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  • Writer's pictureElira Barnes

My Top 10 Books of 2019

I've read a lot of books this year - 49 and counting, to be precise.

Although I have a favourite genre when it comes to books (i.e. dystopian fiction), I enjoy reading a variety of different books and it looks like this year, the genre I read the most was historical fiction. Not what I expected ...

But you're here to find out all about my top 10 favourite books of 2019, so let's dive in!

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10. How your book sells itself by Bethany Atazadeh & Mandi Lynn

This non-fiction book is a must-read for every author or aspiring author.

Bethany and Mandi are two self-published authors and in this book, which is the first in their "Book Marketing Series", they share the mistakes they made when they first published their books, what they did to fix those mistakes, and how the changes they made boomed their book sales.

Reading this before you publish your book will save you a lot of time on rectifying mistakes you could simply avoid, which is why I recommend it to all writers out there!

9. Write Through Depression by Natalie Roberts

Write Through Depression is a workbook created to help the reader take control of their depression by doing something creative - writing.

The book was not specifically designed for writers, but for anyone who needs a journal or diary to write down their struggles through depression. It has worksheets and trackers where you can write down what you are grateful for on each day of the week, a letter to your future self, a 21-day challenge on things you did well each day, and a 90-day challenge on things that made you feel good each day.

At the end of the book, there's also a list of resources such as books, podcasts, and websites that you can look up for extra help with depression.

If you struggle with anxiety and depression or know someone who does, I cannot recommend this book enough.

8. Michal's Destiny by Roberta Kagan

This is a historical fiction novel; the story opens in Siberia, 1919.

Michal is a young Jewish lady who fantasises about being with young Taavi, but she is soon to be wed to Avram, a man she will meet on her wedding day.

After a few years of marriage, terrible circumstances force Michal to leave her home and travel to the city of Berlin during the Weimar period where she will see and experience things she could never have imagined, having been a sheltered religious girl she found herself lost and afraid trying to survive in a world filled with contrasts.

Weimar Berlin was a time in history when art and culture were exploding, but it was also a period of depravity and perversions.

Fourteen tumultuous years passed before the tides began to turn for the young girl who had stood under the canopy and said “I do” to a perfect stranger. Michal was finally beginning to establish her life.

However, the year was 1933, and Michal was still living in Berlin. Little did she know that Adolf Hitler was about to be appointed Chancellor of Germany and that would change everything forever.

If you enjoy history and like to have a glimpse into what life was like during the World Wars, this is one book I absolutely recommend.

7. The Mirror Souls by Julia Scott

This is a dystopian sci-fi novel - i.e. a book in my favourite genre - so of course, it would be among my top 10!

This is set in a future where humanity is now called the Gaian race and ruled by The Avalon. The inciting incident occurs when Alana, the protagonist, receives a small teleporting device.

Nervous but curious as to where it might teleport her to, Alana takes a leap of faith that will take her on a journey to uncover secrets of The Avalon and discover Mirror Souls.

This novel has adventure and romance, plus the sci-fi element I adored, so if you're anything like me, you will definitely enjoy The Mirror Souls.

6. Children of Blood And Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

This story takes place in the land of Orisha, a re-imagined Nigeria similar to the Africa re-imagined through Wakanda in the Black Panther movie.

The new King of Orisha has stripped its inhabitants, the maji, of the magic they once possessed and killed all adults that had magic. Including Zelie's mother.

But when Zelie touches the scroll in possession of the rogue princess of Orisha, she discovers that the scroll can bring magic back to the land.

And so, with the help of her brother and their new princess-friend, they embark on a journey to bring magic back to their people... while they try to escape the King's soldiers.

This book was a roller coaster of emotions for me; there were so many ups and downs and the stakes just kept getting higher and higher.

You won't get bored reading this one!

5. The Mermaid by Christina Henry

What I loved about this book apart from the story itself, was the author's lyrical writing style; here's the synopsis from the book itself to give you a better understanding.

"Once there was a mermaid who longed to know of more than her ocean home and her people. One day a fisherman trapped her in his net but couldn't bear to keep her. But his eyes were lonely and caught her more surely than the net, and so she evoked a magic that allowed her to walk upon the shore. The mermaid, Amelia, became his wife, and they lived on a cliff above the ocean for ever so many years, until one day the fisherman rowed out to sea and did not return.

P. T. Barnum was looking for marvelous attractions for his American Museum, and he'd heard a rumor of a mermaid who lived on a cliff by the sea. He wanted to make his fortune, and an attraction like Amelia was just the ticket.

Amelia agreed to play the mermaid for Barnum, and she believes she can leave any time she likes. But Barnum has never given up a money-making scheme in his life, and he's determined to hold on to his mermaid."

Needless to say, this story is heartbreaking, so if you're an emotional type of person make sure you have a pack of tissues next to you when reading this one.

4. The Moonlit Garden by Corina Bomann

This one was very special to me because a big chunk of the story takes place in Italy, precisely in Cremona where I grew up, so it gave me all the feels!

It all begins when Lilly, who owns an antique shop in a small town in Germany, is handed a violin case by a mysterious old man who disappears immediately before Lilly can ask any questions as to why she is receiving such a precious (and expensive!) gift.

With the help of her friend Ellen and musicologist Gabriel, Lilly starts digging into the past of the violin: this takes her on travels from Germany to England, then to Italy and Malaysia to try and discover how the owner of the violin had simply disappeared nearly over a century ago.

What I loved the most about the Moonlit Garden were the descriptions of the different story settings: they were so vivid it felt like I was there.

If you enjoy historical fiction that involves digging into the past and discovering one's origins, with a little bit of romance, this book won't disappoint!

3. Daughters of the Dragon by William Andrews

This historical fiction novel is inspired by true events that occurred during WWII when the Japanese forced over 200,000 young Korean women to become "comfort women" for their soldiers.

It is the story of Jae-Hee and her sister who are forced to leave their family home to become comfort women for the Japanese Imperial Army. Before leaving, their mother gives them a comb with a two-headed dragon to protect them.

The comb didn't bring the girls much luck.

Once the war is over, Jae-Hee returns to Korea but keeps her comfort woman story a secret. Struggling to rebuild her life in the North, she moves to the South where life improves for her until her secret comes out, and she is back into poverty.

The only way to get her life back on track comes to her when she discovers the value of the two-headed dragon comb and what it means for her.

This novel portrays the strength of women, no matter what adversities we face, and Jae-Hee's courage, like that of all the comfort women who struggled through this in history, is admirable.

2. The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

This one is based on a true, heartbreaking story.

The year is 1942, and young Slovakian Jew, Lale Sokolov, is transported to the concentration camp at Auschwitz.

Lale has the ability to speak multiple languages, and because of that the Nazi soldiers make him the tattooist to mark prisoners that arrive at the camp every day.

"Imprisoned for more than two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism—but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.

One day in July 1942, Lale, prisoner 32407, comforts a trembling young woman waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm. Her name is Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her."

This book highlights the atrocities that took place in concentration camps and the hope and courage of the victims who suffered such cruelties.

This story might make you angry.

But I promise it has a happy ending.

1. The Hate U Give (THUG) by Angie Thomas

This was one of the first books I read and reviewed this year and my absolute favourite!

THUG follows the story of sixteen-year-old Starr Carter.

As a black girl living in the US, Starr is forced to face the reality of the #BlackLivesMatter movement when her friend, Khalil, is shot by a police officer, and she is the sole witness to the event.

When the media goes crazy about this incident, will Starr find her voice and fight for justice for Khalil?

Hint: she does, but not until the end of the story after she herself goes through injustices and faces discrimination from her own friends.

Other books I loved this year

The Spitfire Girls by Soraya M. Lane

Three skilled aviators determined to help win the war. Three brave women who know their place is not at home.

At the height of World War II, the British Air Transport Auxiliary need help. A group of young women volunteer for action, but the perils of their new job don’t end on the tarmac. Things are tough in the air, but on the ground their abilities as pilots are constantly questioned.

There is friction from the start between the new recruits. Spirited American Lizzie turns heads with her audacity, but few can deny her flying skills. She couldn’t be more different from shy, petite Ruby, who is far from diminutive in the sky. It falls to pragmatic pilot May to bring the women together and create a formidable team capable of bringing the aircraft home.

As these very different women fight to prove themselves up to the task at hand, they are faced with challenges and tragedies at every turn. They must fight for equal pay and respect while handling aircraft that are dangerously ill-equipped; meanwhile, lives continue to be lost in the tumult of war.

Determined to assist the war effort doing what they love, can May, Lizzie and Ruby put aside their differences to overcome adversity, and will they find love in the skies?

And then there were none by Agatha Christie

First, there were ten—a curious assortment of strangers summoned as weekend guests to a private island off the coast of Devon. Their host, an eccentric millionaire unknown to all of them, is nowhere to be found. All that the guests have in common is a wicked past they're unwilling to reveal—and a secret that will seal their fate. For each has been marked for murder. One by one they fall prey. Before the weekend is out, there will be none. And only the dead are above suspicion.

The Jinni Key by Bethany Atazadeh

She holds the key to his heart, and he wants it back.

When Arie reveals her Gift, she thinks the worst is over. But she couldn’t be more wrong. The only one who can save her now is a mermaid named Rena.

Rena is the youngest daughter of the Sea King, and she’s dreamed of the surface for years. But her first visit on her 16th birthday isn’t what she expects. She watches a Jinni fall from the sky—and chooses to save him, despite her mother’s warnings that all Jinn are evil.

Once she meets Gideon, she can’t get him out of her mind. And maybe, with a little help from Arie and some magic of her own, she doesn’t have to...

The Jinni Key is a loose “Little Mermaid” retelling. Set in a world that humans share with mermaids, dragons, and the elusive Jinn, this is not the fairytale you remember…

Midnight City by Nyla K.

On the outside, Tessa Woodrow is your ordinary, beautiful, professional working young woman in New York City. She has a great job, a killer apartment in the trendy part of Brooklyn, and a wardrobe that would make just about any twenty-seven-year-old female jealous.

Unfortunately, Tessa also has secrets, and hers happen to be much more complicated than she would ever let on to the outside observer.

Andrew James, on the other hand, has very few secrets. After all, it's hard to have them when you're a world-famous actor. When he's not busy starring in a smash-hit TV series, he spends his time in London with his wife and kids, or gallivanting around New York City with his best friend and costar.

It seems as if Andrew and Tessa are the last two people the universe would ever bring together. But clearly fate has other plans...

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley

Maia D’Apliese and her five sisters gather together at their childhood home, “Atlantis”—a fabulous, secluded castle situated on the shores of Lake Geneva—having been told that their beloved father, who adopted them all as babies, has died. Each of them is handed a tantalizing clue to her true heritage—a clue which takes Maia across the world to a crumbling mansion in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Once there, she begins to put together the pieces of her story and its beginnings.

Eighty years earlier in Rio’s Belle Epoque of the 1920s, Izabela Bonifacio’s father has aspirations for his daughter to marry into the aristocracy. Meanwhile, architect Heitor da Silva Costa is devising plans for an enormous statue, to be called Christ the Redeemer, and will soon travel to Paris to find the right sculptor to complete his vision. Izabela—passionate and longing to see the world—convinces her father to allow her to accompany him and his family to Europe before she is married. There, at Paul Landowski’s studio and in the heady, vibrant cafes of Montparnasse, she meets ambitious young sculptor Laurent Brouilly, and knows at once that her life will never be the same again.


Have you read any of these books? What were your thoughts?

Let me know in the comments below.

I hope you've found some books to add to your TBR for 2020!

I have a printable reading list template you can grab here


Join The Write Space Forum to start your own conversation.

You can also join my Facebook group, The Write Community, and chat over there.


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