05 January 2020

Top 5 Books of 2019

I read a new personal best of 75 books in 2019, however only 12 books earned a 5 star rating. Having fewer 5 star reads did make the selection of my Top 5 Books of 2019 a little easier, however I'd like to reiterate this list has been drawn from the books I read in 2019; they weren't all published in 2019.

Here are my Top 5 Books of 2019 in the order I read them:

1. The Binding by Bridget Collins

The Binding by Bridget Collins cover
This was one of my most anticipated reads for 2019 and I loved it. In this world, books are forbidden and the profession of bookbinder is akin to that of a witch. A binder has the power to take a traumatic memory - or series of memories - and erase it from a person's mind by binding it into a book. Those suffering grief and trauma often seek the services of a binder, despite being shrouded in superstition and plagued by prejudice.

I enjoyed reading about Emmett's apprenticeship to Seredith and was pleasantly surprised to learn Collins is an amateur bookbinder herself. Her experience in this field clearly shines through.

The Binding is a combination of fantasy and historical fiction or historical fiction meets urban fantasy and I loved that it contained hints of folklore and myth whilst remaining rooted in reality.

2. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor cover
This is a Young Adult fantasy novel and I haven't been this impressed by an author's imagination and world building since reading my first Harry Potter.

Our main character Lazlo Strange is a war orphan raised in a monastery and library by monks. He has an active imagination, grew up fascinated by stories and comes to work at the Great Library of Zosma. Strange is obsessed with the mysteries of the lost city of Weep and is determined to find out what happened there. Perfect premise right?

Full of magic, gods, alchemists, scholars, myths and legends, Strange the Dreamer is overflowing with the most amazing writing that made me feel as though I were immersed inside a fairytale.

3. Anna of Kleve - Queen of Secrets by Alison Weir

Anna of Kleve - Queen of Secrets by Alison Weir cover
Historical fiction author Alison Weir is no stranger to my Top 5 book lists, two years ago she featured in my Top 5 Books of 2017 with Anne Boleyn: A King's Obsession and she's done it again. Anna of Kleve - Queen of Secrets is the fourth in the Six Tudor Queens series and is the story of Anna of Kleve, or Anne of Cleves as most of us know her.

In this historical fiction imagining of her life in the 1500s, Weir has provided an alternate history for Anna of Kleve. It is well known Henry VIII had their arranged marriage annulled and Anna was known from then on as the King's Beloved Sister. However Alison Weir takes us beyond this turning point in her life all the way through until King Henry's death in 1547 and Anna’s own death a decade later in 1557.

Thanks to Hachette Australia for this copy, I eagerly await the next in the series due to be published in 2020, Katheryn Howard: The Scandalous Queen.

4. Snake Island by Ben Hobson

Snake Island by Ben Hobson cover
A bitter dispute between the Cahills and the Moore family drives this fast-paced crime thriller. Set in regional Victoria where I grew up, the feud is fuelled by small town gossip and a sense of family loyalty by both families.

The situation goes from bad to worse, others get caught up in the mess and I was on edge the entire time wanting to know what was going to happen.

Each of the characters is flawed in their own way and each made decisions that either failed to halt the crisis or added fuel to the fire. Each character was memorable and realistic as they explored the often complex relationships between fathers and sons as well as themes of duty, forgiveness, regret, retribution, the cycle of violence, familial love and legacy.

Snake Island by Ben Hobson (courtesy of Allen & Unwin) was a terrific rural thriller and you can read my interview with the author here.

5. The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware book cover
This is gothic domestic noir meets creepy psychological thriller and I absolutely loved it. The novel starts with a live-in nanny (Rowan) accused of being responsible for the death of one of the children in her care at Heatherbrae House in a remote area in Scotland. The novel is her account of the events.

Heatherbrae House is a newly renovated smart house and is run via the use of a smart app. Previous nannies haven’t stayed long and things begin to go wrong in the house fairly early on. The writing is perfectly paced with an unexpected juxtaposition of the old and new parts of the house leading to a creepy and unsettling atmosphere.

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware (thanks to Penguin Random House Australia) had an ending that took my breath away and made it an instant addition to my Top 5 list for the year.

Have you read any of the books on this list? What were your favourite reads in 2019?

Carpe Librum!

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  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Theresa I loved The Binding too, and glad I was able to surprise you :-)


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