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: Shattered Justice by Susan Furlong

Third book in a series about two military veterans–an MP turned deputy sheriff and her canine partner

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 . . .

Shattered Justice by Susan Furlong

Series: Bone Gap Travellers #3

Published by Kensington

Publishing date: December 31

Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural

Synopsis: In the Appalachian town of Bone Gap, Tennessee, backwoods justice is more than just blind. It’s swift, silent, and shockingly personal. In Susan Furlong’s third series installment, Irish Traveller – turned deputy sheriff Brynn Callahan must investigate disturbing clues meticulously staged by a twisted killer while navigating tensions between the Irish Travellers and the settled folk in her Appalachian community.

The first message is found in a playground. A few feet away, a pair of human ears hang from the monkey bars. Deputy sheriff Brynn Callahan isn’t sure what to make of this grisly scene. Do the ears belong to a murder victim? And if so, where is the body? One thing Brynn is sure of: the earring on one of the earlobes belong to a man she met at a party the previous night. . .

…………………………..

I’ve read the first two books in this series and really enjoyed them. Both Brynn and her canine partner are military veterans. The setting in the Appalachians is interesting as is the Travellers community.

This third book sounds gory and scary–but hopefully not too graphic since I don’t like gory and scary very much.

Review: Splintered Silence by Susan Furlong

Splintered Silence by Susan FurlongSplintered Silence by Susan Furlong

Series: Bone Gap Travellers #1

Genre: Mystery

Setting: Tennessee

Source: Ebook, purchased

Publishing Date: 2017

288 pages

Synopsis: After an IED explosion abruptly ends her tour of duty, Brynn arrives stateside with PTSD and her canine partner Wilco–both of them bearing the scars of battle. With a mix of affection, curiosity, and misgivings, she goes back to Bone Gap, Tennessee, and the insular culture she’d hoped to escape by enlisting in the Marine Corps.

Marginalized and wary of outsiders, the Irish Travellers keep to themselves in a secluded mountain community, maintaining an uneasy coexistence with the “settled” townspeople of McCreary. When Wilco’s training as a cadaver dog leads Brynn to discover a body in the woods, the two worlds collide. Soon it’s clear that and Brynn and Wilco are in danger–and they’re not the only ones.

After the police identify the dead woman, Brynn is shocked to learn she has a personal connection–and everything she’s been told about her past is called into question.

Forming a reluctant alliance with local sheriff Frank Pusser, Brynn must dig up secrets that not only will rattle her close-knit clan to its core, but may forever change her perception of who she is…and put her back in the line of fire.

My thoughts

A good book to read for the last book of 2018! Splintered Silence has lots of favorites for me: a good mystery, a military veteran, a former military dog and a group of people I’d never heard of or read about before–a Irish Travellers.

Brynn Callahan is a former Marine MP who along with her canine partner Wilco was badly injured by an IED explosion. Both are suffering from PTSD. They are each other’s best friend and they help each other when the nightmares become too much. Brynn has come back to Bone Gap, Tennessee where her grandparents raised her. She is part of the Irish Travellers, but she left and joined the Marines after she refused the marriage her grandfather arranged for her. Since leaving the Marines she hasn’t been able to hold a job due to her PTSD. She’s drinking too much and sometimes using pain pills to escape. She comes back to Bone Gap, a place where she hopes she can find some forgiveness and peace.

Wilco is a cadaver dog and soon after they return he finds a body in the woods near Bone Gap. This brings renewed attention to the Travellers from law enforcement and the people of the nearby town. There’s mutual distrust between the Travellers and the “settled” townspeople and that grows as the investigation continues and more mysteries emerge.

Brynn is viewed suspiciously by many of both the Travellers and the “settled.” Even her grandmother whom she loves dearly is suspicious of her talking to law enforcement since Travellers seldom will talk to government officials. Past grievances and secrets threaten to tear them apart. Brynn’s drinking and PTSD don’t help either.

I really enjoyed this book and am so happy to see that the second book in the series was published in December 2018. (That’s how I discovered this series.) A really good first book in this series.

My Rating: B+

Have you read any books by this author?

My favorite 2018 new-to-me authors

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. This is a fun meme with specific topics each week. If you like to make lists be sure to check it out. I haven’t joined in too much lately, but plan to participate more this year.

The subject this week is “New-to-Me Authors I read in 2018.” Every year I read books by new authors and love many of the books I read by them. In 2018 I read 35 books by “new-to-me” authors. These are my favorites:

Katherine Arden

I read The Bear and the Nightingale, the first book of the Winternight Trilogy. It’s a historical fantasy set in Russia and a fairytale retelling that’s so rich in detail that I felt I was in Russia when I listened to this audiobook.

W.R. Gingell

I read seven of W.R. Gingell’s fantasies in 2018. Ms. Gingell is a self-published author and many of her books are imaginative fairytale retellings with a dose of romance. She is the author I glommed the most during 2018!

Abir Mukherjee

A Rising Man takes place in India. It is a historical mystery about a former Scotland Yard detective arriving in  Calcutta, India to take a post in the local police force. The book details not only a murder and the mystery surrounding it, but all the politics of the Brits in India when the stability of the British Raj is slipping.

Sujata Massey

The Widows of Malabar Hill–another book which takes place in India is also a historical mystery taking place in 1921 Bombay. Perveen Mistry arrives back in India after graduating from law school at Oxford in England. She joins her father’s law firm as one of the first female lawyers in India. She’s a strong advocate for women’s rights, but learns she must tread lightly and though her father is proud of her he isn’t always willing or able to aid her legal career. The mystery and story in this book are very intriguing.

Anne Hillerman

After her father–Tony Hillerman–died, Anne Hillerman continued the Leaphorn & Chee series he wrote for years. Song of the Lion was the first book I read by her and I was so relieved when I read it. She does a great job with the characters and the mystery. I love the Leaphorn & Chee series which I’ve read since I was a teenager. I’m slowly working my way through this series. In some cases I’ve reread books, but in other cases I’m reading them for the first time since I stopped reading mysteries for a few years.

C.J. Cherryh

C.J. Cherryh is a classic science fiction author whom I never heard of when I first started reading science fiction. I only started hearing about her after the internet gave me access to more books, blogs, authors and all else dealing with reading. The Pride of Chanur, the first book in the Chanur series involves humans, but is written from the viewpoint of other alien races. Not something I’ve seen very often when a science fiction has humans in it.

Rebecca Roanhorse

Trail of Lightning is the first book by Ms. Roanhorse and it’s such a good book. It’s a distopian urban fantasy about Navajo Indians with lots of their mythology and stories. I loved it and the second book in the series–Storm of Locusts–is due to come out in April. It’s one of my most anticipated books of 2019.

Heather Gudenkauf

I was looking for a book to read by an Iowa author when I discovered Heather Gudenkauf. Not a Sound is such a good suspenseful mystery. It also has a wonderful therapy dog who helps the main character who is deaf. I want to read more books by Ms. Gudenkauf!

Jackie Bouchard

What the Dog Ate isn’t the type of book I read too often–women’s fiction with a little romance thrown in. Barb @ Booker T’s Farm wrote about Jackie Bouchard in one of her posts. I don’t remember which one, but she mentioned that Jackie Bouchard wrote about dogs. Reading good stories about dogs (not books where dogs die) has been one of my favorite themes of 2018. This book is funny, sad and very human. I want to read more books by Ms. Bouchard!

Jenny Colgan

Christmas on the Island was the best Christmas themed book I read this year. It takes place on a remote Scottish island and is the third book in a series. I haven’t read any of the other books in this series and could tell I was missing some of the fun of this book. I’m going to try to read the earlier books. This is another women’s fiction with a little romance and a lot about life on an island especially during the dark days of winter on a remote northern island and how they celebrate Christmas. There’s heartache and sadness, but also joy and Christmas happiness.

Lisa Preston

The Clincher is about a young woman who makes her living as a horseshoer. I was initially drawn to this book by the synopsis which says the book takes place in a fictional part of Central Oregon. Since I lived in Central Oregon at one time I immediately wanted to read this book! The fact it’s a mystery whose main character has an interesting occupation also helped. I really liked this first book a new series and hope another one comes soon.

Susan Furlong

Splintered Silence was my last book of 2018 and was a good book to end the year. The book featured Irish Travellers. We have enclaves of Irish Travellers in this country…who knew? They are also still in Ireland and in Ireland they were finally recognized in 2017 as an official ethnic group. In this book the main character comes back home to hostility from both her family, other Travellers and from the local town. She left to get away from all that as well as other problems, but an IED (improvised explosive device) ended both her Marine MP career and her K-9 partner’s career. Bodies turn up in this book and Brynn and her K-9 partner help solve the mystery.

Did you read new authors in 2018? Who were your favorites?