A Willful Woman…

Thoughts about books from a romance addict.

2019, My Reading Year in Extremely Poorly Remembered and Reviewed Review

on January 11, 2020

Amazingly, there are still some blogs out there and still some people writing year end posts, which makes me feel like I owe it to them to write one too. But though I’m still reading a fair bit of romance, I don’t seem to have much to say about it any more, and books don’t stick with me like they used to. Of the 347 book I read this year, here are the ones that popped out at me.

In YA, Eliza and Her Monsters is memorable for its authentic portrayals of online life, creativity, and the way they can interact with mental health issues. It also has a very likeable romance, though I recall the hero doing something so terrible I almost couldn’t forgive him. (Real life terrible as opposed to old-skool terrible.) I was also captivated by Brittany Cavallaro’s Holmes and Watson series, which involves a deeply troubled teenage girl Holmes and her somewhat helplessly adoring teenage boy Watson. (In this world, Holmes and Watson were real, and they are modern day descendents.) It’s not HEA romance, but really worth reading.

Amongst romances that stand out are Briarly by Aster Glenn Gray, an offbeat m/m “beauty and the beast” story. I’m glad I remembered this because I just noticed she has two new books out since then. Two excellent historical f/f stories I  enjoyed were A Lady’s Desire by Lily Maxton and cozy mystery/romance Proper English by K.J. Charles. Similarly, the Agatha Christie-inspired Hither, Page by Cat Sebastian was very fun.

A romance that I DNF’d with extreme prejudice was Overnight Sensation by Sarina Bowen. I find a lot of her books kind of iffy around sexism and this one was unbearable.

I finally read Lois Bujold’s “Five Gods” series and loved The Hallowed Hunt  Paladin of Souls , which features a mentally exhausted middle-aged woman as an epic fantasy heroine. How Long Til Black Future Month? has some incredible stories, and I’m thrilled that N.K. Jemisin is expanding my favorite one, “The City Born Great” into a series. I still have arrogant New York pride in my bones, and this story expresses it so smashingly. And Gideon the Ninth is a complicated, deeply weird, and exceptionally diverting book. Who knew necromancy could be funny?

I dipped into some old favorite from my childhood. Apples Every Day by Grace Richardson and Anna to the Infinite Power (both available at Open Library) have dated somewhat, but were still a pleasure to read. Dear Enemy by Jean Webster, sadly, has been hit badly by the ableism fairy. It’s such a lighthearted, charming book; if only it weren’t lighthearted and charming about eugenics.

Joshilyn Jackson is a fiction writer I enjoy who often includes romantic elements in her books, and The Almost Sisters is a good one. It takes place in a small, Southern town and the main character is a white woman, unexpectedly pregnant after a one-night stand, who is dealing with her elderly relative’s mental deterioration and trying to figure out how to raise the biracial child she’s carrying. It has a lot of fun geeky elements, and a lot of sadness as well.

And speaking of racism, I read a lot of very intense, powerful, and excruciatingly informative nonfiction, including So You Want to Talk About Race, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, The New Jim Crow, White Rage and Men We Reaped. If I had to assign one book as required reading for white people it would be White Rage, which spells it all out so well, but Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward was the most touching of the books, a devastating personal account of how literally black lives don’t matter in our society. Also in nonfiction, Megan Phelps-Roper’s Unfollow is an unexpected page-turner about growing up in a loving family that’s also a cult, and Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson a memoir about sexual abuse in resonant poetry.

I’m really happy about how much more varied my reading is now. But I do miss feeling the urge to review, and the sense that my opinion was worth recording. I am going to make a real effort to keep up with the TBR challenge this year, at least, since Wendy has been kind enough to continue hosting it. And perhaps I should try keeping a little record of at least some of the books I read per month, so it doesn’t all fade away.


6 responses to “2019, My Reading Year in Extremely Poorly Remembered and Reviewed Review

  1. I have always felt your opinions were worth recording. I love your insight and I consider the world around me so differently due to the influence of yours, and a select few other bloggers (some who have also stopped). But I also appreciate that it isn’t easy to keep it up. I certainly haven’t managed it.

  2. KeiraSoleore says:

    I am glad to read this post of yours, and I do hope that you will record some of your comments for your memorable books to share. I am trying hard to comment on the blogs of the few bloggers left out there so that they will feel encouraged to continue to blog.

  3. faranae says:

    I think you meant Paladin of Souls rather than Hallowed Hunt for the mentally exhausted middle aged woman? Hunt is the book with Ingrey, Paladin is the one with Ista.

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