Notable Reads of the First Half of 2019
It’s safe to say that my reading for the first half of 2019 hasn’t been great. So because trying to do a half-year wrap up would be excessive, I wanted to wrap up five notable favourites that I read over the last few months.
On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
On the Come Up follows sixteen-year-old Bri who is destined to be the greatest rapper of all-time; if she could make it out of her neighbourhood. Her dad was an underground rapper who died before he made it big; her mother has unexpectedly lost her job and bills have started to pile up. With homelessness becoming a potential reality, there is no other option than for Bri to make it. On the Come Up is described as a story of fighting for your dreams; being true to you, not what people expect of you; and the frightful realities of poor, working-class Black families.
I had been anticipating Angie Thomas’ second book ever since I finished The Hate U Give, and On the Come Up did not disappoint. One of my favourite aspects of both of her books is the relationships that she creates between family members, and how family is always one of the central themes. Bri is also a total badass, and with the journey that she goes on with her rap career, her struggles at school and the situation at home, she still retains her core values.
I went to Angie’s Vancouver event for this book, and she and her writing process always inspires me. On the Come Up is definitely one of my favourite books I’ve read so far this year, and I gave it 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.
The Diviners by Libba Bray
The Diviners follows Evie O’Neill, who has been sent to New York to live with her Uncle Will after a scandal happens at home. She hasn’t seen her Uncle Will in years, and all she knows is that he runs a museum for the supernatural and the occult. Evie is over the moon about experiencing all that is New York in 1926, the speak easys, the parties, but she’s worried that her uncle will find out that she has a secret supernatural power. But when murders start happening in the city, she realizes that she might have to come forward about her abilities to help find the killer.
I had been meaning to pick up The Diviners for so long, but I was intimidated by the hype and the size. I’m kicking myself that I waited so long because I loved this book! The roaring twenties is the perfect backdrop for this kind of paranormal story. The atmosphere is vibrant, people are looking to hop on trends and get swept away in things that they probably shouldn’t have. Evie is a tad annoying at times because she is a very self-centred character, but the rest of the cast makes up for this, and this book does a great job of setting up stories to be expanded on in the rest of the series.
Overall, I had a fantastic time reading this book, and I gave it 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.
The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu
The Red Scrolls of Magic is the first book in a new Malec series in Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunter Chronicles. This book takes place in-between City of Glass and City of Fallen of Angels where Alec and Magnus are on a European vacation, but this is thrown off the rails when a demon-worshiping cult starts causing trouble.
It’s hard to say what I liked about this book without spoiling it, but I thought that The Red Scrolls of Magic fits well into the timeline and it was a fun, fast read. Magnus and Alec are my favourite pair across the entire Shadowhunter Chronicles, and I loved what we learned about them and their relationship at this point in their story arc. I was worried I had hyped it up, but The Red Scrolls of Magic did not disappoint, and I gave it 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Daughter of Smoke and Bone follows an art student in Prague named Karou. In her sketchbooks, you’ll find drawings of monsters that ware more real than you would think. She speaks many languages, disappears on mysterious missions for Brimstone and the hair grows blue out of her head. However, she doesn’t fully know who she is and how she came to live with Brimstone, and this haunts her.
When Karou meets Akiva in Marrakesh, the truth begins to unravel, and Karou realizes that it’s more complicated and bloodier that she had realized.
This series had been on my TBR for ages—I even owned physical copies of the entire series—and I picked them up on audiobook about a month ago. Laini Taylor created a cast of intriguing characters and this book, and this series overall had great tension and pacing. There were times later in the series that I felt like I wanted to see more of the world, but I thought that Daughter of Smoke and Bone was a fantastic start to the trilogy and I ended up giving it 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.
The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
The Cruel Prince follows Jude, who was seven when her parents were murdered and she was stolen away to the Faerie High Court with her two sisters. Ten years have passed since that day, and Jude wants nothing more than to prove that she belongs in Faerie. She then gets tangled up in court politics and risks her life to save her family and Faerie itself.
I had never read a Holly Black novel before, but I knew that she was known for writing books with faeries. There was a lot of hype earlier this year about the sequel, The Wicked King, so this made me curious to pick up The Cruel Prince. This book was like candy—I flew through it and if I didn’t have other responsibilities (i.e. work) I could have totally seen myself taking the day and reading the entire thing in one sitting.
What I found particularly interesting was Jude’s relationship with Faerie. She’s human and she knows that she’s only in Faerie because her father and mother ran away together and were murdered because of it, but she still feels like Faerie is where she belongs, and she will do whatever it takes to prove this. However, as the story goes on, how she has decided she will prove herself evolves and changes based on the political schemes she discovers.
There were a couple of side plots that made me feel like I couldn’t give it the full star rating, but I still had a great time reading The Cruel Prince and I gave it 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.
That’s all for my mid-year wrap up! What are some of your favourite books that you’ve read so far this year? Let me know in the comments below.
Until next time, have a lovely rest of your day and read something awesome!