Watching You

I seem to be on a “crazy woman” depressing book kick of late. In Watching You by Lisa Jewell, there are all kinds of problems that culminate in the murder of one of the neighbors in Melville Heights. The story spins back in time leading up to the murder and everyone’s motives/history. I like psychological thrillers, but not murder mysteries, usually. But this was a good and interesting one. I blazed through it on a cold day in front of the fire and did want to finish to find out what happened. Deep? No, but certainly satisfying.

Looker

I am not sure where the recommendation for Looker by Laura Sims came from. It’s a spare novel with very large print, so only took about two hours to read. It was a depressing read, and I can’t say I loved it. It’s about a woman whose husband leaves her when they can’t get pregnant. Her life spirals out of control along with her obsession with her famous actress neighbor. The book was well-written, but it felt kind of like Girl on a Train with the descent into madness and no hope. So, while it didn’t take a lot of my time, I don’t think I can say it’s a great one to grab unless that’s the kind of book you favor. (And now, looking on Amazon for the cover image, I notice that it only has 3.5 stars there. I never choose those anymore, so I should have known…)

Daughters of the Lake

Daughters of the Lake by Wendy Webb is not the typical kind of book I like. There was a legend, ghosts, and a requirement to suspend one’s disbelief. Not my usual cup of tea. However, I did enjoy this one after setting aside my skepticism. Is this an amazing read? No, but it was a good story and a nice diversion. Kate moves home to escape her failed marriage and falls into a story when I dead woman’s body washes up on the beach. It could be a Hallmark movie (Cue meme: “The plot of every Hallmark movie is about a career woman who is too busy for love but she has to move to a small town where a handsome local bachelor teaches her about the true meaning of the holiday. It starts snowing and they kiss. There is also a dog.”)

Ways to Hide in Winter

Ways to Hide in Winter by Sarah St. Vincent is a short, spare novel about a stranger who shows up in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Pennsylvania and befriends lonely Kathleen who has her own mystery surrounding her. It was a quick read, and enjoyable, but not the best read I’ve had lately. While I liked it, I wouldn’t say rush out and grab it, but it isn’t a bad read to add to your TBR pile.

Sugar Run

Sugar Run by Mesha Maren has been getting a lot of press lately. Frankly, I’m not sure why. It’s the story of Jodi, who has been released from prison after serving 18 years for murder. Alternating chapters tell the story leading up to the murder, and the story of her search for the murdered woman’s brother after she is released from jail. While I got more into it while I read, overall, this was certainly one I would have rather skipped. And, if I hadn’t had a dedicated snow day to read it, I might have abandoned ship.

Ready Player One

While Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is not a new read, I have heard it’s a must read, so I thought I would add it to my TBR pile for 2019. And, boy am I glad I did. I was completely sucked in, and I don’t even like video games. In 2045, Wade Watts spends his days in virtual school and playing in the virtual OASIS world. He devotes his life to trying to solve the puzzle left by the creator of OASIS which would achieve an ultimate prize of millions of dollars. Along the way, he makes friends and dodges death. This is absolutely not the kind of book I would typically pick up, but I loved it. It was completely engrossing, creative, and fascinating. If you haven’t read it, I would grab it. You won’t be disappointed.

How to Walk Away

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I started How to Walk Away by Katherine Center about a year ago when I was stranded somewhere with only the first chapter to read. I had read somewhere that it was a good summer choice and had downloaded an excerpt to my Kindle. All this time passed, however, without my finding the book at the library (and it has to be the most amazing book for me to purchase it!). However, earlier this week, the book was on the shelf at the library and I grabbed it. It was, indeed, a great summer read, but also a great cold-evening-in-front-of-the-fire read. In fact, I read the whole thing last night. There’s nothing deep here, but it’s reminiscent of Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You. Margaret has a seemingly perfect life – great boyfriend who is about to propose, a great prospective job, and everything seems to be headed into a great future for her. However, as her fiance proposes while piloting her in a private plane, the plane crashes, killing all of these dreams at once. The novel focuses on Margaret’s recovery in the hospital, her relationships with her family, her fiance, and her physical therapist. As much as I hate to say it since it’s a bit cheesy, it’s a great read and well worth picking up if you like a quick and satisfying beachy read.

A River of Stars

A River of Stars by Vanessa Hua was a great first read of 2019. Scarlett is sent from China to America to wait out her pregnancy (she was the mistress of her factory boss) since this baby is to be a boy (his first after three girls with his wife). Scarlett ends up in a secret maternity home for other mothers-to-be sent from China for better medical care and US citizenship upon birth. However, she and pregnant teen Daisy strike out on their own. Their lives in San Francisco’s Chinatown after giving birth are the focus of the novel. It’s a wonderful, engaging, and seemingly realistic look at the trials of desiring American citizenship and the drive so many have to achieve such.

Best Books of 2018 – A Year in Review

Every year, at the end of the year, I look back on all the books I have read the year before and list my favorites overall. This year, I again topped my 100 books in a year goal and made it to 114 (including five books on tape, which I think should count). The added bonus of this post is that you don’t have to bother to read any of my other posts over the course of the year!

There were three five-star books this year:

And here’s the bulkier list of four-and-a-half stars:

As usual, there were lots of fours this year – too many to include among the favorites. As I say every year to those three fans I have, thank you for reading my thoughts on books and keep the recommendations coming – any great reads for you in 2018 that I need to add to my TBR list?