My Top 10 Books of 2018

It’s that time of year where we take a look back at everything we have read this year and come up with our best of the year.  It’s a tough job but not one we take lightly.  It’s been a very diverse year for me.

1.Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi –This fantasy was like nothing I’ve ever read.  A little bit of magic, a little bit of adventure and a little bit social commentary.  It took me on a wild ride as Zelie discovers her own powers and does what she can to help her people from the evil King who has done all he can to erase her people.  It was a breathtaking first book.

2. A Cruel Prince by Holly Black-Holly Black is at her best when she is writing about fairies.  It really is her element.  The lush world that Black has created is so rich and vibrant that I almost wanted to go if it wasn’t filled with blood thirsty fairies.  Looking for a fantasy full of royal intrigue this one is also for you.

3. Shades of Magic Trilogy by V.E. Schwab –Technically I read the first book last year but I finished the trilogy so I’m counting them all as one.  It was one wild fantasy series.  From truly vile villains, pirates, royalty magic and supernatural forces it really did have everything but never felt too much.

4. Dread Nation by Justina Ireland- This one I think I liked for the very beginning. Jane was born a slave but when the dead of Civil War come back to life, Jane is sent to a boarding school that teaches her and other girls of color how to fight zombies so they may one day work in a nice home as protection.  Jane is resourceful, smart and funny.  She knows how to kill a zombie. 

5. The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fischer –Carrie was truly one of a kind and is sorely missed.  Her diary that she wrote while filming the first Star Wars was honest, raw and funny.  Really what you would expect from Carrie Fischer.

6. Shadow and the Fox by Julie Kagawa- Add a little fox, a trained warroir with a demon infused sword and Japanese mythology and you get one fun book.  I really enjoyed the story building and characters as they try to steal save the scroll that will summon the dragon that will grant wishes was great.

7. Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake- The third book in the series was definitely a keeper.  I mean they all were but it was still great.  We finally get to see more of the world outside of Fennbirn Island and how the Queens became to be.  The mythology is really coming together and it’s going to lead to an epic finale.

8. Wildcard by Marie Lu – Emika is so cool. As she unravels the mysteries and tries to save not just Hideko from himself but everyone else from an even bigger conspiracy.  It was a fun novel and reminder that not everyone on the internet is your friend.

9..Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir- Elias, Laia and Helene are on opposite sides of the fight against the Nightbringer and keeping the balance. It’s a thrilling race against time to bring down the Nightbringer and the Empire and Elias Mom, who is just frightening.

10. Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson- I’m still waiting for the last book in her Shades of London series but this filled the void. Who doesn’t love a good boarding school mystery?  Stevie decides she wants to go to this exclusive boarding school because she wants to be the one to solve it’s biggest mystery of who kidnapped and killed the daughter and wife of the school’s founder.  Twice and turns abound in this one. 

Joint Review: Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

This book had a lot of hype before its release and it was right up both our aisles. So, we both got it on publication day. We decided we would do something different. Instead of only one of us reviewing it or doing two reviews, we’re doing a joint review. We’ve come up with five questions.

What are your overall impressions of the book?

Kate: the writing was tight and the story sucked me in. The characters were great; I loved that they had obvious flaws and strengths. And the premise of the novel, zombies rising during the Civil War was so interesting.

Beth: I agree with you about the writing and being sucked in.  I was invested in the story from the first page.  The characters felt like real people and allowed to be imperfect and unapologetic about their undesirable traits.  And who doesn’t like a good zombie novel?  I think what I liked the most about it that is that we are seeing the aftermath of the Civil War from the perspective of a Black girl instead of a white person.  How many books are from that point of view?

Kate: Not enough.

What did you think of the historical context?

Kate: I like what-if historical novels but I was a little worried about this one. Abraham Lincoln Vampire Slayer already did the paranormal set during the Civil War and it was meh. But, this was so much better. Where Buffy Lincoln changed the context of the Civil War (the South have to be defeated! they’re evil vampires!) this novel leaves the context intact and to it adds zombies. So, we can’t just write off the uncomfortable Civil War context of the bible being used to justify slavery or the ideology that there is a racial hierarchy because oh no! supernatural beings! And, that made it so much more thought provoking and interesting.

Beth: This could have gone bad very quickly but I think she handled the time period well.  I kinda like the fact that the Civil War never really ended, it sort of was put on hold when the zombies started to come from the dead leaving this uneasiness to every day life.  Sure, slavery ended and they passed laws to educate former slaves and Native Americans but as for the racial hierarchy it was never really addressed.  Much like it is today.  Justina Ireland doesn’t shy away from the the injustices against African Americans and Native Americans pre-and post-Civil War and even though Jane and Katherine are educated and can kill any shambler, they will always be reminded of their place.

Kate: Agreed. She definitely didn’t shy away. I also liked the follow up at the end of the book which included readings about residential schools.

Who was your favorite character?

Kate: Jane McKeene. Obviously. She’s a hero. and a role model. I can’t wait to see what Jane gets up to next.

Beth: Agreed Jane McKeene is my hero.  I want to be her friend.  Not only is she smart, sarcastic, likes to read but she can also kill zombies.  That’s so badass!

Kate: I know this is a little early but, Jane McKeene for best character of 2018!

Beth: Indeed.  She’s going to be hard to top.

What was your favorite part?

Kate: Any time Jane and her friend Katherine fight zombies.

Beth: I loved the zombie fights but I think I loved the most the bickering between Jane and Katherine.  The chemistry between those two was amazing and you can see how the relationship developed over the course of the novel.

Kate: their relationship is so good. I really liked that the most developed relationship was their friendship and not a romantic connection.

Beth: exactly! More of female friendships in YA please!

What are you looking forward to in the next book? (possible spoilers)

Beth: I’m really looking forward to seeing what’s in California and finding out who Jane’s Momma married that betrayed her.  I feel like whoever he is, he’s going to be play a bigger part in Jane’s story.  I also hope we get more of Katherine’s backstory beyond being raised in a brothel.

Kate: Yes! More of Katherine’s backstory! Please! Especially with the role that brothels played in Western expansion in the US! And, maybe some gold rushing in Cali? I also hope we meet Jane’s mom and her Aunties. Oh, and I hope we meet Daniel Redfern again.

Beth: Me too!  I think we will meet Jane’s Mom and Aunties again and I want to know more about Daniel Redfern.  I feel we only have cracked the surface of his character.

What We are Reading Now: Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

dread nation

We’ve been reading about this book for months now.  So excited to finally get a chance to read it.