end of year: best books

Best Books of 2018

I read 92 books this year, the closest to 100 books a year that I have ever gotten in my adult life!!! It’s been quite interesting, as I’ve tried several new genres and some of my faves are quite surprising! So let’s get started!

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Honorable mentions, in no particular order, include: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, Freshwater by Akwake Emezi, Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott, Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills, One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus, Policing Egyptian Women: Sex, Law, and Medicine in Khedival Egypt by Liat Kozma, A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena, and Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor.

And now for the countdown!!!

#10

spinning silver

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik: This is a spellbinding, gorgeously written book that takes various elements of the Rumpelstiltskin story and weaves it into an enchanting winter tale. Though slow-paced, it is never dull, and is told in multiple different perspectives, each of which has its own unique voice. The romances in this book are subtle and oh-so-slowburn.


#9

sawkill girls

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand: This little horror story is written so viscerally that it will make shivers crawl down your spine. I couldn’t even formulate a proper review for this because I loved it so much. It’s incredibly atmospheric and does a superb job balancing cosmic horror with modern-day teen friendships. And it’s sapphic.


#8

the poppy war

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang: This is one of the best fantasy books of the year. It features superb worldbuilding and a plot heavy on war and military drama, and yet it’s incredibly fast-paced. Its main character is one of the best female heroines (or anti-heroines) I’ve seen in a long time. The magic system is innovative. It’s a dark book that doesn’t shy away from depicting horrific violence and its effect on people.


#7

heart's invisible furies

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne: This was such a surprise. I never expected to love this book, because it’s so outside of what I usually like. It’s a contemporary bildungsroman featuring a male character. But it turned out to be a darkly comedic and even absurd story interspersed with real tragedy. It’s also incredibly compelling despite its oddly episode plot structure; I couldn’t put it down.


#6

creatures of will and temper

Creatures of Will and Temper by Molly Tanzer: I’ll just quote from my original review: “This book cleared my skin, harvested my crops, nourished my soul, and added ten years to my lifespan. It simultaneously defied all of my expectations and yet gave me everything I wanted anyway.” It’s basically lesbians and demonic cults in Victorian London, superbly written and twisty. It’s so much fun and I absolutely adored it.  And that cover, Lord.


#5

silent companions

The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell: This book is everything I ever wanted from a neo-Victorian Gothic horror novel. It’s gorgeously written, atmospheric, female-led, truly creepy, and features witchery, semi-demonic entities, supernatural forces, gruesome murders, and shocking family secrets. And I couldn’t put it down.


#4

if we were villains

If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio: This was one of the first books I read in 2018, and that it’s stuck with me till now says a lot, especially considering this is not my usual genre. This is such an emotive book; it was definitely an emotional rollercoaster for me. The prose is gorgeous and rich, creating an autumnal, claustrophobic atmosphere that ensnared me. And surprisingly, it touches on the havoc wreaked by toxic masculinity and winds up subverting the reader’s normative expectations. It’s quite a delightful surprise.


#3

crimson petal and the white

The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber: This gargantuan historical fiction tome is a neo-Victorian classic with an unusual narrative device that shatters the fourth wall. With a 19-year-old prostitute as its linchpin, it is brimming with period details; it mimics Victorian novels not only in its narrative form but in its style and content as well. 19th-century London comes roaring to life in this novel. It’s also surprisingly hilarious and compelling; it’s over 800 pages but I couldn’t put it down. And with so many hat tips and allusions to Victorian literature, it feels like a love letter to the entire period.


#2

home fire

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie: For me, this is the biggest surprise of the year. I mean, a literary fiction novel coming in at second place?? But this book absolutely destroyed me. It made me feel so strongly in a way that few books do. A modern-day retelling of Antigone set in England with an all-Muslim cast of characters, it is a nuanced examination of the effects of Islamophobia, corrupt states, imperialism, and alienation. The writing is quietly beautiful. And then there’s the ending. The ending of Home Fire is probably the most memorable, tragic, beautiful, and fitting ending I’ve ever read. It fucking wrecked me.


#1

godsgrave

Godsgrave (and Nevernight) by Jay Kristoff: Do you know the sort of book that just makes you happy to read? Like you genuinely look forward to when you can sink back into the world because it just fills you with indescribable joy? That was Godsgrave for me; I legit looked forward to my commute and didn’t want it to end so that I could keep reading. This is such a strange fantasy series in many ways: it’s written weird, it has footnotes, and it’s really, really funny (and dark, too, quite dark, but also funny). But what sets it apart for me is its worldbuilding, which is so very dense and rich with minute details. Not only is our main character fantastic, but the series is full of minor characters with their own arcs and vivid personas, and there’s an amazing f/f relationship!!! Honestly, this is just such a thrilling book (and series) that I could just gush about it forever, but I’ll stop now.

Uncategorized

Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Bookish Maps

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the fantastic Bionic Bookworm. This week’s topic:

AUGUST 28TH – Top 5 Bookish Maps

Yo. YO. Have I ever mentioned my obsessive love for maps of all kinds? I have so many maps hanging in my room, I’m always looking to buy more, and I spend way more time than I need to on Google Maps. I JUST LOVE MAPS. There is noting that annoys me more than when a fantasy book does not contain a map. I’m a visual person; I need that map to help me make sense of a story. Plus there are some maps that are illustrated so brilliantly that they’re just great to look at, you know? And as an aspiring writer of fantasy, I’m always crafting my own maps, clumsy though they may be!

I am SO excited for this topic, so excited that I  couldn’t pick only five and had to whittle it down to eight, which are ranked in order of preference, with my absolute favorite coming in at the end of the post, at #1. Click on the maps to enlarge, y’all, I spent so long hunting down high-quality maps lmao!

Oh, also: SHOUT OUT to two maps that didn’t make it onto this list not because I don’t love them, but because they’re so popular and well-known and I wanted to spotlight something else: the Grishaverse map and the map of the world of A Song of Ice and Fire. Both fantastic maps, especially the latter, which is hyper-realistic.

And now onto the maps!

divider

Number Eight (#8)

Say what you will about the Throne of Glass series, but the map is solid! Granted, it’s not super detailed and not terribly pretty, but there’s something soothing about its simplicity nonetheless! I also just like the shape of it.


Number Seven (#7)

I actually read an ARC of Children of Blood and Bone, so I did not get to experience this lovely map as I read! I didn’t end up enjoying this book, but I think the map is so cool. I love the detailed frame (I LOVE framed maps) and the way the structures are illustrated. There’s so many wonderful little details! And I also love that this world appears to be a set of islands strung together; it’s so unique.


Number Six (#6)

This map is deceptively simple. You have to really look at it twice to get a sense of all the details. There’s something very elegant about it, though, and I love the shading around the map! Sadly I didn’t love the book, so I won’t be continuing the series, but I still enjoy the map!


Number Five (#5)

I really love maps that span huge worlds. Even if the story only takes place in a single country, I love having a map that shows me the width and breadth of the entire world the characters are living in. I haven’t actually read Furyborn, so I don’t know if the story takes place across several countries, but I don’t even care – I love having all these nations there for context. And I like how elegant and simple this map is!


Number Four (#4)

This map barely came into play throughout the course of this lackluster book, but it’s still a really cool map. Even though the story only took place in one of these countries, the book referenced other places, and it was great to have this map as a point of reference. It also just looks really cool? Like, something about the way the continents are cut up just looks so visually appealing to me.


Number Three (#3)

This map is really simple, but I just adore it. Perhaps it’s because this is one of my favorite fantasy series of all time, or perhaps because it’s one of the first fantasy maps I truly fell in love with, but there’s just something about it that keeps drawing me back.


Number Two (#2)

God, I love this map so much! First, there’s a frame, and it’s so old-world and so elegant. Second, Susan Dennard said it’s based off off Croatia and the Adriatic, which you can definitely see, and I think that’s super cool. And look at those little sea monsters swimming!


Number One (#1)

And we come to the creme of the crop, what is probably the best fantasy map I have ever and will ever see in my entire freaking life. This is my favorite map of all time, y’all. OF ALL TIME. I’ve uploaded a full size version so you can click on it to enlarge and see all the wondrous, gorgeous details. This map ain’t playing around. This map is serious shit. First, there’s the frame, with busts of Aa’s four daughters as well as Niah and Aa himself. Gorgeous and a neat bit of worldbuilding to incorporate onto the map. Then here’s the incredibly detailed structures which hint at the cultures and architectural styles of each country. This map is SO BEAUTIFUL I think I literally almost cried the first time I saw it. Oh, and the map of the city of Godsgrave is nothing to sneeze at either. If anything, it’s actually more detailed than the map of Itreya. I love that we have a map of the whole world and then another, even more detailed map of the major city. LOVE IT. Like, it’s not just a map, it’s a visual representation of the world; it truly helps you picture the city. INCREDIBLE.

Uncategorized

Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Books on my 2018 Bucketlist

top-5-tuesday

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the fantastic Bionic Bookworm. This week’s topic:

JANUARY 9TH – Top 5 books on my 2018 bucket list


28449207Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor: I’ve been meaning to pick this up since the day it came out. It’s even on my Kindle! I’ve also been meaning to read her first series (I actually read the first book in it years ago, liked it a lot, but didn’t continue with the series for some reason). I’ve heard some amazing things about Strange the Dreamer, so here’s hoping I finally get to it this year.


26114463Nevernight by Jay Kristoff: This is a controversial book, begetting strong feelings of either love or hate in its readership. Apparently it’s written in a really weird way, but the plot sounds so damn cool! It makes me nervous that it’s shelved as DNF for so many people, but I just have to check it out.

 


25895524Red Sister by Mark Lawrence: Killers nuns. The books begins like so: “It is important, when killing a nun, to ensure that you bring an army of sufficient size. For Sister Thorn of the Sweet Mercy Convent, Lano Tacsis brought two hundred men.” I mean. Need I say more? Plus I’ve been meaning to read more adult fantasy, so this can be my foray into that.

 


19547856Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli: I’ve only read one book by this author but I loved it, so I want to pick up this more famous novel of hers! Everyone talks about this book. Plus it’s apparently turning into a movie this year so I’d like to read it before that.

 


35527721The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas: This book is sitting and waiting for me on my Kindle and is also being turned into a film. I’m not sure why I haven’t gotten to it yet, except that I generally don’t prefer YA Contemporary. But this book has gotten so much praise that I’m certain it will be unlike any other YA Contemporary I’ve ever read.