This is my favorite post to write each year, as I get to re-live my love for each book that I mention below – my favorite reads from 2019.
First 5 Star Book of the Year
My first 5 star read of the year came just 10 days into the new year, when I finished Spinning Silver, Naomi Novik. This book GUTTED me! My reading notes on Goodreads say I had to take a day off from reading after finishing this book because I had such a bad reading hangover. I can still remember the characters … and what fantastic World building! It’s the story of Miryem, who took over her father’s money-lending business at too young an age because he was so bad at it. But turns out she was pretty good at it – and then she became cocky … entering into an unwinnable bet with the King of the Staryk.
Favorite Series Continuations
The Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith (pseudonym for J. K. Rowling) is one of my favorite detective series. The latest installment came out this year – and it was my favorite so far. Lethal White (Cormoran Strike #4), Robert Galbraith is full of emotional ups and downs. We get to see a lot more of the relationship with Cormoran and Robin, his former secretary and now a partner … he’s trying to figure out if he’s in love with her … and she’s recently married … and dealing with working and with a husband who is less than supportive … and of course there’s the case they’re trying to solve. There is just so much in this book that I could not put it down. It’s best to read the series in order to get the history, but they can be read out of order.
Harry Hole is another of my favorite detectives, and I don’t hesitate in saying that the latest installment, Knife (Harry Hole #12), Jo Nesbo, is the best! OMG!!! This book! First – best book in the series so far. Second … listen to the audiobook. It’s unbelievable how much the characters and the settings will come alive thanks to the narrator. Third … I just can’t deal!! Jo Nesbo almost broke me by putting Harry Hole through so much trauma in one book. I couldn’t stand it … so I had to keep reading … late into the night, early into the morning. There is so much action and I had so many theories as to who the killer was – all of them wrong! Each book stands alone, but it’s best to read them in order to get some of the history (but not necessary).
Another fantastic book released in a series this year is The Suspect (Kate Waters #3), Fiona Barton. Although this book is part of a series, each one stands alone and has their own characters except for the reporter Kate Waters, along with a few other characters. As Kate is covering the story of 2 missing18-year old girls doing a gap year in Thailand, she becomes part of the story as her son gets entangled in a murder investigation. Fiona Barton is a master at getting us to know and become invested in her characters, and just as she did with the first 2 books in this series, The Widow and The Child, she hooked me with this one!
The Hype Is Real
Where the Crawdad Sings, Delia Owens was on our recent list of Popular Books Worth the Hype [and 1 Not Worth It] #AMonthofFaves. Contemporary books are not really mything, so I almost didn’t read this … but thank goodness I did! Get ready for an emotional investment because there will be tears, and smiles and a roller-coaster of feelings. Love, love, love.
And then just a few weeks ago, I read Because of all the hype, I read The Testaments (The Handmaid’s Tale #2), Margaret Atwood. The follow-up to The Handmaid’s Tale was highly anticipated because the tv series did so well. I listened to the audiobook as soon as it came out, and loved it. The different POVs held my attention – especially from Lydia who was around from the beginning of the movement in Gilead, when men took over and relegated women to be basically their subjects. The Testaments tells the story of the downfall of Gilead in an engaging manner.
I don’t think we see enough of older protagonists in books and so I was so glad to see Olive Again (Olive Kitteridge #2), Elizabeth Strout out this year. Olive Kitteridge is a polarizing figure, and in the first novel, which I loved, we were introduced to her gruff. sour nature. In this installment, we get stories about Olive and other people who interact with her tangentially. Olive lives through her seventies and eighties, getting married for the second time to Jack. We see her, and the other characters as they navigate through the complexities of different stages of life – from teenage years, 20s and 30s, through being a senior like Olive, and having to deal with the changes in appearance, body and mind.
Favorite Sophomore Novels
A sophomore novel is the 2nd book from an author. I put off reading On the Come Up, Angie Thomas for a while, because, while I absolutely loved her first novel, The Hate U Give, I’m not a huge fan of young adult contemporary novels, so I wasn’t sure I would like her second book. I doubted that she could make me fall in love twice. And boy was I ever wrong to doubt her! Angie Thomas – you are a freaking rock star!! Or … should I say rap star (pun intended). On the Come Up is the story of a young girl coming into her own, in a family that has nothing except love for each other and the will to do battle with the harshness of life. Bri, her brother, mom, grandparents – every single character is written so that you come to know them – what they’ll do – how they’ll react. I listened to the audiobook – do yourself a favor LISTEN TO THE AUDIOBOOK – the narration will bring out the story like the book can’t – the rap battles – how Bri expresses herself through rap … the narrator, Bahni Turpin, was so soooo good!
I was first introduced to Nicole Dennis-Benn late 2017 when I read her fist novel, Here Comes the Sun. I was floored by the novel’s authentic experience of Jamaica – the good and the bad. So when I saw that she was coming out with another book set in Jamaica (note, that’s where I’m from), I picked it up as soon as I could. I was rewarded with a complex, emotional novel with Patsy. There’s so much to unpack in this book – it is DEEP – but the author still manages to make the themes not seem heavy and take just one character and show how her life is heavy, full, flawed and tumultuous.
Favorite Books by Authors I’ve Loved Before
One of the challenges for the 2019 Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge is to read 3 books by the same author – which led me to two of my favorite reads for the year – The Hypnotist’s Love Story and Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty. Moriarty has a way with characters. She writes about them with such vivid detail, and with such completeness that you’ll remember them long after you’re done reading. The Hypnotist’s Love Story is the sort of easy, feel good read that’s perfect for a day when you just want to get lost in a book with a quirky main character that you’ll love. Three Wishes has a similar – except, three quirky sisters who are triplets – and where they go, the drama follows.
I am a Stephen King fan. He’s one of the few authors whose books I’ll read as soon as they come out. And his latest release, The Institute, was absorbing from beginning to end. As usual, King has a way with writing characters that we get to know intimately – main and secondary characters. That’s one of the best things about this book. After intruders silently murder Luke Ellis’s parents and load him into a black SUV, he wakes up at The Institute, in a room that looks just like his own, except there’s no window. And outside his door are other doors, behind which are other kids with special talents – telekinesis and telepathy – who got to this place the same way Luke did
Books from “New to Me” Authors
I think by now, it’s clear that I had mad lover for Queenie, Candice Carty-Williams. Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. A reviewer on Goodreasd said Queenie is both easy to read – the author is magic at writing the characters – and hard to read – Queenie puts herself in some awkward and horrendous situations.
Trail of Lightening, Rebecca Roanhorse is a different kind of book. While most of the world has drowned beneath the sudden rising waters of a climate apocalypse, Dinétah (formerly the Navajo reservation) has been reborn. The gods and heroes of legend walk the land, but so do monsters. Maggie Hoskie is a Dinétah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. The world building, the characters, the chemistry and the story totally on me over.
Have you read any of these books? What’s your absolute favorite book of the year? Mine would be Where the Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens. If you’re participating in #AMonthofFaves [The 2019 Edition] link up to your blog post (or Instagram picture) below.