Category Archives: book recommendations

My favourite books of 2018

Merry christmas, everyone! I look forward to making this post every year, because I never get bored of shouting about my favourite books. I read 247 books this year, so obviously I have a lot of opinions about my favourites. These are all 2018 releases, with a few at the end which I adored but were published before 2018, that I needed to included.

Finally, a reminder from an author – if you’re making your own list of favourite books of 2018, please make sure you thank the author by adding your reviews to Amazon. It’s a small, quick thing that can make a huge difference to authors.

2017 favourites | 2016 favourites | 2015 favourites | 2014 favourites


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A Conspiracy of Truths by Alexandra Rowland (Goodreads/Amazon)

An old man is trapped in prison, accused of witchcraft. An old man who has spent his life learning how to tell stories, and manipulate perceptions. An old man who will do anything to get free. An old man, who single-handedley manages to take down an entire government from a prison cell…..

32802595Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers (Goodreads/Amazon)

Becky Chambers is such a reliable author, and her books never fail to make my heart brim with love for humans and her wonderful visions of aliens. Her books always offer such unique and optimistic looks on difficult issues like gender, social equality, racism and hope. I wouldn’t mind living in her future, which isn’t something I say often about science fiction.

39300354 (1)Death in the Spotlight (Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries #7) by Robin Stevens (Goodreads/Amazon)

My favourite detectives had their best adventure yet. Robin writes the most diverse, authentic, wonderfully researched historical fiction. It’s full of BAME and LGBT characters of all ages.

 

 

 

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I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death by Maggie O’Farrell (Goodreads/Amazon)

I kind of wish I hadn’t read this because it was the most stressful book I’ve ever read. I want to simultaneously never leave my house again and do as many things as possible while I can because LIFE IS FRAGILE.

 

32993458Circe by Madeline Miller (Goodreads/Amazon)

This far exceeded my expectations, which were already far too high. I have no background in Greek mythology, and The Song of Achilles blew me away because it somehow made these complicated myths feel real, even with all the gods and nymphs running around. That book was a lot easier to root for, because it revolved around the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus. This time around, there is not only a far bigger and more complicated cast, but there’s no central relationship to hook you into the story. Despite that, Miller has somehow managed to create a book that you are completely invested in, feels totally real and believable, and contains characters who jump of the page.

33160963The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Goodreads/Amazon)

One for fans of the You Must Remember This Podcast – old Hollywood royalty, publicity manoeuvring & more scandals than you can wave an Oscar at.

 

 

 

24100285Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente (Goodreads/Amazon)

This is described as ‘Eurovision in space’, which is EXACTLY what this is. A loving ode to Douglas Adams, updated for the 21st century, this is funny and imaginative and colourful. The alien performances were truly excellent.

34506912 (1)The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang (Goodreads/Amazon)

The graphic novel about a prince that hires a dressmaker to make him dresses to wear is SO DAMN CUTE. It was so uplifting and positive and really cute.

 

 

 

33080122 (1).jpgThe Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal (Goodreads/Amazon)

A meteorite has hit Earth and triggered an extinction event. Humans have a decade or less to get off the planet before the sun disappears beneath skies of dust, and crops die off. But it’s the fifties, and the space race has only just begun. The remnants of the US government team up with space agencies around the world to fast track a moon settlement mission. The WWII pilots are chosen to train as astronauts – but only the men. Which isn’t much use when you’re trying to start a colony. The human calculators, all women, and WASP pilots, start a publicity campaign to be allowed to train for the mission. HIDDEN FIGURES meets INTERSTELLAR, this is part science-based adventure and part uprising for race and gender equality. Maths and feminism: is there any better combination?

40025070The Invitation by Keris Stainton (Goodreads/Amazon)

Keris’ books always make me feel like I can achieve anything I set my mind to. Heart-warming, body-positive, sweet and caring, I am going to be thinking about these characters for a long time.

 

 

 

 


Bonus – my favourite books published before 2018:

Think of England by K.J. Charles (Goodreads/Amazon)

This was the most excellent English country house heist/murder mystery, it was a RIOT. One of the best romances I’ve ever read!

The Broken Earth series by N.K. Jemisin (Goodreads/Amazon)

This is – well, it’s a science fiction and fantasy series set in a world where extinction events destroy civilisation every hundred years, the survivors have to try and relearn how to create a society from the remains of cultures that surround them. This is exactly my sort of thing – archaeology as a means of survival. It’s about legend and science, and how to work out which is which. It’s about found families and slave races and something like magic.

It’s diverse and full of plot twists and changes in perspective and the most wonderful characters. But what makes this series really special is that it uses the writing in a completely different way from anything I’ve ever seen. It’s a masterclass in originality.

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado (Goodreads/Amazon)

Science fiction short stories about the effects of birth, death and life on women’s bodies. The stories are all different – paranormal detectives, apocalypses & magical realism – but so very powerful.

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (Goodreads/Amazon)

A rejected son unexpectedly inherits the throne and has to learnt to become emperor in a court that wants to take him down. SO satisfying. Full of courtly intrigue and machinations.

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Books I want to read in ’19

Last year I chose some books I wanted to read in 2018. I managed to read a lot of them, except a few which haven’t been released yet, and are included below, and The Surface Breaks, Binti 3 and Barbed Wire Heart (I haven’t bought them yet – doing that asap).

I feel like there’s lots of books that should be on this list that I don’t know about, so – what am I missing?!

Previously: 15 books I want to read in ’15 | 16 books I want to read in ’16 | 17 books I wanted to read in ’17 | Books I Want to Read in 2018


The Paper & Hearts Society by Lucy Powrie

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I’ve been pals with Lucy for like a million years now (she gave me some baby guinea pigs, hence winning my loyalty for life) so I’m as proud as anything that her first book is coming out. It sounds just like my thing so: I’M READY.

Tabby Brown is tired of trying to fit in with her classmates. She doesn’t want to go to parties at the weekend – in fact, she would much rather snuggle up on the sofa with her favourite book. It’s like she hasn’t found her people…

That is until she moves to a new town where a book club, The Paper & Hearts Society, is recruiting. Tabby might just be in luck. Enough of her old “friends” who only talk to her when they need something. It’s time for Quidditch themed fancy dress parties, games like “shut up and Shakespeare” … and LOTS of chocolate.

Fierce Fragile Hearts by Sara Barnard

Sara is finally releasing the sequel to her debut that we’ve all been waiting for. I’m really interested to see what these characters have been up to, and what they do next.39354084

Fierce Fragile Hearts is the stunning companion novel to Sara Barnard’s YA bestseller Beautiful Broken Things. It is about leaving the past behind, the friends who form your future, and learning to find love, in all its forms.

Two years after a downward spiral took her as low as you can possibly go, Suzanne is starting again. Again. She’s back in Brighton, the only place she felt she belonged, back with her best friends Caddy and Rosie. But they’re about to leave for university. When your friends have been your light in the darkness, what happens when you’re the one left behind?

 

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Stormsong by C.L. Polk

I loved Witchmark, a magical gay love story in the style of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street. It was action-packed and plot twisty while retaining a very dreamy, comforting, whimsical feel. Basically: all of my favourite tropes. I’m really excited to see where the sequel goes.

Magical cabals, otherworldly avengers, and impossible love affairs conspire to create a book that refuses to be put down.

Dame Grace Hensley helped her brother Miles undo the atrocity that stained her nation, but now she has to deal with the consequences. With the power out in the dead of winter and an uncontrollable sequence of winter storms on the horizon, Aeland faces disaster. Grace has the vision to guide her parents to safety, but a hostile queen and a ring of rogue mages stand in the way of her plans. There’s revolution in the air, and any spark could light the powder. What’s worse, upstart photojournalist Avia Jessup draws ever closer to secrets that could topple the nation,and closer to Grace’s heart.

Can Aeland be saved without bloodshed? Or will Kingston die in flames, and Grace along with it?

Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid40554141

By the author of one of my favourite books of the year, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, which is about old Hollywood royalty, publicity manoeuvring & more scandals than you can wave an Oscar at.

Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock and roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend. The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. 

The True Queen by Zen Cho27818782

Another one that was on my 2018 TBR list too, this series is the perfect mix of the magical regency London of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, Georgette Heyer’s shamelessly trope-filled romances, and the charm and relationship dynamics of Sabriel. The whole book make me squirm with delight – from the UNICORNS to GIANT FURIOUS MERMAIDS to the CLOUD FLYING – I’m really excited to see what goes on in the sequel.

In the follow-up to the “delightful” Regency fantasy novel (NPR.org) Sorcerer to the Crown, a young woman with no memories of her past finds herself embroiled in dangerous politics in England and the land of the fae. 

When sisters Muna and Sakti wake up on the peaceful beach of the island of Janda Baik, they can’t remember anything, except that they are bound as only sisters can be. They have been cursed by an unknown enchanter, and slowly Sakti starts to fade away. The only hope of saving her is to go to distant Britain, where the Sorceress Royal has established an academy to train women in magic.

If Muna is to save her sister, she must learn to navigate high society, and trick the English magicians into believing she is a magical prodigy. As she’s drawn into their intrigues, she must uncover the secrets of her past, and journey into a world with more magic than she had ever dreamed.

Famous in a Small Town by Emma Mills35526663

I’ve read the first draft of this, and it was so sweet and heartwarming and cute (just like all of Emma’s books – PLEASE read them if you haven’t already). I’m really excited to revisit these characters in the final version.

For Sophie, small-town life has never felt small. She has the Yum Yum Shoppe, with its famous fourteen flavors of ice cream; her beloved marching band, the pride and joy of Acadia High (even if the football team disagrees); and her four best friends, loving and infuriating, wonderfully weird and all she could ever ask for.

Then August moves in next door. A quiet guy with a magnetic smile, August seems determined to keep everyone at arm’s length. Sophie in particular. Country stars, revenge plots, and a few fake kisses (along with some excellent real ones) await Sophie in this hilarious, heartfelt story.

81DgL6mImkL.jpgOn the Come Up by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give took the world by storm last year, and I know this is going to do the same. Really thrilled that we’re getting another Angie Thomas book!

Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. As the daughter of an underground hip hop legend who died right before he hit big, Bri’s got massive shoes to fill. But when her first song goes viral for all the wrong reasons, Bri finds herself at the centre of controversy and portrayed by the media as more menace than MC. And with an eviction notice staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it – she has to. Even if it means becoming the very thing the public has made her out to be.

 



A few without covers yet:

York: The Clockwork Ghost by Laura Ruby

A sequel to an excellent middle grade steampunk-y romp around NYC.

Pepperharrow (The Watchmaker of Filigree Street #2) by Natasha Pulley

The next book follows on from Watchmaker. Thaniel and Mori go to Japan, apparently for Thaniel’s health, but he soon realizes that Mori has plenty of other, stranger reasons. Katsu is back, by the way, with a wheel.

Six Jacks by E. Lockhart

An exploration of romantic passion but in a very surreal way, set on an empty college campus.

And some without even titles:

Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries #8 by Robin Stevens

OBVIOUSLY

YA novel 4 by Alice Oseman

I’ve read a bit of this already and it’s going to be so gooood.

The Goblin Emperor #2 by Katherine Addison

Tor.com has announced a sequel to The Goblin Emperor. It is not a direct sequel, but takes place during Maia’s reign.

Adult books for fans of YA

Maggie Stiefvater recently posted about YA as a genre:

I did a poll last year on my readers’ ages. I got 10k responses. Overwhelmingly they were 18 and up, with the vast majority in the 18-35 range. From a professional writer’s side of the table, I write stories that will please my existing reader base, and my readers are aging. They began reading me in high school and kept reading me. So I age up, up, up — until one could argue I’ve been writing adult books for years now.

But also, I write for me. Stories that intrigue me. Stories that are about questions I’m grappling with, or situations I’ve lived through, or themes I want to live with for a year. And I’m getting older. I began publishing YA when I was 25.

That means I was processing my young adult years. I wrote for myself, which is to say, I was also writing for other young people. However, as I get older, if I still write for myself, without considering my audience . . . I keep writing for the person I am processing.

If I want to write for teens, I will need to add in a conscious filter to be sure I’m writing a YA story. Because otherwise, guess who loves my books? 18-35 year olds. SHOCKING

YA is no longer an age range, it’s a philosophy, it’s a promise of a certain kind of character-driven story, and that’s why readers come to it no matter what age they are. We [need to] find another way to label them so we understand that these books embody that immediate, close POV, progressive, genre-combining power that draws readers to YA now, without taking teen shelfspace.

I say this at every event I do these days: YA is changing! It’s not fiction for teenagers anymore, because older people read it too. There needs to be a distinction between ‘teen’ and ‘YA’ fiction. We’re in a place where books get criticised for having characters who ‘act like children’, in a book for children, about children, because there are so many books about early-twenties characters in the YA section, that it skews what the genre should be.

A significant subset of YA books are in that genre because there’s no other category where young writers can publish the kinds of books they want to write, without calling it YA. This is really frustrating, because it limits the type of books I can write.

I write characters, not age-ranges. I would write the same protagonist in the same way if they were 17 or 21 – because I’m writing a character who I want to write and read about, who I can relate to, who experiences the world in the way that a 26-year-old like me does now. But there’s currently an upper limit on the age I can give that character, because if they were a few years old, what genre would it be – adult sci-fi? That’s not where my readers are. That’s not where readers who are looking for the kind of books that I am writing are going.

In ten years, will I be writing YA? I think I’ll be writing the same kind of books, but they won’t be called YA anymore. There will be a new category that makes more sense of the chaotic jumble of books being marketed at some nebulous demographic none of us quite understand. The genre is in huge flux right now, which is incredibly exciting from a writing perspective – we’re shaping the literary landscape into what we want it to be.

I don’t have an answer to this – I just wanted to share some of my thoughts here, and Maggie’s, who consistently tweets about this in a thoughtful way that makes me think. Maggie also mentioned some books she loves which are adult but embody the tone of what we currently think of as YA genre (….for now.)

Another observation: I’ve actually read two adult novels in the past year’s time that are classified as adult and felt like YA (philosophically, tonally. They were All the Birds in the Sky, by and The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by . They belong roundly in adult, but I think they’re also what adult YA readers are looking for when they come to YA. I think . . .

This was a huge eye-opening moment for me, because a few of these are my favourite books, and this is why I love them. So I thought I’d share some other books which feel like YA, but are shelved as Adult fiction (but I hugely recommend The Watchmaker of Filigree Street too.)

Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers – Becky Chambers never fail to make my heart brim with love for humans and her wonderful visions of aliens. Her books always offer such unique and optimistic looks on difficult issues like gender, social equality, racism and hope. I wouldn’t mind living in her future, which isn’t something I say often about science fiction.

The Gloaming by Kirsty Logan – Magic and fairy tales, families and death, stone and water and bones. The writing is so poetic and easy to read, and I swallowed it up.

Havemercy by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett – A fantasy world of mechanic dragons and their hyper-masculine riders, and the magicians they team up with. Delicious indulgent fun.

Glamourist Histories series by Mary Robinette Kowal  – Magical regency romp around the world with magic and science and the boundary between the two.

A Conspiracy of Truths by Alexandra Rowland – An old man is trapped in prison, accused of witchcraft. An old man who has spent his life learning how to tell stories, and manipulate perceptions. An old man who will do anything to get free. An old man, who single-handedley manages to take down an entire government from a prison cell…..

Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho – This is the perfect mix of the magical regency London of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, Georgette Heyer’s shamelessly trope-filled romances, and the charm and relationship dynamics of Sabriel. The whole book make me squirm with delight – from the UNICORNS to GIANT FURIOUS MERMAIDS to the CLOUD FLYING. Just – I want to tell you about every scene, because every scene is a delight. If you’re looking for more diverse fantasy, then this is the place to look.

Do you agree that there’s such a thing as ‘YA style’ adult fiction? What books do you think fit that tone? (Because I want to read them all.)

10 graphic novels recommendations

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The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer by Sydney Padua

Meet Victorian London’s most dynamic duo: Charles Babbage, the unrealized inventor of the computer, and his accomplice, Ada, Countess of Lovelace, the peculiar proto-programmer and daughter of Lord Byron.

Lovelace and Babbage have completely captured my heart. I can’t remember the last time I loved characters more. They have such a great male/female friendship, and they are both oddball and fun and I just – I love them so much. If I ever get access to a time machine, my new answer to what I would do with it is: GO AND HANG OUT WITH LOVELACE AND BABBAGE.

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Runaways by Brian K. Vaughan and Rainbow Rowell

Meet Alex, Karolina, Gert, Chase, Molly and Nico – a group of teens whose lives are about to take an unexpected turn…

This is the teen superheroes comic you’ve always wanted. The original run was written a few years ago, and has since been rebooted by YA superstar Rainbow Rowell. If you want a long, angst-filled read, this series is a great way to get into comics for a YA reader. Then read Fangirl.

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Heartstopper by Alice Oseman

This UK based contemporary romance between two secondary school boys is beautifully drawn and written, and ties into the YA novel Solitaire. Meet Charlie and Nick, and fall in love.

 

 

The Sandman by Neil Gaiman

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A wizard attempting to capture Death to bargain for eternal life traps her younger brother Dream instead. After his escape, Dream goes on a quest for his lost objects of power.

This is the series that got me into graphic novels. It’s very long, and I distinctly remember the desperate search over a few years to track them all down in my local library system. It follows a group of immortal siblings, centred around Dream (the ‘sandman’), as well as his goth sister Death. It features cameos from Shakespeare and others. It captures the nineties perfectly, and I promise it will keep you hooked until the very end.

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Giant Days by John Allison

Going off to university is always a time of change and growth, but for Esther, Susan, and Daisy, things are about to get a little weird.

Set at a British university, this series about the adventures of three girls is one of the most perfectly English things you can imagine. It also now has an excellent tie-in novel by UK YA superstar Non Pratt!

 

Saga by Brian K. Vaughan

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Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the worlds.

This name might be familiar, as Brian K. Vaughan wrote Runaways, above. You can’t get far in the world of graphic novels without reading one of his works, as he’s the creator of some of the most original work out there today. Saga is an inventive, hugely ambitious science fiction, well, saga, told from the point of view of a baby throughout her entire childhood. There are bar fights, heists, prison break-outs, spaceship speed races, western gunfights and giant monsters. It truly has everything, and I love it.

 

28587971The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg

In the tradition of The Arabian Nights, a beautifully illustrated tapestry of folk tales and myths about the secret legacy of female storytellers in an imagined medieval world.

Mythical, beautiful, romantic and feminist, there’s really no one else like Greenberg in the UK making graphic novels. Each one is work of art that can be read over and over, just for the pictures. But the story is pretty excellent too.

 

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

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Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc.

This is a graphic novel, about a shapeshifting girl who forces an Evil Villain to let her be his sidekick. He is a grouchy, one-armed villain with a tragic backstory, and she slowly melts his heart and makes him kind-of happy again. With great diversity, and the strongest of strong female leads (with the best hair), this is a wonder to read.

 

Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O’Malley29800

Scott Pilgrim’s life is totally sweet. He’s 23 years old, he’s in a rockband, he’s “between jobs” and he’s dating a cute high school girl. Nothing could possibly go wrong, unless a seriously mind-blowing, dangerously fashionable, rollerblading delivery girl named Ramona Flowers starts cruising through his dreams and sailing by him at parties.

Funny, slick, silly and supernatural, this comic which inspired the film is a cult classic. It kick-started a lot of the trends in current graphic novels, and it’s really worth a read for that alone – but it’s also a great story in its own right.

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On A Sunbeam by Tillie Walden

Throughout the deepest reaches of space, a crew rebuilds beautiful and broken-down structures, painstakingly putting the past together.

The most beautifully drawn, imaginative graphic novel about space travel. Every page of this was just absolutely stunning, especially the fish spaceships.

Books I Want to Read in 2018

There are approximately 200 books I need to read next year, so this was an incredibly hard list to narrow down. So I cheated a bit, and have split them up into quite a few categories.

Last year I chose 17 books I wanted to read in 2017. I managed to read 14 of them, except The Gallery of Unfinished Girls, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, A Conjuring of Light, Defy the Stars and The Ravenous – all of which are sitting on my bookshelf waiting patiently.

This year I started reading a lot more non-fiction, so if you have any recommendations for those coming out next year, please let me know. My knowledge is limited on that front!

Previously: 15 books I want to read in ’15 | 16 books I want to read in ’16 | 17 books I wanted to read in ’17

UKYA

There is some really amazing UKYA coming out in 2018, and these are some of the ones I really can’t wait for. There are plenty more though, including my own – there’s a semi-complete list here.

My Heart Goes Bang  | In Your Light | Second Best Friend  | Goodbye, Perfect

Bonus: Alice Oseman’s not yet announced new book, which I’ve already read cough-cough-cough

USYA

I have a difficult relationship with USYA, in that there’s a lot of hype about them and then they don’t always live up to expectations. So I tend to stay away from authors I’ve not read before these days. However, here are four authors who I really love, and I can’t wait to see what their next books are like. I’m particularly excited for Angie Thomas’ second novel!

Barbed Wire Heart | On the Come Up | Leah on the Offbeat  | Puddin’ (Dumplin’ #2)

Science Fiction

I am so excited about these that I am positively quivering. I love the free short story The Lady Astronaut of Mars, so I really can’t wait for the full length duology prequels coming this year (two! We’re blessed with an abundance of female scientists!). I will also read anything Becky Chambers chooses to bless us with, as her first two books make my top ten lists every year. Bring on the spaceborn few!

Time Was | Record of a Spaceborn Few | The Calculating Stars | The Night Masquerade (Binti #3)

Historical Magicians

In 2017 I had a reading epiphany: I have a favourite genre, and it’s not the one I write. It’s a niche sub-genre about historical magicians, like Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell and Shades of  Milk and Honey (the golden intersection is also when they are rich murderers, of course).

Since I realised this was my ultimate jam, I’ve not had a single book slump, because I’ve stocked up on historical magic books. I love any and all of them I read. So here’s some new ones coming out that I’m very excited for. (I’ve already read advanced copies of Circe and  Chainbreaker and love love loved them.)

Sorcerer Royal (Sorcerer to the Crown #2) | The Dark Days Club #3 | Circe | Chainbreaker

Books about the ocean

Because who doesn’t love a good sea book? I love Kirsty Logan’s quirky magic, and I’m very much looking forward to having my heart torn out by Louise O’Neill twice this year, as her adult debut Almost Love is also coming out.

The Surface Breaks | The Gloaming | The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror

Middle Grade

Most of these books don’t have covers yet, but I am incredibly excited for them none-the-less. These all have more than a hint of magic and there’s something so nice about reading books for younger readers occasionally. I think YORK was one of the underappreciated books of 2017 that doesn’t get discussed enough, and I can’t wait for the next part.

 The Clockwork Ghost (York #2) | A Spoonful of Murder (Murder Most Unladylike #6)

No covers yet:  The Storm Keeper’s IslandPages & Co

What books are you looking forward to in 2018? Except for mine (!) I have three releases this year. The US editions of The Last Beginning (February) and The Loneliest Girl in the Universe (July), and the UK edition of my fourth book (September). It’s going to be a busy one!

My (personal) best books of 2017

It’s the season to round up our reading years! This year I read nearly 220 books, so it was difficult to choose my favourite ten, especially as I’ve read some truly excellent books this year. Some really important books about feminism and racism achieved the recognition they deserved this year, so those made it to the top of my list. These are all published in 2017.

If you’ve already read all these, then firstly – please send me some recommendations, as you clearly have excellent taste! Secondly – my top ten favourite books of every year since 2011 can be found here, for some things you might not have discovered.

Finally, a reminder from an author – if you’re making your own list of favourite books of 2017, please make sure you thank the author by adding your reviews to Amazon. It’s a small, quick thing that can make a huge difference to authors.

10. We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

 

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Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun.

Achingly sad and beautiful, WE ARE OKAY is a book I’ll be thinking about for a long time. Marin is an orphan, who was raised by her grandfather. When he dies, she runs across the country to university instead of facing her grief. Completely alone, she plans to spend her 25 day Christmas break in an empty dorm building, eating ramen and reading poetry about solitude. But her ex-girlfriend and lifelong best friend has other thoughts on the matter.

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9. Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness by Peter Godfrey-Smith

A philosopher dons a wet suit and journeys into the depths of consciousness to tell a bold new story of how nature became aware of itself.

A fascinating look at how evolution makes our brains think, told through the mysterious actions of octopuses. That cover deserves awards alone, too.

292372118. Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe. 

I’ve seen this around for years (it’s a particular favourite of booktubers) but never picked it up. Finally my friend Kat forced it into my hands, and I’m so glad she did. I devoured all 8 volumes and now eagerly await new issues. Not for younger readers – it’s very explicit.

7. Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart 33843362.jpg

The story of a young woman whose diabolical smarts are her ticket into a charmed life. But how many times can someone reinvent themselves? You be the judge.

A worthy follow up to We Were Liars, this genderbent The Talented Mr Ripley, told in reverse chronology, is a masterclass in writing unlikeable female characters who are unapologetically evil.

 

6. Binti & Binti Home by Nnedi Okorafor25762847

Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.

These short novellas can be read in one sitting. They highlight how white and homogeneous alien races in science fiction can be, by showing how a real diverse alien race might be. Binti’s culture mirrors an African tribal cultures.  This also features a STEM-studying female character (a rarity in fiction – my list numbers only 30, and I wrote 3 of them). Binti is truly unique and I will happily read another dozen stories about her.

326133665. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas 

Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. 

Hugely important, in every way. Beyond that – wonderfully told, with an unmistakable voice.

338717624. The Power by Naomi Alderman

WINNER OF THE 2017 BAILEYS WOMEN’S PRIZE FOR FICTION

What if the power to hurt were in women’s hands? Suddenly – tomorrow or the day after – teenage girls find that with a flick of their fingers, they can inflict agonizing pain and even death.

The perfect answer to people who think there’s no need to be a feminist today, because sexism has been ‘fixed’. It amplifies all the little everyday niggles of inequality that it’s so easy to overlook, by examining what would happen if it was reversed. It’s noticeable then, for sure.

3. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi30849411

Effia and Esi: two sisters with two very different destinies. One sold into slavery; one a slave trader’s wife. The consequences of their fate reverberate through the generations that follow. 

This is such a unique (and horrifying) way of showing what national identity has been lost by Africans taken into slavery. Hugely important and powerful, and destined to become a classic.

2. Sourdough by Robin Sloan33916024

Lois Clary, a software engineer at a San Francisco robotics company, codes all day and collapses at night. When her favourite sandwich shop closes up, the owners leave her with the starter for their mouthwatering sourdough bread.

The perfect mix of science & magic to leave you dreaming of sentient bread. A book I wish I had written.

1. The Pearl Thief (Code Name Verity prequel) by Elizabeth Wein34593693

Sixteen-year-old Julie Beaufort-Stuart is returning to her family’s ancestral home in Perthshire for one last summer. Tensions are already high when a respected London archivist goes missing, presumed murdered. And then she notices the family’s treasure trove of pearls is missing.

I’m a huge fan of thirties detective novels like Agatha Christie and Dorothy L Sayers, and this is my perfect spin on that – there’s murder, rich people living frivolously, dogs, Bronze age marine archaeology, castles, cross-dressing Cabaret shows, TREASURE-HUNTING, pearls, buried treasure (did I mention the treasure?), river trawling and Harriet Vane mentions. I’m so into it in every way.

Ellen and Frank are brilliant love interests, and Lady Julia Lindsay MacKenzie Wallace Beaufort-Stewart must be the most iconic female character in YA history. She’s smart, sassy and always says the unexpected. She goes off to fight in World War II in Code Name Verity as a spy, she kisses whoever she pleases, and as Ellen put it, takes whatever she wants. She had a really brilliant character arc in this book – you really see her blossom from an unsure fifteen year old into the person she’s going to become in Code Name Verity.

Reading this has made my heart ache all the more for her and what happens in the next book, and I’m very afraid that I’ll never be able to read CNV again for fear of my heart quite literally exploding in sadness.


 

Bonus – my favourite books published before 2017:

The Hare With Amber Eyes: A Family’s Century of Art and Loss by Edmund de Waal

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley

Lord Peter Wimsey series by Dorothy L. Sayers

The Magpie Lord by K.J. Charles

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers

 

Books which you might like if you enjoyed The Loneliest Girl in the Universe

Books about isolated characters:

 

The Yellow Wallpaper (free eBook) | Lirael The Diary of a Young Girl

Books about internet culture:

fandom

FangirlKiss Me First Fic: Why Fanfiction is Taking Over the World

Books with a twist:

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K-Pax | We Were Liars | We Have Always Lived in the Castle

Books about survival:

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Life As We Knew It A Closed and Common Orbit | Aurora