Top Five Books of 2018

2019 has rolled around, and you must know what that means. It is officially time for me to rant about all the books I read in the past twelve months.

Despite the fact that I haven’t read as many books this year, I went through well over five, and obviously liked each of them a lot. So saying that the following are the top five out of all of them isn’t completely truthful on my part, but if I were to go into depth about why I liked every book I read in 2018 we would be here a while.

I have picked a handful of the books read to be featured in this post. The order isn’t quite exact, but I tried my best to choose my “favourites.” First up, we have a (surprise, surprise) fantasy and fractured fairy tale novel.

5: The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

This one I read early on in the year, so forgive me if I’ve forgotten a few things. Or, more likely, if I’ve forgotten the majority of the book. Long story short, The Goose Girl follows the princess Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee. A mouthful, yes, however she goes by Ani/Isi for most of the novel. She is forced to work as a goose girl in a foreign country when her lady in waiting convinces half of the guards to kill her on their way to have Ani married to the Crown Prince of Bayern. The lady in waiting, Selia, plans and succeeds in taking Ani’s place once they arrive in Bayern, while Ani flees.

Ani spends her time in Bayern trying to find a way to prove that she is the true princess and get out of her predicament. Oh right, and there’s a lot of communicating with animals.

I used to read the Ever After High books written by Shannon Hale, and I had been meaning to one day get around to reading some of her other works. Armed with an Indigo gift card, I bought this book (along with two others) in January, and enjoyed it thoroughly.

It’s no secret by this point that I love fantasy. The Goose Girl did a great job at exploiting that love, with world building and strange powers and the classic royal turned pauper. I haven’t read any of the other books in The Books of Bayern series as of yet, but here’s another great thing about this novel: it can be read as a stand alone. Most of the plot is tied up at the end, even when several books come after it.

Again, I can’t put my finger on why I liked this book since I don’t remember it all that well. Still, it doesn’t stop me from knowing that it was a good read and I would pick it up again, if only to recall what the heck happened.

4: The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands

Technically speaking, I’ve been reading this series since around when it first came out. The only book that was new out of my read through this year was the fourth edition, Call of the Wraith. I’m just calling it by its first book because I wouldn’t know which one to choose, and the first is usually the best.

Christopher Rowe is the main character and narrator, telling us of his adventures in Europe during the 1660s. It’s full of codes, apothecaries, murders, and fun little friendship moments. Honestly. His best friend Tom should get a medal for not fainting every five minutes because of Christopher’s schemes.

Coming from someone who doesn’t usually go for historical fiction, The Blackthorn Key is a must read. Kevin Sands obviously does his research (not a surprise, considering he was literally a researcher and a teacher), and there’s a bunch of interesting information that I had never heard about. The stories make for good mystery books and good laughs.

A little word of advice, though; if you decide to read this series, avoid eating at the same time, mainly in the first and second books. Burnt dismembered limbs, loosing eyes and the side of one’s face, and the plague itself aren’t fun images to go with your meal.

3: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

I wasn’t really sure where to put this one on the list, mostly because I’m still not completely sure how I feel about it. Douglas Adams was a good author, and was amazing at wording things. It was a funny collection. It was enjoyable. It was also possibly the weirdest thing I have ever read.

This one counts as all five books, because I did read them all in one book. Over eight hundred pages, and it was mind twisting for the whole experience. Between the nature of the Hitchhiker universe, the way some of the events/things/characters are explained, and the random information given at different times, it was the epitome of a wild ride. Don’t even get me started on the chapter with the Improbability Drive in book one.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy of five-don’t ask, I don’t have an answer-is unlike anything I’ve ever seen, but that’s part of what makes it so great. This universe is strange, confusing, multidimensional, and still makes sure that you have a fun time along the way.

Despite the ending, it’s fair to say that I enjoyed the trilogy. I did when I finally began to get used to it halfway through Life, the Universe, and Everything, at least. Similar to the first book I wrote about on this list, I’ll definitely have to read this one again, in this case so I can understand it a bit better than the first time through.


2: Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett

I’m ashamed to say that I hadn’t read a single Terry Pratchett book for a whole year before I picked this one up. I went on about how great the Discworld books I read were in my last list, and then never read another one until the end of 2018. That’s just me for you.

Terry Pratchett’s works are fairly weird, but after Douglas Adams, coming back to it is strangely comforting. I don’t know if I found this book less odd than the others ones because I had just finished the Hitchhiker’s trilogy or because it’s genuinely less odd than most of the series. Either way, as shown by the fact that it came in second place, you can tell that I think highly of it.

Spoilers ahead, Monstrous Regiment takes place in a small country on the Disc which is at war and recruiting soldiers. The main character, Polly Perks, cuts off her hair and dresses as a boy so that she can join up and find her missing brother.

The thing is, everyone that signs up after that turns out to be a girl too. Even some of the people up high in the military are women. It was like Mulan times a hundred (of course, historically this has happened in our own world).

What can I say, though? Terry Pratchett was a wonderful writer, and I enjoyed this installment as much as the others. The story was great, the character dynamics were fun, and of course the humour was present and accounted for. Even though I read it closer to the 2019 area, Monstrous Regiment deserves its place on the list.

1: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

This book, guys…Oh, this book.

Like with Heroes of Olympus to Percy Jackson and the Olympians, I hadn’t realized that there was a series set in this universe that came before the Six of Crows duology. Unlike Percy Jackson, however, order didn’t matter as much and I was mostly safe.

How to describe it? It was a fantasy heist. That’s literally what it says on the cover: heist. You have this ragtag team of teenagers in the fantasy world of the Grishaverse that break into the highest security prison. No one has ever done it, but they have been promised a whole lot of money if they can bring back a valuable prisoner.

I loved the world building Leigh Bardugo has. Ketterdam is in no way a city that you would want to go to in real life, but you grow fond of it. Fjerda was certainly cool as well, along with the snippets of other areas in the Grishaverse we hear about during the book.

The characters and their interactions are amazing to read, too. You learn bits about them as you go along, and alternate between their POVs several times. Not to mention the heist itself. That was a good one.

I got the sequel, Crooked Kingdom, for Christmas, and I was thrilled because I had loved the first one so much. I’ll probably end up reading the original series when I find the time.

All in all, I found it to be a great book and would definitely recommend it. Looking at you, Mom.

Honourable mentions: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard by Rick Riordan, Renegades by Marissa Meyer, The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner, Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend, The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex (reread), The Unwanteds Quests: Dragon Bones by Lisa McMann (I liked the original series better, but still), and The Lost Property Office by James R. Hannibal (also a reread).