My Year in Books 2018

2018 is over which means I can finally get to my year in books. I didn’t want to share stats or best of lists until I knew they wouldn’t change. So here we are. 2018 was my most successful reading year yet in terms of books read. I set my annual goal at 52 books again, knowing I could meet it but I did even better than my personal best of 63 from 2017 by reading 68 books!

It is swayed by the fact I did read a handful of novellas (and one short story) as well as a few writing craft books which are both shorter and quicker to read. My pages read is actually lower than 2017 but only because for some reason The Queen of Air and Darkness is showing up as 350 pages instead of its 950 pages reality which would easily bring my to the top. It also means that the second longest book I read is showing as the longest.

But onto the most interesting stat, at least I think so. My average rating for 2018 was 4.1 stars. Which is much higher than it use to and i think this is for two reasons, 1) I’m getting much better at judging which books I will like and am more fussy about my picks, and 2) I’m getting less fussy about my 5 stars, I used to feel like only the best books ever should be rated 5 stars but have realised books can be brilliant 5 star reads without being my all time favourite.

My rating chart is also skewed because if I do end up reading something that I think will be 1 or 2 stars I DNF it (life is too short and there are too many books to read!) and I don’t rate DNF’s.

So 68 books read. An average rating of 4.1 stars, 23 of which were 5 star reads. All this means that my Best Books of the Year list was even harder to narrow down than usual but I did it. Here are my favourites of the year….

Best Books of 2018:

1. The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn – Tyler Whitesides

Adult fantasy

The Lies of Locke Lamora but with dragons

Ardor is a cocky con artist asked by a priest to steal the kings crown to save the world. Science-y Magic system but more chemistry than physics based which is something I’ve never seen before (except maybe in Mistborn). Its basically different types of powdered dragon poop that explodes. It’s so much more awesome than that sounds I promise. The book is very long but there’s no boring info dumping or world building and Ardor’s & Raek’s friendship is Goals (brotp). Recommend it for fans of Locke Lamora or ADSoM or Mistborn.

2. Darkling & Undertow (Port Lewis Witches) by Brooklyn Ray 

NA contemporary fantasy novellas

It’s Witchy & atmospheric & queer. The MC is trans male and it has a M/M friends to lovers romance. The second novella switches POV to the boyfriend. Theres going to be a whole series of novellas each with a different MC. And I can’t wait. The writing is gorgeous, the characters are real and amazing and the covers for the whole series so far are my favourite covers of the year. A queerer and more adult Raven Boys.

3. Isle of blood & Stone by Makiia Lucier

NA Fantasy

Map makers & explorers & sailors & all things wanderlust. It has 19 yo MCs (yay for older YA) with only a very minor romance subplot (nothing explicit) which is a plus from me. A cartographer goes on an adventure to solve a riddle about 2 missing princes. The friendship between Elias (mapmaker) & Ulises (the king) is everything. One of my favourite friendships ever not just in 2018 and the setting and wanderlust are palpable.

4. Baker Thief – Claudie Arseneault

Adult fantasy

About a fat bigender Baker by day/ thief by night & the cop who wants to catch her as they both investigate magic users going missing. It has a cool mix of science based magic, based in a French-Canadian inspired setting. Really great aromantic & demisexual rep but also lots of other queer & disabled rep in the supporting cast. There’s also lots of baking that WILL make you hungry. And cats….

5. Starship’s Mage series by Glynn Stewart (I read books 2, 3, 4 & 5 in 2018 and they are all amazing so I’m putting the whole series here)

Adult sci fi

This is my favourite sci fi series ever. All of the books are amazing (the first was originally written as four novellas and it’s all self pubbed). The MC is in his 20’s but this reads more like a YA adventure than a heavy space opera. I’d describe it as the navy fleet of star trek mixed with a YA harry Potter all overseen by space royalty (and space pirates) and there’s little to no romance plot through out the series.  I can’t wait to read the next books.

6. Paper and fire (The Great Library #2) – Rachel Caine

YA alt-historical fantasy

The library of Alexandria never burned down so it now, obviously, rules the world. There are huge automaton statues that protect books & chase/kill people. Jess is a thief who loves books. Do you see the problem? Anyway, it has a diverse cast of amazing characters, non-stop action and amazing settings (Alexandria, Rome, London…)

7. Lost boy, Found boy – Jenn Polish

Scifi novella

Futuristic fully queer Peter pan retelling where Peter is trans and in an M/Enby relationship at the start.(And Tink is a gay AI whose computer code extracts reminded me of illuminae). But when Peter’s partner enlists in military service that will kill them just to be able to fly Peter creates neverland for them. The writing is gorgeous and there are so many little nods to the original story, including Peter having the same ambiguous childish morals but with a different twist….

8. All Systems Red by Martha Wells

Scifi novella 

About a socially anxious security droid that has to save other humans on a strange new planet with things that want them dead. MC is so relatable it’s hilarious. It is short but felt the perfect length for the story with no unnecessarily long description of backstory to slow things down and it’s the first in a series.

9. Simon vs the Homosapiens Agenda – Becky Albertalli 

YA contemporary 

Adorable and fluffy read and I loved the email extracts between Simon and Blue. In fact all of the relationships in this are so good. It’s a coming out story where both families are accepting and loving and it has zero secondhand embarrassment which normally scares me off YA contemp.

Plus special mentions:

The City of Brass by S A Chakraborty, A Court of Mist and Fury & A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah j Maas, The Cybernetic Tea Shop by Meredith Katz

Quick Fire Round:

Favourite Character: Either Jess Brightwell (The Great Library) or Damien Montgomery (Starship’s Mage)

Favourite Friendships:  Ardor & Raek (The Thousand Lives of Ardor Benn) and Elias & Ulises (Isle of Blood & Stone)

Favourite World/setting: The Great Library or Isle of Blood & Stone

Favourite Magic System: Dragon Poop from The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn

Most Heartbreaking Book: I didn’t read any absolute heartbreakers in 2018 but there were plenty that had moments like The Poppy War or The City of Brass or The State of Grace

Happiest Book: Simon vs The Homesapiens Agenda

It was a good year in books. I’m looking forward to more amazing books in 2019 which brings me to…

Book goals for 2019

  • My annual Read 52 books challenge which you can keep track of on my goodreads if you so want. (I will because goodreads is the only way I have any clue what I’ve read!)
  • I’ve also made a “What to buy next” shelf which was me going through all backlist books (ie books that were released in 2018 or before) and picking the ones I most wanted to read. This ended up in a top 50 so this will be a rough 2019 TBR. I’ll hopefully be reading most of those books this year.
  • And finally but very importantly, I want to keep my owned books under 50 on my kindle.

Have you read any of my top books from last year and if so, what did you think? What was the best book you read last year? Hard question, I know, and it’s also unfair of me to ask because I really can’t pick one off my list. They were all so good! And what are your reading goals for the year?

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Memo Pad: December Book Wrap Up (+ Xmas Book Haul)

Merry Christmas everyone! It’s the end of the final month of the year which means my last 2018 book wrap up. I’ll be doing a bookish year post in the next week or so once 2018 is officially over (you never know what awesome books I’ll read between now and new year!) but for now my last reviews of the year.

Stats wise I went on a book buying ban in June in an attempt to get the 75+ books on my kindle down to a more manageable number. Well I can officially say I managed to get it down to under 50. Before Christmas it was down to just 44 (pretend with me that’s a low number please!) and it meant that I could allow myself to buy a few books for Christmas. I think my goal next year will be to keep it below 50 so I’m allowed to buy books up to that number.

The books I bought in my mini Christmas haul were:

Sometime After Midnight by L Philips (which I’ve already read. See below) / Vicious by VE Schwab (finally!) / Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare (Which I’m currently reading) / Failure to Communicate by kaia Sonderby / The Disasters by MK England / An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon

But onto books I’ve read this month…

Read: 5 DNF: 1

The City of Brass by S A Chakraborty *****

There is so much hype on this book that I had to put this on hold for months but I finally felt it was the right moment to read this and just wow. I really need the sequel now. I do have to say that it felt more like a solid four stars until the last third. But what an end it was.

Nahri is a thief living in the streets of Cairo when she accidently calls forth a djinn who tells her of a magical city and, with demons also accidently called forth, Nahri has no choice but to follow him.

I do have to mention the problematic start. I didn’t like that the story started by having an autistic girl possessed by a demon and murdered simply to earn the main character sympathy points and push her off on her journey. It could have used something else and I’m surprised that it hasn’t been mentioned anywhere which is disappointing. I also felt the pacing of the first half was a bit slow and things could have moved quicker but the rest of the story was griping and other elements kept me engrossed until then.

I am VERY invested in happy endings here (for some people anyway. Definitely not for others).  Dhiru better end up happy (I think I spelt that name wrong). I have a lot of other demands but I feel like that’s the only thing I can say without giving away spoilers and is the most important one anyway!

Personally I did find the characters a bit too flawed. It does make for more epic character arcs but means for quite a lot of the book they were annoyingly flawed and I rolled my eyes a lot. But the relationships between all of the characters and how they are all connected means you can’t help but love them anyway (even if they’re being annoying!) And as I said, it all came together so well in the last third of the book that I can’t wait to read more. I also loved the world created. The different cultures, names, and characters really made the world vivid and rich and set it apart from the same old western inspired fantasy setting. I’m looking forward to the sequel (although part of me is also dreading it because INVESTED)

Scardust by Suzanne Van Rooyen *****

This was a quick and engrossing read but it does hit a lot of heavier topics (Trigger warnings for rape, self harm, physical abuse and sibling suicide).

A near future sci fi set in the middle of nowhere texas where Raleigh dreams of joining the MarsLife program to escape his life but his plans get interrupted when a guy crash lands in a crater nearby.

I loved the mix of feeling like the world was on the edge of the future but it hadn’t reached this small place on earth yet. Raleigh’s dreams of escaping were very real and you definitely routed for him through all of the heartbreak. His life is absolutely tragic and you need him to make it through. The connection and way the relationship between both boys grew was really great. It wasn’t instant, there was plenty of mistrust and learning between them and it developed into such a caring and understanding relationship that it makes you physically scared about what will happen. I guessed the twist quite early on but it was very well written and just made me want to turn the pages quicker to find out what happened next and I wasn’t disappointed once I got there at all.

City of Strife by Claudie Arseneault *****

This isn’t the first book I’ve read by this author, in fact Baker Thief is on my list of best books of the year, and while this didn’t quite reach those heights for me it is still a brilliant book full of amazing characters. It’s set in an old city on the edge of an empire where old families rule from their towers and a sect of magic users are infiltrating and disrupting the peace. There are elves mixed in with the humans, and as most of Arseneaults books do, it focuses on family and friendship with a good dose of aromantic, asexual and nonbinary rep mixed in with other queer rep.

The thing I love about all the worlds that this author creates is that they are so real and fully realised that they feel normal. You really feel as if there are ordinary people going about their lives and living in these places beyond the characters and story. I loved all the characters and there were A LOT of them. I think there were ten point of view characters. But it’s very well written and I was never confused or lost. They were all distinct, I knew how they all related to each other and everything was well explained without slowing the pace down. There are lots of characters to love. The downside of so many povs though is that there wasn’t THAT much plot and I wasn’t expecting for it to just end there. There are sequels but I definitely felt it could have been a bit longer to round out the plot more. I guess I will just have to read the next books!

Pulse by Danielle Koste *****

The thing that drew me to this book was that it was vampires but not in your typical urban fantasy setting. Instead it focuses on a boy captured and kept in a laboratory. It’s all scientific experiments and secret testing facilities but at the same time focusing on the characters caught up in it and their interactions. It reminded me of the way The Girl With All The Gifts changed up the zombie idea and I really liked it. There’s also no love triangle which I was worried about for a while. I did feel the end was messy and I was a bit disappointed with how things went in the last quarter but only because I’d enjoyed the rest so much. Overall it was a really enjoyable read that I raced through and was a fresh and different take on an over used trope.

Sometime After Midnight by L Philips *****

This was such a cute, easy read. It’s a queer modern cinderella retelling where two guys meet at a gig but the rich guy only manages to snap a picture of the other’s sharpie decorated converse before he runs away. It gets put on social media and things explode. It’s all about music, guitars, singing, the record industry and the good and bad that comes with it. Also something to note is this is NOT a coming out book. Both main characters are already out and it’s fully accepted by both friends and family so it’s never used as part of the drama which is also really nice to read. If you like your YA fluffy and light then I’d definitely recommend this book. It was such a quick but engrossing read and all of the characters are loveable.

Trigger warning for mentions of a parents suicide


DNF

White Fire by Laurie Bell

I honestly can’t put my finger on a good reason why but I just didn’t connect with this book. It’s also split into parts and when it switched to two years later I couldn’t convince myself to keep going for no other reason than I just wasn’t invested. DNF @35%



Best book of the month goes to The City of Brass. What about you? What was the best book you’ve read recently? And how was your reading this year? Any new favourites that you would recommend?

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Top 5 Wednesday – Most Anticipated 2019 Winter Releases

Top 5 Wednesday is hosted by Lainey @ GingerReadsLainey on Youtube and has a group over on goodreads. This week’s topic is most anticipated 2019 releases but I’m narrowing that down to 2019 winter releases (or first three months as technically March isn’t winter) because there’s too many great sounding books to do the whole year in one small list.

These are my top 5 most anticipated 2019 Jan-March releases:

(I’m going by the release dates on their goodreads pages which I’ve linked to)

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi 

Paris, 1889: The world is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. In this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. But when the all-powerful society, the Order of Babel, seeks him out for help, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance. To find the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin will need help from a band of experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian who can’t yet go home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in all but blood, who might care too much. Together, they’ll have to use their wits and knowledge to hunt the artifact through the dark and glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the world, but only if they can stay alive.

Immoral Code by Lillian Clark

For Nari, aka Narioka Diane, aka hacker digital alter ego “d0l0s,” it’s college and then a career at “one of the big ones,” like Google or Apple. Keagan, her sweet, sensitive boyfriend, is happy to follow her wherever she may lead. Reese is an ace/aro visual artist with plans to travel the world. Santiago is off to Stanford on a diving scholarship, with very real Olympic hopes. And Bellamy? Physics genius Bellamy is admitted to MIT—but the student loan she’d been counting on is denied when it turns out her estranged father—one Robert Foster—is loaded. Nari isn’t about to let her friend’s dreams be squashed by a deadbeat billionaire, so she hatches a plan to steal just enough from Foster to allow Bellamy to achieve her goals.

Other Words for Smoke by Sarah Maria Griffin

Years ago, the house at the end of the lane burned down. The townspeople never learned what happened, but Rita Frost and her teenage ward, Bevan, were never seen again. Only Mae and her brother Rossa know the truth of what happened that summer—and they’ll never say a word. When they were told they’d be spending their summer with their great aunt, Mae and Rossa were anything but thrilled. But nothing at Rita’s is as it appears. Bevan is enthralled by a dangerous power lurking behind the walls of Rita’s home. The power—known as Sweet James—is hungry, and what he wants most is a taste of the twins. And Bevan wants the magic and escape that Sweet James is offering her. But Sweet James is never satisfied, no matter what Bevan brings him. Mae would give Bevan almost anything—she is in the grip of first love, both dying for Bevan’s attention and worried she’ll get it. But Rossa is learning some of the terrible secrets the house is hiding, secrets that paralyze him with fear. As the summer draws to a close, Bevan tries to free Sweet James from his prison within the walls, but is thwarted by Rita and her cat (who is more than a cat), Bobby Dear. It’s over for Mae and Rossa, isn’t it? They return home. They don’t talk about the strangeness of that summer. But it never completely abandons them. And things at home only get worse. And so three years later, Rossa and Mae are sent once again to Rita’s home, as their parents’ marriage finally seems to crumble. At first it seems that the strangeness has dissipated. But Sweet James never left. He has been lurking within the walls, waiting the perfect time to return. He’s been waiting much longer than any of them know—any of them except Rita, who has been keeping secrets of her own. Secrets that bring the house down in flames around them and bring them all to the brink of the things they most want—and what they most fear.

The Perfect Assassin by K A Doore 

Divine justice is written in blood.Or so Amastan has been taught. As a new assassin in the Basbowen family, he’s already having second thoughts about taking a life. A scarcity of contracts ends up being just what he needs. Until, unexpectedly, Amastan finds the body of a very important drum chief. Until, impossibly, Basbowen’s finest start showing up dead, with their murderous jaan running wild in the dusty streets of Ghadid. Until, inevitably, Amastan is ordered to solve these murders, before the family gets blamed. Every life has its price, but when the tables are turned, Amastan must find this perfect assassin or be their next target.

Return of the Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

This one is the last in a series so I’m not going to copy the blurb but I simultaneously cannot wait to read this book and am terrified of how the series will end. I don’t want it to end! It’s one of favourite series ever with the cleverest and most awesome thief I’ve read.

I could have done ten to be honest but I was being strict. How about you? Do you want to read any of these books? What is your most anticipated book/s of 2019? Let me know in the comments and feel free to link your lists too.

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Top 10 Tuesdays – 2018 Releases I Still Need to Read

Top 10 Tuesdays is a book tag hosted over at the artsy reader girls blog. This week was a freebie topic and seeing as 2018 is coming to an end I thought what better opportunity to show how badly I’ve done with keeping up with 2018 releases tell you about 2018 releases I’m still looking forward to reading.

To be fair I have been on a book buying ban for the last six months in an attempt to get my owned tbr down to more manageable levels but now that’s a bit more under control (sort of) I can refocus back on some new releases and these are the ones in most excited about.

This was ridiculously hard to narrow down to just ten which just shows you how many 2018 releases I still need to read. It was so hard in fact that I only managed to narrow it down to 14….. Oops. But then I do have a goodreads shelf of about 40 so I still think this is an achievement and it’s not my fault there were so many amazing books being released this year.

I’ve split it into genres to help break it up as I know 14 is a really massive number….

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Memo Pad: November Book Wrap Up

It’s nearly December! Christmas time! And I have officially got my owned tbr down to just 50 books which was my goal way back in June when I went on my book buying ban! My goal for next year will be to keep that number from going above 50 which means however many books I can read next month is the amount of books I’ll be allowed to buy for Christmas. If I’m lucky I’ll read four or maybe five.

Race on!

In other news related to the fact it’s nearly next year already, I went through my list of 2018 releases I want to read and managed to narrow it down to a shortlist of 15….

I also went through all of the backlist books on my out of control tbr on goodreads (so anything published before 2018) and narrowed that down to a list of 38 books I want to read the most. So when Christmas comes I’ll only have a very reasonable list of 53 books to choose from. *cries*

The good news is, with 2019 so close, I might be able to get to some 2019 releases by…. 2020? If I’m lucky.

In non book related news….. Um. Really nothing much has happened this month? I’m doing a first round of edits of my #ExcitingSpaceWIP which feels like it’s taking ages but I’m 85% in and should finish it next week. I feel like I’ve named it aptly because I am muchly excited. I’ve also finally started making Christmas cards which is about a month late but is progress!!

mp nov 2018

On to my book stats for the month:

Books on owned tbr at start: 55

Books bought/acquired: 0/0

Books read: 4

Books DNF’d: 1

Books on owned tbr at end: 50!!!!

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Memo Pad: October Book Wrap Up

Phew. It’s been such a busy month for me! And I cannot believe it’s almost Christmas already. I am not prepared. Somebody press pause, please!

Probably the biggest thing that happened this month is that I got diagnosed as autistic. I’ve discovered so much out about myself and I still am finding and figuring out things. So much of my life makes more sense now! This journey has been wild and I am so happy to have the certainty and confirmation of a diagnosis. The whole process was extremely nerve-racking but the actual appointment was very calm and it was actually really lovely to talk to someone who got it.

The timing of the appointment however wasn’t great. I had just one chapter left to write of #ExcitingSpaceWIP and two weeks later I still have one chapter left. Between recovering from the appointment and a load of forms that have suddenly landed on my lap, I just haven’t had the time to write the final chapter! But hopefully things will calm down soon and the plan is to get that chapter written by the end of the week. (Fingers crossed please!) Then I can give my autistic MC some closure too!

These things have meant that I’ve been a terrible blogger lately. This is just my third post this month compared to my normal 7 or 8. But more importantly I’ve been struggling to find time to read all your amazing posts. I have tried to make sure I’ve interacted and commented on posts of people who have interacted with me. But if I haven’t been around lately this is why

Reading wise I’ve had a bit of an average month to be honest. A couple of books I thought would be amazing were simply good (I’m hard to please I know, but last month had three 5* books so my expectations were high). Although a book I was expecting to only be average for me was amazing and my favourite book of the month. I did DNF one in there too.

But on to some stats on my ongoing book buying ban and attempt to get through my owned books.

Monthly stats:

Unread Owned Books at start: 59

Bought/Acquired: 0 / 2 earcs

Read: 5 (+1 DNF)

Unread Owned Books at end: 55

I couldn’t resist those two arcs, whoops. But I’m still doing really well…. Kind of. I mean that number is continually coming down so that’s a good thing. When I started this quest at the end of June I had about 75 books on my kindle. In four months that’s now down to 55 (damn those irresistible arcs!) and it looks like I’ll definitely be reaching my target of getting it below 50 before Christmas. (ready to buy more. Shhhhhh) No. But seriously I think my main goal next year will be to keep that number below 50. I’ll allow myself to buy some of the books I’m currently dreaming of but only so long as I don’t break that mark. And hopefully it will come down even more too. Continue reading

Top Ten Tuesdays: Longest Books

I’ve been a terrible blogger so far this month. Posting AND reading wise. I’m sorry everyone. But I’m back with a link up to TTT.

Top ten Tuesdays is a book tag now hosted over at That Artsy Reader Girl. You can find this weeks link up post here. This week’s prompt was Top Ten longest books I’ve ever read but I’m going to switch it up a little bit. I decided to split this into two sections rather than stick completely to the topic. The five longest books I’ve read and loved and then the five longest books on my tbr. And I would love for you all to tell me of you’ve read any and especially if you recommend the ones I haven’t read yet.

TTT-Big2

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