Kate's Top 5 of 2019

You’ll notice I am posting half the books Beth posted. She reads more than I do. She also reviews more than I do because she’s an objectively better blogger. In my defense, this year I did move to the other side of the US and start a new job. But, we all know that even without that, Beth still would have read more and reviewed more.

Thus ends the confessional/self-flagellation portion of this Top 5.

This year really feels like five years sandwiched together. So, when I went to look to see what I’d read this year, I was surprised that the books from earlier this year were read this year. Insanity. But, three of them still made the Top Five!

  1. Circe by Madeline Miller. Oh, man, this book. I loved it so much. I loved Circe’s voice, I loved her as a character, I loved the soft tone of the novel. The writing was so good. Ugh, more tales like this, please.
  2. Early Riser by Jasper Fforde. I read this this year. I can’t believe that was this year. I liked this bit of speculative fiction, even if I have some reservations about some of the biology. What if humans hibernated? Well, Jasper Fforde has a possible answer. This is a fun book.
  3. Firebug by Lish McBride. I ripped through this selection for my Pop Culture Homework Assignment. Absolutely shredded it. It is the tale of a woman that can start fires. She works for a vampire! What could go wrong? Many, many things and I loved the story woven around them.
  4. Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto. This book about sadness and loss and relationships and home and life was… *chef’s kiss*. So good! And, it’s not very long, so get out there and read it, people! I suspect that there will be more reading of Banana Yoshimoto books in my future.
  5. An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson. Another book I read in the first half of the year. I also tore through this one. The characters were great, the central conflict was interesting and compelling. The writing was good. I’m interested in what Rogerson does next.

Wow, folks, that’s it. That’s 2019. I’m a little flabbergasted this year is over!

Are you Looking for a Challenge?

Well, we have them! Reading challenges for the young and old! Reading challenges to get you out of your comfort zone! Reading challenges to feel challenged!

  1. Diverse Stacks, Diverse Lives Challenge: This is a challenge with three sub-challenges to get you reading about different subjects, in different genres, and in different kinds of media. You could even cheat a little and count books for multiples in this challenge
  2. Diverse Authors, Diverse Lives Challenge: This challenge focuses on authors. Is it time for you to read new people? Well, this challenge might help!
  3. Diverse Narrators, Diverse Lives Challenge: This challenge focuses on the characters in your stories. Find yourself only reading about dukes or young men on quests? Well, we challenge you to try something new!

Review: An Enchantment of Ravens

I finished this book in January’s 24 in 48. And, it was so good. Why am I just reviewing it now? So I can link to it in my Top 5.

This novel is the story of a woman painter, Isobel, who is patronized by fairies. She paints portraits and is always very careful about what she does and what she asks for as payment. That is, until she meets Rook. Then, as it happens in fantasy novels, they get a little close, they get a little familiar, the portrait makes Rook’s people question his authority and then! Bam! Action! Conflict! Excitement!

I really enjoyed this novel. I liked Isobel as a character so much. I liked Isobel and Rook’s relationship. I liked the outside characters enforcing the bs that drove the central conflict. This was a really fun book and I look forward to reading more from Margaret Rogerson.

Quick Review: Welcome to Nightvale

Welcome to Nightvale! A friend made a reference to this and I did’t get it and she was very surprised that I had never listened to the podcast…well, now I’ve listened to this first book. And, it was fun! And, weird. Sooo weird. But, I’m into it. This was a little mystery, I think that’s how you would describe it, set in a town called Nightvale but might be Fox Mulder’s wet dream of a town. Time is weird, people disappear, not everyone seems to age, you have to be careful of lawn flamingos. This was a fun little book. I recommend it, if you also like weird books.

Review: The Plot to Betray America by Malcolm Nance

Remember, 3,000 years ago, when Larry Wilmore told Milo Yiannopoulos to fuck off? Well, Malcolm Nance was also on that episode of Real Time with Bill Maher. Crazy, right?

Anyway, this book turned out to be a really timely read as it is about Russia, the 2016 US elections, hacking, foreign interference in American politics, and the first family. You know, the people getting patents in China while also working in the White House and shooting endangered sheep. I’m glad I read it because it gave a lot of detailed background on things (like the FBI investigation Crossfire Hurricane) that have been popping up in the news lately. So, if you’re looking to go into Christmas armed to do battle against your conspiracy-theory-believing Uncle (understanding, of course, that a lot of cognitive research notes that “just presenting people facts” is not a particularly effective way to change people’s minds. I know, humans! Why are we like this?!), then this is the book for you. If you’d like a very clearly laid out description of Russia and their involvement in the 2016 elections, I also recommend this. If you’re teetering on the edge of “fuck it” or “burn it all to the ground”, then give this one a pass.

Review: Seared by Suleikha Snyder

Seared by Suleikha Snyder. A Master Chefs romance

So, this is a romance I finished in January…. I know. I am the worst blogger ever and Beth keeps this place afloat. Feel free to roast me in the comments and on twitter. Now, we review!

Naya and Lachlan and step-siblings who have been kept apart by his domineering father. Lachlan is a famous chef. He’s won the awards, had a hot and trendy restaurant in New York, has the TV show and is known for his take-no-shit style of kitchen management. Naya and Lachlan want to be together, but can they be together now that his father is dead? The intrigue! The questions! The insanely steamy romantic interludes!

So, I picked this up because I had just read Tikka Chance on Me, which was so good and hot and cute and exactly what you’d want in a romance. I also really like Suleikha Snyder’s twitter and ig accounts, so I wanted to support an author and content creator I like. I was a little worried about this book because step-siblings in love/lust kind of creeps me out, but that’s just me, no judgement. And, this is heavy D/S, which…meh. But, this book was great. I wanted to know what happened next and I wasn’t mad about all the sexy bits. Not mad at all. They were great. (Which is a huge part of why you read romance on the more erotic end of the spectrum, right? I’m not alone in that, right?) Anyway, this was great and I will definitely read more things by this author.

Review: Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto

So, I finished reading this book in May. It’s the only book for Asian Lit Bingo that I finished in time to actually put on my bingo card. Then, I started writing this review at the end of June. I’m now finishing it. What the heck is wrong with me? (I mean, aside from the second half of the year being very busy.)

This is an amazing book. It’s a quiet book and a warm book and a heartbreaking book. It was really, really beautiful. The prose was really, really beautiful. It opens with narrator Mikage trying to figure out what to do next now that her Grandmother, who was the last of her family, has passed away. The utter sense of loss, both at the loss of her Grandmother and the loss of what one should be doing, felt so real. Mikage finds that she doesn’t want to leave the kitchen. She’s taken in by Yuichi, who knew and cared about her Grandmother, and Yuichi’s mother Eriko. As she gets her life back together, she spends a lot of time in that kitchen. She then quits school to work in a kitchen. There were so many kitchens in this book and they reminded me of many kitchens (like the one I was sitting in when I started this review and the one I’m sitting in now as I finish it).

Anyway, I loved this book, and I think if you like quiet books about life and love and loss, you’ll love this book, too.