2019 Wrap Up; My Top Books of the Year

So the last few days I’ve been giving it a lot of thought as to my favourite books of the year. I’ve really tried to narrow it down to ten books, but hey I’ve failed miserably with a list of 12 books. I swear they are such brilliant reads in my opinion that I just had to include them. Some are hilarious, some heartbreaking, all are absolutely stunning.

Many of these reads I’ve reviewed previously, but some I haven’t. So please read on and I hope I introduce you to new novels that inspire you to read and read, and then read some more.

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

This beautiful read shows the true power of storytelling; it completely captured my heart and imagination. It’s never really let go.

Once-Upon-A-River

Set in 1880s on the banks of the River Thames, a small community is rocked when a monstrous stranger bursts through the doors of a local inn on the night of the winter Solstice. The stranger is carrying a lifeless child. This sets into motion a spellbinding plot involving kidnap, villainy and love.

Full of an array of rich characters, this stunning novel is brimming with intrigue, folklore and magical realism.

Once Upon a River is storytelling at its best.

The Parisians by Marius Gabriel

The-Parisians

Set in Nazi occupied Paris during World War II, the novel centres around Coco Chanel who lived at the Ritz Hotel during the war and Arletty, another real life character. Arletty was one of the biggest French film stars of the time. Yet she is a controversial figure in history as she had a public love affair with a Nazi officer. The other character at the crux of the novel is fictional; Olivia works as a chambermaid at the Ritz which was home to many high ranking Nazis during the occupation. Olivia also spies for the French Resistance.

The Parisians totally consumed me. When I wasn’t reading it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I loved it but I do have to warn you – there is a love scene in this novel that I feel is so cringe worthy and out of place. I don’t want to be critical, but I feel I have to mention it. However that doesn’t take away the brilliance of this gripping historic fiction.

One More Lie by Amy Lloyd

One-More-Lie

This contemporary, emotionally charged novel is shocking, brilliant and keeps you guessing right to the very end.

It is the story of Charlotte, a vulnerable, almost child-like woman who has recently been released from prison. Although she is scared, she is desperate to make a fresh start. Yet Charlotte is still haunted by her past, especially memories of Sean, her childhood best friend.

As Charlotte’s past won’t let her go, I found this book took me on a twisted emotional path. It is disturbing, chilling and sheer brilliance.

Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce

Blood Orange has recently been chosen as a Richard & Judy book club pick and deservedly so. I found it addictive, insidious and explosive. If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter or know me personally, you’ll know I’ve been raving about this book for over a year.

It is a chilling psychological thriller that in my view is a powerful landmark novel as it graphically portrays sexual politics in today’s modern world.

Blood Orange is being made into a TV drama – but remember the old and very truthful adage; the book is always better.

The Carer by Deborah Moggach

The-Carer

Full of dry, punchy humour with an almighty twist that seemed to come from nowhere, I really believe The Carer is one of the best ever books I have read in my life.

It brilliantly explores the societal issues of aging linked with family responsibility. This is all set against a backdrop of sibling rivalry and snobbery which brilliantly enhances the comedy. Yet it also has a pathos that tore at my heart.

The Carer, made up of short, snappy chapters is quirky, compelling and so human and relatable. It is a truly stunning novel.

The July Girls by Phoebe Locke

The-July-Girls

I read The July Girls over a bank holiday weekend when I was busy doing fun stuff; but I found myself resenting doing all the fun stuff as all I wanted to do was hide away and read this gripping book.

It has a haunting storyline with Addie, a young, vulnerable girl at its core. On 7th July every year a woman is snatched from the streets of London and murdered. The 7th July is also Addie’s birthday. Addie’s 10th birthday is the day of the horrific 7/7 London bombings. It is also the night that her Dad sneaked home covered in blood. A few days later the purse of a missing woman is found hidden in her Dad’s room.

This is a standout, powerful read with Addie such a standout character. The July Girls is raw, poignant and completely consuming.

After The End by Clare Mackintosh

Known for writing best selling psychological thrillers, Clare Mackintosh has now written After The End, an emotionally driven family story. Clare Mackintosh is one of my favourite writers so I fully expected it to be a great read; but crikey, it is far beyond great. It is sheer brilliance and Clare Mackintosh’s writing is so powerful, painful and emotive.

Max and Pip’s marriage is rock solid; even when their young son Dylan becomes ill. But then they are told Dylan’s condition is terminal and Max and Pip discover that they completely disagree on what they believe is best for Dylan.

I recently read this via audio book; it tore at my heart and made my cry buckets. But I also found it life affirming and so hopeful. And it has a beautiful twist that made my heart swell.

So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter

Hilarious, candid and emotional, So Lucky brilliantly celebrates the power of women. It is oh so rude, but in a comedy and very authentic way. It had me howling, and I really mean howling with laughter.

So Lucky skillfully examines why many women in today’s society feel the pressure to portray the mirage of the successful, beautiful and busy life. It is a frank, comedy read that also brilliantly exposes the role social media plays to further perpetuate the filtered, fake perfect image.

Yes it made me laugh loads, but it also brought a lump to my throat. It is a brilliant reminder that we shouldn’t judge our fellow women: “When women come together, the world gets better. We don’t know our own power sometimes.”

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Written as an oral documentary portraying the rise and fall of an iconic 70s rock band, Daisy Jones & The Six is unique, refreshing and brilliant.

Daisy Jones & The Six become the biggest band in the world but at what cost? And at the height of their fame, why do they suddenly break up?

Everyone seems to have been raving about Daisy Jones & The Six this year, and rightly so. Reese Witherspoon loved it that much she’s adapting it into a TV show. I can’t wait for that!

The Hidden by Mary Chamberlain

Inspired by horrific true events and real people, The Hidden is a skillfully crafted novel portraying the destructive power of silence and guilt.

Set in Nazi occupied Jersey during World War II, The Hidden is the story of Dora, a Jewish refugee desperately trying to conceal her identity. Her story becomes entwined with Joe’s, a young Irish priest who ends up in a concentration camp.

Then when a stranger comes knocking at their doors over 40 years later, deep emotional scars are ripped open.

The Hidden is powerful, shocking and brutal. Yet it is a brilliant, informative page turner brimming with humanity and emotion.

Found by Erin Kinsley

Found

In the press release that accompanied my proof copy, it compared Found to the ‘searing emotion of TV dramas such as Broadchurch‘ – a comparison I certainly agree with.

Straight away Found confronts many people’s worst nightmare; that being when your child vanishes without trace. Eleven year-old Evan mysteriously disappears one day after school. With all potential leads coming to dead ends, months after Evan is still missing. Then one day Evan is suddenly found; but he is a very different boy, severely traumatised and refusing to speak.

Found is raw, gut wrenching and visceral. Yet it also powerfully portrays the healing power of love and family.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

This is the story of Roy and Celestial who’s world is ripped apart when Roy is arrested for a devastating crime he did not commit. He is sentenced to 12 years imprisonment.

This contemporary novel set in the deep south of America is a raw, unsettling read as it focuses on race and social injustice. It is also a powerful portrayal of love, humanity and emotional survival.

An American Marriage is a masterpiece in storytelling, it is truly stunning.

Well that’s the end of my favourite books published in 2019. I’ve got to be honest with you, it’s been a real struggle to compile this list but also a delight.

Thank you to you all for following my blog this year and reading my reviews. I really enjoy reading and reviewing the books that I blog about. I hope that you enjoy reading my reviews and inspired you to read some of the books I’ve blogged about.

Happy reading everyone! 🙂

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