I can’t believe how fast 2018 is coming to a close. At the beginning of each year, I set a reading goal on Goodreads. I don’t stress about it or freak out if I’m not on track. I just set my goal and do what I love to do: read. Each time I finish a book, I enter it into Goodreads and it keeps track of my goal and tells me how far head (or behind) I am.
This year’s goal was to read 85 books. I’m very pleased that I met my goal. Actually, I exceeded it by two books and I’m still reading!
Don’t worry. I’m not going to go through all 87 books. But I am going to share some of my favorites with you. However, if you’d like to see my entire list you can check it out here.
For the Romantic Reader
I read all kinds of books but I’m a sucker for a steamy romance. Breathless by Beverly Jenkins was a great read. Her books are the perfect combination of steamy love scenes and Black history. Yes, you read that right. She weaves little known facts about Black history into all of her novels. Breathless is the second book in her Old West series. So read Forbidden first if you want to follow the characters’ lives from the beginning.
The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory was another great story. A woman and a man get stuck in an elevator together. They are complete strangers. He asks her to be his date to his ex’s wedding. What happens from there is a steamy love rollercoaster ride. I read this book in one sitting. If you end up reading this and want more, I’m happy to report that there is a second book out called The Proposal. I have it, but haven’t gotten to it…yet.
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang was a pleasant surprise. Think Pretty Woman with the roles reversed. Yes, it was that good but it also had a twist. The main character, Stella, has Asperger’s. She’s not very successful on the dating scene and decides to hire a male escort to teach her how to be a better girlfriend. What happens after that will keep you turning pages all the way to the end.
I should also mention that The Wedding Date and The Kiss Quotient were each author’s debut novels! Talk about inspiring!
Memoirs that Make You Think
Zora Neal Hurston has been gone for awhile now, but a book she wrote in 1927 about the last known enslaved African who survived the Middle Passage was just published this year. She interviewed Cudjo and wrote down all the details of his life and Barracoon was the result.
I think what makes this book so moving and simultaneously chilling is the fact that the remains of The Clotilda, the ship Cudjo was brought here in, was just found in January. To know that, and to read about him talking about the same ship was almost too much. Barracoon is a great read and one I highly recommend putting at the top of your reading list.
I came across the story of an author who I never knew about. His name was Henry Dumas. Sadly, he never lived to see any of his writing published because he was murdered by a police officer in 1968 under very suspicious circumstances.
Visible Man: The Life of Henry Dumas is well worth the read. It takes a look at the life of a black man who embarks on a writing career during one of the most dangerous times in this country’s history.
Stories that Thrill
I have had more than a passing interest in who is behind the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. When I stumbled upon The Bishop’s Pawn by Steve Berry, I was intrigued. This historical fiction thriller weaves lots of facts from that time period into a page-turner that also makes you think long and hard about the circumstances surrounding Dr. King’s death.
Another book that caught me by surprise was Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. Magic, danger, and yes, even love collide in this fantasy debut novel. Don’t let its 525 pages fool you. The chapters are short and you’ll keep saying “okay, just one more chapter” right up to the end.
The story is about the fight for power between two cultures of Orisha: the maji and the kosidan. The maji are oppressed by the kosidan elite. When King Saran had all the maji killed in a ruthless act of genocide, Zelie’s mother was among them. The story begins 11 years after this raid and Zelie embarks on a quest to restore magic to the land. There are so many breathholding moments in this book I read it in two days. I am a stan for this book. You’ll stay up way past bedtime to find out if Zelie can restore magic back to Orisha.
Books to Scare the Bejeezus Out of You
There were two books that really had me going this year. I’m not mentioning them in any particular order, but they are both by the same author, Simone St. James.
The Broken Girls takes places in Vermont across two time periods: 1950 and 2014. The main character, Fiona, is obsessed with her sister’s murder. When she finds out that the abandoned school for girls where her sister was murdered has been bought, she begins to dig to find out more about the anonymous benefactor. As she investigates she finds secrets that someone wants to stay hidden. She means to solve the murder of her sister, but along the way comes into contact with the ghost of a girl who was also murdered. Don’t read this one at night.
The Haunting of Maddy Clare was another book by the same author. This one is about a lonely woman named Sarah Piper who needs a job. When the temp agency she works for sends her to a rich, handsome man who is a ghost hunter, Sarah thinks it’s a joke. But she’ll find out that Maddy’s ghost is real in the most terrifying way.
I could keep going, friends, because I read so many great novels this year. But these were the ones that left the biggest impressions on my reading heart.
What books have you read this year? I’m always looking for a great read. Leave me a comment below!
Originally published at audrarussellwrites.com on November 26, 2018.