Top NINETEEN Tuesday: Favorite books I read in 2019

Happy Top Ten Tuesday! This week’s theme is favorite books I read in 2019. I feel like I haven’t talked about a lot of my favorites this year, so I’m excited to share them!

These are nineteen (not ten!) of my favorites, shared chronologically according to when I finished them.

Everyone’s a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too by Jomny Sun

Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

You by Caroline Kepnes

Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Bloom by Kevin Panetta

Kiss Number 8 by Colleen AF Venable

Lost At Sea by Bryan Lee O’Malley

Here by Richard McGuire

Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker & Wendy Xu

The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki

The Story That Cannot Be Told by J. Kasper Kramer

Sadie by Courtney Summers

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Because Internet by Gretchen McCulloch

Bad Blood by John Carreyrou

A Warning by Anonymous

Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? by Caitlin Doughty

Did you do your own Top Ten Tuesday post today? Feel free to leave your link in the comments and I’ll check it out! What were your favorites of 2019? Have you read any of these books? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Book Review: The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
Rating: ★★★★★
Links: AmazonTBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: March 6, 2018
Source: Borrowed

A young girl in Harlem discovers slam poetry as a way to understand her mother’s religion and her own relationship to the world. Debut novel of renowned slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo.

Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.

But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself.

So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out, much less speak her words out loud. But still, she can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.

Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.

I tend to avoid hyped books like the plague. Show me a book with 33,760 ratings and a 4.43 star Goodreads average and I will probably be very apprehensive about reading it. When averages are that good, I get scared away. What if I’m the only person on the entire planet who dislikes it?

Well, that fear is what happened with The Poet X. I knew it was supposed to be amazing. I’d read countless reviews saying so. So, naturally, I didn’t read it for a good year and a half. And then the mood struck, and I checked out the audiobook, which is narrated by the author and is absolutely incredible.

I am blown away. I loved this so much.

Xiomara’s struggle with religion really reminded me of my own feelings when I was her age. I’d been raised in a religious family, I’d gone to 13 years of Catholic school, and all of a sudden it was like these things I’d grown up taking as fact were now questions in my mind. I think this is a 100% normal and healthy thing that happens in your late teenage years and it was so nice to see that struggle showcased in such a well-written book.

Another thing that I thought the book addressed well was sexism and underlying misogyny. I appreciated that, more than anyone else in her life, it was Xiomara’s mother who perpetuated the idea that women needed to be pure and perfect in order to be desirable for marriage. (Because, of course, heterosexual marriage is The Most Important.) Even seemingly innocuous things that Xiomara does, like using a tampon instead of a pad, cause issues. And when she’s caught kissing a boy? Oh no.

I can really go either way with books that are written in verse. A lot of the time, it just feels like sentences broken up into several lines, but it really, really worked here. The emotion was right there, in every word, and Xiomara just felt so real. I already have a hold on With the Fire on High and can’t wait until I have the chance to experience that book too.

Have you read The Poet X? Is it on your TBR?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Book Review: Trinkets by Kirsten Smith

Trinkets by Kirsten Smith
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Links: AmazonTBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: March 12, 2013
Source: Borrowed

Sixteen-year-old Moe’s Shoplifters Anonymous meetings are usually punctuated by the snores of an old man and the whining of the world’s unhappiest housewife. Until the day that Tabitha Foster and Elodie Shaw walk in. Tabitha has just about everything she wants: money, friends, popularity, a hot boyfriend who worships her…and clearly a yen for stealing. So does Elodie, who, despite her goodie-two-shoes attitude pretty much has “klepto” written across her forehead in indelible marker. But both of them are nothing compared to Moe, a bad girl with an even worse reputation.

Tabitha, Elodie, and Moe: a beauty queen, a wallflower, and a burnout-a more unlikely trio high school has rarely seen. And yet, when Tabitha challenges them to a steal-off, so begins a strange alliance linked by the thrill of stealing and the reasons that spawn it.

Hollywood screenwriter Kirsten Smith tells this story from multiple perspectives with humor and warmth as three very different girls who are supposed to be learning the steps to recovery end up learning the rules of friendship.

Before I get into this review, I want to say one thing: Trinkets is not my kind of book. It’s not the kind of thing I’d willingly buy if I saw it in a bookstore and it’s not the kind of thing I’d really ever think I’d check out from the library, either. But because of the Netflix show, my best friend asked me if I’d read it, and of course my answer was no. Shortly after, I saw the audiobook on Overdrive, and since it’s only four hours long, I figured… why not.

Why not is because it’s not my kind of book.

And this isn’t like a one-star, worst thing I’ve ever read kind of review. At least I finished it, which is more than I can say for many other books I’ve started this week. It’s just that all of the girls have the exact same voice and they’re all terrible.

(breaking a sentence up
into a bunch of lines
so that it’s technically
written in verse
doesn’t mean that character’s voice
is distinct from everyone else’s)

Because, yes, I really would like to spend my work day listening to the story of three bored teenage girls who just want to gossip about shoplifting and sex. That’s what this book is about. Shoplifting and sex. There are, of course, a few other themes thrown in and then almost immediately discarded without any adequate resolution, like an abusive relationship, but overall, it’s about sex and shoplifting.

In fact, it’s so much about sex that there are frequent penis jokes throughout! One high school boy has a penis as big as a horse! Amazing! An actor gets an erection on stage and just keeps acting, my goodness, like it’s his job or something!!! There are also period jokes, because it’s so funny to laugh at women for their natural bodily functions! SHE NEEDED A TAMPON AT A DANCE, GUYS, HILARIOUS. LET’S ALL LAUGH AT HER.

I mean, somehow the book managed to be both very boring and have me irrationally hate every character at the same time. But, the thing is, it’s an easy book. It requires exactly zero thought or effort to read. If you just want to zone out and stare at a page or listen to an audiobook without making any mental effort whatsoever, this is your book. If you’re looking for the most unsatisfying ending possible, go for it. If you’re looking for something more than that, I have reviewed approximately four hundred or so books that are better than this.

I hope a lot of things changed with the Netflix adaptation, but I will not be watching it.

Have you read Trinkets? Have you watched the show?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Weekly Update

In case you missed it, here are this week’s blog posts:

I’ve been reading:

Recently acquired:

1 thing this week:

  • This last week was such a blur, but it was great! I’m looking forward to relaxing this weekend (just in time for more celebrations next week)!

Weekly playlist:

Since it’s the end of 2019, I figured I’d share a list of songs that kind of defined the year.

How was your week? What’s the best thing you read or listened to? Anything interesting happening in your life? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Mini-Reviews: Bittersweet, Make Me Bad, and Rhythm, Chord & Malykhin

Bittersweet by Sarina Bowen
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: October 1, 2019
Source: Borrowed

The new series is set in Vermont. True North is populated by the tough, outdoorsy mountain men that populate the Green Mountain State. They raise cows and they grow apples. They chop a lot of wood, especially when they need to blow off steam. (Beards are optional but encouraged.)

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the orchard.

The last person Griffin Shipley expects to find stuck in a ditch on his Vermont country road is his ex-hookup. Five years ago they’d shared a couple of steamy nights together. But that was a lifetime ago.

At twenty-seven, Griff is now the accidental patriarch of his family farm. Even his enormous shoulders feel the strain of supporting his mother, three siblings and a dotty grandfather. He doesn’t have time for the sorority girl who’s shown up expecting to buy his harvest at half price.

Vermont was never in Audrey Kidder’s travel plans. Neither was Griff Shipley. But she needs a second chance with the restaurant conglomerate employing her. Okay—a fifth chance. And no self-righteous lumbersexual farmer will stand in her way.

They’re adversaries. They want entirely different things from life. Too bad their sexual chemistry is as hot as Audrey’s top secret enchilada sauce, and then some.

I picked up Bittersweet purely because of my romanceopoly reading challenge, and since I expected to flat-out hate it, I ended up liking it a lot more than I’d expected. I’ve been meaning to read some of Sarina Bowen’s books for years, so I guess it’s a plus that I finally got the chance to.

Now, Bittersweet was fine. It started off well enough. I liked both Audrey and Griff. They definitely had chemistry and some good banter. I wanted to eat and drink everything that was mentioned in the book. The side characters were pretty likable as well. But then the book turned into a bunch of sex scenes in a row and kind of lost the plot and that’s one of my least favorite things to have happen in a romance novel.

Overall, this wasn’t a bad book, but it wasn’t necessarily what I was expecting, either.

#romanceopoly: uptown

Make Me Bad by R.S. Grey
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: March 7, 2019
Source: Purchased

I was issued a warning: stay away from Ben Rosenberg.

As Clifton Cove’s resident “king”, he thinks he’s entitled to anyone and anything.

The trouble is, I’ve spent my whole life following the rules and playing it safe. I know what it feels like to be the good girl. I’m the police chief’s daughter and a librarian—for adorable children, no less.

An all-nighter with a fictional hunk is about as exciting as my life gets until one day, fate decides to take pity on me and shove me straight into the path of Mr. Off-Limits himself.

Just as I suspected, every inch of him promises to be my demise. Up close, he’s tall, menacing—a lawyer who looks like he’ll bite. A well-behaved girl would do as she’s told and avoid him at all costs, but I’m overdue for a little rebellion.

So, I ignore the warning and throw caution to the wind. But Ben doesn’t just nudge me out of my comfort zone—he thrusts me into a dark corner and presses his hard body against mine, covering my mouth with his hand to ensure we don’t get caught sneaking around. In that moment, I finally understand why everyone thinks he’s going to ruin me.

To him, this is all a game.
He wants to tempt me with his dares and taunt me with his words.
I should play along. After all, I asked him to make me bad. I just never thought he’d take his job quite so seriously…

I love R.S. Grey’s books and, as expected, I loved the beginning of this one. I read the first half on a plane and had to try very hard to keep myself from laughing out loud at some of the things Madison said and did. Ben was just the right amount of “bad,” not so much that it was over the top, but just enough to keep things interesting. Madison and Ben had great chemistry, so I’m not really sure why I didn’t end up loving this book.

Maybe it’s because the whole “make me bad” thing disappears and then there’s just some drama that’s honestly pretty unbelievable. I’m not sure how to say this without spoilers, but as someone who’d been living on her own for seven years by the time I was 25 years old, I just didn’t understand how Madison still let her father control her life like that.

I ended up being a little disappointed with this one, but it was still really easy to read. I might not have loved this one, but I’m still excited to read whatever Rachel writes next.

#romanceopoly: bad boy circus

Rhythm, Chord & Malykhin by Mariana Zapata
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: August 21, 2015
Source: Borrowed

Twenty-six-year-old Gaby Barreto might be a lot of things (loyal, sarcastic, one of the guys and a pain in the butt depending on which family member you ask), but dumb isn’t one of them. When her twin brother invites her to go on tour as his band’s merch girl, she isn’t exactly screaming at the top of her lungs with joy.

With no job opportunities pounding on her door, an ex-boyfriend she would still like to castrate, and no end in sight to moving out of her parents’ house in Dallas… it would be dumb to say no to the chance of a lifetime. Two bands, three continents, one tour. Spending the next ninety-plus days with three beloved idiots and eight complete strangers shouldn’t be a big deal, right?

If only the singer of the headlining band didn’t have tattoos… a great personality… a fantastic body… and if he wasn’t so funny….

Let’s be real: Gaby never had a chance against Sacha Malykhin.

I’ve been meaning to read a Mariana Zapata book for a while, so when I had to read a rockstar romance and found this one available through Hoopla, I figured it was fate. I had zero expectations going into this and it turned out okay! It wasn’t the best book I’ve read all year, but I definitely didn’t hate it.

Sacha was a great hero. Above all else, he’s a great friend to Gaby and he always seemed to legitimately care about her. Gaby, on the other hand, frustrated me a little bit. It seemed like she’d put herself in these uncomfortable situations (like the hair thing??) for no reason, and she was also so frustratingly blind to Sacha’s feelings! I mean, I’m the kind of person that never believes someone likes them, but Gaby took it like fifteen steps further than me.

All in all, if you’re looking for a cute friends-to-lovers romance that is exceptionally slow burn (due mostly to Gaby being oblivious) then you might like this one.

#romanceopoly: downtown

Have you read any of these books? Have you read any good romances recently?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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