2019 READING STATS & ROUND UP

Reading Stats

GENERAL

  • Books Read: 53
  • Pages Read: 19,817

GENRE

  • Fiction: 47 books
  • Non-Fiction: 6 books

RATING

  • Average Rating: 3.6 stars
  • 5-Star: 10 books
  • 4-Star: 17 books
  • 3-Star: 20 books
  • 2-Star: 6 books

AUTHORS

  • New-To-Me Authors: 34
  • Repeat Authors: 8
  • Male Authors: 8
  • Female Authors: 44

FORMAT

  • Physical Book: 23
  • eBook: 20
  • Audiobook: 10

BOOKS READ PER MONTH

  • January: 2
  • February: 3
  • March: 3
  • April: 1
  • May: 0
  • June: 1
  • July: 4
  • August: 5
  • September: 9
  • October: 10
  • November: 9
  • December: 6

Books Read in 2019

#1. Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake

#2. Honeybee by Trista Mateer

#3. After by Anna Todd

#4. After We Collided by Anna Todd

#5. 99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne

#6. On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves

#7. The Good Luck Charm by Helena Hunting

#8. After We Fell by Anna Todd

#9. After Ever Happy by Anna Todd

#10. Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered: The Definitive How-To Guide by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark

#11. Girl, Stop Apologizing: A Shame-Free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals by Rachel Hollis

#12. Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney

#13. A Serial Killer’s Daughter: My Story of Faith, Love, and Overcoming by Kerri Rawson

#14. What You Did by Claire McGowan

#15. The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

#16. The Arrangement by Robyn Harding

#17. Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

#18. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

#19. The Outsider by Stephen King

#20. The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

#21. Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

#22. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

#23. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

#24. Meet Cute by Helena Hunting

#25. Dating You/Hating You by Christina Lauren

#26. Punk 57 by Penelope Douglas

#27. Bully by Penelope Douglas

#28. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

#29. Tin Man by Sarah Winman

#30. Looker by Laura Sims

#31. The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay

#32. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

#33. Elevation by Stephen King

#34. An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

#35. The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

#36. Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

#37. The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

#38. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

#39. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

#40. Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon

#41. Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

#42. The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

#43. American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century by Maureen Callahan

#44. Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey

#45. How to Walk Away by Katherine Center

#46. The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

#47. Birthday Girl by Penelope Douglas

#48. The Guy on the Right by Kate Stewart

#49. My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

#50. The Wives by Tarryn Fisher

#51. The Wallflower Wager by Tessa Dare

#52. Voyager by Diana Gabaldon

#53. The Making of Outlander: The Official Guide to Seasons 1 &2 by Tara Bennett

REVIEW: My Dark Vanessa

Author: Kate Elizabeth Russell

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Genre: Psychological Fiction

Pages: 384

Date of Publication: January 23, 2020

Synopsis: Exploring the psychological dynamics of the relationship between a precocious yet naïve teenage girl and her magnetic and manipulative teacher, a brilliant, all-consuming read that marks the explosive debut of an extraordinary new writer.

2000. Bright, ambitious, and yearning for adulthood, fifteen-year-old Vanessa Wye becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful forty-two-year-old English teacher.

2017. Amid the rising wave of allegations against powerful men, a reckoning is coming due. Strane has been accused of sexual abuse by a former student, who reaches out to Vanessa, and now Vanessa suddenly finds herself facing an impossible choice: remain silent, firm in the belief that her teenage self willingly engaged in this relationship, or redefine herself and the events of her past. But how can Vanessa reject her first love, the man who fundamentally transformed her and has been a persistent presence in her life? Is it possible that the man she loved as a teenager—and who professed to worship only her—may be far different from what she has always believed?

Alternating between Vanessa’s present and her past, My Dark Vanessa juxtaposes memory and trauma with the breathless excitement of a teenage girl discovering the power her own body can wield. Thought-provoking and impossible to put down, this is a masterful portrayal of troubled adolescence and its repercussions that raises vital questions about agency, consent, complicity, and victimhood. Written with the haunting intimacy of The Girls and the creeping intensity of RoomMy Dark Vanessa is an era-defining novel that brilliantly captures and reflects the shifting cultural mores transforming our relationships and society itself. 

Review: Y’all… How lucky am I to have received one of most anticipated books of 2020 for free from – of all things – a Goodreads giveaway?! I didn’t think that it was possible, that people actually won those things, but now that I know it can be done I can’t stop entering them. I don’t think the likelihood of me winning again is very high, but I digress.

Yes, My Dark Vanessa was one of my most anticipated books of 2020 and as you can tell from my 5-star rating above, I really enjoyed it. I hesitate to say that I loved it as the subject matter is really dark and disturbing, and while a complete work of fiction, something terrible that occurs – and probably more often than we’re aware.

I was honestly shocked to learn that this was Russell’s first novel because My Dark Vanessa is masterfully written and entirely engaging. A thought-provoking conversation starter on abuse of power, consent, trauma, and the uber-relevant #MeToo movement, the book’s narrative switches back and forth between timelines; a vulnerable, 15-year-old Vanessa who’s being groomed for a sexual relationship with her English teacher, Mr. Strane, and present-day Vanessa, as she struggles with the aftermath of his abuse and manipulation. The trauma from her experiences runs deep and it’s something that, to be expected, has impacted all aspects of her adult life – her relationships, her career, her sense of well being and mental state, etc. She struggles with her identity outside of her abuser -she even struggles to see Mr. Strane as what he is and was – an abuser. The verbal and mental manipulation she suffered at the hands of her teacher was astounding and heartbreaking, and honestly hard to read. Equally hard to read was Vanessa’s processing of the situation and the ways she convinces herself that Strane was her true love. He ruined her life and she was blind to his manipulation.

A main plot point of the novel involves a former student coming forward and alleging abuse by the same teacher. She encourages Vanessa to join her in speaking out against their perpetrator and the institution that allowed the abuse to occur. For Vanessa, the decision to respond and speak out is no easy feat, mainly because she struggles to see her relationship with Strane as an abuse of power. She questions yet defends his intentions and the validity of their “romance.” Was she really in love? Is she delusional? Was she partly responsible for their relationship?

This is a very challenging, raw read but one that I highly recommend you pick up.

**I received this book for free from William Morrow Books through a #GoodreadsGiveaway, however, this is an honest review and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

Sarah & Her Shelves Recommended? YES.

WHAT I READ: November 2019

This time of year is always a killer for my reading plans. I always have the best intentions, but with the holidays and family time and just general end-of-year craziness, I don’t always accomplish everything that I set out to. That being said, I’m pretty proud of what I was able to knock out in the month of November. Check out my star ratings and reviews (if applicable) for the nine books I read last month below!

FIVE STAR READS ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon

The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams
Check out my Goodreads review here.

Birthday Girl by Penelope Douglas (re-read)
Check out my Goodreads review here.

FOUR STAR READS ★ ★ ★ ★

Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

How to Walk Away by Katherine Center

The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

THREE STAR READS ★ ★ ★

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaledes
Check out my Goodreads review here.

American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century by Maureen Callahan
Check out my Goodreads review here.

TWO STAR READS ★ ★

Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey
Check out my Goodreads review here.