So Farewell 2018! - My Favourite Books

So, we bid 2018 a farewell.  Politically a garbage fire but a suspicion that our leaders are no longer thinking we will fall for their promises to listen and learn…This year felt like the year where we are starting to recognise the inequalities in society from the #metoo movement to the battle not to let the UK leave into a right-wing Singaporean tax haven.  I still see enough signs of hope but still think it will take a few more years to clean up the mess this decade has created.

On a personal level 2017 was a mixed year.  I never expected to still be in the process of moving to a new house and on my fourth attempted sale but hopefully very near the end (or this world will burn!!). The family was rocked by an unexpected death and this all seemed to mean a lot of the more fun side projects I had in mind took a back seat.  I have managed over 80 blog posts this year which actually surprised me when I did a count and the first half of the year was the pleasure of working with the other bloggers for the Subjective Chaos awards (and will do the same again next year).  I was pleasantly surprised with some new cons which as Nineworlds looks to be on hiatus for at least a year was useful for planning.  I’ve made a lot fo new friends this past year and the book community is a lovely one online and offline.

So that leaves….my faves of 2018!! I’m finishing on 122 books (thank you train companies again for so much reading time when you’re late and this year decided to make a timetable perfect for epic fantasy reads) there were some brilliant books.

The Why by Great Uncle Bulgaria Have I Not Read This Earlier?

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Le Guin

I didn’t read as many classics as I was hoping but was very pleased to finally read this tale of a alien ambassador arriving in a world without gender.  Inventive and pointed about love and gender.  One author I so want to read even more by next year.

The Tomsk - Short Story to Suck You In

The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander

This is technically a Novelette but its haunting.  A weird mix of the radium girls; a death of an elephant and a far future where humans and elephants struggle to compromise.  Very unexpected but a brilliant writer makes these ideas all come together. Haunting me many weeks on.

The Wellington - Novellas Have I told you Lately How Much I Love You?

The Loosening Skin by Aliya Whitely

A tale of a world where people literally shed their skin and their loves and relationships every few years.  What would such a world look like?  Would it be better for people to stay as they were?  Imaginative, beautifully written and intricate – a brilliant read.

The Madame Cholet - It’s the End of the Tastiest Series as We Know It

The Wounded Kingdom by RJ Barker.

One thing I really look for in a series is the ability to expand beyond the first book.  On the face of it a murder mystery in a fantasy world it also includes a set of characters that ages through the books and matures.  It captures childhood innocence, teenage anger and middle-aged acceptance with some of the best battle scenes I’ve read.  Fantastic series and one author I will watch with interest.

The Wellington - Let Me Be Your Fantasy Award!

The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley

I always leave these lists until the last day – you never know if the last book will wow you and this one unexpectedly took me on Xmas Day. The language used to tell the story of Beowulf but focusing on the two women in the tale is absolutely spellbinding. A strange modern story with these unusual hints of an epic tale trapping all the characters in it.

The Tobermory – The Together in Electric SF Dreams!

Rosewater by Tade Thompson

A good book can take some older ideas and give you something completely new.  Thompson’s tale takes alien encounters and telepaths and provides a brilliant SF Thriller in Nigeria.  I loved how the narrator is the same person separated by several decades both different and yet the same person.  This allows the mystery to be weaved perfectly so you don’t fully understand where it is going until it is too late. Read it!!

 The Runalong – One I just loved

I Still Dream by James Smythe

A story about a young woman who becomes of the best AI scientists in the world and her amazing invention. Looking at key moments in her life every ten years we see AI develop from its early online 90’s form (and this book so captures my memories of that time) it manages to be a timely examination of AI’s dangers and possibilities.  I read this just as Facebook got embroiled in the Cambridge Analaytica scandal and it’s a super intelligent book that I think raises many good points for the future.

So, I leave you on the last day of the year with the words of another fine Doctor with some advice for 2019

“Never We are all capable of the most incredible change. We can evolve, whilst still staying true to who we are.  We can honour who we’ve been, and choose who we want to be next – now’s your chance.  How about it?”

 May there always be cake


Matthew Cavanagh