I’m really excited to be sharing my favourite books of 2019 today! I didn’t have a standout favourite but these books are all brilliant.
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
This is a funny, strange, short novel about a woman who loves her job at a convenience store, much to the consternation of her family and friends. I read it near the start of the year and I’m still thinking about it. It raises so many questions!
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
Listen to the audiobook. Trust me. I have a print copy of this but ended up borrowing the audio version from the library and it is just fabulous. Read by the author, it really comes alive. This is a satire with a generous heart about a group of beauty pageant contestants whose plane crashes on a desert island, where they struggle to agree on survival tactics and discover a conspiracy.
Freshers by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison
Tom and Lucy had already marked themselves out as the comedy geniuses of the UKYA world with Lobsters and Never Evers and this continues to cement their status. It’s about settling into university life, making new friends, figuring out who you are – and trying not to completely mess everything up along the way.
Nightingale Wood by Stella Gibbons
This is a 1930s retelling of Cinderella with three Cinderellas – Viola, a former shop assistant, now an upper-class widow, her sister-in-law, bored Tina, and her love interest’s cousin Hetty. Unfortunately there’s one paragraph that includes the n-word twice – spoken by an unsympathetic character, but it’s still there. Again, it’s a book from the 1930s but it could have been taken out by the publisher!
Off the Clock by Laura Vanderkam
This is, in my not so humble opinion, Laura Vanderkam’s best book so far, focusing on how to feel like you have more time for all the things you really love and want to do. I’d suggest you read 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think first, before this, to get the most out of it, but I think Off the Clock really solidifies her ideas about how to make the most of your time and builds on her previous work.
The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway
Will I ever get over the book hangover this has left me with?! This is an utterly spectacular novel, a time-travel adventure romance featuring a global conspiracy. Regency manners meet modern mores, magic and mystery abounds. When will we get a sequel? And how can I get my hands on the digital-only, not published in the UK prequel? All I can think to do is beg as many people to read it as possible, the eBook isn’t expensive and maybe if sales go through the roof someone will do something!
The House of Secrets by Sarra Manning
As my Instagram caption says I was surprised to find myself swept away by the grief, sadness, and hope that the protagonists of this story experienced. Zoe and Libby are two women decades apart united by a house and their experiences as would-be mothers. It’s a moving and beautiful read.
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
I love books about sisters, especially sisters with a complicated relationship, and this takes complicated to a whole new and incredibly dark level! Korede’s sister Ayoola has an unfortunate habit of killing her boyfriends and Korede has always helped her hide the bodies. But then Ayoola catches the eye of Korede’s long-time work crush, leading to a lot of second thoughts… It’s very funny and I would highly recommend it.
Margot & Me by Juno Dawson
In the 1990s, Fliss and her mum, who is recovering from cancer, go to live in a tiny country village with Fliss’ grandmother, Margot. Fliss hates her new life until one day she discovers Margot’s teenage diary from the Second World War. I was completely absorbed in both their stories and loved listening to this so much, I would definitely read it again.
The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James (review copy provided by publisher)
Romy is literally the loneliest girl in the universe, the only person left alive on a spaceship going to start a second Earth. Her only contact is her NASA-supplied therapist, Molly and as she gets further away from Earth, a place she’s never seen, having been born in space, it takes longer and longer for them to email each other. Everything changes when one day, she receives a message from Molly that there’s another, faster, ship on the way and the Captain, a young man, will be able to contact her soon. This is an incredible thriller and perfectly captures all of Romy’s emotions, from loneliness to hope and fear.
The Quiet at the End of the World by Lauren James (review copy provided by publisher)
I read this shortly after The Loneliest Girl in the Universe and was delighted to find that although it’s another sci-fi thriller, the tone is remarkably different. Lowrie and Shen are the last children ever to be born on Earth after mass infertility sweeps the globe and they grow up surrounded by a small, ageing community in a solarpunkesque central London. When the adults start getting sick, they are the only ones who can help – but can two teenagers save the human race?
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
I hadn’t read any novels in verse for years but I bought this based on a friend’s recommendation. It languished in my Kindle purchases for several months until while on holiday, getting bored waiting in a queue for a bus, I decided to give it a go. I was very quickly obsessed! It’s about a young aspiring poet, Xiomara, and her relationship with her religious and disapproving mother, a very powerful, moving read.
The True Queen by Zen Cho
This is the sequel to Sorcerer to the Crown, my favourite read of 2018. It The True Queen is about two young women, Sakti and Muna, who find themselves washed ashore on Janda Baik after a storm, with no memory of anything but each other. Mak Genggang takes them in and ends up sending them to Regency England to get help restoring their memories. Funny cultural misunderstandings abound and the romance is delightful.
Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik
When Sofia Khan is asked to write a book on Muslim dating, shortly after breaking off her engagement – her former fiance refused to reconsider living in a house adjoining his parents’ with a hole in the wall – she realises she better start actually Muslim dating. It’s a funny, interesting read and although I didn’t quite warm to the sequel, I loved it as a standalone novel.
Our Stop by Laura Jane Williams
This is a lovely romance that is basically about very nice people falling in love! A missed connection column in one of the free London newspapers is intended to help people find each other, but our protagonists keep missing their stop. It’s very cute and full of wonderful London things, the perfect read if you want to visit but can’t!
Wed Wabbit by Lissa Evans
This is a spectacularly high-concept kids book about Fidge, a girl who gets transported to the world of her sister’s favourite book. Something’s very wrong, as the land of the Wimbley Woos is ruled over by an evil dictator – Fidge’s sister’s favourite toy – Wed Wabbit.
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
I was really excited to read this as I’d heard a lot of hype about it and I was not remotely disappointed! Code Name Verity is breaktakingly good and deserves all of the praise it’s received. I smiled, I cried, and immediately requested the prequel The Pearl Thief from the library.
Deeplight by Frances Hardinge (NetGalley copy)
This is a stunning book set in the islands of the Myriad, about a boy who gets caught on a smuggling job and sentenced to work on the island of the priests, a generation after all the gods died. His new boss sets him to work as a spy, greedy to get her hands on the gods’ secrets, as the corpses of the gods, when dragged up in pieces from the bottom of the ocean, provide relics that can be used to power weird and wonderful inventions.