My favorite thriller/ suspense written in 2018!Read More
To be honest, I thought about not writing this post. I just posted my top 10 best books of 2018 and have talked a lot about the others that are on this list before, but in the end I chose to share because I thought it might be a good list to have a massive list of books I really liked all in one place.
There are 20 books on this list! A lot of readers seem to take immense pride in how few books they rate 5 star. I get it. Especially as a book recommender- you don’t want to get in the habit of rating everything a 5, or no one will trust your opinion. But that’s not me. I generally give books that 5 star rating based on how it made me feel, not from the standpoint of a literary criti. Also, at this point, I think I’m pretty good at picking out books I think I’ll like, so I'm stacking the deck. I do hope to take more chances in reading next year (2019 reading resolutions coming soon), so it’ll be interesting to see how many I rate 5 star next year.
Here are the books that did get that 5 star rating!
For readers who like stories that examine current issues via stories of specific people in a specific place in time.
If you don't know much about sci-fi but might like to give it a try.
If you like your books with a little science and want to read a powerful story that explores, quite literally, what might have been.
A world famous celebrity tells her life story with surprising depth.
If you like your suspense novels well written with vivid characters and a story that's not too dark.
For fans of Stephen King who want to try macabre historical fiction.
If you need a reminder about why Gillian Flynn is the queen of suspense.
If you want to read a book that truly scared me. (I'm still thinking about THAT scene.)
A classic psychological thriller with the story told by the very definition of an unreliable narrator.
If you like omniscient narration and quotes that jump off the page and demand to be seen.
For fans of domestic thrillers with gossipy neighbors where everyone's a suspect.
If you need proof (like me) that historical fiction is not boring.
If you want to read a tightly written story with a moral quandary that drives the plot.
For an introduction to one of horror's best villains of all time.
A real life coming of age memoir with equal parts comedy and angst, set in the Obama White House.
If you want to read a story about a serial murderer and rapist who went unknown for 30 years... Until this book.
For an introduction to the injustice in the US criminal justice system that does not read like a text book.
For a real life example of the truth being stranger than fiction.
If you need inspiration and want to get to know the former First Lady outside of the White House.
Well October has been a month so far, hasn’t it? Theres so much going on in the world; I sometimes struggle to find ways I can make a difference. I want to be educated and I want to inform others. One of the things I’ve been working on this year is tracking my reading. I want to make sure I’m reading authors from a variety of backgrounds, especially stories from women and people of color. I love that this space allows me to connect with other readers from around the world and I want to be sure that I’m sharing books from all kinds of authors. I read widely to broaden my horizons, listen to the stories from people from all backgrounds, and to get inspired to facilitate change.
Here’s what I’ve read over the past month.
This was a slim book that knocked my socks off. Set in Nigeria, it’s a story about two very unique sisters. Ayoola is the beautiful younger sister with a nasty habit of killing off her boyfriends. Korede is the responsible older sister who is always bailing Ayoola out of unfortunate situations. She’s generally happy to save her, but when Ayoola sets her sights on the man that Korede is secretly in love with she starts to unravel. This book is dark and satirical look at family, culture, and obligation. I read this as an ARC from Netgalley- it’s out November 20th. Rating: 3.75/5
This is probably one of the more unique books I’ve read this year. I’ve been a fan of Hank Green for years. He is the younger brother of John Green-of The Fault in Our Stars fame-but he’s a celebrity of his own right. He’s the creator of Sci Show, Vlog Brothers, and a myriad of other internet based endeavors. An Absolutely Remarkable Thing was wonderful. It’s sorta sci-fi, sorta speculative fiction. April May stumbles across the titular Remarkable Thing and has no idea what she’s looking at. As any Gen X’er would, she makes a YouTube video about it, and it immediately goes viral. It’s partly a story about being famous in the digital media age, but I honestly think this one is best gone in knowing little. Rating: 4.5/5.
I've got such mixed feelings about this book! I loved the premise- Fi coms home one day to find that a new family has moved into her beloved multi-million dollar home. She’s estranged from her husband Bram and has no idea who these people are or how they got there. The story is told in a really unique way- we get to hear her size of the situation via The Victim podcast. Bram tells his story through a word document. The beginning sucked me in but the pacing was wrong- I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop and it never did. It was also about 100 pages too long. Rating: 2.75/5
This will land on my favorites list for 2018. Never one to shy away from the tough stuff, Jodi Picoult is at it again. The book opens with an active shooter situation at the last standing abortion clinic in Mississippi. There is no easing into this book. It’s told in reverse, so you get plopped straight into the meat of the story. The characters were vivid and my heart was beating the whole time. No matter which side of the debate you fall on, this one will make you think. Full review here. Rating: 4.5/5.
This saying can be over used but when it fits, it fits- Just Mercy is required reading. Bryan Stevenson tells the story of how he came to be the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, an organization dedicated to racial justice and challenging wrongful convictions. This book was heartbreakingly sad, but I couldn’t look away. Stevenson did such a good job infusing facts about the broken criminal justice system and true stories about those incarcerated. He brought humanity to these people and he’s such an inspiration. I can’t overstate how much I loved this book. 5/5
TL;DR- I recommend My Sister the Serial Killer, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, A Spark of Light, and Just Mercy.
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OCTOBER you are spoiling us! Today was a huge new release day and there’s quite a few more I’m excited about that are coming out the rest of the month. Below are some of my favorites- several new releases from my favorite authors, a book with a topic that always gets me, and a highly anticipated sophomore novel from an author I discovered earlier this year.
TBR 1 | A Spark of Light | Jodi Picoult | Release Date: October 2nd, 2018
At this point, I'll read anything Jodi Picoult puts out. My all time favorite from her was Nineteen Minutes with last year's Small Great Things a close second. Picoult is again not shying away from tackling the tough stuff with A Spark of Light (trigger warning for abortion and shootings). We've got a hostage situation at the only abortion clinic in Mississippi. Inside, is the hostage negotiator's daughter and a cast of other characters, including the doctor, a pro life protester in disguise, and a nurse who just had her own clandestine abortion. I got my hands on an ARC and wow. I can recommend this with full confidence, no matter which side of the abortion debate you fall on.
TBR 2 | The Witch Elm | Tana French | Release Date: October 9th, 2018
Another auto read author for me! Tana French is the author of one of my favorite series, The Dublin Murder squad. The Witch Elm is her first standalone. Toby is a happy-go-lucky guy who's out celebrating with his friends, when he comes upon two burglars who beat him up and leave him for dead. His forced to move back in with a family member, and instead of the peaceful recovery he needs, he gets involved in heap of family drama. If you're a fan of suspenseful crime fiction, then definitely add this to you list.
TBR 3 | The Kennedy Debutante | Kerri Maher | Release Date: October 2nd, 2018
I think a lot of readers have those subjects that make them want to automatically want to read it. For me, that list includes anything having to do with the Kennedys. The Kennedy Debutante is about Kick Kennedy, sister to JFK, Robert, and Rosemary. Kick wants to do things her own way, and she heads to London to become a society girl and get out from the shadow of her powerful family. She falls in love with Billy Hartington, but since she’s Catholic and he’s Protestant, their love is forbidden. War breaks out and of course, things get even more complicated. I don’t always read historical fiction, but when I do I’m looking for something that’s got strong protagonists rooted in an era that I find interesting.
TBR 4 | Bridge of Clay | Markus Zusak | Release Date: October 9th, 2018
This one is easy. It’s Markus Zusak, and people have been waiting for this for a long, long time :) (check out the Goodreads comments for laughs)
TBR 5 | Elevation | Stephen King | Release Date: October 30th, 2018
Again an easy one- it’s a new Stephen King! This isn’t horror- it’s set in Castle Rock, the fictional town that is featured in so many of his stories. It’s short, too, at only 160 pages.
TBD | The Proposal | Jasmine Guillory | Release Date: October 30th, 2018
The Proposal is the newest book from Jasmine Guillory. I loved her last book, The Wedding Date, and was happy to read that The Proposal centers on Carlos, a beloved character from her first book. Carlos is at a Dodgers came when he sees a very public proposal go very, very wrong. Stepping in, he intercepts a bewildered Nikole and helps her divert from this uncomfortable situation. They embark on a fling- and for a myriad of reasons, believe that there’s no way this could turn into something more meaningful. If you want something lighter this fall that’s got a diverse couple at the center of things, you might pick this up.
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This was the sequel to Beartown, and did the almost impossible; the sequel was as good, if not better than the first book! The town is still reeling after the events from last year and, making matters worse, nearly all of the star players for Beartown were recruited by rival team Hed. Backman is so talented- there are a lot of characters and a lot of story lines going on, but he manages to make the entire thing cohesive. This is a heartbreaker- so I'd advise against reading this in public. Rating- 5
When Life Gives You Lululemons | Lauren Weisberger
I've loved Lauren Weisberger's stories since her Devil Wears Prada days. Her latest focuses specifically on Emily Charlton, Miranda Preiestly's senior assistant. She’s been away from the agency for ten years working on her own image consulting business. Business isn’t what it onced was and she needs a big break. She gets involved with Karolina, a supermodel who’s amid a huge domestic scandal and works to help her get her life back. I thought the book was fine- a breezy beach read, but I honestly can’t remember much of the meat of the plot so that says something. Rating, 3.5
I had this on my list for the ten buzzy book I want to read in 2018 list, and I’m so glad I got to it. I loved it! It's got 12 narrators and I had to take extensive notes to help me keep things straight, but it was so worth it. It was moving and powerful, but also accessible. I loved reading stories about today’s Native Americans. Great debut! Rating, 5
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald | Therese Anne Fowler
Even though I read a lot of thrillers/ contemporary fiction, I do like historical fiction when it's well done. Z - A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald is a great example of the kind of historical fiction I like. The author did such a good job of bringing Zelda to life. It was fascinating to read about her husband's writing process and to see how many other famous people they associated with, but it was also pretty depressing to read about their downfall. Zelda was talented in her own right but didn't get to fully follow her own dreams because she always had to be Scott's muse. Still, this was well done and made me want to read more of Fitzgerald/ Zelda's/ Hemingway's works. Rating, 4.
You might know the name Sarah Pinborough from her book last year, Behind Her Eyes with the fitting tagline of #WTFthatending. Cross Her Heart is different from Behind Her Eyes, in that it’ more of a slow burn and domestic drama than straight thriller, but I really enjoyed it. Her writing is gripping but know going in that it’ a bit slow for the first third. There’s no weird twist in this one, so if Behind Her Eyes wasn’t to your taste I’d recommend giving this one a try. Rating, 4.75
TL;DR- Books I'd recommend you add to your TBR list: Us Against You, I’d Rather Be Reading, There There, Z, Cross Her Heart.
It was a good 30 days.
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