2018 Wrap-Up: Books

Saturday, January 26, 2019

More delayed than usual, this is part two of my 2018 Wrap-Up. For 2018, I had relaxed goals for everything, because I wanted to see how much I watch if left to my own devices without a challenge pushing me. My reading goal for 2018 was 25 books and I read a total of 31. The problem I had with this list is that all of the books I read fell into two categories. I either loved them...or felt indifferent about them.

10. The Luxe by Anna Godbersen

The Luxe begins with the funeral of the main character, Elizabeth. This instantly made me think "no, she can't really be dead. This is one of those overly dramatic tricks." Regardless of whether or not it is a trick, it worked. I was completely pulled into this beautiful world of naivety where everyone is in love/lust with someone they can not have. There is absolutely no way for everyone to have their "happy ending", which leaves you on the edge of your seat wondering who is going to be the lucky one that does. (original review post)

Rating: 4/5

9. These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

Since Illuminae, I have become a sucker for anything written by Amie Kaufman. I also really REALLY love the covers for all of the books in this series.

Rating: 4/5

8. The Trouble With Half A Moon by Danette Vigilante

This was one of the final books I read during 2018 (and one I kinda stole from Alisha). It is a beautifully written middle-grade story full of heart.

Rating: 4/5

7. Only Child by Rhiannon Navin

I do not believe I have read a book that was more heartbreaking than Only Child. I found myself with tears in my eyes the majority of the time I was reading it. The reactions are all very human and believable and the mindset of the six-year-old Zach is exactly what I would expect. While his father takes the more silent suffering approach and his mother deals with her grief by focusing all of her anger on the family of the shooter, Zach (who is also dealing with PTSD from surviving the tragedy) deals with grief by listing and separating his feelings so they are no longer "all mixed up". His approach is ultimately the most mature solution and I loved how well the author portrayed this (and how it eventually helps his parents as well). What I appreciated the most about this book though, was how it dealt with the shooter and his family. I have read many other books with this same sort of story (from different point of views) and I am pretty sure this is the first that encouraged sympathy to all in involved. Even better, this is encouraged by a child and helps his family come back together. (original review post)
Rating: 4.5/5

6. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Many find dystopian novels to be either silly or too depressing. However, I find them incredibly interesting and consider the sub-genre to be one of my favorites to read. Regardless, I found myself not entirely looking forward to picking up Brave New World. I spend most of my reading time with modern YA and the transition to classic adult novels can be a bit brutal due to the expanded vocabulary and just overall increased denseness. This usually means I take twice as long to read classic books. Brave New World was different though. I quickly breezed through it and found it difficult to put it down so I could get some sleep. I even had a dream where I was talking about the book to someone...which has never happened before.
As I often find myself doing when I read these types of books, I could not help but find similarities between our world now and the world created by Aldous Huxley. This gave the book a terrifying twist as there are definitely people who exist in our world today that have beliefs that could lead us to a fake utopia that is similar to the one presented in Brave New World. Ultimately, this book left me pondering on the things that make us human and what purpose we serve on this planet. I definitely recommend it to everyone, even if you do not like the genre. (original review post)
Rating: 5/5

5. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami 

First, I just want to mention that I made the mistake of reading this and NOT writing down all my thoughts or a review until a month later. Therefore, this review is without a doubt nowhere near as detailed as it should be.
Secondly, I am totally in love with the way Murakami writes. I know I'm reading a translation, but each of his books I have read has this similar flowy/spaceyness to it that just makes it so easy for me to find myself lost in his stories.
Norwegian Wood tackles mental illness in a way that is realistic instead of romantic (like the movie does, unfortunately). Suicides are mentioned, but they never really become the focus, instead just presented as something that sadly happens. The world doesn't stop, it keeps going. The story shows us multiple ways that people deal with this type of tragedy, grieving before being able to move on and the additional tragedy of becoming stuck, unable to continue. I really appreciated how this was dealt with in the book. Something I did find confusing though, was all the comments on the way Toru talks. Nothing he said seemed weird to me, but that may have been something that was lost in translation. He definitely comes off as a very lost young man for the majority of the book and I loved how his moment of "growing up" was done. (original review post)
Rating: 4/5

4. What Lies Within by Jason Parent

I can not recall the last time I read a (or watched) something from the horror genre this amazing. The story is super creepy and full of suspense, with a dash of mystery and a sprinkle of wonderful dark humor. There are so many twists and turns and the final reveal was just perfect. This is the perfect book for any horror fan...unless you have a fear of spiders. (original review post)
Rating: 5/5

I recently found out that Parent released a sequel to this just a few months ago...and I am super EXCITED.

3. Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin

I love anything wonderland related and have read/watched various incarnations of the story. However, this book focused on the real Alice in an incredibly interesting and refreshing way. It really made me think about the consequences the children who become famous as the source of film/books deal with (even though this book is fiction).

Rating: 5/5

2. LIFEL1K3 by Jay Kristoff

Jay Kristoff has the amazing ability to always create incredibly relatable and human characters. I think this is probably the main reason I am always left impressed and in awe after finishing one of his books. Everyone is interesting, has realistic flaws, and perhaps most enjoyable, lingers on that fine line between good and evil. It is easy to understand pretty much everyone's motivations for what they are doing (or have done). His characters are so real, it is difficult to not fall for them, to not cheer them on. There is one thing I have learned though, no one is EVER safe and things are never what they seem in a Jay Kristoff book. Knowing this did not prevent me from (stupidly) falling for the majority of the characters in Lifel1k3 though. Several moments in this book left me screaming internally "NOOOOO DON'T YOU DARE!!!" and "OMG HOLY CRAP...WTF!?!" which to me is a definite sign of an amazing story. While it ultimately is not my favorite book Kristoff has released, I still thoroughly enjoyed it and still think it deserves a five-star rating. It did give me a new character to add to my favorites list in Lemon Fresh though and I absolutely adored Cricket and Kaiser. (original review post)
Rating: 5/5

1. Honor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine & Ann Aguirre

So the first thing I want to mention is how the slogan on the front of the book did not make any sense to me. Zara is not the only who resists technically...so I just found that a bit confusing. The book starts slow but speeds up as you progress through it. For me, this was the perfect pacing, but I think some may be annoyed with it. My main complaint with Honor Among Thieves was the strange way the connection between Nadim and Zara came off to me. It felt like some sort of weird, forced romance and I just was not feeling it. Other than that though, I loved it. Caine and Aguirre did a wonderful job of portraying the Leviathan in a very non-alien way. This may seem weird, but it made them very "human" which made it easier to understand some of their actions and how they interacted with each other. I also really enjoyed how important music is in the story and while I really liked Zara from the start, the moment she mentioned her love of Billie Holiday...I fell in love. Finally, I really loved how they ended the book. Yes, it is a bit cliffhangery, but it is done in a way that does not leave you angry, building up excitement for the next book instead.  (original review post)
Rating: 5/5

So there ya go, my favorite books I read in 2018. Next year's list should be more challenging/interesting since I am finally going for the big goal I've been working up to for several years now (100 books in a year). What were your favorite books of 2018?

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