The Fandom’s Best Books of 2019

2019 was far from a perfect year, but it was a pretty amazing time to be a reader!

Slews of new books were released this year, and our writers at The Fandom came together to share some of our favorites. Some were part of a beloved series or by a popular author (one of whom made the list twice,) others introduced us to fascinating new stories, authors, and even genres.

We can’t claim this as a definitive list– we suspect we missed a couple great books released in the last month or two because we just haven’t had time to get to them yet– but these are the books that really caught our attention this year!

Listed in alphabetical order.

BLOODWITCH by Susan Dennard

The reason I adored Truthwitch as much as I did was because of the relationships. Safi and Merik, Iseult and Aeduan, and, most importantly, Safi and Iseult, I loved the complex and nuanced connections and the threads that bind them. My biggest issue with Windwitch was that those relationships that I was so taken with were all separated. Bloodwitch worked on remedying that, having the characters working to find each other again. The fact that Aeduan lead the story worked in its favor, as Aeduan is the character with the most visible room for growth. The development of the new characters allowed me to put my yearning for the characters I already loved on the back burner.Despite how long it took for the characters to reunite, the reunions themselves made it worth it, and made me eager for the next installment.

Amazon | B&N | Indiebound


BRAVE FACE by Shaun David Hutchison

I’m not one to read a lot of non-fiction, but I decided to give this one a chance for some reason. Maybe it was the blurb, the synopsis, or the fact that it was from a YA author, but I felt this story needed to be read and I was right. Though the LGBTQ+ community has become more accepted in these recent years, it was very interesting and intriguing to learn about one person’s journey to finding acceptance (and sometimes accepting that not everyone will give that acceptance,) along with struggling with clinical depression at the same time. Though I did not have such issues to deal with while growing up and thus cannot relate on that level, I still feel that this book is helpful in opening the door to understanding other people on a human level, and I appreciated that.

I would also like to point out, that this book isn’t a go-to on how to cure depression, but a message to those dealing with it that there are people that have struggled through it, are still struggling through it, and know what you’re going through and surviving as well.

Amazon | B&N | Indiebound


DARK AGE by Pierce Brown

Inarguably the darkest of the Red Rising series. The series itself is an excellent transition from YA sci-fi (in the first book) to a very-adult sci-fi, and this latest novel hits so many WTF moments that some may consider it too much, too violent, too disturbing, and all that. Even so, I found the writing to be brilliant, the character development to be excellent, and the story to be next-level amazing and intricately plotted. The fact that a very significant female character in the series finally got her own POV upped the rating for this book to a solid 1 point higher in a 5 point scale.

Amazon | B&N | Indiebound


KING OF SCARS by Leigh Bardugo

It would prove difficult to find a bad book by Leigh Bardugo, but King of Scars continued to prove the sheer quality of her writing and character work. King of Scars focused on fan favorites characters from the original Shadow & Bone trilogy. While beloved in Shadow & Bone, Nikolai Lantsov and Zoya Nazyalensky, there were still many questions about them. It was thrilling to see them get the care and stories they deserved in Shadow & Bone, and to see fan favorite Nina Zenik from Six of Crows return. Nina and Nikolai both went through life changing, cataclysmic events at the end of their previous series. King of Scars allowed them to grow and change appropriately while still being true to their characters. Plus, a bi character! An unexpected, but not unwelcome romance! Awesome female assassins! Women coming into their power, scoffing at men’s assumptions of female limitations! What more can you ask for? All I know is that I named my cat Zoya after reading this book, so get a cat and get a copy.

Amazon | B&N | Indiebound


LIKE A LOVE STORY by Abdi Nazemian

I loved this book so much I entered it in the Goodreads Choice Awards Best YA Fiction category, because clearly not enough people know how wonderfully brilliant this book is. If this write-up encourages even one person to read the book, I’m going to list that as one accomplishment for 2019. This fictional story could’ve very easily been based on a real gay person who grew up in the early 90s, during the AIDS epidemic. It had such an honest sense of realism in the story that you could almost feel like it was. The fact that the author even felt that he poured his heart into this novel shows very much in the pages and in the characters he created. Despite the darkness of the topic of AIDS and death-related AIDS, there were moments of levity that added more depth overall, a story that every person in their life should read just to either understand that time period or honor the ones that perished during it for no other reason than that.

Amazon | B&N | Indiebound


NINTH HOUSE by Leigh Bardugo 

Not for the faint of heart, Ninth House was a riveting, and at times terrifying, story of ghosts, dark magic, empowerment, and a feisty girl named Alex Stern who quickly made her way into my heart. Ninth House is Leigh Bardugo’s first adult novel, and the hype had been building for months (even Stephen King talked about it. Multiple times), so my expectations were high, but they were completely surpassed. Bardugo’s talent for vivid world building and excellent plotting is on full display here, and I often found myself reading way into the small hours of the morning, simply because I couldn’t put it down. With Ninth House, Bardugo has asserted herself as a Queen of Fantasy across all age groups.

Amazon | B&N | Indiebound


OPPOSITE OF ALWAYS by Justin A. Reynolds

Contemporary with a timeline twist, Justin A. Reynolds’ debut is a story of first love, second chances, and the friendships that keep us going. When Jack meets Kate at a party, he falls for her right away. But shortly after they meet, Kate dies… and inexplicably, the clock resets and Jack is right back at that party. Over and over again, Jack goes through scenario after scenario to figure out just how to save Kate in the name of love. Chaos ensues, as sweet and amusing as it is poignant and gut wrenching. If you love a strong contemporary roller coaster, this one is for you.

Amazon | B&N | Indiebound


RED, WHITE, & ROYAL BLUE by Casey McQuiston

Amazon | B&N | Indiebound


SMALL TOWN HEARTS by Lillie Vale

This beautifully atmospheric summer contemporary is severely underrated and I wish more people knew about it. It’s the perfect read for when you’re longing for those beautiful summer days, but are instead stuck staring at the snow bank outside your window that just keeps piling up. One of the book’s shining points is the food descriptions since the main character, Babe, works at a coffee shop and does all the desserts. Every description that was included was absolutely mouthwatering and made me love the book even more. Small Town Hearts had the perfect balance of bittersweet moments and swoon worthy moments and it was honestly just everything I could possibly ask for in a YA contemporary novel.

Amazon | B&N | Indiebound


THE GRACE YEAR by Kim Liggett

In the year 2019, Kim Liggett came for the throats of systematic norms that hold women down. The novel follows Tierney James, a 16-year-old living in an ultra-conservative, puritan dystopia where teen girls are believed to be corrupt influences in possession of seductive magic. That’s why they undergo Grace Year– a secretive, secluded journey in which all girls of that age “burn away their magic” and any “spirited” personality traits, while they’re at it. As Tierney’s grace year begins with the worst traits of human nature– cruelty, betrayal, desperation, wild superstition– coming to the forefront. Surviving the grace year isn’t about surviving the elements. It’s about surviving each other. Along the way, Liggett confronts the ways that patriarchy grooms young women, the ways women are taught to aid in the subjugation of other females, and the wild standards we hold ourselves to. While not always perfect, this novel is damn powerful and will get you thinking.

Amazon | B&N | Indiebound


THE PRIORY OF THE ORANGE TREE by Samantha Shannon

Samantha Shannon was so frustrated with an ancient religious fable (Saint George and the Dragon) that she wrote an 850-page high fantasy epic to refute it. And it. is. incredible! Priory is not only one of the best books of 2019, it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read, period. The worldbuilding is lush and massive in scale, the characters are fascinating, and the pacing is amazing considering the book’s length. Plus, there’s tons of LGBTQ rep and it’s feminist af! It’s hard to pull of a multi-POV high fantasy novel at any level, but Shannon does so to absolute perfection. If you love the genre, you’ll fall in love with this extensive world and its many characters in no time.

Amazon | B&N | Indiebound


WAYWARD SON by Rainbow Rowell

How do I describe my love for Wayward Son? This book, the follow up to Rainbow Rowell’s Carry On, sees Simon, Baz and Penny go to America, and all the hijinks that ensue. Rowell’s signature snappy dialogue is complemented by true emotional struggles and the reality of what it feels like after you fulfill your destiny. This book doesn’t shy away from difficult issues, but it is not all melancholy, as it is also filled with enigmatic new characters and a riveting plot. Simon and Baz continue to be one of the cutest couples in YA lit. Rowell’s magic system continues to be fascinating and purely genius. This world continues to charm at every turn. I cannot wait for the final book, Any Way the Wind Blows!

Amazon | B&N | Indiebound


WE HUNT THE FLAME by Hafsah Faizal

I literally have a note in my phone that says “We Hunt the Flame Chapter 32.” That’s it. Despite having written that over six months ago, I remember exactly why I wrote it. That chapter is the first time a POV character sees our protagonist. The difference from the way that she views herself, and the way the world sees her is staggering. Zafira is just a girl who is in love with a boy, trying to help her family survive. To a lethal and merciless stranger, she is a deadly assassin not to be trifled with. Man, I sure am a sucker or a female assassin. Zafira is, in not so many words, the chosen one. Nasir is the other side of that coin. They are foils to one another, facing similar tasks with vastly different purposes. The book is about destiny, and ownership over your own destiny, things that can be applicable to many people in the real world.

Amazon | B&N | Indiebound


WE SET THE DARK ON FIRE by Tehlor Kay Mejia

Part spy thriller, part forbidden romance, and part telenovela, Tehlor Kay Mejia’s Latinx fantasy We Set The Dark On Fire has an old-school dystopian heart with feminist roots and mountains of original flair. It follows Daniela, a young woman whose has trained relentlessly and finally earned her place as Primera– the first of two wives every upper-class man in society holds. But soon after taking her place, Daniela is contacted by La Voz, a resistance organization who knows the dark secrets of Daniela’s past and threatens to expose them if she doesn’t spy on her new husband for them. Now she;ll have to fool everyone– especially her husband’s second wife, Carmen, with whom she has a fiery but complicated relationship. Peeling back the layers of this world and its characters was an absolute, the blossoming romance between Daniela and Carmen was so good, and the end of this book had me screaminggggg!

Amazon | B&N | Indiebound


WHEN YOU ASK ME WHERE I’M GOING by Jasmin Kaur

Jasmin Kaur’s words of wisdom about feminism, mental illness, immigration, and more come alive in a unique way. Her novel includes prose, poems, and illustrations. I’m typically a reader of prose and prose only. I took a chance with When You Ask Me Where I’m Going because the topics are ones I feel are not explored enough. What a pleasant surprise Kaur’s work was. To say I was inspired is an understatement. I actually took the time to annotate the book, which is something I’ve never done voluntarily before. But I needed to have a few “chapters” marked and at the ready.

Amazon | B&N | Indiebound


Yes, a New Adult romance novel that celebrates the LGBTQ+ Community with the two main characters being male. There were all kinds of nods to progressiveness in this book – a female president, a biracial main character, a lesbian genius, with current political and social issues brought to light. Not only that, it was just plain fun to read about these two guys who happen to hold very high standings in their nations. I’m also a sucker for a good hate-love story, and this one excels in it. Alex, the American president’s son seems like your standard pompous jackass who has no problem letting loose and having some fun, but as you read on, you find there’s more to him than that, which includes compassion for others and a fierceness to protect the ones he loves. As for Henry, the prince of Wales, well, there’s definitely more to him than acting royal and above it all, as Alex finds out. There’s a lot of cute moments between the two, but there’s also a lot of heart in the story throughout that hit me right in the feels. This is the kind of story you want to see more of in the future.

About Author

Kait is a New Englander, a YA book and adaptation lover, and a Slythindor, as well as a red velvet and red wine enthusiast. She likes to like things. Catch her on Twitter: @kaitmary

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