Top Books of 2018

Goodreads Challenge: 50
Books Finished: 51
Books DNF: 19

Last year I was ambitious and wrote out all the books I read.  This year I’m just going to talk about my top picks and biggest disappointments.


Top 10 Books/Series

10. Blister by Jeff Strand

Blister coverSurprisingly much more insightful than what it’s billed to be.

9. Two Hearts by Peter S. Beagle

Two Hearts coverYou can read this for free through the link.  It’s honestly the best I could hope for from a sequel to such an epic work.  It continues the themes without being trite and the resolution is beautiful if bittersweet.

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The State of the Reader: 12/5/18

<–The State of the Reader: 10/24/18          The State of the Reader: 12/19/18–>

A weekly post updated every other Wednesday detailing my current reading projects and what new titles I’ve added to my to-read list.  Title links go to Goodreads, and if you have an account there feel free to friend me!  I’d love to see what you’re reading and/or planning to read.

Books Purchased: 9


Books DNF: 2

  • A Lick of Frost by Laurell K. Hamilton (Meredith Gentry) – Somehow or another LKH made silver hair boring.  I didn’t think that was possible, but she did it.  “But his hair was uniquely his own, silver, like metal beaten into hair.”  Are you…fucking…kidding me?  I didn’t even finish the first chapter and I took the rest of her books of my TBR list.  I love her earlier work, but you can tell she now only cares about collecting a check.
  • The Stillness of the Sky by Starla Huchton (Flipped Fairy Tales) – Fuck abusive parents and fuck kindness when you’re being abused.  I know I have a huge issue with blaming the victim in stories like this.  I want to shake them and tell them to not put up with it, even though I know intellectually that that’s not fair.  It’s not the victim’s fault their abusers are trash.  I’m much more cognizant of it in real life, but in stories I hate a particular type of naivete in protagonists.  I think I hate when naivete is unrealistic even for fairy tales.  The MC is actually shocked her drunken, abusive father is willing to sell her to a whorehouse in order to pay his debts and continue to get his fix.  It just bugged me that she wouldn’t expect this from a man who’s done nothing but beat and belittle her since her mother left.  This is a Jack and the Beanstalk retelling, which isn’t one of my favorite stories in the first place, and I’m not invested enough in the character.  The ironic thing is this story is what got me interested in the Flipped Fairy Tale series in the first place.  I added it then realized it was the “second” in the compendium so I read Shadows on Snow first,which was okay.  It’s not like they’re in any order; I think it’s just the order Huchton wrote them.

Books Finished: 5

Title: Alex + Ada: The Complete Collection
Series Title: Alex + Ada
Author: Jonathan Luna
Artist: Sarah Vaugn
Date Added: October 28, 2016
Date Started: June 17, 2018
Date Finished: October 28, 2018
Reading Duration: 133 days

Alex + AdaIt didn’t take me this long to read this entire collection; I just split it up to pad my reading total.  The Complete Collection is made up of three books, but I read the one pictured above.  People rated the second and third higher than the first, and I’m not really sure why.  It’s an excellent series, and even though it doesn’t do anything new, it refines many previously touched on points in fiction involving AI sentience.

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Dweller by Jeff Strand

Title: Dweller
Author: Jeff Strand
Date Added: February 13, 2017
Date Started: August 23, 2017
Date Finished: August 31, 2017
Reading Duration: 8 days
Genre: Fantasy, Horror

Pages: 292
Publication Date: April 1, 2010
Publisher: Leisure Books
Media: 
eBook/Kindle


When Toby Floren was eight years old, he discovered a monster living in the woods behind his house. A ghastly, frightening creature with claws, fangs, and a taste for human flesh. As he ran out of the forest, Toby felt that he’d been lucky to escape with his life.

Years later, Toby finds comfort with the creature. It’s his own special secret–something that nobody else in the world knows about. Somebody to talk to. Somebody to confide in. Sure, Toby has concerns about his own sanity, but really, what boy wouldn’t want to be best friends with a monster in the woods, especially if he’s being tormented by bullies? The creature, who he names Owen, may be the answer to his problems…

From Jeff Strand, the author of PRESSURE, comes the story of a macabre, decades-long friendship. A relationship that will last their entire lives, through times of happiness, tragedy, love, loss, madness, and complete darkness.


I almost gave up on this one (even though it’s pretty much like Harry and the Hendersons…if Harry was a flesh-eating monster).  There was a lot of bullshit victim blaming and bullying that was played off as “just the way it is” or “boys will be boys.” *gag*  One of the greatest follies is the deep set idea that if you’re being bullied, you need to handle it yourself.  It’s a core tenet of many 80’s and 90’s movies.  I mean, there’s literally a series called Revenge of the Nerds (which has more problems than just this concept) where reciprocity is the name of the game.  It cultivates an almost hazing culture where children are expected to “take their lumps” because of the falsehood that it “makes you a better person” (whatever the fuck that means), but the fact of the matter is, it’s okay to go to an adult if you’re dealing with that.  That’s literally their (or I suppose our) job: to aid and educate the younger generation.  So this idea:

But there was a code of honor at Orange Leaf High: you didn’t rat out your peers.

is horse shit.  There’s no honor in it, BUT given the era this story occurs in (the 80’s/90’s), it’s an understandable sentiment.  Once I put myself in that place,  the vibe of the writing began to resonate with me, and I realized a great deal of my reluctance had to do with being able to identify with the bullying Toby endured far too well.

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Top 20 Books of 2017

I set my Goodreads challenge to complete 15 books, and I read 73.  There’s something to be said for underestimation.  I low-balled it because last year, I put 20 on my challenge, but only finished 19; however, I discovered that by putting books on my schedule/to-do list, I could complete them like a fiend.  At some points I was reading eight at a time, but I mostly stuck with my favorite number: seven.  That…was too much though, and while I love to read, I also want to have enough time to do other things.  So I cut down to four, which might still sound like a lot, but one is a Kindle that I read on my lunch break; one is a fiction/fantasy; one varies between a classic or a non-fiction/reference (before I was reading one of each); and the last is a graphic novel/manga, which are easy to breeze through.  Compare this to two Kindles, one fiction/fantasy, one classic, one non-fiction/reference, one graphic novel/manga, and one library book. I’m currently borrowing Death Note from the library for my manga, and I’ll borrow fictions/fantasies from there, too.


Total Books Read: 73

  1. Tuf Voyaging by George R. R. Martin
  2. In the House of the Wyrm by George R. R. Martin
  3. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
  4. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
  5. Rest in Piece by B. W. Ginsburg
  6. The Missing Orchid by Fia Black
  7. The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
  8. The Quantum Door by Jonathan Ballagh
  9. Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
  10. The Illustrated A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
  11. Descendants by Rae Else
  12. The Mabinogion Tetralogy by Evangeline Walton
  13. Riddled With Senses by Petra Jacob
  14. The Quantum Ghost by Jonathan Ballagh
  15. Radiance by Grace Draven
  16. Saga: Volume 1 by Brian K, Vaughn
  17. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
  18. Eidolon by Grace Draven
  19. A Father’s Protection by K. J. Hawkins
  20. Saga: Volume 2 by Brian K. Vaughn
  21. The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia (edited) by Patrick Thorpe
  22. Saga: Volume 3 by Brian K. Vaughn
  23. Silent Child by Sarah K. Denzil
  24.  A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
  25. Saga: Volume 4 by Brian K, Vaughn
  26. Saga: Volume 5 by Brian K. Vaughn
  27. Half a King by Joe Abercrombie
  28. Saga: Volume 6 by Brian K. Vaughn
  29. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
  30. Talon by Julie Kagawa
  31. Saga: Volume 7 by Brian K. Vaughn
  32. Stone & Iris by Jonathan Ballagh
  33. Gaslight Hades by Grace Draven
  34. A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
  35. Locke & Key, Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft
  36. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Volume 1 by Katie Cook
  37. Poetic Edda: The Stories of the Norse Gods and Heroes by Anonymous
  38. Never Never: Part One by Colleen Hoover
  39. The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow
  40. Never Never: Part Two by Colleen Hoover
  41. Never Never: Part Three by Colleen Hoover
  42. The Legend of Zelda: The Twilight Princess by Akira Himekawa
  43. Goldie Vance Volume 1 by Hope Larson
  44. Shadows on Snow by Starla Huchton
  45. Red as Blood and White as Bone by Theodora Goss
  46. Monstress #1: Awakening
  47. An Unattractive Vampire by Jim McDoniel
  48. A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
  49. Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain by David Eagleman
  50. The Archived by Victoria Schwab
  51. Dweller by Jeff Strand
  52. Abstract Clarity by B. W. Ginsburg
  53. Chobits, Vol. 1 by CLAMP
  54. The Winter’s Tale by William Shakespeare
  55. The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
  56. Death Note, Vol. 1: Boredom by Tsugumi Ohba
  57. Master of Crows by Grace Draven
  58. Moon Called by Patricia Briggs
  59. The Diamond Tree by Michael Matson
  60. Promethea, Vol. 1 by Alan Moore
  61. Blink Once by Cylin Busby
  62. Death Note, Vol. 2: Confluence by Tsugumi Ohba
  63. The People of Sparks by Jeanne DuPrau
  64. The Daemoniac by Kat Ross
  65. The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan
  66. Death Note, Vol. 3: Hard Run by Tsugumi Ohba
  67. Death Note, Vol 4: Love by Tsugumi Ohba
  68. Gyo by Junji Ito
  69. The Metamorphosis and Other Stories by Franz Kafka
  70. Parallel by Anthony Vicino
  71. Death Note, Vol. 5: Whiteout
  72. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
  73. Death Note, Vol 7: Give-and-Take by Tsugumi Ohba
Total Fiction/Sci-Fi/Fantasy: 46 (63%)
Total Classic: 3 (4%)
Total Non-Fiction/Reference: 4 (5%)
Total Graphic Novels/Manga: 20 (27%)

I was going to do this whole shebang with “Most Read Author,” “Favorite New Author,” “Favorite Series,” and all this other stuff, but I decided on just doing a Top 20 with that number as an increase from the original 10.  I marked around 14 books as potential Tops and figured I could find six more.

20. Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain by David Eagleman

The cover of Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain by David EaglemanOne of the best parts of reading this book was the perfect timing when I read it: in the midst of watching a Let’s Play of SOMA, which I’ve spoken of at great length (even though the review/essay is still to come).  Incognito explores the intricacies of conscious, subconscious, and unconscious processes and how the latter two form the foundation of the first.  It’s written in such a way that psychological novices can still follow with relatable analogies and examples, but the volume is not without some major issues, which I started noticing around Chapter 4 with Eagleman’s views on beauty/attractiveness that spiraled unfortunately towards racism (yes…really).  He also didn’t fully explore the reasons behind why we have unconscious biases, which never just come out of a vacuum.  While the author has a flair for piquing interest in subjects that could easily come off as tedious, his essentialism and (seemingly) unwillingness to take environmental influences into account raises my brows (and hackles) a bit (e.g. his insistence that having a Y chromosome essentially makes one more violent without considering this propensity could be due to how those perceived as having a Y chromosome are treated from [often before] birth is only one of many).  While I enjoyed the book for what information it imparted, especially for those unfamiliar with psychology, the fore mentioned (and other) issues prompt me to insist it be read with a discerning eye and copious grains of salt.

19. Dweller by Jeff Strand

The cover of Dweller by Jeff StrandThis novel was like a more fucked up version of Harry and the Hendersons, if the Hendersons were a once brutally bullied loner and Harry was a man eating abomination.  I really wanted to know where the monster came from.  Was he some government experiment gone wrong?  A throwback from an early time?  A creature from an alien dimension?  Everything about him just breeds more questions, but his relationship with Toby is both poignant and disturbing.  A lot of fucked up things happen in this book.  I was initially unsure about Strand’s writing style, but it grew on me as did Toby’s character.  It made sense why the author wrote it in this way: it perfectly reflected the MC’s mental state.  This is one of those books that has the perfect ending, as in there’s no other way it could’ve ended for these characters that would’ve been as satisfactory.

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The State of the Reader: 10/18/17

<–The State of the Reader: 10/11/17          The State of the Reader: 10/25/17–>

A weekly post updated every Wednesday detailing my current reading projects and what new titles I’ve added to my to-read list.  Title links go to Goodreads, and if you have an account there feel free to friend me!  I’d love to see what you’re reading and/or planning to read.

Instituting some updates/changes to this weekly update.  The way it’s currently done is too time consuming to sustain, so I’ll be removing and altering sections.  In terms of the former, the Sample section has been axed.  It’s redundant insofar as I include those books when I add them.  If I decide not to keep something per sample that will be noted; otherwise, assume if I add it to my TBR section that I’m planning to read it.


Books Purchased This Week: 3

Title: Ubik
Author: Philip K. Dick
Date Added: August 29, 2017
Date Purchased: October 13, 2017

Media: eBook/Kindle
Price: $2.99
Retailer: Amazon

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The State of the Reader: 9/6/17

<–The State of the Reader: 8/30/17          The State of the Reader: 9/13/17–>

A weekly post updated every Wednesday detailing my current reading projects and where I am with them in addition to what new titles I’ve added to my to-read list.  Title links go to Goodreads to make it easier for interested parties to add any books that might strike their fancy.  I attempt to use the covers for the edition I’m reading, and I’ll mention if this is not the case.  If you have a Goodreads account feel free to friend me!  I’d love to see what you’re reading and/or planning to read.

Samples Read This Week

  1. The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima: Kept – I remember picking this up in the bookstore on one of my many trips there.  It was a bit pricey (over $10), so I didn’t just purchase it, but it was interesting enough for an add, and any story that has a secret and evil amulet is usually good enough to hold my interest.
  2. The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket: Kept – Despite not liking the movie with Jim Carey as the villain (and I haven’t yet seen the Netflix show), I like the charm and laissez-faire voice of the book.
  3. The Grim Company by Luke Scull: Kept – I’m kind of blanking on the samples I read this week.  I remember I liked this enough (and it was inexpensive enough) to buy it, and from reading the blurb I can see why.  I’m fond of stories where the heroes aren’t shy about killing if necessary, and a world that suffers for the pettiness of the gods in their eternal warring always makes for a rousing tale.
  4. Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke: Kept – Though this is a classic by a renown sci-fi author, I wasn’t immediately intrigued by the beginning, but the premise of humans being a “child” race forced to grow up is something I’ll utilize my library for.
  5. The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyne Keene: Kept – The first book in the Nancy Drew series…drew me to it not the least for nostalgia’s sake alone.  While it shows its age plainly before the end of the first page, this in now way dissuades me from adding it to my (growing) library list.
  6. Coal by Constance Burris: Kept – I knew I was going to keep this, because I’m pretty sure the main character is a Black kid, and while fiction/fantasy is definitely getting a lot better, it still needs support.  The fact that the book was literally free meant I have yet another novel in my Kindle collection.
  7. The Field Guide by Holly Black: Kept – This was one of the rare samples that never reached the sample text.  It ended right after the table of context.  I put it on my library shelf.  It’s the first book in The Spiderwick Chronicles.
  8. The Survivors by Nick Farmer: Kept – It reminded me of The Last of Us a little bit, but with more “immune” infected I suppose.
  9. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld: Kept – I believe an IRL friend said she would lend me this book/series.  It’s an interesting concept, literally receiving prettiness at the age of 16 like a driver’s license, and there’s quite a bit of social commentary that can be made about such a a thing.
  10. Red Harvest by Joe Schreiber: Kept – A Star Wars novel.  Why the hell not?
  11. Out of the Silent Planet by C. S. Lewis: Kept – I never knew Lewis even wrote sci-fi until a certain bookish Mage told me so.  I’m sure I can procure a copy from my local library.

Books Purchased This Week: 6

Title: The Grim Company
Series Title: The Grim Company
Author: Luke Scull
Date Added: April 18, 2017
Date Purchased: September 1, 2017

Media: eBook/Kindle
Price: $2.99
Retailer: Amazon

Title: Coal
Series Title: Everleaf
Author: Constance Burris
Date Added: April 23, 2017
Date Purchased: September 2, 2017

Media: eBook/Kindle
Price: $0.00
Retailer: Amazon

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The State of the Writer: 9/3/17

<–The State of the Writer: 8/27/17          The State of the Writer: 9/10/17–>

A weekly post updated every Sunday discussing my current writing projects and where I stand with them.  This will include any and all work(s) in progress (WIP) be they creative writing, essays/analyses, or reviews of any type.

Project: Story
Title:
The Broken Rose
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Type: Fanfiction (FFVII) Novel
Current Word Count: 263,453
Prior Word Count: 263,770
Word Difference: -317
Status: Editing
Progress: First edit of Chapter 11

One good thing about editing a letter chapter is I don’t have to think too hard about what I’m going to use for a weekly picture, and I have some decent candidates for the chapter image.  Editing is going slow on this one, but I’m hoping it picks up the next couple weeks since I’m officially on vacation.  I’d like to finish the first edit by the end of the week, incorporate any additional notes, and hopefully get the final edits out of the way.

Quote: I could shut my eyes and read the pain that flows beneath his skin.  The memory there is deeper than shadows and more hidden than a tear in the sea, but I can see it sometimes in his face when he sheds the mask for me. 


Project: Book Reviews
Title: Various
Status: Upcoming

I added three more books to my editing backlog while posting the review for Saga: Volume 7 yesterday.  One of the recently added was just DNF’d today.

  1. The Archived by Victoria Schwab
  2. Dweller by Jeff Strand
  3. Popular Tales from Norse Mythology by George Webbe Dasent (DNF)

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