My Top 5 Favourite Reads of 2019
I’ve struggled with my reading goals for the last couple of years (one of the many annoying side effects of depression). My Goodreads challenge has dropped significantly, and if I manage ten books, it’s worthy of a celebration. Sometimes I’ve started to read but not had the headspace to finish, not because it wasn’t good, but because my brain was too damn overwhelmed to cope with words. I hate it! Reading is my escape, passion, and the only hobby I enjoy. To pick up a beautiful book and not be able to lose yourself in the pages is heartbreaking.
On the plus side, I’ve had a better year – there were more months of feeling normal than not so that’s a big fat tick in the yay box. As we hurtle towards the end of 2019, I thought I’d share the books that managed to hook me in, keep me entertained, and help me to fill my creative well — something I’ve missed recently.
I no longer set goals or resolutions but opt for a word of the year instead. 2020 is all about POSITIVITY for me – positive energy, people, experiences, places, and vibes. By staying positive, I hope to keep the depression under control which can only mean good things for my reading habit!
My favourite reads of 2019:
What an incredible debut! I watched the author on the Jimmy Fallon show and loved hearing about her inspiration for this series. She knew she wanted to celebrate West African culture, and she does this in abundance. You are transported from harbours to lush jungles, and from temples to fearsome arenas – this story has it all. The settings become a character in their own right and I love the fantastical elements, such as the creatures and the dark magic.
The story is told from the point of view of three characters; Zélie, Amari, and Inan and weaves together seamlessly. We learn about the horrors inflicted on the maji who were powerful and magical until King Saran destroyed magic and murdered them all. The death of Zélie’s mother has broken a part of her and we see how this has a huge effect on Zel in various situations. Her brother’s strength carries her forward and yet it’s satisfying to see her grow and evolve throughout the book. There are strong themes of self-belief, loyalty, and family as well as the expected coming of age elements.
There’s barely time to catch your breath before the characters are tossed into another life-threatening position and you dare not put the book down in case you miss something.
Terry Tyler has a gift for producing memorable characters that stay with you long after you’ve closed the book. Hope is yet another excellent example of the author’s talents. She can also scare the living daylights out of you with her dystopian storylines!
Hope is a fictional story that’s a little too close to home. Terry Tyler taps into the state of the world and current affairs to weave a plot that can delight and terrify you. We’ve all seen the men and women sleeping in shop doorways who have hit rock bottom and now live on the streets. Do you ever consider how they got there, or the circumstances surrounding their misfortune? Hope follows three friends as their bright futures are slowly stripped away by the government who claims to care.
As I read this book, I felt the fluttering of panic in my chest at how easy it can be to lose everything and not be in control of your own life. As with all of Terry’s books, the story is driven by amazing characters and plenty of twists.
I could fully connect with top blogger, Lita Stone, as she relishes her warm and safe attic room doing a job she loves and making a decent living. Okay, so I don’t make a decent living from my job, but that sense of belonging and home was incredibly relatable. To see the speed at which your life can be unpicked was chilling.
Although the plot was disturbing in its real-life possibility, it was also refreshing to see how the weak and broken can fight back. There are plenty of threads left open for a sequel, which I hope we see in the future as I’d love to find out what MoMo has in store, and if she’ll ever wake up to the controlling puppet master that stays just out of the readers reach.
A fabulous story that will leave you horrified and hopeful.
Simply stunning! Everything about this book draws you in and holds you captivated until the last page.
I’m what some people may call a vampire groupie, navigating towards books, films, and television shows about the undead in their various creations. When I read the blurb of The Deathless Girls, I was excited to see a storyline centred on Dracula’s brides. We all know them as part of Dracula’s story ‘two dark, one fair’, but we’ve never before heard their tale.
Told from one sister’s point of view, Lil guides us through the journey she and her twin, Kizzy take as Traveller’s crossing the land. They are free people, connected to the spirits and nature around them. Their lives are lived on their terms in peace and tranquillity, ‘take only what you need, and leave enough for the next.’ The Settled see them as sorcerers and turn away from them, shunning them, and avoiding their gaze. Everything changes for the sisters one fateful day when they are ripped away from the life they love.
The author knows how to write compelling characters. The sisters may look alike, but the author gifts them with powerful differences that drive the story forward. Lil is more reserved and watchful. She’s careful with her words and guarded with her thoughts. Kizzy is strong in every sense; she speaks her mind with a confidence that Lil longs to possess. Reading their interaction is like being part of a melody. The small touches that show the bond of being a twin are sprinkled throughout the book, building to become the final crescendo.
The Deathless Girls is a magnificent YA debut filled with untold horrors, heart-warming love and affection, family bonds, and plenty of terrifying action. I read it in one sitting as I was unable to put it down. If you don’t mind getting a book hangover (that disorientating moment when you close the book and have to return to reality!), then this is the book for you — a perfect choice for any reader, young or old.
I can’t finish this review without mentioning the incredible cover art. It’s my favourite book cover of the year!
What a beautiful book! Historical romance is not my preferred genre to read but I’m committed to stepping out of my reading rut and was hooked in by the blurb and promise of faery castles and misty locks. I was swept up by Isobell’s story and the flow of the prose.
The plot was well developed and follows Isobell’s story as she sails to Scotland to escape a wicked man. We’re introduced to a colourful cast of characters from the motherly cook, Bessie Thom, to the charismatic Thomas Manteith whose combined actions lull you into a false sense of contentment. As I was reading about the joyous developments for Isobell there was this undercurrent that told me something was about to change.
The twist at the end was brutal, graphic, and yes, I shed a tear or two. I’ve always been fascinated by the stories of the witchcraft trials, and to see how easy it was for lives to be changed forever is quite sobering. Fabulously descriptive, The Mermaid and The Bear was a delight to read. There were moments when I felt like I’d stepped into an episode of Outlander, which is no bad thing. The Scottish phrases adding to the beauty of the story.
I may have found a new favourite genre!
Watt knows her stuff! Not only does she talk the talk and walk the walk, but she does it in a fully accessible way. Her personal story and the introduction resonated with me, and I was immediately drawn in by her honesty and authenticity. To then discover that she tells it how it is rather than blinding you with unrelatable terminology was genuinely refreshing.
The book is divided into five sections plus bonus material, and Watt guides you through each chapter using easy to follow language and clear examples or case studies. I filled an A4 notebook with ideas and exercises as I followed each section.
Her methods work, and she shares proof throughout the book. The importance of understanding your client and doing everything in your power to solve their problems was driven home at every opportunity, and I appreciated this. We all have a story behind our reason to start a business, and sometimes we get so wrapped up in our WHY that we forget about the people we are trying to help.
On Your Terms isn’t aimed at big companies with never-ending marketing budgets, she’s written this book for businesswomen (and men) like you and me. The micro-business, the freelancer, the solopreneur, and she’s written it in such a way that you’ll understand, absorb, and execute her strategies to benefit your business and lifestyle.
My favourite section was probably part five as it’s where Watt taps into personal development (a topic I can relate to), and shares her advice on staying true to you. I welcomed the tips and could fully resonate with her quote, “There’s nothing stronger than a woman who has put herself back together.”
I’m currently reading Seafire by Natalie C. Parker (YA Fantasy) and loving it, so watch this space for the review in the New Year.
One thing I’ve realised about my recent struggle is how much of an impact a good book can have on you when you’re at your lowest. I was lucky to find some incredible books that became a guiding light in the darkness – fingers crossed next year is even better.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post, I’d love to hear about your favourite books or if you have any tips on reading with depression. Feel free to leave me a comment below.