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?

Listening to podcasts

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted at the Broke and the Bookish blog. Each week a different topic is introduced and it is fun to see what everyone writes. Check out their blog for more information.

Update: When I linked my Top Ten Tuesday to the Broke and the Bookish Blog I discovered that my TTT list (which I download to decide which topics I can think of answers) is out-of-date (2016). I could have sworn I downloaded the list a month or so ago. I worked on this post a long time so I’m leaving my link for this week even though it’s not the right topic

! I thought I had an audio freebie so I chose to write about “Listening to podcasts.”

Most of the podcasts are book related, but I have included a few podcasts about other subjects. Most are used as another way for a company–National Public Radio, BookRiot, The New York Times– to reach their audience, but a few are done by one or two individuals and not affiliated with anyone else.

I haven’t listened to podcasts like Serial–mostly because I don’t like true crime and the ones I’ve heard about are true crime stories. However, I might change my mind in the future!

The book-related podcasts

The Readers

A UK podcast talking about the books the podcasters read. For example, one podcast talks about what makes a modern classic. Sometimes they also talk about what they’ve done (one podcaster recently got back from a trip to Africa). On their website they usually have a list of the books they talk about during each episode.

 

All the Books

This long running weekly BookRiot podcast talks about the new releases coming out that week. And then later in the week there is a short podcast about backlist books.

I like this podcast because they talk about a variety of books I probably wouldn’t hear about otherwise.

 

The Book Review Podcast

This is a weekly podcast about all kinds of books from The New York Times Book Review. Titles from recent weeks: “Notes From a Crazy Campaign Trail,” “The Joys of Children’s Literature” and “The World of Jane Austen Fans.”

Overdue

Two guys who podcast once a week about the books they’ve meant to read–sometimes classics, sometimes something obscure. The September schedule–“Little Women by Louisa May Alcott,” “Girl at War by Sara Nović,” “The Traitor by Michael Cisco,” “Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding.”

 

Read or Dead

This BookRiot mystery podcast only has eight episodes so far, but good subjects. The latest episode is a Steven King themed episode.

 

Speaking of Mysteries

Mystery author interviews about their new books. Some of the interviewed authors whose books I’ve read–Laurie King, S.J. Rozan, Craig Johnson, Rhys Bowen and C.J. Box.

Crime Time Podcast

This Australian podcast has been around for a couple of years and features talk about crime fiction and some author interviews. I like that the podcast is from Australia. However, the two podcasters must not have a very good system because I have trouble hearing them even with my sound turned all the way up. Thus, I don’t listen to this podcast regularly.

SFF Yeah!

Another BookRiot podcast with just eight episodes, but this science fiction and fantasy themed podcast has some really good subjects. For example, “Chocolate and then Space Travel” talks about award news, female authors, a Kickstarter campaign and middle grade science fiction and fantasy.

 

Science Fiction Book Review Podcast

Luke Burrage has been podcasting about the science fiction he reads since 2008. He reviews the science fiction as he reads them so there isn’t a set schedule, but there’s usually at least one podcast a week.

I haven’t found very many science fiction podcasts. Plus a lot of podcasts might talk about books and authors, but don’t actually review the books. Plus Mr. Burrage is British, lives in Berlin (at least when he started the podcasts) and he made his living as a juggler!

And the rest . . .

Pop Culture Happy Hour

A podcast about books, movies, TV shows, music and whatever else they want to talk about! In some episodes they do talk about books which is always enjoyable. I just listened to the Fall TV preview podcast and that was a lot of fun. I enjoyed getting some ideas for new shows. Of course, one they mentioned that I’m already looking forward to is the new Star Trek show. I think that starts next week!

 

RadioLab

This is one of my very favorite podcasts. Documentaries–often science-based–on  . These stories are so interesting. They sometimes update their stories. For example, earlier this year an update was done about a story RadioLab had done earlier about CRISPR. I think CRISPR is so interesting.

It’s been almost two years since we learned about CRISPR, a ninja-assassin-meets-DNA-editing-tool that has been billed as one of the most powerful, and potentially controversial, technologies ever discovered by scientists.

“From Tree to Shining Tree” is one of my favorite episodes.

Science Vs

I really like this podcast. It “takes on fads, trends, and the opinionated mob to find out what’s fact, what’s not, and what’s somewhere in between.” The two September episodes–“Vaccine – Are They Safe?” and “Detoxing & Cleanses – Do They Work?” I’m really skeptical of so many claims made by people who don’t know much about science. This podcast looks at both sides of an issue.

A podcast I plan to listen to

36 Questions

This is a three-part musical podcast featuring a couple who are on the brink of divorce and use 36 questions designed to make strangers fall in love.

I found this when I was checking to see if there were other podcasts I should be listening to. This podcast is very different from any of the other podcasts I’ve talked about in this post.

Do you listen to podcasts? What podcasts do you enjoy?