my top reads of 2019

Pregnant and Reading in Chicago while on a Babymoon with I-Dawg

2019 has been an exciting rollercoaster of a year for me, both personally and professionally. (Most notably, I became a mama of two boys)! However, with that being said, my reading time has been limited compared to previous years, and I have had to find creative ways to fit in the novels and stories I wanted to get into this year! I have also had less time to blog about my favourite reads, but I do love compiling my end-of-year summary, so I made sure I would have it ready for Jan 1st 2020.

So, without further adieu, here are my top reads of 2019 (and scroll to the bottom for my favorite read of 2019!):

 

Best Autobiography: Educated by Tara Westover

Educated by Tara Westover was the first book Ian and I read in 2019 and it set the bar high. Educated was one of the most compelling, shocking memoirs I have ever read. It shed light on a part of America that I didn’t know much about, and Westover’s extremist family beliefs and way of life were jaw-dropping and often horrific. Educated took a turn I didn’t see coming and while the book touches on religion, family life, education, and abuse, it is also one of the most inspirational stories I have ever read. I recommend this read to anyone and everyone.

 

 

 

Author Alert: Taylor Jenkins Reid

I had never read anything by Reid previous to this year, and I have now devoured two of her books, both dramatically read on Audible. The first novel I picked up by Reid was Daisy Jones and the Six, which I have previously blogged about here. The second novel I read from Reid was The Seven Wives of Evelyn Hugo, recommended by my bookworm friend Jane, and I thoroughly enjoyed it! Seven Wives takes readers on an emotional journey through a 79-year-old Hollywood actresses tumultuous past relationships and intriguing life.

Reid has such an entertaining way of writing, and the interview-style prose is refreshing and a welcomed difference from most of the fiction I read. I recommend both stories as audiobooks too- I felt like I was listening to live interviews!

 

 

Best Romance: K.A Tucker’s Say You Still Love Me

K.A Tucker does is again! Time after time, Tucker’s romance reads make me swoon. Say You Still Love Me is no different, and was just named one of Indigo’s top 2019 romance reads. I also love the mystery twist that rounds out Tucker’s novels. Say You Still Love Me takes readers on a journey of past and present: it dives into a summer camp romance in the past, and the couples reunion in the present. But nothing is as it seems and both tension and chemistry are at an all-time high in this compelling read!

Say You Still Love Me made me wish I was a counsellor at an overnight summer camp in my teens, and I bet this read will be nostalgic for those readers who did attend summer camp year ago. ❤

I may re-read this one relatively soon, and I am already counting down the days until Tucker’s next novel!

 

 

Unexpected Gem: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman

This book was a fun read for me and came recommended by a handful of friends. Eleanor Oliphant is one of the most intriguing fictional characters I have ever read about, and her personality is so seemingly obscure and unrelatable at first that it took me a little bit to decide if I actually liked the first few chapters.

I soon got past those initial doubts and thoroughly enjoyed this book. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine offers a take on PTSD, empathy and social awkwardness, and it also shines a light on how one can see situations through a different lens. I am looking forward to seeing this novel come to life on the big screen as well!

For humour and depth, check this book out now!

 

 

Favourite Kids Can Press Read: Michigan Vs. The Boys, By Carrie S. Allen

Michigan Vs. The Boys is a story for the #MeToo movement, and focuses on a topic not often explored in novels: women in male-dominated sports and the challenges they face. This is a must-read for everyone: women, men and athletes. Check out my full review and my Global News Morning Show segment on this story (and more reads!) here.

 

 

Most Inspiring: Becoming, by Michelle Obama

Seeing Michelle Obama live was one of this year’s highlights for me! Michelle’s story in both book form and on stage were incredible to experience, and her tales are fascinating. Michelle’s way of connecting with her audience makes her seem so relatable and I am sure I will revisit this book again someday.

Check out my thorough review of her in-person event and her book here.

 

 

Most Intriguing: Brutally Honest by Melanie Brown

Melanie Brown, alternatively known as Mel B or “Scary Spice” from the Spice Girls, is renowned for being loud, proud and a force to be reckoned with. As a huge Spice Girls fan, I couldn’t wait to pick up her story.

Here is a blurb from my forthcoming review:

Brutally Honest starts off with a tragic tale, one where Mel B describes attempting to take her own life. A mother to three girls, Mel B convinced herself that her children would be better off without her. She was blinded by the aggression of her partner, Stephen Belafonte, and the hopeless, drug-fueled pit she had fallen into.

This book takes several different directions and jumps around a bit, but I loved the behind-the-scenes details of the Spice Girls, and most importantly, I think it is crucial that a woman so seemingly confident comes forward with her story of abuse. Not even Scary Spice, arguably the most confident and outwardly strongest Spice Girl, is exempt from falling prey to an abusive relationship. Her story offers us a woman who encompasses hope, strength and a strong-will, and I found myself rooting for Melanie the whole book (and I still am!)

 

 

Favourite YA Short Story Collab: Ghosts of the Shadow Market

Fans of Shadowhunters stories, don’t miss this book!

Ghosts of the Shadow Market by Cassandra Clare, with Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, Robin Wasserman and Kelly Link, was one of Clare’s novella series that she released monthly. Clare has released collections like this before with short stories bound into one book (ex. The Bane Chronicles). These tales often link the larger novels together and offer background details on the wider Shadowverse.

I enjoyed listening to the audiobook for these stories, which took place over several decades, and is centered around the Shadow Market. The Shadow Market is where all “downworlders” meet, bargain and trade secrets. Many of the stories focused on the Lost Herondale and Jem Carstairs, but my favourite tale was The Wicked Ones.

The Wicked Ones novella within this book introduces us to Jace Herondale’s biological mother, Celine Montclaire, who retreats to the Shadow Market to escape her home life. I loved the insight into Celine’s tough upbringing, her fierce attitude, and how quickly and easily she was put under Valentine’s spell. Celine was smart and driven, and it is interesting to hear her perspective and the details of her tragic downfall after spending all this time in the Shadow World.

 

2019 Favorite Read: She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement

I couldn’t put down She Said, by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey!

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters who broke the news of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment and abuse for the New York Times, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, the thrilling untold story of their investigation and its consequences for the #MeToo movement.”

This book had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. She Said begins with  investigative insight into the Trump sexual harassment claims, then moves to the in-depth investigative reporting that Kantor, Twohey and their NYT team displayed when working to uncover the Harry Weinstein scandals. This book offers such a comprehensive examination into how investigative journalism works, the lengths the journalists go-to, and the patience the journalists must have after hitting multiple dead ends and frustrating circumstances. She Said ends with the investigation of Christine Blasey Ford’s accusations against Brett Kavanaugh, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

She Said had me feeling so many emotions; I was just along for the ride. I urge you to read this book- it will leave you feeling angry, betrayed, saddened, empowered, proud and frustrated. (Those were just some of the emotions I felt while reading it anyway!) Drop me a line with your thoughts upon reading– I would love to discuss!

 

Next Up…

Next on my List: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. 

I have heard only good things about Where the Crawdads Sing and have been urged by several friends to read this novel! Drop me a line and let me know if you also enjoyed it!

***

 

Onto the New Year!

That’s it for my favourite books of 2019! Join me on my blog in 2020 as I enter another year of fantasy, non-fiction and contemporary literary goodness. I also hope to be blogging about some travels and life as a new mama-of-two!

And, as always, send me your book and restaurant recommendations! I am always looking for my next read 🙂

Thanks for sticking with me for another year of blogging.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2020,

Kel xx

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