Originally published on Mitzi J Hernandez

2018, you have been awful to me, but thanks to my best friends (books) 2018 was a bit more tolerable.

Despite 2018 being a shitty year, I must say that the year brought so many great books. This is a list of thriller, mystery, horror, romance, memoirs and science fiction books. I rate books based on the way they make me feel, how much I learn from them and the impact they make in my life. I rated all these books 5 stars.

I went through so many emotions reading the stories of these characters. Lots of laugh out loud moments, lots of tears, lots of aw moments and, most importantly, they helped to get through this year.Out of the 102 books I’ve read this year, it was really hard to pick which books were the best, but these 18 books were definitely the best of the best.

1.- Educated by Tara Westover

Genre: Biography

Tara Westover is youngest of seven children. She grew up in Idaho, in a survivalist family who lived so far off the grid that she didn’t even have a birth certificate. Tara and her siblings didn’t attend school and never visited a doctor or hospital. The family was so isolated from mainstream that no one knew they even existed. Despite not being able to go to school, Tara had a thirst for knowledge and she began to educate herself. She taught herself mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University at the age of 17, where she studied history. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents to Cambridge where she earned her Ph.D. in history. I loved this book so much because Westover story was inspiring; she took great risks to get the education she wanted despite her family’s disapproval. This book testifies an irrepressible thirst to learn.

2.- The Reckoning by John Grisham

Genre: Thriller/Suspense

The Reckoning takes place in rural 1940s Mississippi. When World War II veteran Pete Banning wakes up one day, he goes about his business as usual and then proceeds to murder in cold blood the beloved preacher of the Methodist church. As if the murder wasn’t shocking enough, it was even more baffling that Pete’s only statement about it–to the sheriff, to his lawyers, to the judge, to the jury, and to his family–was: “I have nothing to say.” He was not afraid of death and was willing to take his motive to the grave. The story also takes us back to Pete’s days as a war hero in the Philippines and also to the insane asylum inhabited by his wife. This book is suspenseful right up to the very last page.

3.- Every Breath by Nicholas Sparks

Genre: Romance

Hope is in a relationship that she isn’t exactly content with. Her boyfriend Josh doesn’t seem to be committing, and after six years, she wonders what their future holds. Hope’s dad has been diagnosed with ALS, a debilitating health condition, and she doesn’t know how much time he has left to live. She plans a visit to their family cottage on Sunset Beach because her family has decided to sell it and she needs to help prepare. During that week, Hope meets Tru, who is on a temporary visit from Africa to meet his father for the first time. Tru’s hope is to learn more about his mother while he’s there. When Tru and Hope meet, they have a genuine interest in each other. It’s love at first sight, and they can’t stop thinking about one another. As their time comes to a close, their family circumstances get in the way and they have to make a difficult decision regarding their future together. This book hits you in all the feels, and it’s an unpredictable, unique kind of read.

4.- The Outsider by Stephen King

Genre: Thriller

This the story of Fred Peterson, the eleven-year-old boy who was found brutally murdered. Strong evidence points to Little League coach Terry Maitland. Detective Ralph Anderson is particularly outraged and makes the fateful decision to arrest Terry in public, creating a media sensation in the process. But, as the investigation begins to unfold, doubts and alternative evidence make Ralph question Terry’s guilt. Evidence shows that Terry Maitland is the killer, but there is a lot of evidence showing that Terry was at a book conference when the murder took place. How can this be? And, can a man be at two places at the same time?  As the mystery deepens, the horrible truth that emerges, creates a heart pounding and tense race against time, and the ultimate good versus evil showdown. This book is an amazing thriller that will have you at the edge of your seat. My only criticism of the book is the ending. It felt a little flat, and awfully convenient to me. However, the book as a whole was awesome.

5.- I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara

Genre: True Crime/ Thriller

In this book Michelle McNamara gives an unflinching account of the Golden State Killer, the mysterious boogeyman who burgled, raped and murdered his way through California. McNamara was obsessed with the subject of this book. She believed that by using modern technology, a rapist and killer could finally be brought to justice. She created maps and chased leads. Then, tragically, Michelle died before this masterwork could be completed. This book also included an amazing introduction by Gillian Flynn and such a heartfelt afterword by Patton Oswalt, Michelle McNamara’s husband. As someone who didn’t know anything about these crimes, it was fascinating to learn more about the investigation into this mysterious, awful murderer. I found this book completely fascinating.

6.- Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Genre: Fantasy

This book is a West-African inspired fantasy set in the fictional land of Orïsha. It’s the battle to restore magic vs suppress it. The story is an action-packed, fast-paced adventure to restore magic to the world and complete a ritual before the approaching solstice is over and magic is lost forever. With complex characters who naturally change and grow as the story progresses, I was hooked. There was never a boring moment. My only complaint, though, is that cliffhanger is EVIL.

7.- Vengeful by V.E. Schwab

Genre: Fantasy

 

Vengeful is the sequel of Vicious. I would definitely recommend reading Vicious first before reading Vengeful. This second book in the Villains series that continues the dark saga of would-be superheroes transfixed by dangerous experiments and the advantages of “post-death” life. It’s such a good science fiction book about villains with superpowers.

8.- The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah

Genre: Fiction

The book is about a family’s survival story inside a survival story that is set in the 1970’s in Alaska. Ernt Albright inherits a cabin and land in Alaska from a dead soldier and moves to Alaska with his family. As the family gets ready for a brutal long winter, they also must deal with the abusive dynamics that exist within their home. Ernt is a Vietnam veteran suffering from PTSD, before anyone knew what PTSD was, and this leads to violent episodes and paranoid behaviour that threatens the safety of his family. The complexity of the characters makes this book something special. Add to this mix a set of charming secondary characters, snowstorms, near-death experiences and animal encounters, and you have a book that is utterly enthralling. I loved the Alaskan setting; the author paints it as the visually stunning and dangerous place it is. This is a book about courage, the power of love and friendship.

9.- The President Is Missing by James Patterson and Bill Clinton

Genre: Historical Fiction

 

The President is Missing is a novel about President Jonathan Lincoln Duncan, who’s in a race against time to stop a cyberattack that would cripple the United States. This terrorist organization has threatened to activate a devastating computer wiper-virus within days that will infect every server, computer, and electronic device in America. If activated everyone would be in the dark ages and the U.S. would immediately become a third-world country. President Duncan is working tirelessly to stop the terrorist, identify the country supporting the terrorist, and find a traitor in the West Wing.  This book is a fun ride with lots of guessing about what’s going to happen next.

10.- Still Me by Jojo Moyers

Genre: Romance

The first book of hers I read, Me Before You, literally had me crying, and I’ll admit that I cried a little while reading its sequel, After You . Now Louisa Clark returns in a third book, Still Me . After rebuilding her life following crushing grief, Lou decided that she was going to live boldly. She accepted a job working for an ultra-rich family in New York City. She left her family and her boyfriend behind and moved to America. However, New York is both everything and nothing like Louisa Clark expected. She has to fight hard for what she wants. So if you are into slightly cheesy tear jerkers that warm your soul and tug the heartstrings, acquaint yourself with Louisa Clark.

11.- Night Moves by Jonathan Kellerman

Genre: Thriller

This novel is about a  family that was out for supper, returned home and, with everyone upstairs, the father runs to the den downstairs to find a dead body. However, there is no blood and no sign of a struggle. Evidence would indicate that the victim had been killed elsewhere and dumped there. Why this house? Why this room? The case becomes stranger, involving odd neighbors, a re-appearing young teen and dysfunctional family members. Milo’s solve rates were legendary, but the current case was testing his strengths, so he called his old friend Dr. Alex Delaware, a psychologist Police advisor so he could help him solve this mysterious murder. Milo Sturgis and. Dr. Alex Delaware have worked together before to solve the crimes of Los Angeles. Night Moves is the 33rd book in the Alex Delaware series, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, with the intense and gripping story keeping me totally involved.

12.- Becoming by Michelle Obama

Genre: Biography

I have always had a lot of respect and admiration for Michelle Obama, and this book made me admire her that much more. I’m not super interested in politics, so I was pleased to find that Michelle Obama’s memoir was not political. Her memoir focuses on how she created her life, once she discovered she had followed other people’s expectations instead of figuring out what she wanted. She talked about her childhood and the life she had before she met Barack, to the person she became with him, and to the life they built together with their children and her life in the White House. This book proved she is everything she portrays herself to be – strong, confident, fierce, loyal, kind, intelligent, hardworking, and so humble. This was such a great read. It was so interesting to read her life story. She is such a brilliant role model and an incredible woman, and I hope many women, especially young girls look up to her too.

13.- Darker (Fifty Shades as Told by Christian Grey #2)

Genre: Romance

This is book two in Christian’s POV of the story Fifty Shades of Grey. This book gives you an insight of Christian’s mind. Even though I knew the events that were going to happen from the original Fifty Shades Darker, there were additional scenes that only Christian was in. Understanding what Christian thought and suffered gives it so much more meaning to the Fifty Shades series.  I felt that this novel added a lot more detail and added more to the story as a whole. Darker was a fast-paced and enjoyable read. Reading the story from his perspective has heightened my adoration for this romance series. I can’t wait for Christian’s third POV book.

14.- There There by Tommy Orange

Genre:Historical Fiction

This novel is a collection of interrelated stories set in Oakland, California. The story is told from 12 widely different perspectives that converge on the Big Oakland Powwow. Distinct Indian voices tell a story about their lives, and not necessarily to an immediate point. Somehow, it all comes together at the end, at the Powwow. This is a powerful novel of the Urban Indians’ identity, family, loss, and strength. Tommy Orage’s debut book is incredible. This is one of those books that you don’t ever want to finish. The book is funny, sad, poignant and just so good.

15.- The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Drew is a pediatric surgeon from LA and Alexa lives close to San Francisco as the mayor’s chief of staff. Alexa and Drew met when they got stuck together in an elevator. Being stuck together leads to them going to a wedding together. It is Drew’s ex girlfriend’s wedding, who was marrying Drew’s best friend. Talk about awkward. After that, this couple just can’t seem to get enough of each other. Both have important jobs and busy lives, and because of their busy schedules it’s unclear how things would work out between them. This is a good swoony romance, and it was also nice to read a fun novel about an interracial relationship. I found this book very entertaining, flirty and fun.

16.- How To Walk Away by Katherine Center

Genre: Fiction

Margaret Jacobsen has worked hard all of her life and things are starting to pay off. She’s dating an awesome guy and she’s going to be starting a great new job. However, on a night out with her boyfriend that was supposed to be a romantic flight where they became engaged, turned into a nightmare. During landing they crashed, and Chip walked away without any injuries while Margret was not so lucky. What was supposed to be the happiest day of her life quickly turned into the worst day of her life. The next thing she knew, she woke up in the hospital, having to face obstacles like she’d never imagined. Her life was forever changed. Suddenly, the woman for whom everything has worked out perfectly has her whole life turned upside down. This is a book about finding hope and courage where you think you have none, about how you need to be the person to motivate yourself and buoy yourself through tough times. There is a lot of pain in this novel but a lot of hope and happiness as well.

17.- The Shape Of The Ruins By Juan Gabriel Vazquez

Genre: Historical Non-Fiction

https://www.instagram.com/p/BjVIovnhRwi/

Part novel and part memoir, the main subject focuses on two keys events in Colombian history: the 1914 murder of General Rafael Uribe Uribe and the 1948 assassination of Jorge Eliecer Gaitan. Vasquez combines facts with fiction, and this book looks at possible conspiracies and shady goings on in the higher echelons of the government and other powerful organisations. The author also gives us an insight into his childhood whilst growing up amidst the warring cartels, including a couple of violent acts perpetrated by Pablo’s faction. This is a remarkably strong historical novel. I found this author’s writing evocative and powerful.

18.- Heavy by Kiese Laymon

Genre: Memoir

This is the author’s memoir of what it means to grow up black, male, and overweight in America. Kiese Laymon details his coming of age in Mississippi, his college years, and his job as a professor at Vassar College. As a child, he dealt with physical/sexual abuse, and throughout his life he dealt with persistent racism that damaged his body and his relationships. I admire the author for his willingness to so honestly bare his pain and his heart. This is indeed a heavy book. It’s overwhelmingly honest, heart wrenching and written in a stunningly beautiful way.

Although I am not sure what 2019 has in store for me or what the new year will bring, one thing that I am certain of is that I will have plenty of great books to get my hands on.

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