book reviews | fiction | reading

Best books of 2019

It gets harder and harder to list my favourite books each year, and this year was particularly tough. I think it would be far easier to list the books I didn’t enjoy, although that list would be very small. So, here goes, my ten favourite books for 2019 are: (in alphabetical order not favourite order because that would be way too hard!)

cassie hamer after the party

The debut novel from Australian author Cassie Hamer was a cracker. After The Party revolves around a fifth birthday party and a child whose mother appears to be running late for pick up. But, she’s not late, the child has been entrusted to our main character Lisa, to look after for an indefinite amount of time for what appear to be unknown reasons. The book asks the questions: What would you do to protect a child? And, what does it mean to be a good mother?

A wonderful debut with an interesting premise, every-day characters and a mix of light-heartedness and deeper issues. This book has everything; comedy, mystery, and intrigue and will have you wondering what you would do in the same circumstances.

Cross My Heart by Pamela Cook is the heart-warming story of Tess as she is asked to take on the care of her best-friend’s ten-year-old daughter after her passing. It was a promise made many years ago and the friends had drifted apart during this time, but it was a promise, and even though it will mean uprooting her own life and make her face things from her past, it is something Tess must do.

Cross My Heart is a heart-warming, compelling novel about friendship, memory, and grief that will tug at your emotions on every page. Beautifully written, Pamela’s style is effortless which makes for easy reading and the story is one that will have you unable to put it down.

Rachael Johns does it again with her latest ‘life-lit’ novel, Just One Wish. Possibly her best yet, it tells the story of three generations of women, all at a crossroads in their lives. There’s Alice, a staunch feminist with a secret, her daughter Sappho a home-maker and Instagram influencer, and Ged, trying to make her way in the world and find love.

The story intertwines between these three family members and the fantastic supporting cast of characters for a brilliant story that touches on relevant issues such as feminism, modern parenting and climate change. An engaging read that you won’t want to end.

Another multi-generational novel, this time from Tess Woods. Love and Other Battles spans from the 1960s and Vietnam War through to the current day and issues affecting the teenagers of the day. With three strong female leads, all with different views and upbringings, it brings together conflict, challenges, and love as the characters deal with difficult issues.

Love and Other Battles is a compelling read that will have you captivated from the very first chapter. The characters are brought to life within the story that will have you turning pages. A truly wonderful read.

With an engaging premise Tell Me I’m Wrong is a page-tuner. When two boys are brutally murdered in a tight-knit village community, Megan finds her world about to be turned upside down as she begins to suspect her own husband is the killer.

This is a gripping psychological thriller from best-selling indie author Adam Croft. A roller-coaster of a read (or listen as I did) that will have you confused, wondering and guessing all the way to the end. Very clever and very engaging. Loved it.

The Flatshare from Beth O’Leary was such a delightful novel. After breaking up with her boyfriend Tiffy is in dire need of somewhere to stay and Leon has the answer – his flat. But this is no ordinary flatshare arrangement. One flat, one bed. Tiffy works during the day while Leon sleeps, then as Leon heads off to night-shift Tiffy comes home for the night. They’ve never met and communication via a series of notes left around the flat. But with a cast of characters that includes Tiffy’s obsessive ex, Leon’s wrongly imprisoned brother, things are about to get interesting. And they do!

I truly loved this book. With such a unique premise, quirky characters and delightful prose, it’s the type of book that will be quickly added to your favourites. Heartwarming, poignant and fun all at once, it’s the type of new modern chick-lit that I just love. And you will too.

The Gin Lover’s Guide to Dating is another modern chick-lit, this one was a complete surprise – a good one. Liv’s career has taken a turn for the worst and she finds herself falling from grace. Having to take a job in a bar specialising in gin cocktails just to make the repayments on her flat, she finds she has to reinvent herself to move forward and ends up blogging about her customers in which seems to be a good career move. But will her newfound blogging success be her downfall? Or will it lead her to finally confronting her past and accepting herself once and for all?

Modern chick-lit (a term which I may have coined myself) is fast becoming one of my favourite genres, and this one fits right in. It’s chick-lit with substance. Although the book has a light-hearted and fun feel about it, there are deeper issues that are explored. This makes the growth of the main character during the novel more believable and realistic, giving it that extra something compared to a lighter, fluffier, chick-lit. A great read from this debut novelist.

If you love the Bachelor you’ll love The One from debut Aussie author Kaneana May. Bonnie finds herself unexpectedly and unwittingly on the reality TV show ‘The One’ looking for love.
Darcy, a producer on the show is under pressure from her boss, and despite being surrounded by love all day, her own love life is floundering.
Penelope has moved to the seaside to nurse her broken heart, but can’t seem to quite escape her past.
All three characters embark on their own stories in search of love and peace. But will they find it?

A good rom-com isn’t just a fun romp, it is fleshed out with all the feels – funny moments right through to the heart-twisting teary moments. The balance is hard to achieve, but one that Kaneana May has done effortlessly. I laughed, cried and loved every minute of it of The One.

It was certainly the year for debut authors, and Wildflower Ridge from Maya Linnell was one of them.
After mystery illness, highflyer city corporate Penny McIntyre finds herself whisked back to her small country life on the family farm to recover. With no intention of staying, Penny finds herself having to choose between her boyfriend and career in the city and helping her family on the farm after her father is involved in a serious accident. And then there’s her ex-boyfriend Tim, who was the reason she left in the first place.

There is nothing I didn’t love about this book. It’s one of those novels where you fall asleep thinking about the characters. Linnell has written an exceptional story that is both unique and heartwarming, and with the beautiful Grampians region of Victoria Australia as the setting, you will find it hard to put down. A wonderful rural romance, with more to come!

Dark but captivating Mark Brandi’s debut novel Wimmera, highlights a new voice in crime fiction. It’s the story of childhood friends Ben and Fab in the summer of 1989 when a mysterious newcomer arrives in their small town. Then, twenty years later, a body is found in the river and what happened back in 1989 and in the years since to these characters will soon unravel.

I’ll preface this by saying this book won’t be for everyone. It tackles very dark subject matter (child abuse, grooming, and murder) but it is also written in a way that respects the sensitivity of the issues. I found this story utterly compelling. With a unique voice, taunting narrative and intriguing characters, it’s a book that will stay with me for a very long time.

Honorable mentions go to:

One Summer in Santorini by Sandy Barker

The Cottage on Rosella Cove by Sandie Docker

Happy Ever After by Joanne Tracey (read Dec 2018 after my best books of 2018 list)

The Mill on Magnolia Lane by Tilly Tennant

The Wife and The Widow by Christian White

The Model Wife by Tricia Stringer

Right on Track by Penelope Janu

The French Photographer by Natasha Lester

The Last Voyage of Mrs Henry Parker by Joanna Nell

Illegal Love by Leanne Lovegrove

I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella



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