Hello dear book friends and welcome to one of my very favourite posts of the year! As it’s the last day of 2019 I wanted to share my top reads of the year with you before we welcome the New Year with open arms and raised glasses. It’s also a very good opportunity to thank you for your support this year. When I first started damppebbles nearly FOUR years ago I had no idea the impact it would have on my life. Reading has always been my passion but I’ve never really discussed books with other people (mainly because I didn’t know anyone who was as keen on reading and books as I was!). The book community welcomed me with open arms and I am truly grateful for that every day. Thank you for following my blog and being interested in my bookish thoughts. I expected maybe ten or so people to follow damppebbles (and I would have been incredibly happy with that) but to have over 120 x that many followers is just mind-blowing. Thank you, thank you and thank you again.
I will be taking a step back from blogging next year. I have been suffering from a small reading slump recently and it’s taking me a couple of weeks to read one book. That wouldn’t be so bad if I were then finding the time to review the book immediately afterwards. But I’m not. Currently, I have fourteen reviews to write and I can’t seem to find the time, the words or the drive to write them. So I’m removing the pressure and not giving myself any deadlines for the foreseeable future. I hope you understand. I do plan on returning but not for a few months.
If you’re a book blogger and part of the damppebbles blog tours family then fear not! I will be in touch with more glorious books for you soon. My blogging break will not affect DBT in the slightest and I plan to continue being your Fairy BookMother long into the future. If you’re a book blogger and you’re NOT part of damppebbles blog tours then here’s your chance to sign up! Plus if you sign up, follow me on Twitter and retweet this tweet then your name will be entered into the draw to win a small book haul worth £20 from Book Depository (giveaway is international but Book Depository must ship to you – ends 00:00 GMT 31st January 2020). If you tag four book blogger friends as well you’ll get a bonus entry. And don’t forget to have a peek at the damppebbles blog tours page over on the blog and see if anything takes your fancy.
Anyway, I digress. We’re here for my top books of the year post and not my Oscars acceptance speech, lol!
My top ten books of 2019 list is actually eleven books long but I’m hoping no one notices. Previously I’ve made it a strange rule to not include a book that’s due to be published in the following year. But I realise now that that’s just pure CRAZY. After all, I’m unlikely to go back two years to compile my ‘end of the year’ books list. So that stops right here, right now. What makes it even more iffy is that I haven’t written a review for the 2020 release I’m going to feature in this list yet. Yup – it’s one of the fourteen….
So in no particular order unless otherwise stated, here are my favourite reads of 2019…
The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley
Would I recommend this book? Absolutely. Without a moment’s hesitation. It’s creepy and claustrophobic with a brilliant ending. It’s a perfect example of the books I love to read. A great page-turner of a book with intriguing characters, a fabulous remote setting and shedloads of suspicion and suspense. More please! Highly recommended.
My Review of The Hunting Party
The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter
This book really is something quite special. I was completely emotionally involved with it from start to finish and savoured every single word of The Good Daughter. I didn’t want it to end and could have happily read another 500 pages or so. There are so many brilliant moments within the story; young Charlotte’s palpable fear and indecision when the moment to escape comes – leaving her older sister to certain death, the wonderful twist fairly early on in the book that you just don’t see coming, the relationship between Charlotte and her father, when Lenore, Rusty’s secretary’s, story is revealed to the reader. So many fantastic little touches that when added together make something truly magnificent. It’s also very dark with a number of terrifying and upsetting scenes.
My Review of The Good Daughter
Wilderness by B.E. Jones
I loved this book. It’s the first book I’ve read by B.E. Jones but I can safely say that it won’t be the last. Boy, can this author write a dark and dangerous character! If you’re a regular visitor to the blog then you will know that I am a sucker for characters. The plot and the setting (which are both brilliant in this novel, by the way) can be ‘okay’ providing the characters stand tall and leap from the page. I want living breathing people who make me feel something – that’s not asking too much, is it? Wilderness is a cracking example of exactly how to write incredible, believable characters and also tick the all-important plot and setting boxes with confidence and flair! I absolutely loved Liv. I’m still not entirely sure I was supposed to love her as she’s very much a character on the edge. But hey, I do like a dark undertone and it’s often the more complex creations who appeal to me more!
My Review of Wilderness
The Whisper Man by Alex North
You need this book in your life. It’s brilliantly creepy, edgy and chock full of surprises. I was totally smitten from the moment I read the first page. The characters are outstanding, the plot hooks you in in a matter of minutes and the writing is just sublime. Not forgetting the seemingly-quaint yet overwhelmingly sinister setting of Featherbank. This book has definitely left its mark on me. I loved it and it’s going to take something extra special to knock it off the top spot.
My Review of The Whisper Man
The Taking of Annie Thorne by C.J. Tudor
Would I recommend this book? Most definitely and I suggest if you haven’t read The Chalk Man you download that too. I’m a huge fan of horror/crime crossover novels and this one is another to add to the favourites list. Tudor’s writing is sublime and before you know it hours have passed and you’ve forgotten to pick the kids up from school (that didn’t happen…honest!). Deliciously creepy, totally addictive and the type of book I want to read over and over again. Don’t miss out on this exceptional book!
My Review of The Taking of Annie Thorne
Bird Box by Josh Malerman
I devoured this book in a few short hours. I very occasionally say it doesn’t take me long to read a book (more often than not it takes me AGES as I’m a slow reader for a book blogger) but this is by far my quickest read in a long time. I could not put this book down and I flew through the pages like my life depended on it. I was mesmerised by Malorie’s incredible story and wanted to see what was going to happen but also savour my time with this courageous woman struggling through an unimaginable scenario. The publishers say this book will haunt you long after reading and they are so right. I’m traumatised by Bird Box and I love it! If you haven’t watched the film but you have a vague idea of the concept then you must read this book. I don’t think you truly ‘get it’ until you’re living it with Malorie and the children. Oh my gosh, it’s buried deep down in my soul. Absolutely superb!
My Review of Bird Box
Blood Song (Roy & Castells #3) by Johana Gustawsson
I can’t quite put into words how special these books are and how talented Johana Gustawsson, and the translators (in this case David Warriner), are. Some writers tell you a story, while others take you on a journey and that’s exactly what Gustawsson does in her novels. There is always a historical element to her stories and it’s always something that will make you stop and think. In Blood Song the story jumps from Franco’s Spain in the 1930s to the present day with spine chilling effect. At times, I was wondering what the connection would be. How the past and the present would collide. Then all the perfectly placed pieces fall into place and it’s a beautiful, beautiful thing.
My Review of Blood Song
Soon by Lois Murphy
This is a truly captivating novel which drew me in from start to finish. The unease and the uncertainty the author creates is a joy to read and I savoured every single second of this book. I was right there at the heart of Nebulah with the characters as they realised the sun would set soon and they were rapidly running out of time… It’s a beautifully written piece of fiction where everything works perfectly; the place, the characters, the gripping plot and of course, the terrifying mist. I wanted to return to this book again and again to get my next Nebulah fix.
My Review of Soon
The Last Widow (Will Trent #9) by Karin Slaughter
When you first start this book you have no idea what sort of ride you’re going to be taken on or even what to expect. All I’ll say is get comfy and buckle your seatbelt as it’s gonna get bumpy! Sara and Will are thrown head first into the darkest reaches of humanity, layer upon layer of the worst humankind has to offer, which can make for uncomfortable reading at times. The author builds the story in the most marvellous way and I was completely entranced by Slaughter’s writing and her characters, as well as frequently appalled too.
My Review of The Last Widow
The Guest List by Lucy Foley
I haven’t actually written my review of The Guest List yet but after reading the brilliant The Hunting Party I was keen to get stuck into this one. Oh.My.Gosh! If you enjoyed The Hunting Party you are going to love The Guest List. Quite possibly the biggest book hangover I have ever had. Get it pre-ordered as it will be released in February 2020!
And my book of 2019 is…
Black Summer (Washington Poe #2) by M.W. Craven
Oh.My.Goodness. I have been waiting some time (…a year, maybe?) for this second Washington Poe novel and it was absolutely outstanding! I would even go as far as saying it’s better than the brilliant The Puppet Show, which is no mean feat! I couldn’t put it down, nor did I want to. Every spare moment, no matter how small, was dedicated to reading this utterly marvellous book. I am addicted to Tilly and Poe. You’d be crazy to not get yourself a copy of this book, which can be read as a standalone, but why would you buy just one when you can also immerse yourself in the superb The Puppet Show as well!
My Review of Black Summer
So many absolutely outstanding books. If you’re a crime or horror fan then I heartily recommend you add all of these cracking titles to your TBR. I’ve had an incredible bookish year and I cannot thank the brilliant authors and publishers enough. I’ve read so many standout novels this year that it’s been tough to whittle it down. I cannot wait to see what 2020 brings.
I couldn’t sign off without sharing my favourite bookish photo of 2019 which was taken at Harrogate and features my #blogbestie, Jo of My Chestnut Reading Tree along with superstar authors Peter Swanson and M.W. Craven. I love this photo and it always makes me smile.
Have an incredible New Year, bookish lovelies, and I will see you on the other side. I’ll be sharing my #R3COMM3ND3D2019 After-Show Party post in the next week or so, so keep an eye out for that. I’m really looking forward to revealing the most recommended book of 2019 as chosen by 57 book bloggers and authors. Wishing you a New Year filled with everything you could hope for. Lots of love, Emma @damppebbles x