Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Books I Read In 2019!

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Hello! I hope you have all had a really lovely Christmas and that everyone received loads of bookish goodies! This top ten tuesday theme is perfect for the end of the year and as much as I tried I just could not get my list down to ten! So here are my top twenty reads of 2019!

1. The Wych Elm by Tana French

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Summary:

One night changes everything for Toby. He’s always led a charmed life – until a brutal attack leaves him damaged and traumatised, unsure even of the person he used to be. He seeks refuge at his family’s ancestral home, the Ivy House, filled with memories of wild-strawberry summers and teenage parties with his cousins.

But not long after Toby’s arrival, a discovery is made: a skull, tucked neatly inside the old wych elm in the garden.

As detectives begin to close in, Toby is forced to examine everything he thought he knew about his family, his past, and himself.

Why I Loved It: 

I love all of Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad books which I have read so far – so when I saw she was releasing this standalone novel I couldn’t wait to read it. The Wych Elm is so twisty and compelling and there is a sense of darkness to it that I just loved. You can read my review here.

2. Outside by Sarah Ann Juckes

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Summary: 

Here’s the thing about being Inside. Ain’t no one believes that they are.

Ele has never been Outside, but she knows it exists – she just has to prove it.

Her whole world is Inside. Trapped with her books and the Others and Him.
She has never seen a tree or felt the rain but that’s about to change. Ele’s getting out. For good.

Why I Loved It:

I requested this one through Netgalley without knowing much about it and it was a really pleasant surprise for me. It is a subtle and beautiful book about a terrifying topic. You can read my review here.

3. My Sister The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

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Summary:

When Korede’s dinner is interrupted one night by a distress call from her sister, Ayoola, she knows what’s expected of her: bleach, rubber gloves, nerves of steel and a strong stomach. This’ll be the third boyfriend Ayoola’s dispatched in, quote, self-defence and the third mess that her lethal little sibling has left Korede to clear away. She should probably go to the police for the good of the menfolk of Nigeria, but she loves her sister and, as they say, family always comes first. Until, that is, Ayoola starts dating the doctor where Korede works as a nurse. Korede’s long been in love with him, and isn’t prepared to see him wind up with a knife in his back: but to save one would mean sacrificing the other…

Why I Loved It:

This book received a lot of attention and for good reason. It is sharp, funny and original. It is a short novel but it really does pack a punch. You can read my review here.

4. The Lost Man by Jane Harper

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Summary:

Two brothers meet at the remote border of their vast cattle properties under the unrelenting sun of the outback. In an isolated part of Australia, they are each other’s nearest neighbour, their homes hours apart.

They are at the stockman’s grave, a landmark so old that no one can remember who is buried there. But today, the scant shadow it casts was the last hope for their middle brother, Cameron. The Bright family’s quiet existence is thrown into grief and anguish.

Something had been troubling Cameron. Did he choose to walk to his death? Because if he didn’t, the isolation of the outback leaves few suspects…

Why I Loved It:

I have thoroughly enjoyed all of Jane Harper’s books but I think The Lost Man is her best yet. The story gripped me completely and I could not stop reading. Harper is immensely talented especially concerning the setting of her books – the atmosphere she creates is incredible. You can read my review here.

5. The Glass Woman by Caroline Lea

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Summary:

1686, Iceland.

An isolated, windswept land haunted by witch trials and steeped in the ancient sagas .

Betrothed unexpectedly to Jón Eiríksson, Rósa is sent to join her new husband in the remote village of Stykkishólmur. Here, the villagers are wary of outsiders.

But Rósa harbours her own suspicions. Her husband buried his first wife alone in the dead of night. He will not speak of it.

The villagers mistrust them both. Dark threats are whispered. There is an evil here – Rósa can feel it. Is it her husband, the villagers – or the land itself?

Alone and far from home, Rósa sees the darkness coming.

She fears she will be its next victim . . .

Why I Loved It:

The Glass Woman is definitely a contender for my overall favourite of the year. I find historical Iceland fascinating and the tension and feeling in this book is phenomenal. If you like historical fiction at all then I highly recommend this one! You can read my review here.

6. Columbine by Dave Cullen

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Summary:

What really happened on April 20th, 1999? The horror left an indelible stamp on the American psyche, but most of what we thought we knew was wrong. It wasn’t about jocks, Goths or the Trench Coast Mafia. Dave Cullen was one of the first reporters on the scene, and he spent ten years on this book, the definitive account. With a keen investigative eye and psychological acumen, he draws on mountains of evidence, insight from the world’s leading forensic psychologists , and the killers’ own words and drawings – several reproduced in a new appendix. Cullen paints raw portraits of two polar opposite killers. They contrast starkly with the flashes of resilience and redemption among the survivors.

Why I Loved It:

I’ve been meaning to read Columbine for ages and this year I finally did. It is incredibly harrowing, as you would expect but is also ultimately informative, compelling, even handed and written with empathy.

7. The Silver Road by Stina Jackson

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Summary:

Three years ago, Lelle’s daughter went missing in a remote part of Northern Sweden. Lelle has spent the intervening summers driving the Silver Road under the midnight sun, frantically searching for his lost daughter, for himself and for redemption.

Meanwhile, seventeen-year-old Meja arrives in town hoping for a fresh start. She is the same age as Lelle’s daughter was – a girl on the brink of adulthood. But for Meja, there are dangers to be found in this isolated place.

As autumn’s darkness slowly creeps in, Lelle and Meja’s lives are intertwined in ways, both haunting and tragic, that they could never have imagined.

Why I Loved It:

This is a perfect example of great Skandi-Noir! I loved the dark intensity of the story and the atmospheric setting of a remote part of Sweden. The characters are intriguing and the mystery kept me hooked. You can read my review here.

8. You Asked For Perfect by Laura Silverman

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Summary: 

Senior Ariel Stone has spent his life cultivating the perfect college résumé first chair violinist, dedicated volunteer, active synagogue congregant, and expected valedictorian. He barely has time to think about a social life, let alone a relationship…until a failed calculus quiz puts his future on the line, forcing Ariel to enlist his classmate, Amir, as a tutor.

As the two spend more time together, Ariel discovers he may not like calculus, but he does like Amir. When he’s with Amir, the crushing academic pressure fades away, and a fuller and brighter world comes into focus. But college deadlines are still looming. And adding a new relationship to his long list of commitments may just push Ariel past his limit.

Why I Loved It:

I love that this book talks about the anxiety that comes from exams and academic pressures. I can 100% relate to this and felt like I was reading about myself when I was in school. It’s also a touching story of love, family and friendship. You can read my review here.

9. Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson

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Summary:

When Hen and Lloyd move into their new house in West Dartford, Mass., they’re relieved to meet, at their first block party, the only other seemingly-childless couple in their neighborhood, Matthew and Mira Dolamore. Turns out they live in the Dutch Colonial immediately next door.

When they’re invited over for dinner, however, things take a sinister turn when Hen thinks she sees something suspicious in Matthew’s study. Could this charming, mild-mannered College Professor really be hiding a dark secret, one that only Hen, whose been battling her own problems with depression and medication, could know about? Lloyd certainly doesn’t seem to believe her, and so, forced together, Hen and Matthew start to form an unlikely bond. But who, if anyone, is really in danger?

Why I Loved It:

I’m a big fan of Peter Swanson and this one was my favourite of his yet. The story has a twist which really took me by surprise and it is a genuinely creepy read. You can read my review here.

10. Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep

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Summary:

Reverend Willie Maxwell was a rural preacher accused of murdering five of his family members for insurance money in the 1970s. With the help of a savvy lawyer, he escaped justice for years until a relative shot him dead at the funeral of his last victim. Despite hundreds of witnesses, Maxwell’s murderer was acquitted – thanks to the same attorney who had previously defended the Reverend.

As Alabama is consumed by these gripping events, it’s not long until news of the case reaches Alabama’s – and America’s – most famous writer. Intrigued by the story, Harper Lee makes a journey back to her home state to witness the Reverend’s killer face trial. Lee had the idea of writing her own In Cold Blood, the true-crime classic she had helped her friend Truman Capote research. She spent a year in town reporting on the Maxwell case and many more years trying to finish the book she called The Reverend.

Now Casey Cep brings this story to life, from the shocking murders to the courtroom drama to the racial politics of the Deep South. At the same time, she offers a deeply moving portrait of one of America’s most beloved writers and her struggle with fame, success and the mystery of artistic creativity.

Why I Loved It:

This is another one that might be my top book of 2019. I have always found Harper Lee fascinating and this book was such an interesting way to find out more about her life and her friendship with Truman Capote. On top of that, it is also a brilliant, compelling and frankly bizarre true crime story at the same time. A phenomenal book. You can read my review here.

11. The Mummy Bloggers by Holly Wainwright

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Summary:

Elle Campbell is a glossy, lycra-clad mum with washboard abs, a ten-year plan and a secret past.

Abi Black has quit sugar, moved to the country and is homeschooling her kids.

Leisel Adams slogs away at her office job each day before rushing home, steeped in guilt, to spend precious moments with her kids before bedtime.

All three share a label that they simultaneously relish and loathe: mummy blogger. And when they are nominated for an award with a hefty cash prize, the scene is set for a brutal and often hilarious battle for hearts, minds-and clicks. As the awards night gets closer, their lies get bigger, their stunts get crazier – and some mistakes from the past become harder and harder to hide.

Why I Loved It:

This book is just honestly such a fun read. It’s easy and light but also sharply funny and so addictive. You can read my review here. The sequel is also great.

12. Meat Market by Juno Dawson

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Summary:

Jana Novak’s history sounds like a classic model cliché: tall and gangly, she’s uncomfortable with her androgynous looks until she’s unexpectedly scouted and catapulted to superstardom…

But the fashion industry is as grimy as it is glamorous. And there are unexpected predators at every turn.

Jana is an ordinary girl from a south London estate, lifted to unimaginable heights. But the further you rise, the more devastating your fall …

Why I Loved It:

Meat Market is a book I wish all teenage girls would read. It shows the darkness of the fashion world whilst at the same time not completely vilifying it. It demonstrates the problems of a modern world and features a fabulous and strong female protagonist. You can read my review here.

13. Educated by Tara Westover

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Summary:

Tara Westover and her family grew up preparing for the End of Days but, according to the government, she didn’t exist. She hadn’t been registered for a birth certificate. She had no school records because she’d never set foot in a classroom, and no medical records because her father didn’t believe in hospitals.

As she grew older, her father became more radical and her brother more violent. At sixteen, Tara knew she had to leave home. In doing so she discovered both the transformative power of education, and the price she had to pay for it.

Why I Loved It:

I was a bit late to the party on this one but since listening to the audiobook I haven’t been able to get Tara’s story out of my head. If you haven’t read this one yet then I seriously suggest buying it because it needs to be read to be believed. You can read my review of the audiobook here.

14. The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins

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Summary:

1826, and all of London is in a frenzy. Crowds gather at the gates of the Old Bailey to watch as Frannie Langton, maid to Mr and Mrs Benham, goes on trial for their murder. The testimonies against her are damning – slave, whore, seductress. And they may be the truth. But they are not the whole truth.

For the first time Frannie must tell her story. It begins with a girl learning to read on a plantation in Jamaica, and it ends in a grand house in London, where a beautiful woman waits to be freed.

But through her fevered confessions, one burning question haunts Frannie Langton: could she have murdered the only person she ever loved?

Why I Loved It:

This is probably my favourite cover of the year and the book is just as fantastic. It’s beautifully evocative and the prose is just gorgeous. You can read my review here.

15. Good Girl Bad Girl by Michael Robotham

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Summary: 

The girl with no past.

Six years ago, Evie Cormac was discovered, filthy and half-starved, hiding in a secret room in the aftermath of a shocking crime. Now approaching adulthood, Evie is damaged, self-destructive and has never revealed her true identity.

The boy who survived.

Forensic psychologist Cyrus Haven, a man haunted by his own past, is investigating the death of champion figure-skater Jodie Sheehan. When Cyrus is called upon to assess Evie, she threatens to disrupt the case and destroy his ordered life. Because Evie has a unique and dangerous gift – she knows when someone is lying. And nobody is telling the truth.

Why I Loved It:

This is the first of Michael Robotham’s books I have read and I absolutely loved it. It has a great pace to it and such an intriguing and twisty story. A fabulous psychological thriller. You can read my review here.

16. The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

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Summary:

Tiffy and Leon share a flat
Tiffy and Leon share a bed
Tiffy and Leon have never met…

Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time.

But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window…

Why I Loved It: 

This is not my usual type of book at all but I took a chance on it because of the awesome reviews and I am so glad I did. The Flatshare is so original and warm hearted – the relationship between Tiffy and Leon is so sweet and I highly recommend it.

17. The Whisper Man by Alex North

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Summary:

If you leave a door half-open, soon you’ll hear the whispers spoken . . .

Still devastated after the loss of his wife, Tom Kennedy and his young son Jake move to the sleepy village of Featherbank, looking for a much-needed fresh start.
But Featherbank has a dark past. Fifteen years ago, a twisted serial killer abducted and murdered five young boys.
Until he was finally caught, the killer was known as ‘The Whisper Man’.
Of course, an old crime need not trouble Tom and Jake as they try to settle in to their new home.
Except that now another boy has gone missing. And then Jake begins acting strangely.

He says he hears a whispering at his window . . .

Why I Loved It:

This is one of the best thrillers of the year in my opinion. I was so freaked out by it that I couldn’t read it after dark which is always a sign that a book has really gotten under my skin!

18. Cilka’s Journey by Heather Morris

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Summary:

In 1942 Cilka Klein is just sixteen years old when she is taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp. The Commandant at Birkenau, Schwarzhuber, notices her long beautiful hair, and forces her separation from the other women prisoners. Cilka learns quickly that power, even unwillingly given, equals survival.

After liberation, Cilka is charged as a collaborator by the Russians and sent to a desolate, brutal prison camp in Siberia known as Vorkuta, inside the Arctic Circle.

Innocent, imprisoned once again, Cilka faces challenges both new and horribly familiar, each day a battle for survival. Cilka befriends a woman doctor, and learns to nurse the ill in the camp, struggling to care for them under unimaginable conditions. And when she tends to a man called Alexandr, Cilka finds that despite everything, there is room in her heart for love.

Why I Loved It: 

I found The Tattooist of Auschwitz amazing and one of the reasons it really stuck with me was because of one of the side characters, Cilka. Cilka’s Journey is a fictionalised account of  a real and incredible woman who deserves to have her story heard. It’s a tough but ultimately hopeful read. You can read my review here.

19. The Green Mile by Stephen King

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Summary: 

The Green Mile: those who walk it do not return, because at the end of that walk is the room in which sits Cold Mountain penitentiary’s electric chair. In 1932 the newest resident on death row is John Coffey, a giant black man convicted of the brutal murder of two little girls. But nothing is as it seems with John Coffey, and around him unfolds a bizarre and horrifying story.

Evil murderer or holy innocent – whichever he is – Coffey has strange powers which may yet offer salvation to others, even if they can do nothing to save him.

Why I Loved It:

I am very slowly making my way through King’s back catalogue by reading one of his books every few months and this year I read The Green Mile. It is an unsettling and complex story with a hint of the supernatural but still so much resonance with the real world, both past and present.

20. Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid

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Summary:

When Emira is apprehended at a supermarket for ‘kidnapping’ the white child she’s actually babysitting, it sets off an explosive chain of events. Her employer Alix, a feminist blogger with the best of intentions, resolves to make things right.

But Emira herself is aimless, broke and wary of Alix’s desire to help. When a surprising connection emerges between the two women, it sends them on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know – about themselves, each other, and the messy dynamics of privilege.

Why I Loved It:

I just finished this one last week and it is honestly so fantastic. I will be publishing my review of it in a couple of days but suffice to say I loved it.

Well that’s it! My favourite reads of 2019! I read some really great books this year and I can’t wait to see what next year brings in the book world. I’d love to know what you think of my list so please lets chat in the comments and feel free to leave a link to your own Top Ten Tuesday. I hope you all have an amazing Hogmanay/New Years Eve! Lots of love!

xxx

40 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Books I Read In 2019!

  1. Mari says:

    My Sister the Serial Killer is definitely on my list of things to read! They were actually handing free copies out in the last BookCon, and I’m a little sorry I missed the giveaway by that point.

    Nice list!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dani says:

    My Sister The Serial Killer was a favorite of mine this year as well! I read The Tattooist of Auschwitz this year and am definitely looking forward to reading Cilka’s Journey this year. Educated and The Flatshare were already on my list, so great to see more positive reviews of these!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lisa says:

    Nice list! I loved The Flatshare. I’m intrigued by the cover of The Glass Woman — I’m going to have to track down a copy. And I need to get to The Green Mile — it’s one of the King books I’ve yet to read. Happy New Year! Wishing you lots of great reading in 2020.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hanna @ Booking in Heels says:

    I really loved Columbine when I got it out of the library. I didn’t know that much about it, but it was eye-opening. I’d also recommend A Mother’s Reckoning, which was written by the mother of one of the shooters.

    Educated and Meat Market are both on my TBR. I’m hoping to get to them soon… but so many books, so little time!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dedra @ A Book Wanderer says:

    What a great reading year you had! So many are on my tbr. I finally read The Dry by Jane Harper this year and I loved it! I can’t wait to pick up the next ones. And yes, Columbine was so well-written. So hard to read. I would like to read Parkland by the same author too.

    Happy New Year! My TTT

    Liked by 1 person

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