Alas, this is the forth and final part of my books of the year, where I discussed my worst, most disappointing, most surprising, and best books I read in 2018! I love doing this every year as it allows me to reflect on all the books that I read in the year. All of these books are my absolute favourites of the year, so obviously I gave them all 5 stars. Enjoy!
12/ Very Good Lives – J. K. Rowling
NON-FICTION, ESSAYS, SELF-HELP
“The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive.” What an inspirational speech, and I loved the illustrations that came along with the words. This was the speech that J. K. Rowling gave to Harvard graduates one year. Overall it’s such a beautiful book, inside and out! I now have this book on my bedside table, and I will pick it up and read through it whenever I need a touch of uplifting. It’s only 74 pages so there’s not much else to talk about, I just loved it!
11/ Love Her Wild – Atticus
NON-FICTION, POETRY, ROMANCE, CONTEMPORARY
My goodness. I can’t even pick one line for this review, I loved so many of the works within this book! I won’t call them poems as such, because some of them are only a few lines long. But that doesn’t devour from the actual quality of these pieces… they all gave a punch! It was separated into three categories: ‘Love’ ‘Her’ and ‘Wild’, and I think ‘Her’ was my favourite section. They were not all about love and relationships, there was also pieces about mental health, youth, life, etc. I had tabbed so many pages, something I haven’t done to a poetry collection in ages! It really got me back into loving poetry. I also thought the photography that went along with the pieces fitted well and were also visually stunning alongside the works.
10/ Highly Illogical Behaviour – John Corey Whaley
YA, CONTEMPORARY, LGBT, MENTAL HEALTH
This book was amazing! Solomon has panic disorder and agoraphobia, and Lisa befriends Solomon as a ‘project’ for her scholarship, and don’t worry, that problematic theme is addressed so heavily! It is addressed that mental health is not something that can be ‘cured’ by confidence or positive thinking, and that someone is much more than just a label of ‘mental illness’. Solomon is someone much more than that, that he is a sweet kid with a nerdy side and great sense of humour and not just ‘the one with a mental illness’ and that’s such a positive message in this book! Clark, Lisa’s boyfriend, develops a close friendship with Solomon. It was beautiful to see their friendship develop and Solomon appearing more comfortable. Solomon’s family are brilliant and funny and so likeable. I was able to connect with the characters and loved watching them develop, I wish I can just continue reading about them forever! Everyone was so supportive towards Solomon towards his growth and development. A great representation for mental health and LGBT!
9/ The Female of the Species – Mindy McGinnis
YA, CONTEMPORARY, MYSTERY, THRILLER
I knew this one was going to be heavy but I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. People have been praising this book and saying it was important, and they weren’t lying! This book takes a hard look at rape culture and human nature. It’s brutally honest and unapologetic. I am still finding myself thinking about this book and probably will do for a long time. I found Alex’s character extremely fascinating and I loved her for how she stood up for what she believes in and doesn’t care what others think. The friendship that develops was incredible, and we saw so many women standing up for other women and I was all here for! It really did shed a light on what rape culture is like and casual sexism occurs in schools. So important! That ending though… it broke me!
8/ Flowers For Algernon – Daniel Keyes
CLASSIC, SCIENCE FICTION
One of my favourite classics ever. It covers so many questions and topics which are just as important today as they were when the book was first published in the sixties. A man with a low IQ gets invited to participate into a scientific experiment to increase intelligence. The way the book was written was ingenious; in the beginning his writing and vocabulary is very basic and simple, and also full with grammatical and spelling mistakes, and as he goes through the experiment, we slowly see his intelligence develop more advanced. But we also see how one can be intelligent but very unhappy; at first all he very wanted was to be ‘smart’, and then he is plagued with thoughts, especially the realisations of how he was poorly treated as a ‘retard’ and now very well-liked and respected, how many now want to know him just because of his experiment and new-found intelligence. I just thought this was incredibly thought-provoking and shows an important message that being the smartest is not all that matters.
7/ The Sleeper and The Spindle – Neil Gaiman
YA, FANTASY, SHORT STORIES, RETELLING, FAIRYTALES
I devoured this within half an hour, and I loved every second, wishing the novella had another 400 pages after it. Neil Gaiman just has a way with words, he’s like a wizard of literature. He was able to blend together two of my favourite fairy tales (Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White), and also add his own whimsical, dark twist on a brilliant story. The Queen took a feminist lead, and took matters into her own hands, and the Sleeper was not a typical girl ‘waiting for her prince to come’. The story flowed in such a way it felt like it came straight from the collections of Grimms Brothers or Hans Christian Anderson, but with a modern twist and dark atmosphere. And the illustrations were absolutely captivating. They truly added to the story, the black and white illustrations, along with a hint of gold lining. It really is a beautiful book, inside and out.
6/ Hunting Prince Dracula – Kerri Maniscalco
YA, HISTORICAL FICTION, MYSTERY
I really enjoyed the first instalment of this series so naturally it took me a bit of time to get to this one because I kept putting it off. But I loved it so so much! Much more than the first one! The gore, the mystery, the romance… it was all bigger and better. I had no idea what the twist was and I was completely engrossed! I loved the new characters, and the development between Thomas and Audrey was beautiful. It was refreshing to see Thomas trying his best to be supportive towards Audrey as she tried to recover from the trauma that happened at the end of book one, I found it so sweet, and even though he made mistakes, it really added to his overall character. Again, Audrey is still my favourites. We saw a vulnerable, weakened side of her, yet she was still so determined to overcome her trauma and the sexism from the Headmaster (who was detestable I might add). It was eery and atmospheric when they were exploring the grounds and the castle. I can’t wait to jump into the third book!
5/ Scarlet – Marissa Meyer
YA, FANTASY, SCIENCE FICTION, ROMANCE
This story had me from the very start, we have a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood in France. Not only was it interesting the whole way through but the way Cinder and Scarlet’s stories weaved together in the end was faultless. Each character is uniquely their own and really fun to get to know, and both the female protagonists were strong, smart women that made educated decisions. And it was one of the rare situations where I loved the build-up and tension between the main romantic plot. Even though Cinder and Kai move to side characters they continue to develop well! We see Kai as emperor and how he handles it wonderfully, and Cinder still on the run and trying to figure out what to do in every new problem she came across, and also learning to control her newly discovered powers. And she does it all without a ridiculous amount of whining. Things were wrapped up beautifully and yet we were still left on the edge, and things have been left well for the continuation.
4/ Down Among The Sticks and Bones – Seanan McGuire
YA, RETELLING, FANTASY, HORROR
The writing in this series is too, too stunning. I was wanting a backstory for Jack and Jill as I found them very intriguing in book one, and I got what I wanted and I couldn’t be happier with the result! This story was perfect. Creepy, dark, and filled with tension! I’m a sucker for dark fairytales, and these books definitely fit that bill. I thought the story was told excellently– I was so glad to spend more time with the twins, I loved the focus on their upbringing and how that informed the choices they made in the Moors and also in the first book. Reading these books makes my heart ache in the most peculiar, odd way. They have a desolate and melancholy feel to them that is slightly unsettling, but it makes you draw into the story and surroundings. All in all, this prequel gave me the same whimsical, transported feeling I got from the first book, and this is quickly becoming one of my favourite book series!
1/ The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – Taylor Jenkins Reid
ADULT, CONTEMPORARY, ROMANCE, HISTORICAL, LGBT
I didn’t want this book to end. I was so absorbed in the characters lives, felt for them, cried with them. It felt as if I was reading about a real-life Hollywood star, and wanted to further research the films and famous people mentioned. This book did such a great job of depicting the cost of fame, and how things are not always as they appear within headlines. The LGBT rep was flawless, and so positive. The message being that you shouldn’t be afraid of loving someone because of how you might be judged, and that life is too short. I could’ve read an extra 1000 pages of this and still find it just as enjoyable and gripping. It was just so easy to read as well, which was great because recently I was struggling to keep interest in what I was reading. I love this. so so so much. Everybody should read it, the hype is truly deserved.
1/ Quiet Girl in a Noisy World – Debbie Tung
GRAPHIC NOVEL, MEMOIR, MENTAL HEALTH, CONTEMPORARY
I tried to take a picture of each strip I related to, a third of the way through i was taking a picture of every single one. I found this book to be so incredibly relatable, as someone who is introverted, has social anxiety, and also has a partner who’s more extroverted than I am. It was heartwarming as well as heartbreaking, and incredibly honest in a way I haven’t been able to put into words myself. And the art design is spectacular. If there has to be only one book for introverts, I want it to be this one! I loved it so much!! I am forever going to buy Debbie Tung’s future works.
1/ The Martian – Andy Weir
ADULT, SCIENCE FICTION
This was perfect. I didn’t want this story to end! It had me at line one: I’m pretty much f**ked. The narration from Mark Watney was so entertaining and witty. He still showed a lovable sense of humour even when the odds of him surviving were next to nothing. I thought it was interesting seeing the scientific/mathematical elements, and it was great seeing Marks incredible problem solving skills. You also get scenes back on Earth at NASA and other space programs around the world, as they try to do everything possible to bring Mark back home. The last paragraph nearly had me in tears by how beautiful it was, and it’s something that will stick with me without a doubt. My only slight *slight* criticism is that I would’ve liked a bit more about the aftermath and Mark actually coming back to earth, but that does not make any dent in the 5 star rating. It was flawless. The pacing was excellent, and you felt like you were there in the room as everything unravelled and came down to one moment. I loved Mark Watney and if I can listen/read him narrating the rest of his life, I’ll be happy.
So there we have it! My top books of 2018! I tried to order them to my absolute favourite but I just couldn’t choose between the top three, so they are all tied as my favourite book of the year. So what were your favourite books of the year? Any new recommendations? What are your reading plans for next year? And if you also read any of these books, or the ones mentioned in my other lists, what did you think of them? I’d love to know!
THANKS FOR READING!!