My absolute favorite book I read in 2018 was Wonder. I have a goal to finally review it this year! I can’t believe I missed this one.
Of the books I actually did manage to review, here is a short list of favorites in no particular order. Click on the title to read my review.
Sci-Fi and Fantasy
Across the Universe
The Ocean at the End of the Lane
How to Stop Time
When the English Fall
Turtles All the Way Down
All the Bright Places
The Hate U Give
So. B. It.
Elenaor Oliphant is Completely Fine
When We Were Worthy
As Bright as Heaven
The Pecan Man
The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane
Stones for Bread
I’ll Be Your Blue Sky
In A Different Key
Favorite New (to me) Authors
Marybeth Mayhew Whalen
I read a ton more, but these are the ones that come to mind. So many wonderful books? Have you read any of these? Did you discover any new authors? What were your favorite reads of 2018?
~The Christmas Shoes by Donna VanLiere~
Can you guys believe I had not read this book before? This story was based on the song of the same name and I think that’s why wasn’t on my radar.
If you’re looking for a short, sweet, Christmas read that reminds us of what is truly important, then this book fits the bill. This is a story with strongly Christian themes. It moves quickly through time, but I don’t mind that. All of the story problems were resolved, no holes left. I actually prefer a short Christmas book during this busy holiday season.
The story felt like a gentle reminder to value the most important treasures in life.
Heartwarming. Sweet. Easy to read.
~The Christmas Angel Project by Melody Carlson~
“It’s as if heaven has grown closer somehow. It used to feel so far away and otherworldly. But knowing that my loved ones are already there makes it seem more real.”
“Sometimes we have to let our dreams go in order to allow God to bring them back to us –in his way and his timing.”
Anytime I need to get into the holiday spirit, I pull out a Melody Carlson book.
Abby has been known as an “Earth Angel” for her many good deeds, and when she passes away, her book club members are devastated at the loss. In preparation for Christmas, Abby had made an angel ornament for each of the four women. When her husband delivers the angels, the friends make a pact to carry on her tradition of doing good.
This short Christmas novel follows four friends as they attempt to follow in Abby’s footsteps. New beginnings and lessons learned enrich the lives of the friends as they purpose to honor their friend’s memory.
A feel good, heartwarming read. Inspirational. Touch of romance. A story in the tradition of her past Christmas books. Enjoyable, easy read.
Do you have a favorite Christmas author?
~Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber~
“Christmas is a condition of the heart.”
Merry’s loving, but meddling, family sign her up for an online dating service. They don’t post a photo of her. Merry’s boss, who she perceives as cold, comes across the dating profile. He doesn’t post his photo, either. Inevitably, the two strike up a conversation without knowing the true identity of the other and develop an online relationship. You know where it goes from there.
Classic, well done romcom of the best sort. Merry Knight is an adorable character, and her situation with her love interest is charming. As it turns out, Jayson Bright is not really the bad sort he’s been pegged as. Both our hero and heroine have a complicated family life and issues to deal with. Good story line that kept me reading.
Every time I try to write about this one, I end up giving spoilers, so instead let me just say, if you like charming romcom with a Christmas theme you should get this book. Cute, warm, satisfying. An enjoyable holiday read.
This year I’ve discarded more Christmas books than I finished, but this is a good one.
Have you read any good Christmas books this season?
~A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy~
“She was still vaguely hopeful that there was love out there somewhere—just a little less sure that she might actually find it.”
“Her life was like her house—a colorful fantasy where anything was possible if you wanted it badly enough.”
Chicky Starr revamps an old mansion, turning it into a holiday resort for those wanting to spend time in an out-of-the-way place. Stone House is in a remote area on the cliffs of Ireland, part of a small village. The novel follows a varied cast of characters. A warm read. Humorous. Relatable.
Maeve Binchy was one of a kind. I’m not sure how she did it. The stories she wrote are rich with characters in situations that we often find ourselves. I find myself becoming attached to her characters, and remembering them long after the last page has been read. This was her last novel.
While this is not my favorite novel of hers, it was a joy to revisit for this fan.
This one may be a bit slow in parts, and does seem to meander a bit, but I think it’s well worth the time. It leaves me with a warm, cozy feeling.
~An American Marriage by Tayari Jones~
“A marriage is more than your heart, it’s your life. And we are not sharing ours.”
“Home isn’t where you land; home is where you launch. You can’t pick your home any more than you can choose your family. In poker, you get five cards. Three of them you can swap out, but two are yours to keep: family and native land.”
Celestial and Roy have only been married a year when Roy is falsely accused of a crime and sentenced to prison. Roy is incarcerated unjustly, and the focus of the novel is how the marriage unravels in the face of what has happened to them. Each chapter is told in alternating points of view. The story is complex and the writing amazing. I can see why this novel is so popular.
The novel is effective, causing one to think about the consequences of racial injustice and the far reaching impact it can have on lives. It’s also an examination of marriage, love, and commitment. It can be hard to read at times due to the subject matter.
This novel is an Oprah Book Club Selection and a 2018 National Book Award Nomination for Fiction.
A must read.
~Across The Universe by Beth Revis~
Seventeen year old Amy, along with her parents, is cryogenically frozen in order to make a 300 year trip to a new earth. Someone starts the thawing process early, and Amy wakes. We don’t find out who until the end of the novel.
Amy doesn’t fit in with the other people. The small society of ship dwellers have become genetically similar over the generations spent on board, and Amy sticks out with her red hair and white skin. The ship dwellers’ behavior is odd and troubling. Elder, in training to become the leader of the ship, The Godspeed, is the only person Amy’s age on board. He finds Amy irresistibly attractive. Elder searches for the person who is tampering with the cryogenically frozen passengers and discovers much more.
My eldest picked this book for me at the library. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this novel. Before I made it to the last chapter, I felt the need to reserve the next book in the series. Many of the sci-fi novels my boys pick are too heavy on the technical side for me, but this one was perfect.
If you are a fan of sci-fi stories or shows, you might like this series. Great read. Highly entertaining. Satisfying ending to the book with enough left over to make me want to get the next book. Engaging. Satisfying story.
~So B. It by Sarah Weeks~
“Not knowing something doesn’t mean you’re stupid. All it means is that there’s still room left to wonder.”
Twelve-year-old Heidi doesn’t know her extended family. She doesn’t even know her mother’s name or anything about her background. Her mentally disabled mother depends on a neighbor, and it has been this way since Heidi was an infant. The neighbor, Bernadette, is agoraphobic. When Heidi discovers some undeveloped film, she follows the clues left in the photos. She is determined to travel across the country to find out where she came from and the identity of her mother, who calls herself So B. It.
This is a beautiful story. I’m not really sure how I missed this one. This book is suitable for ages ten and up, but I found it to be very enjoyable.
Heart tugging. Fantastic characters. The mystery of how Heidi and her mother came to be in this apartment alone kept me turning pages. Such a brave little girl. I was rooting for her all the way.
This book is been made into a movie and now I want to check it out.
If you haven’t read this one, you should put it on your list. Another great read.
~Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli~
I adored this book.
A new girl shows up at school. She different. For one thing, she dresses funny, and has a penchant for approaching her schoolmates in the lunchroom to sing to them on their birthday.. To add to the strangeness she does this while playing the ukulele she carries on her back. She’s starting 11th grade, but this is her first school. She was homeschooled.
Leo is drawn to her, and an innocent romance develops between the two.
Our heroine goes by a name she choose for herself, Stargirl. At first her classmates shun her, but then come to accept her when she becomes a cheerleader. Then the tide turns. Now they despise her.
Leo asks her to change, so she does, attempting to fit in. It doesn’t work.
This short book is chock full of loveliness and lessons. It unfolds beautifully, examining human nature. It’s a story that might cause a bit of reflection.
This is one to put on your must read list. Marked as MG or YA, I think adults would enjoy it as well. If you liked Wonder, you might like this novel.
General All Around Good Read
I will reread this one.
“She was elusive. She was today. She was tomorrow. She was the faintest scent of a cactus flower, the flitting shadow of an elf owl. We did not know what to make of her. In our minds we tried to pin her to a cork board like a butterfly, but the pin merely went through and away she flew.”
“She was bendable light: she shone around every corner of my day.”
“The trouble with miracles is, they don’t last long.”
~Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D.Vance~
I finally got around to reading Hillbilly Elegy. This is an interesting and eye-opening memoir. I’ve heard people compare Hillbilly Elegy by J.D.Vance and White Trash: The 400 Year Untold History by Nancy Isenberg, liking one over the other, but I found each one of these books unique in its own right. Studying our culture has always been a special fascination to me, so these types of books are right up my alley.
Hillbilly Elegy is a memoir about an a Kentucky boy with few advantages who grew up and made it good. He managed to go to an elite college, graduate, and become financially successful. This book is an exposition of his roots and a narrative of his journey. It’s also an examination of what has happened to the American dream and why so many have failed to achieve it from the perspective of an insider. It’s very thought-provoking.
I found myself growing attached to the characters in this story. Moving, at times humorous, colorful, interesting.
I think it is a much-needed read for anyone who wants to understand class in America. I would pair this with the other book, White Trash. If you’re not a voracious reader like I am, I think either one is excellent. If you prefer memoir then Hillbilly Elegy may suit your taste, if you lean more towards a broader examination of the class structure and love history, you may prefer White Trash. In all honesty, I feel they both deserve a place on your shelf.
Get both if you can.
What’s the last memoir you read?