Howdy-do guys, gals, and enby pals! Today I’ll be talking about the best books I read this 2019. On my booktube, I did a post about the worst books I’d read this year, and there were thankfully only four. (Click the link to check it out, and maybe subscribe to my booktube?) I’m very happy to report that my best of 2019 post is much longer, which means I had a pretty good reading year!
The books in my list meet the following criteria:
- They were published in 2019.
- I read them in 2019.
- I rated them 4 or 5 stars on Goodreads.
Let’s get started!
- The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf – This historical novel about the race riots in Kuala Lumpur centers a 16-year-old music-loving Muslim girl named Melati who has OCD. When Melati is separated from her mother during the riots, she braves a city torn apart by violence to find her again. Read my review here.
- The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi – Set in La Belle Epoque, this book uncovers the dark racism and prejudice the beauty of 19th century Paris hides. Wealthy hotelier Séverin finds himself and his merry band of thieves pitted against the powerful Order of Babel to retrieve an artifact that could change the world as they know it. Read my review here.
- Descendant of the Crane by Joan He – One-part mystery, one-part court intrigue, readers are treated to this Chinese-inspired high fantasy novel where a young queen struggles to unravel the mystery behind her father’s assassination. Only it turns out she’s nowhere near ready for the answers. Read my review here.
- Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay – This compelling tale is all about a young Filipino-American teen who travels to the Philippines when he discovers his cousin Jun was murdered in Duterte’s drug war. It’s not just a great indictment of the fascist Filipino government; it’s also a wonderful story about identity and coming home. Read my review here.
- The Fever King by Victoria Lee – Tackling the subject of immigration in a fantasy setting, this sci-fi and fantasy dystopian novel features teens gaining magical powers, using their abilities to subvert a corrupt government, and a painfully slow-burn m/m love story.
- The Shadow Glass by Rin Chupeco – The conclusion to the stunning The Bone Witch trilogy shows us how Tea’s journey comes full circle. Introduced as a villain in the first book and slowly evolving into an anti-heroine who was betrayed by everyone she loved, this book finally gives her and Kalen the happy – if bittersweet – ending they deserve. Read my review here.
- With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo – Although at first glance this book seems to be about a teen mom going after her dream of being a chef, it’s also a coming-of-age story about an Afro-Latina girl discovering who she is beyond the title of ‘daughter’, ‘granddaughter’, and ‘mother’, as well as the true meaning of love and family. Read my review here.
- The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang – The sequel to The Poppy War (read my review here) expands on the world that R.F. Kuang first built. The readers are taken beyond the borders of the Nikara Empire and see that the war doesn’t end with Mugen; instead, it involves even far-off Hesperia, and has more long-lasting repercussions than shaman Fang Run-in ever dreamed of.
- You, Me, U.S. by Brigitte Bautista – In this f/f romance, sex worker Jo and sales clerk Liza are best friends separated by their dreams. Jo finds herself falling for Liza, while Liza dreams of falling in love and marrying an American who will whisk her and her family off to a better life in the United States. Or at least, she does, until she begins to fall for Jo too. Read my review here.
- The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad – This was a beautifully slow-burn forced proximity romance between a powerful djinn and the woman he must now protect because of her newfound magical abilities. It takes place in the City of Noor, a melting pot for various cultures and ethnicities, which provides a beautiful backdrop for an unapologetically Muslim story. Read my review here.
- We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia – Because of this book, I realised I have a new favourite genre: concubines/wives of a wealthy dictator fall in love with each other instead. But more than this beautiful enemies-to-lovers f/f romance, this book is about the gap between the privileged rich and the poor, and the struggle to revolutionise and win freedom back. Read my review here.
- My Fate According to the Butterfly by Gail D. Villanueva – Not only did I get an ARC of this beautiful book, I was also able to organise the tour along with Shealea and Cara! This tells the story of 10-year-old Sab and her encounter with addiction in her family, as well as other issues like colorism and classism. It’s unapologetically Filipino, and includes a ton of scenes, in-jokes, food, and places that Filipino readers living in the Philippines can definitely relate to. Read my review here.
- Hungry Hearts: 13 Tales of Food & Love by Various Authors – Hungry Hearts Row is a street full of restaurants, and is the setting of this anthology about the role food plays in love, family, and home. Read my review here.
- Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston – I predict this book is gonna make a lot of people’s “best of 2019” lists, and, alas, I am one of those people. In a world where I don’t inherently mistrust Americans and British, the Prince of Wales and the First Son of the United States fall in love and make history.
- Jade War by Fonda Lee – The sequel to the critically-acclaimed Jade City expands on the issues first brought to light in that book: imperialism and colonialism, immigration, globalisation, and war. All of this, of course, exacerbated by the existence of jade, a powerful gem that grants warriors called Green Bones superhuman abilities. Read my review here.
- A House of Rage and Sorrow by Sangu Mandanna – I remember being utterly broken by the first book, A Spark of White Fire (read my review here), so I thought I was ready for the pain this book would bring. I was totally and utterly wrong. Read my review here.
- Crier’s War by Nina Varela – Enemies-to-lovers revolutionary f/f fantasy is a thing I deeply adore, apparently. But not only is this some of the best f/f fantasy I’ve read, it also spins a story full of twists and turns designed to ask the question: what actually makes us human? Read my review here.
- A Prince on Paper by Alyssa Cole – Alyssa Cole’s Reluctant Royals trilogy is capped off with this beautiful story about standing up to toxic family members and finding love in the midst of fake dating. It also contains some excellent non-binary representation! Read my review here.
- The Never-Tilting World by Rin Chupeco – This book is a gripping allegory for climate change, including themes of a younger generation having to fix what their parents have irrevocably fucked up. Also features a glorious f/f bodyguard romance and a princess who also happens to be a talented mechanic! Read my review here.
- The Tiger at Midnight by Swati Teerdhala – This novel has one of the best redemption arcs I’ve read in a while. Kunal, one of the main characters, finds himself having to serve the oppressive empire after their general takes him in as a child, but comes to see reality when he finds himself the unwilling companion of an assassin for the rebellion. Read my review here.
- Realm of Ash by Tasha Suri – Tasha’s done it again. Her sequel to Empire of Sand (read my review here) is just as poetic and vibrant, with another female character who is both traditionally feminine and a strong female character. This book tells us about the importance of knowing your roots and your ancestors, as well as the myriad ways there are of processing grief and trauma.
Let me know what you think!
☕ Are any of my books on your “best of 2019” list as well?
☕ Link me your “best of 2019” posts in the comments!
☕ How do you feel about the books you’ve read this year?