipating after enjoying the first one so much. I loved diving back into this world and accompany these familiar characters on their adventures into Neverland. It was such a grand adventure, with never a dull moment and plenty of things to pique your curiosity along the way. Wendy, Peter Pan, Captain Hook, and others all got some great character development here, and I'm excited to see what's in store for them in the next book.
The Stars Like Gods by GS Jennsen
I’ve read most of Jennsen’s stories over the years, and while I’ve loved all of them, the Asterion Noir trilogy is probably my favorite. This last book in that series ties things together in spectacular fashion by the end, but the ride getting there is just as thrilling. Fast-paced, action-packed, and gut-wrenchingly emotional at times, this is a series you don't want to miss if you enjoy space opera and/or cyberpunk.
Merona Grant and the Lost Tomb of Golgotha by Brina Williamson
Reminiscent of movies like Indiana Jones and video games like the Uncharted series, this book has all the good-natured adventure you could want in a story with quirky characters that just make it even more fun. I can't even count the number of times this book made me laugh with it's clever banter and witty writing. And, as an extra treat, there are gorgeous little black and white illustrations of key moments sprinkled throughout the story.
Nonfiction Honorable Mentions
I had these two on my original list but took them off when I was paring things down (because I always enjoy fiction more than nonfiction). But both of these books were amazing and left a big impression on me, so I didn't want to conclude this list without at least mentioning them.
The Body Keeps the Score is a fantastic book about the neuroscience of trauma and how it affects a person physically, mentally, emotionally, in relationships, etc. It was repeatedly recommended by my grad school professors and other mental health practitioners I have met, and for good reason. It has a wealth of information and will definitely be something I refer back to again and again in my practice. It's also something that I think will be useful as I write my new YA fantasy novel, which has themes of dealing with trauma and healing.
Save the Cat Writes a Novel is a writing craft book for novelists based on Blake Snyder's Save the Cat formula for writing screenplays. To be honest, I've never put a lot of thought into the structure of my books beyond the basics and what just kind of feels right intuitively, which is maybe not the best approach. That's something I'm hoping to improve on in the upcoming year, and this book is definitely one that can help writers do just that. You may not agree with everything in here, but it's still worth a read and has nuggets of useful information for every writer, no matter what stage of the journey they're in.
And that's it! What about you guys? What were your favorite reads in 2019? Leave a comment and let me know.