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 Wolf in Winter: A Charlie Parker Thriller Book 12 by John Connolly – a #BookReview #readingirelandmonth20

Ah, my second John Connolly book for the #begorrathon20

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars Five Stars

The Wolf in Winter by John Connolly

Happy St Patrick’s Day! St Patty's Day Hat

(No parades this year due to Corona Virus)

Book Blurb:

New York Times bestselling author John Connolly is a master of the supernatural thriller—“a genre of one” (Bookreporter)—whose eerie and electrifying Charlie Parker mystery turns a small town in Maine into an unforgettable character that threatens to destroy the brooding private investigator.

The isolated community of Prosperous, Maine, has always thrived. While others suffered, the people there have remained fortunate, wealthy, secure, and insular throughout the centuries.

Miles to the south, in Portland, a homeless man dies, and the disturbing manner of his death brings Prosperous to the attention of the private investigator Charlie Parker. He is a dangerous man, driven by compassion, rage, and the desire for vengeance. Prosperous and its townsfolk recognize that he poses a threat to their security that runs deeper than any in their long history.

But this community has its own way of protecting itself, and its sheltered residents have marked Charlie for death so that Prosperous may survive. Prosperous, and the secret that is buried beneath it…

My Review:

What have I gotten myself into THIS time?! Yes, this was one of the authors I included for Reading Ireland Month last year. But, in my defense, it was my co-reviewer who read the second book of the Charlie Parker series and I have to admit, now I’m sorry I couldn’t squeeze it in. This is #12 and I read as a standalone, however, I thought an unusual branch of the supernatural genre. Light horror? Or supernatural noir. Dark paranormal? Malevolent thriller? “Folk horror”

The Wolf in Winter by John ConnollyIt’s Parker’s POV, first person and the hook reels you in pretty quickly. Charlie Parker is a private detective visited by ghosts of his own tragic past. The loss of his wife and first-born daughter.

“He was trying to put loss into words, but loss is absence, and will always defy expression.”

The experience has rocketed him into an endless quest against the dark side. The evil manifests early though lightly and gradually ramps up following his investigation into the suicide of a homeless person, well known in the homeless community, who knew he would NOT commit suicide. The suicide coincides with the disappearance of the man’s daughter and sends Parker on the quest to discover why.

On the surface, it appears to be a routine mystery. Until he hits Prosperous, Maine. Then all bets are off. There is something dark being cloaked in this little tightly-knit enclave built around an ancient church. The church history is chilling, each piece having been brought over from the north of England which displays foliate sculpture. But it is the particular sect he discovers behind the church that prompts deeper research. They are heretical, powerful, and dangerous. Familists.

There are droll remarks, bordering on sharp-witted and sarcastic. More than once LOL humorous; humor mixed with prose. The pace is frightening, barely ending one hair-raising, thought-provoking scene before it careens into the next. Deadly characters, apparently some familiar from previous series entries, The Collector and Cambion, make cameo appearances.  But my favorites, Angel and Louis, set a layer of pancaked evil with the good–they owe Parker–and they’re in payback mode. Omnipotent. Effective. The author has fun with these characters, coating each with a deposit of darkness, tension, and intense attitude.

In the meantime, the central board of Prosperous views his intrusion with a deepening impression of threat and they act to stop the threat. It is when Parker’s old friend Ronald Straydeer witnesses a terrifying event that the story goes from paranormal to horror. The storyline hits hard on religion, but also describes the challenge of the homeless, army veterans (and their K-9 companions), as well as the dark underbelly of the world. Most of which you’d prefer not to know.

I received this digital download from my local fully-stocked library and totally appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Totally recommended! This author will go right on the top of my currently accumulating and rapidly expanding list of favorite series that I plan to dazzle you with later. I know you’ve probably read a number of the Charlie Parker series. So, what do you suggest I start next? Which was your favorite?

Rosepoint recommended

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Book Details:

Genre: Paranormal Suspense, Private Investigator Mysteries
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books; Reprint edition

  • ISBN-10:1501122703
  • ISBN-13:978-1501122705
  • ASIN: B00DPM7Y9A

Print Length: 433 pages
Publication Date: October 28, 2014
Source: Local Library Digital Loans
Title Link: The Wolf in Winter

John Connolly - authorThe Author: [John Connolly] I was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1968 and have, at various points in his life, worked as a journalist, a barman, a local government official, a waiter and a “gofer” at Harrods department store in London. I studied English in Trinity College, Dublin and journalism at Dublin City University, subsequently spending five years working as a freelance journalist for The Irish Times newspaper, to which I continue to contribute, although not as often as I would like. I still try to interview a few authors every year, mainly writers whose work I like, although I’ve occasionally interviewed people for the paper simply because I thought they might be quirky or interesting. All of those interviews have been posted to my website, http://www.johnconnollybooks.com.

 

I was working as a journalist when I began work on my first novel. Like a lot of journalists, I think I entered the trade because I loved to write, and it was one of the few ways I thought I could be paid to do what I loved. But there is a difference between being a writer and a journalist, and I was certainly a poorer journalist than I am a writer (and I make no great claims for myself in either field.) I got quite frustrated with journalism, which probably gave me the impetus to start work on the novel. That book, Every Dead Thing, took about five years to write and was eventually published in 1999. It introduced the character of Charlie Parker, a former policeman hunting the killer of his wife and daughter. Dark Hollow, the second Parker novel, followed in 2000. The third Parker novel, The Killing Kind, was published in 2001, with The White Road following in 2002. In 2003, I published my fifth novel – and first stand-alone book – Bad Men. In 2004, Nocturnes, a collection of novellas and short stories, was added to the list, and 2005 marked the publication of the fifth Charlie Parker novel, The Black Angel. In 2006, The Book of Lost Things, my first non-mystery novel, was published.

Charlie Parker has since appeared in five additional novels: The Unquiet, The Reapers (where he plays a secondary role to his associates, Louis and Angel), The Lovers, The Whisperers, and The Burning Soul. The eleventh Charlie Parker novel, The Wrath of Angels, will be available in the UK in August 2012 and in the US in January 2013.

The Gates launched the Samuel Johnson series for younger readers in 2009, followed by Hell’s Bells (UK)/The Infernals (US) in 2011. A third Samuel Johnson novel should be finished in 2013.

I am also the co-editor, with fellow author Declan Burke, of Books to Die For, an anthology of essays from the world’s top crime writers in response to the question, “Which book should all lovers of crime fiction read before they die?” Books to Die For is available in the UK as of August 2012, and will be available in the US in October 2012.

I am based in Dublin but divide my time between my native city and the United States, where each of my novels has been set.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Rosepoint February Reviews Recap–HELLO March!!

Rosepoint Reviews - February Recap

I am still catching up on all the audiobooks I listened to in January, so posted two in February, one more still from David Rosenfelt that I’ll share in March. Of course March starts Reading Ireland Month and I’ve got several lined up already. If you haven’t already registered your participation in that challenge, now is the time to do it! I’ve added the badge with the link, so plunge head first into the green.

I certainly had a variety of reads in February, from mysticism to beautiful literary fiction. I reviewed three audiobooks by the same author (Rosenfelt), neither of which were my favorite series (Andy Carpenter)–one starting a new series (The K Team). The CE reviewed two novels, one an author request that he really enjoyed by Michael McLellan. While most were from NetGalley, I sampled two local book groups in February, one in Crown Point, and thinking I might just stay with the one in my own “township,” a new start up. It sounds like the director will be amenable to molding it in a unique format and I’m all for that! So in all, fourteen books for the month as follows:

Statue of Limitations by Kate Collins
Fade to Black by David Rosenfelt (David Brock series audiobook)
The Master’s Apprentice by Oliver Pötzsch (CE review)
In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree by Michael McLellan (CE review)
Bitter Alpine by Mary Daheim
Anne and Louis by Rozsa Gaston
The Angel’s Trumpet by James Musgrave
The Lost Boys of London by Mary Lawrence
Black and Blue by David Rosenfelt (David Brock series audiobook)
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson (Third Monday Book Club selection)
Here Comes the Body by Maria DiRico
The K Team by David Rosenfelt (new series)
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (Fiction Addiction Book Club selection)
Thief River Falls by Brian Freeman

March

I’ve done some scrambling to try and keep up with the reading challenges, five until next month when Reading Ireland Month kicks in. I’ll bring back John Connolly from last year reading The Wolf in Winter this year and I’ll be reading Book 2 written by an Irish American writing about an Irish police woman in New York City with her K-9 partner (did you really think I’d read all month without one about a dog?) called Irish Car Bomb (an Erin O’Reilly K-9 Mystery) by Steven Henry. Don’t ask me why I started the series with Book 2–I have no clue, but it might have been this quote I noted in the blurb: If it weren’t for the Irish, New York wouldn’t have a police force. On the other hand, it might not need one.” And don’t forget to tag your posts with her hashtags #readingirelandmonth20 or #begorrathon20.

Otherwise, I’m pretty much behind on everything, including my NetGalley challenge. Thank heaven I only chose to try for Stenographer, 10-15 audiobooks! I think I’ll be able to make that one.

Thank you as always to those who have just joined me and those who continue to read and support this blog with your comments. You have no idea how much those are appreciated!

2020 V Williams V Williams

March photo background attribute: Canva.com