No year for me is complete without an enjoyable look back at my favorite reads. I just checked goodreads, and apparently I have read 71 books out of my modest goal of 40 for the year. Not bad for a busy year in which I launched my debut novel and edited a much-longer sequel, heh. I liked most of the books I read, so picking the top ten is a deeply difficult task. I decided: no more than one per author, and a sprinkling from different genres, although my reading skewed heavily to fantasy this year. Next year, I will in all likelihood read more science fiction, to balance it out.
So here’s my list! Neatly divided by genre for your convenience. Note: the books were not necessarily published in 2018. This is just when I got around to reading them.
What If the Moon Didn’t Exist: Voyages to Earths That Might Have Been
by Neil F. Comins
A fantastic collection of essays of ‘what-ifs’. What if the moon didn’t exist? What if the sun were more massive? What if a black hole passes through the earth? What if a star exploded near earth? Well-written, engaging and absorbing read. Essential for science fiction writers – actually anyone interested in knowing how the world works!
The Hate U Give
by Angie Thomas
A beautiful, searing book about what it means to be black in America. Told through the voice of sixteen-year-old Starr, this is not a book you will be able to put down, or a story you can forget. Highly recommended. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I probably will.
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet
by Becky Chambers
Space opera tends to be epic and violent and dramatic. Usually. And then you get this gem of book which is none of those things and yet manages to be both a page-turner and a heart-warmer. Follow the adventures of the motley crew of the Wayfarer as they journey through space to tunnel a wormhole to a distant planet, and get more than they bargained for.
Annihilation (The Southern Reach Trilogy Book 1)
by Jeff VanderMeer
Oooh this book gave me the shivers. I plan to read the rest of the trilogy in 2019. You have to read nearly to the end to know what ‘annihilation’ means in the context of the novel. I don’t want to give too much away. Read about the 12th expedition to ‘Area X’, a mysterious and growing area cut off from the ‘normal’ world.
All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries #1)
by Martha Wells
An alien planet. A survey team of researchers. Hostile life forms. One Security Bot to protect them. What can go wrong? (Spoiler – plenty.)
I love Murderbot. I want to be Murderbot’s friend. Sadly, I do not think Murderbot wants to be my friend.
Six of Crows
by Leigh Bardugo
A richly detailed secondary world fantasy set in a fictional Ketterdam inspired (perhaps?) by medieval Amsterdam, this is a multiple POV book about a bunch of teens planning a heist. I loved the characters and their backstories. My only sticking point? The characters don’t sound seventeen to me. They sound in their twenties, at least.
Borderline (The Arcadia Project)
by Mishell Baker
Both inner demons as well as external ones plague Millie, a one-time film director who has tried to end her life and lost her legs. Life changes when she is offered a job with a secret organization that controls traffic to and from a parallel reality filled with fairy tale creatures.
Maskerade (Discworld #18)
by Terry Pratchett
I am a Discworld fan. I read six Discworld novels this year and it was hard to choose just one. I picked this because not only is it hilarious, I’d never read it before, and it features my favorite witches, Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg. It’s a riff on The Phantom of the Opera. There is indeed opera, and murders, and a phantom. LOVED it.
Howl’s Moving Castle
by Diana Wynne Jones
A delightful fantasy read featuring the unlucky eldest child Sophie, a wicked witch, the heartless Wizard Howl, his fire demon, and a very interesting castle. Recommended for all ages. First I read it myself, then I read it to my kids. We all loved it!
Monstress Volume 1: Awakening
by Marjorie Liu (Author), Sana Takeda (Artist)
I don’t normally read graphic novels, but I’m glad I gave this a try. It’s lushly drawn, beautiful and dark, with complex world building. My favorite bits were the cats. All the cats! Little Fox is very cute too. And then there is Monstress herself, with whatever lurks beneath her skin. Recommended for adults, as long as you don’t mind some gory violence.
Notable Mentions (I also loved these books! Yes, I know I’m cheating…)
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip
The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) by Holly Black
Provenance by Ann Leckie
An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard
The Magic Orange Tree and Other Haitian Folktales by Diane Wolkstein
The Virago Book of Witches by Shahrukh Husain
The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker