Well book lovers, it’s been one hell of a year!
I didn’t do near as much reading as I normally would thanks to any number of circumstance – an interesting run of failed offers on properties, the sale of our house in record time, finally finding our dream home but with the worlds shortest possession and the endless stream of renovations that has followed rank high amongst my distractions. Then add in a new job, a bit of travel, some random health issues within the fam-jam and I’m sure you can imagine how the TBR has since spiralled out of control.
However, it’s that time of year again where wrap-ups and years-in-review dominate our streams and I simply couldn’t resist. While I once again fell short of my goal to read 100 books in a year, I’m absolutely over the with the titles that I did and I could’t wait to share a little more book-love to close out 2018.
Top Reads of 2018
Like last year, I thought about ranking these, but still can’t bring myself to compare apples to oranges or to put one book ahead of another. So, I have decided to once again select a few memorable titles from each broader genre. I am sure I have a great many, wonderful titles that I’ve forgotten to include – but this is a wrap-up, not an annotated bibliography so I’m trying my best to keep it brief!
Strong women, the French Resistance during WWII, and a serious touch of espionage – this baby had it all! Hearts of Resistance by Soraya M. Lane had me wishing that this was a TV series or feature film because there was so much juicy action. It’s well written, punchy, and it tickles my feminist heart strings to boot. It has this incredible balance between uplifting hope and the abject horror of reality, which really made it memorable in my books.
Ugh, this list would not be complete without The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris. It’s not often I ignore my TBR to reread a book right after I’ve finished it, but this baby had that draw – and I might have ugly-cried the entire second read. The sheer emotional impact Morris delivers is absolutely phenomenal, the language powerfully evocative, and the story so rooted in reality that I found it hard to draw a line between fact and fiction. I loved every minute of this book, even the uncomfortable bits, and haven’t yet passed an opportunity to recommend it to family and friends.
Read it. No, seriously, read it. A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena is so damn good. This is the kind of book that denies categorization as YA or literary fiction, but it demands to be read because of it’s relevancy, willingness to tackle some rather horrible and universal issues, and because the writing is simply beautiful. Irreverent, poignant, and punchy where it matters I’m willing to bet A Girl Like That is going to have some serious staying power.
I read a lot of YA fantasy, an not much of it ends up with a review on the blog. But The Gilded Wolves by Rouhani Chokshi was the kind of amazing that has me wishing for a movie deal. The originality of the world building alone had me absolutely blown away, the diversity of the characters enraptured, and the uniqueness of the magic utterly bewitched. This book was so fun and fresh that I jumped out my seat with legitimate joy when it became clear that a sequel would be forthcoming. I just wish I knew more about said sequel… like, now!
Comics & Graphic Novels
Okay, so I know this baby could fall under historical fiction, but I decided it belongs with with the graphic medium rather than the subject matter. Dark, uncomfortable, and painfully real despite it’s abstraction through comics The Photographer of Mauthausen stuck with me for weeks after I turned the final page. Given how much of the story was told through photographs I don’t think that a traditional novel would have done this retelling any justice. Heartbreaking and poignant, I would definitely put this on a list titled “If you only ever read one graphic novel it has to be…”
Okay, so I know that this baby was actually published in March of 2017, but I didn’t get around to reading it until this year. But M. T. Anderson’s retelling of this classic medieval tale, accompanied by Andrea Offermann’s exceptional illustrations absolutely stole my heart. Seeing Yvain: The Knight of the Lion retold in a way that is both entertaining and accessible to modern readers of all ages ticked all the right boxes for me. It made this list purely because I find myself directing students to it at least once a week, and because I can read it over and over again and get something new out of it each and every time. Whether you’re a fan of Arthurian legends, fast paced action, or a touch of magic this baby is damn versatile it hurts.
Invisible Emmie by Terri Libenson is one of those books that I picked up on a whim and ended up sticking in the back if my mind in a recurring kind of way. There are a great many works out there to help middle grade readers navigate the complexities of friendship and fitting in, but this one stood out from the crow. I think the thing that I loved the most was that Invisible Emmie doesn’t have any real mean-girls to overcome, but that it focuses on self acceptance and discovery – that alone is worth it’s weight in gold!
Ugh. Ugh, ugh ugh! So much good. I mean, I barely have the words to describe how much I loved reading The Hidden Bones by Nicola Ford. It had the perfect balance between crime, drama, and archaeology and I was legitimately angry when it ended because I wanted so much more! It’s been a long time since I found an archaeologist/ author that I loved as much as the O’Neil Gear’s, and I have no doubts that Ford will be a strong contender for my next fan-girl fascination.
My love of Carol Wyer’s work should be no secret by now so finding The Birthday on this list will be no surprise. Not only was it the perfect start to a new series, it was an absolutely outstanding novel! I adored Natalie Ward and her team and the crimes presented are dark and twisty in all the right ways, with just enough gore to keep you horrified but not so much as to make you pause or put the book away. This was, by far, my most favourite police procedural of the year – and I simply can’t wait for the next instalment to hit shelves.
This baby makes the list because I loved it despite my decided hatred of romance. Maybe it was the fashion, maybe it was the setting, maybe it was the exceptional cast of supporting characters, but The Secret Vow by Natalie Meg Evans won me over and had me gushing in no time at all. It was the perfect way to close out the year.
Last but not least, we have my very first read of 2018 – which was so powerful I haven’t stopped trying to push it on all of my Canadian family friends despite our inability to locate a regular supply in print. Woman at 1, 000 Degrees by Hallgrimur Helgason blew my socks off (pun fully intended) and opened my eyes to the world of Icelandic literature. Witty, blunt, and beyond captivating Helgason’s creation was the most memorable way I could have started the year.
So there we have it, my top reads of 2018!
Thank you all for being so wonderful and supportive, and I look forward to what 2019 has to offer.
See you in the new year!