What a crazy, amazing book year it has been. A lot of great YA books came out this past year. I’m going to recap my year for a little bit. For the first time in 4 years, I set my reading goal on Goodreads to 100 books, and I’m already one past my goal! I read a lot this year (101 books and still going strong). I took a mini vacation from blogging last Spring, and then came back with some mini reviews. I became a little less stressed about my blogging/reviewing schedule and because of this I actually read more books…imagine that. I am also up to my 1209th blog post! I have written over 1200 blog posts. That is insane.
I also just got engaged this past week! I’ve been dating Nick for 4 years, and it kind of already feels like we are married because we have been living together for the past year and a half, in a house filled to the brim with books. We are both librarians. My stocking this year was filled with Harry Potter sweets, and I honestly cannot believe how happy this makes me. In general, I’m just extraordinarily happy at the end of 2018. And I hope everyone reading this is happy too!
On to the books!
My rules for this list are how they have always been:
1) Each book listed has come out this past year.
2) Each book is YA or Middle Grade
3) I have read the book in 2018
2) Each book is YA or Middle Grade
3) I have read the book in 2018
I am going to start at the top with number 1, and make my way down to my number 10 book of the year. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year! May 2019 bring just as many, if not more wonderful books into the world.
1) Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson (Rating: 10/10)
This book is weirdly one of the few books I did not review (while on my blog vacation). But, it stuck with me. It was such a good mystery. It was a kind of homage to Agatha Christie and the older mystery writers. I knew right away that Nick would enjoy it and pushed the book on him. And not only did he also read it and love it, but he has since read it 3 times! He’s read it more than me, and I have a feeling we will have a race to finish book 2 when it comes out soon. This book has everything: amazing characters, super interesting setting, intriguing murder mystery, a school of brilliant thinkers, a little romance, and plenty of suspense. The over-arcing mystery of it has me jumping in anticipation of the next one. This book is way under-hyped.
2) The Cruel Prince by Holly Black (Review / Rating: 9/10)
This book was so good! As I said in my review, “It was dark, twisty, violent, and surprising. I loved the characters (most of them any way). And I loved the messed up world this all takes place in. I cannot wait to see what happens next.” This was a book for the fantasy fans who love world-building. The world was epic, and so so very dark.
3) Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (Review / Rating: 10/10)
This book deserves all the attention and hype it has received. And honestly, my top 3 books of 2018 were a bit of a toss-up. I loved all 3 equally. As I said in my review, “I can feel the books that inspired this masterpiece. I felt elements of Potter, some essence of Throne of Glass, and bits and pieces of The Hunger Games. Though, it was 100% it's own story. A story that kept me up late at night. It was super hard to put down. It's filled with plenty of twists and turns. And some of them I did not see coming!” And also, “Also, the book just feels so important. So relevant to today. I know the whole “we need diverse books” thing has been going on for a while. But, I didn’t know how badly I needed such a diverse fantasy novel until this. Seriously, there are no other fantasy books like this. And now that I’ve had a taste, I want more! Diversity should be in more than just contemporary stories. And this book proves it over and over in how amazing it is.”
4) Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce (Rating: 10/10)
This is another one missing a review! Just know that it was amazing. What a crazy, amazing year it’s been for YA fantasy books! This book felt very much like the old-school Tamora Pierce books. Though, I guess it helps that it’s a prequel series to her old school series: The Immortals. I had no idea how much I needed to re-visit Tortall, until this came out. It was a mixture of magic learning, power plays, feminism, politics, love, and world-building. I love getting to see behind-the-scenes reasons for why characters are the way they are, and this book is all about that. This is a great one for classic fantasy fans, fans of the author, and fans of exceptionally written YA books.
5) Pride by Ibi Zoboi (Review / Rating: 10/10)
As I said in my review, “I loved the fresh, modern perspective on love, class, and gentrification. This wasn’t just a fluffy romance retelling. This was also an honest, snarky, commentary on society and all of its latest changes. I felt like that makes this book stand out in a truly authentic Austen style. I loved Zuri almost as immediately as I loved Elizabeth Bennet. They are both girls that could so easily have been held back by what society expects of them, but instead flourish intelligently, poetically, and artfully.” I read a lot of Austen/Pride and Prejudice retellings, and they all focus on the romance. It was nice having one that also focused on society and snark. The diverse cast and modern urban setting helped too. The poetry was beautiful. And of course I liked the romance too.
6) Honor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine (Review / Rating: 10/10)
In my mini review for this, I said, “In trying to explain it to friends, I called it the love child of Illuminae, Mistborn, and the tv show, Firefly. I can’t wait for more folks to read it.” This is some amazing sci-fi, a genre I’ve only recently really grown to appreciate. I remember thinking I’d never really read anything like this book before, and what better compliment is there? Talking about it now, makes me want to re-read it. Maybe I will before its sequel comes out.
7) The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang (Rating: 10/10)
No review again. Yikes. I need to get better at not going MIA from blogging. However, I did say this on Goodreads: “I adored this book! It’s a fairytale, mixed with cross dressing, mixed with Project Runway. The art and the dresses are just beautiful. The concept behind it all: also beautiful. More please!” The book deals with some serious topics, but handles it all in a light, fun-hearted way. I’m pretty sure this was a one-sitting read. The art was just beautiful.
8) Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne (Review / Rating: 9/10)
As mentioned in my review, “All in all, this was a lot of fun. You don’t need to have read Jane Eyre to enjoy this one, though I do think you’d love it so much more if you have read the original. It was kind of a lighter, sci-fi version of the classic. It has a super fast pace. The world in space was pretty amazing. The characters were familiar. And there were some added bonuses to the story that I felt improved things overall.” Somehow this author managed to make Jane Eyre is space work. 2018 was also apparently a good year for retellings.
9) Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegmund-Broka (Review / Rating: 10/10)
This is one of the best, underrated books of the year. It’s YA contemporary at its finest. I believe I compared this to Stephanie Perkins, Jenny Han, and Becky Albertalli in my review. It’s fluffy, romantic, and full of amazing theater drama. I loved all the theater and literature references. I also loved having such a confidant, flirty main character. I feel like YA is filled with a lot of introverted Bella Swan types, but it’s nice to get a Carrie (from Sex and the City) type character front and center too. And I loved the friendship turned romance in this too. I could see this turning into a charming Netflix movie. Aka; I’m crossing my fingers that this gets picked up.
10) Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman (Review / Rating: 10/10)
I loved this book. I think a lot of people gave up on it because of its slow pacing. But, the writing, the world-building, and the self discovery in this unique fantasy were just all so incredible to me. Most YA books involve a little growing up and or coming of age. This one takes that trope and re-creates it. The friendship, the side quests, and the surprise of the main character’s past for me were all just so interesting. I love stories where women dress as men to get by in a patriarchal society, and this story takes that to a whole new level. This was a beautiful book.