#BookRecommendations 2019 in Review

2019 In Review

Welcome! Welcome!
What a time! 2019 is coming to an end and that also brings the 2010s into retirement! With such an amazing year (and decade!) coming to a close, I figured I might as well do a recap of 2019s best books and some of my best books of the decade!
So. Here. We. Go.

Best 19 of 2019:
1. Kevin Miller’s Water War & The Great Grain Elevator Incident
In 2018 I was introduced to Milligan Creek by the author Kevin Miller. Who knew this reading relationship would blossom into one of my faves?! Lucky me was able to read TWO books from this series in 2019. The Water War and The Great Grain Elevator are full of wacky shenanigans that I wish I could have got into in my childhood. If you love Harry Potter and whimsical books along those lines, pick up this book! It’s less magic but more friendly neighbourhood chaos!
The Water War: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42611727-the-water-war
The Great Grain Elevator: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/49004354-the-great-grain-elevator-incident

 

2. Cinder, Scarlett & Cress by Marissa Meyer
I ALMOST finished this series this year. Almost! This is one of my 2020 goals once I finally get my hands on Winter (which I just did when the UPS man strolled up as I was writing this post… so soon…). This fantastical fairy tale YA adaption is absolutely BONKERS. It is packed with alien craziness, technology (STEM at it’s finest!), fairy tale lore, and LOTS of romance (I’m a romance girl, fight me). I struggled with this series initially since my friends absolutely hated it, but when I finally sat down and read the book I was STUNNED. This series is addicting and definitely one of my top 2019 reads! Pick it up people!
The Lunar Chroncies, a.ka. my must read YA of 2019: https://www.goodreads.com/series/62018

 

3. Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead
Back in my teen years, Vampire Academy was on the top of my must read shelf. I re-read that series so many times I’m surprised I can’t quote the books! I knew Richelle Mead had one more adult series I hadn’t gotten my hands on yet, but when I stumbled upon Succubus Blues at a local charity book store I JUMPED ON IT. Was I disappointed? HECK NO! This urban fantasy novel is the adult version of Vampire Academy (but with a succubus, a sexy author, some sexy demons and more sex). If you loved Vampire Academy, pick this book up! It will not disappoint!
Don’t be blue, pick up this book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/235718.Succubus_Blues

 

4. For Her Own Good by Tamsen Parker
What did you expect? I WOULDN’T include one of my favourite authors on my 2019 top list? Tamsen Parker has been one of my faves for years and I was absolutely delighted to include all of her new 2019 books in my 2019 read pile. Her newest trial was a crazy sexy novel following some taboo romance and kinks. Dr. Lowry Campbell and Starla are one horribly sexy couple that break so many boundaries. And with quotes like “tongue like a whip”, this book is an absolute must from me!
If you don’t read this, I will encase you in carbonate: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/49461017-for-her-own-good

 

5. Before the Rains by Dinah Jefferies
Historical romance is a touchy subject for me, but Dinah Jefferies may have woo-ed me over to the dark side. Eliza and Jay are one incredibly cute couple in this India inspired novel. I was blown away by Dinah’s incredible writing tone and descriptions and I can’t stop talking about it! It’s the 1930s and Eliza is a photographer. She’s enlisted to take pictures of the Indian royal family, and things don’t go according to plan.. What would you do if you fell in love with a prince?! This is an absolute must read that Goodreads introduced me to!
You’ll love this book as much as me if you just give it a try: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30900820-before-the-rains

 

6. Avalon Hall by Ruth Miranda
Like Tamsen Parker, Ruth Miranda is another author I am totally obsessed with and read with pure addiction. In this book, we follow Yseult, in Scotland, who has recently discovered some magical powers. Oh, and did I mention this book has King Arthur lore all over it? It’s like Ruth wrote this book with me in mind! This series is just getting started, but it’s fantastical and action packed style is an absolute thrill. I can barely hold my excitement, especially since Ruth Miranda left us on one killer cliffhanger…
Join my round table by grabbing this book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/47842263-avalon-hall

 

7. 100 Tiny Tales by K. Kris Loomis
Ah, time for something a little different! Anthologies are one of my guilty pleasures because you get to read so many things in one collection. And then there’s K. Kris Loomis. She wrote one hundred stories with one hundred words (exactly one hundred. Get counting!). All of these bite sized fictions are so incredible (and if you haven’t heard about Flash Fiction before, you’ll be stunned – pun intended). Whether you want to binge the book like I did, or want something to keep you tied up to weeks, 100 Tiny Tales is a must read for fiction lovers!
Click this link 100 times (or not… that’s excessive): https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43526260-100-tiny-tales

 

8. Tiny House, Big Love by Olivia Dade
I love Property Brothers, which is a house building and fixing show housed on HGTV. So when I found out a twitter friend of mine had a book based on finding a home (similar to my Property Brothers addiction) I WAS IN. I’m so proud of this little book because it’s such a gem! It’s sweet, short and full of ooey gooey romance that makes me turn into a puddle! Lucy and Sebastian are the cutest friends to lovers couple that you’ll ever see! Plus, help out my indie author friends, they deserve all of the love!
Tiny Book, Big Love: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/47158436-tiny-house-big-love

 

9. Fly With Me by Hudson Lin
Another romance, Briar?! Yes! Another cutie patootie romance! Hudson Lin wrote one flawless romance featuring the flight attendants Marco and Vivian. This contemporary romance finds these two getting entangled with one another and is just too darn cute not to share! I love Hudson Lin’s writing and I love that she features characters that feel REAL. If you love romance and haven’t checked out Hudson’s books, get on it!
Read with me:https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43823638-fly-with-me

 

10. Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite
YA novels are hit and miss with me these days, but Dear Haiti, Love Alaine broke the mold! Years back in high school I had to do a presentation on Haiti, so I was more than excited to pick this book up. Ever since that grade nine project, I’ve been interested in Haiti and learning more about it. Seeing this book pop up in my local book stores made me giddy with excitement! Alaine is sent to live in Haiti due to some devastating circumstances (teenagers and their wild antics… I tell ya), and she learns a lot about her history and family values. I highly recommend this book! It’s one of the few 2019 reads I picked up twice because it’s just that good!
Dear Readers, Love Briar – read this book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41861731-dear-haiti-love-alaine

 

11. The Long, Hot Summer by Kathleen MacMahon
I stumbled upon this book by Goodreads (it’s recommendations can be absolutely amazing sometimes) and I was blown away. This miraculous story followsm ultiple generations of the MacEntrees family. There’s so much drama, big personalities, mischief and insanity that it was hard to put down! Think Big Little Lies but more comedy – it’s a definite must read from me. It’s such a shame this book barely has 60 reviews at the time I’m writing this post, because it was one stellar reads and tops my 2019 list!
Must read of the decade: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27416003-the-long-hot-summer

 

12. The Last Straw by Ed Duncan
I love a good thriller, but I rarely pick them up. Probably because romance makes my heart sing… but then came Ed Duncan. This requested review brought back the mystery and thriller genre into my life, and I was not disappointed! This is the second book in a series, but it was an easy book to jump into. When a young girl witnesses a bad carjacking, chaos ensues. A feud is brought to light and things will never be the same… If you love mysteries, thrillers and crime novels then grab this book!
This is the last straw if you don’t check out this book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36671089-the-last-straw

 

13. Peter Green and the Unliving Academy by Angelina Allsop
In 2019 I told myself I would read more middle grade and YA books, and that promise brought me many beautiful novels. Peter Green and the Unliving Academy is definitely in my top list for the year. I was floored by how magical this book was and surprised me by how much I needed a book like this in my life. In my personal, humble opinion it’s better than Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and a Series of Unfortunate Events. It tops my list with the amazing themes (friendship, family and growing up) and the fun fantasy it paints throughout the book. This book barely has 40 reviews on Goodreads, so help that book get its share of reviews! Pimp this book out my readers!
Find life in this Middle Grade Novel: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41824802-peter-green-and-the-unliving-academy

 

14. Virals by Kathy Reichs
Another YA/Middle Grade book apart of my 2019 goals: Virals. I love Kathy Reichs – she made Bones famous and Temperance Brennan was one of my teenage idols. In this book, we meet Tory Brennan (grandniece of Temperance) and her buddies. They become Virals (think of werewolves but not werewolves and demons but not demons… it’s complicated) while trying to save their town. I’ve almost finished this entire series, but it’d be a shame to only include half, so meet the introduction novel! This must read is super addicting and surprisingly a quick read (for having almost 500 pages… yup, it’s a long one but totally worth it!).
Get Exposed to this series: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17829789-virals

 

15. NYV: Goth by K.D. McQuain
This book on the list is kind of cheating. Overall, this entire series should be read but I only read the newest addition in 2019. It’s the second in the New York Vampire series but it is totally worth your time! R rated vampire drama packed with action and adventure. If you don’t become addicted to this book, I’d be surprised and disappointed! This series is dark, twisted and absolutely brutal!
Don’t make me bite you…: https://www.goodreads.com/series/182541

 

16. Yara’s Tawari Tree by Yossi Lapid
I might be an adult, but children’s books still get me feeling youthful and nostalgic! Yossi (Or Yosef) Lapid is a must read children’s author! If you’re looking to read an environmentally friendly novel that features excessively beautiful water colour pictures, this book will wow your socks off! This book is cute, light hearted and brings a smile to my face!
Picture books aren’t just for adults these days: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46373335-yara-s-tawari-tree

 

17. Nobody Gets Out of Catering Alive by Joe Montaperto
Joe’s a comedian, but my gosh does he write with style! This book follows catering (did the title give it away?) yet is super raunchy and hilarious. All of Joe’s books always knock my socks off, but this one was a real treat! If you’re looking for a memoir full of hilarity, insanity and realism, this book should be perched up on your shelf.
Comedy at it’s finest:https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46002329-nobody-gets-out-of-catering-alive

 

18. Love Comes for the Bodyguard by Savannah Adams
Ah, romance again! Yes, I’m predictable! Tyler and Brianna are a match made in heaven, but they just don’t know it. If you’re looking for a brother’s best friend trope, you’ve got it! This super sweet, super sexy and super addicting book is a must read for my romance lovers. Childhood crush tropes always get me all giddy and this book was no exception! It’s the first in a series, so you know it’s only going to get better with more books on the way! Pick up this romantic comedy with a splash of suspense, and emphasize with my addiction:
Love Comes for the Reader: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45361462-love-comes-for-the-bodyguard

 

19. The Masked Truth by Kelley Armstrong
To finish with a strong Canadian author, here’s Kelley Armstrong’s YA stand alone: The Masked Truth. This book was INSANE (pun intended). After a brutal murder, Riley is struggling with some mental health issues. Her parents put her into a group therapy camp, and things go wrong fast. The teenagers with a variety of mental health issues are taken captive and being murdered left and right. Will the teens survive? Will they get out? Is there a bigger plot going on than they know? I was stunned by how insanely fast this thriller moves and I was floored by the surprise ending. Even I didn’t figure that one out! It’s a must read from me, as always with the marvelous Kelley Armstrong.
A+ for The Masked Truth: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24733600-the-masked-truth

So, that’s it! 19 books from 2019! It was hard to pick since I read almost 200 books this year. Some of my fave 2019 books weren’t here because I felt like they deserved a bigger spot on the 2010s summary list.

Am I right? Am I wrong? Did I forget something? Let me know! There’s so many books out there I’m sure I missed some epic 2019 books I will need to put on my TBR!

#BookReview Loki’s Wolves by K.A. Armstrong and M.A. Marr

Loki’s Wolves is a truly fantastical, middle grade novel that focuses on Norse mythology.

I love Kelley Armstrong and I’ve been dying to get my hands on a novel by Marissa Marr for YEARS. So, when I heard that the two of them were writing a novel together I had to get my hands on it! On top of it all, I love a good, middle grade novel that I can sink my teeth into and not think *too* hard when reading.

Loki’s Wolves has Percy Jackson vibes, but for a little younger base. Matt Thorsen is, you guessed it, a descendant of Thor, and of course he’s the chosen one! He has been chosen to defeat a mythical serpent that will aid in the destruction of Ragnarok. Laurie and Fen are descendants of Loki, and they will join Matt on his epic quest. Along the way, they must find the children and descendants of the other Norse gods and try not to make their corresponding tales come true.

This book leaves itself on a WILD cliffhanger. I NEED to know what happens, and unfortunately for me I don’t have the next novel in my hands yet. The story does not stand alone, which is a real shame. I totally get leaving a cliffhanger so your audience wants to keep reading, but MAN I AM FRUSTRATED. The story just stopped, it didn’t end!

These 13 year old leads were shockingly like 13 year olds! Sometimes when you read a book like this, the leads act like adults. Lucky for us, Kelley and Marissa are amazing writers and were able to craft characters that felt like their age. They make silly mistakes, they trust people they shouldn’t and sometimes they are down right goofy. What more can you expect from a pre-teen cast? Especially when said pre-teens are the chosen ones who need to save the planet.

The plot itself is fast paced, full of fun surprises, and has lots of literal fun. This is a fantasy novel, so it’s not going to be some Oscar winning, realistic drama. It has monsters and amulets and silly tricks (I mean, you’ve got Loki in the title… what did you expect?). To me, I think it’s the perfect way to introduce the middle grade audience into Norse mythology. It’s a fun story with just enough mythology to make it interesting! Also, I totally binged it in a few hours. It was THAT good.

I’d highly recommend this book. Seriously, whether it’s for your middle grade readers or adults who just want to sink into a good, fun book! I loved it and I’ll definitely be continuing this series if I can ever find the sequels.

Five out of five stars!

 

Check out this book on:
Amazon.ca
Goodreads
Indigo
Kobo

 

Check out some other books you might enjoy:
#BookReview Virals by Kathy Reichs & Brendan Reichs
#BookReview The Water War by Kevin Miller
#BookReview Peter Green and the Unliving Academy by Angelina Allsop

 

Give me a shout out on Twitter if you read this review! #briarsreviews @ReviewAlholic

And like me on Facebook for more urgent updates! @BriarsReviews on Facebook

Or follow my on Goodreads: Briar’s Reviews on Goodreads

#TopBooksList Briar’s Top Fantasy Reads, Part 1

It’s time for another collection of amazing books! This time around I am focusing on books that were full of fantasy. This is only part one of my fave fantasy reads, so don’t you worry if you don’t see your favourite! Let these 10 books fill up your TBR for the time being. These books are in no certain order, but I absolutely loved all of them!

Time to get started with my elevator pitches for these sweet, sweet novels!

 

1. #BookReview You Slay Me by Katie MacAlister
I have loved Katie MacAlister since my high school years! I accidentally stumbled upon her in my local bookstore and ever since I’ve been infatuated with her novels. Her books are cute, silly, fun and full of ooey, gooey romance! This book series is my favourite of all of her books – Aisling Grey’s series! Aisling falls in love with a handsome Dragon named Drake, and hilarity ensues! If you’re looking for a fun yet fantastical novel full of romance, then this is the perfect book for you!

Find this book on:
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Kobo

2. #BookReview Bittersweet Symphony by Rebecca McNutt
Bittersweet Symphony was introduced to me by the author, fellow Canadian Rebecca McNutt. This book fell well into my wheelhouse – horror, fantasy and Canadian roots! And man, did this book not disappoint! If you’re looking for something a little darker, then following this New York set novel full of kooky occurrences will meet your expectations! If I had to pick one book to describe this book, I’d use “gothic”.

Find this book on:
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com

3. Omens and/or No Humans Involved by Kelley Armstrong
When you’re putting Kelley Armstrong on a list, it’s hard to pick just one book. I had a really hard time picking between these two books (because I absolutely love both of them) so I figured to add a “bonus” book to the list! No Humans Involved is Jaime’s story in the Otherworld universe. Women of the Otherworld is one epic series following strong, female leads who are witches, werewolves and necromancers. Jaime (the necromancer) has always been my fave and I have always been in love with Jeremy Danvers (the sexy, alpha werewolf) so I had to include it! No Humans Involved isn’t as cutesy as Katie MacAlister’s books, but it is a couple steps up on the staircase – it has lots of action, a splash of comedy, and some super sexy scenes. And then you’ve got Omens, which is a whole ‘nother ballpark. Cainsville has all sorts of weird and strange things going on, and is a little more R rated fantasy (and mystery). If you’re looking for some mystery in your fantasy novel, and something not so cutesy (but pretty dark), grab this book! I read these YEARS ago and I really need to jump back into these series soon, because I haven’t finished either and I love my fellow Canadian, Kelley Armstrong! Can you believe I missed the chance to meet her in my hometown years ago?!

Find these books on:
Amazon.ca – No Humans Involved
Amazon.ca – Omens
Amazon.com – No Humans Involved
Amazon.com – Omens
Kobo – No Humans Involved
Kobo – Omens

4. Quick Book Reviews: Menagerie by Rachel Vincent
This list is just full of my old faves! Rachel Vincent was another author I stumbled upon in my high school years (just like Katie and Kelley) and I still love her! Her Shifter series started me out, but Menagerie blew my mind! This fantasy novel involves a carnival full of strange beings. The grotesque carnival puts these human “monsters” on display, but Delilah is a little different…
I’m disappointed in myself that I never picked up the sequel yet. When I got this book in my hands, I absolutely devoured the book. I was totally obsessed and needed to read more, but my local bookstores never got a physical copy in. Rachel Vincent is an author to look out for, whether you want some good old YA novels or some super eerie or romantic adult novels! Also, she’s been super nice to me on social media so I’ll root for her everyday of the week!

Find this book on:
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Kobo

5. Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead
Add Richelle to my “discovered in high school and still loves” list! Vampire Academy introduced me to her, and Gameboard of the Gods made me truly obsessed with her. I’m still angry this series was never truly finished, but it is worth the read! This fantasy series is for adults (a step away from the YA Vampire Academy universe) and it’s absolutely insane! Religion meets fantasy meets military. Add a pinch of romance, a dash of suspense and a barrel of action and you’ve got one of my fave fantasies EVER. Maybe, just maybe, if everyone reads this book she’ll FINALLY release the last one… Maybe? Probably not. But a girl can dream, right?!

Find this book on:
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Kobo

6. #BookReview Blood by Ruth Miranda
Blood is the first book in the Blood series by Ruth Miranda, but let this book be the placeholder for the whole series. Ruth Miranda approached me to read her books, and MAN AM I SO HAPPY SHE DID. This series is absolutely R-rated wild with vampires, fantasy and magic. She’s a genius and her writing ability is insane! If you want a really dark and gruesome story that is addicting, pick this book up. It does have some touchy subjects, so it’s not for the faint of heart. It 100% deserves a spot on this epic fantasy list!

Find this book on:
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Kobo

7. #BooKReview Fast Backward by David Patneaude
Time to switch it up a little with David Patneaude’s intriguing YA. Fast Backward mixes time travel with historical fiction together when Bobby Hasting witnesses an atomic explosion. The history of Germany, bombs and the amazing intelligence of teenagers is expressed in this book. I thought it was super cool and the time travel worked really well in this book. It’s light-hearted despite being about such a touchy subject. It’s well worth the read!

Find this book on:
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Kobo

8. #BookReview – Apocalypse the Memoir by CS Oliver
Zombies. Yes, I have finally included a book about zombies on the list! Apocalypse the Memoir is a sarcastic yet wildly addicting ride through Canada. It’s R-rated, it’s gorey, and it has some hilarious one liners you wouldn’t expect in a book about zombies! The sassiness of this book is at Level 500, so all of you sarcastic little bookworms will get a real kick out of it!

Find this book on:
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Kobo

9. Quick Book Review: Asylum by Madeleine Roux
Asylum is a creepy YA novel based in, you guessed it, an asylum. What makes this book even cooler is the fact that there are pictures in the book to give you some epic visuals. The book is full of horror and it’ll keep you guessing at every turn. I loved picking this book up because it’s the perfect mix of horror without the crazy R rated content. Sometimes, you just don’t want the excessive gore.

Find this book on:
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Kobo

10. Awakened by Harley Austin
Federal agents, government conspiracies and thrills mixed with fantasy? Heck yes! This book is your typical adult thriller with fantasy entwined all throughout. If you’re looking for a book but don’t want to fully commit to a fantasy novel, then this book will give you all the thrills and more! I really enjoyed Harley Austin’s book and it’s a real treat if you want something a little different.

Find this book on:
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com

 

There you have it! 11 fantasy books to top up your TBR shelves. Have you read any of these books or authors before? Which was your favourite? What other fantasy books novels should I read and add to the lists? Also, what other lists do you want to see? Comment below and let me know!

 

Give me a shout out on Twitter if you read this review! #briarsreviews @ReviewAlholic

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#BookReview Stolen by Kelley Armstrong

11922

 

Kelley Armstrong is one of my favourite authors, and not just because she’s Canadian! Her Women of the Otherworld series has always and will always knock my socks off!

This novel follows Elena yet again, but as the title suggests – this time she is “Stolen”. This book amps up the action, making it equal (if not better) to the original “Bitten” novel. I found this book so strong as a sequel, that it was really hard not picking up the third book immediately after this one! Elena and her pack, as well as the rest of the ladies that eventually lead this series, are a force to be reckoned with! Kelley knows how to write her characters strong and passionate!

This series is definitely for adults (although, there is a YA series if you’re interested…), due to some of the brutality the story can get into. It’s not an R rated novel, but the themes are better suited for adults (some mature YA audiences could easily read it, I know I originally read these as a teenager).

I also really enjoy Elena and Clay together. Their relationship isn’t the smoothest, and it has it’s rocky moments, but they work really well together. Knowing that their relationship builds well over multiple books, I can look back and be impressed with how Kelley built them over time. The other characters and their relationships are also very strong, but these two really shine in the Elena books.

Kelley will pull you in and have you hooked almost instantly. If you haven’t read anything by her, get on it! I love this author, and she always meets my expectations and surpasses them!

If there was one series I’d highly recommend, it’s this series! It has drama, action, adventure, romance and comedy all packaged into a fantastic Canadian series! It’s well worth the read, and worth every penny I’ve spent on this series (even when I accidentally bought doubles and triples of the books, because I forgot the order…whoops!). If I did have one recommendation, try not to read this series far apart from each other. I find it’s a great binge read, because the story is so full of lore and excitement!

And if you couldn’t get enough of this series, there’s a television show based off of the book (it’s pretty close for first season, but second and third are loosely based – but it’s still incredble!).

Five out of five stars! Can I make that six out of five? No? Darn. I guess it’ll stick to five!

 

Check out this book on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11922.Stolen

Or purchase this book on: Amazon.com or Amazon.ca

 

If you enjoyed this review, why not check out another book you might enjoy? Quick Book Reviews: Menagerie by Rachel Vincent

And while you’re at it, follow me on Twitter to stay up to date with my latest reading antics! @ReviewAlholic