Reviews

My 25 Best Reads of 2018

January 7, 2019

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)

32993458 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

33387769This 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)

40125269 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)

29780253This 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)

39933692If 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)

40233866
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)

38608066Okay, 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)

38232344This 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)

32620332I 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)

26032887WOW, 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)

35540804I 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)

36577586I 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)

29939230I 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)

35716237Y’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)

26114463Just 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)

23437156This 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

34076952Likewise, 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)

37825382I 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)

37797621If 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)

34810320This 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)

36952596Anna-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)

36426163As 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)

18006496Since 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)

17378527I’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)

25810368Okay, 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?

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No Comments

  • Reply bookaholiclizzy January 7, 2019 at 9:08 am

    Great list! I finished ACOL last week and I totally agree with you, it was a flawless way to end the series. Also I had no idea until just now that a third book for Six of Crows was confirmed, this just made my day!

  • Reply Kayleigh (Dog Eared Page) January 7, 2019 at 9:20 am

    So many of these are books I loved. Circe, Seven Husbands, City of Ghosts… and so many books I wants to read! What a great year.

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries January 14, 2019 at 10:51 am

      Yessss, so many good ones! ♥ I feel like our reading tastes are similar in a lot of ways!

  • Reply Alyssa Cohen January 7, 2019 at 9:39 am

    You have SO MANY fantastic books on this list!! I just ordered “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” online last night, and plan on reading it in February or March. I hope it lives up to the hype! “Sadie”, “The Kiss Quotient”, “In An Absent Dream”, and “The Wicked King” have all been on my radar, and I hope to get to them sometime this year!

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries January 14, 2019 at 10:51 am

      Thank you! I hope you love Evelyn, I enjoyed it so much and already want to reread it. ♥

  • Reply The Sassy Library Fox January 7, 2019 at 11:02 am

    Gah! I really like this list! I love all my precious Raven Boys and oh gods do I adore Laurent and Damen! <3 It makes me so happy to see you like those series too! 😀

  • Reply Merline January 7, 2019 at 11:23 am

    So many great books on this list! I love The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Born A Crime, Six of Crows, and Nevernight!

  • Reply Eleanor January 7, 2019 at 12:45 pm

    I am totally the same about not having read Godsgrave yet! Nevernight was my second favourite book of 2018, and Godsgrave is sat there on my shelf….and I haven’t read it! Also, so many of the books on this list sound amazing!

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries January 14, 2019 at 11:05 am

      I’m so glad I’m not the only one who loved NN SO MUCH and yet still hasn’t read GG lol!

  • Reply CJR The Brit January 7, 2019 at 12:56 pm

    *over here eyeing The Wicked King, jealously* 😂😂😂
    Circe was soooooo good!

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries January 9, 2019 at 2:34 pm

      Oh man, I hope you get to read TWK ASAP! Soooo good!

      • Reply CJR The Brit January 9, 2019 at 3:41 pm

        I ordered the Faecrate box but apparently there is a delay….so I need to get on ebook too so I can read sooner!!!

  • Reply Marie January 7, 2019 at 1:00 pm

    Oh this is a great list! So many books I need to read. I’m eager to read Evelyn Hugo sometime this year, as well as Blanca and Roja hopefully, and Toil & Trouble too, they all sound amazing 🙂

  • Reply Octavia @MythicalReads January 7, 2019 at 1:53 pm

    A great list! It seems like you had a very successful reading year! I loved Evelyn Hugo and Sadie as well! (:

  • Reply MetalPhantasmReads January 7, 2019 at 2:18 pm

    I also really liked City of Ghosts and did like Sadie 🙂 so glad you read a lot of great books last year

  • Reply Kay Wisteria January 7, 2019 at 6:44 pm

    Glad you liked Wicked King–I can’t wait to read it!! Lovely list 🙂

  • Reply Deanna Reads Books January 7, 2019 at 7:04 pm

    I’m so glad to hear that about the wicked king. I have to admit I was a little nervous.

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries January 9, 2019 at 2:36 pm

      I was, too! I enjoyed the first one a lot but I don’t think I was quite as captivated as a lot of people were, so I was a little worried I wouldn’t love the sequel, but I honestly think TWK is amazing!

  • Reply Meeghan reads January 7, 2019 at 7:05 pm

    Kristoff, Stiefvater, Pacat and Bardugo are just amazing writers!! x

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries January 9, 2019 at 2:36 pm

      They really are! I want to read everything all of them ever have written or ever will write! I actually think I have read everything Bardugo has written so far and of course will be adding King of Scars to that list in a few weeks. 😀

      • Reply Meeghan reads January 9, 2019 at 7:20 pm

        I still haven’t read the Grishaverse trilogy, but it’s on my TBR for this month 🙂

        • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries January 18, 2019 at 11:41 pm

          If you haven’t gotten to it yet, I hope you get the chance to soon!

          • Meeghan reads January 19, 2019 at 4:21 am

            It is on my TBR for this year (I mean, I have to read it before I read King of Scars, and that is getting a lot of hype at the moment)

  • Reply Meredith @ Pandora's Books January 7, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    I’m currently re-reading Reign of the Fallen so I can binge Song of the Dead! Reign of the Fallen was my favorite book of 2018 and I’m SO PUMPED for book two! Your post also has me dying to re-read and finish the Six of Crows Duology (TRILOGY?!?!?!?!) and Throne of Glass series because I’m behind on both and really wanna finish both before spoilers. Also, I NEED to read The Cruel Prince and The Wicked King because they look SO GOOD.
    Finally, I know you didn’t wanna get into it. but… Why is everyone hating on City of Ghosts??? It looks SO good!

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries January 9, 2019 at 2:39 pm

      That’s awesome!! I’m so glad you loved the first one so much and I hope you love the second one even more! 😀 And yes, there’s a 3rd book coming out for the SOC series! Isn’t it awesome?! I feel you on TOG, I’m still dodging spoilers for the last book lol! And I definitely hope you get to pick up TCP/TWK soon but the second book does end on a huge cliffhanger so part of me is tempted to recommend you just wait until the 3rd book comes out next year and binge read the whole trilogy lol!
      A lot of people expected City of Ghosts to read similarly to Schwab’s adult or even her YA books. :/ I have several friends who admit they never read MG books EVER but they thought they would love it, so they were upset that they didn’t, which I can get on one hand, but on the other hand, it really bothers me to see someone rate a book like that. I feel like that would be like someone who hates horror books reviewing one 1 star and saying they hated it because it was scary lol. You’d be like, okay, what did you think it would be? 😂

  • Reply Jen | Book Den January 7, 2019 at 8:34 pm

    I made such a mistake not reading Circe last year!

  • Reply malanielovesfiction January 7, 2019 at 9:25 pm

    I LOVE THIS LIST SO MUCH, I FEEL SO HAPPY YOU WROTE IT slkdfn
    as I was scrolling, I made sure that only the book you were currently mentioning was showing, so that the next one on the list was a surprise, because i’m a total Howling Libraries nerd since 2018 <3 <3
    but I should be banned from all forms of joy because I STILL haven't read Circe?????? & WHAT ON EARTH????? this is the last straw, i'm going to find & read this book at all costs.
    +I want to read "A Girl Like Her" so much, it has an autistic MC ++++ AN ADORABLE MAN. it's a crime that I haven't read it yet.
    also I agree sm that The Kiss Quotient is the perfect book for reading while depressed, it's helped me feel better on v many occasions, Michael and Stella Lane are just SO WHOLESOME but hot at the same time. c: c: c:

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries January 9, 2019 at 2:42 pm

      I’m gonna cry 😭😭 what did I do to deserve you?!?! this whole comment literally just… I want to print it and put it on my wall lmao.
      Omg PLEASE read Circe soon!!! It’s so good, I get emotional every time I think about it! And yes yes yes also to A Girl Like Her, it is PRECIOUS and I think you will love it ♥♥

  • Reply What's She Reading? January 8, 2019 at 1:06 am

    This is such a good variety! Some of these are DEFINITELY getting added to my TBR 🙂

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries January 9, 2019 at 2:45 pm

      Thank you! 😀 Awesome, I’m so happy I could introduce you to some new reads! I hope you like them!

  • Reply thecritiquesofafangirl January 8, 2019 at 2:08 am

    This is such an amazing list and you have written reviews for almost all of your books, how do you do that? What’s your secret?

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries January 9, 2019 at 2:47 pm

      Thank you! It’s hard, I won’t lie, sometimes I just want to not bother with writing a review and leave it alone! Honestly my trick is that once or twice a month I will pick a day when I don’t have any plans and I will just devote as much time as possible during that whole day to knocking out reviews. 🙂

  • Reply The Voracious Bibliophile January 8, 2019 at 4:20 am

    This is a wonderful list!! I think I really need to read Circe, it sounds amazing. Thank you for all these brilliant books!
    Fellow bookworms, here’s my blog: https://thevoraciousbibliophile.wordpress.com

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries January 14, 2019 at 10:09 pm

      Thank you! Circe was absolutely incredible. I hope you get the chance to give it a try soon!

  • Reply Jolien @ The Fictional Reader January 8, 2019 at 6:03 am

    I really loved Circe and Sadie too! Both are such incredible and powerful novels. You’ve also completely sold me on A Girl Like Her because that seems like everything I would want in a romance book. I hope you have a great reading your in 2019 too!

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries January 14, 2019 at 10:10 pm

      They were both so good! Oh my gosh, it makes me so happy that I helped pique your interest in A Girl Like Her. I hope you love it! And thank you, Jolien, happy reading! ♥

  • Reply Reading in Bed January 8, 2019 at 6:45 am

    Amazing list! Looks as though 2018 was a good reading year for you. I also loved Born a Crime. Can’t wait for A Place of Gold, Trevor Noah’s second autobiography – it’s out this year, yippee!

  • Reply Kathy @ Books & Munches January 8, 2019 at 6:59 am

    I’m not even going to list how many of these are on my TBR still. Nope. I refuse.
    BUT YES TO QUEEN OF SHADOWS. I’m honestly already stoked about my rereading plans for 2020?

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries January 14, 2019 at 10:23 pm

      I’m not even judging you for that because honestly, that is a series I feel like I should just go ahead and accept that I’ll reread once every year or couple of years 😂

      • Reply Kathy @ Books & Munches January 16, 2019 at 2:40 am

        Once every year is.. I don’t think I’m emotionally capable of that, haha 😂

  • Reply thelittlebookowl January 8, 2019 at 4:42 pm

    Circe was definitely one of my favourite reads from 2018 too.

  • Reply Victoria January 9, 2019 at 2:17 pm

    I totally feel you on how difficult it is to narrow down a list of favorites when you’ve read so many books. I’ve read a few of the books on this list, and I definitely want to add more to my tbr (which is a little out of control rn lol). I read Evelyn Hugo right when the book came out, but now that I’ve been seeing it on so many people’s 2018 faves I’m itching to reread it again VERY SOON. Also congrats on reading over 300 books last year, that’s so amazing!

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries January 18, 2019 at 11:57 pm

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who had such a hard time narrowing it down! 2018 was just a great year for releases. 🙂 Evelyn Hugo was so amazing and I’m dying to reread it soon, too, so hopefully we’ll both get the chance to in the very near future! And thank you so much ♥

  • Reply Samantha Duffy January 10, 2019 at 10:34 am

    I am SO excited that you liked An Absent Dream. I can’t wait to finally read it!

  • Reply Ellyn January 13, 2019 at 4:06 am

    Ah yes! Born a Crime was so so interesting and I’m so glad I read it too! And di you know it’s being turned into a movie? I’m pretty sure Lupita Nyong’o is slated to play his mother!
    I know we talk about this *all* the time, but I’m about to start In An Absent Dream and I’m so excited for it!
    We’ve talked about Blanca y Roja a lot too, but my library finally got a hold of it and I’m hopefully going to be reading it in the next month or two and I could not be more excited for it!
    Also, you wrote so many reviews last year, what a legend! Honestly, I feel like I wrote maybe 3 reviews in all of 2018. You really have a superpower, I don’t know how you did it.

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries January 19, 2019 at 12:25 am

      Yesssss, I’m so excited!! I want to be there on opening night for it!
      Did you read In an Absent Dream yet? if so, did you love it? I swear I’m thinking you mentioned it to me in the last few days on FB but it’s like half past midnight and I haven’t been awake this late in weeks so I’m a little out of it 😂😂😂
      Awww thank you love!! I swear you wrote more reviews than 3 haha! <3

      • Reply Ellyn January 19, 2019 at 12:51 am

        I actually just finished IAAD an hour ago and I really liked it, The Goblin Market was one of my avourite places we’ve been to in the series so far! Also, after fiishing the book, I love the title even more now!

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