My Favorite Books of 2019

Choosing my favorites is hard because I read a lot of good stuff. I’ll cheat by using categories.

Best Historical Fiction
The Island of Sea Women


Best Set in a Boarding School Book (my favorite sub-genre)
The Swallows


Best Book about an Old Lady Serial Killer (also a nominee for Best Use of Cross-stitch)An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good


Best Psychological Thriller
The Turn of the Key


Best Romantic Comedy
The Unhoneymooners


Best Nonfiction That Scared Me Half to Death
I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer


Best Sequel
Olive, Again


Best Weird Book
The Need


Best Nonfiction That Confirms the World Is Terrible
The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters


Best “Change Your Life” Book
The Myths of Happiness

Best Overall (Tie)
Home Fire  Girls Burn Brighter


Romance Trope: Characters Who Hate (and Then Love) Each Other

I’m not a big romance reader, but when I do read it, I absolutely love books where the romantic leads begin by disliking each other–either because of some misunderstanding or because of a first impression that leaves one or both cold. I can’t explain why I like this storyline, but I’m sure there’s an explanation that will reveal a lot about my psyche.

Here are my top four favorite books with a hate/love romance trope:

The UnhoneymoonersI read this one after a trusted reader friend recommended it. She told me it was hilarious, and she wasn’t wrong.

Olive and Ethan take a fake honeymoon to Hawaii after her sister and his brother get married and can’t go on the trip. While in Hawaii, they realize they may not hate each other as much as they’d always believe.

The dialogue crackles in this one. Bonus points to the authors (Christina Lauren is a pen name for a writing duo) for featuring a Mexican-American protagonist.


The Hating GameLucy Hutton is really nice. Joshua Templeman is ruthless. They both want the same job, and are forced to work just inches from each other as they compete to win the attention of their shared boss.

Lucy and Joshua absolutely despise each other until Lucy gets a chance to see Joshua in a different light. Her grumpy co-worker is suddenly way more interesting.

Sally Thorne  really gives her characters a lot of dimension. She’s great at dropping them in situations and letting them fight their way out of it.


Bridget Jones's Diary (Bridget Jones, #1)I admit to not being a fan of the movies, but I loved the first book. Bridget’s relationship with Mark Darcy is funny in part because she’s so awkwardly clueless and he’s so tightly wound.

Fielding brilliantly writes Bridget’s voice in such a narrow and limited space (her diary), but that’s part of this book’s charm. Bridget has her head so far up her own butt that she can’t see what we readers can see: Mark doesn’t hate her. Mark is infatuated with her.



I've Got Your NumberPoppy loses her engagement ring, right before she’s about to marry the perfect man, Magnus Tavish. On top of losing her ring, somebody has stolen her phone. But the universe taketh away and the universe giveth back. She finds a phone in a garbage can and takes it. She needs it in case someone finds her ring.

Before long, Poppy and the phone’s rightful owner, are embroiled in each other’s lives in all the best and worst ways.

Nobody writes comic romance better and more consistently than Sophie Kinsella.


Currently Reading: The Killer You Know

I’m on full-on summer reading mode, which means I binge on psychological thrillers.

I’m currently reading The Killer You Know by S.R. Masters. It’s sufficiently plot-twisty with an original story line, which is saying a lot. When you read a lot of thrillers, they start to blend together. I particularly like the shifting narrators and time periods in this one.

The Killer You Know


From the publisher:

“What if your childhood friend turned out to be a serial killer? After fifteen years apart, a group of friends discover that one of them might be resurrecting a game from their past. This time with deadly consequences.”

This Week in TV: Chernobyl (and a book recommendation)

I only sort of remember when the Chernobyl tragedy happened. Seeing it come to life in HBO’s Chernobyl miniseries is definitely going to give me nightmares. But it’s still worth watching.

I’m off to find good books to supplement my viewing experience.

In the meantime, my favorite book about  radioactivity is The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady by Elizabeth Stuckey-French. It’s tender, warm, and funny. In fact, I may re-read it as an antidote to the relentless bleakness of Soviet bureaucracy in Chernobyl.

The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady

From the publisher:

“Marylou Ahearn is going to kill Dr. Wilson Spriggs. In 1953, the good doctor gave her a radioactive cocktail without her consent, and Marylou has been plotting her revenge ever since. When she discovers his whereabouts in Florida, she hightails it to Tallahassee, moves in down the block from where he resides with his daughter, Caroline, and begins the tricky work of insinuating herself into his life. But she has no idea what a nest of yellow jackets she’s stumbled into. Spriggs is senile, his daughter’s on the verge of collapse, and his grandchildren are a mess of oddballs, leaving Marylou wondering whether she’s really meant to ruin their lives … or fix them.”