Top Ten Books 2019

With only a few days left of 2019, it is time to share with you the 10 books that have stolen my heart this year. Although it has not been a great reading year for me in the sense that I have not read as much as I would have liked, I have read some really special books that have completely transported me to stunning locations, fascinating eras and have allowed me to forget to forget about reality for a few hours. And for that I am so thankful! In no particular order, here are the 10 most special books I've read:

The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary

What it is about: 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: I only read this one a couple of weeks ago and I am still wondering why it took me so long to pick it up as I had been hearing great things about it for months. The concept is very unique and original but above all, I think that it is very well executed. Although they share the same bed, it takes a long time for Tiffy and Leon to actually meet. However, thanks to sharing the same space for months and to their post-it exchanges they already know a lot about each other. 

I had a great time following their exchanges and I kept wondering how and when they were going to meet. In the meantime, I loved getting to know them as individuals and I think both of them were great complex characters. The actual meeting didn't disappoint at all and it had me laughing for a good ten minutes. This is a very warm and uplifting story that also touched on more serious topics. Definitely one book that I will be re-reading pretty soon to enjoy all the little details again.

A Million Dreams by Dani Atkins 

What it is about: Beth Brandon always dreamed of owning a florist, but today the bouquets of peonies and bright spring flowers are failing to calm her nerves. Because today, Beth has a life-changing decision to share with her husband.

Izzy Vaughan thought she and her husband would stay together forever, but sometime last year, their love began to fade. They both find such joy in their young son Noah – but is he enough to keep them together?

Eight years ago, something happened to these two women. Something that is about to bring them together in a way no-one thought possible...

Why I loved it: A Million Dreams is absolutely gorgeous. The story is narrated by two women: Beth and Izzy and at the beginning it is not clear how their stories are going to relate to each other. Thanks to this dual narrative, I got to really know these two characters and I felt really connected to them, I understood what they were going through and how it affected them. So when I discovered how they were linked, it shocked me to the core. Their story really brought up so many emotions!

I think the plot for this story was really original and surprising. It made me wonder a lot about what I would do in their situations and question what is right and what is wrong. Definitely a very thought-provoking story. I really didn't know how the story was going to unfold but I think the author made a magnificent job with it. I closed the last page with tears in my eyes but a huge smile in my face. A highly recommended read from me. 

If You Were Here by Alice Peterson

What it is about: When her daughter Beth dies suddenly, Peggy Andrews is left to pick up the pieces and take care of her granddaughter Flo. But sorting through Beth’s things reveals a secret never told: Beth was sick, with the same genetic condition that claimed her father’s life, and now Peggy must decide whether to keep the secret or risk destroying her granddaughter’s world.

Five years later, Flo is engaged and ready to pack up her life and move to New York with her high-flying fiancĂ©. Peggy never told Flo what she discovered, but with Flo looking towards her future, Peggy realises it’s time to come clean and reveal that her granddaughter’s life might also be at risk.

As Flo struggles to decide her own path, she is faced with the same life-altering questions her mother asked herself years before: If a test could decide your future, would you take it?

Why I loved it: the main character, Flo, was such a fascinating and interesting character, it was impossible not to root for her. I loved getting to know her and she really inspired me to value life more and to challenge myself. Although I really don't know what I would do in her shoes, it was a real pleasure to share this journey with her and learn more about Huntington's and how it affects people and their family and friends. I really cannot imagine how hard it must be to live with it but I do think that this book shows us a fair portrayal of it and I'm sure that it will raise awareness on this disease.

Flo was not the only special character in this story though. I had a great team hanging out with Flo's granny Peggy and thanks to her old diaries, with Flo's mum too. The friendship between Peggy and her neighbour was definitely a highlight of the story for me, such a touching relationship. And the rest of the characters were pretty great too. 

If You Were Here is truly amazing, an unforgettable story that will pull at your heart-strings. Definitely one not to miss.

The Cornish Cream Tea Bus by Cressida McLaughlin

What it is about: Baking fanatic, Charlie Quilter, is surprised when her late uncle bequeaths his vintage bus to her in his will. Keen to give the bus a new lease of life, Charlie thinks it will be the perfect mobile cafĂ© for afternoon tea, and when her friend, Juliette, suggests Charlie comes to stay with her in the picturesque Cornish village of Porthgolow, she’s thrilled at the chance of a new start.

Charlie and her cute dog, Marmite, make new friends wherever their bus stops – except for the sexy but reclusive owner of the posh spa up on the hill, Daniel Harper, who isn’t very pleased that her bus is parked outside his lovely hotel.

Has Charlie’s Cornish dream developed a soggy bottom? Or can she convince Daniel that her bus could be the start of something wonderful for the little village – and for them.

Why I loved it: I absolutely loved this story. It is such a feel-good book set in the stunning setting of Cornwall. The small town community was a delight to read and I could picture their gatherings perfectly in my head. I would highly recommend this story for anyone looking for a touching, up-lifting and charming story!

It had a good dash of romance, with a love triangle going on, which kept me intrigued and very satisfied with the ending. But what really stole my heart were two things: the descriptions of the stunning Cornish coast and of the delicious food Charlie was preparing.

One Winter Morning by Isabelle Broom

What it is about: Genie isn't feeling very festive this December.

The frosty mornings and twinkling fairy lights only remind her it's been a whole year since she lost her adoptive mother, who took her in as a baby and raised her as her own.

She's never felt more alone - until she discovers her birth mother's identity.

And where to find her: New Zealand, half the world away.

Travelling there could be her one chance to meet the woman who gave her up.

But will she find the answers she has been looking for? Or something she could never have expected?

Why I loved it: A new Isabelle Broom book has become a highlight in my reading year and with One Winter Morning she completely surpassed all my (high!) expectations. This is a beautiful touching story set in a stunning location that stole my heart. 

I found the characters in this story very interesting and I loved getting to know them. The story unfolds quite slowly so you don't really know how they are connected until you are totally immersed in their world. I think this worked very well here because it gave me time to connect with them and understand what they were going through. 

I especially enjoyed reading about New Zealand. Locals Tui and Kit were the perfect guides for Genie in this foreign land and they made such a great job that not only did she fall in love with the this beautiful country but so did I. The perfect story to escape to this winter!

The Glittering Hour by Iona Grey

What it is about: Selina Lennox is a Bright Young Thing. Her life is a whirl of parties and drinking, pursued by the press and staying just the right side of scandal.

Lawrence Weston is a penniless painter who stumbles into Selina's orbit one night and can never let her go.

Spanning two decades and a seismic shift in British history as World War II approaches, this is an epic novel of passion, heartache and loss. 

Why I loved it: Iona Grey already made me fell in love with her writing with her acclaimed debut, Letters to the Lost, but I think that The Glittering Hour is in a whole new level. The writing really transports you back in time and the characters feel like part of your family. 

I can only praise this epic story and I highly recommend you pick it up if you are looking for a very special book that will fascinate you and probably steal your heart. It has secrets, it has family drama, it has love, it has glamour but also lots of pain. A book that has found a place in my favorite books ever list, for sure. 

The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew by Milly Johnson 

What it is about: Sophie Mayhew looks like she has the perfect life. Wife of rising political star John F Mayhew, a man who is one step away from the top job in the government, her glamour matches his looks, power, breeding and money. But John has made some stupid mistakes along the way, some of which are threatening to emerge. Still, all this can still be swept under the carpet as long as Sophie 'the trophy' plays her part in front of the cameras.

But the words that come out of Sophie’s mouth one morning on the doorstep of their country house are not the words the spin doctors put in there.  Bursting out of the restrictive mould she has been in since birth, Sophie flees to a place that was special to her as a child, a small village on the coast where she intends to be alone.

But once there, she finds she becomes part of a community that warms her soul and makes her feel as if she is breathing properly for the first time. Sophie knows she won't be left in peace for long. Now she must decide: where does her real future lie? 

Why I loved it: The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew is a delightful story. I had such a great time reading it that I completely forgot about anything else! And once I finished it, I actually had to remind myself a couple of times that Sophie and all the other characters were not real and that I would not find their latest adventures in the newspaper.

This book reminded me that no dream is too small or too big, you just need to go for it. Plus, Milly Johnson's writing is a joy a to read, engaging and with the perfect dash of drama and magic. Definitely a story that will leave you with a warm heart and a very positive vibe.  

What it is about: 1838: Northumberland, England. Longstone Lighthouse on the Farne Islands has been Grace Darling’s home for all of her twenty-two years. When she and her father rescue shipwreck survivors in a furious storm, Grace becomes celebrated throughout England, the subject of poems, ballads, and plays. But far more precious than her unsought fame is the friendship that develops between Grace and a visiting artist. Just as George Emmerson captures Grace with his brushes, she in turn captures his heart.

1938: Newport, Rhode Island. Nineteen-years-old and pregnant, Matilda Emmerson has been sent away from Ireland in disgrace. She is to stay with Harriet, a reclusive relative and assistant lighthouse keeper, until her baby is born. A discarded, half-finished portrait opens a window into Matilda’s family history. As a deadly hurricane approaches, two women, living a century apart, will be linked forever by their instinctive acts of courage and love.

Why I loved it: Hazel Gaynor is one of my favourite Historical Fiction authors, so I know that her stories are always special, but The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter surpassed all my expectations. With two timelines set a hundred years apart, this story completely stole my heart.

The author has the ability to bring a past time to life and here we have a perfect example of this. With her generous descriptions of the lighthouses, the sees, the smells and the light, Hazel takes us readers on a travel back in time. If I closed my eyes I could easily picture Grace going up the stairs to the light room or Matilda rowing to the lighthouse. The setting is definitely a strong point on this novel, making this story even more memorable. It's impossible not to care for these girls and every one in the story.

The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter is a stunning and heart-wrenching story that surprised me and took my breath away. 

What it is about: Angie has always wanted to travel. But at 29, she has still never left her small mining town in the Australian outback. When her grandmother passes away, Angie finally feels free to see the world – until she discovers a letter addressed to the father she never knew and is forced to question everything.

As Angie sets off on her journey to find the truth – about her family, her past and who she really is – will enigmatic stranger Alessandro help guide the way? 

Why I loved it: This is a captivating story that pulls at your heartstrings. It is impossible not love the main character, Angie, she has such a huge heart and has gone through so much. In contrast, the male main character, Alessandro, is not so easy to love. He is a very complex and multilayered character that surprise me plenty of times. I loved discovering his back story and how it had affected him.

The locations of the story were a huge plus. I felt like I was there with Angie, first in her remote home town in Australia and then in the beautiful Italy. I had an amazing time discovering it all through her eyes. All in all, I think the story had plenty of surprises and very special moments that will stay with me for a long time. Another winner by one of my favorite authors. 

Sleep by CL Taylor

What it is about: All Anna wants is to be able to sleep. But crushing insomnia, terrifying night terrors and memories of that terrible night are making it impossible. If only she didn’t feel so guilty…

To escape her past, Anna takes a job at a hotel on the remote Scottish island of Rum, but when seven guests join her, what started as a retreat from the world turns into a deadly nightmare.

Each of the guests have a secret but one of them is lying – about who they are and why they’re on the island. There’s a murderer staying in the Bay View hotel. And they’ve set their sights on Anna.

Why I loved it: Sleep has all the ingredients I love in a psychological thriller: it is creepy, twisty, atmospheric, and above all, addictive. I loved how it started with a letter from the main character saying that if someone was reading it, it meant she was dead. My curiosity was certainly picked from page one and it only grew as the story unfolded.

As the story got darker and darker, I had my heart in my mouth. The suspense was superbly written and the ending took me completely by surprise. This well-crafted and absorbing book is probably my new favorite by the author. I cannot recommend it enough.

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1 comentaris

  1. I'd say at least 5 of these are in my top picks for 2019 too - and the other five...? Well, now I have more in my wishlist for 2020!