My Favorite 2018 Reads
2018 was a pretty great year for me in terms of reading. Which is quite frankly incredible, because I had a whirlwind year as far as school goes, and school tends to be my number one excuse for not reading. After reading pages and pages of textbooks and academic journals, the idea of doing MORE reading just isn't that appealing. So I'm not sure what changed, but I feel like I really rediscovered my love for reading this year. Maybe that's because I discovered so many incredible books. Here are my top seven.
The Wendy by Erin Michelle Sky and Steven Browning
I initially bought this Peter Pan retelling because A) the cover art is beautiful and B) the description sounded vaguely interesting. I had no idea that the story between that gorgeous cover would exceed my wildest expectations. Wendy is an incredible heroine, and the other characters are reimagined in interesting ways. It's really the narrative voice that makes this story so fun, though. If you're looking for a book that will pull you along an an exciting ride and make you smile pretty much the entire time, definitely give this one a try.
Exin Ex Machina and Of A Darker Void by G. S. Jennsen
I was a huge fan of this author's previous series, so once she wrapped that up, I had some mixed feelings. I was really looking forward to seeing what she'd do next but also a little scared that I wouldn't like it as much as I had her previous books. Fortunately, I had nothing to worry about. G. S. Jennsen is a phenomenal author who knows how to tell some killer stories. If anything, I would argue that this series is already off to a better start than her last. I fell in love with these characters almost instantly. If you enjoy high-stakes, character-driven science fiction and you haven't already started reading these books, you'll want to jump on board and catch up before book 3 releases.
The Savior's Champion by Jenna Moreci
I discovered Jenna Moreci's YouTube channel a few months ago and have really enjoyed her practical, no-nonsense, often humorous advice on writing, publishing, and marketing. I'd heard about The Savior's Champion in her videos and it always sounded like something I'd enjoy reading...someday. Then on a whim I decided I really wanted to read it right now, so I just decided to just go ahead and buy it. It arrived on my doorstep during finals week, and had I not had tests and assignments to finish up, I probably would have read it straight through. I loved the characters so much, and the story sucked me right in. It's one of those books I couldn't stop thinking about long after I had finished reading. I'm already looking forward to the next book. I have a feeling it's going to be just as incredible as this one.
Wool by Hugh Howey
I know I'm a little late to the party on this one. I've been hearing about this book for years and have lost track of the number of people who have recommended it to me. I finally decided to jump into it and it was every bit as good as people had said it was. It was a great premise, and the characters were all very engaging...even the ones who died almost as soon as they were introduced, which kind of sucked, because I loved them. But it really is a great book deserving of all the hype it gets. I plan to finish up the rest of the series soon and I'm excited to see how things play out.
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
I've been on a circus kick for about a year now, which probably has something to do with the fact that I've been writing a Calico Thunder Rides Again, which is set on a circus. I had watched the movie adaptation of Water for Elephants a few years ago and really enjoyed it, so I decided to pick up the book from the library one day. It was way better than the movie and only ignited my circus fascination even more. A lot of it ended up informing the setting details in Calico Thunder Rides Again and pointing me in the right direction for my own story research, so it has a special place in my heart for that reason. Aside from that, it's just a great story with well-developed characters who felt like living, breathing people and who I'm almost totally convinced were actually alive in the 1930s.
Get in My Head: Cameron's Story by S. M. Holland
I'm always a little nervous when I see stories about foster kids and the child welfare system. In any format - books, movies, TV, video games, anything. There's a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding out there, and while I recognize the system isn't perfect, I feel like social workers, foster kids, and the entire system are often portrayed as broken and dysfunctional when it's actually full of people who are genuinely trying to do their best with limited resources and support. I was very happy to see Cameron's Story deliver a more nuanced portrayal of what life might be like for a kid in foster care. Stories like this are so important, and Holland does a great job of showing both the good and the bad, the despair and the hope. It's an emotional roller coaster, so if you decide to read it, you might want to get a box of tissues, but it's well worth the ride.
Alice (The Wanderland Chronicles) by J. M. Sullivan
I read a few retellings this year, and this was one I thoroughly enjoyed. Set in the zombie apocalypse, the story follows Alice as she navigates dangerous terrain in search of a cure for her sister Dinah. The characters are all reimagined wonderfully, but I especially loved time-concious Dr. Abbot and disturbingly twisted Dr. Matt Hatta. They were both so well-written into the plot and background of the story that it really added a unique twist to what could have been just a simple rehashing of the classic tale in a different setting. Give this book a try if you enjoy retellings and/or zombies.
Be sure to leave a comment below and tell me what you thought. Have you read any of these books? What were your favorite 2018 reads?