2019 was a good reading year. I read about 270 books (I’m pretty sure that a few of my re-reads didn’t make it into my calculations). Out of that total, 9 books earned over the 4 star rating for me. The vast majority of my choices ended up in 4 star territory, very satisfactory. Some of my favourites, which I re-read a lot, end up in the 4 star category simply because they are fun, but I’m aware that they aren’t great literature.
Longest book in 2019: Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan.
Shortest book in 2019: Saving Thunder the Great: the true story of a gerbil's escape from the Fort McMurray wildfire by Leanne Shirtliffe.
First book of the year: Very Good, Jeeves! by P.G. Wodehouse
Last book of the year: Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews
Best non-fiction book of 2019: I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara. It’s a shame that the author didn’t live to see this case solved, but she wrote one hell of a book about her investigations.
When Words Collide conference: I attended this conference in August and discovered a new favourite author, James Alan Gardner. I would highly recommend the first two books in his Dark/Spark series: All Those Explosions Were Someone Else's Fault and They Promised Me the Gun Wasn't Loaded.
I read 41 books in my Science Fiction & Fantasy reading project, falling a bit short of my goal of reading one book per week. Notable books include Doomsday Book by Connie Willis, Foreigner by C.J. Cherryh, and Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb.
Favourite book in my Science Fiction & Fantasy reading project: A Game of Thrones. A dramatic and fully realized world, with strong characters and an uncompromising plot. I could feel the cold and smell the food, plus sympathize with people on both sides of the conflict. I can hardly wait to read the second book of the series.
Shakespeare Project: I saw 3 Shakespearean plays this year, including Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus, and Richard II. I have now seen over half of the Bard’s plays. Yay!
Best Psychological Suspense: Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine. Un-put-down-able. Do you get a second chance at life after discovering that your husband is a serial killer? I couldn’t help but root for this determined heroine in her quest to keep herself and her children safe. I also loved the sequel, Killman Creek.
Best Historical Fantasy: This was a tie between two books by the same author, Guy Gavriel Kay. A Song for Arbonne, set in a version of Renaissance Provence and A Brightness Long Ago, set in a fantasy version of Renaissance Italy. I’m gradually working my way through all of Kay’s books and none of them have rated lower that 4.5 stars for me.
Best Fantasy Retelling of a Shakespearean work: The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton. This was my first 5 star book of 2019 and I can totally see myself reading it again in the future. A luxurious dark fantasy with plenty of magic and mystery.
Best Young Adult novel: Sword and Pen by Rachel Caine. Fifth volume in The Great Library series and just as good as the previous volumes. This conclusion to the series reduced me to emotional tatters by the end and I cried a lot. Start with the first volume and enjoy them all.
Favourite Classic read this year: Excellent Women by Barbara Pym. A look at the life of a single woman and the pressures of society to be part of a couple. With wicked commentary on the usefulness (or lack thereof) of many men. I count myself in the number of Excellent Women.
Most Powerful Novel read in 2019: Beloved by Toni Morrison. Gorgeous writing about a difficult subject. Well worth reading, although I found I had to read it slowly: Read a chapter and reflect.
Summer Reading Project: This year featured the Summer of Sherlock. I read 29 books for this project, including several of the originals by Arthur Conan Doyle and lots of Holmes pastiche. My favourite discovery was the Lady Sherlock series by Sherry Thomas.
Best Book Read for Bookclub: We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. This one kept me thinking about it for days after I finished it. I think it provoked the most discussion among the book club members too.
Re-reads of 2019: I spent a fair amount of time re-reading several favourite series, including Sookie Stackhouse by Charlaine Harris, The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman, and Kate Daniels by Ilona Andrews. All three of them are in my preferred genre, Urban Fantasy.
New Releases that I’m looking forward to in 2020: Emerald Blaze by Ilona Andrews, A Murderous Relation by Deanna Raybourn, Imaginary Numbers by Seanan McGuire, The Secret Chapter by Genevieve Cogman, False Value by Ben Aaronovitch, Murder on Cold Street by Sherry Thomas, and A Killing Frost by Seanan McGuire.
I’ll look forward to seeing how my friends’ 2019 reading year went and I wish you all the best 2020 possible! Happy New Year!