2019 Best of the Best, Part 1 | January-June

Can you believe, I almost didn’t write this post. I really haven’t read many books this year. I think, so far, I’ve only completed 27 books. For SHAME!

I couldn’t also give up on my best of posts! I managed to pick 10 books I really enjoyed, and pulled this together.

Please reward my good behavior with all the comments.

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10 – The Priory of the Orange Tree
by Samantha Shannon

From the internationally bestselling author of The Bone Season, a trailblazing, epic high fantasy about a world on the brink of war with dragons–and the women who must lead the fight to save it.

A world divided.
A queendom without an heir.
An ancient enemy awakens.

The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction–but assassins are getting closer to her door. 

Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.

Across the dark sea, Tané has trained all her life to be a dragonrider, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.

Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.

The Priory of the Orange Tree was a breath of fresh air. It took me a while to read, but I enjoyed every second. It was a feminist story with all major players being strong women. However, there were also deep and intriguing men too. I hadn’t read a long, sweeping, story like this one in a long time. For that, and the fantastic story, this book is in my top 10.

(My Review)


9 – Top Secret
by Elle Kennedy & Sarina Bowen

LobsterShorts, 21

Jock. Secretly a science geek. Hot AF.

LobsterShorts: So. Here goes. For her birthday, my girlfriend wants…a threesome.

SinnerThree: Then you’ve come to the right hookup app.

LobsterShorts: Have you done this sort of thing before? With another guy?

SinnerThree: All the time. I’m an equal opportunity player. You?

LobsterShorts: [crickets!]

SinnerThree, 21

Finance major. Secretly a male dancer. Hot AF. 

SinnerThree: Well, I’m down if you are. My life is kind of a mess right now. School, work, family stress. Oh, and I live next door to the most annoying dude in the world. I need the distraction. Are you sure you want this?

LobsterShorts: I might want it a little more than I’m willing to admit.

SinnerThree: Hey, nothing wrong with pushing your boundaries…

LobsterShorts: Tell that to my control-freak father. Anyway. What if this threesome is awkward?

SinnerThree: Then it’s awkward. It’s not like we’ll ever have to see each other again. Right? Just promise you won’t fall in love with me.

LobsterShorts: Now wouldn’t that be life-changing…

Top Secret was a long time coming. I’ve been dying for a new Sarina and Elle M/M collaboration for years. At least it felt like years. Truthfully, I’m not interested in either author by themselves. I’ve tried them both, and I wasn’t blown away. (I’m sorry, for any of you fans out there.) However, together they’re golden. Top Secret is just one more notch on their belt. So much fun.

(My Review)


8 – Made for You
by Anyta Sunday

Ben wants to find a new home. 

Twenty-four-year-old Ben McCormick is the primary caregiver for his brother Milo after their parents’ death. A year into the job, he’s totally got the hang of it. Mostly. Sort of. Not at all? 

Defeated and thoroughly chastised for his lack in parenting skills at teacher-parent night, Ben slumps away with the resolve to finally get his life sorted: be a better role model, and sell their parents’ house for a fresh start. 

But first, he needs to spruce up his house to hit the market. He’s no DIY king, but Milo’s hot-as-hell woodwork teacher is… 

Jack wants an old home to fix. 

Thirty-nine-year-old Jack Pecker is waiting for the home of his dreams to come on the market in the summer. What better way to wait the interim months than working on a small renovation gig? 

Only trouble is, the gig is for the McCormick brothers. And working in close quarters to red-haired Ben McCormick won’t be easy. Not with the attraction that simmers between them. Attraction Ben makes no effort to hide. 

But Jack’s professional. Dating a parent is highly discouraged at Kresley Intermediate, and he’d never cross the lines… 

Ben and Jack. Two guys searching for a home – 

– a home that might just be where their hearts lead them.

Anyta Sunday does romantic movies with a child involved like nobody else, and Made for You is one of the best ones. Ben and Milo were everything. The big brother raising the little brother is one of the best tropes out there. Love it. It pulls my heart strings every single time. Add in, Milo’s little big mouth into the mix and I’m a goner. The romance didn’t even matter, and it was still good.

(My Review)


7 – My Favorite Half Night Stand
by Christina Lauren

Millie Morris has always been one of the guys. A UC Santa Barbara professor, she’s a female-serial-killer expert who’s quick with a deflection joke and terrible at getting personal. And she, just like her four best guy friends and fellow professors, is perma-single.

So when a routine university function turns into a black tie gala, Mille and her circle make a pact that they’ll join an online dating service to find plus-ones for the event. There’s only one hitch: after making the pact, Millie and one of the guys, Reid Campbell, secretly spend the sexiest half-night of their lives together, but mutually decide the friendship would be better off strictly platonic.

But online dating isn’t for the faint of heart. While the guys are inundated with quality matches and potential dates, Millie’s first profile attempt garners nothing but dick pics and creepers. Enter “Catherine”—Millie’s fictional profile persona, in whose make-believe shoes she can be more vulnerable than she’s ever been in person. Soon “Catherine” and Reid strike up a digital pen-pal-ship…but Millie can’t resist temptation in real life, either. Soon, Millie will have to face her worst fear—intimacy—or risk losing her best friend, forever.

2019 was the year I fell in love with Christina Lauren books. I’ve slowly read all of them, and I’ve liked all of them to varying degrees. My Favorite Half Night Stand stood out because I really liked Millie. I could relate to her. I understood her. I also liked the email dialogue between Millie and Reid. I’ve always been a fan of romances that start through writing, rather than face to face, and My Favorite Half Night Stand was no exception.

(My Review)


6 – Storm of Locusts
by Rebecca Roanhorse

It’s been four weeks since the bloody showdown at Black Mesa, and Maggie Hoskie, Diné monster hunter, is trying to make the best of things. Only her latest bounty hunt has gone sideways, she’s lost her only friend, Kai Arviso, and she’s somehow found herself responsible for a girl with a strange clan power.

Then the Goodacre twins show up at Maggie’s door with the news that Kai and the youngest Goodacre, Caleb, have fallen in with a mysterious cult, led by a figure out of Navajo legend called the White Locust. The Goodacres are convinced that Kai’s a true believer, but Maggie suspects there’s more to Kai’s new faith than meets the eye. She vows to track down the White Locust, then rescue Kai and make things right between them.

Her search leads her beyond the Walls of Dinétah and straight into the horrors of the Big Water world outside. With the aid of a motley collection of allies, Maggie must battle body harvesters, newborn casino gods and, ultimately, the White Locust himself. But the cult leader is nothing like she suspected, and Kai might not need rescuing after all. When the full scope of the White Locust’s plans are revealed, Maggie’s burgeoning trust in her friends, and herself, will be pushed to the breaking point, and not everyone will survive.

Rebecca Roanhorse’s is bringing something new to the Urban Fantasy genre that I haven’t read before. Other authors have written about Native American’s, but none with the authenticity that Roanhorse writes with. I can see this future, and I liked her vision. I’m excited to see where she goes next.

(My Review)


5 – The Shadow of What Was Lost
by James Islington

As destiny calls, a journey begins.

It has been twenty years since the god-like Augurs were overthrown and killed. Now, those who once served them – the Gifted – are spared only because they have accepted the rebellion’s Four Tenets, vastly limiting their powers.

As a Gifted, Davian suffers the consequences of a war lost before he was even born. He and others like him are despised. But when Davian discovers he wields the forbidden power of the Augurs, he sets into motion a chain of events that will change everything.

To the west, a young man whose fate is intertwined with Davian’s wakes up in the forest, covered in blood and with no memory of who he is… 

And in the far north, an ancient enemy long thought defeated begins to stir.

The Shadow of What Was Lost was the second long, and epic, read for me of 2019. It was even MORE special because I chose it at random. I’ve stared at the print book over and over at the bookstore, and I finally broke down and bought it. And I was rewarded with a really great book. I’ve already purchased the second one, and I’ll be diving in soon!

(My Review)


4 – Murder House
by Jordan Castillo Price

Victor Bayne has survived demons, ghosts and repeaters. But can he survive a murder house?

Few people would willingly spend the night in a murder house, but Victor Bayne is up for the challenge. He’ll do whatever it takes to get a look at his permanent record, including going undercover in a townhouse where a recent death took place. Why not? There was no foul play involved, and as a psychic medium, he’d know if a ghost was creeping up on him. The whole “murder house” claim is just a product of a kid’s overactive imagination, and he’s confident he has the situation under control.

Until he gets a load of the smell.

Turns out, undercover work is a lot tougher than it looks. Vic misses Jacob something fierce. The subject of his assignment is a real piece of work. His partner has definitely got something to hide…and then the investigation takes a truly bizarre turn.

What happens if the murder house reveals itself to be more than just a schoolyard rumour?

Victor Bayne! Vic will always make my best of list. Do I really need to get into why Jordan Castillo Price is always tops? Because she writes one of the best, most original, Urban Fantasy series out there. This installment was fantastic, because Vic had to work this case without Jacob. That added to both Vic as an individual, but also it added to their relationship. You never know how much you love someone, until you miss them.

(My Review)


3 – King of Scars
by Leigh Bardugo

Nikolai Lantsov has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war—and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, the young king must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.

Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha Squaller, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried—and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.

The Grishaverse is so massive. I’ve loved both the Six of Crows duology, and the Shadow and Bone duology. It’s only natural, I would love King of Scars too. I did. It was fantastic. Nicolai is one of my favorite characters, and I’d hoped he would eventually get a story. So far, it’s everything I’d want for him!

(My Review)


2 – How to Be a Movie Star
by TJ Klune

Josiah Erickson wants to be a movie star. The problem with that is so does half of Los Angeles. But he’s on his way, what with memorable roles as a TV show background cadaver and a guy in a commercial for herpes medication. All he needs is his big break. And that break may come in the form of a novelist who goes by the enigmatic name of Q-Bert. 

Q-Bert, who is ready to make his directorial debut in a film Josy would be perfect for. Q-Bert, who Josy may or may not have a friend-crush on, and potentially something more. Being demisexual can be confusing. 

From the City of Angels to the small mountain town of Abby, Oregon, Josy will give his all to make sure his dreams come true—even the ones he never thought possible.

The top two books are always the hardest for me. I love TJ Klune so much. I also love the How To series. How to be a Movie Star gave me my first literary tattoo, and son in that sense it definitely takes the top spot. It was everythign I dreamed it would be and more. Tj Klune books always are!

(My Review)


1 – Love and Other Words
by Christina Lauren

The story of the heart can never be unwritten.

Macy Sorensen is settling into an ambitious if emotionally tepid routine: work hard as a new pediatrics resident, plan her wedding to an older, financially secure man, keep her head down and heart tucked away.

But when she runs into Elliot Petropoulos—the first and only love of her life—the careful bubble she’s constructed begins to dissolve. Once upon a time, Elliot was Macy’s entire world—growing from her gangly bookish friend into the man who coaxed her heart open again after the loss of her mother…only to break it on the very night he declared his love for her.

Told in alternating timelines between Then and Now, teenage Elliot and Macy grow from friends to much more—spending weekends and lazy summers together in a house outside of San Francisco devouring books, sharing favorite words, and talking through their growing pains and triumphs. As adults, they have become strangers to one another until their chance reunion. Although their memories are obscured by the agony of what happened that night so many years ago, Elliot will come to understand the truth behind Macy’s decade-long silence, and will have to overcome the past and himself to revive her faith in the possibility of an all-consuming love.

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This year, my first half of the year top spot goes to Christina Lauren and Love and Other Words.

Love and Other Words was full of everything. It had all the heart and emotion. It was beautiful and romantic. It made me laugh, and it made me cry. It is, by far, the best book Christina Lauren has ever written, and I’m so glad it will always sit on my bookshelf so I can reread it again.

(My Review)

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About Birdie

Don’t look for her in any bar, club, crazy raging party, or anywhere there may be a large gathering of strangers. She’s more likely to be found tucked into the corner of the couch watching one of her favorite shows, or preferably under a comforter with her current novel.

8 Responses

      1. From your list, I loved Priory and King of Scars… I had a lot of fun reading Top Secret too…. and I definitely want to read Trail of Lightning and it’s sequel coz I keep hearing such wonderful things about them 😊😊😊

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  1. If it’s any consolation, I think 27 books is A LOT of books haha. This is a great compilation of books! I really want to read more Christina Lauren and Leigh Bardugo before the end of this year—their books never disappoint!

    Like

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