Sunday, January 13, 2019

Melanie’s Top 5 of 2018

It’s that time of year when I look back at all the books I read in previous year. At first I didn’t think that there were many stand-outs for me in 2018 but I had to whittle down a rather longer list down to these 5 faves. I will start in reverse order.

5.  Space Unicorn Blues by T.J Berry and The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson

Sorry, there is a tie for my 5th favourite book of 2018 as I couldn’t decide between these two fantastic debut novels.

April bought not only showers but Tyrell Johnson’s post apocalyptic The Wolves of Winter onto my Kindle. I was pleasantly surprised that this debut didn’t end up in the cliche it could have been when the tall, dark and handsome stranger stumbles into the young Lynn’s lonely life. Tyrell’s snowy landscape had a life of its own and almost became another character in the tale. If you enjoy character driven stories than this is definitely one you need to read. Check out my review.

I enjoyed Space Unicorn Blues in July, during the hottest summer we have had in the UK in years. As a little reminder here is my review. The plot line of this story is truly unique and Berry carefully balances action, characterisation and world building. She did an excellent job.

Gary, the half unicorn prince and hero of this tale is a great conflicted character and you can’t help but to cheer him on. This story is very action packed and has one of the best cliff hangers of the year. I am really looking forward to the next instalment

4.  Foundryside by Robert J. Bennett

Bennett very nearly had 2 books in my top 5 but Foundryside just pipped City of Mirrors to make it into my top 5. This is the first instalment of Bennett’s new series The Founders set in a world where magic has been industrialised and only the Founders have any power. It’s Sancia, a thief who inadvertently turns the world upside down when she ends up stealing an artefact of unbelievable power. Sancia is a great character and she is joined by an eclectic cast of characters. Bennett has such an amazing imagination and writes characters that are so interesting and complex. Foundryside is no different. This is an all round great book. See my review here.

3.  The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is the best ‘who dunnit’ I have read in a long time. I actually
listened to this as an audiobook and I am so glad that I did as the narrator is excellent and really sets the mood. This book had me on tenterhooks as I couldn’t guess who the committed the murder or why Aiden Bishop kept jumping from body to body. The story is like reading a game of Cluedo (or Clue in the US/Canada) but where you get to play every character. Murder mystery lovers this is a must read.

2.  Magic Triumpths by Ilona Andrews

I would be remiss if I didn’t include the final instalment of the Kate Daniels series in my top 5 so here it is - Magic Trimphs. I almost can’t believe the series is over. I have been reading this series for almost 10 years (I was a late comer to the series and read the first 3 books together) so it feels a bit weird that it is over although I am glad that it is as I feel that Andrews has written all she could about these characters. I am glad they decided to finish it rather than keep churning out the books like other authors have done. Rather than re-hash my review check it out& here.

1.  Iron and Magic by Ilona Andrews

What can I say I loved Hugh! If you follow my reviews you won’t be surprised to learn that Iron and Magic is my fave book of 2018. I read the e-ARC, I bought the book and I listened to the Audible version.....more than once. I was soo surprised I liked Hugh as much as I did. I have to admit I thought Andrews were bonkers when I first read that they were planning a book about the 2nd biggest baddy in the Kate Daniels series. I was on the verge of being upset that they were ‘wasting’ their time writing about this character when I was waiting for Kate or an Innkeeper book. Good thing I am not in charge of their publishing schedule as I love, love, loved this book. It wasn’t the complicated plot or originality that made me like it so was all down to Hugh’s redemption and general ‘coolness’. If you want to find out more here is my review.

There you top 5. If you are looking for a good book hopefully you will find one here. I would love to know what is on your top 5. Leave me a comment.

Space Unicorn Blues
The Reason 1
Angry Robot, July 3, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

A misfit crew race across the galaxy to prevent the genocide of magical creatures, in this unique science fiction debut.

Humanity joining the intergalactic community has been a disaster for Bala, the magical creatures of the galaxy: they’ve been exploited, enslaved and ground down for parts. Now the Century Summit is approaching, when humans will be judged by godlike aliens.

When Jenny Perata, disabled Maori shuttle captain, is contracted to take a shipment to the summit, she must enlist half-unicorn Gary Cobalt, whose horn powers faster-than-light travel. But he’s just been released from prison, for murdering the wife of Jenny’s co-pilot, Cowboy Jim… When the Reason regime suddenly enact laws making Bala property, Jenny’s ship becomes the last hope for magic.

File Under: Science Fiction [ Rocks in Space | Stand Up to Reason | The Human Experiment | Last Unicorn ]

The Wolves of Winter
Scribner, January 2, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages
   Trade Paperback, December 4, 2018

A captivating tale of humanity pushed beyond its breaking point, of family and bonds of love forged when everything is lost, and of a heroic young woman who crosses a frozen landscape to find her destiny. This debut novel is written in a post-apocalyptic tradition that spans The Hunger Games and Station Eleven but blazes its own distinctive path.

Forget the old days. Forget summer. Forget warmth. Forget anything that doesn’t help you survive in the endless white wilderness beyond the edges of a fallen world.

Lynn McBride has learned much since society collapsed in the face of nuclear war and the relentless spread of disease. As the memories of her old life continue to haunt, she’s forced to forge ahead in the snow-drifted Canadian Yukon, learning how to hunt and trap and slaughter.

Shadows of the world before have found her tiny community—most prominently in the enigmatic figure of Jax, who brings with him dark secrets of the past and sets in motion a chain of events that will call Lynn to a role she never imagined.

Simultaneously a heartbreakingly sympathetic portrait of a young woman searching for the answer to who she is meant to be and a frightening vision of a merciless new world in which desperation rules, The Wolves of Winter is enveloping, propulsive, and poignant.

The Founders Trilogy 1
Crown, August 21, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 512 pages
   Trade Paperback, May 21, 2019

“The exciting beginning of a promising new epic fantasy series. Prepare for ancient mysteries, innovative magic, and heart-pounding heists.”—Brandon Sanderson

“Complex characters, magic that is tech and vice versa, a world bound by warring trade dynasties: Bennett will leave you in awe once you remember to breathe!”–Tamora Pierce

In a city that runs on industrialized magic, a secret war will be fought to overwrite reality itself–the first in a dazzling new series from City of Stairs author Robert Jackson Bennett.

Sancia Grado is a thief, and a damn good one. And her latest target, a heavily guarded warehouse on Tevanne’s docks, is nothing her unique abilities can’t handle.

But unbeknownst to her, Sancia’s been sent to steal an artifact of unimaginable power, an object that could revolutionize the magical technology known as scriving. The Merchant Houses who control this magic–the art of using coded commands to imbue everyday objects with sentience–have already used it to transform Tevanne into a vast, remorseless capitalist machine. But if they can unlock the artifact’s secrets, they will rewrite the world itself to suit their aims.

Now someone in those Houses wants Sancia dead, and the artifact for themselves. And in the city of Tevanne, there’s nobody with the power to stop them.

To have a chance at surviving—and at stopping the deadly transformation that’s under way—Sancia will have to marshal unlikely allies, learn to harness the artifact’s power for herself, and undergo her own transformation, one that will turn her into something she could never have imagined.

The 7 1½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
Sourcebooks Landmark, September 18, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 448 pages
    Trade Paperback, May 7, 2019

One of Stylist Magazine's 20 Must-Read Books of 2018
One of Harper's Bazaar's 10 Must-Read Books of 2018
One of Marie Claire, Australia's 10 Books You Absolutely Have to Read in 2018

The Rules of Blackheath
Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered at 11:00 p.m.
 There are eight days, and eight witnesses for you to inhabit.
We will only let you escape once you tell us the name of the killer.
Understood? Then let’s begin...


Evelyn Hardcastle will die. Every day until Aiden Bishop can identify her killer and break the cycle. But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest. And some of his hosts are more helpful than others...

The most inventive debut of the year twists together a mystery of such unexpected creativity it will leave readers guessing until the very last page.

Magic Triumphs
Kate Daniels 10
Ace, August 28, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages
   Mass Market Paperback, May 7, 2019

Mercenary Kate Daniels must risk all to protect everything she holds dear in this epic, can’t-miss entry in the thrilling #1 New York Times bestselling urban fantasy series.

Kate has come a long way from her origins as a loner taking care of paranormal problems in post-Shift Atlanta. She’s made friends and enemies. She’s found love and started a family with Curran Lennart, the former Beast Lord. But her magic is too strong for the power players of the world to let her be.

Kate and her father, Roland, currently have an uneasy truce, but when he starts testing her defenses again, she knows that sooner or later, a confrontation is inevitable. The Witch Oracle has begun seeing visions of blood, fire, and human bones. And when a mysterious box is delivered to Kate’s doorstep, a threat of war from the ancient enemy who nearly destroyed her family, she knows their time is up.

Kate Daniels sees no other choice but to combine forces with the unlikeliest of allies. She knows betrayal is inevitable. She knows she may not survive the coming battle. But she has to try.

For her child.

For Atlanta.

For the world.

Iron and Magic
The Iron Covenant 1
NYLA, June 28, 2018
eBook, 322 pages

No day is ordinary in a world where Technology and Magic compete for supremacy…But no matter which force is winning, in the apocalypse, a sword will always work.

Hugh d’Ambray, Preceptor of the Iron Dogs, Warlord of the Builder of Towers, served only one man. Now his immortal, nearly omnipotent master has cast him aside. Hugh is a shadow of the warrior he was, but when he learns that the Iron Dogs, soldiers who would follow him anywhere, are being hunted down and murdered, he must make a choice: to fade away or to be the leader he was born to be. Hugh knows he must carve a new place for himself and his people, but they have no money, no shelter, and no food, and the necromancers are coming. Fast.

Elara Harper is a creature who should not exist. Her enemies call her Abomination; her people call her White Lady. Tasked with their protection, she's trapped between the magical heavyweights about to collide and plunge the state of Kentucky into a war that humans have no power to stop. Desperate to shield her people and their simple way of life, she would accept help from the devil himself—and Hugh d’Ambray might qualify.

Hugh needs a base, Elara needs soldiers. Both are infamous for betraying their allies, so how can they create a believable alliance to meet the challenge of their enemies?

As the prophet says: “It is better to marry than to burn.”

Hugh and Elara may do both.


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