Surprising no one, I read a lot in 2019.
I read 133 books in 2019. It was eight books beyond the reading goal I set on Goodreads.
I’ve found that, since making reading more intentional again with my first reading challenge in 2013, I can read 100 books a year without much planning or effort. The year I read 150 books was a bit crazy, so I’m not sure I want to do that kind of challenge again, but it seemed like 125 was a good number to focus on for 2019. Either way, I’m happy as long as I’m focused on spending my leisure time reading instead of aimlessly searching the internet or watching TV.
Of the 133 books I read last year, I gave 24 fiction books perfect grades. My reviews of those books are below.
Jessica Farris decides to be a test subject in a psychological study about ethics and morality. The struggling make-up artist actually sneaks into the study because she needs the money.
But the more Jessica learns about Dr. Shields’s experiment and the further she becomes involved, the less she’s certain it’s a good idea. In fact, Jessica may be in danger.
Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope, rookie cops in the NYPD, live next door to each other outside the city. It’s more than being on the job together that weaves the families together, especially Kate Gleeson and Peter Stanhope, who are born six months apart and become best friends.
Is their friendship enough to survive the tragedy that Peter’s family causes Kate’s? Is it possible that two people who seem meant to be together have the odds stacked against them from the beginning? Can their families get beyond their traumatic pasts and become a unit?
Maggie Cabot answers the door to find two detectives there looking for her husband.
Maggie knows what the detectives want. Her husband, James, used to date a woman who disappeared 25 years before. It’s a tragedy that James doesn’t like talking about, but now remains have been found at a campsite in the Florida Keys and James is the prime suspect.
Hannah Nilsson, 21 at the time of her disappearance, was last seen on a camping trip with a group of friends—including her fiancee, James. Everyone on the trip assumed a drunken Hannah wandered off and drowned while they were asleep. But the discovery of her body, buried half a mile away from the campsite, makes it clear that Hannah was murdered.
After the discovery, Maggie begins her own investigation, desperate to discover the truth and clear her husband’s name.
Beth has planned every detail of how she’ll get away from her abusive husband, and now it’s time for her to implement the plan.
Jeffrey returns home from a work trip to find his wife, Sabine, is missing. She’s taken almost nothing with her, but Jeffrey soon learns that she’s left a lover and a lot of questions behind. It seems Sabine was planning to leave him, and he becomes the main suspect in her disappearance.
The detective on the case wants to know what happened. Where is Sabine? And who is Beth? It seems death is the only way to get away from an abusive husband.
A girl is found hiding in a secret room in the same house as a man who was tortured to death. Starving and filthy, the girl won’t tell anyone her name, age or where she came from.
No one is sure who the girl is or what happened to the man, even six years later when psychologist Cyrus Haven meets “Evie Cormac” at a children’s home.
Cyrus must decide if Evie is ready to go free. He plans to gather this information by fostering Evie in his home.
While the two attempt to adjust to their new normal, Cyrus is called on to investigate the murder of a high school figure-skating champion, Jodie Sheehan.
Could Evie give him insight that will help solve Jodie’s murder?
No visitors, nights spent away from the apartment or bothering the guests. These are the only rules for Jules Larsen’s new job as an apartment sitter at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan’s most high-profile and mysterious buildings. Aside from her best friend, Jules doesn’t have anyone who would want to visit or anywhere to go, so the job seems like a great fit.
Jules, who is broke and sleeping on her best friend’s couch, sees the apartment sitting job as a way to press reset on her life. The pay is excellent, the location is one of her dreams and the offer seems too good to be true. Maybe because it is?
As Jules learns more about the Bartholomew, she begins to discover that apartment sitters there disappear. Will she be one of them?
My Lovely Wife is about a suburban tennis coach and his realtor wife, Millicent. The couple and their two teenagers live what looks like a perfect, cookie cutter life in their upscale neighborhood, until you find out that they’re murderers.
Millicent was supposed to have killed and dumped Lindsay, a woman who went missing a year before she was found in an abandoned hotel. The couple kidnapped Lindsay to spice up their marriage, but Millicent apparently held her captive for a year without her husband knowing. Millicent says she tried to throw police off of their crime by adopting the methods of a local serial killer, Owen Oliver Riley. Her husband thinks this is a good idea initially, until he learns more about Riley and realizes that the story won’t work.
Conrad Carter is shot three times in his home office. His computer is shot 12 times by his pregnant wife, Evie Carter. Evie found her murdered husband, destroyed his computer to hide evidence, then is holding the gun when the police arrive.
Evie is not unknown to the police. Det. D.D. Warren immediately recognizes her from an old case. Evie’s father was shot and killed years ago, and Evie was responsible for the accident that killed him.
But Det. Warren isn’t the only one who recognizes someone. Flora Dane, survivor turned police informant, sees a news report about Conrad Carter’s murder and recognizes him as a man her former captor tried to sell her to. Could this be the computer evidence that Evie Carter attempted to destroy?
Darby Thorne is driving to Utah from Colorado to visit her dying mother when she gets caught in a snow storm. The roads are closed, so she is forced to wait out the storm in a highway rest stop building with four other strangers.
Darby wanders outside after meeting her strange companions because she’s trying to find a cell phone signal to at least call home and tell her sister where she is. While she’s walking around with her phone in the air, she sees something shocking in the van parked next to her car. There is a little girl in there, locked in an animal crate.
Darby has to figure out which of her companions the van belongs to and how she can save the little girl when they’re all trapped by the weather.
Cara’s boyfriend, the love of her life, died in an accident 20 years ago. Cara’s sister, Anna, went to prison for killing him and has struggled with drug addiction since her release.
Anna’s life is in shambles, but Cara always pauses her successful livelihood (great job, successful husband, beautiful daughter) to rescue her sister. But when Anna decides to come clean, for real this time, she begins to remember things that others in her life can’t afford for her to recall.
Allie Garvey returns home for the funeral of a childhood friend and confronts a secret she’s kept for 20 years.
As teenagers, Allie and a group of her classmates were drinking in the woods and played a prank that turned deadly. The secret has haunted Allie and shaped all of their lives since.
Now Allie has to decide whether telling the truth will heal her or make her life worse. And what about the others? Will revealing the truth help them or exacerbate their issues?
What would you do if you teenage son confessed to breaking into your neighbors’ houses and hacking into their computers?
Even worse, what would you do if one of those neighbors was found murdered and your son’s fingerprints were all over the house?
After two anonymous letters are received from an apologetic mother, gossip starts to circulate in a New York neighborhood. When the woman down the street is found murdered, it seems that every is (and should be) a suspect.
But it appears that the secrets discovered by a teenager involved in his own crimes could solve the murder, even though they may also hurt the ones he loves most.
When Rachel answers the phone, the caller’s message isn’t anything she expected. Her daughter has been kidnapped from the bus stop on her way to school.
Rachel is now part of The Chain.
If Rachel doesn’t kidnap another child, her daughter will be murdered. If she follows through with the demand, and so does the person after her, her daughter will be released.
Rachel has to decide if she can do the unthinkable to continue the chain and save her daughter’s life. Or is there another way? A way to break the chain?
Anna Roux was a professional dancer until she moved with her husband from Paris to Missouri. The move is good for him, but not for Anna, who spirals into depression and anorexia.
Anna weighs only 88 pounds and is near death with her husband checks her in as a patient at 17 Swann Street. It’s a final effort to save her life.
At 17 Swann Street, Anna meets other women whose suffering is similar and also different from hers. She makes friends and the women try to support each other through their healing.
Det. Max Rupert and Attorney Boady Sanden may not be friends after this case. The men have a long history, but they also both have history with Ben Pruitt.
Max is convinced that Ben killed his wife, Jennavieve Pruitt. Max doesn’t think Ben is an honest man, after the attorney presented false evidence against Max during a trial.
Boady is equally convinced that Ben, his client and the man who took over his law firm when he retired and went into academia, is innocent.
Both Max and Boady will have to deal with their pasts as they work on opposite sides of Ben’s case. Is Ben guilty or innocent? Will the right man win?
Helena Pelletier has a loving husband, two beautiful daughters and a business that fills her days. But she also has a secret. She is the product of an abduction.
Helena’s mother was kidnapped as a teenager by her father and kept in a remote cabin in the Michigan marshlands. Helena, born two years after the abduction, loved her home in nature, and, despite her father’s brutal behavior, she loved him, too, until she had to choose between him and her mother.
More than 20 year after sending her father to jail, Helena finds out he has escaped. She knows he’s headed for her and her family. She also knows it’s a reunion they won’t all survive. Can she stop him before he kills what’s most important to her?
Abi Knight gets the middle-of-the-night call that no parent wants to receive. Her daughter, Olivia, was in an accident and is in the hospital.
Olivia’s “accident” doesn’t seem right to Abi for many reasons. Her daughter is said to have fallen off a bridge and is brain dead. She also is pregnant, which is a shock to her mother. And, if Olivia was alone and fell, why are their bruises around her wrists like someone grabbed her?
Police rule Olivia’s fall an accident, but Abi doesn’t believe it. She does what any mother would do, she sets out to find out what really happened to her daughter.
Julia lost her family in an accident two years ago. Her husband drowned trying to save their daughter, Lily, in the river near their home. But the girl’s body was never found, and Julia believes she is still alive.
After her loss, Julia decided to open her house as a writer’s retreat. Enter a cast of unusual characters, including Lucas, a horror novelist.
When Lucas learns about Lily’s story, he sets out to determine what actually happened to her. He learns that the small town has a lot of secrets and urban legends just might be true.
Kate Waters is sent to cover the story of two British teenage girls missing in Bangkok. She later finds out that the girls were killed in a fire at their hostel.
But the reporter becomes part of the story when it’s determined that her estranged son, Jake, was living at the hostel and may have been involved with the fire.
Now Waters has to step away from the story and try to protect her son, the primary suspect.
There were times when Nora wanted her artist ex-husband and the woman he impregnated and left her for dead, but she didn’t kill them.
As if what they already had done to her wasn’t enough, the ex and his new woman move their family to the small town where Nora has rebuilt her life. The ex’s new wife even starts coming to Nora’s yoga class.
When the couple is found dead, Nora is the prime suspect. But, for her, everyone else seems guilty. Nora must figure out who killed the couple and framed her before she ends up in jail.
Ellery’s never been to Echo Ridge, but she’s heard all about the small town where her mom was the homecoming queen and her aunt went missing at age 17.
Ellery’s aunt’s disappearance, which her mother won’t discuss isn’t the town’s only mystery. Another homecoming queen was found murdered. Now Ellery, who is a bit of an amateur detective, has to move to Echo Ridge with her twin brother to live with her grandmother while her mom is in rehab.
The town has secrets, and Ellery is ready to uncover them, when someone begins threatening the upcoming homecoming court and another girl goes missing. The longer she’s in Echo Ridge, the more Ellery begins to think that the town’s secrets are more dangerous and guarded than she expected.
The Davenports are falling apart after 5-year-old Jonah is killed in an accident. The family members are grieving and full of guilt for what they see as their individual roles in the boy’s death.
Rachel Davenport, Jonah’s mother, can hardly get out of bed and seems on the verge of a breakdown. Sam Davenport, Jonah’s dad, is filled with regret for his choices. Eden Davenport, Jonah’s sister, is trying hard to find her new normal without her pesky little brother. And Aunt Ruth, Rachel’s sister, is trying to take care of everyone while dealing with her own personal issues.
I loved this book because its chapters are written from multiple viewpoints, including the dog’s. The story is sad, but it seems to be a realistic picture of how a family struggles to deal with loss.
Six university friends, some of whom are married to each other, get together after 20 years for a sort-of reunion weekend at Ali and Mike’s house.
The night seems to be going well, with laughter, the sharing of old stories and perhaps a bit too much wine.
Most of the group has gone to bed when Karen, Ali’s best friend, stumbles into the kitchen, bleeding and claiming that Mike, Ali’s husband, raped her.
Karen is taken to the hospital, the police are called and Ali, a sexual assault victims’ advocate, has to decide who she believes, her best friend or her husband.
It seems that none of the relationships between the friends are what they seemed, but Ali is about to know more about her “friends” than she ever wanted to.
Kate Bennett vanished from a parking lot, leaving behind her husband and young daughter. When she shows up at a Montana gas station 11 years later, clutching an infant and screaming for help, investigators believe she was abducted by a cult.
Kate’s return flips her family’s world upside down—her husband is remarried and her daughter barely remembers her. Kate herself doesn’t look or act like she did before, and her husband’s new wife isn’t willing to blindly accept everything Kate says about where she was and what she is doing. She’s right. Kate is still hiding things, and those secrets endanger the life her family built without her.
There they are, my favorite fiction books of 2019. I hope you find something here to read and love.