Friday, December 27, 2019

Show Us Your Books: Favorite Reads of 2019

Sometimes I try to imagine what my life would be like without reading. I've been reading since a very young age, I've grown up seeing family members read, I make sure my nieces and nephews know I read and see me reading. It opens up worlds and I just can't imagine closing myself off to that or not having it in my life. Sincere thanks to every single person who writes books. There are a lot of readers out there who expect a five star read every time, or for a book to be a five star/favorite read it has to like move the entire earth for them. I expect neither of those things. I don't expect every book I read to blow me away, hell I don't even expect to enjoy every book I read. When you read a lot, that's not possible. I'm not going to like every story line, writing style, character, ending. But I appreciate that they were even created in the first place. 

As of today I've finished 163 books this year, which have led me to walk through over 54,000 pages of other lives and stories that are not my own. I've narrowed down my favorite reads to 21 for the year - not all published this year I don't think, but read by me this year. I find it interesting that I read mostly thrillers but they barely make it to my favorite reads list at the end of the year. I think because they don't stick to my ribs? This year I addressed that by including books that haven't sat in my gut but I recall as good reading experiences.

The title link goes to Goodreads and the buy links go to Amazon - buying through those links costs you nothing and earns me pennies which go towards linkup giveaways. Thanks to everyone who has submitted posts, read posts, shared posts with Jana and I for Show Us Your Books this year. We're going to do another SUYB Readathon the weekend of January 18 so stay tuned for that.

Favorite Reads of 2019 in no particular order

The Place on Dalhousie by Melina Marchetta - Like all of Marchetta's books, I loved this cast of far from perfect characters and the way they come together. Kindle Unlimited free read      buy it

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson - Woodson's writing is stunning, like it was in Another Brooklyn. The mother/daughter relationship, ambition, teen pregnancy, opportunity, class, racism, sexual identity, this has it all, and the writing around all of it weaving tales and families together is just excellent. This is the kind of book that makes me regret not using my english lit degree to teach lit at a higher level. I can see breaking this down in a circle in a classroom on a winter's day. If you don't like literary fiction or books that ask your mind to reach outside of your zone, you will not like this. Same with Another Brooklyn. OCNJ library hard cover     buy it

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood - Child, this book was alternately exhilarating and terrifying. It can be read without first reading Handmaid's Tale but it shouldn't be. And no, watching the show does not count. A delicious and long awaited follow-up. OCNJ library hard cover     buy it

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane - I loved this book during and after reading it and I closed it without being able to articulate exactly why. I liked the writing and really loved Kate and quite a few of the other characters even though it felt written to give the reader a peek-a-boo look into the characters at different points in their lives rather than a serious character study. Ocean City library hard cover     buy it

The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne - This big mama book was funny and beautiful and fucking heart breaking on numerous fronts - women in the world, homosexuality, love, religion, repression, shame. Generally I am not a fan of long books - according to Goodreads this was my longest read this year at over 500 pages and that almost prohibited it from being on this list - but man it was worth it. OCNJ library paperback    Buy

When We Believed in Mermaids by Barbara O'Neal - Gah this book. My heart was in my throat the last 20% and quite a few spots throughout. So good. So beautifully written. So emotional. So many hard things. I want the world to read it and if you don't like it I don't want to know about it. Free copy from Netgalley  |   buy it

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert - I have not read any of Gilbert's fiction before this book. I read Eat, Pray, Love, and found it self indulgent and annoying - not my kind of book, at all. I slid right into this big mama. The writing was superb, I enjoyed the telling, and it was absolutely a feminist novel despite all the displays of the patriarchy. OCNJ library hard cover    buy it

Stars of Alabama by Sean Dietrich - I had no idea what this was about. I know nothing of Sean Dietrich - or Sean of the South as I've gathered he's called - except for the fact that he wrote a lovely rambling story here with characters worthy of investing in. A great read peppered with humor and beauty as well as real life suckiness. Free copy from Netgalley    buy it

The Lost Man by Jane Harper - I was under the impression that this would be a continuation of stories about Federal Agent Aaron Falk and was sorely disappointed to find out it wasn't...until I started reading it. I loved it. It's a long, slow burn. And it's a good one. Philly library hardcover  buy it

Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner - A few years back I stopped reading Jennifer Weiner books. This one was sent from Netgalley, I didn't need to request it, only accept, and I'm glad I did. I read the forward, which I rarely do, and that probably made me like the book more. I would absolutely buy this one. Free copy from Netgalley      Buy

She Would Be King by Wayetu Moore - This book blew me out of the water. I didn't know anything about it going in and that's my favorite way to go into a book - I have very little expectations that way and when it turns out like this I'm quite pleased. It felt like a journey. Philly library hardcover   buy it

The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See - This is hard to explain, but there's a scene in this book that is so WTF and it's not glossed over in any sense but it is written so we know as readers that life is moving on even as it's happening. I had to pause and think of how amazing it is what people survive. This is not a feel good, light story. I loved the haenyeo and their matri-focal society. What a tremendous story and exceptional strength in these women. They felt so real to me and that is the mark of a very good book. Philly library hardcover   buy it

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson - A book about Appalachia, the love/power of the written word, and the advancement of women and those who are "other"?  I requested this eagerly and it did not disappoint. While I enjoyed it, it would not have made this list if not for the Jojo Moyes controversy. I hope people read this. Free copy from Netgalley   Buy

Sadie by Courtney Summers - Here's a sound byte for you: compulsively readable. I couldn't put this down. OCNJ library hardcover   buy it

Recursion by Blake Crouch - I love how Blake Crouch can write books based in science and make me feel like I understand them well even though I absolutely do not. Free copy from Netgalley   buy it

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas - I am in the minority loving this book, so if you haven't read it I ask you to go into it without expectation - it is not The Hate U Give, so let that go. This story is good, the writing is good, the point of view just as on point as in The Hate U Give, but the main character in this book, Bri...I adore her.  Pre-ordered/purchased  buy it

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus -  I liked this better than One of Us is Lying and I hope McManus is writing a Three. Philly library hardcover    buy it

An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena - This reminded me a lot of Clue and I couldn't put it down. I love a simple whodunit. Philly library hardback buy it

A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini Singh - Gorgeous cover, beautiful writing for a thriller, great story. Very readable. OCNJ library hard cover    buy it

Run Away by Harlan Coben - I've read all of Harlan Coben's books and usually prefer the Myron Bolitar series over his stand alones but I freaking loved this. Layers upon layers and a great pace.  Philly library hardcover    buy it

Dear Wife by Kimberly Belle - This kept me solidly interested. Great story even after the actual story reveals itself...I hate to use the word "twist" because it seems overused and people base their entire experience on if they liked the twist or figured out the twist. So much more to a book than a twist, even when it's a delicious one. Free copy from Netgalley   buy it

Linkup Guidelines:
This link up is the second Tuesday of every month. This is a special year end linkup. The next regular linkup is January 14, 2020.
1. Visit and comment with both of your hosts, Jana & me
2. Display the button and/or link back to us on your blog post
3. Visit other blogs who've linked up and talk books as booknerds are wont to do

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