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 Pearl of York, Treason and Plot by Tony Morgan – a #BookReview – #HistoricalFiction

Rosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars Five Stars

Book Blurb:

The Pearl of York by Tony MorganThe gripping new historical novel set in atmospheric Tudor York.
Winner of the Coffee Pot Book Club Highly Recommended award – “A heartbreaking book that grabs you from the first page and does not let you go until the last full-stop. I cannot praise this book enough. It was absolutely brilliant from beginning to end. This is an example of Historical Fiction at its most exquisite.”

When Margaret Clitherow is arrested for illegally harbouring Catholic priests, her friends, led by a youthful Guy Fawkes, face a race against time to save her from the gallows. As events unfold, their lives, and our history, change forever.

What events could persuade a happily married woman to become a martyr or transform a young man into a terrorist?

My Thoughts

Guy Fawkes didn’t set out to be an explosive expert, nor Mistress Margaret Clitherow a martyr. Nor did either begin life as a Catholic, but life, experience, and events have a way of unfolding an inexorable path down which we seem to be drawn. This storyline doesn’t focus on Guy Fawkes and his later exploits that eventually got him caught but it is while he is being tortured that he reverts to the narration of his life to divert himself from the pain to the path that diverged with Mistress Clitherow.

In Tudor York, England is in the midst of a major change of reigning churches and seeing a dissolution from the Roman Catholic Church and the Papists. It has now become a treasonable offense to remain Catholic and suddenly those who practice the “old religion” must do so in privacy, careful not to reveal their true allegiance. AND, anyone caught harboring a priest or the religious were quickly brought up on the same stiff penalties as those caught performing Mass.

In a well-researched and plotted account of the story of St. Margaret Clitherow, the author weaves a plausible account of young Guy being expelled from school for fighting with the town bully and the discovery of his mother sneaking out to Mass held in a deeply secreted space under and behind the residence of Margaret Clitherow. She has a reputation for kindness, thoughtfulness, and generosity. Her husband is the neighborhood butcher, a Protestant, and elevated in social standing. But one night, after Guy accompanies his mother to Mass, the house is raided and one of the two priests is caught. Not long after, Mistress Clitherow is also arrested.

The trial being a sham, not difficult to imagine she’ll be sentenced to death. The form of her punishment, however, is said to be shaped by how she’ll plea. And she does not. Will not. She is caught between a rock and a hard place. Anything she admits to would only trickle down and cause untold suffering to not only her family but many others as well. In addition, she will not denounce her Catholic faith, revert to the Church of England. She appears to have no equitable way to save her own life and resolutely resigns herself to a death she didn’t realize would be quite such a horrendous, hideous, extremely torturous way to die. Still, she has no real choice. It seems beyond reason that humans could devise such a brutal execution.

The author has done a tremendous job of bringing a stinging history to light and creating a plausible explanation for her sacrifice as well as the lasting effects her death and the later death of Guy’s own family has on the course his life will take. Fawkes’s life left an indelible mark in the history of England as well.

If I had any quibbles, it was the subtle changes of Guy’s retrospective to his current circumstances on the rack. Utterly engaging tale of suspicion, betrayal, brutality, survival, and faith. Deeply emotional and sympathetic characters, barbaric instruments, descriptions of Tudor streets vibrant with the sounds and fetid smells of crowded city life. Thoroughly entertaining, captivating prose.

“Abundance of knowledge does not teach men to be wise.”

“Mistress Clitherow…she’s a pearl inside this monstrous oyster.”

We received this digital download from the author in the expectation of a review and these are our own opinions. Wholly recommended.

His Thoughts

The Pearl of York by Tony MorganThis author opened my eyes to the reason for western migration to the Americas in the 17th century. The Reformation period developed large schisms within the European countries. The Church of England was replacing the Roman Catholic Church and it became a treasonable offense to remain Catholic. Trials were held throughout Great Britain for those who practiced the old faith or harbored priests. Priests that did not renounce their faith were subjected to terrible pain and ultimately killed.

Mistress Margaret Clitherow is one of these unfortunates. She resided in York and was held in great esteem by the local populace. However, she was caught attending clandestine Catholic masses. It would have been easy to save her own life, simply renounce her faith and embrace the Protestant Church of England. For a staunch catholic this would mean saving her life but going to hell. She is a young and affable lady caught in a martyr’s quandary. She will not give up her faith.

The main character, young Guy Fawkes, is determined to save her. He and a local priest as well as a Protestant minister set out to accomplish that task. The fervor within the area is to trap and bring to justice those who have not renounced their faith.

Some of the methods for punishing the holdouts are particularly gruesome.

Priests who are caught were usually hung, drawn and quartered. The spectacle was available for the entertainment of the population. Trying to rescue those who practiced the faith was also a treasonable event.

This book is well written and mesmerizing in the telling. I wondered how Martin Luther and the others who began the Reformation must have felt. The tithes received by the church would be kept in the countries who altered their faith. The faithful paid the ultimate price for the changes to the faith and the dissolution of the Roman Catholic faith in the various countries. CE Williams

I highly recommend this book to those who cherish their faith and embrace the sacrifice made by those who suffered the ultimate for their beliefs. This author captures the sentiment of the period in the telling. 5 stars CE Williams

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Book Details:

Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Thriller
ASIN: B0852P7RPV
Print Length: 237 pages
Publication Date: March 1, 2020
Source: Direct Author Request
Title Link(s): The Pearl of York [Amazon]

Tony Morgan - authorThe Author: [Goodreads] Tony Morgan is a Welsh author living in Yorkshire in the UK, near to the birth place of Guy Fawkes.

His books have been described as a perfect read for lovers of the works of C.J. Sansom and S. J. Parris and anyone interested in how historic events have shaped our own times.

In addition to writing novels, Tony gives history on topics such as Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot and the life of Margaret Clitherow.

[Find Tony Morgan on his website here.]

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams