You Are the Top! My Best From 2018

Jan 12, 2019 | 2019 Articles, Kathleen Costa, Mysteryrat's Maze, TV

by Kathleen Costa

Enjoy my top favorite authors and their work from 2018 and get an opportunity to win a $3 Amazon gift card. 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 2018, I reviewed 160 entertaining books along with connecting with loads of talented and delightfully friendly authors. It was a daunting task to choose my top favorites for the year because every single book, and a few television shows, have provided me with hours of entertainment and some inspiration…

Top Favorite Authors

mystery book coverH.Y. Hanna remains my all-time favorite author of my all-time favorite series! This year Gemma Rose and the “Four Biddies” from Oxford Tearoom Mystery went to Vienna in Apple Strudel Alibis, and then returned for a reality TV show in The Dough Must Go On. Very entertaining, and I learned how to make traditional Austrian dessert Apflestrudel (apple strudel) and Dark Chocolate & Orange Scones. Also, I was thrilled with the new Bewitched by Chocolate book with Caitlyn Le Fey continuing her magical journey in Bonbons and Broomsticks. Shhhh, I hear a new book is in the works for a 2019 release set around an English cottage garden.

mysteryKathi Daley is always in the top. I have every single one of her seventy-plus books and am a member of her early reviewer group. This year she introduced two new series. Re-imagining her Seacliff High series, Amanda Parker returns to Cutter’s Cove ten years later in the Haunting by the Sea Mystery series with her “I see dead people” gift still helping those “ghosts” move on. A new character enters Kathi Daley’s world in The Inn at Holiday Bay Mystery series. After a tragic accident, Abby Sullivan begins anew by renovating an old Victorian as a B&B, but Boxes in the Basement adds sleuthing to her to-do list. In 2019, Kathi is set to introduce in the spring “Harper” from her new series, Family Ties Mystery Romance.

mystery book coverCatherine Bruns has always been a favorite author. This year I was reengaged with her Cindy York Mystery series with the release of the third book For Sale by Killer. Who knew the real estate business could be so murderously fun! I’ve always loved her Cookies & Chance Mystery series, and thrilled with two releases Silenced by Sugar and Crumbled to Pieces. Both have Sally Muccio, her BFF, a very quirky family, delicious recipes, and Karma delivering a sack full of murder. She has a new book, Penne Dreadful, set to release in 2019. Keep an eye out for that!

mysteryAnna Celeste Burke has been on my “great read” book list throughout the year…“Snooping into life’s mysteries with fun. Fiction, and food…California style!” She penned three series with great releases this year. I really enjoyed Murder of the Maestro from her Georgia Shaw Mystery series and A Dead Cousin from her Jessica Huntington Desert Cities Mystery. She also released a Jessica Huntington box set with books 1-5 included. This year she introduced two new series: set in the wine country Cala Lily Mystery opens with Lily’s Homecoming and A Body on Fitzgerald’s Bluff is found in her Seaview Cottages Cozy Mystery, an active adult community. Both were very entertaining and now personal favorites!

mysteryRuby Loren, a new-to-me author last year, still had me interested in her Madigan Amos Zoo Mystery series releasing five more books this year. Madi Amos’s travels worldwide consulting with zoos on animal management added an engaging twist to investigating murder. This year I expanded my interest in her previously released five-book Emily Haversson Mystery with the title character as an historical researcher, and intrigued by her new prequel The First Frost to her Holly Winter Mystery series, I’ve eagerly sought out the other four books. But this year she introduced a new series that I love with Gardenias and a Grave Mistake to start her Diana Flowers Floriculture Mysteries. More to come in 2019!

Top New-to-Me Authors
mysteryAnnette Moncheri has become a favorite with her clever Madame’s Murder Mystery series set in 1920s Paris. The six novellas and prequel released this year, beginning with The Passing of Pascal, introduced Madame who owns Le Chat Rose, a brothel on the Íle Saint-Louis. The delightful twist that thrilled this fan is that Madame is also a vampire who uses her extraordinary talents to investigate murder. Don’t miss this cozy gem!

Anna Castle
has been writing awhile, Mysteries with Heart and Wit, and this year I became a big fan of her historical fiction. First I was hooked on Murder by Misrule from her four-book Francis Bacon Mystery series set in 1590s England…clever and very engaging! Then I found her three-book The Professor and Mrs. Moriarty Mystery series set in 1880s…perfect for fans of Sherlock Holmes. I love finding new…old things!

mysterySharon L. Dean captured my interest in true history as she wove interesting issues of the Civil War and Underground Railroad into the 2018 release of Cemetery Wine from her Susan Warner Mysteries. So entertained by the newest release, I picked up book one, Tour de Trace, that incorporated fascinating stories about the South and the Natchez Trace. Just as engaging, Death of a Keynote Speaker brought in the intriguing story of the Smuttynose Murders. Of course, there’s a murder cleverly uncovered, but the engaging facts and description of the environment will send you off to Google to learn more.

mystery cookbookLise McClenden has swept me off my feet with the Blame it on Paris from her Bennett Sisters Mystery series. What a delight to follow the five sister! Although I started with the seventh book, I am greatly enjoying the other books, too! But the best part was the December release of The Bennett Sisters French Cookbook. I’m not much of a cook, but the recipes and personal thoughts were inspiring. I cleaned my oven and picked out a good recipe to start…Tartiflette, a potato and cheese casserole!

Top Streaming Shows
Agatha Raisin (Acorn-TV Season Two) The wait is over! Agatha, a transplanted Londoner investigating murder and mayhem in the Cotswolds and beyond, returns with the original cast in three telemovies based on M.C. Beaton’s books!agatha raisin mystery

Brokenwood Mysteries (Acorn-TV Season One-Five) I got hooked on this quirky Kiwi gem following DI Mike Sheperd whose quiet and insightful manner is accented by his classic car, love of country music, and two DSI that uncover the murderous side of Brokenwood.mystery tv

Murdoch Mysteries (Acorn-TV Season Twelve) A delightful dozen set in early 1900s Toronto Detective Murdoch and a marvelous group have more investigations, some close to home, with intriguing, clever inventions, contemporary references that are thought-provoking or worth a giggle, and the appearances of a few historical figures. mystery TV

The Doctor Blake Mysteries (BritBox Season Four-Five) Doctor Lucian Blake goes well beyond his job description as police surgeon to investigate murders and mayhem in Ballarat, Australia. These were the final two seasons that added some personal drama when Dr. Blake’s past shows up.

dr blake

Cast of The Dr. Blake Mysteries”

Kavanagh, QC (BritBox 1995-2001) Thrilled to find my favorite actor John Thaw, of Inspector Morse fame, also portrayed an English barrister in six seasons of intrigue in this courtroom drama. Some gritty and some with conclusions you wouldn’t expect.

Happy Reading and Streaming in the New Year!

To enter to win a $3 Amazon gift card to start off 2019, comment below with your email and share your answer: Who was your favorite author, series, or book from 2018? To enter by email send your name and email address to krlcontests@gmail[dot]com with “You’re the Tops!” in the subject line. Be sure to include your answer to the post question for a valid entry. A winner will be chosen on January 19, 2019.

You can use this link to purchase any of these books from indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy, and KRL gets a portion of the sale:


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.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain. Amazing. And I discovered The Brokenwood Series so it’s a tie between that on Murdoch Mysteries.

  2. My favorite book of 2018 was Heart of Ice by Lisa Edmonds, a great book!!!!

  3. My favorite author of 2018 was Brenda Novak. My favorite of her books was Before We Were Strangers.

  4. I really enjoyed A Crafter Knits a Clue by Holly Quinn and The Mystic Spring Series by Mona Marple and the new one by Amanda Flowers, Flowers and Foul Play. There are quite a few more too. Thank you for this chance. pgenest57(at)aol(dot)com

  5. If I can only pick one, A Vintage Toy Shop Mystery Series by Barbara Early

  6. Sara Driscoll’s FBI K-9 series. I started reading it in December of 2018.
    sgiden at verizon(.)net

  7. Kathi Daley and her Zoe Donovan Mystery Series and Donna Grant and her Dark Kings and Reaper series.

  8. There were tons of good ones, but I discovered my new favorite cozy series late last year by Annette Dashofy. I’m currently still reading the series and it is fabulous and begins with “Circle of Influence.” Thanks for the chance to win. JL_Minter (at) hotmail (dot) com

  9. It’s so hard to pick just one. My favorite author is Anna Celeste Burke, my favorite series is Kathi Daley’s Tess and Tilly Cozy Mystery, and a Dead Cousin by Anna Celeste Burke was my favorite book.

    peggyhyndman (AT) att (DOT) net

  10. My favorite author in 2018 was new to me – TonyaKappes. None of her books left me disappointed but left me eagerly waiting the next book

  11. Kate Carlisle was my favorite for the year.

  12. If I have to pick one, I’d say Kathi Daley’s new series The Inn at Holiday Bay the first book was really good and makes me can’t wait for the next one to see how the series progresses

  13. I discovered & loved Rett MacPherson’s Torie O’Shea series in 2018.
    turtle6422 at gmail dot com

  14. It’s a late in the year find: I just discovered Louise Perry’s Armand Gamache/Three Pines series before Christmas. In just over three weeks, I’d read all 14 books. Now I have to wait almost a year for another…if there is one.

  15. My fav was the Tonya Kappes Motorhome Series Peggy clayton I also have favs that came in really good those were from Anna Celeste Burke and also Kathi Daly they all three wrote books that were just out of the park!

  16. Lise McClendon and the Bennett sisters books!!! ??????

  17. One of my favorite series last year was the Val Fremden Mystery series by Margaret Lashley which is absolutely laugh out loud funny with great mysteries. I also love series by Kathi Daley and Anna Celeste Burke. My biggest surprise was the Bewitched by Chocolate series by H.T. Hanna since I’m usually not crazy about Britsh books but this series is wonderfully written.

  18. My favorite author is Kathi Daley. I discovered her with the Zoe Donovan Series which I love but another favorite series is A Rescue Alaska Series. It was then that I discovered how much I like cozies.

  19. We have a winner!


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