Happy New Year bloggy friends! Another year of reading has come and gone. As is my tradition, I thought I’d share a recap of the books I read in 2019.
This year felt remarkable in that I worked hard not to worry about what I “should be reading” and tried to just follow my whims. The result is a year of pretty laid back but enjoyable reading.
My top 5 books for the year would probably be:
1. Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center
2. Sisters by Raina Teglemeier
3. All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson
4. American Royals by Katherine McGee
5. Love and Luck by Jenna Evans Welch
Here’s the full list of books read last year:
- Jeneration X by Jen Lancaster | One of her better collections of essays IMO. Lots of funny stories. Her books always feel like chatting with your BFF.
- Don’t You Forget About Me by Liz Tipping |Slightly getting by on the British locale and the love interest. I rooted for the main character but was continuously frustrated with her.
- Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins| I loved Anna and the French Kiss and the writing style in this one continues to make the story compulsively readable but the main characters choices throughout the book drove me batty. I had to kind of check my opinions at the door with this one.
- The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill | A short sweet graphic novel about a young girl who learns to care for tea dragons. A quick one-sitting read. I’ll be passing this one onto my nine year old next.
- Mother Daughter Book Camp by Heather Vogel Frederick | Hard to believe the book club is heading to college! This was a fun farewell story. I’ll miss this series.
- Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography by Daniel Handler | This was cute. More of a scrapbook than a story. Fun for people who finished the book and the Netflix series and you need a Snicket fix. But it definitely does not stand on its own.
- Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett | You’ve Got Mail meets Sleepless in Seattle for YA. I really enjoyed this. The characters had a lot of depth, the story felt unique but just the right amount of predictable. Couldn’t put it down.
- Island of the Aunts by Eva Ibbotson | Fantastical, I loved reading about all the different creatures on the island.
- Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center | I loved this. Bingeable and delicious but also real and with plenty of depth and character growth. I’ll definitely be checking out her other books.
- Renegades by Marissa Meyer | A promising start to a new series by the author of the Lunar Chronicles. I really fell in love with this one. A very cool premise with a great cast of characters. I want to read book two ASAP.
- I Hate Everyone But You by Gaby Dunn | A long distance BFF friendship story told through texts and emails over the course of one year of college. Not my favorite read, but oddly fascinating in a fly on the wall kind of way.
- I See London, I See France by Sarah Mlynowski | This one was pretty much getting by on my love for wanderlust travel stories. The characters were a little naïve for my liking, a lot of drama that could have been avoided if anyone ever talked to people about their feelings ever. But there’s a ship to ship and lots of traveling so not a total loss.
- Mr. Darcy Forever by Victoria Connelly | I finished this one in spite of myself to find out what happened. I didn’t really enjoy how the book jumps from past tense to present tense though I understand why the author chose to do so. I found some of the characters absurd and spent a lot of time wondering if the main characters might actually be idiots not to see through the Wickham type that tears them apart. Of course it all works out in the end and the Jane Austen references were fun, but I’m disappointed in this one.
- Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier | This was a little sad, a little magical and a very sweet. I read it in two sittings. My 9 year old really enjoyed it, too.
- Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde | I’ve never been to a convention, so this was a fun peek inside what that might be like. It also had two fun romances, fandom for days, and really fully realized characters with quirks and flaws to overcome and embrace. I really appreciated seeing inside the head of s character with Asperger’s and social anxiety. I thought that was really well done.
- Invisible Emmie by Terri Libenson | This was really sweet. I liked how you got to see the story from different perspectives, like how our attitudes can change our outlook on life. The illustrations are great, the story was easy to relate to and the ending was very uplifting.
- Positively Izzy by Terri Libenson | Another great graphic novel by Terri Libenson. Invisible Emmie had a surprise twist ending so I figured this one would, too, but I have to be honest, I didn’t see it coming until the last second. I love her characters and the story was sweet.
- Smile by Raina Telgemeier | This was really good. It’s the author’s true story of getting braces – and also going through puberty, dealing with first crushes, frenemies, learning to like herself and not focus on appearances so much. I love a good coming of age story. I read this graphic novel in two sittings and would definitely recommend it to tween girls.
- Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1by G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona(Illustrator), Jacob Wyatt(Illustrator) | This was such a cool super hero story. For anyone who has ever wished to be someone else or have the super cool super powers that they read about in comics or see on tv – this explores what it would be like if that actually happened. The main character deals with normal teenage stuff, family trouble, culturual clashes of being a Muslim in America – and then also has to deal with super powers that she doesn’t know how to control! Very cool.
- The Fire Within by Chris d’Lacey | I read this out loud to my 9 year old and in all fairness she loved it. I personally found the pacing to be way too slow and I’m still confused as to why this book was marked as being about dragons when 75% of the story was about a squirrel. It almost felt like two entirely different stories that were forced together.
- All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson| This was so cute! I loved the premise. Imogene is starting middle school after being homeschooled by her parents who work at a Renaissance faire. She must battle bullies, strict teachers, trying to fit in, owning up to mistakes, finding real friends – you know, normal middle school stuff. I loved the contrast of life at the faire to life in middle school. This one actually made me cry a couple times! *I would caution that this one might not be appropriate for younger readers as Imogene is a fairly typical young teen dealing with puberty on the horizon. Nothing inappropriate happens but parents might want to flip through the book before handing it to younger kids.*
- Drama by Raina Telgemeier | I liked this one but not quite as much as her other books. It was very realistic in portraying the complications of crushes growing up, but maybe too realistic. There were a lot of moving parts and it was hard to know what to root for or where things were ultimately going.
- Sisters by Raina Telgemeier| Another great graphic memoir by Raina Telgemeier. This is a story about a road trip she took with her mom and siblings when she was fourteen and her tumultuous relationship with her sister growing up.
- Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins | I love this series. I think Anna and the French Kiss was still my favorite but I really liked this one. Perkins is good at making me stay up late reading. I appreciated the realness of the characters, the genuine struggles they dealt with, imperfect decision making. Lola was sometimes a little over the top and dense but she definitely won me over in the end.
- Herding Cats by Sarah Andersen| This is a collection of comics from the Sarah Scribbles web comics that you’ve probably seen online. The collection was adorable.
- Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson | I loved this coming of age graphic novel. The main character is dealing with a shift in friend groups as she seems to be drifting apart from her BFF. The story revolves around her learning to play Roller Derby which is also fun.
- The Life-changing Manga of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo is basically a shortened version of the original given the graphic novel treatment.
- Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova| My graphic novel binge continued. This is part of a series that all take place in a middle school. What I love is that you eventually see things from a lot of different points of view. This one is probably my favorite.
- When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon | I enjoyed this a lot but I often found myself frustrated by the main character who seemed to make irrational decisions frequently. The love story was very sweet though.
- Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch | This is a great summer read. Wanderlust, a multigenerational love story and lots of gelato. What’s not to love?
- Brave by Svetlana Chmakova | Another book from the previously mentioned series. This one was really sweet. It deals a lot with what real friendship looks like compared to “frenemies”.
- Crush by Svetlana Chmakova | Yes another one. 😁 This book centers around the book’s ?main character having his first crush and also about how people aren’t always like you think they will be based on stereotypes. Don’t judge a book by its cover.
- The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman | When introvert bookworm Nina is forced outside of her comfort zone, she learns a lot about herself and finds love. This one was fun to read but occasionally the main character irked me with her denseness.
- The Bookshop on the Shore by Jenny Colgan | This is a sort of sequel to The Bookshop on the Corner, focusing on a new love story. The story reminded me of The Sound of Music but a bit more grim. Colgan manages to combine light romance with fairly heavy topics. This one got a bit touch and go towards the end but she won me over by Happily Ever After.
- Making Friends by Kristen Gudsnuk | this graphic novel had a pretty out there premise for a story that’s essentially about learning how to make friends but with a supernatural twist.
- Meg Jo Beth and Amy by Rey Terciero | This is a modern graphic novel adaptation of Little Women. To be honest I’m still not sure how I feel about it. I thought the changes made were interesting but for the most part I just wished I was reading the book. But it was a fun way to introduce my 10 year old to the story.
- Boy Crazy Stacey by Gale Galligan and Ann M. Martin | the latest BSC graphic novel. I actually really enjoyed this. It’s one of my favorites from the series and it seemed to translate well to the graphic novel treatment.
- Estranged by Ethan M. Aldridge | What a cool story concept and great illustration. This takes the myth of changelings from Irish folklore and really delves into a cool story with lots of action and heart. It’s the first in a series.
- Amulet: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi | This is the first in a huge graphic novel series that my kids love. The premise is interesting and the illustrations are gorgeous but for some reason I couldn’t get into it so I didn’t read past book one.
- Love and Luck by Jenna Evans Welch | The second in the series. We’re leaving behind Italy and gelato this time and going on a tour of Ireland. I might have liked this one even more than the first. I loved all the descriptions of Ireland and really got absorbed in the family drama of which there was plenty.
- Unleashing Mr. Darcy by Terri Wilson | Pride and Prejudice retold and centered around the world of dog shows. This one was bordering on ridiculous but I am a sucker for Pride and Prejudice so I binge read it anyway.
- Lumberjanes vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy by Noelle Stevenson | This was kind of adorable and a lot of fun. Summer camp like you’ve never seen before. I loved all the crazy fantastical adventures and girl power.
- American Royals by Katherine McGee | What if at the end of the Revolutionary War, George Washington had been named King instead of president? This is the first book in a new series exploring what the world would be like today if that had happened. A close up look at the American Royal family today. I really loved this and I’m very impatient for book two to be published.
- Famous in a Small Town by Emma Mills | I got really into this one. It centers on a group of friends the summer before senior year trying to get in touch with a famous country singer who grew up in their town. They are trying to convince her to come back to town and perform at a local festival to help raise money for the marching band. There’s a love story obviously and a lot of “you thought you knew the real story, but…” Really good.
- Well Met by Jen DeLuca | Love at the Ren Faire. What could be more fun to read? I loved reading about all the little inner workings of putting on a Renaissance faire and the love story was fantastic. There’s a whole underlying theme of starting over and being true to yourself.