My Favorite Books of 2018

I was thrilled to surpass my Goodreads goal of reading 90 books this year.  I chose 90 because I felt I could hit that goal by reading two books a week. Because some were just so good, I stayed up very late reading and often I was able to read 3 books in one week. If I am really into a book, I will pick it up as I have time throughout the day.

When I rate books on Goodreads, I rarely give out five stars, I save that rating for the books that really blow me away, for books that are written beautifully, for stories that keep me guessing.

Many books that I read lately aren’t out until 2019 so I wasn’t able to include in my Best of 2018 but keep your eyes open for The Escape Room by Megan Goldin (August 2019) and the new novel from Fiona Barton, The Suspect (January 2019).

I had to go back to January 2018 and reflect back on the books that kept me reading until the wee hours of the morning.  There were so many fantastic books that came out during 2018, it was very hard to narrow them down to a short post. This is not a comprehensive list by any means!

 

Here are some of my favorites. Which have you read?

 

 

The Dry by Jane Harper

In the grip of the worst drought in a century, the farming community of Kiewarra is facing life and death choices daily when three members of a local family are found brutally slain.
Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk reluctantly returns to his hometown for the funeral of his childhood friend, loath to face the townsfolk who turned their backs on him twenty years earlier.
But as questions mount, Falk is forced to probe deeper into the deaths of the Hadler family. Because Falk and Luke Hadler shared a secret. A secret Falk thought was long buried. A secret Luke’s death now threatens to bring to the surface in this small Australian town, as old wounds in bleed into new ones.

 

 

Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman

Erin is a documentary filmmaker on the brink of a professional breakthrough, Mark a handsome investment banker with big plans. Passionately in love, they embark on a dream honeymoon to the tropical island of Bora Bora, where they enjoy the sun, the sand, and each other. Then, while scuba diving in the crystal blue sea, they find something in the water. . . .

Suddenly the newlyweds must make a dangerous choice: to speak out or to protect their secret. After all, if no one else knows, who would be hurt? Their decision will trigger a devastating chain of events. . . .

 

 

Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent

On the surface, Lydia Fitzsimons has a perfect life—wife of a respected, successful judge, mother to a beloved son, mistress of a beautiful house in Dublin. That beautiful house, however, holds a secret. And when Lydia’s son, Laurence, discovers its secret, wheels are set in motion that lead to an increasingly claustrophobic and devastatingly dark climax.

 

 

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. Her real name is Amber Kunick. And she’s a murderer.

 

 

 

Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone 

Jane’s days at a Midwest insurance company are perfectly ordinary. She blends in well, unremarkably pretty in her floral-print dresses and extra efficient at her low-level job. She’s just the kind of woman middle manager Steven Hepsworth likes—meek, insecure, and willing to defer to a man. No one has any idea who Jane really is. Least of all Steven.

But plain Jane is hiding something. And Steven’s bringing out the worst in her.  Nothing can distract Jane from going straight for his heart: allowing herself to be seduced into Steven’s bed, to insinuate herself into his career and his family, and to expose all his dirty secrets. It’s time for Jane to dig out everything that matters to Steven. So she can take it all away.

 

 

The Other Woman by Sandie Jones

Emily thinks Adam’s perfect; the man she thought she’d never meet. But lurking in the shadows is a rival; a woman who shares a deep bond with the man she loves. Emily chose Adam, but she didn’t choose his mother Pammie. There’s nothing a mother wouldn’t do for her son, and now Emily is about to find out just how far Pammie will go to get what she wants: Emily gone forever.

 

 

Our House by Louise Candlish

When Fiona Lawson comes home to find strangers moving into her house, she’s sure there’s been a mistake. She and her estranged husband, Bram, have a modern co-parenting arrangement: bird’s nest custody, where each parent spends a few nights a week with their two sons at the prized family home to maintain stability for their children. But the system built to protect their family ends up putting them in terrible jeopardy. In a domino effect of crimes and misdemeanors, the nest comes tumbling down.

Now Bram has disappeared and so have Fiona’s children. As events spiral well beyond her control, Fiona will discover just how many lies her husband was weaving and how little they truly knew each other. But Bram’s not the only one with things to hide, and some secrets are best kept to oneself, safe as houses.

 

 

 

An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena

A remote lodge in upstate New York is the perfect getaway. . . until the bodies start piling up.It’s winter in the Catskills and the weather outside is frightful. But Mitchell’s Inn is so delightful! The cozy lodge nestled deep in the woods is perfect for a relaxing–maybe even romantic–weekend away. The Inn boasts spacious old rooms with huge wood-burning fireplaces, a well-stocked wine cellar, and opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or just curling up with a book and someone you love.

So when the weather takes a turn for the worse, and a blizzard cuts off the electricity–and all contact with the outside world–the guests settle in for the long haul. The power’s down but they’ve got candles, blankets, and wood–a genuine rustic experience! Soon, though, a body turns up–surely an accident. When a second body appears, they start to panic. Then they find a third body. Within the snowed-in paradise, something–or someone–is picking off the guests one by one. They can’t leave, and with no cell service, there’s no prospect of getting the police in until the weather loosens its icy grip. The weekend getaway has turned deadly. For some couples, it’s their first time away. For others, it will be their last. And there’s nothing they can do about it but huddle down and hope they can survive the storm.

 

 

 

Educated by Tara Westover

Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her “head-for-the-hills bag”. In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father’s junkyard.

Her father forbade hospitals, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent.

Then, lacking any formal education, Tara began to educate herself. She taught herself enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University, where she studied history, learning for the first time about important world events like the Holocaust and the civil rights movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far if there was still a way home.

 

 

 

Believe Me by J.P. Delaney

A struggling actor, a Brit in America without a green card, Claire needs work and money to survive. Then she gets both. But nothing like she expected.  Claire agrees to become a decoy for a firm of divorce lawyers. Hired to entrap straying husbands, she must catch them on tape with their seductive propositions. The rules? Never hit on the mark directly. Make it clear you’re available, but he has to proposition you, not the other way around. The firm is after evidence, not coercion. The innocent have nothing to hide.

Then the game changes.  When the wife of one of Claire’s targets is violently murdered, the cops are sure the husband is to blame. Desperate to catch him before he kills again, they enlist Claire to lure him into a confession.  Claire can do this. She’s brilliant at assuming a voice and an identity. For a woman who’s mastered the art of manipulation, how difficult could it be to tempt a killer into a trap? But who is the decoy . . . and who is the prey?

 

 

 

Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage

Meet Hanna.  She’s the sweet-but-silent angel in the adoring eyes of her Daddy. He’s the only person who understands her, and all Hanna wants is to live happily ever after with him. But Mommy stands in her way, and she’ll try any trick she can think of to get rid of her. Ideally for good.

Meet Suzette. She loves her daughter, really, but after years of expulsions and strained homeschooling, her precarious health and sanity are weakening day by day. As Hanna’s tricks become increasingly sophisticated, and Suzette’s husband remains blind to the failing family dynamics, Suzette starts to fear that there’s something seriously wrong and that maybe home isn’t the best place for their baby girl after all.

 

 

 

 

The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton 

Juliette loves Nate. She will follow him anywhere. She’s even become a flight attendant for his airline, so she can keep a closer eye on him.  They are meant to be.  The fact that Nate broke up with her six months ago means nothing. Because Juliette has a plan to win him back. She is the perfect girlfriend. And she’ll make sure no one stops her from getting exactly what she wants.  True love hurts, but Juliette knows it’s worth all the pain.

 

 

 

The Size of Everything by Erin Cole and Jenna McCarthy

As the face of her eponymous couture bridal business, Erin Cole radiates refined elegance. But the designer’s glamorous lifestyle and sweeping success belie a childhood marked by profound dysfunction.  Raised on a steady diet of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and death, no one would have expected Cole to go on to become a force in the fashion world. As a child, she often had no access to food; other times she was force-fed until she vomited. At home and at school, she was beaten, bullied and belittled. Her alcoholic parents alternately abused and ignored her. By the age of sixteen, she was living on her own.

The Size of Everything is Cole’s moving story and so much more. Equal parts heartbreaking and hilarious, it’s a love letter to her surviving siblings, a how-not-to-parent manual, a testament to the power of positivity, and proof that where you come from doesn’t have to determine where you can go. Above all, The Size of Everything offers a powerful message of hope to anyone who believes that impossibly rocky beginnings can’t have a happy ending.

 

 

Seed, Grow, Love, Write by John Markowski

I have to give a big shout out to the author of this book, John, who I grew up with. I loved this collection of essays! If I have known you for forty years and you write a book, I will absolutely be mentioning it! 

Part self-help, part a hilarious jaunt through one writer’s life, Seed, Grow, Love, Write will leave every reader laughing, crying and, as author John Markowski says, “chewing” on something different.  Grow with Markowski as the “Family Leaf Management Program” lures him into gardening, a love further strengthened by “The Markowski Mulch,” a grand event that happened each July. Feel the relief of a clean slate provided by mowing the lawn (known as “TheTheory of Vacuum Momentum”), and nod with understanding as he explains how ornamental grasses saved his life.

It’s not all gardening, though. There are stories of his time as a mailman, private investigator, new dad, and petty thief. You meet his grandfather, the amateur taxidermist, his wife (and editor), and blog readers, including “Allison in Ohio.”   In Seed, Grow, Love, Write, Markowski shows that a life lived without passion isn’t really a life at all, and you’ll close the book reinvigorated to find your own passion and not apologize for it. Meanwhile, you’ll have had a grand time getting there.

 

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Here is the book I wrote which was published one month ago by Skyhorse Publishing…

 

 

I am really proud of it, I hope you take a look or place an order by going to your favorite bookstore or on Amazon!   This cookbook is ideal if you have multiple food allergies or restrictions.

I wrote it to help people who are very limited in what they can eat thanks to autoimmune diseases or other illnesses. With other gluten-free cookbooks, many times nut flours are substituted for regular flour but with mine, I use gluten-free, nut-free everything. Go here to read how I came to write a cookbook.

 

 

For over one hundred books that I have read and loved this year, follow me on GOODREADS here! 

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