Monday, December 30, 2019

My Top 5 Books of 2019

It's hard to make a list of top five books of the year because what criteria do I base that on? Top five books I enjoyed? Top five books I thought were the most well-written? Top five books that had my eyes glued to the page? Those would all be different lists for me. I've decided to make this list the top five books I loved that are going to stick with me.

1. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
This book quickly became my favorite book of the year when I was only halfway finished with it. It's a love story to stories, a book about books. When Zachary was a little boy, he finds a painted door on the wall behind his mother's shop, but he decides not to go through it, and the next day it is gone. Later when he's in college, he finds a book older than he is that contains a story about himself as a child discovering this door. Not sure how this can be possible, he follows the clues of the book and finds himself in an underground library. This book is whimsical and magical, and the writing is absolutely stunning. There are many other stories in this book, and they all weave together in beautiful and intricate ways. I've never read anything like this before and cannot express how much I love it. Full review here.

2. Starsight by Brandon Sanderson
As this is a sequel, I can't say much about it, but I'll tell you about the first book, Skyward. Spensa's only dream is to be a spaceship pilot like her father, but her father abandoned his crew and was branded a coward before he died, and this caused Spensa to not be able to get into pilot school. Determined more than anything to follow her dreams, she sets out to do it anyway, and with the help of a mysterious ancient artifact she finds in a cave, she just may be able to accomplish her dreams. This second book was even better than the first, and I was truly surprised at how much I loved it. It takes off in a direction I did not see coming at all, but it was incredible nonetheless. This story has a lot of action and intense moments that had me flying through it. It's also the first science fiction story I've truly loved. Full review here.

3. The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys
I read this book for a book club and didn't expect to love it, nonetheless have it become one of my favorite books of the year, but it was truly that amazing. This is a historical fiction set in the 1950s in Spain when they were under the Franco's dictatorship. Daniel is an American tourist who visits Spain and meets Ana who works at his hotel. They quickly form a bond but it's dangerous for them to be together because of the politics everything going on. Sepetys paints a vivid and realistic picture of Spain and crafts a story that is rich in culture, contains lots of secrets, and builds intimate relationships with each of the characters. It's the kind of book that reminded me why I fell in love with historical fiction in the first place. It's beautifully written and so much fun to read. Full review here.

4. The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin
In my search to read more fantasy series this year, I picked up this book and was not disappointed at all. I can say with certainty that this is one of the most unique books I've ever read. Although I read and loved the whole series, the first is definitely the best in my opinion. It's a darker science-based fantasy set in a post-apocalyptic setting where the world "ends" every few hundred years during what is called a Fifth Season. Jemisin writes a fresh take on earth magic in this series because the characters practice orogeny, where they can literally manipulate the tectonic plates in the earth to control the ground. It's very cool. We follow three narratives at three different points in time. It's a very character-based story as well, and uses second-person narration very well. Definitely worth checking out. Full review here.

5. The Lightbringer Series by Brent Weeks—It's hard to pick a favorite book as the first four books are tied at five stars, but I'd have to say that the ending of The Broken Eye was the most stand-out moment of the series for me, however I think I liked The Blinding Knife the best overall.
This epic fantasy series is about color magic: drafters are able to create physical substances from different colors of light, but the caveat is that the magic slowly kills you the more you use it. This series follows Gavin, the Prism of the Seven Satrapies, the only person able to draft all colors of light without it hurting him and also the person responsible for keeping all the colors balanced, as he finds out he has a bastard son. We also follow that boy, Kip, as he first learns about drafting and what that means. This series has some of the best character growth across multiple books that I've ever seen. It's funny, crude, action-packed, adventurous, and full of so many unexpected turns in every book. If you love long fantasy books, intricate worlds, exciting magic, and unforgettable characters, you should definitely at least pick up the first book, The Black Prism. Full review for the first book here.

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