Category Archives: book lists

Favorite books of 2018

Like last year, I’m not going to try to say exactly what I loved about each of these books, although I’ll link to reviews when I wrote them. If I had to pick one favorite out of the whole year, it would be Tess of the Road, without a doubt.

Middle Grade

Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol

The War I Finally Won by Kimberley Brubaker Bradley

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi 

Front Desk by Kelly Yang


Young Adult

Spinning by Tillie Walden

Shadowhouse Fall by DJ Older

Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman

Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

Valley Girls by Sarah Nicole Lemon

Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany Jackson

The Summer of Jordi Perez by Amy Spalding

Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

Pride by Ibi Zoboi



The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

Murderbot: Artificial Condition, Rogue Protocol & Exit Strategy by Martha Wells

The Only Harmless Great Thing by Bo Bolander

Point of Hopes by Melissa Scott & Lisa Barnett

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Jade City by Fonda Lee

Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson



Becoming Madeleine by Charlotte Jones Voiklis and Léna Roy

Border by Kapka Kassabova


Bonus Category: Did I Like This Book? I Still Don’t Know!

Confessions of the Fox by Jordy Rosenberg

Sick by Porochista Kakhpour

The Jewel and Her Lapidary by Fran Wilde

Sadie by Courtney Summers


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Books I added to my TBR: August 2018

Not quite as many books added as last month, but I’m trying something new. All the titles with an * are the latest (or latest I know about) by authors I already have read and liked, and I’m linking back to the reviews that convinced me to add the books where applicable.

Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott

The Cobbler’s Boy by Elizabeth Bear and Katherine Addison  (via Liz Bourke) *

Arcanos Unraveled by Jonna Gjevre (via Jenny)

The Infinite Blacktop by Sara Gran (via Colleen Mondor)

Annex by Rich Larson (via The Book Smugglers)

Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee (via The Book Smugglers) *

Love to Everyone by Hilary McKay (via The Book Smugglers) *

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid (via Miss Print)

The Million by Karl Schroeder (via Liz Bourke)

The Lost Girl by Anne Ursu (via The Book Smugglers) *


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YA covers featuring flowers

Looking through my Goodreads page, I realized that a lot of YA covers feature flowers in some form. While there are so many quick cover art trends that disappear after a couple of months, flowers and foliage seem to be more timeless. This makes sense, since they can be a powerful and versatile image in books. This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list, but a few that caught my eye. Do you have a favorite YA cover that features flowers?

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Upcoming Workman books I’m intrigued by

Once a month, I talk about some upcoming titles from a specific publisher’s catalog. This month it’s Workman’s Fall/Winter 2018 catalog.

Because Workman is a relatively small publisher, there aren’t a lot of titles here. But I wanted to feature a catalog that wasn’t from the Big Six (Five? I’m still unclear on the Penguin/Random House merger and its effects.)


Seaweed Chronicles: A World at the Water’s Edge Susan Hand Shetterley: I just think seaweed is cool, and I’m excited to maybe learn more about it. August 7

The Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid: This seems like a really cool concept and the illustrations featured on Edelweiss are gorgeous. September 18

Young Adult

(Don’t) Call Me Crazy: 33 Voices Start the Conversation about Mental Health ed. by Kelly Jensen: This is a non-fiction anthology that collects a number of different voices on mental health. I’m including it here because it’s a topic I care about and it’s edited by someone who I know is very thoughtful about mental health and mental illness.  October 2

A Room Away From the Wolves by Nova Ren Suma: There’s a new Nova Ren Suma! I had no idea! That’s exactly why I find looking through catalogs really valuable–it’s a great way to find books that aren’t getting as much of a social media buzz. Anyway, I love Nova Ren Suma’s books and I’m super excited that she has another one coming out. September 4



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Favorite biographies

I have a type of biography that I love and it is: thoughtful biographies of complex and difficult women. I think that they’re ways I learn to understand myself better. In the biographies that I love, I see parts of myself but also lives I don’t know and can’t understand, ways of engaging with the world that are not mine and yet help me to see my own life more clearly. Some of these books have changed my life so deeply that I can’t even bring myself to truly write about them. (The Tiptree bio and Savage Beauty in particular.) A good biography can be just as emotionally effective as fiction, if not more so! (I cried HEAPS over Lady Byron.) Anyway, I love these books and continuing to talk about them feels like laying my heart bare.

Charlotte Brontë: A Fiery Heart by Claire Harman

A Life in Secrets: Vera Atkins and the Missing Agents of WWII by Sarah Helm

The Spy Who Loved: The Secrets and Lives of Christine Granville by Clare Mulley

Lady Byron and Her Daughters by Julia Markus

Becoming Madeleine: A Biography of the Author of a Wrinkle in Time by Her Granddaughters

James Tiptree Jr: The Double Life of Alice B Sheldon by Julie Phillips by Charlotte Jones Voiklis and Lena Roy

Savage Beauty by Nancy Milford

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A guide to Martha Wells, for Murderbot fans

As someone who has been a fan of Martha Wells’ books for at least six years now, it’s been a lot of fun to see new people discovering her work via Murderbot. I love the Murderbot novellas, and I’m so glad that other people do too. (Also that we’re getting a novel! Yes!) But Wells has written a lot of awesome books, so I thought I’d put together a list of places you might want to start, depending on what draws you to Murderbot to begin with.

Let us begin where I did, with The Wheel of the Infinite, a secondary world fantasy featuring a protagonist who really would prefer not to. Maskelle is a middle-aged woman who is jaded and weary but also very competent and appealingly snarky.

Or, if you’d rather, you can try The Wizard Hunters, the first in the Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy. I love Tremaine, one of the two protagonists for this series, a lot; she reminds me in some ways of Julie Beaufort-Stuart, but if Julie was deeply depressed and didn’t like people all that much even though she also cares about them. Bonus: this series has weird magic, accidental travel to other worlds, friendships, and a very prosaic romance.

I am also very fond of the other Ile-Rien books, particularly The Death of the Necromancer, which I described back in 2013 as “a bit like Les Miserables, if Jean Valjean was a burglar and he teamed up with Javert to fight sorcerous crime.” (A description which instantly makes me want to reread the book, if I do say so myself.) However, I stand by the suggestion to start with Element of Fire if you’re planning to read Death of the Necromancer, for maximum feels. These are the least like the Murderbot series in some ways, but they do have some pretty excellent politics and machinations going on.

Finally, I am still working my way through the Raksura series, which starts with The Cloud Roads. Like the Murderbot stories, these feature non-human protagonists–in this case the Raksura, who are winged shapeshifters. The main character, Moon, is also an outsider in his own culture, which makes for some interesting conflicts.

I personally have most often reread The Wheel of the Infinite and The Wizard Hunters, but I’ve truly enjoyed and recommend all the books here!


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Books I added to my TBR: July 2018

OH BOY OH BOY there are lots of books coming out that I want to read!! Plus all the books that are already out that I am just now hearing about. I didn’t include the reason I’m interested in these, since they seemed fairly repetitive and boring. BUT I will highlight the fact that ZEN CHO HAS A NEW BOOK COMING OUT! and that EK Johnston’s The Afterward sounds amazing for me & my reading interests.  (After the war/quest stories are one of my favorite things.) Also The Widow Queen is a translation of a Polish book and I’m hoping it is wonderful and/or reminds me of Nicola Griffith’s wonderful Hild. 

Recipes For Love and Murder by Sallie Andrew

America is Not the Heart by Elaine Castillo

The Widow Queen by Elżbieta Cherezińska

The True Queen by Zen Cho

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

The Cafe by the Sea by Jenny Colgan

European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman by Theodora Goss

Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton

The Afterward by EK Johnston

The Poppy War by RF Kuang

Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire

We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia

Opposite of Always by Justin A Reynolds

Dealing in Dreams by  Lilliam Rivera

What Momma Left Me by Renee Watson

The Girl King by Mimi Yu

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