Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I’ve Read in 2018 (So Far)

Top Ten Tuesd

 

This week for Top Ten Tuesday, it’s all about my favourite books that I’ve read so far this year. Tough choice! There were a lot that I thought about listing, but in the end, these books stuck with me:

  1. My Best Friend’s Exorcism, by Grady Hendrix – I blew through this one in a day while floating in an inner tube at the cottage. My husband had to bring me food periodically, because I refused to put the book down. Seriously, it was that good. (Stay tuned for a full review of this book on Friday).
  2. The Girl with All of the Gifts, by M.R. Carey – This is another deeply creepy narrative, but told from the fascinating perspective of a zombie girl who is discovering what it means to be “alive.” I liked it because it felt in places like a twisted coming of age story.
  3. The Favorite Sister, by Jessica Knoll – Not only is this book a great thriller from the first page, but there is an interesting discussion around female success and cattiness. Also: it’s all about reality TV. If you’re like me and you like tuning in to The Bachelor, then this book will keep you reading.
  4. Educated, by Tara Westover – Heartfelt, disturbing and powerful, this memoir had me captivated. It reads like a cult – escape narrative in some ways, which kept the momentum quick, but what struck me as the most fascinating were the family dynamics that Westover describes.
  5. Strong Female Protagonist, by Brennan Lee Mulligan & Molly Ostertag – I loved this graphic novel because it was campy and quick-paced and the artwork was excellent, but I also appreciated the original perspective on the super hero narrative.
  6. The Witches of New York, by Ami McKay – I know that I talk about this book a lot, but to be fair, it is really fantastic. I loved the atmosphere that McKay creates and the beautiful prose, among other things. Read more about it here.
  7. The Impossible Fortress, by Jason Rekulak – I picked this book up because it described 80’s nostalgia, and I’m a sucker for that kind of stuff. What I ended up loving was the quirky romance and the hilarious heist narrative that piggy-backs on the larger story about a boy who loves to code video games. I would compare it to Ready Player One, but for me, it was better.
  8. Love and Gelato, by Jenna Evans Welch – Fun, flirty and set in Italy? Who wouldn’t want to read this book?
  9. The Last Black Unicorn, by Tiffany Haddish – I’m not normally interested in reading celebrity autobiographies, but this one was hard to put down simply because of all the crazy stuff that Haddish had to go through in her life. It was enlightening and at times quite funny.
  10. Meddling Kids, by Edgar Cantero – If you loved Welcome to Night Vale and Scooby Doo, then this book will have you riveted. I loved all of the nods towards the classic TV show and found the plot to be captivating.

 

What are some of your favourite books that you’ve read (so far) this year?

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The Favourite Sister, by Jessica Knoll

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I first heard about this book while completing (procrastinating on finishing) an assignment for my publishing program. I’m a sucker for any book that involves reality TV, but when you add in a good mystery, I was hooked!

The Favorite Sister  by New York-Times Best-Selling author Jessica Knoll, follows five successful women who star on a reality TV series called Goal Diggers. The show chronicles the lives and successes of Brett, Kelly, Stephanie, Lauren and Jen. It’s supposed to be about uplifting and supporting women in their successes, but nobody expects the season to end in murder…

A Fabulous Murder Mystery

The Favorite Sister snagged me right from the first page when I read Kelly’s admission that Brett, her sister and one of the characters that we come to know and love throughout the course of the narrative, will die at the end of the book. While sometimes I find that this convention can backfire, finding out that someone will die in the first paragraph of a story only served to pique my interest, maybe because Kelly, Brett’s sister, also admits that it is her fault. Is Kelly the killer? How does it happen? 

Wouldn’t you like to know?

An Excellent Narrative Framework

Fabulous hook aside, what kept me reading was the smart discussion around so many different feminist issues. Sure, it was fascinating to read about the tricks of the Reality TV trade, such as uncorking bottles of wine so that the actors can’t tell how much alcohol they are consuming… Or texting actors with prompts to make on-screen discussions more juicy… (Apparently all true!) …What I liked the most was the narrative framework that Knoll builds around her juicy reality-tv mystery.

Framing the mystery around the discussion of successful women and how they are often put in positions where they must be fiercely competitive and applauded for cattiness on and off television was a clever way to open up readers to an important discussion without getting too heavy-handed.

Real Women, Real Relationships

Despite the sometimes serious ideas that Knoll puts forth, I think that her narrative never gets weighed down because her characters feel like real women and their backstories, woven expertly into the high-powered plot are interesting to read about. Sure, Kelly has issues with Brett, who skyrocketed to fame and left her in the dust, but it is clear that despite their frequent fights, she loves her sister. Hearing from several female narrators, all with different life-perspectives made for excellent reading. Even better, as certain truths come out about the women on Goal Diggers and we discover more and more about their own histories, it feels in part like unraveling another dimension of the mystery.

Jessica Knoll writes about seduction in The Favorite Sister when she says:

“Isn’t that the secret sauce of seduction? First the snare of mystery, then the distinctly female instinct to rehabilitate.”

That is what The Favourite Sister does–it seduces the reader with a fantastic mystery, while subtly working to rehabilitate common ideas about feminism.

 

What are your favourite reality TV themed or girl-power books? Let me know in the comments below!