My Twelve (Twenty) 5 Star Books of 2020 – Including Your Favorite!

My Twelve (Twenty) 5 Star  Books of 2020

It’s been an incredible year for some great books, both mine and the CE’s. However, since he tends to be a bit heavy in stars, the following will be a short compilation of my favorite five star rated books, admittedly a few authors more than once. While any book four stars or more are recommend worthy, I am going for those I feel the wider audience would truly enjoy—and it was impossible difficult to narrow the list down to only those books that stand out.

The range of genre covers fiction in categories from action adventures and cozy mysteries to family drama, historical, suspense, and thrillers in audiobooks and digital formats.

These are the big twelve out of the twenty most memorable with a shout out going to The Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson because while I loved the book, had a few quibbles that knocked it off the top rung. These are listed in no particular order and linked to my review. 

The Lost Boys of London by Mary LawrenceThe Lost Boys of London by Mary Lawrence – This narrative retains that high standard of Renaissance fascination with the waning days of King Henry VIII and the upheaval in the deeply dividing controversy of church and state.

The Wolf in Winter by John ConnollyThe Wolf in Winter by John Connolly – One of the Charlie Parker series, the pace is frightening, barely ending one hair-raising, thought-provoking scene before it careens into the next.

Murder in the Bayou Boneyard by Ellen ByronMurder in the Bayou Boneyard by Ellen Byron –I thoroughly enjoy the sense of humor this author brings to her storytelling…with fully developed characters alive with Southern hospitality personality.

The Last Agent by Robert DugoniThe Last Agent by Robert Dugoni – Put it down? NOPE! The Last Agent is absolutely riveting from mesmerizing beginning to jaw-dropping conclusion. Brilliant!

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia OwensWhere the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owen – The characters are brought vividly to life with the narration, alternately spoken by child or adult, literate or illiterate, as well as the Carolina drawl. The shocking conclusion caused a bonafide Book Hangover. For me, some five star rated books can cause that malady, while others may still qualify five stars without the accompanying downtime.)

Beneath a Blazing Sky by Amanda HughesBeneath a Blazing Sky by Amanda Hughes – I’ve followed the Bold Women series for some time and am always astonished at the unsung women and stories the author manages to pull together to create her strong female protagonists…Ms Hughes is an amazing storyteller with an easy emotive writing style…

The Incredible Key West-Caribbean Race by Michael Reisig - The Ultimate Scavenger HuntThe Incredible Key West-Caribbean Race by Michael Reisig – Another of my favorite authors who outdid himself thistime with a completely unique Key West-Caribbean action-adventure. Riveting and unputdownable!

 

Muzzled by David RosenfeltMuzzled by David Rosenfelt – Part of the Andy Carpenter series, Andy’s first love is his dog rescue, the Tara Foundation. I’ve burned through a mix of uncorrected digital galleys from NetGalley (including this one), ebooks and audiobooks from the library, and have a particular affinity for the audiobooks narrated by Grover Cleveland. Always terrific. 

Murder Ballad Blues - a Mystery Novel - Lynda McDanielMurder Ballad Blues by Lynda McDaniel –The author skillfully assumes the dialect of the Appalachians, that particular form of speech, and seamlessly added the Cockney of a visiting Englishman.

 

Leave No Trace by Sara DriscollLeave No Trace by Sara Driscoll – Releasing late December, I couldn’t resist getting a jump of one of my favorite series about the awesome dogs and their handlers who work so effectively with law enforcement.

 

What a Dog Knows by Susan WilsonWhat a Dog Knows by Susan Wilson – The storyline grows in complexity as it does in emotion, wisdom, and tension. The harder her resistance, the easier to break—now she has too much in to walk away and all roads seem to lead back.

 

Hadley & Grace by Suzanne RedfearnHadley and Grace by Suzanne Redfearn*The characters are so well developed. Concern grows for each of them with every page turn. Your heart sinks with each new development and the pages are now turning themselves.

 

Irish Car Bomb by Steven Henry

In An Instant by Suzanne Redfearn

Hawthorn Woods by Patrick Canning

The Secret of Rosalita Flats by Tim Jackson

In Her Tracks by Robert Dugoni*

The Pearl of York, Treason and Plot by Tony Morgan

Hanging Falls by Margaret Mizushima

The Highwayman by Craig Johnson (or anything in the Longmire series) – The TV Netflix version with the Longmire books by Craig Johnson here

I’ve continued to whittle away at some of my favorite series, many times choosing an audiobook.

Did I turn you on to a new author? Which ones have you read? Did you love it?  I’d love your comments!

* Represents a second book by the same author in the same year.

©2020 V Williams V Williams-Christmas hat

Murder Ballad Blues: A Mystery (Appalachian Mountain Mysteries Book 4) by Lynda McDaniel – a #BookReview #thriller #tuesdaybookblog

Rosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars Five Stars

This is the fourth novel—a standalone novel—in the Appalachian Mountain Mysteries series. 

Book Blurb:

Murder Ballad Blues by Lynda McDanielLaurel Falls, N.C. 2005  A mysterious death in the North Carolina mountains. Then a second. By the third, the FBI finally gets involved. Trouble is, they’re looking in all the wrong places.

Abit Bradshaw has a theory, but of course the FBI doesn’t take him seriously. When he teams up with musicologist Wallis Harding, bluegrass music becomes more than something to practice and perform. It’s key to finding the serial killer.

Della Kincaid, a former crime reporter in Washington, D.C., can’t seem to escape her past. Now living in the small town of Laurel Falls, she’s busy investigating a fraud case that gets darker at every turn. She’s about to give up when a secretive whistleblower pulls her in again—and back to D.C.

Abit and Della team up once again to convince the FBI to help them with both their crime investigations.

Will Abit and Wallis discover the killer’s pattern … before he strikes again?

Can Della make sense of the whistleblower’s clues before the fraud case is closed for good?

You’ll love this suspenseful mystery because everyone longs to find justice in this crazy world. 

My Review:

Murder Ballad Blues by Lynda McDanielYou know I don’t often read a book straight through, but this one wouldn’t allow a lot of interruptions. Once again I was drawn into the characters, so richly described and developed. The main character is Abit Bradshaw, his POV, until we begin to alternate between his and that of Della Kinkaid, her POV. My heart aches for Abit, now a man—married to Fiona, “queen of the Irish gypsies” with a boy of their own. But he will fortunately never receive the sole-crushing emotional (and physical) abuse his own father meted out to him. He was “a bit slow” and that stuck at his school, his family, the town. And his name became Abit.

The mountains of North Carolina and the Appalachians have a reputation for being an enclave unto itself. Tight, suspicious. Abit was taken under wing, however, by those who saw more in him–a school more appropriate. It was discovered he had beautiful latent talents all his own. For one, he and his wife now play prominently in a bluegrass band they call the Rollin’ Ramblers.

Della is an ex-DC journalist, now writing a small column with a pen name and can’t help but notice the thread to a crime taking place under their noses. Additionally, their little corner of the world has recently experienced two murders and Abit begins to notice something. These things nagging at him, refuses to let go until he is totally, thoroughly wrapped up in what appears a diabolical serial killer. A lot of the music of the Appalachians came from Scotland and Ireland and one such became bluegrass. Tying the mystery to old folk ballads and numerology is brilliant.

The author skillfully assumes the dialect of the area, that particular form of speech, and seamlessly added the Cockney of a visiting Englishman. Dastardly things are afoot. The well-plotted storyline never misses a beat between the POVs and the active investigations, raising the blood pressure, tension, and urge to help. It’s immersive, engaging and leads to a satisfying conclusion without pages of explanation.

I previously read A Life for a Life and was hooked by these characters, most especially Abit—completely sympathetic. As an ARC member, I received an early copy for my honest review. I thoroughly enjoy this series, the author’s sense of humor, prose, and little pieces of fascinating locale and premise trivia. Unique and wholly recommended.

Add to Goodreads

Book Details:

Genre: Serial Killer Thrillers, Murder Thrillers, Women Sleuths
Publisher: Lynda McDaniel Books

  • ASIN : B08BG61CVC

Print Length: 336 pages
Publication Date: To be released September 15, 2020
Source: Publisher and Author Request

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

 

Lynda McDaniel - author
Lynda McDaniel

The Author: [Lynda McDaniel] I love writing page-turners–both fiction and nonfiction. And I love helping others to do the same, living into their dreams of writing books. I believe my success comes down to a respect for my readers and clients. I know I’m easily bored, so I work hard to engage and inspire my readers.

After all, we’re all busy these days, and I want to deliver value–whether that’s a gripping mystery filled with memorable characters or books on writing that give you the tools to write your own fiction and nonfiction. Both make me happy.

I got my start as a writer in the most unlikely place–a town of 200 people in the mountains of North Carolina. But living there changed my life in so many positive ways. Decades later, I realized that everything I value today, I was introduced to there. My Appalachian Mountain Mysteries–“A Life for a Life,” “The Roads to Damascus,” “Welcome the Little Children”–pay homage to the people of Appalachia who taught me so much. And to Mollie the Wonder Dog, who plays a role in both “The Roads to Damascus” (aka Millie) and in “Welcome the Little Children (as Millie and Mollie).

To keep up to date with Abit, Della, and the gang (and receive a free novelette that pulls back the curtain on Abit’s and Della’s lives before they met in Laurel Falls), head over to http://www.LyndaMcDanielBooks.com. No spam, no pestering, just the free novelette, a 12-part serialized preview of my upcoming Book Four (via my blog), and special offers/updates.

Over the years, I’ve written more than 1,200 articles for major magazines, hundreds of newsletters and blogs. I’m proudest of the 18 books I’ve written. My nonfiction books include “Words at Work,” which I wrote straight from my heart, a much-needed response to all the questions and concerns people have about writing today. (It won top honors from the National Best Books Awards.) I’ve also written two Amazon Bestselling Books: “How Not to Sound Stupid When You Write” and “Write Your Book Now!” (with Virginia McCullough).

I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, but I’ve lived all over this country–from the Midwest to the Deep South to Appalachia to the Mid-Atlantic to the Pacific Northwest. Whew! I finally settled in Santa Rosa, California, a place that reflects the values I learned while living in the mountains of North Carolina, all those years ago.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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