RS (rainbowstevie) wrote,
RS
rainbowstevie

New book survey, who dis.

Guess what? I'm gonna do a BRAND SPANKING NEW book survey this year (which I immediately regretted when That Artsy Reader Girl also put forth a new survey option yesterday, and regretted twice when I looked back at last year's and remembered how much I also love that one...but too late, I started this version 2 weeks ago and now I'm committed).

Borrowing a 30-day prompt list from here, I've compiled all 30 questions to hand out some awards, almost never limiting myself to 1 per category. Authors mostly not included, but you can check the masterlist here, or view the covers in a quick spread on Goodreads. It's tidier and more uniform than Your Year in Books, I think.

1. Best YA
Speed of Life by J.M. Kelley (see previous post for why).

2. Soul Destroyer/Huge Book Hangover
APRIL & OLIVER, YO.

3. Best Cover Model
Hm. Surprisingly few options. I'll go with the girl on The Year of Luminous Love, because that's the hair + body I've always dreamed of having.

4. Best Rom Com
BOY did I not read a lot that qualified as rom-coms. Let's see... The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in Los Angeles).

5. Best Dark/Suspenseful/Twisted Read
By contrast I read SO MANY OF THESE. How to choose?? I'll shout it out to The Vanishing by Wendy Webb, but maybe The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright. Honestly, most of what I read in October and November was award-worthy in this category. I went on a very specific genre bender to match the season and the weather, and it paid off spectacularly.

6. Best Historical Read
From Sand and Ash is the real answer, but let's also go with The Lost Vintage - Ann Mah. It is only half historical, but it was REALLY rich and well done and for some reason I can't find anything else to honor it with.

7. Best Contemporary
April and Oliver, for this and the next question too, frankly...but because saying that all the time is boring, Escape or The Road to Enchantment.

8. Best First Work
Ingrid Palmer, All Out of Pretty or Erin Saldin, The Girls of No Return

9. Best Series
Dervla McTiernan's Cormac O'Reilly detective novels (starting with The Ruin, a punny title that means 2 different but equally applicable to the plot things in English & Irish)

10. Best Sci-Fi
Edan LePucki's California for the post-apocalyptic win, but Hanna Jameson's The Last did that super well too.

11. Most Anticipated Book of 2019
The Leaving - Lynn Hall

I'd known for a long time I would love this, and that I wanted to read it for the first time when I owned it. It was only a question of how much I would love it and how long I could wait in hopes of finding it in the wild before I bit the bullet and spent $4+ to buy it online.

12. Best Surprise
a) Kieran Scott's Pretty Fierce. I've never been all that interested in Scott's "I Was a Non-Blonde Cheerleader" books, so when I plucked this off the shelf based simply on its fun "daughter of spies on the run from bad guys with her boyfriend" premise, I was NOT PREPARED for how much it was going to indulge my shippy whims.

b) The Road to Enchantment is one I pulled off the shelf at random (due to the title) on my way to get another book, and my jaw dropped at the summary -- and the story was even better.

c) Sarah Lynn Scheerger's The Opposite of Love, another random library pull that turned out to be "HAVE TEN TONS OF HURT/COMFORT with many cuddles, also a kitten."

13. Best Fantasy
It's not an outstanding endorsement because I only read 3 and two of them were Cressida Cowell series books, but: Disney Aladdin AU A Whole New World by Liz Braswell.

14. Favorite Indie Author
Aleksandra Drake!

15. Favorite Romance Author
I think I only read 2 books from the actual romance section this year; most of my books weren't even focused on a central romance, so....I guess Drake (A Short Walk to the Bookshop) is both a great choice and also the winner by default.

16. Most Original/Atypical Plot
Alex Scarrow's Plague Land trilogy went to some imaginative places with its "plague," but really, Emilie Autumn's The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls is two wildly different books mashed together in one, and the title plot half is EXTRA BONKERS in a way where I think you need at a least a passing, but preferably firm, grip on the mythos of her stage presence/fan base to understand. It's fascinating and I want to know it. Like, know its soul.

17. Best "New To Me" Author
Well, the authors of 7 of my top 10 of the year were new to me (everybody but Hall, Cooney and Kaufman). Doesn't feel right to say anyone else.

18. Most Read Author in 2019
Hats off to Joan Bauer, Catriona McPherson and Phyllis Reynolds Naylor with 3 apiece.

* Hope Was Here, Rules of the Road, Best Foot Forward

** The Day She Died, The Child Garden, Quiet Neighbors

***Send No Blessings, The Year of the Gopher, Blizzard's Wake

19. Best Cover
I love the oil painting on the cover of Paperback Crush.

20. Most Beautiful/Powerful Writing
YOU KNOW I WANT TO SAY APRIL & OLIVER AGAIN, but I will instead say for beautiful like "I actually noticed it," Appaloosa Summer or The Education of Ivy Blake or Send No Blessings; beautiful like actual poetry goes to This Is How You Lose The Time War, and for powerful like "it made me feel so many things my heart physically hurt and I almost had to stop," All Out of Pretty or Still Missing, the latter of which did exactly what I asked it to do but still gave me indigestion from how brutally visceral her captivity, abuse and suffering are.

21. Best LGBTQ Novel
The Summer of Jordi Perez

22. Best Audiobook
1) Escape - Barbara Delinsky [read by Cassandra Campbell]
2) California - Edan Lepucki [read by Emma Galvin]

Both of these were totally captivating stories and were read very smoothly by female narrators who swept me into the world. I listened to them both during late winter, entirely after dark on my way to and from work, and it was very thematic. These are 100% the better books. But I'm not sure if they were the best audio because that honor might go to...

3) Twice Magic - Cressida Cowell [read by David Tennant]
The story is very Average BUT Tennant does all manner of spectacularly distinct character/creature voices and also sings sometimes (one time even in a normal voice!), with sound effects and instrumental-musical interludes, which made it by far the most fun EXPERIENCE.

23. Best Plot Twist
Illuminae doesn't have a lot to recommend it beyond the formatting, but it is the book that made me yell "WHAT!!!" the loudest, so that's something. (PAGE 420 WAS SUCH A SUCKER PUNCH TO THE FACE, Y'ALL)

24. Best Male Main Character
Look, even with his flawed moment, Noah from the Girl Online books is written to a 13-year-old girl's idea of the perfect fantasy boyfriend who always says and does exactly the right thing (at least eventually), and I respond to that.

Also Diedrich Vogel (A Short Walk to the Bookshop), who is written to similar standards of the perfect fantasy boyfriend, but for grown-ups (and with zero flaws).

25. Best Female Main Character
Sparrow Anderson - A Short Walk to the Bookshop

26. Best Friend's Recommendation
Not a friend per se -- I didn't get any direct recs from friends; only algorithms know my heart! -- but I took a suggestion from a Top Ten Tuesday book blogger who said she loved Sand and Ash, that it was her favorite book she read one year. I probably wouldn't have looked into it on my own because WWII setting, but because of how she described it and the fact that we had similar taste in childhood books, I got it from the library and WHOMP, one of my top 3 this year as well.

27. Best Ugly Cry
Cooney's Hit the Road, hands down. Let me quote you the parts that did it:
[mind the spoilers]
a) Aurelia explaining that after he got her committed to a nursing home, her unscrupulous son sold her house and its contents without her knowledge, as well as the farmhouse she grew up in and all ITS contents, including many family heirlooms: "He didn't care about the crystal, which was a wedding gift to my grandmother, or the quilt stitched by my older sister, who died of diptheria. He cared only for the money."
-
b) When she reminds her friend that can't stay in the farmhouse because even though the new owners aren't there yet, it has no heat / beds / electricity: "And how could I bear it, Nannie? I don't want to see my grandmother's dishes gone, my mother's apron and my father's woodworking tools gone, my little boy's first red wagon and sled gone. He was such a nice little boy, that child of fifty years ago...")
-
c) When she finds out that her handmade-by-her-mother-in-law wedding dress -- from her brief marriage to the childhood sweetheart and love of her life she never truly got over after he was killed in WWII -- was donated to a thrift store and sold for $5 the next day (SOB), and again when they manage to track down the buyer and this happens: "You keep it. It was worn in love. It was worn believing in Happily Ever After." / "And you did live Happily Ever After, didn't you?" [asks the naive bride who bought it.] / Aurelia stroked the sleeve of the gown she had worn so long ago. "Yes," she lied.]


----------
28. Best Book To Make A Movie
MY OXFORD YEAR WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A MOVIE FIRST. I mean, I'd rather have it as a book, all things considered. BUT I WANT THE MOVIE VERSION TOOOO.

Runner up: Please give me The Whisper Man. I genuinely spent this entire book thinking what a fantastic movie it would make in terms of both visuals and plot, because this is exactly the kind of film I've spent all year watching and I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel in terms of new-to-me options like that at the library and on Netflix.

29. Best Swoon Book
From Sand and Ash
(You: fanning yourselves about Fleabag for some reason??
Me: knowing the true Hot Priest feels)

(also I'm sorry for my flippancy, given that I normally hate priest-inclusive love affairs. The swoon here is zero percent about sizzle and entirely about the overwhelming YEARS OF AGONIZINGLY REPRESSED LOVE between them in extremely high life-or-death stakes)

30. Best Overall
April & Oliver for overall quality but A Short Walk to the Bookshop for personal cover-to-cover squee
Tags: year in review
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