December 2019 Reading Wrap Up

Better late than never, right? 😉

This month’s quick stats:
8 books (3 audiobooks)
1,508 pages
9 authors (6 female)
1 nonfiction | 7 fiction
This year’s quick stats:
109 books (25 audiobooks)
27,477 pages
99 authors (54 female)
25 nonfiction | 84 fiction

Title: Station Eleven
Author: Emily St. John Mandel
Genre: Dystopia
Pages: 333
My Rating: 2

Brief Summary: This novel is set after the world’s population is nearly eradicated by a sudden outbreak of the Georgia Flu, which kills 99.6% of humans. The story follows a group of Shakespearean actors as they roam the midwest United States and perform for the small groups of survivors they meet, as well as a few characters’ background stories from before the near apocalypse. 

My Thoughts: I’m disappointed that I was so disappointed by this book. I feel really similarly as I did after reading The Night Circus (another confusingly super-hyped book) – way too slow-moving, lots of perspectives and storylines all muddling together, and overall no real payoff from what promises to be a suspenseful, action-packed story. I first tried picking up the book physically, wanted to give up about ⅓ of the way through, and then decided to try the audiobook, re-listening to the first part and pushing through to the end. I wish I could even say that I understand what people love about the book… but I really can’t. I’d appreciate insight if anyone has it as to what made you love the story!

Title: Artemis
Author: Andy Weir
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 305
My Rating: 5 stars

Brief Summary: This book follows Jazz, a resident of the first city on the moon, Artemis, and a smuggler of forbidden goods to the city’s wealthier inhabitants. Being on the wrong side of the law but the right side of the rich, she gets herself into all kinds of shenanigans just trying to make ends meet for herself. 

My Thoughts: I loved this. I love Andy Weir’s ability to make science readable yet actually hold merit (as far as I understand, this is true). I love how his characters are humorous and make the story fun to read. I’ve seen feedback that the main character in this book is too crude or immature to be realistic, but I actually disagree and enjoyed reading about a girl who makes sex jokes (there ARE a lot of them, so sure, maybe it gets a little old – but I’d rather keep them than take them all out) and doesn’t have a relationship propelling the plot or distracting her from the issues at hand. If you liked The Martian by this author, then I’d say that this book is at least worth a shot – there are plenty of differences, but the things I loved the most about that book also appeared here.

Title: An Unwanted Guest
Author: Shari Lapena
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Pages: 290
My Rating: 4 stars

Brief Summary: This is an isolated, closed-circle mystery that takes place in a lodge hotel in upstate New York during a huge blizzard. When one of the guests turns up dead, there is no way for the police to be contacted or for any of those remaining to leave, resulting in everyone theorizing who could be the culprit and trying to avoid becoming a victim themselves.

My Thoughts: This is definitely my favorite Shari Lapena thriller out of the four she’s written so far. I don’t think there’s anything extremely original or surprising in it, but I don’t that’s the point of this type of mystery. I felt satisfyingly creeped out by the atmosphere she created and enjoyed seeing how the story played out.

Title: The Death of Mrs. Westaway
Author: Ruth Ware
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: This book follows young woman Hal after receiving a letter stating that a relative of hers has passed away and left a substantial inheritance that is hers to claim. This confuses Hal as she doesn’t believe herself to have any living relatives, and certainly not rich ones – but her dire financial situation convinces her to attend the funeral anyway and attempt to play the part she needs to to receive the funds. 

My Thoughts: This was… not my favorite thriller, but I can’t say there’s anything inherently wrong with it, either. I have a hard time with mysteries that have lots of characters because of how hard it is to keep everyone plus the storyline straight. This one has many characters plus a bunch of convoluted family dynamics, making it a little hard to follow and ultimately making the ending less than satisfying because of how much I likely missed or forgot. The atmosphere was very similar to her most recent release, The Turn of the Key, which I loved. I’d still recommend this book to Ruth Ware fans, and I plan to continue reading from her backlist, but be prepared to concentrate on keeping the characters and storyline straight in your head.

Title: Everything I Never Told You
Author: Celeste Ng
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 282
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: This story follows the Chinese-American Lee family before and after the death of “favorite child” Lydia, focusing on each family member and their emotions and secrets they are withholding from the other members. 

My Thoughts: This was a seriously emotional read and a deep character study into these realistic characters and complicated family dynamics. Although I enjoyed the reading experience and flew through the book, a couple of months later I’m struggling a little bit to remember specifics of the plot, so it’s hard to say it was life-changing or impactful beyond the enjoyable experience.

Title: Heroine
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 5 stars

Brief Summary: This book follows high-school softball player Mickey Catalan after she suffers major injuries to her lower body in a car crash with one of her teammates. Determined to overcome the pain and return to her old self, she becomes dependent on painkillers and starts walking down a dangerous path to keep her supply coming.

My Thoughts: Because of its dark subject matter, it’s hard to say this book was great – but it was great. I loved reading about a high-school softball player (something I was too and enjoyed relating to) who isn’t known for being pretty, or funny, or even nice. She’s known for being tough. And that makes it strangely believable that she could slip into the scary world of drugs despite her athletic commitments and the risk of getting caught destroying her future. The book didn’t drag for a second, which is a feat in my opinion for a hard-hitting contemporary. I was completely invested, and Mindy McGinnis took something I personally can’t relate to (addiction and the opioid epidemic) and made me empathetic towards the characters involved. Highly recommend to those who can handle the subject matter.

Title: My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry
Author: Fredrik Backman
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: This story is told from the perspective of seven-year-old Elsa, who considers her grandmother to be her best and only friend. Her grandmother tells her stories of the fantasy Land of Almost-Awake and ends up leading Elsa on a quest to form relationships with people around her who she never thought she’d like. 

My Thoughts: This was a sweet story, but I didn’t love the child as a narrator. I think fans of whimsical and slightly fantastical stories will enjoy this much more than I did!

Title: Until We Meet Again
Authors: Michael Korenblit and Kathleen Janger
Genre: Historical Nonfiction
Pages: 298
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: This is the telling of the story of two Polish families fleeing their homes in hopes of surviving the Holocaust and avoiding deportation or punishment by the Nazis. Specifically, we follow 17-year-old sweethearts Meyer and Manya through their journeys, at times leaving their families and each other in attempts to keep everyone as safe as possible. 

My Thoughts: This was a fascinating story and obviously hard-hitting subject matter, written in an appropriate way for young readers. While I think that took away a little bit from its impactfulness for me personally, I definitely think it’s a story worth reading about for everyone of all ages.


Top 10 Favorite Books I Read in 2019

As I said in my most recent post, Top 10 Most Disappointing Books I Read in 2019, this year was a great reading year in terms of quantity AND quality of books read – making it really difficult to narrow down my Top 10 Favorites of the year. I started by looking at all of my 5-star ratings – which, surprisingly, ended up being almost exactly 1/5 of the total books I completed. I was also pleasantly surprised to see a variety of genres represented, proving that I enjoy all kinds of books and that I should continue exploring outside of my comfort zone.

I ultimately was able to narrow the list down to my Top 10 favorites, listed below along with some explanation of what exactly I loved so much about each of them. If you have read any of the books below, I’d love to know if you enjoyed them yourself. If you haven’t read any of the books I list, I’d encourage you to pick at least one of them up! 🙂

Title: Verity
Author: Colleen Hover
Genre: Thriller/Romance

This book was not only my favorite read of the year, but also my biggest surprise. I had no idea what the premise was, and I have not read any of Colleen Hoover’s other books, but I picked this one up as part of my Goodreads Choice Award Thriller Nominee Predictions reading challenge – and I am SO GLAD that I did. This book follows a young writer named Lowen, hired to complete the remaining books in a series started by famous author Verity Crawford. In order to perform this job, Lowen moves into the Crawford household temporarily in order to sort through Verity’s office to find things that might help in her writing, and ends up uncovering all sorts of things about Verity and her family that she never expected. I definitely recommend going into this book not knowing much more than that – a combination between a thriller and a romance, this book kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time, and I absolutely loved every single twist and turn that the plot took – all the way up through the ending. Highly recommend, and I’m very excited to read more from Colleen Hoover in the future!

Title: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance

If you have spent a lot of time on the bookish internet, then you no-doubt have heard of this super-hyped, universally highly-rated book. The story is about Evelyn Hugo, a fictional Hollywood actress who, now at the end of her life, is giving an exclusive interview to young journalist Monique revealing everything about her life, including the seven men she married and what each one brought to her life. The story is smart and complex, but told in a way that is very easy to follow and is nearly impossible not to become invested in. I loved the unraveling of the story and the way that everything connects and becomes important at just the right time, and think that this book can appeal to fans of almost every genre in literature.

Title: Little Fires Everywhere
Author: Celeste Ng
Genre: Contemporary

This book is one of the slower-paced on my list of favorites, something that is both surprising and unsurprising to me. The story mainly follows two families of very different backgrounds that become intimitely involved with each other’s lives through employment arrangements and their children becoming friends, but ultimately end up on different sides of a custody battle happening for a third family in the community. I ended up loving all of the well-developed, complex characters and appreciated how the book made me think about morally charged issues including abortion, adoption, and how knowing the people behind these decisions can change your viewpoints very quickly. I think Celeste Ng did a wonderful job interweaving multiple story lines in a realistic and impactful way, and would definitely recommend this book to those who enjoy slower-paced, character-study type books.

Title: Recursion
Author: Blake Crouch
Genre: Science Fiction

This was the second Blake Crouch book that I read this year and – spoiler alert – they BOTH ended up on my favorites list. Recursion I liked just a little bit more – this science fiction novel is all about memories, and a disorder that is showing up in individuals called False Memory Syndrome. This syndrome is infiltrating sufferer’s minds with memories of lives they have not lived, causing some of them to go mad and eventually kill themselves to make the flood of false memories stop. I absolutely loved everything about this book – I appreciate how Blake Crouch’s plots and science elements are just enough to keep your mind reeling, but not too much so that you feel lost or stupid for not fulling understanding (it is still fiction, after all). I found the exploration of memories super intriguing and also found myself really invested in the characters and their outcomes. I highly recommend this book to you if you already know you like Blake Crouch’s writing, or if you are intrigued by the phenomenon that is False Memory Syndrome 🙂

Title: Dark Matter
Author: Blake Crouch
Genre: Science Fiction

Very similarly to Recursion, Dark Matter is a sci-fi novel that gives you plenty to think about yet remains entertaining and readable. This novel follows Jason, a seemingly average husband and father whose life is completely derailed when he’s attacked one night and awakes to find himself in a life just slightly different from his own – his wife is no longer his wife, and his son seems to no longer exist. The story takes off from there, exploring the possibility of alternate universes and the implications of wanting to step into a reality not your own. This is the book that got me completely hooked onto Blake Crouch as a writer, and if the premise sounds at all interesting to you I’d recommend it as a great sci-fi read.

Title: The Girl He Used to Know
Author: Tracey Garvis Graves
Genre: Contemporary/Romance

This is the first ARC I have ever received – the publisher kindly sent me a physical copy in exchange for an honest review. I was so, so happy when I ended up completely falling in love with the characters and story, a pretty straightforward second-chance romance that follows Annika and Jonathan throughout two timelines, one when they first meet in college and the second ten years later. I found myself falling in love with both of the characters twice over, and appreciated that they were crafted not to be perfect but to be realistic, making the overall story and love story feel authentic and genuine.

Title: The Art of Fielding
Author: Chad Harbach
Genre: Contemporary/Sports

This was another one that took me completely by surprise, as it’s my husband’s book and I read it per his recommendation. It’s a contemporary novel that follows the players on a midwestern baseball team. Although baseball takes up a majority of their time, and therefore makes up a lot of the book’s plotline, the characters also deal with plenty of other issues. I was COMPLETELY invested in this story – the characters are super complex and the book is long enough that we get very intimate with all of their thoughts, hopes, dreams, fears, and uncertainties. I think that non-sports-lovers can and will enjoy this book, but fans of baseball will enjoy it that much more.

Title: Scythe
Author: Neal Shusterman
Genre: Dystopia

I’m a sucker for a dystopia – I loved The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Maze Runner, and The 5th Wave, despite some of their inherent flaws/plotholes and immature writing. When I first heard about Scythe, I was so intrigued by the synopsis, by the fact that it seemed to be more of an adult read, and because so many people online actually loved it. After reading it myself, I can say that the online community is correct and this book is COMPLETELY worth the hype. Absolutely the best dystopian novel I’ve ever read. Just this last month I read the sequel, Thunderhead, and I can’t wait to get to the recently-released conclusion, The Toll.

Title: The Last Time I Lied
Author: Riley Sager
Genre: Thriller

If you don’t consider Verity to be a thriller (I do, but many don’t), then here I listed my favorite thriller of the year. This is the second of three thrillers I read by Riley Sager this year, and by far my favorite. The story follows a young woman who is returning to a summer camp as an instructor 15 years after she attended as a camper and her three bunkmates went missing. Not only is she hoping to gain closure for herself, she’s hoping she can dig up some secrets and solve the mystery that has remained open since that time. I loved the atmosphere Sager created in this book, and the plot itself had me on the edge of my seat completely unsure of what to expect with every page flip. Highly recommend to thriller lovers, whether you have read any of Riley Sager’s other works or not.

Title: I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This
Author: Kate White
Genre: Nonfiction

And finally, rounding out my top 10, we have the sole nonfiction book. I try to read as much nonfiction as I can, but a lot of them in the “self-help” realm start repeating the same information and blend together in my mind. This book, however, completely stood out. If I could recommend ONE book for a woman looking for career-focused advice, this would be it. It covers everything from how to apply for and land your first job, to how to impress your boss, to how to get promoted, to how to manage other people, all the way up to how to handle reaching the “big job” that you’ve spent your career striving for. Even though my industry is COMPLETELY different from the magazine/media industry (the author’s area of expertise), I still found so many helpful tips within this book. They are actionable, there are a lot of them, and it fully flushes out one idea before moving onto the next. I plan to reread this book several times throughout my career, and because of that would recommend to anyone at any point in theirs.


With my Top 10 set for 2019, I’m so excited to get into 2020 and discover what great reads are waiting for me next year. If you haven’t already, check out my posts below that include some of the books I’m planning to get to! And let me know what your favorite reads have been this year, and what you’re planning on reading next year (if you know)!

2020 Anticipated Releases

2020 Owned TBR

20 Backlist Titles I Want to Read in 2020


Top 10 Most Disappointing Books I Read in 2019

I’d like to start out this post by saying that this year was actually a pretty great reading year – I didn’t read THAT MANY books that I completely disliked or couldn’t finish. But, of course, there were some – and some that I was very much not expecting to be so disappointed by. This post is highlighting those books – the ones I expected to love but was let down by in one way or another. I have to make the disclaimer that I DO NOT THINK these are bad books, and I COMPLETELY respect those who enjoyed or even loved the books below. Sometimes reading tastes don’t align, and that’s okay! I’d actually love to know if you disagree with any of my opinions below – if you enjoyed one of the books, what was it that worked for you?

Title: The Sun is Also a Star
Author: Nicola Yoon
Genre: Contemporary
My Rating: 2 stars

This book, although not my lowest-rated book of the year, I consider to be my biggest disappointment because I whole-heartedly thought I’d love it. The story follows two strangers, Daniel and Natasha, who meet in New York City and develop an unlikely relationship over the span of a single day. My problems with the book included the pacing (SO slow, with choppy chapters) and the love story (completely unrealistic in my opinion). Although I typically don’t mind character-focused, slice-of-life type stories, this one just did not work for me – I was left bored and unsatisfied!

Title: Not All Migrate
Author: Krystynna Byers
Genre: Contemporary
My Rating: 1 star

I had received this book as an eARC on Netgalley, and I was really disappointed to not connect with the story and have to leave my dissatisfied review. This book follows a man who has lost his wife and two daughters in a car accident and is informed that his wife had an unknown drug in her system at the time of the crash. He sets out to find out what the drug was and who supplied it to her, but ends up addicted himself (not a spoiler – the addiction part is essentially the entire book). The premise was completely unbelievable to me and the writing of the book was so graphic and strange that it took everything in me to complete the book at all. I said in my inital review that although this book could be entertaining to someone, I’m just not sure who that someone is – definitely not me or anyone looking for a traditional thriller.

Title: Appalachian Book of the Dead
Author: Dale Neal
Genre: Contemporary (?)
My Rating: DNF’d/1 star

This year, I only DNF’d two books – this unfortunately was one of them. I don’t even know how to describe the genre or the plot of this book, it was that unusual. I’ve seen it described as a “metaphysical thriller,” but I’m not really sure what that means. The book was very slow-paced and ominous, but there was no clear plot that I could distinguish by the time I quit reading about halfway through. I had received a physical ARC of this book from the publisher, but even that could not motivate me to finish this strange story.

Title: The Lost Man
Author: Jane Harper
Genre: Thriller
My Rating: DNF’d/1 star

This was the second of two books I couldn’t finish this year. I had picked it up as part of my Goodreads Choice Award Thriller Nominees reading challenge, but after attempting to read it both physically and as an audiobook, decided it wasn’t worth suffering through. The plot follows two men searching for answers after the mysterious death of their third brother, but the writing is extremely slow-paced and focuses heavily on the atmosphere of the Australian desert that the story is set in. I found absolutely nothing that intrigued me from the start of the book, and after reading in other reviews that the pace never picks up, decided I could put the book down with the decision that it was not the thriller for me. I know Jane Harper is a very popular writer, so I’m sure this book as well as her others appeal to many readers, but I don’t foresee myself racing to pick up her books again anytime soon.

Title: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Author: Stephen R. Covey
Genre: Nonfiction
My Rating: 2 stars

This book is highly regarded as a nonfiction classic, an authority on the topic of forming habits and becoming successful in a business sense as well as in one’s personal life. I was excited to soak up all of the knowledge, but very quickly found it to be outdated, preachy, and long-winded. I have read a number of other nonfiction books that seemed to say the same things that this book did, but in much more concise and impactful ways.

Title: The Unhoneymooners
Author: Christina Lauren
Genre: Contemporary Romance
My Rating: 2 stars

This was a VERY popular contemporary romance book this year, and I had no reason not to believe that I’d love it as much as everyone else. What came out of it was the realization that I prefer this “rom-com” type story in movie form MUCH more than in book form – I think it just took way too much of my time for a story that is so overly cheesy and lacks any real substance. I can totally respect that other people might connect with this type of light-hearted story, but now I know better before jumping into them myself.

Title: My Lovely Wife
Author: Samantha Downing
Genre: Thriller
My Rating: 2 stars

Another very hyped book this year, My Lovely Wife is a thriller that follows a couple that murders women as a way to spice up their marriage. Again, I had no reason to think that I wouldn’t love it, but after completion I have concluded that I don’t enjoy stories from a serial killer’s perspective. I didn’t find anything suspenseful or surprising about the story and was expecting more from the amazing thriller this was supposed to be.

Title: Someone We Know
Author: Shari Lapena
Genre: Thriller
My Rating: 2 stars

This was the third Shari Lapena thriller that I’ve read, and unfortunately my least favorite. The story follows several members within a neighborhood where one woman turns up dead and everyone starts pointing fingers and discovering secrets that everyone else is hiding. I had a number of problems with the tropes used, including cheating/lying between every married couple involved, and the fact that every single person had a motive to be the killer made the ending unsurprising and unsatisfying.

Title: One Nation Under Taught
Author: Dr. Vince M. Bertram
Genre: Nonfiction
My Rating: 2 stars

This book, which I read way back in January, had me really excited – as an engineer myself, I can totally see the need for more graduates of STEM fields and think that a book designed to educte on that topic is a great idea. However, this book ended up being a 200-page advertisement for Project Lead the Way, one program that – although I see its merit – claims to have all of the answers and be ready to solve all of America’s education problems, and it just rubbed me the wrong way.

Title: Inspection
Author: Josh Malerman
Genre: Dystopia
My Rating: 2 stars

I was super excited to read this book, a dystopian novel about two separate but nearly identical experiments being done on boys and girls to study how being raised completely isolated from the opposite sex would impact their development and potential for success. A great premise, but unfortunately I was disappointed by the execution of the book because of its slow pace, limited surprising elements, and too-late action.


With that, I’m actually glad to be done writing this post – I don’t enjoy talking badly about books or revisiting all of the books that left me with disappointed feelings – I’d much rather talk about favorites! So my next post will highlight my top 10 FAVORITE books that I read in 2019. Feel free to comment and let me know (or leave a link to your own post) either your favorite or most disappointing books that you read this year!


20 Backlist Titles I Want to Read in 2020

Earlier this week I posted about 15 new releases I want to read in 2020 – but I definitely have a long list of backlist titles I want to get to, as well. New releases can be fun, especially when they’re super hyped online, but backlist titles also hold a lot of merit and I think it’s important to keep up with a mix of old and new titles. Below are 20 books released BEFORE 2020 that I want to make a priority to get to next year!

Contemporaries

Boomer1 – Daniel Torday – 2018

Undead Girl Gang – Lily Anderson – 2018

Love, Stargirl – Jerry Spinelli – 2007

Dress Codes for Small Towns – Courtney C. Stevens – 2017

How to Walk Away – Katherine Center – 2018

Beartown – Fredrik Backman – 2017

November 9 – Colleen Hoover – 2015

Eliza and Her Monsters – Francesca Zappia – 2017

The Nowhere Girls – Amy Reed – 2017

Birthday – Meredith Russo – 2019

Red White, and Royal Blue – Casey McQuiston – 2019

Autoboyography – Christina Lauren – 2017

Nonfictions

Men Explain Things to Me – Rebecca Solnit – 2014

The Radium Girls – Kate Moore – 2017

The 4-Hour Workweek – Timothy Ferriss – 2007

Historical Fiction

City of Girls – Elizabeth Gilbert – 2019

Science Fiction

Middlegame – Seanan McGuire – 2019

Thrillers

Neverworld Wake – Marisha Pessl – 2018

The Cabin at the End of the World – Paul Tremblay – 2018

Sawkill Girls – Claire Legrand – 2018


Have you read any of these books? Have I been missing out having not read them yet, or could I skip them to make way for 2020 new releases?


2020 Owned TBR

Here’s a fun (read: discouraging) activity: go through your entire owned TBR list and count just how many books you thought you would have read by now but haven’t. I don’t consider my book collection huge by any means, but I was astounded to find that I have 56 books currently sitting on my shelves that I had every intention of reading this year. Although I will be carrying them into 2020, I’m declaring now that any books on this list that I haven’t read by the end of 2020 will be donated. In my opinion, there’s no reason to hoard stacks and stacks of books that remain unread year after year, so in order to keep my number of unread books low, I made the list below.

See the below list for all of the books I currently own and have not read – and plan to read within the next year. This list does not contain the 12 books I plan to read in December (read that post here), but it does contain all of the others.

Classics (8)

Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

Catch-22 – Joseph Heller

Hatchet – Gary Paulson

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

The Metamorphasis – Franz Kafka

The Road – Cormac McCarthy

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

Go Set a Watchman – Harper Lee

Contemporaries (9)

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman

It Ends With Us – Colleen Hoover

Peak – Roland Smith

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants – Ann Brashares

The Second Summer of the Sisterhood – Ann Brashares

Girls in Pants – Ann Brashares

Forever in Blue – Ann Brashares

Truly Madly Guilty – Liane Moriarty

Tuesdays with Morrie – Mitch Albom

Dystopias (1)

The Limit – Kristen Landon

Fantasies (1)

Carry On – Rainbow Rowell

Historical Fictions (3)

Phantoms in the Snow – Kathleen Benner Duble

The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens

Mystery/Thrillers (10)

All the Missing Girls – Megan Miranda

Good as Gone – Amy Gentry

Pictures in the Dark – Gillian Cross

The Casual Vacancy – J.K. Rowling

The Crossing Places – Elly Griffiths

The Cuckoo’s Calling – Robert Galbraith

The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson

The Lying Game – Ruth Ware

The Silent Wife – A.S.A. Harrison

Nonfictions (6)

Attached – Amir Levine and Rachel Heller

Blue Like Jazz – Donald Miller

Good to Great – Jim Collins

The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands – Dr. Laura Schlessinger

The Tipping Point – Malcolm Gladwell

Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill

Poetry (1)

Where the Sidewalk Ends – Shel Silverstein

Science Fiction (1)

Do You Dream of Terra-Two? – Temi Oh

Sports (16)

A Coach’s Life – Dean Smith

Beyond Basketball – Mike Krzyzewski

Cubs Essential – Lew Freedman

Gold Dust – Chris Lynch

Hate Mail From Cheerleaders – Rick Reilly

Million Dollar Throw – Mike Lupica

One Yard Short – Les Steckel and Rob Suggs

Our Boys – Joe Drape

QB1 – Mike Lupica

Quiet Strength – Tony Dungy

The 33-Year-Old Rookie – Chris Coste

The Boy Who Saved Baseball – John H. Ritter

The Jordan Rules – Sam Smith

The Power of Negative Thinking – Bob Knight

Toughness – Jay Bilas

Travel Team – Mike Lupica


I would love input as to which of these books I should prioritize and read right away in 2020. Let me know if you have read any of them and your thoughts! If not, what are the top books you own and want to get to at some point in 2020?


2020 Anticipated Book Releases

2019 was such an amazing reading year for me – I completed over 100 books, found some new all-time favorite authors, and really honed in on my personal reading tastes for the first time. Looking forward to 2020, I have already become aware of a number of books to be released that I’m excited to try for one reason or another. Some are by authors that I already know I love, some are by authors that I want to give a second chance, and a some are authors completely unknown to me but have such an interesting premise that I want to check them out as soon as possible.

Below are 15 of my most anticipated releases for 2020 along with a short blurb on why I’m excited to read the book as soon as it comes out. Please let me know if any of these are on your radar for next year or if there are any other books you have your eye on!

Books by Favorite Authors

The Dilemma by B.A. Paris
Anticipated Release: January 2020

B.A. Paris has quickly become one of my favorite thriller authors – two of her books, Behind Closed Doors and Bring Me Back, were both 5-star reads from me. I have very high hopes for this new one, which I actually was lucky enough to receive as an e-ARC from NetGalley and will be getting to read very soon!

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager
Anticipated Release: July 2020

Riley Sager is an author I discovered this year, and after reading his debut novel Final Girls, I immediately had to read his subsequent books The Last Time I Lied and Lock Every Door. Every single one has been either 4 or 5 stars because of his extremely atmospheric writing, so I’m expecting nothing less from his upcoming thriller!

Be Not Far From Me by Mindy McGinnis
Anticipated Release: March 2020

I actually have only read one book by Mindy McGinnis, The Female of the Species, but I absolutely loved it. Kind of a mix between a thriller and a contemporary, it completely stood out from all of the other books that I read this year and makes me very interested to read more from her to see if the vibe is the same throughout. In addition to this 2020 release that I want to try as soon as it comes out, I also have Heroine on my shelves already after being released this year – I plan to get to BOTH of them early in 2020!

Untitled by Ruth Ware
Anticipated Release: July 2020

Another author that I only had to read one book from to fall in love with – Ruth Ware’s The Turn of the Key was released this year and quickly became a favorite of not only mine but so many people on the Bookternet. As I try to get to all of her backlist titles as well, I definitely am planning on keeping up with her future releases as they come.

Lucky Caller by Emma Mills
Anticipated Release: January 2020

Foolish Hearts was my first exposure to Emma Mills, which I read this year and loved despite it being a young-adult contemporary-romance, not typically my favorite genre. Something about it really tugged at my heartstrings and actually made me feel quite nostalgic for the books that I read as a teen. If any of her other books are the same way, I do not want to miss out, which is why I’ll be keeping up with her future releases along with chipping away at her backlist when I can!

Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power
Anticipated Release: July 2020

Rory Power’s debut novel, Wilder Girls, was released just recently and I decided to try it out right away because of the hype I was seeing about it online. What I loved about it was the creepy premise and atmospheric writing, and although I wanted more from the plot, I could tell that Rory Power’s writing was something I connected with and really could fall in love with if the right story came along. I’m hoping that’s Burn Our Bodies Down!

Authors I Want to Give a Second Chance

You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
Anticipated Release: March 2020

I have only read one of this duo’s books, An Anonymous Girl. I unfortunately did not like the story itself and grew bored of the characters and the mystery. However, many readers of this book shared similar feelings as me and claim that their first book, The Wife Between Us, was much better. I hope to try that one out as well as their 2020 release to see if it was just the story I didn’t connect with, or if this writing duo just doesn’t do it for me so that I can know for future years.

The Honey-Don’t List by Christina Lauren
Anticipated Release: March 2020

Ironically, this is another writing duo that I have only read one book from and am skeptical about my connection with. The Unhoneymooners was a huge contemporary romance released this year that I read and actually REALLY disliked. Something about the characters rubbed me the wrong way, and the fact that this book was so beloved in the online community makes me think that maybe Christina Lauren books are just not for me – but I am willing to give them one more chance before writing them off completely.

Loveless by Alice Oseman
Anticipated Release: April 2020

The firt and only book I have read by Alice Oseman is Radio Silence, another book very beloved by the online book community. Although I didn’t hate it, I didn’t connect with the story as much as so many other readers seemed to. It may be because of the young-adult focus or for some other reason, but I think one more chance is warranted for Alice Oseman before I decide not to read any of her future releases.

He Started It by Samantha Downing
Anticipated Release: April 2020

When I read My Lovely Wife this year, a super-hyped thriller, I was really disappointed in how much I disliked the story, which followed a married couple of serial killers. I do, however, think that it was completely plot-based and have some hopes that I could enjoy future Samantha Downing thrillers with a different premise.

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel
Anticipated Release: March 2020

I am actually currently halfway through my first book from this author, Station Eleven. My thoughts are still very much undecided – on one hand, the post-apocolypic premise should be something I absolutely love, but I’m feeling a little underwhelmed and confused by the execution so far. But, I’m wanting to give it its fair chance to come together in the end, and with this author’s next release already announced I’m sure I will give it a chance regardless of whether I end up loving this current read or not.

Authors Unknown to Me

Strange Exit by Parker Peevyhouse
Anticipated Release: January 2020

I have not read anything by Parker Peevyhouse before, but I have become intrigued in trying one of his books because of Booktuber Booksandlala. For the most part, if Lala enjoys a book (especially sci fis and thrillers), then I will too. Why not test this theory with Peevyhouse’s newest release in January?

Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson
Anticipated Release: March 2020

Peter Swanson is a thriller writer that I had not heard of before but became aware of as I was planning my Goodreads Thriller Predictions. Although his book didn’t end up on the 2019 nominee list, I still think that I would like to try one of his thrillers in the future in hopes that I connect and find a new favorite thriller author!

The Other People by C.J. Tudor
Anticipated Release: Feburary 2020

C.J. Tudor’s The Chalk Man was released in 2018, yet I have continued to see rave reviews about it well into this year. I definitely plan to get to it sometime in the future, but want to be one of the first to read his upcoming 2020 release as well so that I can be in-the-know if it turns out to be another favorite of the online book community!

Beach Read by Emily Henry
Anticipated Release: May 2020

I saw mixed reviews of Emily Henry’s When the Sky Fell on Splendor after its release this year. Although I don’t think I will go back and read that one, this 2020 release sounds to have a very different premise (contemporary instead of science fiction), so I’m willing to give it a try in hopes that this is the genre she is meant to be writing!


Are there any upcoming releases that I’m missing that you’re looking forward to – or is anything on my list also on yours? I’d love to know – the more prepared I can be for upcoming books, the more likely I’ll be to prioritize and actually get to them soon after release!


December 2019 TBR: 12 Books before Christmas

Hello December! I wish I could express just how excited I am for this month – Christmas has always been my favorite holiday, and this year it will be even more special because I am expecting a baby ANY day now! I can’t wait to see how much better this little Christmas baby makes the holiday season, which for me is already so full of love and family and joy.

BUT… in the back of my mind I still know that I have SO MANY BOOKS that I want to get in before the end of the year. I know that between the holiday craziness and a newborn baby I will DEFINITELY not get to most of the books that I want to, but I’ve picked 12 that I WANT to and feasibly think I CAN read before the end of the month – and as an extra little challenge, I named this post 12 Books before Christmas so that I can hopefully spend the last full week of the year completely enjoying my family without stressing or thinking about any reading goals I have yet to complete 🙂

There’s not much of a rhyme or reason to this TBR, but I have included the 12 books I want to read below with the short blurbs on why!

Title: Station Eleven
Author: Emily St. John Mandel
Genre: Dystopia

Why I Want to Read It: These first two books on my list are a little bit of a cheat – I’ve actually finished them both already. (It’s the 4th of the month, and every day counts!!) This is a book that I had seen hyped all over the internet, claiming to be a creepy, sort of hard-hitting post-apocolyptic dystopia novel about a traveling Shakespeare troupe navigating a world whose population has been wiped out by 99.99%. I’ll save my full thoughts for my December wrap-up, but unfortunately this one did not live up to the hype for me!

Title: Artemis
Author: Andy Weir
Genre: Science Fiction

Why I Want to Read It: Again, I already have read it – but this had recently been added to my shelves as a thrift store find. I loved both the book and the movie of The Martian by Andy Weir, so I thought this book by him might be worth a try. Again, full thoughts to come, but I was so extremely pleased to find that I loved this one just as much!

Title: An Unwanted Guest
Author: Shari Lapena
Genre: Thriller

Why I Want to Read It: I have read all three other books by Shari Lapena, including her 2019 release Someone We Know, and to be honest my opinion on her is still up in the air. I believe the three other books I have rated 2, 3, and 4 stars – so I’m hoping this one will help me solidify my thoughts on whether I connect with Shari Lapena’s writing or not!

Title: The Dilemma
Author: B.A. Paris
Genre: Thriller

Why I Want to Read It: Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris is one of my all-time favorite thrillers – I absolutely loved the writing, the story, and the way I was left thinking about it for hours/days/months after finishing it. I was lucky enough to receive an eARC of this book, set to be released in January, and I’m pumped to read more of her writing in this new thriller that I really don’t know anything about.

Title: The Bridge of Little Jeremy
Author: Indrajit Garai
Genre: Contemporary

Why I Want to Read It: I was sent a physical copy of this book by a representative of the author in return for a review, based on my feelings about Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult. I expect this book to similarly be very character-focused and potentially hard-hitting, which I’m excited to get into and share my thoughts about this previously unknown-to-me book and author.

Title: Until We Meet Again
Author: Michael Korenblit and Kathleen Janger
Genre: Historical Fiction

Why I Want to Read It: This one’s an interesting one – this book actually belongs to my husband, who recommended I read it several months ago. I haven’t gotten around to it yet because it seems to be quite out of my comfort zone, but I’d really like to fit it in by the end of the year so that I can relay my thoughts back to him 🙂

Title: The Death of Mrs. Westaway
Author: Ruth Ware
Genre: Thriller

Why I Want to Read It: This year Ruth Ware became one of my favorite thriller authors after reading only one book – The Turn of the Key – and I now want to get to ALL of her backlist titles. I’ve been told that they aren’t as good as her most recent release, but I’d like to make that decision for myself – starting with this one!

Title: Heroine
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Genre: Contemporary

Why I Want to Read It: I read The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis early on this year and gave it 4 stars – I really connected with the hard-hitting story, complex characters, and McGinnis’s style of writing. Since this seems to have more of that hard-hitting subject matter, I have high hopes that I’ll enjoy this book just as much.

Title: Everything I Never Told You
Author: Celeste Ng
Genre: Contemporary

Why I Want to Read It: You might see a theme here, but I read Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere this year and – spoiler alert – it’s ending up in my Top 10 of 2019 (post to come!). This is her only other full-length novel to date, and I can’t wait to dive in (pun intended, see the cover) to this one and hopefully love it as well. A bonus is that it’s pretty short and should be easy to squeeze in!

Title: Night Film
Author: Marisha Pessl
Genre: Thriller

Why I Want to Read It: Marisha Pessl is an author that I have not yet explored yet but think that I will really love, based on reviews of her books Night Film and Neverworld Wake. This one I just happened to stumble upon in a thrift store, so I picked it up and would love to prioritize it this month!

Title: My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry
Author: Fredrik Backman
Genre: Contemporary

Why I Want to Read It: One more time – I’ve read one book so far by Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove. That book really surprised me in how much it impacted me by the end, and I hear that that’s what all of his books do. I hope to get to Backman’s entire backlist eventually, but this one by the end of the year will be good enough progress towards that goal for me.

Title: Sharp Objects
Author: Gillian Flynn
Genre: Thriller

Why I Want to Read It: Gillian Flynn has been hit-or-miss for me with her last two books; I absolutely adored the book and movie of Gone Girl, but then was extremely disappointed in how much I disliked Dark Places. This one will be the tie-breaker – is Gillian Flynn one of my favs, or was Gone Girl an anomoly for me?


Just writing about these books has made me excited all over again to read them – I’d love to hear if you’ve read any of these books before and what you thought of them. If not, what are you planning on reading in December? I realize now that I have absolutely no seasonal reads, and I’m treating this month more like a catch-up month for my physical TBR – are you planning on reading holiday-themed books for the month instead?

Hope everyone has/is having a wonderful holiday season!