Top Ten Tuesday – Best Books I’ve Read In 2018 (So Far)

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Best Books I’ve Read in 2018 (So Far).

So far this year, I have read a total of 86 books! 2% (or 2 books) were 1 star, 21% (18 books) were 2 stars, 42% (35 books) were 3 stars, 27% (23 books) were 4 stars and 8% (7 books) were 5 stars. Some of my favourites were:

What is your favourite read from this year? Have you read any of my favourites?

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School Days (Spenser #33) by Robert B. Parker

School Days

Lily Ellsworth – erect, firm, white-haired, and stylish – is the grande dame of Dowling, Massachusetts, and possesses an iron will and a bottomless purse. When she hires Spenser to investigate her grandson Jared Clark’s alleged involvement in a school shooting, Spenser is led into an inquiry that grows more harrowing at every turn. Though seven people were killed in cold blood, and despite Jared’s being named as a co-conspirator by the other shooter, Mrs. Ellsworth is convinced of her grandson’s innocence.

Jared’s parents are resigned to his fate, and her boy himself doesn’t seem to care whether he goes to prison for a crime he may not have committed.” As the probe goes on, Spenser finds himself up against a number of roadblocks, from the school officials who don’t want him asking questions, to Jared’s own parents, who are completely indifferent to the boy’s defense.

Ultimately, Spenser discovers a web of blackmail and some heavy-duty indiscretions, and a truth too disturbing to contemplate. Before the case reaches its unfortunate end, he is forced to make a series of difficult decisions – with fatal consequences.

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I think this was one of the worst fictional school shooting novels that I have read. The biggest problem with the novel was that it lacked emotion. No one in the town seemed to care about the shooting, which killed seven, including the suspects’ parents.

Enter Spenser, a private investigator, who is hired by one of the suspect’s grandmother, who believes that her grandson is innocent. Spenser quickly discovers that Jared was involved with the shooting, but can’t find out why he did it.

The novel mostly follows Spenser who is trying to uncover Jared’s secrets as well as probe into why no one seems to care about the boys and the shooting. I found that this approach lacks excitement as the reader is following along with Spenser as he talks to people.

2 calculators out of a potential 5. An interesting concept that I found fell flat.

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Beyond Reach (Grant County #6) by Karin Slaughter

2- Beyond Reach

Sara Linton–resident medical examiner/pediatrician in Grant County, Georgia, has plenty of hardship to deal with, including defending herself in a heartbreaking malpractice suit. So when her husband, Police chief Jeffery Tolliver, learns that his friend and coworker detective Lena Adams has been arrested for murder and needs Sara’s help, she is not sure she can handle the pressure of it all. 

But soon Sara and Jeffery are sitting through evidence, peeling back the layers of a mystery that grows darker by the day–until an intricate web of betrayal and vengeance begins to unravel. And suddenly the lives of Sara, Lena, and Jeffery are hanging by the slenderest of threads.

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Oh Ms. Slaughter, I thought you were better than a cruel, almost cheap ending.

Beyond Reach is the final novel in the Grant County series and I’m sad that it didn’t live up to my high exceptions in this amazing series. In my opinion, I feel that this was the weakest novel in the series.

This novel is heavily focused on detective, Lena Adams, who is Slaughter’s most controversial character. I have such a love/hate relationship with Lena and of course that relationship continues in Beyond Reach.

Lena returns to her hometown and throughout the novel we are following Lena’s journey from 3 days earlier. In present day (3 days later), Jeffrey (the police chief and Lena’s boss) receives a call from the police saying that Lena has been arrested. Jeffrey and Sara go to get Lena and she is in really bad shape. They then have to piece together what happened in those 3 days.

I was annoyed that the novel didn’t take place in Grant County and didn’t feature the characters that I have grown to enjoy and love. There was a whole new cast of characters and I didn’t enjoy them as much, or care about them at all.

I found that the novel was just ok and then I got to the final chapter. I knew something was coming since my husband just finished the book before me and he told me that I had to read it ASAP so we could discuss. I’m not sure about how I feel about the ending. It wasn’t something that I expected, but it seemed to be so out of left field that I don’t understand why Slaughter did it.

For those who have finished the series, I would suggest going onto Slaughter’s blog and reading the letter to her fans about why she choose that ending, it helped me a bit to understand her actions – Beyond Reach – Spoiler Letter

3 calculators out of a potential 5. I’m sad that the final novel wasn’t what I was hoping for. I’m excited now to read the Will Trent series (which has characters from Grant County)!

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All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin

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Nina Browning is living the good life after marrying into Nashville’s elite. More recently, her husband made a fortune selling his tech business, and their adored son has been accepted to Princeton. Yet sometimes the middle-class small-town girl in Nina wonders if she’s strayed from the person she once was.

Tom Volpe is a single dad working multiple jobs while struggling to raise his headstrong daughter, Lyla. His road has been lonely, long, and hard, but he finally starts to relax after Lyla earns a scholarship to Windsor Academy, Nashville’s most prestigious private school.

Amid so much wealth and privilege, Lyla doesn’t always fit in—and her overprotective father doesn’t help—but in most ways, she’s a typical teenage girl, happy and thriving.

Then, one photograph, snapped in a drunken moment at a party, changes everything. As the image spreads like wildfire, the Windsor community is instantly polarized, buzzing with controversy and assigning blame.

At the heart of the lies and scandal, Tom, Nina, and Lyla are forced together—all questioning their closest relationships, asking themselves who they really are, and searching for the courage to live a life of true meaning.

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You know it’s summer when you are reading an Emily Giffin novel! I had such a great time over the long weekend, reading All We Ever Wanted on a cottage deck. This novel is a bit more serious than Giffin’s previous novels as it deals with a teenage boy taking a revealing photo of a classmate.

I loved how the novel went into depth on both sides of the story. You got to hear from the boy’s mother, Nina, who is devastated by the events. She feels for the girl, but also doesn’t want to believe the worst in her son. Based on the events that happen, she realizes that her life may not be as perfect as it once seemed.

At the same time, you also hear from Tom, the girl’s father. I loved Tom. He has such a strong love for his daughter that he wouldn’t stop at anything to make sure that justice is served to those that have wronged his daughter.

And lastly, you learned about Lyla, the girl whose photo was taken. I think Giffin did a great job capturing Lyla and how conflicted she was about the whole situation.

I wished there was a bit more to this novel especially towards the end. I would of liked a longer ending and more of a resolution. Or a more in-depth resolution.

4 calculators out of a potential 5. If you are a fan of Giffin’s previous novels, you should enjoy this one! It makes for a perfect summer read!

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Pop Goes the Weasel (Helen Grace, #2) by M.J. Arlidge

5 - Pop goes

The body of a middle-aged man is discovered in Southampton’s red-light district – horrifically mutilated, with his heart removed. Hours later – and barely cold – the heart arrives with his wife and children by courier.

A pattern emerges when another male victim is found dead and eviscerated, his heart delivered soon afterwards. The media call it Jack the Ripper in reverse; revenge against the men who lead sordid double lives visiting prostitutes. For Grace, only one thing is certain: there’s a vicious serial-killer at large who must be halted at all costs…

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This is the second novel in the Helen Grace series and for those that can remember, I raved about the first novel in the series a few weeks ago (Eeny Meeny (Helen Grace #1) by M.J. Arlidge).

Pop Goes the Weasel was still pretty good, but I didn’t like it as much as the first book in the series (hence the lower rating). It’s best to start the series from the start, since there is a lot of spoilers in the second novel, including the name of the killer from the first novel.

There was a lot of different character angles in this novel and I got pretty confused early on. It was hard to tell which person was who and how they connected with each other. It got a bit easier when the novel continued (and when some characters got killed off).

I find myself comparing the series to Angela Marson’s Kim Stone series and found that there are a ton of similarities between the two. I really like the Kim Stone series and like that series a little bit more than the Helen Grace series.

3 calculators out of a potential 5. A great mystery that may be a bit disturbing to some. I’m liking the series and excited to read more.

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