Monday, December 24, 2018

Favorite Books of 2018

This year, I started writing reviews of the books I was reading as I finished them, so if you've been paying attention to those, you may already know which books I will probably feature here. But if you'd just like a quick rundown rather than reading each of the reviews in full, well here you go!

I don't have as many books this year, as apparently I didn't read as many as I have been in past years. I'm not sure why, exactly, but probably just life being busy and all that jazz. Anyway, enough about that, let's get to the books!
Synopsis: “Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.” Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life. Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood. The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her. But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

Why it made the list: In many ways, this book felt like a modern take on a classic fairy tale. That's not to say that it takes place in modern times or anything, because it definitely does not, but it has a more modern sensibility in that the main female character is strong rather than needing to be saved. You know, just that. The story gripped me pretty quickly, and didn't let up once it started going. A definite recommend for anyone who likes fairy tale-ish fantasy.

Synopsis: Rowan has gone rogue, and has taken it upon himself to put the Scythedom through a trial by fire. Literally. In the year since Winter Conclave, he has gone off-grid, and has been striking out against corrupt scythes—not only in MidMerica, but across the entire continent. He is a dark folk hero now—“Scythe Lucifer”—a vigilante taking down corrupt scythes in flames.Citra, now a junior scythe under Scythe Curie, sees the corruption and wants to help change it from the inside out, but is thwarted at every turn, and threatened by the “new order” scythes. Realizing she cannot do this alone—or even with the help of Scythe Curie and Faraday, she does the unthinkable, and risks being “deadish” so she can communicate with the Thunderhead—the only being on earth wise enough to solve the dire problems of a perfect world. But will it help solve those problems, or simply watch as perfection goes into decline?

Why it made the list: Wow. I mean, I enjoyed Scythe, the first book in this series, but I didn't have to read it, I didn't crave reading it, like I did this sequel. It just takes off at a rapid pace and doesn't let up. It's thrilling and interesting, and does a great job at introducing a new character perspective. That in itself is a pretty big feat as that typically annoys the hell out of me, but it was done very well here. I can't wait to read the next one!

Synopsis: Remember, it’s only a game… Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over. But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner. Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever. Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away.

Why it made the list: A lot of what makes this book so much fun is just the atmosphere of the Caraval itself. The story is somewhat predictable, and Scarlett's arc is fairly expected, but at the same time it was highly enjoyable. This book, more than the two above, features a romance at the heart of the story as well, which may have been part of the appeal as I can be a sucker for a good romance. I haven't read the sequel yet, so I can't say if the series as a whole holds up, but it's on my list.

Other books I enjoyed this year, but wouldn't call my favorites: Gathering DarknessFrozen Tides by Morgan Rhodes, A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir, Iron Gold by Pierce Brown, Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor

You can check out all of the books I’ve read on my Goodreads page, but let me know if you’ve had any favorites from this year that I should check out!

Past Years:
2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012

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