It’s July! Can you believe we’re halfway through 2018? To mark the occasion, this edition of Book Beat looks back at my favorite books so far this year. (And there have been some GREAT ones!)
By coincidence, most of my favorite fantasy books of the year are new series starters! No need to invest in reading previous books! Jump in now while the story is fresh!
- The Cruel Prince by Holly Black – It’s a beautiful, twisted and cruel fae world with characters you’ll love and despise. Everyone does good and evil deeds, but the characters are so well written that you can’t look away.
- Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeymi – Recently selected for Jimmy Fallon’s first book club pick, there’s a ton of hype around this debut and it lives up to it. All of it. With West African influences, it’s an amazing new world that’s already been optioned for film.
- Furyborn by Claire Legrand – This is the story of two women, separated by a thousand years. One is destined to be the blood queen and tear the world apart. The other the sun queen. What I particularly love about this book is its fresh take on the evil queen story. There have been quite a few books about how a queen became evil and they’ve followed a similar pattern. This one is completely original.
- Reaper at the Gate by Sabaa Tahir – As the third book in the Ember in the Ashes series, this is not a series starter. This fantasy series follows three very different people in a land with a cruel Empire, Jinni and inspiration from Ancient Rome. It’s a rare series where every book is equally good. Reaper doesn’t disappoint as we get some crazy turns, new information on the magic in the world and a whole lot of expectations for the next and final book in this series.
Already read those? Then don’t forget: Reign the Earth by AC Gaughen starts a new series with elemental magic. Thunderhead is the sequel to Neal Shusterman’s Scythe which is set in a utopian world where everyone lives forever, so Scythes are created to thin the population.
Not all science fiction books have to take place in space. One of my favorite science fiction books, This Mortal Coil, came out at the end of last year so it doesn’t technically qualify for this list. (But clearly I am going to mention it anyway!) I do have an official 2018 science fiction pick which closes out a fun trilogy…that takes place in space.
Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff – The characters from Illuminae and Gemina intersect with new characters as they unravel and take down an interstellar conspiracy. Told with humor and tension through found documents, it’s a unique and complex series. It’s complete now so go ahead and binge it all.
Already read those? Then don’t forget: Disney has some great novels that expands Star Wars beyond the movies. I think casual Star Wars fans may be quick to dismiss these books and they are missing out. Check out Star Wars: Leia, Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray which is about Leia’s first diplomatic mission. Star Wars: Cobolt Squadron features Paige and Rose Tico from Star Wars: The Last Jedi. It’s written by Elizabeth Wein and is a great story about sisters and life on one of the Resistance’s bombers. Star Wars: Most Wanted by Rae Carson gives us the first big adventure between Han and Qi’ra from Solo: A Star Wars Story.
I love historical fiction, but I haven’t read many that I’ve loved lately. There is one exception. If you enjoy HISTORY channel’s Vikings, then you’ll definitely want to read this one.
Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young is all about warring Viking clans. It’s a quick story with vibrant world-building to make this beautiful and brutal setting come alive.
I’ve read a couple of cute and/or dreamy romances, but to be the best of 2018 (so far), books need to be a little different to stand out.
- The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang – This goes on my list of all-time favorite romances. It’s sexy, funny, adorable and features characters you don’t normally see in romance novels. Stella is high functioning autistic and looking for someone to tutor her about sex. She hires Michael, a bi-racial escort with hopes and dreams of his own. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t fallen in love with this book.
- The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang – Here’s a sweet love story about a girl who makes dresses and a guy who likes to wear them. This graphic novel is so heart-warming and charming, it’s guaranteed to make you smile.
Already read those? Then don’t forget: Sweet Black Waves by Kristin Perez is the start to a new fantasy romance series with star-crossed lovers, magic, destiny and warring nations.
I do love happy contemporary stories. I do! But this year, there are some standout stories that deal with tough and very real issues.
- The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan – A beautifully told story about grief and loss and how understanding your family can help you deal. While the topics are heavy, it’s written with a light touch and will leave you hopeful.
- Tradition by Brendan Keily – Gender power dynamics, toxic masculinity, feminism, social justice warriors, class differences and so many other important topics clash in this privileged boarding school or nightmare. This book raises a lot of discussion points about these topics and illustrates how hard it is to break the status quo. Yet there is hope.
Already read those? Then don’t forget: Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed (the story of a typical teenage girl who happens to be the only Muslim in town) or Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe by Preston Norton (the most unlikeliest of kids become friends and find hope, fight apathy and knee-jerk insecurities). Want something a lighter? The Way You Make Me Feel by Maureen Goo is a love letter to L.A. and filled with frenemies, family, food and a boy named Hamlet.
So much good reading! Go out there and grab a great book!
Up next on Book Beat: my most anticipated books for the second half of the year!
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