2018 Best of the Best, Part 2 | July-December

I can’t believe 2018 is over.  I’m glad it’s over, don’t get me wrong, it just flew by so fast! 

Thankfully this Best of the Best post kicks off my favorite blogging week!
It’s where I get to rant and rave over the books that inspired me, or just gave me significant feels!

As a reminder, click here for a link to my 10 favorites from the first half of 2018.

Here are 10 more spectacular books I read between July-December 2018

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10 – Deranged
by TR Ragan

Family man or deranged killer? It’s for fearless PI Jessie Cole to find out. At any cost.

Ever since a car accident left reporter Ben Morrison with amnesia, he’s been trying to rebuild a future as he puts together the pieces of his past. With the help of PI Jessie Cole, he’s getting closer. But few who remember Ben’s troubled childhood want to talk. And those who do—including his father, imprisoned for a shocking crime—are stirring disturbing memories given up for dead.

Then Jessie is sidetracked by a surveillance request from a suspicious husband. An ordinary case, until the cheating wife and lover are found murdered. They bear the trademark wounds of an elusive serial killer who’s now leading Jessie down a chilling path—one that’s about to put a dangerous twist in the search for Ben’s identity.

To discover the truth, Jessie must put more at risk than she ever feared. Because there are more secrets to Ben’s past, than she—or even Ben—ever imagined.

Right off the bat I should warn you, this is a series.  Deranged is the third book in said series.  So, if that blurb intrigues you, you need to start with Her Last DayDeranged is just the best in the series.  The buildup of figuring out exactly who Ben was is my favorite part, and it all really starts to get intense (and nerve wracking) in this installment.  The final book in the series is going to be fantastic.  I just know it!

(My Review)


9 – Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
by Gail Honeyman

No one’s ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine. 

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy. 

But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

Soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the smart, warm, and uplifting story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . . 

The only way to survive is to open your heart.

I fell in love with the idea of Eleanor Oliphant after reading a review.  There was something about how the reviewer made Eleanor sound that reminded me a bit of myself.  When I finally picked it up, after rushing out to buy it in hardcover, I was thrilled to find the review hit the nail on the head.  Eleanor wasn’t like me, but she was very special.  I also loved how this book wasn’t romantic.  It’s focus is on Eleanor and self-love, which is why Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine‘s one of my Best of the Best.

(My Review)


8 – Loving a Warrior
by Melanie Hansen

BUD/S: six months of the most intense training there is. It’s survival of the toughest, and Matt Knytych is determined to come out the other side a navy SEAL. 

Distraction is life or death. And just the sight of former marine Shane Hovland is enough to shake Matt’s concentration.

Shane came to BUD/S training ready to prove himself—again. Semper Fi is forever, but he needs a new start. Not this dangerous heat with a man he barely knows.

Everything they’ve ever wanted is riding on a thin, punishing line. And they’ll have to fight for more than just each other if they want to make it through intact.

After all, the only easy day was yesterday.

Could be Loving a Warrior is making this list only because I just finished it and still feel the thrall.  Maybe a year from now I won’t think back on Matt and Shane with the same sense of wonder and heart palpitations.  All I know is right now I’m over the moon about this love story.  For me, Melanie Hansen did everything right.  The pacing was perfect, the romance was perfect, their friendship was perfect, and the amount of BUD/S information was perfect.  I loved it!  Every word.

(My Review)


7 – Into the Drowning Deep
by Mira Grant

Seven years ago, the Atargatis set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to film a “mockumentary” bringing to life ancient sea creatures of legend. It was lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a maritime tragedy.

Now, a new crew has been assembled. But this time they’re not out to entertain. Some seek to validate their life’s work. Some seek the greatest hunt of all. Some seek the truth. But for the ambitious young scientist Victoria Stewart this is a voyage to uncover the fate of the sister she lost.

Whatever the truth may be, it will only be found below the waves. But the secrets of the deep come with a price
.

It took me a long time to finally read Into the Drowning Deep.  It’s a testament to how enjoyment is really a reflection of your mood.  I tried reading this one twice, and it only took the second time.  I devoured it.  It’s one of the creepiest books I’ve ever read, and I’m still in awe of how Mira Grant has made me fear mermaids!
Imagine everyone’s faces when I try explaining that!

(My Review)


6 – The Wall of Winnipeg and Me
by Mariana Zapata

Vanessa Mazur knows she’s doing the right thing. She shouldn’t feel bad for quitting. Being an assistant/housekeeper/fairy godmother to the top defensive end in the National Football Organization was always supposed to be temporary. She has plans and none of them include washing extra-large underwear longer than necessary.

But when Aiden Graves shows up at her door wanting her to come back, she’s beyond shocked.

For two years, the man known as The Wall of Winnipeg couldn’t find it in him to tell her good morning or congratulate her on her birthday. Now? He’s asking for the unthinkable.

What do you say to the man who is used to getting everything he wants?

I adore sports romance.  I’m not sporty at all, but I’m still a sucker for this sub-genre.  Still, I was seriously intimidated by the length of The Wall of Winnipeg and Me.  Everyone was talking about it, but all I could think about was how long it would take me to read.  Well, if that’s your hangup, trust me; size doesn’t matter.  I flew through this book in a matter of days.  It’s fantastic.  The depth of characters, and the slow build to love.  I’ll read this one again and again! 
I’m in love with Aiden!  I adore Vanessa.

(My Review)


5 – Magic Triumphs
by Ilona Andrews

Mercenary Kate Daniels must risk all to protect everything she holds dear in this epic, can’t-miss entry in the thrilling #1 New York Times bestselling urban fantasy series.

Kate has come a long way from her origins as a loner taking care of paranormal problems in post-Shift Atlanta. She’s made friends and enemies. She’s found love and started a family with Curran Lennart, the former Beast Lord. But her magic is too strong for the power players of the world to let her be.

Kate and her father, Roland, currently have an uneasy truce, but when he starts testing her defenses again, she knows that sooner or later, a confrontation is inevitable. The Witch Oracle has begun seeing visions of blood, fire, and human bones. And when a mysterious box is delivered to Kate’s doorstep, a threat of war from the ancient enemy who nearly destroyed her family, she knows their time is up.

Kate Daniels sees no other choice but to combine forces with the unlikeliest of allies. She knows betrayal is inevitable. She knows she may not survive the coming battle. But she has to try.

For her child.

For Atlanta.

For the world.

Series finales are always a double edged sword.  I’m so excited to read conclusions, but I’m also so sad it’s over.  Magic Triumphs was a really good ending, but in a lot of ways it could be seen as the launching pad for something new, too.  Whether it is the precursor for more, or just the end of Kate’s world, I loved this series and I loved how it ended.
Kate and Curran forever!

(My Review)


4 – Iron and Magic
by Ilona Andrews

No day is ordinary in a world where Technology and Magic compete for supremacy…But no matter which force is winning, in the apocalypse, a sword will always work. 

Hugh d’Ambray, Preceptor of the Iron Dogs, Warlord of the Builder of Towers, served only one man. Now his immortal, nearly omnipotent master has cast him aside. Hugh is a shadow of the warrior he was, but when he learns that the Iron Dogs, soldiers who would follow him anywhere, are being hunted down and murdered, he must make a choice: to fade away or to be the leader he was born to be. Hugh knows he must carve a new place for himself and his people, but they have no money, no shelter, and no food, and the necromancers are coming. Fast. 

Elara Harper is a creature who should not exist. Her enemies call her Abomination; her people call her White Lady. Tasked with their protection, she’s trapped between the magical heavyweights about to collide and plunge the state of Kentucky into a war that humans have no power to stop. Desperate to shield her people and their simple way of life, she would accept help from the devil himself—and Hugh d’Ambray might qualify. 

Hugh needs a base, Elara needs soldiers. Both are infamous for betraying their allies, so how can they create a believable alliance to meet the challenge of their enemies? 

As the prophet says: “It is better to marry than to burn.”
 

Hugh and Elara may do both.

That new start I thought Magic Triumphs would bring, it maybe started with Iron & Magic.  I even think I liked Iron & Magic more!  I’m enamored with a good redemption story, and Hugh d’Ambray needed some massive redemption.  The hate I had for him slowly melted away while reading this one, and now I can’t wait to find out what more Ilona Andrews has planned for him in this fantastic new series!

(My Review)


3 – Ravensong
by TJ Klune

Gordo Livingstone never forgot the lessons carved into his skin. Hardened by the betrayal of a pack who left him behind, he sought solace in the garage in his tiny mountain town, vowing never again to involve himself in the affairs of wolves.

It should have been enough.

And it was, until the wolves came back, and with them, Mark Bennett. In the end, they faced the beast together as a pack… and won.

Now, a year later, Gordo has found himself once again the witch of the Bennett pack. Green Creek has settled after the death of Richard Collins, and Gordo constantly struggles to ignore Mark and the song that howls between them.

But time is running out. Something is coming. And this time, it’s crawling from within.

Some bonds, no matter how strong, were made to be broken.

You all knew this was coming!  What is a Best of the Best list, written by me, without TJ Klune!  It was inevitable!
I fell massively, head over heels, in love with Wolfsong.  In particular, I became crazy about Oxnard Matheson.  Part of what made me love Ox was the relationship/brotherhood between him and Gordo.  So, of course Gordo’s story (history and romance) was going to be near the top of my list.  Anticipation made Ravensong feel like it was a long time coming.  It was awesome!
Green Creek will always sit on top.

(My Review)


2 – The Bones Beneath My Skin
by TJ Klune

In the spring of 1995, Nate Cartwright has lost everything: his parents are dead, his older brother wants nothing to do with him, and he’s been fired from his job as a journalist in Washington DC. With nothing left to lose, he returns to his family’s summer cabin outside the small mountain town of Roseland, Oregon to try and find some sense of direction. 

The cabin should be empty. 

It’s not. 

Inside is a man named Alex. And with him is an extraordinary little girl who calls herself Artemis Darth Vader. 

Artemis, who isn’t exactly as she appears. 

Soon it becomes clear that Nate must make a choice: let himself drown in the memories of his past, or fight for a future he never thought possible. 

Because the girl is special. And forces are descending upon them who want nothing more than to control her.

It was HARD trying to decide the placement of The Bones Beneath My Skin and Ravensong.  They’re nearly interchangeable.  What finally tipped the scales was simply my love for Artemis Darth Vader.
I knew before I started this read she was going to be special.  I mean, being absolutely awesome is a given with a name like Artemis Darth freaking Vader!  I adore her.  I also adored her love for Alex, and Alex’s devotion to Art.  They stole my heart.

(My Review)


1 – Silence Breaking
by Robert Thier

Family – the most important thing in the world, right? If it’s your own, maybe. But if it’s the family of the incredibly powerful, incredibly alluring businessman with whom you’ve been conducting a secret office affair, and they don’t yet know about the affair, things are a little bit different.

Life is about to get real for Lilly Linton. All those stolen moments behind closed doors, those secret kisses and whispered words are about to catch up with her. As she and her boss, business-magnate Rikkard Ambrose travel north to his parents’ palatial estate, she is about to discover: does she have the strength to step out of the shadows and change her fate forever?

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Just when I thought Robert Their couldn’t surprise me anymore, he took Rikkard Ambrose back to his childhood home and gave his character an unexpected vulnerability.  Reading Ambrose try to navigate being back home, alongside his ‘annoying’ attraction to one Lilly Linton jump started my excitement for Silence Breaking.
After that, my infatuation with this installment only grew when I realized just how much I’ve come to love Lilly’s passion!  Sometimes I want to shout at her, but I think that only makes me love her more.  When you put Lilly and Ambrose together, the sparks fly.  Especially strong headed Lilly and vulnerable Ambrose. 
Mmmm, now I need to go reread!

(My Review)

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I love reminiscing about fabulous books and writing my yearly closing blog posts.  
Have you been cataloging the books you loved the most in 2018?  Do you see anything on mine you’re interested in?

About Birdie

Don’t look for her in any bar, club, crazy raging party, or anywhere there may be a large gathering of strangers. She’s more likely to be found tucked into the corner of the couch watching one of her favorite shows, or preferably under a comforter with her current novel.

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