General Thoughts,  Pop Culture

Book reviews for 2018

My original reading challenge for 2018 was to read 60 books. Well, I read 60 books and upped my challenge to 80, then 100. By the end of New Year’s Eve, I had read 106 books for the year. This number does not include the children’s books I read with my daughter.

by Bluelela -

In 2018, I read many novels written by independent authors, such as myself. These stories are just as good as (and many times better than) traditionally published work The top five were:

(image by Bluelela –

  1. When Life Happened by Jewel E. Ann. This novel pulled me in fast, made me cry, made me see hope, and made me cry again before a satisfying ending. I stumbled upon the novel and have now read several others by the author but none I have loved as much as this one.
  2. Fiendish by Meka James. Wow. This book was probably the scariest I’ve ever read, and I grew up on Stephen King. A modern-day take on Beauty and the Beast with an emphasis on “beast.” Trigger warning: This novel contains graphic depictions of male on female domestic abuse.
  3. Waiting for Wyatt by S.D. Hendrickson. I am a sucker for contemporary romance. A guy in pain who uses all his energy to care for dogs no one else wants and a girl desperate to save the guy and a dog, what’s not to love?
  4. 6 in the Styx by Brad Carl. Six off-the-wall stories, each one crazier and more demented than the next. A perfect quick-read from a talented indie author. Not for the faint of heart.
  5. Broken Tomorrows by KT Daxon. Although this novel is no longer available, it is the child of a new author who took a chance on her dream and then needed to reset and reevaluate her goals for a while. This was a well-written first novel about love and loss. The love the author had for her characters bled from each page. I hope the author decides to write again in the future.

Of course, I read many traditionally published novels last year as well. My top-ten are below:

  1. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. This book made me cry. No one should have to witness their best friend’s murder. Read it. Tell your friends to read it. Tell strangers to read it. It’s that good.
  2. Forever is the Worst Long Time by Camille Pagán. Unrequited love and the beautiful things that can happen in spite of it (sobs uncontrollably), Have tissues handy if you 1, read this, and 2, have a heart.
  3. Blind Kiss by Renée Carlino. I adore Carlino’s work. Adore it. If she wrote a manual on how to do anything, I would read it. A contemporary love story that tugged at all my heartstrings.
  4. All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood. Trigger warning: This book contains graphic descriptions of drug abuse and child abuse/neglect. This novel is controversial because of the subject matter, think of a “Lolita-like” character. The prose is beautiful.
  5. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. Family drama at its best.
  6. Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. The coming-out story of Simon, a teenager with a wonderful voice.
  7. This is Our Story by Ashley Elston. A twist on the classic “whodunit” story. I enjoyed the suspense and secrets of this YA novel.
  8. If the Creek Don’t Rise by Leah Weiss. A southern fiction novel with loveable characters who overcome terrible circumstances. Trigger warning: It contains domestic abuse.
  9. Leave Me by Gayle Forman. A mother leaves her family after a health scare in an attempt to save her own life. This story fascinated me because I could see myself in the protagonist, though I am not sure I would make the same choices she did. Different from Forman’s YA novels, which I loved.
  10. A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline. This was a fictionalized account of the life of the subject of Andrew Wyeth’s painting “Christina’s World.” I’ve always loved the painting, and I loved everything about this novel. In beautiful prose, the author describes how the ordinary life of one person can be extraordinary.

Here is a quick look at the book covers for all the books I read in 2018 in order from most recently read.

I’ve set a goal to read 100 books for 2019. I want to read books that bring me joy. That’s what reading is supposed to all about.

-Brandi Easterling Collins

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