A fresh start – outstanding books of 2018

I know, I know: I’m late to the party.
January is nearly over. But I hope you’ll graciously allow me to start my blog on a day other than 1/1/2000.

For my first post, where better to start than some books I enjoyed so much, I still remember them from all the way back in 2018? (An introduction of myself may have been a better place to start, but who am I to start at the logical beginning?) To be honest, I didn’t have that many outstanding reads last year. There were a lot of near misses – books that were solid four-stars (some of which I’ll talk about here), and a lot that completely bombed (but that’s another story for another time).

So without further ado, and in no particular order, please let me introduce myself with my favourite reads of 2018.

1. The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern

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 ∗∗∗∗
Pages:
387
Publisher: Doubleday

Synopsis:
A circus appears at night.
A long-fought battle between two rival magicians comes to its conclusion.

Why I loved it:
I’m not usually one for a slow-paced novel, but this. was. incredible. The descriptions were so well written that I was able to dive head-first into this story and not emerge until 13 hours 40 minutes later (with some sleep in between). The audio version of this book was hands down the best narration I’ve ever listened to: if you’ve got some spare Audible credits burning a hole in your pocket, I’d highly recommend it.
I loved the cast of performers at the circus, their back stories, and the sort-of-romance which wasn’t too romantic, and I’ll read anything Erin Morgenstern writes from now on.

TL;DR
Beautifully rich world-building

 

2. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffer

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Pages: 291
Publisher: Dial Press

Synopsis:
A writer begins corresponding with members of a secret literary society on occupied Guernsey.
When she meets them, her world expands and she connects with people she shouldn’t have ever met.

Why I loved it:
This book’s unique setting of Guernsey and beautiful characterisation make it a winner. I fell in love with basically every character – even the awful ones. It touches on themes such as adoption, grief and friendship in such a sensitive and well-crafted way. I laughed, I cried, I cried again. Just pure loveliness.

P.S. the audiobook narrators put on dodgy westcountry accents if you fancy a laugh

TL;DR
Likely lifelong book-companion

 

3. Reservoir 13 – Jon McGregor

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Pages: 291
Publisher: Catapult

Synopsis:
When a girl goes missing on the moor, the villagers come together to find her. Meanwhile, life must continue: the seasons come and go, babies are born, the elderly die. People fall in love and fall out. 13 years, 13 reservoirs.

Why I loved it:
Nature controls the rhythms and pace of this book. The author uses beautiful descriptions of wildlife to help tell the story of the villagers. I loved the fact that the reader is not sucked into the villagers’ problems or lives, but simply hovers above them with a birds’ eye view. The underlying story of the girl who went missing is woven in deftly. Beautiful prose, intriguing plot, and I can completely see why it’s a prize-winning novel.

TL;DR
Quietly, subtly unnerving

 

4. Three Daughters of Eve – Elif Shafak

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*****

Pages: 384
Publisher: Bloomsbury

Synopsis:
In Istanbul, a Turkish housewife attends a dinner. But her mind is elsewhere: it’s in Oxford during her university days, with her two friends and a scandal which has stayed with her throughout the years.

Why I loved it:

The characters in this book were what made it for me. They were flawed and lovely and sometimes repulsive. From the beginning, you know that a scandal occurred whilst Peri (the main character) was at uni, and I really loved how the author unfolded the drama whilst still providing such thought-provoking and rich writing. The two locations – Turkey and England – make the contrast between Peri’s life now and her student years all the more striking and vivid.

TL;DR
Seductive, mystical drama


So, there’s that.

I hope you feel like you know what I like in a book a little bit more now, though looking back over the post I am struck by how seemingly random this collection is.
Maybe my taste will become more refined as I go through life, but to be honest, I doubt it. Long live that brand consistency.

See you next time!
Laura

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