2019 Books




  • Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery – (B) A plot-point in the Netflix series “Russian Doll” prompted me to read this tale of a spunky, witty orphan. A darker Anne of Green Gables.
  • Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics by Dan Harris – (C) A how-to on mediation for busy people. It was fine but I felt like I learned everything in the first chapter. Apparently the audiobook is really good because it’s more off-the-cuff banter.
  • Michael Tolliver Lives by Armistead Maupin – (B+) This is told in first-person from the view of a 50-something Michael reflecting on his halcyon days and his aging family.
  • State of Fear by Michael Crichton – (C) A few good ideas and intense action sequences are drowned out by sermonizing about the (non)existence of climate change. Also the most disturbing character death in any of his books.
  • Verses for the Dead by Preston and Child – (B-) While this is an decent FBI/serial killer mystery it lacked the usual depth and supernatural aspects of the Pendergast series. A good jumping on point for new readers but a bit of a let down for fans.
  • Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk – (A) A truly gripping and suspenseful book about a young girl’s kindness and compassion in dealing with a bully and a tragedy in her post WWII farming community. I loved it.


  • Becoming by Michelle Obama (B+) Interesting story of her life before and during her time as FLOTUS. A compelling and inspirational read.
  • Maryann In Autumn by Armistead Maupin – (B) Back to the intersecting story line device book #8 finds Maryann in her golden years returning to San Francisco and facing her mortality and her past sins.
  • Next by Michael Crichton – (D) His last book prior to his death is a disjointed collection of small gene-therapy stories and “warnings” of which a few coincide at the end. Too many ideas none of which are truly fleshed out.
  • The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim DeFede – (A-) A truly inspiring account of how one small town came together to help the thousands of passengers stranded on September 11th.
  • Unto Us a Son is Given by Donna Leon- (B) Brunetti mystery #28 centers around two stories about two sons, one wanted the other maybe not. And then…death.


  • Column of Fire by Ken Follett- (B) The third in the Kingsbridge series this time about the Spanish Inquisition among other ridiculous religious hatred and torment.
  • Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton- (A-) His first book published posthumously tells the story of pirates in 1680s Jamaica planning a daring heist. An entertaining page turner even if he clearly was not finished with it.


  • Here is Real Magic by Nate Staniforth – (B) This autobiography had me from the preface. His stories of how he became a magician are really interesting. I got a little bored with the second half when he travels to India but it was still engaging.
  • Micro by Michael Crichton and Richard Preston – (B) You can tell that Preston had a heavy hand in this found Crichton manuscript because the gore is amped up in this ‘Jurassic Park meets Honey I Shrunk the Kids’ action adventure.
  • The Days of Anna Madrigal by Armistead Maupin- (B) The last in the Tales of the City series focuses on Anna and her past, present, and future legacy.


  • Force of Nature by Jane Harper – (B) A group of women return from a work retreat minus one. Did she wander off or did something more sinister happen? A decent mystery.
  • Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton – (B+) This found completed manuscript from 1974 was his last posthumously published book. A historical non-fiction about two real-life paleontologists in a race to discover new dinosaurs in 1865. The young protagonist weaves together the action, adventure, and suspense. 


  • Howard Stern Comes Again by Howard Stern – (C+) A collection of his interviews over the past 20 years. They may be interesting to hear but they aren’t as interesting to read. 
  • Full Wolf Moon by Lincoln Child – (B) This the fifth in a series (I haven’t read the previous 4) is an easy summer read about a “werewolf” terrorizing a small mountain town. Or is it? (A werewolf, I mean. It is a town.)
  • Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris – (B) It’s Christmas in July with this funny collection of stories. I enjoyed the autobiographical ones over the fiction essays.


  • Barrel Fever by David Sedaris – (C) I skimmed his fictional essays. As previously mentioned the autobiographical ones are better.
  • Slave Day by Rob Thomas – (C) I really had trouble connecting with the characters in this book by the Veronica Mars creator. A “slave day” fundraiser is questioned by some of the teens as racially offensive while others lean into it pretty hard. Interesting idea, dull execution.
  • They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera (B+) Two teens know that they are going to die today. They meet up and have an adventure before it’s over. Very sweet and real with moments of intensity. It’s amazing what an interesting world he created in a few short pages. I would love a series exploring this.


  • 99 Souls by Gabriel Burns – (B-) Supernatural thriller about a serial intent on “saving” the world’s children.
  • Old Bones by Lincoln Child and Douglas Preston – (C+) While it was nice to give two tertiary “Pendergast” characters their own series the story didn’t really grab me.
  • What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty – (C) I got super bored with this about half-way through. I finished it but I didn’t really care what Alice forgot or eventually remembered.


  • Hello Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly (A-) Engaging story about a shy boy who gets himself into a predicament and how “fate” helps him persevere.
  • Lose Well by Chris Gethard (C) – Way too “self help-y” for my taste. The stories about his childhood and his career were interesting but every time get went off on a “you can do it if you just believe in yourself” tangent I got super bored.
  • Naked by David Sedaris (B) – I realizing that either my tastes have changed (likely) or his stories don’t hold up under the 2019 lens (less likely but still relevant.)
  • Rayne and Delia’s Midnight Matinee by Jeff Zentner – (D-) Two of the most annoying characters put to paper spend 400 pages being immature, whiny, teens. The last 50 pages are so ridiculous it’s like a completely different book. One of the worst I have ever read.


  • Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed – (B+) After an unfortunate incident, young Amal is forced to pay off a debt by working as a servant. A middle-grades book about survival and life.
  • Common Sense by Thomas Payne – (B?) I audio booked this one. I couldn’t follow all of it because of the olde tyme language but hooray for democracy!
  • The Dangerous Art of Blending In by Angelo Surmelis – (A) A fictionalized account of Surmelis’ real-life childhood dealing with physical abuse by a parent and coming to terms with his sexuality. Heartbreaking but amazing.
  • The Gone World by Tom Sweterlitsch – (DNF) The first time I tried to read this I got 13% in. Then I forgot I had read and quit it and 5 months later I re-read it and got 40% in and quit again. Boring.
  • Home Work: A memoir of my Hollywood Years by Julie Andrews – (B-) A somewhat real, somewhat glossed over tail of her years from Mary Poppins to Victor/Victoria. Some good stories and a lot about moving homes 20 times.


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