Everything I've read in 2019

My goal for this year is to read 50 books, and I’m keeping a record of all the books I’ve read including their reviews right here. Keep coming back to this post for all my recommendations as I read them!

Please note that if you buy any of these books using the Amazon links included, I receive a tiny commission for your purchase. This does not impact the price you pay in any way. As always, I’m very honest about my reviews of all these books. Personally, I get most of these electronically or real paper books from my library, except where the wait is way too long and I end up buying them on Amazon.

Support your local library!!! But if you do end up buying them, I would love if you consider buying them via the links I’ve provided! And remember, you can always donate your books at your local Goodwill or similar or via a Little Free Library in your neighborhood. Or share them with a friend or family member!

 

Good Luck Charm: Helena Hunting

Lilah and Ethan had a magical, fairytale teen romance, until Ethan landed his dream career as an NHL player and unceremoniously dumped Lilah, to never talk to her again.

Now Ethan is back, and deeply regretful of the time they’ve lost, and beings to woo Lilah back.

This book was described as “outrageously sexy” by Entertainment Weekly and was a pick in PopSugar’s “Hold On to the Hot Days of Summer with these 12 Sexy new books” - these descriptions are accurate.

Enjoy.

Overall grade: A-

 
The Good Luck Charm
By Helena Hunting

The Thousandth Floor: Katharine McGee

It’s 2118 in Manhattan, and Central Park has been replaced by a giant 1000 story apartment building - if you can call it that. It’s more like a giant city, where the 0.001% occupy the highest floors.

Within this city, we follow 5 major characters: Leda Cole - a beautiful, drug-addicted teen, Eris Dodd-Radson who finds herself out of her beautiful gilded life and unceremoniously relocated to lower floors, orphan Rylin Myers who finds a life-changing job on a higher floor, Watt Bakradi the hacker genius, and Avery Fuller, who lives a seemingly magical life on the top floor. And oh, there’s a murder.

If you LOVED gossip girl, you need to read this book. This is book 1 in a trilogy, and you will want to immediately read book 2.

Overall grade: A

 
The Thousandth Floor
By Katharine McGee

The Unhoneymooners: Christina Lauren

Olive is the most unlucky woman in the world. She was recently fired from her job, and is wearing the most hideous dress to her sister Ami’s wedding, and has to spend the day with her sworn enemy, the best man Ethan.

Then the whole wedding party gets food poisoning from bad shellfish and Olive finds herself on her sister’s free honeymoon with Ethan. Has Olive’s luck changed?

This is another sweet, light beach read. It’s not my favorite Christina Lauren romance, but this is a great way to entertain yourself at the beach/pool.

Overall grade: B+

 
The Unhoneymooners
By Christina Lauren

Again, but Better: Christine Riccio

Shane has been doing college all wrong. All she does is study and go home - she’s got great grades but not a whole lot else to show for her college experience. So she decides to spend a semester abroad in London - think of it as a do-over.

I picked up this book because I love the somewhat Sliding Doors concept and the Anglophile in me LOVES a book set in London. But 50 pages in and I just couldn’t do it. This book is written like a bad diary - full of weird tangents and so so boring.

Overall grade: D. Did not finish.

 
Again, but Better: A Novel
By Christine Riccio

Meet Cute: Helena Hunting

Kailyn Flowers grew up having a crush on child actor Daxton Hughes. As an adult, Kailyn quite literally runs into Daxton, her new classmate and academic rival at college.

Later as adults, she runs into him again and this time Dax needs her help - tragic circumstances have led to him becoming legal guardian for his teen sister. Business meetings turn flirty… and well, you can see where this is going.

This book is a really perfect beach read - if you’re looking to devour some brain candy over the course of a day, this is an excellent pick.

This book was featured on PopSugar and Entertainment Weekly.

Overall grade: A

 
Meet Cute
By Helena Hunting

A Court of Thorns and Roses: Sarah J. Maas

Feyre’s family’s survival depends on her ability to hunt and kill. One day she kills a wolf, who happens to be a faerie in disguise. Bound by a centuries-old treaty between humans and faeries, she is forcibly taken to live in faerie kingdom by a masked faerie. There is dark curse controlling faerie-land and Feyre finds herself in the middle of it.

I love a good dystopian book and this book has a definite Hunger Games meets Twilight vibe meets Beauty and the Beast.

I really enjoyed this one - excited to read Book 2 in the series.

Overall grade: A

 

Her Royal Highness (Royals Book 2): Rachel Hawkins

This book is the second book in the Royals series and although some of the characters cross over, you don’t need to read book 1 to follow along with this one.

American Millie Quint applies to her final year of high school in Scotland, where she’s roomed up with Flora, princess of Scotland. Although the two ladies take an initial dislike to each other, turns out there’s actually a little something deeper between them.

It’s very refreshing to see LGBTQ characters in a YA romance - my only regret is that I read this too soon after reading Royals so it felt a little repetitive.

Overall grade: B+

 
Her Royal Highness (Royals)
By Rachel Hawkins

Pride, Prejudice and Other Flavors: Sonali Dev

The Rajes are an Indian family, descended from royalty, who live in San Francisco. One of the daughters, Dr. Trisha Raje is an acclaimed neurosurgeon, treating a young woman with a challenging brain tumor. She meets chef DJ Caine at a family event for her brother (who is running for office) and sparks fly. Turns out Dr. Raje’s patient is DJ’s sister.

So overall, this title is quite misleading - it has very little to do with the original Pride and Prejudice, except for large families and complicated family dynamics. It’s fun if you like family sagas and modern romances with a diverse cast of characters.

Overall grade: B+

 

Royals by Rachel Hawkins

Daisy Winters is an ordinary Florida teen. Except her sister Ellie is marrying the Prince of Scotland, and now the tabloids want a piece of Daisy too. Daisy and Ellie and the Royal Family decide that it’s best for Daisy to spend the summer in Scotland. Will Daisy fall in love with the prince’s younger brother, or is there someone else who will catch her eye.

This book is a lot of escapist fun. If you loved The Princess Diaries, this is a fun series in the same vein.

Overall grade: B+

 
Royals
By Rachel Hawkins

Pitch Perfect by Bill McGowan

Lest you think that all I’ve been reading are romance books, I also read a professional development book on being a better speaker. I’ve been through media training before and found that my training made a real difference in my communication skills. I love public speaking, and I’m always looking to do more, but I’m also constantly seeking ways to be a more engaging speaker. This book was a very quick read that left me with some immediately actionable tips to continue to improve my skills.

Whether you’re interviewing for a new job, making a pitch to a client, presenting to your company’s leadership, fundraising for your new idea or venture, speaking at a conference, or even making a dinner toast, this book will help you improve your skills and make an impact.

Overall grade: A

 

The Bollywood Bride by Sonali Dev

This book is a stand-alone sequel to A Bollywood Affair - you don’t need to read this first book to read this one. I’m going to start off this review by saying that I can’t be unbiased because this book is basically written to be a Bollywood movie, and I’m so shocked that it hasn’t been option yet.

Bollywood starlet Ria Parker flies back to Chicago for her cousin’s wedding, and crosses paths with her first (and only) love Vikram Jathar. Years earlier she had fled their relationship without an explanation leaving him heartbroken. Will their relationship blossom once again, and will she still protect her deep family secrets?

See? So Bollywood. This book made me nostalgic for Mumbai and also described the Indian-American lifestyle in stunning detail.

Overall grade: A

 
The Bollywood Bride
By Sonali Dev

Pretty Face by Lucy Parker

TV actress Lily Lamprey is trying to make her mark on London’s theater scene with her first West End production helmed by legendary director Luc Savage. As the romance between them bubbles, how will Lily ensure that she’s not accused of sleeping her way to the top?

This is one of those young actress, older director romances - it’s ok, but I’ve read much better romances this year - you can scroll down to see them.

Overall grade: C+

 

Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

If you need an entertaining, smart romance, any of Christina Lauren’s book will easily satisfy that itch, and Josh and Hazel are no exception. Josh and Hazel first met in college when she unceremoniously threw up on his shoe. Years later, she’s BFF’s with his sister and they run into each other at a party. Vowing to be just friends they are each other’s wing-person as they set up dates for each other. And of course, they are the last to know that the person they should be dating is right in front of them the whole time.

There’s a small plot twist at the end, and was honestly the first book since The Idea of You where I actually cared about the two main characters. Perfect beach read.

Overall grade: A-

 

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

This book has been described as a “modern Bridget Jones” but I’m here to tell you that this book is nothing like Bridget Jones. Sure both women are 20-something female protagonists who are single, but that’s where all the similarities end. Queenie deals with sexism, feminism, race issues, mental illness and the immigrant experience all in one book. Some reviews have described it as laugh out loud, but I honestly did not laugh. However, we all know those friends who make seemingly bad decision after bad decision, and that was what I felt like reading Queenie. All that said, it’s a well-written book, certainly one worth reading.

Overall grade: A-

 
Queenie
By Candice Carty-Williams

Sophia of Silicon Valley by Anna Yen

Recent grad Sophia Young gets fired from her job at an investment bank, but finds herself working as a paralegal in a law firm that specializes in IPOs. From there, she finds herself working for genius (but difficult personality) Scott Kraft as his VP of Investor Relations.

There are a decent amount of financial terms in this book, so you may have to look some of them up if you’re unfamiliar. Other than that, I really enjoyed this book for the first half. And then it just kinda got repetitive. Sophia is smart and has a lot of sass, and most of the book is her sassing her bosses, who are all “complicated” or “challenging” and frankly sound like terrible managers. And then there’s this weird sub-thread about Sophia dating and wanting to get married but she really doesn’t want to get married - i lost the plot a little there. And then the final 20% of the book is kinda a throwaway.

Overall grade: B-

 

Lethal White by Robert Galbraith

I listed to the audiobook for this one and it is over 25 hours long!!! This is book four in J.K. Rowling’s Cormoran Strike series written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, and well, I’m invested.

Like her other stories under this banner, they start off slow, but her writing keeps me engaged from the start. The book usually picks up midway, and then there’s a rush to all the revelations at the end. I don’t recommend picking up this book unless you’ve read the others in the series - this really needs to be a sequential read.

Overall grade: A

 

Help Me by Marianne Power

I started reading this book thinking it was a humorous story of one woman’s attempt to live her life as dictated by self-help books, and oh my god, this is not that book.

So, it’s true that our author Marianne initially believes it will be the aforementioned story, but turns our Marianne’s life is way more complicated and the self-help books don’t do a whole lot to help her at all. In an age when we’re all seeking health, happiness and success, what role do self-help books play in our lives, and do they even work?

Overall grade: B+

 
Help Me!
By Marianne Power

Confess by Colleen Hoover

Auburn Reed has a complicated history, and randomly walks into an art gallery owned by Owen Gentry, who hires her on the spot. The two grow close, but they both have secrets - oh the conflict. Meh.

In full disclosure, it is possible that I’m bored by this book because I LOVED The Idea of You (scroll to the next book) so much, and this happened to be the book that had the misfortune to follow it. But I found Auburn and Owen so boring compared to Solene and Hayes that I I just couldn’t get into this book.

Overall grade: C+

 
Confess: A Novel
By Colleen Hoover

The Idea of You by Robinne Lee

This. Book.

Solene Marchand is a 39 year old divorcee with a pre-teen daughter who co-owns an art gallery in LA that features underrepresented artists. She ends up meeting Hayes Campbell, the 20-year old star of the world famous boy band August Moon. (This is not explicitly based on Harry Styles or One Direction, but you definitely notice the similarities.) And that’s the start of a whirlwind, sexy romance that will take you across the globe.

There’s a lot of foreshadowing in the book, so you will not be surprised, but it’s a beautiful, fun ride to the end!

This will probably be my favorite book this year - I bought the paperback just so I could swing back and read a chapter whenever I want.

Overall Grade: A+

 

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Dimple Shah is a young Indian American high-school student who is going off to college next year, but wants to spend her summer doing a coding program at a nearby university. Dimple’s family is pretty traditionally Indian, and are focused on her finding a “suitable Indian match” to marry after college. Dimple however, has other ideas. Anyway, there’s a meet-cute and she meets Rishi Kapoor, a young artist (but he won’t admit that’s what he wants) who is attending the same coding program.

I rolled my eyes at the first 50 pages or so of the book. I didn’t grow up in a traditional Indian family at all, so as I read the first few pages I thought I knew exactly how this was going to go - like a very cliched Bollywood movie. And then the book really surprised me. turning into this very sweet story about feminist Dimple, and shockingly, equally feminist Rishi. A thoroughly enjoyable YA read.

Overall grade: A

 
When Dimple Met Rishi
By Sandhya Menon

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

Jamie Watson is attending Sherringford prep school on a rugby scholarship, which also happens to be the same school that Charlotte Holmes attends. The descendants of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson team together to solve a murder mystery. Yes, this is another YA book.

If you’re a fan of Sherlock Holmes, you will enjoy this book! A well done modern take on a beloved series.

Overall grade: A

 

Fresh Off the Boat by Eddie Huang

First off, I don’t know if this book is at all related to the TV show - I haven’t watched it yet, but plan to do that at some point. This book is Eddie Huang’s memoir - Eddie is the owner and founder of the wildly popular Baohaus in New York City. Eddie tells the story of growing up with immigrant parents in Orlando, with his brothers, and friends, and bullies. And his unexpected journey to Baohaus.

Overall grade: B+

 

Bone in the Throat by Anthony Bourdain

Did you know Anthony Bourdain wrote fiction? Bone in the Throat is the story of the mob in the New York City restaurant scene. If you are interested in the restaurant business and like a mild crime story, you will be entertained by this book.

However, there is one small issue - this book could do with better editing. There are a few typos that are pretty annoying, but if you can overlook them, this book is worth reading.

I read it with Boudain’s voice in my head - RIP Anthony Bourdain. Your voice is missed.

Overall grade: B+

 
Bone in the Throat
By Anthony Bourdain

The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza

Imogen Tate has successfully battled breast cancer, but as she returns to her work as editor of Glossy Magazine, she’s not prepared for magazine’s move to a more digital platform. Led by her former intern and freshly minted MBA Eve, Imogen finds herself in unfamiliar territory.

I love this book because i LOVE magazines, and it breaks my heart that so many of them are folding. This story gave me hope that maybe they will evolve to a different form and not disappear completely.

Overall grade: B+/A-. So fun and enjoyable, perfect beach read.

 
The Knockoff: A Novel
By Lucy Sykes, Jo Piazza

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

Nadia and Saeed fell in love in a hopeless place - a country on the brink of civil war. As their love affair unfolds, so does the city they call home - violence rocks the city at every turn. Nadia and Saeed decide it’s time to leave, and enter a new homeland through a door.

This book is almost poetic in the way it deals with complicated issues like war and refugees and immigration. It gave me so much empathy for why people choose to leave their homeland and what it means to try and start over again.

Overall grade: A

 
Exit West: A Novel
By Mohsin Hamid

The Futures: Anna Pitoniak

A coming of age love story of two college sweethearts who move to New York City in 2008 to start the next chapter of their lives. Evan, from small town Canada, is starting his career at a prestigious hedge fund, while beautiful and wealthy Julia is adrift. And this won’t be a spoiler alert, but we all know what happened at the end of 2008.

I liked this book because it reminded me of being in my early 20s and staring out my career. Mine was in Chicago, but the sentiments were the same. Confusion, hope, optimism, rejection — all those emotions and situations that felt so much more complicated at the time.

Overall grade: B

 
The Futures
By Anna Pitoniak

How to be a Husband: Tim Dowling

I decided to read this book because Jessie Ware and her mum had Tim Dowling on their podcast Table Manners and I was very entertained by him, and his weekly column for the Guardian . So I figured I would be similarly entertained by his book!! Alas….

I was pretty entertained for the first third, and then I just got bored. I’m starting to realize that the people I like to read for short stories, are not the same people I like to read for 300+ pages of them effectively telling the same story.

Overall grade: C. It was fine, but didn’t hold my interest and I skipped a few chapters.

 
How to Be a Husband
By Tim Dowling

Truly Devious: Maureen Johnson

This is book one YA book series, and I make no apologies for reading and enjoying it.

Ellingham Academy is a private school in Vermont, created by an eccentric millionaire who loses his wife and daughter in an unsolved mysterious kidnapping. In the current day, Stevie Bell is a student at Ellingham, and an amateur detective. As our young heroine starts to dig into what happened that night of the kidnapping at Ellingham, there’s another murder.

The book’s ending is a cliffhanger, but if it makes you feel better, book two of this series is out already.

Overall rating: A. Solidly enjoyable and entertaining

 
Truly Devious: A Mystery
By Maureen Johnson

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Aging movie star Evelyn Hugo hires writer Monique Grant to tell her life’s story - the story of her move to Los Angeles in the 50s, her rise to stardom, and the seven husbands she married and divorced along the way. And the secret love that was hidden from the rest of the world.

Now if it sounds like this could be a fictional account of Elizabeth Taylor’s life, there are some parallels - the number of husbands, Evelyn and Elizabeth’s beauty and fame, but that’s about it.

This book was so enjoyable I couldn’t read it fast enough!

Overall Grade: A

 

The Proposal: Jasmine Guillory

Nik is at a baseball game with her boyfriend of 5 weeks, who decides to propose on the scoreboard!! She says no (understandably) and in the ensuing chaos of camera crews, is rescued by Carlos, a handsome doctor who happens to be attending the game with his sister.

I picked this book because it sounded like a fun romance, with two diverse characters, but the writing was so tedious that I quit about 100 pages in. The dialogue between the Nik and Carlos is so awkward, and Nik’s inner dialogue is so awkward — I think I just didn’t really resonate with Nik!

Overall Grade: D. Did not finish.

 
The Proposal
By Jasmine Guillory

Match Making for Beginners: Maddie Dawson

Marnie lives in California with her fiancé Noah, and they get divorced a mere two weeks after their wedding. Marnie moves back home to Florida when she learns that Noah’s aunt Blix has left her a house in Brooklyn NY (this is not quite as far fetched if you read the book).

Anyway, Marnie moves to Brooklyn and her whole life changes. This book isn’t really a romance, more a story of taking the unknown path and the power of friendship. And it’s like a Hallmark Christmas movie in reverse (small town girl moves to the big city and lives her dreams rather than the other way around), which I appreciate.

You have to have some respect or belief in the “woo” to enjoy this book, and you have to suspend reality more than a little. If you’re not someone who can do that, you might hate this book, but I quite enjoyed it. Sweet and light, like a milkshake.

Overall Grade: B+

 

Paddle Your Own Canoe: Nick Offerman

I’m going to preface this by saying that I absolutely loved Nick Offerman’s portrayal on Ron Swanson in Parks and Rec, which is why I wanted to listen to this audiobook.

Part memoir, part life-advice, part rant, Nick Offerman shares his view on everything from feminism, to the separation of church and state, his love for woodworking, why you should have a hobby where you create something, the value of getting outdoors, and his love for his wife Megan Mullally. It’s entertaining, but honestly, it would be more entertaining if it were 25% shorter. I’ve found this to be a running theme among most books written by funny people (except Mindy Kaling, who can do no wrong) - what works as an hour set just doesn’t work as a 400 page book. It is too much material, and reading observational comedy just doesn’t work as well as listening to it (even when it’s an audiobook).

Overall grade: B-

 

influencer by Brittany Hennessy

This qualifies as my professional development reading. It’s a really interesting look at what it means and what it takes to be an influencer. Incidentally, for the purpose of this book, you’re not really an influencer unless you’re exceeding the 10,000 follower mark. There are some really good tips for aspiring influencers, and I’ve already used some of the tips to change some things around on my website, so it’s not a waste of time if you’re not at 10,000+ followers yet.

Incidentally, I also happened to read this book right at the time this crazy influencer drama broke, which made it even more entertaining.

Overall grade: B+

 
 

Little White Lies by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Eighteen year old Sawyer Taft grew up with a single mother, not knowing her dad, and never having known her mother’s family. One day her maternal grandmother approaches her with a proposition: spend 9 months living with her and going through the Debutante process, and she will receive $500,000 - more than enough to pay for college. Sawyer agrees. What comes next is some super entertaining 1% drama while Sawyer searches for her dad. If you were a fan of Gossip Girl, you will love this book. I love a good trashy read, and this did not disappoint.

Overall grade: A-

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

I loved this book so much. It’s like a reverse Pretty Woman with a twist. This book is a sexy love story, and the heroine is on the autism spectrum. Her autism is treated with sensitivity, unsurprising, since the author herself is on the autism spectrum. In turns funny, charming, and sexy, this book is such a fun read. Highly recommend.

Overall Grade: A+

 
The Kiss Quotient
By Helen Hoang