Best Books of the Year (So Far)

This has been quite the fun project for me, but I’m not going to lie, at this point, I’m utterly overwhelmed by the amount of books I’ve read and trying to pick only ten favorites. I’m nearly at 200 already, which is an absurd amount honestly, but reading is my number one coping strategy and having added in audiobooks has really helped me fly through more books than I have in the past. Anyway, let’s hop to it.

1) Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews, White Hot, and Wildfire

Is it cheating to include a whole trilogy at the top of your list? Maybe, but honestly, I can’t be bothered to care. I’m on my third re-read of Hidden Legacy in six months, so to say that I’ve fallen head over heels for it feels like such an understatement honestly. Every time I re-read it, I feel like I notice new details. This last time, I was in a mood that had me like, how the hell do I love Connor Rogan who literally KIDNAPPED Nevada? But the thing is, Connor Rogan is a doll and the stakes were different than they would be in real life. So even though I wanted to hate Connor for his actions, I, like Nevada, wound up forgiving him because everything that he does after that is just great. I mean, he’s not good, necessarily, but he is… He is something. And I love him. Also, I really cannot wait for Diamond Fire. CANNOT WAIT.

2) Psy-Changeling Series by Nalini Singh

Let’s just go for broke and make a 17 book series (so far) my number two this year. The frequency with which I think about this series is astonishing. Also, if pressed, I could pick my favorite, Kiss of Snow, with Silver Silence a close second. Anyway, like Hidden Legacy, this series has just utterly captivated me so it’s difficult to argue that it doesn’t deserve a place on this list. I haven’t included it before because it did feel too much like cheating, but you know what? This is my blog and literally no one cares what I do with it but me. Nalini Singh’s world-building in this series is captivating. The slow reveals and the foreshadowing over time are really awe-inspiring and by the time I finished Ocean’s Light, I was kind of just in a state of shocked silence because Nalini Singh really built this world. If you don’t mind alpha heroes, this series is incredible.

3) Wanna Bet? by Talia Hibbert

I just read this one for ContemporaryAThon Round Three so maybe I’m being hasty in including it in my favorites of the year, but I really don’t think so. This book is phenomenal. It’s so well-written and the characters feel so real. When I used to write and post what I wrote on fictionpress back in the day, I always based the main character off of myself, which also meant that I was never fully comfortable revealing the messiness of my main character. So reading Wanna Bet? and seeing Jasmine so eloquently avoiding and discussing by turns the embarrassment of needing someone because of abandonment issues was like… Yeah, I still don’t have the words for it. Jasmine is messy in a way that I so fully relate to, even though the two of us are different in a number of surface ways (and beyond. Jasmine has an actual reason to have abandonment issues and I just inexplicably developed them. Thanks, brain.). Anyway, and the Rahul is wonderfully complex and his feelings for Jasmine and the way he’s tried to fight them… I love the way Rahul loves Jasmine. It’s rather self-sacrificial in a way that doesn’t ask for anything in return and he really does seem to content himself with just friendship. Yeah. The point is, I loved this book and I think it was an absolutely marvelous read.

4) A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole

Speaking of messy heroines, my love for Portia knows no bounds. I’m going to be honest and say that my Hufflepuff heart/brain had me extremely wary of Portia going into A Duke by Default because of her actions in A Princess in Theory. And then, Alyssa Cole being Alyssa Cole, just casually handed me the book I didn’t know I needed. I think this book is important in a ton of different ways, one of which is showing that ADHD can look very different in women than it does in young boys, which is really all we’re ever shown in the media and even if you just skim the DSM. I bookmarked a post earlier talking about how autism looks different in women as well and how the lack of knowledge, awareness, and diagnosis is a gender equality issue and I can’t help but feel that the way ADHD is handled is a similar gender equality issue. Anyway, I’m getting distracted. Alyssa Cole’s writing in A Duke by Default is so amazing and I was torn between wanting to pause and highlight phrases and paragraphs (as evidenced by my Goodreads and Twitter updates) and flying through because I wanted to see how things unfolded between Portia and Tav. I’ll try to write about a different aspect of the book next time, but for now, I’ll leave you with an encouragement to pick it up yourself if you haven’t already.

5) Rock Hard by Nalini Singh

Yes, Nalini is on this list twice. Sorry not sorry. Rock Hard is the book of my heart in a lot of ways. Charlotte was a victim of a pretty terrifying domestic and sexual violence incident in her first year of college. Now it’s years later and Charlotte has fought hard to re-claim her life, but in so many ways, she’s still hiding who she is. When she attacks her new boss with a stapler because she thinks he’s an intruder, she’s pretty convinced she’s done in. However, she winds up being promoted to become Gabriel’s new executive assistant because she’s so competent, even though she has trouble looking Gabriel in the eye (or talking to him, at first). Watching Charlotte want more from life than the life she’s allowed herself since the incident in college and fighting for her right to have the experiences she wants is incredible. I loved the way this was handled (and also therapy!).

6) Next Year in Havanaby Chanel Cleeton

I have been pushing this book on everyone. If Cuban anything comes up, I’m talking about how atmospheric this book is. If people talk about books they’ve loved recently, I’m jumping in to talk about Next Year in Havana. It’s just such a wonderful book. I really enjoyed it on audio, but I think it’s one that you could definitely consume as either a print book or an audio one without losing anything. It is incredibly atmospheric and I learned a lot about Cuba and the Cuban Revolution. More importantly, I was very, very, into the two romance stories in this book. I am already so excited for the next book in the series, as well as a little curious how it’s going to be structured.

7) Homegoingby Yaa Gyasi

This book is masterfully written, heartbreaking, and powerful. I read it through tears at times and am so glad that I finally got to it. I was at a training last week where one of the speakers (Professor Erika Wilson, if you’re curious, the link is to her Twitter account) talked about critical race theory and how there are intergenerational consequences of structural racism so even though we now live in a world of race neutral laws, we haven’t actually even really begun to fix the structural issues that led us to the point we are now. I say that to say that I think Homegoing actually does an incredible job showing how the actions of one generation lead to consequences for the next generation. The book does end, however, on a fairly optimistic note, which I think was invaluable. Books that are too depressing just make me want to like give up on the entire world, which is not really helpful.

8) The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

I really need a physical copy of this book so I can re-read it every week or so. This book is, for me, joy that Jasmine Guillory managed to capture and write out in word form. It’s not that this book lacks any amount of angst, it definitely doesn’t, or that the interracial relationships occurs without any negative comments from outsiders, it doesn’t. It’s just that it’s infused with hope. Everything about this book was so important to me when I read it and when one of my best friends was having a hard time, this was literally my recommendation: Go get a copy of The Wedding Date and some cheese and post up in your room until you finish it.

9) Wicked and the Wallflowerby Sarah MacLean

A new Sarah MacLean is always a joyous occasion and this one was no exception. I really love Devil?? Like, who would have guessed I would love a crime boss? I even tried to watch Peaky Blinders again because of how much I loved this book. I got my boss a copy and she came in to my office and we complained together about the agony of waiting AGES until book two comes out. It is truly agonizing, I must say. But this book was great.

If you aren’t aware, this book follows Felicity Faircloth, an aging Lady (you know like 22 or something) who’s almost on the shelf (what a ridiculous thing) and gets herself in trouble for lying about being engaged to the new Duke. Devil makes her a bargain that he’ll help her get everything she wants and then, whoops, Devil falls in love with her. Bless. I loved this so much.

10) We’re Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union

I really loved Gabrielle Union’s memoir. I felt like it was honest in the spirit of Hunger by Roxane Gay and told stories that I really appreciated hearing. I would also like to sit down and drink wine with Union. Also, I feel like the past couple of weeks have driven home this concept of a privileged rape victim for me. It’s such a ridiculous way to have to feel, up there with the Not that Bad sentiments that I see and have felt constantly. I’m not sure I’m expressing myself particularly well at the moment, but in essence, I just find everything happening in the entire world utterly infuriating and the fact that there is a need to check your privilege in a variety of ways as a sexual assault or rape survivor is infuriating. It’s not a competition, but you’re certainly privileged if you’re able to afford therapy afterward or if you’re believed when you come forward. Assuming, I suppose that you want that kind of justice. I have too many thoughts on this subject, which is why I appreciate Union’s perspective, but I’m probably never going to be able to work through it entirely. Anyway, this memoir is incredibly powerful and I appreciate it so much.

What have your favorites of 2018 been so far? Anything you think I definitely need to pick up? Let me know!


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