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

The Highwayman (Book 11.5 of the Walt Longmire series) by Craig Johnson – An #Audiobook Review – #westernfiction – #throwbackthursday

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five Stars 5 stars

Audiobook-The Highwayman by Craig Johnson

Book Blurb:

Sheriff Walt Longmire and Henry Standing Bear embark on their latest adventure in this novella set in the world of Craig Johnson’s New York Times best-selling Longmire series – the basis for the hit drama Longmire, now on Netflix.

When Wyoming highway patrolman Rosey Wayman is transferred to the beautiful and imposing landscape of the Wind River Canyon, an area the troopers refer to as no-man’s-land because of the lack of radio communication, she starts receiving “officer needs assistance” calls. The problem? They’re coming from Bobby Womack, a legendary Arapaho patrolman who met a fiery death in the canyon almost a half-century ago.

With an investigation that spans this world and the next, Sheriff Walt Longmire and Henry Standing Bear take on a case that pits them against a legend: The Highwayman. 

My Review:

At the risk of sounding like a broken record—have you tried one of the Craig Johnson, Walt Longmire series of books yet? I continue to go through the vast audiobook collection of the Longmire series at my local library and stumbled on this novella length audiobook released back in 2016. Gees, I love these books!

I introduced my readers to our binge of the series when I compared the TV Netflix version with the Longmire books by Craig Johnson here. AND, I was delighted to hear beautifully executed audiobooks of the series by narrator George Guidall. OMG—he does such a wonderful baritone of narration—his inflection, tone, and pace perfect!

The Highwayman by Craig JohnsonCraig Johnson has an exquisite way with words—his descriptions conjuring the visual, the scent of the scene, the chill or heat of the air, and the tension of the characters. The characters? Wonderful! Longmire has had enough time and experience under his badge to handle just about any scenario you can throw at him. The dialogue, particularly between he and Standing Bear (Henry) of the Cheyenne Nation, full of respect, honor, emotion. Their banter can argue philosophical or devolve into the humorous. Dialogue is so natural—you can hear the affection—it’s genuine.

In this short but well-packed and plotted narrative, there is a call from Rosie, a newly transferred Wyoming HP who is receiving radio calls at the same time of night from Bobby Womack. Can’t be, however, as he is an Arapaho patrolman who died in a fiery collision 50 years ago in the Wind River Tunnel. Others have investigated but no one—NO ONE—is picking up Bobby Womack besides Rosie.

I love the folklore of the local Arapaho, Shoshone, and Cherokee and the delightful dip into the paranormal. If Womack is a ghost come back to Rosie—what is he trying to tell her? The conclusion calms the waters, but not before it was one heckava level five ride over the rapids.

Absolutely riveting, page-turning, spellbinding storytelling. You don’t have to read the first eleven to enjoy this short read. You’ll love the characters, the setting, the pace. Don’t like western fiction? What about literary fiction level fleshed dynamic characters and prose that’ll keep the light burning late? Don’t let the genre labels fool you. Trust me.

Rosepoint recommended
Book Details:

Genre: Western Fiction, Mysteries, Ghost Suspense, Ghost Mysteries
Publisher:  Recorded Books
ASIN: B01EM8BSRY
 Print Length: 190 pages
Listening Length: 3 hrs 43 mins
Narrator: George Guidall
Publication Date: May 17, 2016
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Highwayman [Amazon]

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Craig Johnson - authorThe Author: Craig Johnson is the New York Times bestselling author of twelve Walt Longmire mystery novels, which are the basis for Longmire, the hit Netflix original drama. The Cold Dish won Le Prix du Polar Nouvel Observateur/Bibliobs. Death Without Company, the Wyoming Historical Association’s Book of the Year, won France’s Le Prix 813, and Another Man’s Moccasins was the Western Writers of America’s Spur Award Winner and the Mountains & Plains Book of the Year. The Dark Horse, the fifth in the series, was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year and Junkyard Dogs won The Watson Award for a mystery novel with the best sidekick. Hell Is Empty, selected by Library Journal as the Best Mystery of the Year, was a New York Times best seller, as was As the Crow Flies, which won the Rocky for the best crime novel typifying the western United States. A Serpent’s Tooth opened as a New York Times bestseller as did Any Other Name and Wait for Signs, Johnson’s collection of short stories. Spirit of Steamboat was selected by the State Library as the inaugural One Book Wyoming and included visits to sixty-three libraries. Johnson lives in Ucross, Wyoming, population twenty-five.

George Guidall - audiobook narratorThe Narrator: Widely recognized as the world’s most acclaimed and most prolific narrator of audiobooks, George Guidall has brought a consistent artistry to his readings, delighting listeners for over 20 years. His narrations of classics like Crime and PunishmentFrankensteinThe IliadDon Quixote, and Les Miserables, along with many popular best sellers, have set a standard for excellence recognized throughout the audiobook industry.  His recordings have garnered uniformly excellent reviews from AudiofileKliattLibrary JournalPublisher’s WeeklyThe New York Times, and a variety of national newspapers and magazines.   He has also received  several Audie Awards—the industry’s equivalent of an Oscar— and holds the record for receiving the most Earphone Awards for excellence in narration given by Audiofile Magazine which has named him one of the original “Golden Voices” in the audiobook industry. He has been  honored by the Audio Publishers Association with a life-time achievement award for his record of more than 1,300 unabridged narrations.

Along with his award-winning work as an audiobook narrator, Guidall has also enjoyed a career in the theatre, including starring roles on Broadway, an Obie award for best performance Off-Broadway, and has shared the stage at the New York Shakespeare Festival with Kevin Kline, Morgan Freeman, and Meryl Streep. In addition to TV dramas such as Law & Order, he has appeared on most of the daytime television series.

©2020 V Williams V Williams-Christmas hat

Happy Thursday

Photo background attribution of the Wind River Tunnel: Our Empty Nest