Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Four-Star Reads of 2019

Top Ten Tuesday is an original blog meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and is currently being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is “Bookish Discoveries I Made In 2019.” This list was really difficult for me. I just couldn’t sit down and come up with enough “discoveries”, so instead, I am sharing my top ten four-star reads of 2019 with you. I had a ton of four-star reads and would love to share my love for them with you. If I was the kind of blogger who gave half stars, most of these would be rated 4.5 stars. Covers are linked to Goodreads.

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1. The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi – I’m still trying to figure out how I read this one a year ago and not ten years ago. If you like smart fantasies with nuanced characters of color, you need to read this one. Also I read the sequel already and am dying to talk to someone about it with someone. Read my review here.

2. The Wicked King by Holly Black – I read this one and the final book in the Folk of the Air trilogy in 2019 and I don’t know if this counts as controversial but I definitely think this one is superior. It’s a lot darker than the third book which feels more congruous with The Cruel Prince. Although I enjoyed the third novel, the tone was different compared to the other two. Read my review of The Wicked King here.

3. We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia – This is one of those reads whose message can get completely lost because so many people want to compare it to The Handmaid’s Tale and leave it at that. But this one explores immigration, religion and politics, classism, and centers two Latina characters in a way that I have never seen done before. Read my review here.

4. Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali – When was the last time you read a book where a female Muslim character of color got to be angry? Zayneb is one of the main reasons I loved this one. And just seeing two Muslim teens being able to have a meet cute and have an epic love story felt so refreshing. Read my review here.

5. There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon – Sandyha Menon’s books ooze charm and never fail to make me laugh and smile. I loved that we got to see a fat Indian-American teen star in a rom-com and hope it leads to more fat characters of color in YA. No review for this one.

6. Nocturna by Maya Motayne – I cannot say enough about how much I loved the main characters, Alfie and Finn. I would die for either one of these characters. This was the first time I’ve seen a Latinx fantasy developed well enough where it doesn’t ignore or try to sweep things like colonization and slavery under the rug. I will forever be bitter about the unfair criticism this book received because of unjust comparisons to the Shades of Magic series, which I love by the way. But these are two very different stories and the fact that Nocturna centers Afro-Latinx characters should have been the first clue, but readers love to give credit to white authors when it comes to groundbreaking “representation” and the like and when it finally comes time for authors of color to have a chance to write series centering their own culture or to put characters of color in fantasy settings, they are told it’s already been done before. But of course white authors got to do it first, it’s one of the consequences of privilege and overrepresentation. Obviously, I have a lot of feelings. Please read this one. Read my review here if you need more convincing.

7. We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal  – If I had gotten a little more in terms of on page character development this would have been a five-star read for me. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say this was among my top ten favorite reads in 2019 in terms of world building. Read my review here.

8. Truly Madly Royally by Debbie Rigaud – Speaking of groundbreaking novels, I loved this one that centers a Black teen girl falling for prince charming (though I might argue it’s more like prince charming falling for Zora). Bonus points for not using misunderstandings to drive the characters apart. Read this contemporary and find yourself smiling the whole time. Read my review here.

9. Analee, in Real Life by Janelle Milanes – Cheers to the author for creating such a genuine teen voice. If you told me Analee was a real teen, I’d believe you. Also has the fake dating trope, which I love, predictabilities and all. I also so appreciated how much focus is put on Analee’s journey in this one rather than the romance. Read my review here.

10. Chilling Effect by Valerie Valdes – This was my final read of 2019 and I knew I was going to love it after the first chapter. I have a mighty need for more Latinx characters in space, but there are so very few. This one was such a fun adult sci-fi novel. I loved Eva with all her flaws and hangups. I loved her entire crew and how her ship comes to inadvertently be home to a bunch of psychic cats. I really had a blast with this whole novel. I don’t have a review for this one, but you need to read it if you enjoy space operas of any kind.

What was your favorite four-star read? Have you read and enjoyed any of these? Let me know in the comments and be sure to leave me a link to your own TTT post, so I can visit.

24 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Four-Star Reads of 2019

  1. The only book on your list that I read is WE SET THE DARK ON FIRE and I think I gave it three stars. My favorite 4-star books: THERE THERE by Tommy Orange and VIRGIL WANDER by Leif Enger.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Whelp, you’ve convinced me to add Nocturna to my TBR! I need to get to We Set the Dark on Fire and We Hunt the Flame today, and I’d like to give Sandhya Menon’s work a try, too. I agree with you about The Wicked King – I really enjoyed the whole series, but the second book was definitely my favourite!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I haven’t read your top ten 4-stars, but they look good. My fave 4-star read from 2019 is The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. It’s not a riveting read, but it’s thought-provoking and prompted me to create my own happiness project for 2020.:-)

    Liked by 1 person

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