Hello friends and Happy 2020!
I’m late with this post, but for good reason. You see, for the last few years, I’ve been keeping track of the books I read for both my own records and also to be able to share them here. But some time last fall, my computer decided to hide the 2019 list I’d been dutifully keeping. I frantically searched for the document several times and eventually gave up, thinking it long gone. But then yesterday, I decided I’d check once more and voilà–it magically reappeared!
I’m sure it will be somewhat incomplete as I can’t remember all the titles I read after the document disappeared (thus, the reason for writing them down), but here are the majority of the books I read last year, in mostly chronological order. As you’ll probably note, most belong to my predominant writing wheelhouse–young adult contemporary. But I’ve added a small blurb about each plus some links, in case you’re interested.
1.) Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (YA Supernatural Romance)
i decided to start 2019 by re-reading one of my favorite guilty pleasures–the Twilight saga. I honestly don’t know how many times I’ve read this first book, but I still enjoy it for a multitude of reasons. Questionable writing aside, Twilight will always be one of my favorite love stories. And fun fact: the whole series plays a small but significant role in my latest project, Romeo and the Scarlett Letter.
2.) Becoming by Michelle Obama (Memoir)
If you enjoy well-written and insightful memoirs, I recommend this one. I’ve always admired Michelle and the Obamas, in general, and I really loved getting to know her personal story and history in this book. And bonus: she’s a pretty great writer!
3.) Thyroid Healing by Anthony William (Non-fiction)
In recent years, I’ve had to make my health a priority, so I’m always on the lookout for books that might help me to make positive changes in my life. Anthony William isn’t your typical go-to source for health advice, yet his nutritional recommendations have helped me more than just about anyone’s. Highly recommend reading this book (with an open mind!) if you have thyroid or autoimmune issues.
4.) See All the Stars by Kit Frick (YA Thriller)
This YA book really wowed me with its sharp and stellar writing style. Plus, there’s a pretty good twist near the end that I didn’t see coming. I really enjoyed it.
5.) The Darkest Lie by Pintip Dunn (YA Contemporary)
Not gonna lie–I didn’t care for this book. I read it because a friend told me it dealt with an issue similar to that in the book I’ve been working on. While this was true, I didn’t care for the writing style or the story all that much. Of course, that’s just my opinion. My friend said she enjoyed it.
6.) The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black (YA Horror)
Despite what some people may think, reading about vampires isn’t typically my thing. 😉 This book came highly recommended and while the writing was really good, I was pretty underwhelmed. Sorry, Holly Black fans. Reading truly is a subjective thing.
7.) In a Jam by Cindy Dorminy (Adult Romance)
Cute, clean, and sweet romance, written by my friend, Cindy. If you’re into this style of book, I recommend any of her titles!
8.) New Moon by Stephenie Meyer (YA Supernatural Romance)
Continuing my re-read of the Twilight saga. . .
9.) Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer (YA Supernatural Romance)
Hey, I told you I’m a Twilight junkie.
10.) Within and Without by Deborah Maroulis (YA Contemporary)
This is the debut novel by another writing friend of mine which I really enjoyed. Great writing and a story which delves into some serious and important teen issues.
11.) Turtles All the Way Down by John Green (YA Contemporary)
I love Green’s writing style but felt a little “meh” about this one until about halfway through. It’s definitely not my favorite book of his, but it was worth reading for the main character’s unique perspective (which I hear is based on Green’s own mental health issues).
12.) Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland (YA Contemporary)
I liked this book and thought the writing was good, but maybe a little too influenced by John Green. The author recommends several of his books in the intro. pages, but another problem might have been that I’d just finished a John Green novel before picking this one up. So could maybe chalk it up to weird coincidence. . . I hear it is being made into a movie though, and I’ll probably go see it.
13.) Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen (YA Contemporary)
I’ve always enjoyed Dessen’s classic writing style and this one, while not overly memorable, was still a good read.
14.) As Many Nows As I Can Get by Shana Youngdahl (YA Contemporary)
Oh my gads, you guys. I was not expecting this one. I won the ARC (advanced reading copy) in a Twitter contest, and quite simply, was blown away by this debut novel. I loved the shifting timeline as well as the smart, often eloquent writing. Not too many books make me tear up these days, but this one did. Can’t wait to re-read.
15.) Mexican Whiteboy by Matt de la Peña (YA Contemporary)
I bought this book because as the title indicates, the main character is half Mexican, like Romeo from my current project. I’ll often read books that I normally wouldn’t pick up solely for my own “research” purposes and to get another author’s perspective. Sports played a big role in this book, but overall, it’s a story about a character. I enjoyed it.
16.) The Storm Crow by Kalyn Josephson (YA Fantasy)
I think this was the only fantasy novel I read last year and that’s because Kalyn is a writing friend of mine! We found each other after both getting “chosen” for a writing contest a few years back (Shout out to my #pitch2pub peeps!). Kalyn’s book got picked up by an agent and editor because of that contest, if I’m remembering correctly. This novel has beautiful writing with a unique setting (there’s also an unexpected love story, which I always enjoy). If you like YA fantasy, I’m sure you’ll love this one!
17.) Insight to Equus by Tomas Teskey, DVM (Non-fiction)
Of course, I had to squeeze in a horse-related book this year, and I’m so glad I got to read this particular one. My friend, Tomas Teskey, DVM, authored this book and I highly recommend it to any horse owner who is interested in really understanding what our horses need from us. It’s a fabulous resource. (You can my favorite lines from the book in this blog post.)
18.) Girl Out of Water by Laura Silverman (YA Contemporary)
I listened to this one on audio, which is a completely different experience than reading, as you may or may not be aware. I enjoyed the story and found it memorable, but I think I would have liked it better if I’d read it (mainly for the fact that the narrator had annoying “kid” voices for the MC’s younger cousins). But still a good book.
19.) Wilder Girls by Rory Power (YA Horror)
Again, I’m not a horror fan (these days, anyway), but this book was really talked up when it first came out, so I wanted to give it a try. Cool writing style but I felt kind of “meh” about the overall story. I’ve heard others just rave about it though. Again, subjectivity is legit.
20.) Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham (YA historical/contemporary fiction)
This was another 2019 favorite for me, written by a Tulsa native and taking place (partly) during the Tulsa Race Riot in the 1920’s. Very well-written and it kept me on edge the entire time. It’s told in alternating POV’s, one character living in the 1920’s and the other in modern times. Definitely recommend this book solely for the fact that so many people are unaware of this terrible part of U.S. and Oklahoma history. But the writing and storyline are a huge bonus.
21.) The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zavin (Adult Fiction)
This book was recommended (and loaned to me) by my soon-to-be sister-in-law who also loves to read (Hi, Katie!) The style took some getting used to in the beginning and the main character is a little crotchety, but he grew on me and so did the story. I also learned several interesting things about the publishing world since the MC is a book seller.
22.) Liver Rescue by Anthony William (Non-fiction)
As I previously stated, I’ve been into reading books which I think will help me get my health back on track. This was super interesting and has really helped me to make some positive dietary changes.
23.) Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu (YA Contemporary)
This is another book I chose to read solely for the fact that I thought it would be a good comp for Romeo and The Scarlett Letter. Though I didn’t totally love it, there were a lot of striking similarities to my own book. It’s also being made into a movie so of course, I’ll totally be there for that.
24.) Dear Martin by Nic Stone (YA Contemporary)
This was a poignant and powerful book which hit me right in the feels. I probably wouldn’t have picked it up, but I found it on sale at Starbucks inside Barnes & Noble. I’m glad I bought it.
25.) Leverage by Joshua Cohen (YA Contemporary)
This was a good book which I also bought for research purposes. It’s a dual POV sports-focused story, told through two boys’ perspectives. Let me just say that it should come with a trigger warning though. I was not prepared for the graphic rape scene that occurred and I found it highly disturbing.
26.) Educated by Tara Westover (Memoir)
Another widely promoted book from 2019, but this one lived up to the hype in my opinion. I found it interesting, eye-opening, and very well written.
Of course, I also read a handful of non-published books (beta reads), including my friend, Jude Bayton’s soon-to-debut novel, The Secret of Mowbray Manor–a historical romantic mystery set in Victorian England. Such a lovely book, and I can’t wait to see it on my bookshelf!
I’m off to a rather slow start on my 2020 reading list, but that’s because there’s been a lot of excitement in my life lately (as well as plenty of illness and a short hospital stint for my son). Hoping to share some of my amazing news in next month’s blog post though.
Until then, happy trails and happy reading!