Bookshine’s Best Reads of 2018 – Part 1

 

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I have had the best reading year and feel so incredibly lucky to have made contacts with authors, bloggers and blog tour organisers that have all introduced to me to a wealth of literary riches!

I couldn’t resist the temptation to put together my first ever annual ‘best of’ book list, so I have picked a top book for each month out of those I reviewed in 2018 (regardless of when they were published).  I’ve split the post into two halves: Jan-Jun and Jul to Dec.

I will just warn that this list is excessively fantasy heavy, because, well… personal preference!  It is my blog, after all! *shrugs unapologetically*

 

Kicking us off from my reviews of January 2018 is:  The Gods of Love by Nicola Mostyn.

5100SCzZOsL__SX316_BO1,204,203,200_Blurb:  Meet Frida: divorce lawyer, cynic and secret descendant of the immortal love god Eros. She’s about to have a really bad day . . .

When a handsome but clearly delusional man named Dan bursts into Frida’s office and insists that she is fated to save the world, she has him ejected faster than you can say ‘prenup’.

But a creepy meeting, a demon or three and one attempted kidnapping later, Frida is beginning to face the inconvenient truth: Dan is in fact The Oracle, the gods of Greek mythology are real and Frida herself appears to be everyone’s only hope.

The world is doomed.

Bridget Jones by way of Neil Gaiman, this uplifting and laugh-out-loud story will change the way you look at love – and humanity – for ever.

 

This was a witty, fun romp which reminded me of Tom Holt at his mythological best.  I really hope it turns out to be the first in a series of ‘Frida’ books, because there is so much scope with the world and characters Nicola Mostyn brings to life here.  This is one for those who like their urban fantasy snarky and light-hearted *raises hand proudly*.

Buy it on Amazon:  here

My full review:  here

 

Another fantasy in February 2018, but this one aimed at children:  The Eye of the North by Sinéad O’Hart.

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Blurb:  When Emmeline’s scientist parents mysteriously disappear, she finds herself heading across the sea to a safe house in Paris. But before she can reach her destination, she is kidnapped from the ship by evil mastermind Doctor Siegfried Bauer, who is bound for the ice fields of Greenland. There he hopes to summon a mythical creature from the depths of the ancient glaciers, a creature said to be so powerful that whoever controls it can control the world. But Bauer isn’t the only one determined to unleash the creature. The North Witch has laid claim to the mythical beast, too. Emmeline – along with an urchin stowaway named Thing – is the only one with the power to save the world. Can Emmeline face one of the greatest legends of all time and live to tell the tale?

 

Another that was really good fun to read, The Eye of the North is a classic children’s adventure, like Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials series or Lemony Snicket’s Unfortunate Events.  Emmeline and Thing are endearing heroes that won me over completely and their perilous activities had me gripped throughout.  Ideal for younger and older fans of steampunk-esque fantasy.

Buy it on Amazon:  here

My full review: here

 

My favourite read of March 2018 moves away from the fantasy genre (briefly!) to books about books and reading with:  Bookworm by Lucy Mangan.

Blurb:  A love letter to the joys of childhood reading from Wonderland to Narnia, Bookworm is the perfect gift for the avid reader this Christmas

bookworm coverWhen Lucy Mangan was little, stories were everything. They opened up new worlds and cast light on all the complexities she encountered in this one.

She was whisked away to Narnia – and Kirrin Island – and Wonderland. She ventured down rabbit holes and womble burrows into midnight gardens and chocolate factories. She wandered the countryside with Milly-Molly-Mandy, and played by the tracks with the Railway Children. With Charlotte’s Web she discovered Death and with Judy Blume it was Boys. No wonder she only left the house for her weekly trip to the library or to spend her pocket money on amassing her own at home.

In Bookworm, Lucy revisits her childhood reading with wit, love and gratitude. She relives our best-beloved books, their extraordinary creators, and looks at the thousand subtle ways they shape our lives. She also disinters a few forgotten treasures to inspire the next generation of bookworms and set them on their way.

Lucy brings the favourite characters of our collective childhoods back to life – prompting endless re-readings, rediscoveries, and, inevitably, fierce debate – and brilliantly uses them to tell her own story, that of a born, and unrepentant, bookworm.

 

Fellow bookworms will be unable to resist this nostalgic delve into childhood favourites.  So many times I said ‘Oooh!’ enthusiastically as I recognised yet another ‘I read that!’ book and I found myself inspired to dig out many of them from my own shelves to share with Minishine (or comfort-read myself).  A book indulgence for book lovers!

Buy it on Amazon:  here

My full review: here

 

April 2018 brought me back to fantasy, epic this time, in the form of: Be Careful What You Joust For by Ryan Hauge and Ivy Smoak.

 

Blurb:   From Amazon bestselling fantasy authors Ryan Hauge and Ivy Smoak comes an addictive adventure with surprises around every corner.

Terric Hornbolt has never ridden a wooly dragon. He’s never jousted for the hearts of beautiful maidens, and he’s never marched across the desert to fight the scorpion-riders of Rashid.

38739327And he’s never going to get to. He’s the second born son, and thus destined to take the priestly oath – an oath that will condemn him to a life of copying dusty old books and praying to a dusty old god. Those are the rules.

But Terric doesn’t like following the rules. He’s determined to become a knight, no matter the cost.

All he has to do is escape.

It should be simple. After all, his family is fully focused on the upcoming joust. His father only cares about making his older brother, Marcus, win the tournament, and his mother only cares about arranging a marriage between his sister, Oriana, and the crown prince. That’s how it’s always been. Marcus this, Oriana that.

Sometimes Terric thinks he could just walk right out the gate and no one would care. If he’s clever enough, he might be able to do just that.

And if he’s not clever enough…well, the razortooth tigers outside the gates are always looking for their next meal.

 

This book stood out for me as having a nice balance of everything: action, intrigue, romance, emotional drama and humour. Suitable for teens or young adults as well as older readers, this is a gripping start to what promises to be an epic fantasy series, in all senses!

Buy it on Amazon:  here

My full review: here

 

Just for a change, May 2018 brings… more fantasy (!) with: The Inner Lands: Something Stirs by A. J. Austin.

 

Blurb: For centuries, the mountainous borders of the Inner Lands had kept the monstrous Grinth at bay, and people had finally found peace. But their complacency would be their undoing, for everything was about to change. As their world falls apart around them, an unlikely bond between a young girl, beaten by her father, and a conflicted warrior, haunted by his tragic past, could well seal the fate of all humanity.41F-Ze-yA3L__SX311_BO1,204,203,200_

As they fight for their survival, a final battle looms. But before they can stand a chance against the Grinth, they’ll first have to conquer their own pasts. Will friendship and strength prevail? Or will the cunning and cruelty of evil twist the world into turmoil? Nothing is certain in the Inner Lands.

When Fallor called a meeting for the entire Hillock village, little did Sill know that it was just the beginning in a series of events that would reshape everything she knew about their small world. The banishing of her abusive father frees her to embark on a journey of her own. One in which she encounters incredible natural wonders like the Moonmirror Peak, mysterious people like Draneth the shaman and his hawk Tamarellin, strange men with stranger eyes; and the mighty Rydan Fort, built into the side of a mountain.

It could have been the adventure of her dreams, were it not for the monstrous creatures that pursue her all the way; bringing death, destruction and tragedy to everything and everyone she grows to cherish. The power she kept a secret for so long is too much for her young mind to handle but she’ll have to learn how to wield it, and quickly, if she’s to survive in this harsh new world.

Most memorable from this epic fantasy series-starter is the worldbuilding.  The monstrous Grinth are unnerving and there are so many mysteries to unravel about what is really going on and who to trust.  The characters have some real depth and I found myself totally invested in them.  One to watch!

Buy it on Amazon:  here

My full review: here

 

Which brings us to June 2018 and what also happens to be my favourite book of the whole year:  Hero Forged by Josh Erikson.

 

Blurb:   Gabe thought he had covered all the angles, but it’s tough to plan a contingency for accidentally trapping an evil god in your brain.

51zrszpLVFLGabriel Delling might call himself a professional con artist, but when walking superstitions start trying to bite his face off, his charm is shockingly unhelpful. It turns out living nightmares almost never appreciate a good joke. Together with a succubus who insists on constantly saving his life, Gabe desperately tries to survive a new reality that suddenly features demons, legends, and a giant locust named Dale—all of whom pretty much hate his guts.
And when an ancient horror comes hunting for the spirit locked in his head, Gabe finds himself faced with the excruciating choice between death…or becoming some kind of freaking hero.

Hero Forged is the first book in the new series, Ethereal Earth, a modern fantasy adventure that challenges the natures of myth, humanity, and what it means to be the good guy.

 

Actually this can’t quite claim to be my absolute favourite book of 2018, as that award goes to the, as yet unpublished, sequel which I had the privilege of reading in advance!  This is a really promising start though to what is shaping up to be one of my favourite series.  If, like me, you love Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files with their snarky, chivalrous rogue of a hero and strong female supporting character: urban fantasy with some tongue in cheek humour and sharp-edged banter, then you will enjoy this series as much as me.

 

Buy it on Amazon:  here

My full review: here

 

I’ll pause here with six of my top twelve for 2018 and the remaining favourites to follow soon…

I hope you’re enjoying this recap as much as I am and that perhaps one of my 2018 favourites might become your 2019 favourite.  Do comment and let me know your thoughts!

 

 

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