Best Books of 2018

It seems as though every year the caliber of writing only gets better.  The storylines, more gripping.  I am separating my favorites into categories.  This way, if you’re looking for a specific type of book or want to give a gift, it’s easier to sort through the choices.  I wish I had time to read everything, but these are my favorites from what I did read.

You can click directly on the book images to get to their Amazon page.

Literature & Fiction

    

    

    

    

   

 

Mystery & thriller

    

    

 

Historical fiction

   

 

Nonfiction

   

   

Which of these have you read this year and loved?  What are your favorites not on this list?  Please leave me a comment.  Happy 2019!

 

How to Get Your Screen-Loving Kids to Read Books for Pleasure Review & Giveaway

This is a book I’m keeping on my keeper shelf because I know I’ll reach for it time and time again.  It’s a great resource and reference for any parent or educator who is frustrated with screen time and is just out of ideas on how to proceed.

When presented with the opportunity to read this book, I wasn’t sure right away as I saw it was written for middle schoolers and adolescents.  I have much younger kids but still see them on a screen way too often.  And as someone who works full-time, I admit that occasionally it becomes a babysitter while I’m in a meeting or have to finish a task.  My 6-year-old has lost his love for toys now that he has an iPad available at all times.  But at the same time, I don’t want to shove a book in his hand and take away his willingness to want to read.  So I figured it could be adapted to the younger crowd.

And it was.  I love how it’s written for parents who have no background in education.  I mean, I’m a book blogger and refuse to fall asleep unless I read first.  My daughter has started to do this too.  My son is harder to get through to.  Now that he has started learning to read and can get through Dr. Seuss and Mo Willems, it’s more common but I still would like less screen time.

There’s a ton of recommended books that Newton provides no matter what subject matter or interest the child has.  I even wrote a few down that sounded right up my alley.  And she definitely provides outside-the-box strategies for encouraging reading at all times, even when driving in the car or there’s a group of kids together.

This book can easily be read in 2 hours and will even give you ways to encourage speaking about reading and gives gift suggestions.  It can also appeal to those who love screens by making a movie date out of a book that is just recently adapted.  I definitely recommend having it available or gifting it to a special teacher for the holidays.

About the author: Kaye Newton lives outside Nashville, TN with her husband, three kids, and two lively dogs. “Incision Decisions”, her first book, won a silver medal at the 2017 Readers’ Favorite Awards.

My thanks to the author for the review copy and for providing a copy for a giveaway.  U.S. only, please.  To enter, leave a comment answering “What is your struggle with screen time?”  One random commenter will be chosen on Sunday, October 28.

Best Books of 2017

It has been such an amazing year for books that I decided to do a little something different this year.  Instead of my short list, I am separating my favorites into categories.  This way, if you’re looking for a specific type of book or want to give a gift, it’s easier to sort through the choices.  I wish I had time to read everything, but these are my favorites from what I did read.

You can click directly on the book images to get to their Amazon page.

LITERATURE & FICTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MYSTERY & THRILLER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HISTORICAL FICTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NONFICTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on these if you read them and your favorites of 2017.  Leave me a comment.  Here’s to a healthy 2018 filled with loads of good reading!

Best reads of 2015

2015 was an incredible year for new releases. Some of the best books were published in 2015. I read so many outstanding ones that I couldn’t even narrow my list down to 10. I have books in all categories: fiction, nonfiction, thriller, historical fiction, even ones for your kids. So here are the top 12 books (in no particular order) I loved this year.

Best reads of 2015

image

I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes: If you’ve ever seen an episode of 24, you’ll know what I mean when I say “edge of your seat.” This debut was like an episode of 24 … on speed. It is a roller coaster ride that spans decades and continents. The author is a screenwriter, and they’re talking movie, so make sure you read this ahead of time. It’s long but I guarantee you won’t notice as you’re flipping pages at a breakneck speed.

image

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel: Ever deserving of its multiple awards, this post-apocalyptic story is more about the characters than the setting. This book jumps back and forth in time as it introduces a Hollywood actor and a band of traveling actors, some of who we meet prior to the flu apocalypse that wipes out civilization and some who we meet after. Its originality and writing is like nothing I’ve ever read.

image

What She Left Behind by Ellen Marie Wiseman: If you’re a fan of Orphan Train, then make sure to add this one to your list. It’s similar in structure but with a historical story I found hard to put down. Our main character, Clara, is institutionalized in the 1920s because her society parents disapprove of her new love. As she’s fighting to prove her sanity and escape, we learn there’s more to the mystery. You’ll be racing to find out what happens as you’re left hanging after so many chapters.

image

Beneath the Surface: Killer Whales, SeaWorld, and the Truth Behind Blackfish by John Hargrove: Once I saw the documentary Blackfish, I knew I had to read this first-hand account by one of the trainers featured. John spends time discussing his life as a trainer and what the whales are subject to. I appreciated that this “whistleblower” story doesn’t spend all its time knocking down SeaWorld, but rather presents the information in a way that reads like fiction. This is both a fascinating and devastating read that explores the true behavior and history of orcas.

image

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler: Please go into this novel knowing that it isn’t plot heavy. Instead, it is a beautiful portrayal of family dynamics told through multiple generations and viewpoints. The way it was set up reminded me a lot of one of my favorite southern authors, Pat Conroy. I hear this might be Tyler’s last book, which saddens me, but I know if it is she went out with a bang.

image

The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson: I can’t believe that this book was not an instant bestseller. It has so many tricks up its sleeves that it’s perfect for anyone who likes a good psychological thriller. You’ll go through all the emotions (shock, anger, surprise) as you are constantly teased about who is playing who in this cat-and-mouse read. I look forward to many more by this author.

image

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate: If you’re an adult, you can easily read this book in a few hours. A beautiful middle grade book told from the perspective of Ivan, a gorilla, that performs in a mall with a few other animals. I appreciated all his insight on human behaviors and laughed out loud several times. The Newberry Medal award winner will leave you with complete faith in humanity.

image

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan: This book is a completely fascinating (and very freaky) account of a young journalist experiencing seizures, psychosis, and madness when she had been completely healthy days before. It took weeks in the hospital to determine the cause and she became the 217th known case of her disease. The book is written so well that it has you turning the pages. If you have any interest in science, medicine, or psychology, you will be absorbed in this memoir. And movie fans — they just cast Chloe Grace Moretz for the film!

image

Come Away with Me by Karma Brown: I’m still thinking about this novel, even months after finishing it. If you liked Eat, Pray, Love, think of this as a fictionalized version. After a terrible accident, Tegan is overcome with grief and doesn’t know how to get back to feeling like herself. When her husband suggests a worldwide adventure, she learns how to forgive. This debut will have you feeling all the emotions, and I shed many tears.

image

The Admissions by Meg Mitchell Moore: While I don’t have any children old enough to be applying to college, I can definitely relate to the “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality, especially coming from a real estate background. I loved how the viewpoints kept changing throughout but still managed to propel the story forward. It was hard to stop reading about this family as bit by bit they started unraveling at the seams. Author Elin Hilderbrand even offered a money-back guarantee on its merits.

image

The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin: This is a truly poignant middle grade novel about a young girl dealing with the grief of losing her best friend. I love how the science was sprinkled throughout but was never technical. Definitely worthy of its National Book Award nomination and a must read for ages 10-adult.

image

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah: It’s no wonder Kristin Hannah is an instant bestseller. Just when I thought she had it all wrapped up in women’s fiction, she surprised me with this historical fiction novel of WWII told through the viewpoints of two sisters. The amount of 5 star reviews on this heartbreaking and profound novel is just incredible. With scenes hard to read at times, I wouldn’t want her to erase any word. This book will resonate with me for a long time.

I can’t wait to hear your reviews of any of these books and what your favorites were this year. Hope you had a wonderful holiday season!