Book review

My Favourite Five Books of 2018

According to Goodreads, I read 80 different published ‘things’ in 2018,* with the majority being fully-fledged novels but with a fair few children’s books and graphic novels also thrown in. My goal was 52 books so I am beyond delighted to have surpassed that number in 2018, which was probably my busiest year to date.

Rules for this list:

  • These are books I started and finished reading in 2018 – they were not necessarily published in 2018.
  • Only one book per author.
  • These books are not necessarily the highest rated books I read in 2018. I have made this list based on how well the stories have stuck with me and how likely they made me look into other works from the five authors.
  • Audiobooks are included here, but will also get their own post in the coming weeks.

 

  1. The Bedlam Stacks – Natasha Pulley

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You can find my review for this book here.

I enjoyed Pulley’s debut novel, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, but it was not without a fair few issues. The Bedlam Stacks, however, absolutely corrected these mistakes as far as I am concerned. The characters are more thoroughly developed (and more interesting), the descriptions are more engaging, and I found the overall narrative to be better and well-polished than her debut. I think/hope that Pulley has another book coming out in 2019 or 2020, and I can’t wait to see where she goes from here.

There are many important themes discussed in The Bedlam Stacks, and I think that anyone with an interest in colonialism (or indeed post-colonialism) would be especially interested in this. It also has a fair share of fantastical elements (especially towards the end) which I really did enjoy.

 

  1. A Life in Parts – Bryan Cranston

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One of the first audiobooks I listened to in 2018 turned out to be one of my favourites. Here we listen as the world-famous actor tells us about the highs and lows of his life from his less-than-amazing childhood, his relationship with his parents, his journey across the US with his brother, and of course his illustrious acting career. I learnt so much about both the actor himself and the acting community (both in the past and more recently) – I cannot recommend this highly enough to fans of Cranston. Don’t worry too much if you aren’t too familiar with Breaking Bad or Malcolm in the Middle as these form a very small part of the memoir (but be warned, there are a couple of spoilers floating about).

Bonus: Cranston himself reads the audiobook and it is magnificent.

 

  1. City of Kings – Rob J. Hayes40017867

You can find my review for this book here. I reviewed this novel as part of the TBRindr programme.

City of Kings is stunning. It’s a standalone story within a wider series, but don’t let that put you off. Whilst there are a couple of nods here and then which you might not understand, the wider story being told in this book is more than enough to entertain you. The characters are all clearly differentiated (and at least a little bit broken), the pacing of the plot is outstanding, and there is such a wealth of worldbuilding on offer that you will never be bored. I highly recommend this book for any fans of fantasy, but especially those with an interesting in politics and war. There isn’t too much magic itself going on here (and don’t be expecting a fully explored magic system by any means), but it definitely falls within the SF category.

 

  1. Shattered Dreams – Ulff Lehmann39310298

You can find my review for this book here. I reviewed this novel as part of the TBRindr programme.

I’ll be honest, Shattered Dreams took me by surprise. With a strong, well-integrated cast of characters, interweaving plot lines, well-executed action scenes, and immense world-building, there is everything that fans of epic fantasy want in this novel. If you’re after a more accessible ASOIAF-esque story where characters can (and do) still die, look no further.

I loved this novel for its worldbuilding most of all – though the characters are also some of the most memorable from 2018 reads for me. There are political factions, religious cults, separate dimensions, a multitude of different magic systems, gods which interact with mortals – and to top it all off, each of these elements has a history backing everything up.  Lehmann told me that it took him over 10 years to get this book published and I can honestly say it was worth the wait! I cannot wait to get around to reading its sequel, Shattered Hopes, later on in 2019.

 

 

  1. the long way to a small angry planet – Becky Chambers25786523

You can find my review for this book here. You can find my review for this book’s sequel, a closed and common orbit, here.

I honestly cannot express how much I loved Chamber’s Wayfarers books, beginning with the long way to a small angry planet. I adore all three novels (I read them in 2018, with record of a spaceborn few being one of four books I finished on the last day of 2018), but my favourite is the first in the series. It throws together a bunch of people on a high-paying, life-endangering job with plenty of ups and downs along the way as they explore what it means to be a community, and how you can find your identity where you least expect it. The characters are not stereotypes or cliched mouthpieces for the author, but living, breathing beings who (as a whole) dramatically increase the immersivity of the book.

Chambers’ worldbuilding is excellent, but she is at her best when she’s conveying the nuances of her characters in elegantly-written prose. She somehow makes me care for space-faring humans, non-humans, AI, clones, a watery blob species, and some outright… average people. Although record of a spaceborn few wasn’t my favourite book in the series, it definitely had the most profound impact on me in its last third. It just feels so… organic and real. If I thought it fair, I would have put all three of the Wayfarers books on this list. Many months (and books later) and I’m still pained by what happened to the crew at the end of the long way to a small angry planet.

I think that this will now become my first suggestion to anyone after Speculative Fiction recommendations.

 

 

 

I will soon be posting another list of five further books I also really enjoyed in 2018 which didn’t quite make it into the top tier for a variety of reasons. I do hope you will stick around for that.

 

* I also read a lot of essays for uni but hey ho if Goodreads doesn’t count them then neither will I!

 

Let me know what you think of these books – I’d be interested to see if you think I’ve got the order wrong or if I am way off the mark!

 

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12 thoughts on “My Favourite Five Books of 2018

    1. Thank you! I’ve had a quick look through some of your pages and I think if you were to add any of these books to your wishlist, you might have most look with ‘a long way to a small angry planet’ as you seem to quite like romance and YA. Whilst this book isn’t quite either of those, it does definitely have a heavy focus on relationships and romance in the last half, and it’s a nice quick read like YA 🙂

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  1. Congrats on beating your goal of 52 books. Impressive!

    It looks like a terrific Top 5 here. I haven’t read any of these books, but you’ve encouraged me to look for some of these titles at the library. Thanks! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The second book is nowhere near as large-scale as the first but I found it to be just as fulfilling when I got into the story a bit more. I hope you find time to get around to the books as they are really quite good!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Please never apologise for replying to a blog post! I’ve been following Pulley on Twitter for a while now and the little details she gives about her next novel make it sound absolutely nuts (though of course I don’t think it’s anywhere near a finished product yet!). I’ll be posting a review of another of Hayes’ books (Never Die) tomorrow which is a bit lighter on the politics but the characters are just as broken so that might be worth checking out at some point, too 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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