Lists, Loved-it, Sunday post

My Best Reads of 2018 Can't End A Year Without The Best of the Best!

So for the last Sunday of the year, I’ve decided to do a Best of 2018 post. Of course, it will not be the best releases of the year – but rather, the books I liked best from those that I read in 2018. Everyone loves lists like this, don’t they! I mean, I definitely do. And I’m really excited to push all of these recommendations on you, especially if you’re a new reader – because I’ve gushed about some of these so much already, that if you’ve been following me for the entire year, you’ve certainly heard about them by now! All the covers link to Goodreads, so click on a book if you’d like to add it.

A GIF of a pile of books growing

 ~ Best in Women’s / Women’s Community ~

I am starting with my favorite category of the year. I feel like in 2018, women’s / women’s communities reads have impacted me the most, or at the very least, they definitely moved me the most. So I can’t help but start my post from these awesome reads. Of course, you’ve already heard me ramble about Going Widdershins, which is quite by far the best indie book I’ve read this year, and although I don’t like designating a SINGLE best book of the year when I read 152, it’s definitely one of the few that I loved the most. It’s also FREE on Smashwords until Jan 1, 2019 – so if you haven’t yet, so grab it! You won’t regret – my review can be found here. Anyway, also on the list there are the Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows. Despite the provocative title, I found the book incredibly relevant, full of soul and bringing forth all sorts of emotions and questions about women’s lives, their directions and philosophies. Very recommended! Read the review hereList of 13 is very different from these two, because for starters, it’s kind of a feel-good book, but it still talks about serious topics. It’s mostly about letting go, coming to terms with how your life is, and also mother and daughter relationships. And, well, the afterlife! Review here. And then, lastly, there’s The Sunday Lunch Club which is an entirely feel-good book! Although it also deals with some serious topics, and I have to say, is very diverse. I could not pry myself away from it and very honestly lost sleep over it. Full review here.

 ~ Best in Scifi ~

Next – one of my best loved, and actually most read genres – scifi. It was hard to pick the best, cause I just wanted to put them all here! There were so many good, amazing books. Especially because a lot of these come as series. But I’ve decided to just include the first book, because that’s where you’d start, if the books are new to you. You can take this to mean that I love the whole series. A good example of this is All Systems Red I loved all the books in this four-part story, I especially loved the ending and can’t wait for the full novel to come out in 2020. It’s just such a touching, relatable series – despite the main character not even being human. You can find my review of the whole series here. Next up, what list this year would ever be complete without The Calculating Stars? I loved the concept of the book – and it’s not even about the fact that it’s the battle of women to be allowed to become astronauts – but even the very universe where humans go to space, using slide rules, calculations of paper and all that. It’s so impressive! It’s a very well written story that also has good anxiety disorder rep. I loved it and here’s my review. A completely different book is The Spaceship Next Door, which is kind of like a slice of life, but with aliens? It’s a very unusual book, but I absolutely loved it. It has very well written characters – you can imagine them as complete, real life personalities, which really can’t be said about all books. Read my review here. And then there was The Freeze-Frame Revolution – short, smart and very colorful. I absolutely loved it and I have been looking forward to reading something by the same author ever since. Full review here.

 ~ Best in Fantasy ~

I don’t read a lot of fantasy, so I’m only featuring two books. I didn’t feel like just filling it up with something! Arm of the Sphinx is a sequel to Senlin Ascends, to which the third part of the series, The Hod King, comes out in January (and I am very excited!) That series is definitely one of a kind and I’m not sure I’ve read any fantasy like that. It can be hard to get into for some, but it’s an entirely new, ingenious, dark and very steampunk world to immerse yourself into. I can’t wait for The Hod King! My review to Arm of the Sphinx can be found here. And of course, I had to put Six of Crows on here, Crooked Kingdom would also automatically join it like part of the same series. I just found it so smart, intricate and always so surprising. Here’s a full review.

 ~ Best in Nonfiction ~

There was SO much good nonfiction this year as well. It wasn’t easy to pick at all! One of the books that probably had the biggest impact on me, personally, was A Year of Living Kindly – a book on why we should aim to be kind, always, and why we should do that – what benefits there are for us, as well as our society. The book is arranged in an easily palatable manner, it’s incredibly readable. I will still be posting more about it! Another book that I really loved was The Girl, a book about certain aspects of the life of Marilyn Monroe. There are many books on her life, but few concentrate on how she was a truly trailblazing feminist. It talks in detail about how Marilyn made way for a lot of women in acting, as well as actors in general, male of female, to start on their own professional journeys, independently of authoritarian film studios. It talks about how misunderstood she was, about how we fail to see anything more than the characters she played. I think everyone should read The Girl! Full review here. Another book that truly touched me, was Have Dog, Will Travel – about how enabling seeing eye dogs are for the blind and visually impaired. I almost cried so many times while reading this book. It’s soaked through and through with love for dogs. And it will also teach you many things you might still not know about blind people and their assisting dogs. Full review here. And then there’s Brain on Fire, a book that will keep you rooted to the pages, as you follow Susannah Cahalan’s journey back to health, batlling a mystery disease that could have landed her in an asylum, but actually was a curable physical infection. A review can be found here.

 ~ Best in Diversity / Multicultural Interest ~

Freshwater was simply a sparkling gem, and it includes many topics – mental health struggles, multiple personality disorders, eating disorders, gender dysphoria, self-harm, issues that PoC women face in various societies – but it doesn’t end here. It’s also about reconciling cultural tradition and heritage with the present day self, spirituality with science, dealing with loss and understanding it – there’s just so much there. I’ve always said that it’s a book you can read in two ways – through the scientific point of view (it’s about being mentally ill) or the metaphysical point of view (it’s about the demons in the characters soul, fighting for their turf). It’s such a magical book! Full review here. And Heart Berries is also an unbelievably unique story about a First Nations woman’s struggle, while trying to live a life, bordered by all the things she isn’t allowed to do, or isn’t allowed to do in any way that makes sense to her and her culture. It’s also about mental health, identity, loss and how cruel the white patriarchy can be. It’s a wonderful book, and very recommended. Full review here. Both of these books should be on your list, if you want to read more diverse, #ownvoices reads.

 ~ Best in Middle Grade~

I could pull up so many more great middle grade books! It’s absolutely one of my favorite genres, or rather, age categories. First of all, I am absolutely in love with Sleep, Merel, Sleep – it’s a wonderful children’s book which will give a lot of points of view to an adult too. It warmed my heart and also made it beat a lot faster in a lot of places. Full of fantasy, it’s just such a wonderful story. Read the full review here! Then, The Eleventh Trade is a beautiful and also very warm story about a refugee boy’s journey towards finding a new community, as well as finding peace for himself and his family, and regaining some of his roots which he thought were lost to him. This book also nearly made me cry so many times, and I can recommend it to absolutely everyone. Here’s the full review. Then there’s also The Zanna Function! I really loved it, because it’s such an incredible, unique book. Basically, it’s about a magic school, but with scifi instead of magic! It’s kind of like Harry Potter, but with mathematical functions and physics, and a girl. It absolutely rocked. And I so can’t wait for the sequel!! Here’s the review.

 ~ Best in Short Fiction ~

The short reads of this year have all been really memorable for me. I really enjoyed Zeru, a story of an unlikely friendship, as well as a story about a dangerous and cruel practice of hunting Black people with albinism in Africa for their supposed magical properties, a tradition that absolutely needs to go. I really recommend reading this book, here’s a short reviewTess and Tattoos was also a very powerful story with a real twist, and it’s about guilt, shame and domestic violence. Here’s a mini reviewBride of the Blue Wind is an incredibly colorful fantasy title, a short retelling of Bluebeard that I enjoyed incredibly! Very flowery and poetic language, read the mini review here. And then there’s The Last Astronaut that’s basically a love song to a lost pet, and also a story about the lengths a person will go to to get over grief and loss. It’s written well and it describes the stages of grieving so well. I was very touched by this story and I just wanted to keep sitting and thinking about it. Very recommended!

So these were my best reads of 2018! What were yours?

As usual, I’m linking up with the Sunday post meme at Kimba’s book blog, Feed Your Fiction Addiction and Stacking The Shelves over at Tynga’s Reviews.

Sunday post cover

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Jessica Tay
2 years ago

This is more diverse than I’ve read this year. I’m hoping to read more diversely next year! Thanks for the recs ❤

2 years ago

Now The Calculating Stars really seems like something I could like too! Thanks for sharing your recs Evelina and for all that you’ve done for us this year! I know I don’t go to Discord anymore as my life kind of got hectic but I loved reading the 101, new bloggers and also the tips to request ARCs! I wish I could comment more often. So I just wanted to tell you thank you and that you did a great job for us!!! Already Happy New Year 😉

Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookworms

I love best of lists, too, it’s always nice to see what made other blogger’s heart beat harder 😀
Have a spectacular Sunday, Evelina!

2 years ago

Your reading taste is eclectic and so diverse. I grabbed Going Widdershins based on your recommendation and let us get dish about it as soon as I finish it. Have a great New Year!

Cassie Sinclair
2 years ago

Wow! I was so excited to grab as many books as I could off this for my own TBR pile (it’s massive and it’s growing constantly). I was also super excited to see one of my favorite books on this list, Six of Crows – I’m excited much in the “same hat” way. I can’t wait to read more!

I loved adding your recommendations because they’re all so very diverse. I need some more representation on my bookshelf. Thank you!

Ryoma Sakamoto.Japan
2 years ago

Good evening! !
It is 9:30 PM on 30th Japan time now.
It is the custom of Japan’s year end.
In the year end, we say “Yoi otoshi wo” to each other wishing for the coming
year to be pleasurable.
The New Year season is the most significant season for the Japanese.
All the Christmas décor is switched to the New Year’s in a blink.
Major New Year icons are the pine tree, bamboo, plums and so on. All of them are symbols of good fortune and longevity.

Ronyell (a.k.a Rabbitearsblog)

Oooh!!! A Best of 2018 list! Nice!!! Glad to see Six of Crows up there! I seriously need to read that book PRONTO!!!

Nicci @ Sunny Buzzy Books

I’ve been loving all the Best of lists!
Have a happy New Year!

2 years ago

It’s not my normal type of read, but I am really happy I read Six of Crows (and the sequel). It was an amazing book.

Aj @ Read All The Things!

Ooh, I like that you picked categories. That would make it easier to choose favorites. I haven’t read any of these books, but a few of them are on my TBR list. I guess that’s a good sign. I have some awesome books to look forward to.

2 years ago

That is a great idea to break it down into categories! I love best and worst lists or any kind of list really hah Great post!!

Laurel-Rain Snow
2 years ago

Thanks for the recommendations! The Sunday Lunch Club caught my eye, and Brain on Fire is another one I’ve been ogling.

Happy New Year, and here are MY WEEKLY UPDATES

Amanda @Cover2CoverMom

The Calculating Stars series has been on my radar ever since hearing Patrick Rothfuss say that it was one of the best audiobook sereies he’s ever read! Did you read it in print form, or did you listen to the audiobook?

Michelle @Because Reading

Excellent list of books! I had started Six of Crows at some point but my year wasn’t for reading and I didn’t finish it. I keep wanting to get back to it and also finish A Darker Shade of Magic. I am hoping to do that in 2019. Need to check out your other fantasy series pick. I never heard of that one but I am a fan of fantasy.

Have a wonderful week Evelina! Happy New Year! xx

2 years ago

This is such a great post. I will have to check out some of your best for 2018 reads, a lot of new authors to check out. Happy New Year! Have a fabulous 2019

Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

What a great list! The Calculating Stars was one of my 5-star reads (OK, listens) for the year, too. So was Bellewetherby Susanna Kearsley.

JJ @ This Dark Material

Ahhh so many good books! I still need to read Six of Crows, I bought the duology this summer and just…never started it. Your endorsement has me really excited to start, though 🙂 Happy new year, Evelina!

2 years ago

It was an amazing year for sci-fi, that’s for sure. I loved the Murderbot novellas soooo much.

Happy New Year!!

Danielle Hammelef
Danielle Hammelef
2 years ago

I asked for Have Dog, Will Travel for Christmas and got a copy! I’m so excited to read it as I love dogs. I enjoyed your diverse genres. My favorite adult fiction this year was The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. My favorite Sci-fi was The Disasters. My favorite contemporary YA was American Panda. My favorite middle grade was House Arrest. Best to you for 2019!

2 years ago

Very eclectic !
Happy new year !

Paige Schildkamp
2 years ago

Freshwater and Heart Berries were both stunning!

Sophia @ Bookwyrming Thoughts

The Sunday Lunch Club intrigues me BIG time because the title sounds like The Breakfast Club for some reason???

AND YAY YOU ENJOYED SIX OF CROWS. I’ve yet to read Crooked Kingdom though.

Laura Thomas
2 years ago

I love how you broke these down separately. I just grabbed the first Murderbots because of you and Chuckles. And I really enjoyed Sleep, Merel, Sleep too. I’ve also added some of these authors to my list because of your wonderful reviews. Now I’ll be checking out a few that you’ve shared here that are new to me.

Sarah @ All The Book Blog Names Are Taken

Lots of great selections here – I am still working on my year-end posts. There are so many titles here I have not heard of before, you always feature such a good variety. Happy New Year!


[…] Evelina I would never even have met all these amazing and lovely people I am about to name. She created the […]

CG @ Paper Fury
2 years ago

So unsurprisingly I have only read Six of Crows from your list. Oops. but AHHH I Agree with how intricate and clever it is (I bow to the wonder that is Leigh Bardugo’s brain omg) and I can’t wait for her to continue the Grishaverse next year with King of Scars!! Anyway, I’m glad you had a ton of amazing and glorious reads this year *flails with you*

nikki @bookpunks
2 years ago

Oooh what a great list. I have so much love for Murderbot too. So happy to have finally read that this year. I am also really excited to read Freshwater, so glad to see it has a place of honor here as well. Here’s to all the best for your 2019 reading!!

Lydia Tewkesbury
2 years ago

I know I’ve said this before but I love how widely you read! I make an effort to pick up different genres but I’ve got nothing on you. You had a great reading year! I particularly like the sound of Arm of the Sphinx and The Girl. I’m always fascinated by the stories behind the famous faces of the ladies of the golden years of Hollywood. I saw an amazing documentary about Hedy Lamarr a while back about how as well as the beautiful and talented actress she always known as she was a genius inventor. These women – and… Read more »

2 years ago

You and Jennifer the TarHeel Reader are the most diverse blogs I follow. It’s nice to have some different options. Thanks for the Smashwords tip. Happy New Year! I hope 2019 is even better than 2018. Anne – Books of My Heart

Grace Louise
2 years ago

There has been so much diversity in the blogging and bookish community this year and I’m so happy about it! Loving so many of these books Hun, have a wonderful 2019 🙂

Grace Louise ||

Kelly Brigid
2 years ago

Lovely post!! I’ll certainly be adding a few of these to my tbr! Hope you have a wonderful 2019 love! ❤️

Charvi Koul
2 years ago

SOC is SO HIGH on my TBR! And I almost started Freshwater in December but then I didn’t 😛 Definitely this year!

2 years ago

I’m loving your list – it’s so diverse! Mine only has one contemporary and then it’s all about fantasy and sci-fi. I really need to branch out more… And for that reason, I got Going Widdershins (also, I can’t resist free books). I’m so happy to see Six of Crows on your list. I love the morally ambiguous Dregs and theirs heists.

Happy New Year, Evelina!!!! 😉
Tânia @MyLovelySecret

sim @ Flipping Through the Pages

This is such an amazing and unique list, Evelina 🙂 I have read only Erotic Stories from this list and I am so happy that you enjoyed it as much as I did. That book is really amazing.
I have added Going Widdershins to my TBR and download it. Hope to read it soon 🙂

Kathleen Bailey
2 years ago

Woo thanks for including nonfiction. I loved Brain on Fire too, the movie is awesome too, recommended. I will keep my eye out for the other nonfiction you recommended, they look great.


[…] special mention should go to Lauren @Northen Plunder, Evelina @Avalinah’s Books, Amy @The Little Booknerds in the Corner for being a great part of the group. And also I […]

2 years ago

You have quite a diverse reading list. I stick mostly to YA and romance. If you had to recommend one of these books to comeone like me. Which one would it be? I’ll add it to my list to read this year.

2 years ago

I have not read so many of the books mentioned here. My TBR just got bigger. BUT I agree Six of Crows is just amazing. I am a fan of Kaz.

2 years ago

I am so glad to see so many favourite reads – and you loved The Girl!! I think that’s around the first time we started reading each other’s blogs and I was hauling ARCs like crazy and you go that book! So happy!

Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

I love how many different age ranges and genres you read! Looks like you had a great reading year!

Dani @ Perspective of a Writer

I so want to read Senlin Ascends and Erotic Stories that Gayathri recommended too. You are such an eclectic reader Evelina!! I so admire that about you. <3 I hope 2019 is just as good a year of reading for you.