According to goodreads, I clocked in a total of 95 books read in 2018 – that’s 10 more than I had planned to read this year. I am amazed at how easy it is to accomplish something like that when you’re intentional about how you spend your time. I really don’t read for hours and hours each day, but I do set aside time to read everyday. Sometimes it’s only an hour before bed, and sometimes I have a whole Sunday afternoon free. It’s different every week. The important thing is that I don’t go a day without reading.
I noticed something about my reading life recently. I do not stick to a particular genre when choosing what to read. My tastes are wide-reaching. You might see me reading a thriller one day and a biography the next, or science fiction, or romance, or history; I have no problem reading any of them as long as it is good writing. My first choice, however, is mystery/suspense. I have loved mysteries since I was very young, when I first read Nancy Drew. I like a good “whodunit.” These days I read a lot of psychological thrillers. (Ever since I read Gone Girl, I have been hooked!) Fortunately, this is a genre that has really taken off; there is no shortage of good options out there. On that note, I thought I’d share with you the best new thrillers I read this year.
#5 – Tear Me Apart by J.T. Ellison
Ellison knows how to craft a smart, addicting page-turner. On the outside, it looks like a typical thriller. Famous skiier needs stem cell transplant; parents discover they’re not a match; a search for the truth. Was she switched at birth? Did someone in the family cover up a miscarriage and kidnap the baby? Where are the real parents? There are so many things going on but Ellison doesn’t convolute it. There’s a little bit of everything in this story. Drama, suspense, murder, romance, forensic science, genetics, mental illness awareness, among other shocking twists. If you are interested, I suggest just diving right in; don’t read the reviews at the risk of accidentally stumbling upon spoilers. This book is best read blindly.
#4 – When the Lights Go Out by Mary Kubica
Kubica wrote an addictive, yet hypnotic story about a mother and her daughter. It is told in alternating timelines with each of the characters taking a lead role. It starts in present day with the daughter, Jessie, dealing with the death of her mother after taking care of her for several years. Once her mother dies, she finds herself alone and with no real plans for her life. She enrolls in community college and discovers her social security number is that of a deceased child. Then we begin the suspenseful journey of her trying to find out the truth. The chapters alternate back to 1996 when her mother was newly married and struggling with infertility. More suspense is introduced as she becomes obsessed with having a child. So many themes to unpack here: cancer, death, grief, marital issues, in-vitro, parenting while single, and the list goes on. When I say she builds suspense throughout the book, I’m not joking. I was actually concerned halfway in when the plot was still being developed. I worried that it was going to be anti-climactic. I was wrong. The ending is such a surprise that I had to sit the book down and process it.
#3 – Lies by T.M. Logan
One of the worst feelings in life is finding out you were lied to. The embarrassment, the shame, the anger from being deceived. Joe Lynch has to endure that over and over in this story. Is his wife cheating on him or is someone targeting them in a social media smear campaign? Being that this book is Logan’s debut as a novel author, I wasn’t expecting anything great (just being honest) but he really proved himself as a solid thriller writer. Some of my favorite reads have been just like this one – fast-paced, plot-driven psychological suspense. This story is written well, too. The twist at the end was one of the best I’ve experienced in a while!
#2 – Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris
B.A. Paris set the bar high with her first book, Behind Closed Doors. It is still one of my favorite psychological thrillers. Her latest one is just as sinister, and it really dialed up the psychological elements. It was one of those stories that gets in your head and makes you think even after you put it down for the night (if you can!) She keeps you guessing until the very end. It felt a little Hitchcockian the way it was told. If I had any criticism it would be the ending. I was hoping for something more dramatic, especially after messing with my head like it did. I will caution you, though, this book is not for everyone. If you’re looking for a traditional suspense/thriller this one may not be the one for you.
#1 – A TIE!!! The Wife Between Us and An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
Ok, so I cheated. I included a book that hasn’t been released yet but it was one I read an advance copy of in 2018. These two books were written by the same authors and I couldn’t pick a favorite of the two. They are both deliciously creepy.
The Wife Between Us will seem like an ordinary story about a jealous ex-wife who seeks revenge. It is so much more. Everything you expect will be completely wrong. The ending will make you feel like you need to start all over to figure out how you missed the signs. It’s that tricky.
Then there’s the next book…
“You’re Invited: Seeking women aged 18 to 32 to participate in a study on ethics and morality conducted by a preeminent NYC psychiatrist. Generous compensation. Anonymity guaranteed. Call for more details.”
This is how the An Anonymous Girl begins, and how our protagonist gets involved in a cat and mouse game disguised as a psychiatric study. I can’t tell you how many times I got goosebumps while reading this! I was completely unaware that my perception was being manipulated at every turn. Once I realized what was happening, I couldn’t put it down; I had to ride it out and see who was going to outsmart the other.
These are only five (six!) of the books I read and loved this year. I have so many favorites I decided to share them in groups by genre. Stay tuned for the next five!