Sunday, December 30, 2018

Favorite Books of 2018

Let's face it. I haven't started a book. I have plans for half the day on Dec. 30th, and there's lots of college football to watch. I'm ready to post my list of favorite books of 2018. My disclaimer is always that this is not a "Best of" list. It's just a list of my favorite books read during the year. Of course, it's mostly mysteries. The list is in alphabetical order by author, other than the book that I picked as my #1 choice.

Enjoy!

I'm starting with a nonfiction title, Anne Bogel's I'd Rather Be Reading. It's subtitled "The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life". I liked this book so much that I bought four copies for friends. It's a collection of essays, and, as I said in my original review, an affirmation of a passion, and a confirmation that there are kindred souls who share that passion for books.







Tracy Clark is a debut author whose Broken Places introduces Cass Raines, a tough cop turned private investigator in Chicago. But, Cass has a soft heart, and it shows when she investigates the death of the man who who was a father-figure in her life. While the investigating officer called it suicide, Cass knows Father Ray Heaton, Pop, did not kill a gangbanger and then shoot himself. A powerful debut, and a character that reminds me of Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone.






The Rain Watcher is Tatiana de Rosnay's moving story about one family caught up in their own tragedies and misunderstandings while coping with rain that is flooding Paris in January. As the city floods, the Malegarde family is flooded with memories, not always happy ones. Thirty-five-year-old Linden Malegarde, an internationally known photographer, is the heart of the story, and witness to his family's heart wrenching collapse.






Brendan DuBois' The Negotiator features an unnamed narrator, a man who admits he chose the dark path of life. He acts as a negotiator between two parties who don't trust each other, and commands a hefty fee for doing that. However, when he is careless with one job, everything goes wrong. He carefully plans his revenge, while reviewing his errors. There are multiple twists in this wonderful crime novel featuring black humor and a lovable antihero.





I could have selected any one of Cora Harrison's Reverend Mother mysteries, set in Cork, Ireland in the 1920s. But, Death of a Novice, the 2018 release, was the first I read, and the reason I went back and read all the others in the series. Reverend Mother Aquinas finds the body of a novice in a chicken coop. She suspects murder, and calls together a team that works with her in the entire series, two former students, one who is now a member of the Garda; one who is a former Republican rebel. She also works with the doctor who consults with the Garda. These books are traditional mysteries with a strong historical setting in a time of change in Ireland.



Although I always say I read for character, sometimes the setting is so evocative, it sucks me into a book. Laurie Loewenstein's first Dust Bowl Mystery, Death of a Rainmaker, fits that category. Jackson County, Oklahoma hasn't had rain for 240 days when a rainmaker comes to town, promising his methods will bring rain in less than five days. Instead, he ends up dead in an alley after a terrible dust storm. It's up to Sheriff Temple Jennings to find the killer, but Jennings' wife Etha insists he arrested the wrong man. Loewenstein uses details of dust storms, foreclosures, and illnesses to create an atmospheric mystery involving the day-to-day lives of the people.



Deanna Raybourn's third Veronica Speedwell mystery, A Treacherous Curse, takes the Victorian adventuress and her scientist companion, Stoker, into the world of Egyptian expeditions, death and curses. Stoker becomes a suspect when an expedition's photographer disappears because the man was once his best friend, now married to Stoker's ex-wife. It's a fabulous, convoluted mystery with connections to Jane Eyre.






If you've forgotten books read early in 2018, you may have forgotten about Jeffrey Siger's Andreas Kaldis mystery, An Aegean April. Siger's story involves the political and refugee crisis in Europe, specifically Greece. A wealthy shipowner is killed, a man with a plan to alleviate the crisis. A refugee is blamed, but no one counted on an American who calls media attention to the situation until Kaldis, his team, and an old acquaintance, step in. As always, Siger's books are intricately plotted and timely. An Aegean April is one of his best, and you can even start with this one.




Larry D. Sweazy sets his Marjorie Trumaine mysteries in a bleak North Dakota, but his latest, See Also Proof, has the added benefit of winter to create a dark, gloomy atmosphere. He's a master at atmosphere. After the death of her husband, Marjorie Trumaine is feeling isolated and lonely. However, she'd rather be alone than deal with company. She feels obligated to help, though, when a mentally challenged girl goes missing in a storm. She insists on accompanying the new sheriff while he searches, and, instead of finding her, they find the body of a local store manager, shot to death in his car. The sheriff is struggling with his first big case, while still looking for the missing girl, so he asks Marjorie to run an errand. That errand puts Marjorie in danger, from man and the elements.



My #1 book for 2018 is Lou Berney's November Road. Fate brings two people together after JFK's assassination. Frank Guidry is a lieutenant to a mob boss in New Orleans. When he realizes he drove a car to Dallas before Kennedy's assassination, and everyone connected to that event is being killed, he goes on the run. That Thanksgiving is the final straw for Charlotte Roy in Oklahoma, and she packs her daughters and dog in the car, and heads west. Their meeting changes both of their lives in unexpected ways. It's a compelling story of love and loss and tragedy and the loss of innocence. It's my must read for 2018.

I'm one of the last to list my favorite books of 2018, but I always want to make sure I haven't missed one. I can't wait to start the books of 2019.


35 comments:

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

Very good list. I can't believe I've had the Berney sitting on the shelf since Bouchercon. Maybe in the new year.

Lesa said...

You'll get to it eventually, Jeff. Thank you! I'm happy with that list.

Janet Rudolph said...

Great list.

Lesa said...

Thank you, Janet!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

This is a great list! I want to read Death of a Novice and A Treacherous Curse already! I love a good mystery, especially if it is grounded in a historical era or another country. Both of these sound just my cup of tea. I hope you had great holidays.

Kaye Barley said...

What a terrific list! I've read some of these, but others are still on my list to read in 2019. Thank you, Lesa!

Lesa said...

I hope you enjoy whichever ones of these you choose to read, Elizabeth. I did!

Lesa said...

Thank you, Kaye. I know some of these were on your list. And, I'm happy you read Terry Shames' books in 2018.

Sharon said...

A TREACHEROUS CURSE and I'D RATHER BE READING were two of my favorites this year as well Lesa. I liked THE RAIN WATCHER as well but not as much as you. THE LIDO by Libby Page and THE WHISPERED WORD by Ellery Adams would have to be on my year end list. I will have to check out some of your other titles. Thank you for sharing.

Jeffrey Siger said...

What an honor to be included among some of my favorite people on a list prepared by my #1 Librarian List Maker! Thanks, Lesa.

Glen Davis said...

A good list. I'm going to try to get to some of these.

Happy New Year!

Kay said...

Lesa, I'm glad that you decided to spend some time being OK with 'not reading' and visiting family, watching football, etc. I think that's a good thing. And the only book on your list that I've read so far is Anne Bogel's book. I loved that book so much! It will be on my list as well and though I might not say it's my most favorite, it secretly is. I gave (loaned) my print copy to my sister-in-law and niece to read yesterday at the family gift exchange. I'll get it back eventually. And I gave my sister-in-law a copy of Donis Casey's first Alafair Tucker book and told her that I own copies of the other nine in case she falls in love with the series as I have. She was excited and I'm hoping she'll want to read them all. The niece I mentioned is getting her MLS right now and working part-time at the library. She is definitely a kindred spirit.

Enjoy your next couple of days and I'll 'see' you in 2019.

Sallyb said...

Lesa, I'm starting Aegean April tonight having just finished and blogged about Becoming. I'm really bad leaving my top ten list til the 31st but, as you said, so many last minute books to get in! Placing I'd Rather be REading on hold right now. Thanks as always for the recommendations.

Donis Casey said...

You have several on your list that I really enjoyed. I thought that See Also Proof was quite special, so different!

Sandie Herron said...

I just ordered Anne Bogel's book. I may not have time to read it right now (too many reviews due) but I'll get to it soon. Thanks for sharing your list.

Lesa said...

Sharon, I hae Ellery Adams' The Whispered Word but I haven't had a chance to read it. I'm happy to know it's that good!

Lesa said...

Jeff, You made me laugh, #1 Librarian List Maker. That's good. An Aegean April deserves to be on that list.

Lesa said...

Happy New Year, Glen! Thank you for always being here. I appreciate and enjoy your comments.

Lesa said...

Kay, It's hard for me to let go of the reading and blog, as you know. But, I prioritized family over the holidays, and that felt right. I'm happy I did that, too. I share Donis Casey's books with my youngest sister. She enjoys them as much as I do. Oh, you have a kindred soul in the family! Someone to talk books. I do that all the time with my family. Bogel's book is special. Hugs, my friend. Here's to good books in 2019!

Lesa said...

Sally, I'm glad you mentioned Becoming. I started it, but took it back to the library because there was a long waiting list. I bought my own copy, but haven't returned to it yet. It might have made my list if I had. I'll check out your top 10 list! I wish you wonderful books in 2019!

Lesa said...

Wasn't See Also Proof wonderful, Donis? I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Lesa said...

Thank you, Sandie. It's good to know you're back to reviewing. Hugs, and wishes for good health in 2019.

Margie Bunting said...

Hi, Lesa. From your list of favorites, I have read Broken Places, A Treacherous Curse, and November Road. I also asked for and received I'd Rather Be Reading for Christmas (thank you for the recommendation) and I am about halfway through and enjoying it very much. I would encourage you to read Becoming, as I thought it was an extraordinary book. I have made a start at organizing books for my favorites list, but I'm glad I haven't finished it because I just read a book that has to be on it.

Mike is about to enter hospice care at home so it's a difficult time, making the pleasure I take in reading even more important to keep me sane and as strong as possible. I can't tell you how much I enjoy reading your daily blog and interacting with your other readers. It's a real community, and I treasure it.

Happy New Year in advance!

Gram said...

Many of these are on my "hope to read" list and today I added Death of a Novice. Thank you.

Nann said...

November Road was surprisingly, really good, wasn't it? (I reviewed it for The Voice (United for Libraries).) That's the only one of those you listed that I've read. My favorite fiction for the year were Virgil Wander, by Leif Engler, and A Well-Behaved Woman, by Therese Anne Fowler.... And in a month I'll have a huge stack of new ARCs from ALA Midwinter! Happy 2019 to you, Lesa.

Terry said...

Of course November Road, and of course Jeffrey Siger. Thrilled to see Larry Sweazye on the list. He's such a good writer! And now more for my TBR stack. It's groaning!

Lesa said...

Margie, Please tell Mike I'm thinking of him. And, of course, I'm praying for strength for both of you. I know how important books and friends are at a time like this. I'm happy you had grandchildren and 2018 together.

2018 was a good reading year, wasn't it? I'll look forward to your list, but there's no hurry. I'll publish it whenever you have time to do it. I know time can slip away right now. I'm glad you're enjoying I'd Rather Be Reading.

Sending hugs, and strength, Margie.

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Gram! i'm glad you enjoyed the list!

Lesa said...

Happy 2019, Nann, and enjoy those ARCs. Happy Reading!

Lesa said...

Terry, I'm heading to that TBR pile soon, too.

Bonnie K. said...

Great list! I'd rather be reading, too. :) I think I'll look at that book.

Larry Sweazy said...

It's an honor to be on this list. I'm so glad that you liked Marjorie's stories... Happy New Year, and happy reading.

Lesa said...

Larry, I hope Marjorie's stories continue somewhere.

Larry Sweazy said...

Thank you, Lesa. I'll do my best to keep Marjorie going. The next book is a follow-up to A THOUSAND FALLING CROWS, A Sonny Burton novel. Tentative release is November. I'll keep you posted.

gjhmh said...

AM SANDRA FROM CANADA, THANKS TO DR ONIHA WHO HELP ME BRING MY HUSBAND BACK, MY HUSBAND LEFT ME WITH THREE KIDS, FOR ANOTHER YOUNG GIRL, FOR OVER TWO YEARS, I TRIED ALL I COULD TO SETTLED OUR DIFFRENCES, BUT IT YIELDED NO RESULT, I WAS THE ONE TAKING CARE OF THE CHILDREN ALONE, UNTIL ONE DAY, I CAME IN CONTACT WITH SOME ARTICLES ONLINE, CONTAINING HOW DR ONIHA HAS HELP SO MANY LOVERS AND FAMILY REUNION AND REUNIT AGAIN, AND I DECIDED TO CONTACT HIM, AND HE CAST HIS SPELL ON MY HUSBAND, WITHIN FIVE DAYS, MY HUSBAND RAN BACK HOME, AND WAS BEGGING ME AND THE KIDS FOR FORGIVENESS, IN CASE YOU ARE PASSING THROUGH SIMILAR PROBLEMS, AND YOU WANTS TO CONTACT DR ONIHA, YOU CAN REACH HIM VIA HIS CONTACT NUMBER, ON CALL OR WHATSAP +2347089275769 OR EMAIL DRONIHASPELL@YAHOO.COM