I know, I know, it's a little late. I usually get these out BEFORE the new year, but hey, as usual my excuse is that I've been busy. But really! I only just got back into the country on the 21st, and from there I had a lot of Christmas things to participate in. This is the soonest I could get around to writing this, sorry. I'm also vastly behind on reviews which probably means I'll never actually review all the books I read in between because 1. that's just too many and 2. the ones I read a long time ago I couldn't go into too much detail about anyway. So if you're interested in any reads or what I may or may not have thought about them, I'd advise checking out and perhaps friending me on my goodreads (anjicooper), because that I keep pretty updating on what I'm reading and rate things there.
As usual, I like to title this article the "best stories" because I like to include not only books, but also the movies and TV shows I watched this year-- stories. Usually I use the year as well (17 best stories of 2017) but that's just going to get harder as the years go on and then some might be there that might not even deserve to. So now I'm just going to write about what comes to mind, no matter how many or how few. I should also mention that these are in no specific order, meaning that none of these have more priority than the others.
Alright here's the list-- in no particular order.
Fantasy/Action Novels (AKA Anything That's Not Contemporary Romance)
Books 2 & 3 in the utterly intriguing and gut-wrenching Folk of the Air trilogy... Wow the time between these two books felt so long that I didn't even realize they came out in the same year until I went back through all the books I read throughout 2019. And let me just put it out there that I'm thoroughly impressed with Holly Black that she was able to put out not one, but two phenomenal books in one series in the same year. Thank you Holly for not making us wait another whole year to find out what happened after that terrible, terrible cliffhanger at the end of the Wicked King! And yeah, sorry that's a bit of a minor spoiler because the Wicked King does end in a cliffhanger, but hey, it's the second book in a trilogy, obviously it's going to end in a cliffhanger. Honestly, both these books were just such a ride to read. If you have yet to pick this series up-- starting with the Cruel Prince-- PLEASE TRY IT! If you're inclined towards anything remotely fantasy or enjoy books with court intrigue, wit and guile, the Folk of the Air trilogy is most definitely the series for you! I don't want to say any spoilers in case you haven't read these books yet... but they are utterly brilliant I promise you. Jude is a human living in a Fae world-- and while that may seem like a disadvantage, she works it in her favor. She doesn't need the fae powers to be an all time badass. Not only is she a skilled fighter, but she's also extremely clever. One of the most powerful players at court.
Then there's Carden-- and I'm not going to say much on him because if you haven't started the series I don't want to spoil it but... He's a great character, very intriguing. He's cunning, but not a big fighter... I would just like to point out that I quite enjoy the typical stereotypes on their heads by making Jude the badass warrior and Carden, well, not.
I cannot rave enough about how much I truly love these books. Each one gets better than the previous novel. The character and plot development is phenomenal... I've never read anything quite like this series.
Anyway, here's the synopsis for the first book in this series if you're at all interested:
Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.
And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.
Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.
To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.
As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.
Despite my complaints about this novel, it still was utterly phenomenal. I adored it, but the book just didn't hold up to my Cassandra Clare Final Book Standards, but compared to normal book standards this book still would be considered to be excellent. It's classic Cassandra Clare, full of sarcasm, humor, plenty of action and intrigue and of course, a healthy dose of romance on top of all that. My biggest issue was that this novel didn't feel much like a conclusion as it set up so much, but as I keep saying, otherwise it was a very fun ride.
Again, this book falls solidly into the fantasy category, though I suppose there's a bit of the urban fantasy element in it as it's set in modern day.
It's the final novel in the Dark Artifices Trilogy, which, if you're interested might want to check out my review for the first book.
And it's the (now second) most recent addition into Clare's absolutely remarkable Shadowhunter Chronicles. In fact, if you haven't read any of those I would definitely recommend them! They're one of my favorite series. The Infernal Devices & The Mortal Instruments are utterly iconic, definitely check them out!
It would seem that 2019 really was the year for final books, because here we have another one. Finale, the third and final book in Garber's enchanting Caraval Trilogy. We've been sucked in by the magic both in the story and in Garber's writing since the very beginning, and here we finally get to see how the story and the characters' lives wrap up. It was truly a fun ride, and a series I would recommend to anyone who likes fantasy and magic (which is obviously something I'm very into since the first four entries on this list have all been fantastic fantasy novels). These books, especially the first couple really play games with your mind and make you think-- or at least try to figure out what is real and what is not... If you have yet to pick up Caraval (Book 1) please do! I adore it.
Here's the first entry on this list that I wouldn't have predicted in 2018-- the other three are ones that I would've guessed might be here since they're in series that I love but this one? I didn't even know existed until I happened to stumble across it in Barnes and Noble. And wow, I am so glad that I happened to pick it up. This is an author that I had never even read a book from before, but it absolutely blew me away. You know how loose fairytale retellings are all the rage right now? Well, Stain falls right in that category, but it's not any of the commonly used tales-- cinderella, beauty and the beast, the little mermaid. Nope, Stain uses the Princess and the Pea for its inspiration, a much more badass and tough Princess and the Pea, but it still manages the capture the magic and enchanting aspect of a fairytale.
Stain is set in a fantasy world where one kingdom in the past was split into two. Now the two kingdoms are day and night, and they have been at war for as long as anyone can remember. But now may be the time for the two to come back together, after all, the beginnings of the prophecy have started to be fulfilled. A night princess was born to the day royalty and a day prince was born to the night royalty. All they have to do is come together to fulfill the prophecy and rejoin the two kingdoms... Except it can never be that easy, can it? When you throw in an evil stepmother and stepsisters, along with a lot of magic as well as nefarious creatures? Definitely not an easy task.
The writing and tone are magical, really truly feeling like you are reading a fairytale, and not just some modern rendition. I can't emphasize enough how much I loved this book. Please, please read it!
Here's the real synopsis:
"Once upon a nightmare, her fairy tale begins...
This high-fantasy gothic fairytale, inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s The Princess and the Pea, is set in an alternative medieval world split apart by magic. To win back her kingdom of perpetual day, save her night prince, and reunite the sun with the moon, a princess incapable of speech or sound must prove herself everything a traditional princess is not: tough enough to sleep on a bed of nails, and loud enough to be heard without a voice."
The long awaited book we all always knew we needed, but never thought we'd actually get. AH. I cannot emphasize enough how utterly perfect this novel was. Look, if you were a fan of the Legend Trilogy, you knew you needed this book. Champion (book 3) definitely was not the conclusion we all wanted or needed. This is that conclusion, picking up several years after the epilogue of Champion. Not only does it follow Daniel, but it also really introduces us to Eden, Daniel's younger brother who drove much of the plot of the Legend trilogy. And of course, our darling June also is involved in the plot. I can't say much without spoiling the Legend Trilogy, but all I can say is that this book was perfect. We all knew we needed it, and if you know what I mean, you know what I mean. Utterly fantastic, work of art, beautiful, perfect novel.
If you don't know then, well, lucky you! You can start the Legend Trilogy and get to read this darling 4th book without having to wait years and years for the conclusion we all needed.
Oh look! Another conclusion, shocking. Supernova is the third and final book in Marissa Meyer's Renegades. It's fantasy, but also a bit of a mixture of dystopian and just plain out a superhero novel series. But what makes this series fun is that the superheroes aren't necessarily the good guys-- following between two perspectives, both young prodigies for opposing sides: the heroes and the villains this series puts a spin on some stereotypical ideas and brings up some very interesting ideas all while being fun and intriguing reads as well. Supernova was a very fun conclusion, all the secrets kept between the characters came to light-- it was everything I could've hoped for. If you enjoy the whole superhero trope definitely check these books out! They have everything: action, romance, intrigue, and what's the fun if there isn't a little deception involved too?
Contemporary Romance Books
This has to be the most rom-com type of book that I've ever read. I mean seriously, it takes place in Hawaii, and has a hate-to-love relationship. Lots of bickering and unrealistic situations but that's what makes this book so much fun and such a rom-com. If you like the rom-com movies, I would definitely recommend trying this book out! The relationship is so much fun, as is the read. This is definitely one of those light happy reads that'll have you laughing out loud and swooning. The best kind of rom-com that there is. I definitely couldn't recommend this one more. It was my first Christina Lauren novel and I have now read almost every single one of their books-- if that isn't telling, I don't know what is. READ IT!
Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.
Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.
Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of... lucky.
Oh look! ANOTHER Christina Lauren book made it on my list. Shocker. While the other novel is very rom-com, light and happy? This novel... This one is another whole category. All I can do to describe Love and Other Words is that it really hits on a deeper level. Not only did the story resonate with my soul, but it also, just, wow. I can't even describe how much I absolutely adore this book. The relationship depicted is one that is just so deep and moving that I-- I'm so sorry! There are just no good words go to describe it. You're just going to have to read it. The relationship is so much more than just a light-hearted romance-- it's more than a friendship too. You get to see the relationship and the bond build between the two main characters, and you really grow attached and grow to love both of them and what they have between them. It's a beautiful relationship and a beautiful book. I couldn't praise this book more-- it's become one of my all-time favorites and I don't even know how many times I've reread it at this point.
Love and Other Words is told over two time frames: the present and the past. In the present Elliot and Macy haven't seen each other in the last 10 years, why? That's what we all want to find out. In the past, we get to see Elliot and Macy meet, and watch them become best friends, and see how that grows into something more... and then find out why it all blew up. I cannot praise this book more. Just read it. It's perfect. It's beautiful. It's everything.
The story of the heart can never be unwritten.
Macy Sorensen is settling into an ambitious if emotionally tepid routine: work hard as a new pediatrics resident, plan her wedding to an older, financially secure man, keep her head down and heart tucked away.
But when she runs into Elliot Petropoulos—the first and only love of her life—the careful bubble she’s constructed begins to dissolve. Once upon a time, Elliot was Macy’s entire world—growing from her gangly bookish friend into the man who coaxed her heart open again after the loss of her mother...only to break it on the very night he declared his love for her.
Told in alternating timelines between Then and Now, teenage Elliot and Macy grow from friends to much more—spending weekends and lazy summers together in a house outside of San Francisco devouring books, sharing favorite words, and talking through their growing pains and triumphs. As adults, they have become strangers to one another until their chance reunion. Although their memories are obscured by the agony of what happened that night so many years ago, Elliot will come to understand the truth behind Macy’s decade-long silence, and will have to overcome the past and himself to revive her faith in the possibility of an all-consuming love.
Love, loss, friendship, and the betrayals of the past all collide in this first fiction novel from New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Christina Lauren
From Lukov with Love by Marianna Zapata
I'm sorry. I'm a sucker for a good hate-to-love relationship, as fairly well depicted on this list. This is one of those stories and wow, it was a great read. A lot of fun, and like all the books on this list-- the relationship is so much bigger than just the romance, there's also friendship, a little bit of rivalry, and everything in-between. From Lukov with Love is a great novel. It's filled with humor, a compelling plot and a cast of very lovable, easy to grow attached to characters. Another thing that makes this novel so much fun? The two main characters are figure skaters, and what brings them together is their competitive drive.
Zapata is famous around the romance book lover community. I've read a few of her books this year, and this by far is my favorite.
If someone were to ask Jasmine Santos to describe the last few years of her life with a single word, it would definitely be a four-letter one.
After seventeen years—and countless broken bones and broken promises—she knows her window to compete in figure skating is coming to a close.
But when the offer of a lifetime comes in from an arrogant idiot she’s spent the last decade dreaming about pushing in the way of a moving bus, Jasmine might have to reconsider everything.
Including Ivan Lukov.
Here's another famous chick-lit author, and I finally got around to trying one of her novels. Again, I've read a lot, A LOT of her books at this point, and I've Got Your Number Still Remains to be my all time favorite by her. It's cute, the back-and-forth is priceless. I love the characters and the set up, it's like a rom-com and the read is a whole lot of fun.
I’ve lost it. :( The only thing in the world I wasn’t supposed to lose. My engagement ring. It’s been in Magnus’s family for three generations. And now the very same day his parents are coming, I’ve lost it. The very same day! Do not hyperventilate, Poppy. Stay positive :) !!
Poppy Wyatt has never felt luckier. She is about to marry her ideal man, Magnus Tavish, but in one afternoon her “happily ever after” begins to fall apart. Not only has she lost her engagement ring in a hotel fire drill but in the panic that follows, her phone is stolen. As she paces shakily around the lobby, she spots an abandoned phone in a trash can. Finders keepers! Now she can leave a number for the hotel to contact her when they find her ring. Perfect!
Well, perfect except that the phone’s owner, businessman Sam Roxton, doesn’t agree. He wants his phone back and doesn’t appreciate Poppy reading his messages and wading into his personal life.
What ensues is a hilarious and unpredictable turn of events as Poppy and Sam increasingly upend each other’s lives through emails and text messages. As Poppy juggles wedding preparations, mysterious phone calls, and hiding her left hand from Magnus and his parents . . . she soon realizes that she is in for the biggest surprise of her life.
Apparently this novel is a cult-classic favorite-- one that's so popular that it's being made into a film. Guess what? Yup. This one is also a hate-to-love relationship... Except it never truly is hate, more like... tension? I suppose you'll just have to read the book to find out. Like I've said for most of the books on this list-- this novel is a VERY fun read! Both the main characters are lovable and hilarious, as is the relationship between them. They are truly each other's equals and opposites, but they compliment each other in every way that matters. I can't believe it took me so long to find this book because trust me when I say that I am utterly in love with it.
Nemesis (n.) 1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome.
2) A person’s undoing
3) Joshua Templeman
Lucy Hutton has always been certain that the nice girl can get the corner office. She’s charming and accommodating and prides herself on being loved by everyone at Bexley & Gamin. Everyone except for coldly efficient, impeccably attired, physically intimidating Joshua Templeman. And the feeling is mutual.
Trapped in a shared office together 40 (OK, 50 or 60) hours a week, they’ve become entrenched in an addictive, ridiculous never-ending game of one-upmanship. There’s the Staring Game. The Mirror Game. The HR Game. Lucy can’t let Joshua beat her at anything—especially when a huge new promotion goes up for the taking.
If Lucy wins this game, she’ll be Joshua’s boss. If she loses, she’ll resign. So why is she suddenly having steamy dreams about Joshua, and dressing for work like she’s got a hot date? After a perfectly innocent elevator ride ends with an earth-shattering kiss, Lucy starts to wonder whether she’s got Joshua Templeman all wrong.
Maybe Lucy Hutton doesn’t hate Joshua Templeman. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.
Avengers: End Game
Of course this one had to make my list, everyone and their mother had to be expecting that. Is there even much that needs to be said? I'm a huge superhero fan, and this movie was the end all be all of all superhero movies of the moment. There's a reason it broke the world record for box office income.
The long awaited sequel to the fan-favorite Zombieland of 2009. I wanted to see this movie so badly I found a theater to watch it in while I was in Spain ahah. I'm not totally fluent in Spanish, so I had to research subtitle theaters, which aren't exactly all that popular with the Spanish but I found one! This one was equally as hilarious and fun as the first. Zoey Deutch's performance as Madison really added to the movie, as did the rest of the performances from our main cast of the first movie. Big fan of the Zombieland franchise here.
Kingsman: The Secret Service
Another satire-esque super fun watch. This movie is a bit of a play on the classic spy movies by turning them a bit on their head. It's very self-aware of the classic tropes that it's using, and I can't tell you how many times I laughed while watching it the first, second, third... etc. time. It has all the components needed to make a good movie, therefore if you enjoy action movies with a good bit of humor twisted in, this could be the movie for you.
Where To Find It: Amazon Prime Video
This show turns the all too popular trope of superheroes on its head. Its tagline is "never meet your heroes," and in this dark, dark world the superheroes are corrupt. And what makes it even more fun? For any fans of superheros, the big "seven" of the show are based very obviously on the big characters from the Justice League! They're famous, and all their rescues are televised and marketed-- and they've grown corrupt, just like a celebrity or politician could be. And when the most powerful people are bad, who can stop them? And while not all the superheroes are bad, none of them are really good either. The series is really interesting because there are no black or white characters as there usually are with superheroes, instead everything is a mixture of both, some leaning more or less towards one side, but none of them fall totally on one end of the spectrum. That's what makes the series so intriguing-- you never know what's going to happen. Plus the acting is superb! A definite much watch.
A group of vigilantes set out to take down corrupt superheroes who abuse their superpowers.
A group of vigilantes set out to take down corrupt superheroes who abuse their superpowers.
A group of vigilantes set out to take down corrupt superheroes who abuse their superpowers.
Where To Find It: Netflix
This is another very intense action/mystery TV show. It follows a bodyguard (Richard Madden) who is assigned to protect a politician who stands against everything that he believes in... That's the synopsis but the show goes so much deeper than any of that, but I can't tell you because it would spoil everything that makes the show so good! All I can really say on good conscience it's intriguing, and if you enjoy that kind of suspenseful, intriguing action genre, this is definitely a show for you to check out.
A contemporary thriller featuring the Royalty and Specialist Protection Branch of London's Metropolitan Police Service.
Where to Find it: Netflix
Here's another show that plays with the idea of superheroes, but in a drastically different way. Sure, the characters are superpowered, but the central theme of the show is really about the family. I'm pretty sure the tagline is something like SUPER dysfunctional. Basically this show is about seven superpowered kids who were adopted by an eccentric millionaire. As children they were famous for being in a superhero group, but as they grew up they became estranged. Now they're back together for their father's funeral and through a series of chaotic events it seems they might have to stick together for a while. This show is weird, and that's what makes it so fun. It has a very light tone in comparison to the Boys, and there's plenty of humor to go along with the action. But there are also definitely serious moments, so I'd say it's a perfect blend of them all. Another thing that makes the series so good? The visuals as well as the music. Many of the scenes are written to music, so the scenes and the music fit perfectly. Each episode has a least one truly iconic scene with an iconic song. It's spectacular. Who ever knew Istanbul )(Not Constantinople) could fit a gunfight scene? But oh, it fits perfectly. Better get caught up before season 2 comes out!
A family of former child heroes, now grown apart, must reunite to continue to protect the world.
Where to Find it: Netflix
Alright! Here's one that's not dark or action-filled. Light, with fun characters and an absolutely hilarious watch, Sex Education was a pleasant surprise. If you're looking for a good laugh, this series is absolutely perfect for you.
A teenage boy with a sex therapist mother teams up with a high school classmate to set up an underground sex therapy clinic at school.
Where to Find it: Netflix
Okay, so there is a lot of controversy surrounding this show. It came out last year, but the second season came out this year. Look, the reason it has a lot of controversy is because it's a satire-- meaning that it makes fun of a lot of problems there are out there. I will admit, the original trailer was pitched wrong, but if you enjoy a good satire this show is a lot of fun. I would say the second season is even better than the first. While yes, it has its flaws, it is a lot of fun and actually covers a lot of important topics.
A disgraced, dissatisfied civil lawyer-turned-beauty pageant coach takes on a vengeful, bullied teenager as his client and has no idea what he's about to unleash upon the world.