Books of 2019 Ranked + Reviewed

One of my resolutions for 2019 was to read one book per month. I ended up reading 12 books by July + read 16.5 books in 2019! The .5 is because I am currently reading a 647 page book right now!

Anyways, I wanted to review all of the books I read. I got really lucky + enjoyed all of the books this year – I didn’t quit any of them!

I also went back + read my book recap from 2018! I was surprised to see that I ended up reading most of the books I had planned to. I also read so many others…

Top 3 Books of 2019

The Sun is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon (A+)

Okay, this book was incredible. It takes place in the course of one day – yes, you read that correctly. It alternates between the points of view of Natasha, the Jamaican-born daughter of immigrants who are in the US on an expired visa, + Daniel, the American-born son of South Korean immigrants. They cross paths as Natasha is fighting her deportation + Daniel is en route to his admissions interview for Dartmouth. The book goes through Natasha’s last day in the US + the romance that quickly unfolds between her + Daniel. It also side-steps into the perspectives of some of the people they meet along their way.

It really makes you think about how everyone is on their own journey + has their own hopes, struggles, + adventures. It was so well-written + well-detailed that I could easily picture the entire book play out in my head. I laughed, I cried, I couldn’t put this book down. I read this book in 4 days – which is fast for me since I work ~9 hour days + have quite a chunk of a drive to/from work.

This book came out as a movie earlier this year, but as much as I love Noah Centineo, I don’t want to see the movie because I don’t to tarnish my memory of the book.

The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali (A+)

Honestly, I am still speechless about this book. This book is incredibly well-written + I also read this book in less than a week. It’s the love story of Roya + Bahman during 1950s Tehran, Iran. It opens + closes with Roya, as an elderly woman, visiting Bahman in a nursing home in Massachusetts. The majority of the book is about how they met, their love story, their marriage that should have happened, + Roya’s life + new love in America. As the book progresses, the connections among the characters are revealed + they blew my mind + broke my heart. This book moved me to tears a few different times because it was just so real about life/romance in a very politically turbulent time. There were plenty sweet, heart-warming moments, too. This book also side-stepped into the perspectives of some of the supporting characters in the book.

Overall, this book gave me a hangover + it took me about two whole weeks before I read what ended up being the 3rd of my 2019 Top 3…

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes (A+)

So…I read this book in less than 24 hours spanning through Christmas Eve day + Christmas Day. It follows Evvie Drake, recently widowed but not really mourning the loss of her husband, + Dean Tenney, former New York Yankees pitcher who suddenly lost his ability to pitch but is definitely mourning his loss. Through Evvie’s friend, Andy, Dean moves into the apartment connected to Evvie’s house in a quiet town in Maine. Obviously, a romance unfolds as the two work to face their losses. Evvie struggles with the aftermath of losing her husband because he was emotionally abusive – but no one, not even Andy, knew. Dean cannot figure out why he can no longer pitch + has tried every remedy he can think of to no avail.

This was such a page-turner! Also wonderfully well-written, I cranked through this book. I loved Evvie + Dean’s relationship – the two of them together was so heart-warming. Also, I was really rooting for Dean to stay in Maine but you’ll have to read to see if he does!

Books 4-16.5

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman – I chose this book because it was one of Reese’s Book Club pics in 2017 + there was a lot of hype surrounding this book. Personally, I really enjoyed it + support the hype! The protagonist, Eleanor Oliphant, is a bit quirky + socially awkward. Initially, Eleanor has her routine + there’s really no variety for Eleanor until she encounters a musician at a concert with a coworker. She dreams of meeting him + of them falling in love. In her quest to woo the musician, she experiences a bikini waxing mishap + the cosmetic counter at a department store for the first time. Then she meets Raymond, the IT guy from work, + they end up saving an elderly man named Sammy. Through these new relationships, Eleanor confronts her emotionally abusive mother + pursues a promotion at work – ultimately, being empowered through her new friendships to pursue what SHE wants + not what “Mummy” tells Eleanor what she can/can’t have.

The Towering Sky by Katharine McGee – This is the final book in the Thousandth Floor trilogy. It was bittersweet to read the last book because the trilogy is so fun! I would best describe it as a futuristic Gossip Girl, the book is set in the year 2118 + the entire island of Manhattan is built up to be one giant, thousand-floor skyscraper. The brownstone houses, the Met, Central Park, + everything else are relocated within this tower. It follows the lives + alternates between the perspective of eight high schoolers that live throughout the building – the higher to the top, the higher social status you are. Katharine McGee is a fantastic writer + wrapped up the trilogy so well with this book! Her new book, American Royals, just came out a few months ago + that is definitely on my list for 2020!

Becoming by Michelle Obama – I wanted to read this book because, all politics aside, I think Michelle Obama is so accomplished + we have similar values. The book goes back to when Michelle was a young girl + reflects on pivotal moments throughout her life up to the present. Michelle graduated cum laude from Princeton + received her J.D. from Harvard. Also, as First Lady, her initiatives focused on supporting veterans, healthy diets, + encouraging kids to continue their education after grade school. I thought it was so interesting that she detailed the struggles + triumphs of a spouse of a campaigning presidential candidate + what is was like raising children in the White House. I definitely recommend this book to get the behind-the-scenes scoop, if you will, of life before + after moving into the White House.

Meltdown by Chris Clearfield + András Tilcsik – This was one of the books I had to read for class. I actually found this book so interesting – I think 2/3 of my book is highlighted yellow. It recounts what went wrong in so many head-lining accidents – the BP oil spill, the Fukushima nuclear meltdown, the 2008 market crash, a Washington D.C. metro crash, + more. The book also analyzed the importance of diversity in teams + how having an outsider’s perspective can catch something that could cause a fatal error in a system. I’d say this book is a must-read + a great break in between thrillers + romance!

When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton – This is the sequel to a prior 2018 Reese’s Book Club pick, Next Year in Havana. There was action + romance in this historical fiction set in the 1960s. In this sequel, Beatriz, the sister of the protagonist in Next Year in Havana, falls in love with an American (+engaged) senator but is also (successfully) recruited by the CIA to infiltrate Fidel Castro’s inner circle. The suspense was real + it was a riveting page-turner to see if Beatriz would be successful in her CIA mission + if she would end up with the senator! I’m so excited for Chanel Cleeton’s next book, The Last Train to Key West, to come out in summer 2020!

When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger – This was the sequel to The Devil Wears Prada (my favorite movie so I think I should read the book in 2020). It follows along Emily Charlton’s life after leaving Miranda Priesley + Runway. She reunites with two of her friends, Karolina + Miriam, in the suburbs of Greenwich, Connecticut when the three realize Karolina’s DUI was a set-up. I thought this book was a great beach read. You definitely don’t need to read or watch The Devil Wears Prada to enjoy this book!

Black Chalk by Christopher Yates – This book + The Au Pair (below) are mysteries/thrillers that were both recommended by the staff of one of my favorite bookstores, Old Town Books, in Alexandria, VA. In this book, 6 students at Pitt College at Oxford University in London with very different backgrounds all meet + decide to start a game – kind of like a hardcore, ongoing game of truth or dare except it’s always dare + there’s a cash prize on the table for the last (wo)man standing. Players can take the dare, so to speak, or suffer an alternative consequence. As the game unfolds, the characters unravel + ultimately, one of the students dies. The narration of the book alternates between the players as students + one of the students 20 years later. I won’t give away who narrates as an adult because figuring that out was definitely part of the suspense. This book was so twisty + I’m definitely interested in reading Yates’s other book, Grist Mill Road, in 2020!

A Case for Jamie + A Question of Holmes by Brittany Cavallaro – These were the 3rd + 4th both in the Charlotte Holmes series. The two main characters, Jamie Watson + Charlotte Holmes, are the teenage decedents of Sherlock Holmes + John Watson, solving mysteries inspire by those of their predecessors. In these two books, the romance between Jamie + Charlotte continues to unfold throughout their adventures.

I definitely recommend this series but must give a heads up that part of Charlotte’s character development is her overcoming her drug abuse that stemmed from her rape that occurred prior to the timeline of the series.

The Au Pair by Emma Rous – I also picked up this thriller from Old Town Books. I would say this book fell flat. The initial 3/4 of the book were suspenseful + totally drew me in. This is another book that alternates between two points of view – Seraphine + Laura. Seraphine is going through her father’s belongings after his death in a freak accident (which if it was an accident or not is totally debatable) + finds a picture of her mother hours before committing suicide. In the photo, her mother is only holding one baby but it is unclear which baby. Laura is the au pair that helped raise Seraphine + Danny’s older brother, Edwin, + was there when Seraphine, Danny, + a third baby were born. However, Laura is also the only person who can tell Seraphine + Danny the story – and truth- of the day they were born. Ultimately, I was disappointed in myself for not seeing how everyone connected + I think that’s why the book fell flat to me!

The Whisper Network by Chandler Baker – At Truviv, an athletic apparel corporate office in Texas, three women (Grace, Ardie, Sloan) are panicked when their boss, Ames Garrett, suddenly dies after a lawsuit is filed against him. Prior to his death, the three try to protect a new employee, Katherine, from Ames. Ames was arrogant + definitely abused his authority as their boss + his charisma to make sexual advances at several women in the office, including one of the janitors, Rosalita. As the book alternates through each woman’s perspective, it highlights very real struggles of postpartum depression, balancing work + family, + the horrible reality of sexual assault in the workplace. Overall, I think this was a pretty good book + allows for dialogue regarding the previously mentioned struggles to open up.

The Poisoned City by Anna Clark – This was the second book I had to read for class. It was non-fiction + very interesting to learn all of the details of the Flint water crisis; however, to me the timeline was a little confusing at points. I would say if you have any kind of project regarding the Flint water crisis or about skewed priorities + negligence of public officials, this would be a great source to cite!

The Plant Paradox by Dr. Steven Gundry, MD – I heard about this book through The Skinny Confidential – Dr. Gundry was a guest on one of the episodes. I am definitely interested in nutrition + this book takes a deep dive – like molecular level deep – into nutrition. Yet, you definitely do not need a science background to understand the book + it was a super easy read – the chapters were short + to the point. I thought it was a super interesting book + highly recommend it! The point of the book is not to be vegan or do keto or some other fad diet, but to really consider the sources of your food – like buy locally grown, in-season produce as often as possible to ensure you are getting the maximum nutrients possible! Overall, definitely learned so much from this book!

Currently Reading (My .5 Book)…

Lethal White by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling) – This is the 4th (+ hopefully not final) book in the Cormoran Strike series by J.K. Rowling. Also set in London, Detective Strike + his courageous temp-turned-full-time-employee, Robin Ellacott, solve London’s most high profile + complex cases. Rowling wrote the series under a pseudonym to let the series stand on its own + not be compared to Harry Potter. I will say, they are equally long. Lethal White is the longest in the series + is 647 pages. I’m about 1/3 of the way through + will ultimately count this book on my 2020 recap.

Did you read any of these books in 2019? If so, tell me what you thought of the book(s) in the comment section below!
Do you have any recommendations for 202? Share any + all recs in the comments below too!

Happy New Year!

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