Thursday, March 26, 2020

2019 Book of the Year: Sweet Sixteen

And we're back at it...whittling down the contenders to find the best book of those I read in 2019. We started with 116 and when all is said and done, only one will be left standing. We've already said goodbye to quite a few good reads.

So...I reevaluated my planning since last post. Since I'm going through each book a little more thoroughly with the brackets from here out, I'm spacing things out a little differently. So...instead of the Final Four, we'll be getting to the Sweet Sixteen today. Trust me, this was a good alteration to make. Writing this post as is took me several days due to the amount of evaluation and writing needed.

Last time, I got things down to the the Terrific 32. So this is where we start our bracket today.

As with every other time I've done this, some matchups are easier to decide than others. We're saying goodbye to some really good books today. A few of them were pretty painful to eliminate. must be done if we're going to get to number one! So...let's get crackin'.

Left Side Bracket

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery vs. Postcards for a Songbird by Rebekah Crane

Anne of Green Gables is a classic for good reason. It is lighthearted and fun with a good cast of characters, most notably the spunky and incorrigible Anne. The first in a series and one I will absolutely be continuing. I had a great time with this book.

Postcards for a Songbird is a YA contemporary with some romance written by Rebekah Crane, who has a good touch for keeping things light, but still quite interesting. I love her writing and read this one in a single day, enjoying the way her prose moves and how she weaves her story together. However, there was some questionable character use and the plot got confusing in a few spots that made it a little distracting. 

When decisions have to be made, I base my choice on a few things: certainly the rating I gave each book at the time of reading, but also how well the book has stuck with me (both in how much I remember about the plot and how it has emotionally impacted me) and whether I would read it again or (if applicable) continue the series. In this case, it was an easy choice. 

Winner: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Scythe by Neal Shusterman vs. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

The first truly difficult choice this round and we're only on the second match up. The pain is real my friends. 

Scythe is an amazingly wonderful utopian dystopian (trust me, that will make sense if you read it) based on the idea that death has been conquered and chosen "scythes" must do the "gleaning" of humanity to keep the population in check. This was so intriguing and mesmerizing. I'm going to be grabbing the second in the series later this's already on my TBR for this summer.

This was my second attempt at reading All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I had put it down a few years ago when I just couldn't get myself into the narrative. But with it being nominated for several awards and having the author come from my home state, I just needed to try it again. This time, I picked up the audio and it was very much the right choice. A little slow burn of a start, it's a fantastic read. Emotional and somewhat heartbreaking, I loved this one ever so much. In fact, I sent a copy of it to my mom for her birthday.

I went back and forth on this one several times, but what ultimately made the choice was the fact that one required a second chance read. Is it still fabulous? Yes. Would I still whole-heartedly recommend it to others? Absolutely. But...a decision had to be made.

Winner: Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet by Charlie N. Holmberg vs. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

A matchup of two authors who rank among my favorites. Charlie N. Holmberg writes amazing magical fantasies and I have adored every book of hers I've read. She writes things that a fun and mysterious, swinging in audience from YA to adult. Lauren Oliver writes YA contemporaries that hit hard, but she also writes a good sci-fi. 

Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet is a huggable book. Those of you who have read my reviews for a while know that this indicates a keeper. Unfortunately, Before I Fall also ranked this way. Drat. I hate such a hard face-off. But...such is the downside of the randomized bracket. Again, this could have gone either way. 

For this decision, I just had to go with my gut. Which one hit me the hardest and left me with the biggest book hangover?

Winner: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

The Giver by Lois Lowry vs. Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe by Heather Webber

I read The Giver as part of Believathon in November and didn't expect to think much of it. Holy moly was I wrong. It was such a good book and I really wish I had read it sooner. It's a great middle grade read and I can't recommend it enough.

Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe by Heather Webber is a magical realism read that immediately had me feeling Sarah Addison Allen vibes. SUCH a good thing to have in a book. This kind of read is why I love magical realism. I devoured this book so quickly and I am so glad that I have it in my personal library.

Both good books, but this wasn't as difficult a decision as the last two.

Winner: Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe by Heather Webber

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy vs. After the End by Clare Mackintosh

The face-off of the hard-hitting social commentary contemporaries. Dumplin' is for the YA sector while After the End is for an adult audience, but they both have fantastic plots with strong messages and really led to some personal introspection. Both are #ownvoices works. And both hurt that bad but good way books can do sometimes.

This choice honestly could have probably changed based on what day I was asked to pick a winner. Sometimes it's hard to compare books that affect you in similar, but oh so different ways. I just had to rip the band-aid off and pick one.

Winner: Dumplin' by Julie Murphy

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett vs. Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Guys...when "America's Dad" reads a book, you listen. Tom Hanks's reading of The Dutch House by Ann Patchett is part of what made it so great for me. He just brought such good life to some incredibly complicated characters and situations. Literary fiction is sometimes hard for me to handle, but I made the absolute best choice possible by picking this up, especially in audio form. No regrets.

And when it comes to "most unlikely to be read by me", no book tops the list for this group more than Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. I do. NOT. do. space. Seriously. I don't read space books or alien books or anything like that. They just aren't my speed. But Aurora Rising? Holy moly! I loved this book. I don't know why or how, but I just had a great time reading this book.

Both of these ranked out at 4.5 stars. They come from vastly different genres. Literary vs. SciFi. Adult vs. YA. Sometimes the random bracket produces some weird moments. This was one of those cases. It's also a pairing that made me just have to go with my gut and choose based on impact.

Winner: Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

The Grace Year by Kim Liggett vs. The Book of the Unnamed Midwife by Meg Elison

Freaking A, you guys. Seriously. If I could have picked out of the batch what books would be difficult to pit against each other, these two would have been in the top matchups. Two dysopians with fantastic plots and characters, narratives that both mesmerized me and freaked me out. Books that I just couldn't put down. They were both 5 star reads.

The Grace Year by Kim Liggett is a book I likened to The Hunger Games meets Lord of the Flies meets The Crucible with a touch of The Handmaid's Tale for good measure. It was a seriously wild ride and I loved it. 

The Book of the Unnamed Midwife by Meg Elison came out of freaking nowhere. I grabbed it as an Amazon Prime read and it knocked my socks off. It's like medical apocalypse meets wild west in a way and it's just awesome. It's the first book in The Road to Nowhere trilogy and I have GOT to pick up the sequel soon. I don't know why I haven't grabbed it yet.

I was not a happy camper to have to decide between these two. The gut had to be relied on once again.

Winner: The Book of the Unnamed Midwife by Meg Elison

Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid vs. Not So Long Ago, Not So Far Away by Trisha Slay

Remind me again why I don't just list a top ten of favorite books for the year? Damn you bracket. 

Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid is technically a historical fiction, but it's set in the 70s, so...umm...really? Anyway, it's so freaking realistic that I, like others, had to remind myself several times that this was not a real band. I listened to the full cast audio and it was awesome. Seriously atmospheric and I feel like I really got to know the characters in a way I might not have been able to by reading the text.

Not So Long Ago, Not So Far Away by Trisha Slay is more than just a pretty cover (although it is just freaking gorgeous). It's a YA contemporary partially based on the impact that Star Wars has on a teenage girl's life in the summer of 1977. I will repeat the fact that I'm not into space stuff. That includes Star Wars. But holy freaking heck. The writing in this was so dang good. I swooned over this book the whole time I was reading it and then for weeks after. I may still be doing so.

Another hard pick, but decisions were made.

Winner: Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Right Side Bracket

100 Days of Sunlight by Abbie Emmons vs. The Ten Thousand Days of January by Alix E. Harrow

Can I just nerd out for a minute and say how funny I find it that the books with multiples of ten in their titles got matched against each other? Ya...I know, stupid, but it gave me a giggle. I have to take what I can get.

100 Days of Sunlight by Abbie Emmons is a debut novel that is something similar to Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon. It's emotional and cute and wonderful. It was just a dang pleasant read.

The Ten Thousand Days of January by Alix E. Harrow is a fantasy billed as adult, but that really felt a bit more YA in the writing style. (This isn't necessarily a bad thing.) It's one of my favorite tropes: story within a story, a book about a book. It wasn't quite what I was expecting, but it was still a good and enjoyable read.

This decision was a little easier. 100 Days of Sunlight was a 5-star read, while The Ten Thousand Doors of January got a 4.5. Close, but still a clear winner.

Winner: 100 Days of Sunlight by Abbie Emmons

Charlotte's Web by E.B. White vs. The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith

I think Charlotte's Web was one of only two rereads for the year (both of which were middle grade reads for the Believathon in November). Typically I wouldn't count that in BOTY, but since the last time I read it was like three decades ago, I'm going to go ahead and give it a pass. A childhood favorite that totally holds up, it was so enjoyable and yet still so totally devastating.

The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith was a different style of read and I really enjoyed it. A historical fantasy of sorts it's based on a witch in a winery region of what appears to be something like a mash up of 18th century and early 19th century France. It was a little magical, a little dark, and a lot of fun to read. I'm picking up the sequel later this year.

Sorry...but sometimes childhood nostalgia just wins out. (Though I have to say that it still reads very well as an adult.)

Winner: Charlotte's Web by E.B. White

The Seventh Bride by T. Kingfisher vs. Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

Welcome to weirdo match-up number two. 

The Seventh Bride is a YA fantasy retelling of Bluebeard. It was dark, but totally whimsical and entertaining. A cute and fast read that I will likely return to for a reread at a later date. 

Winter Garden is a hard-hitting historical fiction about the Russian revolution. It's full of Hannah's powerful and beautiful writing. It's emotional and heartbreaking. It's wonderful.

As much as I loved The Seventh Bride, this one was a bit of a no brainer.

Winner: Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

Scars Like Wings by Erin Stewart vs. Tidelands by Philippa Gregory

Scars Like Wings is something akin to a YA version of Wonder. It's hard-hitting and fantastic. I read this book over the span of two days and it made my heart hurt. 

I'm typically a huge fan of Philippa Gregory, so I was thrilled to get to read an ARC of her new novel, Tidelands. It's slightly different than her usual books (Tudor/Plantagenet series), but it still has great pieces of history wrapped up in an interesting narrative. It started slow, but I loved the ending. I'm very much looking forward to the sequel in this new series.

In this case, the ratings were the same, but the gut punch won out. Not a big surprise given my reading tastes.

Winner: Scars Like Wings by Erin Stewart

Cilka's Journey by Heather Morris vs. The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

Cilka's Journey is the follow up to The Tattooist of Auschwitz, which totally wrecked me. It presented a whole new piece of history for me, as I had previously known little to nothing of the post WWII Russian gulags. It was really good, sometimes painful to read (in a good way), and had fantastic description. I was a little disappointed in the ending.

The Hazel Wood came out of nowhere and hit me square in the face. Super fantastical and intriguing. Book with in a book, plus magic? Yes. Yes. Yes. Give me all the reads. I loved this book so much. I need to track down the sequel, which came out in January.

Winner: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

Maternal Instinct by Rebecca Bowyer vs. The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins

Dystopian vs. Magical Realism. Maternal Instinct was an awesome dystopian premise. Based on the idea that women are required under the government to bear two children, which then are entered into a system of government-based rearing, the realistic potential of this read was a bit creepy. It was a great read and I want to see more from this author.

The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins was a cute magical realism set in a small town, generally a recipe for reading success for me. It was a cozy read that I sped right through, enjoying the characters and the small town feel. Looking forward to the sequel.

The choice on this one was again based on the gut punch factor. I'm such a sucker for a good dystopian.

Winner: Maternal Instinct by Rebecca Bowyer

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green vs. The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

Me: I don't like books about aliens. Also me (reading An Absolutely Remarkable Thing): What is this? This is magnificent! Give me more! This was so good and so entertaining. Hank Green's writing style is fantastic and I couldn't get enough of this book. The ramifications of the premise are realistically explored and prompted some internal discussion on my part. I enjoy a book that makes me think...especially when it's entertaining me at the same time. Very much looking forward to the sequel coming out this summer.

Want to be hit in the face with a raw historical fiction that tears your heart out and stomps on it repeatedly? Grab The Tattooist of Auschwitz. I know there has been controversy about this book and its sequel, but I don't care. I recognize that this isn't a biography and there are going to be some latitudes taken by the author. Regardless, I loved this book. It was so poignant and powerful. 

This was an odd pairing to deliberate and I feel somewhat bad about my choice...somehow it feels a little bit...wrong. But I had to go with the impact and how much I was made to think and contemplate my own life and choices. 

Winner: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green


Becoming by Michelle Obama vs. Only Ever Her by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

Regardless of your political leanings, Becoming is a fantastic book about an amazing woman. Michelle Obama has poise, grace, and she is a smart, capable, accomplished woman who tells her story with candor and humor. I really enjoyed this memoir. My personal political leanings happen to be middle of the road and I don't typically enjoy politically based reads, but this was something different than I expected and it was great. She is so open about her youth, her education, her personal choices. The story focuses on her and her experience, not that of her husband...which makes it more real and less political. I appreciated this approach and really felt that it was a good window into her own thoughts. She manages, despite her fame and position in society, to remain very humble and I admire her strength and ambition.

Only Ever Her is a mystery/thriller and definitely not my regular fare. That being said, it surprised me quite a bit with how much I enjoyed it. Told from several perspectives, this is full of unreliable narrators and swirling information that compounds the suspense. I could easily pick this one up for a reread.

Winner: Becoming by Michelle Obama

Phew...and that's the end of that round. This is where we land for our Sweet Sixteen.

Next up, a double round! I'll be getting down to the Elite Eight and then the Final Four. Time to get this baby moving and wrap it up soon!! Are your favorites still in the running?

Friday, March 13, 2020

2019 Book of the Year: Terrific 32

Hello again!

I've been struggling to get back here and move forward with the BOTY posts. Some of it has been time, some of it has been mental health related, but most of it has just been the lack of willingness to do the digital bracket work. Pathetic. the time between the last post and this one, the world has completely changed and turned on its head. So...there will be no March Madness this year. The thing that inspired my organization of this challenge has been cancelled.  Craziness. least there's some bracket action happening, right? Last post, I gave an introduction to both the bracket and the challengers. Today I'll be whittling the options down to create my Terrific 32.

This is where we start...
In the first round, I had to make some already seriously difficult choices. Some really great books had to be removed just because they had the bad luck to be seated next to some hearty contenders. And so, I said goodbye to the excellent reads:

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott
Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
Evidence of the Affair by Taylor Jenkins Reid

There are always hard choices in every round. So it is no surprise that I had to remove some more favorites in the elimination down to 32 seeds. This time around the most painful losses were:

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger
Wonder by RJ Palacio
The Murmur of Bees by Sofia Segovia

Now we're at the point where I can make things a little easier on the eyes. We've eliminated enough books that I can move everything into the 32 seed bracket. So this is where we land now...

Next up...elimination down to the final four. Now that we're down to a more manageable number, we'll be starting to take a closer look at each match up. Also...I'll try not to have such a big gap between postings this time.

Happy reading everyone!

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

2019 Book of the Year Bracket

Well...I've put it off long enough, it's time to finally work towards discovering my favorite read of 2019. It's a bit of an endeavor this year, since I read a ridiculous 116 books last year, my highest amount ever. It was such a big stack that I had to use a whole new bracket. In past years, I've typically used a 32-seed bracket...I think a 64-seed bracket on a couple of occasions to get things started. Neither of those would do the job this year, so I'm busting out the monster...the 128-seed bracket.

This thing is a behemoth! 

Like past years, I used a random number sequencer to seed the bracket. There are slots for 128 books, so obviously some slots result in automatic wins for the first round since only 116 challengers exist. Those books just get lucky. Books are seeded into the bracket based on when they were read, with my first book of the year being seed number 1 and my last book being 116.

Here is the bracket once it was filled, followed by a list of the numbered competitors in order by section of bracket.

Upper Left 32

Upper 16

63. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
95. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

9. Midnight at the Tuscany Hotel by James Markert
106. The Invisibles by Rachel Dacus

89. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
37. The Tower of Blue by Eric Locsh

3. Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman
68. Postcards for a Songbird by Rebekah Crane

126. (Empty)
47. Scythe by Neal Shusterman

49. Ozma of Oz by L. Frank Baum
71. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

7. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
84. My Crazy (Sick) Love by Drica Pinotti

77. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
36. Daisy Miller by Henry James

Lower 16

119. (Empty)
19. Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet by Charlie N. Holmberg

48. The Boy and Girl Who Broke the World by Amy Reed
42. Me, Myself, & Him by Chris Tebbets

125. (Empty)
109. Dying to Return by Kelly Zimmer

70. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
65. The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty

112. The Giver by Lois Lowry
39. Dual Citizens by Alix Ohlin

59. The Art of Taxidermy by Sharon Kernot
66. After Alice by Gregory Maguire

34. Checking Out by Nick Spalding
55. Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe by Heather Webber

103. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
20. Ever Alice by H.J. Ramsay

Lower Left 32

Upper 16

44. Dumplin' by Julie Murphy
118. (Empty)

56. The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
108. The Magic in Me by Kelly Zimmer

29. The Welsh Fasting Girl by Varley O'Connor
35. After the End by Clare Mackintosh

120. (Empty)
2. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

92. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
85. The Weaver by Heather Kindt

79. Immaculate Perception by Kik Phillips
76. The Beginner's Goodbye by Anne Tyler

26. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
127. (Empty)

94. Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
51. And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman

Lower 16

86. Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott
91. The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

101. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
21. Where the Forest Meets the Stars by Glendy Vanderah

16. The Crucible by Arthur Miller
25. The Book of the Unnamed Midwife by Meg Elison

104. The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
33. Things That Fall From the Sky by Selja Ahava

24. The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman
53. Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

72. This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger
97. Gravemaidens by Kelly Coon

57. Stardust by Neil Gaiman
31. The Lost Tribe of Coney Island by Claire Prentice

30. Not So Long Ago, Not So Far Away by Trisha Slay
78. The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

Upper Right 32

Upper 16

28. Wonder by R.J. Palacio
113. Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

14. The Altruists by Andrew Ridker
62. 100 Days of Sunlight by Abbie Emmons

67. The Multiplication of Elmer Whit by Karsen Kipp
74. The Ten Thousand Days of January by Alix E. Harrow

50. The Rejected Writers' Book Club by Susanne Kelman
107. The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White

73. Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen
52. Chances Are... by Richard Russo

27. The Marvelous Land of Oz by L. Frank Baum
98. Charlotte's Web by E.B. White

1. Through the Zombie Glass by Gena Showalter
122. (Empty)

58. The Gillespie County Fair by Marc Hess
100. The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith

Lower 16

60. The Book of Dreams by Nina George
43. The Bookshop on the Shore by Jenny Colgan

10. An Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff
38. The Seventh Bride by T. Kingfisher

6. Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah
23. Evidence of the Affair by Taylor Jenkins Reid

12. Home for Erring and Outcast Girls by Julie Kibler
81. Conclusion by Peter Robertson

102. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
128. (Empty)

90. Scars Like Wings by Erin Stewart
83. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling

40. Buy or Die by Theodor Ventskevich
13. My Sister's Lies by S.D. Robertson

64. Tidelands by Philippa Gregory
121. (Empty)

Lower Right 32

Upper 16

105. Swede Hollow by Ola Larsmo
22. The Upside of Falling Down by Rebekah Crane

117. (Empty)
95. Cilka's Journey by Heather Morris

54. Jerkwater by Jamie Zerndt
4. The Farm by Joanne Ramos

87. When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore
82. The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

114. No Judgments by Meg Cabot
99. The BFG by Roald Dahl

80. Maternal Instinct by Rebecca Bowyer
124. (Empty)

111. Athena's Choice by Adam Boostrom
32. Tamarack County by William Kent Kreuger

15. The Life We Bury by Allan Eskens
61. The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins

Lower 16

18. The Murmur of Bees by Sofia Segovia
69. Animal Farm by George Orwell

123. (Empty)
88. An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

45. The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin
115. Finding Henry Applebee by Celia Reynolds

93. The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
41. The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

110. The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan
46. Very Nice by Marcy Demansky

17. Becoming by Michelle Obama
11. The Queen of Zombie Hearts by Gena Showalter

75. Trapeze by Leigh Ansell
8. The Secret of Dinswood by Ellen Alexander

5. Only Ever Her by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen
116. Dorothy in the Land of Monsters by Garten Gavedon

To keep things from taking too long in order to find the winner, I'll be condensing the bracket rounds. In the next post, I'll whittle things down to both the 64 and 32-seed brackets. After that, it will be the Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, and Final Four. Finally, the last Book of the Year post will determine the Top Two and the ultimate winner of 2019's Book of the Year Bracket.

Which books are you rooting for?

Sunday, February 9, 2020

2019 Reading Wrap Up: The Best & the Worst...The End of the Year Survey's February and I'm still wrapping up my 2019 reading. Are we really all that surprised? No. No we're not. I do this every year. The good news is that we're making creeping, crawling progress.

Today, it's time for the End of the Year Survey, originally created by Jamie at Perpetual Page Turner. It brings together the best and the worst of the year's reading and gives you the breakdown beyond the numbers.


Let's do this!

The Quick Stats

Number of books read: 116
Number of rereads: 4
Genre I read the most from: Contemporary (25 adult reads, 7 YA reads)

If you love the numbers and graphs, but missed my stats wrap up, you can find all that nerdy wonder here.

The Best & the Worst

1. The best book read in 2019?

Well...this one I won't quite answer yet. Because this will be answered during the 2019 Book of the Year Bracket, which will be coming up in the next few posts. But...I will tell you my favorites for each of the months. This doesn't mean that these are my absolute favorites of the year, these are just the top reads for each of their respective months.

January: Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah
February: Midnight at the Tuscany Hotel by James Markert
March: The Life We Bury by Alan Eskens

April: The Book of the Unnamed Midwife by Meg Elison
May: Not So Long Ago, Not So Far Away by Trisha Slay
June: The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

July: Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
August: 100 Days of Sunlight by Abbie Emmons
September: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

October: The Grace Year by Kim Liggett
November: Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
December: Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

2. Best 2019 release

3. Best backlist read

4. Book you were excited about & thought you were going to love more, but didn't?

5. Most surprising read?

6. Most disappointing read?

7. Book you "pushed" the most people to read (and they did)

8. Best series started in 2019?

9. Best sequel of 2019?

10. Best series ender of 2019?

Disclaimer: This was a good read, but it was also the only series ender I read in 2019.

11. Favorite new author discovered in 2019?


12. Best book from a genre you don't typically read?

13. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

14. Book read in 2019 that is the most likely to be reread?

15. Favorite cover of a book read in 2019?

16. Most memorable character of 2019?

17. Most beautifully written book read in 2019?

18. Most thought-provoking/life-changing book of 2019?

19. A book you can't BELIEVE you waited until 2019 to finally read?

20 Favorite passage/quote from a book read in 2019?

I'm terrible at tracking quotes from books (maybe that should be a change I try to make with 2021's reading), so I'm skipping this one.

21. Shortest book read in 2019?

97 pages

22. Longest book read in 2019?

543 pages

23. Book that shocked you the most?

23. OTP (One true pairing) of the year (you will go down with this ship)

Stella & Will

24. Favorite non-romantic relationship of the year

Charlotte & Wilbur

25. Favorite book read in 2019 from an author you've read previously

26. Best book read in 2019 that you read based on a recommendation from someone else/peer pressure/bookstagram,etc.

27. Newest fictional crush from a book read in 2019


28. Best 2019 debut?

29. Best world building/most vivid setting you read this year?

30. Book that put a smile on your face/was the most fun to read?

31. Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2019?

32. Hidden gem of the year?

33. Book that crushed your soul?

34. Most unique book you read in 2019?

35. Book that made you the most mad (doesn't necessarily mean you didn't like it)

I feel like I have to quantify this one. My anger was based on the fact that it felt like the author appropriated the story. Though Laura was definitely a part of what took place, this is Maurice's story and I wanted him to get more credit for that. This was a book club book and our discussion resulted in a bit of venting about this from me and agreement from the majority of those around the table. (Side note: I rated it as a 3.5.)

Blogging/Bookish Life

1. New favorite book blog/Bookstagram/YouTube channel you discovered in 2019?

Gavin is a hilarious goof ball and the reading mastermind behind the Believe in Yourself Readathon (AKA Believathon). He's a TON of fun to watch.

2. Favorite post you wrote in 2019?

I don't really know. The blog is still in a bit of flux and nothing really sticks out. However, I think my favorite posts to write every year are my Book of the Year posts, so we'll go with last year's finale bracket.

3. Favorite bookish related photo you took in 2019?

4. Best bookish event that you participated in?

The two main Magical Readathons, hosted by G at BookRoast. The OWLs in April and the NEWTs in August.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2019?

I have no idea. There were a lot of things that happened last year.

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

I don't have a lot of time to blog with the two kids running around the house all day and the oldest deciding that he will no longer take naps. By the time I get around to it, I'm often either wiped out or just plain brain dead.

7. Most popular post this year on your blog?

This was a little bit of a surprise and I'm not quite sure what set off it's popularity, but apparently people liked my review post for The Murmur of Bees by Sofia Segovia.

8. Post you wished got a little more love?

I don't really know. I think maybe all of my content is just about even in my eyes.

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

Book Outlet. It may be both my best and worst discovery in 2019. My physically owned TBR has grown exponentially over the last year. But...on the upside, I spent only a teensy bit more than I would have spent buying my books used and they're all in fantastic condition. I always love a Book Outlet delivery day

10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of the year?

Yes I did! I had a whole pile of them. You can read all about my 2019 progress here and see a list of all of my challenges here.

Looking Ahead

1. One book you didn't get to in 2019, but will be high priority in 2020?

Oh man. I have a whole pile of them. But...I am itching to read a few...

2. Book you are most anticipating for 2020 (non-debut)?

3. Most anticipated 2020 debut?

4. Series ending/sequel you are most anticipating in 2020?

5. One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging life in 2020?

I'm focusing on trying to keep up with my stats tracking as well as regular book related posting to my Instagram account. I'm hoping that I can revive my love for the blog and find some creative ways to present more bookish content. I've toyed with the idea of changing from a blog to a YouTube channel, but (1) I'm not a big fan of myself on video and (2) I'm not sure I'll have enough time for the necessary editing.

6. A 2020 release you've already read & recommend to everyone (if applicable)?

Phew! That's a lot of bookish chatting. With any luck, I've given you a new book or two to check out. If not, never fear...the Book of the Year bracket is coming up in the next few posts. With 116 books read in 2019, there will be a lot of heavy competition. Aaand...when it's all said and done, I'm going to attempt to put every book read in 2019 in order from the worst to the best. That should be interesting.

Until next time...happy reading!

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