With the fall semester officially over, much of my December was spent reading and watching up TV. Unfortunately, I basically had a cold when I came home from school for winter break that lingered around until Christmas. It went back and forth from going away to getting worse over the course me having it, likely not being helped by my winter break job either.
In short, feeling a bit under the weather gave me more of an excuse to spend some time resting and catching up on all the books and TV shows. While I’m really content with the amount and the actual books I read, I’m also glad I spent a lot of time this month with family and best friends. I had such a great, but very busy fall semester with an already equally busy January and spring semester ahead that it’s been really nice to relax and recharge.
My December reading was primarily split between some (okay, two) fantasy conclusions and plenty of contemporary and contemporary romance.
Archenemies (Renegades #2) by Marissa Meyer | My Rating: 4/5 Stars
I’ve really enjoyed this superhero-inspired series from Marissa Meyer so far, although I feel that Archenemies suffered from middle book syndrome.
The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams | Rating: 5/5
My favorite read of the month, my love for The Bromance Book Club inspired the rest of my contemporary reading in December.
The Queen of Nothing (Folk of Air #3) | Rating: 2/5
I had such high hopes for The Queen of Nothing given my love for The Wicked King, but was unfortunately really dismayed with this trilogy conclusion.
One Day in December by Josie Silver | Rating: 5/5
The only strictly holiday read on my December TBR, I’m so glad I finally got to One Day in December because I loved it so much!
How to Build a Heartby Maria Padian (ARC) | Rating: 4.5/5
I also got a small start of my 2020 review reads with How to Build a Heart, which featured many of my favorite YA contemporary elements with its own twists.
Intercepted (Playbook #1) by Alexa Martin | Rating: 5/5
Hi my name is Haley of Fangirl Fury and sports romance is one of my new favorite genres, much in thanks to Alexa Martin’s Playbook series.
Many of you likely know by now that I love to create themed or different types of TBRs. One of my new-to-me TBRs in 2019 was a5 Star Predictions to-be-read list, in which I chose 6 backlist books that came out before 2019 that I believed would be 5 star reads for me. Out of the six books I chose, I only read 4 out of 6.
I still have to read Jennifer E. Smith’s The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. In an effort to get to more backlist titles on my TBR, I plan on picking it up from the library in 2020. I did not pick up I Was Born for This by Alice Oseman, partly because I lost interest in its synopsis, partly because my local library system does not have it and I’m not sure if I want to buy my own copy (it’s also not sold here in the US).I also created a 5 Star Prediction list for 2019 releasesandposted my results a few weeks ago.
I ended up enjoying all the books on my TBR. The books that ended up not receiving 5 stars were only slightly off.
My Correct Predictions
A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti-A Heart in a Body in the Worldbasically earned a 5 stars from me as soon as I started reading. I really couldn’t let go of this book, in love with its fantastic cast, story, and writing style. After surviving a horrific tragedy, Annabelle decides to run 2,700 miles across the country, followed by her grandfather and brother in a RV. It’s definitely a very relevant book, following a hot-button issue here in the US. While heart-breaking, Deb Caletti approached the situation and Annabelle’s reaction so incredibly well.
My Real Name is Hanna by Tara Lynn Masih- My Real Name is Hannawas such a unique historical fiction read set during the Holocaust, following a Jewish girl whose family is forced to go into hiding in the woods when the Gestapo raids their Ukrainian village. I learned so much while reading this book, all complimented by Tara Lynn Masih’s beautiful and vivid writing style.
2019, you were filled with so many books- 125 books as of today to be exact. Having read so many great reads this year, it was really hard to narrow down my favorites. The first draft of this post originally had over 40 books,! I decided to be on trend and narrow it down to my top 19 favorite books.
I read the most books in a year that I ever had in 2019. A lot of this was in thanks to my summer reading, basically reading (and yes, watching Netflix) during any free time that I had in between working two summer jobs and catching up with my best friends. While my school life was supremely busy both in the spring and fall, I’m very content with the fact that I was able to read at least four books each month- sometimes five to seven depending on how many papers I procrastinated on. In between the holidays, work, and Netflix, I’ve also spent time eating up some romantic contemporaries this December as well.
Despite the amount of books I’ve read, and the amount of favorites & honorable mentions on this list, I feel like I’ve become a more critical reader and ‘favorite book’ evaluator in 2019. Earning 5 stars was pretty hard in the Fangirl Fury book this year. At the same time, there are some 5 star books that I’ve read that aren’t exactly favorites of mine, and there are books that I didn’t give 5 stars that still stole my heart and became favorites.
American Royals by Katharine McGee
Katharine McGee’s American Royals was the Princess Diaries 2-like book I didn’t know I needed until upon reading. I’ve seriously fallen in love even more with this book in the months after I’ve finished. Set in a United States with a monarchy instead of a democracy, American Royals was the perfect blend of romance, politics, and family drama with such an addicting writing style.
Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett
If there’s one book on this list where I absolutely loved every element within, its Jenn Bennett’s Serious Moonlight. I definitely need to do a reread of all of Jenn Bennett’s YA books, but Serious Moonlight may just be my favorite book of hers! I related so much to the protagonist, Birdie, and I loved this book’s atmosphere and premise so much.
Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
Ninth House instantly become one of my favorite reads of 2019 as soon as I read its final sentence. I read and love a lot of books, but something about that ending made me realize that it had been such a long time that I had ‘this feeling’ of loving a book so much immediately right after finishing it. Ninth House is such an incredible blend of fantasy and literary fiction. I’m so excited to see where this series goes.
Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
The crowd favorite of the year, I loved Red, White & Royal Blue even before the hype really began. Like many of the books on this list, RWRB perfectly balanced all its elements, from political drama, family, friendship, and of course, the romance.
The Goal (Off Campus #4) by Elle Kennedy
New adult (and adult) romance is for sure one way to label my 2019 reading year, much in part to Elle Kennedy’s Off-Campus series. I particularly fell hard for the last book in the series, The Goal. I read The Goal over the course of two sittings, in love with the two main character’s chemistry and overall story. And yes, my fictional crush on Tucker likely has something to do with my love for this installment. Imprison the Sky (The Elementae #2) by A.C. Gaughen
Imprison the Sky is such a fantastic follow-up novel to A.C. Gaughen’s Reign the Earth. I’m usually not a fan of pirate books or books set-at-sea, but Imprison the Sky completely changed that for me. I loved how it interwove elements and charatcers from book #1 while introducing us to a new cast. The world-building and twists constantly kept me on the edge of my seat. Although I’m so sad that there are currently no plans for books #3 and #4, I highly recommend picking up these books!
Lovely War by Julie Berry
Julie Berry’s Lovely War is hands-down my favorite historical fiction read of the eyar. I didn’t read as much in the genre as I would have liked, but Lovely War easily made up for itself. Julie Berry’s writing style is absolutely beautiful. The book is narrated by Aphrodite and other Greek Gods, following four characters whose lives are interwoven with one another over the course of World War I.
Romance, especially sports romance, has been the name of most of my reading game in December. I also took a brief break in the romance and contemporary-ness by picking up one of the most anticipated YA fantasy conclusions this month as well.
One Day in December is one of my new favorite holiday reads. I absolutely devoured this book over one weekend in December and highly recommend binge-reading it over your holiday break. One day in December, Laurie falls in love at first sight with a man at bus stop, only never to see him again… until the next Christmas when Laurie’s best friend, Sarah, introduces her to her new boyfriend, Jack.
The book is narrated from Laurie’s third person perspective with a few chapters from Jack’s third person perspective and is told over the course of ten years. I really liked the book’s storytelling, as Josie Silver showed the most important or integral parts in all of the relationships. I also just genuinely enjoyed Josie Silver’s writing style, loving each character’s humor and the balance between plot and getting to know the characters. Each character really evolves and grows up from beginning to end. I really loved being able to follow along with each of their journeys. I wasn’t sure within the first few chapters if I was going to like it or not, but I soon fell into Laurie and Sarah’s friendship and humor. Despite the yes, major fact, that they are in love with the same guy, Sarah and Laurie have such a great female friendship. The whole falling in love with the same guy, not to mention the guy from the bus stop, trope may not be too realistic, but it really worked for this story. You begin to forget that that’s not only how Laurie first “met” Jack, but also Laurie’s feelings for Jack get lost as she begins to explore new relationships and opportunities.
Although One Day in December wasn’t all Christmas all the time, I still appreciated its holiday spirit. Many of the major events in the book happen during the holiday season, and most of the Christmas scenes were very atmospheric.
I look forward to picking up Josie Silver’s new release in March 2020, The Two Lives of Lydia Bird.
My craving for adult romance latest led me to one of the latest releases of 2019, The Bromance Book Club. The Bromance Book Club follows professional baseball star Gavin’s attempt to save his marriage. His teammates’ strategy? Use romance novels and the relationship development within them as inspiration in getting his wife back.
The Bromance Book Club’s unique premise absolutely delivered! The book really has all the elements, from friendship, family, sports, humor, marriage, raising kids, and sisterhood. Lyssa Kay Adams balances all of these elements in this new favorite rom-com of mine. There are definitely some steamy moments, but the book is really about Gaving rebuilding his relationship with Thea, and Thea learning to find the love and happiness in her marriage again. I think I really am a fan of the third person perspective, with this book alternating between Gavin and Thea’s perspectives. I also loved their relationships with the people in their own lives, with Del and Mack for Gavin and Liv for Thea.
In true Fangirl Fury fashion, I have enough anticipated releases for 2020 that I created two new releases lists! While on Friday I focused on all the contemporary booksI can’t wait to get on to my bookshelves, today I’ll be discussing my most anticipated YA and adult fiction books across a few genres.
The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu
Release Date: March 3
I feel like Marie Lu’s The Kingdom of Back has been on my TBR for forever and a half. While there are some fantasy/magical elements, The Kingdom of Back sounds so different than her other books. I love its historical and musical inspiration.
House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City #1) by Sarah J. Maas
Release Date: March 3
I’ve officially decided that I will be referring to Sarah J. Maas’ new book as House of Earth and Blood. Even though I still find myself calling it Crescent City in my head. In short, it’s not a bookish year without reading a SJM book and I couldn’t be more excited for her to enter the adult fantasy world.
Girls With Razor Hearts (Girls with Sharp Sticks#2) by Suzanne Young
Release Date: March 17
Girls with Sharp Sticks was one of my favorite non-contemporary reads of 2019, having loved its dystopian-like setting and feminist messages. I’ve been waiting for the follow-up, Girls With Razor Hearts, ever since finishing the first book!
Break Your Glass Slippers (You Are Your Own Fairy Tale #1) by Amanda Lovelace
Release Date: March 17
As a fan of Amanda Lovelace’s poetry, I’m really excited to see her take on a new companion poetry series in 2020. Break Your Glass Slippersis a modern retelling of Cinderella.
Check Please!, Book 2: Sticks and Scones by Ngozi Ukazu
Release Date: April 7
Check Please is my favorite webcomic, and I loved the first graphic novel edition back in 2018. I admit that I haven’t checked out the webcomic in a few months, so I’m excited to re-enter the Samwell hockey-playing world with this new graphic novel installment.
Is it that much of a surprise that this reader and fangirl has an anticipated releases list solely dedicated to contemporary books? As per usual, I am excited for SO many new contemporary books in 2020 across YA, new adult, and adult fiction. And never fear, I have another anticipated releases list with all the upcoming non-contemporary books I’m most excited about coming next week.
The Map From Here to There by Emery Lord
Release Date: January 7
The much anticipated sequel to The Start of Me and You, I have a feeling I’ll be rereading The Map From Here to There (live love my love for Max Watson) at some point in the new year, after reading it for review in 2019.
Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
Release Date: January 14
Hype for Emma Lord’s Tweet Cute has (appropriately) been all over YA Twitter, and I really want this one to be one of the first 2020 releases I pick up early next year.
The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper
Release Date: February 4
I’m so excited to read The Gravity of Us because it sounds super unique! It follows two teenage guys who are the sons of the astronauts involved in NASA’s first mission to Mars.
Of Curses and Kisses (St. Rosetta’s Academy #1) by Sandhya Menon
Release Date: February 18
Sandhya Menon is seriously blessing us contemporary YA readers in 2019 with two new books! Of Curses and Kisses is the first book in her new fairytale retelling series set at an elite boarding school.
Anna K by Jenny Lee
Release Date: March 3
An Anna Karenina retelling, Anna K sounds so extravagant. Many bloggers have especially loved its Gossip Girl and Crazy Rich Asians vibe.
Harley in the Sky by Akemi Dawn Bowman
Release Date: March 10
Many readers absolutely love Akemi Dawn Bowman’s Starfish, making me even more excited to pick up that and her upcoming release, Harley in the Sky. After a huge fight with her parents, Harley joins her family’s rival circus group to perform as a trapeze artist.
We Are the Wildcats by Siobhan Vivian
Release Date: March 31
The most anticipated book on my list, I have been basically waiting for another Siobhan Vivian book since I finished Stay Sweet in 2018. We Are the Wildcats has me especially intrigued thanks to my field-hockey playing self.
It’s not a Fangirl Fury December without the End of Year Book Survey! This survey was created by Jamie of the Perpetual Page Turner. The End of Year Book Survey is always the perfect way for me to look back on my bookish and bloggish year.
Number Of Books You Read: 125
I just wanted to note that this is the most amount of books that I’ve read in one year! My final count will come on January 1, as I of course plan on reading as many books as I can during winter break.
Number of Re-Reads: 5
Genre You Read The Most From: Contemporary
Best Book You Read In 2019? Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett and Ninth Houseby Leigh Bardugo
Maybe I’ll narrow my final favorite answer to one book chosen by the time my favorite books of the year post comes out.
Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
You’d Be Mine by Erin Hanh
Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?
Good!: The Grace Year by Kim Liggett
Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?
Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Best series you started in 2019?The Off-Campus Series by Elle Kennedy
Best Sequel of 2019? Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowelll
Best Series Ender of 2019? The Goal (Off-Campus #4) by Elle Kennedy
Favorite new author you discovered in 2019?
Jenn Marie Thorne
Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
Once the holiday season wraps up, I am definitely someone who suffers from the winter blues. No surprise here, but one of the things that cheers me up during the winter are of course new books!
Thee following books are all slated to come out in January and February 2020. I’ve read a few of them for review already and although full reviews will be coming in the new year, I’ll include some of my reading thoughts below.
I’ll be sharing my most anticipated reads for 2020 later over the next two weeks. Based on how many books I’m anticipating in 2020 across genres, I’m going to be publishing 2 anticipated 2020 releases lists this month!
Throw Like a Girl by Sarah Henning (January 7) – I love sports YA books, and Sarah Henning’s Throw Like a Girl reminded me why I need more of them in my life. When softball star Liv throws an ill-advised punch during a championship game, she finds herself forced to transfer to her rival high school and join the football team to prove that she’s a team player and deserves a spot on the school’s softball team. This book completely nailed its Friday Night Lights meets The Unexpected Everything premise.
The Map From Here to There by Emery Lord (January 7)-The Map From Here to There is the follow-up to Emery Lord’s much beloved The Start of Me and You. I had the opportunity to read an advance copy of The Map From Here to There earlier this summer. While it isn’t a new favorite of mine, I really enjoyed being back in the Start of Me and You world (aka being reunited with my fictional boyfriend, Max Watson), and I appreciated how this book was truly about growing up.
A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer (Cursebreakers #2) (January 7)-A Heart So Fierce and Broken is the highly anticipated sequel to Brigid Kemmerer’s A Curse So Dark and Lonely. A Heart So Fierce and Broken is another title that I fortunately had the chance to read early this summer and it’s already one of my favorite fantasy reads of 2020! The book is told from the perspective from one of the main characters from A Curse So Dark and Lonely, Grey, and the daughter of the rival kingdom, Lia Mara.
Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim (January 7)-Scavenge the Stars is a gender-swapped retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo– another classic I am not ashamed to admit I haven’t read- but I am really intrigued by this retelling’s fantasy setting.
I’m here today to admit that I didn’t get to all the series and books on my priority series TBR. And yes, I still deserve all the fangirl screams for the one series I didn’t get to at all. As you’ll see below, said series is an absolute must for my 2020 TBR plans. However, I’m really content with my series progress overall: having read the three series conclusions, starting one series, and starting a trilogy that had been on my TBR for far too long.
Completed Series Goals
The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden // The Winternight trilogy – Katherine Arden’s The Winter of the Witch was the first book that I completed on my 2019 series TBR. Overall, I loved the atmospheric writing and various relationship developments and character growth throughout the Winternight trilogy, although I expected a lot of disconnect from the main character and plot in the final installment.
The Toll by Neal Shusterman // The Arc of a Scythe trilogy – The most anticipated book on my series TBR, The Toll marks a bittersweet ending to my reading experience with the Arc of a Scythe trilogy. This series is worth all the hype and more, developing on so many plot threads and themes with each installment. The Toll wasn’t exactly what I had envisioned as the series conclusion when I first picked up Scythe, but I still absolutely loved it and was a really satisfying series finale.
Queen of Ruin by Tracy Banghart // Grace and Fury duology – I wish Tracy Banghart’s Grace and Fury duology got much more attention because this is such a fantastic feminist, dystopian-like series. This seems to be on theme with the series finales on this list, but I didn’t LOVE Queen of Ruinas much as I had hoped. I still really enjoyed it, but it lacked in climatic moments. However, having also re-read Grace and Fury this year, I have still have much love for the first book and the world-building within.
If there’s three things in life that I love it’s books, baking, and the holiday season- and it’s my forever mission to combine these three loves as often as I can! As many of you know, I always read holiday-inspired books during November and December. Last December, I read Christmas at the Cupcake Café, the standalone sequel to Jenny Colgan’s Meet Me at the Cupcake Café.
One of the reasons why I enjoy this series following a woman’s cupcake-inspired bakery is that it features real recipes at the start of its chapters. I’ve said in my reviews for both books that I’d love to try one of the recipes for myself. In honor of the holidays, I finally decided to revisit the book and test out the recipe for the Hot Chocolate Brownies featured in Chapter 13 of Christmas at the Cupcake Café! I’ve included recipe cards below, but I also recommend looking at my tips as well.