Tag Archives: graphic novels

My Favorite Books of 2019

7 Dec

According to Goodreads, I’ve read 98 books this year, and it was the year of the audiobook! My new job requires a lot of driving around to various library locations. I’m often spending 2 hours on the road, an hour there, an hour back. I’ve really embraced my time in the car by listening to audiobooks, mostly nonfiction (because I have the hardest time listening to fiction? Is that just me? I love reading fiction, but it doesn’t seem to stick when I listen to it. Anyway…)

Just like last year, I wanted to share my ultimate favorites in each category. These books didn’t necessarily release this year. I just read them this year. If you want a complete list of books I read, check out my 2019 Goodreads challenge. Also, follow me on Twitter! Every day in December I’m sharing a book I read this year and why I loved it.

I hope you find something to read!

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Favorite Picture Book

Mr. Fuzzbuster Knows He’s The Favorite by Stacy McAnulty

What can I say? I’m a sucker for cat books, especially black cat books. But really, this is an adorable book. The artwork is clean, crisp, and fun. Plus, there’s all sorts of pets in this book, so if you have a little one who love animals, this is a great one.

Favorite Middle Grade

Tunnels of Bones by Victoria Schwab

This is book #2 in the Cassidy Blake series, so definitely check out book #1, City of Bones. It’s about a girl who can cross the veil between the living and the dead, with a plot twist. Her best friend is a ghost! And she travels with her ghost-hunting parents to various famous locations for spiritual activity. It’s spooky and fun. I cannot wait for book #3.

Favorite Book Told in Verse

Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga

This beautifully written book is told from the perspective of a young girl who must leave Syria. While she’s in America, she must cope with her family left behind, the new family members she lives with, and culturally differences. It’s really powerful, and I encourage everyone to read it.

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Favorite Graphic Novel

They Called Us Enemy by George Takei

This is such a powerful (and important) graphic novel. It’s technically a nonfiction graphic novel, too, which is a genre on the rise, and I really enjoyed reading this. It’s a real-life account of George Takei’s childhood spent in a Japanese internment camp in the United States. What I found especially powerful about this graphic novel is how Takei decided to stay in his child’s mindset, showing how he perceived his reality and what was happening to his family. It’s very touching and absolutely disturbing at the same time. I also enjoyed the artwork and the few notes Takei included to explain what was actually going on. Both of his parents were amazing people, but I really remember his mother from the graphic novel. She was a saint.

Favorite Adult Fiction

Vigilance by Robert Jackson Bennett

I’m a huge fan of TOR, and this is one of their recent releases. It’s very, very short, so if you want a quick read, I recommend this one. It’s a future America, where everyone is pressured to carry firearms with them. (Your life is your responsibility.) To remind citizens of this, America hosts a gameshow where they randomly orchestrate mass shootings. That’s all I’m going to say. The book is absolutely politically charged and very heavy, despite its short length, and I found myself thinking about this book for months after reading it. To be 100% honest, I wouldn’t say it was one of my favorites while I was reading, but at the end of the year, when I was reflecting on everything I read, I didn’t forget this one, and I wanted to desperately to talk about it again. If that’s not a win, I don’t know what is. That’s why I recommend this one.

Favorite Adult Nonfiction

In Praise of Poison Ivy by Anita Sanchez

This category was arguably the hardest one for me to pick a winner. 2019 truly was the year of adult nonfiction. I read so much of it, and I’m only starting to read more. There are a bazillion books I wanted to put here, but in the end, In Praise of Poison Ivy stayed with me the longest. Why would I read about poison ivy, you ask? I mostly picked it up because I was rewriting my botany-focused books and wanted to expand my knowledge. And I couldn’t put it down. The history of poison ivy – how it was discovered, why it was spread world-wide, which famous figures in history wrote about it – is fascinating. I honestly couldn’t believe everything I learned in this book. Plus, now I have tons of home remedies for poison ivy.

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FAVORITE YOUNG ADULT CONTEMPORARY

Doomsday by Katie Henry

This book is about a girl who believes the world will end one day, and she is ready for disaster. She doesn’t like to call herself a prepper, so I won’t either. In the end, though, I really loved this book. Honestly, it was a book I could’ve used as a teen. It has some great conversations about anxiety and mental health, and I really appreciated it. There’s also aspects of religion (particularly Mormonism) that you don’t typically see in young adult novels, as well as conversations on homelessness and generational trauma. It’s a bit long (over 400 pages), but I thought it was well worth the read.

FAVORITE YOUNG ADULT SCIENCE FICTION

Contagion by Erin Bowman

Technically, I wanted to nominate both Contagion and its sequel Immunity for this category, but the second one would’ve forced me to talk spoilers, so I thought I’d focus on book 1. This book is amazing. It takes place in space, but isn’t too bogged down by science, and it’s full of action, plot twists, and terror. I was legit scared while reading parts of this book, and that never happens. I loved everything about this book, but I don’t want to say too much, because I think it would spoil some of the experience. Just know that you’ll be terrified and thrilled while reading if you love science fiction and are okay with being scared in space.

FAVORITE YOUNG ADULT DEBUT

Frankly in Love by David Yoon

This book is incredibly sweet, also very honest. It follows Frank Li, a Korean-American teenager, as he navigates dating with his parents pressuring him to date a Korean girl rather than his American girlfriend. But he is navigating so much more than that. I highly recommend this book. There are so many layers, I can’t even get into all the characters. I picked it up thinking I was reading a love story, when I ended up crying over his family’s relationships. It’s a very touching book, about family, friends, loss, and culture.

Biggest Surprise

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The Kingdom by Jess Rothenburg

I love young adult fantasy and science fiction. It’s sort of my thing. So it might come as a surprise to many of you that MY biggest surprise was a YA SFF crossover, but I’ll explain. THE KINGDOM was heavily marketed as HBO’s West World for young adult readers. And I admit, I am not a fan of West World. (What?! I know. But I digress.) I LOVED this book. It takes place in a Disney-type theme park, where patrons are invited into a princess-filled world to fulfill all their dreams. Except there’s been a murder. And we’re reading the book from the potential murder’s perspective. Also one of the robot princesses. There are so many awesome plot twists in this book, subtle nuances, and conversations on AI, freedom, and dreams. I loved everything about it. I felt so immersed in the creativity, and the time shifts from after the murder to the times leading up to the murder kept me captivated until the end. So good!

MY ULTIMATE FAVORITE

American Royals by Katharine McGee

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If you’ve been following me for a while, this might not be a huge surprise for you. I’m a HUGE fan of Katharine McGee. The Thousandth Floor trilogy has a place in my heart as one of my favorite light sci-fi series. This is her newest series. It follows multiple characters just like her last series, but this time, it takes place in an alternate America, where America has a royal family. The drama is there, the tension is unbreakable, and the plot twists keep coming. I love how McGee always makes the worst possible thing happen to her characters right when you think they might get a chance at happiness. It’s such a guilty pleasure, and I didn’t put this book down once. I cannot wait for the sequel. I am DYING for the sequel. I need it now.

I hope you enjoy the reads!

What were your favorite books this year?

~SAT

#ReadingChallenge Try a New Section in the Bookstore

25 Jan

Normally I take old posts and rewrite them every Monday, which is technically what I’m still doing, but I say that lightly in this case. Back October 25, 2012, I wrote a book review for a debut author, and I discussed why I think the debut author section is my favorite section in the bookstore. (You can read that post here.) Today, instead of writing a review, I want to discuss my favorite sections in the bookstore and why I love them. But why is this important? For readers and writers alike, it’s important to challenge yourself. Step outside your box, pick up a new author, try a strange genre, flip through a poetry collection. It just might help you with your writing. You might even find your next favorite book.

Here are three sections I tried and learned from!

I’d love to hear about your favorite sections too.

New Author Section:

I particularly love starting my bookstore journey in this section, because it challenges me to read new voices and new types of stories that I may not have found otherwise. Anything and everything gets placed in this section. Drama, literature, poetry, graphic novels, anything. I have seen it all in this section, which is why this section is a go-to area if you’re in the mood for challenging yourself. It’s also EXTRA exciting, because the novels are normally by authors you’ve never heard of before. (There are exceptions, meaning if an author hasn’t been published in ten years, they might still appear here.) But it’s well worth a skim. In fact, I found my favorite graphic novel of 2015 in this section—The Gigantic Beard that was Evil by Stephen Collins.

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Memoirs and Biographies:

What is a better section for learning about life than reading about people’s literal lives? I love memoirs in particular, so I know I’m biased, but I think memoirs can also force you to step outside your boundaries. (I even love non-memoir memoirs. You know, the ones that claim they are “fiction” but everyone and their mother knows they aren’t…Granted, not found in this section, but that’s another story.) Last year, I found one of my all-time favorite reads in this section. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty, which is about a girl deciding to work in a crematory. It’s a fascinating exploration of mortality within different cultures.

What Our Staff Recommends:

I almost ALWAYS go to this section of the bookstore if the store has it. This is one of those delightful sections you can’t find online either (and it’s different in every store you go to). There’s normally a stack of books and one or two lines about why the staff recommends that particular read. Each review is generally done by a different staff member too, so you have a wonderful amount of variety in this section. Last year, I found Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan in this section, and I fell in love.

I normally spend the majority of my time in the young adult section. I have to mention this section, because it’s my obviously my go-to genre. It’s the section I buy most of my books from, and I thought I’d mention that so you could see how it compares to the other section above.

It’s important to challenge yourself, whether you’re a reader or a writer, and challenging yourself can help you. Even if you just want to know more about other topics, you can expand your palate by reading. This is why I love reading so much!

Try to pick two sections you wouldn’t normally visit, and check it out this month.

Trust me, it’s worth it.

~SAT

Come get your books signed on February 13, from 1-3 PM! I’ll be one of several featured authors at a Barnes & Noble Valentine’s Day Romance Author Event in Wichita, Kansas at Bradley Fair. CTP author Tamara Granthamwill be there, as well as NY Times Bestselling and USA Today Bestselling author Candice Gilmer. (I’ll know the other three authors soon!) I’d love to see you! If you haven’t started The Timely Death Trilogy, don’t worry. Minutes Before Sunset, book 1, is free!

Minutes Before Sunset, book 1:

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Seconds Before Sunrisebook 2:

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Death Before Daylightbook 3:

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You can read The Timely Death Trilogy on your new Kindle Fire! 

Clean Teen Publishing is giving one away. Enter here.

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