Monday, December 31, 2018

2018 Favorite Reads & Recap

I am happy to say that this year I stuck pretty closely to my goal of participating in the #ReadingBlackOut. The vast majority of the books that I read this year were written by black authors. It was a fun challenge that wasn't hard to do. I did make a few exceptions. I participated in a readalong of books 1 & 2 of The Faithful and the Fallen series, I started a buddy read for Give People Money, and I started rereading The Earth Children series which is an old favorite. I failed in trying to participate in a few reading challenges and I believe that I am going to give up on trying to participate in them. I just don't stick with them. 

This year came with a few changes in the way that I approach blogging. I am no longer posting on Facebook at all. I didn't get a lot of interaction over there and to be honest, I just don't care for Facebook as a platform. I am still loving Instagram and I am even becoming more active on Twitter. There are some great book folks on Twitter and I am slowly discovering and following them. If you don't already follow me on those platforms you can find me on Instagram at @readermonica and on Twitter at @MonlatReader

I also started a Goodreads group called The Black Bookcase were we feature, discuss, and support books by black authors. We are going to try and make this group a fun and useful place for people who are looking for a good source of recommendations. If you are interested in being a part of the group click the link and request to join. The more the merrier!

My Goodreads stats are lower than last year because I didn't manage to read as much. I read slower this year and that's all there is to it. I think that because I set my goal at a lower number I didn't feel any pressure to crank through books which may actually be a good thing. 

Now on to my favorite reads of 2018. I found these new favorites this year and they weren't all new releases. The running theme for this year's favorites seems to be high emotion. Each of these stories were able to make me have a strong emotional response in one way or another. These are in no particular order, I loved them all.

The first book that I read in 2018 was DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS by Walter Mosley and absolutely loved it! As I have continued to read through the Easy Rawlins series I have enjoyed them all, but my favorite so far is LITTLE SCARLET. Mosley does such a wonderful job taking his readers on Easy's journey through life while also providing an interesting and engaging story in each installment. I am going to be so sad when I read the last available book this year!

HEAVY lives up to it's title in every possible way! This stunning memoir absolutely blew me away and is one that I would recommend to any reader. You can read my full review of it here

I could have so easily missed out on this gem of a book. Indie author M. Thomas reached out to me and asked if I'd like to read her book earlier this year. She did what I wish every author who contacts me about reading their work would do. She sent an email introducing herself, letting me know that she has actually visited my blog and had a good idea of what I read. She sent a link to a sample of her book and that's all it took. That little teaser that she has made me want to know just what happened to leave a man standing in his home not knowing what just happened! It does end on a cliffhanger and now I'm looking forward to finding out what happens next. You can read my review here.  

I fell in love with the YA fantasy story and bought not only a copy for myself, but for both of my adult daughters as well. This story gave me everything that I want in a fantasy story-adventure, interesting and complicated characters. Adeyemi was also able to wrench real emotion from me as I read certain segments. I loved it and I'm more than ready to get my hands on Children of Virtue and Vengeance when it releases in March. you can read my review here

Valor is the second book in The Faithful and the Fallen series and was part of a buddy read. I enjoyed the first book, but Valor really grabbed me. If you enjoy fantasy I recommend this series it's full of political intrigue, has an improbable journey, a young hero who needs the guidance of the people he trusts, and an antagonist that will make you grit your teeth! I'm looking forward to continuing this series in 2019 as well. 

Oh, my good gravy! I can't sing the praises of BECOMING loudly enough. I have both the physical book and the audio book. I listened to the audio book and Mrs. Obama telling her story in her own voice literally gave me goosebumps when I first began listening. I didn't do a full review on this one because you are going to see reviews everywhere, but here is what I wrote on Goodreads: "This was everything that I hoped it would be and more. I'm not doing a full review of this one. I'm just going to say that I am thankful for the experience of listening to Mrs Obama telling her own story and being so open and honest in the telling." GET THIS MEMOIR!

I still occasionally think about this little novella. Not only is the cover amazing, but the story will keep you hooked from beginning to end. I need more from Zetta Elliot and I hope that someday soon it'll be a full length adult story! You can read my review here

AN UNKINDNESS OF GHOSTS is amazing, heartbreaking, yet it still gave me the hope that some good people will be able to endure and survive no matter what. Rivers Solomon held no punches in this story! Solomon took the approach of laying out all of the ugly, gut wrenching inhumanity that comes with overt bigoted elitist hate. The everyday insidious hatred that is doled out to the low deckers along with the daily trauma the women have to constantly live with left me uncomfortable, sad, and even angry. There is no place to hide from the ruthlessly slow and deliberated destruction of the souls of anyone who wasn't lucky enough to be born to the right group of people. My thoughts are all over the place after finishing this story. I hope to put together a better review that may do some justice to this story later. I wanted to give this story 5 stars because of the emotion it evoked, but I did have a few issues with the pacing of the story and I have questions about the world. This is a perfect example that a book doesn't have to be a 5 star read for it to be a favorite for me.

FEEDING THE DRAGON was the best listen on a whim that I have ever done. It was free as an Audible listen and it was wonderful. Sharon Washington has hinted that there will be more and I'm an SO here for it! You can read my review here

Last, but not least was PRAISE SONG FOR THE BUTTERFLIES. I listened to the audio of Praise Song for the Butterflies and it was emotionally exhausting. I listened to it all in one day & unlike Abeo I still hold the taste of bitterness from her trauma. Ms. McFadden, may I please have my heart back? Because you snatched it. As a woman and a mother of two daughters reading this was not pleasant but it was enhancing in the sense of being made to look at this type of cruelty full on. There is no question that I would recommend reading this one. Just be prepared for the heartache. 

So that's my list of favorites for 2018. I hope that you all had a good reading year! Wishing you all a Happy New Year with lots of love, happiness, and of course good reading!


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