Top Reads of 2019: Spout’s Favourite Books of 2019!

Top Reads of the Year: Skye's Favourite Books of 2019. Illustration: Sprout the Lorekeeper and Sparrow, holding a stack of sparkling books.

Your time at the Pond today begins with gentle rain.

Sprout the sparrow offering you a cup of tea.A soft evening patter accompanies you as you sit next to Sprout’s stump, your reads for the day sprawled out in front of you. The blushing sky illuminates the forest in a warm rush of golden light. As you bask in the scenery, Sprout emerges from their stump holding two cups of tea, and the air around you immediately smells of summer berries.

“This is berry hibiscus tea, friend!” Sprout informs you. “I grew the ingredients myself. Gen was a big help, but the Pond magic has made starting my own little garden here so easy.” 

You accept the tea, letting the warm sweetness suffuse your insides. It’s a curious picture—the aroma of the tea, this scenery, the glow of Sprout’s little sapling. A comfortable silence settles between the both of you as you take to your books once more.

As you both finish your tea, Sprout looks up from their book and says, “You know, friend, I never imagined I’d find a home here when I first arrived, when Xiaolong first reached out to me for help.” Their eyes are wistful. “At first, I wasn’t even sure if I belonged here, since I read so very little compared to the other Pond residents. Sometimes I just get so caught up with everything else that reading doesn’t come as naturally to me as it used to.”

Sprout the sparrow holding onto and looking down at a book.You reach out a hand to comfort the sparrow, to reassure them that they do indeed have a place at the Pond. Sprout takes your hand gratefully. “But it’s because of everyone’s kindness here that I’ve learned to forgive myself for taking things slow as well! Reading is like a garden too. Even one seed planted is a seed that can grow into flowers and fruit, even if it takes time! And they make great ingredients for tea, too.”

Bringing their book over, Sprout hops closer to you. “I also have you to thank for this lesson, friend, for helping me feel at home here! Now, let me tell you about some of my favorite stories that I did manage to read this year…”

Hello, friends! Welcome to the last of our Top Reads of 2019 posts, wherein I finally get my thoughts coherent enough to gush about my own favorite reads of the year. As you might’ve gleaned from Sprout’s story, I didn’t manage to read as much as I would’ve liked this year—I had an ambitious reading goal of 50, but so far only managed 29—and I’m learning to be okay with that! It’s a big reason of why I tweeted this last month too: 

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Top Reads of 2019: Xiaolong’s Favourite Books of 2019!

Top Reads of the Year: Xiaolong's favourite books of 2019

Friends! Can you believe it’s almost the end of the year?

2019 has been such a wonderful year of reading and diverse books. I’ve had the privilege and joy to read a myriad of brilliant diverse books this year, and I think it is only fitting if I followed what I did last year and celebrated my favourite reads of 2019!

This year, I read a total of 86 books – I’m still determined to hit my goal of reading 90 books! – but it was a fantastic year nonetheless.

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Five Reasons To Read: An Ember in the Ashes Series – A Stunning YA Fantasy That Never Fails to Surprise, Excite, and Cause Immeasurable Pain

Text: An Ember in the Ashes, Sabaa Tahir.

If you haven’t heard about this series, allow me to introduce to you this incredible YA high fantasy series: An Ember in the Ashes is a fantasy that follows Laia, a girl who agrees to spy for the rebellion in exchange for their help to free her brother, and Elias, a soldier of the Martial Empire who wants nothing more than to be free from the tyranny he’s been trained to enforce. Together, their destinies will collide, setting course for a whirlwind of a journey and challenges they would have never imagined.

I love this series immensely, and I have enjoyed every single book in this quartet, with each instalment getting better and better. Read More »

Five Reasons To Read: Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee – A Fun and Delightful Korean-Inspired Space Opera/Fantasy

Text: Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee. Image: A girl with black hair, wearing a spacesuit, holds a space helmet to her side. In the corner is a translucent and blue ghost of a fox.
Blurb:

To keep the family safe, Min’s mother insists that none of them use any fox-magic, such as Charm or shape-shifting. They must appear human at all times. Min feels hemmed in by the household rules and resents the endless chores, the cousins who crowd her, and the aunties who judge her. She would like nothing more than to escape Jinju, her neglected, dust-ridden, and impoverished planet. She’s counting the days until she can follow her older brother, Jun, into the Space Forces and see more of the Thousand Worlds.

When word arrives that Jun is suspected of leaving his post to go in search of the Dragon Pearl, Min knows that something is wrong. Jun would never desert his battle cruiser, even for a mystical object rumored to have tremendous power. She decides to run away to find him and clear his name.

Min’s quest will have her meeting gamblers, pirates, and vengeful ghosts. It will involve deception, lies, and sabotage. She will be forced to use more fox-magic than ever before, and to rely on all of her cleverness and bravery. The outcome may not be what she had hoped, but it has the potential to exceed her wildest dreams.

CW’s review:

Dragon Pearl is a delightful adventure story that follows Min, a young teen who lives in the poorer fringes of the galaxy and is a shape-shifting fox spirit. When she receives her word that her brother has been accused of desertion, she runs away from home and embarks on an epic adventure across the galaxy to find her brother and becomes entangled with a plot to find the mysterious and powerful Dragon Pearl. Along the way, she’ll meet space pirates, gamblers, ghosts, and maybe she’ll befriend a galactic soldier or two.

Why should you read this book? Well, today’s book review of Dragon Pearl is a little different to my usual book reviews. Instead a long review, I provide five awesome reasons why you should pick up this wonderful book!

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Sixteen Reasons Why You Should Read Color Outside The Lines in November

TEXT: 16 Reasons to read Color Outside the Lines, edited by Sangu Mandanna. Hands of different skin tones holding each other frame the text.

If you follow me on Twitter, then you should know how much I love Color Outside the Lines, an YA anthology about interracial relationships that I was beyond excited for. As much as I’d love to share the review I’ve written for Color Outside the Lines with you all right now – it’s over 2000 words, whoops – the book releases in November 2019, which is nine months away. Rather than keep in all my excitement to myself, I decided to list sixteen reasons why you should read this gem of an anthology.

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