by Kris & Nisha Vyas-Myall
We are coming to the end of another year and there so many books we loved. Some we got to review, some we did not. As such here is a round-up the top books we read in 2019:
Adult Novels & Novellas
Terra Nullius by Claire G. Coleman
A brilliant exploration of European colonialism through the lens of an alien invasion. Dark and multi-layered read that is thoroughly rewarding.
All City by Alex DiFrancesco
A far too overlooked debut novel from this year, exploring what happens when a superstorm hits New York. DiFrancesco has a great gift for character and I will watch their career with much interest going forward.
This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone
From one of the most overlooked to one of the most acclaimed books of 2019. A truly beautiful novel that has so much depth and emotion written to its pages.
Deep Roots by Ruthanna Emrys
Winter Tide was my favourite book of 2017 and so I was both excited and trepidatious about a follow-up. Moving the action to post-war New York allows for an in-depth exploration of immigrant life in America and shows why Emrys is one of the most skilled writers in the field today.
The Gilda Stories by Jewelle L. Gómez
An absolutely amazing story of black queer vampires from slavery to the future allowing us to see an intersectional history of America whilst also being a beautiful character piece.
The Outside by Ada Hoffmann
I started reading this on the plane journey back from WorldCon and I literally could not put it down until I finished it. Tense, awe inspiring and just a real work of genius.
The Last Supper Before Ragnarok by Cassandra Khaw
The final instalment in the great Rupert Wong series, our favourite cannibal chef. This expands the story to America and takes on Lovecraftian deities. An exquisite finish.
The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
A worthy winner of the Hugo Awards, an alternative history of the space programme where Washington DC is wiped out and the Earth must be evacuated, so it is up to women scientists and pilots to get the job done.
The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang
A brilliant work of epic fantasy and bildungsroman based around the history of China. What I found most impressive is that Rin is allowed to make poor decisions and we can understand why she does these things which have such disastrous consequences.
Shadowplay by Laura Lam
The second instalment of the Micah Grey trilogy, which is just as captivating as the first. Funny, tearful and exciting.
The Fairy’s Tale by F D Lee
This book is massively underrated. It’s the literary equivalent of a painting which appears twee and cute on first glance but, the more you look, the more you see the creepy faces and vines covered in blood and thorns.
The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas
A great look at the time travel genre in an innovative way with a real focus on relationships. An overlooked gem.
The Memory Police by Yōko Ogawa (trans.by Stephen Snyder)
A haunting work of science fiction in translation which takes the over-worn dystopian genre and gives it a new twist looking at the power of memory and how we imbue objects with meaning.
Doctor Who: Set Piece by Kate Orman
I have been rereading the Virgin Doctor Who novels in order and I found new appreciation for this one. Tying off Ace’s journey and pulling in elements from the books and TV series since Dragonfire to create a joyful parting where we see the characters and series grow up.
Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente
I read this on the grounds that it was Eurovision in space, and whilst this is that, it is so much more. As well as a smorgasbord of imagination it is also a beautiful tale of the value of vulnerability and emotional honesty.
Sabrina The Teenage Witch Vol 1, Written by Kelly Thompson, Art by Veronica Fish, Colouring by Andy Fish, Lettering by Jack Morelli
Kelly Thompson is one of our favourite comic book writers today and to find her doing a Sabrina series was a must-read. This does not disappoint, mixing her trademark humour with a real understanding of people and reverence for character’s history. Plus supported by excellent artwork from the rest of the team.
On A Sunbeam by Tillie Walden
I admit I had not heard of this until the Hugo Awards nominations, but it is truly an amazing work combining beautiful art and a tale of great relationships.
Short Fiction Collections
How Long ’til Black Future Month? by N. K. Jemisin
Jemisin is rightly considered one of the best writers in the world right now and it is only proper she got her short fiction finally collected to showcase her talents in this medium.
No Man of Woman Born by Ana Mardoll
A brilliant collection of short fantasy stories being used to explore trans and non-binary gender identities.
New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color, Ed. by Nisi Shawl
Nisi Shawl has put together a collection of some of the most talented people in the speculative fiction field to write great tales, all of which I am sure will continued to be discussed for years to come.
Ambiguity Machines and Other Stories by Vandana Singh
An absolutely incredible writer of short fiction collection some her best short stories here. An excellent way to discover her work.
Young Adult & Middle Grade Novels
Where the River Runs Gold by Sita Brahmachari
A dystopia with family, love and neurodiversity right at the centre. It’s aimed at a preteen audience but doesn’t shy away from themes akin to 1984 and The Hunger Games.
Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta & Cori McCarthy
The start of a science fictional take on the Arthurian myths which is fun, smart and filled with great action. The second part is scheduled to come out in 2020 and I can’t wait.
Not Your Sidekick by C. B. Lee
A series I had been hearing about for the last few years and so glad I finally read it. Manages a beautiful balancing act between teenage superheroics, warm and fuzzy relationships and dark social commentary.
A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna
A story about family, secrets, politics and Hindu mythology, all set in space. The story is emotive, enthralling and surprising.
So that is a wrap for 2019. Hope you all have a happy new year and 2020 brings you many great books!