My 18 Favorite Books of 2018
I read 100 books in 2018!
Which amounted to 38,099 pages. The average length of book I read this year was between 300-399 pages.
While it’s not the most amount of books I’ve read in a year… it’s still a lot.
The genres were…
8.6% urban fantasy
7.6% science fiction
6.7% historical fiction
1.9% graphic novels
As for age groups…
26.7% young adult
19.0% new adult
2.9% middle grade
But you all don’t care about my nerdy numbers do you? Fine… fine… we’ll get to my favorites of the year.
All in all, I enjoyed a vast majority of what I read. I’ve been able to figure out pretty easily which I’ll enjoy, so it’s rare when I find a book I hate. Let alone, one that I hate and will finish. (Life is too short to read books you don’t like. Aren’t liking a book? Just stop reading and find one you do!) Which is great! But… it does make it difficult to narrow down which ones were my absolute favorite.
Here’s the list I came up with. They’re in no particular order, just what popped up on Goodreads as I looked through to see which ones I’d rated the highest.
If you ask me, it’s a good variety of books. You’ve got a mix of adult, new adult, and young adult, sci-fi, fantasy, contemporary, romance, historical… it’s all there! I tried to see if there were any similar threads, genres, or plot lines, but there weren’t really. At first I thought that they all maybe had a great romance even if it was a side plot, but even that wasn’t a commonality!
What I did notice was, they all have fantastic characters. Ones that I am fascinated by, root for, or connect to. You could have a fairly predictable plot, but if the characters are ones who stand out and I connect with, I’ll be wanting even more!
The other commonality was that every single book was written by a woman except for one - where it was co-written by a male author and a female author. I have noticed this tends to be a trend with me the last few years. It wasn’t intentional, but the more I notice it, the more I’m actively seeking out female authors. One, because apparently I’m drawn to their writing. Two, particularly in Sci-Fi/Fantasy (adult mostly), it’s still a bit of a boys club. Women for sure are staking their claim and leaving their mark, but as I search for high/epic fantasy, a majority of the books are written by men. I want to let the women shine!
Also - as you’ll notice, I am much more into romance this last year than I have been in previous years, and that genre is mostly written by women.
Men, you need to step up your game. Sorry, not sorry.
I also want to point out how many debut authors I loved in 2018. I made a note of each of them and WOW did they kill it!
So, here you go. My favorites of 2018 in no particular order!
* = own voices
*Trail of Lightning (The Sixth World #1) by Rebecca Roanhorse (Debut author)
Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy
Quick Summary: Monster hunter Maggie travels through the rez to investigate mysterious disappearances and discovers something more evil and powerful than she originally thought.
I love the urban fantasy genre, and there’s a part of me that so sad it’s not really in the market right now. Unless it’s this amazing book that is!
This book was super intense right from the start - so not for the feint of heart! Maggie was such a fantastic and bad ass heroine though, Kai was swoony and loveable and amazing, and having all of the Native American lore/setting/themes was such a refreshing take on this genre. The characters were ripping my heart out in the best way, and the end has me BEGGING for the next book.
*Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orisha #1) by Tomi Adeyemi (Debut author)
Genre: Young Adult Epic Fantasy
Quick Summary: Zeile goes on a quest to bring magic back to her land and rebel against the monarchy.
This book was one of the most hyped for YA fantasy in 2018 and it definitely lived up. It is Adeyemi’s debut, was sold for 7 figures AND already has a movie deal.
Oh. And she’s only 24.
So… that slightly puts your life into perspective, doesn’t it? Haha.
But seriously. This was a phenomenal young adult epic fantasy. Think of it as The Hate U Give - but in fantasy with Black Panther vibes. The characters are vivid and complex, and you have your classic fantasy staples of revolution and freeing magic. You all need to hop on board this train before the next book is released in 2019!
*Song of Blood and Stone (Earthsinger Chronicles #1) by L Penelope (Debut in traditional publishing)
Genre: Adult Fantasy Romance
Quick Summary: After soldier Jack is held captive in Jasminda’s home by mutual enemies, they team together to save Elsira.
I buddy-read this with my friend Caitlin of BookChats and we immediately became obsessed! This is a debut book -but only for the traditionally published realm. L. Penelope originally self-published this book then it got picked up by a publisher and after a lot of editing and revising, it was released in this form. So, if you read the original, I’ve been told this one is much different and her readers should give it a try!
It’s another black lives matters type of a book set in a fantasy world - but this time it’s for adults and there’s more focus on the romance. Which I LOVED. I was completely on board for Jasminda and Jack from the start and I loved this world and concept. I only wish we had a release date for the second book!
Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufmann
Genre: Young Adult Sci-Fi
Quick Summary: The morning Ezra and Katy break up, their planet is invaded and they find themselves on two different spaceships in a race to reach safety before the invaders strike again.
I’ve had this book sitting on my shelf for over a year, and the ebook version on my kindle for even longer. I knew I would like it, but I also knew I would need to be in the right mindset and have the right focus for it due to the multi-media format. I’m so glad I waited until I knew I had that focus because it was wonderful!
The multi-media format was surprisingly compelling. I was worried it would make me feel removed from the story and the characters, but it didn’t at all. There were some surprisingly dark twists which brought even more to the book, and I was completely hooked!
*Relationship Goals by Christina C Jones
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance Novella
Quick Summary: After a spontaneous kiss at an airport, Nick and Noah discover something deeper.
This one took me by surprise! Usually when books try to incorporate social media and technology into their story, it feels clunky and forced. The way Jones did it was spot on! Their kiss goes viral and they start to chat via Instagram messages and it all goes from there. Then, our hero has sickle cell disease, and it was handled so well. I was able to connect with so much about his thoughts on living with the disease and her learning to deal with it at his side. Their relationship felt so real and I loved how they actually talked through things. Definitely a great quick read!
Tessa Ever After (Reluctant Hearts #2) by Brighton Walsh
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Quick Summary: Jason promised his BFF to watch after his sister and niece after he moves away. What he didn’t expect was to fall in love.
This was another pleasant surprise. I read the first book, Caged in Winter, and enjoyed it but wasn’t OMG BEST BOOK EVER. Then when I heard Jason was our hero in book two, I was skeptical.
BUT JASON IS OUR HERO AND GOODNESS WAS I WRONG ABOUT HIM.
Seeing him grow and change through the story was fantastic, and how can you not love a guy who’ll dress up and play tea party with the daughter of his heart’s desire? I mean… seriously. Then Tessa was an awesome heroine and seeing her open up and start to relax around Jason was wonderful to watch.
*An Extraordinary Union (The Loyal League #1) by Alyssa Cole
Genre: Adult Historical Romance
Quick Summary: A spy for the Union, Elle poses as a slave on a plantation to gather information has to team up with Scotsman Malcom to uncover a plot which could turn the tide of the Civil War.
I have finally jumped on the Alyssa Cole train and I’m so glad I did! I’d heard about this author and this book in particular. It was another that for sure lived up to the hype! I love classic historical romance novels along with everyone else. But, it was refreshing to have one that wasn’t filled with balls and carriage rides, and instead was focused on spies for the Civil War. On top of all of that, we have a Scottish hero who reminded me of Jamie Fraser but without the problematic elements of Outlander.
A Night to Surrender (Spindle Cove #1) by Tessa Dare
Genre: Adult Historical Romance
Quick Summary: Susanna spends her life helping women find their inner strength. Then, a new earl comes into town to form a militia and she must stop him from ruining her utopia.
Another romance author who I’ve finally jumped on the train for! This book literally had me laughing out loud with it’s battle of the sexes theme. It’s ridiculous, funny, and completely swoon worthy. Then, our hero had a disability due to a war injury which is always great to see that representation which didn’t make me want to roll my eyes! Everything about it was great and I literally had zero complaints. I need to read all of Tessa Dare’s books now.
*The Poppy War (The Poppy War #1) by RF Kuang (Debut author)
Genre: Adult Epic Fantasy
Quick Summary: Against all odds, Rin earns a place at the elite military school in Nikan and discovers unearthly power.
Another book which was so hyped up and it totally lived up to it! Part of what makes this book stand out so much is that the school element is only the first half because the students in the second half are thrown into a war they’re not prepared for.
It’s intense, heavy, and full of inspiration from Chinese history. There are moments when it’s difficult to read because of that, but trust me it’s 100% worth it.
The Queen’s Rising (The Queen’s Rising #1) by Rebecca Ross (Debut author)
Genre: Young Adult High Fantasy
Quick Summary: When Valenia is not chosen by a patron at her 17th solstice, she waits for months for someone to take her on. Then, she is found in the midst of a rebellion and must decide her loyalty.
This book was on my radar but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read it nor not. Then, a friend messaged me and was like “YOU HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK” so I picked it up from the library. Well… she was right.
At first you think it’s going to be a pretty cliche/typical YA fantasy. There’s magic, the characters go to a boarding school, we have a lost queen/princess, the main character is an orphan, etc. But, all of these tropes still feel fresh and new as you read. I loved these characters and the themes of found family and identity. This book could definitely be a stand alone, but there are more coming and I can’t wait!
Dreamer’s Pool (Blackthorn and Grim #1) by Juliet Mariller
Genre: Adult Historical Fantasy
Quick Summary: Healer Blackthorn has been held in prison for years and will do anything to get her revenge. But when a fae offers her the opportunity for her freedom and in exchange she must help anyone, she must set aside her own goals. At least for the next seven years.
This was a lovely subtle historical fantasy. Blackthorn is a fierce heroine and it was refreshing to have a character who is so bent on revenge being forced to take a step back from it. I love a good dark fantasy along with everyone else. But, having a book where they’re not just ripping apart bodies the whole time was nice to have for a change. Grimm is my precious but also frightening baby that I want to protect from all of the dangers of the world. The prince and his love interest… I’ll be honest were kind of meh. But everything else in the book made up for it!
*New Heights by Quinn Anderson
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance Novella (M/M relationship)
Quick Summary: While stuck at the airport, Mika and James start a feud, but can’t deny their opposites attract connection.
These novellas for sure show that you don’t need a book to be long to be well done!
I read this in the course of just a couple of hours and it was the most delightful couple of hours ever. I loved the opposites attract chemistry and all of their shenanigans around the airport while they were waiting for their delayed flights. The couple was so cute and perfect for each other, I was shipping them from the first paragraph.
The Calculating Stars (Lady Astronaut #1) by Mary Robinette Kowal
Genre: Adult Historical Sci-Fi
Quick Summary: When a meteorite hits the US’s East Coast post WWII and wipes out part of the country, the space race is on so people can colonize Mars, and Elma wants to be on that rocket.
I AM SO OBSESSED WITH THIS BOOK.
Mary Robinette Kowal is one of the hosts on the Writing Excuses podcast and she’s one of my favorites. I’ve started her Glamourist Histories series which is a fun magical regency England setting. But this one - WOW. I’m not one for sci-fi usually, but it was so well done. I am completely in love with Elma and her husband Nathaniel (The ultimate relationship goals for real. Nathaniel has raised the bar for all men everywhere and I will never settle for less than him now that I’ve read this book.), it has this great Hidden Figures feel, is basically a handbook for how white authors should handle their privilege, and of course - SPACE.
I mean… freaking real life astronauts helped her write the book and have reviewed it saying how great it is. I read the sequel and the original novelette which inspired the whole series as well and all three are excellent. I’ve heard she’s signed to write more of these books and I cannot wait.
If I Fix You by Abigail Johnson
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Quick Summary: Jill is the only one who knows the reason her mom walked out on them. Now, months later, she tries to pick up the pieces.
I’d listened to an interview with this author on the Writer Writer Pants on Fire podcast by Mindy McGinnis and I loved her! She has a new book coming out in 2019 that I found the most interesting but decided to check out her debut to see if I liked her writing style. Also, the author is a wheelchair user and I wanted to support her!
This book was such a pleasant surprise! It’s pretty dramatic, but not so much in a way where you feel drained either. Jill is a teen mechanic, which was awesome! She has a great relationship with her dad, and while there is technically a “love triangle” it’s definitely a different twist on it. So, don’t let that scare you away if you typically don’t like that trope.
Vengeful (Villains #2) by VE Schwab
Genre: Adult Sci-Fi
Quick Summary: Five years after Vicious, a new EO wants to take over the city of Merit.
This is the highly anticipated sequel to the first book, Vicious which made my favorites list a few years ago. I wasn’t sure what to expect out of the sequel, but it was amazing! She introduced awesome new characters and you dug even deeper into the ones we already know. It is more character driven than action, which is a preference of mine. The story keeps moving so you’re not bored, but it’s also not “ACTION SCENES ALL THE TIME!” either. If you want a book to study writing and characterization craft, pick this up.
Kingdom of Ash (Throne of Glass #7) by Sarah J Maas
Genre: New Adult Epic Fantasy
Quick Summary: It’s the final battles for the freedom of Terrasen.
OMG I STILL CAN’T BELIEVE THE THRONE OF GLASS SERIES IS OVER.
I can’t go into too much detail because if I did I’d spoil THE WHOLE SERIES for you. But believe me when I say, this was a fantastic conclusion. I cried for basically all 900 pages, yet still felt so satisfied at the end. Which, that’s really hard to do when you’re wrapping up a 7 book series.
How the Dukes Stole Christmas by Tessa Dare, Sarah MacLean, Sophie Jordan, and Joanna Shupe
Genre: Adult Historical Romance
Quick Summary: Four popular historical romance authors share novellas inspired by classic holiday stories all featuring dukes and terrible shortbread.
THIS BOOK WAS SO DELIGHTFUL. I knew I would probably enjoy it because with those authors and that title and that premise? How could I not? But seriously, I loved it way more than I thought I would. The first three novellas were the best, but the last one was also great. (I can’t figure out which holiday story it’s inspired by! If anyone knows, please tell me.) Each one is fast, fun, sexy, and festive. I’ll for sure be adding it to my pile of books to revisit for future Decembers.
*Empire of Sand (The Books of Ambha #1) by Tasha Suri (Debut Author)
Genre: New Adult Fantasy
Quick Summary: Mehr is the illegitimate daughter of a governor with magic in her blood and her powers become noticed by the Emperor’s most feared mystics.
This was the last new release I read in 2018 and it was SO GOOD. I have to say, the fantasy debut authors this year really killed it. They were all fantastic and this was no exception.
I wasn’t sure what to expect going into it because the back of the book doesn’t have a very detailed description. Don’t let that deter you from reading it though because it’s so good! With the dagger on the front, you expect it to be super dark and violent, but it’s not. There definitely dark and violent moments, but it’s much more character driven than you’d think. I loved the India-inspired religion, magic, and setting, but the characters truly were the best. I need more of them in my life!
What do you think of my list? Did you read any of these? Any that you want to check out in the future? What were your favorites of 2018?
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