Rankings for the books I read in 2018

Yesterday I read this post in r/movies and it inspired me to do something similar. Here are the rankings for the ~160 books, novellas and short stories I read and reviewed this year.

If you want to read any of my reviews, feel free to check out my blog. I’m hyperlinking to my reviews for all my Super Highly Recommended books, but not the rest cause I’m not that patient. If you want to look at a review for a book which isn’t SHR, then click here and look for it. This has been a great year for reading, and I hope you enjoy some of my comments.

Mild spoilers below! You’ve been warned.

Fantasy

Super Highly Recommended (Books which I can broadly recommend and I genuinely loved myself)

• Circe– This was the best book I read this year. I’ve been a fan of Greek Myths, so when the author took an important but minor mythological character and added some d*** fine prose I was hooked.

• Jade City– My second favorite book of the year. I loved the setting, characters and gangster war conflict. Also, RIP Lon.

• The Emperor’s Soul- Re-read. Still good.

• Oathbringer– “You. Cannot. Have. My. Pain.” What can I say? I’m a sucker for character turmoil, so long as it doesn’t get too angsty.

• Sufficiently Advanced Magic– I never knew I wanted to read a dungeon crawler before. TMYK.

• Ombria in Shadow– Re-Read. Probably my favorite book of all time. McKillip knows how to prose

• A Wizard of Earthsea– Re-Read, after LeGuin passed. She was a fantastic author.

• The Riddle Master Trilogy– Re-re-re-re-read. Still good.

• The Paper Menagerie– Short story which made me have feels.

• The Eternal Sky Trilogy– Mongolian Epic Fantasy. Probably the best self-contained Epic Trilogy I’ve read.

• The Lays of Anuskaya Trilogy– Here’s a criminally untalked about series. Do you want to read a story about psychic Russians with flintlock guns oppressing Ottoman elementalists? Go here.

• Throne of the Crescent Moon– Re-Read. Still good.

• Curse of Chalion– Re-read. I think it’s a classic of the genre.

• Obsidian and Blood Trilogy– Aztec mysteries. I’ll take a little blood sacrifice magic with my order of axolotl tamales, if you please!

• Senlin Ascends– Slow start, strong characterization.

• Red Sister, Grey Sister– ‘Red Sister’ is the best magic school book I have read. Being an Adult novel helped make the tone feel serious.

• The Flowers of Vashnoi– Eco-sci fi is cool.

• Wrath of Empire– Mikel and Ben are cool.

• The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tale of Fred, the Vampire Accountant– How can I not love this with a name like that?!

• Kusiel’s Dart– Re-Read, for the r/Fantasy book club.

• Temeraire, books 1->3- I ❤ Flintlock Fantasy

• Alif the Unseen– Here’s the third best book of the year. I am of the opinion that this is the best Urban Fantasy ever written. Seemlessly blends location, time period, characters and culture with the magic and plot.

• Norse Mythology– As it turns out, Neil Gaiman is good at writing.

• Paladin of Souls– Re-read. Somehow better than ‘Curse of Chalion’.

• The City of Brass– I like political fantasy. The more that I think about this book the more I like it.

• The Poppy War- Do you have any characters you love to hate, and hate to love? Good setting, unpleasantly realistic characters.

• The Terracotta Bride– Great setting, good characters.

• Annihilation– Eco-sci fi is cool, so I liked the book. Awesome movie, in some ways I liked it better than the book, but it was really an entirely different animal (pun totally intended).

• War Cry– Fantasy Vietnam war. What a cluster of a story.

• Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone– Re-read for the 20th anniversary. Holds up real well.

• Sabriel– Re-read. Holds up real well.

• The Bear and the Nightingale– Is good. Like the Slavic/Russian flavor.

• Welcome to your Authentic Indian Experience- Is depressingly good.

• Lovecraft Country– Read for the Sword and Laser book club. Was surprisingly good. I would have liked more tentacles, though. I’ll read more by the author.

• Frankenstein in Baghdad– Unexpected gem. Don’t know why I didn’t expect it to be so good when it had so many awards.

• The Last Cheng Beng Gift– Motherhood doesn’t end after death. Couples well with ‘The Terracotta Bride.’ (By different authors)

Highly Recommended (Books I can broadly recommend and I liked myself)

• Jhereg- Re-read. Is good.

• The Forgotten Beasts of Eld- Re-Read. As it turns out, McKillip can write.

• City of Blades- Yay for depressing endings.

• Kings of the Wyld- Yay for cheerful endings.

• Blunt Force Magic- Good old fashioned Urban Fantasy, in the style of early Dresden/Iron Druid.

• Star Wars: William Shakespeare’s, The Force Doth Awaken- “Wherefor art thou Kylo Ren?”

• El is a Spaceship Melody- Jazz powered spaceships.

• The Great Wide World Over There- Is good. By Ray Bradbury.

• Armistice- Is good.

• Powder Mage Short Story Collection, Volume 1- Check out Forsworn, but I liked them all.

• The Codex Alera Series- It had it’s highs and lows, but Butcher consistently turns out good dialog and plot.

• Infernal Battalion- I like Flintlock Fantasy. Sad to see this series, ‘the Shadow Campaigns,’ end.

• The Book of Swords- By the departed Garner Dozois, a man who won more than 15 Hugo awards.

• Star Trek: City on the Edge of Forever- By the departed Harlan Ellison. Is a graphic novel. Liked the art style.

• The Wheel of Time, Books 2-> 4- Is good.

• From Unseen Fire- Magical ancient Rome. A solid political fantasy.

• Warcraft: Before the Storm- Warcraft’s first Goblin/Gnome lovestory. Also divorce.

• Shadows of Self, Bands of Morning- When’s book 4 coming out, Sanderson?! jk, no rush. Some of the best, tightest books in the Cosmere.

• Spells of the Curtain: Court Mage- Genetic engineering + werewolfs= weresquids.

• Od Magic- Re-read. As it turns out, McKillip can still write prose.

Recommended (Books I can broadly recommend, but had some flaws. Still highly enjoyable for most people.)

• The Name of the Wind- What a glorious hot mess of a book. Plotting? Pacing? Who needs it when you have Kvothe!

• The Pinhoe Egg- Diana Wynne Jones at her finest.

• I, Cthulhu, or What’s a Tentacle-Faced Thing Like Me Doing in a Sunken City Like This(Latitude 47° 9’S, Longitude 126°43’ W)?- As it turns out, Gaiman can still write.

• The Tea Master and the Detective- Sherlock Holmes meets Ancillary Justice.

• Penric’s Fox, Mira’s Last Dance, The Prisoner of Limnos- It seems Bujold is good at writing too.

• Arcanum Unbounded- -Sp Kelsier is dead-ish? Not dead? Pseudo-dead? u/scribblermendez is confused.

• A Veil of Spears- Third book in a six book series. Is good, but I liked books 1 & 2 better.

• The 5:22- Is good.

• Brief Cases- Some Dresden-y goodness.

• Childfinder- Octavia Butler is also good at writing.

• Circle of Magic Quadrilogy- Holds up as an adult, Sandry’s and Briar’s books most of all. The author is good at taking important life lessons and writing about them in a way children and young adults can digest them without being talked down to.

• Battle Magic- Grimdark YA, starring Briar and Rosethorn. Very mature for the setting, and as dark as it could be while still being true to the setting/characters I grew up with. Loved it. Were it not for the Deus ex Machina ending it would have been Super Highly Recommended.

• A Shadow in Summer- It was well written, had stellar plot and characters but I found it lacked a certain ‘spark.’ I dunno, not for me.

• The Cloud Roads- Also not for me. I can recognize that it is quantifiably ‘good,’ but what this book does isn’t for me. Like calamari or Rocky Mountain Oysters, I didn’t like it.

• Arabian Nights- Was really good… but I got the abridged version. I was disappoint.

• Money Tree- Is good.

• The Forever War- I read the graphic novelization as a part of the Legendarium book club. Liked it.

• Plane Shift: Dominaria- This is the DnD manual for the MtG setting Dominaria. I don’t play DnD anymore, but I like learning about MtG lore.

• X-Files- Cold Cases- Radio play. Great audio FX and engineering. Duchovny and Anderson phone in their performances a bit, making this gloriously campy.

• Unbowed- MtG short story. Was your average story of a Dinosaur-summoning archer destroying a city filled with conquistador vampires.

• Promise of Blood- Re-read. Not as good as I remember. There was no red herring, which meant the mystery was easy. Also, dog died.

Recommended with Reservations (Books which I can recommend only to a niche audience. They might be fantastic to that niche audience, but to everyone else they might not be enjoyable)

• The King of Elfland’s Daughter- Classic written before Tolkien. Not good by modern standards, but that’s because we modern readers/writers have learned from the mistakes this book and other early fantasy books made.

• The Hope of Elantris- Elantris short story. I didn’t really like Elantris, but I liked this better than that.

• Gilgamesh- The Epic of Gilgamesh is the Epic of Gilgamesh. Don’t let Utnapishtim hit you on the way out.

• The World if Full of Monsters- My first exposure to VanderMeer. Was confused.

• Eric: Discworld- The worst Discworld novel I’ve read- worse even than Rincewind.

• White Sand, Volumes 1&2- Great art, meh story. Hopefully volume 3 goes somewhere.

• Deadhouse Gates- I enjoyed Gardens of the Moon. I did not enjoy this. Will not continue the series.

• Plane Shift: Ixalan- DnD guide for Ixalan. Aztec dinosaurs vs. conquistador vampires!

• The Story of Kullervo- As it turns out, J.R.R. Tolkien can do wrong. This read like a boring prototype of the Silmarillion.

• Furry Night- Is readable.

• Rivals of Ixalan- This is the anthology for all the short work published by Wizards for the RIX storyline. I liked Angrath! Everything else was… okay. Also DINOSAURS!

• Cadet Cruise- Is readable.

• The Fantastic Art of Frank Franzetta- A gallery of an iconic book cover artist.

• Tempests and Slaughter- The plot didn’t gel. It was readable and I liked it, but Pierce’s other work did this better. Will read the sequels.

• The Second Bakery Attack- Is readable.

• The Dragon’s Path- You know those books which you don’t really like, but you don’t hate them enough to stop reading? Won’t be reading the sequels.

• Star Wars: Canto Bight- Better than the Canto Bight we got in the movie.

• Tortall: A Spy’s Guide- For super-fans only.

• Body Problems- Confused me.

• Return to Dominaria- Anthology for all the DOM storyline. Was competently written, but felt slightly paint-by-the-numbers.

• Death by Séance- Oh lord, this book.

• The Penitent Damned- I liked this a lot, but can only recommend this if you like the ‘Shadow Campaigns’ series.

• Pawn of Prophesy- Nothing really happened. Good dialog though!

• Amaskan’s Blood- It had it’s moments of excellence. I don’t regret reading it, but it was hampered by taking too long to introduce the main plotline/antagonist.

• Serenity: Better Days- The old crew’s still flying.

• Fires- Is readable.

• Chronicles of Bolas- The story was unbalanced. Involved a frame story to discuss the past, unfortunately the frame was front and center. Because the frame was less interesting than the story of Bolas, I got bored.

• Multo- Is readable.

• Rogue Mage- I read this after finding out the author was dying of cancer. Is readable. I’d call it YA Dystopia meets High Fantasy.

• Morning Child- Is Readable.

Other

Highly Recommended

• How the Stock Market Works- Great Courses lecture. Liked it.

• Doctors: The History of Scientific Medicine Revealed Through Biography- Great Courses lecture. Liked it.

• The MAX Muscle Plan- Fitness book

• Meanwhile- Graphic novel choose your own adventure.

• Nero Wolfe: And be a Villain- Golden age Mystery.

• Exploring the Roots of Religion- Great Courses lecture. Was good, would listen to again.

• Temples, Tombs and Hieroglyphs- Ancient Egypt history book. Was good.

• Trail of Evidence: Forensic Science- Great Courses Lecture. Was good.

• A History of Ancient Rome- The Modern Scholar Lecture. Better production values that Great Courses.

Recommended

• Sherlock Holmes: Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle- Re-Read. Yay Christmas! Happy Ending!

• Nero Wolfe: Champagne for One- Re-Read. Well plotted, paced.

• Sherlock Holmes: A Scandal in Bohemia- Irene Adler introduction.

• Sherlock Holmes: The Red Headed League- Listenable.

• The Mongols- The Mongols took over the world, and then promptly lost control of the world.

• A Souffle of Suspicion- Good murder mystery cozy, better recipes in the back. Try the beef bourguignon.

• Jim Chee: Dance Hall of the Dead- Re-Read. A Zuni kid disappears days before he’s going to participate in a religious ritual. All that’s left of him are his shoes.

• The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes- Sherlock Holmes solves crimes. No duh.

• SPQR- Ancient Rome was a place. They left a broad swath of notes behind for us to read.

• Writing Great Fiction- Great Courses Lecture. A good place to start if you want to learn how to write, but not the best of sources.

• The Walking Bread- Another cooking mystery. Title is a Walking Dead pun.

• The Long Paw of the Law- Yay K9 dog mysteries!

Recommended with Reservations

• A Practical Guide to Self-Hypnosis- Straight outta the ‘60’s. Not so hot.

• Lone Wolf and Cub, vol. 1- Didn’t click with me.

• The Celts- After reading this, I came away not really knowing much about the Celts. Go figure.

• Games People Play: Game Theory- Great Courses lecture. Good lecture… but I didn’t care about the subject so I quit after an hour or so.

• The Secret History- Great prose, awful plotting and pacing. Also, all the characters were identical to one another save one or two quirks. Author needs to read more mystery novels so she knows how to write one. I quit reading after 150 pages or so.

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