As “best of” lists are traditional at the end of the year, Milton Public Library staff members herein present our favorite books of 2018.  They’re not necessarily published in the last year, but were discovered and enjoyed during this time.

Bernard Cornwall’s Sharpe series, and Louise Penny’s Armand Gamache series
I admit it, I often read to escape and relax.  Having finished all sailing ship books I could find, I surprised even myself reading the whole Bernard Cornwall “Sharpe” series, based on the character Richard Sharpe. Set during the Napoleonic Wars, they provide historic detail for a time I never had a clue about (and a couple sailing ship battles).

I’ve just discovered Louise Penny and her Armand Gamache series, set in Eastern Township (yes, contemporary Quebec).  They are very descriptive and engaging, and I’m looking forward to more!
Leslie Bashaw

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Author Kristin Hannah is great at character building.  One of my favorites of her books is “The Nightingale.”   Because it is set during World War II, it is a sensitive read, but is very well done.  You almost experience the nightmare the characters endure. Kristin Hannah has many other books that are equally well done. Check her out!
Michelle Desranleau

Wishtree by K. A. Applegate
I picked Wishtree by Katherine Applegate, which is on the 2018-19 Dorothy’s List.  The Wishtree’s name is Red, and for many, many years, the people of the town would write their wishes on scraps of cloth or paper and hang them in the Wishtree.   Then a new family moves into the neighborhood, and sadly, people are mean to them. Can the Wishtree bring the people together?
Kathy Dulac

The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America’s Enemies by Jason Fagone
This is an amazing story of Elizebeth Smith Friedman, who played a major role in cryptanalysis (codebreaking) during both WWI and WWII—by hand!

The Radium Girls:  The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore
This is a riveting tale of the World War I era ghost girls, who used the lip-pointing brush technique to paint glow-in-the-dark instrument dials and newly fashionable watch faces using the luminous substance radium.  They were repeatedly told that the radium they worked with (and ingested) was safe—while the men who worked with it wore lead aprons!  These courageous women — eventually horribly disfigured or simply broken — later fought, some giving legal testimony from their deathbeds, to make work places safer and ensure that employers were held responsible. Their bones still glow today.

Flashback by Shannon Messenger
This seventh book in the Keeper of the Lost Cities series continues to captivate young (and okay, not so young) readers.  Races who have not worked together in millennia, have now provided their best to protect the Moonlark, Sophie Foster, as she recovers from dark injuries inflicted by the Neverseen.  Twists and turns a plenty, each book in this fantasy series culminates in a nail-biting cliffhanger leaving readers anxiously awaiting the next installment!
Lorraine Kelm

Believe Me by JP Delaney
This book has a lot of twists and turns. I was hooked from the first page, and I could not put it down. I had to find out what was going to happen next.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Such a good book that is well written with great characters. It puts you through every emotion; it is current and relevant in today’s social environment. A must read!
Tracey Noel

Into the Magic Shop: A Neurosurgeon’s Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart by James R. Doty MD
A heart-warming and compelling memoir of a boy who meets a woman in a magic shop.  She offers him life-changing advice that changes his thinking and ultimately the direction of his life.  The author takes you on his life’s journey as a 12-year-old boy from a poor family background to his life as a successful neurosurgeon.  This book is about how to change your mind-set to change your life.  For those interested in the power of meditation and visualization, this book is for you.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
The author takes you on an emotional roller coaster as she writes about a family’s survival in the wilderness of Alaska and their survival as a family in crisis.  Kristin Hannah has the ability to create characters who are real and believable, and she doesn’t disappoint in this book. This was one of my favorites by Kristin Hannah.
MaryBeth Peterson

The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
I enjoyed this quick read.  It is well worth your time, as it is an uplifting story.  I think anyone reading this book will appreciate the hope it offers.
Kathy Stankiewicz

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
Count Alexander Rostov, a Russian aristocrat, is sentenced to house arrest in a tiny room of Moscow’s elegant Metropol hotel.  The Stalinists sought to imprison him for writing a counter-revolutionary poem, but Rostov’s generous spirit and creative mind could not be held captive.  Towles writing is reminiscent of the Russian masters, and his exquisite storytelling had me living with the Count in the Metropol, which still exists today.   “A Gentleman in Moscow” is a deeply encouraging tale of a life well lived in spite of difficulty and disappointment.  We’ll discuss the book at Milton Public Library’s inaugural daytime adult book group from 2 – 3 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019.
Susan Larson

This Book Bits column was compiled by library director Susan Larson, and originally published in the Milton Independent on December 13, 2018.  It is reprinted here with permission.