Reviewing every book I read in 2019

Happy Friday, gals and pals!

This is very late. BUT I never write reviews anymore. Or I often don’t write reviews. And I wanted to share my thoughts on the books I read in 2019 because I read quite a few books I want to talk about.

So, here are one or two lines about each of these books. I’ll link full reviews where they exist. Just a heads up that this post is very long!

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (mini review): very Gaiman.

Women Talking by Miriam Toews (review): super interesting concept, loved the feminist aspects and the overall story and characters. The way this book was told was really interesting, but ultimately made me feel disconnected from the story.

Dreams of Joy by Lisa See (review): loved this story and thought it was a great follow-up to Shanghai Girls. I love the characters and the heartbreaking story in this book. Required a little more suspension of disbelief than the first one, but I can forgive it.

Broken Things by Lauren Oliver (mini review): this was a super entertaining YA mystery/thriller. Would I recommend it? Maybe, if it’s already on your TBR and you like YA mystery/thrillers. But it’s not a new favourite and I’m not jumping to reread it any time soon.

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand (review): this was a great YA/NA book with a lot of fun, fantastical elements. I really enjoyed it, but it didn’t totally work for me. I loved the diversity of characters and feminist themes, though.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt (review): I’ve finally read it! I really enjoyed this weird, pretentious book. I love Tartt’s writing and would read anything she wrote. I think I read this at the wrong time, though, because I found it really long and hard to get through.

The Seven and a Half Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton (review): what an entertaining, fast-paced, interesting mystery/thriller. I was enthralled the whole time. My only issue with this book was the fat-shaming.

The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney: this was an entertaining Middle Grade book about a kidnapping. I really enjoyed it, and know I would have enjoyed it more had I read it when I was in middle school. But it was still super interesting, and I really enjoyed the story.

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne (review): I understand the hype for this book, I really do. Boyne is a super talented author, and I loved this book. It has a lot of elements I love, particularly the long timeline. But, I hated how women were portrayed in this book.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo: another book where I get the hype, and my first five star book of the year! I loved everything about this book: the characters, the plot and the pace, the writing. I really need to read Crooked Kingdom soon.

A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard: this memoir was super interesting. I thought the writing was a little basic and juvenile, but it also worked given what Dugard went through. It was really interesting to see the inside of her story from her perspective. I definitely recommend it if you enjoy true crime and kidnappings.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith: I really enjoyed this classic. Ages ago, someone said it was similar to The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls, and I totally agree. It was really lovely and interesting, and I thought a lot of the commentary was interesting. I want to write a whole post on feminism and this book, but I haven’t gotten around to that yet.

Slide by Jill Hathaway (review): this was an easy to read YA book with an interesting concept that was unfortunately never fully realised. The main character mentioned she had pink hair 13 times. There was minimal girl-on-girl hate, which was nice.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi: I loved this book a lot. It also has a lot of things I love: historical fiction, takes place over a long period of time, interesting characters and commentary, good writing. I’m glad I finally read it.

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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (review): “Have I mentioned I peaked in the 80s?” –Ernest Cline, probably. Hated the main character. Hated the side characters. Entertaining nonetheless.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (mini review): big lesbian energy. Loved it.

Glass Beads by Dawn Dumont: this is a short story anthology following a group of Indigenous characters. I really enjoyed it. I thought the stories and characters were really interesting. The ebook really needs a copy-edit but the writing was great.

The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neil (review): loved the setting, loved the characters, loved the story. There was too much of a focus on sex. Would still recommend.

The Book of Essie by Meghan Maclean Weir: I loved this book. It was so interesting. I love cults and religious backgrounds, so I loved that aspect of this book. I loved the story in this book. I loved the two main characters. I loved the subversion of expectations. It was just a super interesting and entertaining read that I loved.

The Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis (mini review): I thought this was a historical fiction. It is, in fact, a thriller. It was an underwhelming, slow, boring thriller, for the most part. The ending was good, though.

The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee (mini review): pitched as a dystopian Gossip Girl. Lives up to that expectation 100%. I think there were some plot lines lifted directly from Gossip Girl (having just watched all six seasons). Was it good? No. Was it bad? Yes. But was it entertaining? Also yes.

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater (mini review): loved it. Big dumb gay energy.

The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson (review): this was such an entertaining, great book. I loved it.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater (mini review): cried a lot in this book due to extraneous circumstances. Very cute and fluffy. Blue x Gansey forever.

Columbine by Dave Cullen (review): a great non-fiction book. Very detailed, potentially too detailed, but very well researched and thorough.

Night Film by Marisha Pessl (review): a thriller which was not thrilling. I was very bored, unfortunately. The characters walk in circles and talk to people. The 50 horror-esque pages were very good, though.

Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney (review): I loved the characters in this book a lot and rooted for them more than I expected to. Rooney is a very talented author.

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See (review): not my favourite Lisa See. The timeline and stories were disjointed. But, it was incredibly well-researched and I loved the stories and characters.

This Darkness Mine by Mindy McGinnis: was bad. Did not like it. The story was weird and made no sense. The main character was bad, and so were all the side characters. There was just nothing about this book I enjoyed.

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The Dinner by Herman Koch: I thought this book was super interesting! It was really intense, and I really enjoyed the plot. I thought the premise of having it take place over a dinner was really interesting. The subversion of expectations was also done expertly in this book. I’d highly recommend it.

Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton: I loved this book so much. I was dealing with really bad insomnia and ended up reading this book until 2:30am the night before a 13-hour day of job interviews, but I don’t regret it at all. It was so fast-paced and intense and interesting. I haven’t been this hooked on a book for a while.

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater (mini review): I really enjoyed the finale to this series. I cried a lot at the end, even if I didn’t love everything.

Diva by Jillian Larkin (mini review): I really did not enjoy the finale to this series. I did not cry about anything and I didn’t love anything.

The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib: this book follows a girl in inpatient treatment for anorexia nervosa, and I really enjoyed it. I thought it was very honest and very real. It had some great representation of mental illnesses, which I thought were handled really well.

A Mind Spread Out on the Ground by Alicia Elliott: this was easily one of my top books of the year. These non-fiction, memoir essays are brilliant and some of the best I’ve ever read. I cannot recommend this book enough.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness (mini review): I loved this book a lot more than I was expecting to. It was super entertaining, really easy to read, I loved the diversity and representation, and I loved the premise.

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston: what can I say, I get the hype. I just really enjoyed how fun this book was.

Sadie by Courtney Summers: I really, really enjoyed this book. It was entertaining and fast-paced, I loved the plot and the characters. I thought it was really relevant, and I loved the podcast element. I found parts of it a little unbelievable, particularly Sadie’s ability to manipulate adults around her. But, I totally get the hype.

The Uninvited by Liz Jensen (review): I did not like this book. It was boring, which is the opposite of what a thriller is supposed to be. It had such an interesting premise and could have gone in so many interesting directions, and instead it did nothing. Would not recommend.

Postcards From the Edge by Carrie Fisher: I loved this audiobook. Fisher is so funny and entertaining, and so was this book. I loved the main character and reading about the different parts of her life. I loved her relationship with her best friend. This book was exactly what I needed when I read it.

The Downstairs Girl by Stacy Lee: I enjoyed this YA historical fiction and thought it was really good, but wasn’t wowed by it. I thought all the characters were fantastic, if a little stereotypical. I liked the setting and thought it worked for the story. I liked the conflict and different plot points. But I found the ending, in particular, unbelievable. You’re telling me a family learns they were in the plot of Parasite the whole time, and embrace it? Unlikely.

Not That Bad edited by Roxane Gay: I loved this book! It was so good. The essays were amazing, and the audiobook is amazing because the essays are narrated by their authors (I assume). It was incredibly diverse and so well-thought out. My one criticism is the essays could have been better organized.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield: I enjoyed parts of this book and didn’t enjoy other parts. It was overall very meh for me.

A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti: I loved this book so much. I went in knowing nothing, and came out loving it. It is amazing. I really connected with the main character and loved following her story. I’d highly recommend the audiobook, as well.

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So, there are some reviews of every book I read in 2019! I got worse about reviewing as the year went on, clearly. But anyway. Have you read any of these books? What were your thoughts? Any similar thoughts to me? Are you equally bad at reviewing books? Let me know!

Ally xx

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7 thoughts on “Reviewing every book I read in 2019

  1. I agree about not liking the characters in Ready Player One and yet enjoying the book anyway. (Probably not enough to re-read, but it was fun.) Also, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is definitely Very Gaiman. I wrote a longer review of it when I read it, but I could have summed it all up in those two words.

    I haven’t listened to Postcards From the Edge yet, but I really want to. I’m saving it for when I need Carrie’s brand of humor.

    The one I’ve read and had a different impression than you was A Tree Grows In Brooklyn. I read it as a young teen, and couldn’t stand it. I don’t remember much about it, but I remember I was bored and didn’t connect with the characters. I’m pretty sure that I only read it because it was a gift and I was expected to read (and finish!) all gift books.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The characters were definitely the worst part about Ready Player One. The main character especially just grated on me.

      I hope you enjoy Postcards when you read it! It’s such a Carrie book, and I loved it.

      That’s fair! I think if I’d read it as a teen, I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much. I definitely didn’t connect with the characters and it was super slow, so those are totally fair observations lol


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