I set a goal for myself this year, and that was to read more books. I thought, let’s try to read one book a month, so my goal for 2019 was to try to read 12 books. We are halfway through the year, and I’m already at 10!
I’m pretty proud of myself!
I normally just read on the subway, during my commute to and from work. But, if the book has me captured, I will read it at home too, instead of watching tv. (I can’t read before bed, or I’ll fall asleep and have to re-read those pages over again)
You will see a bit of a theme in the books I read. I prefer thriller, but usually give myself a lighter read in between those graphic novels….I like to ‘reset’ my brain and imagination. So I will flip between graphic thrillers, and fiction with a softer side.
Below, find the first 10 books I’ve read in 2019 and a short review.
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1. The Tattooist of Auschwitz
This book isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s subject matter is heavy and overwhelming. And while I like to read stories based on true events, it’s hard not to be emotional during this tale of a man who ends up in the concentration camps of Auschwitz. He finds himself in the position of tattooing all the new prisoners upon arrival when they are confused, scared and hungry. It is here where he falls in love. Because of his position within the camp, he finds ways to trade the confiscated possessions of the prisoners for food to help keep other prisoners alive. This book is heartbreaking, graphic and yet still heartwarming to know that love blossomed in such a dark and horrible place.
2. The life Lucy Knew
This is my first time reading something by Karma Brown, but fun fact, I met her last year at a blogger conference where she spoke on a panel about publishing a book. So I picked up this book and wasn’t disappointed. It’s a story of Lucy, who has false memories, a side-effect of falling and hitting her head. She clearly remembers getting married, and all the details of the wedding, when in fact, she isn’t married at all. And of course, her boyfriend isn’t too happy that she thinks she’s married to somebody else! These false memories play with her emotions and her life, as she tries to navigate what is true and what isn’t. It’s a nice read, and you feel for her boyfriend Matt, who tries to show her the life she has, vs. the life she thinks she wants and lives.
3. The Perfect Stranger
This is the second book I have read from Megan Miranda. The first book I read was All the Missing Girls (read my full review here). This book did not disappoint. A suspenseful page-turner, told backwards, the book is about a girl who returns to her hometown to help out her ailing father. Coming back means reliving the memories of her best friend’s disappearance, but now a new girl has also disappeared. Are the two disappearances connected? The plot keeps you on your toes and keeps you turning the page. And learning the details in reverse-chronological order is definitely a twist on the regular thriller – and note, you have to be able to remember the details, because while you think you’re missing something, it starts to fall into place as your continue to read. You doubt the characters, question yourself and want to solve the mystery, which to me is the recipe for a great book!
4. The Perfect Girlfriend
If you love a good stalker book, this one’s for you! Juliette loves Nate. So much so that she changes her career to be closer to him. Because that’s what soul mates do, right?! Even though he broke up with her, that isn’t going to stop her from winning him back. And trust me when I tell you, Juliette will go to any length to win him back. This book gives life to your worst fears after breaking up with someone and while I felt the main character was annoying at times, she was meant to be. She is unhinged, in love and will stop at nothing to win Nate back. It is frightening, and could leave you looking over your shoulder for a scorned past-love!
This has been my favourite book of 2019 so far. And while it wasn’t a thriller, this memoir was harrowing and very hard to read at times. It is the story of Tara Westover’s life growing up with extreme survivalists waiting for the end of days. It is about her day-to-day life in the mountains, with parents who hated the government and believed God’s will solved any problems, or ailments you had. It’s about how a girl who loves her family, and life as she knew it, and yet yearns for more. How she gets herself an education and asks dumb questions and has her eyes opened to a world she didn’t know existed. It’s about hope and determination and self-discovery and if you are going to read one book this year, this should be it! Read my full review of Educated here.
6. An Anonymous Girl
I jumped straight into another thriller, and this one was unlike any I’ve read before. Written by two authors, this book is told from two separate points of view, and while I found it odd at the beginning, it is an interesting way to read a book. Jessica, the main character, is a mobile make-up artist and struggles to make it day-to-day. When she overhears a phone message of one of her clients, indicating the start of an ethics and morality study for money, she decides to show up in her client’s place. And it changes her life. As the study continues, she continues to open up and is paid more money every time. Then she wonders what the doctor is doing with all the information she has collected.
The doctor is intrigued with how far she can push Jessica and continues to raise the bar each time. We learn of the doctor’s background, her marriage and her real motives for the study. She is manipulative, cunning and creepy! And while I don’t know that it is a believable plot, I really enjoyed how the two voices drew the story along and leaves you second guessing every answering an online poll again!
7. My Brilliant Friend
I took a break from the thrillers and decided to read My Brilliant Friend. I had watched the series on Crave and enjoyed it a lot, but wanted to see if the book had some additional background info on the characters I had grown to love. Nobody is actually sure if the book is autobiographical, because Elena Ferrante is a pseudonym and her true identity is unknown . Originally written in Italian, I often found the book to be directly translated, and a bit choppy to read. There are four books in this acclaimed series, The Neapolitan Novels, and My Brilliant Friend is the first book. I still am not sure if it is autobiographical or not, but I choose to think of it as such.
Set in a small town in Naples, Italy, Elena and Lila become friends and navigate life and love. The story is told with a lot of ‘telling’ vs. showing, and I think perhaps better suited to television show. However how these girls love and hate each other is completely relatable. They compete against each other, root for each other, fight with each other and yet love each other. There are a lot of characters to keep track of, but the struggle of life in a small town, come to life with every page. (Watching the series first helped for me to picture the characters, but isn’t necessary). There are undertones of corruption and family vendetta’s, violence and prosperity, and of course love, lust, and coming of age. I bought the entire series, and look forward to reading the other books.
8. Big Little Lies
Since I read a book after seeing a series, I decided to go back to reading a book before watching the series, and Big Little Lies was my next choice. I had this book on my ‘to read’ shelf for over a year, and finally decided to read it and I’m so glad I did! I really enjoy Liane Moriarty’s writing style and this was my first book by this author.
Someone is dead and now we need to figure out that is, and more importantly, who did it?! The book jacket states “Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal and the little lies that can turn lethal.” This description is actually brilliant! Five women and how they come together, find a common ground among scandal and lies. Five women who are completely different and how everyone has a little secret they would like to keep hidden. Five women whose lives are interwoven forever because of one school, one community, one incident and one lie.
I loved this book!
Note, if you’ve only watched the series, I will say that it is almost the same as the book. There are a few changes made for the sake of plot lines, but I will say that those changes were most likely made to give the series legs to continue on. But in no way changes the essence of the five women and their bond.
9. A Man called Ove
I have heard great things about Fredrick Backman novels, so I decided to start with A Man Called Ove. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I can tell you that the book started out slow. Like super slow. I’m not used to that, because the thrillers I read usually dive right into it. But it took more than a few chapters before I thought of giving up on reading it.
Ove is a grumpy old man, stuck in his ways. He’s a rule follower. There are no exceptions to that whatsoever. He likes order, and hates small talk. But there is more to this cranky man than meets the eye. And we begin to see this when a loud, rather intrusive family moves in next door. As hard as Ove fights to have any interaction with the pregnant mom, the unhandy dad or their kids, the more interaction he has. This story, and this grumpy man, grows on you. You learn where he came from, who he was and why he has the strong and rigid principles he has. You see the way the family next door weaves their way into his heart, at the same time not realizing that Ove has weaved his way into yours. By the end of this book, I was sobbing like a baby, and feel like this character is a part of my family. Definitely a great read!
10. Pieces of Her
Karin Slaughter is one of my favourite thriller authors. I have read a lot of her books and every single one of them sucks me in from the beginning. They are not for the faint of heart, and leave you guessing almost until the end, every time! Some of my past favourites include Pretty Girls, Blindsighted, Kisscut, and the entire Grant County series. I picked up Pieces of Her and it made it’s way to the front of my list of “books to read”.
The book follows Andrea and her mother Laura as they find themselves in the middle of a random violent attack and then life as Andrea knows it, changes. Everything she thought she knew about her mother is in question and it leaves her scrambling for answers.
The plot of this book isn’t what I’m used to from Slaughter. There are dual stories happening and the reader moves back and forth between 1986 and 2018. There were times where I didn’t see the connection between the two plots, but always knew that the author always had one.
As Andrea follows her mother’s cryptic instructions, she finds she’s on the run. During her journey, she peels back the layers of who her mother is and why her life feels like it’s a puzzle she never knew about, leaving her questioning everything.
The plot in 1986 follows a woman in search of her own answers, ready to do whatever it takes for the family she lost. The man who will pay for those answers is a prominent and wealthy business man; and Slaughter does a spectacular job unveiling the consequences of his family’s dysfunction.
While this book is not full of as many plot twists and shocking events as I’m used to from the writer (don’t worry, there still are a few), I still really liked it. Different can be good, and I think the character development is still something Slaughter does well. She paints the picture for you in vivid colour and you can’t help be become invested in the outcome.
The cover of this book indicates that it’s coming to Netflix, so I’m excited to see one of her books come to life.
What have you read this year? Let me know if you have read any of my picks above, and if you want to join me on my reading challenge! #readmorebooks #2019readingchallenge