Happy New Year everyone! I hope you had an excellent holiday season. I know I did! It was nice, quiet, relaxing. It feels like I’m back to the real world now, but I want nothing more than to curl up with a book. I gotta say, folx… I read a lot of really good books in 2018. Like a ton. When I started making this list I had 20 titles on it. There are so many that I’m going to do a separate post highlighting all my five-star reads this year. But for today, these are the books that really stood out among the crowd. Not all of these were published in 2018, that’s just when I read them. Without further ado, let’s get to the books!
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara
As a murderino, this was obviously one of my most anticipated books of 2018. I bought it on release day and read it immediately. McNamara took such a tragic subject and made it compulsively readable. She shared her own stories and experiences about this case and to her career in true crime. It was a pleasure to read. I’m so glad Patton Oswalt and gang pieced together her notes and manuscript and still had it printed. The world needed to see it. Especially since McNamara’s work assisted in CATCHING THE GUY. I kind of feel OG though that I read it before they caught him. It was really spooky reading about his terrible crimes and thinking that he was out there somewhere and had been on the loose for over forty years. If you like true crime and somehow haven’t read this one, get on it immediately. (I would also recommend Whoever Fights Monsters by Robert Ressler).
Pointe by Brandy Colbert
This book had me completely enthralled. It was the first book I read by Colbert and now I’m hooked. I’m going to get my hands on Little & Lion ASAP, and her next title, The Revolution of Biride Randolph, is one of my most anticipated releases! After seeing movie The Hate U Give, I decided to do an impromptu couple of weeks of only reading black authors. And like, damn, I read some good books. This was my favourite. It was part coming of age story, part mystery, and part story of trauma and healing. I can’t even. I just loved this book so much.
Sadie by Courtney Summers
This was a really cool book: “It’s a story about family, about sisters, and the untold lives lived in small-town America. It’s about the lengths we go to protect the ones we love … and the high price we pay when we can’t. And it begins, as so many stories do, with a dead girl.” However, that’s where its similarity to other stories ends as well. Sadie and her younger sister Mattie really only ever had each other. Their mother, alcoholic and addict, had a rotating roster of boyfriends and eventually left altogether. When Mattie is found murdered, Sadie is convinced one of her mother’s ex boyfriends, the abusive pedophile Keith is to blame. She runs away to find out. When a local news station picks up on this story, they turn it into a podcast called “The Girls.” The narration is through Sadie’s eyes in the past and the podcast transcripts months later. Although technically YA, this book will certainly appeal to mystery loving adults. And, while the subject is grim, it’s not overly or unnecessarily graphic. However, trigger warnings for abuse and sexual assault.
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay
One of my lovely cousins gave me this book last year for Christmas. I heard amazing things about it (duh, it’s Queen Roxane), but I had also heard it was quite hard on the feels. Knowing that, I wanted to do a little self-care and make sure I was in the right head space. Cut to almost a year later and I did indeed read it! And it wasn’t as sad as I was anticipating. Definitely a hard read, but I prepared myself for it. And let. Me. Tell. You. It’s amazing. It’s raw and unrelenting. Gay speaks candidly about her traumas and experiences, opening herself up in a way that many writers would shy away from. This is an incredibly good book, a searing memoir of trauma, and a story that needs telling. If you haven’t read it, read it. But, as I mentioned, it is a story grounded in trauma. Because of its subject matter, it’s definitely a hard read at points. If you’re planning to pick it up, make sure you take care of yourself. Trigger warnings for rape and the dehumanizing effects of body-shaming/fat-shaming.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
The publisher sent me a copy of this gem when it was released. I toted it with me across the border and continent on my trip to Oregon and California shortly thereafter and had it signed in Powell’s at a reading. And yet I didn’t actually read it until December 2018. This seems totally insane to me now because it’s AMAZING. I think I held back because her first book is so good. I didn’t want to be let down. But, damn. Ng does not disappoint. Set in the mid ‘90s in Shaker Heights–a planned community outside of Cleveland–Little Fires Everywhere is an incredibly well woven tale of family, community, motherhood, and identity. If you’re a character driven reader and haven’t picked this one up yet, do it now. It won’t disappoint.