Misti’s 2018 Book Review

white ceramic teacup with saucer near two books above gray floral textile

I have always been an avid reader. As a child, every weekend my family traveled 2.5 hours each way to Marblehead for my dad’s fishing business. This was a time before cell phones, tablets, and other electronics. As the only child, in order to keep myself entertained I heavily relied on reading.

One of my goals every year is to read as much as possible. For the past couple years, my goal has been to read 12 books per year – an average of 1 book per month. And in 2018, I read 28 books!

For two years, I have been posting my book reviews on Facebook in a Photo Album. Moving forward, I am going to post my book reviews on this blog.

Here is a synopsis of all the books I read in 2018, and a video of which book was my favorite and least favorite.

Misti’s 2018 Book Review

The Woman in Cabin 10

#1: The Woman In Cabin 10, Ruth Ware
Grade: C-
Overall Thoughts: I was very unimpressed by this book. The story line was not particularly cohesive and the ending was odd. This was a very popular book, but I would not recommend reading it. Not the best thriller I’ve ever read, by far!

Everything I Never Told You

#2: Everything I Never Told You, Celeste Ng
Grade: B+
Overall Thoughts: An extremely thought-provoking book that holds your attention from the very first sentence. It covers a span of intimate topics: death of a teenager, grieving, racial tensions, gender inequality, family dysfunction, and more. It really makes you think: there is so much that you never tell even your closest confidants, and so much that they don’t tell you. I think Taylor Swift said it best in her reputation prologue: “We think we know someone, but the truth is that we only know the version of them they have chosen to show us.”

Outward Mindset

#3: The Outward Mindset: Seeing Beyond Ourselves, The Arbinger Institute
Grade: B
Overall Thoughts: Not the best or worst business book I’ve ever read. While the concept seems basic, it does lead for excellent discussion and brainstorming within a team setting. Since reading, I have thought a lot about how I can have more of an “outward mindset” in all facets of my life. It is human nature to focus “inward” so it is always beneficial to take a pause to recalibrate and make a conscious effort to doing better, in my opinion.

Eleanor Oliphant

#4: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman
Grade: B+

Overall Thoughts: If you liked “A Man Called Ove” or “The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared,” you will enjoy this book. While this novel begins a little slowly, it does gain momentum as readers fall in love with quirky Eleanor and her logical views on life and attempts to reinvent herself. This book also discusses some serious concepts which adds a lot of depth to the humor. Honeyman is a superbly witty writer with a strong ability to perfectly develop numerous characters, which I sincerely enjoy and appreciate as a reader.

The Alchemist

#5: The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
Grade: C+
Overall Thoughts: This is a literary classic, so perhaps my expectations were set a little high. I thought the book was good but not great. It is very philosophical so you have to really be in the mood for some deep, symbolic thinking. With that in mind, the book does evoke many profound questions about living your dream and best life, so you will feel like you got something out of it. My favorite quote from the book is, “You will never be able to escape from your heart. So it’s better to listen to what it has to say.” My feelings for this book are similar to my thoughts on Las Vegas: I am glad I experienced it, but not in a big hurry to do it again.

Alex Cross

#6: The People vs. Alex Cross
Grade: B
Overall Thoughts: This was your standard Alex Cross book. I enjoy catching up with the characters that I have invested so much time with throughout the years. It was a good read, but nothing life-changing. I look forward to reading the next Alex Cross book when it comes out. If you like book series and haven’t read an Alex Cross book, I highly recommend doing so!

Little Fires

#7: Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng
Grade: B
Overall Thoughts: I had really high expectations for this book, which is probably why I felt a little underwhelmed. While the characters were interesting, and it was nice to know the area since took place in Shaker Heights, I wasn’t super invested in any of the key players. I also thought the ending was extremely underdeveloped. However, I do think this is an excellent choice for a book club since it covers many taboo topics that will be great for a group discussion.

Adam Sharp

#8: The Best of Adam Sharp, Graeme Simsion
Grade: C-
Overall Thoughts: I LOVED this author’s previous books (The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect) so I was excited to read this one. However, it was absolutely bizarre! It took a while for the plot to develop and then when it did, I wasn’t too eager to finish. The book did have some good life lessons to think about, mainly, the grass isn’t always greener and that your past is probably in your past for a reason. While I highly recommend Simsion’s previous books, I do NOT recommended this one.

A is for Alibi

#9: A is for Alibi, Sue Grafton
Grade: B
Overall Thoughts: When Sue Grafton passed away in late 2017 after a two-year battle with cancer, I read a couple articles about her and was absolutely blown away by her compassion, work ethic, and dedication to her family and fans. I was familiar with her Alphabet series but had never read one of her books before. I figured I would start from the beginning, and I did like the first book in the series. Kinsey is a strong female lead, the plot captivated me from the first sentence, and the plot left me guessing until the very end. I plan to read a couple more books in the series before deciding if I am an avid Grafton fan.

Alone

#10: Alone, Lisa Gardner
Grade: B
Overall Thoughts: The plot of this book was pretty good, although it was confusing at times. It really kept me guessing until the end. And even then, I was still left thinking. This is the first book in a series, and I will read the next one to see if I want to commit. Also, the book was based in Boston, and since I have been there so often, it was nice to be familiar with many of the landmarks throughout the story.

B is for burgular

#11: B is for Burglar, Sue Grafton
Grade: B+
Overall Thoughts: I liked this book better than the first in the series. It was very thought provoking and kept me entertained until the end. However, there were way too many characters to keep track of, which is why I didn’t rate it higher.

Favorite Sister

#12: The Favorite Sister, Jessica Knoll
Grade: B+
Overall Thoughts: I liked this book a lot better than Knoll’s first book, “The Luckiest Girl Alive.” It was an interesting concept to frame the book around a reality show, especially since that type of programming is so prevalent in our society. The characters were very defined and they went on interesting journeys. I liked that readers are able to see three different perspectives throughout the book. I do think the book was a little too long, as it often rambled without having a clear purpose at many points. Also, I don’t think the title really fits with the overall plot of the book. I would have titled it something else.

Hide

#13: Hide, Lisa Gardner
Grade: A
Overall Thoughts: This was an excellent book that kept me guessing until the end. I love that there were characters from the last book as well. I am looking forward to reading the next novel in the series!

17th Suspect

#14: 17th Suspect, James Patterson
Grade: B
Overall Thoughts: This was a good continuation of the series, but felt pretty much like the others. However, the ending had a great cliff hanger and I am anxious to read the next book when it is released in May 2019.

Neighbor

#15: The Neighbor, Lisa Gardner
Grade: C
Overall Thoughts: This book was pretty lackluster and anticlimactic in comparison to the former books in this series. I wouldn’t skip over this book…just set your expectations low.

Kiss Quotient

#16: The Kiss Quotient, Helen Hoang
Grade: A+
Overall Thoughts: Think Fifty Shades of Grey for nerdy people, but with a way better plot and way better writing. Stella and Michael are extremely complex and charming characters for this type of novel. Disclaimer: This is not just a “love story” like I initially thought, but rather an extremely erotic book! 😬 I totally was not expecting this, so I am just throwing that out there. It is VERY PASSIONATE AND DESCRIPTIVE! If that is your type of thing, you will love this book. If it’s not, then you should pass!

Live to Tell

#17: Live to Tell, Lisa Gardner
Grade: B
Overall Thoughts: This book kept my attention and had a good storyline, but it wasn’t one of my favorites. It was good, not great.

Love You More

#18: Love You More, Lisa Gardner
Grade: B+
Overall Thoughts: I really liked the plot about DD Warren, and the plot about the crime was clever and captivating. This was an easy and interesting read.

Girl, Wash Your Face

#19: Girl, Wash Your Face, Rachel Hollis
Grade: A+
Overall Thoughts: This book lives up to all its hype. I listened to the audio book, and I highly recommend the audio version since Rachel is the one who narrates, so you clearly understand the points she wants to emphasize. I loved how the chapters were set up, and she offered a lot of practical advice. This is an EXCELLENT book club read. To see an extensive review about the book club I had at my house for this book, see this older blog post.

7th Month

#20: The 7th Month, Lisa Gardner
Grade: B
Overall Thoughts: This is a short story about when DD Warren is pregnant (spoiler alert!), so it was nice that the author didn’t skip over this phase of her life. I am actually surprised that this wasn’t a full length book. It was interesting, but it did feel a little rushed.

I Almost Forgot About You

#21: I Almost Forgot About You, Terry McMillan
Grade: A
Overall Thoughts: I really enjoyed this book. The writing was on point, satirical, and real. I think I would have liked it even more if I would have been 20 years older, since Georgia’s concerns of having an empty nest, finding new hobbies, and being a grandparent, would have been even more relatable. Nonetheless, this was a refreshing read that shows it is never too late to reinvent yourself.

Surprise Me

#22: Surprise Me, Sophie Kinsella
Grade: D
Overall Thoughts: Based on the synopsis, I was very excited to read this book. However, the plot is ENTIRELY different than what was depicted. I was really hoping for a lighthearted read, and it ended up being extremely deep and thought provoking. That being said, the book was very long and didn’t live up to my expectations. I recommend skipping this one.

All We Ever Wanted

#23: All We Ever Wanted, Emily Giffin
Grade: B+
Overall Thoughts: This was a solid Emily Giffin book. Interesting story. Well-developed characters. A taboo topic examined. An easy read. I became vested in the characters and I never wanted to end a chapter. As a reader, that is a good feeling. Plus, the book has an EPILOGUE! And it fast forwards 10 YEARS! And that makes my heart happy.

Badass

#24: You Are a Badass, Jen Sincero
Grade: B+
Overall Thoughts: Very similar to “Girl, Wash Your Face,” so if you like that book you will like this one. I took away some key nuggets of information so I found the time reading the book was valuable. This book is worth reading, and I have recommended it to many people already. The reason I didn’t give the book an “A” rating is due to the amount of time the author talks about money. I really don’t feel like I have those types of feelings towards money, so those (numerous) parts were not helpful to me and I just found myself thinking, “Okay, I get it. Move into another way I can be a badass!”

Woman in the Window

#25: The Woman in the Window, A.J. Finn
Grade: B-
Overall Thoughts: I think I set the bar too high for this book. When I saw that Gillian Flynn described this book as, “Astounding. Thrilling. Amazing.” I was expecting something more. I struggled a little at the beginning due to its slow pace, and I think the book could have been reduced by a couple chapters. However, it was an above average read and the ending was GREAT! So…if you like a good thriller, it is worth the read from the library but I wouldn’t buy it or reread.

Good Daughter

#26: The Good Daughter, Karin Slaughter
Grade: B
Overall Thoughts: This book had many twists and turns. The characters were extremely engaging and developed. The topic is pretty gruesome so beware. The reason I gave the book a “B” rating is that it the book went back and forth from past to present day, and then from the point of view of two different characters. So that was very confusing and didn’t flow well. I understand what the author was trying to do, but that isn’t my favorite writing style. Overall, I recommend this book if you like thrillers.

Notorious RBG

#27: Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik 
Grade: B
Overall Thoughts: The premise of this book is really great. I didn’t know much about RBG before reading this and I learned a lot about her career, family, and advocacy. While reading this book, I thought a lot about women’s rights and human rights. I think I have taken many of my rights for granted (such as the ability to attend college in any desired major, and then work, and then work AND have a family), and it was helpful to learn more about the history surrounding these rights and how RBG had such an influence. This is an excellent book club book, that with spark great intellectual discussion.

Nine Perfect Strangers

#28: Nine Perfect Strangers, Liane Moriarty
Grade: B
Overall Thoughts: Liane Moriarty is one of my “Top 3” authors and I have been eagerly anticipating her new book for YEARS! Seriously…I have read all of her books and they got me through some rough times during maternity leave. I thought the premise of this book was good but I wasn’t blown away like I was with the others. The structure is the same – many different characters whose lives are interwoven in some way. I laughed a lot, cried a little, and did get invested in the plot. I suggest reading this book, but if you are an avid Liane Moriarty fan like me, just set the bar a little lower so you get the most enjoyment from this novel.

My Favorite & Least Favorite Books of the Year

And my favorite and least favorite books of the year were…

 

What Should I Read Next?

What was your favorite book of 2018, and what are some recommendations you have for my 2019 reading list?

Fish On,

Misti

 

 

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