I read 112 books in 2018. It was a dozen books beyond my casual reading goal.
I say “casual” reading goal because I’ve found that, since making reading more intentional again with my first reading challenge in 2013, I can read 100 books a year without much planning or effort. The year I read 150 books was a bit crazy, so I’m not sure I want to do that kind of challenge again, but it seems 125 is a good number to focus on for 2019. Either way, I’m happy as long as I’m focused on spending my leisure time reading instead of aimlessly searching the internet or watching TV.
Of the 112 books I read last year, I gave 22 fiction books perfect grades. My reviews of those books are below in no particular order.
Cass wasn’t sure if she should pull off of a deserted road in the middle of a rainstorm to help a stranded motorist. She pulled over and waited for the driver to flash the headlights for help. When that didn’t happen, she assumed the driver already had called someone and headed home. The next morning she finds out that the driver was murdered and she knew the woman.
As Cass struggles with her secret guilt, she starts forgetting things. She can’t remember where she left her car, if she took her pills, who she invited to dinner, or how to work the coffee maker. Cass is afraid something is seriously wrong with her. Even more so, she’s terrified by the silent calls she’s suddenly receiving at certain times of day and she’s certain the murderer is watching her. Cass’s husband thinks she’s losing her mind, but is she?
Oliver Ryan seems like a pretty good catch. He’s a handsome best-selling author.
It also seems like his wife, Alice, adores him, but then he tries to kill her.
The people who know Oliver best can’t seem to figure out why he would try to kill the woman he seemed to adore. But the people who think they know Oliver best don’t know him at all.
Anna Fox is a recluse in her New York City home.
Because she doesn’t go outside, Anna spends her days drinking too much, watching old movies and spying on her neighbors. It’s the spying that eventually gets her in trouble. Anna sees something she shouldn’t in the house across the street, and it sends her carefully protected life into a tailspin.
Ellie Mack disappeared when she was 15 years old. Her mother, Laurel, has spent the last decade trying to put her life together after her daughter’s disappearance and the location of her remains.
When Laurel begins dating a man she met in a cafe, she is struck by how much his youngest daughter, Poppy, reminds her of Ellie. Poppy even looks like Ellie.
Now Laurel must come to terms with the loss of her beloved daughter and form stronger bonds with her family, some of whom she didn’t even know existed.
It’s a normal evening at the Quinn house until two armed men appear in the family’s kitchen on a mission against the father, a controversial local defense attorney. They murdered the mother and forced the two girls into the woods. Charlie ran. Samantha was shot and buried alive. Both were changed forever.
The next time Samantha got the chance, she ran. She’s nursing her disabilities and wounds while living a wealthy, successful life, despite her past.
The next time Charlie got a chance to run, she stayed. She still lives in Pikeville and is a lawyer sharing an office with her father.
Now, 28 years later, tragedy strikes the town again, bringing the sisters back together to deal with the present while coping with the past.
Did Jason Jones kill his wife? He’s certainly hiding something.
The beautiful, young teacher and mother disappeared from the couple’s home, leaving their 4-year-old daughter as the single witness to whatever happened. Her body hasn’t been found, but her husband also isn’t acting like he’s overly concerned about finding her.
Det. Sgt. D.D. Warren investigates the disappearance and the host of characters who may be responsible.
Richard is a famous concert pianist who is diagnosed with ALS. In less than a year, Richard finds himself unable to play the piano or do many of the other day-to-day tasks it takes to care for himself. Richard knows he won’t be able to live on his own much longer, but his fame and ego meant he burned most of the people in his life at one time or another.
When Richard’s ex-wife Karina finds out about his illness, she must determined what (if any) responsibility she has to help him. And, together, they have to figure out how to minimize the stress his illness might put on his already damaged relationship with their college-aged daughter.
In 1950 Vermont, Idlewild Hall is the place for the girls who no one wants. These girls include the ghost who is said to haunt the boarding school. Four roommates each have experiences with the ghost, then one of them disappears.
Fast forward to 2014. Fiona Sheridan can’t stop reliving the events around her sister’s murder 20 years ago. Her sister’s body was found in a field near Idlewild Hall. Her sister’s boyfriend was later tried and convicted of the murder, but Fiona still has a lot of unanswered questions. When she discovers that Idlewild Hall is being restored by an anonymous donor, Fiona begins trying to learn everything she can about the school’s mysterious past and all of the tragedy associated with it.
Dr. Zoe Goldman doesn’t know what to think of her new patient. The African American girl was found wandering the streets of Buffalo in a catatonic state.
The police brought the girl to the hospital and Zoe begins trying to heal her while working to figure out who she is. She soon discovers that someone is working just as hard to make sure the girl doesn’t remember who she is or how she ended up in the hospital.
Kaitlin Roe was the only witness when her cousin, Gina, was abducted 14 years ago while the two teenagers walked home from a party. All these years later, Kaitlin is reviving her cousin’s cold case through a true crime podcast.
But soon women Kaitlin interviews are found murdered or missing, leaving her and authorities thinking that perhaps she’s drawn her cousin’s killer out of hiding.
Lauren takes a photo of a stranger on a beach and shares it online, but she has no idea the trouble the simple post will bring. She deletes the photo, but it’s too late. Lauren begins being harassed and threatened by someone wanting to know who the woman is, someone who seems to be watching Lauren and her daughters.
Lauren has to confess to the woman, later joining forces with her to try to determine who this dangerous online stalker is.
One Click by Andrea Mara is a modern-day mystery. This book had my attention from the beginning. I didn’t realize until I was writing this post that I’m currently reading another of Mara’s books, The Other Side of the Wall. Both of these books also are available to read free on Kindle Unlimited.
Christy-Lynn’s has worked hard for the life she’s accomplished, rising from literally nothing. The wife of a bestselling crime novelist, Christy-Lynn grew up the daughter of addict and ran away when she was a teenager.
Christy-Lynn’s life is what she’s always wanted, until her husband’s car skids into the bay. When the car is pulled out, her husband’s body isn’t the only one in it. Apparently her husband had a mistress. Christy-Lynn later learns the mistress also had a child, something she and her husband agreed not to do.
Now Christy-Lynn is trying to put her life back together again and deciding what (if anything) her responsibility is to her husband’s child.
Kelsey Willard disappeared years ago and was presumed dead, tearing her family apart. Now another teenage girl is missing and the Willards are suffering all over again. Could this case be tied to Kelsey’s? Is it the same person? Could Kelsey still be alive?
Grace is only 16, and she certainly isn’t ready to be a parent.
Grace, who was adopted at birth, decides to give up her baby for adoption, but giving away her baby girl makes her want to know more about where she came from.
Grace begins searching for her birth mother. What she discovers instead are two half siblings—Maya, 15, and Joaquin, 18. Each of the teens has lived different lives based on who they were adopted by (or not), but they discover what family really means by finding each other in the end.
Amber Patterson thinks she deserves for her life to be better, so she sets her sights on what she thinks will give her the money and power she’s always wanted—Daphne Parrish’s husband, Jackson.
The problem is that Daphne and Jackson are such a fairy tale couple that it seems it will be impossible to split them up. Amber puts her plan into motion and soon has everything she’s always dreamed of, with a twist that she seriously wasn’t planning.
Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.
Finn stops as a highway rest stop to use the restroom while he’s vacationing with his girlfriend, Layla. When he returns to the car, Layla is missing.
A decade later Finn assumes Layla is dead. He’s moved on with his life and is, ironically, engaged to Layla’s sister, Ellen.
Just before Finn and Ellen are set to get married, people keep seeing Layla, then strange gifts that only the three of them understand begin appearing everywhere Finn and Ellen are.
Are the gifts secret messages from Layla?
Does she want Finn back or is she threatening him for the secrets he’s kept all of these years?
Our favorite Jojo Moyes character Louisa Clark is back!
Louisa has arrived in New York ready to embrace her new life while hoping to keep her relationship with Sam alive, even though he’s across the ocean.
Louisa’s new job is for Agnes Gopnik, the young wife of the super rich Leonard Gopnik. The job puts Louisa in the middle of the posh New York upperclass and has her running around doing chores she never even knew people did.
As Louisa tries to keep her relationship and her life together she discovers that everyone has secrets, some people’s are just bigger than others. She also discovers who her true friends really are.
Here’s what I’ve learned about Ruth Ware. If you take her books to seriously, you won’t enjoy them. But, if you think of Ware’s writing as more chick-lit crime, you’re likely to love it. The Death of Mrs. Westaway was no exception.
Hal is beyond broke when she receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes that the letter was sent to the wrong person, but she’s desperate, so she goes to try to claim the money anyway. But was the letter really a mistake? And what’s wrong with these odd people who are the family of the deceased? Is Hal in over her head?
Hugh McElroy, a police hostage negotiator, rushes to a women’s reproductive health services center where a gunman is holding hostages. Once he arrives, he discovers that his sister and his 15-year-old daughter, Wren, are inside the clinic.
Only Jodi Picoult could write characters like those described in A Spark of Light. The reader relates to each character, whether they are drawn to the clinic out of love of hate. And of course the father fighting to save the lives of all of those in the clinic, especially his daughter’s, even while he doesn’t understand why she’s there.
Competitive skier Mindy Wright is having the run of her life, qualifying for the Olympics, right until she crashes. With her leg in pieces, Mindy goes into surgery.
The good news is that doctors are able to repair the leg, and it looks like Mindy will ski again. The bad news is that doctors discover Mindy has leukemia and needs a stem cell transplant to live.
Mindy’s parents struggle to come to terms with the real tragedy while also figuring out how to tell Mindy that she’s not actually their daughter. Now they have to find Mindy’s birth parents to save her life.
If your mother is a serial killer, what might that say about you
Lilith Wade was arrested 15 years ago for murdering six woman. Her now 30-year-old daughter, Edie Beckett, is just trying to live her life out of the spotlight.
But Edie also has a secret. She’s obsessed with the families of Lilith’s victims and spends most of her time learning everything about them.
When the husband of one of her mother’s victims is found murdered, Edie’s strange hobby comes to light and she is the prime suspect.
Andrea Cooper is having a Saturday lunch with her mother, Laura, at a mall diner when a gunman begins shooting through the window. But what happens next really surprises Andrea. Her mom turns into some kind of super hero, disarming, then shooting the gunman. Who is this person and what has she been hiding from Andrea for 30 years?
The day after Laura survives the mall shooting, she is back in the hospital, shot by an intruder who seems to have been looking for her. And Andrea is on the run, trying to piece together her mother’s past before it catches up with her.
There they are, my 22 favorite fiction books of 2018. I hope you find something here to read and love. As always, Happy Reading!