When I signed up for Goodreads a few years ago, it honestly was to help me keep track of what I’ve read. I find that so many modern fiction books have similar titles and similar covers (and similar stories, for that matter) that I could remember what I had read. And then I started to get my mind focused for my monthly book club.
Well, book club has kind of fizzled but I love that it’s renewed my reading habit. So much so, that I set an actual reading goal for myself this year with the Goodreads 2018 Reading Challenge. There’s no winning or losing this challenge. It’s more of a personal goal and a way to keep yourself on track.
Side note: I have friends that like to read A LOT and they set crazy goals like 100 books in a year. I love that you can read so much so fast but I went for a more manageable goal of 24 books in a year.
At the end of August, I’m excited to reveal that I’m ahead of my reading goal (literally the only thing I’ve ever been ahead of in my life) having read 19 out of 24 books so far (and I’ve already got a few more I’m working on right now). While reading these 19 books, I formed opinions and, as you know, I like to share those opinions. Here are some of the best books this year that I’ve read (and a few that you can go ahead and skip – you’re welcome).
My Best Books This Year
Synopsis: Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of long-held secrets and the ferocious pull of motherhood-and the danger of believing that planning and following the rules can avert disaster, or heartbreak.
My review (5 stars): Perhaps it’s because I lived in Cleveland in the 1990s that I feel such a connection to this book. Whether it was reading about Heinen’s, Arabica, or “Bleach”-wood place, it brought back so many relatable memories. I only wish I’d known more about the roots of Shaker Heights when I lived there. The homes truly are AMAZING!
All of that aside, this book sucked me in immediately, even with the first third of the book set up for character development. The story went in so many directions that I wasn’t expecting and yet it all came together cohesively at the end. Highly recommend for a book club discussion. So many moral and ethical dilemmas worth having a conversation about.
Synopsis: An unspeakable crime. A confounding investigation. At a time when the King brand has never been stronger, he has delivered one of his most unsettling and compulsively readable stories.
My review (5 stars): I picked up the latest Stephen King book not knowing if it was horror or not but knowing that I love his writing. This book, while horror (not my favorite), follows suit with his amazing writing style and bringing characters to life. I listened to the audiobook which had a fantastic narrator.
If you’ve read any of Stephen King’s horror, you’ll know that the first 90% of the book is usually fantastic while the last 10% quickly wraps things up. Sometimes too quickly. This book suffers a little from that but I still felt extremely satisfied at the end. If you’re a Stephen King fan, you won’t be disappointed.
Synopsis: In the year 2045, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.
My review (5 stars): This was a suggested audiobook when I logged into Audible. I thought I stumbled across something new. Little did I know this book came out years ago and is soon to be a movie from Steven Spielberg. And now I know why.
If you’re a child of the 70s/80s like me with any sort of propensity for video games and pop culture, you’ll love this futuristic look at society that’s immersed in nostalgia. Even better was hearing Wil Wheaton narrate the whole thing. A pretty much perfect novel in my book. Nerdtastic!
Synopsis: An addictive psychological thriller about a group of women whose lives become unexpectedly connected when one of their newborns goes missing.
My review (4 stars): If you’re a mother and can still remember the stifling first few months of motherhood, you’ll appreciate this book. It perfectly captures the joy, the fear, the insanity, the struggles, and a little of the heartbreak. Then throw in a missing baby.
While the characters didn’t all make complete sense and the ending seemed a little chaotically thrown together, this was a totally enjoyable read – perfect for the summer.
Synopsis: When Micajah Fenton discovers a crater in his front yard with a broken time glider in the bottom and a naked, virtual woman on his lawn, he delays his plans to kill himself. While helping repair the marooned time traveler’s glider, Cager realizes it can return him to his past to correct a mistake that had haunted him his entire life.
My review (4 stars): This is one of the weirdest books I’ve ever read. It’s a time travel story with a beautifully written nostalgic story embedded within. But wait. There’s more! It’s also a kind of love story and a story about the core of human existence. If you like chick lit but want to try sci fi, this might be for you. If you like sci fi, strap in for this unique time travel tale.
Synopsis: Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals—in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country—Lisa Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.
My review (4 stars): I was worried by the cover (yes, I sometimes judge a book by its cover) that this would be just another pleasant chick lit book. Although it has elements to make it satisfy that audience (oh, the romance possibilities!), I was surprised at the depth of the subject matter only to be more intrigued when the author answer the question at the end of the book, “Was any of this true?”
I’ve since started researching the Tennessee Children’s Home Society and it’s absolutely shocking. I’m so glad that a fictional story helped bring this dismal history to light by basing it on many true life accounts.
Synopsis: Two women, twenty years of secrets and a man who can’t remember lie at the heart of Lisa Jewell’s brilliant new novel.
My review (4 stars): I finally finished The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell and liked it but didn’t love it. I’m so glad I tried another of her books. She paints a vivid picture both then and now. There are some far-fetched parts of the book but I loved how the protagonist was a perfectly imperfect woman.
What Books to Skip
Now everyone has different tastes. I’m not a huge fan of romance or chick lit but I can literally read anything as long as it’s well-written. These books just don’t measure up so in my opinion, you can skip them altogether.
To the Bridge: A True Story of Motherhood and Murder by Nancy Rommelmann
My review: I love true crime stories that are expertly told. Unfortunately, this is not one of those stories. The writing style is less direct quotes and more paraphrasing of various people making the language a little simplistic. We’re missing the analysis of what these people are saying.
Although the story is compelling, we never really come to any sort of understanding. None of the “characters” are terribly sympathetic and there isn’t much legal drama. In the end, it’s just a sad statement about sad, narcissistic people that should have never had children in the first place.
It Ends With Her by Brianna Labuskes
My review: This book was hard to read. Not difficult – just hard. The characters are almost like caricatures and the dialogue is soooo repetitive. I think it was supposed to add character development but I keep wanting to scream, “I get it already!” There’s a nice twist at the end that at least makes the read worthwhile but I wouldn’t put this high on your list
Artemis by Andy Weir
My review: Oh, how I wanted to love this book. I couldn’t say enough about The Martian. Artemis tried to follow in a similar vein but it really seemed more like a thriller that just happens to take place on the moon. It didn’t help that the main character, Jazz, was very unlikeable THROUGHOUT. Tough to get into, kind of coarse, and mediocre story. So sad 🙁
What has made it to your reading list this year? What do you think I’d like? And let’s connect on Goodreads!
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