Hello, time for the 500th favorites post you’ve seen, and my favorite post of the year! Now, I’m not going to have a set number – no ‘top 10’ or whatever. I tend to only rate something five stars if I intend on adding it to my all-time ‘favorite books’ list, with a few exceptions (like.. individual issues in a manga series where the overall series isn’t a favorite, or powerful memoirs that I don’t consider a fave). So some years this post is really long, other years it’s super short. This year’s list is a decent length, I think.
In 2018, I read 88 things, and out of those, 23 of them were five stars.
First, I’m going to eliminate the rereads:
- The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson
- Descender vol 1 by Jeff Lemire, Steve Wands, Dustin Nguyen
- His Majesty’s Dragon, Throne of Jade, Black Powder War, Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik
So that knocks out… six books, leaving 17. Next, I’m going to eliminate what I mentioned above: Individual issues of a manga series that I don’t consider a ‘favorite’ series, and powerful memoirs that while they were amazing, I don’t consider them a ‘favorite’ book. For the first, for a manga series to be considered a favorite, the majority of the volumes need to be a five, and that weird, undefinable ‘I love this entire series’ feeling has to be there. Individual volumes of manga can definitely be five stars, but its overall series could be lower. For the second, powerful memoirs are hard for me: I rarely give them less than five stars because how can I read about someone’s life and struggles and go ‘meh, needs character development’. Like really. So while I really did enjoy the book, and probably regard it highly (as I do with this book), I usually won’t consider it a ‘favorite’ book. Usually.
- Demon Diary volumes 3, 4, and 6 by Kara, Lee Hun-Yee
- A River in Darkness: One Man’s Escape From North Korea by Masaji Ishikawa
Down to 13. A lot of the remaining books are books that are sequels in a series that I read through during the year. So, those will be combined below.
OKAY now here are my favorite books of the year! None of these are in any particular order.
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
This book was rather split between readers – half of them really liked it, half of them really didn’t. This book is set in a Russia-esque world, and follows a few different characters, one of them named Miryam, the daughter of a money lender. She takes over her father’s business and soon cultivates the reputation for being able to turn silver into gold. This attracts the attention of the creature known as the Staryk, who interprets it literally, and Miryam finds herself in a bit over her head.
This book is slow moving and very atmospheric. It suggests a romance but it doesn’t really show one. I think that’s why many people – specifically ones who liked Uprooted – didn’t care for this. I really liked it though – I adore Naomi Novik’s writing, and at this point she could publish her grocery list and I’d read it. I really like the unknown aspect of the Staryk, how little we find out about him. The characters were interesting, the interweaving of different aspectics of folklore and creatures was really neat, and the way that all the character’s perspectives interwove was cool, too. I wrote a full blabber on it, if you’d like to know my full thoughts.
Wotakoi: Love is Hard For Otaku volumes 1-3 by Fujita
Genre: Slice of Life/Romance/Comedy
This series came out of nowhere for me. I randomly saw a brief review of the first three episodes of the anime, which made me pick it up and binge it, and then I hunted out this manga to fulfill the void that was created in my life by finishing the anime. I’ve since consumed the first three volumes, which make up everything that’s currently available for purchase.
This series follows four working mid-twenties adults as they navigate their relationships. They’re all a bit nerdy in their own ways, and it’s nice to see that come out in people who are office workers – character depth, people. The dynamics between the characters show actual, y’know, communication, and it was a breath of fresh air. The characters actually speak to each other when there’s a misunderstanding between them. Like adults. It was so nice.
This series is fluff, mind you. It’s not some epic tail of love and pain, it’s not a dramatic soap opera… it’s just a light, fluffy, funny series about people who aren’t teens, interacting with each other. And I loved it. A lot of what the characters are interested in – video games, manga, cosplay – is really delved into, and it taught me some things about the areas, even though I’m already a fan of most of them. And this series made me laugh out loud multiple times. Augh I enjoyed it so much!
Prince’s Gambit and King’s Rising by C. S. Pacat
Genre: Fantasy, M/M Romance
These two books were some of my first reads of 2018, and they’ve really stuck with me. The first book in the trilogy, Captive Prince, was a four star read for me, which is why it isn’t here, but these two books being five stars each definitely put the series overall into my favorite books.
This is another series that is a bit derisive. The relationship and cultural dynamics in this book can definitely be called unhealthy. But, the writing and the plot progression just sucked me in. I read these books and then my heart felt a void that there was no more.
This series follows two princes of warring kingdoms. One prince’s half brother usurps him, strips him of his titles, fakes his death, and presents him to the other prince of the rival country as a pleasure slave. The other prince, not having actually met the first one, doesn’t realize who he is being given. The series follows them as the war continues and the political dynamics become more and more complex.
If I’m being honest, when I went into this, I didn’t really expect much of a plot. But I was pleasantly surprised with a well thought out and well executed one. Because of that, it definitely earned a spot on my favorites list.
Victory of Eagles and Crucible of Gold by Naomi Novik
Genre: Historical fantasy
Ugh, this series, man. I absolutely adore it. I’ve loved it since I picked up the first four volumes of it in high school. If you notice, the first four of the books in the series were in my eliminated rereads section: All of them were five stars as well.
When I was in high school, only the first four books were out. I read and loved them, and then never actually picked up the rest as they came out.
This year, I made a point to do so. I reread the first four, and then kept going. The series recently concluded at nine books. As of writing this, I’m reading book eight. The two books mentioned here are books five and seven: book six was four stars for me, as it dragged a bit, but overall this series is still one of my favorites and will always be.
This series, the Temeraire series, is a historical fiction about dragon warfare during the Napoleonic Era. It’s so well done and so well researched. The character dynamics and how the dragon battle tactics are interwoven into history and actual historical events and battles during the Napoleonic Wars is fantastic. The main character, William Laurance, in the first book is a navy captain: he defeats a French ship at sea and finds Temeraire’s egg within. The egg hatches, and with nobody else around to tame the dragon, he steps in to do so, effectively throwing his navy career away to join the aerial corp: the military unit specializing in dragon battles. Temeraire the dragon is the sweetest thing, as are all of the other dragons. Each is unique, the breeds are well thought out and the intricacy of dragon breeding and training and whatnot is really fascinating.
As stated, I’m on book eight. I’m going to be so sad after book nine is finished. I won’t know what to do.
The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins
This book was a bit out of my usual comfort zone. It was a fantasy thing set in modern day, which is usually not my jam. It just sounded so intriguing though. This book was a buddy read with Katy @Bookbinderway, and both of us ended up really enjoying it, though I think I liked it more than she did, overall.
This book follows a young woman who… used to be human, more or less, as she and her group of siblings try to discover what happened to their missing Father, the man who raised them. I don’t want to really tell you more than that, because going into it nearly blind I think would be best.
I will say though that this is definitely one of the strangest books I’ve ever read. It’s unsettling, it’s bizarre, and at times it’s uncomfortable. But it’s also riveting and exciting and a lot of fun. This is definitely one of the most unique books I’ve ever encountered. I feel like it should have its own genre, that ‘fantasy/horror’ doesn’t really do it justice.
The Broken Eye by Brent Weeks
I haven’t spoken about this series too much recently, but it’s definitely mentioned muchly on this blog overall.
This series, when I started it in 2017, quickly became one of my favorites and with this third installment, it remains solidly in the list.
This series, if you haven’t heard me blabber endlessly about it already, follows a slew of characters, navigating politics in war in a world where light is magic.
The users of the magic system, drafters, are able to change colored light into physical matter, and shape it to their will. Each color has different properties, is used for different things, and has different effects on the user. Every time the user drafts light, it brings them slightly closer to death.
All of the characters in this are entertaining in their own way, whether or not I actually like them. The main character for instance, is a bit of a dick, but he’s also a lot of fun to read about. As stated, this is the third book in the series, and I’m currently reading the fourth. The fifth comes out this fall, so I wanna finish it before then. I. Am. SO. EXCITED!
Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft
Wow is this book a hidden gem. Originally self-published, it became an overnight sensation, and has since been picked up by a publisher. The book follows Thomas Senlin, who arrives at the base of the seemingly endless Tower of Babel with his wife, on honeymoon. He quickly loses her in the crowd and then must undertake the task of climbing the tower, navigating each of its levels, and surviving pursuit to find his wife.
I wrote a full blabber on this one too. More of a gush, really. But man, the writing in this is wonderful. It’s so allegoric, and I loved it. The second book is out in this series, and the third is coming out this year. I cannot wait to continue this one, ugh.
Golden Fool and Fool’s Fate by Robin Hobb
What would my favorites list be without a Robin Hobb novel (or two). Robin Hobb just keeps amazing me with her worldbuilding, her characterization and her storytelling. Each book just adds to the previous ones, things mentioned in the first or second book that seemed like a one-off suddenly become very relevant eight books later and it blows my mind. I’ve been buddyreading these with Zezee @Zezeewithbooks and we’ve both become absolutely smitten.
The two I’m highlighting here are the second and third books in Hobb’s Tawny Man trilogy, which is my favorite series in the overarching world she has established. In the overarching series, they are books eight and nine. But man, these books wrecked me. Both of them. (And the first one did too, but it didn’t quite make five stars. The whole series is amazing). They took my emotions, tied them in a pretzel, burned them, freezed them, melted them, untied them and formed them into a heart… and then ripped them to shreds. I can’t even talk too much without spoiling like.. two other series.
This series follows characters from the first trilogy some years later, and I didn’t realize how much I missed those characters until I was reading about them again. Hobb’s books at this point give me nostalgia. Cracking one open is like going home, and I don’t know what I’m going to do when I finish them.
That’s what rereading is for, I guess.
And that’s it! Those are my favorite books of the year! So many books were added to my favorites list this year, it’s crazy! I loved it! If you’ve read any of these, let me know!