Favorite Books of 2018

Reading has slowed down significantly as the holiday season arrived.  Plus, I’ve been spending a good portion of my time in November putting together furniture.  Still, I thought it would be fun to look back over the books that received five stars.  I definitely saw some trends that I thought I would share with you.  All of the links will send you to my reviews of each book.

Favorite New Author:  This year, I started following Victoria “V.E” Schwab on social media.  I had heard of her books, and that people really loved them.  So, I started with The Archived series, which I checked out of the library.  I absolutely loved both The Archived and The Unbound.  Which led me to pre-order her new middle-grade book, City of Ghosts, which I again, of course, loved.

Favorite YA Books: In addition to the above books, I also really loved a few newer authors, as well as a couple of authors I was already familiar with their writing.  Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi introduced me to a new African mythology, and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas was a poignant and beautiful contemporary novel about grief and racism.

I also thoroughly enjoyed Thunderhead (the second book in the Scythe series) by Neal Shusterman and Library of Souls (the third book in Mrs. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children series) by Ransom Riggs.  I’ve read Unwind by Shusterman many years ago, which I liked.  I’ve also been reading Riggs’ series for a couple of years now and plan to read this next book (which I already own) Map of Days that continues the story of his Peculiar series.

Favorite Adult Books: All of the adult authors I enjoyed this year were new to me.  The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern was an impulse buy that I really enjoyed and probably prompted more impulse buying this year than I have in a long time.  How to Stop Time by Matt Haig made me tear up at the end.  It actually answers the question of how to stop time through this fictional, magical story.  And What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty was a surprise because it wasn’t the main story that made me love it so much, but the subplot of her sister and infertility that kept me turning the pages (and I think I cried at the end of this one, too).

Favorite Non-fiction/Memoir: Kathy Khang’s book Raise Your Voice is a perfect narrative of this moment in history.  It challenged the reader to face the excuses used to stay quiet when we need to speak up.  And on a completely different level, Anne Bogel’s book, I’d Rather Be Reading, was a perfect collection of essays for any reader to relate to.

All of these authors have inspired me in so many different ways and prompted me to see life from new perspectives.  I think they have all taken a part in shaping me this year, and I look forward to seeing what new favorites will come into my life next year!

What are some of your favorites? 

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What Alice Forgot: A Review

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What Alice Forgot
by Liane Moriarty

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an adult contemporary set in the year 2008 in Sydney, Austrailia. The protagonist, Alice, wakes up on the floor of a gym after a nasty fall, having lost her memories for the last ten years. She thinks it’s 1998 and that she is 14 weeks pregnant with her first child, newly married to her husband, Nick. When in reality, she has three children and is estranged from said husband. The story continues as a mystery that slowly reveals the last ten years, through flashes and pictures, strong feelings, and the anecdotes of her friends and family.
What I did not know going into this book was how much of it was also about pregnancy loss and infertility. Alice’s big sister, Elizabeth, is almost a second main protagonist, who is the first person that really shows up after Alice is brought to the hospital after the fall at the gym. She helps Alice navigate through some of those first memories, but finds it hard because it means that she also has to relive a lot of those memories as well. And her story is pregnancy loss and infertility. And it is so accurate from my own story. I related so much to her experiences and her thoughts. I mention this without really spoiling anything as a trigger warning, but I found this part of the story also therapeutic. This is what made the book a five out of five for me.
The writing jumps from three different perspectives. Alice is told in the third person, though we are privy to her thoughts and feelings, they weren’t always dependable and accurate. When trying to piece together the last ten years, she goes down a couple of dead ends. Elizabeth’s perspective is told in first person journal entries to her therapist. Of course, this is also limited by only what Elizabeth actually knows about Alice’s life as well. The third perspective is from their surrogate grandmother, Frannie, who gives a little more insight, but not much. It’s in first person correspondence as well, as her point of view is in the form of letters to an old flame, recounting her experiences in her retirement community as well as what is happening to Alice.
For the most part, the plot moves pretty quickly. The clues and glimpses kept me continuing with the story, wondering not only what exactly happened in the past, but how the future would turn out as well. And there is a lot of character transformation, especially with Alice and Elizabeth. As Alice looks into her present life from her younger self, the fresh perspective helps her evolve, and it also helps Elizabeth evolve as well.

There is profanity in the book, but not much, and I felt like the profanity was there to show how much had changed in Alice’s life – almost for a shock value, but a necessary one.
As far as sexual content, there is mention of sex and there are a few kissing scenes, but nothing really graphic or detailed. Since pregnancy was one of the main themes, I think it was also something necessary to mention and discuss.
And as far as violence, there are a couple of deaths mentioned, but nothing, again, in graphic detail. It focused more on the grief from death or loss.

I would recommend this book with the caveat of the fact that a good portion of it deals with navigating life with infertility and pregnancy loss. But I think it handles that subject really well. I didn’t really know that I would like this book as much as I did when I picked it up, but I’m really glad I did!