Farewell 2017 and Hello, 2018: Hoarder Elizabeth's Top Reads and More!

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Is it possible that 2017 has come to a close?  How does this happen?  How do the months and books blur?

It isn’t easy for a book Hoarder to summarize her year-long literary experiences into one post, so I’m going to have to organize my thoughts into three categories:

Top 5 Reads of 2017 (+ one Honorable Mention)

Bottom 3 Reads of 2017

Top 3 Books that I Look Forward to in 2018



Not only was Himself one of my top reads of 2017, but it’s now safely tucked inside my all-time Top 10. This book is packed with razor-sharp wit, endearing characters, charming ghosts, and a mystery unlike anything I had previously encountered.  I cannot say enough amazing things about this debut novel; only that I wait with great anticipation for this author’s next story (which is noted below in my 2018 can’t-wait list!).

I happened upon this at my local library.   The title kept calling to me, and I finally gave in and dug in.  Well.  To say that this is a breathless page-turner is a terrible understatement.  This story revolves around an impossible WWII mission to get into a concentration camp in order to help a brilliant physics professor escape.  This novel is a historical thriller that will have you reading into the wee hours of the night.  I loved it so much that I pounced on Andrew Gross’ next novel, The Saboteur, which is another hold-your-breath WWII read.  If you haven’t discovered the work of Andrew Gross yet, please don’t delay!

This was written by Fredrik Backman.  That’s all you need to know.  I waxed rhapsodic about this novel in this review, and still lament the fact that I can’t actually sit down to a cup of tea with Britt-Marie.  I adore this novel, and will be reading it again in the future.  It gives me hope for humanity.

This was my most recently reviewed novel (available here), and if I could have given it more than 5 stars, I would have.  Naomi is the Child Finder, and she will have you rooting for her success until the very last page.  As she gets closer to finding Madison Culver (who has been missing for 3 years), Naomi’s own past begins to crystallize, which is an incredible story on its own.  This is noted to be #1 in a new series, which means I’ll be waiting for Naomi’s next search with baited breath.

This book made me ugly cry.  The story of a sweet friendship between a quirky 11-year old boy scout and a 104-year-old Lithuanian immigrant will steal your heart.  My original review can be found here, and it comes with a warning to have plenty of tissues on hand.  This novel is packed with love, forgiveness and redemption.  It’s perfection.


My honorable mention is still a 5-star read.  This is an amazing novel.  The author’s prose is absolutely breathtaking, and the story is all-consuming. This is not a quick story, but is something to digest, and ponder.  The three women who are the main characters of the story each bear their own heartache, but they somehow manage to do so with incredible grace.  Marianne von Lingenfels in particular is a tower of strength during the darkness of war.  Her commitment to find and protect the wives of the men who had attempted to assassinate Adolf Hitler is breathtaking.  This is a lovely story of courage and the bonds of friendship between women.  Don’t miss it.


I really don’t like giving poor reviews to books, but this one was dead on arrival.  Dead Letters was a victim of its own cast, which was comprised of drunk, stoned, ridiculous narcissists.  Any chance the novel had of being a bona fide thriller got bogged down by exhausting, unnecessary detail.  After all the time spent muddling through the story with unlikable characters, the “big reveal” came about with a dull clunk.  My original review of this novel can be found here.

I really wanted to like this novel.  It does not tackle an easy subject, and certainly deserves respect.  Mischling provides an inside look at “Mengele’s Zoo” in 1944 Auschwitz, and you know from the start that it’s going to be a difficult read.  Unfortunately, the story wound up surprisingly disjointed, which was distracting, as I noted in my review.

If you were to write about vile characters, add a hopeless setting and then finish the tale with a terrible lack of justice, then you would have The Visitors.  Life is too short to read a book that only offers anger and violence.  Pass.


Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life is in my all-time Top 10.  A God In Ruins was utterly remarkable.  Thanks to the brilliance of these two novels, I am in countdown mode for her next book, Transcription.  Do we really have to wait until September 2018 to read about Juliet Armstrong and her roles in the Secret Service and the BBC?

The author of Himself has penned a story about Maud Drennan, a social worker and “unintentional psychic.”  This novel promises more Irish wit and ghostly characters, and I’m thankful that I only have to wait until February 1st to get my hands on a copy!

The cover has yet to be revealed for Fredrik Backman’s newest novel, which is set for release in June 2018.  What I do know in advance is that this follow-up to Backman’s Beartown will be another 5-star read.

And there we have it.  A look back at 2017, and a list of excited anticipation.  I wish you a Happy New Year, and nothing but wonderful reads throughout 2018!