Okay, loves, it’s time to start working on my best/worst/most disappointing lists of 2018! I originally was going to do these at the end of the year, but ultimately decided, for the sake of fairness, to wait until all of my 2018 reading was done!
There were so many more I wanted to put on this list, but in the end, this was the “top 25” I came up with. I know 25 might seem like a lot for a “best of” list, but I read over 300 books in 2018, so I think it’s fair!
(These are in no particular order.)
1. CIRCE — MADELINE MILLER (review)
Circe is one of the most unique and wonderful retellings I’ve ever read, and is one of the most meaningful and beloved reads of my life.
The writing is beautiful and I adored Circe as a character, but more than anything, the representation given of both her craft and her identity as a mother meant so much to me and made me cry so many times in the best way possible.
2. ALL SYSTEMS RED — MARTHA WELLS
This was one of the most delightful sci-fi reads of my life. While there is a lot of futuristic sci-fi content going on here, it’s never over-the-top (if you’re like me and tend to shy away from “extreme sci-fi”), and is primarily character-driven and based on Murderbot’s mixed feelings for humans and overwhelming desire to spend all of its time hiding from social activities (word).
3. REIGN OF THE FALLEN/SONG OF THE DEAD — SARAH GLENN MARSH (book 1 review)
I’m gonna cheat a little with this one and include both books in this duology, because I read them both this year and adored them both. Bisexual necromancers, lovable critters (like an epic grizzly bear and a sweet, feisty dragon), and an effortlessly diverse world full of normalized queer rep. Seriously, I can’t rave enough about this series. The first book also has the best addiction rep I’ve ever seen in YA, and is honestly such a refreshing take on the topic that I’m forever grateful to Sarah for writing it.
4. BORN A CRIME — TREVOR NOAH (review)
This was my first ever nonfiction-narrated-by-the-author audiobook, and it’s absolutely the best possible way to read this, if you can. Trevor is such an amazing storyteller in both written and spoken word, and combining the two? Flawless.
Born a Crime is half hilarious and half heartbreaking, with intermingled stories of his own wild antics as a kid, and the effects that apartheid had on black and biracial people in South Africa. Absolutely my all-time favorite nonfic read.
5. OVER AND OVER AGAIN — COLE MCCADE (review)
If you’re looking for an amazing, sweet, slooooow-burning m/m romance, look no further. There’s a little bit of “taboo” to it, with a major age gap between the two and an interesting backstory, but McCade writes it gorgeously and there’s never any sort of consent issue or power dynamic being abused—it’s just a sweet, funny, angsty story about two beautiful men (and some baby goats).
6. A GIRL LIKE HER — TALIA HIBBERT (review)
If there is any book I just never seem to shut up about, it’s probably this one. A Girl Like Her was my first adult romance novel review, I think, and it’s still one of my all-time faves. It was also my first Talia Hibbert story and now I can never get enough of her work. It features a fat, black, autistic heroine and a hero who is muscular, tattooed, a phenomenal cook, and was originally based off of a GIF of Chris Evans… need I say more?
7. THE SIREN AND THE SPECTER — JONATHAN JANZ (review)
Okay, just kidding, this list has a few books I never shut up about, and this is definitely another one of them. I feel like I just need to shove Jonathan’s books into the hands of every single horror lover I know, because he’s phenomenal and has quickly become one of my all-time favorite authors (plus, he’s generally an amazing human being and I am not exaggerating when I say that I fully expect him to become a household name). This book was the first book to legitimately scare me in a decade and now I want to read literally everything the man ever writes.
8. IN AN ABSENT DREAM — SEANAN MCGUIRE (review)
This was really hard to narrow down, because I think I actually reads books 2-4 of this series in 2018, but if I had to choose just one favorite from this series, it might be this one. Its rendition of the Goblin Market is one of my favorite bookish worlds to ever exist and I enjoyed it so much. Lundy is a fascinating character who I related to in a lot of unexpected but deeply personal ways, and I can’t wait for all of you to read this.
9. THE SEVEN HUSBANDS OF EVELYN HUGO — TAYLOR JENKINS REID (review)
I truly do not rave about this book nearly enough—I think it gets so much praise throughout the book community that I spend my efforts elsewhere, typically—but it’s honestly some of my favorite representation ever written, and on top of that, it’s just a gorgeous story told in a unique and refreshing way. It was my first TJR novel but it absolutely will not be my last, because her storytelling is on another level.
10. THE WICKED KING — HOLLY BLACK (review)
WOW, Holly is just over here destroying the whole “second book slump” expectation. I loved TCP, but this sequel blew it out of the damn water.
I just want to spend forever in Faerie, geeking out over Holly’s ability to both make us love these awful feyfolk while still staying true to the terrifying and cruel lore behind most of the old faerie stories.
11. BLOOD WATER PAINT — JOY MCCULLOUGH (review)
I am honestly ashamed of the disservice I am doing all of you by not mentioning this book on a daily basis, because it is SO GOOD. It’s a novel told (mostly) in verse and is based on the true life of Artemisia Gentileschi, a young woman who became one of Rome’s most talented artists despite never receiving the credit she deserved in life, and despite being sexually assaulted by her teacher.
Heads up, this book is raw and brutal and literally left me weeping into my pillow at one point because I related so much to Artemisia’s reactions to her assault, but if you can handle the TWs, you can’t afford to miss this.
12. THE KISS QUOTIENT — HELEN HOANG (review)
I mean…. What can I say that everyone else hasn’t said in their “best of 2018” lists? 😂
It’s diverse, cute, funny, clever, sexy, steamy, and adorable. I’m probably adding this to my permanent list of “books to reread when I’m in a slump and/or depressed” because it feels like the perfect solution for a bad mood.
13. A CONJURING OF LIGHT — V. E. SCHWAB (review)
I think everyone is aware by now that I hate reading series finales—they make me so anxious (either that everyone I love will die, or that they’ll ruin the entire series *glares at Allegiant and Bright We Burn*). So… I was a little terrified of reading ACOL, but it’s honestly my favorite series finale of all time. It wrapped everything up exactly how I hoped it would (for better or for worse) and was all around flawless. ♥
14. SUMMER BIRD BLUE — AKEMI DAWN BOWMAN (review)
Y’all know I love a good tearjerker when it comes to contemporaries, and this delivers ALL the feels. Seriously, just have a million tissues on hand if you’re anything like me because I cried like a baby for pretty much the whole book, and I don’t even HAVE siblings. Ugh. It was so good and the representation of grief and how it affects people differently? Perfection. Plus, ace/aro rep and loads of POC rep? Akemi is a QUEEN.
15. NEVERNIGHT — JAY KRISTOFF (review)
Just a side note: when I looked for the review to add to the title heading, I just searched my blog for “Kristoff”, and… LOL YIKES, it is embarrassing how much I talk about this man and his books. Anyways…
There are books, and there are stories, and Nevernight is a damn STORY, featuring all the best characters and violence and sex and murder and magic and… yeah. It’s amazing. (*whispers to self* how the hell have I not read Godsgrave yet…)
16. SIX OF CROWS — LEIGH BARDUGO (review)
This whole duology (soon to be trilogy! *screams forever*) is amazing, but the first book is definitely my fave. The characters, the heist, the action, the romance, the political intrigue… ahhh. ♥
Seriously, if you haven’t read this series, you need to.
17. THE LANGUAGE OF THORNS — LEIGH BARDUGO
Likewise, if you haven’t read this, you need to. It can be read independently of the Grisha and SOC series, so if you haven’t read all (or any) of those, you can still pick up this collection of short stories/fairytales.
They do mean a little more if you know the characters and world, I think, but they stand beautifully on their own.
18. CITY OF GHOSTS — VICTORIA SCHWAB (review)
I know this book has gotten a lot of hate this year, and… I’m not going to get into that.
I’m just gonna say that, having gone into this book with reasonable expectations and keeping in mind that it was written for children, it’s an absolutely incredible book and I adored every page of it. 😂
19. PHOENIX UNBOUND — GRACE DRAVEN (review)
If you’d asked me if I expected this book to be in my top 25, I’d have said no, but it was just so lovable and beautifully written and I enjoyed the characters so much that now, months after reading it, I still think about it all the time and can’t help but get so excited every time I see anyone else talking about it! It’s long past due for me to read some more of this author’s work!
20. SADIE — COURTNEY SUMMERS (review)
This book absolutely destroyed me and I loved every painful, miserable second of it.
Even though it hasn’t been long at all since I read it, I have the audiobook on hold through the library just so I can reread it as soon as possible and get the full podcast-chapter experience, too!
21. BLANCA Y ROJA — ANNA-MARIE MCLEMORE (review)
Anna-Marie McLemore’s writing is always gorgeous, but this book… wow.
If it wasn’t the beautiful writing or the lovable characters or the intense, chilling plot, it’s the representation she wrote of a trans character inspired by her own spouse. So much of what is said in the book directly and perfectly parallels things my own trans spouse has said to me time and time again.
22. TOIL & TROUBLE — edited by TESS SHARPE & JESSICA SPOTSWOOD (review)
As a practicing witch, I’m always excited but wary when it comes to witchy stories, because sometimes—too often—I’m just being handed silly or ridiculous caricatures. While I don’t get super offended over it most of the time, it can get old and definitely cringe-y at times!
Thankfully, this collection didn’t have that issue AT ALL and I adored almost every single story in this. I especially loved the endless representation and important topics being addressed, and the fact that you could clearly tell some of the authors contributing are witches themselves. ♥
23. QUEEN OF SHADOWS — SARAH J. MAAS (review)
Since I read basically this entire series in 2018, it was hard to narrow it down to just one favorite, but then I remembered this scene:
Aelin took a step forward. One step, as if in a daze. She loosed a shuddering breath, and a small, whimpering noise came out of her – a sob. And then she was sprinting down the alley, flying as though the winds themselves pushed at her heels. She flung herself on the male, crashing into him hard enough that anyone else might have gone rocking back into the stone wall. But the male grabbed her to him, his massive arms wrapping around her tightly and lifting her up. Nesryn made to approach, but Aedion stopped her with a hand on her arm.
Aelin was laughing as she cried, and the male was just holding her, his hooded head buried in her neck. As if he were breathing her in.
“Who is that?” Nesryn asked.
Aedion smiled. “Rowan.”
Aaaaand now I want to cry and this is reminding me that I need to hurry up and finish KoA. 😭
24. THE RAVEN KING — MAGGIE STIEFVATER (review)
I’m never going to get over this series. I never wanted it to end but this finale was everything I asked for and more.
WHY ARE THESE LAST FEW MAKING ME SO DAMN EMOTIONAL 😭 My poor Henrietta babies…
25. KINGS RISING — C. S. PACAT (review)
Okay, last one—if you made it to the end, you’re awesome, because I know this was a long list. Like I said, these were in no particular order, which is important to stress because there are very few books on this planet that I love more than this series.
My sweet, soft little bi baby and grouchy, beautiful Laurent… ugh. I love them so much and I love this world so much and I’m just never going to stop crying over this series.
That’s it! Those were my 25 best reads of 2018. What was YOUR best read of the year?