Friday, January 3, 2020

Book Club: Best Books of 2019

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It's one of our favorite posts of not only the month, but the entire year!!!  Today is the day we share the books we read (or listened to) in December AND our favorite stand out books of the entire year!!! 


December is always a crazy month and that certainly was true for me this December.  I only listened to two books last month, which is pretty low compared to the past few months.  

After Jen told me I had to put Broken Knight by L.J. Shen on my list it was my very next listen. I was so intrigued with this book and she was right that it was very similar to Ryan's Bed, which was my favorite book from 2018. It's about two teens who have been childhood best friends and next door neighbors almost their entire lives and how their relationship develops over the years.  One of the characters is a selective mute after dealing with a pretty big loss very early in her life and the other is the most popular boy in school.  The bond they have growing up turns into something much more, but their relationship does not come easy. They both work though a lot of heavy issues and in turn end up helping one another through a lot.  This book is definitely rated R with it's language and romance scenes so just be warned about that. It will take you through just about every emotion and leave you cheering for these two to make it in the end! I couldn't stop listening and finished it in about two days! 

Cancel the Wedding by Carolyn T. Dingman was a story about a young lady who is on a quest to uncover secrets about her mother's hidden past.  She has a finance, a big job, and everything going for her when she throws it all out the window and heads to Georgia to start digging into the history of her mother's childhood and early adult life.  She ends up finding comfort and friends in the small southern town and learns more about her mother than she ever expected that she would. It helps her to question her own future and what she really wanted in her life to make her happy.  I loved the southern traditions that were tied into this story and although part of it seemed a little far fetched, it was a sweet story. 

For such a busy month I was able to sneak a lot of reading in. I've learned my reading correlates to the amount of time invested into kids activities. There's a lot driving involved. But, there's also a lot of sitting. This time of year all the sports tend overlap. So double the fun, double the reading/listening time. 

First up for the month is one of my go-tos. Elin Hilderbrand's What Happens in Paradise.

This book is part of the Paradise series that will conclude next year. This one continues the story of Irene and her sons trying to figure out what really happened down in St. John to their husband/father. The secret life he led. The mysterious job and hefty income. The inconclusive death. All the juicy details get flushed out in the second novel as well as some romances heat up. Add all that to tropical island goodness and it was just what I was looking for to kick off the rainy, cold, busy month of December.

Second for the month was A Crown for Christmas by Rachel Van Dyken. This book popped up on my Kindle as a suggested read and it was only $.99. It's about royalty (and long time readers know we like to soak up all the royal things), so I thought, "Why not?" and clicked download.  It follows fictional princess Phillipa who is about to inherit the throne. There's only one thing stopping her from ascending and that's finding a husband. Unfortunately she's scared off every potential candidate. Except one - her long time enemy. You can guess how it goes from there. It reads like a Hallmark Christmas movie. It was fun, light, and a great book to get you in the holiday spirit with a royal twist. It's a pretty quick read, and I saw it's still at a great price if you have a Kindle or the Kindle app.

Last month I enjoyed reading Broken Knight, so when I saw the same author had a new release I jumped right in. In the Unlikely Event was different in terms of the plot line, but the author kind of gave you that same missed opportunities/missed chances scenario as she did in Broken Knight. The story follows Aurora and Mal who meet in Ireland just after Aurora graduates from high school. It's a case of instant love, but poor timing. They promise to not seek each other out or have a long distance relationship, but if the universe happens to put them together again - it's no going back. Meaning they must drop whomever they are with at the time and be together, because it's meant to be. Inevitably they do cross paths again, but life is quite different and far from what it was when they met the first time. It was an interesting story and kept me hooked the whole time. There were times I didn't like any of the characters, or felt like the story was believable, but other times I enjoyed it. I will give the disclaimer that this is beyond rated R. More so than Broken Knight. So you've been warned. 

Continuing the holiday book train I was on this month, I picked up Royal Holiday. (See above for my feelings on all things royal.) This book probably wins for cutest story of the month. Vivian is a hard working single mom who rarely takes a moment for herself. When her daughter lands her dream job working for the royal family, she asks her Vivian to come along with her for the holidays. Vivian is a little nervous about leaving behind all her responsibilities at first, but soon realizes the trip is life changing for her in more than one way. I thought the story was adorable, and loved all the little royal touches mixed in with the romance. It was fun, and if you are looking for a little extra holiday magic in your life I would say grab this one.

Last up for the month (see I told you I read a lot), is a book a friend recommended to me. She said read the book first, and then watch the show on Netflix. I love watching stories come to life, so I was excited about this one based on how many people agreed with her about the show. Virgin River starts off with the main character Mel escaping the chaos of L.A. and moving to Virgin River to be their new mid-wife and local doctor's assistant/nurse. Upon arrival she realizes not everything told to her was accurate when it came to the town, the home she would be staying in for the next year, or her job. Broken hearted and grieving she decides to throw in the towel and move on. Until a certain adorable bar owner shows her another side of the town. Throw in an abandoned baby, lots of town drama, and a funny cast of characters and you have Virgin River

After finishing the book I instantly watched the first two episodes of the show. Now, there are some differences from the book to the show, but so far I love both! I think the show is easy to follow without reading and it introduces some characters from the later books in the series right off the bat. I plan to read the rest of the series at some point, but it's been fun to see the book being brought to life. 


Best Books of 2019


Eeek!!! I'm so excited to share my favorite books for 2019!!! I read (listened) to SO many and many of them were all so very different.  Funnily enough, my top three from 2019 are all very different types of books which just proved to me that I need to keep an open mind when selecting my next reads!

My third favorite book of the year was The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer. This is one I would have NEVER picked up on my own, but someone told me it was a really great one so I decided to give it a try and I'm so glad I did.  It's just one of those books that stuck with me a long time after I was done with it and one that I kept creeping back into my thoughts. It goes back and forth between present day and WWII and I think that is what kept me entertained enough until I became very connected with the characters. It was a story about love, loss, war, sacrifice, survival, and the horrible things so many people had to go through during that time.  It gave me such a huge appreciation for the survivors of the Holocaust and was just so beautifully written.

My second favorite book of the year was Kristen Hannah's Night Road.  This book reminded me so much of my second favorite book of 2018, All We Ever Wanted by Emily Griffin. Both of those books are so relatable to me because I'm a mom within a few years of having teenagers and both books deal with real life problems parents of today's teens have to face.  If you are a mom I think you should read both!!!  This book made me cry multiple times and really pulled at my mama heart strings.  I have to share a disclaimer though...I LOVED the first half of this book and probably would have named it my favorite book of the year had the second half not annoyed me.  However, just like the other Hannah book I have read, she takes big jumps in time and misses a lot of details leaving the readers wanting more information and having to fill in the gaps.  The second have left me annoyed with the mother in this book and I felt that it was a little rushed.  All that to say that the first half had me love it so much that I still consider it one of my favorites of the year.

My very favorite book of the year was American Royals by Katherine McGee.  I LOVED THIS BOOK!!!  It was cute, clever, full of pop culture and all things royalty.  It's written as if America, in it's very earliest days, had granted George Washington a crown and he had become the first King of America instead of our first President.  The story focuses on the current royal family and how the eldest princess is being groomed to be the first ruling queen. I loved all of the characters, hearing their connection to the crown and to each other, and it really made me me think about what life in the monarchy would be like. Warning...this book ends very abruptly and leaves you wanting more, but I often think that is a good thing and rumor has it that this is the first in a series with a second book coming this fall!  I could NOT stop listening to this book and loved that each of the different chapters focus on a different character in the book, helping you really get to know them all and root for your favorites. I cannot wait for the sequel and hope I love it just as much! 

This is tough because I'm not sure any one book stands out as "the book" of 2019 for me. But, I have a few that are winners for this year, and if you are going to read any of the fifty something books I read this year, these are the ones I would put top of the list.

I read More Than Words in the Spring (review here), and it was a book that put me through so many emotions. And one of the few I read this year that made me think about it long after I was done with it. More Than Words is beautifully written (the Audible is great too because it's read by the author!), and a story that just tears at your heart. From start to finish it was definitely one of my favorites of the year. 

Something Like Happy was one of those books that was a surprise for me. I stumbled upon it randomly, and I'm so glad I did (review here). It has so many small twists, gut wrenching moments, and simple things that make you smile. I walked away from the book with a smile on my face and telling everyone they needed to read it. If I had to pick one book to read, this might be it a smidge more than More Than Words. But just barely. Both are so so good. 

Now to just give you a little something from a different genre, I would say Not That I Could Tell was my favorite mystery/thriller/domestic suspense of the year (review here). It was a story that had so many twists and turns I didn't see coming, and the end made me go "ohhhh!". It was also a story I could see happening in real life. If this style of book is your cup of tea, snag this one!  



I have a feeling that as soon as my kids go back to school and I'm busy running all over town with them I'll be back on the Audible train.

My first book of 2020 is going to be Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I have read several of her books, and loved them! The fact that this one is part of Reese's Book Club makes me know it has to be a good one!   

First up for the year is one that's been recommended to me a few times, and after looking it up it has great reviews! So I'm going to kick off the new decade with hopefully a great one - The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff.

What was your favorite book of the 2019? 


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