Goodreads tells me that I’ve had a very enjoyable year in reading. In fact, I gave 21 books out of 119 a five star rating; and gave an average rating of 4.1 overall. Once a story brings me joy and provides intriguing characters, I’m fairly generous with my stars (espresso shots on this blog). However, a few have really stuck with me since I first read them and stand out above the rest, so here are my top 19 reads of 2019.
Before I get into the individual books, I’m highlighting three favourite cozy mystery series. These are series I started in 2019 and loved so much that I got myself fully (almost) caught up on them!
The Cat Latimer Mysteries by Lynn Cahoon captured my attention with its clever plots and behind the scenes view of a writer’s life (one who even hosts writers’ retreats)!
A Family Skeleton Mystery by Leigh Perry series features a very unique sidekick for the protagonist. Sid is a moving, talking, sleuthing skeleton. Odd but so very funny and surprisingly touching.
The Sloan Krause Mysteries by Ellie Alexander introduced me to the wonderful world of craft beer brewing. Clever murder mystery plots, awesome cooking and ingenious beer creations all make for super enjoyable reads.
Alright, let’s get down to the business of the individual books. I’ll start with the Cozy Mysteries.
My favourite Cozies
- Mistaken Identity Crisis by James J. Cudney is book 4 in the Braxton Campus mysteries. A major story arc culminates in this one, making it a true page-turner.
- A Skeleton in the Family by Leigh Perry is book one in the A Family Skeleton Mystery series. I was completely taken in by this debut and had to read as many more as I could.
- A Legacy of Murder by Connie Berry was my first foray into the Kate Hamilton Mysteries. This expertly plotted mystery with its array of well-developed secondary stories, is most definitely a winner.
My favourite Romance Books
4. Bear With Me by Jessica Redland is a novel to make you smile, laugh, get angry and then some! I do enjoy these stories set in Whitsborough Bay, and any regular reader of this blog will know how much I enjoy Jessica’s books.
5. Rewrite the Stars by Emma Heatherington really resonated with me. The protagonist, Charlotte, faced some major upheavals in both her personal life and professional life. I definitely shed a couple tears over this one.
6. The Lord’s Inconvenient Vow by Lara Temple is the final book in the Sinful Sinclair series. It’s a second chance love story set against the Egyptian pyramids and trips down the Nile.
My favourite Fantasy Books
7. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. Wow. I love Kaz. I love Inej. I just love them all. And now I have to read the Grishverse trilogy to prepare for the Netflix series!
8. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. Jeez. I could barely do anything else but read to find out what happens next. I walked around my house with the book practically attached to my hand.
9. Ancient Souls by Marianne Bissett is an oddly wonderful historical fantasy story set, more or less, against a WWII backdrop.
My favourite Contemporary Books
10. The Secret to Happiness by Jessica Redland follows the lives, losses, loves and triumphs of three different ladies. Each woman’s story is complete and emotional and come together to create a fantastic read.
11. The Things We Need to Say by Rachel Burton is such an emotional story I had to read it in small doses. I took me a couple weeks to get through, but I delighted in the characters and how each and every one changed as the novel progressed.
12. An Exaltation of Larks by Suanne Laqueur is an absolutely breathtaking read that will stay with you for a really really long time. There’s a line uttered in the story: “Jav writes so seamlessly, you forget you’re reading.” That’s exactly how I felt while reading… or better yet… experiencing this novel.
13. A Charm of Finches by Suanne Liqueur is the sequel to Larks. As if Suanne hadn’t already put my emotions through the wringer with her first novel, this one was even more intense!
My favourite Historical Fiction
14. Eva Luna by Isabel Allende is a Latin American tale wrapped up in magical realism and additional layers of complexity and richness. It is Isabel Allende at her storytelling best.
15. The Murmur of Bees by Sofía Segovia was another one of those WOW books I read this year. I cannot sing praises high enough of this magical, hauntingly descriptive, atmospheric, beguiling story that traces the Morales family and their time with the charmingly elusive Simonopio. The novel can be fully enjoyed by English readers thanks to the incredible translation by Simon Bruni.
16. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid was a 2019 favourite for many, myself included. I’ve now added this author to my list of favourites!
My favourite Christmas Reads
17. A Vicarage Christmas by Kate Hewitt is another one of those novels that I really connected with this year. My review of that one was definitely based more on how it made me feel as opposed to its structure. That said, it’s a story that many of us bookworms may be able to relate to. I’ve already bought the next in the series.
18. A Holiday by Gaslight by Mimi Matthews was the perfect novella to start off my Chrismas reading binge. If you haven’t tried it as yet, be sure to add it to your festive reading list for 2020.
19. Christmas at the Chateau by Lorraine Wilson is cute, sweet, short and Christmasy. This story made me smile and feel warm and cozy. The plot and characters were cute too and had me buying the first book in the full series.
And the 2019 winners are…
An Exaltation of Larks and The Murmur of Bees
These are two very different books and they really can’t be compared. Each is a fantastic story set in its own time and place, but both feature amazing stories and captivating characters who will hold on to your imagination long after you’ve read read the final sentence.
I read An Exaltation of Larks in January of 2019 and knew, even then, that it would end up as one of my favourite reads of the year. In fact, I have even re-read parts of it throughout 2019.
The Murmur of Bees is one I read later on in the year and is a story that I often revisit in my mind. I have recommended this book to several of my students as well. I bought an ebook version with audio (the narration is stand out brilliant) and then got myself a physical copy too. I’m even hoping to re-read it in Spanish sometime soon.
There you have it, my favourite 19 books for 2019. What books did you absolutely adore last year? Have you read any as yet for 2020 that you think will still be a top fave by the end of the year?