Best of 2018

Hello friends! It’s that time of year again.

In 2018 I went back to school. I’ve been taking night classes, working at a day job that I really enjoy, and still trying to fit in a bit of writing here & there. It was a good year for me as far as family, health and an overall sense of peace. I like the direction I’m going.

It wasn’t a great year for reading. I didn’t read for pleasure as much as I’d like, and my DNF problem is out of control. I abandon books at an alarming rate. The books I liked enough to finish were few and far between! Here are my top picks, mashed together with my favorite movies.

There were only three books that earned a 5-star rating from me in 2018.

Lessons in Gravity by Megan Westfield, about a free solo climber and a young filmmaker who records his death-defying feats. Coincidentally, my favorite movie of the year was Free Solo, about climbing legend Alex Honnold, who pulls off the greatest athletic accomplishment ever filmed.

The documentary is a nailbiter, and so is the book. Both packed an emotional punch. Westfield’s story is on the sweet side, about two early-twenty somethings experiencing their first love.

lessons       free

Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone

I read a couple of great Victoria Dahl romances in 2018 (Bad Boys Do and Real Men Will), but her psychological thriller as Stone stands out as a cut above the rest. It’s my favorite book of the year. I paired it with Hereditary, which I think I heard about from Dahl/Stone, who is a horror fan. Her book is a triumphant female vengeance tale. The movie is the most disturbing thing I’ve ever seen. They don’t have anything in common, but both made an indelible impact on my brain. Twisted minds. Enjoy!

Jane Doe: A Novel by [Stone, Victoria Helen]Image result for hereditary poster

Tempest by Beverly Jenkins

Jenkins seems to make my list every year, like Dahl/Stone. No regrets. She writes beautiful historical details and hot, tender romances between good people. I feel better about the world when I read her books. I need to scrub my mind of all the scary movies and scary news! Help me, Ms. Bev!!

I paired Tempest with the film Lion, which I loved. It’s a feel-good story with a beautiful heart, and Dev Patel.

Tempest (Old West Book 3) by [Jenkins, Beverly]      

Honorable mentions. 2018 was the year of prisoners + law enforcement. The grittier the better! I enjoyed Guardian by Emmy Chandler (prison planet), Taking the Heat by Brenda Novak (escaped prisoner + female guard), and Beautiful Lawman by Sophie Jordan (great, sexy series with heroes on both sides of the law).

Read all of these and binge Ben Stiller’s exquisite TV miniseries Escape at Dannemora. The acting and story details are superb.

Image result for escape at dannemora paul dano poster

Hey, maybe it wasn’t such a bad reading year after all. Making this list helped me remember & appreciate the gems of 2018.

I hope you had a great one. Here’s to an even better 2019!!


Susan Cliff


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