My Top 10 Books of 2018 (So Far)
10. Dolores Claiborne - Stephen King
Dolores Claiborne is a book written by Stephen King, who in my opinion, is one of the greatest storytellers of all time. He is a personal favourite of mine so I may be biased in my opinion of him and that might be one of the reasons he is featured in this Top 10. However, that does not mean you shouldn't listen to this review if you are not apart of King's biggest fan club (if that is the case, I suggest you join).
Dolores Claiborne is about an elderly woman who has decided to confess to a crime of which we, as readers, know nothing of until she wants us to. Dolores wants to tell her story in her own time and will take as long as possible in order for her own truth to be spoken. We are taken on a journey of Dolores' life and everyone she has met along the way. Some nice and some not so nice. She talks of love, loss and misunderstanding in a way that is so compelling that you have to read on in order to understand exactly what has happened to her and those around her to lead her into a police station voluntarily.
I thoroughly enjoyed this reading experience as it was written in a format that I was unfamiliar with until I started turning the pages of this unique novel. There are no chapters. I know that sounds insane and almost impossible, but you heard me correctly, this entire book is one continuous story. This can seem, at times, like a bit of a drag as it takes a lot of time and patience to listen to one story. But that is the point of this novel as it shows how much detail must go into a story in order for every event to be understood completely by those listening. Not only does this book have no chapters, it is also narrated by one person, Dolores Claiborne. Throughout the entire book, you never read a word spoken by another character or a section narrated by someone else in present time. You only read the words spoken by Dolores Claiborne as she tells her story and reacts to the words of those around her, unless it is a conversation from the past. It is a read like no other that everyone should experience, which is why I have decided to mention it in this Top 10.
9. Arrowood - Laura McHugh
Arrowood is a suspenseful mystery written by Laura McHugh, who is incredible at the art of guessing. Arrowood is a novel about a young woman who returns to her stately home after her younger twin sisters went missing just ten years prior to her return. The reason she has come back is not just because of her inheritance, but to also uncover the truth about what happened during that devastating summer. But the truth is not easy to get hold of, especially when everyone around you is acting strangely and keeping their secrets close to their chests.
Arrowood will keep you guessing up until its heart-stopping conclusion. If you are a fan of mysteries, family secrets and shocking twists then you will love this book. I was completely gripped to this story and I felt a strong urge to finish it as soon as possible in order to discover the truth behind the disappearance (and yes, you will find out what happened). The reason it is number 9 on this list is partly because I have read some mind-blowing books so far this year and also because there were moments that I felt were unnecessary in the storyline and did not keep me interested. However, after reading all the way to the end, I can now say that it is completely worth it and those less exciting moments will not matter once the unbelievable twist is revealed. Let's just say that after reading Arrowood, having a wealthy family and living in a large state home does not sound as appealing to me anymore.
8. Joyland - Stephen King
Big shocker, Stephen King mentioned yet again. But hear me out before you judge me! Joyland is a truly remarkable book that will make you look at funfairs in a completely different way after you read about the events at Joyland. This is not a true story, but the way in which it is told in such a spooky and convincing way, you sometimes believe it could be true at times.
Joyland is the story of a young man called Devin, who joins the summer staff at Joyland in order to get over a girl who broke his heart. However, working at this carnival proves to be much more eventful than Devin originally anticipated. Joyland is a story of love, loss, adolescence, the journey into manhood and good old fashioned murder. This novel is extremely moving and will leave you feeling every emotion under the sun after its tense-filled ending.
Joyland is featured at number 8 on this list because it was very unexpected and left me crying with sadness, shock and contentment. It is definitely a great summer read for the lovers of emotional storylines and coming-of-age tales. This might not be acceptable for younger readers, but for young adults it is perfect as it is inspirational in a way that will encourage you to be kind to everyone you meet as you never know what someone is going through. It will also encourage young adults to take on new experiences and challenges as you never know where it will lead you, who you will meet along the way or what you will learn from it.
7. The Girls - Emma Cline
The Girls was written by Emma Cline and it became a worldwide bestseller almost immediately due to its surprisingly beautiful plot. The Girls is a unique story that is so far from any coming-of-age book you have ever read or will ever read in the best possible way. It is unlike other tales of growing up as it raises awareness of cults in society, aiming specifically at those in the 1960s/70s. Due to its unfamiliarity and the fact it is not very relatable to most people, it acts as an interesting and insightful read into an unknown world.
The Girls follows the character of Evie Boyd who has spent her fourteen years in the shadows. She envies a life she does not have and longs for the day of escaping reality. This opportunity arises when she sees three girls around a similar age walking through a field in the summer of 1969. She decides to follow them, did she not know what was to come? Or did she know all too well and that was what kept her going? As we read a narrative set in the 60s and in present day, we learn about the famous story of what happened to The Girls and more importantly, what happened to their victims.
Be transported back in time to an unusual existence that is all too familiar to some people who lived a life that is unimaginable to most people in todays society. The Girls is a thrilling read, especially for the summer and for those who love a book set in a period of time that they never experienced personally. I would highly recommend this book to a more mature reader who is not too impressionable as the themes can be distressing at times. This book will encourage you to make good decisions in life and never take the life you have for granted.
6. Close to Home - Cara Hunter
Close to Home is a novel written by Cara Hunter, which is the first book in the DI Adam Fawley series. It is a gripping thriller that will have you clenching to the pages as you read on to the jaw-dropping ending. I don't know about you, but I am the type of person who guesses the 'shocking' plot twist or the reveal of the person who the police have been looking for for the entirety of the book quite easily. Therefore, when I find a book with a twist that I cannot guess, I hold onto it and talk about it to everyone I know, begging them to read it and experience the journey of twists and turns just like I did.
Close to Home is about the kidnapping of a young girl called Daisy Mason. All we are informed of at the beginning is that 9 times out of 10, it is someone the victim and the victims' family knew. This means, throughout the whole book we are uneasy about everyone we are introduced to and we do not trust anyone in the community. This will cause you to keep on guessing who took Daisy Mason until the truth is revealed, and it is even worse than you ever could have imagined.
This book will cause you to suddenly become suspicious of your neighbours and be wary of living in a quiet suburban street where lies are told everyday and you cannot trust anyone, even those you think you know better than anyone. Because after all, no one ever knows anyone, not really.
If you are into crime detective novels that leave a cliffhanger at the end of every chapter and a plot twist at every corner, then you will love Close to Home.
5. Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda - Becky Albertalli
Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda is a book written by Becky Albertalli, which was made into a major motion picture earlier this year called Love, Simon. This book centres around the main character, Simon Spier, who at the age of sixteen has started emailing someone at his school called Blue. Well, that is how Simon knows him as he does not know his actual identity, only that he attends the same school as him and they share some classes together. This means Simon might have already met Blue and possibly spoken to him, but they decide to keep it a secret as Blue is not ready to come out as gay just yet. However, when the emails between Simon and Blue are put into the wrong hands and are leaked for everyone to see, their secret is out and everything in Simon's life will change forever.
Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda is a beautiful coming-of-age tale that speaks up about the LGBTQ community in a way that has never been done before. This book is extremely honest and raw about what it is like growing up in a world where you are not accepted for who you truly are by society, the people around you, and even yourself. The story is wonderfully written and captures the essence of growing up different and working out who you are as an individual whilst becoming who you are meant to be.
I would recommend this book to people of all ages for entertainment and educational purposes as it will open your eyes to a world you might know very well or one you are completely unaware of. It will show all young people that it is more than okay to be yourself and to never listen to what negative people have to say if it does not impact your life for the better. After you read this book, you will feel the need to be kind to everyone around you and respect and accept everyones life choices because after all, if you can be your true self despite what society thinks then you are braver than us all.
4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - J.K Rowling
Now, of course I had to include one of the Harry Potter books in this Top 10 list. I know what you're thinking. Either you're thinking 'who is Harry Potter?' and if you are then where have you been all these years? Or you are thinking 'why is this book included in a Top 10 list about books read in 2018?'. Well, I have a confession to make and that is that I am a little bit late to the Harry Potter book train (or the Hogwarts Express if you know what I mean). I have seen all the movies about a thousand times, but I have only read up to The Goblet of Fire, which is the fourth book. I might not have read all the books yet, but I read the Goblet of Fire earlier this year and it is absolutely exceptional, so it had to be included in this Top 10.
The Goblet of Fire was written by J.K. Rowling as part of the Harry Potter book series. It is the fourth book in the series, so I will not give away too much of the plot in case you have no idea who Harry Potter is or what has happened so far in his life leading up to the Goblet of Fire. But, I will say that in this book, Harry is just about to return to Hogwarts for his fourth year at the school where he will end up taking part in a dangerous game unlike any other challenge that has come before him prior to this moment. Harry will not be expecting the year ahead and neither will anyone else at Hogwarts as it is a shock to everyone involved when he is entered into something that he never even signed up for in the first place.
There will be no spoilers in this review, but if you are interested in magic, mystery, mythical creatures, action and terror then you will love the Harry Potter book series, which has entertained people of all ages for many years and will continue to do so for the rest of time, as long as those muggles don't get in the way.
3. The Book Thief - Markus Zusak
The Book Thief is a novel written by Markus Zusak, which is set in Nazi Germany in 1939 during Hitler's reign. The story centres around nine year-old Liesel, who is fostered by a married couple called Hans and Rosa after her parents are taken away to concentration camps. The book is narrated by death as he follows the life of Liesel and all the people she meets during her lifetime, including Max who is a young Jewish man that seeks refuge with Liesel's family in order to hide from the Nazis and stay alive.
Liesel will experience plenty of heartache and she will discover new traits about herself that she never knew were there before, but through it all she learns the importance of family, friendship, trust and loyalty. The Book Thief gives us interesting insights into a perspective of how Death works and how he would feel if he was a being. But overall, it is an educational story about the war and how war makes monsters of men. If you enjoy a heart-wrenching, informative and emotional story about a devastating time in history that affected millions of people and life as we know it, then you will enjoy the Book Thief in it's entirety.
But don't steal the book, even if that is what Liesel would have done.
2. The Chalk Man - C.J. Tudor
Okay. So I have no choice but to include this book in my Top 10 favourite books of 2018 so far. This is due to the fact that as soon as I finished it, I sat in silence on my sofa for at least 20 minutes until I could muster up a single word to comprehend what I had just read. I could not believe what I had just read and I couldn't quite get over how mind-blowing it was. Once I managed to utter the word 'wow', I was able to beg my entire family and all my friends to read it just so I could discuss what happened in this book with them. It is just perfect.
If you are like me and enjoy a good coming-of-age story set in the 80s then you will adore this book. You will also love this book if you enjoy a murder mystery. I will only say that this book centres around a group of friends in the 80s who witness a horrific scene at a fairground and end up discovering multiple bodies during one eventful summer. Everything goes downhill from there. The Chalk Man is a remarkable book that should be read by everyone. With twists and turns that no reader will ever see coming, you will be hooked immediately and will want to finish it in one sitting. The story is told through two time periods and each chapter ends on a cliff hanger to force you to keep reading in order to find out the truth. Just imagine Stand by Me mixed with IT and it will give you the Chalk Man.
You will never guess what is coming and it will stay with you for a lifetime.
1. The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair - Joel Dicker
My number 1 book recommendation of 2018 will have to be The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair. I finished this book in two days, despite it having over 600 pages and me having work to do. I could not put this book down and I have already recommended it to everyone I know, including my friends about a million times. I don't think I will ever stop talking or even thinking about this book as it is too shocking and amazing. It almost makes me angry at myself for not reading this sooner. If you want to read a book again after 600 pages of detailed storytelling, then you know it is a good book worth talking about.
The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair focuses on the life of Marcus Goldman, a successful author who is suffering from writers block. This is when Marcus decides to return to his old mentor Harry Quebert, who taught him everything he knows. However, when Marcus returns to Harry's hometown of New Hampshire, the body of a fifteen year-old girl who went missing 33 years prior to this discovery is found in Harry's backyard and he is accused of her murder. Marcus is determined to discover the truth about what really happened to fifteen year-old Nola Kellergan whilst aiming to prove Harry Quebert's innocence.
This novel will have you guessing all the way until the end and every time you think you have sussed it all out and you know what happened, you are hit with a plot twist and a sudden turn in the storyline where everything you thought you knew was a lie. If you enjoy murder mysteries where everyone in town knows something but it might not be what you or any of the characters think, then you will be obsessed with this book.
This book might be long, but it is necessary for all the intertwined details of the plot to emerge in their own time because everything you read is important and it will all come back to haunt you in due course. A mini-series starring Patrick Dempsey and Ben Schnetzer will be released sometime this year so I suggest you read this stunning novel before you watch it and you will be able to bask in the beauty of Joel Dicker's writing.
I can honestly say that I found no faults in this book and I would be happy to read the Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair everyday for the rest of my life as no book has ever left me so amazed on the final page as this one.