Okay so… admittedly, I was a psych-thriller addict this year and completely indulged my cravings. I succumbed to my needs for subtle creep-fests with obsessive stalkers and unreliable narrators that would keep throwing me off track.
But no worries, I read (and LOVED) plenty of romance too! In fact, there are plenty of love stories on this list (some, admittedly… a little creepy 😉 Tee hee!!) and I must say that I had a great and memorable reading year! I consider each of these must reads.
P.S. These aren’t really in order of which ones I loved more. As I re-read my reviews of them, it brought back all the feels from those moments and I realize right now, that I pretty much love them all equally. So instead, I’ve just tried to mix up the order here, by varying the “genres”.
HERE ARE MY 2019 FAVORITES:
The Great Alone: A Novel by Kristin Hannah <— EPIC & TUMULTUOUS LIFE SAGA OF SURVIVAL & PERSONAL GROWTH – A story of survival, not just as a family living for the first time in wild Alaska, but as an abused wife and daughter, living under the paranoid over-control of an alcoholic father and husband. This one had me on the edge of my seat ’cause the hits just kept coming. When it came to the turbulent Alaskan climate, and the months of prepping for the long and very dark winters, holy moly I was exhausted (and yet utterly fascinated by “living off the land” and how they managed). But what constantly threw me in the deep end, was having to survive that, while juggling an unstable man’s moods and whims.
And yes… I know. While it sounds absolutely tumultuous and draining, it does have a very important love story (and that one in its own right, was epic)! I was absolutely blown away and still think about this one daily. An unforgettable must read!! 😀 Here’s my 5-STAR review. Here’s a snippet from my review:
Simply stunning in its beauty and its darkness. The harsh Alaskan winters and way of life to survive them, and that of unconditional love… no matter how amazing or how horrible that love may be. Facts of real life. No matter how ugly.
I absolutely loved it from start to finish.
The Wives: A Novel by Tarryn Fisher <— A MARITAL-STRIFE PSYCH-THRILLER DELIGHT that had me assuming all sorts of things – and I was wrong the whole way! And I was totally infuriated on behalf of our heroine. So desperate to please him, she kept everything just so to keep him loving her back. In love deeply with a man, being his wife, but with a twist. ‘Cause he was raised in a Polygamist family, and he’s got other “wives” too. He just keeps them all separate, never to meet. That is, until she takes it upon herself to find out about them, investigate… maybe even stalk them, and learns so much more about him (and herself) in the process. Here’s my 5-STAR review (and here’s a snippet from my review):
Twist… you ask?
Come on. It’s Tarryn Fisher. 😉 You know you’re gonna be guessing all sorts of things and then your jaw is gonna drop. And that’s as much as I’m going to say about that.
You like painful and all-consuming love stories, and self realizations and psych-thrillers that will have you doubting every single character and doubting even yourself? THIS!!!
Frayed by Layne Deemer <— PSYCH-THRILLER WITH A “YOU” FEEL, but totally different and keeps you guessing right to the very end. Who’s the bad guy? 😉 Completely from the POV of our somewhat OCD loner-by-choice hero, he develops a crush… and then a friendship with a new co-worker. I just LOVED being in his head. He’s got a sort of private snark to him that you can’t help but connect to. His observations, his concerns, his suspicions… SO. MUCH. FUN!!! And then… 😉 *my lips are sealed* Here’s my 5-star review. Here’s a snippet from my review:
And here’s the thing. The first reveal was incredibly cool and “enough” for me to be floored and thrilled by. It could have been the only big reveal and I would have been so satisfied.
But when we were gifted that second reveal? And even… a third reveal? MY. JAW. DROPPED.
The Girl He Used to Know: A Novel by Tracey Garvis-Graves <— SECOND CHANCE LOVE STORY ALERT!! One of my FAVORITE authors has done it again, with not just an epic love story but she threw in a twist… and a clever one at that!! Not only do I get to enjoy the journey of falling in love but I get a HUGE surprise that tied in perfectly that I didn’t even anticipate. Those are my absolute favorites. I wasn’t getting it until suddenly it was so clear and it made the entire story absolutely unique and remarkable. Here’s my 5-STAR review and here’s a snippet from my review:
Y’all forgot to mention that it had my favorite kind of book-temptation. A jaw-dropping, knock-me-flat-on-my-butt, throw-the-book-across-the-room twist!!! THAT. WAS. AMAZING!!!!!!
Verity by Colleen Hoover <— PSYCH-THRILLER & OHHHH YESSSSS!!! This is one of my all-time favorite authors and surprise surprise (actually I’m not at all surprised 😉 ) that she can tell a creepy psych-thriller like no other!!! I love this one as much as I loved “Slammed” and as much as I loved “It Ends With Us” even though it’s completely at the opposite spectrum in genres. But it’s got it’s share of subtle creep, of switching up who you think the “bad guy” is, and has some seriously jaw-dropping and disturbing scenes that you’ll want to put it down. But you won’t be able to. And that’s what I loved the most. That, along with the reveal. And ummm… the other gasp-worthy moment. I can’t WAIT for more in this genre by Colleen!!! Here’s my 5-STAR review.
I LOVE ugly love stories. This is one.
Was I creeped out and cringing? YES. But who am I kidding? I relish exploring lives through the eyes of the villain and/or the victim. What made this one so captivating was that I was never really sure WHO was the true bad guy. Or I should say… I suspected there was more to it, than the obvious “bad guy”.
Jane Doe: A Novel by Victoria Helen Stone <— ONE OF MY FAVE PSYCH-THRILLERS ALERT!! I originally marked this one as a 4.5 star, but to tell you the truth, this is one of my favorite books of the year and I still remember everything about it. And I LOVED the “heroine” or should I say villain… as she was there to settle a score. She’s socially… different. Disconnected. And it’s FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC!!!!
So I’m officially changing this to a 5-STAR without a doubt! And I’m anxiously awaiting book #2 (although this one doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, so devour away). Here’s my 5-STAR book review, and here’s a snippet from my review:
Thrilling, a bit shocking (okay… a lot shocking at times), but this one is so well written, and doesn’t deviate from start to finish. And for some reason, despite her unemotional side, I “got” her. I liked her.
And she’s the type that’s got your back, IF she selects you as one of “hers”.
The Silent Patient Alex Michaelides <— ANOTHER PSYCH-THRILLER (shocking, right?) 😉 😛 I told y’all I couldn’t help myself. And it was fantastic too (it was a #1 New York Times Best Seller in fact!!), ’cause we were following an emotionless psych-ward patient that refuses to speak (and we’re getting to know her – and the reason she’s there, through the eyes of her psychiatrist, and that of the patient’s journals). Here’s my 5-STAR review, and here’s a snippet from my review:
Ohhhhhh HOW I WAS WRONG. SOOOOO WRONG. And the actual reveal was even BETTER than I could imagine!! It all came to fruition and made sense… once I started backtracking. This one has *ooooooooomph!!!*
Okay… so. I went in BLIND. No blurb reading, nothing. I went in on the reactions of fellow readers and that cover and title that was right up my thriller alley. And that’s it. Personally, I recommend you go in blind too, because nothing I write further on the story will live up to the true “feel” and unfolding of this story. So well written, it’s incredible.
Perfect Strangers by J.T. Geissinger <— INCREDIBLE LOVE STORY ALERT!!! WITH A SHOCKING TWIST… and then another. 😉 You know how much I love that!!! Oh don’t get me wrong. I love a good old fashioned contemporary romance that engages my heart and my smile-cheeks. Holy moly another unforgettable must-read of awesomeness. Though go in blind, ’cause it’ll hit you that much harder once things come to fruition. 😉 Here’s my 4.5 STAR book review. And here’s a snippet from my review that says it all:
OMG!!!! HOW. FREAKING. CLEVER!!!!!!
I couldn’t believe what I was reading… AND THEN!!! I couldn’t believe what I was reading AGAIN!!!!!!
I’ll be honest though. Throughout a good portion of the story, I was wondering what the big deal was? I mean it was good, and the writing was fantastic (deep and poignant and introspective AND fun) and it was HOT!!! But, it didn’t feel like anything I hadn’t read before in one way or another. Right?
- Steamy contemporary romance? Check!
- Dreamy romantic setting? Check!
- Strangers with secrets? Check!!!
- An astounding, almost-soulmate connection? Check!!
- Potential heartache looming? DOUBLE Check!!
Devastated (Anger Management Book 1) by R.L. Mathewson <— R.L. MATHEWSON’S SIGNATURE ROMANCE (which means it has her amazing hilarity and personal depth too). It made me laugh out loud, and I absolutely adored the heroine (and her new grumpy new boss that she had to “assist” while he was on house arrest). ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT!!! Here’s my 4.5 STAR book review. And here’s a snippet from my review:
Even if it was a more sobering look at life, it still had me giggling and grinning throughout! Her entertaining and relatable characters are in full force my friends!! It wasn’t near as dark as I thought it would be (mind you, the characters do have detrimental pasts that they are still contending with), so this wasn’t all happy fun. But it wasn’t all serious either.
In fact, she mixed in plenty of light, love and silliness in equal and relieving parts!!! *pheeeewwwww* I was SO HAPPY!!
Park Avenue Player by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward <— AN AWESOME DUO ROMANCE WRITING TEAM & they have a jaw-dropping twist too!! They’ve released hit after hit after hit and this one thrilled me!!! The nanny and the workaholic that was the guardian to his niece… and the “meet cute” was none-too-cute at all. 😉 Here’s my 4.5 STAR book review, and here’s a snippet from my review:
I simply fell in love with this story.
And as I was reading, “living them” as they got to know each other, navigating their feelings in secret…
…I had totally forgotten about the impending twist.
That is… until it SMACKED ME IN THE HEAD. AND I WAS ALL…. OH. EM. GEE. *thud*
And I absolutely LOVE when that happens. That’s what makes a “romance book” with similar tropes (ie: in this case, the brooding billionaire needs a nanny trope…) stand out in my head forever.
Dear Anna: A creepy domestic thriller by Katie Blanchard <— MARITAL STRIFE PSYCH-THRILLER!!! Well more like the wife discovering the “other woman” and her wealthy husband’s affair… and realizing that the pre-nup they have leaves her with NOTHING. And so begins Medeia’s quest to rectify this issue. 😉 Here’s my 4.5 STAR book review, and here’s a snippet from my review:
What to dooooo…. What. To. Do?
Patience. She’s got plenty of it, and the story only gets better from here. As she learns about his mistress, untangles her mentally abused mind from his manipulating tactics, she begins to see clearly, and the past that haunts her might just serve her.
Sounds awesome right? Ohhhhhhhhh yessssssss. And I will let you unravel the rest.
A Five-Minute Life by Emma Scott <— EMMA SCOTT’S UNCONVENTIONAL LOVE STORY had me hooked! Our heroine, Thea, is a beautiful, talented and happy young woman… whose memory resets every five minutes. It’s a very delicate balance interacting with her, and Jim, the orderly assigned to help care for her, finds this out most of all. Oooooh what a journey this is, that gave me chills as he manages to uncover certain things while getting to know her (despite everyone telling him she was a lost cause). This one put me through the emotional wringer you guys!!!!!! Here’s my 4.5 STAR book review, and here’s a snippet from my review:
…everything I THOUGHT was going to happen from beginning-to-end, happened within the first 50% (Some of it was obvious. Maybe too easy. BUT STILL… OMG I WAS FREAKING OUT and infuriated and had yet another panic attack at one point).
And then there was so much more to explore from there. The second half blew me away (yes… more panic attacks). Just so much struggle, and potential monkey-wrenches. And hope. And variables threatening to take that hope away. I was hyperventilating. <— But I LOVE that. It means I’m living it with them… and not just reading.
Carry the World by Susan Fanetti <— HISTORICAL ROMANCE from the Depression era and it was such a heartwarming and inspiring story. And of course, a beautiful love story too. A widow grieving the loss of her loving husband takes a job with the local library taking books by horseback up to the folks living in the mountains. And then she meets a widower raising his young children on his own… and while he’s not too thrilled to have her around, he reluctantly allows her to teach them to read. It made my heart swell!! Here’s my 4.5 STAR book review and here’s a snippet from my review:
Hardships, and social issues aplenty!! But WOW what an all-encompassing story of love, loss, pain and happiness. It’s ALL there (and not always in that order). I love how it starts. I love how we’re introduced to this amazing story, as I think each of us has uncovered bits of our own family’s past in similar ways (there’s so much more to our grandparents and great-grandparents that we didn’t know – that makes them so real even if we haven’t ever had the chance to meet them… or KNOW them in their “prime”).
But most of all, I love how it ends.
ABOUT HER by Kimberly Adams <— PSYCH-THRILLER/AFTER MARITAL STRIFE ALERT!! Oh yes! You read that right! The heroine has moved on since her divorce from her abusive, cheating ex-husband and finds herself stuck in a bed-and-breakfast during a snow storm with her new husband. And soon discovers her ex-husband and his new wife are staying there too. OMG. And it’s soooooooo much more than that. So unique in its execution and a complete unraveling that will make your jaw drop! Here’s my 4.5 STAR book review and here is a snippet from my review:
A confrontation of the life that once was, and the life that now is. And what a confrontation it is. Does it end well? My lips are sealed. 😉 That said, I just LOVED it to the very last line.
Unspeakable Things by Jess Lourey <— PSYCH-THRILLER but in two different ways… almost along the lines of The Great Alone (her scary father), but instead of the weather being the other scary thing that she had to survive, in this case, it’s the men in her neighborhood. They all seem a little… off. I originally only gave this one 4 stars (even though the writing was excellent and I was SO into it) but that was due to an ending that was almost… open ended. I had so many questions and stuff I needed resolved. And then I found out that the author wrote an epilogue and published it separately from the book, and for that, I AM SO HAPPY!!!!! So I will include a link to that epilogue and upgrade this one to a 4.5 stars!! P.S. Here’s my 4.5 STAR book review, and here’s a snippet from my review:
The writing is incredible, all from the POV of a young teen girl living in the 1980s. And no worries about reading “life” through a young teen’s perspective, in this instance. It’s actually very thoughtful, articulate and wise for such a young soul. You’ll find out why. You won’t be bored through her eyes. You’ll be disturbed though.
This one is dark, and uncomfortable and certainly not for everyone.
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