Favorite Books of Winter 2018-2019

I’m not sure how it’s possible to be totally comfortable naming only 10 favorite books of 2018, but to then go wild when listing my favorites by season. Regardless, I’ve been wanting to highlight more of my favorite reads for a while now and thought it might be fun to share what my favorite books were that I read in the last three months. Somehow this installment is 12 books long!

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Polaris Rising by Jessie Mihalik

Runaway princess teams up with a dangerous outlaw to escape becoming a pawn in a political game between ruling houses. In space.

I didn’t put Polaris Rising in the honorable mentions section of my favorite books of 2018, and I’m seriously kicking myself for it, because I read it months ago and I’m still freaking out about this book and excited to talk to everyone about it. I just really liked Ada’s voice, and of course I was completely rooting for her romance with Marcus. It was just such a fast-paced story and combined some of my favorite elements of fantasy and scifi and romance to create an amazing mashup that I literally couldn’t put down. Go read it now, and then join me in my misery as I wait for the second book to come out. Why is October so far away?

I received an arc of Polaris Rising as part of the Avon Addict program.

Dance All Night by Alexis Daria

Holiday romance novella between professional dancers in which the hero has three dates to convince the heroine to believe in the magic of Christmas.

I’m generally not a huge fan of romance novellas, as it’s just really hard to tell a compelling and believable romance in such a short space, but Dance All Night proves it’s possible! Nik was just so dreamy, and I loved watching him slowly woo Jess and convince her to believe in Christmas again. This was such a perfect holiday read, but it’s so adorable that I think it would probably be enjoyable anytime of year.

One Dance with a Duke by Tessa Dare

When tragic events throw the hero and heroine together, he abruptly decides that she’ll make the perfect wife, never anticipating that she’ll turn out to be the love of his life.

I’m not doing the best job of selling the plot of One Dance with a Duke, but you’ll probably love it as much as I did if you enjoy forced proximity, witty banter, and a couple slowly falling in love. It seriously checks all of the boxes for me, and it quickly became one of my all-time favorite Tessa Dare books. A few too many obstacles were thrown in the way of their HEA at the end, but generally I just loved watching Spencer and Amelia fall in love.

Play of Passion by Nalini Singh

Paranormal romance between a strait-laced heroine and a much more playful hero.

I’ve been really enjoying the Psy-Changeling books, but Play of Passion definitely stands out as one of my favorites. I love the combination of a serious, badass heroine and a much more playful (but still reliable) hero, and this book pulls it off so well. Drew and Indigo’s story was such a satisfying addition to the series, which is all the more impressive considering we’re nine books in at this point. (Yes, you do have to start from the beginning with these books, but the first one is such a great start to the series! These books are classics for a reason.)

My One and Only Duke by Grace Burrows

Hero marries heroine on death row in an act of charity, but the two find themselves forced to try and make their marriage work after the hero is pardoned at the last minute.

My One and Only Duke has one of the most bizarre premises for a romance novel, and I absolutely loved it. Like, literally nothing about this romance should work, and yet somehow it all came together beautifully, which makes for one of the best kinds of romances. It was so much fun to watch Jane and Quinn realize that they’re actually married when they really shouldn’t be, and then figure out whether they want to stay married, and then how to make it work when they do. And of course, they both wind up finding more in their marriage than they ever could have anticipated. It’s such a well done romance, and I’m so excited for the sequel to come out tomorrow!

All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung

Memoir about transracial adoption, detailing the Korean American author’s experience being adopted by a white family and growing up in a mostly white community.

All You Can Ever Know has been getting a lot of hype lately, and I have to say that I think it’s for very good reason. It covers a topic I knew nothing about and yet found so fascinating because it opens up so many messy conversations about adoption and race. Chung did such a beautiful job telling her story and discussing identity and family. It’s an amazing story that I think was handled so well, and I highly recommend this memoir.

The Other Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

Historical romance in which the hero is forced to kidnap the heroine in order to ensure the success of his government mission, and the two fall in love during weeks at sea.

I had forgotten how much I love Julia Quinn until I finally read The Other Miss Bridgerton. I’ve enjoyed her last few releases, but I haven’t been obsessed with them and put off reading this one for a while. This is kind of everything I love in a romance, though, and Quinn just does it so well. The back-and-forth and funny quips are some of my favorite things in romance novels, and this book had that in spades. Plus I love a good forced proximity story, and this one was definitely that. I do wish the ending had been a little less rushed, but all in all this was an excellent romance.

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Bestselling memoir by the former First Lady of the United States. 

I’m not much of one for political books and memoirs, and I can’t say I was a particular fan of the Obamas (I didn’t dislike them, I just wasn’t on the bandwagon). But I like listening to memoirs narrated by the author and Becoming got a ton of buzz, so I figured I’d check it out. If nothing else, Michelle is such an icon and I figured it’d be interesting to learn more about what it’s like to be first lady. Holy crap, though, was I blown away by this book. It was so interesting to learn more about Michelle’s background and upbringing and follow her journey to becoming first lady. I was especially struck by her commentary on finding her way in her career, learning to build her marriage, especially with a husband who worked so much, and what it was actually like to be first lady and all the effort she put in to trying to make sure her daughters had as much of a normal childhood as they could. I think there’s something in this book for everyone to relate to, but those are the things that really resonated with me. Seriously, it’s just so well done and I highly recommend it!

Also, listen to this on audio! It’s long, but it’s so worth listening to Michelle tell her own story. Though I would recommend speeding it up a bit as Michelle narrates it pretty slowly. I listened to it at 1.15x speed, and I thought that was perfect. I don’t generally listen to audiobooks at a faster pace, so I completely forgot I had this one sped up until I started another audiobook.

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

The latest installment in Bardugo’s Grishaverse world, this time following King Nicholas as he navigates political turmoil to hold onto his throne.

It was so amazing to return to the Grishaverse world. I’ve seen some mixed reviews of King of Scars since it was published at the end of January, but I personally loved it. I liked seeing how Ravka has continued to evolve since the end of the original Grishaverse trilogy as well as all of the machinations Nikolas is up to trying to hang on to his throne. I also loved getting to know Zoya, and as heartbreaking as it was, I liked the continuation of Nina’s storyline as well. And what an ending! I can’t wait to see what Bardugo has in store for us in the sequel!

Bad Blood by John Carreyrou

Detailed book about the rise and fall of Theranos, a startup promising to run extensive tests on only a drop of blood.

This book is so wild! Seriously, “wild” is the word I keep using to describe Bad Blood because I’m at a loss as to what else to say about it. Everything about this story seems like it’s made up, except that it’s all true! I didn’t originally follow the Theranos scandal and had no intentions of picking up Bad Blood when it first came out, but when it made so many favorites lists at the end of 2018 (like Emily at Possibly Literate and Madalyn at Novel Ink), I decided to give it a shot, and I’m so glad I did! Seriously, just pick this up if you’re looking for an engrossing, unbelievable read. It’s so fascinating to see how Elizabeth Holmes essentially scammed so many people into donating money to her and supporting her vision. It’s both impressive and horrifying. And she’s got so many strange quirks, like using a fake baritone voice and wearing black turtlenecks to imitate Steve Jobs, it’s hard to know where to start. Seriously, just read this book!

PS: I listened to this on audio and thought it was a totally adequate way of consuming it. It’s not an amazing narration by any means, but if you prefer audio or are looking for a decent audiobook, I think this is a good choice.

Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep

After surviving the massacre of almost the entire royal family, the heroine falls in with a gladiator troupe in her quest to kill the queen and reclaim the throne.

I had little to no expectations going in to Kill the Queen, I was just sent a copy as part of the Avon Addict program and held on to it because it sounded like something I’d probably enjoy if I gave it a chance. As it turns out, this is one of my very favorite books I received as part of the program, and I’m completely obsessed with this series! It just has some of my favorite fantasy elements and just the slightest touch of romance (I’ll admit, I thought it’d have more given a romance publisher sent it to me, but I expect it will develop as the series continues). I really liked Evie’s voice and how smart and determined she is, and her journey was everything I want in a fantasy. I can’t wait for the sequel!!

Romancing Mister Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

Historical romance in which the hero finally realizes that his younger sister’s best friend is actually the perfect person for him.

Such perfect banter! The back and forth between Penelope and Colin and their families was just so much fun! I loved watching Colin fall in love with Penelope in Romancing Mister Bridgerton and Penelope figuring out there’s more to herself than she realized. And of course there’s the big reveal in this one, which added another layer to the story. And Colin’s proposal scene is one of the most romantic scenes I’ve ever read. This whole book was amazing, and that’s why it’s by far my favorite Bridgerton novel.

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There you have it! My 12 favorite books I read this past December, January, and February. Have you read any of these yet? Have I convinced you to give any a try? Let me know in the comments!

2 thoughts on “Favorite Books of Winter 2018-2019

  1. Omg, Polaris Rising is so freaking amazing. I love it so much! I still need to actually read Kill the Queen…
    Also, yes! Play for Passion! There are two books standing between me and my re-read of that one (or as I’m more apt to look at it, that there are three books standing between me and Kiss of Snow), but I absolutely support this being your favorite in the series.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think you’ll like Kill the Queen! There’s not much romance in the first book, but it’s such a good story, and it really picks up in book two.

      And I would say it’s a three-way tie for my favorite Psy Changeling between Play of Passion, Branded by Fire, and Caressed by Ice! Though now that I think about it, Play of Passion might edge out the other two. I really need to finish this series already!

      Like

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