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?

Can’t-Wait Wednesday: Alone in the Wild by Kelley Armstrong

Suspenseful & exciting mystery series set in northern Canada wilderness

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 . . .

Alone in the Wild

by Kelley Armstrong

Series: Rockton #5

Published by Minotaur Books

Publishing date: Feb 4, 2020

368 pages

Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural

Goodreads synopsis: Every season in Rockton seems to bring a new challenge. At least that’s what Detective Casey Duncan has felt since she decided to call this place home. Between all the secretive residents, the sometimes-hostile settlers outside, and the surrounding wilderness, there’s always something to worry about.

While on a much needed camping vacation with her boyfriend, Sheriff Eric Dalton, Casey hears a baby crying in the woods. The sound leads them to a tragic scene: a woman buried under the snow, murdered, a baby still alive in her arms.

A town that doesn’t let anyone in under the age of eighteen, Rockton must take care of its youngest resident yet while solving another murder and finding out where the baby came from – and whether she’s better off where she is.

…………………………………..

The mysteries, setting and characters are all great in this series. It’s one of my favorite series and I’m so looking forward to February when I hope to read this book.

Review: Omens by Kelley Armstrong

Omens by Kelley Armstrong

Series: Cainsville #1

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Mystery

Setting: Chicago & Cainsville, Illinois

Source: Ebook, purchased

Publishing Date: 2013

486 pages

Synopsis: Twenty-four-year-old Olivia Taylor Jones has the perfect life. The only daughter of a wealthy, prominent Chicago family, she has an Ivy League education, pursues volunteerism and philanthropy, and is engaged to a handsome young tech firm CEO with political ambitions.

But Olivia’s world is shattered when she learns that she’s adopted. Her real parents? Todd and Pamela Larsen, notorious serial killers serving a life sentence. When the news brings a maelstrom of unwanted publicity to her adopted family and fiancé, Olivia decides to find out the truth about the Larsens.

My thoughts

It took me a while to finish this book since I read other books and set this one aside, but I’m so glad I got back to it and finished it. The book has such an unusual premise: the main character finds out–all at the same time–that she was adopted and that her birth parents are serial killers. I’ve never read a book about someone whose parents are serving life sentences for killing multiple people. I’ve often wondered what happens to a family when they discover that a family member is a killer.

Plunged into a nightmare

For Olivia her life is suddenly a nightmare. To find the people she thought were her mother and father aren’t her birth parents is bewildering enough, but to discover at the same time that she’s the child of notorious serial killers causes Olivia to flee from her home. It doesn’t help that her adoptive mother (her adoptive father is dead) has always been distant and goes to Europe with friends to get away from the media circus leaving Olivia alone to handle this news. Olivia is engaged, but her fiance isn’t very helpful either and she breaks off the engagement.

Throughout the book there are glimpses into what is really going on and it’s far more than Olivia even can guess. She is guided and moved along to places and to do things, but they’re subtle so she doesn’t realize what’s happening.

Cainsville

Olivia has a trust fund, but she’s determined to make her way using her wits and getting her own job. That doesn’t work out very well in Chicago where everything is expensive and where people recognize her.

Olivia eventually finds her way to Cainsville which is an insular small town south of Chicago. She’s found a spot here to lick her wounds. And she gets a job, makes some friends and discovers things about herself that surprise her. For example, she has superstitions and sayings that come to mind when she sees certain things: she sees a spider in a web and thinks:

‘If you wish to live and thrive,
Let the spider stay alive.’

That was a new one. Just what I needed. More superstitious crap filling my brain.

She starts out dismissing these thoughts as superstitions, but as the story progresses she starts to see some as omens and she and others begin to listen when she sees something. Maybe Cainsville isn’t as benign as it seems. And maybe Olivia is more than she seems.

Olivia’s birth mother

Olivia finally decides to see her birth mother in prison and agrees to contact a group to investigate part of her mother’s case to possibly reopen the case. She meets Gabriel Walsh who is her mother’s former attorney. She recognizes that he’s unscrupulous, but still decides to hire him to help her investigate the case. They begin looking for family members and friends of the murdered people her parents were convicted of killing.

The bottom line

This is an exciting, action-packed book. I like the mix of mystery and fantasy in the story. I can’t wait to find out what is really going on. The beginning of the book was a little slow for me, but by the end I was racing through to find out what was going to happen! I hope to read the second book in the series–Visions–before long.

My Rating: A-

Awards

  • Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Paranormal Fantasy (2013)

Have you read any books by this author?

Reading Challenges

Swords and Stars Reading Challenge hosted by MsNoseinaBook — Read a book that’s been on your TBR shelf for over two years (bought July 2014)

Can’t-Wait Wednesday: Watcher in the Woods by Kelley Armstrong

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 which will 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 . . .

watcher in the woods by kelley armstrongWatcher in the Woods by Kelley Armstrong

Series: Rockton #4

Published by Minotaur Books

Publishing date: February 5, 2019

Genre: Mystery, Thriller

Synopsis: The secret town of Rockton has seen some rocky times lately; understandable considering its mix of criminals and victims fleeing society for refuge within its Yukon borders. Casey Duncan, the town’s only detective on a police force of three, has already faced murder, arson and falling in love in less than the year that she’s lived there. Yet even she didn’t think it would be possible for an outsider to find and cause trouble in the town she’s come to call home.

 

…………………….

I’ve read the first three books and this is one of my favorite series. I’m excited for this book!

Can’t-Wait Wednesday: This Fallen Prey by Kelley Armstrong

I used to take part in Waiting on Wednesday hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. I’ve decided to begin participating again, but with Can’t-Wait Wednesday hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings since the Breaking the Spine blog is no longer active.

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they’re books that aren’t released yet. I love finding out about books which will 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 looking forward to . . .

the third book in the Casey Duncan series by Kelley Armstrong.

This Fallen Prey by Kelley Armstrong

This Fallen Prey by Kelley Armstrong

Series: Casey Duncan #3

Published by Minotaur Books

Publishing date: February 6, 2018

Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural

400 pages

Synopsis: When Casey Duncan first arrived at Rockton, the off-the-grid, isolated community built as a haven for people running from their pasts, she had no idea what to expect. There are no cell phones, no internet, no mail, and no way of getting in or out without the town council’s approval. She certainly didn’t expect to become the town homicide detective. But, the very last thing she expected was for the council to drop a dangerous criminal into their midst without a plan to keep him imprisoned. And she never thought that she’d have to be responsible for him.

The longer Oliver Brady stays in town, the more people seem to die around him. When evidence begins piling up that someone inside Rockton is working as his accomplice, Casey races to figure out who exactly Brady is and what crimes he’s truly responsible for committing. 

………………………….

I read the first book in this in September and I loved it. I’m going to read the next book–A Darkness Absolute–this month. The setting in northern Canada is unique and made this mystery and police procedural very atmospheric.

What books are you looking forward to reading?

My Top Ten Urban Fantasy of the Last Decade

The Angieville blog posted about a list of the Top 20 Paranormal Fantasies of the Last Decade at the Barnes and Noble Book Blog.

(As an aside, the article on the B&N blog is written by Paul Goat Allen. I read his articles years ago when B&N put out a paper science fiction and fantasy newsletter each month. That brought me into their store at least once a month and I found so many new authors that way. He introduced me to Laurell K. Hamilton and her Anita Blake books. I loved those early books by her. They were the first vampire books I read. I didn’t realize Allen still wrote for B&N. I will have to check that out.)

Anyway, as Angie did in her blog I’m going to post my top ten fantasy/urban fantasy books (not in any particular order):

Carousel Tides by Sharon Lee
I enjoyed this book so much. It’s about an amusement park in a tourist town on the coast in Maine. I read this book after our family had a family reunion in Maine and we visited an amusement park at the beach! That made the book so much fun to read, but I would like it regardless. One of my favorite books! Sharon Lee also writes science fiction favorites of mine with her husband Steve Miller.

Sunshine by Robin McKinley
I was so sorry when I finished this book and then find out it’s a standalone book. This was my introduction to Robin McKinley.

Moon Called by Patricia Briggs
I love this series. Just finished Frost Burned and it was as good or better than the first!

Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews
This is the other series I love. They are my co-favorites right now!

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
This has been a great series, too. Hard to believe the last book is in May. I started reading at the beginning of the series and it lead me to the True Blood series on HBO which is also a favorite.

Tinker by Wen Spencer
I’ve read a lot of Wen Spencer’s books, but this is my favorite. She built a great world in this book.

Nightshifted by Cassie Alexander
A new author and series I found at the end of 2012. Really looking forward to the next book.

Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch
Another new author I read at the end of last year. Good series. I like the lore about the rivers of London.

Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire
October Daye is such a great character.

God Save the Queen by Kate Locke
Another new author and series. I started this one in January and quickly read the next book when it arrived in February.

Bitten by Kelley Armstrong
I’m fudging a little with this book. It was written in 2001, but I do like it a lot!

Most of the books which are part of series I used the first book in the series. I admit I’ve liked some books more than others in some of the series, but I can’t choose a favorite in each series so quickly!

What are your favorite books in this genre?

I Had to Buy the Book…But Why Haven’t I Read It?

The Broke and the Bookish sponsors this weekly Meme.

I love books and have more books than I’ll ever have time to read. When I started looking through my books I realized I’ve got a lot of books I really want to read, but some of them have sat for years waiting for me.Why is that?

I’ve thought about that and I think one reason is that I like to savor things. I nibble and save things instead of gobbling them up and I do this with books, too. But I think it’s time to enjoy my books.

1. Killing Rocks by DD Barant–I read the first book in this series–Dying Bites–and thought it was great. Then I bought Killing Rocks in 2011 thinking it was book 2 when it was book 3! Now there are six books in the series!

2. Trial By Fire by Jennifer Lynn Barnes–I read the first book Raised by Wolves and really liked it; bought Trial By Fire in 2011 when it was published. It’s a trilogy and the final book and a short story have been published! Time to start reading.

3. The Girl with the Cat Tattoo by Teresa Weir–I bought this book in June 2012 (on sale) after I read a great review of it. It was on several bloggers best of 2012 lists, but still haven’t even started it. I love the cover, too.

4. I searched and searched in used bookstores over the years and found some of Robin McKinley‘s older books (Deerskin, Dragonhaven, The Blue Sword, The Door in the Hedge, The Hero and the Crown, and The Outlaws of Sherwood, for example), but still haven’t read them.

5. Clockwork Heart by Dru Pagliassotti. Bought in 2008, great cover, exciting premise…still unread.

6. Going Postal by Terry Pratchett. I bought this book several years ago. I’ve read so many great things about Terry Pratchett’s books and I haven’t read any of them.

7. Sharing Knife series by Lois McMaster Bujold–I love the Miles Vorkosigan books (and still have more of them to read much to my delight). I’m sure I’ll love the Sharing Knife series, too, and even bought all the books, but haven’t started them yet.

8. Women of the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong–I bought, read and loved Bitten when it first came out in 2001. I think it might have been my first werewolf book! Then I bought five more books in the series, but I haven’t read any of them. I’ve stopped buying this series until I read what I already have.

9. Tears of Pearl (Lady Emily Mysteries, Book 4) by Tasha Alexander. I love the first three books in this series and now there are seven books in the series. Time to start again, I think.

10. Curtain by Agatha Christie. I read almost all of Agatha Christie’s books when I was a teenager. Hercule Poirot was always my favorite character. This is the last book published by Agatha Christie during her lifetime…tells of Hercule Poirot’s last case and his death. I just haven’t ever been able to read it. She actually wrote it during WWII and kept in a vault until she realized she couldn’t write anymore. It was published in 1975. She died on January 12, 1976 at the age of 85 and I have had this book for years and not read it. I don’t like endings.

What about you? Do you have books you had to buy, but you haven’t read them? Or maybe you don’t have exciting unread books…maybe you read your books when you buy them…tell me about that, too!