My favorite books of 2018 (only now, but rich in content like a Lungo)

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Now it’s already 2019. It took me long enough to write this post, after Christmas cookies, a lot of shopping for presents, and the family reunion when all those presents were exchanged and a harmonious meal was shared. January also went up quite quickly while I participated in a science fiction Readathon I’ll be soon wrapping up here, but now finally I’ll post my 2018 favorite books.

And I have a lot of books to chose from. I read 130 books, mainly Fantasy, Science-Fiction and a surprisingly great amount of Young Adult and Graphic Novels. I didn’t expect it, but many of my YA reads were 5 stars.

I had a lot of fun reading all the books by S.J. Kincaid I could find, marathoning through eight Deluxe Editions of Fables by Bill Willingham and thankfully discovering new authors, since the favorites I already follow and auto-buy don’t write new books as fast as I read them.

I also had a fair amount of unfinished book and books which hype didn’t hold as I read them. And a couple of series sequels that failed to impress me, with the result that I’ll be abandoning them. I wonder if I should write about about the last year’s let-downs or about series I won’t be following anymore? What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

For now, I’ll talk about the five star books and a couple of honored four stars. Here they are:

 

5 Star Champion Series I already finished or that I’ll be continuing next year

1) The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) by Holly Black

When it comes to this book the hype is deserved. I loved the world building and the ‘cruel prince’ is a very interesting character. I’m curious to be seen how this story will develop in the next books. I am, in any case, on board. Now in January I also started listening to The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air #2) Audiobook and I’m loving it.

 

2) “The Bone Season” and “The Mime Order” (The Bone Season #1 and #2) by Samantha Shannon.

In both books the world building is quite extensive and that alone was already worth at least 4,5 to 5 stars. There is even a spin-off called “On the Merits of Unnaturalness” which further explains it’s rules, but, although I haven’t read it, I could follow the various ‘voyants’ classes that appear in the book.
I also liked Paige because, although she was likable, she wasn’t exactly a standard romantic heroine. She could be contradictory, seemed to be too cynical and suspicious sometimes and only at the end of the book, you could see all her layers. Perhaps she’s not everybody’s favorite type of main female character, but I found that really refreshing after so many perfect fictional girls out there. I also liked the flaws in all other characters, I think this contributed to give depth to the story.
I also read The Mime Order (The Bone Season #2) and I loved the sequel development, the world building is still awesome and the characters so greatly multi-layered. This is a not hyped, but extremely interesting series. I can’t wait to read the next book.

 

3) The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy #1) by S.A. Chakraborty

Awesome story world with Ifrits, Ghouls, Marids, Peri, Djinn and multi-layered characters. I’m following this series for sure.

 

4) “A Shadow Bright and Burning”, “A Poison Dark and Drowning” and “A Sorrow Fierce and Falling” (Kingdom on Fire #1, #2 and #3) by Jessica Cluess

This series isn’t nearly as much hyped as it should be. It is an awesome series, with unique and unforgettable multi-layered characters, and so many surprising plot twists.
Like the Bone Season series, it is also original and many levels above most fantasy YA series I’ve read. It has a rich fantasy and historical world and one of the best heroines I’ve found since ever. 😉
I would recommend this series to anyone who likes fantasy with a strong female character and complex side characters as well.
I heard this whole series as Audiobooks and the performance from Fiona Hardingham was awesome too.

 

5) “The Diabolic” and “The Empress” (The Diabolic #1 and #2) by S.J. Kincaid

Awesome writing, characters and an original, page-turner plot. I could not stop hearing the Audiobook until the last sentence of this story. This was the best book I read (“heard”) in the first six months of 2018, and this is saying something about how perfectly written this story is.
This is my first book by this author but I’ll surely take a look at all her other books. and go on following this series.
The Empress was quite original and full of really unexpected plot twists. I wonder how the story is going to continue and can’t wait for the next book in this series. This book goes connects to the universe of the other trilogy of Kincaid, Insignia, so I would read that trilogy before reading this second book.

The reading performance of Candace Thaxton in both Audiobooks was quite awesome too.

 

6) “Insignia”, “Vortex” and “Catalyst” (Insignia #1, #2 and #3) by S.J. Kincaid

I picked the first book after reading Diabolic from the same author and liked it too, even if Diabolic is still my favorite. Tom goes through so much, you can’t help but sympathize and feel super worried for him. The themes of this series are quite important in the present light of things, this trilogy stands above the usual YA Dystopia. All the feels and themes in this series! If you have to choose only one Dystopian YA trilogy to read in your whole life choose this one.

 

7) “The Queen of the Tearling”, “The Invasion of the Tearling” and “The Fate of the Tearling” (The Queen of the Tearling #1, #2 and #3) by Erika Johansen

This trilogy is an awesome mix of fantasy, and dystopia, a real page-turner with great characters, story and oh, all the politics! It isn’t exactly YA as it contains strong scenes of domestic abuse that may be a trigger for some people, but in my opinion the portraying of all the injustice added to the value of the trilogy.
I recommend this trilogy if you like original books with unexpected plot twists, well-written POVs (you end up caring a lot for secondary characters like a jailer with a disability and a gate guard!), and multi-layered characters. Erika Johansen is an author I’ll keep in my radar for sure!

 

8) “Bitch Planet Vol. 1” and “Bitch Planet Vol. 2: President Bitch” (Bitch Planet (Collected Editions) #1 and #2) by Kelly Sue DeConnick (Goodreads Author) (Writer), Taki Soma (Illustrator), Valentine De Landro (Artist), Robert Wilson IV (Artist)

This is an awesome graphic novel series. Everybody should read it, especially with how politics is going nowadays in the world. 😉

 

9) The Golem and the Jinni (The Golem and the Jinni #1) by Helene Wecker.

A jewel, I loved everything about this book; the writing style, the story, the theme, the characters, the setting and the ending. It’s a new classic and going towards literary fiction, but it has tension until the last page.
I also liked the Audiobook narrator: George Guidall. I’m waiting for The Iron Season by the same author.

 

10)Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) by Leigh Bardugo

I won’t talk long about this book because it it hyped with great reason and everybody raves in detail about this. 😉 I liked more this sequel than the first book in the duology due to all the feels and the characters stories depth. I’m surely waiting for King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo to meet her characters and the Grishaverse again.

 

11) Children of Time (Children of Time #1) by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Really good, original Sci-fi! This book was so well written, the story world so rich and the characters so likable! I found a new favorite author. I’ll be waiting for Children of Ruin (Children of Time #2).

 

And a Standalone: 12) China Mountain Zhang by Maureen F. McHugh

Nowadays standalones have turned to be rather the exception. This was very well written, a literary, slice-of-life, dystopia. At the beginning I considered Zhang aloof and could not relate to him, but as the story progressed I understood that it isn’t easy to survive in a world that condemns most things about you and could sympathize. I considered the chapters with the other characters really great too and loved the story set in Mars.
A beautiful book, to be read without hurry, as the awesome food-for-thought about human condition that it is.

 

Wow, this was a long post, I could still rave about my four star reads of last year, but then this would end up with two thousand words LOL.

Let me know if I should follow up with four stars, three and disappointing set asides and DNFs.

And at last, which were your favorite books from last year? Let me know in the comments.

My favorite movies

After writing about my favorite villains, I’ll continue with the list making exercise from the book “Writing Love: Screenwriting Tricks for Authors II” by Alexandra Sokoloff.

This time I’ll list my favorite movies, dividing them by genre:

Science Fiction

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1. Star Wars: A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back
 

And only those first two, after all, the other films were made mostly for children. After being extremely underwhelmed by the Return of the Jedi (silly Ewoks) and the Prequel Trilogy, I’m still considering whether “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is worth watching. But I can’t deny that I saw “The Empire Strikes Back” so many times I caught Han Solo’s cowboy accent to spice my English. 🙂

2. Blade Runner
Awesome director, actors, and screenplay in one of the best science-fiction cult films of all times. The future setting is awesome, the story the best ever, and all characters make this film nothing less than Legendary!

Fantasy

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3. Ladyhawke

I saw this film still as a teenager, but it stayed with me forever. Special stories are never forgotten. Rutger Hauer gives a show here, like in Blade Runner. He’s the kind of actor you could watch forever.

4.The Dark Crystal

Together with the Wizard of Oz, this was a childhood favorite. The whole world and the characters were just magical and for years I pulled up my ears so they would look like Kira’s.

 

Comedy

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5. Tampopo

This is a cult Japanese comedy about love and food. I saw it as a child and never forgot it. I just wish I could have a bowl of Tampopo’s noodles after watching the film.

6. The Little Shop of Horrors.

This has been a favorite since I was fourteen. I watched both versions, though I prefer the one with Rick Moranis and Steve Martin who will make you roll on the floor laughing as Orin Scrivello, the crazy dentist. I also loved it as a theater musical.

7. What’s new Pussycat

The first produced screenplay from Woody Allen and IMO one of the best comedies of all time.  Petter Sellers and all other actors make you laugh non-stop in this awesome comedy.

8. Some like it hot

I’m a fan of Marilyn Monroe and most of her films, and this is the funniest of them. A classic is a classic and this film belongs among the best ones.

 

ROAD FILM

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9. Thelma & Louise

Another awesome cult film from director Ridley Scott and the actresses Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon. Pure art, with an original story.

ROMANCE

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10. Shakespeare in Love

Romantic setting with the story playing in 1593 London, and Joseph Fiennes as Shakespeare in one of his best roles.  I’m usually not a huge fan of romance, but this film was way too good to miss.

11. The English Patient

An awesome film based on the novel of the same name from Michael Ondaatje. All the actors are great, and Ralph Fiennes as Count László Almásy is unforgettable. He and Juliette Binoche are wonderful together as in the film 12. Wuthering Heights which is also one of my favorite romantic films.

And finally, a romantic film where things end up well:

13. Breakfast at Tiffany’s

To explain why this film is one of my favorites I just need to say two words:  Audrey Hepburn. But the underlying theme of a girl pretending to be superficial and mercenary while she’s lost is a deeply touching story. The song “Moon River” helps too.

After this list, the following warning is advisable
Some films will mean something greater to you than just two hours sitting on a movie chair. Those you will not forget. And they will remain with you and be part of you forever.

 

My favorite books in 2016

Most books I read this year were worth at least three stars. One or two were too slow paced, were made for another audience or took a wrong turn at some point, but most were quite entertaining. So I decided to list here only the ones I found surprising, funny and incredibly smart, because when you have read your share of books you’ll find this important, that special zing. So here they are:

Historical Fiction:

Belgravia by Julian Fellowes

I usually don’t read historical fiction, but this book is worth reading even if you aren’t a fan of this genre. Lovely, awesome book, with an amazing story. If you liked Downtown Abbey you are in for a delightful treat.

Paranormal Fantasy:

Moon Called (Mercy Thompson #1) by Patricia Briggs

The start of an awesome series, which I was quite happy to read until book eight quite fast. Fun, page-turning, with very interesting characters and world.

Books on writing craft:

5 Secrets of Story Structure by K.M. Weiland (Goodreads Author)

I found this book quite helpful, it’s about story structure in a summarized and easy to understand way. Great if you want an overview of Story Structure before you go into too many details. For me, this was helpful because I usually want to have a look at the whole subject before I look at each element in detail. So, if you are having difficulties to understand story structure read this short and concise book, you’ll get it in no time.

 

Fantasy with Science-fiction elements and LGBT Characters:

Mating Flight: A Non-Romance of Dragons(Mating Flight #1)
by Bard Bloom (Author), Tod Wills (Illustrator)

This book is very entertaining and it’s page-turner reading. I read this book in three days because I didn’t manage to put it down. I liked the main character, a fiery-tempered dragoness and all the witty dialogues and funny situations with the other dragons. I’ll be reading the next book in the Duology to see how this adventure ends.

And if you want to check out which books I read this year, here’s my Goodreads link:

https://www.goodreads.com/user/year_in_books/2016/31638675

My 10 favorite blogs on writing

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Here they are, not in sequence, since I like all of them. When I’m looking for writing advice here is where I look. Many of these bloggers have awesome books on writing I surely recommend.

 

1. Helping Writers Become Authors
https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/

 

2. Live Write Thrive
http://www.livewritethrive.com/

 

3. Writers Write
http://writerswrite.co.za/

 

4. Rayne Hall, Making Good Books Great
http://www.raynehall.com/

 

5. Marcy Kennedy
http://marcykennedy.com/

 

6. Jane Friedman
https://janefriedman.com/blog/

 

7.Writers Helping Writers
http://writershelpingwriters.net/

 

8. What is a plot?
http://www.whatisaplot.com/

 

9. Jami Gold
http://jamigold.com/blog/

 

10. She’s Novel
http://www.shesnovel.com/