At the end of each year I take a look back on the books that I’ve read and try to determine the best books I’ve read in each category and the best book I read during the year. This is a best of those I’ve read and reviewed in 2019, not necessarily the best books published in 2019. So let’s get right to it!
Looking back I was a little surprised (pleasantly) to see how many Mystery books were highly rated this past year. In fact, there were three books that got a perfect 5.0 rating from me, and I don’t give out 5.0 scores very often.
In the running are: Reason to Doubt by Nancy Cole Silverman which I thought was absolutely fantastic. The always-reliable Caroline Fardig with Murder Over Mochas. And Final Reckoning by Robert Bailey. Silverman’s books was really powerful, but I still recall the constant anxiety I had and the desire to keep turning pages to see what happened next with Bailey’s book.
BEST MYSTERY 2019 – FINAL RECKONING by Robert Bailey
I’ll move next to Historical Fiction because this is an easy call. Only one book stood out, having received a perfect 5.0 rating from me.
BEST HISTORICAL FICTION 2019 – FINDING DOROTHY by Elizabeth Letts
Two categories that didn’t do as well as they have in the past are YA and Children’s books. I suspect that this has a lot to do with some of the authors who are missing from my reading list in 2019. And in the case of YA, it is sometimes difficult to know if a book should be classified as YA or not.
In Children’s books, the best I had were two books with a 4.5 rating: A Circle of Elephants by Eric Dinerstein, and Briar and Rose and Jack by Katherine Colville. This is a tough call.
BEST CHILDREN’S BOOK 2019 – BRIAR AND ROSE AND JACK by Katherine Colville
As in with Children’s books, YA only had two books that scored a 4.5 from me for 2019. Those were Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller and Nemesis by Anna Banks. This one is really too close to call, so I’m selecting one because I’ll give the other one acknowledgement later.
BEST YA BOOK 2019 – MASK OF SHADOWS by Linsey Miller
I like reading Westerns, but those typically fall into a good-but-not-great category for me. My choice here is not a ‘typical’ Western and actually better fits the Mystery category, but, well, my award, I can do whatever I want!
BEST WESTERN 2019 – THE BITTERROOTS by C. J. Box
Non-Fiction books have typically done pretty well on my blog here, and there were two that I gave a perfect 5.0 score, and plenty others that I can recall quite fondly. My choice is a book that is a bit older, but because I enjoyed it so much I bought a physical copy to have on hand and that speaks pretty well for a book, I think.
BEST NON-FICTION 2019 – THE HIDDEN MACHINERY by Margot Livesey
I don’t read a lot of Romance books (I guess it’s a ‘guy’ thing?) but I’m always curious about the genre since it’s so popular with the general reading public. I only read a few this year, some of them decent, but I’m giving this award to the book I didn’t use for the YA award. The romance in Anna Bank’s YA book Nemesis was really well done.
BEST ROMANCE 2019 – NEMESIS by Anna Banks
I’ve cut back on my Graphic Novel reading this past year (I think), and of what I’ve read, I haven’t been overly impressed. The winner this year isn’t a traditional graphic novel but rather a collection of newspaper comic strips.
BEST GRAPHIC NOVEL – HE-MAN AND THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE NEWSPAPER COMIC STRIPS published by Dark Horse Books
And so we come down to the two categories that I might still consider my favorites … Fantasy and Science Fiction. I enjoy a lot of different genres, but these are the types of books that first got me reading and continue to thrill me. These two categories also have a fair amount of crossover and my selection for Sci-Fi could easily be considered Fantasy.
In Fantasy books, I was a little surprised to see that I hadn’t given any 5.0 scores and that some of my favorite authors didn’t score higher. But for my selection (with a 4.75 rating) I’m going with an author I don’t usually think about, but when I read his books, I’m always completely enamored.
BEST FANTASY 2019 – GATES OF THE DEAD by James A. Moore
And for Science Fiction I have the difficult task of selecting a title from two very strong contenders. Either of these could be considered Fantasy, but I tend to think of them as Science Fiction and so that’s where I’m categorizing them. And since I can’t really make up my mind, I’m awarding a five-way tie! But in a sense, it’s a two-way tie, since the books represent two different series.
BEST SCIENCE FICTION 2019 –
Books 1 & 2 in The Philosopher’s Series: THE PHILOSOPHER’S FLIGHT & THE PHILOSOPHER’S WAR by Tom Miller
Books 1, 2, & 3 in The Map of Unknown Things series: THE QUEEN OF ALL CROWS, THE OUTLAW AND THE UPSTART KING, & THE FUGITIVE AND THE VANISHING MAN by Rod Duncan
And so it comes down to The Best of the Best! Most of the books listed above were a surprise to me. Only two of the authors listed here have been on my ‘best of’ lists before and I love that part of the reading and reviewing – finding new voices that really entertain. For the Best of the Best I selected an author who so ‘wow’d’ me that I immediately went out and bought TWO copies of the book(s) to share. I really wanted others to see how tremendous the books are. And so far everyone has really enjoyed them as well.
THE BEST OF THE BEST 2019 – THE PHILOSOPHER’S FLIGHT and THE PHILOSOPHER’S WAR by Tom Miller
It was definitely a good year, and I look forward to 2020!