Sunday, December 30, 2018

Kelly Well Read Reviews - 2018 Top 10

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This time of year you can find Top 10 Lists of everything: movies, TV shows, internet memes, etc. And also books! Lots and lots of Top 10 Lists for books. This is the first year I've posted a Top 10 List on my blog. Will it be an annual thing going forward? Who knows. What I do know is that I read some amazing books this year, way more than 10; but the ones listed here are the books that resonated with me and were the most memorable.

In the interest of brevity, I've just given a short annotation below, but you can find more lengthy reviews of these books on Amazon, Goodreads, and other place to help you consider whether they are ones you would like to read. So, here goes!

Kelly's Favorite Reads of 2018

With evocative descriptions of the natural world, Where the Crawdads Sing is a haunting coming-of-age tale and mystery, as well as a meditation on survival and the need for human connection.

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Consisting entirely of letters between Tina Hopgood, a farmer’s wife in England, and Professor Anders Larsen, a museum curator in Denmark, this short epistolary novel begins with correspondence about the ancient Tollund Man, but soon turns into a blossoming friendship and an examination of what might-have-been.

In the midst of coming to terms with a neuro-atypical diagnosis for her 9 year old son, Fred, Piper finds herself unwillingly assuming responsibility for her distant father who has a traumatic brain injury. Narrated by three distinct voices, Flying at Night is a character study exploring themes of family, forgiveness, redemption, and love.

In a world of magical haves and have-nots, the elites of this complex society have found a way to imbue magical sigils onto inanimate objects, and to use this power to attain great wealth. The rest of the population lives in poverty and fear, including scrappy survivor Sancia, a thief who can "sense" the sigils and steals magical items for a price. All is well until she steals a magical key and sets off a chain reaction that could lead to the destruction of the world itself.

Written in the format of alphabetical glossary entries, this coming-of-age debut gradually reveals the life and struggles of adolescent William Tyce as he tries to come to terms with the life he has been given.

Semiosis is a creative and unusual science fiction tale that follows several generations of space colonists who, hoping to create a self-sustaining Utopia on Pax, find themselves sharing the planet with sentient beings - not all of whom are friendly to humans.

Using three diverse, yet ultimately interconnected fictional narratives, Star of the North is a thriller, but also gives an inside look at some of the untold secrets of the Juche era of the North Korean regime. The author read many different reports of North Korean escapees and defectors and reveals in the notes section which of the situations in the book were based on factual accounts. I found it fascinating.

In an epic, raucous and often hilarious novel, we meet a sprawling Mexican-American family as they gather for the funeral of their matriarch, followed by the 70th birthday party of Big Angel de la Cruz. This is their story, in all its amazing messiness – about the good and the bad, but most of all the love.

The narrator of this complex and unique novel will wake up each day, for 7 days, in the body of a different member of a house party taking place in the English countryside where a murder will occur. The only way to get out of this time loop is to solve the murder. This was one of the most challenging novels I read this year, and my admiration for the author's skill in crafting such a mind-twister is immense!

Vivian Miller is a dedicated CIA counterintelligence analyst assigned to uncover Russian sleeper cells in the United States. After accessing the computer of a potential Russian operative, Vivian stumbles on a secret dossier of deep-cover agents within America's borders. When she makes an unexpected discovery, everything about her life and her marriage is cast in a new light - forcing her to make impossible and dangerous choices before she loses her job, her family and her life.

That's my Top 10 list for 2018. There were so many to choose from - this was an excellent year for published books! And, from the looks of it, 2019 is going to be a great reading year, too. I've already mentioned a few of my favorites for 2019 in previous blog posts.

Happy Reading, and Happy New Year!

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