Thursday, July 12, 2018

Discussion: Best Books Of 2018 (So Far)

The 2018 Discussion Challenge is hosted by Feed Your Fiction Addiction & It Starts At Midnight

The year is half over, and that means it’s time to pick the best books I’ve read in the first 6 months of 2018. If you’ve seen my Mid-Year Freak-Out Tag, then you already know my favorites, but I guess we should make it official. Every book on this list got 5 stars from me on Goodreads. Click the titles to see my reviews (if I have them).

Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

Maud, an aging grandmother, is slowly losing her memory—and her grip on everyday life. Yet she refuses to forget her best friend Elizabeth, who she is convinced is missing and in terrible danger. 

But no one will listen to Maud—not her frustrated daughter, Helen, not her caretakers, not the police, and especially not Elizabeth's mercurial son, Peter. Armed with handwritten notes she leaves for herself and an overwhelming feeling that Elizabeth needs her help, Maud resolves to discover the truth and save her beloved friend. 

This singular obsession forms a cornerstone of Maud's rapidly dissolving present. But the clues she discovers seem only to lead her deeper into her past, to another unsolved disappearance: her sister, Sukey, who vanished shortly after World War II. 

As vivid memories of a tragedy that occurred more than fifty years ago come flooding back, Maud discovers new momentum in her search for her friend. Could the mystery of Sukey's disappearance hold the key to finding Elizabeth?

Why I love it: The structure. It’s nonlinear, and the story is narrated by a woman who’s losing her memory. Elizabeth is Missing should be the most confusing book in the history of books. But, it’s not confusing at all. Only an extremely skilled author could pull that off. 

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

Welcome to the story of Despereaux Tilling, a mouse who is in love with music, stories, and a princess named Pea. It is also the story of a rat called Roscuro, who lives in the darkness and covets a world filled with light. And it is the story of Miggery Sow, a slow-witted serving girl who harbors a simple, impossible wish. These three characters are about to embark on a journey that will lead them down into a horrible dungeon, up into a glittering castle, and, ultimately, into each other's lives.

Why I love it: A fun, escapist read with adventure and depth.

Refugee by Alan Gratz

Josef is a Jewish boy in 1930s Nazi Germany. With the threat of concentration camps looming, he and his family board a ship bound for the other side of the world . . .

Isabel is a Cuban girl in 1994. With riots and unrest plaguing her country, she and her family set out on a raft, hoping to find safety and freedom in America . . .

Mahmoud is a Syrian boy in 2015. With his homeland torn apart by violence and destruction, he and his family begin a long trek toward Europe . . .

All three young people will go on harrowing journeys in search of refuge. All will face unimaginable dangers–from drownings to bombings to betrayals. But for each of them, there is always the hope of tomorrow. And although Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud are separated by continents and decades, surprising connections will tie their stories together in the end.

Why I love it: The story is realistic but not bleak. Anyone can become a refugee. It’s not just something that happens to people far away or in the past. I also love the way the three characters’ stories come together in the end.

A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin (A Song of Ice and Fire #2)

A comet the color of blood and flame cuts across the sky. And from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns. Six factions struggle for control of a divided land and the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms, preparing to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war. It is a tale in which brother plots against brother and the dead rise to walk at night. Here a princess masquerades as an orphan boy; a knight of the mind prepares a poison for a treacherous sorceress; and wild men descend from the Mountains of the Moon to ravage the countryside. Against a backdrop of incest and fratricide, alchemy and murder, victory may go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel . . . and the coldest hearts. For when kings clash, the whole land trembles.

Why I love it: I’m obsessed with the TV show and need the books to get me through the show’s (way too long) hiatus. I like the complex world and seeing all my favorite characters from the show.

A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin (A Song of Ice and Fire #3)

Of the five contenders for power, one is dead, another in disfavor, and still the wars rage, alliances are made and broken. Joffrey sits on the Iron Throne, the uneasy ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. His most bitter rival, Lord Stannis, stands defeated and disgraced, victim of the sorceress who holds him in her evil thrall. Young Robb still rules the North from the fortress of Riverrun. Meanwhile, making her way across a blood-drenched continent is the exiled queen, Daenerys, mistress of the only three dragons left in the world. And as opposing forces maneuver for the final showdown, an army of barbaric wildlings arrives from the outermost limits of civilization, accompanied by a horde of mystical Others—a supernatural army of the living dead whose animated corpses are unstoppable. As the future of the land hangs in the balance, no one will rest until the Seven Kingdoms have exploded in a veritable storm of swords.

Why I love it: Craziness and death. And all the same reasons I love A Clash of Kings

Scythe by Neal Shusterman (Arc of the Scythe #1)

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

Why I love it: Neal Shusterman is the master of the YA dystopia. The world in Scythe probably won’t ever happen in real life, but it’s still believable because the author has thought of everything. A world without death is complex and fascinating.

The Butcher’s Hook by Janet Ellis

London, summer 1763. At nineteen, Anne Jaccob is awakened to the possibility of joy when she meets Fub, the butcher's apprentice, and begins to imagine a life of passion with him. 

The only daughter of well-to-do parents, Anne lives a sheltered life. Her home is a miserable place. Though her family want for nothing, her father is uncaring, her mother is ailing, and the baby brother who taught her to love is dead. Unfortunately her parents have already chosen a more suitable husband for her than Fub. But Anne is a determined young woman, with an idiosyncratic moral compass. In the matter of pursuing her own happiness, she shows no fear or hesitation. Even if it means getting a little blood on her hands.

Why I love it: It’s a combination of my three favorite genres: literary historical horror. The main character rebels against her prescribed role in society by brutally murdering a bunch of people. We need more books about female mass murderers.

This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee

In 1818 Geneva, men built with clockwork parts live hidden away from society, cared for only by illegal mechanics called Shadow Boys. Two years ago, Shadow Boy Alasdair Finch’s life shattered to bits.

His brother, Oliver—dead.

His sweetheart, Mary—gone. 

His chance to break free of Geneva—lost. 

Heart-broken and desperate, Alasdair does the unthinkable: He brings Oliver back from the dead. 

But putting back together a broken life is more difficult than mending bones and adding clockwork pieces. Oliver returns more monster than man, and Alasdair’s horror further damages the already troubled relationship. 

Then comes the publication of Frankenstein and the city intensifies its search for Shadow Boys, aiming to discover the real life doctor and his monster. Alasdair finds refuge with his idol, the brilliant Dr. Geisler, who may offer him a way to escape the dangerous present and his guilt-ridden past, but at a horrible price only Oliver can pay.

Why I love it: The story is a mixture of the real and the outlandish. Mary Shelley—a real person—is a character in this book’s strange steampunk world.

The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

Ruth has a secret that she can’t hide forever. Dora wonders if she can ever truly escape where she comes from, even when good luck suddenly comes her way. Alyce is trying to reconcile her desire to dance with the life she’s always known on her family’s fishing boat. Hank and his brothers decide it’s safer to run away than to stay home—until one of them ends up in terrible danger.

Why I love it: The setting. There’s a quote on the cover that says “This book is Alaska.” I agree with that. If you like books set in rural places, this is a must-read.

What is the best book you’ve read so far in 2018?


  1. I have been dying to read Scythe! I've heard so many great things about it.

  2. Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell but everything she writes is amazing!

  3. It's hard to pick the best book I've read this year, but Gaslight By Dannika Dark (Genre: Urban Fantasy) is high up on that non-list :)

  4. I'm listening to SCYTHE right now and I'm loving it!

  5. Aw man, I thought Refuge was going to be a sea disaster book and I got excited by the cover! It does sound good though! I really need to read Scythe! It's on my nightstand at the moment!

  6. The Smell of Other People's Houses is sitting on my shelf calling to me. It keeps saying, "AJ loved me. You will too." :-)

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  7. I haven't read any of these yet! Hubby really loved Scythe though.

  8. I loved Elizabeth Is Missing too! and I like the sound of The Butcher's Hook. I think I would enjoy that one

  9. I want to read The Smell of other People's Houses soon. It's on my shelf and everything!

  10. Yay, love that you have two George R.R. Martin books on your list! I hope you continue to love the series!

  11. I'm incredibly excited for The Smell of Other People's Houses, I've heard nothing but fantastic things about it. I've owned it for a loooong time and it's so short I really have no excuse for not having read it. Scythe is another one I'm super-interested in, but I kinda want to wait until the third book comes out. The Butcher's Hook sounds amazing! Glad you found so many great books so far & hope the rest of your 2018 will also be spectacular. :)

    Veronika @ The Regal Critiques

  12. Darkness at Noon - Arthur Koestler
    Devotion - Patti Smith
    Trotsky: A Graphic Biography - Rick Geary

  13. I have This Monstrous Thing on my TBR for this year, and I'd like to try The Smell of Other People's Houses and Scythe eventually too. I read Elizabeth is Missing a while ago, and it was great!

  14. A storm of swords is one of my favorites. So much happens in that book! And The Smell of Other People's Houses has me curious now, with the whole rural thing. Refugee looks great too.

  15. I had to have a GRR M offering on my list too! I totally love A Storm of Swords as it has a lot of my favourite bits in season 3 and 4 of Game of Thrones!

  16. Elizabeth is Missing and Scythe look really interesting! I really like speculative/dystopian fiction, like The Giver. I like asking, "What if?" and then answering those questions.

  17. Can't believe it's already half over! Love the cover for the Bonnie-Sue book.

  18. I've had "The Tale of Despereaux" on my shelf forever but have yet to read it. As for my favorite books so far this year, maybe Katie Ganshert's "No One Ever Asked" ... but it's so hard to choose :-)

  19. I've heard SO much about Scythe by Neal Shusterman, it's on my TBR for next month!

  20. Great list! Scythe is currently on my TBR, so I'm really happy you enjoyed it so much. I also have wanted to read This Monstrous Thing for so long now, but haven't seen anything really about it before, so I'm glad to see it on this list :)

  21. Love your list ♥️! My favorite thus far is, well, I can’t decide between Lake Silence, Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane or A Thousand Beginnings and Endings. My current readis up there too - Even the Darkest Star.

  22. I own several of these, but have read none. However, one I don't own, but plan to borrow from the library happens to be your #1 - The Smell of Other People's Houses. I just think it's a book I would love.

  23. Great list :)

    Scythe was on my list too. I can't wait for the third book ro be released, although I don't think it has even been announced yet?

    The Butcher's Hook has been on my TBR for a while, after I bought a copy last year. Got it home and realised it was signed, which was a happy accident!

  24. The only one of these I've read is Despereaux, but I got the biggest kick out of that book! Such good stuff.

  25. I need to try This Monstrous Thing - I loved The Gentleman's Guide and I need more of Mackenzi Lee! :)

  26. I STILL have Refugee on my shelf! I need to get to it!

  27. I've heard about several of these, but never gotten around to read them. :-)

  28. Oh I love Song of Ice and Fire! Its been years since I've read them now, but man I miss that world and cant wait for the show to come back!

  29. Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier. I LOVE the The Tale of Despereaux. I keep hearing good things about Scythe. Thanks for sharing.

  30. I haven't read The Tale of Despereaux but I remember how fun it was to watch the movie! I think the best book I've read so far is Let's Talk About Love.

  31. Scythe sounds super good! I've heard sooo many people say wonderful things about it.

  32. I love Elizabeth is Missing, Scythe, Smell of Other People's Houses, and the G.R.R. Martin books so much! I really need to just pick up Despereaux and give it a whirl. I've been thinking about trying Butcher's Hook too, after your original review, but I think Monstrous Thing sounds a bit too creepy for me.