good morning, cyberspace!
2018 truly was a lovely year. Not only did I get a ton of writing done (or rather, tried to get a lot of writing done??) but I also rejuvenated my love of reading! I mean, it happened more towards the end of the year, rather than the beginning, but I mean AT LEAST IT HAPPENED, AMIRIGHT?
As I may or may not have already mentioned previously on the blog (I am now beginning to see the downsides of pre-writing blog posts. . .), although I’ve always been a hugely avid reader, I’ve kind of been letting my love for reading slip by the wayside ever since I started taking writing seriously. Because writing my own stories should obviously take precedence over reading other peoples’ stories, right?
Unfortunately for me, it took me a ridiculously long time to figure out that the only way to truly stay inspired to keep writing and creating is to actually consume the creativity of others. It’s the whole “replenishing your creative well” spiel that you hear all the time in creative circles. Or, in other words, the only way to refill your creativity for writing* is to read the stories written by others.
And while I have a whole other post about creative wells and all that jazz planned for a later date, today I thought it would be fun to go through some of the more memorable books I read in 2018! Because what better way to start off the new year than by reminiscing on the joys and disasters of the past?
*at least, this is my own personal opinion, and is highly based on what I have found works for me. if you can refill your creative tank by eating an entire lasagna, you go eat that lasagna, my good man
— 18 BOOKS I READ IN 2018 —
. . . the good books . . .
Let’s start with the books I loved, shall we? I mean, every good list is comprised with the good, the bad, and the ugly, and though I didn’t actually read any ugly books last year, there definitely were a couple that had me going–
So I think it’s only fair if we talk about allllll of them- – the good as well as the bad. But as with all things, it’s always better to focus on the positive, so that is what we shall begin with.
I debated whether or not to number these in a chronological order from best to worst book, but like??? That takes time and energy — two things I do not currently have at my disposal. SO! I’m just going to splat books at your face in no particular order.
NUMBER ONE . . . RENEGADES by Marissa Meyer
Not only was this book the very first I finished this year–HUZZAH FOR BOOKS AS CHRISTMAS PRESENTS!!!–but it was also a really good read!
Unfortunately, however, I can’t really sit over here and squeal about how amazing and wonderful and stupendous this novel is as I typically would with, say, The Lunar Chronicles. While I really enjoyed the plot and the characters (WINSTON!!!!!) and the overall tone of the story, something in the second to third quarter of this book just kinda dragged for me. By the third to fourth quarter, however, I was totally hanging off the edge of my seat, flipping pages like SpongeBob flips Krabby Patties and biting my nails until I could read what happened next.
And holy gucamole, that ending. If there is one thing I was not expecting, it was that ending. I almost want to reread the entire book just to see how skillfully Marissa Meyer pulled that off throughout the entire novel, but for right now, I’m just going to set it off to the side and read some other books that I’ve been dying to get to.
Overall, this wasn’t my favorite Marissa Meyer book, but it was still extremely good. I’d 10/10 recommend it to any Lunar Chronicles fan who loves superheroes and creepy marionette dolls. *thumbs up*
I’d give this book 4 stars out of 5. It’s good, but not quite on the level of The Lunar Chronicles.
NUMBER TWO . . . ENTWINED by Heather Dixon Wallwork
THIS BOOK, GUYS. THIS. BOOK. I love this book. I adore this book. I want to chop this book up into itsy bitsy pieces and bake it into some cookie dough and devour this book. THAT is how much I love this book.
Without going super overboard or anything, this was probably my all-time favorite read of last year. It has magic. It has princesses. It has princes. It has creepy dancing people without mouths. It has a castle and a clock and dancing and Lord Teddie, who, I think we can all agree, is complete perfection.
I give this book 5 out of 5 stars and a cookie. Because Lord Teddie.
NUMBER THREE . . . THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON by Kelly Barnhill
So basically this book is utter perfection.
The Girl Who Drank The Moon was recommended to me by the lovely Phoebe from over at My Myopic Heart, and So It Is (Re)Written, and HOLY GUACAMOLE. If that girl ever recommends another book to me, I am snatching it up ASAP.
I absolutely adored this book. I adored the characters (Glerk and Xan were probably my favorites, which is surprising, seeing as though there’s a PERFECTLY TINY DRAGON ASDFGHJKL!!!!!! [he was adorable, too, of course. but GLEEEERK!!! And XAAAAAAAAN!!! My heart cannot tolerate the preciousness. . .]), I adored the plot, I adored Luna (yes, I realize that she’s a character, SHHHHH), I adored the worldbuilding and the settings and the threads of magic that were woven throughout every page. . .
Put simply, this was an adorable, wonderful, magical read, and I would absolutely recommend it to everyone. Literally everyone.
This book gets
five a billion stars and two cookies. Because Xan and Glerk.
NUMBER FOUR . . . A THOUSAND PERFECT NOTES by C.G. Drews
Firstly I think we need to talk about this cover, you guys. I mean, just look at it!! Is that not the most perfect cover you have ever seen? (obviously the correct answer is that this is the most perfect cover you have ever seen.)
But anyway. On to why I loved this book.
When I first picked up A Thousand Perfect Notes, I was just a tiny little wee bit skeptical of the third person present tense point of view. Which, yes, I realize is a really weird reason to be skeptical of a story, but like?? I can’t explain my weirdness. It’s just there.
So when I picked this one off my shelf and started flipping through it to see if I wanted to read it next, I quickly became a little unsure because . . . third person present tense.
*insert my brain shriveling up into a tiny potato because it cannot handle third person in any tense other than past*
However, I really really really really wanted to read this book — because CAIT!!!! and CAKE!!!! and CUTENESS!!!! and OTHER WORDS THAT START WITH C????! So, putting my brain’s weirdness aside, I plucked this book off my shelf, plopped my butt in a chair, and started to read it.
And OH. MY. WORD.
I am so beyond thrilled that I read this. By page 3, I didn’t even notice that the story was written in a tense I wasn’t used to reading. I was so deeply immersed in the story and the world and the characters that everything else just kind of faded away, and by the end of the story–which I binged in less than 24 hours, mind you. (aha. oops.) — I was craving more. Fortunately for me, there was a delightful little snippet in the back of the book for Cait’s next novel, The Boy Who Steals Houses, and OH MY GOODNESS I AM READY.
Unfortunately, however, I have to wait until APRIL to actually get my hands on it, and I honestly don’t know if I can wait that long. Someone please send me cute contemporary recs so that I don’t dissolve into a puff of unhappy smoke over here.
5 OUT OF 5 STARS AND A COOKIE. Because cake.
NUMBER FIVE . . . FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM by J.K. Rowling
I mean technically this is more of a screenplay than a book, but like. . .? I READ IT. WE’RE COUNTING IT.
Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them is absolutely phenomenal, you guys*. If you haven’t already seen the movie/read the screenplay, I shall unfortunately be forced to fling this book at your face with so much strength that it will most certainly knock your nose off and turn you into Voldemort, because THIS STORY IS AMAZING, GUYS. And also it’s the world of Harry Potter, but in America.
I just. . .? WHY WOULD YOU NOT WANT TO READ THIS.
I seriously just love this
screenplay book, guys. I love it so so much. I love Newt, I love the Niffler, I love Dougal. I love the fact that finally Hufflepuffs — a.k.a. my fellow brothers and sisters — are getting a better rep than what they’ve received in the initial series.
I’m a seriously proud Hufflepuff (you know. in case you couldn’t tell.) and I will literally FIGHT YOU if you ever so much as say one nasty thing about us**. (which has actually happened. i have had people tell me Hufflepuffs “suck” to my face. i no longer have faith in humanity, in case you were wondering.) So to finally have a Hufflepuff character be the main focal point and the hero of an entire series??? I AM SQUEALING. YOU ARE SQUEALING.
ALL HUFFLEPUFFS ARE SQUEALING SIMULTANEOUSLY.
Also, let’s not even mention the fact that Newt’s best friend is a No-Maj. It’s like this series is finally breaking down all of the magical barriers and allowing everyone a chance to shine.
I’m just seriously proud of my Hufflepuff brethren, you guys.
Newt Scamander is fun and quirky and weird, and he ranks right up there (just slightly beneath, of course) with my absolute favorite Hufflepuff character of all time–Tonks.
Also let’s not even mention the fact that I found this–
extraordinarily tiny GIF while looking for one with Tonks, and I just . . . MY HEART. Lupin and Tonks are two of my three all-time favorite Harry Potter characters, and my heart simply cannot take this. Aside from Gilbert and Anne, and Cress and Thorne, this is a ship that I shall always sail till the end of my days.
BUT ANYWAY. BACK TO FANTASTIC BEASTS. In short, I loved this story. It’s got Hufflepuffs, it’s got magic, it’s got cute magical creatures and creepy magical creatures and potentially Captain Jack Sparrow, and I just seriously recommend both a) watching this movie, and b) reading the screenplay after you watch the movie. J.K. Rowling’s voice comes through so clearly in various parts of the script, and it’s just a really awesome read, okay? So read it.
You know. If you want.
*do you even realize how hard it was for me not to put FANTASTIC right there? do you? DO YOU??? **and obviously by “fight” i mean smile and nod and inwardly wish I had the guts to kick you in the groin right now.
5 OUT OF 5 STARS AND A COOKIE. Because Newt.
NUMBER SIX . . . THE WOOD by Chelsea Bobulksi
So I had initially picked this book up at the library months ago, but after getting a little less than a quarter of the way through it, I decided to drop it and move on to something else, as the story just really wasn’t working for me at the time. A couple months later, however, I was invited to join my favorite library’s book-club-discussion-thingy-ma-jig for this book, and — being a super crazy chipmunk that likes to get invited to things — I decided to give this book another go.
And whoa, man, am I glad that I did. This book is a doozy.
The story starts off a little slow at first — a general conjecture between the group that met to discuss it — but once you hit around the midway mark, it takes off like a rocket towards the stars and yanks you along for the ride.
While this book can’t be classified under my absolute favorites, I did really enjoy it. The plot is interesting, the settings are — quite literally — magical, and the characters have a pretty good depth to them. I think my favorite thing about this book, however, were the Sentinels, simply because of how horrifying they are. (and if you read/have read this one, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.)
The overall tone of this book is a strange one, though. Sometimes it’s horrifying, sometimes it’s funny, and sometimes it just rips your heart out, stomps on it a few times, and then gently hands it back to you as if nothing happened.
Overall, I really loved this story. There were a few bits that I didn’t like — such as a few swears sprinkled in throughout the book, and the fact that the ending left me with some VERY burning questions (i mean, this could possibly be classified as a good thing but STILL. I NEED ANSWERS.) — but for the most part, this was a really enjoyable read. I’m not sure who I’d recommend this one to, though. This was a bizarre one. I will, however, be reading from this author in the future.
I give this one 4 out of 5 stars.
EDIT FROM FUTURE KENZIE: I stalked the author’s Goodreads page, and apparently she’s writing another book set to release this spring and ASDFGHJKL!!! I AM READY.
NUMBER SEVEN . . . CROWNING HEAVEN by Emily Hayse
All right. So seeing as though I’m planning on doing a full-length review on this book here in the near future, I’m not going to go into too much detail on this one.
Or, at least, I’m going to try not to. I’ve been trying to not go into very much detail for the other books, too. Aha.
ANYWAY. I really liked this story! The characters were extremely lovable, the theme was powerful, and the overall setting was stunning. I’ll obviously be going into more of an in-depth look at all of these things in my full-fledged review, but overall, this was a really enjoyable read for me! It’s a little bit dark at times, but those dark points only serve to compliment the light moments and make them that much more impactful, which was kind of heartbreaking, but whatever.
And also I totally did not nearly cry at the end of this book. Nope. Not at all.
4 OUT OF 5 STARS AND A BROKEN
heart COOKIE. Because Tyr.
NUMBER EIGHT . . . Gone Rogue (Wires and Nerve #2) by Marissa Meyer
Yeah. That’s right. I’ve read two Marissa Meyer books this year. DON’T YOU DARE JUDGE ME, PEASANTS. It’s not like Goodreads keeps telling me that Marissa Meyer is my all-time most read author or anything. *cough* Everything’s fine.
BUT ANYWAY. About this book.
If you’ve been toddling around my blog for any length of time, you’ve probably witnessed me flailing about how much I adore The Lunar Chronicles at least once. Or twice.
Or five billion times but I mean who’s keeping track.
So you can probably already tell what my opinion is going to be for this
graphic novel book, but I mean??? I’m still going to scream at you about it.
Firstly things first, I absolutely adored how the ending of this graphic novel took absolutely nothing away from the ending of the original series. Maybe it’s weird to begin with the ending, but when I finished The Lunar Chronicles, I can honestly say that it was about as close to a perfect ending as you can possibly get. And — I’ll be honest — I may or may not have shed a silent tear at how beautiful it was.
BUT. When I started reading these graphic novels, I must say I was a little worried. I can’t help but turn a tad bit paranoid when an author decides to expand upon a series they have previously closed, because there’s always this chance that they could “ruin” something, you know? The Lunar Chronicles had wrapped itself up so wonderfully well. I didn’t want to see that ending diminished — or even ruined — by the ending of the graphic novel dualogy. . .
However, luckily enough for me, this book took absolutely NOTHING away from the ending of The Lunar Chronicles series, and actually sort of enhanced it? Because these graphic novels actually allow us to get an inside glimpse into the lives of my precious Rampion crew in the days after The Lunar Chronicles. It’s actually a kind of weird but still really cool experience. . .
So if you’ve read TLC and are wanting just a little bit more from the Rampion crew, I would 10/10 recommend checking these graphic novels out.
And also the story is mainly about Iko and Kinney and their battles with rogue wolf soldiers and basically these stories are absolute perfection so just go read them all. Thank you.
5 OUT OF 5 STARS and a cookie. because Iko.
. . . the bad books . . .
Now, as with all things, every good thing typically comes with a counterpart that’s bad. Or rather, now that I’m done squealing about my favorite books of the year, it’s time to talk about my least favorite books of the year. *insert nervous laughter here*
I’m sure I could get really sarcastic and snarky with these reviews, but I’m gonna try* to keep it real civil and polite, because a) I don’t think being super snarky about someone else’s work is very nice??, and b) these books really aren’t all that bad. I, personally, just didn’t like them very much, and that is why they’re on this list. And also there are literally three books on here, so like?? Clearly I love the majority of the books I read.
But anyway, since this list is so smol, I can actually rank these in order from best to worst! Or — more specifically — least worst to most worst.
So without any further ado, here are my least favorite books of 2018!
*it got snarky, guys, i’m sorry.
NUMBER ONE . . . THE ORIGINALS by Cat Patrick
This book was . . . good? Ish?
I’m not really sure what I thought of this one. The premise for The Originals is absolutely fantastic. It’s about three clone girls — medical anomalies who are literally not supposed to exist (in fact, it’s ILLEGAL for them to exist) — all trying to live a normal teenage life out in the real world. . .
. . .by pretending to be just one girl.
Yep. That’s right. Betsy, Ella, and Lizzie (our main protagonist), go about their day-to-day life in shifts. On school days, Ella takes morning classes, Lizzie takes afternoon classes (I think? I always get Lizzie and Ella mixed up), and Betsy takes night, where she goes to nighttime college classes and apparently lives life as an owl. The girls have strict time schedules as to when they need to switch off during the day, and they are never — never ever EVER — supposed to be seen outside with each other.
Now, I was absolutely on board with this from the get go. Three illegal clones pretending to be one girl so that they wouldn’t get caught and destroyed by the government? UM. YES PLEASE.
But then it turned out that this book was less about the whole government/cloning thing and more about a romance, and the whole exciting, tense plot of being an illegal clone kind of died.
I mean, I’m always up for a decent romance in a story, but I’m not really all that fond of the romance being the plot. It’s good for a side dish, but not my entire meal, ya know?
Not to mention that the ending of this book left quite a bit to be desired, as well. Not only did it feel a little flat when compared to the stakes that had been risen throughout the course of the story, but it was also just kind of weird. I’m still really confused by it, and it’s been like eight months since I’ve read this.
So. Was it awful? No. For the most part, I kind of enjoyed it. Would I ever read it again, though? Ehhhhh, probably not. I’m also not sure if I would recommend it to someone else for no good reason. If someone was looking for a book with clones in it, I’d probably hand it to them with a warning about how bizarre it was, but other than that, you most likely will not find any book flinging for this particular story over here.
3 OUT OF 5 STARS (possibly 2.5? my rating keeps dropping as i write this…)
NUMBER TWO . . . SHATTER ME by Tahereh Mafi
Again, this book was disappointingly weird. (is this too harsh to say? i feel like this might be too harsh to say. . .)
If you’ve been on the Booktubes or the book blogs (maybe? I haven’t seen this one on book blogs as much, but I haven’t read a whole lot of book blogs, so???) for any extent of time, you’ve probably heard of this book.
I, personally, had never read this before, but I had heard SO MUCH about it that I ended up picking it up from the library simply so that I could see what the hype was all about. And I can honestly say that after having read over half of it (yes. i DNF’d this one. i’m horrible, i know.) . . . I still don’t know what all the hype is about????
Perhaps I should preface this by saying that I really do love the Dystopian genre. Now, it’s true that I don’t read near as much Dystopian as I used to read back when I first started getting into YA, but like . . . I still really like this genre! And maybe it was my desire for finding something akin to Divergent or The Hunger Games that caused my disappointment of this book once I started reading it — because, I’ll be honest, I was expecting this to be like The Hunger Games or Divergent — but whatever I was expecting . . . Shatter Me blew all of my expectations out of the water.
and not exactly in a very good way.
I think the main reason why I’m disappointed with this book was because it truly had so much potential. The plot for this story was extremely unique, but the majority of that uniqueness was shoved aside by a much, much more pressing matter — romance. And not just any romance, mind you, but a love triangle.
*insert sporadic puking*
Are you seeing a repeating pattern for my least favorite books of 2018, here, or is this just me??
Now, as I said previously, I am perfectly okay with a good romance. Pride and Prejudice is one of my all-time favorite books, and I will forever ship Cress and Thorne till the end of my days.
BUT. When I’m reading a book that’s about a girl who literally cannot touch people because she will physically DRAIN THE LIFE OUT OF THEM, I really could not care less whether or not the boy she’s had a crush on since grade school is going to kiss her face or not.
I just . . . NO. I needed more than this. And the whole fact that BOTH the love interests can somehow touch her without dying?
I mean, I’m sure this would have been explained scientifically later on in the series, but I’m just not really interested in sticking around to read it. I’ve got a ton of other books on my TBR that I’d rather spend my time reading, so for right now, I’m just shelving this one.
Oh. And also the entire book (or the entirety that I read, anyway) was littered with bizarre sentences like —
“So much everything all the things dead.”
“My eyelashes trip into my eyebrows; my jaw drops into my lap.” << this sounds horrifying.
“His lips soften into a smile that cracks apart my spine.” << again. i’m kind of horrified here. are you okay.
So yeah. This book just wasn’t my cup of hot chocolate. Maybe I’ll give it another chance someday, but for right now. . . Aha.
2 (1.5?) OUT OF 5 STARS?
NUMBER THREE . . . SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE NEEDLE’S EYE by Len Bailey
Of all the books on this list, of all the strange and bizarre things I have read over the course of 2018, this book — THIS BOOK RIGHT HERE, FOLKS — was the absolute strangest of them all.
Now, for the sake of being fully transparent, here, I ended up DNFing this book fairly quickly, so obviously my opinions on this book are marred by a) not actually having finished the text and b) being a HUUUUUGE Sherlock fan, and therefore feeling sort of jipped if something doesn’t exceed my extraordinarily high standards.
But I’d also like to point out that I am a Christian. I love God. I love the Bible. And by golly, when I saw that a book like this existed — one where my favorite detective tackled biblical mysteries and proved that the Bible was really true??? I’ll admit it. I was hooked.
However — and I feel extremely stupid for saying this — it is here that I must warn both myself and others to always — always always ALWAYS — read the Goodreads blurb before you purchase a book.
Please, guys. Just read the blurb.
Because I did not read the blurb for this book before I got it. Well, either that, or they have since changed it, because the blurb I’m finding on Goodreads today is not at all what I remembered back when I got this book, but whatever. Perhaps I just forgot to read the blurb. But either way, I was an idiot. I didn’t read the blurb. I didn’t know that instead of my beloved Sherlock and Watson finding hard and concrete facts to prove the genuineness of the Bible in today’s day and age (or rather, their day and age??), that they would go so far as to actually use a. . .
. . .well. Perhaps it would be better if I just showed you.
Embark on a journey through the Old and New Testament with Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson as they explore exotic and spice-laden places in search of clues.
The detective and the doctor travel back in time with the help of a Moriarty-designed time machine—
. . .
. . .
. . .
Yes. You read that right. Sherlock Holmes and John Watson use a time machine.
A time machine.
WHAT. WHAT ON EARTH. WHAT EVEN.
Perhaps if I had known this little fact going into the story, I might have been okay with it. But getting whapped over the face with a time machine in the middle of a Sherlock Holmes novel — and not only that, but a time machine designed by JIM MORIARTY
— was just way too much for my little detective-loving heart to take. I just . . . no. Sherlock is a strictly contemporary/classic story, people! You can’t just go and fling some sci-fi in there and call it good! It doesn’t make any sense!!! It’s unbelievable! It’s ludicrous!!!!
I just . . . I cannot even with this story right now. It’s been literally months and I’m still upset.
And I think what upsets me most about this is that I feel like this story could have had so much potential. It’s such a unique concept, but the fact that there’s a time machine smack-dab in the middle of Sherlock Holmes’s world is just so bizarre that I can’t even look past it in order to read the rest of the book. What would the initial Sherlock Holmes series have been like had Sir Arthur Conan Doyle put a time machine into his books?
WATSON: Oh, look, Holmes! We have a new murder case! What new and exciting adventures are we going to venture on in order to find the killer?
HOLMES: Elementary, my dear Watson. We shall just take
the TARDISMoriarty’s Needle Eye and watch the entire scene fold out toodlepip.
THE WORLD OF SHERLOCK HOLMES JUST DOESN’T WORK LIKE THIS, FOLKS. I just . . . *smashes head on desk and mumbles incoherently* . . . that is not how Sherlock works.
And I mean maybe I’m being a little to hard on this story. Maybe I didn’t give it the amount of leniency that it deserves. I did, after all, DNF it pretty much as soon as they went back in time for the first case. But I did warn you guys that I’m a die-hard Sherlock Holmes fan, and unfortunately for me, time machines and Sherlock Holmes just don’t mix.
(and also, for the record, I’m also a die-hard Doctor Who fan, so like?? i seriously love time machines. just . . . not in my Sherlock Holmes stories.)
So. This book was seriously bizarre and slightly disappointing, but who knows? Maybe someday I’ll go back and read it just to see how weird it can actually get.
Most likely not.
Since I read less than half of this, I don’t even think I can rate this one, guys. Words are utterly failing me right now.
TALK TO ME, PEASANTS!
That’s all I’ve got for you today, folks! What were your absolute favorite — and absolute LEAST favorite, of course — reads of 2018? Have you ever read any of the books on this list? Are you GOING to read any of the books on this list? Do you think Hufflepuffs deserve a better rep than what they’ve been previously given? (what are you talking about, this is a totally valid question) and most importantly. . .
DO YOU THINK SHERLOCK HOLMES SHOULD POSSESS A TIME MACHINE??? (seriously. i want to hear your opinion on this one)
Let’s talk about ALL OF THE BOOKISH THINGS! down in the comments below! And as always, until next time. . .
*flings cookies in the air and disappears*