My favorite books of 2019

In 2019 I read lots of books that made me happy I can read!

I’m finally getting my favorite books of the year completed. 2019 was a good reading year since I read many books I liked and many that filled me with joy. So I have lots of favorites this year!

I had set a goal for myself to read 95 books and only read 90, but that’s okay. I love to read. I think I’m reading a little slower these days. However, the important thing for me is that I’m still reading and that I enjoy most of the books I read.

I’ve added links to the books I reviewed (only three books). 😦

Mystery

Mercy Falls by William Kent Krueger, Cork O’Connor #5

This series takes place in northern Minnesota’s lake country. I love the series which features wonderful descriptions of northern Minnesota and well-written mysteries. However, I need to read them a little quicker since there are already 17 books in the series!

Burning Ridge by Margaret Mizushima, Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries #4

This is another series I love. I’m up-to-date with this series and have read these books since started being published a few years ago. I love reading about working dogs and Robo is a great example of a K-9 dog in a police department. He and Mattie are a wonderful team.

Watcher in the Woods by Kelley Armstrong, Rockton #4

This police procedural is set in one of the oddest towns I’ve read about in a mystery and there’s lots of suspense. Each book ratchets up the suspense a little more.

Fractured Truth by Susan Furlong, Bone Gap Travellers #2

Former Marines Brynn and her K-9 partner Wilco suffer from PTSD and both carry the scars from an IED explosion. Brynn tries to control the flashbacks with alcohol and pain pills–not a good combination especially since she’s now working for the McCreary County Sherrif’s Department. She’s also trying to straddle two worlds–that of the Irish Travellers (a nomadic group from Ireland who came to the U.S. during the Great Famine) and the settled townspeople (most of whom distrust the Travellers.) The mysteries are good in this series and the world of the Travellers is fascinating.

The First Eagle by Tony Hillerman, Leaphorn & Chee #13

I’ve read these mysteries since I was a teenager. My mom and I would talk about the books through the years since we both loved them. One of the best things about this series is that it’s set in the United States Southwest. For a while I stopped reading mysteries so now I’m catching up with this series. And I’m so happy that Tony Hillerman’s daughter Anne Hillerman has continued writing the series after he died.

The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #8

The books in this series are so well written. Sometimes they’re difficult to read since heartbreaking things happen to characters I like. Things that happen in one book may have far-reaching impact several books later and then we see how skillfully Louise Penny has intertwined so much into her books.

A Bitter Feast by Deborah Crombie, Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James #18

I was so happy to read this book since it has been several years since Deborah Crombie had written a book in the series. When I read about Duncan and Gemma and their family it’s like having a chat with old friends. And the mysteries are good, too!

The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths, Ruth Galloway #9

I’m always happy to return to Ruth’s world. She’s such an interesting character and I love the mysteries which always have something to do with her forensic archaeology work.

Science Fiction

Exit Strategy by Martha Wells, The Murderbot Diaries #4

I’ve loved every single one of the Murderbot books. They are original, an adventure story and also thought-provoking.

Borderline by Janet Edwards, Hive Mind #4

I like everything I’ve read by Janet Edwards. This series is one I especially love. Ms. Edwards has a great way of writing exciting stories about characters I care about. And her world building is so good. It takes place in Earth’s future.

Mantivore Dreams by S.G. Higbee, Arcadian Chronicles #1

I like the way this book slowly unfolds so that it gives readers time to try to figure things out themselves. I also like that by the end of the book there are threads for future books, but that this book is a complete story. I need to get that next book read! The world building is especially good and I like the way Kyrillia grows and changes throughout the book.

A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by C.A. Fletcher

I chose to read this book because it was about a dog! I love the bond between Griz and the dogs. However, the book is a post apocalyptic science fiction so the book is good, but also has an overall feeling of sadness.

The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley

I feel like a lot of science fiction really makes you think in a different way and that’s kind of what this book did for me. It’s also post apocalyptic, military science fiction and during parts of the book I wasn’t really sure what was happening! It went different directions than I thought it would.

Ascending by Meg Pechenick, The Vardeshi Saga #1

Margaret (Meg) Pechenick is a new author to me. (S.G. Higbee @ Brainfluff reviewed this book. I find out about so many good books from her.) I loved this science fiction about aliens visiting Earth and inviting a group of Earthlings to visit their part of space.

Doing Time by Jodi Taylor, The Time Police #1

This was book one of a new series–The Time Police–that came out in fall 2019. It’s a spin-off of The Chronicles of St. Mary’s series. These are both time travel series and so much fun. I’m doing a happy dance that Jodi Taylor decided to start another series which comes at the time travel idea from a slightly different angle. Can’t wait for the next book!

Urban Fantasy

These are my favorite urban fantasies (which are about the only fantasies I read these days) and I’ve read every book as they’ve been published!

Wild Country by Anne Bishop, The World of the Others #2 (The Others #7)

The world building in these books is one of the most appealing parts of this series. It very different from other urban fantasy series I read.

Storm Cursed by Patricia Briggs, Mercy Thompson #11

Mercy Thompson is such a great character. She doesn’t always do the smart thing, but she’s such a loyal friend and she tries to do what’s right for the people she’s responsible for. And I love the world Patricia Briggs has created.

Between Homes by W.R. Gingell, The City Between #5

This series is so unique and the last book has really ratcheted up the suspense. I hope another book comes soon in this world where Fae often come and go in the human world, but very few humans manage to survive a trip either Between or Behind. And most humans don’t even know they exist.

Fiction

Doggirl by Robin Brande

I loved this book! It’s young adult which I seldom like or read, but this book about a high school girl who wants to be an animal trainer for movies is just lovely. And the dogs are wonderful!

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

An out-of-work librarian, a bookstore on wheels and remote towns without libraries all come together in this wonderful book. There’s even some romance in it! And it’s set in Scotland!

Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts by Lucy Dillon

I loved all the dogs in this book plus the human characters are great fun to read about.

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

At the end of the book I felt so happy I’d read this which is one of the reasons I love reading. It’s set in Maine which is one of my favorite places and Evvie Drake is a great character. She’s certainly not perfect, but she’s someone I’d love to talk to. Linda Holmes is also one of the hosts of the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast which I love to listen to.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

One of my most favorite books of 2019! So glad I read it. The language flows and the characters are so vivid–especially Kya (aka “Marsh Girl”). The book is heartbreaking at times, but ultimately a wonderful read. It’s historical fiction, almost a natural history of the North Carolina swamps and marshland and a mystery all set in swamps along the North Carolina Coast. It switches back and forth between Kya’s childhood in the 1950’s and a murder that happens in 1969. Cassandra Campbell narrated the audiobook and made my enjoyment of the book so vivid and immersive.

Memoir

Becoming by Michelle Obama

I don’t usually read memoirs or biographies, but I enjoyed this one a lot–especially since I listened to the audiobook narrated by Michelle Obama. By the end I felt like we had met! So interesting to hear about her childhood, her meeting and marriage to Barack Obama, and then her life as the First Lady in the White House. She’s such an inspirational person.

Have you read any of these books? What were some of your favorite books of the year?

My 2019 reading year

I like to look back at other years (I’ve added a few stats from 2018) and see how my reading has changed through the years so it really helps me to take the time to count everything. My take-away from these statistics:

  • I missed my Goodreads reading challenge last year, but I read some great books which is more important to me.
  • I’m not sure why I read so many fewer books in 2019 than 2018. It’s partly because of some shorter books in 2018, but that’s not the complete reason.
  • I read books in a few genres I don’t usually read.
  • I wrote very few reviews last year.
  • Most books I read were published in the last 10 years.
  • I didn’t keep track of my reading challenges very well.

2019 Reading Goal

I read 90 books (of my 95 book goal) last year. In 2018 I read 104 books.

Ebooks–60 (41 that I own; 9 from Kindle Unlimited; 10 from library)

Audiobooks–27 (12 audiobooks I own; 15 audiobooks from library)

Hardcover books–2 (from library)

Paperbacks–1 (from library)

Genres & Types of Books Read

My favorite genres continue to be mysteries (especially police procedurals), science fiction and fantasy (especially urban fantasy).

Note: These numbers don’t add up to 90 since several books fit in more than one category.

Mystery

  • Police Procedural–23
  • Cozys–5
  • Other–11

Science Fiction

  • Military–1
  • Young Adult–4
  • Space Opera–2
  • Time Travel–3
  • Post Apocalyptic–1
  • Other–4

Fantasy

  • Urban–14
  • Young Adult–1
  • Other–6

Romance

  • Contemporary–1
  • Historical Romance–2

Fiction

I didn’t read these categories in 2018.

  • Women’s Fiction–6
  • Young Adult–1
  • Middle Grade–2
  • Historical Fiction–2
  • Christmas–1

Nonfiction

Another category I didn’t read in 2018.

  • Memoir–1
  • Other–2

Dogs

  • I read 10 books with dogs as major characters. (Nine books in 2018)

Other Stats

New-to-me authors–34 (My two favorite new authors.) (35 new authors in 2018.)

The author I read the most–Katherine Pathak , DCI Dani Bevan Mystery series (four books)

Reviews posted in 2019

  • of 2019 books read–7
  • of 2018 books read–11

Books Read (by original date of publication)

Most books I read were published in the last decade (2010-2019) though I read a handful of “vintage” books.

2019 books read–26

2010 – 2018–52

2000 – 2009–4

1990s–3

1970 and before–5

(1970, 1947, 1934, 1923 and 1894)

Reading Challenges

I signed up for lots of challenges last year, but partly because of problems with my blog last year and then moving it to WordPress.com I didn’t work much on my challenges. Plus as past years have shown I don’t participate in challenges very well. I sometimes complete a challenge if I just have to read certain types of books, but if I have to write a review or go to a blog to show that I read a certain type of book I don’t do it or I forget about doing that.

The only challenge I kept track of was my Goodreads Reading Challenge. I haven’t signed up for challenges other than the Goodreads challenge in 2020. I might try to participate in my local library reading challenge. That challenge has 12 different categories to read one book from each category during the year. I’ll talk more about reading challenges in my 2020 Goals post.

Sunday Post: 2020 is just around the corner

Weekly meme to talk about books and a little about my personal life

Sunday-Post

Kimberly hosts the Sunday Post each week. I like to take part because it gives me an opportunity to look back at last week and forward to next week in both my personal life and my blog and book life! I also love to see what other people are doing and what books everyone is reading.

Personal life

It’s kind of hard to believe 2020 is here in a few days. I remember when the new millennium was about to start and we were worried what might happen to the world’s computers. I had though about the year 2000 for a number of years and how old I would be and that a millennium was a big thing. And now suddenly that was 20 years ago. Wow!

Time flies….

It’s a cliche to say that the years go by quicker and quicker as we get older, but just because it’s a cliche doesn’t mean it’s not true. And when I searched for information about “time flying as we get older” I found a Scientific American article that explains this–that our brain encodes new experiences which happen more often when we’re younger, less often when we’re older. Thus, we perceive time going slowly when we’re young and time going faster when we’re older with our older brains–especially when we think about larger periods of time such as a decade or two. This makes sense to me, but I hadn’t put it all together.

Christmas

Our Christmas was wonderful–our family was together and everyone seemed to have a great time together (even all our cats and dogs).

I think we will remember Christmas 2019 as the “jigsaw puzzle Christmas!” We often have a puzzle we’re working on during Christmas, but this Christmas we completed two 500 piece puzzles, a 1,000 piece puzzle and we’re part way done with another 1,000 piece puzzle. I will get a little more done on that puzzle, but since the kids have left I probably won’t work on it too much…lol. We’re staying in Indiana until after New Year’s Day to take care of my daughter’s dogs while she visits some cousins in northern Wisconsin for New Year’s.

Olie and the dogs

My new kitten Olie came with us to Indiana and he’s done very well. He’s a very curious kitten and willing to try almost anything! We have a gate in the hallway to keep him on one side and the dogs on the other side. However, he has figured out that he’s small enough that he can walk through most of the panels which he does even when the dogs are in the living room. This is worrisome to me since one of my daughter’s labs chases squirrels, rabbits and other small animals in the yard. However, Olie isn’t too worried by Juneau and he bats Juneau in the face so that Juneau backs off! Juneau is curious about Olie, but seems to want to play. However, I still closely watch the interactions.

Blog Life

Last week
Next week
  • My favorite books of 2019
  • Can’t-Wait Wednesday
  • January 2020 books on my list
  • Sunday Post

My books

What I’m reading
  • Between Homes by W.R. Gingell
What I read recently
  • Between Frames by W.R. Gingell
  • The Christmas Pact by Vi Keeland
Books I got recently

The Cafe by the Sea by Jenny Colgan(ebook/purchased)

Why is Nothing Every Simple? by Jodi Taylor (ebook/purchased)

On Her Father’s Grave by Kendra Elliott (Kindle Unlimited)

What have you been doing? What are your plans for next week?

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate Christmas and Happy Holidays to those who celebrate other holidays at this time of the year.

I’ve always loved Christmas and my kids and husband do, too! We’re having Christmas in Indiana with one of our daughters. She has such cute ornaments on her tree. Our Illinois daughter and Seattle son arrived on Christmas Eve. During Christmas Eve day we went to see A Christmas Carol done by the Indiana Repertory Theater. We’re also playing various card games and putting together jigsaw puzzles in between the eating!

I was looking at old Christmas pictures and found this Christmas card my husband’s family sent when he was a child:

I think it’s such a cute card and was obviously before everyone sent photos!

I found this photo of my brother and me from when I was about five years old. I know my brother got a chemistry set that year, but I don’t know exactly what gifts I received except for the Velvet Eyes book I see in the photo. Apparently Velvet Eyes was a story about “Santa’s little helper.” But I don’t remember it at all!

Do you celebrate Christmas or some other holiday like Hanukkah or Kwanzaa? Or do you just enjoy having some days off?

Sunday Post: Christmas in Indiana

Weekly meme to talk about books and a little about my personal life

Sunday-Post

Kimberly hosts the Sunday Post each week. I like to take part because it gives me an opportunity to look back at last week and forward to next week in both my personal life and my blog and book life! I also love to see what other people are doing and what books everyone is reading.

Personal life

We are in Indiana for Christmas. There’s snow on the ground, I’ve made some Christmas cookies, we’ve gone to a fun Christmas Market and my two other kids show up in a couple of days. I managed to get my Christmas cards made, written and mailed before we left home which made me happy. I love this time of year!

Blog Life

Last week
Next week
  • Can’t-Wait Wednesday
  • Merry Christmas
  • Sunday Post

My books

What I’m reading
  • Between Frames by W.R. Gingell
What I read recently
  • The Wise Virgin by Jo Beverley
  • Dark As Night by Katherine Pathak
Books I got recently

Rest You Merry by Charlotte MacLeod (ebook/purchased)

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir (ebook/purchased)

Deadly Dram by Melinda Mullet (ebook/purchased)

Dark as Night by Katherine Pathak (Kindle Unlimited)

The Dark Fear by Katherine Pathak (Kindle Unlimited)

Snowfall on Cedar Trail by Annie Rains(Paperback/Library)

What have you been doing? What are your plans for next week?

Can’t Wait Wednesday: Plan for the Worst by Jodi Taylor

Science Fiction–Check; Time Travel–Check; Adventure–Check; Great Characters–Check. It’s all in this series!

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings. This is a weekly meme to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. The books I choose aren’t released yet and usually won’t be published for at least two or three months. So I have a while to wait!

I love finding out about books set to publish in future months and I like to share my excitement about the books. I also like to find out about new books on other people’s blogs and hope they’ll sometimes find something to look forward to on my blog.

I’m excited to read . . .

Plan for the Worst

by Jodi Taylor

Series: The Chronicles of St. Mary’s #11

Published by Hachette Book Group

Publishing date: April 16, 2020

Genre: Science Fiction, Time Travel

480 pages

Synopsis: You know what they say. Hope for the best. But plan for the worst.

Catch up with the tea-soaked disaster magnets in their latest madcap adventure as they hurtle their way around History.

………………………….

I love this time travel adventure science fiction series and I’m so glad she keeps adding to the books!

Top Ten Tuesday: Twelve books I want to read this winter

That Artsy Reader Girl has hosted Top Ten Tuesday since January of 2018. This is a fun meme with specific topics each week. If you like to make lists and talk about books be sure to check it out.

This week we’re talking about some of the books on our Winter TBR lists. I’ve included both books that will publish during this winter and books from my TBR pile.

Books published during winter 2020

Shattered Justice

by Susan Furlong

Series:Bone Gap Travellers #3

Genre: Mystery

Publication date: December 31

A Longer Fall

by Charlaine Harris

Series: Gunnie Rose #2

Genre: Alternate History, Fantasy

Publication date: January 14

Stars Beyond

by S.K. Dunstall

Series: Stars Uncharted #2

Genre: Science Fiction

Publication date: January 21

Alone in the Wild

by Kelley Armstrong

Series: Casey Duncan #5

Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural

Publication date: February 4

False Value

by Ben Aaronovitch

Series: Rivers of London #8

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publication date: February 20

Smoke Bitten

by Patricia Briggs

Series: Mercy Thompson #12

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publication date: March 10

Books from my TBR pile

The Dark Angel

by Elly Griffiths

Series: Ruth Galloway #10

Genre: Mystery

The Wailing Wind

by Tony Hillerman

Series: Leaphorn & Chee #15

Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural

Thunder Bay

by William Kent Krueger

Series: Cork O’Connor #7

Genre: Mystery

The Long Way Home

by Louise Penny

Series: Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #10

Genre: Mystery

Between Frames

by W.R. Gingell

Series: The City Between #4

Genre: Urban Fantasy

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

by Jodi Taylor

Series: The Chronicles of St. Mary’s #6

Genre: Science Fiction, Time Travel

Bonus Book

I had to return this book to the library before I was done with it. I’ve got it on hold again so I hope to finish it early in 2020.

The Giver of Stars

by Jojo Moyes

Series: None

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Audiobook, Library

Have you read any of these books? What books do you want to read this winter?

Sunday Post: It’s already the middle of December!

Weekly meme to talk about books and a little about my personal life

Sunday-Post

Kimberly hosts the Sunday Post each week. I like to take part because it gives me an opportunity to look back at last week and forward to next week in both my personal life and my blog and book life! I also love to see what other people are doing and what books everyone is reading.

Personal life

I’m having trouble keeping up with how fast December days are speeding by! Still so many things I want to do since I love Christmas. I have to realize I may not get everything done. The most important thing for me is to spend time with my family at this time of the year. And that’s what I need to remember and focus on.

We went looking at Christmas lights last night and I was able to get a few photos. It’s a ritual we always try to do sometime before Christmas. I love to see how people have decorated. It gets dark so early these days that seeing the decorations and lights is so cheering.

Other than playing with my new kitten I don’t feel like I’ve gotten very much done. (Playing with Olie is great fun and he and Elf are starting to play together.) I did do some reading since Olie like to help me read! I’m trying to read some Christmas books before Christmas. This is about the only time of the year I still read a few historical romances. And I’m still trying to finish Christmas cards to get in the mail on Monday or Tuesday!

Christmas in Indiana

We’re spending Christmas in Indiana and traveling there at the end of this week. It’s much easier for our kids to get to Indiana so that’s where we’re spending Christmas this year. We’re bring our kitten with us, my son is bringing his mini dachshund, our Illinois daughter is bringing her cat and our Indiana daughter whose house we’re invading has two dogs so we will have quite the full house of humans and animals!

Blog Life

Last week
Next week
  • Can’t-Wait Wednesday
  • Book review
  • Sunday Post

My books

What I’m reading
  • The Wise Virgin by Jo Beverley
What I read recently
  • Crash Point by John Carson
  • Borderline by Janet Edwards
  • The Christmas Hirelings by Mary Elizabeth Braddon
Books I got recently

Borderline by Janet Edwards (ebook/purchased)

A Study in Gold by Annie Dalton (ebook/purchased)

Shamus Dust. Hard Winter. Cold War. Cool Murder by Janet Rogers (ebook/purchased)

The Satapur Moonstone by Sujata Massey (Hardcover/Library)

What have you been doing? What are your plans for next week?

Review: Slayer by Kiersten White

A fantasy set in the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” Universe

Slayer

by Kiersten White

Narrator: Madeleine Maby

Genre: YA Fantasy

Setting: Buffy Universe

Source: Audiobook, Library

Publishing Date: 2019

404 pages (12 hours)

Synopsis: Into every generation a Slayer is born…

Nina and her twin sister, Artemis, are far from normal. It’s hard to be when you grow up at the Watcher’s Academy, which is a bit different from your average boarding school. Here teens are trained as guides for Slayers—girls gifted with supernatural strength to fight the forces of darkness. But while Nina’s mother is a prominent member of the Watcher’s Council, Nina has never embraced the violent Watcher lifestyle. Instead she follows her instincts to heal, carving out a place for herself as the school medic.

Until the day Nina’s life changes forever.

Thanks to Buffy, the famous (and infamous) Slayer that Nina’s father died protecting, Nina is not only the newest Chosen One—she’s the last Slayer, ever. Period.

As Nina hones her skills with her Watcher-in-training, Leo, there’s plenty to keep her occupied: a monster fighting ring, a demon who eats happiness, a shadowy figure that keeps popping up in Nina’s dreams…

But it’s not until bodies start turning up that Nina’s new powers will truly be tested—because someone she loves might be next.

One thing is clear: Being Chosen is easy. Making choices is hard.

My Thoughts

Before I started the book I hadn’t realized the book was actually in the Buffy universe. That was something I really enjoyed. I liked the glimpses we got of Buffy and I liked that this book is mostly from the Watchers point of view. The book starts after the TV series ends, I think. (I haven’t watched any Buffy for a long time.) Might need to re-watch some of it since I really did enjoy it.

I thought this book had lots of promise. A watcher becomes a slayer! That sounds so great. I also liked the idea of hearing from the watcher side of things.

Too much angst

This book was a little too angsty for me. That’s why I don’t enjoy YA books very much anymore. I must confess I’m tired of all the teenage angst most of them have. I don’t mind reading about young protagonists, but I want some of the second-guessing themselves, constantly changing their mind and worrying about how they look all the time as well as the forbidden lovers trope kept to a minimum. This had a little too much of all that for me especially at the end. (However, this is more my problem than the book’s problem! But it is why I don’t read many young adult books.)

Characters don’t listen

I was also irritated when Nina wouldn’t listen to people. Sometimes you need to go your own way or follow your instincts, but if Nina had listened more and thought about things she wouldn’t have made some of the choices she did. Artemis, her twin sister, also irritated me by not listening to people—especially not listening to Nina whom she was supposed to love so much and whom Artemis had spent her life protecting. That was really irritating.

Bottom line

I listened to the audiobook and I thought the narrator did a good job. However, I probably won’t continue reading this series. It’s just not the series for me.

My Rating: B-
Narrator Rating: B+

Can’t Wait Wednesday: The K Team by David Rosenfelt

A mystery with a German Shepherd K-9. Yes!

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings. This is a weekly meme to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. The books I choose aren’t released yet and usually won’t be published for at least two or three months. So I have a while to wait!

I love finding out about books set to publish in future months and I like to share my excitement about the books. I also like to find out about new books on other people’s blogs and hope they’ll sometimes find something to look forward to on my blog.

I’m excited to read . . .

The K Team

by David Rosenfelt

Series: The K Team #1

Published by Minotaur Books

Publishing date: March 24, 2020

Genre: Mystery

304 pages

Synopsis: Andy Carpenter’s wife, Laurie, was a cop, a good one. Now she helps out on Andy’s cases while also raising Ricky, their son. But she’s been chafing to jump back into investigating on her own, and when her former partner and his German shepherd K-9 partner come to her with a proposal, she’s in.

………………………….

I haven’t read anything by this author, but I love reading about working dogs. And I love mysteries so I’m looking forward to this one!