2018 was a good year for me with writing and publishing. I published six books, wrote four (and one that was a failure), did some short fiction, and generally had a great time. I also did more reading than I expected, finishing 100 books! Some of those were my own as I did final read-throughs pre-publication or read back through a series in preparation for writing the next book, but most were new to me. Here are the six that stood out above the rest, in alphabetical order by authors, with links to my full Goodreads reviews:
The Girl Who Drank the Moon, Kelly Barnhill: This middle-grade fantasy was simply delightful on all levels. By times humorous and deeply moving, it’s the sort of book that satisfies all ages of readers. It was assigned reading for the fantasy workshop I took in April, but it was on my radar before that–and I’m glad the workshop pushed it up on the TBR list. It has so much to say about family, both the ones we’re born into and the ones we make for ourselves, and I found myself in tears more than once.
Crush, Svetlana Chmakova: I’ve been a fan of Chmakova’s graphic novels for years, but I think her Berrybrook Middle School books are her best work yet. In this third volume, gentle giant Jorge, defender of the weak, is caught up in an unexpected crush on Jazmine–but the story goes so far beyond that into issues of honor and respect and body autonomy without being preachy that it blew me away. I recommend the whole series, starting with Awkward and Brave.
‘Salem’s Lot, Stephen King: I am not a reader of horror, and Stephen King’s writing is generally too harsh for my tastes, so I wouldn’t have picked this up if not for the aforementioned fantasy workshop. So I think I loved it more because I was not expecting to love it at all. I read it in two sittings and was never frightened, though it was extremely tense in places. It helped me discover that I only like books about vampires when they’re evil villains; I’d always thought I just didn’t like vampire stories. Probably my love of Dracula should have told me different, huh? But ‘Salem’s Lot was just fantastic.
The Grace of Kings, Ken Liu: Another fantasy workshop book, and here I’m solidly in the minority. Most of the other attendees hated it, but I fell in love with the characters enough that I have no interest in continuing with the series. That really does make sense, I promise. The story ended with everyone happy, but also with hints of how that happiness was going to be destroyed, and I don’t want to see that. The book reads very much like a tapestry, with little gems of stories shining here and there, and it’s also the first epic fantasy I’ve enjoyed in a long time.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows: I’d been meaning to read this for a while, ever since my daughter fell in love with it, but it got lost in the pile (I own over 1200 books I haven’t read). Sometime last year my daughter found out I hadn’t read it and was horrified, so I sat down right then and read it. It’s not a typical World War II novel right up front, and it’s an epistolary novel, which I’m a sucker for, so there was very little chance I wouldn’t love it. I didn’t know anything about the Nazi occupation of Guernsey, which made the whole thing feel very fresh, and the romance is adorable.
Nine Coaches Waiting, Mary Stewart: I have a Goodreads friend who loves this book, and it had been years since I read anything by Mary Stewart (and that was the Arthurian saga, not her thrillers). It’s an older book with older sensibilities, but it suited my mood precisely. I was even okay with the instalove, because it made so much sense that the main character would not only fall in love at first sight (essentially) but also that it would turn out to be the real thing. It was beautiful, and I intend to read more Mary Stewart in the coming year.
So that’s my 2018 in books. I’m looking forward to a new year with more books to read and write!