2019 Year in Review

Happy New Years fellow bloggers! As an annual tradition on the Critiquing Chemist, in this post we will look at 2019 as a year in review, from my favorite reads of the year to the travel adventures Luke and I have embarked upon, along with a short farming/beekeeping update. 2019 as a whole has been a mixed bag throughout, filled with much happiness alongside weather induced farming anxieties. Due to the never ending rains of the spring our farm was not able to be planted, however I’m sure our honeybees were appreciative of all the extra flowers. Our four hives produced over 420 pounds of honey! In comparison, last year they only produced 60 pounds, and the year before the previous PR of 150 pounds. We are still not sure what we will do with all of our excess honey. Here’s to 2020 bringing weather that is more amenable to the nerves of the stress ridden farmers. After our barn fire in 2018, we have finally come to an agreement with the insurance company, so we look forward to rebuilding in the New Year, thereby allowing the healing process to continue.

Book wise I had a bit of a slump compared to the voracious pace set in previous years blogging. Last year I consumed 89 books, however this year I only read 59. Honestly, I’m still find myself feeling content even with that significant reduction in reading quantity due to life constraints on my time with a much more demanding but fulfilling job and a reduced commute. With these obligations in mind, somehow I still managed to finish over a book a week. My reading preferences still favored epic fantasy as I finally finished the Wheel of Time, and started approximately six other series in that genre. The highlight of my literary year, by far, was receiving an ARC of Pierce Brown’s Dark Age. As you can imagine, much squealing and dancing was the result upon opening the said package.


2019 was a blessed year for traveling, as Luke and I checked an amazing destination off our bucket list. Machu Picchu was every bit the World Wonder it is hyped to be, with Peru also containing a wide array of stunning ruins, alongside the mysterious Nazca Lines that have held my fascination since I was a child. Other travels included visiting Alaska in February where we dogsledded in Kenai Fjords National Park during a snowstorm and flew around Denali National Park. Disney World, Harry Potter World, Punta Cana, Madison, and San Antonio made up some of our other destinations for 2019. In 2020 we currently have only one trip on the books, where in February we are traveling to Jordan and Egypt over nine days with Samuel and Kara. Thank you The Points Guy for finding $500 round trip flights for us!

After patiently looking for almost three years, Luke and I bought a house in September! We are currently in the middle of our first construction project but we love our old farm house, especially the carriage barn that came with the property.


Other life events that took place in 2019 ranged from running my second half marathon, to taking my Grandma to her first Detroit Tigers game.

Perhaps most surprising event of the year was Luke and I adopting a new kitten, Izzy (Izzo). Izzy showed up on my parents’ farm totally emaciated, but incredibly friendly. She recovered and has turned out to be such a little blessing. We are both dog people, but Izzy won us over with her love of playing fetch and just being around people in general.


Last but not least my baby brother, Samuel and Kara finally tied the knot in October! Samuel and Kara have made many guest appearances on the Critiquing Chemist from their many guest travel posts to our trips together to Alaska, Peru, or cross country road trips. They had a stunning outdoor wedding! They are seriously just too cute! Plus Luke and I cleaned up well! 😉 Samuel and Kara went on an amazing trip to South Africa for their honeymoon. Should they do a guest post highlighting their trip?

Top Ten Fiction

1. Dark Age by Pierce Brown
2. Fire & Blood by George R. R. Martin
3. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
4. The Test by Sylvain Neuvel
5. Wheel of Time Series

6. Breach by Eliot Peper
7. The Lightbringer Series by Brent Weeks

8. Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett
9. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
10. The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

Top Ten Nonfiction

  1. Bottle of Lies by Katherine Eban
  2. Code Girls by Liza Mundy
  3. The Body by Bill Bryson
  4. The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee
  5. Indianapolis by Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic
  6. Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez
  7. The Death of Expertise by Tom Nichols
  8. The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish
  9. Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg
  10. Salt by Mark Kurlansky


Denali National Park, AK

Kenai Fjords National Park, AK

Chicago, IL

Ballestas Islands, Peru

Nazca Lines, Peru

Huacachina Dunes, Peru

Saqsayhuman, Peru

Písac, Peru

Ollantaytambo, Peru

Maras, Peru

Moray, Peru

Machu Picchu, Peru


Cusco, Peru

Keweenaw Peninsula, MI

Disney World, Orlando, FL

Harry Potter World, Orlando, FL

Detroit, MI

Punta Cana, DR

Madison, WI

San Antonio, TX

Guest Posts

Samuel and Kara’s National Park filled road trip!

Beekeeping and Farming

Luke and I had four hives this year that were really over achievers. Ultimately, at over 420 pounds of honey, those busy bees shattering any honey harvest records we’d previously held. For reference last year we’d harvested 60 pounds and the year before 150 pounds. A few changes that could be a reasons for this improvement come to mind but the biggest alteration was that we actively treated our bees this year for mites. They went into winter healthier than we’ve ever seen so we are trying not to get our hopes up. We also took care of my Great Uncle’s two hives that naturally produced quite a few splits, along with Cliff catching a few wild swarms. By we ended the year, Cliff had over seven hives!

Farming in general across America was full of frustrations, both weather and politically derived. Our personal experience was not unique this year. Due to the rainy, never ending spring, our property did not get planted. Thank goodness for crop insurance. We are optimistic 2020 will hold more amenable weather in its future.

Last but not the least, thank you, thank you, thank you to my readers! I’ve enjoyed meeting many of you over the four and a half years I’ve been blogging. Keep up the amazing work! Happy New Years!


  1. Happy New Year! I would love to see a post on South Africa and thank you for the many fantasy reviews, I gave several as Christmas gifts and they were well received.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I know that there have been less book review this year, Sarah, but I’ve loved every post you’ve published this year, yes your book reviews are always worth a read but I especially enjoyed when you shared your trips with us.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Awww, thank you Sarah 💜 A couple of my favourite authors are releasing books from their series in February, so I’m waiting patiently for Bishop by Teresa Gabelman and Marek by Felicity Heaton. I know that Diane Duvall will be releasing the next one in her Immortal Guardians series at some point this year too.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulations on buying a house! Looks like you had an amazing year. I hope this year is going as well as it can for you… I’m still stuck on the look of disappointment on Izzy’s face in the washing machine picture.

    Liked by 1 person

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