2019 Reading Reflection & 2020 Reading Goals

2019 has been a year of growth for me. I’ve learned so much about my reading preferences, stepped outside my comfort zone in exploring new genres, stepped up my blog and Instagram game, created my own book club, started going to author events, and have met some great bookish friends in the process.

Here were my 2019 goals:

  • GoodReads Reading Goal: Putting the goal at zero so I focus on books I truly want to read and not stress about getting to a specific number (updated as 1/8/19)
  • Join a book club I will enjoy and to meet new friends
  • Buy less books for myself – buy books for book swaps and utilize the library more

As for my GoodReads goal, I followed this and did not add a number I had to get to. Surprisingly, I surpassed the number of books I’ve read the past couple of years. However, I did notice that I put pressure on myself to try to read 12 books a month when I didn’t have to.

This past year I also learned the importance of DNF. I’m starting to get comfortable with the idea that if a book isn’t for me then it’s okay to not finish it. Life is too short to be wasted on a crummy book when there are so many great ones out there.

As for my second goal, I actually decided to create my own book club which I did back in August. So I’d say this one is accomplished as I met some great new friends and I enjoy my book club.

I pretty much failed my last goal as I ended up expanding my personal library. I also spent way more on books this year than I have in the past which is okay.

Going into 2020, I decided that I’m going to have one goal and it’s this:

Enjoy what I read.

I decided to have one simple goal for 2020 because I realized that reading is a hobby and it’s something I enjoy. I don’t want reading to become a task or something I dread. I look as reading as something to help me mentally unwind and destress and I’d like to keep it that way. There were a few times where I overwhelmed myself by committing to review books that I didn’t care for or didn’t have time to read. 2020 is going to be a year where I’ll take time to enjoy my reads. I want to make sure it’s quality over quantity and that I continue to get comfortable with the idea of DNF.

How was your 2019 reading year? What goals are you planning for 2020?

2019: Year In Review

This year I decided to switch up how I’d present reading year in review. I’ve read some amazing books this year and decided to split them up by categories. Enjoy!

A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum – This was such a powerful, emotional, and heartbreaking read. I love that this book shed light on a culture that isn’t discussed much in fiction. I was glad to hear when this was one 2019 BOTY finalists.

Recursion by Blake Crouch – I’m typically not into sci-fi, but I really loved this one! This book really makes you think about the power of memories, time, and to what extent are we willing to break our moral compass. This book was also selected as a 2019 BOTY finalist which I most definitely voted for!

The Great Unexpected by Dan Mooney – This deeply emotional and dark humorous contemporary novel brings up important topics that aren’t widely discussed, i.e. loneliness in senior citizens, living in a nursing home, the feeling of losing your freedom/independence once you live in a nursing home/dependent on caretakers, and grief. This was also our November #OCBooksandBrunch pick. We had a great insightful conversation about this.
Miracle Creek by Angie Kim – I throughly enjoyed reading this legal thriller. I also had the chance to not only meet Angie Kim in person, but she also spoke to #OCBooksandBrunch when we selected her book as our October pick. I really liked this book because it explores how far people would go to push the bounds of familial relationships and friendships, and parenthood.

Before She Was Found by Heather Gundenkauf – This is a great mystery thriller which truly makes you think about how much community, friendship, betrayal can take on with children, parents, and their relationships with each other.

The Wives by Tarryn Fisher – I have a soft spot for domestic thrillers / suspense. What set this book apart from the others is the way the author was able to bring out the emotion and Tarryn Fisher says it perfectly: “…how women emotionally bankrupt themselves for whom they love.”
The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren – This year I’ve discovered that I’m a huge fan of enemies turned lovers trope. This was my all-time favorite CLo book! It had all the things I wanted and more: lighthearted, hilarious, and full of romantic scenes. I also had a chance to meet Christina and Lauren back in July which was amazing!

Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai – This Book doesn’t release till 2020, but I’m counting it towards the year I read it. This romance read has been my all-time from Alisha Rai so far! I’m grateful that I’ve been able to meet Alisha twice this year ☺️
I love that Alisha incorporates a diverse set of characters in her book with complex backgrounds. I also love the way she incorporates supporting characters from previous books she’s written. What I loved about Girl Gone Viral the most was the main characters and the building of their emotional intimacy is captured so well.

Regretting You by Colleen Hoover – Colleen Hoover really knows how to tear your heart out and give it back to you. This has become one of my favorite CoHo novels to date. I love the strained mother-daughter relationship Colleen captures in here. I can’t wait for Colleen to come to LA for her Regretting You book tour in January!
Maybe You Should Talk To Someone by Lori Gottlieb – I had the chance of meeting the author earlier this year. However, when I met her, I haven’t read her book before. This is one my favorite nonfiction books this year because it really opened my eye to what therapy is all about and how it could truly help a person. Reading about the author’s experience through therapy and her going through sessions with her own patients helped bring perspective.

Bad Blood by John Carreyrou – This was my first read of 2019. Bad Blood initially piqued my interest as it was one of the top 5 books Bill Gates loved in 2018. I really liked how this nonfiction book read as a story so it kept my interest throughout. The author did an excellent job throughly researching. This book was one of the reasons I got into nonfiction this year.

A False Report : A True Story of Rape In America by T. Christian Miller & Ken Armstrong – I heard that show Netflix show, Unbelievable, is based off of this book. I wasn’t sure I would be able to watch the show so I opted to read the book instead. This nonfiction book was very fascinating and very eye opening for me. It really made me question about how rape cases are handled and false accusations.
Us Against You by Fredrik Backman – This is by far my ultimate favorite Backman novel. I can’t believe it took me till this year to discover him. I read all his books this year and he is such a talented writer. Us Against You is all-time favorite for several reasons. First, it’s the first time I ever LOVED a sequel of a book. I didn’t even think it was possible that the first and sequel could BOTH be 5 star reads. Second, I really loved how he took the story from Beartown into a more complex level and was able to eloquently bring up heavy issues.

Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney- I’m pleasantly surprised that this made it to my top 3 considering that I thought Normal People was mediocre. I’m glad I took a chance on this as the novel really stood out on resonating emotions. The complexities of emotional availability and self perception really stood out.

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover – Not only was this my first CoHo book I read, but it was so beautifully written. This is not your typical romance novel. The emotions that Colleen captures in here is insane and makes you really think. I love the way she captures strength and kindness in this novel.

Have you read any of these books? What were your favorite reads in 2019?

Review: The Mother-In-Law

The Mother-In-Law by Sally Hepworth

Publication: St. Martin’s Press

Publication Date: 4/23/19

Disclaimer: I received a free finished copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: A twisty, compelling novel about one woman’s complicated relationship with her mother-in-law that ends in murder…
From the moment Lucy met her husband’s mother, Diana, she was kept at arm’s length. Diana was exquisitely polite, and properly friendly, but Lucy knew that she was not what Diana envisioned. But who could fault Diana? She was a pillar of the community, an advocate for social justice who helped female refugees assimilate to their new country. Diana was happily married to Tom, and lived in wedded bliss for decades. Lucy wanted so much to please her new mother-in-law.
That was five years ago.
Now, Diana has been found dead, a suicide note near her body. Diana claims that she no longer wanted to live because of a battle with cancer.
But the autopsy finds no cancer.
The autopsy does find traces of poison and suffocation.
Who could possibly want Diana dead?
Why was her will changed at the eleventh hour to disinherit both of her adult children and their spouses?
With Lucy’s secrets getting deeper and her relationship with her mother-in-law growing more complex as the pages turn, this new novel from Sally Hepworth is sure to add to her growing legion of fans.

Review: The Mother-In-Law is the first book I read from Sally Hepworth. I was surprised to discover that this was more of a contemporary mystery than a thriller. The writing style reminded me of Liane Moriarty books filled with mystery and family drama. The story alternates between Lucy (daughter-in-law) and Diane (mother-in-law). Overall, it was a decent read. I really liked Diane’s character, however, I found that there wasn’t much about the male characters in this story. The storyline was intriguing, but I found the mystery to be lackluster. If you’re a fan of Liane Moriarty novels, then this may be right up your alley.

Rating: 3/5

How I Rate Books

Rating books is subjective. There isn’t really a right or wrong way, but there are some topics to consider when rating a book. Here are some of the questions I ask myself to help me determine my rating:

  • Did the plot match the summary or teaser?
  • Did this book resonate me?
  • What did I think of the characters?
  • What were my favorite parts of the novel?
  • What were my least favorite parts? Why?
  • Was the book overall entertaining?

As for the actual rating, I usually base my rating from the standard 1 to 5 stars. I don’t do half star reviews as you can’t leave half star reviews on GoodReads or Amazon. Personally, I don’t find them to be very helpful either.

Down below is my rating scale I go by.

Do you agree with how I rate books? How do you rate books your read? Share in the comments below!

Love or Hate Audiobooks?

Do you listen to audiobooks? I started listening to audiobooks a couple of years ago (back in 2017). At first, I had mixed feelings about them, but now, I like them! I still prefer reading physical books and ebooks over listening to audiobooks, but nowadays, I do like to look into audiobooks as an option too.

If you’re on the fence about listening to audiobooks, here are some pros and cons to help you decide if they’re right for you to try out!

Do you like audiobooks? Why or why not?