My Favorite Books Of 2018

favorite books of 2018 (1).png

2018 was an incredible year for books. I had set a goal of 80 books, based on my 2016 and 2017 tally. But with the advent of my newfound love of audiobooks, I was able to read 100 books this year. Because I had so many more books to choose from, my list of favorites is a bit longer than normal. But there were SO MANY great books!

Audiobooks are marked with an asterisk...

Tied for 1st… THE WINTERS and CIRCE

THE WINTERS by Lisa Gabriele

This is sheer and utter perfection. A modern retelling of Rebecca, with incredible writing, character development, and a modern edge. I loved it, and you will too. This is tied with CIRCE as my favorite novel of the year.


*CIRCE by Madeline Miller

I listened to this one, and let me tell you, there was something magical about hearing Circe’s story told in such an inventive new way.  It was like taking class in mythology, with all my favorites mentioned and explored. This is tied with THE WINTERS as my favorite novel of the year.


I MISS YOU WHEN I BLINK: ESSAYS by Mary Laura Philpott

Many of you know Mary Laura as my cohost for A Word On Words, but she is so much more. This incredible essay collection, out in February 2019, will cement her alongside Elizabeth Gilbert, Dani Shapiro, and Anne Lamott, the writers I turn to for help tapping into the female/writer experience.


HUNTING ANNABELLE by Wendy Heard

Dynamic, compelling, and totally twisted...What a mind Wendy Heard has. What a debut! It is so bloody unique!!


ALTERNATE SIDE by Anna Quindlen 

Anna Quindlen has always been a favorite of mine, and this book doesn't disappoint. I absolutely love her newest, and the Upper West Side setting is exactly what I needed. I miss New York!


SORORITY by Genevieve Sly Crane

It’s very fitting that this author’s middle name is Sly, because that’s the perfect description of this book. A series of conjoined vignettes, it tells the story of a sorority from the inside out, the good, the bad, and the ugly – and wow is there a lot of ugly. The writing though – it is perfect, sparse, descriptive, incredible. I haven’t been this excited about a debut author’s possibilities since SWEETBITTER. I’ll be watching for Crane’s work in the years ahead. 


TWO DARK REIGNS by Kendare Blake

Oh, how many good things can I say about this series? I love it, love the inventiveness, and the direction it’s heading. These books are spectacular, and this latest installment in the series is especially wonderful.


THE THREE BETHS by Jeff Abbott

Jeff Abbott has turned his considerable skill to the domestic suspense genre and THE THREE BETHS is the epitome of what a suspense novel is supposed to be. You’re going to love this!


ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE by Gail Honeyman 

Simply brilliant. Heartbreaking. A lovely story, full of everything you need to have all the feels. I cried twice. Amazing.


*THE BROKEN GIRLS by Simone St. James 

I listened to THE BROKEN GIRLS and it’s fabulous – dark, sinister, haunted – and has rekindled my love of the boarding school mystery. I blame Simone for my 2019 offering…


THE LOST QUEEN by Signe Pike

I had the joy of meeting Signe Pike at SIBA 2018 and found a Scottish sister. This incredible tale of Merlin’s sister is brilliant and an instant classic.


NINE PERFECT STRANGERS by Liane Moriarty

NINE PERFECT STRANGERS is a fantastic book and it relaunched one of the greatest book clubs to grace the online world: She Reads. You should definitely check them out and join the conversation! I was lucky enough to see Liane Moriarty in person and she was simply magnificent - so self-deprecatingly funny.


RUSH by Lisa Patton

A thoughtful look at the southern Greek system, and also wickedly funny. Lisa Patton tackles a tough subject—the lack of benefits and job opportunities for the sorority housemothers—with grace, and hope. This story is a must read.


BECOMING MRS. LEWIS by Patti Callahan

I’m so incredibly delighted to see this book finally out for you to read! BECOMING MRS. LEWIS is a labor of love. It is a joy and a seminal moment for a really incredible team of women: my friend Patti Callahan Henry and Joy Davidman. I think you’re going to love it!


*YEAR ONE by Nora Roberts 

YEAR ONE is super storytelling, inventive and scary. I loved the new direction in Nora’s writing, the apocalyptic world building, and the appreciation of magic.


SOUTHERN LADY CODE by Helen Ellis

This wonderful essay collection from the sharp-witted Helen Ellis (author of one of my all-time favorite novels, EATING THE CHESHIRE CAT) is a perfect look at how ladies can navigate this modern age with a dose of southern graciousness thrown in. Plus, learn the real meaning of Bless Your Heart. Available April 2019.


ELON MUSK: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance 

This biography of Elon Musk is incredible. I have learned so much, both about Musk and the exciting technologies going into Space X. A must read for anyone who is curious about where the future is headed.


What are your favorite books of 2018?

Favorite Books Of 2018 | JTEllison.com.png

7.14.16 - FIELD OF GRAVES Roundup

Hi, guys!

Amy here. Hard to believe it's been a month since FIELD OF GRAVES came into the world, right? Did you have fun getting to know all of your favorites before the series began? I know a lot of people enjoyed seeing Taylor and Baldwin's relationship blossom. But me? I'm glad I finally know how Taylor got that infamous scar.

J.T. likes to put together a digital scrapbook of sorts for each book. So I've taken the liberty to compile one for FIELD OF GRAVES. You can check it out below!

(and if you haven't read the book yet, what are you waiting for!?


The Official FIELD OF GRAVES roundup
 

Recognition


Trade Reviews

"Well-developed, multidimensional characters and an exceptionally strong plot power bestseller Ellison’s eighth Taylor Jackson novel, a prequel to 2007’s All the Pretty Girls, the series opener. . . . The characters’ humanity and the gut-wrenching problems they face in life-and-death situations put Ellison in the top rank of romantic suspense novelists."
– ★ Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Followers of this series will relish the revelations of how Ellison's protagonists first connected. New readers of this page-turning, suspenseful thriller will want to catch up on the author's other books."
– Library Journal

"As always when it comes to author J.T. Ellison, this book is a creation of fear, suspense, with even a little humor thrown in . . . Ellison shows a skill and talent that is more than exceptional at laying out a fresh path leading to a murderer that readers will not believe!"
 Suspense Magazine

"Everyone should already be reading Ellison, but those unfamiliar with her work could start here."
– RT Book Reviews
 
"Field of Graves features a dynamic cast of well-developed characters, a thrilling plot that leaves the reader guessing at every turn, and an unlikely love story simmering with sexual tension and genuine romance. Fans of J.T. Ellison’s dynamic crime-fighting duo Taylor Jackson and Samantha Owens will welcome this page-turner of a prequel for the new backstory it reveals about her beloved characters."
– Chapter 16


Book Tour

  • Nashville, TN: Parnassus Books
  • Houston, TX: Murder by the Book
  • Scottsdale, AZ: The Poisoned Pen
  • San Diego, CA: Mysterious Galaxy
  • Lone Tree, CO: Barnes & Noble
  • Littleton, CO: Tattered Cover

 

1.14.16 - What people are saying about my new standalone, NO ONE KNOWS

Available for pre-order!

Hi, loves! We are getting sooooo close to the March 22 release of my new standalone novel, NO ONE KNOWS. Here's an update on what's going on:

First, really exciting news: NO ONE KNOWS was selected as a 2016 Winter Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Booksellers Association (SIBA)! I am so honored to be among some killer books and authors. I was over the moon when I found out about this.

And BookBub named it as one of their 15 New Books to Read if you loved GIRL ON THE TRAIN -- super cool

And I was also tickled when the fine people at Publisher's Weekly said this about NO ONE KNOWS: 

"Riveting . . . a skillfully plotted story that's equal parts mystery, psychological thriller, and cautionary tale. Ellison's twists are fresh . . . and the novel's action-packed conclusion will shock."

Hooray! Thanks, PW!

And these nice people had some thoughts about it, too:

“You think GONE GIRL couldn't be topped, try Ellison's web of betrayal, lies and deceit. And wonder --”
— Catherine Coulter, #1 New York Times bestselling author of NEMESIS 

“Enthralling! Ellison's twisty, turny thriller is my kind of novel: interesting characters, complex plotting, and an ending you'll never see coming. Suspense at its finest!”
— Lisa Gardner, #1 New York Times bestselling author of FIND HER

“Clever and compelling, J.T. Ellison’s NO ONE KNOWS is a page-turner full of unexpected twists and surprises. Pour a glass of wine, settle down in your favorite chair, and get ready for an entertaining roller coaster of a read. J.T. Ellison is a fast-rising star.”
— Jeff AbbottNew York Times bestselling author of THE FIRST ORDER

“Like a nerve-shredding trip through a carnival house of mirrors, NO ONE KNOWS left me breathless. Ellison's deft, seamless prose makes her devilish twists look effortless, and her sleight-of-hand with the facts of Aubrey Hamilton’s troubled life keeps the tension wire-high. NO ONE KNOWS is razor-sharp, shocking, and delicious.”
— Laura Benedict, author of CHARLOTTE’S STORY

“Reader, beware: In NO ONE KNOWS J.T. Ellison has created a masterful game of cat-and-mouse—with Ellison being the cat and us readers her prey. My favorite kind of story—I loved it.”
— Erica SpindlerNew York Times bestselling author of THE FIRST WIFE and THE FINAL SEVEN

“NO ONE KNOWS grabs you from the start and doesn’t let go. A compelling thriller about loss, betrayal, and buried secrets, it’s a book you’ll devour, trying to guess what’s going on and what will happen next. The twists are genuinely—and satisfyingly—shocking. J.T. Ellison has written another winner.”
— Meg Gardiner, Edgar Award-winning author of PHANTOM INSTINCT

“J.T. Ellison has created one hell of a brain-bender. NO ONE KNOWS is a masterfully written shell game in which a grief-stricken woman is forced to reckon with her past until everything she believes about love, hope, and trust is tested. Ellison’s storytelling powers are on sharp display in this literary thriller, proving that no one is who they claim to be and everyone has secrets worth protecting. Compelling, perceptive, unsettling and with an ending so on point I wish I could read it again for the first time. I inhaled this novel.”
— Ariel Lawhon, author of FLIGHT OF DREAMS

Suffice it to say, I can't WAIT until y'all get your hands on this one. Five years in the making, baby. And it's almost here!

Pre-order now!

12.7.15 - PW calls NO ONE KNOWS "...Riveting..."

It's a tricky thing, this writing business. 

I'm so grateful for this life, the chance to stretch my creative muscles and give you heart-pounding stories that keep you up at night. 

But there are parts of this job that make my heart pound and keep me up at night: namely, sending my book out into the world.

Oh sure, we authors know that a by-product of creating something is that people will see it. Heck, that's part of this whole "getting paid to write" gig. But it's one thing to create something in solitude and yoga pants, and quite another to send it out into the world. And no matter how many times my characters shock me as I type, no matter how many times I hit Send on a finished manuscript, no matter how many revisions I go through, I still have this voice in the back of my brain niggling at me: 

What if they don't like it?

Hey, I can't feed the kitties if y'all don't like what you read. Mama's gotta bring home the catnip. 

But not only that, there's artistic integrity at stake. I have so much fun creating characters like Taylor, Sam, and now Aubrey. But I want you guys to have fun, too, to experience new places and characters, to be thrilled and excited by the books, and maybe to think a little bit. Art exists to move us, to challenge us, and I want my work to mean something to someone else, too.

As such, I'm completely overjoyed when I receive positive words on a story from someone who's not my editor (c'mon, these book babies belong to both of us, so they're just as biased as I am...).

Publishers Weekly has just printed some thoughts on NO ONE KNOWS, and I'm so pleased to share them with you:

"This riveting Nashville-set standalone . . . is a skillfully plotted story that's equal parts mystery, psychological thriller, and cautionary tale . . . Ellison's  twists are fresh, and the novel's action-packed conclusion will shock . . .  Artful and evocative prose complements the fully fleshed and realistically flawed characters."

Thank you, PW. I'm grateful for your kind words. 

If this sounds like something you can get on board with, you can pre-order NO ONE KNOWS (coming 3/22/2016) from the fine folks below. 

And thanks for helping me do what I do. The kitties especially appreciate it.

thank you kitties

8.14.15 - The (long-overdue) Round-Up of WHAT LIES BEHIND

WHAT LIES BEHIND

So WHAT LIES BEHIND has been out since just before Memorial Day, right when spring was on the cusp of becoming summer. Lots of people have said lots of nice things about this book, and in the dual interests of posterity and housekeeping, I've gathered them together in one, convenient place. It's my media scrapbook, of sorts. Forgive the delay on the post, but if you haven't read Sam's latest adventure yet, this should tip you right on over the edge. Happy Friday!

 

 

 

Reviews

I’m always grateful to get a good review from the fine people at Publisher’s Weekly

Bestseller Ellison’s captivating fourth Samantha Owens novel (after 2014’s When Shadows Fall) finds the former Washington, D.C., medical examiner working as a consultant for the FBI. When a woman is found dead and a man near death in a house in Sam’s Georgetown neighborhood, the bloody crime scene suggests that the man stabbed the woman, then himself, in a fit of passion. Sam’s police detective friend, Darren Fletcher, who was recently promoted to homicide lieutenant, consults with Sam on the case. When the U.S. State Department asks them to keep the investigation under wraps, Sam and Fletch become increasingly suspicious that the crime wasn’t a simple murder-suicide. Meanwhile, Sam’s boyfriend, bodyguard Xander Whitfield, takes on the job of protecting James Denon, a wealthy British industrialist, while he’s visiting his business interests in the States. As Sam and Xander’s missions converge, they discover evidence of a serious bioterrorist threat. The cliffhanger conclusion will leave fans of romantic suspense eagerly anticipating the next installment. 

Romantic Times deemed WHAT LIES BEHIND a June Top Pick! 

Ellison just keeps getting better and better! This new addition to her Dr. Samantha Owens series further develops the ensemble of complex characters who play off each other nicely. This would make a fine beach read, except with the fast pace and thrills — the action all takes place in about 24 hours — you might never make it into the water. Minor plot threads and a brief appearance by Taylor Jackson (another Ellison protagonist) hint at more good stories to come.

Loved this quotable quote from Library Journal:

"Verdict: The fourth Samantha Owens novel moves from forensics to international bioterrorism, and the results are breathtaking! Thriller fanatics craving an action-packed novel of intrigue will be abundantly rewarded." 

Idgie over at Dew on the Kudzu has some lovely things to say as well (thank you, Idgie!).  

Samantha has an interesting case on her hands . . .   This novel involves spies, double spies, sociopath spies, mama spies and apparently a slightly slutty spy. Finally, throw some bioterrorism in there and you get really nervous while reading.

Shout-out to the incomparable Margaret Renkl of Chapter 16, and thank you for a stellar review (Speaking of, did you see Margaret's op-ed in last Sunday's New York Times on caregiving? Beautifully written, that). 

Fans of Patricia Cornwell will appreciate Ellison’s brand of high intrigue paired with a medical-examiner slant . . . What Lies Behind is a straightforward and multilayered thriller with a dynamic cast of characters and an intricate web of conspiracy and backstory. Nashville-based Ellison, whose national reputation has been growing for years, is sure to win more new fans and critical acclaim with her latest thriller.

Working Mother Magazine has some kind things to say as well. 

What Lies Behind has an explosive storyline that is all too realistic. The plot is a compelling mystery with a lot of action and terror.”

MilitaryPress.com. called WHAT LIES BEHIND a "realistic, frightening novel." You know, they'd probably know . . . 

Blackfive.net seemed to dig the plot:

“Because the plot takes place in one harrowing day the action never seems to stop.  It can be seen as a warning for a terrorist threat that seems to have fallen under the radar.

I so enjoyed chatting with Debbie Haupt, mastermind behind The Reading Frenzy, who was ridiculously kind in her assessment of the novel! 

“Where do I start telling how wonderful this was, do I start by giving it the 6 out of 5 stars it deserves? Do I start by saying what an adrenalin rush this nail biting, page-turning, one-sitting tale is so that by the end readers will need to breathe into a brown paper bad to stop hyperventilating?”

Universal Creativity, Inc. Magazine was so gracious with their comments in the May issue.

A highly thrilling and fact-paced novel that readers will come to love. The suspense hangs high in the air on every page.

 

Guest Posts & Chats

Suite T, Southern Writers Magazine’s blog, invited me over for a guest post! 

And many thanks to Crimespree Magazine for hosting such a fun chat. 

 

Interviews & Features

Amazon featured WHAT LIES BEHIND in crime newsletter and on Kindle Post blog! 

I was honored that Bookpage invited me to be one of their “Meet the Author” segments in June. That was pretty cool. 

A kind literary blogger from Bulgaria, Ognian Georgiev of LandofBooks.com interviewed me too.

Anthony Franze of Suspense Magazine portrays me more charmingly than I deserve. I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation on writing, and giving you, gentle readers, a few of my secrets.

I had so much fun with Josie Brown of The Big Thrill. She asked me a delightful mixture of insightful yet fun questions!  

 

Signings

I also had a few signings, where I had the good fortune to meet some of you lovelies. Many thanks to each of these venues for hosting me!

  • FoxTale Book Shoppe: Atlanta, GA
  • Parnassus Books: Nashville, TN
  • Reading Rock Books: Dickson, TN
  • Books-A-Million: Nashville, TN
  • The Friends of the Decatur Public Library: Decatur, AL
  • Publix Highway 100: Nashville, TN

And most of all, thanks to you, gentle reader, for your kind words and support. You mean more to me than you'll ever know! Xoxo

Comment

J.T. Ellison

New York Times bestselling author J.T. Ellison writes dark psychological thrillers starring Nashville Homicide Lt. Taylor Jackson and medical examiner Dr. Samantha Owens, and pens the Nicholas Drummond series with #1 New York Times bestselling author Catherine Coulter. Cohost of the premier literary television show, A Word on Words, Ellison lives in Nashville with her husband and twin kittens.

For more insight into her wicked imagination, join J.T.’s email list at jtellison.com/subscribe, or follow her online at Facebook.com/JTEllison14 or on Twitter @thrillerchick.