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For the last 4 years, I’ve been a part of the SFR Galaxy awards. Earlier this year, to my consternation, it was announced that those awards are ended.

I can’t just let that drop. I am a book blogger. I have opinions about books. I am compelled to let those opinions out.

Even though SciFi Romance figures heavily in my reading, I feature a variety of genres here on Whiskey With My Book. Without the constraints of the Galaxy awards, I can expand my choices of outstanding fiction published in 2019.

These are the books that I found to be unique, caused book hangovers, made me excited for the next book, made me laugh or cry or even made me angry.  They all evoked a level of emotion that persisted from the time I read them in 2019 to the day I made this list in 2020.  So, lacking any other formal title and in no particular order, here are my selections for the WWMB Best of 2019 (and maybe one or two from 2018).

(Note: Click on book covers for the Amazon link.  Link to Goodreads under each title.)


Science Fiction Romance

Learn a New Language
The Mother Element (Glass and Iron, #2) by Monica Enderle Pierce

This book is not available in audiobook. If it ever is, I wonder if the narrator will be human or Ohnenrai. The author has created a big chunk of an alien language which is liberally dispersed throughout the book. Language, though, is not really why this book is on my list. The Mother Element is easily my favorite SFR of 2019. I don’t pick favorites often, but this year I will make the exception. Pierce is a new-to-me author who writes a complex story with a socio-politial problem that crosses species lines. Solving the problem involves trust, hope and the ultimate sacrifice. Along with the first book, Girl Under Glass, this was such an engrossing read! I have not yet finished my official review, because of the complexity of the story, but plan to – eventually.

Escape Old Age
Altered (The Made Ones Saga, #1) by Vicki Stiefel

Altered is a cross between Scifi and Fantasy that features transportation to a parallel world where the Earth-bound ravages of disease and age are miraculously wiped away. I have to say, I really like this idea. Of course, the miracle comes with a price.  One hopes the price will be worth it.  Bad guys with a dystopian-like control make things interesting.  Add the Wolf Clan heir apparent, romance, a coyote/wolf, a little humor, plus a couple of sisters for future stories and you have a series to be followed.

Hard to Forget this Story
After the Fall by Kyndra Hatch

I first read this novella in the Pets in Space 3 anthology in 2018. The story was released as a standalone in 2019. This was a standout in the anthology and was the one that I could not get out of my mind. The author followed up with the equally good Interrupting Starlight in the Pets in Space 4 anthology. Both stories feature characters of different races, and both have a crash landing to start the adventure. Plus, animals help bring the characters together and get them through the danger. I just don’t think you can beat the scifi/romance/pets combination!

All You Need is a Box
Catalyst (Cat Ship, #1) by Jody Wallace

In case you were not aware, this book has a cat as a major character. And he ends up at a box factory. I suppose if cats have a heaven, there must be boxes. In Catalyst, there are humans too, along with danger and romance. I love the author’s sense of humor.


Science Fiction

Science Fiction

Glad I Did Not See This at the Movie Theater
Cold War: Alien Storm by Julia Vee and Ken Bebelle

I started with the prequel audiobook The Needle and then downloaded Cold War. This alien invasion series had me on the edge of my listening seat. In the theater, I would probably have closed my eyes. I’ll be frank, there is a lot of alien and human violence.  There is a war going on.  There is also a good deal of weird experimentation on humans by the aliens. But still, I am compelled to keep reading. The third book, Cold War: Alien Exile, is on my TBR list.

Washington Internship
Ascending (The Vardeshi Saga, #1) by Meg Pechenick

Ascending was actually released in 2018, but I read it last year. The heroine’s trip on the alien ship reminds me of my sophomore college year, when I went to Washington D.C. (From Lincoln, Nebraska.) By myself. Not knowing anyone. Everything felt alien. In Ascending, language, food, and pretty much every social custom is alien too. I felt the heroine’s isolation, loneliness and the fear of the unknown. Bright Shards, book 2, was release last August and is very high on my TBR.

Need More Time to Read
Shockwave (Star Kingdom, #1) by Lindsay Buroker

A heroine (Captain Bonita) well past her youth, a brainy hero (Casmir Dabrowski) and a cleaning-obsessed AI ship (Viggo). What more could I ask for in a science fiction novel? I thoroughly enjoyed Shockwave, especially the geeky hero.  But the adventure is just beginning in Shockwave.   Books 1-6 were released last year and I have only read the first one.  I need more reading time!

Tiny Mysteries
Westside by W.M. Akers

Gilda is the five-foot-tall, solver of tiny mysteries. “Those impossible puzzles that burrow into our brains like splinters and keep us awake at night.” This quirky heroine really caught my interest in the alternative New York setting.  Tiny mysteries quickly turn into something much bigger.  A most unusual book.



Nailed the Wolf Shifter Genre
Forever Wolf (The Legend of All Wolves, #3) by Maria Vale

From the beginning of the series, I admired the unique take on the wolves that can wear skin. This is truly a unique world. Reading Forever Wolf, book three, put me into the head of one of the bravest wolves of the Great North Pack. This is what the author does. With the first person perspective, Ms. Vale told a story through a remarkable character that made me love the series even more.  Interested?  I highly recommend starting with book 1, The Last Wolf.



The Author that Always Makes Me Cry
The Harp of Kings (Warrior Bards, #1) by Juliet Marillier

The fact that this author makes me cry is is good. Really! I became a fan of Ms. Marillier a couple years back and now I want to read all her new stuff. So last year, I read The Harp of Kings. Loosely tied to the Blackthorn and Grim series that I loved so much, The Harp of Kings is full of great adventures, beautiful songs sung by bards, and many heartbreaking moments. Even the happy scenes sometime bring a tear to my eye!

New Series With so Much Potential
Kingdom of Exiles (The Beast Charmer, #1) by Maxym M. Martineau

Great characters including a Brotherhood of Assassins, an array of unusual beasts, hopeless situations and an impossible romance made this a book to read into the wee hours of the morning.  These same aspects give the author so much potential for a few future stories.  I will be following The Beast Charmer series.


Brutal Cliffhanger
Women’s War by Jenna Glass

I really don’t like cliffhanger’s and if they are not announced (in the book blurb), I get a little pissy.  With The Women’s War, it was bad.  “Brutal” is the word that one of my review commenters used and she was spot on.  But the reason it was so brutal is that the book was so good!  I was not ready for such a hellish moment in the story to be the end of the book.  The Women’s War is one amazing story. Based on a society where women are considered second-class citizens, if they are lucky, this is the story of revolution led by two extraordinary women.  Book 2, Queen of the Unwanted, releases in May.