The Best Books I Read in 2019

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I’ve done posts like this in the past but haven’t blogged about books in almost two years. Crazy considering how much I love reading. Like I read 65 books this year? That’s the most I’ve ever read in a year before! I may have read a lot of books this year, but there were not a lot of five or even four stars.

Previously I’ve shared 5 to 12 books on these lists, and this time I have nine books. And for once, most of them were actually published in 2019 (or 2018).

One more note before we get started, these are not in any ranking order! So the first one is not necessarily the best and the last is not necessarily the worst.

Edinburgh Twilight

Not going to lie, I picked up this book just because it had ‘Edinburgh’ in the title. You can make the girl leave Scotland, but you can never kill her study abroad obsession.

I was actually so impressed with this book! The author was perfectly able to capture how it feels to walk around in Edinburgh and really did their research on Scotland in the early 1800s. I haven’t read historical fiction in forever, but this book made me want to start doing that again.

And did I mention it was a murder mystery as well? Sign me up! I was actually so impressed with this storyline, the characters, and the author’s writing in general that I stalked her up and down GoodReads to see what else she had written.

Edinburgh Twilight by Carole Lawrence

Description from GoodReads:

As a new century approaches, Edinburgh is a city divided. The wealthy residents of New Town live in comfort, while Old Town’s cobblestone streets are clotted with criminals, prostitution, and poverty.

Detective Inspector Ian Hamilton is no stranger to Edinburgh’s darkest crimes. Scarred by the mysterious fire that killed his parents, he faces his toughest case yet when a young man is found strangled in Holyrood Park.

With little evidence aside from a strange playing card found on the body, Hamilton engages the help of his aunt, a gifted photographer, and George Pearson, a librarian with a shared interest in the criminal mind. But the body count is rising. As newspapers spin tales of the “Holyrood Strangler,” panic sets in across the city. And with each victim, the murderer is getting closer to Hamilton, the one man who dares to stop him.”

Details

4/5 stars

446 pages

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Edinburgh Dusk

Did I not say I loved this author’s writing?! Lucky for me she had already written the second book in the series as well and I picked it up quite quickly as well. I enjoyed this one even more than the first actually. 

I love how I cannot guess who the killer is and Lawrence purposely sets you up to think it is someone else. She is an amazing storyteller and knows the right amount of information to reveal at all the right times.While the motive for this killer was very graphic, it is a very real thing that happens and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the author choosing that to be the motive. It’s quite fascinating and something anyone who loves serial killers will enjoy but find disturbing simultaneously.The ending was a little bit of a letdown, but I love how the author justified it by tying it to the play the characters were a part of during the book.I certainly hope there will be more installments of this series in the future!

Edinburgh Dusk by Carole Lawrence

Description from GoodReads:

“A wicked Scottish winter has just begun when pioneering female physician Sophia Jex-Blake calls on Detective Inspector Ian Hamilton to investigate the suspicious death of one of her patients—a railroad lineman who she believes succumbed to the horrific effects of arsenic poisoning. The most provocative aspect of the case doesn’t escape Hamilton: the married victim’s numerous sexual transgressions.

Now, for the first time since the unexplained fire that killed his parents, Hamilton enters the Royal Infirmary to gain the insights of brilliant medical student Arthur Conan Doyle. Then a second poisoning occurs—this time, a prominent banker who died in the bed of a prostitute. It appears that someone is making Edinburgh’s more promiscuous citizens pay for their sins.

As the body count rises and public panic takes hold, Hamilton and Doyle delve into the seedy underbelly of the city, where nothing is as it seems, no one is immune to murder, and even trusted friends can be enemies in disguise.”

Details

5/5 stars

398 pages

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Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook

I’m not usually one for fantasy or fairytale books anymore, but I’ve got a thing for Neverland and dark children story remakes. And this book delivered. I was so hooked into the cruel twists of the Peter Pan story and who the lost boys really are and how Peter treats everyone. This is also a story of how Captain Hook came to be! 

The twists at the end of the book really captivated and disgusted me. The author has such an interesting imagination! She’s written some other books like this about other fairy tales, but none that interest me.

Lost Boy by Christina Henry

Description from GoodReads

“There is one version of my story that everyone knows. And then there is the truth. This is how it happened. How I went from being Peter Pan’s first—and favorite—lost boy to his greatest enemy.

Peter brought me to his island because there were no rules and no grownups to make us mind. He brought boys from the Other Place to join in the fun, but Peter’s idea of fun is sharper than a pirate’s sword. Because it’s never been all fun and games on the island. Our neighbors are pirates and monsters. Our toys are knife and stick and rock—the kinds of playthings that bite.

Peter promised we would all be young and happy forever.”

Details

5/5 stars

292 pages

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Frat girl

Everything about this book was monumental and phenomenal. I’ve never been one to like Greek life (nothing against it. Just not my thing) so a book about feminism and lowkey basking greek life was right up my alley.

Don’t worry, the book doesn’t bash Greek life actually, just the gendered norms it constructs and enforces. This book was sooooo real written and even written by a girl basically my age so I was super impressed.

Pick this up if you want a good college-aged read, and also want to learn more about feminism in the modern age. 

Frat Girl by Kiley Roache

Description from GoodReads:

“For Cassandra Davis, the F-word is fraternity—specifically Delta Tau Chi, a house on probation and on the verge of being banned from campus. Accused of offensive, sexist behavior, they have one year to clean up their act. For the DTC brothers, the F-word is feminist—the type of person who writes articles in the school paper about why they should lose their home.

With one shot at a scholarship to attend the university of her dreams, Cassie pitches a research project: to pledge Delta Tau Chi and provide proof of their misogynistic behavior. They’re frat boys. She knows exactly what to expect once she gets there. Exposing them should be a piece of cake.

But the boys of Delta Tau Chi have their own agenda, and fellow pledge Jordan Louis is certainly more than the tank top wearing “bro” Cassie expected to find. With her heart and her future tangled in the web of her own making, Cassie is forced to realize that the F-word might not be as simple as she thought after all.”

Details

4/5 stars

448 pages

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Playing with Matches

This is a contemporary coming-of-age slash romantic comedy and I was here for it. I read it while on spring break this year and it was such a great beachy read. 

The main character’s life was just so relatable! Sasha is a girl struggling to pay rent in NYC, struggling to balance a romance and her friendships, struggling to land a job, and struggling with impostor syndrome at work. There’s not a single thing that I can’t relate to there! Well, except the living in the NYC part…

Hannah also did an amazing job crafting her main characters and the side characters who Sasha sets up on dates. Plus, the ending was definitely not something I expected, however, I am very pleased with it. I closed the book with a smile.

Playing with Matches by Hannah Orenstein

Description from GoodReads

“Sasha Goldberg has a lot going for her: a recent journalism degree from NYU, an apartment with her best friend Caroline, and a relationship that would be amazing if her finance-bro boyfriend Jonathan would ever look up from his BlackBerry. But when her dream career falls through, she uses her family’s darkest secret to land a job as a matchmaker for New York City’s elite at the dating service Bliss.

Despite her inexperience, Sasha throws herself into her new career, trolling for catches on Tinder, coaching her clients through rejection, and dishing out dating advice to people twice her age. She sets up a TV exec who wanted kids five years ago, a forty-year-old baseball-loving virgin, and a consultant with a rigorous five-page checklist for her ideal match.

Sasha hopes to find her clients The One, like she did. But when Jonathan betrays her, she spirals out of control—and right into the arms of a writer with a charming Southern drawl, who she had previously set up with one of her clients. He’s strictly off-limits, but with her relationship on the rocks, all bets are off.

Fresh, sweet, and laugh-out-loud funny, Playing with Matches is the addictive story about dating in today’s swipe-heavy society, and a young woman trying to find her own place in the world.”

Details

5/5 stars

314 pages

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I Take You

Let me start this by saying I know this book, and my review for it is going to be controversial. The main character of this book is engaged, but the whole time she and her fiance are planning the wedding she is constantly cheating on him. Which I would never condone, but it makes for a fun book.

The thing is Lily isn’t sure she loves Will. And this is why I liked this book. I’m super interested in the concept of love and also how it relates to sexual encounters, and while this book isn’t non-fiction, it helped me construct what is and isn’t love. Plus, Lily’s family is a sex-crazed family that it can never not be entertaining. It’s like listening to an episode of Guys We F*ucked or Don’t Blame Me. 

I Take You by Eliza Kennedy

Description from GoodReads

“Meet Lily Wilder: New Yorker, lawyer extraordinaire, blushing bride. And totally incapable of being faithful to one man.

Lily’s fiancé Will is a brilliant, handsome archaeologist. Lily is sassy, impulsive, fond of a good drink (or five) and has no business getting married. Lily likes Will, but does she love him? Will loves Lily, but does he know her? As the wedding approaches, Lily’s nights—and mornings, and afternoons—of booze, laughter and questionable decisions become a growing reminder that the happiest day of her life might turn out to be her worst mistake yet.

Unapologetically sexy with the ribald humor of Bridesmaids, this joyously provocative debut introduces a self-assured protagonist you won’t soon forget.”

Details

5/5 stars

320 pages

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While You Sleep

Another book based in Scotland. Are we surprised? Of course not. But I bet you’ll be surprised to hear I had no idea it was based in Scotland until I had already picked it out. I had chosen it because it seemed like a good mystery and possible paranormal story and I was into those at the time. 

I don’t usually like any paranormal books I read, but this one was goooood. And the thing is, I’m still not sure if it was really paranormal or it was all in Zoe’s head. I think it’s amazing when an author can craft such a good story that even a reader with an insight on what happens to the main character at all times doesn’t know what’s real or not. 

The last thing I want to say about this book is that it’s not too scary. So if you scare easily, or just don’t do ghosts, you could still read this. I promise. I may like the paranormal, but I still get just as terrified as the next person. 

While You Sleep by Stephanie Merritt

Description from GoodReads

“On a remote Scottish island, the McBride house stands guard over its secrets. A century ago, a young widow and her son died mysteriously there; just last year a local boy, visiting for a dare, disappeared without a trace.

For Zoe Adams, newly arrived from America, the house offers a refuge from her failing marriage. But her peaceful retreat is disrupted by strange and disturbing events: nighttime intrusions; unknown voices; a constant sense of being watched.

The locals want her to believe that these incidents are echoes of the McBrides’ dark past. Zoe is convinced the danger is closer at hand, and all too real—but can she uncover the truth before she is silenced?”

Details

4/5 stars

400 pages

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When’s Happy Hour

I read the Betches’ last book when it came out a couple of years ago and was not a fan of their writing style. So I’m not really sure why I picked this book up? But I am happy I was compelled to because it was so GOOD.

My biggest complaint about their previous book was how “betchy” it was. Like I get they’re supposed to be mean, but they’re supposed to be mean funny and they didn’t come across like that at all last time. This time around they nailed it though. I never felt like they were too mean, and found myself laughing a decent amount instead.

If you are a female in the workforce, in college, or trying to get into the workforce in general, please do yourself a favor and pick this book up! There was so much helpful advice in this book that I’m thinking of reading it again to bookmark helpful passages. Honestly, I might buy friends this book for birthdays in the future. That’s how much I recommend this book.

When's Happy Hour by the Betches

Description from GoodReads

“We get it. You run shit. You can go from being blackout at drunk brunch to being ready to meet your new boyfriend’s parents in two seconds. But how do you go from being the boss of your personal life to taking charge of your career? That’s where the Betches come in.

So whether you’re trying to become a CEO, navigate an office hookup, or just save enough money to go to happy hour twice a week, we’re here to help. It’s time to channel your inner Elle Woods, Miranda Priestly, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Per our last email, you better read this.”

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Details

5/5 stars

352 pages

Three Women

Another book about how love and sex relate. I told you I was interested in the topic. 

This book came out in the middle of this year and really exploded in libraries and book clubs. I know because I still worked at the library when this book was released and put it on hold before it even came out and didn’t get it until three months later.

A lot of the reviews said this book had no plot, but I don’t know how they think that. Each girl’s story is a story in itself. You get to see how sex and love interrelate through the eyes of Maggie, Lena, and Sloane. And honestly? I could relate a lot to each girl.

It felt so refreshing to feel validated in what I feel and think is normal, even if it’s not normal per se. For example, this book shows how women can be tricked into thinking the man is always in charge and if they do anything wrong the relationship will be over. The certain “rules” of the relationship and never questioning whether they are wrong or right. They are “too in love” to notice. 

I could go on and on about this book. If I ever get bored I could write a whole thesis about how this book affected me personally. I would recommend this to any woman who wants to be liberated and any man who wants to learn more about how some females view sex and relationships.

Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

Description from GoodReads

“It thrills us and torments us. It controls our thoughts and destroys our lives. It’s all we live for. Yet we almost never speak of it. And as a buried force in our lives, desire remains largely unexplored—until now. Over the past eight years, journalist Lisa Taddeo has driven across the country six times to embed herself with ordinary women from different regions and backgrounds. The result, Three Women, is the deepest nonfiction portrait of desire ever written.

We begin in suburban Indiana with Lina, a homemaker and mother of two whose marriage, after a decade, has lost its passion. She passes her days cooking and cleaning for a man who refuses to kiss her on the mouth, protesting that “the sensation offends” him. To Lina’s horror, even her marriage counselor says her husband’s position is valid. Starved for affection, Lina battles daily panic attacks. When she reconnects with an old flame through social media, she embarks on an affair that quickly becomes all-consuming.

In North Dakota we meet Maggie, a seventeen-year-old high school student who finds a confidant in her handsome, married English teacher. By Maggie’s account, supportive nightly texts and phone calls evolve into a clandestine physical relationship, with plans to skip school on her eighteenth birthday and make love all day; instead, he breaks up with her on the morning he turns thirty. A few years later, Maggie has no degree, no career, and no dreams to live for. When she learns that this man has been named North Dakota’s Teacher of the Year, she steps forward with her story—and is met with disbelief by former schoolmates and the jury that hears her case. The trial will turn their quiet community upside down.

Finally, in an exclusive enclave of the Northeast, we meet Sloane—a gorgeous, successful, and refined restaurant owner—who is happily married to a man who likes to watch her have sex with other men and women. He picks out partners for her alone or for a threesome, and she ensures that everyone’s needs are satisfied. For years, Sloane has been asking herself where her husband’s desire ends and hers begins. One day, they invite a new man into their bed—but he brings a secret with him that will finally force Sloane to confront the uneven power dynamics that fuel their lifestyle.”

Details

5/5 stars

304 pages

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So there you have it, the eight best books I read in 2019. I hope you found a new book to add to your TBR! If not, maybe you read some of the same books as me? If so comment below and we can talk books!

What was the best book you read this year?

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Best Books of 2019: Reviews of nine books that came out around 2019
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