Fantastic Universes' Top 10 Books From July - December 2018

Review by Fay Clark

We have finally reached 2019, so I thought I'd look back and share my top 10 for the second half of 2018 (July - December). Just so you know, putting them in order and cutting it down to 10 never gets any easier. So much pain... my poor books.

I ended up finishing 2018 having read 206 books/graphic novels/manga. T'was an epic year for reading, I found new authors, genres and tropes to love. Now to share just a few with you all.

Rocking up at number 10 we have "The Darkest Minds" by Alexandra Bracken. In this book we follow Ruby, she is one of the special children that survives a new type of disease. The small population of kids that survived this plague found that they had unlocked special abilities. The adults of the world being worried about their children, sent these survivors off to "Rehabilitation camps" to help cure them.

Our heroine Ruby is hiding a secret from everyone, she is one of the dangerous ones. When the truth comes out Ruby is in danger and must escape the camp that she has been living in for the past 6 years. Who are her friends? Who is trying to kill her? Who will teach her control?

I really enjoyed reading this, the characters and plot line really kept me invested all the way to the end.

Oh, the end! It slightly broke me and definitely made me want to pick up more in this series and from this author. (Both of which I've done. Worth it.)

Number 9 is this beauty, "Six of Crows" by Leigh Bardugo.

Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams, but he can’t pull it off alone.

We get so many amazing characters in this book. A convict with a thirst for revenge, a sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager, a runaway with a privileged past,a spy known as the Wraith, a Heart-render using her magic to survive the slums. A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes, six dangerous outcasts and one impossible heist.

Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

I thoroughly enjoyed the world building, the magic system seems so interesting to me, the way the characters use their powers always made me smile. There were so many different cities and cultures that have really fascinating dynamics. I want to be friends with every single one of our main characters, as they all have such interesting backstories and distinct personalities. Heist books are so much fun to read and imagine, I had the best time with this one.

Our 8th on the list is actually a re-read for me. "Never Bite A Boy on the First Date" by Tamara Summers.

This is a really fast and easy read about a new Vampire who is still getting the hang of how to live her new undead life, when someone at her new high school gets murdered.. with tell-tale fang marks on their neck.

Kira is tasked with finding the vamp that killed her classmate, mostly because her vampire family accuse her of doing it. She must clear her name and if she manages to find a cute boyfriend along the way, so be it.

I first read this book about 8 years ago, super glad I picked it up again, it's just so silly and easy to get on with. The plethora of puns and the sense of humour used gave me laughs on basically every page. It just gives you such a good feeling when you read it.

I was concerned that it wouldn't live up to my memories, but I didn't have to worry. It had me hooked from the first line. "There's a murderer at my school and this time it isn't me, so I'm kind of ticked off." Amazing first line, the rest of  it was just as great.

I think we all new this would end up on this list. Number 7 is "The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet" by Becky Chambers. I've written a longer review for this book on this website (that you should 100% check out) so I won't go into that much detail.

Here we follow a rag-tag crew through a long and rough journey to create a new "Road" in space, from a distant planet right in to the hubbub of our solar system. The crew has so much that they have to deal with on this long journey; robbery, a family reunion, scandal, death, love, dodgy space ports and much, much more.

Classed as a "Space Opera" you get everything you needed and things you didn't realise you wanted.

I had the best time reading this book, there was so much world and universe building going on that if you blinked you could miss it.

The characters were the best, every single one of them had such a unique take on life and everything that was happening to and on the ship. I can't wait to read more in this series.

My number 6 is "Children of Blood and Bone" by Tomi Adeyemi.

Zélie Adebola remembers when the air of Orïsha smelled like magic. Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls, but everything changed the night magic disappeared.

Under the orders of a ruthless king, Maji were killed. Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic with the help of a rogue princess. Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on killing magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers.

This was such a beautiful read, I loved the characters and the world that Tomi built. I can't wait to get my hands on the second instalment coming out this year.

There is a lot of hype surrounding this book, and it is worth it. It's brilliantly written and contains some harsh truths behind the fantasy. I think this is one of those books everyone should be reading.

We're halfway through the list! Sitting comfortably at number 5 is "The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo" by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

This book sees a 1950's silver screen starlet share her life story with an up and coming writer. We hear all about Evelyn's life and her long list of husbands, the reason why she wants her story written and even why she wants Monique and only Monique to write it.

As Evelyn’s life unfolds, revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love, Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. Will it end with tears of joy, or devastation?

This book was like a breath of fresh air for me. I was sucked into the riveting world of 1950's Hollywood; the lies, the deceit, the shade of it all. I could feel it coming to life. Reid did an amazing job.

The entire time I was on Evelyn's side for basically everything that happened (even when I knew she was wrong). I flew through this and begged my friends to read it, the representation in this book matters.

Stealing the position of number 4 is "The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy" by Mackenzi Lee, which is the second book in the Montague Sibling story line.

Set after the events of the first book we really get to see into Felicity's life a bit more. She has moved away from her brother, Monty, and is trying to enrol herself into Medical school.

Being the 18th Century it's proving to be a bit difficult for Felicity to make the stuffy old men on the medical board accept her as a student. Never fear, she teams up with some badass ladies and kicks all kinds of ass. Oh, and sea monsters. With a hearty dash of LGBTQIA+ representation.

This book stole my heart, went on to break it, glued it back together, then handed it back... just so I could feel things again and cry.

I loved every word and second I spent with the characters. Such a strong portrayal of amazing characters to look up to. I wish all females and teenagers, actually everybody should read this book and its predecessor. They are just too great for words.

A surprise entry at number 3 "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" by Jenny Han.

Lara-Jean is a sweet and innocent girl who is obsessed with anything romantic, apart from when it comes to herself. Instead of telling the boys that she likes them, Lara-Jean goes home and writes them love letters. One ill fated day the letters get out and,gasp! Lara-Jean's life is about to get a whole lot more romantic... and complicated.

I'll be perfectly honest, this is not something I'd usually pick up to read, as it's just not my usual cup of tea... 

Boy was I wrong!

I fell hard for this series, the characters were so cute and full of life. Lara-Jean was naive but she was clever too, and dealt with the world in a way I'd never really seen before. 

This was one of those books that I never thought I'd find myself liking, yet I finished all three books in the series in about 4 days.

You get some great representation for Korean-American women and how a single father deals with parenting three girls. Very easy quick read. Loved it.

Almost there with number 2 "Steelheart" by Brandon Sanderson.

Ten years ago something blew up in the sky and gave people powers. They are called Epics, and no one fights the Epics, they run things now.

There is a small but deadly revolutionary group called the Reckoners. They attempt to go against the Epics, they fight hard, and unfair. They win... most of time.

Steelheart is the Epic that is said to be invincible, but David saw him get hurt once. The Reckoners might just need his help if they want to be free from their harsh reign.

Much like the sky when it blew up, once I'd finished this book my brain blew up. I had no brain, as I had to scrape it off the walls.

This book was, ahem, epic, hahaha... sorry.

The way that the powers of the Epics worked was really interesting to read about, as none of them were really the same for anyone. The characters, oh the flaws and the realness of the people that Sanderson wrote. Beautiful.

There were so many things I didn't see coming or that I had to re-read before I could accept them. Boy, this one was something else. 

To absolutely no one's surprise (I think I see a theme here guys) coming in at number 1 is the brillaint "LIFEL1K3" by Jay Kristoff.

There was far to much that I wanted to say about this book, so I wrote a long review which you can find on this website.

We follow We follow a 17 year old girl called Eve, her best friend Lemon Fresh and her robotic conscience Cricket. There's also a grumpy Grandpa character, not to mention a deadly cute robot dog named Kaiser.

On the way home from battling War Machines at WarDome the squad stumble upon an almost-human, otherwise known as a Lifelike (due to the way they look and act) called Ezekiel, who literally comes crashing into Eve's life, bringing the truth of the robotic revolt and secrets that will leave your head spinning with him. Shenanigans then, naturally ensue.

I have fallen in love with the way Kristoff writes. His characters are outstanding and raw, his scene setting is masterful and the way he so lovingly screws you over leaves you wanting more. If you only ever listen to me once about books, please, please let it be this time. I promise, it won't let you down.

That's it! I have come to the end of my Top 10 books for the second half of 2018, and what a fantastic year of reading it's been. I hope you've all had an equal amount of success finding and reading things you love.

If you ever need to rave about a book or want to make someone else read it just so you can rant with them, I'm always up for a good book chat.

Have a great time in 2019, till next time... happy reading!


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