2019 started out strong for me with reading but then somehow, halfway through the year, the most dreadful reading slump decided it would be the perfect time to slide into my life.
So when I finally got around to perusing all the books I read to pick out my favorites, I found myself pleasantly surprised. Most of my 2019 favorites come from #Ownvoices and marginalized authors, in addition to a few small press and indie picks. Without further ado (I’m already fashionably late with my list; how is it the end of January?), here are ten* of my favorite novels that released in 2019 in no particular order:
*I can’t believe I made it to ten this year!
The Dragon Warrior by Katie Zhao
There is no way I am keeping Katie Zhao’s middle-grade debut out of this list unless I want to secretly revoke all my dumpling and dim sum rights. (I was definitely Extra™ on Instagram.) The Dragon Warrior brings Chinese mythology into the modern world, packed with fun and adventure that the me obsessed with Percy Jackson back in middle school would’ve devoured in a sitting.
Two Witches and a Whiskey by Annette Marie
Annette Marie makes it into the list for the second year in a row* with the third book in The Guild Codex: Spellbound series, which I discovered with Three Mages and a Margarita last year. (I’ve also realized I wrote YA and there’s one stray New Adult in last year’s list… oops.) Marie continues to build on the world from the first two books as Tori continues to explore the Mystic world and goes on new adventures with the friends she’s made so far.
*It’s more than likely she’s now one of my favorite authors.
Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds
Justin A. Reynolds’ debut is an absolute delight to read—it’s emotional, heartfelt, and charming. It’ll more than likely end up with you craughing (crying and laughing) by the time you’re done if you can get over the repetitiveness that gives a nod to Groundhog Day.
The Wicked King by Holly Black
2019 was an exciting year for fans of The Cruel Prince—we started off the year with a sequel and the finale of the trilogy released in November. I hated the first book but decided to give The Wicked King a chance to see if my feelings would change. Full of twists and turns and more ruthlessness from Jude, this sequel made me want to get my hands on The Queen of Nothing ASAP.
Fake It Till You Break It by Jenn P. Nguyen
From friends to enemies to lovers with fake dating and banter, Fake It Till You Break It was pure and cute in terms of romance. Maybe it’s full of clichés, but sometimes a light read that makes your heart feel full is warranted.
The Shadow Glass by Rin Chupeco
The final and last book in The Bone Witch trilogy ties everything together from the first two books with a beautiful ending to boot. I’m still a little in awe I somehow wrote a coherent review because the ending made me want to curl up in a corner somewhere.
Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim
Also making it into the list for the second year in the row, Elizabeth Lim’s newest novel is full of magic and fantasy that swept me away from the first page. Plus there’s an intriguing villain that will more than likely make an appearance in the sequel.
On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
I honestly don’t remember too much from Angie Thomas’ second novel considering how it’s been almost an entire year and I have the memory of a goldfish without my notes. But I did love how Bri continued to push for her dreams of becoming a rapper despite having all the odds against her. This book is set in the same world as The Hate U Give and includes some references, but you don’t need to read Thomas’ debut to read her second novel.
I Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn
While I didn’t read much in the second half of 2019, most of what I read are cute and fluffy romances. I Love You So Mochi captured my attention with its title and not only does Sarah Kuhn’s latest novel include mochi (the most important) and cute romances, but it also includes puppies!
Parting Worlds by Kaitlyn Davis
Anyone who has spoken to me for the last 6+ months is probably more than tired of me already because I’ve been screaming about this author’s books. (Plus, do we really want me to put another Annette Marie book?) Parting Worlds is the last novel in Kaitlyn Davis’ Once Upon a Curse series, where all the plots from the past three books finally come together as Davis puts in the last piece of the puzzle. Things can get confusing quickly in a series where all the novels have a separate plot of their own in addition to an overarching plot, but the one in Once Upon a Curse is *chef’s kiss.* | Hannah Sophia Lin