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!


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?