Top Books of the Year

Top 18 Books of 2018

I had such a successful reading year in 2018, completing 120 amazing books!  I’ve shared them all along the way, but want to take a moment at the end of the year to reflect on the top 18 books I read in 2018.  They are in alphabetical order so their order does not reflect any sort of preference for one over the other.  Although, I may divulge my favorite book of the year… *cough* The Nightingale *cough.*

So without further ado, here they are:

Top 18 of 2018

The Anomaly
One of the most unique books I have ever read! If you like edge of your seat thrillers with an element of science fiction/fantasy, here you go.

Beartown
A must read for every high school classroom and well… really, for everybody. Let’s talk about rape culture.

Before We Were Yours
Heartbreaking and based on a true story of an orphanage in Memphis, Tennessee. So wonderful.

Dark Matter
Want your mind to be blown? Just pick up Dark Matter. Trippy with a capital T.

The Dinner List
I ugly cried while reading this book. Love story meets fantasy? Loved it!

The Dream Daughter
Historical fiction meets time travel. Super unique and beautifully written. I read it in pretty much one sitting.

The Dreamers
A sleep-inducing virus sweeps over a small college town. Think The Walking Dead without the zombies.

The Great Alone
Be still my heart, Kristin Hannah. She’s on this list twice (for good reason). Phenomenal storytelling. You feel like you’re reading a movie. Just trust me on this one and read it.

The Hate U Give
Such an important and impactful book about racial inequality. It was eye opening and thought provoking for me.

The Last Time I Lied
Nobody does a good old-fashioned thriller like Riley Sager. Great book to read around a campfire.

Next Year in Havana
Gotta thank Reese Witherspoon for this one. Super interesting look at Cuba during and after The Cold War. I learned a ton from this book and got a love story or two along the way.

The Nightingale
Guys… I just can’t with this book.  It is officially my new favorite book of all time.  I can’t even start talking about it because I won’t stop.  Just read it.  Immediately.

Obscura
Loved this cross between a science fiction space adventure and a murder mystery.  I could not put this book down.

Ready Player One
If you’ve seen the movie, forget it. Right now. The book is 1,000% better, particularly on audiobook. Take a trip back to the 80’s in this edge of your seat YA novel.

Us Against You
Sequel to Beartown.  Beartown is on the list and so is this.  Some say the sequel is better.  I tend to disagree.  But, considering it’s still on this list, let’s just say it was really good.

Vox
Evidently, this is similar to The Handmaid’s Tale.  I’ve never read it so all I can say is that if you’re a female and you’re proud of it, you should read Vox.

Where the Crawdads Sing
You can’t see me but I’m making a heart shape with my hands right now.  This one is making it’s way through my family right now because I’m recommending it to everybody I know.

The Wife Between Us
Twisty, twisty, twisty.  I love a good psychological thriller, especially one that surprises me over and over.  This one did it for me.

 

Needless to say, 2018 was a great year of reading.  Can’t wait to see what 2019 has in store!

Audiobook Review, Historical Fiction, Mystery

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Everything I Never Told YouEverything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

To be honest, I’m not really sure how I feel about this book. I absolutely loved Celeste Ng’s recent book Little Fires Everywhere and couldn’t wait to read one of her earlier works. I saw Everything I Never Told You was available at the library and snatched it up.

The story begins with a young Chinese American girl turning up dead, found face down in a local lake. Was her death suicide, homicide, or accidental? The rest of the book tells the story of her and her Chinese American family leading up to her death. They all carry their own secrets, and carry their own burdens. And the question remains… How did Lydia die?

This book was kind of just… Meh. It was good enough and I listened to the entire thing. The narrator was engaging and held my interest. And while I was really invested in the beginning, the pace was so slow that I just found my interest tapering off toward the end.

There were some good cultural and racial elements that were explored, particularly interracial relationships in the 1960s and 70s. This was one of the book’s strengths in my opinion.

I don’t know that I would recommend this book to everybody. It’s a good enough story, but just sort of fell flat for me.

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Audiobook Review, Fantasy, General Fiction (Adult), Historical Fiction

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

The ImmortalistsThe Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First, can we talk about the cover? This book kept popping up on social media everywhere, and every time, it stuck in my head because of that gorgeous cover. It is so simple, but beautiful and eye catching.

So what is The Immortalists about? In the 1960’s the Gold children hear about a woman who can tell fortunes. She’s said to be able to tell you the date you will die. So when all four of them pay the woman a visit, they get the answers they came looking for, but will they like what they hear? The story that unfolds is about each of the children’s journeys through life, leading up to their deaths. At times perhaps a bit depressing, it explores the line between our decisions and our fate. And challenges the way we live our lives. Would we live differently if we knew when we were going to die? Would we play it safe or make the most of our days?

I thought the idea behind this book was extraordinary. I enjoyed the philosophical elements and the overall message Chloe Benjamin was trying to portray. I loved the character development as well and really connected with several of the characters as the book went on.

I did struggle slightly with the format. It is really four separate stories that end up tying together. But, they are told in succession. So I would get really invested in one character or story, it would end, and I would have to get my brain back in gear to connect with the next character in line. It ended up working for me, but that is my one slightly gripe.

All in all, this was a fantastic novel and explored a lot of really interesting content. I found it thought provoking, but not at the expense of entertainment.

I would recommend it one to anybody looking for something with deeper and perhaps a little darker subject matter. It’s a quick read but you may find it somewhat emotionally draining.

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Audiobook Review, Mystery, Thriller

An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena

An Unwanted GuestAn Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Loved this! I just recently read Shari Lapena’s A Stranger in the House and enjoyed it. I had been wanting to read her newest book, An Unwanted Guest, for some time and finally got a copy from the library.

This book is in the vein of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None and Shari Lapena gave her a little nod with the brief but appropriate mention of Hercule Poirot. It also reminded me slightly of Liane Moriarty’s book Nine Perfect Strangers with a more sinister spin.

Various strangers descend upon a quaint inn for a weekend away. They all have their own issues, and they’re all a little broken. Somewhere along the way, bodies start piling up as the guests are murdered one by one. The catch? They are snowed in without cell phone service or WiFi and have no way of contacting the police. So they must solve the mystery on their own before it’s too late!

In general, this is my type of novel. I love a good murder mystery/whodunnit. It’s like playing a giant game of Clue which I find super fun and interesting.

Lapena did a great job developing the characters. It is always tricky to introduce such a large cast of characters without the reader getting lost in which is which. But, I felt like each of the characters in An Unwanted Guest had a unique identity and I didn’t have any problem following the story. I could also very clearly imagine the snowy inn, it’s various rooms and dwellings, and the characters moving about.

The only slight let down for me was the ending. I felt like it wasn’t an ending that the reader could have had a chance at guessing and kind of came out of nowhere. So the ending was just okay. I wasn’t dissatisfied, just not “wowwed” like I was hoping I would be.

Overall, this was a very good mystery and I would recommend to the Agatha Christie fans out there.

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Mystery, Thriller

Daughters of the Lake by Wendy Webb

Daughters of the LakeDaughters of the Lake by Wendy Webb

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First off, I was wavering between giving this book 4 or 5 stars but at the end of the day, I really enjoyed it so decided to swing in the direction of the higher rating.

I got this book for free from Amazon First Reads. If you’re an Amazon Prime member and have never used First Reads, you should. You get a free book each month as part of your membership. Check it out here.

Back to Daughters of the Lake. What a fantastic book to read on a gloomy, autumn night (let’s forget that I read it on a beach in December)!

A woman’s body washes up on the shores of Lake Superior in a small town on the coast. Nobody knows who she is or where she came from. And even more surprising is the body of a baby that washes up with her. Who are these lost souls? What happened to them? Meanwhile, a woman in town begins to have strange dreams, but they feel more like reality. And they may just hold the clues to the mystery woman’s death.

Daughters of the Lake really reminded me of Kate Morton’s The Clockmaker’s Daughter. The story spanned over a century. There were spooky, ghostly elements. There were many generations of characters, all with their own stories to tell. And there was a murder mystery element that fit in perfectly.

At first, I found myself having a hard time getting the characters and their generational lines together in my head. There were a lot of names and they started to get a little jumbled. But eventually, it came together for me and the second half of this book was magnificent. I thought I figured out the big mystery even as the answers were unfolding. And then I was fooled by Wendy Webb’s magnificent storytelling. I loved the way everything came together in the end in such a surprising and unexpected way. She certainly tricked me.

This book is wonderful in a lot of ways. I would recommend to anybody who enjoyed The Clockmaker’s Daughter or who is looking for a spooky ghost story to read on a dark winter night!

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