Monday, December 3, 2018

The 10 Best Books I read in 2018

This was a milestone year for me. I made it to the big 6-0, which I wasn't sure I would reach, and my family threw a fun party for me, including this AMAZING cake by my uber talented youngest sister.

In that bookish vein, I managed to read more than 55 books, including fantasy (almost half the total), science fiction, historical fiction, romance, nonfiction, and children's (and that doesn't count all the books I've read multiple times to my granddaughter). Out of these, ten rose to the top like fine cream, and it was difficult to sort them into numerical order. I loved them all! Several other 5 star books I read didn't make the final cut, not because they weren't good, but they didn't tug at the heartstrings, like these did.

So here, beginning with #10, are my favorites (and Book Dragon's) for 2018:

10. Sunbolt by Intisar Khanani
This fantasy had an exotic flavor to it, with gritty realism, great suspense, and a plucky main character who managed to get into SO much trouble! I love this author's writing style and plan to read more of her books!

9. The Electrical Menagerie by Mollie E. Reeder
This was a fantastic romp through a quirky, well-imagined steampunk universe. The main characters are unforgettable in this fantasy murder mystery!

8. Secrets: Visible & Invisible by 7 authors of Catholic Teen Books
This is one of the best anthologies I've ever read! Each story is well-written within a wide range of genres, from dystopian to historical fiction to mystery to contemporary.

7. Heartsong by Annie Douglass Lima
Having loved all of this author's fantasy stories, I was reluctant to read her science fiction, but I shouldn't have worried; this is a powerful story of conflict between races from two planets. The alien world is fascinating, and the main character extremely sympathetic and compelling. The "heart song" concept resonated with this reader, big time!

6. The Last Motley by D. J. Edwardson
This is a beautifully written epic fantasy about my new favorite reluctant hero, a cursed child, and an assortment of allies and enemies on their quest to find a way to undo the curse.

5. Common by Laurie Lucking
I really liked this fantasy romance because of the POV character, Leah, who was such an endearing person, I HAD to follow her story and find out if she overcame the unfair situation that befell her!

4. Aerisian Refrain by Sarah Ashwood
I didn't think I'd connect with the main character, who is a world-famous singer, but she was such a real and amazing human being, I was sucked into her perilous journey into a beautiful and dangerous fantasy world. I loved that the magic was tied to music, as well as the Native American elements!

3. The Other Side of Freedom by Cynthia T. Toney
This book has won all kinds of awards, with very good reason. Stellar historical fiction about the struggles of an Italian immigrant family in 1925.

2. The Nameless Soldier by Annie Douglass Lima
Though much shorter than the other stories I've read in this author's Annals of Alasia fantasy world, this is an almost flawless, deeply emotional story of a young soldier's unexpected experiences during an invasion. The reader can FEEL his pain and despair! I connected with him so much! And one line near the end is one of my favorite lines in fiction!

1. Spice Bringer by H. L. Burke
This book is powerfully written fantasy with an Asian flavor, memorable characters, and fantastic world-building. But the thing that makes it one of the favorite books of my life is the connection I felt to the main character, who is living with a fatal disease. She is so honestly written and so strong, she inspired me not to give up in a low point in my life. This book has a powerfully written line that spoke directly to me. For so many reasons, Spice Bringer is my favorite book of the year, and in the top five for my entire life.

I've reviewed all these books here on this blog, and hope you'll give some of them a try. Let me know what you think about these or other great books you read in 2018!