Young AdultUndead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson …

What makes a five star read? For me, it is a book that moves me– makes me laugh out loud, makes me cry, makes me think. I read so many books, so quickly, that I often consume without pausing. A five star book stops me in place and makes me pay attention. 

Here are the 5 star reads of 2018:

Fiction

Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory

This is a surprisingly tender, heartwarming, charming book! Told from a mix of POVs and across timelines, it manages to be both an interesting exploration of family life and a page-turner. I wanted to know the characters better while also being heavily invested in the plot.

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

First, let me tell you, the narrator’s voice is so strong, I didn’t realize she went unnamed until I read a review pointing it out. It’s not necessarily a trustworthy voice, but it is honestly confrontational, sometimes cruel, very funny, and wickedly sharp. The narrator does not spare you, when she is talking about others or herself. Sometimes, I cringed at the text, and sometimes– maybe even more upsetting– I nodded in agreement.


Horror

There’s a Giant Trapdoor Spider Under Your Bed by Edgar Cantero

Funny, entertaining, and just scary enough to get your pulse racing. A perfect short read.


Memoirs & Nonfiction

I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell

A memoir of near-death experiences, I found it sometimes frightening, sometimes so stressful that I had to put the book down and walk away from it, and then, deeply moving. 

Lady Killers: Deadly Women Throughout History by Tori Telfer

Tefler doesn’t sensationalize. She interrogates and asks questions, digs deeper. She embraces the horrifying facts of each case while also drawing out deeper themes, showing a side of women’s lives not often explored in the media. 


Romance Novels

A Scot in the Dark by Sarah MacLean

A Beauty and the Beast re-telling, with scandalous art and giant Scotsman and so. many. feelings. MacLean really delves in there and grabs your heart, squeezing it for all it is worth.

Burn for You by JT Geissinger

Jackson is a beast on the outside, and a real emotional mess on the inside. He’s crusty and short tempered and quick to snap. He’s damaged by his past and not willing to let anyone in. Until Bianca. She takes him to task for his behavior, sasses him back and let’s him have it when he pushes her too far, and god bless him, he loves it.  

The Governess Game by Tessa Dare

It’s perfectly delightful in the way of the best romance novels. Funny and also poignant, light-hearted and also deeply emotional. The book is really about how we build our hopes and desires, and how we see ourselves and our worthiness to achieve those hopes and desires. It’s heavy stuff wrapped up in fluffy bow of will-they-won’t-they tension, stolen kisses, clandestine meetings, and overwhelming desire.

Wicked and the Wallflower by Sarah MacLean

Are you worthy of love? Can you find someone worthy to love? These are big questions that Felicity and Devil grapple with even as they plot and scheme both with and against each other. Both are lost souls, desperate and lonely, but also convinced that love is not for them. And that story, of finding and determining your own self worth in order to better love the person meant for you, so totally resonated with me. It brought me to tears.

Young Adult

Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson

Yes, this is a story about witches and magic and bringing the dead back to life, but it is grounded in very real emotions. Mila’s loneliness, her loss, really overwhelmed me. And then the difficulties she faced after getting Riley back broke my heart all over again. Mila is an outcast and a loner– Riley was truly the only person who meant anything to her. Watching their friendship sputter and stall, struggling as Mila struggles to try and understand what is happening to her and her friend, is hard. I felt very moved by the love and devotion present in this book, by the weight and meaning that Anderson gave to friendship and companionship.