My favorite reads of 2019 (gift ideas for your bookworm friends)

by Gigi Griffis

Ho, ho, ho, happy holidays, friends. After I wrote up my gift list for travelers, I thought perhaps it would also be useful to gather up my favorite reads of the year, in case you’re picking gifts for bookworms (or gifting yourself with a book, which is always a noble choice).

So, after taking to Twitter to praise my favorites, I sat down here to give you a quick review of each.

If you’re looking for a good book, here are some winners that I read or re-read this year.

(Psst, this post contains affiliate links, which means if you purchase something through one of my links, I get a commission at no extra cost to you.)

The Raven Cycle

What do you get when you combine a girl who’s destined to kill her first love with a kiss, a magical quest, and a forest that feels like a living, breathing thing? The answer is the Raven Cycle – a four-book series that’s one of my all-time favorites.

An Ember in the Ashes

When Laia’s brother is taken by the government, she has no choice but to ask resistance fighters for help breaking him out of prison. In exchange, they ask her to pretend to be a slave and spy on the most powerful – and dangerous – woman in the empire. This series (four books – three of which are already published) is fast-paced and magical.

Wildwood Dancing

Another old favorite I revisited this year, this gorgeous story is a retelling of the fairy tale about the 10 dancing princesses who snuck away to fairyland on the full moon. It’s set in Romania and richly imagined. I cry pretty much every time I read it. 

Wilder Girls

If spooky is your jam, this one’s for you. Set in an island boarding school that’s been quarantined because of a virus that’s turning girls into monsters, the book follows three friends as they attempt to unravel the mystery of why they’re quarantined and why nobody’s showing up with a cure.

Sawkill Girls

Meanwhile, on another island, another trio of creepy teen girls is about to face off with a local monster who’s been disappearing girls for decades. 

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy

If you loved The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, I’ve got good news: the author’s second book in the series is just as fun of a romp through a world that’s part history, part fantasy. No horror here. Just a good old fashioned quest and strong, complicated female friendships.

Something Missing

When I need a break from my more dark, intense reads, this is my go-to comfort book. The story follows a home robber with OCD and a very quirky set of rules around his crimes. Instead of hitting a house and moving on, he hits the same houses over and over again, taking the last of the milk here, a spot of cheese there, and a single earring you thought you lost here. But when disaster strikes and Martin has to choose between following his rules and keeping a homeowner safe…things get complicated.

Because We Are Bad

Speaking of OCD, here’s a compelling memoir on the topic. As someone with OCD, it resonated.

And I Darken

The ultimate unlikable female protagonist, Lada’s story started with a question: What if Vlad the Impaler – the ruthless Romanian ruler said to have inspired Dracula – was a girl? I’ve read this series four or five times now and I can’t stop going back to it. If you’re looking for historical fiction that reads like a fantasy novel, this is it. (And it’s a three-book series, so you can savor it awhile.)

Speak the Ocean

In a world where mermaids actually exist and humans have (characteristically) turned them into a Sea World-style attraction, what happens when one sets out to learn English and make her trainer fall in love so that he’ll set her free? This unsettling, fascinating book takes us on that journey. 

The Butterfly Girl

Every book Rene Denfeld writes is pure magic. And the one she published this year is no exception. The story follows two important characters: Naomi – the main character from her novel The Child Finder – who is searching for her missing sister. And Celia – a 12-year-old girl who’s living on the streets and might just have the key to it all. 

Her Daughter’s Mother

When Lana sees her “anonymous” egg donor (Katya) on the streets of New York City, she does the worst thing she could possibly do: stalks and then befriends her. And when Katya goes missing, Lana may have been the last person to see her…and the person who cares most about solving the crime. I read a pre-publication version of this book and Daniela is such a captivating writer. If psychological suspense is your bag, this one’s for you.

Now, to you. Any favorite reads this year to share?

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