Well, hasn’t 2018 just flown by us? I wish you a happy beginning to 2019 with a look back at the past reading year 2018. This was my first year of properly logging my reading on Goodreads. I have to say, I really did thoroughly enjoy taking part in the challenge myself this year rather than simply cheering everyone else on from the side lines (although I do still love seeing how everyone else is getting on!). When I set my challenge back on January 1st 2018 I didn’t know what was a reasonable number. I knew school work would mean I wouldn’t be able to read as much as the number I’ve seen others read which is why I decided to set my goal at 60 books. I was unsure whether or not I would actually complete my goal but I was happy with that because I did want it to be well, a challenge. And I’m SO SO delighted because I did reach my goal!
Whilst I plan to post my most disappointing reads of the year alongside a simple list of every book I read this year, today I want to start with my list of favourites. I am going to place the books in order of when I read them in the year but there is absolutely no way I could rank them because every book is on this list for a different reason. Now! On to the books!
First up is…
- How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather- This book is in my list of favourites purely because of how much I enjoyed. It is not literary genus, it isn’t going to change your life but it is going to offer you some pure and simple fun. This is on my list because I could not bring myself to put it down whilst reading even though I had a mountain of schoolwork that I had to be doing because I had very important exams the following week. Because of that I awarded this book a five star rating. Set in Salem, the site of the infamous witch trials it is a modern day story about the descendants of those who played vital roles in the trials. If I remember correctly it is inspired by the author’s own ancestry which I find to be a very interesting feature.
Next we have…
- The Cruel Prince by Holly Black- This was the first book I read by this author because the hype around it was colossal. There really was no escaping it plus, it really did sound like something I’d like. About a mortal girl living in a faerie world I was so intrigued by the politics of this world. The plot was incredible and just kept building and building. Black is incredible at keeping readers in that state of shock- especially leading up to the ending. Most if not all the characters are morally grey to say the least which was another element that really kept my attention. I loved this book so much that I drove a few hours to go to one of her signings so that I could tell her that myself. Just in case it wasn’t clear I rated it 5/5 stars on Goodreads.
Next up is possibly the only book I can maybe rank. I read this entire series this year (well, last year I suppose) and I am literally obsessed. There is no other way to put it. I love this series so much and I still think about it daily. And that series is… (dun, dun, DUN!)
- The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman- I talked a lot about this book series in a “Book of the Week” post I did a while back but I have no problems talking about it again. This author writes with such beautiful and lyrical prose which is used to make this such an atmospheric read. The detail in which the author includes is to be fully appreciated once the story is up and running. I promise you will be so immersed in this world you will feel you are a part of it. The characters feel so whole and real- I just want to be friends with Mr Hammond, please! Our protagonist is Lady Helen who knows her role in a 19th century society is to find a husband and lead a peaceful life. Her plans could change when she meets Lord Carlston and discovers she has certain abilities which may lead her to having a greater role than she expected. Goodman uses the genre of historical fantasy to make clever suggestions about societies. She seems to suggest that whilst society lends us our roles we have the power to change them. An easy five stars.
After that we have a slight change of genre to talk about-
- Just Don’t Mention It by Estelle Maskame- A contemporary read this time and a companion novel to the very popular DIMILY series. This is Tyler’s story. His story is on my list of favourites because it in my opinion does justice to the complexities of his character. It shows how his childhood experiences led him to where he was at the beginning of DIMILY. It shows us why his relationships with those around him are as strained as they are, why he puts on a persona that he is this ‘bad boy’ who is untouchable and why he is viewed as not very nice by the other characters. It is impossible not to sympathise with Tyler in this book and shares the powerful message that we should not judge others for we may not know their story. This is a book that proved quite difficult to read at times and one I don’t think I’ll be forgetting any time soon. As you have probably guessed this is a five star read. If you want to know more of my thoughts I did write a full review of this book which you can read here.
The contemporary genre has really impressed me in 2018 because there is a second book from the genre on this list! Leading up to this book I was so excited because it was written by a very popular book blogger who blogs over at Paper Fury. I have always been sort of in awe of her because much like her blog title she writes at a furious speed. I was just so excited to read some of the words I had heard so much about. Of course this book is none other than-
- A Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G. Drews- This is another very hard hitting book but one that is just so incredible. The writing style is unlike anything I’ve ever read before – it is so utterly unique. It is about Beck, a boy who suffers from his own mother’s crushed dreams. Due to an illness she will never be able to play the piano again and so she makes her dream, her sons. Despite his constant practicing he will never play the piano as good as she does. The book is about learning to follow your own dreams, not those created for you. A wonderful story, with another powerful message. This book will blow your mind I promise. It is so good I don’t even know how to put it into words.
Next we have…
- Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian- This book is high fantasy, a genre I don’t tend to read a lot of anymore but I was so pleasantly surprised by it. I could not stop turning the pages of this book. Even my cousins commented on how fast I was reading it as I read it whilst on holiday with them. It is about Theodosia who was six when the Kasier took power in her country after invading. She was dubbed the “Ash Princess” a title to bear with shame and in her state of powerlessness she lives her life by simply surviving with whatever the Kaiser throws at her. After ten years she realises surviving is no longer enough for and she strives to reclaim her lost throne. The plot is executed fantastically and the world-building is wonderful. It’s a read you don’t want to miss.
Another book I read over summer is-
- A Sky Painted Gold by Laura Wood- The setting of this book is to me what makes it. Read this book if you want to relax by the fire with a hot chocolate. Trust me. It is a simple but lovely story set in a Cornish village. Seventeen-year-old Lou has always been fascinated by the Cardew house due to its wondrous splendor. But as she forms closer and closer bonds with the owners is she abandoning her own ambitions of becoming a writer? A very character driven book helped along by a lush Gatsby-esque setting (the setting is where the Gatsby likeness ends though). This book is filled with beautiful prose and acts as an escape. A book so full of hope that it really is a comfort.
The following book is actually not a book but a play. I hope you’ll forgive my slight bend in rules but as I read the script I can’t help but include it. That play is-
- A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams- The fact that this is on my list is such a shock to me because I read it for school. I tend to not really like books I read for school because for whatever reason they seem to go out of their way to pick the least enjoyable ones out there. This however blew me away, Williams had such insight and it astounds me how much his message is still so relevant. To me this play is trying to show that society can be cruel and the famous line ‘I’ve always relied on the kindness strangers’ is so prominent. It suggests that if we have kindness all of his can live happy and positive lives. It follows Blanche DuBois in 1950s New Orleans as she struggles to find her place in a society that seems to reject her. We follow the deterioration of her mental health and certain characters unwillingness to even try to understand her. There is so many lessons to be learnt from this book, honestly you have to read it. I’m so excited to also go and see the play on stage as it was meant to be shown later on in 2019!
We are nearly there now with book number nine which is another hard hitting contemporary…
- The Weight of a Thousand Feathers by Brian Conaghan- I cried a lot whilst reading this book. It’s about a teenage boy who is carer for his mum who is terminally ill. This book raises a lot of morally difficult questions and explores them throughout the book. Regardless of your own thoughts and opinions on the issue explored I think you will sympathise with our main character. Such a thought provoking and important read.
The final book (at long last) is…
- Enchantée by Gita Trelease- I have recently determined historical fantasy to be my favourite genre. I just love it. I was so so lucky to get an ARC copy of this book at Deptcon (an annual YA book convention). I was so over the moon to get it because it was a 2019 book I was so hyped for. Set in Paris in 1789 it follows Camille as she tries to provide for her family after the death of her parents. She relies on both her own magic and the magic of a beautiful dress as she concocts a plan which leads her to become swept up in life at the Palace of Versailles. Again tackling societal class, roles and dreams this book is just a dream. Among the danger a healthy hand of balloons are to be found acting as real hope within the darkness and the illusions. Don’t know what I mean? Guess you’ll just have to read and find out!
I’m sure you can agree 2018 was a super great reading year for me. Hopefully 2019 (and my goal of 70 books ahhhhh!) is just as good! Before I go I just want to remind you about my book club Bookscovery which I set up with my friend Jemma from Jemma Loves Books. Our first book is Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco and we would love for you to join us. Read more about it here if you’re interested!