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 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!


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!


November 2019 Reading Wrap-Up

In my November TBR post, I revealed my ambitious reading plans for the month that included reading all of the Goodreads Thriller nominees and participating in Tome Topple, Buzzwordathon, and Sci Fi Month. I’m pleasantly surprised with my ability to stick (mostly!) to that original plan and ended up having a great reading month. Below are all of the books I completed along with which readathon/challenge it fulfilled for me. I’d love to know if you read any of the books below or participated in the readathons I mentioned above!

This month’s quick stats:
9 books (3 audiobooks)
2,480 pages
10 authors (7 female)
0 nonfiction | 9 fiction
This year’s quick stats:
101 books (22 audiobooks)
25,969 pages
95 authors (52 female)
24 nonfiction | 77 fiction

Title: Illuminae
Author: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 596
My Rating: 3 stars
Readathon/Challenge: Sci Fi Month

Brief Summary: This book tells the story of Kady and Ezra, two teenagers forced to evacuate their home planet (not Earth) and board two different warships in a space battle between powerful space entities. The book is most notable for its unique writing style – the story is told dossier-style through emails, medical reports, memos, IMs, interviews, etc.

My Thoughts: My thoughts on this book are actually a little bit conflicting – on one hand, I absolutely love the multi-media format and thought it added an interesting element to the sci-fi story and made for a fun reading experience. I also really came to enjoy the relationship between the two main characters and found myself rooting hard for them not only to survive but to reconnect with each other in the end. However, that’s where my love for the story ends – the rest of it I actually found to be extremely confusing and boring. It took a long time for me to understand (if I ever did fully understand…) the universe they were in, what had happened in the past, and what they were fighting for in the present. I don’t typically love action movies or books, so I’m not surprised that I didn’t love the action scenes, but I also can’t think of a single OTHER character in the book that I fully knew, understood, or cared for. I do think I would pick up the second book in the series, because again I love the format and do think a lot of work went into building the story, but I’m not rushing out to buy it right this second.

Title: The Whisper Man
Author: Alex North
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 2 stars
Readathon/Challenge: Goodreads Mystery/Thriller Nominees

Brief Summary: This book follows a few different perspectives of people living in a town where, 20 years ago, five young boys (like ages 7-8) were abducted and killed. The man responsible for the murders has been caught and become known in the town as the “Whisper Man” because of the way he would sit outside of their windows and whisper creepy things to in the days leading up to their disappearances. Now, 20 years later, the town is reeling because a new little boy has gone missing, and although the people and authorities know it can’t be the Whisper Man because he’s being held in jail, the similarities are eerie and have people wondering if there was an accomplice to the previous murders and if that accomplice could be back, looking for more little boys to abduct and kill.

My Thoughts: The premise of this book is super creepy – I mean, abducted and murdered children is absolutely a topic that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up, and this book did a good job of building the suspense between the past and the present. Once the initial creepiness wore off, though, I found this mystery a little disappointing in that it didn’t do anything super original or surprising in any way. I would have loved a few more twists or something that would really make this book stand out in my mind, but unfortunately, I think most of the details will fade in my memory and this book will drop far down on my list of good or favorite thrillers.

Title: The Mother-In-Law
Author: Sally Hepworth
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 4 stars
Readathon/Challenge: Goodreads Mystery/Thriller Nominees

Brief Summary: This book shifts back and forth between the perspectives of a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law with a complicated relationship. They didn’t exactly start off on the right foot, and since then their relationship has consisted of tip-toeing around each other, not exactly outwardly fighting but each knowing that the other isn’t her biggest fan. When one day the mother-in-law turns up dead, everyone else in the family begins to wonder about secrets within the family and whether the apparent suicide is what it appears to be, or if foul play could be involved.

My Thoughts: I’ll start this review by saying that I absolutely would not consider this book to be a thriller – although there is the mystery element of the murder/suicide, the majority of the story reads like a contemporary or chick-lit book. We get to know the past of the relationship between the mother- and daughter-in-law, plus the upbringings of both and how that affected their family dynamic. I surprisingly enjoyed the story because of these complex relationships and dynamics, and ultimately I was satisfied with the eventual reveal of the mystery. Was it the most thrilling thing I’ve ever read? No, but I can still appreciate a story with many layers and that actually tackles many hard-hitting issues a lot of families may deal with.

Title: My Sister, the Serial Killer
Author: Oyinkan Braithwaite
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 226
My Rating: 2 stars
Readathon/Challenge: Goodreads Mystery/Thriller Nominees

Brief Summary: This book follows a young woman named Korede, who frequently gets phone calls from her sister telling her that she accidentally killed her boyfriend and needs help cleaning it up. Korede has gone along with her sister three times now, covering up her mess and her crimes, but now she is conflicted because her sister’s new boyfriend is someone Korede actually has feelings for and doesn’t want to turn up dead – does she try to warn him and risk turning in her sister, or stay silent and risk another deadly accident?

My Thoughts: I’ve definitely seen this book around the Bookternet quite a bit, with reviews that differ greatly. Of the critiques I’ve seen, most say that the writing is chopping, the pacing is off, and the book itself is too short for the plot to fully developed. After finishing the book, I actually didn’t mind any of those things and disliked it for completely different reasons. In my opinion, the story is completely dull and I really hated almost all of the characters. I wasn’t rooting for anyone, I wasn’t scared or shocked by anything in the plotline (I mean, the title is pretty clear on what you can expect), and I didn’t really understand the point of any of the side stories that were thrown in. I wouldn’t say that I regret reading this book, but I’m disappointed after all of the buzz I’ve been seeing about it this year and definitely wouldn’t consider it a top thriller.

Title: Thunderhead
Author: Neal Schusterman
Genre: Dystopia
Pages: 504
My Rating: 4 stars
Readathon/Challenge: Tome Topple

Brief Summary: This is the second book in the very popular Arc of a Scythe series by Neal Schusterman, in which we follow characters in a futuristic world where humans have conquered mortality and the only way to die is to be selected and gleaned by a Scythe. Scythes are highly-respected and highly-trained members of the society tasked with gleaning a certain number of people every year in order to keep population under control. Otherwise, the world is a completely perfect and self-sufficient place, thanks to the Thunderhead – an entity based on todays “Cloud” that is all-knowing and all-controlling in terms of managing hunger, income, crime, etc. This second book continues the story of two apprentice scythes from the first book in the series and dives much deeper into the Thunderhead’s role itself.

My Thoughts: I read Scythe, the first book, earlier this year and absolutely loved it. I am very happy to say that Thunderhead is a very solid second book that didn’t suffer from “second book syndrome” at all in my opinion. I loved learning more about the world and each of the characters, and the new characters and plot advancements were enough to keep me invested throughout the book and intrigued for the third and final book in the series. This is a must-read for lovers of the dystopian genre!

Title: The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 3 stars
Readathon/Challenge: Tome Topple

Brief Summary: This fantasy book is generally about a traveling magical circus that pops up in random locations all over the world and is open to the public from dusk to dawn. When people attend the circus, they are awe-struck by the experience – delicious food and smells, dazzling decorations, and highly entertaining performers everywhere they look. Throughout this story, we get to know the behind-the-scenes members of this circus, including the originator himself and many of the employees and performers who make it all come together, including two young magicians raised in preparation for a competition with each other to determine whose powers are greater.

My Thoughts: I am not a very big fantasy reader, so I knew that it was unlikely that I’d fall head-over-heels in love with this book like everyone else seems to… but after finishing it, I’m actually a little confused by the hype. I will say that the writing is absolutely BEAUTIFUL and the descriptions of the circus absolutely make me wish I could go and experience it for myself. But the plot…. Is non-existent? The synopsis makes it sound like there will be a fast-paced, action-packed competition between two magicians, but that is so not what happens, and I found myself both bored and confused as I waited longer and longer for any action to happen. Plus all of the other side characters and stories were a little confusing and also took away from any sort of action. Overall it’s hard to say that I hated it, because I definitely wanted to finish the story, but even harder to say that I loved – or even liked – it. I’d love to hear some feedback from anyone who loves this story – did you go in with different expectations, or did I miss something in the story that made it more impactful?

Title: Wilder Girls
Author: Rory Power
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 353
My Rating: 3 stars
Readathon/Challenge: Sci Fi Month

Brief Summary: This book has been described as many things – a fantasy/sci fi/horror gender-bent retelling of Lord of the Flies has been the most common description that I’ve seen. The story follows a group of girls being quarantined on Raxter Island, where they were attending an all-girls school until a mysterious disease broke out and started causing mutations and eventually killing most of the inhabitants. Because nobody knows what the disease is or what is causing it, people on the mainland don’t want to risk it spreading and choose to keep the girls stranded on the island with few resources being shipped over every couple of days to keep the survivors alive until some kind of cure is found. This leaves the girls extremely hungry, scared, and determined to find out more about the island’s inhabitants and history to explain their mysterious situation.

My Thoughts: This book was good – even great at the beginning – but just wasn’t ENOUGH for me. I wanted more time with the characters, more information and background when it came to the setting, and definitely more answers at the end. I really enjoyed the story itself but all of the lingering questions left me unsatisfied and hesitant to recommend it to people who don’t know what they’re getting into.

Title: Nine Perfect Strangers
Author: Liane Moriarty
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 450
My Rating: 3 stars
Readathon/Challenge: Buzzwordathon

Brief Summary: This contemporary story follows nine individuals as they check in to a 10-day health resort that promises to completely change their lives through mysterious and unconventional measures. The “patients” don’t quite know what to expect, but most are willing to try just about anything to get their lives back on track – something that the staff know well and even use to their advantage at times.

My Thoughts: I have been reading a LOT of thrillers and sci-fi lately, so it was nice to get back into contemporary and just read about characters living their lives – and in this case, trying to improve them. I thought the character development was great – this book is told through over 10 character perspectives, so the fact that I could easily keep all of them straight and actually end up invested and caring about all of them is really impressive. I loved the first half of the story (the slower and arguably more boring half) because I was so interested in each of the characters and intrigued enough in the situation to really want to know how they would all change by the end. The twist(s) that happened throughout the second half seemed unrealistic and unnecessary to me, though, and took away from my enjoyment a bit. I’d recommend this book to people who really enjoy character-driven books almost bordering on character studies, and then say to keep an open mind about where the story may go!

Title: Miracle Creek
Author: Angie Kim
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 351
My Rating: 4 stars
Readathon/Challenge: Goodreads Mystery/Thriller Nominees

Brief Summary: This mystery follows the story and court case after an explosion at an oxygen-treatment center leaves two people dead, a handful of people injured, and a bunch of people looking suspicious as the mystery is revealed of what ultimately caused the disaster.

My Thoughts: I wouldn’t call this book your typical thriller – much more of a mystery, as the tragic event happens right away and the entire rest of the book is filling in the pieces of what really happened. A good majority of the book is told through the court case following, and although I wouldn’t normally pin myself as a courtroom-mystery-lover, I actually did really enjoy this story as a whole, including the courtroom scenes and way of revealing the mystery.

Title: Station Eleven
Author: Emily St. John Mandel
Genre: Dystopia
Pages: 333
My Rating:  stars
Readathon/Challenge: Buzzwordathon


Although I do wish I could have completed a few more books in November, overall I’m happy with my reading experiences and hopeful that I will finish the year off strong with a good reading month in December. I’d love to know what reading plans you have for the last month of the year!


2019 Goodreads Choice Awards – My Thriller Rankings!

My Original Predictions

If you’re new to my blog or didn’t see my GR Choice Award post from the end of October, I decided this year to take a page out of Booktuber Booksandlala‘s book and read all of the finalists in the Mystery/Thriller category in order to place a fully unbiased vote. Because this is a somewhat daunting task – reading 10 books within the two weeks after the finalists are announced – I decided to make some predictions and get a head start by listing and reading some of the most-hyped thrillers that I’ve seen this year. I’m happy to report that 6 of my predictions actually did end up in the Top 10, and of those I had already read 5 – leaving only 5 more to read within the last two weeks!

The Finalists

Below are the Top 10 Finalists in the Mystery & Thriller category of the Goodreads Choice Awards. I’ve listed them in order of number of rankings on Goodreads, which in my prediction post I also mentioned is most likely the order in which they will get the most votes, ultimately meaning the book with the most ratings will win, regardless of actual average rating. I also included a column to indicate whether each book was in my original predictions list or not.

TitleAuthor# RatingsAvg. RatingPredicted?
The Silent PatientAlex Michaelides166,6474.05Yes
An Anonymous GirlGreer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen64,0713.84Yes
My Sister, the Serial KillerOyinkan Braithwaite61,6243.78No
The Turn of the KeyRuth Ware44,8453.99Yes
The Mother-in-LawSally Hepworth37,1904.00No
The Lost ManJane Harper35,6864.21Yes
Lock Every DoorRiley Sager30,1583.99Yes
Run AwayHarlan Coben26,4214.07Yes
The Whisper ManAlex North21,6104.10No
Miracle CreekAngie Kim20,2533.96No

My Rankings

The great news is that I was successful in my goal – I was able to pick up and give every single book on this list a shot. (The bad news? One of them I DNF’d because of how much I disliked it…). So, I feel VERY confident that I am able to place an unbiased vote in this category, which is a really great feeling! Below is MY personal list of rankings of these books, from my LEAST favorite down to my FAVORITE thriller on the list of finalists, and my vote for best mystery/thriller of the year.

10. The Lost Man by Jane Harper
My Rating: 1 star
My Thoughts: This book is about two men whose brother turns up dead in the middle of the Australian desert, and the two remaining brothers are left to solve the mystery of his death. Unfortunately I DNF’d this book near the beginning – I tried reading it in physical form and via audiobook, but I just couldn’t get into the story at all. After reading other reviews of the book, it appears that it’s slow-moving throughout the whole book, and I just didn’t think I could push through.

9. My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
My Rating: 2 stars
My Thoughts: This book follows a young woman named Korede whose sister has killed three of her past boyfriends and calls on Korede to clean up her messes and help her cover up her crimes. Although this is one of the most-hyped thrillers of the year, I did not enjoy the characters or story at all. I didn’t find anything shocking (thanks to the title, there’s not much to be surprised by) and there is really no mystery being solved, either. Very disappointing!

8. The Whisper Man by Alex North
My Rating: 2 stars
My Thoughts: This book is set in a town where, 20 years ago, five young boys were abducted and killed by a man known as the “Whisper Man” because of the way he would sit outside their windows and whisper creepy things in the nights leading up to their disappearances. I thought the premise of this book was very adequately creepy, but ultimately the mystery was pretty unsurprising and unoriginal. I would have loved a few more twists to help the story stand out in my memory a little more!

7. An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
My Rating: 3 stars
My Thoughts: I REALLY wanted to like this book, which is about a young woman who enters a psychological study that she thinks is going to be a one-time-thing, but actually ends up consuming a large part of her daily life after she becomes more involved in the study and the psychologist running it. I was really intrigued by the unique format that this story is told (two different perspectives, one of them told in second-person), but I soon grew bored with it and found myself not caring at all what happened to the characters.

6. Run Away by Harlan Coben
My Rating: 3 stars
My Thoughts: This book follows Simon, a middle-aged man with three children, the oldest of whom is a daughter who has gotten mixed up with the wrong crowd in college, dating an obvious drug dealer, and when he turns up dead, she runs away and goes missing. Simon is then determined to take matters into his own hands and go searching for his missing daughter. I’m not exactly sure why, but this thriller felt very different to me than other thrillers I usually read. It took a little while to get into, but once I was well into the book, things started clicking and I actually found myself pretty invested in the story. I enjoyed the way things came together in the end, and although not life-changing or a new favorite, this book was a pleasant surprise and a solid read for me.

5. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
My Rating: 3 stars
My Thoughts: This was a VERY popular thriller this year, about a woman who killed her husband in their home and hasn’t spoken a single word in the 6 years since the incident. The firt half had me COMPLETELY hooked. I loved the mystery and enjoyed the format in which it was told. By about 3/4 of the way through the book, I had some theories that ultimately ended up being correct, which did take away from some of the enjoyment of the ending for me. But, I do very much understand the hype of this book and why so many people have considered it their favorite thriller of the year.

4. The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth
My Rating: 4 stars
My Thoughts: This book shifts back and forth between the perspectives of a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law with a rocky relationship. When one day the mother-in-law turns up dead, everyone in the family begins to wonder about what secrets everyone else has been hiding. Although I actually wouldn’t consider this book a thriller, and the mystery aspect is a little weak, I surprisingly still enjoyed the story because of the complex character dynamics. Was it the most exciting book I’ve ever read? No, but I can still appreciate that it had many layers and the little mystery it did have was wrapped up nicely.

3. Miracle Creek by Angie Kim
My Rating: 4 stars
My Thoughts: This mystery follows the story and court case after an explosion at an oxygen-treatment center leaves two people dead, a handful of people injured, and a bunch of people looking suspicious as the mystery is revealed of what ultimately caused the disaster. I wouldn’t call it your typical thriller – much more of a mystery, as the tragic event happens right away and the entire rest of the book is filling in the pieces of what really happened. A good majority of the book is told through the court case following, and although I wouldn’t normally pin myself as a courtroom-mystery-lover, I actually did really enjoy this story as a whole, including the courtroom scenes and way of revealing the mystery.

2. Lock Every Door by Riley Sager
My Rating: 4 stars
My Thoughts: Another extremely-hyped thriller this year, this book follows Jules, a young woman hired to be an apartment-sitter for a luxury apartment in Manhattan. Soon after starting, she starts to notice weird and creepy things about the apartment’s occupants and the building itself, making her question whether the arrangement is too good to be true. This one definitely lived up to all of its hype – the atmosphere is just so creepy and intriguing and the mystery and reveals were well-crafted. Most people either love or hate the big twist/reveal at the end, but I definitely fall on the love side and think that Riley Sager really can do no wrong at this point.

1. The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware
My Rating: 5 stars
My Thoughts: This book follows Rowan, a young woman who has been hired by a wealthy family to be a nanny caring for the three children living at home. Told in letter-form, after-the-fact, the story is told from Rowan’s perspective as she tries to defend herself from the murder of one of the children. So many bloggers and Booktubers are calling this book the perfect thriller, and I have to agree – I loved everything about it. The writing and atmosphere are so well-done, and I truly did not know which direction the mystery was going to go. If you have not read this book and are looking to pick up one thriller from this year, I think this is the one to choose.


So clearly, my pick for best thriller is The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware! Again, I thought it was really enjoyable to read all of these thrillers throughout the last couple of months and be able to place my vote having read (or tried to read) every single book on the list.

I’d love to know if anyone else tried this challenge this year, but even if not – which book did you vote for in the Goodreads Choice Awards?