Thursday, January 3, 2019

Favorite Reads of 2018

It's time for all the year-end, best-book wrap-ups. I love seeing all the favorite-books lists at the end of every year.

I read 153 books this year, which is just three books short of my all-time yearly high, and I'm almost embarrassed by that large number. Did I do anything but read in 2018?

But the real story of the year is that 89 of those 153 book were audiobooks. And no, I definitely did not listen to anything other than books this year. That new podcast? Nope, I haven't heard it. Your favorite new music? Definitely haven't listened to that either. If I can muster up the energy I might do A Few Thoughts post on my growing audiobook consumption as a companion to the post I did a couple of years ago about ebooks

I gave 20 books a 5-star rating this year and truly read (and listened to) some real gems. Also, I settled on presenting only 2018 releases with a special category for my favorite backlist title this time around.

So without further ado, here are the favorites in a variety of categories.

(You can check out mid-year favorites here.)

Favorite Fantasy: Muse of Nightmare by Laini Taylor
The sequel to Strange the Dreamer was everything I wanted and more. I love Laini Taylor's writing. I love this Ancient Near Eastern-inspired world. I love the mind-blowing connection to her earlier series. This book just might be my very favorite read of the year. (series featured here)

Favorite Sequel: A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir
This the second time Sabaa Tahir's fantastic fantasy series has won "Favorite Sequel." This addition to the series was so intense, so emotional, and quite a nail-biter. Sabaa Tahir is not afraid to be brutal to her characters. (series featured here and here)

Favorite Retelling: The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White
2018 was the bicentennial of the publication of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and, for me, it was also the year of Frankenstein-inspired books. (There are two on this list!) It was also the year that solidified my fangirl status for Kiersten White, who also published a smashing finish to the And I Darken Trilogy this year. (featured here)

Favorite Series Finale: The Delphi Revolution by Rysa Walker
The final book in the Delphi Trilogy was so fantastic. The finale is loaded with lots of suspense and a few big surprises. I was amazed at how quickly I sped through this rather lengthy book. (series featured here and here)

Favorite Illustrated Novel: Mary's Monster by Lita Judge
The second Frankenstein-inspired book on this list. I really enjoyed this beautifully illustrated verse novel about the life of Mary Shelley. It is so, so pretty and a compelling way to learn about the life of Mary Shelley. (featured here)

Favorite Book Club Book: Educated by Tara Westover
This book is still the one I had the most conversations about this year. We read it for my book club over the summer, talked about the book for four hours, and probably could have held a second book club and filled four more hours. (featured here)

Favorite Backlist Title: Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
I hadn't read this YA classic until this year, and I found it so delightful in large part because of the nostalgia factor. YA fantasy is just not written this way anymore, and the overall style really brought me back to my younger years. 

Favorite Historical Fiction/ Short Story Collection: Fatal Throne
I think this is the first time I've given 5-stars to a short story collection. This book is a collection of stories by seven authors about the wives of Henry VIII, and I honestly loved them all. Jennifer Donnelly's story about Anne of Cleves still haunts me. (featured here)

Favorite New Book by a Beloved Author: Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield
I was utterly captivated by Diane Setterfield's new novel. I love how it weaves together history, mythology, folktale, and science. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Juliet Stevenson, and it was so transporting.

Favorite Novel in Verse/ Diverse book: The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
I made an effort to read more books that would fit into the "We Need Diverse Books" category this year, and I loved so many of them. This verse novel, by slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo, is a tour de force. It won the National Book Award in YA fiction, and I highly recommend the audiobook, which is read by the author.

Favorite Nonfiction Book: Fly Girls by P. O'Connell Pearson
Fly Girls is the story of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) that flew for the United States during World War II. Patricia O'Connell Pearson's book is an engrossing and comprehensive look at the work of the WASPs. I really enjoy learning about how women contributed during the war years, and I'd strongly recommend this book to anyone who shares that interest. (featured here)

Favorite Series that Ended in 2018: The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
For the past couple of years the sequels to Illuminae have been at the very top of my most-anticipated lists. There's something so satisfying about reading a highly-anticipated book that surpasses your every expectation, and that's exactly what these books did. It's hard to say goodbye to this series.(featured here)

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