Skip to main content

Top Reads of 2018


This year's best of 2018 list has tons of new categories to fit all of the amazing books I read this year. I've had the chance to read so many advanced books and recent releases, so most of what I read were books that came out in 2018. I mostly choose contemporary, so I've started with my favorite debut as well as the best books in other genres I've ventured into. After that, I have smaller categories in the contemporary genre. I hope you find new books to love and give to your friends and family for the holidays. If you're interested in learning more about the books on the list, click their titles to go to my reviews. Let me know if these are some of your favorites in the comments, and tell me your favorite books!

Best In Genre

Top Debut


Nothing Left To Burn gave me the craziest book hangover. I was so immersed in the story, and I couldn't stop reading to do anything that I actually needed to be doing. There is a toxic relationship that has you routing for the main character to leave and there's a fire raging through their neighborhood that might be their fault. Flipping back and forth between past and present, this book is so intense and well written, it's my automatic answer for by favorite book of the year. I even reached out to the author to tell her how awesome her book is, and we ended up doing an interview which you can read here.

Most Epic Fantasy


To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo
I read a ton of fantasy when I was younger, so I've been burnt out on it for a while, but I've always had a soft spot for fairytale retellings. Christo was on a panel at Teen Book Con that I saw, and the moment she described the book, I had to go buy it. Luckily, this Little Mermaid with a twist definitely did not disappoint, and it's actually one of my favorite books I've read this year. 

Best Nonfiction


Our Stories, Our Voices edited by Amy Reed
Nonfiction is another genre I don't often venture into, but I got an ARC of this anthology and was excited to read about so many women authors sharing their stories. They tackle tough topics in the form of essays where they share how racism, sexual assaults, and discrimination against religion have affected their lives. With the underlying current of hope and feminism, this is a wonderful addition to the recent outpouring of activist nonfiction in the YA genre. 

Top Thrillers


Sadie by Courtney Summers
Sadie is the first YA thriller I've read. While I didn't know it at the time, this was the start of my dive into true crime. I was lucky enough to get an ARC of this book and an interview with Courtney. The book is told alternating between transcripts of a true crime podcast covering the case of Sadie and her sister's murder/disappearance. If you're into podcasts, alternative storytelling formats, or thrillers, you'll love this one. 

The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas
I loved Kara Thomas's latest book. I read it as a part of my Halloween Thriller Extravaganza, and it definitely stood apart from the rest of the books I read. While more focused on the mystery than the crimes themselves, you'll appreciate how all the pieces perfectly click together at the end of the book. 


I read this book on one plane ride, and the book isn't short. I was gripped by the story of a group of teens who befriend their favorite author, and then one teen ends up in a coma. While not scary, it will keep you turning the pages and offers cool transcripts, accounts, and storytelling devices. 

Best of Contemporary

Best College YA


America Panda by Gloria Chao 
Ever wondered what it's like to go to MIT? You can try it out through the eyes of Mei, an academically advanced future doctor who will marry Eugene. Well... that's only if she does what her parents want. Mei just wants to dance. She wants to navigate her new world and figure out how to balance her parent's cultural traditions and her needs. 


Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi
Just skimming the review I wrote back in March makes me want to dive into this book for a reread. This book has a category of its own for the way that it handles college YA. While the other two favorite books in the category feature younger protagonist (both are the age of those typically in senior year), this book is full on college, and you can feel that in the prose. I need more books like this. I also loved the fact that it's a story of two young adults who have dreams that they're not confident enough to fully commit to and that they help each other realize their true selves. 


Nice Try Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke
Jane has a sharp tongue and quick wit, and I love her. Because she got expelled from her high school, she has to graduate by taking certain community college classes. It mixes getting a taste of college life, handling depression, grappling with having different religious reviews than her parents, and starring on a reality TV show she's technically not old enough to be on. Read Jane's script-like diary to

Best Sports YA


Beautiful Broken Hearts by Kami Garcia
This book centers on a soccer star who is getting over an abusive relationship. She has to heal her injuries if she wants to keep her college scholarship, and she moves to another town with extended family to work on healing from the relationship. It handles abuse, speaking out about it, and the backlash that can come with being brave like that. 

Most Mind Blowing


I got an ARC of this book (it was my first print ARC) and went into it expectation free. I'd like Arnold's Misquitoland, but wasn't sure what to make of the summary. And then I started reading and fell in love. Arnold's emotions run so deep through the book, and the developments of the relationships is amazing. At the end of reading this, my mind was blown. I was lucky enough to go to Arnold's launch event in NYC as well which you can read about here. 

Best Feel Good Book


Maurene Goo just made me so happy when I read her latest book this summer. Clara Shin is hilarious and tough but also soft and sweet. The book takes on parental relationships, enemies to friends, and it has a delicious food truck! I loved seeing a food component sewn into a book. It also has a great discussion of finding your identity between your ethnic identity and the country you were born in.

Best Romance


I was not expecting Starry Eyes. I picked it up because a camping trip sounded fun, but the romance that develops as two former best friends get trapped (or ditched) in the woods together. Watching their relationship develop as they make their way through the mountains is just too much fun.

Best Conversation Starter


Heretics Anonymous by Katie Henry
Like Jane Sinner, this book covers conversations about religion and family. Micheal has had to move from city to city for his dad's job, and he's definitely started to resent that and the fact that his father is never home. Beyond that, proclaimed atheist, Micheal, has to attend Catholic school. Even though he feels out of place, he finds the underground club Heretics Anonymous for those who felt out of place at the school which brings together a diverse group of kids who find understanding in one another. I also did an interview with the author if you want to check that out. 

 Blast From The Near Past


This book blew me away. It's a quiet book, very internal and character centered, but it encapsulates a period of time that I'm super interested in because it was around the time of my birth. Mafi shares a story of the world post 9/11 from the eyes of a young Muslim woman who wears a hijab. She also loves to breakdance, and the talks with the guy she likes on AOL instant messenger. I can't wait to see more books set in the recent past. It helps young adults form a better understanding of what the world was like just outside of their memories but still very much a part of their culture.

Top Mental Health Novel


This book takes on new territory in YA. While I've seen it done in other books this year, toxic relationships are addressed particularly well here. Stella suffer from depression and has to deal with a high stress environment which makes her more susceptible to falling into an abuse cycle even though she has a good family support system and therapist. The alternating timelines also served the book well.

Best Diverse Reads


I had never read a book with a Greek protagonist before this one, and I thought it was super cool because, even though I'm not Greek, I went to a Greek school for a number of years and learned a lot about the culture. I think it's great to expose YA readers to new identities. Besides that, Dangerous Art promises donuts, and, more seriously, tackles abuse which isn't discussed often in books and is important to raise awareness about. (This is also my favorite bookstagram photo of all time)

Taking on New Territory


You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon
You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone is a book about two Jewish twins, and, if that's not enough to get you to pick up this book, the story also features a mother who is suffering from Huntington's, a genetic disorder. The sisters have to grapple with the fact that a genetic test, which only one wants to take, will reveal whether they too will get the disease that's claiming their mom's life. I've never seen genetic disorders mentioned in YA, and I think that this book does an awesome job educating and raising awareness while also telling the story of two awesome young women with their own, well defined paths. 


Top 2017 Book I Read in 2018


Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
I barely finished this one in time for it to make it on the list, but Eliza made me feel how very few books make me feel, and even though it came out in 2017, I had to give it a shout out this year because I don't know how I made it so long without reading it. Eliza tackles depression, first relationships, and family that tries their best best struggles to understand. It also dives into the world of the successful empires that teens can build thanks to the internet which sometimes leads to a gap of understanding between generations on what being productive or successful really means. 

Links of Interest:
The Foreseeable Future: Review Here
What I Want to See More of In YA: Here
Always Never Yours: Review Here
Unbroken: Review Here

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

More Than Maybe by Erin Hahn Cover Reveal

Today is a very special post because I get to show you all a first glimpse at More Than Maybe, Erin Hahn's sophomore novel. I've been excited about this book since I finished You'd Be Mine, and I'm so happy to finally be able to see the cover and learn a little more about Luke and Vada. Before I get to telling you about MTM and showing off the cover, I just wanted to talk a little bit about how I first found and fell for Erin's work. I randomly stumbled upon You'd BeMine on Netgalley and decided to give it a try, and from the second I read the first page and heard Clay's voice so clearly in my head, I was hooked. After I finished reading, I wanted to know more about the book, the characters, and how the story came to be, so I reached out to Erin, and she was sweet enough to agree to do an interview. I know I'm not supposed to pick favorites, but her thoughtful answers and complete sincerity makes my interview with her one of my favorites of them all. I…

Permanent Record Review

Permanent Record by Mary HK Choi
Overview: Pablo's life is a mess. He works at a bodega or a "health food store" depending on who you ask, which is about the only thing he has going right at the moment. He dropped out of NYU, though that debt still follows him, along with the credit card bills from some ill advised buying sprees. He has a good group of friends that he lives with and a family that genuinely does love him, but he has no clue what he's doing. What's the end goal? Who knows... Overall: 5 

General Thoughts: This is not a normal part of my reviews, but I had some things I wanted to say that don't necessarily fit anywhere else. 1) I love this book, but I feel like it's for a very particular set of readers. You MUST be a lover of character driven stories because a lot of this book is exploring Pablo's mind. I love that. I honestly don't care about plot if I love your characters, but I know a lot of people aren't like that, so fair warni…

What If It's Us

What If It's Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera (448 pages)
Overview: Ben and Arthur meet at the post office during a flashmob. Well, Arthur followed Ben into the post office because he thought he was and, and, just as they started talking, in true form with Arthur's New York fantasy, a flash mob erupted. When the boys and split up, Arthur loses his chance at connecting with Ben, but when he can't stop thinking about him, he explores ways to reconnect even in a city of a million empty faces like New York. Even if they can find each other, with Arthur going back to Georgia at the end of the summer, will it even be worth it? Overall: 4/5

Characters: 4.5 I'm not sure what to say about the characters. I liked them enough, but I didn't feel any real attachment to any of them. I liked the cast of friends, but they all lacked a certain weight that would give them a stronger sense of reality. My favorite relationship in the book was the friendship between Dylan and Ben.…

Goodbye, Perfect

Goodbye, Perfect by Sara Barnard (January 29)
Overview: Eden has always been the irresponsible one with poor grades, a loud mouth, and a general air of irresponsibility, but it's her friend Bonnie that takes over the headlines of every major news station in the UK. Bonnie disappears with her ,music teacher and parent boyfriend, Jack Cohen, better known to everyone at Kett as Mr. Cohen. Eden can't believe that a friend would do this, but, suddenly, when she gets a WhatsApp message from Bonnie, she's clued in to their runaway mission. Pressured by her family, Bonnie's, and the cops, Eden refuses to tell them what they know because she made a promise to her best friend. Overall: 3.5 

Characters: 3 Okay, I guess I can see some of the thinking behind these characters, but it wasn't articulated very well. Eden refuses to tell on her friend even though she knows how wrong and serious the situation is. I can see making a promise and being hesitant, but I can't see a sixt…

Into YA with Laura Silverman

Today I'm posting an interview that has been a long time in the making. I reached out to do this interview with Laura before You Asked For Perfect came out, and then things got busy so it's been a minute since doing this interview, but YAFP is one of my favorite books all year. If you haven't read the book, it is an absolute must read for anyone involved in high school, heading to senior year, in education, or is a parent. I've never read a book where I yelled "That's me!" so many times. Here's my review to catch up so that you can have a little context for that. 

1. Where did you get the inspiration to write a book about the reality students today face? I love how you delve into the intense pressure to take as many APs as possible, and, as the title implies, to be perfect.
I went to an academically competitive high school where we were encouraged to take as many AP classes as possible and to sign up for extra electives, which led to things like zero pe…

You'd Be Mine Review

You'd Be Mine by Erin Hahn (April 2) To Purchase From Your Local Bookstore (Affiliate Link)
Overview: Clay Coolidge is the new hotshot in country music, but his tour hinges on him signing his opening act, Annie Mathers. While they doubt Clay can keep his cool on the summer tour highlife, they know that Annie has a promising career ahead of her because she's the product of two of countries hottest, and most infamous, country superstars. Even though the door starts as a business deal, it winds up being a journey of self discovery and a love story of its own. Overall: 5 

Characters: 5 Annie and Clay are more than just celebrities or musicians. They're real people, and, while you get a glimpse at their larger than life sides, Hahn never lets you get swept up in the glitz and the glamor. They are two brand new adults in a brand new world, still mourning losses from their old one.
Annie has been trying to outrun her parents, and their famous double suicide, since she found their b…

Nice Try, Jane Sinner

Nice Try, Jane Sinner Lianne Oelke (420 pages)
Overview: Jane wants to forget the past. Forget the high school that expelled her. Forget the people that watched her fall from grace. Forget her family who thinks that prayer is the answer to everything. Facing community college at Elbow River as a last resort graduation option, she signs up to be on House of Orange, a new web reality show, to solve her housing problem. Though she knows to expect the unexpected, House of Orange and its inhabitants test Jane in ways she never imagined. Maybe the year won't be as bad as she imagined. Overall: 5

Characters: 5 I LOVE Jane. There are very few main characters I can say that I appreciated more. Her sarcasm, dry humor, and outlook on life echoed my own thoughts, and I loved how she was so introspective. It is fascinating to listen to Jane work through her own thoughts and recognize her behaviors as masks for other feelings. I also thought that Oelke did a wonderful job with her depiction of Ja…

Spin

Spin by Lamar Giles (387 pages)
Overview: Fuse and Kya have lost their best friend. #ParSecNation lost their leader, and the Dark Nation has decided to do something about it, even if it means terrorizing those who were closest of her. DJ Paris Secord, or ParSec was murdered at a warehouse she planned to throw a party in. Fuse and Kya found her when they'd come to make amends for different issues they'd rather the public, or the cops, not know about. But they both want to see Paris's killer caught, so they might have to overcome their differences and work together. Overall: 4.5

Characters: 5 Fuse, Paris, and Kya all get a turn to narrate the story which I enjoyed. They each have their own voices and personalities that really shine through and bring a different angle to the same storyline.
Fuse is rich. Her dad runs a successful marketing company, and she shifted what she learned from him to making Paris's music and brand famous. She helped Paris climb the ranks, but, at t…

Heroine

Heroine by Mindy McGinnis (417 pages) To Purchase From Your Local Bookstore (Affiliate Link)
TW: Depiction of opioid addiction 
Overview: Mickey has it all. She's on the best softball team in the county, she has a supportive best friend, and, even though her parents have recently gone through a divorce, they both want to support her. And then she and Carolina get into a car accident on the way home to watch Netflix and eat pizza, a regular Friday night. Mickey's leg is all but torn out of her body, and her hip has to be put together with screws. Carolina, the school's near famous pitcher, nearly destroys her arm. As the girls fight to be ready in time to play their senior softball season, Mickey falls down a dangerous road, slowly upping her intake of pain pills to get through the day and to quicken her pace through physical therapy. Even as she tells herself that it's just for softball, just for her team, just for her parents, as she gets further in and her dependency i…