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The Best of 2019 – Alex’s List

It’s always difficult to put together a ‘Best of’ list, and as usual I’m sure I forgot a few. But after much thought, here are the books which stood out for me this year.

Beard With Me by Penny Reid

Wow. Ms. Reid has said that this book was originally intended to be a novella, but that it grew to become a full book. I can see why, as it’s such a compelling story! This is the prequel to Beard Necessities (also released in 2019) and tells the story of Scarlet and Billy, two highschoolers who each feel like outcasts for different reasons. There’s grit, there’s humor, and a story that sticks with you long after you’ve closed the book.

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

The Austen Playbook by Lucy Parker

She’s done it again! Lucy Parker may not have a long backlist, but it’s a great one. This book is no exception, with chemistry that sizzles off the page. Actress Freddy Carlton falls for theater critic James Ford-Griffin amidst the dramas and secrets on set of The Austen Playbook.

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

When her twin sister’s wedding results in a case of mass food poisoning, Olive Torres finds herself on a ‘honeymoon’ trip to Hawaii with the brother of the groom, Ethan Thomas. It’s an unusual start to this enemies-to-lovers romance, which had me laughing out loud while perched on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what was next in the hilarious family drama.

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

Sweep of the Blade by Ilona Andrews

This was hands down my favorite sci-fi/paranormal book of 2019. While it’s the fourth book in the Innkeeper series, Sweep of the Blade stands alone as the focus shifts to Maud, who has traveled to a vampire planet to see if she can make a home there for herself and her daughter. It’s part under-dog story and part adventure, in addition to the romance, all of which make for a great read.

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

Hook Shot by Kennedy Ryan

Kennedy Ryan is another author who has become a favorite in the past year or two. She has a talent for blending passionate romance with powerful insights into life and culture. Hook Shot is the story of Kenan and Lotus, a basketball player and a fashion designer, and their rocky road to love. I particularly liked how frankly she addressed the realities of divorce, as Kenan is coping with the end of his marriage and its effect on his daughter. Ryan packs a punch in this one.

Buy it at: Amazon

The Magnolia Sword by Sherry Thomas

This retelling of the Legend of Mulan was one of my few DIKs in 2019, and easily earned its spot on my Best Of list. Thomas has turned a classic tale into something wonderful and new here, combining rich historical detail and compelling characters in a story well worth remembering.

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

Life and Other Inconveniences by Kristan Higgins

It’s not strictly romance, but I loved this book with its exploration of generational family ties and secrets. Emma London returns to her hometown to be with her ailing grandmother and give her daughter a break from some friend drama. Each character was as compelling as the next here, and I loved seeing where the book would go.

Buy it at Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes and Noble/Kobo

Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell

I’ve recently gotten into some non-fiction books in audiobook format on my commute, and Talking to Strangers was by far my favorite of 2019. Not only does Gladwell present interesting research and observations about the ways we interact with strangers – and the mistakes we make in understanding them – but his audiobook sounds more like a podcast than a book. He uses actual interview tapes, and plays a soundtrack throughout the work that ties the work together. I highly recommend listening to this audiobook, both because it is uniquely well done, and because many of Gladwell’s points have stuck with me and prompted discussion since listening to this.

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

Fumbled by Alexa Martin

Alexa Martin is my favorite new author, and I don’t know how I managed so long without her. This book has one of my favorite storylines, where an independent single mom reencounters her high school sweetheart and informs him they have a son together. Surprise! The characters are hilarious and heartwarming, and Martin’s experience as an NFL wife definitely shows.

Buy it at Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes and Noble/Kobo

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