It’s that time of year where we get to be a little extra ✨judgmental✨
I’m just kidding! That’s all times of year for me.😌
Okay okay, shhh…I am kidding. See, I started a little habit of listing my top 10 highly anticipated books for a year and then analysing whether they were everything I dreamed! These are usually books I’ve self-hyped up too. I’ll see a blurb or a cover at the beginning of the year and be like “YES THIS THE ONE I WILL PINE FOR TILL I DIE” because I’m just that dramatic.
Although the honest truth is I’m trying to put less expectations on books. I feel like I pin wild hopes and dreams on a book when I’ve read like, one line of the blurb, and then often it’s “not what I thought” and my mood plummets. I don’t feel I’m being fair on books by making them match up to these super high expectations that no one knows about but me. 😂 So a goal for my reading these days is: appreciate books for what they are not what I wish they were.
But I mean. I still also have expectations. (But I TRY to be fair.)
Anyway let’s get to it!
Here are 10 books I was super keen to read in 2019…and now here are my expectations vs reality judgements for them!
I also am using more christmas banners because I’m just THAT FESTIVE. Be warned, I’ll put a santa hat on. I’ll wear a single elf ear. I will whittle a candy cane into a point and stab—
< error while blogger googles christmas spirit and realises there is not supposed to be stabbing >
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Now if you know me at all, you’ll know I’m
ABSOLUTELY AND THOROUGHLY IN LOVE WITH THE WORDS OF MAGGIE STIEFVATER rather fond of Maggie Stiefvater’s writing and have straight up pledged my soul to The Raven Cycle. Ronan (messy, chaotic, magical, angry, likes soft birds) is my favourite character. So knowing his own spin-off trilogy was coming out? I cry and die waiting.
expectations → Um, perfectly 1000% met. I’ve never been let down by a Stiefvater novel !!!!! This was so peculiar and whimsical, lush and fantastical. Full of artists! And creators! And brotherly angst! And MURDER. So yes, it was perfect and I’m obsessed.
This is an anthology, but it’s a foodie anthology. All by diverse authors, writing their cultural dishes, in genres of fantasy and contemporary and murder and horror or crime. GAH! NEED. As soon as I heard about it, I just wanted it to be everything. I pined away for release. But I was also nervous because I’ve never read an anthology I really loved? A like 10K story isn’t enough for me to really feel things.
expectations → Oh it was solidly good, and I attribute this fully to writing about food. How can you write about food and go wrong?!? It made me so HUNGRY. And every short story was connected and all set on the same foodie street. Basically every story I would take a full-length novel of. And I will also take a magical pastry, please and thank u.
Another short story collection! All set in the Shadowhunter world of course. And I was extra-hyped for this because I thought it’d be mostly centred on Kit and I was also massively pleased we were getting two Clare releases (this and Red Scrolls of Magic!)
expectations → Ok so my expectations were misplaced and it was mostly about Jem. It went through several decades as he looks for the lost heir. It has cameos from lots of old fave characters, backstories from previous series, and sneak-peeks of what content will be in Chain of Gold next year. I liked it! But I didn’t love it? The story about Will/Tessa’s kids freaked me out because there were SO MANY (Gabriel and Gideon’s kids are there and I can’t even still remember which of them married Sophie or Cecily?!) and I’ve never been so so lost and confused. 😭So I really hope Chain of Gold introduces everyone slowly and thoroughly because I GOT NO CLUE.
Back in 2017, Caraval was on my list too!! So of course I was dying for the conclusion to this epic trilogy of mischief and mayhem, dark magic and escaped gods. 😍It’s pretty much one of the best fantasy series of my heart. Anyone who says “the best villains are the ones we secretly like” knows me truly.
expectations → MAGICAL and BRILLIANT! It surprised me in the plot department, and I spent half the book feeling like Scarlett didn’t need to narrator. Or be there. I am so sorry, Scarlett. It also didn’t have as much Legend content as I wanted. However. It was still magical and such a wickedly gorgeous feast of games and intrigue. I’m still so so happy with it, even if left me wanting things in a few areas!
An Anastasia retelling but with magic!!! I also really love Nadine Brandes, she’s always kind and encouraging online, and her book (Fawkes) last year was lovely too. So expectations were high and…
expectations → well met!! It’s my favourite Brandes book now 😭and it fully caught the devastation and unfairness of the Romanov family’s history, plus added in magical twists and sibling bonds to adore. I also felt the disability rep (of Alexei who had severe haemophilia) was really lovingly done too. ALSO MAGIC.
Okay I had weird expectations for this one 😂In that I really really loved the author’s Aru Shah book, but I was a bit confused in The Star Touched Queen. So I was all snatching this one up and anxiously turning pages, whispering “I want to love this I want to love this…” I mean a HEIST set in historical Paris! With a group of rich and lovely misfits! YES.
expectations → It’s like my expectations WERE met because I loved it (like Aru!) and was confused (like Star Touched!) so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ In all honesty, I have no idea what the plot was and the biblical based magic system just left me “????” But I loved the characters. I loved the aesthetics. I loved how the ending left me screaming.
Another spin-off series that I’d longed for for YEARS! Here comes Nikolai’s own duology! It’s set after the Grisha series and Six of Crows. (Okay people say you can read it without having read other Grisha books first? You can’t. Don’t eat those lies.) And it’s split between Nikolai being a monster and Nina poking about in the snow on some mission.
expectations → Look, I loved it. It sort of met with a dismal popped balloon whine in the community, I felt. And I do understand why a little bit. Nina’s story felt misplaced and without the weight of Nikolai’s. But I think it’ll tie in later? And it’s hard to ship Nina with anyone because 😬obvious spoiler reasons. Nikolai’s chapters were everything and I forever love monster-boy storylines.
It’s an #ownvoices Chinese-inspired fantasy story about a girl who disguises as her brother to be an imperial tailor. she ends up having to prove herself by sewing dresses from the sun, moon, and stars!! This is the perfect mix of whimsy, mythology, and epic fantasy adventure so I was hYPED. Also have you seen that cover though. 😍
expectations → Met!! Exceeded!! I so loved this! It was everything I wanted in a fantasy, but I didn’t expect it to have the most delicious hate-to-love romance full of divine banter and quips that had me snort-laughing through my copy. Maia and Edan so quickly became one of my favourite ships of 2019!!
When I first read Carry On I was so so dubious for the first 100pgs. I sat there squinting, like, “Is this meant to be a Harry Potter rip off?” but then it became SO MUCH MORE and thus I fell in love, truly and deeply. And then we were left hanging for the sequel for FOUR FREAKING YEARS. ಠ_ಠ Thx for that trauma, Rainbow Rowell. Anyway, sequel came and obviously 4 years is a lot of time to be hyped!!
expectations → Yessss I loved it!!! Magical roadtrip! The only thing that wasn’t met in my expectations was Simon and Baz being a power couple, because they were busy being a Traumatised PTSD couple. In retrospect, I also appreciated this? Because the book was whimsical and fun and hilarious — but also talked about PTSD and being an ex-child-soldier. It was so sad at times 🥺but I also loved loved loved it!
I left this till last so I can fit in the most longest SCREEEEEEEEEEEAM because that was my level of anticipation for this finale. We shouldn’t have even had this book in 2019?!? It was a 2020 release but brought forward by 2 months and, gah, thank you bookish universe for this gift. I am still screaming into my hands. I really really wanted it to end up okay? Like Cardan and Jude could stab each other a little, but also please kiss. (I realise I’m not into super tragic endings anymore.)
expectations → IT WAS AMAZING AND I LOVED IT AND I ALSO FELT MY HEART EXPLODE. Thrice. The pacing was so wild! 300-pages and you do not get to breathe. I just holed up in my room and devoured it (only pausing to take an obsessive amount of photos). But it was stressful and satisfying and sad and absolutely beautiful. I had such a hangover and I’m still over here !!! obsessing over Cardan (best soft arc) and Jude (best stabby arc). My adorable disasters.
| what about you? |
alright tell me the books you were SO hyped for this year!! did you love them?!