#TopTenTuesday: Best 10 of 2019

Friends, it’s the last #TopTenTuesday of this year and decade! How insane is that?! I just wanted to say that wherever you are and whatever you do to ring in the new year, I hope you have a wonderful 2020. For those who’ve had a particularly trying 2019, I hope that the fresh year will bring more light into your life. And as always, I hope everyone has a very amazingly book-filled year ahead! – 🐼💙

It’s that time of the week again, friends! We’re back with another Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s prompt is: favorite books I read in 2019. Last Friday I already tried to narrow down my list of favorite reads from the 200+ books that I read this year. I broke it down into categories and I managed to narrow it down to five books per category, which left me with a Top 30–it was hard 😅 Lol I think I just feel guilty because in narrowing it down I end up not mentioning the other amazing books I’ve read, and it’s like I’m ignoring them or not acknowledging the hard work the authors did? 🤣 Is that just me? I’m determined to still try and narrow it down to a Top 10 though so here goes nothing. I’m also gonna keep it short and sweet and stick to pictures.

HOLY HECK, THIS WAS SO DIFFICULT!
What books made it into your Top 10 reads of 2019?
Did we pick any of the same books as top reads this year?

Book Review: Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Goodreads: Aurora Rising (Aurora Cycle #1)
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 07 May 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy

Rating:

(5 pandas)

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch…
A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass techwiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering

And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem—that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline-cases and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

They’re not the heroes we deserve. They’re just the ones we could find. Nobody panic.

I’m just gonna preface this review by saying that it’s going to be a whole LOT of gushing because friends… I WAS NOT READY. Which is so incredibly silly of me because I know just how much the Illuminae series affected me. I’m aware of the bewitching powers that Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff have over my thoughts and emotions. They never fail to make me feel ALL THE FEELS. Was I really expecting this book to be any different? Silly girl. Anyway, you’ve been warned!

If there was any group that I’d wish to be stuck with in outer space facing the hottest of hot messes I’ve ever encountered in my life, Squad 312 would be my number one. I loved this crew! This was an incredibly fun space adventure that was a combination of the Breakfast Club and Guardians of the Galaxy, with the haunting horror reminiscent of The Ruins. It was wildly entertaining and I was here for every minute of it! I laughed my ass off at their antics, was impressed with their insane skills, became sufficiently terrified of all the creepy things and ended up heartbroken and aghast with that ending. I was seriously impressed by how quickly these characters wormed their way into my heart. While it wasn’t as epic as The Illuminae Files, I still loved it!

Tyler Jones: The Alpha. He’s a stickler for the rules and is guided by his father’s legacy. Megawatt dimples that when flashed can make ovaries explode within twenty paces. Bee-bro. Twin.

Scarlett Jones: The Face. The older twin but would do anything to protect her bro. Her uncanny ability to read people makes her an amazing face. Fiery, feisty, with sexy confidence to boot. She will get you in and out of all the sticky situations with her insane diplomacy skills. She’ll take care of you because she has a big heart.

Catherine ‘Cat’ Brannock: The Ace. She’s a bad-ass pilot who’s got snark and attitude for days. Childhood besties with the twins. Definitely not in love with Ty. She’s the character I had the most difficulty with at the start and I didn’t expect my feelings to turn around so quickly, but color me shocked, they did.

Finian ‘Fin’ de Karren de Seel: The Gearhead. An alien with biting sarcasm, dry slightly rude humor, and is into noticing all the hotness around him–both male, female and alien alike. Funniest of the bunch. Want to protect at all costs.

Kaliis ‘Kal’ Gilwraeth: The Tank. Of the alien elf race, Syldrathi. Tall, muscular, gorgeous silver hair and violet eyes, comes off as cold and unfriendly, but gooey on the inside. Can kick your ass faster than you can even blink. Seriously endearing. MY BAE.

Zila Madran: The Brain. Tiny, sociopathic, loves to shoot people, including her teammates, without warning, wearer of odd but very cute sounding earrings.

Aurora ‘Auri’ Jie-Lin O’Malley: The Girl Out of Time. Left earth at the “start” of space exploration only to get lost in cryo in space for over 200 years. Woke up with white hair and powers that turned one eye white. An enigma that could be the catalyst for a dormant billion-year-old war between two ancient, mythical, terrifying species…until now.

The story was told through alternating POVs although mostly through Ty and Auri. We only get to spend a few chapters (total) with each team member’s POV, but I thought they all had well flushed out personalities and distinctive traits that set them apart. Although they all come off as aloof in each others’ chapters, I loved that you see a lot of vulnerability from them in their own chapters. If there’s one character I would’ve liked to know more about it definitely would be Zila. We get a sense of her sociopathic ‘shoot-now-ask-questions-later’ tendencies, mostly through the others, but you can tell she carries a lot of emotional baggage and possibly trauma, and I would’ve liked to get more inside her head. I initially had mixed feelings about other members of the squad but by the end I was crying, rooting, and heartbroken for all of them. Yo, Amie and Jay, if anything else happens to these precious characters in the following books, I will burn them (the books, not the characters). Jokes lol I’d never do that but I’d be so angry I’d want to! Please don’t break my heart even more.

@Jay Kristoff’s website. Artist: Charlie Bowater

I think one of the main qualms people have mentioned about this book is the romance. Even I was a bit surprised that there was so much of it, and that it’d also sometimes creep up at the most inappropriate moments. Another point that people mentioned were the romantic pairings. I will admit that they weren’t the ones I expected from the start, but honestly, I wasn’t mad at them. The pairings grew on me and I think they just seemed odd initially because I didn’t feel chemistry between the characters. So I guess if romance is going to be “a thing” in this book, I’m looking forward to seeing how it develops! If I’m honest though, I don’t think the romance added a crucial element to the story so maybe they could’ve also done without it; but I love me some romance, so I’m just gonna accept what Kaufman & Kristoff dole out! 🤷🏻‍♀️

These two authors continue to surprise me with the incredible world building that they do. It’s kind of set in the same space dimension as Illuminae so everything isn’t completely new. But as more was revealed the virtual jaw in my head would keep dropping as the story became more complex and astounding! I continue to love all the -isms and details of our modern day that they’ve transformed in their story to bring this crazy world of theirs to life. Seriously, I never thought I’d be curious to know what shake n’ heat ration packs of NotPork’n’Apple Casserole and Pie!™️ would taste like. I know authors have to have one hell of an imagination but these two combined are seriously the ultimate! I could go on gushing about this book but TL;DR: just read it. I kinda wish that I didn’t devour AR because now I’m feeling a little adrift and unsure about what to do with myself until the next book comes out (lol). I already miss the squad and I just closed the book. I’m so ready and freaking excited for the next installment in this series!

Also, I am now sufficiently creeped out by succulents and even more so by viney plants?! Like, WHY. I wasn’t expecting to encounter elements that reminded me of The Ruins, which is actually one of the best-worst horror novels I’ve ever read (horrors are not my jam). Why can’t we just leave plants alone?

Have you read Aurora Rising or is it on your TBR?

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary – #BookReview

Goodreads: The Flatshare
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Chick Lit
Rating:

Tiffy Moore and Leon Twomey each have a problem and need a quick fix. Tiffy’s been dumped by her cheating boyfriend and urgently needs a new flat. But earning minimum wage at a quirky publishing house means that her choices are limited in London. Leon, a palliative care nurse, is more concerned with other people’s welfare than his own. Along with working night shifts looking after the terminally ill, his sole focus is on raising money to fight his brother’s unfair imprisonment. Leon has a flat that he only uses 9 to 5. Tiffy works 9 to 5 and needs a place to sleep. The solution to their problems? To share a bed of course… As Leon and Tiffy’s unusual arrangement becomes a reality, they start to connect through Post-It notes left for each other around the flat. Can true love blossom even in the unlikeliest of situations? Can true love blossom even if you never see one another? Or does true love blossom when you are least expecting it?

Just before deciding whether to pick up this book or not, I saw that someone said that reading this book was like receiving a (long) warm hug(s), and now that I’ve finished reading it I couldn’t agree more. This was a very fast, funny, heartwarming read but there’s also more depth to the story than I originally anticipated. Despite the darker elements to the story, I couldn’t resist (literally) laughing out loud through so many parts of the book. I love British humor and the characters were so adorable!

Content warning: gaslighting and abuse (emotional). 

The story is narrated in alternating perspectives between Tiffy and Leon. A lot of people have commented on how annoying Leon’s chapters because of how they’re written, but I actually really enjoyed how it’s written to reflect his character. Not just in mannerisms, but how Leon thought was exactly how the chapter was written. I found that unique! I adored Tiffy’s and Leon’s characters and I really enjoyed how their relationship grew throughout the story. Their system of leaving post-it notes around the flat was not only so sweet, but I found it an interesting and intimate way to get to know a person. It’s like the short form of full on love letters, and even though they were often about mundane thoughts/observations, I thought their personalities managed to really shine through. Tiffy and Leon also reminded me a lot of other characters that I’ve read (and loved!) in different books.

Tiffy’s quirkiness, bright wardrobe, and total comfort in her skin reminded me a lot of Hazel (Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating) and Louisa (Me Before You)! I liked that she had a strong and vibrant personality. She obviously has her insecurities, and the further we read, the more things begin to unravel for Tiffy’s character. Her experiences left me feeling sad and so incredibly angry too; I definitely wanted to punch someone in the face on her behalf! But her character is so strong and seeing her stand her ground was very empowering.

Leon’s quiet character, the total opposite of Tiffy, reminded me a fair bit of Josh (Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating) and a bit of Khai (The Bride Test). His relationship with Richie was so heartwarming and the dynamics reminded me a bit of Khai and Quan too because yes, Richie reminded me of Quan and I WANTED MORE. Leon’s character grew on me very quickly. I related to how he didn’t waste his energy on just anybody but saved it for the people he cared about. Although he’s not always talkative, smiling and laughing, when it does happen it’s like magic. He lights up and I loved that! He’s really just a sweet, sentimental, hopeless romantic of a cinnamon roll and boy, could I relate.

The reason I’m not giving this a full five stars is because I was pretty annoyed with the reaction from Gerty towards the end, and similarly, I felt the conflict between Tiffy and Leon wasn’t necessary. They were all fairly mature characters throughout the story, so why then in the end did they have to jump to the worst conclusions? I completely understand it’s easy to do in the heat of the moment, but I felt that (at least for Leon) it was completely out of character. Plus, it was resolved so quickly that it might as well not have happened. Regardless, I really enjoyed this, it definitely lived up to the hype for me, and I would definitely read it again on days when I feel like I need a warm hug from a book. Now in all seriousness: can has a Leon in my life? 😅

Have you read The Flatshare? Did it live up to the hype for you? Loved it? Hated it? Meh about it? Let me know in the comments and let’s have a little chat!