Now that the year is coming to a close, I’m reflecting on the 55 books that I’ve read and those that have stuck in my mind. Here are my favorites of 2018 in no particular order, published in 2018 or earlier.
Kept Me Guessing: Believe Me by JP Delaney
“Because if a woman can’t trust the man who said he’d love her forever, who in this world can you trust?” — Believe Me
Claire is a struggling actor who has a side job as a decoy for a law firm. She lures married men into propositioning her and uses a hidden camera to film this for her wife clients. This plot line alone is absolutely fascinating and I think that the author could have build the entire novel around this concept – but wait! There’s more!
“It’s what you desire that defines you as a character.” – Believe Me
Claire ends up putting on the performance of her life by going deep undercover and trying to catch a suspected serial killer. Or so she thinks. I loved how this plotline progressed, and it kept me guessing until the very end.
Most Glam: Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton
“You can’t fool them forever, not even the very stupid ones. They realize every good thing about you is a trick.” – Social Creature
If The Talented Mr. Ripley and The Great Gatsby had a modern, twisted baby, it would be this book.
It will suck you in and make you want to binge read it until the end.
Lavinia and Louise are a train wreck that plays off of each other’s flaws. They befriend each other and become close very quickly. They are using each other to fill their needs and that makes for a very toxic mix.
The law of attraction states that “like attracts like.” This pertains to friendships too. It means that people like Lavinia and Louise who are insecure, negative and needy of approval and attention are attracted to people like themselves, and will choose these people to be their friends.
“She has known, for years, that you can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool everybody forever…” – Social Creature
Most Twisted: Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent
Lydia Fitzsimons wins for Best Psychopath of 2018! Take a bow, Lydia!
I have read a lot of thrillers about psychopaths, but this one TOPS THEM ALL. This book has the craziest cray cray character of all. Lydia takes the cake. If this is a contest, she beats out Amy Dunne of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, and Paul Strom of Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda.
This book is a riveting psychological thriller that delivers a story that will keep you on the edge of your seat. I heard about it from my fellow bloggers first, and then discovered the glowing Goodreads reviews. It definitely lives up to the buzz. It’s crazy creepy, and often made me gasp in horrified fascination. Luckily, Lydia is a fictional character, but it makes me wonder ~ who walks among us that might be the real life version of this psychopath?
Biggest Hot Mess: Anna from Woman in the Window by A.J Finn
Dr. Anna Fox takes HOT MESS to a whole new level. She joins the distinguished group of “Did She or Didn’t She Witness a Murder” – these unreliable, wine-swilling female narrators whose members include Rachel from Girl on the Train and Lo from Woman in Cabin 10. For me, Anna WINS the top honor for Best Unreliable Narrator and makes Rachel and Lo look semi-sober!
Anna’s pill-popping habit and 3-4 bottles of nightly wine intake (not counting her daytime consumption) is absolutely mind-boggling. How she has a coherent conversation or is even conscious is a marvel.
Anna has agoraphobia, and has major panic attacks when she attempts to leave her house. What caused her to be this way? Why is she separated from her husband Ed, and why does their daughter Olivia live with him? Why does she talk on the phone with Ed and Olivia practically every night, and why are they so cordial? Who is the mysterious David that sublets her basement, and what secrets is he hiding? And did she really see someone getting murdered, or is she just CRAY CRAY? I found out in the hair-raising, heart pounding ending.
Best Sequel: Us Against You by Fredrik Backman
Only Fredrik Backman could get me to read a SECOND book about Hockey!
Us Against You is an unforgettable sequel to Beartown and it’s just as good as the first. Interestingly, this book is even less about hockey games than it was in Beartown. The first puck wasn’t even in play until 75% in the book.
You don’t need to read Beartown to enjoy this book (however, it’s strongly recommended!) because Backman does an excellent job of weaving in the backstory so that the reader understands it, without retelling it completely. I appreciated this because it made me recall parts of the Beartown plot without having to reread it.
Us Against You is just as captivating as Beartown. This is a must-read for those that loved Beartown. And it definitely lived up to my expectations; it’s a 5 star book for me.
Grittiest Thriller: Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier
“In every story, there’s a hero and a villain. Sometimes one person can be both.” -Jar of Hearts
This is Grip Lit at its finest.
Friends, Secrets, and Skeletons – my absolute favorite!
“Everyone has a single defining moment in life, something that thrusts them irrevocably into a new direction, something affects them at their core, something that changes them forever.” – Jar of Hearts
This book is a blend of Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta novels, All The Missing Girls by Megan Miranda, with a little bit of Netflix’s Orange is the New Black mixed in.
Let me just say that this book is downright creepy and made me squirm many times. It is not a “light” thriller. It’s a heavy, complicated, layered thriller with complex characters that made me change my opinion of them several times. Some of the content is graphic and disturbing. It messed with my head. I read this book before bedtime, and it kept me awake thinking about it. But it was excellent and I recommend it if you’re looking for a gritty, captivating thriller.
Best Winter Mystery: An Unwanted Guest by Shari LaPena
“Uninvited guests are often most welcome when they leave.” – Aesop
I started this book knowing that people were going to be stuck in a cold, dark inn with a serial murderer. I reminded myself not to get too attached to anyone, because they might end up deader than a doornail.
Shari LaPena left me guessing the entire time about the killer’s identity. The killer was a surprise and not someone that I suspected at all. This book was fun, suspenseful, takes place in a very beautiful iconic setting, and thrilling all at the same time, with lots of secrets revealed at the end and ties all of the clues together, which left me very satisfied.
This is my favorite Shari LaPena book to date, and I can definitely picture this as a movie.
Best Chick Lit: [TIE] Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin & Other People’s Houses by Abbi Waxman
Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin
This book has the medical drama, excitement, and steamy work romance of Gray’s Anatomy, and the female bonds, motherhood struggles, secrets, heartbreak, and wit of Big Little Lies tied up in one delectable package. I LOVED it, and I couldn’t get enough of it.
The best thing about this book is the BFF relationship of Zadie and Emma. Their relationship depicts a strong interpersonal, familial-like bond between two women that contribute to their friendship equally and have been through good times and bad for many years. They are as thick as thieves. I enjoyed experiencing their close friendship.
Zadie and Emma are very relatable characters. They are working mothers and their struggles to balance work and family life are so real! They are strong, smart women and wonderful role models.
Other People’s Houses by Abbi Waxman
This funny and touching novel explores the themes of marriage, infidelity, family, midlife struggles, parenting, friendship, and the challenges of daily life. It reminds us that each house on a street can represent a whole different universe because of the people living there, and you never really know what happens behind closed doors.
Abbi Waxman takes mundane daily activities and injects humor into situations where it’s least expected. I loved her writing style, the characters, the stories, and the humor is a perfect match for me. She had me hooked at the book’s dedication page and it continued all the way to the end of the book.
Some reviews have mentioned the frequent profanity in the book, but I loved it and thought it was hilariously damn funny! Closet potty mouths will appreciate the crude humor.
If you enjoy books that center around mom struggles with a big serving of laughs, like Big Little Lies, Where’d You Go Bernadette, Class Moms, Today Will Be Different, and Confessions of a Domestic Failure, you will definitely like this book!
Biggest Surprise Ending: Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris
This is my first B.A. Paris book and it sucked me in very quickly in the opening chapters.
The story is told in the Then and Now perspectives, with multiple viewpoints, which is my favorite kind of storytelling. Finn is the main narrator. It begins Then with his statement to the police of the fateful night where his beloved girlfriend Layla went missing. Now is ten year later and Finn is about to marry Layla’s sister, Ellen. Layla’s first person perspective is also sprinkled among Finn’s.
My initial impressions of Finn and Layla were reversed by the end of the book. Finn ended up not as much of a psychopath as I first thought; and he actually had feelings and a conscience. I liked Layla in the beginning and thought she was a victim of circumstance, but I ended up disliking Layla a lot. (I wish I could tell you why, but that would be a huge spoiler.)
If you like books with missing girls like Gone Girl, Lie To Me, or The Perfect Stranger, then don’t miss this one!
What books are your favorites for 2018?