FAVORITE BOOKS OF 2018…SO FAR

As the end of the year approaches, I study my lists of books purchased and read, review books received, and favorite books of the year.  The latter category is easier, since I add each month’s favorite on a separate list.

One year I whittled the list down to Top Ten Favorites, but I think I’ll publish the whole list.

Right now, I am not sure what book will earn its place on December’s list.    There were several books I loved…and it will be hard to pick.

Meanwhile, I recreated my blog header here, just to occupy my time on this bookish site.  A week or so ago, I created pages for 2019…and now I realize that I need to create a Favorites of 2019 page, complete with logo.

Okay…you talked me into it.  Here is my 2018 Favorites List so far:

1.Great Alone, The (e-book), by Kristin Hannah – 448 pages – (literary fiction) – 1/26/18 – (NG-2/6/18)

2.Promise Not to Tell (e-book), by Jayne Ann Krentz – (334 pages) – (mystery) – 2/2/18

3.Good Liar, The (e-book), by Catherine McKenzie – (373 pages) – (mystery/psychological thriller) – 3/25/18 – (NG – 4/3/18)

4.Sometimes I Lie (e-book), by Alice Feeney – (264 pages) – (psychological thriller) – 4/3/18

5.Female Persuasion, The (e-book), by Meg Wolitzer – (464 pages) – (literary fiction) – 5/9/18

6.Before & Again (e-book), by Barbara Delinsky – (416 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 6/17/18 – (NG – 6/26/18)

7.  Our House, by Louise Candlish  – (416 pages) – (domestic thriller) – 7/18/18 – (NG – 8/7)

8 .Believe Me (e-book), by J. P. Delaney – (352 pages) – (thriller) – 7/8/18 – (NG – 7/24/18)

9 .A Noise Downstairs (e-book), by Linwood Barclay – (368 pages) – (suspense thriller) – 8/21/18

10.Lies (e-book), by T. M. Logan – (432 pages) – (psychological thriller) – 8/26/18 – (NG-9/11)

11.Dream Daughter, The (e-book), by Diane Chamberlain – (384 pages) – (suspense fiction) – (9/10/18) – (NG- 10/2/18)

12.Open Your Eyes, by Paula Daly, (339 pages) – (domestic thriller) – 10/29/18

13.A Spark of Light (e-book), by Jodi Picoult – (356 pages) – (literary fiction) – 11/2/18

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What, if any, are your favorites from this list?

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REVIEW: THE PERFECT LIAR, BY THOMAS CHRISTOPHER GREENE

 

Susannah, a young widow and single mother, has remarried well: to Max, a charismatic artist and popular speaker whose career took her and her fifteen-year-old son out of New York City and to a quiet Vermont university town. Strong-willed and attractive, Susannah expects that her life is perfectly in place again. Then one quiet morning she finds a note on her door: I KNOW WHO YOU ARE.

Max dismisses the note as a prank. But days after a neighborhood couple comes to dinner, the husband mysteriously dies in a tragic accident while on a run with Max. Soon thereafter, a second note appears on their door: DID YOU GET AWAY WITH IT?

Both Susannah and Max are keeping secrets from the world and from each other—secrets that could destroy their family and everything they have built. Thomas Christopher Greene’s The Perfect Liar is a thrilling novel told through the alternating perspectives of Susannah and Max with a shocking climax that no one will expect, from the bestselling author of The Headmaster’s Wife.

My Thoughts: The Perfect Liar opens when Susannah finds a frightening note on their front door. Not sure what to do, she calls her husband Max, who is also concerned. But then he reassures her.

As the story begins to unfold, we learn more about the secrets Max and Susannah are keeping, but neither is aware of the other’s duplicity. As more time goes by, however, we see the lack of trust building between them and feel a hint of what might happen next.

We learn Max’s secrets first, and only part of Susannah’s. As the pages turn quickly, with a rapid pace, the intensity increases. There is a sense of heightening danger throughout, and just when we think we have the answers, we will be stunned by another revelation.

It was hard to know who to root for, as each character seemed to hold just enough of the cards to be a threat to the other.

A thrilling domestic drama that kept me on the edge of my chair, this one earned 5 stars.


***I received the e-ARC from the publisher via NetGalley

REVIEW: TELL ME LIES, BY CAROLA LOVERING

 

Lucy Albright is far from her Long Island upbringing when she arrives on the campus of her small California college, and happy to be hundreds of miles from her mother, whom she’s never forgiven for an act of betrayal in her early teen years. Quickly grasping at her fresh start, Lucy embraces college life and all it has to offer—new friends, wild parties, stimulating classes. And then she meets Stephen DeMarco. Charming. Attractive. Complicated. Devastating.

Confident and cocksure, Stephen sees something in Lucy that no one else has, and she’s quickly seduced by this vision of herself, and the sense of possibility that his attention brings her. Meanwhile, Stephen is determined to forget an incident buried in his past that, if exposed, could ruin him, and his single-minded drive for success extends to winning, and keeping, Lucy’s heart.

Lucy knows there’s something about Stephen that isn’t to be trusted. Stephen knows Lucy can’t tear herself away. And their addicting entanglement will have consequences they never could have imagined.

My Thoughts: Tell Me Lies sweeps back and forth through time but begins in the present with Lucy Albright attending the wedding of one of her best friends from college. She is living in Manhattan, but her thoughts on this day take her back to her college years in California.

Lucy and Stephen had one of those relationships that never seemed to progress. They couldn’t seem to stay together for various reasons, but they couldn’t stay apart, either.

What drew them together? What kept them apart? Their inability to make the relationship work or stay away from each other kept me frustrated on their behalf.

They each had issues from the past that factored into their mishaps with one another, and these problems were severe enough that they seemed doomed to never have what they wanted from each other. As the story unfolded, and each narrator shared moments that had affected them, it was easy to see that the patterns of behavior were deeply entrenched, and the traumas of the past had contributed in some way. One shocking event from the past was revealed near the end and made the story feel climactic.

I found each of these characters frustrating and hoped that they would eventually manage to move on. But I was also curious enough to keep reading. I did enjoy how the author added that unique flavor of each setting, from LA to Manhattan, allowing the reader to experience the moments with the characters: tasting the hot dogs or the drinks, feeling the ambience of the various bars and restaurants, and seeing the interiors of the apartments and homes. A slower read than I usually choose, but in the end, it was enjoyable. 4 stars.

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CREATING BLOG BOOKSHELVES FOR 2019

It is time to ponder my 2019 books: books I purchase; books I read; and review books added to my shelves.

So…today I created pages for showcasing those books.

Meanwhile, I cringed at the sounds coming from outside my office window…the gardeners and their incessant Friday reverberation of leaf blowers, etc.  Why does the noise always annoy me so much?  They do it so early in the morning that it is impossible to ignore.  Sigh.

I think they are finally moving away from my windows and onto the next set of condos.  Maybe I can now resume my reading of An Anonymous Girl, which I am loving.

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Enjoy your week!  Do you create pages to spotlight your books each year?

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REVIEW: WHAT HAPPENED, BY HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON

 

In this “candid and blackly funny” (The New York Times) memoir, Hillary Rodham Clinton reveals what she was thinking and feeling during one of the most controversial and unpredictable presidential elections in history. She takes us inside the intense personal experience of becoming the first woman nominated for president by a major party in an election marked by rage, sexism, exhilarating highs and infuriating lows, stranger-than-fiction twists, Russian interference, and an opponent who broke all the rules.

“At her most emotionally raw” (People), Hillary describes what it was like to run against Donald Trump, the mistakes she made, how she has coped with a shocking and devastating loss, and how she found the strength to pick herself back up afterward. She tells readers what it took to get back on her feet—the rituals, relationships, and reading that got her through, and what the experience has taught her about life. In this “feminist manifesto” (The New York Times), she speaks to the challenges of being a strong woman in the public eye, the criticism over her voice, age, and appearance, and the double standard confronting women in politics.

Offering a “bracing… guide to our political arena” (The Washington Post), What Happened lays out how the 2016 election was marked by an unprecedented assault on our democracy by a foreign adversary. By analyzing the evidence and connecting the dots, Hillary shows just how dangerous the forces are that shaped the outcome, and why Americans need to understand them to protect our values and our democracy in the future.

 

My Thoughts: What Happened offered a glimpse into the campaign and her life leading up to it; a look at HRC’s reaction afterwards; and some solutions about how to move forward despite the negative ramifications for the election.

HRC showed us that forces at work have played on people’s fears and anger, and how a candidate who provokes the darkest thoughts and feelings can appeal to those who are searching for ways to release those emotions.

Clinton also discussed in depth how the timing of the email controversy, which had turned out not to compromise security in any way, had gained so much importance in the media and critically affected how people viewed her actions. Comey’s announcement of continuing the investigation after he had initially closed it made the whole thing worse. And then, when he backtracked, that fact had little effect. By the same token, Comey’s failure to bring out the Russian interference in a timely matter allowed the election to proceed without giving the voters information that might have made a difference.

I came away from the book with an enhanced frustration about how we access information, and how we decide what and whom to believe when there are so many conflicting voices out there. Especially when there appears to be a concerted effort by some to make it harder for citizens to distinguish between truth and lies.

An excellent book that took me a few weeks to read, since I perused just a few chapters at a time. 5 stars.

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GONE NOVEMBER! WELCOME TO DECEMBER…

 

Where did November go?  It flew by so quickly, and the rainy days that have obliterated the sunny ones are a constant reminder of winter, which lies ahead.  Check in at Book Date to link up with other monthly updates.

FAVORITE BOOK: 

GENRES:

     Literary Fiction: 1

     Mysteries/Thrillers: 7

     Contemporary Fiction:  3

 

Click titles to read my reviews:

NOVEMBER 2018:

1.A Spark of Light (e-book), by Jodi Picoult – (356 pages) – (literary fiction) – 11/2/18

2.In Her Bones (e-book), by Kate Moretti – (352 pages) – (suspense thriller) – 11-8-18

3.Her Pretty Face (e-book), by Robyn Harding – (352 pages) – (domestic thriller) – 11/11/18

4.Island House, The (e-book), by Nancy Thayer – (280  pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 11/10/18

5.Liar’s Wife, The (e-book), by Samantha Hayes (372 pages) – (suspense thriller) – 11/28/18

6.Other Wife, The (e-book), by Michael Robotham – (400 pages) – (domestic thriller) – 11/22/18

7.Three Beths, The (e-book), by Jeff Abbott – (352 pages) – (domestic thriller) – 11/20/18

8.Three Days Missing (e-book), by Kimberly Belle – (352 pages) – (domestic thriller) – 11/13/18

9.Under My Skin (e-book), by Lisa Unger (416 pages) – (suspense thriller) – 11/26/18

10.We Were Mothers (e-book), by Katie Sise – (311 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 11/30/18

11.Winter in Paradise (e-book, #1), by Elin Hilderbrand – (320 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 11/16/18

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NUMBER OF BOOKS READ IN NOVEMBER 2018:    11

NUMBER OF PAGES READ NOVEMBER 2018:   3,863

BOOKS READ YTD:   135

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How did your November unfold?

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REVIEW: WE WERE MOTHERS, BY KATIE SISE

 

A scandalous revelation is about to devastate a picturesque town where the houses are immaculate and the neighborhoods are tightly knit. Devoted mother Cora O’Connell has found the journal of her friend Laurel’s daughter—a beautiful college student who lives next door—revealing an illicit encounter. Hours later, Laurel makes a shattering discovery of her own: her daughter has vanished without a trace. Over the course of one weekend, the crises of two close families are about to trigger a chain reaction that will expose a far more disturbing web of secrets. Now everything is at stake as they’re forced to confront the lies they have told in order to survive.

My Thoughts: We Were Mothers offers a peek behind closed doors as friends and neighbors in a small town show up for various social events, even as their lives are untangling a web of secrets and lies.

Alternating narrators take us to the past, while also bringing out the contemporary dramas in their lives.

At times, I found the characters confusing, as we zeroed in on their troubles. There was little to differentiate them from one another, except for their names. I had to take notes to keep their stories separate.

By the end, their individual stories seemed to mesh together, making them even less unique and more like cardboard characters. Perhaps the truth behind each story did not distinguish them much, but overall, their lives were all in crisis of one kind or another, which kept me reading. Not memorable or interesting enough, however. 3 stars.

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REVIEW: THE OTHER WIFE, BY MICHAEL ROBOTHAM

 

Childhood sweethearts William and Mary have been married for sixty years. William is a celebrated surgeon, Mary a devoted wife. Both have a strong sense of right and wrong.

This is what their son, Joe O’Loughlin, has always believed. But when Joe is summoned to the hospital with news that his father has been brutally attacked, his world is turned upside down. Who is the strange woman crying at William’s bedside, covered in his blood – a friend, a mis-tress, a fantasist or a killer?

Against the advice of the police, Joe launches his own investigation. As he learns more, he dis-covers sides to his father he never knew – and is forcibly reminded that the truth comes at a price.

 

 

My Thoughts: Joe is struggling with the loss of his wife, and parenting his two young daughters, Charlie and Emma, is a constant reminder of the loss. Emma’s struggles are interfering with her behavior at school, and when the staff suggest that she has deeper issues, Joe resists the labels they are putting on her. He is a psychologist, after all, and wouldn’t he know if his own daughter had serious problems?

His Parkinson’s Disease is under control, mostly, but there are daily reminders of what lies ahead.

When his father is brutally attacked and injured, Joe fiercely pushes ahead to find answers, despite the warnings from the police. But there is something troubling about his father’s mistress, Olivia, who insists she is his wife. In learning more about her history, as well as William’s own past mistakes and errors of judgment, Joe begins to realize that the mysteries are dark and deep.

I enjoyed The Other Wife and the characters and felt as though I knew them all.

What would Joe uncover as he meets up with friends and acquaintances from the past? Would the old adage “follow the money” take him to unexpected places and answers? Old resentments add to the mix, and when we reach the conclusion, we feel hope. 4.5 stars.

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REVIEW: HER PRETTY FACE, BY ROBYN HARDING

 

Frances Metcalfe is struggling to stay afloat.

A stay-at-home mom whose troubled son is her full-time job, she thought that the day he got accepted into the elite Forrester Academy would be the day she started living her life. Overweight, insecure, and lonely, she is desperate to fit into Forrester’s world. But after a disturbing incident at the school leads the other children and their families to ostracize the Metcalfes, she feels more alone than ever before.

Until she meets Kate Randolph.

Kate is everything Frances is not: beautiful, wealthy, powerful, and confident. And for some reason, she’s not interested in being friends with any of the other Forrester moms—only Frances. As the two bond over their disdain of the Forrester snobs and the fierce love they have for their sons, a startling secret threatens to tear them apart.

Because one of these women is not who she seems.

My Thoughts: Her Pretty Face opens with an article from 1996: a teenager was murdered in Arizona. What, if anything, connects these happenings to the current day characters?

I could empathize with Frances and how she has been ostracized by the other school moms due to something her son Marcus did. One can sense that she has had her own experiences from childhood that set her apart…if she could only talk about those events.

So when the gorgeous and wealthy Kate offers friendship, and their sons get along, which really helps Marcus begin to settle into the school, Frances feels connected and understood for the first time ever. Something had happened in her own past that led to her feelings of alienation.

In a back and forth storyline that begins to reveal more from the past events, I could see where the plot was taking us…and then was stunned by the final revelations. Daisy, Kate’s teenage daughter, gave an alternating narrative that led us to a greater understanding of the characters and their secrets, while intriguing us with more questions.

A riveting 5 star read.

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HELLO, NOVEMBER! MONTHLY WRAP-UP…

As we say goodbye to October, we anticipate the holidays ahead…and we may be changing up our reading in honor of the occasions.  Let’s join Kathryn at Book Date to see what others have done this month.

My Favorite for October:

GENRES FOR THE MONTH:

Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense:  5

Contemporary Fiction:  3

Nonfiction:  1

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My numbers weren’t great this month, with only 9 books read and reviewed!  But I did enjoy a nice mix of plots and titles.  I am in the midst of another book that I had hoped to finish by day’s end…but I decided to go ahead and write this post.

Click the titles to read my reviews.

 

OCTOBER 2018:

1.A Year of Extraordinary Moments (e-book), by Bette Lee Crosby – (368 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 10/8/18 – (NG-10/16)

2.Book Club, The (e-book), by Mary Alice Monroe – (400 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 10/13/18

3.Day of the Dead (e-book, Frieda Klein Novel), by Nicci French (416 pages) – (suspense thriller) – 10/27/18)

4.First Flurries (e-book), by Joanne DeMaio – (239 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – (Author Review Book) – 10-15-18

5.I Know You Know (e-book), by Gilly Macmillan – (348 pages) –  (murder mystery/suspense)-10/5/18

6.In Pieces, by Sally Field (396 pages) – (memoir) – 10/21/18

7. Neighbors, The (e-book), by Hannah Mary McKinnon – (384 pages) – (domestic thriller) – 10/30/18

8.Open Your Eyes, by Paula Daly, (339 pages) – (domestic thriller) – 10/29/18

9.They All Fall Down (e-book), by Tammy Cohen (377 pages) – (suspense thriller) – 10/18/18

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NUMBER OF BOOKS READ IN OCTOBER 2018:    9

NUMBER OF PAGES READ OCTOBER 2018:   3,267

BOOKS READ YTD:   124

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How did your month turn out for you?  Enjoy November.

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