Best Books From The First Half of 2019

I’m not sure exactly how many books I’ve read so far this year, but I have a lot to choose from… This is definitely going to be an eclectic list, a little something for everyone. And yes, not all of these were published this year. It’s just a list of great books I’ve read from Jan 1-June 30.

My List of 10:


Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reed

Told in the words of band members, record execs, rock critics, and more, the story is a riveting portrayal of the life of the 70s rock band. Reid has a real knack for knowing how to break up the interviews, and to cut the stories with various points of view to create great tension and drama. Reminiscent of the rise of Fleetwood Mac and the tumultuous relationship between Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham, Daisy Jones and The Six is a book that I predict will do very, very well. It’s been endorsed by Reece Witherspoon and will be turned into an Amazon Original show, and I think all the hype is totally deserved.



New Kid by Jerry Craft

I appreciated so much about this book. Craft’s artwork is a collection of many different types of scenes. From the classroom to the sports field, his illustrations seek to go beneath the surface of the three Rs. But what I really enjoyed were the looks into Jordan’s sketchbook. These were doodles and sarcastic instructions about how to deal with issues at the school. They are looks into his thoughtful, yet many times, hurting mind.

New Kid has a tremendous amount of humor, but there is also the biting reality of racial divides and jibes that young people of color are subject to. Craft’s work in this book is honest and truly revealing. I’ll definitely be looking to get this title in my school’s library.

Highly Recommended.


The Court of Owls by Greg Cox

Here’s some things I enjoyed:

  • Not an Origin Story: The reader is thrown into the working Batman’s world.  One might think would be dicey in regards to people who aren’t familiar with Batman’s overall story, but I don’t think anyone who doesn’t know at least a little about him will pick this book up. BTW I just posted a discussion about Superhero Intimidation here.
  • Gadgets and Fight Scenes: Batarangs, Smoke Bombs, The Batmobile, and more. The Talons’ blood is infused with a regeneration formula that protects, and heals their injuries quickly. They also have knives, lots of knives.
  • A Shifting Timeline: The story bounces back and forth between Wright’s work with his muse Lydia Doyle, and Batman current case. It’s a bit of a look into the workings of the court from two different time periods. Their goals of manipulating Gotham for their greedy cause has not changed, but many players have and some have not…

I can’t really think of anything I dislike about this book. I kind of knew what I was getting into and it was exactly what I was in the mood for.

Overall, this was a fantastic weekend read. Fast and full of Bat-Fun!


Upgrade Soul by Ezra Claytan Daniels

This book is filled with challenging characters, ones who the reader can both empathize with and feel conflicted with their actions. Hank continued his father’s legacy of science fiction writing, but is frustrated when producers want to whitewash the hero who has always been meant to be black. Molly is a scientist who has contributed to the field and inspired a younger generation of Latin researchers. Kenton is a young scientist who was once a prodigy and is now feeling the pressure to make his mark. Lina is a young woman who has survived a surgery to separate her conjoined twin, but it has left her with severe  deformities and a challenged view of beauty.

Upgrade Soul is mindbending trip through themes of aging, defining beauty, and building legacy. Like a squashed plastic bottle that you try to make perfect again: an experiment twisted and then an attempt to fix.

Highly recommended for readers looking to push themselves into a brainy scifi test of experimentation and desire.

boy and his dog

A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by C. A. Fletcher

A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World is one of the best books I will read this year. It’s chock-full of intriguing post-world speculation, contains one of the best characters in recent memory, and has a survival-adventure plot that kept me flipping through the pages.


The Scholar by Dervla McTiernan

The Ruin alluded to details of Cormac and Emma’s histories that were never mentioned, yet caused tension in their relationship and his professional life. The Scholar lets fly with it all. This allows for a much deeper view of their motivations for many of the decisions they make. And I think it will really drive the series into some new and exciting places.

Another thing that I liked is that Cormac follows through on two-three cases at the same time. This is a realistic view of the case load of a police detective. The second or minor case is one that allows the reader to see a couple more scenes to show develop his colleagues. Some are becoming allies and some are definitely choosing to become enemies. His second is a young ambitious cop named Peter Fisher who Cormac takes under his wing. It’s an interesting side of the lead detective’s personality that is really starting to flesh out.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book and think it would be wise to start with The Ruin. You will not be disappointed!


Velocity Weapon by Megan E. O’Keefe

Velocity Weapon is a fast-paced three-act play of intrigue, moral ambiguity, and science fiction fun. It contains everything I look for in Scifi… a future that is futuristic in every way: Tech, culture, and space. O’Keefe has real talent for describing spacey stuff with everyday metaphors, easy ways of explaining things to laymen like me.

Highly Recommended for fans of space operas. This one is very good and deserves great praise. I grabbed ahold of this book and for two day, I didn’t let go.



Spying on the South: An Odyssey Across the American Divide by Tony Horwitz

Olmsted on one side, 2016 on the other, and Horwitz in the middle. I’ve read four of his other works and this is a much more immediate view of history and the United States than the other books. It is view of many things: the legacy of the Alamo, the struggling coal industry, modern tourism, and a man who changed the way cities and recreation spaces are built in this country. But the narrative kept going back to the way history endures through many people’s eyes.


Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay

This books discusses what it means to understand a culture, language, misbegotten families… A story of a young man who feels he’s not allowed to grieve in his own way, yet is still trying to discover what that really is. The pacing was perfect as the reader gets to know Jay in his home in the United States and then is thrust into a situation where he is thrown off at every turn. His parents wanted him to be Americanized and haven’t told him much about Filipino culture or of the political upheaval in that country. And this conflict between the parents’ teachings and a son’s naïveté clashes with his desire for truth. It brings about an honest tension that drives much of the narrative.

Patron Saints of Nothing is a welcome exploration into a young man’s mind and a family’s struggle to come to terms with a member’s death.  I will happily recommend this book to my students and my librarian friends.


Alphabet Squadron by Alexander Freed

I’ve got a list of things I loved:

1. A fully fleshed-out cast of five pilots. What brought them to the rebellion… and what are their motivations to join the Alphabet Squadron?

2. Space dog fights… a plethora of different ships… A, B, Y, X, U- Wings!

3. Favorite Quote: ‘… but there was truth to the idea that the Empire valued squadrons and the Rebellion valued pilots.’

4. Some excellent cameos from past SW stories. I don’t want to give up any spoilers, but I think Freed does a great job integrating some less-heralded characters into the mix.

5. The last battle. I was riveted for the last quarter of the book. Most of my favorite SW films and novels come down to a creative battle plan.. and there’s a distinct difference between a Rebel plan and an Imperial plan. Freed shows that difference, proves it on every page.

6. New droids. In the first chapter, we meet an Imperial interrogation droid named IT-O who has been reprogramed into a psychologist of sorts for the defectors. And a couple new X-Wing mechs to help out in the midst of battle… also, a straight-up eerie dark side robot…

7. Storytelling: Every character is given a chance to tell his/her story, and Freed’s storytelling changes nicely between the confessional or disinformational spills…

Highly Recommended for those looking for a multi-layered exploration into the grunts of the Star Wars universe.


Have you read any of these? What did you think? What are some of your favorite books of the first half of the year?

21 thoughts on “Best Books From The First Half of 2019

Add yours

  1. I haven’t read any of these, but they all sound great. I’ve seen Daisy Jones & the Six and A Boy and His Dog floating around on other best so far lists.
    3 of my favs so far are Wundersmith by Jessica Townsend, Dopesick by Beth Macy, and Middle Passage by Charles Johnson.

    Liked by 1 person

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