Best Books of 2019

It’s that time of year again! I always have fun blogging my favorite reads of 2019 and this year I set a goal to read 70 books. Toward the end of the year, I struggled to complete it because we moved, my cat died and life got super busy with a new position at work. However, I managed to complete my goal just in the nick of time!

Here are some of my very favorites published in 2019. Have you read any of them? Let me know what you think and tell me about some I may have missed!

The Chain by Adrian McKinty

41weZhY-JLL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Imagine getting a call that your daughter has been kidnapped and the only way for you to get her back is to pay a ransom, then kidnap someone else’s child. You can’t go to the police, target the children of law enforcement or politicians and if you don’t complete your assignment within twenty-four hours, your child is dead.

So begins The Chain, an elaborate kidnapping ring that’s been going on for years.

Twists and turns abound in this thriller and what’s even more terrifying is how realistic the plot can be. The story moves very quickly and you will have a hard time putting this one down!

 


The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda

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Every summer, Sadie vacations with her family in the town of  town of Littleport, Maine, spending most of her time with her best friend Avery who lives in the town year round. The girls are inseparable, but one summer, Avery is found dead.

The police rule it a suicide, but Sadie isn’t so sure. And some of the townspeople act like she’s to blame, casting suspicious glaces in her direction whenever she’s in town.

So Sadie sets out to figure out what exactly happened to her friend, to both clear her name and put her friend to rest.

The Last House Guest is another page turner from author Megan Miranda. The ending wasn’t easy to figure out, which is always a plus when it comes to mysteries!

 


Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

This book is phenomenal. If you love music, especially 70s style rock, you will be in 91yzz1aYgeLheaven when you read Daisy Jones & The Six. The format is written in oral history style, which took a few chapters to get used to, but once you have that down, you’ll be riveted by the story of a band’s rise to fame, then subsequent fall from stardom during the 70s.

Is it based on a true story? Possibly. It definitely feels like maybe Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac are the inspiration behind this fictional account, but who really knows. I’ve also heard the audio is exceptional, so if you enjoy listening to audio books, give it a shot in that format and let me know what you think.

 


Recursion by Blake Crouch
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Helena Smith’s mother is suffering from Alzheimer’s and she wants nothing more than to bring back her mother’s precious memories. So she begins experimenting with a new technology that will preserve special moments in life while also allowing them to relive learning to drive, getting married, the birth of their children or the last few moments with a loved one who is about to pass over into the afterlife.

Blake Crouch remains one of the best science fiction authors out there and this follow up to Dark Matter is stellar. Earlier this year, I wrote a more in depth review of Recursion, so be sure to check it out.


Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly
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Take everything you know about the ugly stepsisters in Cinderella and toss it in the trash! This story about Isabelle, the step sister who cut off her toes so the glass slipper would fit, is brilliant.

Her whole life, Isabelle has wanted to be like Cinderella and it’s left her wanting. So she sets out on her own adventure, thwarting evil plans for the kingdom and redeeming herself in this fractured fairy tale.

I couldn’t put Stepsister down and you won’t be able to either.

 


On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

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This was just as good as “The Hate U Give.”

I really enjoyed the plot and plight of the main character, Bri, as she deals with the struggles of the inner city and trying to make it as a teenage rap star. The rap battles reminded me a lot of the movies “8 Mile” or “Patti Cake$,” and I liked the subtle connection to T.H.U.G. It’s pretty awesome that Thomas wrote the rap songs/lyrics herself instead of having someone else do it.

Thomas is a wonderful new voice in YA fiction and I’m really excited to see where she takes us in future novels.

 


The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

During their sixteenth year, the young women of Garner County are banished graceto the wilderness. They’re thought to possess a magic power as they’re coming into adulthood that affects both men and women, so they’re sent out into the woods to overcome the magic and return on their seventeenth birthdays pure and ready for marriage.

Not many make it back home – there are poachers out in the wild, ready to kill them and sell their bodies on the black market. They also turn against each other.

Tierney James wants to change all that, but surviving her grace year and starting a revolution in her society will come with great costs.

The Grace Year is a mix of The Handmaid’s Tale and a female version of Lord of the Flies. At times it can be brutal, but it’s an excellent story that leaves you with an uneasy feeling. Definitely recommended for fans of dystopian with a feminist edge.

 


The Starless Sea by Erin Morganstern

starlessZachary Ezra Rawlins stumbles upon an ancient book hidden deep within the library’s stacks and as he’s reading the enchanting story, he discovers he’s a character in the book. Stunned that a story from his childhood exists within the pages of a book, Zachary sets out to find out how and why he became part of the story.

The clues – a bee, a key and a sword, lead him to a secrect society and masquerade party held deep in an underground library and readers are treated to an adventure like no other.

Erin Morganstern, who is best known for her debut novel, The Night Circus, returns in this highly anticipated sophomore novel. It’s masterfully written and honestly, there’s no one else this good out there at the moment. I hope it won’t take her another eight years in between novels, but if all the rest of her books are as good as The Starless Sea and The Night Circus, they will certainly be worth the wait.


Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi

Book two in the spectacular series that kicked off in 2018 with Children of Blood and Bone. Zélie and Amari struggle to unite the kingdom of Orisha as Amari triesCOV&V_JKT_Trade_032819.indd to assume her spot on the throne. Her mother and brother have other plans though, and with the return of magic to the land, the maji find that the opposing side also has access to those powers and are using it against them.

Children of Virtue and Vengeance is a non-stop thrill ride that leaves you wanting book three immediately. There’s romance, action and fantasy and Adeyemi remains one of the top writers in the young adult fantasy sphere. If you haven’t read this series yet, what are you waiting for??

 

 

 


 

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Book Review: Recursion by Blake Crouch

Recursion-cover-1263x1920Helena Smith’s mother is suffering from Alzheimer’s and she wants nothing more than to bring back her mother’s precious memories. So she begins experimenting with a new technology that will preserve special moments in life while also allowing them to relive learning to drive, getting married, the birth of their children or the last few moments with a loved one who is about to pass over into the afterlife.

Through her research and efforts, “the chair” is created. It can send you back to different memories in time, creating new timelines and erasing past mistakes or events. The only problem is, Helena’s boss isn’t using it for the purpose she intended and instead of doing good, her technological advancement is wreaking havoc on the current timeline of the world.

NYC cop Barry Sutton stumbles upon Helena’s invention while investigating False Memory Syndrome – a condition that’s causing people to kill themselves based on memories of lives they never thought they experienced. Unknown to them, their jolting memories, which return to them once they’ve reached the moment in time the original event was altered, are a side effect of someone else in their life using “the chair” to undo some event in the past.

The general public doesn’t know about “the chair” – only Helena and a few other researchers, and their subjects are poached off the street by Helena’s boss, Marcus Slade.

Soon the government will get involved and that opens a whole new Pandora’s Box. They start small by jumping timelines to undo school shootings or horrific criminal acts and soon, top officials want to eradicate past events like the Holocaust.

Recursion is a stellar follow up to sci-fi writer Blake Crouch’s thriller Dark Matter. There’s a lot to keep track of with the shifting timelines, but once you get used to it, it’s not hard understand where our characters are in the story line.

In addition to the face paced writing style, Crouch challenges readers to think about if changing the past really would really be for the moral good and if the human race can ever be trusted to carry that out if the technology is ever invented.

Easily one of the best books I’ve read all year, Recursion should be at the top of your reading list. Netflix has already optioned it for a film/TV series with Shonda Rimes’ production company to produce.

 

Five Books Set in Indiana You HAVE to Read

When you think about the Hoosier state, you probably don’t think about books – after all we’re generally known for the Indianapolis 500, basketball and corn. But there have been some great stories set here and many are by Hoosiers themselves!

Here are five titles set in Indiana that everyone should read.

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Last Words by Michael Koryta

Ten years ago, Sarah Martin, a teenage girl from Garrison, Indiana disappeared inside a rural Indiana cave. Her boyfriend swore she was right behind him, but can’t recall what happened in the inky darkness and ultimately, only one teen emerged that day. No one is able to find her except for Ridley Barnes, a seasoned explorer who surfaced with her lifeless body a few days after the incident.  Barnes has no memory of where or how he found her and everyone in the small town believes he’s responsible for her death. But with no evidence to prove his involvement, the Garrison police department has no choice but to release Barnes.

Markus Novak, a private investigator from Florida, is sent to re-open the case and see if he can solve the ten-year-old mystery of Sarah Martin’s death. He’s not particularly interested in a case that’s gone cold, but his job is on the line and if he can’t prove to his boss that he can work on something other than his own wife’s death, he’ll likely lose his job. But the people of Garrison seem to distrust Novak even more than Barnes and it’s not until Novak himself gets trapped in the cave that the pieces of the puzzle start fitting together.

Written by Bloomington native Michael Koryta, Last Words is a suspenseful and engrossing read that will appeal to fans crime mysteries. Indiana natives will recognize the setting in the book from the Indiana Cave Trail network of caves.

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The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Hazel and Gus meet in a support group for kids with cancer, which is not the most romantic of places to find the love of your life.

Yet the two bond over books; one title,  An Imperial Affliction, especially connects them and Gus surprises Hazel with tickets to Amsterdam to meet the author so they can find out why he ended the story the way he did.

Set in Indianapolis, Indiana, The Fault in Our Stars is both delightful and heartbreaking at the same time, painting a very real picture of what life can be like for teens who suffer from cancer.

John Green lives in Indianapolis, which serves as the backdrop for several of his young adult novels. Many of the places in his books are real places in the Circle City and even though the movie version was not filmed here, it can be fun to go looking for all the places Hazel and Gus hung out in the novel.

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Come and Get Me by August Norman

Award-winning journalist Caitlin Bergman returns to Indiana University to accept an award, and she’s not exactly thrilled to be back in the town that holds some haunting memories from her college years.

When a young college student goes missing, Caitlin become involved in the case and is forced to confront her own trauma, dealing with the same police force that screwed her case up years ago.

Loosely based on the Lauren Spierer case that still remains unsolved today,  Come and Get Me is a must read. Hoosiers will enjoy the setting – all the places in the book are very real, and if you’re familiar with Bloomington at all, you will likely have a clear picture painted in your head as the events in the story unfold.

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Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

While the World’s Fair is being built in Chicago, H.H. Holmes is building his murder house a few blocks away.

Holmes murdered at least twenty-seven people, defrauded countless others and investigators were horrified to find gas chambers, sound proof rooms and torture tables when they raided his building.

Based on the true story of one of America’s most infamous serial killers, Devil in the White City isn’t set in Indiana for most of the book but it has strong ties to the state.

Holmes’ third wife was from Franklin, Indiana (the town where I work!) and for a short time, lived in Indianapolis while the police were pursing him. Here, he committed one of his last murders in a home in Irvington, and it was a gruesome one.

I included this one since it has strong ties to the Hoosier state and interest should peak in the next few years with the adaptation of the true crime non-fiction title into a Hulu mini series produced by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

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Teen Idol by Meg Cabot

Jen Greenley is kinda famous – everyone always wants to know what she’s wearing, who she’s with and where she’s going next.

But when the school administration asks her to befriend a new student, who happens to be an undercover Hollywood movie star, she’s about to find out she’s not the only “teen idol” at her high school.

Bloomington, Indiana native Meg Cabot is the GOAT when it comes to YA/teen lit. The author behind book-to-movie classics such as “The Princess Diaries”, her charming and witty style make for light reads.

Teen Idol is set in the Hoosier state and it was also the author’s first stand alone novel after writing several series.

 

 

 

Book Review: Say You’re Sorry

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Say You’re Sorry by Karen Rose

While walking home one night, Daisy Dawson is attacked, but manages to fight the perpetrator, swiping a necklace and some skin cells off under her nails in the process. What she doesn’t know is that her would be kidnapper is a serial killer, and she’s the only victim that has gotten away.

Daisy has a high profile public job, so it doesn’t take long for her attacker to figure out her identity. Enraged that he wasn’t able to capture her the first time, her assailant begins stalking her and Special Agent Gideon Reynolds, who’s been assigned to protect her.

While he’s stalking her, he’s also kidnapping and murdering other women, collecting necklaces and drivers licenses as trophy pieces once he’s done with them. However, one of his victims isn’t about to give up; she begins memorizing every name and is determined to break out of the prison he has set up in his basement.

As the detectives begin to piece together clues about the case, they uncover details linking the assailant to someone from Agent Reynolds past, and in order to catch a killer, Reynolds and Daisy take off on an interstate adventure that brims with romance, action, murder and mystery.

There’s a little something for everyone in this romantic suspense from Karen Rose and even though it’s over 600 pages, it’s a quick read that you’ll have a hard time putting down.

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