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?

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?

Top 5 books of the year so far

Can you believe the year is halfway done? I definitely cannot grasp that.

I have read some very lovely books so far this year and wanted to talk about my favourite five some more, so here they are, in no particular order:

Not That Bad edited by Roxane Gay

35068524This book is brilliant, heartbreaking, necessary, raw, exquisitely edited, and all around great.

“The essays are not grouped together but rather all stand on their own while building a crescendo of voices. Because they are not thematically grouped together they always met me unawares. Every single voice is needed, every single voice adds something to the conversation. I have not read an anthology that I found this strong, ever. The essays are all perfectly structured and wonderfully realized. There is not a single weak essay in here but there were some that spoke to me even more than the rest did. […] My personal favourites of the book were Lyz Lenz’ All the Angry Women and Samhita Mukhopadhyay’s Knowing Better spoke to me in a way that I cannot just yet put into words; especially not in a forum that is by design public.”

 Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot

35840657This book wrecked me. I could not stop reading it or thinking about it. Books like this are the reason I read memoirs.

“Terese Mailhot’s memoir packs an unbelievable punch into a book this short. I could not stop reading it: her language is hypnotic, her turn of phrase impressive, her emotional rawness painful. This book does not follow conventions, Terese Mailhot tells her story the way she wants to and needs to. She is unapologetically herself. She bares her soul and hides it at the same time. I cannot wait to see what she does next.”

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi

35412372I knew from the very first page that I had something extraordinary in my hands with this one. It is unlike anything else I have ever read, but brilliant and a book I have not been able to stop thinking about.

“This debut combines many things I adore in books: unconventional framing and unreliable narrators, a story that gets recontextualized constantly and kept me on my toes, a basis in mythology that informed but did not over-shadow the actual story, perfect sentence structure that packs an unbelievable punch, and so many more things that I am still struggling to adequately talk about.”

The Pisces by Melissa Broder

37590570God, this book. I have not been able to stop thinking about it – Melissa Broder is definitely a new favourite author and the way she crafts her main character and thoroughly infuses her with life and a personality is nothing short of brilliant.

“The biggest strength of this very strong book is therefore Lucy. She is unpleasant, deeply so, mean and self-centered while staying believable as a person and ultimately being somebody I could not help but root for, even when she makes one ridiculous decision after the other. She manages to always find the most destructive course of action for any given situation. Her addiction to love (while being emotionally unavailable) is painful to watch, exactly because it is so believable. Her reaction to men is even more unbearable to watch and Melissa Broder captures the awkwardness and heartbreak of bad one-night-stands so very vividly that it made me cringe (and I mean that as a compliment).”

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

38606192This book just made me happy. Naomi Novik just has a way of capturing that fairy-talesque feeling that I have loved since I was a child.

“This is a very loose retelling of Rumpelstilzchen which incorporates parts of other fairy tales as well – so I was always going to love it. I am such a huge fan of books written in this fairy-talesque manner and if they than are set in snowy, frozen parts of the world I am in reading heaven. The book’s atmosphere of winter and rural communities and fairy tale was just executed brilliantly and the hints of other stories made me very happy. The prose is stunning and fluid, the world imagined is vivid and wonderful, and the main three characters were absolutely brilliant.”

What was your favourite book of the year so far?

Review: Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

38606192Verdict: This made me so happy.

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Genre: Fantasy

Published by Pan Macmillan, July 12th, 2018

Find it on Goodreads.

Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders, but her father is not a very good one. Free to lend and reluctant to collect, he has left his family on the edge of poverty – until Miryem intercedes. Hardening her heart, she sets out to retrieve what is owed, and soon gains a reputation for being able to turn silver into gold. But when an ill-advised boast brings her to the attention of the cold creatures who haunt the wood, nothing will be the same again. For words have power, and the fate of a kingdom will be forever altered by the challenge she is issued.

Channeling the heart of the original fairy tale, Naomi Novik deftly interweaves six distinct narrative voices – each learning valuable lessons about sacrifice, power and love – into a rich, multi-layered fantasy.

I loved this. Reading it made me happy and by the end I was positively squealing. I enjoyed Uprooted and I loved this one, so I might actually have to read everything Naomi Novik has ever written.

This is a very loose retelling of Rumpelstilzchen which incorporates parts of other fairy tales as well – so I was always going to love it. I am such a huge fan of books written in this fairy-talesque manner and if they than are set in snowy, frozen parts of the world I am in reading heaven. The book’s atmosphere of winter and rural communities and fairy tale was just executed brilliantly and the hints of other stories made me very happy. The prose is stunning and fluid, the world imagined is vivid and wonderful, and the main three characters were absolutely brilliant.

Unlike Uprooted, this book is told from multiple perspectives, which I mostly adored. I thought the women at the center of this book were wonderfully drawn and I adored them all for different reasons but mostly for their refusal to be something they are not. Especially prickly Miryem and clever Irina had my hearts. I loved how resourceful the two were with the opportunities they had. I do think that sometimes the other perspectives could have been used more sparingly. There was one scene in particular towards the end of the book where I thought the voice chosen was unfortunate.

First sentence: “The real story isn’t half as pretty as the one you’ve heard.”

I received an arc of this book courtesy of NetGalley and Pan Macmillan in exchange for an honest review.

 

ARC Round Up 2018 Vol. III

It is time again for me to post a round-up of all the ARCs I have received on NetGalley; at least this time it took me three months for such a post to be necessary which I am counting as a win. I really am trying to be a bit more selective when it comes to requesting ARCs. You can find my earlier round ups here and here.

Still to be read:

39899065The Book of M by Peng Shepherd

Publication Date: June 28th, 2018

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Blurb (from Goodreads): A vivid, touching and original debut, following the effects of an extraordinary catastrophe on very ordinary people.

In the middle of a market in India, a man’s shadow disappears. As rolling twenty-four-hour news coverage tries to explain the event, more cases are discovered. The phenomenon spreads like a plague as people learn the true cost of their lost part: their memories.

Two years later, Ory and his wife Max have escaped ‘the Forgetting’ by hiding in an abandoned hotel deep in the woods in Virgina. They have settled into their new reality, until Max, too, loses her shadow.

Knowing the more she forgets, the more dangerous she will become to the person most precious to her, Max runs away. But Ory refuses to give up what little time they have left before she loses her memory completely, and desperately follows her trail.

On their separate journeys, each searches for answers: for Ory, about love, about survival, about hope; and for Max, about a mysterious new force growing in the south that may hold the cure. But neither could have guessed at what you gain when you lose your shadow: the power of magic.

A breathtakingly imaginative, timeless story that explores fundamental questions about memory and love—the price of forgetting, the power of connection, and what it means to be human when your world is turned upside down.

Why I requested it: I have been intrigued about this for what feels like ages. It sounds absolutely magical and I cannot wait to see whether it is.

Continue reading “ARC Round Up 2018 Vol. III”

Most Anticipated Books of 2018 (so far)

I have seen a couple of blogposts and Youtube videos floating around where people talk about their Most Anticipated Books of 2018. This coming year feels like the first year where I actually have a few books I am looking forward to reading. Normally I have maybe a handful books I know will come out soonish but currently I spend so much time looking at books that I have a proper list to share. The list is ordered by publication date and I have tried to write one or two sentences explaining why I want to read each book. The links lead to the goodreads pages.

McGOWAN_BRAVE_HC_TEST2.inddBRAVE by Rose McGowan

January 30th, HarperOne

There is no way I am not reading this. I love memoirs written by women and this sounds timely and important.

 

35840657Heart Berries by Terese Mailhot

February 6th, Counterpoint Press

A memoir? Written by a woman? Who grew up on a Native American Reservation? Blurbed by Lidia Yuknavitch and Roxane Gay? There is no way I am not reading this.

35892355Folk by Zoe Gilbert

February 8th, Bloomsbury Press

These interconnected short stories set on an island and playing with myth and fairy tales sound right up my alley. The cover is also absolutely stunning.

35412372Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi

February 13th, Grove Press

I am currently reading this and it is blowing my mind (which is why I am including this). This heartbreaking story of mental illness is approached differently to what I have read before and I have already so many thoughts.

36262478The Sea Beast Takes a Lover by Michael Andreasen

March 8th, Head of Zeus

Fantastical short stories that play on fairy tales – yes, still exactly my cuppa. In fact I have included this in my five star prediction post.

 

35068524Not that bad edited by Roxane Gay

May 1st, Harper Perennial

It is no secret how much I admire Roxane Gay and her thoughts. While this anthology of first person essays written about rape and rape culture will for sure make me angry and sad, it sounds important.

35448496The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh

May 31st, Hamish Hamilton

The blurb is vague but sounded intriguing and the cover is just absolutely stunning. This sounds like an introspective, feminist work with maybe a speculative element and I am so here for that.

Florida 36098092by Lauren Groff

June 5th, Riverhead

I adored Fates and Furies, and I love short story collections, this was a no brainer, really.

 

Lies Sleeping (Peter Grant #7) by Ben Aaronovitch

June, Gollancz

This is one of the very few series I keep up with. I just love Ben Aaronovitch’s brand of urban fantasy and I cannot wait for this.

36896898Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

July 10th, Del Rey

I really enjoyed Uprooted and this sounds similar (in a good way). I like fairy tale retellings so very much and Naomi Novik manages to hit the language just perfectly.

32600407Sick by Porochista Khakpour

August 8th, Harper Perennial

This memoir about Porochista Khakpour’s struggle with illness sounds right up my alley. I am very much in the mood for non fiction lately and I wish I could read this already.

The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden

August 14th, Del Rey

It is the last part of the brilliant Winternight trilogy. Do I really have to say more?

Vengeful (Villains #2) by V. E. Schwab

September 25th, Tor

Vicious is my favourite of V. E. Schwab’s books. I just adored it so much and I just cannot wait to read the next book in a series that I did not know would be a series.

 

 

What are your most anticipated books for the upcoming months? Let me know because obviously my TBR is not big enough already.