Favourite Fiction Books of 2018

I have already talked about my least favourite books and my favourite non-fiction books of the year. Today I can finally talk about the fiction books I loved the most this year. These are books I read this year but not necessarily ones published this year. I have tried putting them in order of preference, but this order might have been a different one had I done it another day.

11) Florida by Lauren Groff

36098092I adore, adore Lauren Groff’s writing and her newest short story collection was one of the best things I read this year. I am slowly making my way through her back catalogue because I love the way she structures her sentences and her stories. These stories center (as the title indicates) on Florida, but more so they center women and their difficult relationships to themselves and their children. Beautifully done. Full review here.

10) Hidden Legacy Book 2 and 3 by Ilona Andrews

And this is where I cheat a little. I obviously adored reading many of Ilona Andrews’ books this year and this second series written by the duo made me very happy indeed. I adore the worldbuilding and I appreciate the central couple, which all things considered is surprisingly drama free and honest in their interaction.  My series review can be found here.

09) Kate Daniels’ Book 3 and 4 by Ilona Andrews

I adored my whole reading experience of this series, which I read completely this year and couldn’t not put it on my favourites list. I most of all loved books 3 and 4 which I read on two consecutive days, reading way too long into a night (something I don’t really do all that often because I need my sleep to properly function at work). These books are wonderfully plotted with a brilliant world and a relationship at its heart that I rooted for way too much. My two series reviews are here and here.

08) Everything Under by Daisy Johnson

36396289My favourite of the Man Booker longlisted books I read this year, I cannot believe this nearly went under my radar (I blame the cover which I do not like and which everybody else seems to weirdly love). Johnson retells an ancient myth and thoroughly modernizes it. I loved her prose and her play with perspectives (I do love a well-done second person narrative) and thought this was impressively done, even if the ending makes quite a lot of the subtext text and consequently loses some of its magic. My review can be found here.

07) Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

38606192This book made me very, very happy. I love fantasy books inspired by fairy tales and when they are set in the winter, I am in love. I adored this. My review can be found here.

 

 

06) A Guide to Being Born by Ramona Ausubel

16158505By far the best short story collection I have read this year. And my favourite cover. I love the way Ramona Ausubel’s language flows and how she constructs her beautiful but dark stories. (review here)

 

 

05) Vita Nostra by Marina & Sergey Dyachenko

38633526I cannot believe I left this book off when I excitedly published this post 20 minutes ago. Because I loved this so! It is so very custom-made for me that I cannot comfortably recommend it because I am so not objective, but believe me when I say it is brilliant and special and so so very worth reading. I am currently mostly positive that the next book will be translated into English as well and I cannot wait to spend more time in this world. My full review is here.

04) Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi

35412372One of the first books I finished this year – and what a start that was. Emezi’s debut novel explodes on the page into something stunning and beautiful and very different. Their story is intimate and violent and apparently at least partly autobiographical in the best possible way. My review can be found here.

03) Monstress Vol. 2: The Blood by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda

33540347The only comic series I am currently properly following, something about the collaboration between Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda really blows me away. The art is stunning and the story intriguing. It is a bit complicated to follow but all the more rewarding I find. I have heard people saying they cannot stomach the brutality of the story line, but for me it works extraordinarily well – the grimness of the world is juxtaposed with the stunning brilliance of the art. (Review here)

02) There There by Tommy Orange

36356614I adored this book from the very first page. Something about Orange’s prose just clicked with me and I was very impressed with the way he constructs his characters and their voices. I cannot wait to see what he does next. My review can be found here.

01) The Pisces by Melissa Broder

37590570It feels like I just cannot stop talking about this book. Of all the books I have read this year, this one sticks out the most. It might not technically be the best book I read but it is for sure my favourite. I just loved everything about this, but most importantly I found Lucy an incredible protagonist. My full review is here.

What were your favourite books of the year?

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Favourite Non-Fiction books of 2018

If you had told me a few years back that I would read enough non-fiction in a year (for fun that is) to be able to name favourites, I would not have believed you. This year, however, I have read more non-fiction than ever before. Around a quarter of the books I read this year were non-fiction and some of those were absolutely breathtaking. Today I want to talk about five of those.

Mean by Myriam Gurba

34381333I adored this. One of the first books I read this year, this has stuck with me. It took me a few essays to get on board with the writing style but once I did, it blew me away. Myriam Gurba’s impeccable structure tore my heart out once I realized what she was working towards and I am in awe by her command of her tone. Do read this, please. My review can be found here.

Dopesick by Beth Macy

40821527I still have not written a review for this and at this point I am not sure I will still do it. I have fallen of the waggon a bit (I really should not wait this long to get my thoughts down). This book is still absolutely worth reading. It is an impeccably researched overview of the US-American opioid crisis, enriched by case studies of people affected. Macy manages to show both the immediate, private reach of this crisis and the overarching problems in the health system that led to it.

Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates

25175985Laura Bates talks about sexism here, the small acts and the larger acts and how they together form a society that is not particularly nice to women (or men for that matter). Drawing on the extensive collection of women’s experiences with sexism and an impressive amount of research, Bates has written an incredibly important book here and one that should be required reading. My mini review can be found here.

Not That Bad ed. by Roxane Gay

35068524Another book dealing with sexism, this anthology edited by the brilliant Roxane Gay is brilliant and heartbreaking and absolutely stunningly put together. There was not a single weak essay here and the diversity of voices shows the impact rape culture has on us all. Some essays hit me hard, some made me angry, all of them are needed. I cannot wait for the upcoming works of some of these brilliant women (mostly Lyz Lenz’ non-fiction book about her faith and her own failed marriage and Aubrey Hirsch’s graphic memoir she is working on). You can find my review here.

Heart Berries by Terese Mailhot

35840657I adored this fragmented, short, impressive memoir. Terese Mailhot put all her pain and anger on the table and refuses to back down – I have so much respect for this. I still do not have the words to adequately talk about this book other than that it spoke to me. My review can be found here.

What was your favourite non-fiction book this year? I am always looking for recommendations.

Least Favourite Books of the Year 2018

It is that time of the year again where we all look back and talk about the books we read this year. I am starting with my least favourite books and will then during the next days talk about the best books of my reading year. Overall, I had a wonderful year but there were five books that disappointed me for one reason or another. None of these books got one star from me and they all are books I am sure would work for a different reader. I think the fact that I haven’t disliked a book I have finished this year enough to give it one star is a wonderful development. As much as I like reading other people’s one star reviews, I don’t always like reading books I dislike.

Folk by Zoe Gilbert

35892355This is one of those books that I grew more irritated by the more time passed. I initially gave it three stars on the strength of one or two stories in it but now I can only remember my feeling of deep disappointment in this books of interconnected short stories. If I hadn’t been so very excited about this release, I might have enjoyed this more but as it stands, this is by far my least favourite short story collection of the year. You can find my review here.

The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale

34846987I adored the prologue of this – and then the book rapidly lost my interest. It is wordy and descriptive with characters that more often than not follow tropes in a way I do not appreciate. The whimsy of the language (and the endless descriptions of millions of inventions) were at odds with the ever darker path the story took. My full review can be found here.

 

Suicide Club by Rachel Heng

35530073I adore the premise of this book – I think there really was something interesting to be explored in a book about a society where ideals of health and long living become oppressive. But again, this book’s failures came from uninteresting and ill-defined characters. The main character is around 100 years old but behaves like a particularly stupid teenager – it drove me up the walls. My full review can be found here.

 

River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey

31445891Brilliant premise – that could not sustain a plot that seems rushed and a tone that swung widely between glib and humorous and incredibly brutal. One of my reading resolutions was reading more novellas, an experience that did not quite work for me – and this book is emblematic for that. My full review can be found here.

 

Sick by Porochista Khakpour

32600407This was definitely my biggest reading disappointment of the year. I was looking forward to this for month and then did not enjoy my reading experience. I found the writing to be weirdly clumsy in parts and long stretches of it unclear. Khakpour wrote parts of this while in the throes of a Lyme relapse – and I think this shows. My review can be found here.

 

What were your least favourite books of the year?

Series-Review: Kate Daniels #6 – #10 by Ilona Andrews

I am usually not good at finishing series – but this one I could not leave alone. I had a rather longer break between the ninth and the tenth book because I wanted to read the spin-off book inbetween but was not all that excited about reading about Hugh d’Ambray. And then I did not want this series to end.

While I think that the first five books were overall stronger, I still enjoyed the second half of the series a whole lot. Ilona Andrews really are one of the high points of my reading year. (I did also read their Hidden Legacy series before finishing this one.) I don’t feel like I can write proper (or even mini-) reviews for this second half of the series as I mostly sped through the books. Also reviews would need to be spoilery and I don’t want to do that. So what I will do is tell you the ratings I gave the books and then gush about what I loved in the series as a whole.

Continue reading “Series-Review: Kate Daniels #6 – #10 by Ilona Andrews”

Final Update: How did I do with my Bookish Resolutions?

I set myself 10 reading resolutions this year; something I did absolutely enjoy but which did not always work as well as I thought it would. As the year is rapidly drawing to a close, I think it is time to give a final update on my progress.

Read 100 books.

As of writing this post I have read 108 books – so I absolutely achieved that goal. I did read a lot of short books and a ridiculous amount of UF (a genre that I read particularly fast) but with an average of 308 pages per book I don’t think that number is too shabby at all.

Read at least one author’s complete work.

Well… I did not do this in the slightest. I am so bad at this resolution! Hopefully, next year will be the year when I finally tackle the unread books on my shelves by authors whose work I have adored.

Keep writing reviews for every book you read.

I fell of the waggon a bit during the second half of the year. Part of this has to do with the speed with which I raced through some of the series I read, never pausing in between the installments, part of it has to do with the ridiculous amount of stuff going on in my life. I did write reviews of the majority of books I have read though and still have not lost hope that I might go back and write the 10 or so reviews that are still pending.

Read more women; especially WOC.

I did not do much better at this than I did last year (when I read around 60% women): 68% of the books I read were written by women. But to be fair, only 19% were written by men. Around a third of the books I read were written by authors of colour – a percentage I absolutely want to improve on next year.

Read some of the books that have been on the TBR forever.

I did not do that. Only four of the books I read had been on my shelves for more than a year. I am really not great at prioritizing books that I bought ages ago.

Only request books if a) you really really really want them and have been looking forward to them or b) you have reviewed all other ARCs you had.

I got a lot better at this. Still not perfect but as I am sitting comfortably at around 90% feedback ratio on NetGalley I am fine with the way I am doing this.

Finish at least one unfinished series.

I did not do this in a proper sense. All the series I had unfinished before the year started are still unfinished. Maybe next year.

Read only YA that comes highly recommended.

I did it! I only read three YA books this year and enjoyed them all.

Read more Science Fiction.

I read nine proper sci-fi books and four dystopian novels. I still gravitate towards fantasy a lot more but I did enjoy my foray into the genre. I will keep reading sci-fi from now on out.

Read more novellas.

I tried, I really did. I read a few novellas and even enjoyed some but mostly the length left me unsatisfied. I don’t think I will pursuing this any further from here on out.

How did you do on your reading resolutions?

Most anticipated releases of 2019 (first half)

This year I started paying way more attention to new releases than I have ever done before; bookblogging does that for you. As I have done quite well with actually reading the books I am excited about (you can see my blogpost about that here) I wanted to write about some of the books I am most excited about in 2019.

40121993The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang

Graywolf Press, February 4th 2019

I have been excited about this memoir for months now. It’s about the author’s struggle with chronic illness and mental health and I need more of these kinds of books in my life.

37534907The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders

Tor Books, February 12th 2019

I adore adore Charlie Jane Anders – and her first novel is one of my all-time favourite books. “Excited” does not even cover it – I am ecstatic beyond measure to get a new book by her.

40539185Mother Winter by Sophia Shalmiyev

Simon & Schuster, February 12th 2019

There are few things I adore more than unconventionally written memoirs by women and this one sounds right up my alley.

 

40123339Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

Hamish Hamilton, February 28th 2019

I have been excited about this book for so very long. I thankfully got an ARC for this book and should have read this by the end of the year. This sounds like everything I could ever want – literary fantasy is one of my favourite things.

34763824Long Live The Tribe Of Fatherless Girls by T Kira Madden

Bloomsbury Publishing, March 19th 2019

The title alone would have me hooked – and the following part of the blurb makes it impossible for me to not pick this up: With unflinching honesty and lyrical prose, spanning from 1960s Hawai’i to the present-day struggle of a young woman mourning the loss of a father while unearthing truths that reframe her reality, Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls is equal parts eulogy and love letter. It’s a story about trauma and forgiveness, about families of blood and affinity, both lost and found, unmade and rebuilt, crooked and beautiful.”

37920490Storm of Locusts (The Sixth World #2) by Rebecca Roanhorse

Saga Press, April 23rd 2019

I seriously adored the first book in the series and it ended in such a way that I am dying to know what happens next.

 

42201997What My Mother And I Don’t About ed. by Michele Filgate

Simon & Schuster, April 30th 2019

This essay collection sounds incredible – it features essay written by Lidia Yuknavitch (my hero), Kiese Laymon, Carmen Mario Machado, and many other incredible writers. I cannot wait to get my hands on this.

38362811The Witches Are Coming by Lindy West

Hachette Books, May 7th 2019

I seriously adored Lindy West’s Shrill and might have squealed a little when I realized the had a new book coming out next year. Her voice is something extraordinary.

40653143No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us by Rachel Louise Snyder

Bloomsbury Publishing, May 14th 2019

This books sets out to give a comprehensive overview on domestic violence. While this is a topic I have been interested in for some time, I haven’t read a non-fiction book that grapples with the topic broadly and I think it is much needed.

41118857The Dragon Republic by R. F. Kuang

Harper Voyager, August 6th 2019

The first book the series surprised me in how much I adored it and the ending scares me very much for what is still to come in this duology. Still, I cannot wait to read it.

What are your most anticipated books on the coming year?

Have I read my most anticipated releases of 2018?

I have written about my most anticipated releases twice this year, for the first and for the second half of the year. Let’s see how many of those I have actually read (and which I have enjoyed).

In my first post, I named 13 books that I was super excited to get to.

  1. Brave by Rose McGowan. I have neither read nor bought this book because before I could, she started showing TERFy tendencies, which I just cannot support. I have since seen some reviews that make me think not reading this was the right decision.
  2. Heart Berries by Terese Mailhot. I loved this book so very much.
  3. Folk by Zoe Gilbert. I read this before it came out and it was ok. And now I cannot really remember much of it, to be perfectly honest.
  4. Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi. Again, I loved this book. I knew from the very first chapter that I was in for something extraordinary.
  5. The Sea Beast Takes A Lover by Michael Andreasen. This collection of short stories did not quite work for me, but I did enjoy some stories.
  6. Not That Bad ed. by Roxane Gay. Of course I loved this.
  7. The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh. This has possibly my favourite cover of the year and I really enjoyed this interesting book.
  8. Florida by Lauren Groff. She is becoming one of my favourite authors and this collections was no exception.
  9. Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch. I have not yet read it but will definitely do so before the end of the year. I have waited too long for this book to not pick it up soon.
  10. Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik. I loved this just as much as I thought I would. Slow-paced, wintery fairy-tales are my jam.
  11. Sick by Porochista Khakpour. Biggest disappointment of my reading year.
  12. The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden. The release date was moved to January but I have an ARC and want to get lost in this wonderful world, possibly during my (short) winter break.
  13. Vengeful by V. E. Schwab. I had so much fun reading this and it made me excited again for Schwab’s writing in a way I hadn’t been in a while.

I actually did okay here. There are only three books I haven’t read yet (and one of those is no longer on my TBR), I also enjoyed the majority of the books on my list, with four of them getting five stars.

Let’s take a look at my second list, with only eight titles on it.

  1. Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennet. I enjoyed this a lot but it did not reach the heights of his Divine Cities trilogy yet. Still, I am excited to see where he takes the story next.
  2. Heavy by Kiese Laymon. I am embarrassingly enough still reading this. I started it at a really bad moment and while I think it is brilliant, it also deeply sad and I cannot quite get myself to pick it up.
  3. All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung. I am still super excited about this but the book is only out in hardback and still very expensive. It will be one of the next books I buy though.
  4. Small Spaces by Katherine Arden. Another book that isn’t out in paperback yet and a bit too expensive.
  5. Rosewater by Tade Thompson. I really enjoyed this even if it confused me.
  6. Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss. I did not love this and I am unsure whether Moss’ writing is quite for me.
  7. Trail of Lightening by Rebecca Roanhorse. I loved this and it started my binge-reading of Urban Fantasy. I cannot wait for the next one!
  8. Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri. I got an ARC of this the day it released and I am super excited still. But I am also drowning in arcs at the moment. Hopefully I’ll get to it before the end of the year though.

Again, around three books I have not got to which isn’t too bad considering how absolutely abysmal I am at setting myself TBRs.

How did you do with your most anticipated releases of this year? Did you manage to get to them?