Hello, how is everyone? You’re all looking wonderful and that outfit totally suits you.
I hid from the internet for about 3 weeks over the holidays because I wanted to reclaim my mind space. Choose what to focus on instead of having social media tell me what I should be thinking or terrified about. It was marvelous being able to hear my own thoughts again. Some may have been ridiculous but, hey, they were mine.
To help fill your mind with wonder and insightful musings, check out these books on this year’s first Nerdy Special List.
From Jen at Brown Dog Solutions:
The Wife by Alafair Burke (Harper, January 23)
The Wife centers on a famous man accused of sexual harassment and rape. His wife believes his claims of innocence, but she has skeletons in her closet and fears the attention her husband receives will reveal her secrets to the world.
The suspense is top-notch, the plot twists kept me guessing, and the book had me reading until daybreak. Burke obviously wrote this prior to the #MeToo movement, so once again she proves she has her finger on the pulse of American culture.
Martin Rising: Requiem for a King by Andrea, 9780545702539, January 2)
The final months of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life are told in a series of poems written by Andrea David Pinkney and a collection of paintings from her husband, Brian Pinkney. As a former teacher, I couldn’t help but think how amazing this would be for kids to perform as a slam poetry reading, and as an avid adult reader, I found myself lost in the beauty and inspiration the language and illustrations create, despite their devastating subject. This is truly a celebration of an extraordinary man and his influence on a nation. [Read Jen’s full, starred review at Shelf Awareness.]
From Rory at Fourth Street Review:
Grist Mill Road by Christopher J. Yates (Picador, January 9)
In August of 1982, Matthew ties Hannah to a tree and shoots her with a BB gun that belongs to his friend Patch. In 2008, Hannah and Patch are married and living in New York City, but a chance encounter with Matthew sends their lives into chaos.
What they knew, how they felt, and what really happened is slowly unveiled in this literary thriller. Alternating between the past and the present, Christopher J. Yates masterfully weaves the tension, mania, and despair of the main characters. Grist Mill Road reveals how anger, passion, history, and love bind us in the most unexpected ways.
From Erin at In Real Life:
A Map of the Dark by Karen Ellis (Mulholland, January 2)
When a teenage girl goes missing, FBI Agent Elsa Myers with the Child Abduction Rapid Deployment Team is called away from her father’s deathbed to find her. As the complex case progresses, it becomes increasingly difficult for Elsa to keep her personal and professional lives separate.
A Map of the Dark introduces some of the most interesting characters I’ve met. It’s a fantastic start to what will be a long-lived series, and a perfect blend of a procedural with a character-driven story.
From Lauren at Malcolm Avenue Review:
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin (Putnam, January 9)
In the summer of 1969, the four Gold siblings track down the elusive Woman on Hester Street, who they’ve heard can tell fortunes. One by one, they secretly learn the date of their death.
From this intriguing beginning, Chloe Benjamin spins a glorious tale of how knowing their expiration date impacts each of the Gold children over the coming decades. Family, faith, fate, destiny, and dreams are all part of their journeys. Benjamin sucked me in from the first page and wouldn’t let go. This is certainly my first best novel of 2018.
Lullaby Road by James Anderson (Crown, January 16)
Second in a trilogy about desert delivery trucker Ben Jones, Road follows the genius of The Never-Open Desert Diner with more character and atmosphere than you can imagine exists in the Utah high desert.
The eccentric route inhabitants and “friends” who pepper Ben’s days are more than enough to keep the pages turning. Throw in the mysteries of a young child in need and a local icon in trouble and Lullaby Road became my second great novel of 2018. If you’re not reading this series, start.
The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor (Crown, January 9)
In this fantastic, cinematic thriller that reads like Stand by Me crossed with The Goonies, a group of prepubescent friends discover a dead body one summer and are still trying to come to terms with it 30 years later.
As I wrote in my Shelf Awareness review, “Tudor is a master conjurer of thrills, crafting tight scenes that make the skin crawl in a fun way, like [while you’re] walking through a haunted house at a carnival.” She also “observes life with deadpan humor” and “infuses her story with heart and the pang of lost love.” If I had a box of chalk, I’d draw arrows pointing you straight to this book.
What was your first read of 2018? What else are you reading this month?
This post includes affiliate links, which might generate small commissions for me if you click on them…assuming I embedded the right links. The updated affiliate system is slightly confusing and maybe these links send commissions to some guy named Ted in Iowa.