Best Books of 2018

Hey Readers!

I’m here to talk to you about some of my favorite books of 2018! I read 80 books this year so narrowing it down to my top 10 was HARD. However, I was able to do it. Two books fought it out for the top spot but other than that, organizing them from ten to 2 was too difficult so other than my number one I don’t have them listed in any particular order! Anyway… on to the books!

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I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer – Michelle McNamara

I loved this true crime mixed with memoir novel about Michelle McNamara’s hunt for the Golden State Killer. I was finishing this book the day that it was announced that they had made an arrest finally after all of these years and that just made the reading experience so much better. This is one of the best true crime novels a “murderino” like me has ever read. If you like true crime this one is for you.

“You’ll be silent forever, and I’ll be gone in the dark,” you threatened a victim once.

Open the door. Show us your face.

Walk into the light.”

Call Me By Your Name – Andre Aciman

This book was such a beautiful coming of age story of Elio and his relationship with Oliver. Call Me By Your Name was an intoxicating read, filled with romance, intimacy and was an absolutely stunning, perfect experience even when I was ugly sobbing and miserable at the end of the story. This is not the story for you if you’re looking for a love story that will fit all of your cliches, complete with a happy ending, but if you’re looking for two characters to fall in love with and then have your heart broken, Call Me By Your Name will satiate those desires.

“We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster than we should that we go bankrupt by the age of thirty and have less to offer each time we start with someone new. But to feel nothing so as not to feel anything – what a waste!”

An American Marriage – Tayari Jones

An American Marriage was the heartbreaking story of Roy and Celestial, a young African-American couple whose lives are forever changed when Roy is arrested and convicted of a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. This was a heartbreaking story of love, loss of love, and the search for freedom and happiness. You can read my review of this book here!

“Sometimes it’s exhausting for me to simply walk into the house. I try and calm myself, remember that I’ve lived alone before. Sleeping by myself didn’t kill me then and will not kill me now. But this what loss has taught me of love. Our house isn’t simply empty, our home has been emptied. Love makes a place in your life, it makes a place for itself in your bed. Invisibly, it makes a place in your body, rerouting all your blood vessels, throbbing right alongside your heart. When it’s gone, nothing is whole again.”

Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier 

This is a romance that has never gone out of print in over 80 years of print. This book took me by surprise, I wasn’t expecting to love this as much as I did. The mystery of Rebecca and what the new Mrs. de Winter is learning swept me away and I could not put the book down. I’m already looking forward to rereading this.

“I believe there is a theory that men and women emerge finer and stronger after suffering, and that to advance in this or any world we must endure ordeal by fire.”

A Darker Shade of Magic – V.E. Schwab

This whole series blew me away. I loved all of the characters, my favorite Slytherin, Lila Bard, peculiar coat wearing Gryffindor Kell, and cinnamon roll Rhy. And honestly, most of all – my sweet baby Holland. This series only gets better as you move through the trilogy so when you start it, make sure you have the next two on hand ready to go. Trust me.

“For the ones who dream of stranger worlds.”

A Little Life – Hanya Yanigahara

This book absolutely destroyed me. I fell in love with all of these characters so hard. This was full of really difficult emotions and while I think this is on my list of all time favorite books I don’t think I’ll be able to read it again. It was hard to get through but it was so worth it. The destruction of my heart was just so worth it. You can read my full review for this book here!

“Friendship, companionship: it so often defied logic, so often eluded the deserving, so often settled itself on the odd, the bad, the peculiar, the damaged.”

Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens

This book is the stunning story of Kya, a girl growing up in the swamplands of North Carolina. This book was a debut novel and I honestly don’t understand how it is that because this book was AMAZING. It was full of lush and beautiful descriptions of the swamp that my favorite heroine of the year loved so much. If you want to know more of my thoughts, check out the review here.

“Autumn leaves don’t fall, they fly. They take their time and wander on this their only chance to soar.”

The Hearts Invisible Furies – John Boyne

This book was so hyped when I first started my bookstagram and my book blog, and let me tell you it did not disappoint. This was the story of Cyril Avery, starting in the 1940s and going all the way through to the present day and once I started reading it I was sucked into the story and was invested right away. I laughed, loved, and cried with him as he lived his life. All of the triumphs and stumbles that he went through felt real as I was reading them and it blew me away.

“Maybe there were no villains in my mother’s story at all. Just men and women, trying to do their best by each other. And failing.”

A Place for Us – Fatima Farheen Mirza

This book was the book that contended with The Way of Kings to be my all time favorite book of the year, and honestly, it didn’t lose by much. This was the beautiful story of an Indian-American Muslim family on the day of their oldest daughters wedding. Told through a series of flashbacks and present day, it told the heartbreakingly beautiful story of each of these characters, and as I read it I fell in love with each and every one of the characters. Because of this book, I will insta buy any book written by this author in the future. For more of my thoughts, click here for the full review!

“But Imam Ali said two things: first, that we must imagine for one another seventy excuses before landing on a single judgment, and also, on that night, he told his companions to refrain from condemning a man, even as he staggered by showing proof of his sin, because they could not know if he would repent when alone, or fathom what existed in his heart.”

The Way of Kings – Brandon Sanderson 

This was my favorite book of the year, and honestly my favorite series. This book also solidified Brandon Sanderson as my all time favorite author. I loved everything about this book and this story, I loved it so much I wrote a full review of the whole Stormlight Archives series that you can read here.

“Words aren’t meant to be kept inside, you see. They are free creatures, and if locked away will unsettle the stomach.”

So those were my top 10 best books of 2018. What were some of your favorites?

– Hannah

 

March Wrap Up

March was a very good month for me. Probably the best month of the year. 2018 is just getting better and better… but I better knock on wood before it decides to fall apart.

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So I honestly don’t know if I’m going to keep doing these wrap up posts. Ultimately I kind of just use them to see how I’ve done with my goals for that month.. but then I come to write them and I feel like a lot of the time I’m saying the same thing as I did last month.. what do you guys think? Maybe I’ll just do one when I’ve had a super spectacular or interesting month. Who knows. I’ll figure it out….

ANYWAY

The Unread Shelf Project

I managed to knockout eight more books on my unread shelf this month…but per usual I went a little overboard on buying books. I had two significant hauls and this is what they looked like:

and now I am back on a book buying ban… but it is just a short one. I am putting myself on a book buying ban just until June when I go to NYC to go to BookCon! Which is only two months away. That’s nothing. I can make it two months. Psh. Easy Peasy. *hyperventilates into a paper bag*.

My Blog

I listed two goals last month when talking about my blog and they were as follows:

  1. Post one review a week, hopefully going up on Sundays.
  2. Try and get a post up that isn’t a review but still having to do with books at least twice.

I got three reviews up, and one extra post up (that wasn’t my February review). So I did about the same as February, and I’m going to try and be better about actually doing my reviews right when I finish the book. Instead of catching up with reviews from the month before. I have a few more books I wanted to review from March so hopefully I can get those up soon!

Books I Read

Like I said earlier, I had a really successful month when it came to my actual reading goals. I had seven books on my TBR list and I managed to read eight. And I enjoyed all of them for the most part. I only had one 3 star read and nothing less than that.

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  • The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn – 5 ⭐️’s
  • The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory – 4 ⭐️’s
  • Lady Killers: Deadly Woman Throughout History by Tori Telfer – 4 ⭐️’s
  • An American Marriage by Tayari Jones – 5 ⭐️’s
  • The Mothers by Brit Bennett – 4 ⭐️’s
  • Still Life: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel by Louise Penny – 3 ⭐️’s
  • The Lady of the Camellias by Alexandre Dumas Fils – 5 ⭐️’s
  • The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah – 5 ⭐️’s

I am wanting to review so many of these but because I’m behind already I’ll never catch up if I do, so let me know in the comments which of these you’d want to read a review of!

Next Month

I am very excited for the TBR I have planned for April. I have another lift of eight books. A couple of them that I’m very excited for are Shape of Water by Guillermo del Toro and Daniel Kraus (because the movie was the most beautiful thing I’ve seen since my daughter was born) and The Hearts Invisible Furies by John Boyne because I have heard nothing but amazing things about it. I hope it lives up to the hype. Norse Mythology is also my IRL book clubs April pick this month!

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What do all of you have on your TBR lists for April. Did you read any of the books that I read in March? What did you think of them?

– Hannah

Review: An American Marriage

Tayari Jones’s fourth novel and Oprah’s 2018 Book Club pick, An American Marriage, is an emotional, powerful and gripping novel about love, family, and the criminal justice system and its injustices. It is an intimate portrait of love and how tragic events can cause that love to falter. How sometimes, love, just isn’t enough.

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Synopsis from Goodreads: “Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.”

An American Marriage was my Book of the Month pick for February and I am so happy that I ended up choosing it. The writing was spectacular, the characters were rich, and the story was moving. Jones does not pull any punches, her writing hits you in the gut with emotion from all sides. I read this book in two days, and on the first day I started crying on page 35 and didn’t stop until I put the book down on page 138.

Told in part by letters between Roy and Celestial, and then told from the perspectives of the three main characters, this isn’t the story of courtroom drama, like one might expect when you find out one of the characters is wrongly committed of a crime, but one of the devastation of a family. Both Roy and Celestial are doing all of the right things, they are hard working, in love, and young, they still suffer the fate of having their lives dashed. An innocent man, confined to a prison cell for 12 years, the action of someone else derailing Roy’s life, leaving him powerless to stop what is going to happen – it is this that makes the slow burn of the book all the more powerful.

“Love makes a place in your life, it makes a place for itself in your bed. Invisibly, it makes a place in your body, rerouting all your blood vessels, throbbing right alongside your heart. When it’s gone, nothing is whole again.”

While this story is very much about the personal story of Celestial and Roy, you can not dismiss the racial context of the story. Roy is a black man, convicted wrongly of rape, and he loses his freedom for it. However, throughout the story, the characters mainly remain thankful that he is even alive, Celestial says at one point that there is “no appealing a cop’s bullet.” While even though Roy has done everything right, he has a good job, he is a good man, he makes good choices, even his family have lived good middle class lives, he recognizes that what happened to him could have happened to anyone, and when he says this, his friend, Andre responds with, “You think I don’t know that? I been black all my life.” Now released, he is set to become someone that society all too frequently casts aside and dismisses: the ex-convict. Although Jones makes it clear that this doesn’t have to be Roy’s future. That there is still hope.

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This book moved me, and it stuck with me for the next couple days after I finished it. It still sticks with me now as I think about it. My conflicts with the characters and the decisions that were made, my heartbreak for them, and the overwhelming sense of hopelessness that I felt with Roy for most of the book. All I wanted was for these characters to find happiness, and I think Jones gives it to them, and for that I am grateful.

– Hannah

p.s. After I finished reading I immediately cast my perfect movie adaptation and it goes as follows:

Roy: Michael B Jordan

Celestial: Lupita Nyong’o

Andre: Daniel Kaluuya

It would be perfect. You’re welcome to the future production company that chooses to make this book into a film. I’ve done all your hard work for you.