Before we get too far into 2019, I thought I’d take a look back at the books I most enjoyed in 2018 and would highly recommend to others. My tastes veer toward mystery, suspense, psychological thrillers, and current fiction as well as British fiction (I have a love affair with London and England that began in the summer of 1981 when Lady Diana married Prince Charles for all the world to see). British mysteries are a favorite!
I have to say it was a wonderful reading year for me. I am a pretty tough critic and usually I don’t hand out to 5 (out of 5) stars very often – though I would lean a bit toward four and a half for many if that was allowable on Goodreads. In 2018 out of the 83 books I read, a stellar 19 were 5-star reads (22%) versus 2017 where only 11% were. Let’s get to it. They are in no particular order and I’m not going to list them all here because we’d be here all week.
- An American Marriage by Tayari Jones. This was a breathtaking novel which I listened to and I highly recommend the audio version. Just a year after they are married, the husband goes to prison for a crime he did not commit and the unraveling of this family is heartbreaking. It is the story of our country and how race plays into our prison system and the ripple effect it has in the community.
- Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell. Jewell is an amazing writer (British) and I’ve followed her since her first novel, Ralph’s Party was published in 1999. Her prose has changed in subtle ways over the years and has turned a bit toward mystery which is what I’d classify Then She Was Gone. The plot was unusual but she keeps it interesting with highly crafted writing. A young woman goes missing as she’s studying for her final exams and seems to have disappeared into thin air. The story alternates among a cast of characters I will not soon forget.
- The Storyteller’s Secret by Sejal Badani. This story begins with an American born Indian woman name Jaya who suffers repeated miscarriages. As her marriage begins to fail under the stress of it, she travels to India to learn about the family she never or hardly knew (including her mother who left India at 18 and never returned or spoke of it). It alternates between the story of her grandmother during the British rule of India and Jaya who is unsure of what the future holds for her.
- The Witch Elm by Tana French. French is one of those select few authors where I pre-order her books and anxiously await for the hardcover to arrive at my home. I believe this was her seventh book and her first standalone after her Dublin Murder Squad series (highly recommend these). Her writing is just amazing. The Witch Elm was a solid 526 pages and followed the mystery of what was found buried in the witch elm tree behind the family home of the protagonist (Toby, a young man whose life seemed to coast on a wave of good fortune until an accident befalls him). Toby’s life twists upside down as the story unfolds.
- Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney. What you see is not always what it seems. This was a novel I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get into. A woman is in a coma and we can hear her thoughts? Not for me. I kept at it and so glad I did because this was a stunner in the vein of Gone Girl. I will say no more, just go read it.
- The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware. Ware has only once disappointed me (I didn’t quite get The Lying Game, the last book before this one). In my opinion, this is her best book which is hard to say when comparing it to The Woman in Cabin 10 which I loved. There is a creepy house, a creepy family and a young woman who doesn’t understand why she’s receiving an inheritance after the matriarch passes away. The writing is deft and I didn’t want to see it end.
- I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara. One of the few non-fiction books I read and loved in 2018. Note to self – read more non-fiction. This has all the makings of a psychological thriller that couldn’t possibly be true. The book came out just a month or so before the Golden Gate Killer was captured (the subject of this book). The story is fairly complicated with dozens and dozens of characters including victims, survivors, family members, and police detectives. McNamara’s writing is vivid and clear so that it’s easy to understand the complicated series of events that occurred in the Sacramento area from the 60’s to the early 80’s. I googled as I read knowing the mystery had been solved.
- The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory. 2018 wasn’t all dark suspense and mystery. This was a breath of fresh air as someone who doesn’t typically tend toward romantic comedies. I love Guillory’s style and the characters, who met in a broken down elevator, and soon became accidental wedding dates, were people you’d want to count among your friends. Along the same lines, I also enjoyed The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang.
I feel neglectful to end the list there because all the five-star books deserve a place here. If you are interested in more, visit my profile on Goodreads. Here’s to more good reading in 2019!