Goodreads Best of 2019 Nominees I’ve Read

  • FICTION:
    • The Testaments by Margaret Atwood A beautiful follow up to one of my all-time favorites, The Handmaid’s Tale. Review here.
    • Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane This novel follows two men who were NYPD beat cops and then how their families intertwine when they happen to move into the same neighborhood. This was a well-written examination of family dynamics, mental health, love, and forgiveness. It was really hyped up on #bookstagram, and was a BOTM selection for June. I gave it a 4/5 stars because it was a little lengthy for me, but very well done.
  • MYSTERY & THRILLER
    • The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth This book was an absolute surprise to me! I was expecting a thriller but it was much more of a family examination. It ended up being a heartfelt story that showed that there are always many, many sides to the truth. There were multiple perspectives which really underscored that you need to see the world from someone else’s point of view, and it was an astounding look at trying to understand one another. 5/5 stars
    • Lock Every Door by Riley Sager This was an AMAZING thriller set in the fictional NYC hotel The Bartholomew. Sager did a phenomenal job of not only creating a creepy setting, but also creating a twisty book that completely blindsided me. 5/5 stars!
    • An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen An interesting thriller about a professor running a psychological study and the person she uses as a subject…and how the study isn’t what it seems.
    • Miracle Creek by Angie Kim I wouldn’t have put this one in the thriller category, personally. This read like a courtroom drama with a lot of family dysfunction. It was certainly well-written, but I wasn’t in love with it like many people were. 4/5 stars.
    • The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides This book BLEW MY MIND! I read it in less than 24 hours! The author’s writing style was compulsively readable and impossible to put down. The twist was PHENOMENAL! I really don’t want to blow it, but it was just so, so great. The writer uses some different, slightly unconventional writing strategies in order to create the twist. I’ve seen others say that the twist was too predictable for them, but honestly, I felt blindsided. Absolutely worth all of the hype! 5/5 stars
    • The Whisper Man by Alex North The Whisper Man was a the nickname of a serial killer that terrorized a town in the English countryside about 20 years ago, and when some new crimes that look like the work of the Whisper Man — who got his name by whispering in the victim’s bedroom windows at night — the detective from the original case goes back to work. This novel is not just a creepy atmospheric novel of a serial killer (and possibly ghosts?). It is also an exploration of how far a parent would go for their child, how parental relationships change over time, and how to deal with loss. It absolutely kept me on my toes the whole time and I was able to read it in only two days. 4/5 stars.
    • The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware Rowan takes a job as a nanny for three young girls in rural Scotland, where her only company is often her charges and the caretaker of the house, Jack. This novel is written as a series of letters from jail, where Rowan has been charged with the murder of one of the girls. There were so, so many twists & turns and I was stunned by how well this one was done. A definite winner for me! 4/5 stars.
  • HISTORICAL FICTION:
    • Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid This book holds a special place in my heart as my first ARC. I wrote a review article about it for Candor Magazine — check it out!
    • The Huntress by Kate Quinn This was a wonderfully written historical novel about Nazi hunters and a mysterious woman who enters the life of a Boston teen. 5/5 stars!
    • City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert  I LOVED this novel of 1940’s New York City! Our main character Vivian takes on a job at her aunt’s low-budget theatre after dropping out of college. She meets a lively cast of characters at the Lily Playhouse and this novel is all written as Vivian looks back on her past and how she learned what life was all about. 4/5 stars
  • FANTASY
    • Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo Quite possibly my favorite book of 2019. I am so looking forward to the rest of this creepy, gothic series about ghosts & the occult at Yale. Review here.
    • The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern Her first book, The Night Circus, is one of my favorite books EVER. This was written just as beautifully, but I just…don’t understand this one. Definitely need a re-read, but initial rating is a 4/5.
  • ROMANCE:
    • The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren I am sad to report that this is my first CLo book, but it will NOT be the last! This was a hysterical enemies-to-lovers tale filled with wacky characters, a little bit of steaminess, and lush descriptions of tropical locales. 4/5 stars for me!
    • The Bride Test by Helen Hoang A cute, steamy, #ownvoices novel that gave a voice to characters with autism and the Vietnamese community. Esme & Khai have great chemistry and it was an adorable read. The fact that Esme was chosen by Khai’s mom felt strange to me, but only because it’s really not part of my culture. It was a little far-fetched and over-the-top, but sometimes the best romances are. 4/5 stars
    • Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center A cute, but somewhat predictable, romance novel. This is the 3rd book I’ve read by Katherine Center and they’re always enjoyable & lighthearted. I like the ‘twist’ at the end and everything is resolved. 4/5 stars.
  • DEBUT NOVEL:
    • The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow I loved this debut novel that took you in and out of other worlds & doorways & stories. Beautifully done and a pleasure to read. Review here.
  • YA FICTION:
    • With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo This book will resonate with SO MANY teens. It examines family dynamics, teenage parenthood, poverty, race, and sexuality, to name a few. Gorgeously written descriptions of all of Emoni’s cooking were the icing on the cake — pun intended! Review here.
    • The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys Ruta Sepetys has taken another era of history often overlooked and written a beautiful story of oppression, young love, and sacrifice. Her short chapters and jumps in character perspective make this a quick, compelling read. She deftly includes quotes from documents about Franco & this era in history in between chapters so that the reader can quickly get an understanding of the historical context. I never felt lost; Sepetys is marvelous at weaving a story into meticulous research. I loved each character, up until the triumphant end. 5/5 stars
    • On the Come Up by Angie Thomas Angie Thomas is the queen of realistic YA fiction. She has yet again created such vivid and authentic characters and a book that is compulsively readable. Her books should be required reading in late middle school/early high school! 5/5 stars
  • YA FANTASY/SCI-FI
    • Wilder Girls by Rory Power I absolutely loved this story of survival and female relationships. It was a creepy, gory story, intertwined with a mystery. Hetty and her fellow classmates at Raxter Island School in Maine are living with an unknown disease called the Tox. They are sent supplies based on the generosity of the Navy, but secrets are hiding underneath all the levels of survival and struggle. They’re not only trying to survive the elements, the disease, and wild animals, but it almost becomes the hardest part to survive each other. 4/5 stars

October 2019 Wrap-Up

I am super excited that I was able to read TEN BOOKS in the month of October! I was also so thrilled that I got to be a volunteer at the Boston Book Festival and meet two of the authors whose books I read this month (I still have 6 more books I acquired from the BBF to get to!)

  • After The Flood by Kassandra Montag: I read this one as a buddy read with some friends on Bookstagram in the #papercatbookclub! It was not only an excellent book, but we had some excellent discussions about it as well. This novel was a beautifully written story about the world after there are huge floods, and only small bits of land are left. In this watery world, resources are scarce and gangs of brutal pirates are the ones in charge of the seas. Mira has a daughter, Pearl, born on the water, but her oldest daughter Row was kidnapped before Pearl was born. Mira hears that Row is still alive, and begins a mission around the world to find her. This novel is a testament to a mother’s love and how our children change our lives. 4.5/5 stars
  • The Whisper Man by Alex North: This was a creepy thriller — perfect for October! The Whisper Man was a the nickname of a serial killer that terrorized a town in the English countryside about 20 years ago, and when some new crimes that look like the work of the Whisper Man — who got his name by whispering in the victim’s bedroom windows at night — the detective from the original case goes back to work. This novel is not just a creepy atmospheric novel of a serial killer (and possibly ghosts?). It is also an exploration of how far a parent would go for their child, how parental relationships change over time, and how to deal with loss. It absolutely kept me on my toes the whole time and I was able to read it in only two days. 4.5/5 stars. (Thanks to Bookish First & Celadon Books for the free ARC!)
  • Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo: I loved this book SO F*CKING MUCH. It has been compared to adult Harry Potter, and tbh it’s kinda close. Full review here.
  • The Topeka School by Ben Lerner: I tried so, so hard to enjoy this book. The synopsis makes it sound really intriguing, but the writing was too lofty for me, and I just really couldn’t get into it. I had to DNF.
  • The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware: Ruth Ware can be hit or miss for me, and this one was definitely a hit. Rowan takes a job as a nanny for three young girls in rural Scotland, where her only company is often her charges and the caretaker of the house, Jack. This novel is written as a series of letters from jail, where Rowan has been charged with the murder of one of the girls. There were so, so many twists & turns and I was stunned by how well this one was done. A definite winner for me! 4/5 stars.
  • The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys: Ruta Sepetys never disappoints. She is a phenomenal storyteller and a master at research. She has taken another era of history often overlooked and written a beautiful story of oppression, young love, and sacrifice. Her short chapters and jumps in character perspective make this a quick, compelling read. She deftly includes quotes from documents about Franco & this era in history in between chapters so that the reader can quickly get an understanding of the historical context. I never felt lost; Sepetys is marvelous at weaving a story into meticulous research. I loved each character, up until the triumphant end. I will never not read something Sepetys writes — she’s the queen of YA historical fiction in my book! 5/5 stars.
  • Wilder Girls by Rory Power: I finished Wilder Girls by Rory Power in just a couple of reading sessions, and I absolutely loved this story of survival and female relationships. It was a creepy, gory story, intertwined with a mystery. Hetty and her fellow classmates at Raxter Island School in Maine are living with an unknown disease called the Tox. They are sent supplies based on the generosity of the Navy, but secrets are hiding underneath all the levels of survival and struggle. They’re not only trying to survive the elements, the disease, and wild animals, but it almost becomes the hardest part to survive each other. Hetty’s best friend Byatt goes missing, and Hetty will do anything to bring her back. This book is a well-written, almost poetic examination of the spectrum of female relationships and what we will do for those we love. The ending was a bit too ambiguous for me, so I’m giving this a 3.5/5, rounded to a 4/5.
  • Quintland Sisters by Shelley Wood: This book started off REALLY strong. I loved the way that the author included actual news articles into the story. I really felt the stress of keeping FIVE infants alive (all the feedings, cleaning, washing, etc. etc). It made me so upset to see a mother torn apart from her children, and how these innocent children were exploited from birth by almost everyone around them. It was really heartbreaking. However, the ending was abrupt and didn’t really fit well with the tone of the rest of the book. I was not thrilled with the dull ‘romance’ that the author tried to pull together and I certainly didn’t like the way that the author rushed to tie-up loose ends by smushing all of the correspondence together at the end. 2.5/5 stars.
  • Slay by Brittney Morris: This book was an awesome and important examination of what it means to have safe spaces for POC. The premise of the game/the fact that no one in Keira’s life knows that she created it/etc is really unbelievable in the most literal sense — I literally had to suspend my disbelief that her parents/sister REALLY had no idea that she created this game played by hundreds of thousands of people daily. I loved the interactions Keira had with her white friends; those were believable and incredibly accurate. It’s absolutely an important YA read, and I think kids will really enjoy the gaming aspect and maybe won’t find it as unbelievable as I do. SLAY, Brittney Morris; can’t wait to read what you do next! 4/5 stars
  • Dear Martin by Nic Stone: Justyce McAllister is an honor student, poised to graduate high school and enroll at an Ivy League school. A series of events unfold in his life that make him question who he is and who he wants to be. It is a well-written look at race, class, and power, and done in a way that is authentic and important. 4/5 stars.
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