Another a year, another almost impossible task trying to each choose our Top 10 Reads of the year! And since it’s the end of the reading year, don’t forget to enter our “Twelve Days of Christmas” Giveaway! Today I’m going to countdown my favorites reads, ten to six.
Pick Number 5: “Veronica Speedwell” mysteries by Deanna Raybourn
We all know how much I love the Amelia Peabody series. So imagine my excitement when I discovered yet another historical mystery series that featured an excellent heroine! And a series that is being written currently, with the fourth book coming down the pike this upcoming spring! Veronica Speedwell, in many ways, is the natural heir to Amelia Peabody: she’s snappy, clever, and willing to do things herself if those around her shy away due to her “feminine sensitivities.” And, of course, with every talented female sleuth comes her gruff partner in crime, trailing behind being exasperated but also endeared by our heroine’s antics. Stoker is just such a man. And, unlike the Amelia Peabody series, the “will they/won’t they” relationship between these two has yet to be resolved, three books in. We’ll see what comes of things in the next!
Pick Number 4: “Six of Crows” & “Crooked Kingdom” by Leigh Bardugo
I had pretty mixed feelings about Bardugo’s original series. By the end, I actually disliked it quite a bit. So when “Six of Crows” was picked for bookclub, I went in with a pretty heavy dose of skepticism. Imagine my surprise when not only did I like it, but I loved it! Probably the most of anyone in our bookclub! I immediately went out and purchased the second book in the duology and read it in a few days. I loved all of the characters involved, their tragic backstories, and the effortless chemistry that developed between them all. Plus, a fantasy heist story. A FANTASY HEIST STORY! Of course, I’m all over this! It also had just the right dash of romance sprinkled throughout to satiate that side of things for me as well. These are technically two books, of course, but they read as one continued story, so I had to include both here!
Pick Number 3: “Age of Myth” by Michael J. Sullivan
This book makes this list not only for the story it contains in its own pages but for what it represents: a gateway into an entirely new fantasy world and fantasy author who I had previously not discovered. I read a lot of YA, and that’s my only excuse for how I somehow missed a prolific author such as Sullivan. But after reading this book, I’m on this train for good. “Age of Myth” introduces a fantastic new world full of familiar beings (elves, dwarfs, giants, and humans), but stands on its own with strong characters and an action-packed story. I particularly enjoyed the strong women characters at the heart of the story: a middle-aged chieftain’s wife who finds herself at the heart of a growing conflict and a young seer girl who begins to understand that she may be more than she previously thought. We also get insights into one of our villain’s mindsets, and the fact that I enjoyed even this (against my usual preference for limited POVs in books) just speaks to the strength of this book as a whole. Look for reviews for the next two books in the series which should be coming your way shortly!
Pick Number 2: “Lady Sherlock” series by Sherry Thomas
Kate gave me the first book in this series last year for Christmas, and thus, a new great love was born. I quickly devoured the first two in the series and then waited anxiously for the third to finally arrive this fall. I’ve loved every bit of this re-imagining of Sherlock Holmes that cast the titular character as Charlotte Holmes. But while we’ve seen a gender-swap of the famous detective before, what makes this series stand out is its added interpretations of other staple characters from the series, often re-creating them in new and unexpected ways and providing plenty of surprises along the way. And, of course, Charlotte herself is an incredibly original character, not only from the original Sherlock, but from all of the other “girl Sherlocks” we’ve seen in the past. Fans of historical mysteries and Sherlock Holmes in particular should definitely check these out!
Pick Number 1: “Spinning Silver” by Naomi Novik
It will probably surprise no one to find this book at the top of my list. If Kate and I had been operating this blog when I read “Uprooted” I have no doubts that it, too, would have topped my reading list for that year. Novik has mastered the art of fairytale re-tellings, as far as I’m concerned. The best part of her approach is that while still distinctly told in a fairytale type way, the original story is often only barely discernible beneath the creative twists she’s taken on events and characters. “Spinning Silver” was even more thrilling because it was re-telling a lesser-used fairytale, “Rumpelstiltskin.” Novik also diverged from the approach she took with the first book and here introduced an entire cast of characters all sharing POV chapters to help unfurl the story. I loved everything about this book. So much so, that while now on Christmas break from work, I’m having a strong urge to re-read it, less than a year after the first go-around!
So there’s my complete list! What were your top five reads of 2018?