According to Goodreads, I read (and listened to) a total of 36 books this year. Not too bad considering writing and editing my own books takes a lot of time. I'm thrilled my own 2019 release, The Haunting of Hillwood Farm, has made it onto best book lists or won awards this year at five different review sites! If you enjoy romantic suspense and/or ghost mysteries, I hope you'll give it a try! This title is now on Audible too.
I should give a shout-out to Dangerous Currents too...my steamy second-chance Romantic Suspense made it into Cape Cod's 2019 In Season Magazine as a book store recommended read!
For this post, I usually pick five to seven books I really enjoyed and separate them out by genres, and link prior years as well at the bottom. I should note that while I read many genres, I'm primarily drawn to Gothic, dark, and atmospheric stories. Not particularly surprising since I write eerie ghost mysteries, but in my novels, I like to balance out the spooky with romance...which by definition, to be published as a romance, must have a "Happily Ever After" for the two main characters. But since I have lots of books on this list that are not romance, I'll point out that HEAs are not guaranteed for the other genre listings!
I'm leaving out the Romance genre this year, because my policy on these annual posts is that I cannot know the author of a book I choose, or have any relationship other than being a fan of his or her work...I don't want to pick amongst friends or have any bias for this blog series. That said, I'll note when a title had romantic elements.
Historical Fiction: White Rose, Black Forest by Eoin Dempsey
Set in Hitler's Germany, this book contains not just elements of fascinating historical fiction, but also romance and suspense. Franka is a German citizen and a member of the Nazi resistance, hiding out in her family's summer cabin in the Black Forest. When she finds an injured Nazi airman, her medical training and her innate compassion compel her to bring him to the isolated cabin. Without going into spoilers, the external conflict between the main characters is unique and intense, with life-threatening consequences for each of them as they struggle with whom to trust with their secrets. The desire to learn each character's past, along with the chillingly suspenseful scenes, kept the pages turning rapidly.
Legal Thriller: Miracle Creek by Angie Kim
The premise of this book is a trial following a fatal explosion at a privately-owned alternative-medicine treatment facility. Who was responsible, and was it murder? A lot of people have described this book as something similar to what would happen if Celeste Ng (author of Little Fires Everywhere and Everything I Never Told You) wrote a legal thriller, and that feels accurate. It blends mystery, courtroom drama, and family secrets and dynamics while also exploring subjects like caring for special needs children, adapting to America as immigrants, and marriage and parenting. A lot is packed into this novel, along with beautiful, emotional writing.
Psychological Suspense/Horror: Here to Stay by Mark Edwards
It's nearly impossible to look away as a newly married couple's life spirals into a horrific disaster when the wife's family comes to stay for a short visit. As the title suggests, the visitors actually have no intention of leaving, and the situation goes from bad to worse as mysteries surface, tragedies occur, tempers rise, and a once-peaceful life and home become unrecognizable. A dark and twisty thriller.
Historical Fiction: The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer
The trope here is familiar...something happens in the present that uncovers a past mystery, and the story is told in dual timelines as secrets are uncovered. While I've read a lot of these as a fan of historical fiction, this one stood out. The main character in the present, Alice, faces daily struggles with her family, including her autistic son, as she also tries to spend time with her terminally ill grandmother. As her grandmother tries to communicate her dying wishes, Alice begins to unravel the threads of the past, in a journey that takes her to Poland. In alternating chapters, readers are immersed in Alina's coming of age in Nazi-occupied Poland and the horrors that she and her family and friends endured. This story is full of hope and heartbreak, love and loss, strength and perseverance.
Young Adult Dystopian: Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne
This is a YA post-apocalyptic thriller, and I tend to be a fan of survivalist type stories. A group of kids ranging from 1st graders to high schoolers become trapped in a superstore (think Target or Walmart) after a series of disasters. The story hooked me right away, but I have to say one of my favorite things about this book/series is that *both* my sons (age 18 and 21) read it--quickly--at my suggestion, and let's just say it's very difficult to get them reading at this stage in their lives. I've dedicated posts to finding books for boys in the past, and I'd add this in a heartbeat. This is a 3 book trilogy and I'm excited to get to the next in the series.
Nonfiction: Mind Hunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit by John Douglas
This is part memoir and part case-studies, and completely fascinating to anyone interested in profiling killers, criminal psychology, and true crime. Fair warning--the subject matter dictates some very gruesome and disturbing imagery...it would be difficult to describe the crime scenes and the behavioral markers without some graphic details. As an author who incorporates bad guys and serial killers into plots, this also served as an amazing reference book as well as a unique look inside the development of profiling. John Douglas was one of the founders of the FBI's modern profiling unit, and the character of Jack Crawford in Silence of the Lambs is based on Douglas. Throughout 25 years with the FBI, Douglas was involved in some very high-profile cases, and the methods he developed helped find and convict serial rapists and killers.
Psychological Suspense: The Housemate by C.L. Pattison
A thriller set around two old friends who invite a third roommate to share their London flat to keep expenses down. Strange and mysterious things begin happening, and this book has a "Single White Female" vibe. I listened to the audio version and the narration was top-notch.
There you have it, seven titles I really enjoyed from five genres. Now, I want to hear some of your favorite reads...feel free to comment below! And check out the links to some prior years for more recommendations. Thanks for stopping by and Happy Reading!