The Best-Loved Listens of 2019


A red felt heart and black earbuds on a cosmic purple backdrop, with text reading MLHT BEST-LOVED LISTENS 2019
Somehow, despite the relentless intrusion upon my listening time by the real world, I listened to over 100 audiobooks this year, amounting to almost 1000 hours of audio. The full list is available on Goodreads, but here I have handpicked my top twenty audiobooks and top ten narrators from this year's listening. 

Not all the books have been published in 2019, but they will only make the list if I have listened to them for the first time this year. Repeat plays do not count (otherwise the Harry Potter books would be in my top ten every year). Some of the audiobooks here have not yet been reviewed on the blog, but those that haven't will hopefully pop up in future 'Throwback Thursday' posts. 

In no particular order, here are my Best-Loved Listens of 2019, followed by my favourite narrators! Clicking the audiobook cover will take you to the book on Audible UK, and clicking the title will take you to my review (where available).



~ TOP 20 AUDIOBOOKS OF 2019 ~


Audiobook cover for A Quiet Life in the Country
A Quiet Life in the Country (the Lady Hardcastle Series) by T E Kinsey.
Narrated by Elizabeth Knowelden.

I listened to a few of these this year and very much enjoyed them, though have only currently reviewed the first. A cozy-mystery series set in the early 20th century, with a strong female duo at its heart, they are lighthearted and very enjoyable stories.



Audiobook cover for Bless Thine Inheritance
Bless Thine Inheritance by Sophia Holloway.
Narrated by Matt Addis.

An instant favourite, this Regency has a traditional tone but a very unconventional heroine, and is not only to be commended for featuring a disabled character so well, but for doing just as good a job with the tricky house-party format and romance.



Audiobook cover for All That Remains
All That Remains by Sue Black.
Narrated by Sue Black.

One of my favourite memoirs, Black's book is a moving and enlightening account of her path to becoming a renowned anatomist and forensic anthropologist, and is incredibly insightful as well as being very instructive.



Audiobook cover for Cherringham Compilation 1-3The Cherringham Series by Matthew Costello and Neil Richards.
Narrated by Neil Dudgeon.

I've binged on 30 short stories and a full length novel in this cozy crime series this year. It took a few stories to really settle into it but once I did I was hooked. This contemporary crime series is very gentle, and follows suburban mum, Sarah, as she investigates wrongdoing in the village with former NYPD cop, Jack.



Audiobook cover for Bunburry 1
The Bunburry Series by Helena Marchmont.
Narrated by Nathaniel Parker.

Like the Cherringham series, the Bunburry tales are a contemporary cozy crime mystery, but in a much more chocolate-boxy village. Very gentle, very funny, and full of warmth this series is just lovely but the mysteries remain engaging.



Audiobook cover for Their Lost Daughters
Narrated by Richard Armitage.

I had heard good things about this atmospheric Fenland crime series, but gave it a chance because the narrator can do very little wrong. Reminiscent of ITV's acclaimed tv drama, Broadchurch, I very much enjoyed my time with Jackman, Evans, and the team on their first outing.



Audiobook cover for A Scandalous Deception
Narrated by Jill Smith.

Though my introduction to Bea came with A Brazen Curiosity at this time last year, I have listened to the bulk of this Regency cozy crime series in 2019. As Miss Hyde-Clare continued to get herself into mischief, so the Duke of Kesgrave helped to fish her out of it. Reviews also available for Book 2: A Scandalous Deception, Book 3: An Infamous Betrayal, and Book 4: A Nefarious Engagement.



Audiobook cover for Dreadful Company
Dreadful Company, Greta Helsing Book 2, by Vivian Shaw.
Narrated by Suzannah Hampton.

The second book in the Greta Helsing series continued the success of the previous book, Strange Practice. Doctor Helsing tends to the needs of the local supernatural community, and this time her medical practice calls her to Paris, where she and her inhuman companions become embroiled in local power struggles and preternatural politics.



Audiobook cover for The Devil You KnowThe Devil You Know by Sophia Holloway.
Narrated by Matt Addis.

Very few of the recent Regency romances with a sweet, clean tone strike the right balance between love and intrigue, but this one does. Though not a bodice-ripper, George's passionate nature drives every moment of this charming tale, and it has a re-listenability that many modern Regencies lack.



Audiobook cover for The Owl
The Secret Life of the Owl by John Lewis-Stempel.
Narrated by Roy McMillan.

A beautiful ode to the owl, Lewis-Stempel's audiobook is a pocket-guide to one of our most iconic species and the treats posed to its habitat and survival. Combining natural history and folklore this audiobook is told in a relaxing, lyrical style that is a delight to listen to.




Audiobook cover for October Man
October Man, Peter Grant/Rivers of London Book ? by Ben Aaronovitch.
Narrated by Sam Peter Jackson.

The first in the series to be set in Germany, the latest in Aaronovitch's Rivers of London series combines all the magical urban fantasy elements with the police procedural aspects that we have come to enjoy. I wasn't sure how well a series without Peter or Nightingale would work, but it was just as good as the early books in the series.



Audiobook cover for Walking HomeWalking Home by Simon Armitage.
Narrated by Simon Armitage.

I listened to much of this book while in hospital this year, and Simon Armitage was better company than I could have hoped for. Recounting his own 'reverse pilgrimage', the poet laureate's musings were filled with hope and helped fill my hospital room with vivid images of the countryside.



Audiobook cover for The Lost WordsThe Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane.
Narrated by multiple cast including Guy Garvey, Edith Bowman, Benjamin Zephaniah, and Cerys Matthews.

Combining evocative readings and natural recordings, this audiobook is a love-letter to the countryside, and in particular to words that are disappearing from childrens' vocabularies as the modern world divorces its inhabitants from our natural surroundings.



Audiobook cover for Under the PawUnder the Paw by Tom Cox.
Narrated by Mark Meadows.

A delightful and often very heartfelt account of a life with cats, Cox's book is a must for anyone who has owned - or been owned - by a feline friend. This audiobook brought back many memories of my own past companions, and was a very nice listen.





Audiobook cover for Wilding
Wilding by Isabella Tree.
Narrated by Isabella Tree.

Detailing the rewilding of the depleted farmland her husband inherited, Tree's book is a gentle but incredibly important audiobook which extols the virtues of listening to the land, and working with it rather than against.


Audiobook cover for Rational Creatures
Rational Creatures by Various Authors.
Narrated by Victoria Riley.

A super collection of short stories inspired by Jane Austen's most famous female characters, this is a lovely book for anyone who has imagined some of Austen's favourite heroines reaching their full potential as women at a time when much was against them.




Audiobook cover for Once a Pirate
Once A Pirate by Diana Bold.
Narrated by Louise Barnes.

A Regency-inspired tale with a sweeping maritime flavour, this was a good romp with engaging characters and an adventurous setting.




Audiobook cover for The Damsel
The Damsel by Victoria Vale.
Narrated by Darcy Stark.

My first 'Dark Regency' novel, combining a familiar historical setting with very steamy scenes and difficult themes, Vale tells a compelling story about two damaged people who find comfort in each other's brokenness and begin to heal.



Audiobook cover for Never Doubt a Duke
Never Doubt a Duke by Regina Scott.
Narrated by Jannie Meisberger.

Another book which I know I will go on to re-listen to, this audiobook was a great, clean, Regency romp featuring an older couple, which proved to be a real antidote to the surfeit of rather schmaltzy historical romances I have read this year.




The Audiobook of the Year 2019 by Dan Schreiber, Anna Ptaszynski, Andrew Hunter Murray, and James Harkin.
Narrated by Dan Schreiber, Anna Ptaszynski, Andrew Hunter Murray, and James Harkin.

The annual round up of the year by the team behind the brilliant podcast, No Such Thing as a Fish, this audiobook was a great way to catch up with many of the facts and news stories that I'd missed. Funny and educational, it's a must for fans of the podcast.






~ TOP 10 NARRATORS OF 2019 ~


There have been many memorable narrators from this year, but these were some of my favourites. Clicking the narrator's name will take you to their narrator page on Audible. Clicking the book titles will take you to my reviews, if available.


NARRATOR OF THE YEAR

The Devil You Know, and Bless Thine Inheritance.

Headshot photo of Matt Addis

Addis' performance in both of the novels I listened to this year was outstanding, but he excelled in bringing the whole house full of characters to life in Bless Thine Inheritance. He portrayed them so vividly that I could easily have been listening to a full cast. I had previously only heard Addis narrating non-fiction, but he quickly became the stand-out narrator of the year for his performance of Holloway's fiction.



FAVOURITE FEMALE NARRATOR

Never Doubt a Duke.

Headshot photo of Jannie Meisberger

Meisberger helped bring Jane's story to life, and the book romped away in her charge. It was my first time listening to one of her books but I am looking forward to the rest of the series.


FAVOURITE MALE NARRATOR

Jackman & Evans series.

Headshot photo of Richard Armitage

I've loved Armitage's narration in every book I've listened to, but he helped make Joy Ellis' new series feel especially emotive and atmospheric. His voice has a depth and resonance that I find very easy to listen to, and he even managed to pull off a female voice with a Welsh accent, which is doubly tricky!


Best Author-Narrator

All That Remains.

Headshot photo of Prof Dame Sue Black

Sue Black's reading of her memoir was engaging throughout and demonstrated the very best of her skills as an educator and lecturer.


Best Foreign-Language Narrator

October Man.

Headshot of Sam Peter Jackson

Though I recall very little of my High School German lessons, Jackson's narration of both the English and German within the latest Rivers of London book made what can be quite a harsh and impenetrable language sound warm and familiar. His English was as natural as his native German and he helped give a true sense of the book's setting. (This nomination's a bit cheeky given how little German there actually is in the UK edition, but for a German-born narrator the English bits count as foreign, too, right? I'm as bilingual as a rock, so anyone who can do more than count to five in a second language impresses me.)


Most Relaxing Voice

Dreadful Company.

Silhouette of a woman

This may seem like an odd accolade, especially given the exciting nature of the books, but narrators who are soothing to listen to are something of a Holy Grail for listeners with chronic health issues. Hampton's narration is lively but also very relaxing to listen to and makes hers a very pleasant voice to curl up with when dogged by pain or fatigue.


Best Romance Narrator

Jackson's Justice.

Photo of Gideon Welles

I've listened to many romance narrators this year, but one of the most memorable was Gideon Welles, whose resonant drawl was quite delicious to lose myself in for the duration of the audiobook.


Most Humorous Performance

Bunburry Series.

Headshot photo of Nathaniel Parker

The Bunburry series is charming but it has undeniably been improved by the colourful portrayals of its characters, as brought to life by Parker. Whether narrating as a feisty older lady or an aspirant Oscar Wilde, he enhances the series humour no end.


Most Improved Narration

Beatrice Hyde-Clare Series.

Headshot photo of Jill Smith

I was a little hard on Smith when I first encountered her, feeling that she had quite a lot to learn about the Regency era when I reviewed the first of the Beatrice Hyde-Clare series a year ago. I am very pleased to say that her narration has been better with each subsequent audiobook in the series. The time, effort, and additional care that has gone into ensuring that steady growth deserves special mention, as now I could not imagine anyone else voicing Bea.


Best Newcomer

Her Stern Doctor, Rewriting the Rules, Drake Restrained.

Drawing of a man in a tux blowing smoke

Calihan may only have been narrating romance audio for a year or so but he is very good at it, and looks set to continue getting better. I've listened to him reading some eye-wateringly explicit audiobooks this year, but regardless of the material I always enjoy his narration.




Thank you to all the authors, narrators, and publishers who have helped make 2019 such a marvellous year for audiobooks. I hope I have encouraged you to try a few of my favourites for yourselves!


2 comments

  1. Love your list. A Quiet Life in the Country was one of my favorite listens last year. :)

    Honored that Rational Creatures was included on your list. :)

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Sophia! Rational Creatures very much deserved its place, and your Northanger Abbey story was great fun. It was lovely too see Jane's women taking control, and centre stage, the way they did throughout Rational Creatures.

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