Friday, January 3, 2020

My Favorite Reads of 2019

I read a lot of great books in 2019.  It was definitely the year of clearing off bookshelves and reading YA and middle grade books.  Here are some of my favorite books of all genres from the 88 books I finished in 2019.  This was extremely hard to cull down the list as to not go on and on over so many good books!

Becoming by Michelle Obama is probably the book I recommend the most.  It is a memoir and it is so damn good.  If you ever wanted to know about her life growing up and how she got where she did from her humble roots, please please please pick it up!!!

The Dry by Jane Harper got me out of a reading slump I fell into during my first trimester.  It was a page turning thrilling mystery, so if you are into that type of thing and especially if you are in a slump, I suggest you pick it up!

"In the grip of the worst drought in a century, the farming community of Kiewarra is facing life and death choices daily when three members of a local family are found brutally slain.
Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk reluctantly returns to his hometown for the funeral of his childhood friend, loath to face the townsfolk who turned their backs on him twenty years earlier.
But as questions mount, Falk is forced to probe deeper into the deaths of the Hadler family. Because Falk and Luke Hadler shared a secret. A secret Falk thought was long buried. A secret Luke's death now threatens to bring to the surface in this small Australian town, as old wounds bleed into new ones."
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan was hilarious!!! I loved it.  It's a pretty long book but it flew by for me.  The premise a very wealthy Nicholas Young, NEVER tells his American born Chinese girlfriend how rich is family is.  The book is hysterical on the misunderstandings between the many characters on who Rachel is and who the Young family is.  Such a good family melodrama and I really need to watch the movie and the other books in this series!  

The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlin is another that I read quickly.  It is set in 1944.   Tess finds her self pregnant and not with her fiances child.  She chases down the one night stand to his hometown and finds out he is rather wealthy.  And weird.  There are definitely weird things going on and Tess feels out of place and unwelcome by her new mother-in-law and sister-in-law.  Lots of small town secrets.  I love Chamberlin's books and this did not disappoint!

Mistress of the Ritz by Melanie Benjamin is set in Paris during WWII.  It involves real people and is exaggerated on them since not much is known about the director of the Ritz, Claude, and his wife, Blanche.
"Nothing bad can happen at the Ritz; inside its gilded walls every woman looks beautiful, every man appears witty. Favored guests like Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Coco Chanel, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor walk through its famous doors to be welcomed and pampered by Blanche Auzello and her husband, Claude, the hotel's director. The Auzellos are the mistress and master of the Ritz, allowing the glamour and glitz to take their minds off their troubled marriage, and off the secrets that they keep from their guests--and each other.
Until June 1940, when the German army sweeps into Paris, setting up headquarters at the Ritz. Suddenly, with the likes of Hermann Goring moving into suites once occupied by royalty, Blanche and Claude must navigate a terrifying new reality. One that entails even more secrets. One that may destroy the tempestuous marriage between this beautiful, reckless American and her very proper Frenchman. For the falsehoods they tell to survive, and to strike a blow against their Nazi "guests," spin a web of deceit that ensnares everything and everyone they cherish.

But one secret is shared between Blanche and Claude alone--the secret that, in the end, threatens to imperil both of their lives, and to bring down the legendary Ritz itself."

Front Desk by Kelly Yang is one of the many middle grade novels I read.  I recommend this to everyone age 8 and up! It is about a Chinese immigrant family in California.  It hits on employers taking advantage of their immigrant status, name calling/teasing from Americans, prejudices, and so much more.  It's told from the viewpoint of the daughter, Mia, and it's just soo good!

"Mia Tang has a lot of secrets.

Number 1: She lives in a motel, not a big house. Every day, while her immigrant parents clean the rooms, ten-year-old Mia manages the front desk of the Calivista Motel and tends to its guests.

Number 2: Her parents hide immigrants. And if the mean motel owner, Mr. Yao, finds out they've been letting them stay in the empty rooms for free, the Tangs will be doomed.

Number 3: She wants to be a writer. But how can she when her mom thinks she should stick to math because English is not her first language?

It will take all of Mia's courage, kindness, and hard work to get through this year. Will she be able to hold on to her job, help the immigrants and guests, escape Mr. Yao, and go for her dreams?"

On The Come Up by Angie Thomas is a YA book that I suggest from ages 12-up! SO GOOD! Bria is a high schooler who wants to be a rapper.  Her deceased father was a popular rapper and she wants to make a name for herself.  This book hits on so many issues that minorities face in neighborhoods, schools and JUST READ IT IF YOU HAVEN'T!!!!!!

"Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least make it out of her neighborhood one day. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died before he hit big, Bri’s got big shoes to fill. But now that her mom has unexpectedly lost her job, food banks and shutoff notices are as much a part of Bri’s life as beats and rhymes. With bills piling up and homelessness staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it—she has to make it.

On the Come Up is Angie Thomas’s homage to hip-hop, the art that sparked her passion for storytelling and continues to inspire her to this day. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; of the struggle to become who you are and not who everyone expects you to be; and of the desperate realities of poor and working-class black families."

Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World is yet again another middle grade novel.  After a tornado tears apart her family's home, Ivy is fighting to find her spot in her family, in her school, and with her friends.  She loses her notebook that has private drawings of girls holding hands.  She doesn't know how to handle her drawings, let alone with someone finds it and leaves her notes in her locker about these drawings! I loved how this subject matter was handled in the book.

Merci Suarez Changes Gears by Meg Medina is yet another middle grade novel that I wrote about in my December recap! Highly recommend!

"Merci Suarez knew that sixth grade would be different, but she had no idea just how different. For starters, Merci has never been like the other kids at her private school in Florida, because she and her older brother, Roli, are scholarship students. They don’t have a big house or a fancy boat, and they have to do extra community service to make up for their free tuition. So when bossy Edna Santos sets her sights on the new boy who happens to be Merci’s school-assigned Sunshine Buddy, Merci becomes the target of Edna’s jealousy. Things aren't going well at home, either: Merci’s grandfather and most trusted ally, Lolo, has been acting strangely lately — forgetting important things, falling from his bike, and getting angry over nothing. No one in her family will tell Merci what's going on, so she’s left to her own worries, while also feeling all on her own at school. In a coming-of-age tale full of humor and wisdom, award-winning author Meg Medina gets to the heart of the confusion and constant change that defines middle school — and the steadfast connection that defines family."

Quiver by Julia Watt is another one I talked about in December and is a YA book about two teen girls from very different worlds that become friends.  

"Set in rural Tennessee, QUIVER by Julia Watts is a brilliant YA novel that focuses on the unlikely friendship between two teens from opposite sides of the culture wars. 

Libby is the oldest child of six, going on seven, in a family that adheres to the "quiverfull" lifestyle: strict evangelical Christians who believe that they should have as many children as God allows because children are like arrows in the quiver of "God's righteous warriors." Like the other families who adhere to this philosophy, Libby's family regards the father as the "Christian patriarch" and leader and the mother as the "helpmeet" who gives birth to, cares for, and homeschools the children.

Meanwhile, Zo is the gender fluid offspring of Libby's new neighbors who have moved to the country from Knoxville in hopes of living a slower-paced, more natural life.

Zo and hir family are as far to the left ideologically as Libby's family is to the right, and yet Libby and Zo, who are the same age, feel a connection that leads them to friendship—a friendship that seems doomed from the start because of their families' differences. "

I'm making myself stop at 10 because if I don't I will go on and on and on! 

What is your favorite book you read in 2019? What should I read in 2020?

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