Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish.
Every once in a while I participate in this one when I either
1) Like the theme, and/or 2) Have the time!

This week's topic:
My Top Ten Bookish Discoveries of 2019!

Hi bookworms, it's been a while since I did a Top 10 post, but since my reading was so sporadic this past year and I didn't make an official "Best" list, I loved this topic and wanted to play along.

I definitely made quite a few interesting discoveries this past year!

In no particular order...

1) Reading Literary Fiction CAN Be Like Coming Home

I haven't read literary fiction in forever. It's like I read so much of it in school that the desire was scrubbed out of me. Honestly, I didn't even realize how intensely I missed it or how much my soul might crave it until I cracked open CIRCE by Madeline Miller. My soul was literally singing with pleasure from the rare treat! I definitely have to do this again sometime!

Plus, look how PRETTY the UK edition is:

2) This Book Was Positively Brilliant, and I STILL Can't Stop Talking About It In 2020!

This was the book I recommended more in 2019 than any other. This is the book so incredibly outside the wheelhouse I normally read in. This is one of the most brilliant books I've read in  years...and I almost never read it.

I received this at the Book Expo Conference 2018 at a panel from an enthusiastic publicist, but I didn't plan to read it. I planned to share it with a colleague who enjoyed mystery novels. Instead, it sat forgotten in a pile. When Barnes and Noble had a 50% Blow-Out sale, I remembered it (and admittedly may have had it confused with similarly titled THE SEVEN HUSBANDS OF EVELYN HUGO that everyone raves about) and decided to pick it up.

I was hooked from the very beginning. This novel is a mix of EVERY DAY by David Leviathan, Groundhog Day, and being stuck in a game of Clue. And it's utterly brilliant. I can usually figure mysteries out so fast. I thought I had this figured out less than a hundred pages in. Then I had a second theory two pages later. And nothing ever prepared me for how twisty and unique this book would be! 

It has been just about a year since I read this last January and I am still obsessed!

3) I'd Forgotten How Much I Enjoyed Books Reminiscent of THE DA VINCI CODE

I was intrigued by THE GILDED WOLVES because I enjoyed everything else Roshani Chokshi had written, but I never expected to be so invested in this book. It felt like a delicious mix that had the heart of SIX OF CROWS and the historical intensity of THE DA VINCI CODE, with the visual, ethereal descriptions of CARAVAL. I was so hooked on this world and am eagerly anticipating a sequel!

I remember reading THE DA VINCI CODE in school, and thinking I wasn't going to like it, then being caught up by all of the interesting aspects of history and the way history could actually be really interesting. I was quick to tear through all of Dan Brown's books, read other books with a similar "feel" such as LABYRINTH by Kate Mosse, but haven't read anything similar in quite some time. THE GILDED WOLVES brought back that intrigue, and combined with elements from other books I've enjoyed more recently to create a tale that completely captivated me!

4) 2019 Was the Year of Contemporary Fiction!?

While fantasy is still the genre of my heart, I read more contemporaries than any other genre this year, because they were more palatable when I was in a reading mood. There were still a few I didn't get to that everyone loved, and others that people talked about that I thought were just okay (Again, it takes me a lot longer to warm up to the genre unless it's the right book), but looking at my favorites, yeah, I definitely still have a thing for the hate-to-love trope! My favorites this year were WELL MET by Jen DeLuca, THE UNHONEYMOONERS by Christina Lauren, THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT SWEETIE by Sandhya Manon  and MAYBE THIS TIME by Kasie West.  (SWEETIE was my favorite of Menon's books yet, and I was surprised to discover that MAYBE THIS TIME was a new favorite title from West, because the set-up felt like a trope I don't always like much, taking place throughout a year, but it moved so naturally and I really loved it!)

5) It can be SCARY to read a series you LOVE. What if, years later, you hate it? But what if you fall in love all over again?

THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson is a YA fantasy near and dear to my heart, a forever favorite. I often say I would read the dictionary if Carson wrote it. But I've been SO afraid to read it again. What if I didn't love it the same way? What if the magic was gone?

With a new book set in the world, THE EMPIRE OF DREAMS, due out April 7, 2020, I knew I wanted to read the original trilogy before diving into the advance copy of the new book I was coveting. And oh, readers, I married this trilogy all over again. It was so nostalgic, and like coming home. I still love it so, so much, and am SO pleased it held up over time!

6) Seriously, what's wrong with us? Let's stop judging books by their covers in 2020!

I don't even necessarily mean that like, "This cover is ugly," because actually, in this case, it's a really awesome cover! (Although sometimes books with horrible covers are really fantastic and it's so tragic, but that's not my intent here.) I honestly never had plans to read this book. I think in my head, I was comping it to REIGN OF THE FALLEN, and I'm not really into things with necromancy, zombies, etc. And I truly thought that was what this book was going to be. TBH, I only read this because I knew the author was going to be on a panel with other authors, and I wanted to at least get a taste of it. But oh, how different it was from all of my expectations, and how deeply in love I fell with these characters and this world! Give me the sequel now, please! And to think, if it weren't for an appearance on a panel, I would have missed out and never read this one!

7) I miss the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender in more ways than one!

I mean, I knew I missed the series. Which in itself is funny, because it took me forever to truly connect with it. But I was gutted when it ended, and it felt so unfinished (I mean, that unfinished business with Zuko's mom alone!!) I know that Netflix is working on a live action reboot, and I'm tentatively excited, but I was beyond overjoyed when I heard that there was going to be a two book duopoly featuring Kyoshi, one of the most bad-ass female warriors out there. And after reading that book? Please, please, please Netflix: Let your live-action go well (And drop the animated series onto the server to stream to renew interest, especially with how well The Dragon Prince is doing). Then, when hype is all over the place again, make a new animated series featuring Kyoshi, m'kay? ^.~

8) When Something Small Can Surprise You SO Much...

This is going to be spoiler-free, but basically something super spoilers at the end took me by surprise. A few somethings, honestly. Something happens towards the climax that just....hit me in the feels and made me emotional in a way I haven't experienced since Marie Lu's Young Elites came to a close. I was happy and bereft and satisfied and hungry for more and just....every emotion all at once. Everything came together so well and played out in a way I never expected, but embraced fully and just....that's all I can say. But I was surprised in the very best of ways -- and then Marissa Meyer went and threw in just one more surprise kick on my way out the door, lol!

9) Can You Love a Sequel Series EVEN MORE Than Its Predecessor? 

I adored Mary Pearson's Remnant Chronicles. I know a lot of people couldn't get through KISS OF DECEPTION, or weren't thrilled with the trilogy's ending, but I really enjoyed that series. This year, I re-read the original trilogy and then read the new companion duology, and I loved it even more! In fact, a lot of readers who didn't enjoy the first trilogy, but gave the author and the world a second chance wound up really enjoying this one. Stakes are higher, the world is darker and grittier.... Plus, you learn so much of that history I always wanted to dig into! I tore through this series so fast, and was so glad I decided to binge everything at once, because the world was so much more multi-faceted, and I wouldn't have remembered the half of it when it came to history of the past (Not that you NEED it to enjoy it, but it was an aspect I enjoyed significantly, you know?)

10) Bad Time Management Can DESTROY You...AND You're Reading!

Quick Recap: I had been looking for original fairy tale retellings on FictionPress that were actually GOOD, and saw everyone recommending a series that had just been pulled for publication about Cinderella as an assassin. I started following the author, Sarah J. Maas, and her journey to publication. I was lucky enough to read an ARC, and read the first four novellas as they published digitally each month leading up to publication. All the fairy tale had been scrubbed from the book, and I was disappointed. I read the second book, wanting to give the series a second chance, and it didn't really hook its teeth into me until towards the very end. It was only when the third book, HEIR OF FIRE, came out, that I got truly hooked on the series. 

But I never went back and re-read those early books that I never connected with.

By the time I got to EMPIRE OF STORMS, I was like, "Who is this character?" and "When did that happen?" I knew I couldn't continue the series until I went back and re-read the early books again. I held off on reading TOWER OF DAWN when it released so I could binge the whole series when KINGDOM OF ASH dropped. When it did, my reading was dovetailing, and I never got around to reading it.

Then, the game Embers of Memory came out, and I was curious about it, but #spoilers. And THEN, Sarah was going to be at a local signing. The time had come to pull out this series again! I spent a month and a half re-reading every book in the series and then finally reading the final two books (Which are the two best-written books in the series, and I will never understand the readers who think they can just skip TOWER OF DAWN, but that's another story....)

It was definitely bad time management, though, because there were SO many signings in November and I wanted to read ALL THE THINGS, but I got super backed up because I spent September and most of October revisiting this world. I always say I want to save books and then just binge them all at once...but honestly? It's not always practical and I can't fit it in without letting everything else lapse around me! The woes of a book blogger's life, lol!

What were YOUR 2019 bookish discoveries?