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My Favorite Reads of 2018! #amreading #books #Kindle

Time for my annual round-up of my favorite reads of 2018!  As the term "annual" suggests, I do this every year, or at least I have for as long as I've been blogging.  I tend to get most of my book recommendations from suggestions, whether it's from a friend, social media, or a list, so I like to share my own list each January.

I had two new releases this year--a first for me, two in one year, so my reading time was a little more limited.  Writing and editing takes a lot of time, but I'm thrilled that one of my 2018 titles made its way onto a different 2018 list, at a prolific review site...The Haunting of Hillwood Farm was chosen as Best Romantic Suspense of 2018 at N.N. Light's Book Heaven!  Even with the hours spent writing, I did manage to get plenty of reading in, especially because I now listen to books with Audible.  Whenever I'm driving, folding laundry, putting away dishes, etc., I'm listening to a book!  

For this post, I usually pick four or five and separate them out by genres, and link prior years as well at the bottom.  I should note that while I read many genres, I'm primarily drawn to Gothic, dark, and atmospheric stories.  Not particularly surprising since I write eerie ghost mysteries, but in my novels, I like to balance out the spooky with romance...which by definition, to be published as a romance, must have a "Happily Ever After" for the two main characters.  But since I have lots of books on this list that are not romance, I'll point out that HEAs are not guaranteed for the other genre listings! 

So I'll start with romance...I read A LOT of romance this year, as I contributed a book to a USA TODAY Bestselling Romantic Suspense Box Set and enjoyed many stories from the collection (and I'm still reading some).  However, my policy on these annual posts is that I cannot know the author of a book I choose, or have any relationship other than being a fan of his or her work...I don't want to pick amongst friends or have any bias for this blog series.  Okay, here we go:  

Romance:  On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves

I found this via a recommendation on Twitter...have to love social media sometimes!  The premise of this novel involves a plane crash among the remote islands in the Indian Ocean, and the relationship between the survivors as they deal with isolation, dehydration, disease, and the elements over the years they are stranded.  It's really a mix of several genres and themes, which I love...suspense, survival, danger, coming-of-age, and an unconventional romance with struggles that will pull at your heart strings.

Psychological Suspense:

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn


The Other Woman by Sandi Jones

I read a lot of this genre, and I completely understand that to enjoy the story, I almost always have to suspend disbelief in several areas, including certain things characters do or don't do, and the acceptance of an often unlikely big twist at the end.  I can do that, because I read for entertainment, and the ride is worth it!  So I have two that are tied for my favorites this year.  It seems this year, for me, is the year for books with the word "woman" in it, much like Gone Girl and Girl on the Train found similar audiences and drew comparisons in prior years.  If you liked either of those, you may enjoy the two titles listed above.

Mystery/Thriller:  Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Speaking of Gone Girl, this book is by the same author.  I admit, I watched the HBO series first.  I was hooked by episode one, which is unusual for me, as I tend to get impatient with a lot of television shows.  So I knew I needed more of this twisty, chilling tale, and I purchased the audio version.  I have to say the narrator was excellent, and I felt like I was right back in the series, but with deeper insight into the characters and town.  A slow-burning, suspenseful mystery involving the killing of two young girls, with dark family secrets and seriously flawed characters.  

Horror :  Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage

This is somewhere between psychological suspense and horror, and it's certainly not for everyone.  But I listened on Audible and carried my phone around because I had to know what was coming next.  It's one of the creepiest books that does not contain any supernatural elements that I've ever read.  A desperate mother fends off both emotional and physical attacks from her young daughter on a daily basis, and struggles with her fears, insecurities, and her sanity as she tries to come to terms with the possibility her child is a manipulative psychopath...and the effects on her marriage as a husband and father tries to figure out whose story to believe.

Nonfiction:  The Sound of Gravel: A Memoir by Ruth Wariner

This is the true story of one girl's coming-of-age in a polygamist cult.  Compelling, gut-wrenching, beautiful, and tragic.  I'm not usually much of a memoir reader, but someone listed this on social media as one of the best books they'd read in a while.  When I saw it on sale on Audible, I snapped up a copy.  At first, I was unsure about the actual author of the story reading her own memoir, but I was quickly convinced it was the right choice.  After a few chapters, I was sucked in.  There are scenes that are very, very difficult to read/listen to, times you want to cheer, and times that make you want to cry and/or pull your hair out.  Overall, a fascinating and brutally honest look into a lifestyle most of us will never know. 

YA: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Judging from the reviews, this is a book people either love or hate.  A friend recommended this to me, with glowing enthusiasm, so I went in expecting to enjoy it, but also with no clue of what the story was about--except that it is set on Cape Cod, where I live.  The narrative drive was strong, and I was drawn in to waiting for the twists to unravel, then stunned when the answers began to surface.  Although this is not a book that is packed with action, nor is it a particularly happy story, I found it to be a compelling read full of dark secrets and family drama and dysfunction.  I can't say much more without spoilers!

There you have it, six titles I really enjoyed from five genres.  Now, I want to hear some of your favorite reads...feel free to comment below!  And check out the links to some prior years for more recommendations.  Thanks for stopping by and Happy Reading!

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