2018 was a great year for reading. So many new books were released by new and returning authors. The covers were gorgeous and the stories were intriguing. This year alone, I was able to read quite a few books by newer authors, authors that I had already loved, and a few audiobooks. The genres are all over the place from inspirational to poetry to contemporary to science fiction and fantasy. I’ve loved this past year of reading and of getting to share those books with you!
Below are the top fourteen books that I’ve read this year. These were books that I either couldn’t get out of my head for weeks after I finished or books that I still find myself thinking about. Hopefully, you’ll find a few that you can add to your TBR for next year. They’re listed below in the order that I read them throughout the year.
Reign the Earth (The Elementae #1) by A.C. Gaughen
Shalia is a proud daughter of the desert, but after years of devastating war with the adjoining kingdom, her people are desperate for peace. Willing to trade her freedom to ensure the saftey of her family, Shalia becomes Queen of the Bonelands.
But she soon learns that her husband, Calix, is motivated only by his desire to exterminate the Elementae–mystical people who can control earth, wind, air, and fire. Even more unsettling are Shalia’s feelings for her husband’s brother, which unleash a power over the earth she never knew she possessed–a power that could get her killed. As rumors of a rebellion against Calix spread, Shalia must choose between the last chance for peace and her own future as an Elementae. (Goodreads)
Whisper (Whisper #1) by Lynette Noni
“Lengard is a secret government facility for extraordinary people,” they told me.
I believed them. That was my mistake.
There isn’t anyone else in the world like me.
I’m different. I’m an anomaly. I’m a monster.
For two years, six months, fourteen days, eleven hours and sixteen minutes, Subject Six-Eight-Four –‘Jane Doe’ — has been locked away and experimented on, without uttering a single word.
As Jane’s resolve begins to crack under the influence of her new–and unexpectedly kind–evaluator, she uncovers the truth about Lengard’s mysterious ‘program’, discovering that her own secret is at the heart of a sinister plot… and one wrong move, one wrong word, could change the world. (Goodreads)
Blessed Are The Misfits: Great News for Believers who are Introverts, Spiritual Strugglers, or Just Feel Like They’re Missing Something by Brant Hansen
Warning: If modern church culture makes perfect sense to you, and you always fit in seamlessly, don’t read this. As for the rest of us…
While American church culture (and American culture at large) seems largely designed for the extroverted, it’s estimated that half of the American population is introverted, and they’re often left wondering how, even if, they fit in the kingdom of God. As one of them, popular radio host Brant Hansen brings news. It’s wonderful, refreshing, and never-been-said-this-way-before good news.
In his unique style, Hansen looks to answer questions that millions of people carry with them each day:
If I don’t relate to God as emotionally as others do, is something wrong with me?
How does one approach God, and approach faith, when devoid of the “good feelings” that seem to drive so much of evangelical church culture?
How does God interact with those who seem spiritually numb?
Is the absence of faith-based emotion a sign of that God has moved on or was never there?
What if we aren’t good at talking to people about our faith, or good at talking to people at all?
What if I’m told I’m too analytical, that I “think too much”?
Where does a person who suffers from depression fit in the kingdom? Is depression a sure sign of a lack of faith?
This book is good news for people who are desperately looking for it. (And for their loved ones!)
It’s also for those who want to believe in Jesus, but inwardly fear that they don’t belong, worry that don’t have the requisite emotion-based relationship with God, and are starving for good news.
Blessed Are the Misfits is going to generate discussion, and lots of it. It’s simultaneously highly provocative and humbly personal. It’s also leavened with a district, dry, self-effacing humor that is a hallmark of Hansen’s on-air, writing, and public speaking style. (Goodreads)
Nyxia (The Nyxia Triad #1) by Scott Reintgen
Emmett Atwater isn’t just leaving Detroit; he’s leaving Earth. Why the Babel Corporation recruited him is a mystery, but the number of zeroes on their contract has him boarding their lightship and hoping to return to Earth with enough money to take care of his family.
Before long, Emmett discovers that he is one of ten recruits, all of whom have troubled pasts and are a long way from home. Now each recruit must earn the right to travel down to the planet of Eden–a planet that Babel has kept hidden–where they will mine a substance called Nyxia that has quietly become the most valuable material in the universe.
But Babel’s ship is full of secrets. And Emmett will face the ultimate choice: win the fortune at any cost, or find a way to fight that won’t forever compromise what it means to be human. (Goodreads)
Nyxia Unleashed (The Nyxia Triad #2) by Scott Reintgen
Getting to Eden brought Emmett and his crewmates one step closer to their promised fortune. But surviving Eden may be the biggest reward of all.
Emmett Atwater thought Babel’s game sounded easy. Get points. Get paid. Go home. But it didn’t take long for him to learn that Babel’s competition was full of broken promises, none darker or more damaging than the last one.
Now Emmett and the rest of the Genesis survivors must rally and forge their own path through a new world. Their mission from Babel is simple: extract nyxia, the most valuable material int he universe, and play nice with the indigenous Adamite population.
But Emmett and the others quickly realize they are caught between two powerful force–Babel and the Adamites–with clashing desires. Will the Genesis team make it out alive before it’s too late? (Goodreads)
Shadow and Bone (The Shadow and Bone Trilogy #1) by Leigh Bardugo
Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.
Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life–a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.
Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha…and the secrets of her heart. (Goodreads)
Siege and Storm (The Shadow and Bone Trilogy #2) by Leigh Bardugo
Darkness never dies.
Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting a new life is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.
The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm. (Goodreads)
Ruin and Rising (The Shadow and Bone Trilogy #3) by Leigh Bardugo
The capital has fallen.
The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.
Now the nation’s fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.
Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.
Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova’s amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling’s secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter the understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Rvaka and destruction–and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for. (Goodreads)
The Raging Ones (The Raging Ones #1) by Krista + Becca Ritchie
In a freezing world, where everyone knows the day they will die, three teens break all odds.
Franny Bluecastle, a tough city teen, dreams of dying in opulence, to see wealth she’s never known. Like the entire world, she believes it’s impossible to dodge a deathday.
Until the day she does.
Court Icecastle knows wealth. He also knows pain. Spending five years in Vorkter Prison, a fortress of ice and suffering, he dreams of life beyond the people that haunt him and the world that imprisoned him.
Mykal Kickfall fights for those he loves. The rugged Hinterlander shares a frustrating yet unbreakable connection with Court–which only grows more lawless and chaotic as their sense and emotions connect with Franny.
With the threat of people learning they’ve dodged their deathdays, they must flee their planet to survive. But to do so, all three will have to hide their shared bond as they vie for a highly sought after spot in the newest mission to space. Against thousands of people far smarter, who’ll live longer, and never fear death the way that they do. (Goodreads)
Mirage (Mirage #1) by Somaiya Daud
In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.
But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.
As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty–and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection… because one wrong move could lead to her death. (Goodreads)
Light Years (Light Years #1) by Kass Morgan
Reeling from the last attack by a mysterious enemy, the Quatra Fleet Academy is finally admitting students from every planet in the solar system after centuries of exclusivity.
Hotshot pilot Vesper, an ambitious Tridian citizen, dreams of becoming a captain–but when she loses her spot to a brilliant, wisecracking boy from the wrong side of the asteroid belt, it makes her question everything she thought she knew. Growing up on the toxic planet Deva, Cormak will take any chance he can get to escape his dead-end life and join the Academy–even if he has to steal someone’s identity to do it. Arran was always considered an outsider on icy Chetire, always dreaming of something more than a life working in the mines. Now an incoming cadet, Arran is looking for a place to belong–he just never thought that place would be in the arms of a Tridian boy. And Orelia is hiding a dark secret–she’s infiltrated the Academy to complete a mission, one that threatens the security of everyone there. But if anyone finds out who she really is, it’ll be her life on the line.
These cadets will have to put their differences aside and become a team to defend their world from a cunning enemy–but the danger might be lurking closer to home than they think… (Goodreads)
Empire of Sand (The Books of Ambha #1) by Tasha Suri
A nobleman’s daughter with magic in her blood. An empire built on the dreams of enslaved gods. Empire of Sand is Tasha Suri’s captivating, Mughal India-inspired debut fantasy.
The Amrithi are outcasts; nomads descended of desert spirits, they are coveted and persecuted throughout the Empire for the power in their blood. Mehr is the illegitimate daughter of an imperial governor and an exiled Amrithi mother she can barely remember, but whose face and magic she has inherited.
When Mehr’s power comes to the attention of the Emperor’s most feared mystics, she must use every ounce of will, subtlety, and power she possesses to resist their cruel agenda.
Should she fail, the gods themselves may awaken seeking vengeance… (Goodreads)
Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful – Arwen Elys Dayton
For fans of television shows Black Mirror and Westworld, this compelling, mind-bending novel is a twisted look into the future, exploring how far we will go to remake ourselves into the perfect human specimen and what it means to be human at all.
Set in our world, spanning the near distant futures, Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful is a novel up of six interconnected stories that ask how far we will go to remake ourselves into the perfect human specimens, and how hard that will push the definition of “human.”
This extraordinary work explores the amazing possibilities of genetic manipulation and life extension, as well as the ethical quandaries that will arise with these advances. The results range from the heavenly to the monstrous. Deeply thoughtful, poignant, horrifying, and action-packed, Arwen Elys Dayton’s Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful is groundbreaking in both form and substance. (Goodreads)
Unwritten Letters to You – T.B. LaBerge
Unwritten Letters to You is a collection of writings ranging from heartbreak to longing for love. Within each page comes the words that are often so hard to speak, and with each chapter you will find that blood can be turned to ink. If you are dealing with lost love, longing for love, or if you are in love, then this book is for you. (Goodreads)
Two Can Keep A Secret by Karen M. McManus
Echo Ridge is small-town America. Ellery’s never been there, but she’s heard all about it. Her aunt went missing there at age seventeen. And only five years ago, a homecoming queen put the town on the map when she was killed. Now Ellery has to move there to live with a grandmother she barely knows.
The town is picture-perfect, but it’s hiding secrets. And before school even begins for Ellery, someone’s declared open season on homecoming, promising to make it as dangerous as it was five years ago. Then, almost as if to prove it, another girl goes missing.
Ellery knows all about secrets. Her mother has them; her grandmother does too. And the longer she’s in Echo Ridge, the clearer it becomes that everyone there is hiding something. The thing is, secrets are dangerous–and people aren’t good at keeping them. Which is why in Echo Ridge, it’s safest to keep secrets to yourself. (Goodreads)