15 Best Books of 2018

I don’t know about you, but I read a ton of fantastic books in 2018! I’ve been using the “Reading Goal” feature of Goodreads for the past several years, and I really like how it helps me keep track of the books I read each year.

In 2018, I read 56 books. (ok, 3 of those don’t actually count because they’re books for toddlers… I just wanted to review them because they’re clever, but Goodreads decided to add them to my “read for reading challenge” stack) silly goodreads.

Of those 56 (er, 53) books, 32 of them were fantasy.

Of those 32 fantasy books, 25 of them were written by Indie Authors.

I think that’s a record of some kind, for me. I’ve really been enjoying reading Indie books lately… and I’ve discovered something interesting… they are less predictable than traditionally published books.

Curious.

Anyway, that’s not what this post is about. This post is about a few of the AMAZING books I read this year.

Now, while I enjoyed all of these books to varying degrees, I’m going to tell you the top 15 books from that list I enjoyed the most. I was going to try to do a “top 10″ list, but too many titles were going to get left off the list — and even as it is, books #16-32 are all glaring accusingly at me — so I’m doing a top 15 and I’m only allowing Indie Books on this list.

15

I saw the cover for this book and knew I had to read it. I mean… airships AND dragons? Yes, please! However, it took me quite a while to get into this one. The first half of the book kind of trudges along and didn’t feel like it was heading anywhere in particular. I didn’t feel like the pace really picked up or the story really grabbed me until I was almost 60% of the way through the book, what was there was enjoyable, and the characters were pleasant to hang out with, but it wasn’t really pulling me in to the story… but in spite of that, the final 40% of the book was a wild ride of intrigue and adventure that was worth waiting for. I liked the story, and I look forward to seeing where the story goes next. I believe this is the debut novel for this author, which probably accounts for the rough edges on the first half of the book.

14

I read an inordinate number of Snow White retellings over the past year and a half (seriously, I’ve read 28 Snow White retellings since September 2017 – mostly because I was honored to be one of the judges for the Rooglewood contest)… and this one was definitely in my top 5. A beautiful blending of the fairy tale Snow White and the Biblical story of Esther with sci-fi tech AND dragons (I kid you not), this novella is one I would highly recommend!

13

Another Snow White retelling, the Princess and the Invisible Apple Tree was a delightful return to this dark and lovely fairy tale. I reviewed this one earlier this year. If you enjoy complex tales, elements of various fairy tales wound together, and a story that won’t shy away from some tougher subjects, you should definitely pick this one up!

12

I like fairy tales, okay? Ellie and the Prince is such a delightful and adorable story. I already reviewed this one, as well. Light-hearted, cheerful, and fun… this Cinderella retelling will make you look at the classic tale in a whole different way.

11

Yep, Snow White retellings pretty much comprised the majority of my reading this year. How could you tell? And oddly enough, despite it not being very high on my list of “favorite fairy tale retellings,” I didn’t get sick of seeing the various interesting ways the story could be retold. Speaking of interesting retellings, The Seven Drawers is quite possibly the most unique way I’ve read this story… and I’ve read some pretty unique versions of it in the past year-plus. I’m not sure if this offering of Ms. Ardnek’s quite edges past the Bookania quests in my heart, but I do think it is her best writing to-date.

10

NOT a Snow White retelling… but rather a Beauty and the Beast retelling, Finding the Magic edged its way into my top 10 books of the year without any difficulty at all. Such a beautiful tale, I think I shall make this an annual Christmas re-read!

9

I finally managed to read the rest of the Dragon and Scholar series this year, and I’d put the entire series here if I could. But of the four books, 1 and 4 are my favorites. (And since I didn’t read book 1 this year, that leaves book 4 a nice spot all to itself here on this list). This is a fun tale full of adventure, romance, snark, and tragedy… but not too much tragedy, mind. Definitely a must-read for anyone who enjoys stories about dragons! And the fact that there is a definite romance thread winding throughout the entire series should let you know how good the books/writing are to make it into my top 10, because romance is not always my favorite.

8

This is the last Snow White retelling, I promise! But Blood in the Snow was possibly my very favorite of the retellings I read of this fairy tale, and I’m just thrilled to pieces that the author self-published it so that I can rave about it forever and ever and share it with you and insist that you get a copy and read it right now!

7

This one stole my heart completely. I read way more steampunk stories this past year (and by “a lot” yes, I do mean… um… 3). This book was not at all what I’d been expecting… but it was so much better than I even hoped it would be. I still need to write an actual review of this one, but if you enjoyed The Greatest Showman, you’ll probably like this book.

6

This is one I’ve owned for a while, but hadn’t gotten around to reading. Sometimes I get weird about certain books, and convince myself I’m not going to like them. Usually it has something to do with the cover just not appealing to me. I’m embarrassed to say that I’d kind of done that with this book… (yes, I judged a book by its cover… everyone does it, that’s why covers are important). Anyway, I couldn’t have BEEN more wrong! This story is everything I love in an epic, medieval fantasy story and more! It even took several twists and turns I totally wasn’t expecting. I have since acquired several more of the books in this series and plan to dive into them in 2019!

5

This book… like its cover… is simply lovely. I’ve already reviewed it and told you all the things I love about it. AND it made my Top Five… so… what are you waiting for? Go grab it and sink into its pages like stepping into a beautiful dream.

4

Okay, here is where we really get into some difficulty. I’ve arranged and re-arranged these next three books a hundred times, and I’m still not sure they’re in the correct order… but hey… no matter which way you slice it, they’re all in my top four, so that’s pretty prestigious. So, clocking in at #4-ish, The Last Motley is such a fun romp of an adventure, and one of the most beautifully WRITTEN books I’ve ever read… ever. The language of this book makes me feel like I’m reading something akin to C.S. Lewis or George MacDonald, and really… I can’t praise anything more highly than that. If my review from last year didn’t sufficiently motivate you to go out and buy this book… then let me reiterate… you NEED this story in your life!

3

If you don’t love a somewhat gothic feel to your fantasy, then you’re not going to agree with me on this one. But I like a story that has some darker edges to it, and After gives me a delightful chill the way Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Frank Peretti’s The Oath always do. I appreciate a story that can send a bit of a tingle up my spine without having to cross the line into the horror genre. A beautiful blend of humor, tragedy, and mystery all wrapped in a subtle allegory… After might be one of my favorite books of all time. Yes, I just said that. The characters stepped from the page and became REAL to me, and I know they’re in my heart forever.

2

I said I wasn’t sure about these books in the 2-4 slots, but I definitely believe that Spice Bringer belongs right here in this spot. This was my year to catch up on several of Heidi’s books, apparently, but though I love the Dragon and Scholar and Nyssa Glass (which I managed to sneak into the last day of December)… Spice Bringer is by far my favorite book by this author. The story is intricate and absolutely gorgeous. The characters and their journeys are breath-taking. Truly, the weaving of this story is a work of art.

1

My absolute favorite book of the entire year and almost the very last book I read in 2018… A Branch of Silver, a Branch of Gold was an absolutely lovely, gorgeous, BREATHTAKING book! I pretty much love every one of Ms. Stengl’s books, but this one did more than captivate my imagination… it transported me to a different world. I didn’t think anything would ever topple Shadow Hand from its place as #1 of the Goldstone Wood books in my heart, but this story easily blew it out of the water! (It helps, probably, that 12 Dancing Princesses is one of my favorite fairy tales ever, and this is loosely based on that tale). I’ll do a more comprehensive review later… but for now… wow! I’m still reeling from the book hangover this one left me with, and I’m afraid my incoherent babblings just can’t do it justice right now. I can’t give it higher praise than to set it up here at the very tippy top of my Best Books Read in 2018 list and let you all admire it.

 

So, there you have it. My top 15 favorite books I read in 2018.

What were some of YOUR favorites?

~ jenelle

10 Comments

Rachael Liankatawa

Fantastic list! I love so many of those books and you are so right, indie books are less predictable!

I was just thinking about A Branch of Silver, A Branch of Gold today. I think it’s time for a reread ;) I think Shadow Hand is still my favorite though.

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jenelle

I love Shadow Hand soooo much! But this one surprised me… I expected to like it, but I wasn’t expecting it to steal my heart so completely. And the pleasant surprise of still being in the realm of Goldstone Wood just kind of knocked me off my feet with regards to the story I THOUGHT I was going to be reading versus the story actually within the book!

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smudgedthoughts

Okay. I really should not have read this post. My TBR is going to hate me forever. XD

BUT!! BUT!! BUT!! Books! And not just any books . . . INDIE BOOKS. This list pretty much just made my day. A Branch of Silver, A Branch of Gold looks amazing, and I am definitely adding that to my TBR, along with probably a bunch of those Snow White retellings. XD I’m trying to read more Indie published books, so I am VERY excited to try some of these out…

I think my best books of 2018 were The Girl Who Drank The Moon by Kelly Barnhill, and Entwined by…someone… XD (come to think of it, I can’t even remember if that was the correct name. XD It was a 12 Dancing Princesses retelling, though!).

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jenelle

Heheh, I make no apologies. Happy reading… FOREVER! :)

These were so so so good!

Oooh, I loved Girl Who Drank the Moon, I read that one in 2017. Such a lovely book. I have heard of Entwined… I believe that is the correct title, if it’s the same one I’m thinking of… and I am intrigued. Haven’t gotten hold of a copy yet, but it definitely sounds like one I’d enjoy!

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DJ Edwardson

So, I think what I’m seeing here is that to ensure a spot on the 2019 list, I need to write a Snow White retelling. Or at least a re-telling of some fairy tale!

Another thing I learned is that I need to read more Indie books! The Electrical Menagerie definitely has me intrigued. I love the idea of steampunk, but have read precious little of it.

Thank you so much for including my book on your list. With so many books to choose from I’m honored that Last Motley made the cut.

Here’s to another great year of reading in 2019!

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jenelle

Well… fairy tales have always been a favorite of mine. I read an inordinate number of them in the past 18 months, though… and kind of got on a roll. LOL

I’ve come to greatly enjoy Indie books. It helps to be a part of groups of Indie authors whom I know are committed to providing quality content. I know there are a lot of sub-par indie books out there, as well. I read and was disappointed by a few of them, before I found the Clean Indie/Fellowship of Fantasy/Realm Makers groups. I enjoy being able to find good ones and recommend them.

I think The Last Motley might have been the first book I read last year… so that’s saying something that it remained so high up there on the list, since I tend to be a bit of an ADD reader when it comes to new books… “I LOVED THAT, it’s my fave…. OOOOH SHINY NEW BOOK!!!!” but I’m also a walking contradiction, because it takes a lot to topple/replace an all-time favorite. So… yeah, fairy tales might be your best bet. They’re all the rage right now.

Reading about Roderick made me feel the way I felt the first time I heard my dad read The Hobbit, a rare accomplishment, indeed.

Yay! More books!!!

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Deborah O'Carroll

Blood in the Snow! Electrical Menagerie! The Last Motley! All of those are on my top 15. ;) Common was so good too! The rest of these… I need to read. XD Awesome picks!

Reply
jenelle

We must have similar tastes or something…. (or maybe we’re in the same book club?) LOL

I highly recommend any on this list you haven’t read… but… the fact that I wrote this post probably means you already know that. :-D

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