Reader Favorites – Amy’s Best Books of 2018 List

by Maryse on January 13, 2019 · 14 comments

in Book Recommendations

It’s Amy’s turn! She’s my book-twin (we love the same type of jaw-droppers, or devastating reads), so I’m always excited to see her recommendations. This year, its a short and sweet list (she explains why – and she’s got a GREAT plan for this year!!) but I loved a few on this list like crazy, so I know the others  she names are absolute MUST-READS for me!!

But first… some AMY 2018 “Life” highlights (in her own words) ;)

About food: I am OBSSESSED with meatballs right now. Turkey meatballs, ground beef meatballs, ground chicken meatballs, Swedish, Korean BBQ, Italian, even flavored with Lipton onion soup mix *drool*! They freeze well so I can make a bunch in advance and then just thaw them out. But tonight, it’s a fresh batch, and I can’t wait!

I love my slow cooker! I have a couple hundred recipes saved on Pinterest, and I use it at least once a week. I recommend getting one that you can set the timer for a certain number of hours and then it will automatically kick over to warm at the end of that time so nothing is over cooked. It’s definitely worth paying a little extra for a slow cooker.

Three things:

1. I’m making Korean BBQ meatballs and garlic lemon zoodles tonight. YUM!

2.Verity is screwing with my head. I’m with Jenn…how is this a CH book? She must have been spending time with Tarryn Fisher lately. *snicker*

3. We went to the ball this weekend. *sigh* We’re never too old to get all dressed up and go to a ball. :D

Movies she loved: Wonder was SUCH a good movie. I saw it in the theater with a friend, and yep…I cried. Holy moly, I wasn’t expecting to actually cry. When Julia Roberts watches him walk into school, and she says something along the lines of “please let them be nice to him”…OMG! *sob* But it is touching and moving and SO worth the watch.

This annoys her: My latest pet peeve is authors who give their characters eye-rolling names. I get it, they’re trying to be creative. But dangit, if I read a name in the blurb that makes me cringe, I won’t click the book.

About her new family member: We should be getting a baby cockatoo next year (we were supposed to this year but none of the eggs hatched :( ), and the baby will probably outlive US. We are actually going to need to designate in our wills who he or she will go to when we pass.

And I would absolutely LOVE to get a rescue bird but they usually need a lot of time invested in them to heal from their circumstances, and between work and most likely going back to school, I won’t be able to do that.

…when it hatches, the breeders will keep the baby to hand feed it for the first two to three months, and will we go to visit and bond as often as we can. Once the baby is old enough to eat food on its own, we get to bring him or her home with us. :D

Three things:
1. My new favorite recipe! OMG the lemon garlic zoodles are AMAZING:
https://www.eatwell101.com/garlic-butter-chicken-bites-with-lemon-zucchini-noodles

2. I’m craving peppermint hot chocolate.

3. I have to pick up a new extra-tall ladder this week so I can put up our Christmas lights this weekend. Because of course I can’t be happy with lights only on the lower levels of our roof. :roll:

Scary things:

Speaking of creepy, I watched episode 5 of Hill House last night (Nell’s episode and the backstory of the bent-neck lady). I was teary-eyed by the end. Holy moly, it was creepy but so damn emotional. If the lady who plays Nell doesn’t make your heart hurt with her acting then I don’t know what will.

And I’ll never be able to hear Heavenly Days again without feeling this way. :cry:

I have to say as well that I’m LOVING this show. All those hidden ghosts you’ll miss if you blink?? *shudder*

A new nail polish!

Random musing…I’m obsessed with color-changing nail polish right now, especially since it’s cold enough for it to change. :D …They call it “mood” polish, but it’s really based on temperature. It’s one color when it’s cold (usually darker) and then changes when the fingers warm up. Right now I have burgundy glass fleck that turns cherry red glass fleck when I’m warm. Last time it was deep purple (cold) that turned to a warm coral-pink (warm). AND! The glass flecks in that one went from blue with the purple to gold with the coral-pink. It’s so fun!!

Three things:
1. I want a jelly bean-scented candle at Easter. Hint hint. ;)

2. I’m working today, but it will be slow (meaning reading time) and it’s time and a half so YAY ME!

3. I’m contemplating going back to school. Again. *sigh* Getting restless easily is not fun sometimes.

And now… Amy BEST BOOKS OF 2018 LIST:

Amy: When I thought about making this list, some books immediately came to mind but I knew there just had to be others. Then, in looking back over the books I read in 2018, I was pretty surprised by how few stuck with me. I came across many where I thought, “I read that last year??” because I couldn’t remember a dang thing about them.

In other words, my list will be short but ohhhhhh so sweet. ;)

But that’s what I get for simply trying to clear out my TBR collections instead of reading the books which had blurbs that *OOMPH!*ed me…guess I know what will direct my reading choices this year!

In no particular order, here’s my list of 2018 favorites/books that stuck with me:

The True Story of Atticus and Hazel by Fisher Amelie <— The writing was okay, nothing fantastical (and the medical events needed some serious professional input) but the events delivered a gut punch which I still feel the effects of almost a year later. How can I forget watching the Olympics couples figure skating and sobbing while hearing Mariah Carey’s My All? I still hear the damn song when I see the beautiful cover.

Amy: What book has charmed you? The True Story of Atticus and Hazel…even though it gutted me at one point, I loved how they continually used each other’s names in conversing with each other (it wasn’t even close to being annoying), and I wanted to be a part of Atticus’ big, loud, crazy family.

Atticus and Hazel…you guuuuuuyyyyys, read it! I’m still feeling feels from it days later. MARYSE MY BOOK-TWIN!!! I know, know, KNOW you will love it as well. :D

Sadie by Courtney Summers <— This one is heavy. There is nothing feel-good about it. It starts off with a horrible event and just continues from there, but y’all know I love heavy. It is heartbreaking. It is frustrating. It is just so damn unfair. But it is great. The use of a transcribed podcast to help tell the story was ingenious and actually made me want to listen to the audiobook just to hear those chapters as podcasts (since I am currently addicted to podcasts). What I wouldn’t give for the author to release a novella to follow up the ending…

Amy: I just finished Sadie.

And now I’m in turmoil.

I’m not used to THAT sort of ending.

My heart is heavy.

So, now I need a drink.

Amy: I’m STILL having the hardest time wrapping my head around that ending. I expected it to end one way or the other, but I was NOT expecting the way it did end. I’m just having a tough time sorting out how I feel about it. :?

Amy: I loved Sadie. It’s a HEAVY read but so very good. In fact, it will be on my list of favorites for 2018 because of the way it’s stuck with (and haunted) me since reading it.

My Oxford Year: A Novel by Julia Whelan <— My eyes watered but I didn’t shed any tears. My throat tightened up but I didn’t sob. Even so, months later I still find myself reflecting on it as if I actually know them and as if they actually exist, wondering what is happening with them and hoping for an update. THAT is what propelled my initial rating of 4-4.5 stars to 5 stars. The scene at the end where he is standing under the waterfall? Oh, my heart.

Amy: Anyone considering reading My Oxford Year really SHOULD read it, even if it means waiting for it to drop in price again…

…it was really, REALLY good. I didn’t cry (although I did get teary-eyed a couple of times) and the ending was bittersweet but lovely. No angst, but a couple of tense moments.

Binding 13 and Keeping 13 by Chloe Walsh <— Good LORD these books were long, but never did they feel like they were dragging. Never did I look at what was left and feel overwhelmed or frustrated. The characters may be in high school and often act as high schoolers would be expected to act, but the writing itself was not immature which is what I want when reading a YA-themed book. Nothing is over the top dramatic, and the situations are so very real and believable.

Amy: I never should have waited to read B13. I am thoroughly and completely wrapped up in Keeping 13 right now. I keep making the mistake of picking it up when I’m supposed to be doing other things, and next thing I know an hour has passed. LOVE these books.

…They are the type of YA books where the characters often act their age and are immature, but the writing itself isn’t immature. And due to the heavy, serious nature of what’s going on, they sometimes act and talk older than their age. The books are loooooooong and require a commitment, but I have never once felt like they are dragging. Yeah, obviously I’m a cheerleader for them. ;)

…if you haven’t made it to the part where he’s all high on painkillers, just wait. It’s hilarious. HILARIOUS.

I have to share the part which made me literally snort out loud from Binding 13. A little background, he calls her “Shannon like the river” because that’s how she introduced herself, and at this part he is freaking HIGH on painkillers:

“Not too much longer to wait.” I sighed. “Thank f*ck, ’cause I’m in love.”
“You’re in love?”
I nodded happily. “And she’s a river.”
“Well that’s… lovely, pet,” Mam coaxed, sounding confused. “Good boy.”
“I’m gonna sail my boat down her river,” I snickered. “My dick boat.”
“Can they knock him back out?” Ma grumbled. “He’s going to give me a stroke with all this talk.”
“It’s okay, Ma,” I coaxed. “I’m gonna keep her, too. Make all my babies with her because my balls work–and Da says I can pull on my dick again. Woo!”
“John!” Mam gasped. “What have you been telling our son?”
Dad laughed. “He’s seventeen, Edel. It’s the first thing he’s going to ask about after a surgery like that.”
“Oh, dear Jesus,” Mam groaned.

LOL!!!!!

And last but by no means least, my absolute favorite of the year…

Transcend and Epoch by Jewel E. Ann!!! <— They need no explanation. The guy… *ahem* COVER on Transcend was always eye-catching, but reading how it was tied in and explained in the story made it simply heartbreaking knowing the emotions and turmoil he was experiencing when it was taken. And the epilogue. Oh, the epilogue. So. Freaking. Perfect.

Amy: Still hungover from Transcend and Epoch. *dreamy sigh* Such a beautifully unique story. …I didn’t think I could adore Nate and Griffin more after Transcend, but Epoch took both of them to a new level. They. Are. Amazing. And human and REAL.

Here’s to a better year with filled with more amazing reads than I had in 2018! And since my list was so short, I’m throwing in the soon-to-be-released books I am just DYING to read!

Like Amy’s book-taste? Check out more of her favorites:

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Jan January 13, 2019 at 8:04 PM

Nice list Amy. I share your love of Binding 13, and that scene made me laugh again. Johnny’s Mum is a blast.My Oxford year is my January pick-for-me challenge book. Must get started on it!

R. Renee January 13, 2019 at 8:14 PM

Gah!!!!!!!!! I just (this very second) finished My Oxford Year on audio. Wow.

Leslie M January 13, 2019 at 8:29 PM

I swear, everyone who read Binding 13 loved it. I will try that at some point.

Sadie scares the heck out of me!

bev January 13, 2019 at 9:32 PM

I love a good podcast, except true crime. True crime anything scares me. My bff would always have those channels playing in the background. I remember sitting on her couch when she all of a sudden changed it. Her daughter asked why and she was all, because it’s scaring your Auntie bev. Lol.

I do have The Oxford Year. Just know I need to look through different lenses than romance. More prepared for potential sadness that way. And Binding 13. Fell victim to the great slump but still planning to get back to it.

Linda January 13, 2019 at 10:57 PM

Hey Amy agreed Binding 13 duet was top read for 2018!! Anything Jewel E. Ann writes is golden. You have me side eyeing Sadie. I actually just started Rainfall that was a 2017 recommendation from you!! So far very interesting premise. Happy New Year and happy reading to everyone.

Jenn January 14, 2019 at 6:11 AM

Awesome list Amy-surprised by your reaction/comments I have not read Sadie….I might be with Leslie on this one as it scares me…I don’t even know what it is about *runs off to look up* And definitely agree with you on THE TRANSCEND DUET, I could have sworn I had that on mine as well but now I don’t remember seeing it. I absolutely loved that. I also have been hesitant on MY OXFORD YEAR not sure why *sigh*
thank you for sharing xoxo

Tasha J January 14, 2019 at 7:31 AM

We match! I’ve read all of yours except Atticus and Hazel. Well, I’m finishing My Oxford Year, but it counts. ;) And I’ve added Forget You Know Me to my tbr. I’m intrigued by The Paper Wasp also. You have great taste! :D

Cheryl January 14, 2019 at 8:32 PM

Great list Amy. I felt the same- less books read and not many that stuck with me. I’m waiting for My Oxford Year price to drop again. Fun Fact: Julia Whelan the author, (who incidentally is the narrator of her own book) is also a narrator of many books, including TJR books.

R. Renee January 14, 2019 at 8:34 PM

Cheryl, can you not get it on Libby? I had to wait for the audio, but the e-book was readily available for my library.

Cheryl January 14, 2019 at 9:44 PM

R. Checked Libby and my library’s other services. Not available. :(

Nay January 14, 2019 at 11:09 PM

Love your list, Amy! I’ve added several to my tbr.

Amy January 15, 2019 at 12:23 AM

*sputters* Linda is reading Rainfall for the first time?!? Oh Linda, we’re here for you with Manny when you get to THAT part. ;)

If you’re holding off on My Oxford Year or Binding 13/Keeping 13, just jump in!! They’re both SO worth the time and emotional investment.

As for Sadie, it is great but not a feel-good read. Just go into it knowing that. And the ending was absolutely NOT what I was expecting.

Thanks for taking the time to read my list, beautiful ladies! :D

MichelleS January 15, 2019 at 9:24 AM

Amy – if you loved Epoch/Transcend then you must read Jack & Jill series by same author. Even better!

Jean January 15, 2019 at 3:33 PM

Amy, love your short and sweet list! Loved B13, K13, Transcendence, and Epoch!!!

I agree with MichelleS, read the Jack & Jill series!!!

I really need to read My Oxford Year….so much love for that one!!

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