October 2019 Reading Wrap-Up

In my October TBR post, I said that this month was ALLLLL about the thrillers. And it totally was. I ended up reading 15 books in October, 12 of which were mystery/thrillers, and 12 of which I’m predicting could end up on the 2019 Goodreads Choice Awards Mystery & Thriller nominee list (see those predictions here). I’m super proud of meeting my reading goals this month and pleasantly surprised with how many books I loved – I’d definitely say I found myself some new favorite thrillers this month!

I typically wrap up my reading in chronological order of how I read the books, but this time I think I will start with all of my thrillers, ordered from favorite to least favorite, and then into the non-thrillers at the end.

This month’s quick stats:
15 books (4 audiobooks)
3,657 pages
15 authors (8 female)
1 nonfiction | 14 fiction
This year’s quick stats:
92 books (19 audiobooks)
23,489 pages
86 authors (45 female)
24 nonfiction | 68 fiction

Title: Verity
Author: Colleen Hoover
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 314
My Rating: 5 stars

Brief Summary: This book is about a young woman named Lowen who is hired as a writer to complete the remaining books in a series started by a famous author, Verity Crawford, who suffered an accident that has left her unable to finish her work. In order to perform this job, Lowen agrees to move into the Crawford household for a short period in order to sort through Verity’s office to find any notes on the series that may have been previously prepared. Spending so much time in Verity’s home and going through her things, Lowen starts to uncover much more about Verity than she ever bargained for – and that’s really all I want to say about the plot!

My Thoughts: I was so, so, so pleasantly surprised by this book – I couldn’t put it down! It feels weird to say that I enjoyed reading it, because some parts are so messed up that enjoyment is not quite the right word, but I was completely immersed. Everything from the basic plot to the characters to the pacing I thought was done perfectly, and I personally loved the ending. I do consider it to be a thriller and think it’s a little odd that people are arguing that it’s not… but as a Colleen Hoover rookie I can’t speak to how different it is from her other books. All I can say is that I was on the edge of my seat reading this book and if Colleen Hoover wants to continue dabbling in the thriller world, I will continue to read.

Title: The Turn of the Key
Author: Ruth Ware
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 5 stars

Brief Summary: This book follows Rowan, a young woman who has been hired by a wealthy family as a nanny caring for the three children living at home. The story is actually told in letter-form, after-the-fact, as it is known by the reader that Rowan has been charged for the murder of one of the children, and she is recounting the experience from the beginning to prove her innocence.

My Thoughts: I’m sure most people at this point have heard of this book and all of the hype that surrounds it – so many book bloggers and Booktubers are calling it the perfect thriller, and I actually would have to agree. The writing and atmosphere of this book are so well done, I truly did not know which direction the story was headed and what the solution to the mystery was going to end up being. I listened to the audiobook and would highly recommend – not only did it help immerse me fully into the story, it also helped me speed through the book as quickly as possible since I was so interested to get to the ending!

Title: The Last Time I Lied
Author: Riley Sager
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 370
My Rating: 5 stars

Brief Summary: This is the second thriller novel written by Riley Sager, and it follows young woman Emma as she returns to the same summer camp that she last attended when she was 15 years old. Her first time at the camp, Emma’s three bunkmates went missing, were never found, and caused the camp to be shut down due to safety concerns for the campers. 15 years later, the camp is reopening and Emma goes back as an instructor with hopes of getting closure for her three friends lost all those years ago.

My Thoughts: I feel like this book has been SEVERELY underhyped compared to Riley Sager’s other two thrillers, and I have to say that this one is by far my favorite. I absolutely loved the fun and creepy setting of the summer camp and thought that the mystery, twists, and reveals were smart and ultimately shocking – at least to me. I felt fully invested in the story and characters and was itching to get to the end so I could get some answers. Although there was one MAJOR plot hole that I noticed (would love to discuss with others that have read it 😊), I honestly enjoyed the book so much that I’m willing to overlook it and still give it a 5-star rating.

Title: Lock Every Door
Author: Riley Sager
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 368
My Rating: 4 stars

Brief Summary: This thriller, Riley Sager’s latest release, follows Jules, a young woman hired to be an apartment-sitter for a luxury apartment in Manhattan for six weeks. Although the apartment building is creepy and the job comes with some odd ground rules, the pay is so good that Jules can’t possibly turn the opportunity down. Soon after starting, however, she starts to notice weird things about the apartment and other tenants in the building and questions whether the arrangement is too good to be true.

My Thoughts: Another extremely-hyped thriller that actually lived up to the hype for me. The atmosphere was just as creepy and intriguing as everyone has said, and I think the mystery and reveals were well-crafted. Unfortunately, my reading experience was tainted JUST SLIGHTLY due to the fact that I knowingly spoiled the ending for myself before picking the book up. I think the ending really would have shocked me if I didn’t know what was going on going in, but I still thoroughly enjoyed my reading experience and am already looking forward to Riley Sager’s 2020 release.

Title: The Silent Patient
Author: Alex Michaelides
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 323
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: This book is told in two perspectives – one is from Theo, a psychotherapist who is interested in treating Alicia Berenson, a woman who killed her husband in their home and hasn’t spoken a single word in the 6 years since the incident. Theo believes he can get her to speak and finally shed some light on the tragedy, what happened, and whether Alicia is truly guilty of the crime. The second perspective is from Alicia, told through the journal entries she wrote recounting her life and relationship with her husband several months leading up to the incident.

My Thoughts: I went into this book pretty much completely blind to the synopsis, and I’m really glad I did. The first half had me COMPLETELY hooked. I loved the mystery and enjoyed the format in which it was told. By about ¾ of the way through the book, I had formed some theories, some of which turned out to be correct. I don’t consider myself a great mystery-solver, nor do I usually try to guess the endings of books, but for this one I just so happened to do so and unfortunately it did take some of the satisfaction out of it for me. I still think it’s a good thriller, and understand why so many people have read and loved it, but ultimately not my favorite of the month.

Title: Run Away
Author: Harlan Coben
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: 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 after her college experience didn’t quite go according to plan. She is 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 daughter, navigating the dark world of drugs and dangerous men that he can’t believe his daughter has been involved with.

My Thoughts: I’m not exactly sure why, but this book felt very different to me than other thrillers I usually read. It could be because I’m unfamiliar with the author, or I’m unfamiliar with following a middle-aged man instead of a 20-something young woman, but something in the tone of this book I felt difficult to connect with, especially at the beginning. But I pushed through (thanks to the audiobook), and about halfway through things started clicking and I finally started to feel invested in the story. I enjoyed the way things came together in the end, thought the mystery was smart and well-revealed, and although I don’t think I found a new favorite author or thriller, am satisfied with the read.

Title: Two Can Keep a Secret
Author: Karen M. McManus
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 329
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: This book follows high-schooler Ellery as she and her twin brother move to Echo Ridge, a small town that their mother grew up in and their aunt went missing from at age 17. Soon after arrival, one of the teachers at the high school turns up dead and a public threat is made by an anonymous person that one of the homecoming queen nominees will be next, and the entire town is left fearing for the safety of themselves and everyone around them.

My Thoughts: Unfortunately I don’t have too much to say about this book… YA thrillers are not my favorite to begin with, and this one didn’t do anything particularly special to stand out in my mind. I wouldn’t say that anything about it was bad – I actually think the ending was pretty good – but the plot

Title: An Anonymous Girl
Author: Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: This book 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. Although she doesn’t think she is in any immediate danger, she starts to question the motives of the individual running the study and wondering if the payment, although generous, is worth having her own morality scrutinized in such detail.

My Thoughts: I wanted to like this book, and for the first half I was intrigued by the unique format of the story, but ultimately I grew bored with it and found myself not caring what happened to the characters. I think that I’ll soon forget most of the details of the book, which to me is a big indicator that it didn’t resonate or impact me much at all.

Title: Someone We Know
Author: Shari Lapena
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 292
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: This is a domestic thriller following several members of a neighborhood with lots of secrets. When one of the women turns up dead, everyone starts pointing fingers and wondering if they can trust their neighbors, friends, and even own family.

My Thoughts: Ugh… the more I think about this book, the more upset I get about it – 3 stars might be generous. I think the writing is good – Shari Lapena knows how to write in a way to keep you turning the pages – and the mystery is fairly well-crafted…. but there is just so much cheating and lying that it totally goes out of the realm of possibility for me. Not every married person is having an affair and has a burner phone, so it’s annoying when every character in a book is/does. It actually made the ending far less shocking to me, because every person was made out to look shady and had a motive for being the murderer.

Title: The Institute
Author: Stephen King
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 2 stars

Brief Summary: This novel is about Luke Ellis, a young boy who is kidnapped in the middle of the night and brought to “The Institute,” a compound where several kids are being held captive and studied for their apparent telekinetic or telepathic abilities.

My Thoughts: Although the synopsis of this book sounds right up my alley, I was super disappointed by this book. I really didn’t get much of a thriller/horror vibe at all – much more of a dystopia/action-type book, but even so I found it to be pretty below average. Not only did I not feel any suspense or pull to the characters and their well-being, but I also found the plot as a whole to be unoriginal and the ending extremely unsatisfying.

Title: My Lovely Wife
Author: Samantha Downing
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 374
My Rating: 2 stars

Brief Summary: This book is said to be “Dexter meets Mr. and Mrs. Smith” – it follows a married couple who, 15 years into their relationship, gets bored and decides to start murdering people to keep their spark alive.  

My Thoughts: This thriller, although very well-loved in the book community, was just not for me. I found the first 300 pages just flat-out boring, and by the time things actually got interesting, it all happened and wrapped up way too quickly. I completely understand and agree with the comparison to Dexter – I personally didn’t enjoy that show either, so it’s clearly something with me not caring to watch/read from the serial killer’s perspective!

Title: Inspection
Author: Josh Malerman
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 383
My Rating: 2 stars

Brief Summary: This book is about J, a boy who has been raised for his entire life in a single building along with 25 other boys without the knowledge or influence of the female gender. A couple of miles away, the very same experiment is being done on a set of 26 girls raised without ever coming into contact with a male. As the kids grow older, some of them start to ask questions and the experiment authorities start to fear failure of the experiment they’ve been working so long to keep intact.

My Thoughts: Again, the premise of this book sounds just like something I would love, but I found myself completely underwhelmed by the execution. I would not consider it to be a horror or thriller in any capacity, as there was no suspense or thrill in the entire first 300 pages. The last bit of the book, although action-packed, didn’t have me invested enough to care about the outcome.

Title: Recursion
Author: Blake Crouch
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 326
My Rating: 5 stars

Brief Summary: This sci-fi book is all about memories. We follow two different individuals, the first being Barry, a New York City cop investigating a new disorder showing up in individuals called False Memory Syndrome, where sufferer’s minds are suddenly infiltrated by memories of entire lives they have not lived, causing some of them to go mad and eventually resort to killing themselves to make the false memories stop. The other main character is Helena, a researcher studying the effects of dementia and Alzheimer’s and working on a solution to allow those suffering to preserve memories to be revisited later, when memory loss causes them to forget the most precious people and moments in their lives.

My Thoughts: I love love love Blake Crouch’s sci-fi writing. I loved Dark Matter when I read it earlier this year, and I think I loved this one even more because of how much I enjoyed the characters themselves. I really 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 fully understanding (it is still fiction, after all). This book doesn’t necessarily have much more twists and turns, so I wouldn’t call it a mystery/thriller, but that’s not what I wanted out of it so I was completely satisfied with the story and complex journey that these characters were on. Highly recommend to fans of Dark Matter, highly don’t recommend to anyone who didn’t care for that book – I found them to be very similar in a lot of ways.

Title: Nineteen Minutes
Author: Jodi Picoult
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 455
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: This book follows several different members of a community impacted by a school shooting. It dives into all of the characters’ (including the shooter himself) relationships, upbringings, and understandings of the world both before and after the incident, revealing insights and asking questions about humanity at its core.

My Thoughts: This is definitely a tough book to review because of its highly sensitive subject matter, but I have to say that I appreciate the intent of this book to show that everybody’s life is complex – whether you’re a popular kid, a well-established working adult, a loner, or someone in-between, everyone has highs and lows that no one else can possibly understand. With that, everyone – even a “monster” capable of shooting another human – has loved ones and redeeming human qualities, too. Not every issue is black and white, and not every person can be tagged as good or evil. Outside of the hard-hitting stuff, I found his book to be pretty entertaining but maybe a bit too long. It switches between character perspectives and timelines often, which was sometimes hard to keep straight, and I didn’t love the ending, but again it’s hard to say that this book is overall good or bad when its intent seems to be just to get you to think a little deeper about things you may judge prematurely.

Title: Through a Daughter’s Eyes
Author: Mary DeJong
Genre: Memoir
Pages: 123
My Rating: 5 stars

Brief Summary: This nonfiction book goes back and forth between memories and written accounts of the author’s life watching her father battle cancer. It captures some of her happiest memories, playing basketball with her dad and playing at the park with her best friends, and some of her worst, getting the news that her dad has passed away and standing at her father’s funeral as a middle-school student.  

My Thoughts: Full disclosure, this is absolutely a biased review as I went to high school with the author of this book and know the community that was impacted by this loss. But with that, I think that this book is as emotional and powerful as it gets, even for being so short in length. I loved the format and getting the different timelines and perspectives and was totally immersed. I feel like after reading this book I’ve been given some new perspective on family and life and really appreciate that.


I’m extremely happy with the reading I got done in October, and I’m happy to say that I still feel motivated going into November – which is good, considering my ambitious November TBR. I’d love to know if you’ve read any of the books above or what your reading plans are for November – we’re getting down to crunch time for finishing everything we want by the end of the year!!


November 2019 TBR: Readathons on Readathons!

Man oh man, I thought I was setting myself up for a busy reading month in October (see my TBR here and get ready for my wrap-up on Friday!)… but when setting up my November reading schedule, I realized that November is going to be even crazier! There are a whole bunch of challenges and readathons I want to participate in, so the most logical way for me to get to everything is to organize my month by weeks and have a different theme/challenge/readathon to focus on for that week. I’m super excited for all of these titles and really hoping I can keep my motivation up to finish all of them. I’d love some encouragement (or… commiseration? 😊) so if any of you are planning on participating in these readathons too, please let me know!!

Week One (Nov. 1-8): Goodreads Choice Award Thriller Nominees

The Goodreads Choice Awards are coming (I thought yesterday, but I guess I was wrong! But likely sometime in the next couple weeks), and I’d like to read all of the books nominated for the Mystery & Thriller category. I made some predictions earlier this week (see them here!) and I plan to spend the first week of November finishing off that list, as well as revising and reading the books that are ACTUALLY nominated once those come out. And, yes – this idea is heavily influenced by Booktuber Booksandlala – my queen. Can you blame me? The exact number of books I want to get to depends on how many of my predictions end up being correct… but my goal is somewhere between 3 and 5 books within the first 8 days of the month. Below are some that I’m thinking I have a good chance of getting to!

Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson

Although I haven’t read from this author before, I’ve seen several good things about him and this book floating around the bookternet. I don’t know much about it, but it seems to be about a woman who starts to suspect her husband has something to do with an unsolved murder that happened in their town a couple of years ago.

Someone We Know by Shari Lapena

This latest release from Shari Lapena is, I believe, her 4th thriller, and so far I have read her first 2. Although neither have been 5 stars, I’m excited to give her another chance. I have heard that this book is about a small town in which everyone has secrets and wants to know everything about everyone else, but I don’t know much more of the plot than that!

The Lost Man by Jane Harper

This is a book that I certainly would not have planned to pick up had it not showed up in my research as a highly-rated, highly read thriller likely to be nominated for the GR Choice Awards. According to Goodreads, this book appears to follow two brothers trying to find out the truth about the death of their third brother.

Watching You by Lisa Jewell

Again, another book and author I likely would not have discovered if not for being nominated for GR awards in the past. Like Shari Lapena’s, this book also seems to follow a small-town neighborhood made up of nosey individuals trying to uncover everyone’s secrets.

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

This last one I’m not sure completely fits in the thriller category, as I’ve heard it more commonly described as a fantastical horror-type novel. But it has been extremely hyped, so nonetheless I’d love to read it even with the outside chance that it ends up as a nominee. I’m sure most people have heard of it, but the general plot seems to follow a group of young girls being held on an island as some kind of virus infects them and starts mutilating their bodies in horrific ways.

Week Two (Nov. 9-17): Tome Topple

This is a new-to-me readathon with the main focus being to read books with 500+ pages. The readathon is hosted by Booktuber Thoughts on Tomes – see her announcement video here for more details (including the actual dates of the readathon, which are the 9th to the 22nd!). I have several books on my owned TBR that fit this main goal, but I’d love to get to two or three within the nine days.

Thunderhead by Neal Schusterman

This is the second book in the wildly popular Arc of a Scythe series, a dystopian series about humans living in a futuristic world where death no longer occurs naturally. Death only comes to those who are selected by scythes themselves, highly-respected members of society who are trained to glean a certain number of people every year as a means of population control. I absolutely loved Book 1 of this series (Scythe) and am very excited to finally get to Book 2 (Thunderhead) and then eventually to Book 3 (The Toll), which is being released on November 5th!

Night Film by Marisha Pessl

This is a book that I have seen so many great reviews for yet know so little about that I don’t even want to know the basic plot before starting it. As far as I know, it is a thriller with some pretty dark/messed up topics, and I’m so excited to dive into it.

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

On a very different note, Carry On is a novel said to be sort of a retelling of Harry Potter in which Harry and Draco end up in a relationship. It sounds fun and creative and I’ve seen so much love for this book floating around that even though it’s out of my comfort zone a little, I’m excited to give it a try.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

You may be sensing a theme here, but this is another beloved book in the online community that I want to experience for myself. This historical fiction novel is set in Nazi Germany and follows a young girl who becomes, quite literally, a book thief, stealing books and exposing herself to worlds outside of her own, potentially offering hope in a time and place that is so hopeless for her in real life.

Week Three (Nov. 18-24): Buzzwordathon

And then comes one of my favorite readathons, Buzzwordathon. This is hosted by Booktuber BooksandLala (mentioning her twice in one post, clearly she is my fav!) – see her announcement video for this round of the readathon here! This readathon always features a buzzword (or a set of buzzwords) with the goal being to read as many books with that word/those words in the title as possible. This round, she has announced the set of buzzwords to be numbers – any form of any number in the title counts. Again, I have several books on my owned TBR that fit, but I think three to four is a reasonable number to strive to complete within the week.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

At the top of my Buzzwordathon priority list is this post-apocalyptic novel about a group of Hollywood actors trying to survive civilization’s collapse.

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

This is (I believe) a contemporary novel about nine strangers who are at a health resort and whose lives (I’m assuming) start to interweave. I’ve only read one other book by Liane Moriarty, and I’ve seen mixed reviews about most of her works. So this could be a great experience or a very bad one. Either way, I’m excited to get it off my TBR list!

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

This classic novel is set during WWII and follows an American bomber during his experiences overseas trying to stay alive and ultimately make his way back home. I think I’ve tried reading this book before and found it hard to get through, so I’m hoping this time my experience is a little better and a little easier, since this book is so iconic in literature.

Million-Dollar Throw by Jim Lupica

This book actually belongs to my husband… but because it sits on my shelf, I have a weird thing about wanting to actually read it so that I can eventually have read all of our owned titles. I have no idea what it’s about (other than football, obviously) or if I’ll like it, but it is fairly short so I should be able to easily knock it out!

Week Four (Nov. 25-30): Sci Fi Month

Lastly, it was brought to my attention that November is Sci Fi Month as denoted by blogger OneMore.org. This is definitely self-explanatory, but the focus of this reading challenge is to read as many Science Fiction novels and consume as much Sci Fi content (in any format – tv shows, movies, podcasts, etc.) throughout the month. Although I’d love to dedicate the entire month to that theme, I feel most comfortable committing the last week of the month catching up on any Sci Fi books I still have on my shelves by the end of the month. I’d love to finish two within the five days I’ve allotted.

Artemis by Andy Weir

I just recently got my hands on this book and am super excited to get into it. I loved Andy Weir’s most popular book, The Martian, and because this book looks to be pretty similar in the space/sciency realm, I’m hoping I enjoy it just as much.

Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

This book is super intriguing, not only because of its hype on the internet but also because of the format of the book itself. It looks to be made up of mixed media: computer files, emails/messages, and other miscellaneous text types to make up a very uniquely-told sci fi story.

Do You Dream of Terra-Two by Temi Oh

This book seems to be about a group of people leaving Earth for a new civilization and their experiences on the journey itself. I’ve heard that it’s suprisingly emotional, and I’m excited for that dynamic in a science fiction novel, as most tend to be more action-based than character-based.

And that is it for my (slightly crazy) November reading plans. For some, it might feel overly-structured, but for me it puts my mind at ease to have a little bit of a plan going in with some room for adjustment based on my mood any given week. Plus, this is possibly my last serious reading month of the year – in December I’m expecting to have a baby, and we all know that will seriously derail any reading plans I try to set for myself 😊

Again, I’d love to know who else is participating in any of these readathons or what your November reading plans are in general. Anyone else feel like they have a ton of books to cram in before the end of the year?


2019 Goodreads Choice Awards Thriller Predictions

You know what time of the year it is…. Goodreads Choice Award time! If I’m not mistaken, I believe the nominees for the 2019 GR Choice Awards will be announced tomorrow, with multiple voting rounds going on until winners are announced in early December.

This year I thought it would be super fun to take a page out of Booksandlala‘s book (AKA my favorite Booktuber, check her out if like Booktube videos and somehow haven’t found her already!) and read all of the nominees in the Mystery & Thriller category.

However, me being me, I had to take it one step further and try to get a little head start by predicting the books that I think will be nominated and ultimately win the category. I wanted to release this list today, so that when nominees are announced tomorrow I can see how many I got correct and how many I missed 🙂

So read on if you’re interested in my predictions, my rationale for selecting them, and my ratings & rankings for the ones I have already read.

How the Awards Work

For those not familiar with the Goodreads Choice Awards in general, I thought I’d briefly explain the awards and voting schedule.

The Goodreads Choice Awards are a set of popular-vote book awards voted on by the users of the Goodreads app/website. The awards are separated by category, most of them being genre-related (Fiction, Mystery/Thriller, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, etc.), with some additional categories including Debut Author and Best of the Best. 2019 will be the 10th year of the awards, and the categories seem to change slightly from year-to-year. There are a number of rules for what books can be nominated for the awards, which I was easily able to find on the Goodreads website, but the major criteria are that the books must have been released between November 16, 2018 and November 15, 2019, books can be nominated for only one genre category, and opening round nominees must have an average rating of 3.5 or higher (although write-in votes can have any rating).

The Opening Round of the awards typically starts on the last Tuesday of October (this year will be tomorrow, October 29th) and lasts for 6 days. It consists of 15 nominees selected by Goodreads based on titles shelved under each category, average rating, and number of ratings. Voters can vote for any of the 15 nominees OR write in a vote for any book of their choosing.

The Semifinal Round begins the following Tuesday (November 5th this year) and lasts for 6 more days. It consists of the 15 original nominees plus the 5 most-written-in titles to make up a list of 20 nominees. Voters can vote for any of the 20 nominees on the list.

The Final Round of voting begins the following Tuesday (November 12th) and last for 14 days. This round consists of the top 10 nominees determined by the Semifinal Round. Voters can vote for any of these top 10 books.

And finally, the winners for each category of the Goodreads Choice Awards are announed on the first Tuesday of December, which this year falls on December 3rd.

My Mystery & Thriller Predictions

As I mentioned, the selection process for opening-round nominees is slightly unclear, but we do know it involves a book’s average rating, its number of total ratings, and the genre that it is shelved most commonly as. With this information, I went in and looked up all of the thrillers I could find and think of and listed them based on number of ratings. I also made sure to look at authors with books previously nominated for this award because repeat nominations (for authors with new books) is common. Filtering out books with an average rating of less than 3.5, below is my predicted Top 15/Opening Round nominees.

#TitleAuthor# of RatingsAvg RatingPub Date
1The Silent PatientAlex Michaelides148,9714.05Feb 2019
2VerityColleen Hoover61,4424.37Dec 2018
3An Anonymous GirlGreer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen60,7053.85Jan 2019
4The Turn of the KeyRuth Ware35,6354.00Sep 2019
5RecursionBlake Crouch34,5454.21Jun 2019
6The Lost ManJane Harper33,7844.21Feb 2019
7Watching YouLisa Jewell31,7923.95Dec 2018
8My Lovely WifeSamantha Downing31,6013.92Mar 2019
9The InstituteStephen King27,6754.27Sep 2019
10Lock Every DoorRiley Sager26,2144.01Jul 2019
11Two Can Keep a SecretKaren M. McManus25,1693.98Jan 2019
12Run AwayHarlan Coben24,6504.08Mar 2019
13Before She Knew HimPeter Swanson20,1353.84Mar 2019
14The Last House GuestMegan Miranda17,1383.59Jun 2019
15The Night Olivia FellChristina McDonald12,1913.89Feb 2019

And some titles I think might come up as write-ins:

16Someone We KnowShari Lapena11,6583.98Jul 2019
17Wilder GirlsRory Power10,7143.66Jul 2019
18I Know Who You AreAlice Feeney9,8863.41May 2019
19The Night BeforeWendy Walker6,6163.69May 2019
20The Family UpstairsLisa Jewell4,0464.18Aug 2019
21The NannyGilly MacMillan3,2773.81Sep 2019
22InspectionJosh Malerman2,8593.45Mar 2019

My Pick/Ratings So Far

Of the 22 books I listed above, I have read 11. Below is my personal ranked list of these titles from my favorite to least favorite – tune into my October wrap-up in a couple of days for some more in-depth thoughts of almost all of them!

  1. Verity – Colleen Hoover – 5 stars
    I absolutely loved this book’s premise and execution – very suspenseful, great twist and ending!
  2. The Turn of the Key – Ruth Ware – 5 stars
    Super atmospheric and suspenseful, enjoyed the mystery and characters, satisfying ending.
  3. Lock Every Door – Riley Sager – 4 stars
    Also super atmospheric and suspenseful, I enjoyed the reveals even though I spoiled this book for myself!
  4. The Silent Patient – Alex Michaelides – 3 stars
    Amazing premise, loved the format, first half of book was 5 stars but twist was predictable and ending unsatisfying.
  5. Run Away – Harlan Coben – 3 stars
    Took a while to get into, overall good mystery and satisfying ending.
  6. The Last House Guest – Megan Miranda – 3 stars
    Easy read, pretty good twist and reaveals, ultimately forgettable.
  7. Two Can Keep a Secret – Karen M. McManus – 3 stars
    Quick read, nothing outstanding, YA thrillers are generally not my favorite and this one followed that trend.
  8. An Anonymous Girl – Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen – 3 stars
    Intriguing beginning but grew bored with the storyline, not surprised by the twists, not invested in the characters by the end.
  9. The Institute – Stephen King – 2 stars
    Very long, not suspenseful in my opinion, underwhelming ending.
  10. My Lovely Wife – Samantha Downing – 2 stars
    Did not find the serial killer perspective interesting, not suspenseful at all, not invested in characters.
  11. Inspection – Josh Malerman – 2 stars
    Great premise but had some weird focuses/tangents, not suspenseful, action came too late in the story for me to feel invested.

But with that, my predicted winner is overwhelmingly The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides. Lala does a really great job in her video from last year explaining that the winner of these awards is almost never the book with the highest rating on the nominee list – it is usually the book with the most ratings – and The Silent Patient is far and away the most-rated book on the list. I can’t wait to find out if my predictions are correct!


I would love to hear some additional opinions on this topic – are you a fan of the Goodreads Choice Awards, do you have any predictions for nominees or winners, and have you read any of the books on my prediction list?

I plan to post some updates throughout the voting periods following the nominees and trying to read any that I have not yet read. Also let me know if you want to join me in that challenge!


Contemporaryathon TBR | September 2019

Well, well… better late than never when it comes to planning a readathon TBR, am I right? I’ve decided to partake in this month’s round of Contemporaryathon (a week-long readathon hosted by I think 4 different Booktubers) mainly because I can fit the challenges in with a few books I’m already planning to read by the end of this month!

Contemporaryathon starts TODAY and goes through this Sunday, September 29th. Still time to join in if you’re interested! Here is a link to one of the announcement videos, in which you can go deeper into the challenges, get some recommendations, and be linked to the three other co-hosts.

Contemporaryathon Round 5 Challenges

  1. Read a 2019 release
  2. Read a book with yellow on the cover
  3. Read a book that is diverse from your own experiences
  4. Read a book with an illustrated cover
  5. Read a book with a dark or hard-hitting storyline
  6. Read a book with plants on the cover
  7. Read a book that is beloved by someone in the book community (plus shout them out!)

The rules of this readathon are pretty relaxed – the only real requirement is to read “contemporary” books, which in itself can even be up for interpretation – but essentially any book without any speculative or fantastical elements. You can choose to follow none or all of the challenges, and you are free to double- (or triple- or quadruple-…) up on challenges if you find books that hit multiple!

My Contemporaryathon TBR

I’m choosing to keep my TBR fairly attainable this week with 3 books. I did manage to get these to cover all 7 challenges, thanks to one book that actually hits 4 of them. See below for the books I chose and what challenges they each fulfill!

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

This book was recommended and lent to me by my mother-in-law, which is a big reason I’m trying to prioritize it. Nothing I hate more than borrowing something from someone and accidentally never returning it!

Challenges Covered:
2 – Read a book with yellow on the cover
5 – Read a book with a dark or hard-hitting storyline – I believe this book is all about a school shooting – a highly sensitive topic that I’m sure will be VERY hard-hitting and emotional. I wouldn’t be surprised if I shed a few tears…


One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

On top of helping me fulfill one last contemporaryathon challenge, this book will also round out my goal to read all of TJR’s books. Be on the look out for a post likely early next year ranking all of them!

Challenges Covered:
6 – Read a book with plants on the cover


Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

I was not originally planning on reading this book this month… but things just kind of worked out – it fulfills 4 readathon challenges, was available immediately at my library, and WAS on my someday TBR – so I’m glad to knock it out!

Challenges Covered:
1 – Read a 2019 release
3 – Read a book that is diverse from your own experiences – this book features a male-male romance. Not only is that not something that I have experienced in my life (obviously, as a woman), but it’s also not something I think I’ve ever read in a book before!
4 – Read a book with an illustrated cover
7 – Read a book that is beloved by someone in the book community – This is extra fitting as this book is HIGHLY beloved by ChelseaDollingreads, one of my favorite Booktubers, one of the hosts of this readathon, and who I would consider to be one of the biggest consumers of the contemporary genre – if she recommends a contemporary, I expect it to be one of the best of its genre!


That’s it – like I said, keeping it reasonable this week! I’d love to know if you’re participating in Contemporaryathon this round and what you’re reading – if you’re not, let me know what you’re planning on reading the rest of September regardless!


September TBR: Catching Up on my Physical TBR

Hello, September! And with that, hello FALL!

I have many reasons to be excited for fall this year – we live in a new state that should (hopefully) be warmer than the North Dakota/Minnesota falls I’m used to (glorified winters), I’m planning on attending LOTS of football games ranging from middle-school level all the way up to a couple of NFL games, and best of all, we’re having a baby around the end of November/early December!!

With all of this busy-ness happening in real life, I’m finding myself with much less time to devote to reading, and I don’t want to commit to a bunch of new books within a fun theme that I’ll inevitably fail to read and then feel indebted to for months to come (foreshadowing August’s wrap-up a little bit…)

So instead, I’m committing to September as a catch-up month for my physical TBR. Here’s a list of 12 books that I own physically and are my highest priority to finally get to. Some of them you may recognize from past TBRs, some are newish to me and I’m too excited to wait to get to, and some I have been pushing off but I really just need to finish them off. Let me know if you have a backlist of TBR books you’re still hoping to get to this year, and if any of you are joining me in making September a catch-up month!

Bonus – for the next 3-ish days, Jana at Reviews from the Stacks is running a giveaway on her blog to celebrate hitting her Goodreads reading goal! Definitely give her blog some love and enter the giveaway by commenting on her post here if you’re interested in winning a gift card!


My one ARC

Appalachain Book of the Dead by Dale Neal

Why I want to read it: This book comes out on September 3rd, and as usual with ARCS I’d love to get a review out on Goodreads and Amazon on or before that date. I’ve started this book already and have about 190 pages left – my opinion is still very much up in the air!

Brief Summary: This is a fictional book that’s been described as a “metaphysical thriller,” following many characters in the middle of nowhere questioning the location of a killer on the loose.

Books that have been on my bookshelf for FAR too long

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

Why I want to read it: This is a book that has been recommended to me many times by my husband. It’s a hefty book based on sports, but I’m optimistic and excited to finally get into it.

Brief Summary: This fictional story follows members of a collegiate baseball team and other members of the college as their lives entertwine throughout the baseball season.

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

Why I want to read it: Leftover from my July (Reading Rush) TBR, this is one book I’m surprised I haven’t read yet. I read and enjoyed Outliers and am sure this one by Malcolm Gladwell will be worthwhile.

Brief Summary: This nonfiction book centers around the magical moment when a small idea or behavior crosses a threshold and becomes a massive phenomenon – how we can recognize that point and use it to our advantage in personal and business settings.

Hatchet by Gary Paulson

Why I want to read it: As did probably everyone else, I read this book in middle school and have very fond memories. I’d love to reread this one since it’ll be a short, easy read.

Brief Summary: Brian is a young boy and the sole passenger on a small plane when the pilot has a heart attack and the plane crashes. Suddenly Brian finds himself completely alone in the woods with nothing but a hatchet to survive.

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

Why I want to read it: I bought this one last year as a recommendation from one of my favorite lifestyle/family bloggers, Jordan Page. Hoping it’s not too problematic and actually offers some good marriage advice.

Brief Summary: This nonfiction book suggests that wives play a huge role in ensuring a successful marriage and offers the advice needed to nurture and feed their husbands accordingly.

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Why I want to read it: I bought this one on a whim from Barnes & Noble a while ago and it’s been taunting me from my shelves ever since. I have consistently found other books to knock it out of my priority list, but finally getting this one read will feel like a big accomplishment.

Brief Summary: I don’t know much about the plot of this book and actually don’t want to – but I believe it follows several different adults, couples, and families and how their lives entertwine.

A couple of thrillers by an author I’m dying to get to

Final Girls by Riley Sager

Why I want to read it: I haven’t read any Riley Sager yet, but obviously the bookternet loves his thrillers. I’m very excited to give this debut novel a try and make my way through all of his books!

Brief Summary: All that I really know about this one is that it centers around the idea of the “final girls” or sole survivors of horror movies.

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

Why I want to read it: Ditto. I’m also excited because both of these books are on Scribd, so could be easy audiobooks to squeeze in.

Brief Summary: Again, I know nothing about the plot of this book and would love to keep it that way!

August books I just didn’t get to

Golden State by Ben Winters

Why I want to read it: Plain and simple, this book looks right up my alley and I’m expecting to love it!

Brief Summary: This book is a science-fiction, alternate reality story based in a California-like society.

The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth by Alexandra Robbins

Why I want to read it: Started this one, really liked the intro and the format the book takes, very interested to see what other points it makes.

Brief Summary: This nonfiction book studies quirk theory, or the reason why some individuals are outcasted in school settings but just may be more set up for success in the future.

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

Why I want to read it: No strong pull to the story itself, but I’m very interested in this non-Harry-Potter JK Rowling read.

Brief Summary: This mystery/thriller is about a mysterious death in a small town – classic.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Why I want to read it: Fantasy is very outside of my comfort zone, so that’s why this one has been slipping for me. Not sure if I’ll end up loving it or hating it, but I’m willing to give it a try!

Brief Summary: I believe this is some sort of Romeo and Juliet-inspired fantasy story.


August TBR: 99 Cent Books

I’ve had the idea for a while to start doing themed TBRs every month… and while I don’t want to give away what that means for the future, I can say that this month is the start of that – and what better thing for books to have in common than being really, really cheap?

While searching Alibris (one of my favorite book-buying sites) for books on my “someday” TBR, I found that a large number of them cost only 99 cents – typically it’s because the book has been well-loved by a library or other previous owner, so the books are by no means in mint condition – nor are they brand-new releases. But I don’t mind small wear and tear at all – I actually really like giving books a new home and second (or third, or fourth) life!

Full disclosure, once shipping is added these books cost more than 99 cents each – but the good news is that the more I buy from the same seller, the less each book’s shipping costs end up being. This haul ended up costing me about $4 to $5 per book, which I would still consider extremely affordable.

Also, I know there is some controversy over used books and whether we should be buying old copies when we can afford new, full-priced books and support the author with the purchase. Although I see both sides of the argument, ultimately I think reusing and recycling things does good for our planet. So I’m happy with buying a mix of brand-new books, which I buy to support the authors, and used books, which I buy to give a second life.

With ALL that being said, time to get into the TBR. Below are 8 books that I’m planning to read in August, all of which were purchased online for 99 cents!

A Contemporary

On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves (2012)

A Classic

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier (1938)

A Classic Retelling

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye (2016)

A Dystopia

Gone by Michael Grant (2008)

A Fantasy

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (2011)

A Miscellaneous Nonfiction

The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth by Alexandra Robins (2009)

A Science Fiction

Golden State by Ben Witners (2019)

A Thriller/Mystery

The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling (2012)


Many of these are out of my comfort zone or were purchased on somewhat of a whim, so I would LOVE to know if you’ve read any of the books above and what you thought!


5 Books to Read if You’re Short on Time

You know what’s really fun? Watching Booktube videos or reading bloggers’ TBRs that consist of 20+ books in one month. Those people are incredible. But my monthly cap is right around 6-10 books, and I’m sure most people (non-readers) see even THAT amount and think it’s an outrageous number of books to get through. People are busy with jobs and kids (and Netflix) and often don’t have hours upon hours to devote to reading. If you’re looking for book recommendations but want to keep it quick, this list is for you: five of my favorite books with low page counts.

A Business Book

Title: Leadership and Self-Deception
Author: The Arbinger Institute
Pages: 180
My Rating: 5 stars

If I could recommend one book for all of my coworkers, bosses, and family members to read, it would be this one. Marketed as a business book, it does go into strategies to get more out of your team and become a better team player yourself. But the brilliance is in the fact that these strategies carry over into all parts of your life, from family to romantic relationships to one-off conversations with people you interact with every day. Plus, the book reads like a novel, with a main character learning these lessons right along with the reader, preventing it from sounding too preachy and also addressing some of the “what about in this situation?” questions you might find yourself asking. For anyone looking to improve themselves personally or professionally, I highly recommend this book.

A Classic Novel

Title: The Alchemist
Author: Paulo Coelho
Pages: 197
My Rating: 4 stars

I’m not the biggest classics reader, but I’m trying to change that. I’ve always been nervous about them not living up to the hype, but in my opinion this one certainly did. It’s an entertaining story with many life lessons intertwined, and not over-explained or as wordy as some classic novels seem to be. If you’re dipping your toes into classics, I’d recommend starting with this one.

A Contemporary

Title: The Sense of an Ending
Author: Julian Barnes
Pages: 163
My Rating: 5 stars

This book caught me completely by surprise! I’d describe it as the adult version of The Perks of Being a Wallflower – very nostalgic in tone and deals with some hard-hitting subject matter. If you’re looking to completely shake up the way you view the world (and are prepared for a shocking ending), definitely give this book a try.

A Female Nonfiction

Title: Girl Code
Author: Cara Alwill Leyba
Pages: 143
My Rating: 4 stars

This is my most recent read on the list! I find that a lot of female nonfiction books to repeat the same information, some of it inspiring but most of it over-the-top and cliche. This book has a view of those moments, but the format makes for a quick read and with interviews from several girl bosses, you get a variety of perspectives. If you’re looking for inspiration to start a new job or try something you’ve never done before, this should do the trick!

A Thriller

Title: Behind Closed Doors
Author: B.A. Paris
Pages: 293
My Rating: 5 stars

I was trying to keep all of the books on this list under 200 pages, but I actually don’t know of any thrillers that meet that requirement. I’m sure they’re out there, but I haven’t read any of them! So for this list I’d rather recommend my favorite thriller for someone who doesn’t want to waste their time sifting through the mediocre. This book is terrifying because of how realistic it’s made out to sound, and really makes you wonder what you would do in the main character’s situation. And at under 300 pages, I’d still argue it’s shorter than most other domestic thrillers!


I would LOVE to hear if any of you have recommendations for short reads. Sometimes a quick book in the right genre is exactly what you need to get yourself out of a reading slump, sometimes you need to squeeze a short book into your goals for a particular readathon, and sometimes you’re just busy and don’t want to spend a week (or more) on a single book! Let me know your favorite book with the smallest page count.