December 31, 2019

Best of 2019

Here is a brief list of the best books I read in 2019:

Two Can Keep a Secret

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus - This was a great thriller. The end was so incredibly creepy! Two kids move in with the grandmother while mom goes to rehab. Their mom's twin sister went missing in this town 20 years ago, and recently another girl turned up dead. They want to find out what's going on so everyone can sleep at night.


A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kimmerer - This is my favorite book of the year! Harper is waiting for her brother on a dark, lonely street in D.C. when she sees a creepy guy attacking a drunk girl. She goes after him and gets pulled into another universe. In this universe, Prince Rhen lives the same season over and over again. He's been curse by a witch to repeat the season until someone falls in love with him. If he fails, at the end of the season, he turns into a monster. This monster has killed his entire family, everyone at court except his general, Grey, and many villagers near his castle. Harper is the latest of Grey's attempts to find a woman to fall in love with Rhen. Only she's not really the usual type since she has Cerebral Palsy and is actually not that pretty.


Spin by Lamar Giles - A rising DJ has been murdered on her turntables. Her best friend from childhood and her biggest fan team up to find out who did it. There's just one catch. They hate each other. The things they go through to track down her killer are intense and the reveal was pretty fantastic.


Sherwood by Megan Spooner - This one surprised me! It started off as just a retelling of the Robin Hood fable with Maid Marian acting as Robin Hood. Robin of Locksley was killed in the Crusades and his personal belongings were sent to Marian, to whom he was engaged to be married. Guy of Gisborne is making proposal noises, and Marian is trying to put him off. Then, Marian finds out her maid's brother was arrested, so she puts on Robin's cloak to rescue him and everyone believes it's Robin's ghost. The thing I liked about it is that Marian is a good swordsman at the beginning because she trained with Robin, but she's not terribly athletic and she screws up a lot. But she grows in prowess and skill as she continues to be Robin Hood to fight the Sheriff and Guy of Gisborne's policies that oppress the people.

Rayne and Delilah

Rayne and Delilah's Midnite Matinee by Jeff Zentner - Delia and Josie have a Friday at midnight show on cable access where they become Rayne and Delilah and show old, B-rated monster movies. They dress in black lace and wigs and make vampire puns. In real life, they're best friends. It's their senior year of high school. One wants to go to college, but that's not an option for the other and she is trying to convince her friend to stay in their small town. The one with the depressed mother and no money wants to find her father in hope that he will want to be in her life. My favorite thing about this book is the dialog between the girls. It reminded me so much of the way my best friend and I talked in high school, only much more funny than we ever were.

Thereby Hangs a Tail

Thereby Hangs a Tail by Spencer Quinn - This is probably the only adult book on this list. Chet and Bernie are a detective duo who are hired to find a show dog who has been kidnapped. Oh and also her owner. The thing I love about these books is that Chet (the dog) tells the story in a way that is uniquely dog-like. There are lots of bunny-trails in his storytelling as well as sneezes to clear his mind and the difficulty of not being able to tell Bernie what he knows, because Bernie doesn't speak dog. The mystery is legit and harrowing, but the tension is broken by Chet's dogginess.

Memory Police

The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa - This is a weird little book. Very Japanese. On this island, things start disappearing. When a thing disappears, everyone has to get rid of every one of those things that they own and then they start to forget it existed. Except some people don't forget. The Memory Police is a Gestapo-like force that comes in to be sure you don't have anything that has disappeared. They also corral people who don't forget and take them away. No one knows where they go, but the main character's mother was taken away by the Memory Police and only her body was returned. The nameless main character is an author. When she finds out that her beloved editor, R, is one who remembers she enlists the help of a friend of her parents, the old man, to help her hide him in a room between the floors of her house. It's told very sparsely, with few words, and nobody has a name. I flew through it in only a few sittings.

Serpent and Dove

Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin - Lou is a witch who ran away from her coven and is hiding in this French town. The town is protected by the Chasseurs, or witch hunters. One thing leads to another and Lou is forced to marry Reid, a leading Chasseur. She figures there's no better place to hide from the head witch than in the middle of the witch hunters. Reid is an honest, upstanding man and refuses to forsake his wedding vows, even though his bride is a vulgar, crass, loud, disrespectful woman. Hilarity ensues. But also, the head witch shows up and makes a scene and steals Lou back to kill her.

10 Blind Dates

10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston - At first blush, this is a YA romantic comedy, but it's actually more than that. Sophie's parents are spending Christmas with her older sister who is experiencing a difficult pregnancy. Sophie is going to spend Christmas with her grandparents and the rest of her large Italian family. But first, she's going to spend some time making out with her boyfriend. Except the boyfriend isn't into it. Or her, anymore, it seems. She rushes to her grandparents' house, broken-hearted, and her grandmother decides that the best way to heal is for her family to fix her up on blind dates. Everyone gets a day to fix her up over Christmas break, including her clueless aunt and her evil cousins. Some dates go better than others, but the real story is in her relationship with her cousins that has faded over the last few years. There are lessons here about family and communication and also realizing what might not be healthy in a relationship, even when you think it's working.

So those are 9 of the best books I read in 2019. What are your favorites from this year?