2019 Book Review

I’m excited to kick of February sharing one of my favorite loves with you… READING 💕

I love a good book! Most of these books made their way onto this list as a result of perusing the new book section at my local library in search of a synopsis that piqued my attention or because I had enjoyed other works by the same author. Others were lent to me by friends that have similar taste or given as a gift because it was a book the giver loved so much. Lastly, I bought a couple because I had heard the buzz and couldn’t wait until it was my turn on the library wait list.

Tip: Save time searching the library shelves for something to read by logging onto your library’s website to have the books you are interested in reading set aside on the hold shelf. If the books aren’t currently available you will receive an e-mail when it is your turn. Did you know you can also check out eBooks?

I pulled the summaries from Amazon (unless otherwise stated) because (truth be told) the book jacket summarizes these stories better than I ever could. The number of ⭐️’s and opinions of the books are completely my own. Just because something wasn’t my cup of tea, doesn’t mean it won’t be yours. If the brief summary sounds like something you might like, please give it a try.

How I Rated the Books:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ A must read! You won’t be able to stop talking or thinking about this book.

⭐️⭐️⭐️ A good book that is hard to put down.

⭐️⭐️ Not a page turner, but a pleasant way to pass time.

⭐️ I made it to the end of the book (barely), but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Suspense

“A psychological thriller about a group of women [with babies all born in the same month] whose lives become unexpectedly connected when one of their newborns goes missing.”

Verdict: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ A fun, fast read that is being made into a motion picture starring Kerry Washington. Read this if you have ever belonged to a playgroup. It will make you wonder what secrets the other mommies were hiding.

She went missing. He moved on with her sister. A whole world of secrets remained—until now.

Verdict: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ This twisty read will keep you guessing until the very end and make you question how well you know the person you are sleeping next to.

“When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.
You will assume you are reading about a jealous ex-wife.
You will assume she is obsessed with her replacement – a beautiful, younger woman who is about to marry the man they both love. 
You will assume you know the anatomy of this tangled love triangle.
Assume nothing.”

Verdict: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ I gave myself a pat on the back for putting together the clues in this book prior to the last page. This is a fun one if you enjoy making predictions.

Looking to earn some easy cash, Jessica Farris agrees to be a test subject in a psychological study about ethics and morality. But as the study moves from the exam room to the real world, the line between what is real and what is one of Dr. Shields’s experiments blurs.”

Verdict: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ I like it when a book makes me ask the question “what would I do in this situation?” Give this book a shot if you enjoy ethical questions mixed with suspense.

“HE LOVES YOU: Adam adores Emily. Emily thinks Adam’s perfect, the man she thought she’d never meet.
BUT SHE LOVES YOU NOT: Lurking in the shadows is a rival, a woman who shares a deep bond with the man she loves.
AND SHE’LL STOP AT NOTHING: Emily chose Adam, but she didn’t choose his mother Pammie. There’s nothing a mother wouldn’t do for her son, and now Emily is about to find out just how far Pammie will go to get what she wants: Emily gone forever.”

Verdict: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ This fun read will most likely make you appreciate your mother-in-law and question what kind of mother-in-law you might be.

“In the new thriller from the Queen of Suspense, eighteen-year-old Kerry Dowling is found fully dressed at the bottom of the family pool after a party when her parents are away. The immediate suspect is her boyfriend. They had a bitter argument at the party. Then there’s the neighbor, angry because he wasn’t invited. Or is there someone else, not yet on the radar?”

Verdict: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Mary Higgins Clark has been my dependable pick for an easy read when I am looking for suspense without the gore. Clark’s books are more Hallmark than R rated suspense and I think they make an age appropriate choice for teens and tweens looking for an adult level thriller.

“A man is dead, shot three times in his home office. But his computer has been shot twelve times, and when the cops arrive, his pregnant wife is holding the gun. 

D.D. Warren arrives on the scene and recognizes the woman–Evie Carter–from a case many years back. Evie’s father was killed in a shooting that was ruled an accident. But for D.D., two coincidental murders is too many. 

Flora Dane sees the murder of Conrad Carter on the TV news and immediately knows his face. She remembers a night when she was still a victim–a hostage–and her captor knew this man. Overcome with guilt that she never tracked him down, Flora is now determined to learn the truth of Conrad’s murder. 

But D.D. and Flora are about to discover that in this case the truth is a devilishly elusive thing. As layer by layer they peel away the half-truths and outright lies, they wonder: How many secrets can one family have?”

Verdict: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ If you have read Lisa Gardner’s Flora Dane novels you will not want to miss this one! If you haven’t, I would recommend starting with Find Her, then Look For Me before reading Never Tell.

Non Fiction

“An unforgettable memoir about a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University.”

Verdict: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ This memoir is the jaw dropping story about how author, Tara Westover, perseveres over unimaginable challenges in order to attend college and eventually graduate school. This story will remind you to never take education for granted and remind you that the most difficult challenges can be overcome.

“Do you ever suspect that everyone else has life figured out and you don’t have a clue? If so, Rachel Hollis has something to tell you: that’s a lie. Rachel exposes the twenty lies and misconceptions that too often hold us back from living joyfully and productively, lies we’ve told ourselves so often we don’t even hear them anymore.”

Verdict: ⭐️⭐️ Rachel Hollis is relatable, funny and shares some really great life lessons she has learned in Girl Wash Your Face. Truthfully, it didn’t grab my attention or inspire me as much as one of last year’s picks, My Year With Eleanor. As much as I wanted to love this book, I struggled to get to the end.

Novels

“The story of an aristocratic family, a house, a mysterious death and a way of life that vanished forever, told in flashback by a woman who witnessed it all and kept a secret for decades.”

Verdict: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ This story is a little bit of Downton Abbey and a little bit of Titanic mixed together to make a good, solid read full of family secrets and drama. If you are a Downton Abbey fan I would recommend this book for you.

“A tiny girl is abandoned on a ship headed for Australia in 1913. She arrives completely alone with nothing but a small suitcase containing a few clothes and a single book—a beautiful volume of fairy tales. She is taken in by the dockmaster and his wife and raised as their own. On her twenty-first birthday, they tell her the truth, and with her sense of self shattered and very little to go on, “Nell” sets out to trace her real identity. Her quest leads her to Blackhurst Manor on the Cornish coast and the secrets of the doomed Mountrachet family. But it is not until her granddaughter, Cassandra, takes up the search after Nell’s death that all the pieces of the puzzle are assembled. A spellbinding tale of mystery and self-discovery, The Forgotten Garden will take hold of your imagination and never let go.”

Verdict: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ This was my favorite of the three Kate Morton books I read. The chapters jump from the present to the past and kept me engaged searching for the answers to a decades old mystery.

“It starts with a letter, lost for half a century and unexpectedly delivered to Edie’s mother on a Sunday afternoon. The letter leads Edie to Milderhurst Castle, where the eccentric Blythe spinsters live and where, she discovers, her mother was billeted during World War II. The elder Blythe sisters are twins and have spent most of their lives caring for their younger sister, Juniper, who hasn’t been the same since her fiancé jilted her in 1941. Inside the decaying castle, Edie searches for her mother’s past but soon learns there are other secrets hidden in its walls. The truth of what happened in “the distant hours” has been waiting a long time for someone to find it.”

Verdict: ⭐️⭐️ This book didn’t grab my attention quite as much as the first two, but I did enjoy how the author tied the story of the Distant Hours into another story (The Mudman) that had me searching the internet to find out if it was in fact a real book.

Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.”

Verdict: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Tears were shed and I immediately re-read the last chapter the moment I finished this book, just because I wanted to prolong this story a little longer.

“New York Times and worldwide bestselling author Isabel Allende returns with a sweeping novel that journeys from present-day Brooklyn to Guatemala in the recent past to 1970s Chile and Brazil.”

Verdict: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ This novel gave me a much greater understanding and empathy of the hardships immigrants from Central and South America go through to come to our country.

Just For Fun

When Life Gives You Lululemons follows a group of women who have found themselves accidental allies in Greenwich — one is a former partner at a law firm turned full-time-mother who has recently decamped to the suburbs; one is a former supermodel and wife of a high-powered senator who was wrongly accused of a DUI (and, as such, banished from her D.C. community) who is hiding out; and the third is the Hollywood image consultant who has been hired by her attorney friend to defuse the PR crisis. Oh, and that publicist is Emily Charlton, the former first assistant to Miranda Priestly and breakout star of The Devil Wears Prada.” –Entertainment

Verdict: ⭐️ I preferred The Devil Wears Prada quite a bit more. This book fell a little flat. The content felt very superficial and I never connected to the characters.

When Sarah meets Eddie, they connect instantly and fall in love. To Sarah, it seems as though her life has finally begun. And it’s mutual: It’s as though Eddie has been waiting for her, too. Sarah has never been so certain of anything. So when Eddie leaves for a long-booked vacation and promises to call from the airport, she has no cause to doubt him. But he doesn’t call.

Verdict: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ This book will keep you guessing as to why the main character, Sarah, was ghosted until almost the very end. Just when you think you know the answer, the author throws in a brand new twist.

“A story of love and empowerment about a young woman with a complicated family, a handsome man who might be “the one,” and an IOU that changes everything.”

Verdict: ⭐️⭐️ I always pick up a Sophie Kinsella’s novel when I’m looking for a lighthearted book with a cute love story ever since I discovered her Shopaholic series back when I was just out of college. I Owe You One was no exception. My only complaint is that the endings are always predictable.

“Irene Steele shares her idyllic life in a beautiful Iowa City Victorian house with a husband who loves her to sky-writing, sentimental extremes. But as she rings in the new year one cold and snowy night, everything she thought she knew falls to pieces with a shocking phone call: her beloved husband, away on business, has been killed in a helicopter crash. Before Irene can even process the news, she must first confront the perplexing details of her husband’s death on the distant Caribbean island of St. John.”

Verdict: ⭐️⭐️ I spent last summer reading Elin Hildebrand’s Winter Street Series. This summer it was a no-brainer to start her Paradise Series. It is a fun mix of intrigue, romance and finding one’s self. In the past Hildebrand’s books have always been set in Nantucket. This series takes place in St. John and will have you dreaming of white sand and clear blue water.

“Grace can’t believe how daring Audrey is. Audrey can’t believe how cautious newly single Grace is. Living in neighboring apartments above the bookshop, this unlikely pair offer each other just what they’ve both been missing. They came to Paris to find themselves, but finding this unbreakable friendship might be the best thing that’s ever happened to them…”

Verdict: ⭐️⭐️ This is a lovely read for anyone that has ever fantasized about running away to Paris and starting fresh.

“Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect; and to 15-year-old Bee, she is her best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette vanishes. It all began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle–and people in general–has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, and secret correspondence–creating a compulsively readable and surprisingly touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.

Verdict: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ This book made me laugh out loud on several occasions. I picked this up to read after the movie trailer grabbed my attention. I have yet to see the movie, but the book was a fun read.

Could ten days at a health resort really change you forever? In Liane Moriarty’s latest page-turner, nine perfect strangers are about to find out…

Verdict: ⭐️ I have LOVED many of Liane Moriarty’s previous books, but this one fell short. I have always related to her characters, but I couldn’t connect with any other the Nine Perfect Strangers detailed here.

Historical Fiction

“A vivid, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful re-creation of Lale Sokolov’s experiences as the man who tattooed the arms of thousands of prisoners with what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust, The Tattooist of Auschwitz is also a testament to the endurance of love and humanity under the darkest possible conditions.”

Verdict: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ The story was amazing, but the characters lacked a little dimension. I commented to my husband while reading this book that it would make a great movie, but needed actors to bring the characters to life. I found out once I had finished the book that it had in fact gotten its start as a screenplay.

“Bestseller Lilac Girls introduced the real-life heroine Caroline Ferriday. Now Lost Roses, set a generation earlier and also inspired by true events, features Caroline’s mother, Eliza, and follows three equally indomitable women from St. Petersburg to Paris under the shadow of World War I.”

Verdict: ⭐️⭐️ Lost Roses is a good pick for you if you are a fan of the author’s first book, Lilac Girls, or enjoy watching The Czars on Netflix.

“Inspired by actual events, Resistance Women is an enthralling, unforgettable story of ordinary people determined to resist the rise of evil, sacrificing their own lives and liberty to fight injustice and defend the oppressed.”

Verdict: ⭐️⭐️ The characters included both real and fictional people. I learned some interesting facts that I hadn’t known before about Nazi Germany, including that the press was one of the first groups that Hilter attacked when he came into power, often accusing them of spreading “fake” news. However, it was not a page-turner.

Thought Provoking

“Jodi Picoult tackles a complicated issue in this gripping and nuanced novel. How do we balance the rights of pregnant women with the rights of the unborn they carry? What does it mean to be a good parent? A Spark of Light will inspire debate, conversation . . . and, hopefully, understanding.”

Verdict: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ This fictional novel begins with an attack on an abortion clinic. The story then takes the reader back in time hour by hour learning what has lead each character to find themself in this situation. This book gave me a greater understanding of both sides of the issue without making a judgement.

“For more than a decade, Jenna Metcalf has never stopped thinking about her mother, Alice, who mysteriously disappeared in the wake of a tragic accident. Refusing to believe she was abandoned, Jenna searches for her mother regularly online and pores over the pages of Alice’s old journals. A scientist who studied grief among elephants, Alice wrote mostly of her research among the animals she loved, yet Jenna hopes the entries will provide a clue to her mother’s whereabouts.”

Verdict: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Jodi Picoult does a fabulous job teaching the reader the most amazing facts you never knew about elephants while we try and solve a gripping mystery.

Check out my 2018 Book Picks here for even more recommendations. Are you the parent of a teen or tween? I’ve updated my Book Series Top Picks for Tweens post with a series my 7th grade son hasn’t been able to put down this year. What should I add to my 2020 reading list? Please share your favorite reads with me.

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