Wednesday 1 January 2020

My Top Reads of 2019 #AmReading #TopBooks2019 #BookBlogger

My Top Books of 2019 

I really do love this time of the book year!
It's a chance to look back and think about what I've read over the past twelve months. 2019 was a bit of an unusual year for me in that my Blog Tour organising seemed to take over, and I didn't keep a record of how many books I read. I think it's around 100 though.

I rarely finish, or review a book that I'm not enjoying. So every book that I've reviewed, I have enjoyed. This makes picking out my favourites really difficult, and my list is long -I make no apologies for that. I would heartily recommend every book on this list.

As always, my list is split into three sections; I start with some of the 2019 books that I read in 2018. I mentioned them last year and hoped that they would be huge.

The second part is my list of  Top Books of 2019

Finally, I'll give a mention to some 2020 publications that I've read early.
I really think that 2020 is going to be another fabulous book year!


2019 Books that I predicted would be huge ...

At the end of last year, I'd read these 2019 books pre-publication, and predicted that they would do well. I'm still recommending them, twelve months later.  (click on the title for my full review).

The Flower Girls by Alice Clark Platts
: published by Raven Books on 24 January 2019

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley: published by Harper Collins on 24 January 2019

If Only I Could Tell You by Hannah Beckerman: published by Orion on 21 February 2019 

Mrs Doubler Begins Again by Seni Glaister: published by HQ on 24 January 2019

My Top Reads of 2019

My Top Reads of the year are listed in order of reading. The list contains some favourite authors who pop up year after year, and also some debuts. I think it's a great list, with something for everyone. I heartily recommend all of these books.  (click on the title for my full review)

The Puppet Show by MW Craven published by Constable on 24 January 2019, 
The Puppet Show is intelligently written, with a dash of wit and humour, and a great deal of fine and detailed crime solving. I had no idea where this would go, and the shocking and totally unexpected reveal is a wonderful thing.

The Lost Man by Jane Harper published by Little Brown on 7 February 2019
I could talk about this novel for hours, and have already recommended it to many people. It's a dark and brilliant story, told through characters who are imperfect but wonderfully created. I loved it.

Louis and Louise by Julie Cohen published by Orion on 24 January 2019
Wise, wonderful and beautifully written. Louis & Louise a brave and adventurous story of love, friendship, differences and hope.

The Closer I Get by Paul Burston published by Orenda Books on 11 May 2019 
The Closer You Get is brilliantly written, it's compulsive and twisty and the final reveal will unsettle and startle the reader. The psychological mind games played out by the characters are so accomplished.
Intelligent, gripping and compulsive. This is incredible writing that challenges the reader; complex, subtle and incredibly powerful.

Pilgrim by Louise Hall published by Mercier Books on 14 September 2018
The words are tender and gentle, despite some of the bleak and shocking events covered. We, as readers, take that journey alongside the characters. discovering more about them, and their life. Changing our judgements as we go and most of all, desperately hoping that they find their peace.
Pilgrim is at times wickedly funny and constantly deeply moving. It really is extraordinarily moving and elegantly written.  Highly recommended.

On My Life by Angela Clarke published by Mulholland Books on 11 July 2019 
With red herrings and plenty of twists and a final reveal that made me shout WHOA!, On My Life is thrilling and fast paced. Totally addictive, shocking and completely convincing. I loved it.

Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald published by Orenda Books on 17 May 2019 
Complex and intricately woven. Worst Case Scenario is a character-led story with a middle-aged, menopausal lead character who one should love, and cheer and applaud; despite her mistakes. It's a brave and clever novel, hugely addictive, tense and hilarious, all at the same time.

Twisted by Steve Cavanagh published by Orion Books on 4 April 2019 
From the intriguing and compelling opening, through the fast-paced action that twists and turns like the narrowest of dark country lanes, right up until the shocking ending, I had no idea what would come next. Steve Cavanagh is either a genius, or completely twisted himself ..... or maybe he's both?

A Modern Family by Helga Flatland published by Orenda Books on 13 June 2019 
Flatland writes with an elegance that one just savours with the greatest of delight. There's also subtle humour and a shrewd and insightful examination of the psychology of family, and of loss.
A Modern Family is not just good, it is masterful. It is fresh and original, with a depth of vision that is breath taking

A Good Enough Mother by Bev Thomas published by Faber on 4 April 2019 
A Good Enough Mother is a remarkable novel, and I expect it to be in my top books of the year. It is intelligent, ambitious and incredibly disturbing. It is also brilliantly written, completely human and so intense. 
Utterly riveting and very very highly recommended from me. 

Breakers by Doug Johnstone published by Orenda Books on 16 May 2019 
Breakers is a triumph. It's an exploration of community, family and friendship. It is dark and it is violent and it is full of grit, yet it is also warm and funny and ultimately uplifting.
An engrossing, taut tale filled with the largest of characters; some are dreadfully evil, some are an utter delight, but all of them are crafted with the highest of precision; believable and incredibly real.

Never Be Broken by Sarah Hilary published by Headline on 16 May 2019 
Never Be Broken is captivating, ingenious and totally gripping. This author's ability to get into the mind of her characters and portray their innermost thoughts is truly spectacular. The drama of the tightly woven and highly complex murder cases along with the slow unravelling of Noah's mental state is expertly and compassionately handled. 

The Whisper Man by Alex North published by Michael Joseph on 13 June 2019 
Brilliantly paced, with a plot that is both compelling and intriguing; The Whisper Man has quite rightly been raved about by critics and fellow authors. It is chillingly creepy and so very very tense.
Probably the best serial killer novel that I'll read for the next thirty years!  Bravo Alex North.

Half A World Away by Mike Gayle published by Hodder on 13 June 2019
The author writes with wit and humour; some scenes are laugh out loud funny, but he also deals with some serious and heart wrenching issues that will make the reader reach for the tissues.
The story touches on race, social class, the care system and terminal illness and is accomplished sensitive and powerful.
A truly beautiful story about the power of love, and family

Breaking and Mending by Joanna Cannon published by Profile Books on 26 September 2019
Painfully honest, harrowing, heart-breaking and so so human. Breaking and Mending is a book that must be read by everyone who ever has any contact with our NHS.

Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver published by Orenda Books on 14 September 2019 
This is stylish and extraordinary writing. It's puzzling and perplexing but so damn good. There is something quite mesmerising about this story that defies genre and quite frankly, logic.
Stunning ...  this will linger in my mind forever.

The Poison Garden by Alex Marwood published by Sphere on 25 July 2019 
The Poison Garden is compulsive, gripping and very very dark. The exploration of family relationships and the quest for power is beautifully done, with characters who have depth, yet are so cold and so chilling.
Gloriously lyrical, this really is an enthralling and original story. Highly recommended by me.

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood published by Vintage on 10 September 2019
This is writing from an author who is at the very top of the game, and surely the greatest author of our time.  I applaud Atwood, I adore The Testaments. Shake off any gnawing feelings of unease you may have about this, read it for what it is; the author's answers to questions raised over thirty years. Enjoy!

The Bad Place by MK Hill published by Head of Zeus on 5 September 2019 
The Bad Place is fast paced, with an intriguing and compelling premise. The characters are excellently drawn. I loved it and can't wait to read more about Sasha Dawson
Highly recommended.

In The Absence of Miracles by Michael J Malone published by Orenda Books on 19 September 2019
I am totally and completely in awe of Michael J Malone. This story tore at my heart, it actually felt painful to read some of it and it’s only the magnificently structured plot and wonderfully created characters that made me continue at times.
In the Absence of Miracles is a story that touches the heart and will leave a long-lasting scar upon it.

A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier published by Borough Press on 5 September 2019 
This is a novel of love and loss, highlighting the difficulties faced during that era by anyone who may have been considered different, or strange, or even evil. The historical aspects are wonderfully woven, with real life characters written in amongst the fictional ones. Winchester, and especially the Cathedral is an evocative and quite sensual setting for this bold, intelligent and quite wonderful novel.

Violet by SJI Holliday published by Orenda Books on 14 November 2019 
It's the story of a meeting, a journey and a explosive and unexpected relationship. It's dark and sometimes a little bit grimy; I felt as though I needed a wash after days of train travel, drugs, alcohol and dirty sex!  It's an exploration into the damaged mind, obsession and manipulation and will shock, and possibly horrify the reader at times.
The setting is glorious, the pace is exquisite. Violet is original, chilling and quite quite perfect.

I Wanted You To Know by Laura Pearson published by Agora Books on 3 October 2019 
Laura Pearson's emotive and astute novel is heart-breaking at times. However, it is also an ode to female relationships and it's the support and love that Jess gets from her best friend Gemma that really touched me the most. There is no doubt at all that this story line will affect all readers, and even though it's utterly devastating, it's also a beautifully written story about the love of a friend.

The Glittering Hour by Iona Grey published by Simon & Schuster on 30 May 2019 
This is an epic story of love and loss set amongst the glamour and glitz of 1920s London. The author’s ability to bring to life her characters is truly outstanding. Whilst on the surface, the life of the Bright Young Things appears to one of fun and privilege, the author cleverly incorporates the darker elements and the long-term effects of the Great War, giving the story great depth and emotion.
A beautiful love story; tender and captivating. A real treat for the reader.

The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes published by Michael Joseph on 3 October 2019 
The Giver of Stars is a huge book; not so much in page length, but in substance and in the joy that it brings to the reader. I was totally captivated by the characters, the plotting and the wonderfully created setting. This really is a book to savour slowly, it's a sweeping story that centres on female friendship and loyalty, and has a fabulous dash of romance too.
Highly recommended, it is utterly absorbing and I lost myself completely in it.

The Lies We Hide by SE Lynes published by Bookoutre on 4 December 2019
This is a smart, sophisticated and meticulously plotted story that is emotionally draining at times. With themes of domestic violence, poverty and drug abuse there's not a lot of pleasant scenes in here. However, it's also a story of hope, determination and love. The author's depiction of a mother's love and loyalty is striking and watching the relationship between Richard and Graham unfold was an absolute joy.
A truly compelling, intelligent, enthralling and satisfying read. I loved it and would recommend it highly.

Nina X by Ewan Morrison published by Fleet on 4 April 2019 
Seeing the world through Nina's eyes is often heartbreaking for her, and for the reader but there's also an element of humour and warmth that add so much depth to what could potentially be such a dark and dismal tale.
I adored this book. It is extraordinary, absorbing, disturbing and really quite marvellous.

Black Summer by MW Craven published by Constable on 12 December 2019
Flawlessly plotted with characters that almost jump from the pages with an atmospheric and almost eerie landscape setting. Black Summer is seamless and extraordinarily well written.
I can't wait to meet Poe and Tilly in the next in this amazing series. Beautifully dark and exquisitely disturbing. Truly exceptional.

Expectation by Anna Hope published by Transworld on 11 July 2019 
Expectation is the proof that Hope is one of our finest and most adaptable novelists at the moment. Her ability to create characters who worm their way into the reader's brain and are difficult to shake off is incredible.

Books to look out for in 2020 ....

I've already made a start on the 2020 books, and if the ones that I've read already are anything to go by, we are in for another outstanding book year.
Here are a few tips; books that I think will be huge next year. 

A Dark Matter and The Home are already out in ebook. However their paperback publication dates are January 2020 and as I'm a paperback reader, I've included both of these for next year.

A Dark Matter by Doug Johnstone - published 23 January 2020 by Orenda Books
Dark and brilliantly written, the layers are exposed, carefully and with great skill. Both the characters and the plot are convincing and kept me on my toes throughout. Deliciously chilling, with a wry humour running throughout.  A Dark Matter is toxic, unsettling and just perfect. I loved it and recommend it highly.  Bravo Mr Johnstone! 

The Home by Sarah Stovell - published 23 January 2020 by Orenda Books
The story is intoxicating and riveting; I finished it in almost one sitting; it's a story that drew me in and continues to haunt me after I turned the final page.
Beautiful, visceral and uncompromising. The Home has been a long time coming, but I can assure you that it is worth every single second of the wait.

It Started With A Secret by Jill Mansell - published 23 January 2020 by Headline
My review has not yet been published for this one, you'll see it in January in the Sunday Express S Magazine.  I can assure you that it's wonderful, her best book yet in my opinion

Mix Tape by Jane Sanderson  - published by Bantam Press on 23 January 2020
My review of this one will be published in January in the Sunday Express S Magazine.
It is an absolutely beautiful book that swept me back to my youth, filled with music and memories. It's heartbreaking and wonderful.

The First Time I Saw You by Emma Cooper - published 9 January 2020 in paperback by Headline
I adored this book. My review will be published here on Random Things on 6 January, as part of the Blog Tour.

So there we are; my top books of 2019, with a few tempters for you for 2020.

I hope you all have an excellent 2020, with lots of amazing books to discover. Huge thanks for continuing to read my blog and for the wonderful support that I've had over the last 12 months.

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