31 May 2019

Fellow Reviewers Share Their 2019 Mid Year Favourites

As the end of the financial year draws near, I always find myself thinking about my reading year so far. What have been the stand out books so far in 2019? I thought I'd ask some of my fellow Australian reviewers about their favourite mid year reads and share them with you below.

Carol Seeley

My name is Carol and I share my book reviews at Reading, Writing and Riesling or you can find me on Facebook and Twitter. I am an eclectic and voracious reader. My favourite genre is crime fiction (and occasional true crime) however I like to keep my reading habits “fresh” and mix up my readings with a little taste from most other genres. My favourite authors (in no particular order) are: Michael Connelly, Karin Slaughter, Mark Billingham, Michael Robotham, J M Green, Anna George, Candice Fox, Sara Foster, Sulari Gentill, and Wendy James… I have recently discovered Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie crime series (if you haven’t already you must read this) and the debut by Suzanne Daniel, Allegra in Three Parts (a contemporary read that you should add to your TBR), I love discovering new authors. 

Gone by Midnight (Crimson Lake #3) by Candice Fox coverI prefer to read a physical book but appreciate the value of an ebook when I am travelling – in our caravan when on holidays or on other long journeys. I live in a rural area and like listening to the occasional audio book on long car trips. I hope you enjoy the two books I have chosen as outstanding reads of 2019 to date.

Gone by Midnight (Crimson Lake #3) by Candice Fox
Candice Fox is a very talented and versatile writer. I think that Gone by Midnight is her best work that I have read thus far. Crocodiles, swamps and a missing child are the perfect ingredients for an eerie, macabre, pulse-raising read. I love a character driven narrative and this read is filled with quirky, empathetic main characters. Flawed, damaged, gritty, strong and mostly honest, Fox’s protagonists are never boring. 

Amanda Pharrell has a murderous past (no spoilers here), she is socially awkward and speaks her mind, loudly, and often with unintentional hilarity. Amanda loves cats and has fabulous investigative skills and when teamed up with ex-cop Ted Conkaffey, who has been falsely accused of heinous crimes, these two social outcasts achieve the near impossible – solving mysteries and creating interesting alliances (and enemies) whilst somehow managing to heal a few of their own wounds.

The Little Girl on the Ice Floe by Adelaïde Bon book cover
This is a complex narrative – Fox subtly exposes the intricate emotions and complexities of relationships, both broken and those newly forming. Despite the gruesome truths exposed in this mystery it was a read that did not dwell on the violence and mayhem but satisfyingly concluded with hope. A great read. You can read my full review on my website.

The Little Girl on the Ice Floe by Adelaïde Bon, Ruth Diver (Translator)
This memoir packs a punch hitting you with all the big emotions – anger, grief, sadness, incredulity and ultimately with hope – and those are just the reader's responses to the horrific, depraved, calculated sexual assault on an innocent child, Adelaïde Bon.

Adélaïde Bon is a remarkable woman. Her story, though at times very difficult to read, is one of a life reclaimed, of personal strength, courage and growth; a story that will move you to tears and anger…it will move you, of that I have no doubt. It will open your eyes to the situations and feelings of so many silent broken adults and children (your capacity for empathy will also be bolstered by reading this incredible story) and by sharing her story perhaps this will help someone you know to begin their path to healing.
Unapologetically honest, it is a MUST read. This is an outstanding memoir, it has such power that its effect will remain with you for a lifetime. I do not hesitate in recommending this book to you. Want to know more? Read the full review on my website.

Theresa Smith

Writer, avid reader, keen reviewer, book collector, drinker of all tea blends originating from Earl Grey, and modern history enthusiast. I enjoy reading many genres but have a particular interest in historical fiction. I am the Historical Fiction Editor and team coordinator with the Australian Women Writers Challenge. You can find me and all of my book related news and reviews at Theresa Smith Writes, or on Facebook, GoodReads and Twitter.

This year has seen some terrific new releases, and to pick just two top reads so far was a real challenge. It should come as no surprise that the two books I've selected are historical fiction, but genre is the only thing they have in common. These two books couldn't be more different to each other, or to anything else I’ve read this year, hence them making the final cut.

The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo

The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo book cover
First up is The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo. The Night Tiger was most likely always going to be a winner for me, but honestly, even with my love of tigers taken into consideration, along with a keen interest in colonial Malaysia (Malaya), I still didn’t anticipate that I would adore this novel as much as I did. It’s brilliant. 

Yangsze Choo writes with such a candid warmth, conjuring up the atmosphere of 1930s colonial Malaya to the point where you are almost experiencing it for yourself. Her characters are uniquely rendered, so memorable, and the plot of this novel! It’s so unique, a merging of history, culture, and spiritualism, all woven together into this mystery that comes about from a series of seemingly random, yet at once connected, deaths. The Night Tiger is a truly unforgettable novel, one I hope will be immortalised for all time, never out of print and always available to readers young and old. You can read my full review on my website.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson 

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson book cover

Next is The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson. This novel merges two uniquely fascinating histories plucked right out of the wild Kentucky mountains. The dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse librarians born of Roosevelt’s New Deal Acts, and the true and gentle historical blue-skinned people of Kentucky. 

I’ve never read a novel that has taken the reader so deeply into a hidden history before, and done it with such a depth of understanding for the area being written about. Starkly beautiful in its prose, confronting and desperately painful to comprehend. That it’s so deeply grounded in truth just made it all the more profound. Cussy’s story made my heart hurt, yet despite the grim reality punctuating every single scene throughout the novel, hope sparked in the most unlikely of places. It’s an incredible novel. One of the best I’ve read. You can read my full review on my website.

Annie McCann

I am Annie McCann and I am based in Sydney, Australia. I am the founder of a network of readers called Read3r’z Re-Vu that just celebrated their 10th year in April 2019. I am an avid reader, blogger and emerging writer and you can connect with Read3r'z Re-Vu on Twitter or Facebook. I love YA and fantasy fiction, particularly stories that are inspired by mythology and culturally infused. I am passionate about multicultural diversity particularly in books and when I’m not doing any of that I’ll either be binging on my favourite TV shows: Grimm and The Big Bang Theory or embarking on long distance walks of up to 28km. 

Here are my two favourite books of 2019 so far.

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal book cover
An idle mind is the devil’s playground…
The epic debut from the Sands of Arawiya series set in a richly detailed world inspired by ancient Arabia, a gripping story of discovery, conquering fear, and taking identity into your own hands.

I heard about this book a year ago and I purposely took my time to read this slowly so I really could really immerse myself in the intricate world of Arawiya. What drew me in was the ancient Arabian world, a strong female character, djinn and ifrit – elements of an epic Arabian inspired tale. The world building in the first quarter of the book did take a bit of time as the world of Arawiya is complex and made up of 6 main lands or kingdoms or sectors that we learn about as we learn about our characters however it was still very engaging. The landscape brought back vivid memories of the Arabian desert from my visit to Arabia a few years ago so this book is a personal love for me also. The characters really came to life in my mind from their clothing to their dining to their housing. This book is very clever and lyrical with multiple story lines blending together so eloquently and I came to care for the characters we met – particularly Zafira and Nasir. Zafira is the Hunter, Nasir is the Prince of Death. With epic plot twists luring me deeper and deeper into the story with a cliffhanger ending, I am invested in this series. You can read my full review on the website.

The Eyes of Tamburah by Maria V. Snyder

The Eyes of Tamburah by Maria V. Snyder book cover
I have been a fan of Maria’s work for some time. All of her books are great but I have to admit, this is a personal favourite. I guess this is due to personal taste in the books I love to read. The setting of this book reminded me of an amazing TV documentary called “Cities of the Underworld”, a show that takes us on a journey back in time to the ancient cities in the Middle East and the Cradle of Civilisation that have since been built up over time. 

I loved the flow of the book being a lot of dialogue and how easy it was to grasp this new world and terminology. I also enjoyed how the characters lived below ground as the sun was too incredibly hot and they have to travel up and down levels to simply move around. What made it interesting is different levels proved to be treacherous for various reasons. I enjoyed Shyla as a character, her job was mesmerising being able to read maps and ancient scrolls as a job but I loved her undying loyalty to her friend that was her motivation to set out on a dangerous journey to retrieve the stolen eyes of Tamburah. Her endurance and her strength made her a likeable character in my view. Her connections between Rendor and Banqui were also very interesting. 

Some of the scenes reminded me of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom which made it even more exciting to read. I feel this book really stands out from the other series I have read by Maria V. Snyder as I adore books that have an easy flow to read with and have an Arabian desert feel to it, this book has earned a special place with my book loves of 2019. This is will be published in June 2019 and you can see the full review on my website.

Wow, thank you so much Carol, Theresa and Annie for sharing your favourite reads with us. I loved the variety in your selections. You gave us recommendations from crime, translated memoir, historical fiction and fantasy genres and I'm sure you've convinced a few readers to pick up some of these titles. I haven't read any of these but I have enjoyed novels by Candice Fox and Maria V. Snyder in the past. Thanks again for being part of this mid year Carpe Librum collaboration.

Would you like to comment?

  1. It was so great to be a part if this collaboration. Thanks for putting it together Tracey and thanks to Annie and Carol for their contributions too!

  2. More books to add to my wishlist! Thanks for sharing :)

  3. Great post Tracey. I'm so glad The Eyes of Tamburah is one of your favourites, Annie. I have it on my shelf waiting.

  4. Thanks for being such a great collaborator Theresa. Hope to do it again sometime :-)

    Oh well Shelleyrae, what can we say? Guilty as charged? Heheh

    Thanks Veronica, hope you enjoy The Eyes of Tamburah when you get to it!


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