You’re the Top! My Best From 2019

Jan 4, 2020 | 2020 Articles, Fantasy & Fangs, Kathleen Costa, Mysteryrat's Maze, TV

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!

mysteryAnna 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!

Top Surprises!
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!

mystery thrillerC.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!

discovery of witchesA 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.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also check our our new mystery podcast! A new episode went up this week.

Kathleen Costa is a long-time resident of the Central Valley, and although born in Idaho, she considers herself a “California Girl.” Graduating from CSU-Sacramento, she is a 35+ year veteran teacher having taught in grades 1-8 in schools from Sacramento to Los Angeles to Stockton to Lodi. Currently Kathleen is enjoying her retirement revitalizing hobbies along with exploring writing, reading for pleasure, and spending 24/7 with her husband.

66 Comments

  1. My all time favorite is Leslie Budewitz, but for a new author it’s Pepper Frost

    Reply
  2. I really like them all, because I’m an avid fan of cozy mysteries, but I’d have to say Margaret Dumas because I love storylines re the Royals and or Palace happenings.

    Reply
  3. I read about 500 books this year, so that’s a tough one…I’ll go with The Madness of Frankenstein by Derrick Ferguson.

    Reply
  4. Wow! Thanks so much for including me and for the wonderful clever posts you write all year long. I’m such a fan! I’m glad you enjoy reading and writing about my books. I’ll do my best to keep you busy in 2020. xx Anna

    Reply
  5. I would love to be included in this – and all your posts. I am a big fan. I have read about 350 books this past year.

    Reply
  6. V. M. Burns. Both her Mystery Bookshop and her Dog Club series are absolutely wonderful!

    Reply
  7. I have read all of H.Y. hanna’s mysteries. What attracted me were the promise of cats, but I really enjoyed the stories themselves and the descriptions of Oxford and Oxfordshire. She paints such a beautiful picture with her words.
    My favorite series, by far, are the English cottage mysteries, with Oren the cat. I just wish there were more!

    Reply
  8. Thank you for including me in your list, Kathleen! I’m so honored! And a huge thank you for giving me suggestions for my TBR pile! Off to buy some books…

    Reply
  9. Donna Andrews is my favorite author.
    turtle6422 at gmail dot com

    Reply
  10. Gemma Halliday, Wine and Die series, but dearly loved her High Heel series.lindalou64 (@)live (dot).com

    Reply
  11. I’ve read a lot of great books by many awesome authors over the past year, but I’d say my favorite of the year would be A Year of Extraordinary Moments (A Magnolia Grove Novel) by Bette Lee Crosby! She has come to be a favorite author and I really love her style of writing!

    Reply
    • Oops, somesmartcookle @ aol dot com. cookle has an L, not an i.

      Reply
  12. I haven’t read most of these authors so I’ll have to check them out. I have read HY Hanna’s books and love them.

    Reply
  13. I would love to win!

    Reply
  14. I love Anna Celeste Burke, her books are fun, witty, captivating and are an amazing read. It doesn’t matter which series I’ve read, they all have a different spin in the mystery at hand. You never feel like you are reading the same elements with each series.

    Reply
  15. My Favorite Author is Amorette Anderson

    Reply
  16. I especially love your screen choices! Thanks for a few new authors and series to check out.

    Reply
  17. I love every book I read! With wintering on Roatan, I do at least 3 or 4 books a week. Am now finishing Wayne Stinnett’s last Charity Styles book and have 3 more to go in his Jesse McDermitt series. Next up? Numbers 9 & 10 in Sheldon Siegel’s Mike Daley & Rosie Fernandez series!

    Reply
  18. I enjoy your books and a few of the other authors too. Love the cosy mysteries, different series. Thank you for your writings.

    Reply
  19. I really love cozy mysteries. Anna Celeste Burke is one of my most favorite but I also enjoy Gemma Halliday. Cozies intrigue me and also relax me!!! Interesting and yet,comfy.

    Reply
  20. My favorite book of the year was Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe by Heather Webber.
    sgiden at verizon(.)net

    Reply
  21. Wow, I’m not sure I can pick only one. I like cozy mysteries and cozy paranormal mysteries. There’s an awful lot of great authors out there.

    Reply
  22. Anna Celeste Burke is my favorite author from 2019. I love all her series.

    Reply
  23. Anna Celeste Burke is my favorite mystery author. I love all her series.

    Reply
  24. It’s difficult to narrow down the list to only one author. Anna Celeste Burke, Kathi Daily, Hope Callaghan, and Catherine Bruns are four of my favorite authors.

    Reply
    • I forgot to leve my email address. peggyhyndman (AT) att (DOT) net

      Reply
  25. I’ve read a lot of books this year,but Mildred Abbott and Chelsea Thomas stand out as my favorites.

    Reply
  26. The Bodies in the Library.

    Reply
  27. I’ve read a lot of books this year but Mildred Abbott is my favorite. gtnichols2000@gmail.com

    Reply
  28. Alison Golden, Wayne Stinnett, Sheldon Siegel, Dianne Harman, Maddy Hunter. Hard to pick as I read over 100 books a year!

    Reply
  29. I love Anna Celeste Burkes books. I love the Georgie Shaw series and the Seaview Cottage series. Her writing is always fun to read.

    Reply
  30. My favorite author is H.Y. Hanna. I love all of her books and eagerly await them!

    Reply
  31. I loved the Dark Root series by April Aasheim.
    janestarcher(at)gmail(dot)com

    Reply
  32. Who was your favorite author, series, or book from 2019?
    A new to me author this last year was Mary Connealy. I love the way she writes and I just get pulled into the story like i was also living it.
    I loved her series: High Sierra Sweethearts
    book 1 – The accidental Guardian
    book 2 – The Reluctant Warrior
    book 3 – The Unexpected Champion
    She also wrote: Three Christmas Novellas
    This was a wonderful book of christmas stories

    Reply
  33. I absolutely loved Anna Celeste Burke’s Calla Lily series

    Reply
  34. I like all light cozy mysteries. I do like Anna Celeste Burke one of my favorite.

    Reply
  35. I love Anna Celeste Burke books, although I have also read many of the others. I also have watched three of the five shows picked. I’ll check out the other two! Looks like our tastes are very similar!

    Reply
  36. Sherry Harris is my favorite author.

    Reply
  37. Sherry Harris and Anna Celeste Burke are my top two favorite authors.

    Reply
  38. I agree, Margaret Dumas was a terrific find in 2019. Looking forward to reading the sequel the first chance I get.
    Karen94066 at aol.com

    Reply
  39. V. M. Burns, Anna Celeste Burke, Tonya Kappes, Kathi Daley, Catherine Bruns and, Lynn Cahoon were at the top of my list. I read a lot.
    kckendler at gmail dot com

    Reply
  40. My favorites this year were Kathi Daley and Anna Celeste Burke. All the series they both write!.

    Reply
  41. My favorite author is Donna Andrews, but I also enjoyed H.Y. Hanna, Kathi Daley & Anna Celeste Burke. schmokercarol(at)gmail(dot)com

    Reply
  42. Love many of the ones listed especially Anna Celeste Burke. I did just read a new author/mystery: “Mayhem, Murder & the PTA by Dave Cravens.

    Reply
  43. I have read so much it is hard to pick one. I like Donna Andrews a lot and am currently reading a new book by her. mkear76639@aol.com

    Reply
  44. My favorite author in 2019 was J.R. Ward. Her Black Dagger Brotherhood series is fascinating. A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy) by Deborah Harkness is also at the top of my list.

    Reply
  45. I read and enjoyed books from all three series by Laura Childs!

    Reply
  46. I do enjoy books by Anna Celeste Burke too! lindaherold999(at)gmail(dot)com

    Reply
  47. My favorite for 2019 is Anna Celeste Burke

    Reply
  48. My favorite author of 2019 was Steve Higgs, withbhis Ostricua Fisher Cruise Ship Mysteries.

    Reply
  49. I loved Brenda Novak’s Evelyn Talbot series. Edge of your seat psychological thriller.

    Reply
  50. Luckily they found a good ghost writer
    for the Robert B. Parker Spenser stories.
    Started Connie Berry’s novels with
    Kate Hamilton. Looking forward to
    more of them.
    txmlhl(at)yahoo(dot)com

    Reply
  51. Wow! So many great authors and shows on this list. The only one I won’t watch is the series made from The All Souls Trilogy. I love those books and for me some books should just remain books.

    Reply
  52. Julie Moffett, author of the Lexi Carmichael series, the latest being ” No Stone Unturned”. It is about a geeky tech girl who becomes involved with the mysterious Slash. Great fun with many lol moments.

    Reply
  53. I had two favorite series. One is a Historical Romance series from Cecelia Mecca called The Order of the Broken Blade (4 books) and another is a Thriller series by Kristi Belcamino called Queen of Spades Thrillers (4 books)

    Reply
  54. H.Y.Hannah, I have read all those books, and Anna Celeste Burke.
    There are a couple of authors on the list that I haven’t read. I average about three books a week , mostly cozy mysteries or true crime.

    Reply
    • My favorite books that I read in 2019 were The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins and my favorite favorite is Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe by Heather Webber. Katherinestamps at msn (dot) com

      Reply
  55. My favorite author this year would have to have been Nalini Singh. cherierj (at)yahoo(dot)com

    Reply
  56. Lots of great authors on this list!
    kckendler at gmail dot com

    Reply
  57. I have read so many great books it is so hard to choose just one and I love meeting new Authors but I love reading Melinda Curtis books! Thank you for the chance to win.

    Reply
  58. We have a winner!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

SUBSCRIBE NOW!

podcast

powered by TinyLetter