Favourite Books of 2018


Hi, it’s Maija here with my favorite
reads of 2018. I’m gonna start with the things that I gave five stars or 4.5
stars to. I’m pretty strict with my 5 stars, so I only gave two things 5
stars in 2018. The first five star thing that I read was The Yellow Wall-Paper by
Charlotte Perkins Gilman and this is a classic horror short story about a woman
who is prescribed the rest-cure. She basically I think has postpartum
depression, and the doctor and her husband prescribe this rest-cure for her.
So she basically can just sit or lie down in this one room with yellow
wallpaper and she isn’t allowed to do anything: like, it’s too much if she
writes something. And the author herself had experience with this rest-cure, and that is
why she wrote this story. I especially liked the very strong claustrophobic
atmosphere that the book has, and the five stars is just for the title story.
There’s two other stories in this small booklet that I have: The Rocking Chair
and Old Water, and those didn’t get five stars, but the Yellow Wall-Paper, definite
five stars from me. The other five star read was a comic, and that was Beneath
the Dead Oak Tree by Emily Carroll. This is a short, again, horror, short comic about
these fox creatures at this ball, and the man is trying to get the woman to
meet him beneath the dead oak tree. And I just love this, it strikes all my buttons,
it has this fairy tale-ish feel but also darkness and this gothic
lusciousness and horror. In true Emily Carroll fashion it has striking,
beautiful colors – I don’t know if they show up that well on camera – but the art
is just striking, the colors are beautiful, and like Emily Carrol often
does, it is written in verse. Emily Carroll has a new comic coming out this
year and I’m really looking forward to it. Now let’s move on to my 4.5 stars, and
the first of those is Phantom Pains by Mishell Baker, which is my current
favorite urban fantasy series, it’s very fast paced, highly readable,
I really like it. This is the second book, the first book is called
Borderline, and the series is called The Arcadia Project. And this continues the
story of Millie, who has borderline personality disorder – the author also has
the same disorder. And in the first book Millie was recruited into this
organization that governs the travel between our world and
Faerie, and this particular branch of the organization is set in Los Angeles, so
there’s a lot of, like, entertainment industry stuff. It has a lot of magic,
fairies, and a very interesting protagonist, and this book was even
better than the first. There was this story element that I really liked that was
revealed in this book having to do with the magic of the world, and that will
have major repercussions and I can’t wait to pick up the third book. The
second 4.5 star read is quite unusual for me, it’s a non-fiction book, and that
is The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte
Cristo by Tom Reiss. And this is the story of the author Alexandre Dumas’ father,
Alex Dumas, who was a black man, an aristocratic black man who rose in the
ranks in the military and commanded armies around the time of the French
Revolution. It’s also about race in that time in France and how of course France
had slaves in the colonies, but they liked to title themselves the land of the free
on French soil. So it’s a great look into this one particular man, but also
into the French Revolution and race in historical France. This is also very
readable, the author has taken all the, do you call them citations? Like the footnotes,
out of the text, so instead all the references are at the back in the Notes
section. It does have the references, so it goes chapter by chapter at the end
and says the page and where that particular thing comes from from
research, but it isn’t peppered throughout the text, so it’s very easy to read. The last
of my 4.5 star reads is Homunculus by Joe Sparrow, which is a science fiction comic.
It’s about this AI, the main character is the AI who is this box, and it is from
their point of- from its point of view. It starts with the AI waking up and
seeing the scientist that created it, so the whole comic is from the AI’s
point of view. It is so emotional, it has all the feels, which I wasn’t expecting
from a little science fiction comic. What is especially well done in this is the
passage of time: it’s just so beautifully and impactfully done.
Now I’m moving on to my favorites out of the four star books
that I read, and the first of those is The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s
Daughter by Theodora Goss. This book was so relevant to my interests!
It’s like how many classic gothic horror characters can you include or reference
in one novel. I did read, I remember I read about a hundred pages of this in one go,
which is very rare for me. This tells about a group of young women, there’s
Mary Jekyll and Diana Hyde, the daughters of Jekyll and Hyde, there’s Beatrice
Rappaccini from Rappaccini’s daughter, Catherine Moreau from
The Island of Dr. Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein from Frankenstein, but there
are also numerous side characters and references to other literary figures. So
together these girls form a group and they are sort of solving murders, but the
plot wasn’t the most important part of this for me, it was the stories of the
girls themselves and I liked that there was a strong focus on their stories. So
whenever a new character, a new person was introduced into this group, we got a
chapter on their backstory, and those were really interesting to me, they were
like my favorite part of it. I also liked how it was obvious that the
characters themselves were writing the book: like Mary Jekyll was the main
author and then the other girls would interrupt her and go like
“this isn’t how it went”, give their own interjections or write
their own parts. At first, when this happened for the first time, I didn’t
know what to think of it, but I quickly grew to like it a lot. John Watson and
Sherlock Holmes are also quite big side characters in this book, and pretty much
the only thing that I didn’t like about this was that I really don’t like when
Sherlock Holmes is used as a romantic interest. But yeah, otherwise this was
great and I really need to get the second book. Next I want to talk about
Clockwork Boys and The Wonder Engine by T. Kingfisher aka Ursula Vernon. This is a
high fantasy adventure duology called The Clocktaur War. This tells about a group
of criminals who are sent on this mission to a neighboring city-state
in order to find out how these clockwork soldiers, these unstoppable monsters, are
made. They don’t really have a choice in this, they are apprehended criminals. So
this city-state is using these clocktaur creations in war and they just rampage
through the countries and are unstoppable. This has all the wit and
charisma of Ursula Vernon’s other writing, I pretty much pick up everything that
she writes, at least under the name T. Kingfisher, which is her writing for
adults. I just love her work. The main characters are this forger called Slade
and a former paladin who went on a murderous rampage called Caliban, and
they are the point-of-view characters, there’s also an assassin called Brenner –
these are the criminals. They are joined by a scholar called Learned Edmund, who
is sent with them basically so that he can make sense out of the notes of the
creators of the clockwork creatures, and there’s also this badger-like
creature called a gnole who joins the group. While this is this traditional
fantasy adventure quest sort of story, it has this fresh feel and it’s really fun,
and also the take on the characters is really fun, there’s a lot of banter in
this. There was one very random chapter right at the end of this first book that
I didn’t really care for, but that was pretty much all of my gripes.
Oh, although I didn’t like Learned Edmund at the start, because he comes from this very
misogynistic brotherhood. He was insufferable at the beginning. All in all, I
loved the characters, I loved the banter, it was always witty and always fun, but
it had a great plot, also. Then my biggest surprise of the year, biggest surprise
on this list, was Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer, which is this new weird
science fiction novel that I really didn’t think that I would like this much.
It’s about a group of scientists who go on this twelfth expedition to this Area X,
which is this cut out area that nature has taken over. Weird stuff happens there,
basically. I’m sure that the writing style of this won’t work for everyone,
but it absolutely captured me and kept me in its atmosphere, in its grip,
and I would have liked to read this book like in one sitting, in one go, if I had
had the time. As it went, I did read half of the book in one go when I started.
Everything is very mysterious and very weird, and I liked that not like answers
are given to everything, and this also works perfectly as a standalone, which I
enjoyed. And by the way, the movie is very different. Next on my favorite list are
two science-fiction novellas, and those are All Systems Red and Artificial
Condition by Martha Wells. These are the first and second book in the
Murderbot Diaries novella series. I did also read the third book, Rogue Protocol,
in 2018, but these two were my favorites. Murderbot is such a great character –
it’s this self-aware security unit android who just really would like to be
left alone and watch, basically watch TV, watch its shows in peace and not be
bothered, but it is accompanying this group of human scientists on their
mission. The character of Murderbot is where these novellas shine, but I also
really liked the relationship between Murderbot and the spaceship it calls
ART in the second novella. I don’t actually care about any of the human
characters in these novellas that much, but I’m all for following the adventures
of this antisocial, socially anxious, sarcastic bot who might actually care
more for people than it likes to think. I’d also like to mention Robin Hobb’s The
Dragon keeper which is the first book in the Rain Wild Chronicles, even though I
think I will like the rest of the books better than this first one, because this
was very much an introduction book. And I, as always, really like the character work
that Robin Hobb does, her characters are always so good. This is about this group
of dragons in the Rain Wilds. They have been too short a time in their cocoons,
so when they are born they have difficulties, for example they can’t fly,
and these people who live near them have given a promise to this dragon that they
will essentially feed them, but they are a huge strain on the people, and the
dragons decide that they are gonna go on an expedition, they’re gonna go and try to
find this historical/mythical city that they have ancestral memories of. They
want to set on this expedition, but they also want some dragon keepers to come
with them, sort of feed them, groom them, everything like that. This book was
basically just getting everyone to come and join the expedition. My favourite
characters in this were Alise and Sedric, and there’s also a dragon character, a
dragon keeper character, who are point- of-view characters, and there was also a ship
captain, but I really liked Alise and Sedric and these two are my favorite
characters. Especially Sedric, because I can see him being the character who – in
true Robin Hobb fashion – makes some pretty bad decisions, and I want to see
how that goes for him. I also continue to enjoy the fantasy comic series Monstress,
I just love seeing the relationship develop between the main character, who
is this girl called Maika Halfwolf, and the monster god who is living inside her.
So this series just keeps getting better, the history and the world keep getting
bigger, the cool female characters keep getting more and more numerous and more
and more cool, the art is beautiful in this gothic steampunk manga sort of mix
way. What can I say, I just really enjoy these. And then I’d also like to mention
two manga series that I finished in 2018. I gave both of these four stars, all of
the volumes got between three and five stars from me. First I’m gonna mention
Princess Jellyfish by Akiko Higashimura, I read these in the two-in-one omnibuses.
Like I said, these volumes got between three and five stars, and the one
that got five stars was Volume 5. And this is about this group of geek women
living in this one house, and in order to save their house, they start a fashion
line. But what I really like about it is the relationship between the geek women,
I love them all, and I also really like the relationship between the two
brothers in this series: there are few and far between scenes between the two
of them, but they are so good when the scenes are there. Then the other series was
Hiromu Arakawa’s Fullmetal Alchemist, these were also between three and five
stars. I gave Vol. 11 five stars, that was the one that made me cry. Almost made me
cry on a bus! But I noticed that this was getting to a really emotional
place, so I stopped reading it on the bus, and read it at home, and yeah, it was really
emotional. It was the one where Ed goes visit home and learns some new truths
about some old baggage. But this is a fantasy manga where the magic is
alchemy. It tells about these two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, who are… they
are basically trying to get Al’s body back, because they did something when
they were kids, and now Al’s soul is living in this suit
of armor, an empty suit of armor. But there’s a lot of characters and a lot of
stuff going on here, so I’m not gonna go all into that. I didn’t really like the,
or I wasn’t into the final volumes as much as I was into the journey to
there. And finally I’d like to give out some brief awards, like special mentions.
First, some authors that I now feel that I want to read all of their work, add
them to my list of authors whose work I want to read, everything that they write,
those would be Theodora Goss and Octavia Cade. I read The Don’t Girls by
Octavia Cade, that was a novella, in 2018, and even though it wasn’t my favorite, I’ve read
two things from her, and both of them have been really, really intriguing and
really fascinating and different from other things that I read. So I want to
read everything by Octavia Cade and everything by Theodora Goss. Then
favorite art I would give to Beneath the Dead Oak Tree, Emily Carroll’s one of my
favorites, but then also to The Wicked and the Divine, I really love Jamie
McKelvie’s artwork and I also love Matt Wilson’s colors in this series. I’m
desperately trying to find some art that isn’t a spoiler from this volume, this is
volume 7. Here’s like an issue cover, but I can’t really show any of the art, because
I think everything in this is a spoiler for the past volumes. My favorite
protagonist of the year was definitely Murderbot, and my favorite side
characters were the group of geek women from Princess Jellyfish: I love
them all, but I especially have a soft spot for Mayaya. There’s something that
I wouldn’t normally think of giving, my favorite romantic interest was Shu from
Princess Jellyfish – I just loved all the scenes between Tsukimi and Shu, it just
made me giggle. Then my favorite relationship I would give them to the
main characters from The Girl from the Other Side. They have this guardian-child
relationship that is very heartwarming. And then I would also like to give it to the
relationship, the friendship developing between Maika and the demon
god inside her whose name I have forgotten, from Monstress. This is also
quite different for me, but I’d like to give a shout out to a favorite short
story that I read in 2018, and I would like to mention Olimpia’s Ghost by
Sofia Samatar, which was collected in Tender: Stories, her
short story collection. That just introduced me to the story of The
Sandman by E.T.A. Hoffmann, which I didn’t know about before. The story itself… I
don’t think I understood everything about it, because I didn’t know the
original work, but it inspired me to go and read the original work, which was
quite interesting as well, and then I went on and read a Finnish horror novel
that was also inspired by the same short story, so Olimpia’s Ghost really gave
me a lot of other stuff to read in 2018. I would like to go back and reread the
short story, maybe I would get more out of it this time. Funniest read
would go to Delicious in Dungeon by Ryoko Kui, which is this
manga series where this group of adventurers cook and eat the monsters
that they kill. It’s ridiculous. And then finally, a tear-jerker, super-emotional
read award would go to Homunculus by Joe Sparrow and also Volume 11 of Fullmetal
Alchemist that I mentioned. So those were my favorite reads of 2018, let me know
if you have also read any of these, and let me know if you have done your own
video of 2018 favorites and I will go and watch that. But that’s all from me for
now, and I will see you in my next video.

9 thoughts on “Favourite Books of 2018

  1. Murderbot <3
    also seing the Clockwork Boys on so many lists, how did I miss you all talking about them during the year. Loved that duology, really good start to the year for me 🙂

  2. The 'special mentions' category was really interesting! I hope to finish Princess Jellyfish this year, I love it so far and loved the anime too

  3. A bunch of volumes of Delicious in Dungeon are now available in the library system so I just went ahead and put a hold on the first two. 😀 Looking forward to them.

  4. All Systems Red really blew me away. one of the super hyped books that i genuinely feel like deserves it xD im currently devouring #4 Exit Strategy

  5. The Strange Case of the Alchemists Daughter sounds absolutely fascinating. Clockwork Boys sounds very good as well. Thank you for another very solid video.

  6. I can't wait to read the Clocktaur Wars! My husband and I have been working through all the short stories you recommended during vlogmas, and absolutely adored the Grandma Harken ones. We picked up Jackalope Wives and finished reading it the other day – T. Kingfisher is now a favorite author of ours as well!

    We also just read the Yellow Wallpaper. We have been noticing references to it in other places, and thinking about it frequently. Have you heard of "Texts from Jane Eyre" by Mallory Ortberg? It's sort of a satire of many famous works of literature, and the first time we heard of the Yellow Wallpaper. You might enjoy that part of the book! Oh, and have you seen the Studio Ghibli film "Arrietty"? The little boy in it, Sho, is on a bed rest cure in top-level room in an old mansion, which has yellow wallpaper. He ends up seeing the "little people" who come out of the walls and becomes a bit psychopathic in the process (there was a very creepy monologue of his in the middle of the movie, and he starts pulling up boards in the floor…). It was actually a terribly boring movie (so unlike everything else by Studio Ghibli), but the yellow wallpaper and rest cure bit really made it stick in our minds since we watched it this weekend when we were reading the Yellow Wallpaper.

  7. Hi 🙂 I just discovered your channel. I also loved The Black Count, so excellent, I learned so much. Annihilaton was a surprise for me, it is very addictive, I loved it too. I hope to read the murderbot novellas soon 🙂 I hear so many good reviews about it. I need to read Monstress 2, I really enjoyed the first one.

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