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Teresa Cross | Fresh Fiction Reviewer Top Reads of 2019

December 23, 2019

Today, senior reviewer Teresa Cross is sharing her top reads of 2019! 

As a first-grade teacher in North Carolina Public Schools, my favorite past time is to read. After reading children books all day I love to snug up under a blanket with a great author and I have exceeded my goal of 50 novels this year. I love reading mysteries and thrillers with a lot of suspense. Even cozy mysteries are fun to read. This year started out with a lot of great novels and is ending with some that are just as amazing! After reviewing for Fresh Fiction since 2014, I have to say this year had the best novels. I will run down some of my favorite that I have reviewed.  I will start with my favorites first.

BREWED AWAKENING written by Cleo Coyle is the top of all my novels that I read this year! Coyle has the greatest series, The Coffeehouse Mysteries and this is the 18th one. I started reading this author years ago when I picked up her fourth one in the series not realizing it was not the beginning of the story. Before I could read anymore, I had to get the first three and I’ve been hooked on them ever since. BREWED AWAKENING is a continuation of an already awesome series with a new twist and was a Fresh Pick!

NO EXIT written by Taylor Adams is second on my list of favorite reads! I love this novel because this writer reminds me of Stephen King. I read this one earlier of in the year but still cannot forget it. His novel left me too terrified of rest stops for quite a while. Okay, so I still get nervous when I drive by one. I loved this one so much I had to order his first two books as well.

IF YOU GO DOWN TO THE WOODS is third on my list of favorites. If you loved the movie Stand By Me, then you will love this novel as well. This one is written by Seth C. Adams takes you down the memory lane of youth. This is a wonderful suspense for the year. I think it would make an awesome movie as well.

INSPECTION written by Josh Malerman is a wonderfully eerie story. Written by the same author of Bird Box, you can see why it was one of my favorites. It was strange enough that you cannot put it down. I wonder where authors get this amazing imagination sometimes. Most certainly a novel that is different. Love novels that keep you wondering.

GRACE AFTER HENRY written by Eithne Shortall is another favorite story that is not a mystery but a story about loss and love and going on with life. Not a mystery but sometimes it is good to read something different. I love reading mysteries and thrillers the most, but this is one I had to add to the list because it was so heartwarming at the end.

LOCK EVERY DOOR by Riley Sager is another that I loved. Once I started reading it, I did not know where it was going to end. A suspense that was not what I expected but more. I mean a chance to live in a hotel that is way beyond anything you could ever afford. I love it when they have a twist like this one.

There are many more great novels, but these are my top reads for 2019. I hope 2020 has some amazing ones and that I can exceed another goal. If you haven’t picked any of these up yet, it is never too late.



Coffeehouse Mystery #18

Brewed Awakening

New York Times bestseller Cleo Coyle’s “delightfully twisty” new Coffeehouse Mystery.

From Cleo Coyle, the New York Times bestselling author of Shot in the Dark and Dead Cold Brew, comes a delicious new entry in the “fun and gripping” (The Huffington Post) Coffeehouse Mysteries.

When coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi awakens on a bench in Washington Square Park, she has no idea she’s been missing for the past week, or that her friends and family have been frantic with worry. Now that she’s back, everyone is overjoyed, including a handsome NYPD detective who claims to be her fiancé. But to Mike Quinn’s crushing distress, Clare doesn’t remember him, or much of anything about the last decade of her life.

Clare’s missing memory is tied to a crime she witnessed. An acquaintance of Clare’s elegant employer–and fellow member of an exclusive Gotham circle known as “The Ladies Who Brunch”–invited Clare to her posh hotel to sample gourmet wedding cakes. The pair took a stroll after their indulgent tasting and, according to security camera footage, a masked figure snatched the hotel heiress at gunpoint with Clare looking on. Did the kidnapper take Clare, too? The camera went dark, just like Clare’s memory. Soon authorities grow suspicious. Is Clare really a victim? Or merely acting like one? Evidence is mounting that she set the woman up.

To clear her name, Clare must find a way to reclaim her memories and rescue the heiress before this high-stakes crime ends in tragedy. Otherwise, instead of walking down the aisle, Clare may find herself perp-walking to prison as an accomplice to kidnapping and murder.

Mystery | Mystery Amateur Sleuth [Berkley Prime Crime, On Sale: December 3, 2019, Hardcover / e-Book, ISBN: 9780451488879 / eISBN: 9780451488886]

Clare lost her memory, will she lose who she has become as well?


NO EXIT by Taylor Adams

No Exit

A brilliant, edgy thriller about four strangers, a blizzard, a kidnapped child, and a determined young woman desperate to unmask and outwit a vicious psychopath.

A kidnapped little girl locked in a stranger’s van. No help for miles. What would you do?

On her way to Utah to see her dying mother, college student Darby Thorne gets caught in a fierce blizzard in the mountains of Colorado. With the roads impassable, she’s forced to wait out the storm at a remote highway rest stop. Inside are some vending machines, a coffee maker, and four complete strangers.

Desperate to find a signal to call home, Darby goes back out into the storm . . . and makes a horrifying discovery. In the back of the van parked next to her car, a little girl is locked in an animal crate.

Who is the child? Why has she been taken? And how can Darby save her?

There is no cell phone reception, no telephone, and no way out. One of her fellow travelers is a kidnapper. But which one?

Trapped in an increasingly dangerous situation, with a child’s life and her own on the line, Darby must find a way to break the girl out of the van and escape.

But who can she trust?

With exquisitely controlled pacing, Taylor Adams diabolically ratchets up the tension with every page. Full of terrifying twists and hairpin turns, No Exit will have you on the edge of your seat and leave you breathless.

Thriller Psychological | Thriller Domestic [William Morrow, On Sale: January 15, 2019, Hardcover / e-Book, ISBN: 9780062875655 / eISBN: 9780062875679]

Alarming, astonishing, and the most fearing novel yet!

A traveler’s worst nightmare — trapped at a rest stop in a blizzard with criminals, but who is the criminal?

Stranded with a monster…

The bitter chill of snow and a trapped child



If You Go Down to the Woods


We were so young when it all happened. Just 13-years-old, making the most of the long, hot, lazy days of summer, thinking we had the world at our feet. That was us–me, Fat Bobby, Jim and Tara–the four members of the Outsiders’ Club.

The day we found a burnt-out car in the woods was the day everything changed. Cold, hard cash in the front seat and a body in the trunk. . . it started out as a mystery we were desperate to solve.

Then, the Collector arrived. He knew we had found his secret. And suddenly, our summer of innocence turned into the stuff of nightmares.

Nothing would ever be the same again. . .

Thriller Psychological [Killer Reads, On Sale: March 5, 2019, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780008308711 / eISBN: 9780008280246]

There are some places you do not want to end up alone…


INSPECTION by Josh Malerman


Boys are being trained at one school for geniuses, girls at another. And neither knows the other exists–until now. The innovative author of Bird Box invites you into a tantalizing world of secrets and lies.

J is a student at a school deep in a forest far away from the rest of the world.

J is one of only twenty-six students, who think of their enigmatic school’s founder as their father. His fellow peers are the only family J has ever had. The students are being trained to be prodigies of art, science, and athletics, and their life at the school is all they know–and all they are allowed to know.

But J is beginning to suspect that there is something out there, beyond the pines, that the founder does not want him to see, and he’s beginning to ask questions. What is the real purpose of this place? Why can the students never leave? And what secrets is their father hiding from them?

Meanwhile, on the other side of the forest, in a school very much like J’s, a girl named K is asking the same questions. J has never seen a girl, and K has never seen a boy. As K and J work to investigate the secrets of their two strange schools, they come to discover something even more mysterious: each other.

In Inspection, the masterful author of Bird Box crafts a sinister and evocative gender equality anthem that will have readers guessing until the final page.

Thriller Psychological | Coming of Age [Del Rey, On Sale: April 23, 2019, Hardcover / e-Book, ISBN: 9781524796990 / eISBN: 9781524797003]

What happened to the missing boys?

A world of deception can only last so long…


GRACE AFTER HENRY by Eithne Shortall

Grace After Henry

A quirky love story set in Dublin that’s perfect for fans of PS, I Love You and Jojo Moyes, Grace After Henry is a funny, heartfelt debut novel about one woman learning what it means to move on and to let go

When her fiance, Henry Walsh, is killed in a freak biking accident, Grace feels like she’s lost her own shadow. For five years, they’d been inseparable: five years of the most rollicking, soul-finding love Grace thought any two people could share. In his absence, Grace picks up the pieces of her life: She moves into the dream house they bought together, she returns to work as a chef, she watches TV with her nosy elderly neighbor, but through it all she’s ever aware of the Henry-shaped hole in her life.

Until his long-lost twin brother knocks on her door.

Andy is Henry, and yet he’s not quite. Newly arrived in Dublin on his own search for answers, he makes Grace’s loss feel both greater and smaller. Soon Grace isn’t sure if she’s learning to let go or becoming desperate to hold on. Filled with a warm and zany cast of characters all searching for a sense of home, Grace After Henry is a funny, tender, and bittersweet story about love, loss, and second chances.

Women’s Fiction [G.P. Putnam’s Sons, On Sale: March 12, 2019, Trade Size / e-Book, ISBN: 9780525537861 / eISBN: 9780525537878]

A sweet story about life after the loss of a loved one…


LOCK EVERY DOOR by Riley Sager

Lock Every Door

The next heart-pounding thriller from New York Times bestselling author Riley Sager follows a young woman whose new job apartment sitting in one of New York’s oldest and most glamorous buildings may cost more than it pays.

No visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents, all of whom are rich or famous or both. 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. Recently heartbroken and just plain broke, Jules is taken in by the splendor of her surroundings and accepts the terms, ready to leave her past life behind.

As she gets to know the residents and staff of the Bartholomew, Jules finds herself drawn to fellow apartment sitter Ingrid, who comfortingly reminds her of the sister she lost eight years ago. When Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems and the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her, Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story . . . until the next day, when Ingrid disappears.

Searching for the truth about Ingrid’s disappearance, Jules digs deeper into the Bartholomew’s sordid past and into the secrets kept within its walls. What she discovers pits Jules against the clock as she races to unmask a killer, expose the building’s hidden past, and escape the Bartholomew before her temporary status becomes permanent.

Thriller Psychological [Dutton, On Sale: July 2, 2019, Hardcover / e-Book, ISBN: 9781524745141 / eISBN: 9781524745158]

Some opportunities are too good to be true!

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