Tuesday’s Top Ten: Books Read in 2018
This is a really weird year, with Christmas and New Year’s on Tuesday. I probably should have posted this three Tuesdays ago, but here we are.
I read 61 books in 2018, and 2 cute little stories about cartoon bunnies: A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss and Somebunny Loves You by Catherine Dair. Both are worth mentioning for their message of love for all, but I don’t think it’s fair to include children’s books, graphic novels, or comics in my year-end wrap-up.
I will also only include one non-fiction book, but I feel it’s important to add it this year, even as number ten:
10. Feeling Good by Dr. David Burns. I returned to therapy this year, if only briefly. They helped me realize I’m actually pretty well adjusted for all the shit that’s happened in my life, and maybe I’m too hard on myself for thinking the way a person targeted me at work was possibly my fault, not his. (It was his. Definitely his. He is creepy and he needs to leave me alone, end of story.) Feeling Good helped me change my negative thought patterns and how I look at situations. I recommend it to anyone who can’t afford therapy and who is willing to take the time to open their minds to the possibility that changing even one thought about oneself can help one feel good.
9. Simon vs. the Homosapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. I loved this book so much, and I loved the movie, Love, Simon. This is one of those weird situations where I wish I’d seen the movie first, or maybe waited to see the movie until I’d completely forgotten the book. As it was, I saw the movie too soon after I read the book, so I hated Martin from the moment I saw him, and that’s not fair to him.
8. His Cocky Valet by Cole McCade. I don’t care if it was a parody based on #cockygate. This book was a fun read with a fluctuating power dynamic between a rich kid trying to pick up where his sick father left off and a man hired by his friend to help him with daily life, something he needs because he’s never adhered to a schedule before. Silly? Sure. Fun? Definitely.
7. Pretty Pretty Boys by Gregory Ashe. This police detective novel took enemies to friends to a new level for me. To figure out why his lover killed himself in high school, a police detective leaves St. Louis to join the police force in his small hometown. What he doesn’t expect: his new partner is the same bully who pushed him down a flight of stairs and broke his leg after their classmate died, and held him in place so the head bully could attempt to carve his initials into his chest. I don’t usually like crime novels, but the character dynamic intrigued me, to the point I bought the sequel for 2019.
6. Incubus Honeymoon by Gus Li. Another masterpiece by Gus. I know, I rave every time, but Gus’s urban fantasy may be even more fun than his high fantasy. Any time magical characters defeat neo-nazis in a brilliant and devastating way, I’m there. I want to know more about the different magic sects and the reason the fae disappeared, but are now making a reappearance in the human world. Another sequel I can’t wait to read!
5. Roller Girl by Vanessa North. Come for the cute lesbian romance and stay for the sport, camaraderie, and self-love. The sport: Roller derby, in case you couldn’t guess by the title. Camaraderie: The team dynamics are so much fun, I wish I could meet these women in person. The self-love: Tina is a former wakeboarding champion, as a man. She quit the sport and began to transition, and then went through a painful divorce. Now, she’s found her identity as a woman doesn’t have to be sports-free or loveless, and she has found a group of women who support her and love her for who she is.
4. Mad Lizard Mambo by Rhys Ford. Of all Rhys Ford’s characters, Kai Gracen is probably my favorite. More dragons. More strange love/hate with Ryder, the head of the Sidhe Court. A weird ritual like that makes Kai question his past. And yes, I’ve already pre-ordered book three in this series, due out in March.
3. Homebird by Amy Lane. I finished this one after Christmas, and I had to reach out to Amy about it because I couldn’t post my full review on Amazon. First of all, my dog shares a name with one of the main characters. Second, I already have a favorite Christmas novel from Amy: Freckles. Homebird was still an excellent read, with a lot of angst and pain in Crispin’s and Luka’s pasts and a lot of sweet, sweet relationship to make up for it. If you’re still looking for a great Christmas read, choose this one.
2. My final two selections are a total of four books from two series. I can’t help it. I love series, and I can’t choose which is better, so they get grouped together. I am so glad I found Brooklyn Ray this year, and their wonderful books, Darkling and Undertow. For those of you looking for diverse characters, Rider is a trans man. This is one of the best trans characters I’ve read so far. There’s no question, no discussion of masculinity, no justification for transition or politics. He just is. It’s well done and beautiful in its simplicity. I know, in a perfect world, all books with trans characters would be like this, but we all know that’s not the world we live in, and accurate representation is so important to my trans friends. They did it right, folks. It’s worth a read.
1. My top pick in 2018 is two books from the Lijun series by Freddy MacKay and Angel Martinez (the third has not yet been published, or written in entirety, from reading Freddy and Angel’s Facebook posts): Fireworks and Stolen Kisses and Trysts and Burning Embers. Tally and Haru are complex and diverse characters conquering some of the most horrifying and heartrending story-crucibles I’ve ever read. I can’t wait to read the next installment. For those of you looking for diverse books, Tally is Native American, while Haru is Japanese and nonbinary.
Honorable mentions, so my favorite authors didn’t dominate my entire list: Lime Gelatin and Other Monsters and A Different Breed by Angel Martinez, Bewitched by Bella’s Brother by Amy Lane, and Rebel by Rhys Ford.
Honorable mentions of the non- M/M books read this year: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle, The Olympians series by Rick Riordan, and Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes.
I read so many great books this year! I hope this has helped you add to your to-be-read pile for 2019. Let me know if you have suggestions for me in 2019!