Reader Favorites – Michele G’s Best Books of 2018 List

by Maryse on December 31, 2018 · 24 comments

in Book Recommendations

We have another Michele in our group!! She’s been with us since (at least publicly) since 2017, but has come out of hiding and readily chats with us about books and life and fun this year!! 2018 has brought us yet another wonderful book friend!! :D And I love that many on her list today are books have many of out favorites that made OUR “best of” lists over the past years.

“…I’m gradually working my way through a lot of the oldies you all have already read.”

By way of her past comments and “three things” lists, we’ve been getting to know her quite well, and I’ll highlight some of those, here. ;)

So first… let’s get to know her a bit, shall we? :D

1. Candy canes. Do you savor them or crunch them? Totally depends on my mood…I crunch if I’m stressed.

2. Ginger cookies or sugar cookies? Sugar cookies for sure!

3. Best holiday scent? I like the one that smells like cookies …unfortunately it always makes me hungry.. also like Bath & Body Works Tis the Season.

4. As a child was it presents on Christmas eve or day? One thing on Christmas Eve and everything else on Christmas Day

5. Anything you really want this year? A big Amazon gift card for my spontaneous book purchases :-)

6. If you could would you live in the cottage from The Holiday? Oh yes…loved the movie and the cottage!

7. River by Joni Mitchell or Fairytale of New York by The Pogues? River
by Joni Mitchell

8. Does Auld Lang Syne make you kind of sad? Yes, it always does

9. Will you be glad to see 2018 go? No, I’m not sure where it went.

10. Charlie Brown Christmas or The Grinch Who Stole Christmas? The Grinch (although I do appreciate Charlie Brown as well)

11. Choose two words to define your 2019. More exercise

12. It’s the 21st are you here in pjs watching elf? I hope so…trying to get the scoop now on what’s going on?!

If so eating or drinking what? – Probs wine ….cause holidays!

She misses her children and she can’t wait for grandchildren!

My daughter – 22, my oldest kiddo and my bestest friend (seriously I LOVE spending time with her) is home from college. She’ll be working a lot but over the weekend we were able to watch Dumplin’’ on Netflix. She hadn’t read the book (I did…and loved it). It was cute…they did a nice job…it was of course different from the book. So for those of you who haven’t read the book yet and have watched the movie…read the book. It’s still better! There’s just something about being in the character’s mind…especially with this book.

To all of you with high school seniors, enjoy every minute. Senior year always seems to go so fast! I have 3 in college now. Actually, my youngest just graduated from HS in the spring and is spending a year at home at community college before officially leaving the nest and going away – so I get to delay the “empty nest” status for a little while longer.

Two of my three kids are away at school. We kept the last one home for a year of community college. My house is too quiet…

So exciting to welcome a new little one into the world. I can’t wait until I get to be a Mimi one day — yes people, I’ve already picked a name…but we won’t tell my kids :-)

It Ends with Us: A Novel because I agree with Leslie that every woman should read it. I believe that so much so that it was the first Colleen Hoover book I recommended to my daughter. She read it and gave it to several friends to read as well. It’s a powerful read!

My college kiddos are home all week for Thanksgiving…enjoying having everyone under one roof…makes my heart full!

She’s an accountant (but right now would rather be reading) ;)

This is when being an accountant stinks. I want to take time off and stay home and read. But it’s yearend….so I get to reconcile inventory and other fun accounting stuff instead….boo!

She’d had surgery this year…

I just had rotator cuff surgery in July…it’s not been nice but everyone keeps telling me how I’ll be glad I did it down the line…I feel for you…

I’m still sleeping a recliner … rotator cuff surgery is for the birds… almost 5 weeks out. Just want to be able to sleep in my bed again!

Things she enjoys… things she wants:

I totally love Christmas with the Kranks!

I’m addicted to pumpkin and pecan oatmeal from Trader Joe’s. Went there yesterday to buy a few more boxes before it disappears until next year! Super yummy!

It’s on our to-do list to convert carpet to hardwood in our house too! Might be little while though…

I made the Mississippi Roast last week for the first time – – it was wonderful! Who would have thought I’d pick up recipe ideas and book suggestions in the same place…gotta love it!

I love this site…where else can I feed my book addiction and get recipes and find out about Bum Bum cream?! Btw, I made the slow cooker pesto chicken recipe I saw on here a while back and you would have thought I had given my husband the best sex ever… he was absolutely and totally in love with that chicken :-) So thanks ladies…you made me look like a rockstar!

I made homemade spaghetti sauce in the crockpot yesterday…yummy! Of course it’s now going to be in the 90′s the next few days…I’m over hot weather!! I want fall dang it!

I made the Pesto Chicken again yesterday…cause hubby loves it, my super picky eater (youngest son) eats the heck out of it and my daughter was in from college and wanted to try it…and most obvious reason – – it’s so dang easy!! Anyway, huge hit again! I’m making the roast tomorrow.

She went on a few outings this year!

I just got home from a great 5 days in Puerta Vallarta with my hubby. I simply loved it there! It was really beautiful! The downside was the 12 hours it took to get home because of layovers and delays. It was worth it though!

…Going on a girls trip to FL in a week and trying to figure out how I’m going to maneuver security with an arm immobilizer and an arm that can’t lift very high…I need to do some investigating this week. If anyone has tips, please let me know.

Went to see a Star is Born with my hubby yesterday….absolutely adored it…the movie, the soundtrack…all of it…lots of love!

And now…

Michele G’s 2018 FAVORITES:

In 2018, I became a more active reader.  I started to participate more with Maryse’s site (I was a long time lurker) and on Goodreads.  As a result, I worked my way through a backlog of wonderful books.  Therefore, some of these are oldies but definitely were great reads for me this year:

An Exaltation of Larks (Venery Book 1) by Suanne Laqueur – I absolutely love her writing style.  This book was an epic read for me.  I loved that I felt like I was right there in the middle of everything with them…unbelievable!

Michele G: …it’s such a wonderfully special book. For those of you who haven’t read it yet…do so. I simply love her writing talent…Suanne Laqueur is just so very talented. This book is kind of epic to me…so I’m savoring it…which I don’t do often.

Waiting for the Sun: Waiting for the Sun, Part One by Robin Hill – Probably one of the best debut books I’ve read.  I was truly afraid to read this initially because…what if I didn’t like it?  OMG!!!  I didn’t like it… I freaking LOVED it!

Michele G:… I finally jumped in and read Waiting For the Sun over the weekend and can’t rave enough about how much I enjoyed it! It sat on my TBR for way too long — but hey there are a ton of books on my TBR so it was it good company! :-) Seriously, if you haven’t read it yet, I do highly recommend it!

The Ribbon Duet by Pepper Winters – This duet was definitely a little on the taboo side with a lot of heartbreak mixed in for good measure.  It’s totally my jam!

Michele G: The Boy and His Ribbon…yep it’s got all kinds of angst!!

My Oxford Year: A Novel by Julia Whelan – Another debut author that blew me away.

Michele G: I had rented the ebook through the library when I first read it because it’s a little pricey. When it went on sale recently, I bought my own copy because I know I will want to read it again!!! TRULY fabulous book!

How to Walk Away: A Novel by Katherine Center – I really enjoyed this one.  I found it inspiring but not in a religious sense.  It was more of a “pull yourself up and move on” kind of inspiring. I loved the quote:“When you don’t know what to do for yourself, do something for somebody else.”

Making Faces by Amy Harmon – This was my first Amy Harmon book and it was simply amazing!

Michele G: Making Faces is my favorite military book.

Kulti by Mariana Zapata – Slow burn for sure but well worth the wait!

Michele G: there are people who haven’t read The Wall of Winnipeg or Kulti? Read them now ladies!! I loved both of these soooo much!! Two of my absolute favorites!!

Fighting Destiny (The Fae Chronicles Book 1) by Amelia Hutchins – I was late to the party on this one.  Why did I wait so long??

Hydraulic Level 5 (The Hydraulic Series Book 1) & Skygods (The Hydraulic Series Book 2) by Sarah Latchaw – There was some intense marital angst going on here.  I wish all the time for a third book to wrap things up a little more neatly but I really loved these and am so glad I read them!

Michele G:  Hydraulic Level 5…loved it…wished so hard for book 3 …but books 1 and 2 were fabulous!!

Bright Side (& Gus (Bright Side Book 2)) by Kim Holden – I was rightly afraid of Bright Side but Gus did put me back together again…such beautiful writing!

Michele G:  I seriously could have used buddies for these – pure free for all tears flowing down my face and me saying no to the book as I’m reading it. Such good reads though – unbelievably beautiful books.

I read a lot of Emma Scott this year and could have put them all on here.  But I will reserve the honors for my absolute favorites:

The Beautiful Hearts Duet & Full Tilt Duet by Emma Scott

I’m reading Full Tilt (one of my challenge reads from our dear Grey who apparently wants to throw me into full on depression). Thankfully Jenn made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies which I will promptly add to my survival kit! I mean I did just finish Bright Side and Gus ….so apparently I want to keep Kleenex in business! It is really good though…I mean there’s nothing like a book by Emma Scott!

Bring Down the Stars is my reigning favorite Emma Scott book…before that it was Full Tilt & All In. Basically, I’ve never read an Emma Scott book that I didn’t love!

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air Book 1) by Holly Black – Great YA Fantasy read!  I can’t wait for the next one which is coming out soon…

Heartbreak Warfare by Heather Orgeron and Kate Stewart – I could hardly breathe when I was reading this one.  It literally kept me up all night reading!

I read Heartbreak Warfare in less than 24 hours. I was obsessed. For me it was such an emotional rollercoaster that I couldn’t sleep until I knew how it would all end. It gave me an unreal level of anxiety…but so worth it. It was an amazing story!

Maryse, I’m the indecisive one you know….

Can I add two more to my list?  I want to add Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.  I was initially drawn to it because I’m originally from NC but I was really drawn into the story.  It was a beautiful story of survival…

I’m currently obsessed with the audiobook I’m listening to (Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens). Truthfully, it surprises me how much I’m loving it. Even though it’s received so many good reviews, it looked to be a little different from my typical book choices.

However, it is set in North Carolina which is where I’m from (and my parents still live there) – – so that was a big reason that I chose to read/listen to it. Otherwise, I really don’t know if I would have tried it but I’m so glad I did. I’m about 75% through. It’s a beautifully written story about survival, with a mystery, a love story and so much more thrown in.

In addition, the more I think of it, I really need to add Verity by Colleen Hoover.  I found much of the plot to be disturbing and so I initially didn’t want to include it.  That said, I keep thinking about it and that is definitely the mark of a great book!

I started Verity Friday morning and finished it on Saturday…it was a crazy good trip!! I stand by my statement that I think Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher are playing a prank on us…I keep waiting for her to say…JK it was really Tarryn who wrote the book…but seriously, it shows her wide range….it was twisty good!!

I’m having a lot of fun seeing the reactions people are having while reading Verity! It’s almost as much fun as reading the book myself for the first time! Just had to share that somewhere that people could actually appreciate it…

Thank you Michele!!! I am right there with you for SO many of your favorites on this list (my favorites too!!) and I can’t wait to jump in on the ones I haven’t read yet YAY US!!! :D

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

MichelleS December 31, 2018 at 11:14 AM

OMG! The “other Michelle” is my doppelgänger! Let’s see… I have a 22 year old son, my hubby & him love pesto chicken (make it once a week), I loved & raved about A Star is Born, I had rotator cuff surgery 3 years ago in JULY, I was a lunatic about Fae Chronicles & may have forced Maryse to try it, I used to do accounting work for 17 years until I change careers, and have read and loved most of this list.

I forgot about Heartbreak Warfare on my best of list. Crazy! Because that one, I’ll never forget.

Verity was good, but that ending…

Wow. Just wow. Not only sharing names, but so much more. So glad you stopped lurking, Michelle!

R. Renee December 31, 2018 at 11:46 AM

Thank you Michele! I’m so happy you came out of the lurking bush! And this… “I made the slow cooker pesto chicken recipe I saw on here a while back and you would have thought I had given my husband the best sex ever…” :D Um…I missed this recipe, can someone please post?

And MichelleS that is crazy weird!

Jenn December 31, 2018 at 11:49 AM

Love your list Michele and look forward to many BR with you in 2019 ❤️

Michele G December 31, 2018 at 11:50 AM

Oh my! Michelle S…that is too funny!!! Who would have thought we’d have so much in common?! I love it!

Thanks Maryse for giving my post so much love and attention!! I feel like a celebrity! I really did enjoy coming out into the “fray” this year! Thanks to everyone for welcoming me into the midst…I love being here! I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year!!

Maryse December 31, 2018 at 12:23 PM

Yeah I want that recipe too!! I’ll backtrack through the comments and see what I can find for us. ;)

Maryse December 31, 2018 at 12:24 PM

OMG on the doppelgänger, too!!! WOW that is freaky… I LOVE IT!

*squeezy-hugs both Michelles/Micheles* :P

Maryse December 31, 2018 at 12:26 PM

Okay I think I found it!!!

Amy’s recipe, that Tasha found the link for and re-posted:

the link for the pesto chicken

R. Renee December 31, 2018 at 12:40 PM

Thank you Maryse! I remember this now. I didn’t save it because of the pasta but now that I look at it, the pasta is at the end and not necessary to the dish if you want to sub in spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles!

Nay December 31, 2018 at 12:59 PM

Wonderful list, Michele! I was looking at Where the Crawdads Sing this morning. I’ll definitely be reading that and the couple of others on your list I haven’t read yet.

bev December 31, 2018 at 1:08 PM

See you all celebrate and I’m now terrified for MichelleS.
Who has ever come across a doppelgänger that isn’t evil?

It’s why she likes death club books and Maryse is all excited by how “freaky” it is.

But other than that nice list!
I really need to try a Suanne Laqueur book. But I am slightly worried she is actually a cult leader and if I dont love it they will come for me.

Michele G December 31, 2018 at 1:38 PM

R. Renee, yes the Pesto Chicken is awesome! I add veggie rotini to mine…but you can easily do it with no pasta or if you use spaghetti squash or zoodles…maybe just manually add it to them…I’d be afraid they’d get mushy in the slow cooker….very popular in my house though which is highly unusual!

Jenn, I look forward to BR’s with you in 2019 too!!

Nay, yes I think you’ll like Where the Crawdads Sing. I was pleasantly surprised by it.

Bev, I’m wounded…you think I may be “evil”…eh some days my family and/or coworkers would probably agree. You do need to try a Suanne Laqueur book…her writing style is kind of mesmerizing. Hmmm, maybe there could be a cult involved…nah. They do all tug at the heartstrings though…so be prepared for that.

Maryse December 31, 2018 at 1:43 PM

I think I’m gonna make the chicken Pesto this week with my sister and noodles!!! Great idea R, and good suggestion Michele on just adding them in the end or on the plate…

R. Renee December 31, 2018 at 1:49 PM

I would just bake the squash in the oven and top it with the chicken. Now I’m hungry!!

Rebecca P December 31, 2018 at 2:36 PM

This is such a great list! Heartbreak Warfare was one of my favorites from this year. I stayed up all night to read it!

Leslie M December 31, 2018 at 4:26 PM

Michele, so funny that you are twins with MichelleS.

You got a couple of my faves up there. Bring Down the Stars and Waiting for the Sun. Plus a few that I just might try. ;)

Jan December 31, 2018 at 5:48 PM

Great list Michele. Thanks for sharing. Kulti is one of my all time favs, and Exaltation of Larks is right up there too. I plan to read My Oxford Year soon.

I’m gonna make that chicken as well. Yum! Thanks for posting the link, Maryse.

Tessa December 31, 2018 at 8:26 PM

I thought the same thing, Bev! Doppelganger are usually evil. :) *eyes MichelleG suspiciously* Eh, she loves Kulti, Bright Side/Gus, and F***ing fairies. :) Now go get all caught up including Sleeping with Monsters!

Linda December 31, 2018 at 9:01 PM

Great list Michele!! I read Where the Crawdads Sing around Thanksgiving on your recommendation and was totally enthralled. Couldn’t read fast enough!! Beautiful Hearts duet, Heartbreak Warfare…yep our hearts took a beating this year. Verity was my first Colleen Hoover read. Just wow. And I agree Emma Scott all the way. Finished In Harmony 3 am this morning. Highly recommend if you haven’t read it. Wanna read Full Tilt duet. Have it downloaded forever ago but still afraid to read. Happy New Year to all!!!! XOXO

Theresa silverberg January 1, 2019 at 2:12 AM

I have been saving the Emma Hart Duet. My final books for 2018 were Mia Sheridian, Dane’s Storm. Another great author. And then for a quick read, got Karina Halle, Nothing Personal. Was really disappointed in that. It just rambled on. Too much sex and unnessary language. No real plot.
Anticipated reads for 2019, Lara Adrian, J R Ward, Meghan March new series, and 2 books from Devney Perry. She has become my new auto buy author. Oh and Aly Martinez I believe has a second book coming in February. Another great. Happy New Year to all.

Michele G January 1, 2019 at 3:24 AM

Linda, I’m so glad you enjoyed Where the Crawdads Sing! Also, you have to read more Colleen Hoover…even though I thought Verity was amazing…it’s different from anything she’s written before. Most of her other books are more on the romance spectrum for the most part. My two all time faves are Ugly Love and It Ends With Us in case you want to give some more of her stuff a try. Also, I’ve read In Harmony by Emma Scott (loved it)…I’ll nudge you towards Full Tilt. It’s a pretty tough emotional read but so worth it.

Tasha J January 1, 2019 at 8:21 AM

Waiting for the Sun, Kulti, How to Walk Away are all my favorites too. I really need to read Verity ASAP and feel like I’m possible the only one left that hasn’t read Bright Side. I think I was scared too, but maybe I should just do it. I think this is the 2nd time or 3rd time I’ve seen The Boy and His Ribbon- I must check it out!
Mmm you all are making me hungry for the chicken pesto. I remember it was Amy’s suggestion when I was whining on here about how my pregnancy and dietary restrictions wouldn’t let me eat so many things. I need to make it again, I’m always looking for dinner ideas and I’d forgotten this one. :)

Steph N January 2, 2019 at 7:38 PM

I’ve read most of your list but there are a few on there that are waiting to show up at the library! Lots of good reads. I’m a big Emma Scott fan too, can understand the wanting to add them all to the best list!!

Cheryl January 5, 2019 at 10:39 PM

Michelle G-great list. I need to move the Ribbon Duet up on my tbr. Curious but a little afraid of Verity. :)

Amy January 15, 2019 at 12:14 AM

Love your list, Michele G! If I haven’t read a book up there then I want to. And I love that we have ANOTHER Michele with great reading taste. ;)

Don’t worry, we all scare bev…or so she would like us to think. *snicker* We give her fodder for her hilarious musings.

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