It happened! The other day it was so beautiful and warm out that I got to wear OPEN-TOE SHOES! I can’t tell you how happy I was about that. But alas, the joy was short-lived. A thunderstorm erupted, causing the temperatures to plummet the next day. Oh well. At least it won’t be too long till winter is over, right? As far as I’m concerned, the only good thing about winter is reading, so that’s why I’d like to share the best books of Winter 2019 with you guys.
In actuality, I haven’t had much time to read at all this winter, much to my dismay. And what’s more, I haven’t given any of the books I read 5 stars at all. Sure, a couple of them came close, like The Rosie Project and The Perfect Mother, but none of them felt completely deserving of those elusive 5 stars.
I’m Going to Cheat Here…
I KNOW this is supposed to be about the best books of winter 2019, but I don’t have much to share in that department. So instead, I’m going to share the best books of LAST winter. I know, I know. I’m quite the rebel book blogger. But I want to be completely transparent with you guys. If I don’t absolutely LOVE a book, I’m not going to recommend it. Not that everything I recommend is up everyone’s alley, but I want to only recommend what I think is the best of the best.
So Here They Are…The Best Books of Winter 2019…(Um, 2018)
This list of the best books of winter 2019 (2018) includes:
*A contemporary women’s fiction novel
*Historical fiction novel
*A “chick-lit” novel
*And a YA novel
Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell
THEN: Ellie was fifteen, her mother’s golden girl. She had her whole life ahead of her. And then, in the blink of an eye, Ellie was gone.
NOW: It’s been 10 years since Ellie disappeared, but Laurel has never given up hope of finding her. Her life has completely changed after Ellie’s disappearance—she’s now divorced and alone. Until Floyd comes into her life…with his beautiful 9 year old daughter…who looks exactly like Ellie.
What really happened to Ellie and does Floyd have something to do with her disappearance?
My Take (*****)
Yikes. This book got under my skin and made it crawl in that way that only a psychological thriller can. It’s been awhile since a book has completely caught me off guard with a totally unexpected ending. And not only did the ending take my breath away, this book was thought provoking in a way that thrillers often aren’t. I was left thinking about how every choice we make leads us to our destiny, good or bad.
Pick this one up today if you’re looking for a thriller that keeps you guessing. (It’s on sale right now for less than $9!)
The Seven Rules of Elvira Carr by Frances Maynard
Elvira Carr believes in crisp schedules, clear guidelines, and taking people at face value. She lives at home with her overbearing mother, who has deemed her unfit to interact with the rest of society. But then her mother has a stroke, and Ellie is suddenly on her own. She quickly comes up with a plan to deal with the world: the seven social rules spreadsheet.
Ellie soon discovers that most people don’t live their lives within a set of rules. Nor is everyone very nice all the time—they often don’t understand her way of thinking. This causes her to experience social missteps and awkward encounters. Still, Ellie doesn’t give up and learns a lot about herself and the world around her.
My Take (*****)
It’s very weird that the first two books I’m recommending have main characters named Ellie. I don’t even think it’s that popular of a name…
Anyway. This book was in the same vein of many other books I’ve enjoyed lately, including The Rosie Project and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. The main character is socially awkward and forced to deal with the real world due to some change in circumstances. This was such a great book. A little slow going, but I loved Ellie (Elvira). She was such a real character—a very accurate portrayal of someone with high functioning autism. I really hated some of the other characters, though—the two neighbor men, Josh and Trevor? What assholes. How could someone be like that to a person who obviously has a disability? And Ellie’s mom? Ugh, what a bitch. I get that she was going through her own stuff, but seriously…
If you liked either of the two books I mentioned, I think you would like this one as well.
The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain
In 1944, pregnant twenty-three-year-old Tess DeMello abruptly gives up her budding career as a nurse and ends her engagement to the love of her life (who is not the baby’s father). She turns to the baby’s father for help and agrees to marry him, moving to the small, rural town of Hickory, North Carolina. Her new husband, Henry, is a secretive man who often stays out all night, hides money from his new wife, and shows her no affection. Tess quickly realizes she’s trapped in a strange and loveless marriage with no way out.
The people of the town treat Tess as an outsider, especially after one of the town’s golden girls dies in a terrible accident. However, when the polio epidemic strikes Hickory, the town bands together to build a polio hospital. Tess knows she is needed and defies Henry’s wishes to begin working at there. Through this work, she begins to find purpose and meaning. Yet at home, Henry’s actions grow more suspicious by the day. As Tess works to save the lives of her patients, can she untangle the truth behind her husband’s mysterious behavior and find the love—and the life—she was meant to have?
My Take (*****)
This was a really fabulous book inspired by real events in the 1940’s. It was a quick page turner—I was desperate to understand Henry and the townspeople. The surprises that crop up along the way are certainly unexpected. Reading books set in this era make me grateful for the time period I live in today. Where no child suffers from polio, and people are free to love who they want.
I would highly recommend this amazing book if you enjoy historical fiction (that’s NOT about WWI like all the historical fiction is lately…).
How Hard Can it Be? by Allison Pearson
Kate Reddy is making a comeback in the workforce as an almost 50-something who has been on the “mommy track”. Her children have turned into impossible teenagers; her mother and in-laws are in precarious health; and her husband is having a midlife crisis that leaves her desperate to restart her career after years away from the workplace. Kate is scrambling to keep all the balls in the air in a juggling act that us moms know all too well.
Will Kate reclaim her rightful place at the very hedge fund she founded, or will she strangle in her new “shaping” underwear? Will she rekindle an old flame, or will her house burn to the ground when a rowdy mob shows up for her daughter’s surprise (to her parents) Christmas party? Surely it will all work out in the end. After all, how hard can it be?
My Take (*****)
This is the second book in the Kate Reddy series. I never read the first one (yet), but this book is a perfect standalone. I found myself literally laughing out loud at Kate’s life (she reminds me A LOT of my character Amy Maxwell, from The Amy Maxwell Series). But while it is hilarious, it was also it is fresh and realistic in ways that we often wish were NOT realistic.
Anyone who is over 40 can “get this book”—even though I think any working mom can relate as well.
The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy
When thirty-eight-year-old New Yorker writer Ariel Levy left for a reporting trip to Mongolia in 2012, she was pregnant, married, financially secure, and successful on her own terms. A month later, none of that was true.
Levy picks you up and hurls you through the story of how she built an unconventional life and then watched it fall apart with astonishing speed. Like much of her generation, she was raised to resist traditional rules–about work, about love, and about womanhood.
My Take (*****)
I wasn’t sure I’d like this book. I had no idea who Ariel Levy was, and I have never been a fan of memoirs or autobiographies unless I am absolutely fascinated with the person they are about. That being said, this was raw and gut-wrenching. It really made me take stock of my life and what I have taken for granted. Not that things have come easy for me, but there is always someone out there that has been through more hell than you have.
If you’re looking for something to spark gratitude in your life, this memoir is for you.
Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone
Samantha McAllister looks just like the rest of the popular girls in her junior class. But hidden beneath the straightened hair and expertly applied makeup is a secret that her friends would never understand: Sam has Purely-Obsessional OCD and is consumed by a stream of dark thoughts and worries that she can’t turn off.
Caroline introduces Sam to Poet’s Corner, a hidden room and a tight-knit group of misfits who have been ignored by the school at large. Sam is drawn to them immediately, especially a guitar-playing guy with a talent for verse, and starts to discover a whole new side of herself. Slowly, she begins to feel more “normal” than she ever has as part of the popular crowd . . . until she finds a new reason to question her sanity and all she holds dear.
My Take (*****)
My daughter read this book first—actually from start to finish, which is RARE for her. So I knew this had to be some magical book if it had captivated her enough to actually COMPLETE it. And oh my word, it certain was. I read it in less than two days. It turned out to be a thought-provoking, heart-string-pulling, scarily relatable YA novel with a twist.
A must read for teens with anxiety and OCD. A must read for adults with anxiety and OCD. Hell, a must read for everyone who reads.
That about wraps up my list of the best books of winter 2019…even though they were from the winter of 2018. Here’s to hoping my spring selections are just as fabulous. If you’d like to recommend a book to me, please do so in the comment section…I’m always looking for new books to add to my TBR pile. (Even though it’s taller than I am!) And if you’re looking for some more suggestions, check out my Goodreads profile .