Top Five Tuesday – Surprising Reads of 2019

This week’s Top Five Tuesday, brought to you by Bionic Book Worm, asks us to discuss our Top Five “surprising” reads of 2019.  After combing over the 70+ books I’ve read (so far) this year, I’ve selected a handful that, while they didn’t quiiiiite crack my short lists for Best Reads of 2019, were nonetheless amazing in their own ways and definitely worth checking out.

I’ve linked the book covers to Goodreads, and the titles of the books to my reviews, if you want more information about any of these!

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NEVER DIE by Rob J. Hayes
(I received a free ARC of this book in exchange for my fair and honest review.)
NEVER DIE gets onto this list for two reasons.  First off, it’s a great read.  It tells the tale of a young boy tasked by a death spirit to collect a band of heroes who can dethrone a despotic emperor.  The only catch is, they have to die before they can join the quest!  If you have any love for “wire-fu” martial art films (think CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON), you absolutely have to read this one.  But the second reason this is on my list is it’s the first self-published work I read, and one that has really opened my eyes to the fact that there are GOOD books hiding out there that don’t go through traditional publishing.  One of my 2020 goals is to read more self-published works, and this book is one of the motivating factors.

I didn’t quite know what I was getting into with this book, about a young woman who finds herself at the site of the sudden appearance of an unmoving robotic figure, one of dozens located all over the world.  The adventure that follows is part puzzle hunt, as April May and her friends try to decipher why these statues are here and what they want, and part cautionary tale about the way social media warps our lives.  You see, April May’s video reporting of the statue goes viral, and in the weeks that follow, she finds herself addicted to keeping her likes and follower count climbing, leading her to endanger herself and others in the chase for more clicks.  It’s a compelling use of an unlikable heroine and I highly recommend it.

SHADOW OF THE FOX by Julie Kagawa
(I received a free ARC of this book in exchange for my fair and honest review.)
The first book in a YA fantasy trilogy, I fell in love with the way this book captured the essence of monster-slaying anime, which was not at all the tone I expected!  Yumeko is half-kitsune, a fox spirit with limited magical abilities.  When the monastery where she was raised is attacked, she partners with Kage, a traveling warrior, to protect an ancient magical scroll and transport it to another safe haven. Along the way they fight all kinds of monsters, gather a party of various misfits who stumble across their path, and fall in love.  If only Yumeko and Kage weren’t keeping secrets about their true identities…..

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(I received a free ARC of this book in exchange for my fair and honest review.)
GIDEON gets on the list for the absolutely surprising way I went from being mildly interested in the book to absolutely hooked into its mystery.  There’s a lot of world-building kept too vague, and it takes a long-time to get to the heart of the story.  But when you finally do, you discover that what you have in your hands is a gothic murder-mystery where the suspects are all trapped in a house together – a house that has deadly secrets of its own. Oh, and almost the entire cast is a group of necromancers, and they all have their own special area of expertise.  Seriously, this book is weird and not for everyone, but definitely qualifies as a “surprising read” of 2019.

THE DIABOLIC by S.J. Kincaid
And here we have the entry for “held up surprisingly well upon re-read!”  I’d read THE DIABOLIC a few years back and really enjoyed it, but was surprised how few times it gets mentioned by YA bloggers.  So when I decided to reread it ahead of reading the sequel, I braced myself to realize that maybe my thoughts on the book would change – but instead, I found myself as in love with it as ever!  A sci-fi adventure about a genetically engineered body guard who travels to the galactic imperial court and impersonates the young woman she’s charged with protecting, this book is full of court intrigue and high stakes.  Unlike some YA, which can pull its punches, the heroine here is as deadly as advertised, the kind of person who will absolutely kill if someone gets in the way of her goals.  Seriously, this is one that I’m constantly surprised more people haven’t read, and with a third book on the way, I highly recommend picking this up!

What were YOUR surprising reads of 2019?

12 thoughts on “Top Five Tuesday – Surprising Reads of 2019

Add yours

  1. I absolutely love shadow of the fox!
    I’m planning on reading Gideon the ninth this month, really hope to love that one!



  2. Love this list! Never Die is all over the place right now, as it’s just made the final round (I think?) of this years SPFBO contest. And I just bought an ebook of it! I usually don’t read self published either, but I’d love to read more next year. Maybe we can recommend books to each other😁

    Liked by 1 person

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