Happy 2020 to all of you :) Yes… It’s the end of February. But this took forever! Not to mention that I lost my 2019 Bullet Journal (THE STRESS) so I couldn’t see what books I’d read (the complete list, at least) and the ratings, and it was very stressful. But then I found it! And now I am motivated ☺️ Better late than never, right?
For this post, I stole (with permission) Perpetual Page Turner’s 10th Annual End of Year Survey for book bloggers! But it was fun to go back through and see my year in blogging and reading. If you’re interested, feel free to steal! I didn’t answer all the questions, because some of them didn’t apply, so for those I just left them out.
I love going back and doing these surveys, because at this point, I don’t really feel like I’ve accomplished anything, you know? I’m focusing on all the 2019 new releases I didn’t get to during the year, but forgetting all the wonderful books I experienced in the meantime. This survey always helps me remember :) I love looking back on this throughout the year, too, for other blog posts and such. Thank you for your patience!
**2019 READING STATS**
Number of Books Read – 170
Genre You Read The Most From – contemporary romance and urban fantasy/paranormal romance
Best Book You Read In 2019?
The Foxhole Court by Nora Sakavic was by far the best series I’ve experienced this year and in my entire lifetime. You may know this as All for the Game (aftg) series. My Foxes … they are beyond words. Their connection isn’t even strictly classified as “romance,” although it so is. Please, if you’re in the market for New Adult sports romance – with all the content warnings – then this is for you. If you’re looking for a sweet romance, I’d recommend checking out any number of other romances. Because this one skips sweet and goes straight for the jugular. There’s no other series like it. It’s free on Kindle – give it a whirl. I’ve really never read a book like this ? (Goodreads | Amazon)
Now that I’ve used it, I’m not allowed to mention this book again! Because it would have been the answer to most of these questions … and I’m not sorry ?
Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
That would most definitely be The Cruel Prince by Holly Black. Look… I’m sorry. I’m just as shocked as you! This one was so hyped up, and I specifically waited to read it until The Wicked King came out back in February. But I was just so … underwhelmed by the duology. I connected with and was intrigued by Jude in the beginning, but by the end of the second book, I felt so disconnected from her and just thought her a thoughtless and petulant child who was so in over her head. I waited for her to have Her Badass Moment that would dissuade me and bring her back into my graces, but it was just a stretch of dumb and dumber and I just … sorry, but didn’t love this one :(
I guess it accurately portrays what a couple of “naughty teenagers” would be like in those positions, but it just wasn’t for me. Maybe I’ll like it more one day if I reread it without the expectations but… we’ll see. This is the first Holly Black I have this to say about! But I missed her usual writing style and spiciness in this one.
Most surprising book you read?
I went into Love Lessons by Heidi Cullinan with little to no expectations. The cover doesn’t hype it up any, so I wasn’t expecting anything. But I honestly got so much more than I was expecting! I read this book in one complete sitting (twice in 2019), and sacrificed so much sleep. It perfectly encapsulates being in college, first love and there is so much feeling and emotion, that it just pours out of the book and sucks me in. It’s the best kind of boy-meets-boy and I just absolutely melted while reading this one. They’re roommates and it’s a friends-to-lovers and even though one was way more “experienced,” it all balances out by the end. The connection these two had was honestly *sigh* I love Walter and Kelly. End of the story ? It’s definitely in the Top Five of books that I read in 2019.
Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read?
You mean other than The Foxhole Court? I am always pushing Nalini Singh and Ilona Andrews on everyone I meet. They’re my top two favorite reads, and write just fantastic urban fantasy / paranormal romance reads that I do honestly believe everyone will love. (Review for Magic Bites | Review for Slave to Sensation)
Best series you started in 2019?
Speaking of Ilona Andrews… they released the first book of their new series this year! It’s a spin-off of the original Kate Daniels series, and the first book is called Iron and Magic. I was … very nervous about this book, because it features someone that used to be a villain in the Kate Daniels series. BUTTTT it was all for naught! Because I absolutely adored this one! It’s set in the Kate Daniels world, but with a fresh new set of characters and a fresh storyline that I can’t WAIT to get more of :)
I also finally started Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton, about 56 years too late, I know, but I finally understand the hype! I was so surprised by how much I enjoyed this fun adventure story set in a magical desert! I love a female gifted gunslinger, and this one just took me back to the YA of old where they’re just a couple of kids, rebelling against the system. (My Review)
This is where I’m going to allow myself to say The Foxhole Court but nothing else :)
Another shock was Scythe by Neal Shusterman, which I read during the Book Junkie Trials. I’m on a ~sometimes~ relationship with Sci-Fi, and Dystopian has been on the back shelf for me since the era of Matched and Divergent finally ended. But this one was totally different and I adored it. (My Review)
Best Sequel of 2019?
I read quite a few really good sequels this year! Including The Raven King by Nora Sakavic, the second book after The Foxhole Court :) What a fantastic follow-up! Anyway.
Nalini Singh had a great year of sequels, with Ocean Light and Wolf Rainboth being read by me :) In Ocean Light, we got to explore the previously unexplored sea changelings with the Director of the Human Alliance. It started out as an enemies-to-lovers story, but it went so many wonderful places. It was less ~mystery-based and action-packed~ than some of Singh’s past books in this series, but it was achingly sweet and exploratory and political. I LOVED that it took place underwater!! Wolf Rain sent us back with the SnowDancer wolves, and thank god because I was beginning to miss those fuckers. They’re just so fun, and poor Memory ? I loved her story, she was so delightfully different as a character, and the hero, Alexei, was such an adorable grumpus! Salute ✨
It was also a great year for Ilona Andrews, who released both Sapphire Flames and Sweep of the Blade, each from a different series. Sapphire Flames was a bit of a pivot from the rest of the series, which starts with my often-mentioned favorite Burn for Me, as it takes on the voice of a different narrator. It’s still in the Baylor family, just switches to Nevada’s sister. I loved the change, and I am anxious for more! Sweep of the Blade also took a pivot away from the main storyline to follow Dina’s sister (the Year of Sisters?) and her path to happiness with space-vampire Arland! If you’re rolling your eyes… don’t. That series is IA’s passion project, just for fun, and it’s goofy and amazing and still holds their signature flair for stunning world-building.
Best Series Ender of 2019?
This doesn’t end a series, per se, but it is the last in a series of books that can be read as stand-alones! I’m counting :) I had to mention Lonely Hearts by Heidi Cullinan, a sequel to Love Lessons that is absolutely STUNNING. This one is a bit darker and shadow-y for a college romance and I surprisingly may have liked it… more? It deals heavily with disability and drugs and … love ?✨ I shall say nothing more, but it’s really an amazing story! It helps to have read the prior books, but it’s not necessary, you may just miss a few Easter eggs. (Goodreads | Amazon)
I also, of course, must also mention All the King’s Men by Nora Sakavic, which is a culmination of everything in the other two books in The Foxhole Court series and is the best in the series. It always makes me sob and gives me goosebumps while reading, sending me on a mega-emotional rollercoaster.
Favorite new author you discovered in 2019?
This year, I really got into books by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy. Top Secret, written by the duo, is mentioned several times in this post and was so so so good. Another book they wrote that I adored was Stay. It has such an aggressive-looking cover, but it doesn’t fit the book at all, since it was really sweet and kind of an epistolary romance! Which is my catnip ? (Review for Top Secret | Review for Stay – see #7)
Of course, with my love of The Foxhole Court, Nora Sakavic is another author I will be looking out for. She doesn’t have anything else released, but I will be ready when she does!
Another fun discovery was Elizabeth Hoyt‘s regency romances! They’re a guilty pleasure of mine, so I don’t read them too often, but I really enjoyed both of hers that I read this year! They were layered in a way that I haven’t come to expect from the genre. (Review of The Raven Prince | Review of Wicked Intentions)
Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
Part of the Romance-Roundabout Reading Challenge was to read five steampunk books – and I had to dig a bit deeper this year, having read all of the London Steampunk books by Bec McMaster in past years for this challenge. So I picked up The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross, a book which has been on my TBR for ages! Literal ages. Plus this cover is stunning – just like the MC! Finley was Fierce Female incarnate, I loved how confident she was and how well she knew herself, very out of place in the Victorian London setting. (My Review)
In a TBR-clearing mood, I also picked up Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger, which has been on my TBR even longer. This book was amazingly fun because the MC is a bit younger, so it had a tinge of whimsy added to it. Sophronia gets sent to Finishing School by her mother – but little does she know that “Finishing School” it may be, but it’s also a guise for Spy School. It’s been described as Harry Potter meets Gallagher Girls… and honestly… yep! (My Review)
Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
If you want an honest answer, I read The Foxhole Court series a total of four times in 2019 – and I read all three books in two days each time. I was absolutely rabid to finish them once I started, no matter I’d read them so many times before. This series was absolutely unputdownable for me. I did read the series twice back-to-back because I was so upset it was over. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Another read was Archangel’s Shadows by Nalini Singh, the seventh book in the Guild Hunter series. I’m purposefully taking my time with the series, so I have some Nalini Singh to go back to when lonely and in need of a new Singh book. This one, especially, was lovely because it Ash, a Hunter, and Janvier, a roguishly sexy cajun vampire. They were SO much amazing, with banter and secret smiles and quiet, unrequited love. Plus a forced partnership, so that’s always fun when they have to suppress their feelings ?
Favorite cover of a book you read in 2019?
Honestly, The Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton and The Boy Who Steals Houses by CG Drews are both stunning!
Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2019?
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell was surprisingly clever on discussions of humans and their emotions. It was an unconventionally written book, but I certainly enjoyed it.
In a totally serious answer, The Color Purple by Alice Walker had me absolutely sobbing. I had to pick a book to read for class and had to read this outside of classroom time (illegally, I might add) because otherwise, that would have been quite embarrassing. It was a beautiful story, I love the symbolism of the title and the aspect of spirituality in this one. It was beautifully written, and I was thrilled to get the opportunity to watch the Tony award-winning Broadway play this past month, as well!
Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2019 to finally read?
It’s just truly idiotic that I was so afraid of Iron and Magic by Ilona Andrews. I should have trusted that I would love it and that they would make it lovely and wonderful… which is exactly what happened. But I could have read those pages of amazingness eight months earlier!
This is a sister-series that transfers narration to Hugh, once Kate’s adversary. Again, I was very nervous for this one, but I actually really liked it! The hate-to-love marriage of convenience in this one FUELED me and the Magic world just had me absolutely captivated. Typical Ilona Andrews, but I was still blown away. This was only the first book in this romance, so I have a feeling a classic IA slow-burn is in store. (Goodreads | Amazon)
Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2019?
Longest: The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon was definitely the longest ? It was very intimidating, even though it’s by far not the biggest I’ve read. But I really loved how intricate and developed this one was – even if I could see a perfect break in the middle where it easily could have been divided. BUT it also works as one complete work :) Far be it from me to question an author’s choice ? (Goodreads | Amazon)
Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
The clan in Lonely Hearts by Heidi Cullinan was so much fun! They’re a little Found Family and I was SO HERE FOR THIS!! ✨
And of course, my favorite part of any Nalini Singh book is the sense of community amongst the Changelings. It’s not romantic, but it’s a different kind of love and it always makes me feel warm and squishy and cozy when I’m reading one of her paranormal stories ?
Best Book You Read In 2019 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else//Bookstagram, Etc.:
You mean other than The Foxhole Court by Nora Sakavic? I wasn’t kidding when I said they were probably the answer to every question ??
A lot of my books come from online recommendations, especially with Romance-opoly going on, but The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi is one of the first that comes to mind. I absolutely loved that book, and Roshani’s talent and flair were very evident in this one. I can’t wait to read more! (Goodreads | Amazon)
Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
My first answer would be Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon. With how chunky that book was, it’s no wonder that Ms. Shannon was able to set the scene as well as she did. In my notes from The Book Junkie Trials Readathon, which is when I read this, I talked extensively about Ms. Shannon’s writing skill and how she manages to vary each character’s voice so clearly – the reader always knows which perspective they’re reading from and I really got into the characters because of it! She very subtly built up the characterizations, and it was done very well. But the extensive and intricate world-building does deserve it’s own set of applause. She let us explore and discover the various religious alongside the characters as they found new facets, rather than preaching about them to us.
Another huge round of applause should go to Ocean Light and Wolf Rain by Nalini Singh! These mark books #2 and #3 in the sister-series to the Psy-Changeling series, and Ms. Singh’s world-building only gets better. I’m currently rereading the Psy-Changeling series and then the sister-series so I have reviews for each book (they’re so good!), but unfortunately haven’t gotten this far yet. I very, very highly recommend this Urban Fantasy/Paranormal series (See my review of the first book)
Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
Top Secret by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy was SO fun to read. An epistolary romance between two guys online, one exploring his sexuality, the other sure – it led to a lot of steamy scenes. BUT, in real life, they’re also enemies and neighbors. I absolutely loved this! It was so much to read, it had me grinning and giggling and everything else – I loved it. The angst, the outrageous flirtation (so steamy!) I read this until 4:30 a.m., not registering the gritty eyes at all, and closed it with a smile. Such is the combined power of Bowen and Kennedy! (My Review)
Another amazingly fun read was The Hardest Fall by Ella Maise, is another Kindle Unlimited read featuring a second-chance, friends-to-lovers, roommates storyline. The MC, Zoe, herself was a super fun character. She’s pretty shy around Dylan, but she also has a strong (albeit rambling) personality and doesn’t excuse her own behavior. She may be shy, but she’s very unabashed about her quirks, and she kept me laughing. Those types of characters don’t always come off as intended, but in Zoe, it was quirky and attractive, making her an honest and real, genuine, sincere character I couldn’t get enough of. (My Review)
Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2019?
It’s really very easy to make me cry, especially in books, but there are a few that stand out as true tearjerkers. Beard With Me by Penny Reid was one of those books. Oh my gosh, the tears in that one were excruciating. (My Review)
I definitely remember tearing up
multiple a few times in The Foxhole Court by Nora Sakavic. That book just gets to me and it wrings my emotions so much! I care for those characters to a dangerous degree, and even just thinking about them right now is making the tears well up! My poor Foxes ?
Another I must mention is The Boy Who Steals Houses by CG Drews. It was an adorable book. The main character is the most awkward cinnamon-roll of a boy ever and his devotion to his brother was amazing to witness. It was a cute summer boy-meets-girl, it was a friends-to-lovers, but it also had a seedy side that was Sam’s real life. That shit went places. Damn. Tears ?
Hidden Gem Of The Year?
I discovered a couple really awesome books during my Kindle Unlimited month in November! Click on the images below to navigate to those reviews.
Most Unique Book You Read In 2019?
At this point, I’m just worried about sounding redundant. But… The Foxhole Court by Nora Sakavic! I haven’t read a book like this before. Someday I’ll be able to articulate that in a book review (hopefully this year), but for now, take my word or read it for yourself (Goodreads | Amazon – it’s free!)
Book That You Didn’t Like
A few books that I read and didn’t like…
- Twice Tempted by Jeanine Frost (My Review)
- Love in Due Time by LB Dunbar (My Review)
- Never Enough by Lauren Dane (My Mini-Review)
New favorite book blog/Bookstagram/Youtube channel you discovered in 2019?
Time for me to shoutout some friends!
- Kayleen @ Kayppuccino Reads (Blog | Twitter)
- Tiffany @ The Bookish Life (Blog | Twitter)
- Emmy @ Southern Reader (Bookstagram | Twitter)
- Kelsey @ QuiteAllWrite (BookTube | Twitter)
- Helen @ Reading with Cats and Tea (Bookstagram | BookTube | Twitter)
- Jessica @ Peace Love Books (Bookstagram | BookTube)
- … and so many more!
Favorite post you wrote in 2019?
I listed a whole bunch down below (see question: Which posts do you wish got more love?), so there are some others that were fun. Twice Tempted was fun, just because I don’t get to write a negative review very often. But I got to for that one, and … it was kinda fun :)
Click on the photo to navigate to that post!
Favorite bookish related photo you took in 2019?
Honestly, my photoshoot for Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews was amazing! I had trouble deciding which one I wanted to use!
Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?
The first thing would be motivation and finding the time – as a college student, I have lots of things to be doing with my time, and doing another form of work in my free time isn’t always appealing. But that’s probably not the biggest thing…
The biggest thing would be taking pictures. I have so many finished, drafted posts sitting in my Drafts folder, ones that weren’t published simply because I wasn’t able to go out and take pictures. Or the post went up much later than it could have been. As I take pictures in nature, I’m battling the weather and my schedule to get photos taken.
Especially this time of year, where the sun sets at 5pm?? I’m never back in my dorm before 5pm. This means that if I get pictures taken, they’re snapped in a rush between classes. Which honestly, isn’t too much of a problem if I wasn’t so worried about what all these people think of me crawling around under a tree with a book and taking pictures of it. I own my hobbies, of course, but… it never ceases to make me feel self-conscious.
Posts You Wished Got A Little More Love?
I absolutely loved the Fierce Female posts I worked on, as well as the Book Tag’s I did this fall! (Please note the fun pumpkin and leaf banners. OMG! I love them so much.)
Click the image below to navigate to those posts!
Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
I’m going to sound like a dumbass but… Twitter? I joined the BookTwitter Stan club this summer when #TheLuminaries and the Book Junkie Trials were going. Since then, I’ve stayed for the lovely community members that make it just so fun. I love my group chat on there ?? I love chatting with them every day
Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
- First all, I completed Romance-opoly!! This was a huge accomplishment since I basically only played for four months out of the year! January, February, March, and December. So I did 1/4 of the board in December LOL. I kept getting stuck on one square and would be there for months. Since the challenges have to be completed chronologically… it was a true challenge. But I adored it. (My 2019 progress | Challenge website)
- I also completed the Romance Roundabout Reading Challenge, in which I read 5 books in each of the given 13 romantic sub-categories. The challenge is no longer officially hosted, but it helps me create some variation in my reading throughout the year, so I keep it up! (My 2019 progress)
One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2019 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2019?
There are many of these, unfortunately, but Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater is an easy choice. I absolutely adore The Raven Boys, especially Ronan. And they’re in college now? Pshaw. This will be one of my first reads when 2020 opens its doors for business… as soon as I reread The Raven Cycle series, that is.
The second book would be Fast Lane by Kristen Ashley, one of my favorite authors, and an immediate auto-buy. However since this is an independent publication, and I wanted a print copy for my Ms. Ashley shelf (I have a lot of her books), I had to wait and put it on my Christmas list. Luckily, I received it, and it will seriously be one of the first books I pick up. Early reviews said she went off format for this one, and it paid off big time. Can’t wait!!
Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2020 (non-debut)?
Again, there are so many! But probably House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas (it will forever be called Crescent City in my brain. HOEAB just doesn’t work). I’m a huge fan of hers, just seriously, there’s hardly anything that beats ACOMAF, it really only comes close to Nalini Singh and Ilona Andrews, my two other favorites, which tells you where I’m at with this. Maas Nation, rise! LOL Anyway. This seriously sounds amazing, it’s pre-ordered, and I’m so excited!!
Another one I’m SO excited to read is The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller!! We love a Fierce Female, and this one promises to deliver. She’s getting close to the Shadow King in order to kill him! But she has to kill the other people trying to kill him so she can be the one to do it! Awww, soft one-sided enemies-to-lovers with friends-to-lovers fierceness. I’m HERE for this!! (My Review)
2020 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
I’m MOST excited for All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace!! This one makes a huge promise, and I really, really, really, really hope that this one will deliver!! A mermaid and a pirate make a pact to steal magic together and win a kingdom?? I love glitter, glam, gore, and grit all in one squishy-fierce female, and that’s what this one says is going to happen. Can’t wait!!
Another I’m seriously pumped for is Ink in the Blood by Kim Smejkal, which practices tattoo magic! Nothing more needs to be said. It has dark magic, divine gods… I’m so in.
Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2020?
It’s a Nalini Singh year!! First we have Alpha Night, the fourth book in the Psy-Changeling Trinity, the sister series to the amazing Psy-Changeling series. If you love urban fantasy / paranormal romance/changeling amazingness, check out my review of the first book here! (Goodreads | Amazon)
Another Nalini Singh is being released, this time the third book in the Hard Play series. It’s an amazing full-length romance series that just feels so lovely and real and captivates you from page one. Not to mention… rugby romances. Check out my review of the first book here! (Goodreads | Amazon)
Four Things You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2020?
- I want to have a review up for each of the Nalini Singh’s books in the Psy-Changeling series. That’s a lot of books, but I’m rereading them, so hopefully, it will happen! I’m already up to book 5 :)
- I also want to have a Foxhole Court review/discussion post up this year. I love this series – yet I can’t bring myself to correctly articulate why.
- I want to review at minimum five books a month. It’s not a ton, so I won’t feel pressured to review each book. But it’s enough to ensure that reviews get written.
- Read the 8 books in this “Looking Ahead” section!
Other posts you might enjoy…
What are some of the books you’re looking forward to in the new year? What are some of your blogging/reading goals for this upcoming year? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!