by Kathleen Costa
Enjoy my top favorite authors and their work from 2019 and get an opportunity to win a $3 Amazon ecard. For your entry to be valid, comment with the answer to the post question at the end of the article. Happy reading in the New Year!
In 2019, I reviewed a record 180 entertaining books along with connecting with talented and delightfully friendly authors, including some beta reading. It was a daunting task to choose my annual “Tops” because every book, and a few television shows, have provided me with hours of entertainment and some inspiration…
Top Favorite Authors!
H.Y. Hanna remains my all-time favorite author! This year along with Gemma Rose in the ten-book Oxford Tearoom Mystery (Christmas delight—The Mousse Wonderful Time of the Year) and Caitlyn Le Fey continuing her magical journey in the six-book Bewitched by Chocolate series (Newest Double, Double, Toil and Truffle), I was introduced to her three-book English Cottage Garden Mystery (Deadhead and Buried, Favorite Silent Bud Deadly, Doom and Bloom). Twenty-something Penny Lancaster left the city for life in the countryside after inheriting property from her grandmother. With an overgrown garden nursery, need-of-repairs cottage, demanding tomcat, and a few murderous mysteries her quiet living may have a few deadly weeds! Shout out to Pearl Hewitt who performs brilliant narration all of HY. Hanna’s books!
Gemma Halliday has been a favorite with her ten-book fashionably murderous High Heels Mystery (Newest Suspect in High Heels) with Maddie Springer, an L.A. shoe designer and amateur detective. However, released this year is my new favorite: three-book Wine & Dine Mystery series (Favorite A Sip Before Dying, Chocolate-Covered Death, Victim in the Vineyard). The stories transported me to the luscious Sonoma wine country with Emmeline Oak and the reds and whites of her family’s Oak Valley Vineyard right in the middle of vines, vintages, and murder! Emmy is trying so hard to make the Vineyard a success with great wines and events, but something always becomes a deadly distraction. Delightfully so!
Anna Celeste Burke has regularly been on my “great read” list with her seven-book Georgia Shaw Mystery series, five-book Jessica Huntington Desert Cities Mystery, four-book Corsario Cove, and three-book Seaview Cottages Cozy Mystery series. This year, I feel in love with her three-book Cala Lily Mystery series (Lily’s Homecoming Under Fire, A Tangle in the Vines, Favorite Fall’s Killer Vintage). Set in the Napa Wine Country, Lillian Callahan inherited a vineyard and winery set to produce award-winning varietals, a B&B quasi-permanently inhabited with her friends, a renovated theater, a young ward, a mini pinscher Marlowe, and the love of the handsome Deputy U.S. Marshall Austin Jennings. All this and lots of recipes, too!
Leslie Langtry has made me a eager fan of her twelve-book Merry Wrath series this year (Favorite Mystery Night Murder; Newest Make-Believe Murder). What a great premise…career changes frequently occur for cozy characters often transforming their boredom into adventure or poverty into success or pain into joy. Merry Wrath has had an amazing transformation from criminals to cookies. Once a CIA agent, her secret identity was exposed, so she was forced to reimagine herself as the leader of a troop of cookie-selling, good-deed-doing Girl Scouts in Iowa. Along with those precocious girls fascinated by spy gear, she has her BFF, a loving husband, and a long trail of terrorists, international criminals, and a nemesis bent on revenge!
Marty Wingate has always been a favorite with professional gardener Pru Parke digging up murder in her seven-book Potting Shed Mystery series and her four-book Birds of a Feather Mysteries with Julia Lancaster sprouting wings in the Cotswolds. This year she released a new series, First Edition Library Mystery, starting with the engaging The Bodies in the Library. Hayley Burke is the new curator for The First Edition Society managing the renowned first edition collection of Lady Fowling housed in the magnificent former residence, Middlebank House, in Bath, England. It’s not quite the dream job dealing with a cantankerous co-worker who wishes to keep the collection exclusive, Lady Fowling’s disgruntled nephew wishing to overturn the will, the ups and downs of Agatha Christie Fan-Fiction writers’ group, and…murder!
Margaret Dumas surprised me with her two-book Movie Palace Mystery (Favorite Murder at the Palace, Newest Murder in the Balcony). Nora Paige has taken over management of San Francisco’s vintage Palace theater with an eclectic quartet of employees varying in age and temperament. Of course, Nora doesn’t believe in the rumors the theater is haunted, however, when she suffers a concussion falling off a ladder, she is introduced to Trixie, an young usherette murdered in 1937. I always enjoy a little paranormal in my cozy, and this is just what I wanted…it all works brilliantly!
Abigail Keam surprised me with her three-book Mona Moon Mystery (Favorite Murder Under a Blue Moon) set during the Depression. Madeline “Mona” Moon, a woman ahead of her time, may be liberated and adventurous, but discrimination due to her gender has her unemployed. However, opportunity knocks with word she is heir to the considerable Moon fortune. The hitch is she must relocate from New York to Kentucky, permanently reside at Moon Manor, and manage various business interests. It’s Downton Abbey with a flare of southern charm! Soon to Enjoy Murder Under a Blood Moon, Murder Under a Bad Moon.
Edith Maxwell surprised me with her five-book Quaker Midwife Mystery series (Favorite Charity’s Burden, Newest Judge Thee Not). Set in the 1880s, Rose Carroll is a young midwife who becomes privy to her clients’ secrets that somehow lead to murder. Although through a lens of late nineteenth century this series shines a light on contemporary issues like women’s reproductive rights (Such as they are in my great-great-great grandmother’s era), social injustices, class conflicts, and crimes putting young Rose in the middle as an amateur detective defending herself and others she feels are innocent. “Thee” will enjoy this series!
C.G. Abbot surprised me with The Society: Elizabeth Grant Thriller written under the real name of cozy author Avery Daniels. I am more familiar with her five-book Resort to Murder series written under the pen name, so I was pleasantly surprised at how well her style worked with a more “thriller” format. A nightmare, a vision, and a stranger has told Elizabeth that her friend who disappeared seven years earlier is dead, as she feared, and Elizabeth herself is in grave danger. It isn’t the destination, they say, it’s the journey, and this is a most thrilling journey…engaging, intense, oddly contemporary with just the right amount of the paranormal. (The first chapter of The Society was featured on a Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast episode)
Daniel Stallings surprised me with Cleanup on Aisle 6, book two in his Li Johnson Murder Mystery series. Down-on-his-luck Liam Johnson encounters opportunity in the form of a job offer making life seem a little brighter, even beneath the flickering fluorescent lights of Esther’s Family Grocery. Then the dead body of a cruel restaurant critic is found in the freezer section. Compelling! Humorous! Daniel Stallings has an intriguing page-turner providing karma, my favorite wielder of justice, the perfect opportunity. Next, book one Sunny Side Up! has Liam an employee on a cruise.
Top British Invasion on the Small Screen
The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency earns 5+/5 Cups of Bush Tea…Clever & Heartwarming! (HBO On Demand) “Like any program of which I become a fan, it is important, of course, for the storyline and dialogue to be clever and engaging…in the case of this Botswana gem, check!” Mma Ramotswe, a “traditional built” plus-size woman is very intuitive and believes, “There’s no problem so great it cannot be solved by a cup of Bush tea.” She is approached with a variety of mysteries to solve with support from her executive assistant, favorite car mechanic, and a delightful hair designer. Based on novels by Alexander McCall Smith, I have been inspired to start reading and with twenty novels, I’m in for a long treat!
Queens of Mystery earns 5+/5 Raven’s Calling…Clever and Entertaining! (Acorn-TV Season One) “First, I was immediately engaged by the opening credits with its innovative, brightly colored, pop-up book-style graphics and playful theme song, YouTube – Opening Credits (0:59), along with the mesmerizing tones of narrator Juliet Stevenson…I am so ready for this!” Matilda “Mattie” Stone has been fascinated with murder mysteries since she was a young child and placed in the care of her three quirky aunts. Now as a Detective Sergeant, and to the frustration of her boss, often with her equally-talented aunts, she gets involved with some suspicious deaths. An off-beat gem! I can’t wait for season two!
A Discovery of Witches earns 5++/5 Magical Manuscripts…Epic, Brilliant! (BBC America Season One) “My fascination with the legends and lore of witches and vampires, especially within the realm of realism, is also a passion.” Diane Bishop is a witch, Mathew Clairmont is a vampire, and according to centuries-old dictates of conduct…”never the twain shall meet,” let alone fall in love! This eight-episode mini series, brilliantly adapted from the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness, explores forbidden love and a mysterious manuscript that may be the answer or the end of the hidden world of creatures. Although I am eager for season two that just wrapped up filming, I couldn’t wait, so I picked up and read the trilogy myself! Brilliant!
Ms. Fisher’s Modern Murder Mystery earns 5/5 Groovy Fashions…Clever and Entertaining! (AcornTV Season One) “Rest in Peace, Miss Phryne!” As a fan of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mystery series, I was eager to see the reinvention of this Aussie gem transporting fans to the 60s with four murder mysteries highlighting several strong women, clever stories, and possible romantic spark between our heroine and local detective…sounds like Phryne and Jack! Peregrine Fisher is the niece Phryne sought, but never found, and fans will recognize she is much like her aunt with a free-loving lifestyle and full-steam-ahead manner. The stories, although murder is always the main issue, take on a contemporary feel with which, as a child of the sixties, I can identify with the marvelous fashion, music, and a convertible that not just James Bond would envy. Season two…please!
Monsieur Maigret earns A Pair of Thumbs Up! (BritBox 2016-17; 1992-93) George Simenon’s novels about French detective Jules Maigret had two marvelous incarnations streaming for my entertainment. The most recent is four 90-minute telemovies starring a brilliant and surprising performance by Rowan Atkinson (Blackadder; Mr. Bean) whose slight build and quiet manner illustrate well the introspective nature of the detective. The 1990s version stars British icon Michael Gambon (Harry Potter’s Dumbledore) in twelve 60-minute episodes with a portrayal a bit more imposing, but his performance still emphasizes a quiet manner. They are both set in post-WWII Paris with an all British cast and well-worth watching over and over!
Happy Shout Out! for 2019
I have used several DIY projects and recipes from bloggers on the Evermine website (Evermine.com Blog) to add a bit of fun or special treat to some of my reviews of the holiday- and seasonal-themed cozy mysteries. You might find it fun to see their own Top 10: Top-Pinned Blog Posts of 2019. Also here’s a treat to celebrate the time of the year I love…Merry Citrus-mas! Check out Kimberley’s Homemade Marmalade! 5 Unique Recipes with Seville Oranges, Strawberry Lemonade, Lemon, Easy Blood Orange Marmalades, and my favorite “3 Citrus and Vanilla Bean,” a recipe by Canning Crafts, makes five jars of delicious marmalade. All you’ll need is the scones!
To enter to win a $3 Amazon gift card to start off 2020, comment below with your answer to this question: Who was your favorite author, series, or book from 2019?
To enter via email, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, with the subject line “You’re the Top!”. Be sure to include your answer to the post question for a valid entry. A winner will be chosen on January 11, 2020. You must be at least 18 to enter. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.
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