Bookshine’s Best Reads of 2019 – Part 2

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Here we go again, with my favourite books of the second half of 2019!

As before, these are books that I read last year, regardless of publication date.  Also as before, my list is very fantasy heavy.  What can I say – it is a varied and fascinating genre and I love every subset!


There was some VERY tough competition for my favourite read of July (I really had an excellent summer in 2019!), but it really had to be this unusual book from Tiny Fox Press, via Netgalley: The Awful Truth About the Sushing Prize by Marco Ocram.

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Marco Ocram, palindromic pen name of author Denis Shaughnessy, has created a laugh-out-loud literary mystery romp of the kind I have never seen before.

Surreal and self-aware, Marco (also the main character) bumbles his way through a murder investigation, crashing through the Fourth Wall with the enthusiasm and frequency of the Kool Aid mascot on crack!

Anyone looking for humorous, tongue-in-cheek mystery should check this out. I’d say it is unique, but there is already an equally bonkers sequel (which I look forward to bringing you my review for imminently).

Amazon link:  The Awful Truth About the Sushing Prize


Another incredibly tough month to choose from in August, but I’ve gone with one from Bleeding Ink Publishing (NetGalley):  Pricked by Scott Mooney.

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Scott Mooney has brought traditional fairytales into modern New York City (well… its fictional counterpart, The Poisoned Apple!) in this witty fantasy-mystery mashup.

Briar Rose attempts to solve a Royal kidnapping case whilst simultaneously searching for a curse cure for her unwillingly feline best friend.  Her character development, and the progression of her magical abilities, during the course of this story is completely bewitching and I was very quickly hooked on needing to know where this PI Snow Noir tale goes next.

Fellow fans of The Dresden FilesGrimmOnce Upon a TimeFables and similar will LOVE this fresh blend of the old and the new.

Amazon link:  Pricked


In 2018 my January best-read was The Gods of Love by Nicola Mostyn, so I was delighted in September when Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources invited me onto her blog tour for the sequel from Piatkus Books:  The Love Delusion by Nicola Mostyn.

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You definitely need to read The Gods of Love first for the full impact of this book, especially the start, which had me reeling with delighted shock.

Frida and Dan are back, but changed, and the race is on for them to beat the bad guys, outwit the gods (and godesses), save the world, bring love back and somehow find themselves and each other in the process.  Phew!

The Greek mythological pantheon battles with the modern world (and each other) for the very hearts of humanity and our heroes are firmly in the firing line from all sides.

Nicola Mostyn has created a witty, action-packed fantasy adventure in this duology and I look forward to seeing what she comes out with next.

Amazon link:  The Love Delusion


October’s choice, from Simon & Schuster via NetGalley, made me weep, but also smile:  Scars Like Wings by Erin Stewart.

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A Young Adult book themed around the scars we carry, both visible and invisible, Scars Like Wings was the most moving book I read in 2019.

The story follows burn-survivor Ava as she is forced to reenter the world on very different terms to ‘before’.  Told straight from the teen’s mouth, with heart and humour, Ava’s story is heartbreaking and yet hopeful, as we are reminded how hard school life can be when you feel different. 

An entertaining embodiment of the sayings about not knowing what battles other people are fighting, or playing the hands we are dealt, Scars Like Wings was definitely an emotionally draining and (sorry Ava!) inspiring read.

Amazon link:  Scars Like Wings


My November pick, with thanks to Macmillan Children’s Books via NetGalley, is also my top book of 2019:  Deeplight by Frances Hardinge.

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I have no words for how much I love this book (although I still try!) and I have been recommending it to everyone IRL and online, middle grade upwards.

Hark has many problems. He is an orphan with no money and no fixed abode. His best friend keeps volunteering him for increasingly dangerous ‘jobs’. And the gods of his world are dead; their bodies salvage on the waves.

I was immediately drawn into Hark’s edge-of-existence world, built on lies and desperation, pirates and monsters and steampunk god-bits.  The intrigues, betrayal and action had me continuously on edge and unable to stop turning the pages, and the beautiful horrors Hardinge has conjured still haunt me months later.

This is a keep-and-rereader for me; completely unforgettable yet repeatedly rewarding.

Amazon link:  Deeplight


Last, by chronology but certainly not quality, is another series whose first book, Hero Forged made it into my 2018 favourites list, and I can reveal in advance that Book 3 will certainly be on my 2020 favourites list.  Therefore it was a foregone conclusion that my December pick for 2019 would be:  Fate Lashed by Josh Erikson. 

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I strongly recommend you read the first book first in this series, as it sets up the characters and worldbuilding.

This sequel takes Gabe and Heather further into the madness of evil gods and umbral magic, as they begin a quest to find a mythical artefact before the baddies use it to end the whole world.  So, no pressure!

Our anti-heroes banter and snark their way through a series of increasingly challenging experiences whilst refusing to take their own antics seriously.

One for Dresden Files fans, Josh Erikson is up there as one of my all-time favourite authors, writing in my all-time favourite genre of urban fantasy / detective noir.

Amazon link:  Fate Lashed


Finally, I have an EXTRA SPECIAL MENTION for 2019!

In a category all of its own is Nature-Girl Vs. Worst Nightmare by Rose McKinney and J.J. Barnes from Siren Stories.

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Why is this book so special?  Well, for one, it was written by 6 year old Rose, with just a little help from her author mother J.J.

But the reason it merits its own spot on this list is that it is Minishine’s AND Babybows’ top pick for 2019!

All of us here in the Shine household, from 3 years old upwards, love this tale of Rose, Elsie, Joe and Boo – best friends who form their own superhero-in-training team called The Sparkles and come up against the terrors of Worst Nightmare and his Bad Dream minions.

Full of good lessons about friendship, facing your fears and self-belief, without being the least bit preachy, this fantasy adventure for children is a superb series starter and the small Shines are awaiting the next instalment eagerly (as are their nominated bedtime readers!).

Amazon link:  Nature-Girl Vs. Worst Nightmare


And that’s it!  13 books that had me hooked in 2019 (for a reminder of the previous six, head here).

These were just a small selection of the many, many great books I was privileged enough to read last year and I am very grateful to all of the blog tour organisers, book distribution sites, authors, representatives, publishers and fellow book bloggers for the wonderful reading year I had!

And of course, thank you to all of you – my fellow readers – for enjoying this wealth of literary riches with me.  I hope that some of my 2019 favourites make it onto your 2020 favourites lists!

Happy Reading in 2020!


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