Top 10 Books of 2019

Honorable Mentions

AtlasAlone

Atlas Alone

Planetfall #4
Author: Emma Newman

Newman writes killer endings and this book was no exception to that trend. I wasn’t as intrigued by the buildup to the finale, but Newman certainly left me wanting more by the ending. I really hope there will be more Planetfall novels in the future as this continues to be a wonderful series with countless story threads left to explore. See full review here.


Sin Eater

Sin Eater

Iconoclasts #2
Author: Mike Shel

…the worldbuilding remains strong, the writing flows nicely, and the ending is satisfying enough to leave me excited for what’s to come in the third and final book in the trilogy. See full review here.


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Dead Astronauts

Borne #2
Author: Jeff VanderMeer

This book is trippy, oftentimes incoherent, but all sorts of enthralling. The writing itself is quite mesmerizing with VanderMeer spinning some real poetry on each page. Dead Astronauts is certainly not for everyone, and I don’t even think it’s for me, but I did like it? Maybe? Perhaps it’s just fun to see what oddities VanderMeer can think up and bring to life.  See full review here.

 


Top 10 of 2019

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10. The Ten Thousand Doors of January

Author: Alix E. Harrow

The writing is beautiful and lush. The story is sad and sweet in equal measure. The world is captivating and I truly felt transported back in time. January is a well-drawn character, full of life and verve and nuance. She was a wonderful window into this fantastical world. See full review here.


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9. The Outlaw and the Upstart King

The Map of Unknown Things #2
Author: Rod Duncan

Author Rod Duncan continues to convey atmosphere in an engaging way. You can smell the brine, feel the mud, and hear the gulls in the sky, which is a testament to Duncan’s skills as a storyteller. Even if I wasn’t always enraptured by the story, I could enjoy the vivid imagery and worldbuilding that Duncan employs. See full review here.


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8. Master and Apprentice

Star Wars Canon
Author: Claudia Gray

Author Claudia Gray does some excellent character work in this novel – she adds depth to existing characters while introducing several new characters to the story. Each individual is given agency, clear motivations, and satisfying arcs across the board…an engaging and enjoyable interplanetary adventure story. See full review here.


ABrightnessLongAgo

7. A Brightness Long Ago

Author: Guy Gavriel Kay

This book explores the ripples of time, how small actions have an impact on the world at large and how our memory of the past shapes our understanding of our future…Much like Kay’s previous work, A Brightness Long Ago is beautifully composed, emotionally engaging, and features compelling characters with depth. See full review here.


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6. The Test

Author: Sylvain Neuvel

Sylvain Neuvel follows up his excellent Themis Files series with this twisted, fast-paced, and thought-provoking dystopian novella. Much like Themis Files, Neuvel employs an unconventional storytelling structure to engage the reader and make the best use of his sharp, sense-of-urgency writing style…It’s a tight page-turner that really works. See full review here.


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5. A Choir of Lies

A Conspiracy of Truths #2
Author: Alexandra Rowland

It’s a bold choice to change gears so drastically from one book to the next, but it pays off well…this book is charming, heartening, and well worth your time. It feels like Rowland is just getting started here. See full review here.


Recursion

4. Recursion

Author: Blake Crouch

A dynamic “what if” novel that builds and builds as the unintended consequences of messing with memories threaten to unmake the world. I read this in one sitting and really enjoyed my time with it. It’s quickly paced and features well-drawn, sympathetic characters. See full review here.


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3. The Kingdom of Copper

The Daevabad Trilogy #2
Author: S.A. Chakraborty

Even as each page crackles with magic, at its core, this is a captivating family drama that continues to ratchet up the tension as the book progresses…Overall, I thought this was a really solid middle book. It charted new territory and told a contained story that was engaging, satisfying, and left me looking forward to what comes next. See full review here.


TheHodKing

2. The Hod King

The Books of Babel #3
Author: Josiah Bancroft

Bancroft could write a kitchen appliance manual and I’d happily read it. The fact that he’s built such a wondrous world and a story that makes such perfect use of his unique voice and style makes it all the better. The witticisms, turns of phrase, vivid images, fully drawn characters, and the magnificent setting all coalesce into something truly remarkable…This series is a modern fantasy classic. See full review here.


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1. The Bone Ships

The Tide Child #1
Author: RJ Barker

Barker’s prose is rich but rough and perfectly suited for a seafaring tale. You can taste the ocean spray and feel the sway of the ships as they traverse the angry seas. The world is filled with unique flora and fauna, but the setting still feels familiar and accessible…this is a superb start to an exciting new series. The worldbuilding, the prose, the character development, and the story beats are all top-notch.  See full review here.

 

Top 10 Books of 2018

 

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10. Rosewater

Author: Tade Thompson

Really inventive…I enjoyed this novel on a conceptual level, but didn’t find the story to be compelling until it all comes together at the end. I’m interested to see where author Tade Thompson takes future installments in this trilogy because he’s set up a good foundation with this excellent first book. See full review here.


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9. A Conspiracy of Truths

Author: Alexandra Rowland

An unexpectedly delightful story featuring a wonderfully eccentric narrator…When writing a book about a gifted storyteller, it helps to be a gifted storyteller. Luckily, author Alexandra Rowland shows a knack for spinning a charming and heartwarming yarn.  A Conspiracy of Truths is an impressive and enchanting novel that was a joy to read. See full review here.


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8. Foundryside

Author: Robert Jackson Bennett

This book has pieces of everything I want in a fantasy novel — an intriguing magic system, rich worldbuilding, interesting characters, humor, and heart. Those pieces coalesce into something really interesting and make for an enjoyable reading experience. Foundryside is swiftly paced, has great action, and features loads of sharp, snappy dialogue.  See full review here.


BeforeMars

7. Before Mars

Author: Emma Newman

A wonderfully captivating read that I really enjoyed…Before Mars is a compelling mystery box novel and a worthy addition to the Planetfall universe. With three books released and another on the way, Newman is crafting a superb series of interconnected works. See full review here.


Iron Gold

6. Iron Gold

Author: Pierce Brown

A wholly worthwhile addition to Darrow’s story that breathes fresh life into the overall saga. Iron Gold is sprawling, electrifying, bloody, and represents a welcome return to form for the series. See full review here.


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5. Aching God

Author: Mike Shel

A thoroughly engrossing debut novel that I enjoyed immensely. It’s certainly one of my favorite books of 2018 and I will be eagerly awaiting the next installment in the series, as Aching God builds a very solid foundation from which to jump off from. It feels like sword and sorcery Indiana Jones — and I’m very here for that.  See full review here.


Unholy Land // Lavie Tidhar

4. Unholy Land

Author: Lavie Tidhar

Unholy Land is a stunning achievement. It is packed to the brim with engaging ideas and features a captivating story that I could not stop puzzling over. There is such an ethereal and intoxicating quality to the story and Tidhar’s writing that I found myself floating through the chapters, not always sure what was happening, or whose perspective we were seeing, but knowing that I wanted to keep reading. The intersecting story threads twisted my brain into a pretzel and I loved it. See full review here.


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3. The Poppy War

Author: R.F. Kuang

Wow, this was a gem of a debut novel. I have never read a book that evolves so thoroughly from beginning to end. This is bloody, brutal, and unrelentingly dark fantasy. Overall, Kuang has crafted a complex and absorbing debut novel that is unsettling and enthralling in equal measure.  See full review here.


Philosopher's Flight

2. The Philosopher’s Flight

Author: Tom Miller

Author Tom Miller displays an impressive aptitude for storytelling as he deftly spins this wholly engrossing yarn. The Philosopher’s Flight is a wonderfully inventive historical fantasy that sinks its hooks into you and doesn’t let go. I truly enjoyed Tom Miller’s debut and hope a sequel is on the horizon. (The cover is great, too!) See full review here.


 

 

1. Senlin Ascends & Arm of the Sphinx*

Author: Josiah Bancroft

I was completely taken with Senlin Ascends right from the outset. Author Josiah Bancroft’s words paint a vivid picture of a peculiar world where nothing is as it seems. Bancroft’s prose is lyrical and conveys a sense of grand adventure that I rarely find in my reading life. See full review here.

Every page of Arm of the Sphinx is a delectable treat, with countless delightful passages, characters, and a story that gets more intriguing as mysteries build and questions are answeredIt’s inventive, clever, and imbued with a sense of virtuousness and humanity. Bancroft is weaving together a wonderful series that has all the makings of a modern fantasy classic. See full review here.

*Okay, #1 is a bit a cop-out since Senlin Ascends was originally published in 2013 and Arm of the Sphinx in 2014…HOWEVER, Orbit made the smart decision to snatch up the rights to Bancroft’s series and re-released these first two books in 2018…so, they qualify for this list on a technicality! They’re wonderful books, so I’m happy to bring attention to them in any way I can.