My Top Books of 2018, So Far

by Heather Caliendo
My Top Books of 2018 - Book Club Chat
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There have already been so many good reads in 2018. From the sweet to the thrilling, there is something for everyone. Let’s take a closer look at the top books I’ve read in 2018 (so far).

You Me Everything by Catherine Isaac


You Me Everything by Catherine Isaac left a lasting impact on me. As I mentioned in my review, reading has so many different benefits but perhaps one of the best is a novel’s ability to not only expand your horizons but also remind you of what’s important in life. And one of the big lessons found in You Me Everything is to take nothing for granted. Here’s the synopsis:

Jess and her ten-year-old son William set off to spend the summer at Château de Roussignol, deep in the rich, sunlit hills of the Dordogne. There, Jess’s ex-boyfriend—and William’s father—Adam, runs a beautiful hotel in a restored castle. Lush gardens, a gorgeous pool, delectable French food, and a seemingly never-ending wine list—what’s not to like?  Jess is bowled over by what Adam has accomplished, but she’s in France for a much more urgent reason: to make Adam fall in love with his own son.

But Adam has other ideas, and another girlfriend—and he doesn’t seem inclined to change the habits of a lifetime just because Jess and William have appeared on the scene.   Jess isn’t surprised, but William—who has quickly come to idolize his father—wants nothing more than to spend time with him. But Jess can’t allow Adam to let their son down—because she is tormented by a secret of her own, one that nobody—especially William—must discover.

By turns heartwrenching and hopeful, You Me Everything is a novel about one woman’s fierce determination to grab hold of the family she has and never let go, and a romantic story as heady as a crisp Sancerre on a summer day.

Love and Ruin by Paula McLain

If you’re looking to learn more about real-life inspiration women, check out Love and Ruin by Paula McLain. Martha Gellhorn is a fiercely independent, ambitious young woman who would become one of the greatest war correspondents of the twentieth century. Yes, Gellhorn was married to larger-than-life Ernest Hemingway but Love and Ruin is her story. Here’s the synopsis:

In 1937, twenty-eight-year-old Martha travels alone to Madrid to report on the atrocities of the Spanish Civil War and becomes drawn to the stories of ordinary people caught in devastating conflict. She also finds herself unexpectedly—and uncontrollably—falling in love with Hemingway, a man already on his way to becoming a legend. In the shadow of the impending Second World War, and set against the tumultuous backdrops of Madrid, Finland, China, Key West, and especially Cuba, where Martha and Ernest make their home, their relationship and professional careers ignite.

But when Ernest publishes the biggest literary success of his career, For Whom the Bell Tolls, they are no longer equals, and Martha must make a choice: surrender to the confining demands of being a famous man’s wife or risk losing Ernest by forging a path as her own woman and writer. It is a dilemma that will force her to break his heart, and her own.

Click here for my spoiler-free review.

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig


How to Stop Time by Matt Haig is an original, time-hopping fantasy with philosophical observations. When we’re introduced to Tom Hazard, we learn that he though he appears to be 40, he was born in 1581 and has been alive for centuries. His past tragedies have prevented him from living in the present and so he’s fairly stagnant and melancholy. But when he meets a woman, he starts to consider if he can finally embrace the present. Here’s the synopsis:

Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret. He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he’s been alive for centuries. Tom has lived history–performing with Shakespeare, exploring the high seas with Captain Cook, and sharing cocktails with Fitzgerald. Now, he just wants an ordinary life.

So Tom moves back his to London, his old home, to become a high school history teacher–the perfect job for someone who has witnessed the city’s history first hand. Better yet, a captivating French teacher at his school seems fascinated by him. But the Albatross Society, the secretive group which protects people like Tom, has one rule: Never fall in love. As painful memories of his past and the erratic behavior of the Society’s watchful leader threaten to derail his new life and romance, the one thing he can’t have just happens to be the one thing that might save him. Tom will have to decide once and for all whether to remain stuck in the past, or finally begin living in the present.

How to Stop Time is a bighearted, wildly original novel about losing and finding yourself, the inevitability of change, and how with enough time to learn, we just might find happiness.

Click here for my spoiler-free review.

The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll

The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll is such a relevant book for our times. It features commentary on reality TV culture along with dissecting the sometimes complicated dynamics of women. Particularly of interest was the look at what it means to be a feminist as Knoll says, “It is a dangerous thing to conflate feminism with liking all women. It limits women to being one thing, likable, when feminism is about allowing women to be all shades of all things, even if that thing is a snake oil saleswoman.” Here’s the synopsis:

When five hyper-successful women agree to appear on a reality series set in New York City called Goal Diggers, the producers never expect the season will end in murder…

Brett’s the fan favorite. Tattooed and only twenty-seven, the meteoric success of her spin studio—and her recent engagement to her girlfriend—has made her the object of jealousy and vitriol from her cast mates.

Kelly, Brett’s older sister and business partner, is the most recent recruit, dismissed as a hanger-on by veteran cast. The golden child growing up, she defers to Brett now—a role which requires her to protect their shocking secret.

Stephanie, the first black cast member and the oldest, is a successful bestselling author of erotic novels. There have long been whispers about her hot, non-working actor-husband and his wandering eye, but this season the focus is on the rift that has opened between her and Brett, former best friends—and resentment soon breeds contempt.

Lauren, the start-up world’s darling whose drinking has gotten out of control, is Goal Diggers’ recovery narrative—everyone loves a comeback story.

And Jen, made rich and famous through her cultishly popular vegan food line plays a holistic hippie for the cameras, but is perhaps the most ruthless of them all when the cameras are off.

Click here for my spoiler-free review.

Circe by Madeline Miller

Greek mythology lovers will very much enjoy Circe by Madeline Miller. She reimagines Circe’s story and gives her a full arc that changes the perspective. And you might have a new favorite goddess after reading this retelling of a classic story. Here’s the synopsis:

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

Click here for my spoiler-free review.

Happy reading!

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