How Do You Measure of a Year? In Books, Of Course!

The last few days while everyone else was sharing their reflections on their year in reading, I was scrambling to complete my Goodreads goal and editing podcast episodes (*cue confetti* *have a nap waiting in the wings*). I don’t like to review a year until I’m in the new year, anyway.

As you’ll see in my stats, my reading for the challenge was heavily weighted one way. While I enjoyed the books I read and look forward to reading more of the same in 2019, I want to make sure I read more of other genres I love this year. I’ll share my new reading goals in a separate post. On the positive side, I upped the number of books I wanted to read in 2018 by 15 books, and I met my goal! Without further ado, here’s my year in books *:

Books read: 65

Library books finished: 3

Read What You Own Books (that I know I owned before 2018): 6

Review/Launch Team Books: 7

Fiction: 58

Non-Fiction: 7

Romance: 54

-Romantic Suspense: 14

-Contemporary Romance: 38

-Historical Romance: 2

Non-Romantic Fiction: 4

Memoir/Autobiography: 6

These stats provide a good snapshot of my year, but for a more accurate picture, I wanted to spotlight some notable books.My affiliate links are included.

First book finished*: The Trophy Husband by Lynne Graham
This was a quick, fun read that reeked of 90’s romance tropes. If you can appreciate it for what it is–trope soup, limited POV, and 90s level of understanding of masculinity/femininity/happily ever after–it’s a fast and funny book.

Last book read: Barracoon by Zora Neale Hurston

I really ended the year on a high note. I LOVED this book! This book combines many elements of my favorite reads: Zora Neale Hurston; Anthropological/Ethnographical study; a personal story told in the subject’s voice; a snapshot of an interesting time in history, etc. This story is an important one, and I’m thankful it has finally been published and disseminated.

Better Than Expected: Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

This book had some pretty harsh reviews, but I like Anne Tyler and retellings of classics are some of my favorite stories, so I decided to give this one a try. If you’re a fan of Taming of the Shrew or Ten Things I Hate About You, you might like this retelling set between academia and daycare.

FOMO Reads of 2018: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman and I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell

I heard these two books recommended several times on What Should I Read Next. I caved to FOMO and read both, and I’m glad I did! Both of these books lived up to the hype. Eleanor is funny and endearing, and Maggie O’Farrell’s memoir is gripping and reflective in an engaging way. I highly recommend both.

Best Book for Book Lovers: I’d Rather be Reading by Anne Bogel

If you love all things books and reading, you must read this book! Anne beautifully portrays many of the joys and dilemmas of the reading life. This book is a beautiful celebration of all the things I love about literature.

Series I enjoyed this year:

The Precinct Series by Julie Miller

I read many books in this series in 2016, but I read the backlist and became current on this series in 2018. If you love romantic suspense, seeing your favorite characters in several different books, mini-series within a larger series, and heroes/heroines with real world conflicts and complications, then I highly recommend this series.

Mirror Lake Series by Kathryn Springer
This inspirational romance series was wonderful. The characters were realistic and made me root for them. Springer made the town and its inhabitants come alive, and the conflicts were just as realistic. If you’re a fan of inspirational romances set in a small close knit town involving a core group of characters, then give this six book series a try.
Get in My Kindle picks I’ve Read: Butterface by Avery Flynn and I’d Rather be Reading by Anne Bogel (I also listened to the audiobook of Remember God by Annie F. Downs, but I’m not counting this as I plan to read the physical copy)


I’ve read a few of Avery Flynn’s other books, and Butterface had the humor and heart I’ve come to expect from her. If you like hot romantic comedies (and the heat level is pretty high on this one), you might like this first book in The Hartigans series. Book two, Muffin Top, is also out now, and book three, Tomboy, will release February 18, 2019.

The books I’m Most Looking Forward to in 2019:

Inheritance by Dani Shapiro
You can read my post on this book here.
The Next Right Thing by Emily P. Freeman
Read my reasons for looking forward to this The Next Right Thing here.

MY BOOK!!!!!
121418_SS Front CoverI’ve been holding this news in for months! If you’re an email subscriber, you might have heard about this book already, but I wanted to officially announce it to my By Her Shelf readers. The Speaking Season: Poems and Pieces, my first poetry collection, will be releasing this month! If you’re a fan of poetry, this book is a must have for your collection. More details to come soon!

*Note: I don’t track my progress/read status for every book I read through Goodreads. Sometimes I forget. Sometimes I don’t want to share what I’m reading. This post was created using my 2018 Goodreads Reading Challenge statistics. It’s by no means definitive, but it’s mostly accurate.

Get in My Kindle: Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

Title: Nine Perfect StrangersNine Perfect Strangers

Author: Liane Moriarty

Release Date: November 6, 2018

Description:

Could ten days at a health resort really change you forever? In Liane Moriarty’s latest page-turner, nine perfect strangers are about to find out…

Nine people gather at a remote health resort. Some are here to lose weight, some are here to get a reboot on life, some are here for reasons they can’t even admit to themselves. Amidst all of the luxury and pampering, the mindfulness and meditation, they know these ten days might involve some real work. But none of them could imagine just how challenging the next ten days are going to be.

Frances Welty, the formerly best-selling romantic novelist, arrives at Tranquillum House nursing a bad back, a broken heart, and an exquisitely painful paper cut. She’s immediately intrigued by her fellow guests. Most of them don’t look to be in need of a health resort at all. But the person that intrigues her most is the strange and charismatic owner/director of Tranquillum House. Could this person really have the answers Frances didn’t even know she was seeking? Should Frances put aside her doubts and immerse herself in everything Tranquillum House has to offer – or should she run while she still can?

It’s not long before every guest at Tranquillum House is asking exactly the same question.

Combining all of the hallmarks that have made her writing a go-to for anyone looking for wickedly smart, page-turning fiction that will make you laugh and gasp, Liane Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers once again shows why she is a master of her craft.

Why I Can’t Wait to Read: I have a confession to make. I haven’t read or watched Big Little Lies. This oversight is probably worth a FOMO book post where I invite you to tell me whether or not it’s worth it, but at the moment I’m simply establishing the fact I am not a Liane Moriarty fan. I’ve heard the name, but to be honest, I think of the arch nemesis of Sherlock Holmes before the #1 New York Times Bestselling author.

What intrigues me about this book isn’t name recognition or a particularly well thought out title (Although the title is reminiscent of the original title of an Agatha Christie mystery that was renamed, and the prospect of reading a book like that is exciting. Perhaps the title is ironic and the characters are either not strangers or not as perfect as they seem. Operating on the book’s description, I can’t be sure. However, I reserve the right to a smug, knowing smile if either guess proves correct). The draw for me is the description.

I’m a big fan of character driven works. Having an attention grabbing premise is a good hook, but if you want to reel in a reader like me, you’re going to need to get me on the side of at least one character quickly. From the brief description of the main character, Frances, I think I’d love to follow her. She’s a former bestseller, which makes me wonder why she isn’t a bestseller now. She’s nursing a bad back (how old is she) and a broken heart (who broke her heart? Does that factor into the story). Then we’re given the curious detail of the “exquisitely painful paper cut,” when her back and broken heart aren’t given such descriptors. It’s not surprising that a writer would be intrigued by the other people at the health resort, but the teasing hint of danger at the end, should she run while she still can?, well, that is surprising.

If Ms. Moriarty is as skilled a writer as the internet says she is, this may be a page turner I can’t put down until I know what happened and who’s behind it. It’s times like this I wish I had enough of a following to be sent ARCs of books like this for review, or be granted interviews with well known authors, because I would love to be ahead of the curve on this one.

If a potentially witty page turner with an interesting protagonist and a good bit of mystery thrown in strikes your fancy, pre-order your copy from Amazon using my affiliate links below:

Hardback:

Kindle:

Have you read anything by Liane Moriarity? Are you looking forward to Nine Perfect Strangers? Let me know your thoughts on this week’s pick in the comments

FOMO: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

FOMO posts are blog posts about the books that have been buzzed about, made the bestseller lists, won all the awards, are constantly cited as life-changing or industry shaping…and I haven’t read a word of them. These posts are my chance to explain why I haven’t jumped on the bandwagon, and your chance to tell me if I should. The book I’ve chosen for today has been mentioned on Anne Bogel’s much lauded podcast What Should I Read Next? and was featured in all the glossy magazines for their must read summer 2017 lists. Even fellow By Her Shelf contributor Alex of CatFairy Books can’t stop raving about it and recommending it. So why haven’t I read it yet? 

Title: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn HugoSeven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Release Date: June 13, 2017

Why I have FOMO: This book has been talked about and recommended by both glossy magazines and “serious” publications. It has glitz, glamour, and the backdrop of the golden era of Hollywood. The book smacks of Elizabeth Taylor and other starlets of old Hollywood. The buzz for the book is strong, but the premise is a stronger draw for me: an aging icon who chooses an unknown reporter to write her biography. There promises to be secrets, a look at the sacrifices of one woman to be the best, and some gut wrenching revelations. I should be all over this.

Why I haven’t read it yet: As I said, this book has been recommended in several places, and some of the recommenders have hinted at what the revelations might be, and let me tell you, nothing ruins a book (or movie) for me faster than hints or spoilers at the book’s central mystery. Not only does this ruin the reading experience for me, but this particular hint/spoiler is not something I’m interested in reading. I know I’m being vague, but that’s so I don’t ruin it for anyone else thinking of reading it (I’m a giver that way).

Also, a book with a mystery at its core always runs the risk of the mystery not living up to all the foreshadowing and hype around it. You get to the end and go “that’s it? I spent umpteen hours reading and speculating for that?”

Another reason I haven’t read it is because books with a historical element are hit or miss for me. Sometimes I can get into them, and sometimes I lose interest. I don’t mean books that were contemporary when they came out a long time ago (somehow this doesn’t bother me at all, especially if I love the premise), but stories that are contemporary that “harken back to a ‘simpler’ time.”

Here’s Alex’s endorsement of Evelyn Hugo:

This is the kind of book that I will never forget about. I have to say this book left a profound effect on me. Mrs. Reid’s book made me realize the fragility of life and that we must live our lives now. This book taught me to hold the people that I love close and to never take them for granted because even though we all want to be successful in life it shouldn’t be in the expense of others.

Evelyn Hugo taught me that we must take chances in our lives and that we don’t get many chances to make a mark in this world.

Evelyn Hugo is more than Evelyn Hugo the starlet and the one that America worships in cinematic history… This is about a woman that literally grabbed life by the balls and made incredibly hard decisions. She hardly apologized for the choices that she made in her life and she has ne regrette…(No regrets)…

Your turn: What do you think? Am I missing out by not reading The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo?