For the past few years, I’ve made a habit of going over my goals every few months. Usually, I focus on financial, creative and professional goals but I realized this year that, since I’m doing the Goodreads Reading Challenge (with a goal of a not-so-exciting 52 books this year) it might be fun to look back on the books I’ve read so far in 2018.
Here they are:
Books I've Finished
The Less You Know the Sounder You Sleep by Juliet Butler. Really amazing true story about conjoined twins in Russia. (I should add that Juliet is a friend but know I would recommend the book anyway!)
Final Girls by Riley Sager. Shoutout to my critique partner Jeremy for recommending this book about a woman who survived a mass killing. I loved it and am looking forward to the author’s next book, which came out recently. I’ll read that soon!
What Doesn’t Kill Her by Carla Norton. I listened to this cat-and-mouse audiobook about the survivor of a childhood kidnapping and her captor who escapes from prison and was super excited to find out that it’s actually a sequel and so I have more to explore from this author.
The Healthy Writer by Joanna Penn & Dr. Euan Lawson. (nonfiction) Just what I needed to kick myself into a healthier 2018!
The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling. This book set me off on a spur of reading books that have unlikable but fascinating characters. That’s my thing this year, and Rowling does it well!
The Fantastic Book of Everybody’s Secrets by Sophie Hannah. A book of short stories that stayed with me long after I finished the last one.
The Dante Connection by Estelle Ryan. I really like Ryan’s series of books about an autistic art insurance fraud investigator, and this one was an excellent example.
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. Yeah, I’m late to the party on this one. Thanks to my critique partner Robin for giving me a copy!
Dear Martin by Nic Stone. Told partially through letters that a young black man in Atlanta is writing to Martin Luther King, Jr. as a school project. I’m glad I picked this one up.
The Punishment She Deserves by Elizabeth George. Another Lynley novel! I swoon. I gave my husband two weeks’ notice that this book was coming out and not to expect me to do anything that day. If you haven’t already, I would recommend reading the others in the series first, though.
Blindsighted and Criminal by Karin Slaughter. I think I read these two stories out of order but enjoyed them anyway. Looking forward to picking up more of Slaughter’s work when I thin out my ‘currently reading’ pile.
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn. I’ve read two books with this title this year! I picked this one up once I recognized I was on a fascinating-but-unlikeable character binge. It did not disappoint.
Last to Die by Arlene Hunt. The pacing in this serial killer book was fantastic! I just kept reading.
The Girl Before by Rena Olsen. I listened to this as an audiobook, and it really gripped me. About a woman who was helping groom little girls for human trafficking—but doesn’t realize it.
It was OK
Maids of Misfortune by M. Louisa Locke. This was a fun historical mystery. I liked the characters and may pick up the sequel next year.
Driven by Andrea Badenoch. Another in my line of fascinating but unlikable characters, this time a streetwise girl in London.
Dark Places by Jon Evans. Fascinating premise (and more fascinating but unlikeable characters) this is a thriller with a travel aspect. Loved that! But I wasn’t enthralled by the writing.
The Good Neighbor by AJ Banner. I listened to this as an audiobook while training for the Camino de Santiago. It was a good distraction from foot pain. I wished the ending was darker, but that might just be me.
The Outsider by Stephen King. So I love Stephen King and really enjoyed the experience of this book (I also listened to it) but I think that I can only put it in the “OK” category because I think his other books are stronger.
Didn’t really love
Laundry Man by Jake Needham. I liked this book more when I finished it than I do now. I like Needham’s writing a lot and also his setting and characters. But it didn’t stay with me.
At Risk by Patricia Cornwell. It was fun to read but didn’t stay with me.
Pretty Girls Dancing by Kylie Brant. A fun-to-read serial killer book but didn’t stay with me.
Man Overboard by JA Jance. I really like her characters and premise but the techno-thriller aspect wasn’t believable to me.
Caraval by Stephanie Garber. This fantasy book got huge reception on Twitter and book blogs, and I heard there’s a movie coming out too so I thought I’d try it. I wanted to love it but didn’t—characters were too thin, and I wanted more of the crazy magic world than romance.
Vigilante Dead by DV Berkom. More fascinating but unlikable characters! I wanted to like this more than I did—not sure why—perhaps there was too much backstory, and I haven’t read the others with this character? I would give another book by this author a chance, though.
I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes. A friend ran up to me at a party and pressed this book into my hands, shouting about how much she liked it. I was really disappointed that I didn’t very much. It should have been three books all focusing on different aspects of the eponymous superspy. Instead, we just get a whirlwind that felt disjointed and left me wanting more detail.
Other Books and Currently Reading
Not counted in the books I’ve finished are the manuscripts I’ve critiqued for writing pals. This is known as “beta reading” (like beta testing for software). So far this year, for my writing pals I’ve read and given feedback on three fantasy novels, a thriller with speculative elements, a suspense novel and a paranormal romance. I love them! These are usually done on a swap basis, so when I finish my next project I’ll send it out to these authors and see what advice they have for me.
Books in progress
So here’s something that happens to me—does it happen to you too?—I start a book, am enjoying it, and don’t want it to end. So I switch in the middle. This has happened to me twice now with books by the lovely Jennifer Alderson (an American based in the Netherlands, she writes mysteries with a travel bent, and you should definitely follow her on Twitter to learn about other international reads!). Also in this category are The Hungry Tides by Amitav Ghosh (which I’ve been reading a hard copy of in the bathtub) and Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver (reading in bed).
I’m also currently reading on one device or another (or in hard copy): 11/22/63 by Stephen King, I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells, Losing Venice by Scott Stavrou, One Corpse Too Many by Ellis Peters, Strange Stones by Peter Hessler, and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman.
I’m also working through some nonfiction books, including The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson, Wired for Story and Plot Genius by Lisa Cron, So You’ve been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson and The Emotional Craft of Fiction by Donald Maass.
So, what’s next? I tend to pick up books compulsively and read whatever seems to catch me at the moment. But there are two books I know I’ll read soon. A group of writers in the Sisters in Crime organization will be discussing K.J. Howe’s The Freedom Broker. I met the author at ThrillerFest last year (she’s the Executive Director) and have been meaning to read it, and I’m very excited to discuss it with other writers. And later this year, the only book I know I’m going to shoot through is Tana French’s upcoming standalone The Witch Elm, which should land on my Kindle in October. Can’t wait!
What are you reading?