2018 was a really different type of reading year for me. Prior to this year, my reading experiences have mostly been a solitary affair. I have always been a big reader, but other than college, I never really shared my thoughts or opinions on what I read. At least, not beyond my own reading journal. I am so glad that this year I decided to break out of my comfort zone and start blogging. It has really meant a lot to me to have this small space online and to be able to connect with all of you amazing and thoughtful readers and writers. I love hearing your opinions and seeing what you are reading. I can’t wait to see where your reading adventures take you in 2019!
In reviewing my 2018 reading, my choices were all over the place. From Fantasy to Mystery, Romance and Historical Fiction, I read a little bit of everything. I read a ton of YA Fantasy this year. Besides reading Harry Potter as a teenager, this is the first time I have read so much fantasy. My daughter has been really into reading the last few years and this is her favorite genre. So, I really wanted to share those books with her. It was really fun reading The Throne of Glass, The Shadow and Bone, and The Infernal Devices series with her. My personal favorite in this genre was The Arc of the Scythe (Scythe and Thunderhead) by Neal Shusterman. My Daughter and I also visited the YA’ll West Festival together this year which was an amazing experience. The level of commitment that YA fans have is staggering!
I also read a lot of Literary/Historical Fiction this year: The Immortalists, Alias Grace, The Witches of New York, The Silence of the Girls, and The Heart’s Invisible Furies. My Mystery selections also went really well this year: Lethal White, The Last Time I Lied, and Final Girls. Riley Sager is one of my new favorite mystery authors. As far as romance goes, I read Roomies, Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating, and London Belongs to Me. Roomies being my favorite romance of the year.
Well, without further ado, here are my top five reads of 2018: (click on the titles to read my full review for each)
The Heart’s Invisible Furies – Literary Fiction/Historical Fiction:
This was hands down, my favorite book of the year. This book is a thought-provoking, insightful, heartwarming, and bittersweet story of one man, Cyril Avery. As a baby, Cyril is put up for adoption by Catherine Goggin, a young girl who is kicked out of her small parish, country town in Ireland for becoming pregnant out of wedlock. Cyril is taken in by a wealthy couple, who have very little time for him and barely notice his existence. He discovers at an early age that he is gay and his relationship with his best friend, Julian Woodbead, proves to be a complicated one. Over the course of the novel, while in the midst of trying to understand his sexuality, and also find real love, Cyril has to navigate the hypocrisy of Irish society at this time (late 1940s-1980s). In his search for identity and meaning, Cyril’s life, just like all of our lives, is filled with moments of blissful happiness and moments of sorrow and loss. However, there are so many moments in this book that come full circle that it leaves you with a feeling of rightness, despite the heartbreak that you witness. The title couldn’t be more perfect. We all carry around burdens, pain, loss, and injustice that become etched on our hearts. These are our “furies,” and as heartbreaking as they may be, they are also part of what makes this life so beautiful.
The Silence of the Girls – Literary Fiction/Historical Fiction:
Barker does something pretty brilliant in this book- she manages to simultaneously celebrate The Iliad (the original source of this story) and challenge it. Her challenge comes in the form of perspective because her story brings to light the thoughts/feelings/struggles/triumphs of the women in this story- who both A) played a crucial role in the politics and the emotion of the story, and B) whose perspectives were woefully left out of the original. However, her book also celebrates the Iliad. She gives you a sense of the majesty of this story and the complexity of its heroes. I honestly can’t say enough about how much I loved this book- it was a breath of fresh air, it was moving, emotional, honest, and beautifully written. If you’re a fan of Greek Mythology/retellings, you should definitely check this out.
Book of Dust– by Philip Pullman – Fantasy:
Philip Pullman is a master craftsman of the slow spun tale. His rich, building, lyrical style is so comforting that it draws you into a parallel universe. The protagonist, Malcolm, is such as smart and likable boy that you can’t help root for him as he gets caught up in this world of political intrigue, scholarship, and magic. If you are a fan of Narnia or Harry Potter, you would definitely enjoy this.
Thunderhead– YA Fantasy:
I really loved Scythe, but Thunderhead takes the loose threads from book #1 and spins them into a whole new world of intrigue, danger, and suspense, with some really cool philosophical questions underlining the whole plot. While book #1 focuses on the Scythedom and Rowan and Citra’s place within it, book #2 continues this journey, but with more connection to the Thunderhead- the vast, all-knowing, God-like “server,” that monitors the world. Instead of being privy to the journals of the Scythes, we now get the journals/thoughts of the Thunderhead. The actions of the Scythes and Rowan, woven together with the thoughts of the all-seeing Thunderhead, created a brilliant contrast. If you’re a fan of YA dystopian, do yourself a big favor and read this series. The next book in the series, Toll, comes out in 2019.
Lethal White– Detective/Mystery:
The same attention to detail and suspense that Rowling gives us in HP, works so well in her detective series. Every tiny detail is crafted to come together at the perfect moment, and suddenly, all of the pieces fit together and it is so satisfying. I have loved every Cormoran Strike novel so far, Cuckoo’s Calling being my favorite, but Lethal White was so much more intricate than the other 3 novels. Unlike all of the other Strike novels, we are not dealing with one crime in Lethal White. There is policial corruption, blackmail, and a repressed memory that, for the majority of the book, we’re not even sure is real). The length was completely welcome for me. I wanted to stay with Strike and Robin as long as I could and continue to take in all of the minute details of the case as they unfolded. I would have welcomed another 500 pages if it meant staying with these two a little longer.
Overall, a great year in books for me. Thank you all for being here and sharing with me. Stay tuned for my 2019 reading goals/TBR coming up in a day or so. Happy New Year, everyone!