2018 was the year of debuts and series finales. There were sooo many great releases! Yet with so little time and over 2,000 books on my TBR pile– including half-started series I was already invested in– I did not get through a lot of them. Instead, I focused on books published earlier in this decade that I’ve been meaning to read but never did. Thus, my list is a mix of underhyped books and popular ones. Without further ado, I give you my top books of 2018.
While pirate stories are not my usual cup of tea, Daughter of the Pirate King hooked me from the beginning. There’s something to be said about a heroine who chooses to play into others’ perception of them as Alosa does. I absolutely adored that instead of a damsel in distress or a completely independent heroine, we have one that can play both angles.
One of my favorite aspects of the book was a reveal quarter-book pertaining to Alosa that changed how I looked at her– for the better. Not only did it make for a lot of quotable moments but it made me admire her more for staying true to who she is and who she wants to be.
Before I go on about how much I loved this book, know that it’s a novella. However, I couldn’t in good conscious rank the first book in the series after it’s lackluster performance. This novella is what brings life, depth, and foundation to the world that Mafi began in Shatter Me, particularly Warner.
Warner is a complex character that did not fully explore in Shatter Me. His obsession with Juliette is used to make him susceptible to anything revolving her. It’s not until Destroy Me that we understand where his obsession comes from. More importantly, that he’s aware of his obsession and why he looks at it as something deeper and less creepy than an obsession. There’s a clarity amidst our perception of his madness that makes him a worthy adversary.
Up until September, I hadn’t heard about Sarah J. Maas. Once I joined the book community, though, it was hard to escape hearing either of these. I picked up A Court of Thorns and Roses to see what all the talk was about.
For the first half of the book, I thought I’d fall into the minority who disliked A Court of Thorns and Roses. Then… then, the book picked up pace. Events took place. Characters did things. Curses went acursing. It was then that I couldn’t stop reading. Sarah J. Maas built a spell-binding fae world that’s seductive, thorns and all.
It may have been higher on my list had the first half been shorter or had more development.
This is another book I feared I’d hate up until the halfway point. While I understood Holly Black was setting up the world, character relationships, and the seeds for the later part of the book, the first half was dull. Holly spent a significant portion of the book weaving Elfhame. From it’s sickeningly beauty to debauched revelry to the beauty that bewitches mortals. I enjoyed it– to an extent. I would have preferred to see more of the secondary characters than of Faerieland.
But there was a point where The Cruel Prince picked up pace. The court politics bled into Jude’s life and she got more entangled in Cardan’s circle. Literally everything that happened in the second half of the book is my favorite part, and the only reason I ended up enjoying The Cruel prince.
I read Fountain for the first time last Fall while enrolled in a political science class. This series was the only good thing about that class, but is it worth it!
This series is clever and intelligent. The plot twists make a lot of sense if you pay attention to the clues hinted at throughout each chapter. And if you’re too absorbed in the story and miss the clues, Asimov ties it all together at the end.
The greatest strength of this series is the world-building. Everything that happens in Foundation and Foundation and Empire is referenced in Second Foundation, meaning nothing is ever filler. Every character and event makes its mark. Overall, a satisfying conclusion to one of my favorite series.
The last time I read this book was sometime four years ago. Rereading Howl’s Moving Castle felt like reading it for the first time.
Howl’s Moving Castle is set in a world where odd things happen more regularly once you start experiencing as our protagonist, Sophie, knows well.
Howl’s Moving Castle is a hero’s journey story. There are, however, several mini adventures that occur as Sophie tried to work out Calcifer’s and Howl’s bargain and how she could break it. Let me just say, it was perfectly executed. Diana Wynne Jones dropped just enough hints that a observant first-time reader and rereader will admire.
I am absolutely fascinated by psychopaths, the dark side of human kind, and what drives people to murder. I also love an outspoken and clever feminist character.
Stalking Jack the Ripper is unique in how it combines to main story lines: the Ripper killings and Audrey Rose’s secret pursuits. Seeing how these two came together at the end made for a satisfying mystery and character arc.
As if that wasn’t enough, Maniscalco gives us what we didn’t think we needed; the banter between Audrey Rose and Thomas Cresswell. It was witty, steamy, and perfect! I’m excited to see how their relationship develops throughout the series.
This series is very close to my heart. It’s so rare to find an overweight main character in YA, especially fantasy, yet here we have Elisa. She’s so insecure about herself due to this that she fears she’s not capable of the greatness she’s marked for. It was incredible seeing her grow into a confidence hero.
The Girl of Fire and Thorns is set in a world heavily influenced by Hispanic and religion. I found the exploration of the religion around the Godstone to be fascinating.
Undoubtedly, the best part of the series are the characters. Eliza. Alejandro. Rosario. Hector. Cosme. Ximena. While the Girl of Fire and Thorns was Elisa’s story, none of the characters felt solely like support characters in her story.
For the past two years, I was so afraid to read this book. With the hype being what it was, I didn’t want to jump straight into it expecting to love it only to be disappointed. I loved These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. I didn’t want to compare the two– although the main common thread was it being set in the far off space future.
Now that I read it, I am disappointed but only on myself for depriving me of such a stellar read for two years! The gorgeous textual design. The snark and sarcasm. The quotes. And AIDAN! Have mercy, Amie and Jay. This lived up the hype and more. If you’ve been like me, go pick this up right away from your closest bookstore or library. You won’t regret it!
and lastly, for my favorite book of the year. The title goes to none other than:
For being one of my favorite books, I have a hard time explaining why this book blows my min
Is it the characters? In part yes. Ender is a six-year-old taken from Earth to train to fend off an ‘Bugger’ invasion. He’s generally a good, kind-hearted boy. Unless you mess with him. He draws this dichotomy from living with his polar opposite siblings. His 10-year-old brother is Peter is more or less a charismatic violent bully. Valentine is a 12-year-old caring soul. Individually, they’re not that special. Their relationships, however, are.
Is it the plot? Hot damn, yes. It’s fairly straight-forward: Ender training to defeat aliens before they invade. Yet there is a lot of subplots that happen in the process that irrevocably alter Ender and his relationships. The training makes up a decent amount of the novel while not dragging on for more than it’s needed.
What I love the most, though, is seeing how Ender is shaped by his experiences and relationships with others. There were so many plot twists, especially at the end. I couldn’t. I cried. They all stem from relationships, in some way or another, and it made it all the more heartbreaking.
The sole reason I didn’t include this in my top 10 is because it’s technically a webtoon. Otherwise, it was pretty damn perfect!!!
Addictive? Check. I stayed up three nights in a row to read the three completed volumes (224 episodes).
Compelling characters? Check. Cheese in the Trap is a heavily character-driven series. It’s the misunderstandings, relationships, personality quirks, and body language that drive the unfolding drama all throughout. Not only is it authentic, but it’s very relatable as well. Not to mention you may have trouble deciding who to root for by the time you’re done reading.
Drama? Check. There’s nothing but drama. Okay, maybe not all the time time but enough to have you say, “I didn’t mean this much drama.” Thankfully there are cute moments among the characters to balance it out!
I had a difficulty making time to read during my first three years of college. This year, I made more of an effort. It helped that I joined bookstagram and the book communities on Facebook. Thank you to anyone who’s a part of either for inspiring me and giving such good book recs!
This year is going to be even better so let’s toast/read to a happy new year’s!