Time to write what is arguably one of the hardest posts to put together, no matter the year. But I have been doing my end of year wrap-ups in this format for three years now, so I’ve got the process down.
These aren’t just my favorite books of the year, but any and all that I thought were worth mentioning (for good, and bad, reasons).
Most Disappointing Books of 2019
These books aren’t necessarily my least favorites, but I was definitely expecting more from them.
Bloom by Kevin Panetta and Savanna Ganucheau
This book wasn’t bad, per se. I gave it three stars. But it was just so disappointing. Everyone seems to adore this one, but I found it really slow and boring. I had no desire to root for the main character, and his romance with the love interest just… bleh. It didn’t excite me.
Since We Last Spoke by Brenda Rufener
I spent months looking forward to picking this up. Its blurb promised all the Romeo-Juliet, star-crossed lovers, feuding families angst that I wanted. But the characters were so flat. So many of the plot points were underdeveloped — partly because this one takes place over the course of a single night. I don’t mind books that center over a short time span, but it just did not work with this type of story. It lacked punch and passion. A shame, with such a pretty cover.
Stay With Me by Mila Gray
One of my first reads of 2019, and it was such a mess. This is the second book in a series of companion novels, and while I enjoyed the first book, I quite disliked this one. There was so much unnecessary drama and the ENTIRE conflict hinged on miscommunication (!!!), and by the end of it, I really wanted to rip my hair out.
I Wanna Be Where You Are by Kristina Forest
Another book that I was highly anticipating that turned out to be… just fine. It had so many tropes that I loved: forced proximity, enemies to lovers, road trips, etc. etc. but the writing left much to be desired. I didn’t feel anything reading this book. It was fairly short, but it seemed to drag. I just didn’t really care about how it ended. Unfortunately, I doubt I’ll pick up another one of Forest’s novels in the future.
Quiet Heroes of 2019
These books aren’t necessarily my favorites of the year, but they are the unsung heroes! Books without nearly enough hype in comparison to their awesomeness. (These are all releases from this year.)
Small Town Hearts by Lillie Vale
It boggles my mind that more people aren’t SCREAMING ABOUT THIS BEAUTIFUL DEBUT. Vale’s writing is off-the-charts incredible. The descriptions and the emotions were so engrossing and immersive. The setting, my god, THE SETTING. I now want to live in some tiny beach town in Maine. Seriously. The romance was so sweet and its progression was gorgeous. If I could describe this contemporary in one word? Beautiful.
Swipe Right for Murder by Derek Milman
This book was a wild, exhilarating ride. It’s probably one of the most thrilling books I’ve read in a very long time. I loved that while it was a mystery/thriller, it also discussed coming out, friendships, family relationships, struggles that the LGBTQ community faces, and more.
Aidan is one of the best characters I’ve read all year. He is so flawed and lost, but hilarious and lovable at the same time. All the twists were so exciting, and I actually had to stop myself from reading too late at night because it got me way too jumpy before bed. My full thoughts in my review.
Sky Without Stars by Jessica Brody and Joanna Rendell
While Brody’s books can be a bit of a hit-or-miss for me, I totally fell for this sci-fi. It’s described as Les Mis in space, and that couldn’t possibly be more apt. It’s the French Revolution on technological steroids. The world was so fascinating, and I found myself invested in the lives of all three main characters. Really excited to see what turn the story takes in the sequel.
2019 Releases I Am Going to Read at Some Point (Hopefully)
Top 2019 releases that are on my TBR for 2020. This list could go on and on and on, so I’ll try to keep it brief.
When the Stars Lead to You by Ronni Davis
I had the immense pleasure of meeting and chatting with Davis at YALLFest this year, which still feels so surreal. Now I want to read her book even more than I did before! I’m always looking for more contemporaries starring brown girls, and this one seems like it’ll be super romantic and gut-wrenching at the same time. Yay me.
Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin
Yes, the hype is getting to me, okay?? I WANT TO READ THIS SO BAD. I rarely read witch fantasies, so this’ll be a fresh experience for me. I actually read the first 50 pages on a whim a few months ago and I totally love the main characters already. I’m ready.
Michigan vs the Boys by Carrie S. Allen
This has been on my radar since the beginning of the year. It’s about a girl navigating played for the boys hockey team in her small town, but while Cold Day in the Sun was more light and romantic, I have a feeling that Allen’s book is going to take a look at the more serious aspects of it, which I’m very interested in.
All Our Broken Pieces by L. D. Crichton
Yes, another serious contemporary on this list; I feel like I didn’t read nearly enough of those in 2019, and I want to CRY for God’s sake. This has been on my shelf since May, and, if memory serves, this is about two main characters building a relationship amidst strained family relationships, while one struggles with OCD.
A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
I had the pleasure of meeting this author way back in January, and somehow have not picked up this one yet! I don’t typically read a lot of fantasy, but this one has definitely captured my attention. It’s a retelling, it’s wintry, and I’m hoping to finally read it this January, as the sequel is releasing in just a couple of weeks!
Favorite Books of 2019
As if I could pick just one. Even narrowing it down to five was a challenge! These aren’t all 2019 releases (in fact, none of them are) just ones that I read in this year.
Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
This is where I admit to all of you that I am a fool. Because I waited almost TWO YEARS to pick up this book and OH MY GOD I LOVED IT SO MUCH. I was apprehensive that the finale wouldn’t live up to the first two books, but of course it did, because this duo is freaking unstoppable. The Illuminae Files is, without a doubt, the best sci-fi series I have ever read, and if that’s not a glowing recommendation, I don’t know what is.
Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson
This mystery totally snuck up on me. I’d been hearing great things about it for a while, and when I finally picked up the audiobook, it was clear that the sparkling reviews were correct. Johnson puts together this band of characters you can’t help but love, a story spanning timelines (which I usually dislike, but here totally loved), and a romance that’s super lowkey but also very entertaining. The sequel, The Vanishing Stair is equally engrossing and left me so excited for the finale coming in 2020.
Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
A book after my own heart. I bought this on a whim from Target over three years ago, and now that I’ve finally read it, I’m kicking myself for not picking it up sooner. The romance between the main character and the love interest is one of the best I’ve read all year. It was passionate, sexy, sweet, and I loved the progression it took.
Because it’s a reimagining of You’ve Got Mail, you do go into it knowing what will happen, but that did not dim the enjoyment for me at all. I can’t wait to read more from Bennett.
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
This is one of the most powerful books I have ever read. I don’t talk about this on my blog, but I actually participate in slam poetry competitions in real life (*gasp*) so getting to read about it here was really impactful for me. Xiomara’s voice was so strong, her growth brought me to tears, and her relationship with her mother broke me. Please, please pick this up. I loved everything about it. I extra recommend the audiobook!
Sadie by Courtney Summer
You’ve probably seen the hype around this one, and let me tell you: it does not lie. This book is engrossing, it is impossible to put down, but also incredibly difficult to read — I didn’t know those things could go together until I picked up Sadie.
I will say that this book is intense. Abuse is a major part of the story, and I’d definitely urge you to read some trigger warnings to make sure you can handle it. That said, it is an utterly unforgettable story that made me take a hard look about how society treats missing girls. I especially recommend the audiobook, as it is a full-cast production.
I couldn’t resist sharing a few others that weren’t favorites, but definitely made an impression. Permanent Record came SO CLOSE. It’s such an important book. Grab a copy!
At the time of writing this post, I am just two books away from reaching my Goodreads goal of 50 books, and I should I have no problem finishing my current reads (The Lady Rogue and Ace of Shades) by January 1st!
Also, I read 16, 137 pages this year, which, like, is A LOT of freaking pages!
I’m really happy with my reading this year. I made an effort to make it a priority in my life, and reaching 50 was a welcome challenge. I enjoyed a lot of what I was reading, even if they weren’t five star reads. Most of all, I just had a lot of fun reading this year, something I hope to carry into 2020.
I haven’t decided whether or not I’ll do a full “reading plans for 2020” post, but my number one goal is to again, just have fun doing it. Make time for it where I can, don’t sweat it too much if I find myself too busy. It’s all about balance.
What were some of your favorite books of this year? Any disappointing reads? What’s an underhyped 2019 release you wish more people had taken notice of? Do any of our lists overlap? Tell me in the comments! 🙂