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2018 has been a loooong year, right? As it continues to roll on I find myself reading less, but really wanting to share the great things I have read with as many people as possible. So, today, I thought I'd share some of my Favourite Books of 2018 (So Far). I've linked to my full reviews of these books so you can read more about why I enjoyed them if you'd like. And I've included a few suggestions about who might enjoy each book I've chosen.

The Black Tides of Heaven by J. Y. Yang

'The Black Tides of Heaven has to be one of the most interesting SFF books of 2017. Yang has created a world with a multi-layered picture of how characters identify, and present, their own genders. And they've wrapped all of that up in a strong story about family and politics, which weaves together magic and technology. The novella's approach to politics, family conflicts, and creating a magic system make The Black Tides of Heaven a good pick for fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender; although the ending is darker than anything you'll see on that show.'

Recommended for fans of: Avatar: The Last Airbender, Jade City by Fonda Lee, Cold Magic by Kate Elliott

Jade City by Fonda Lee

'Jade City is the start of a strong new fantasy series set in a world full of magic, warfare, and politics. There's plenty of dramatic action, including duels, gun fights, and hostage situations. The clan system, world building, and the politics of the plot are all impressively intricate. And then there are the family relationships within the No Peak clan, which are all interesting and complex in their own way. These relationships intensely affect the personalities, and lives, of the individual characters; particularly when it comes to Shae, the prodigal daughter of No Peak clan, who became one of my favourite characters as her story developed. It's fascinating to see how the idea, and the reality, of family affects each character, and to see a fantasy story built so firmly on the idea that family, and loyalty, is key.'

Recommended for fans of: The Black Tides of Heaven by J. Y. Yang, Peaky Blinders, Black Wolves by Kate Elliott

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

'Hamid's writing style is sometimes a little convoluted as he uses many words to describe an experience that could have been rendered with one simple phrase. However, out of this abundance of words, he creates a rhythm which whisks the reader through this story, and adds a soft, patient tone of compassion to this story. In the end, Exit West is a smart, and often lyrical, political portal fantasy which can be read as a science fictional metaphor or straight SFF.'

Recommended for fans of: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

The Changeling by Victor LaValle

'Much like Stephen King's best work, The Changeling demonstrates that a horror story which takes place in the middle of everyday reality can encourage the reader to form deep connections with its characters. In Apollo and Emma's world, bills have to be paid, family and friends exist, babies are birthed at the least convenient times, and Apollo takes a hundred blurry photos of his son at every stage of development. All of this activity adds a layer of texture and depth to their lives, which strengthens the connection between the reader and the story. And, when the story introduces horror and fantasy into Emma and Apollo's lives, the reader has a strong and complex reaction because they care about the characters.'

Recommended for fans of: Stephen King, The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff, Greek myths

Take Courage: Anne Bronte and the Art of Life by Samantha Ellis

My one non-fiction entry to this list, and, in fact, the only non-fiction title I've managed to read this year. Woe. Oh well, at least the one non-fiction book I did read was this very interesting look at the life of Anne Bronte; who Samantha Ellis believes is the undeservingly overlooked Bronte sister

Each chapter is dedicated to an individual who was a central part of Anne's life. Due to the paucity of original, Anne-authored source material that the Bronte's left behind, Ellis chooses to examine Anne through the prism of the other people in her life. Almost all the chapters contain fascinating, surprising details, but I found Ellis' examination of Charlotte's relationship with Anne particularly challenging and enlightening. I mean obviously you have to get through that inevitable Branwell chapter but otherwise - fascinating. And Ellis' feminist analysis of Anne's work got me really excited about reading her novels.

Recommended for fans of: Romantic Outlaws by Charlotte Gordon, To Walk Invisible, the Bronte's writing

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 8: Mecca by G. Willow Wilson, Marco Failla & Diego Olortegui
'Ms. Marvel has always been a politically minded comic. However, since the last American election, this comic has paid special attention to the ways science fiction can educate and inform readers about key, current political issues. Mecca continues that trend as Kamala fights against the illegal persecution of real and suspected Inhumans by Becky, the organisation K.I.N.D, and a mysterious super-suited villain named Discord. This decision to focus on a strong teenage heroine, and an activist community, taking a stand against fascists feels especially appropriate right now.'

Recommended for fans of: Lumberjanes, The Ultimate Squirrel Girl, Invincible Ironman: Ironheart, Zodiac Starforce

Supergirl: Being Super by Mariko Tamaki & Joelle Jones

'Grounding Kara in the real world also allows the reader to see the close, and deep, relationships between Kara and her two best friends Dolly and Jen. It's great to see three such different teenage girls depicted as important influences in each other's lives, and to see this comic make space for their everyday relationships on the page. The full page panel from Kara's birthday is a simple symbol of how much the three girls mean to each other, and an indication that this comic is heavily in the importance of female friendships. Seeing the strength of their friendships shine through on the page makes the emotion of later plot points hit hard.'

Recommended for fans of: Ms. Marvel, This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki, Giant Days, Invincible Ironman: Ironheart, She Hulk

Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

'Wild Beauty is a stunning book about magic, romance, fear, and oppression. Its prose unwinds sensuously. It is a book that makes a virtue out of decadent, indulgent descriptions. The romantic relationships that take place between some of its characters unfurl as the slowest of slow burns. Wild Beauty has a wide cast of lesbian, bisexual and gender queer characters who are hopelessly, and not so hopelessly, in love, and this book features of a variety of passionate romantic relationships. It's also a novel full of strong, detailed family relationships which stretch over multiple generations. And finally, it's a novel with an intensely political heart; a portion of which is fully revealed to great effect close to the end of the story.

Recommended for fans of: Iron Cast by Destiny Soria, The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Always & Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

'Always and Forever, Lara Jean is easily my favourite book in this trilogy. This third and final instalment continues to develop the romance between Peter and Lara Jean, and showcases Lara Jean's family relationships. And, as in the earlier two books, Jenny Han's determination to include the kind of mundane details about the lives of teenage girls which often don't make it to page or screen adds a strong undercurrent of realism to the whole story. The novel's plot throws a couple of everyday conundrums at the main characters which test them; adding believable tension to the story, and making relatively low key stakes feel like the height of drama.'

Recommended for fans of: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon, The Sun is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon

The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley

'Anyone who enjoyed The Watchmaker of Filigree Street will be pleased to hear that Natasha Pulley adopts a similar writing style in The Bedlam Stacks. Pulley is the queen of the sensory slow burn; elevating tiny, everyday details to a level of utmost importance, and using those details to build layers of scintillating atmosphere and emotion into her stories. This style is put to especially good use in slowly creating the relationship between Merrick and Raphael, who clearly come to care for each other and slowly fall in love.'

Recommended for fans of: The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley, The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie Mclemore

(A warning on this one that Merrick is very much a product of the British Empire, and this book includes uninterrogated racism.)

The Backstagers, Vol. 1: Rebels Without Applause by James Tynion IV & Rian Sygh

'The Backstagers, Vol. 1: Rebels Without Applause is a comic about friendship, falling in love, and finding your place. Once behind the scenes of the theatre, Jory meets the Backstagers; a team of four firm friends. Hunter, Beckett, Aziz and Sasha, are tasked with maintaining the tunnels, and making sure all of their high school productions run as smoothly as possible. This is a difficult task for four young men, and everything doesn't always go to plan. Hunter immediately falls for Jory and, by trying to impress him, leads them into a dangerous situation involving spiders and rainbow coloured paint. The slowly blossoming romance between Hunter and Jory is extremely sweet, as is the more established relationship between Timothy and Jamie; the two older stage managers in charge of the Backstagers. And, as a side note, it's great to see a comic with such a diverse cast, including two chromatic male characters, a chromatic girl who is the star of every show, a transgender boy, and four gay characters.'

Recommended for fans of: Lumberjanes, Giant Days, Skim by Mariko Tamaki

A Trail Through Time by Jodi Taylor

The St. Mary's Chronicles is one of my favourite time travel series, and this is a particularly good instalment. It has Max rattling all over the timeline as she's pursued by time assassins seemingly bent on her destruction. Jodi Taylor's skill is in making history feel present, full of real life, and consequences, while also somehow convincing her reader they've been having a jolly good time reading her books. I always come way from reading Taylor's books feeling cheerful, which is strange because they're often quite dark. I put that down to the effect of Max; the stubborn, sarcastic, passionate heroine who carries this series triumphantly on her shoulders.

(I'm going to offer up a content warning for mention of past sexual assault, and some infuriating male behaviour in relation to a woman who has undergone assault, for this series in case anyone needs it.)

Recommended for fans of: Dr Who, The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman


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