I can’t believe we’re halfway through the year already. I can’t believe Baby Chick is heading into High School! I can’t even think about that! Instead, I want to focus on my favorite books so far in 2018. Book thoughts always relieve stress. It’s my go to, and I have a feeling it’s also yours! Now, before we get into it, the books I’ve chosen weren’t necessarily written and released in 2018. My only criteria was that I read it in 2018.
So, here we go…
Birdie’s ten best books read between January-June 2018
10 – Point of Contact
by Melanie Hansen
There’d forever been a thread running through Trevor Estes’s life—his son, Riley, strong and constant like a heartbeat. But when Riley is killed in combat, everything in Trevor’s life unravels into a mess he doesn’t know how to mourn.
Then Jesse Byrne, Riley’s friend and platoon mate, arrives on Trevor’s doorstep with a box of Riley’s things. Jesse’s all-too-familiar grief provides an unlikely source of comfort for Trevor: knowing he’s not alone is exactly what he needs.
Trevor never imagined he’d find someone who fills his heart with hope again. As the pair celebrate Riley’s memory, their unique bond deepens into something irreplaceable—and something neither man can live without.
But diving into a relationship can’t be so simple. Being together means Trevor risking the last link he has to his son…leaving Jesse to wonder if he’ll ever be enough, or if Trevor will always be haunted by the past.
What a beautiful emotional read. It took me a long time to finally pick up Point of Contact, because it sounded like a huge tearjerker. It was worth all my tears though. It was such a beautiful story, about moving on after the worse loss in someones life. It was about finding solace with someone who understands. It was so perfect.
9 – Iron Gold
by Pierce Brown
A decade ago, Darrow was the hero of the revolution he believed would break the chains of the Society. But the Rising has shattered everything: Instead of peace and freedom, it has brought endless war. Now he must risk everything he has fought for on one last desperate mission. Darrow still believes he can save everyone, but can he save himself?
And throughout the worlds, other destinies entwine with Darrow’s to change his fate forever:
A young Red girl flees tragedy in her refugee camp and achieves for herself a new life she could never have imagined.
An ex-soldier broken by grief is forced to steal the most valuable thing in the galaxy—or pay with his life.
And Lysander au Lune, the heir in exile to the sovereign, wanders the stars with his mentor, Cassius, haunted by the loss of the world that Darrow transformed, and dreaming of what will rise from its ashes.
I was SO excited for Iron Gold. SO excited. It was so good too. Well worth every torturous moment of waiting. It’s true there’s a character or two I’d happily give a swift kick in the ass to, but all those feelings only made the story better. Readers should feel emotions and frustrations with the characters. In a great series, like this one, they won’t always act how you want them too. Now I’m super excited for Dark Age, book 5.
8 – Wavehouse
by Alice Kaltman
Sixteen year-old Anna Dugan is a super surfer who feels most at home when taking off on a ten-foot wave. But surf culture bores Anna big time. While other surfers follow trends and speak the lingo, Anna harbors a secret desire to be an artist, drawing houses made of waves. It’s not the most practical dream for the daughter of a single mom living in Kendall’s Watch, a beach town where most kids are so surf-centric they think ‘Current Events’ have something to do with ocean tides.
Anna is not only the best surfer in Kendall’s, she’s also the shyest. When a surf scout comes to town to gage her talent, Anna freaks out and refuses to let him watch her. To protect herself from the pressure and the panic, Anna decides to only surf at her private break, Secretspot, for the rest of the summer. But Secretspot becomes treacherous in ways Anna never imagined, and the danger has nothing to do with waves. When a gorgeous stranger paddles out, smiling a bewitching smile and surfing like a god, their chemistry is impossible to ignore. A series of events are set in motion that will change Anna’s life forever; events that raise difficult questions about love, honesty, betrayal and family ties.
Wavehouse was my dark horse of the year, at least so far. I didn’t expect to love this book as much as I did. The depiction of a mother/teenager relationship, basically how they’re imperfect, was spot on. To Anna her mom was the villain, but in reality she was just a flawed woman who loved her daughter but didn’t always make great choices. Those two alone were enough to push Wavehouse into my top ten of early 2018.
7 – Agent Bayne
by Jordan Castillo Price
After years of frustration as a PsyCop, Victor Bayne reports for duty at the Federal Psychic Monitoring Program. As a fledgeling agent, he’s ready to smoke out a few ghosts and be home each night in time for dinner. But is he prepared to add a professional dimension to his romantic partnership with Jacob Marks?
Jacob has already established his territory in the Program—he’s competent, he’s respected, and he’s pretty much fearless. The last thing Vic wants to do is screw up in front of him.
When fellow agents start turning up dead, Vic is expected to do more than just lay their ghosts to rest. But what if his psychic talent isn’t quite enough? As the death toll rises, he and Jacob scramble to determine who’s in danger, and who’s a killer.
Using all the resources at their disposal, they close in on their suspect. But as they do, their past comes back to haunt them…and even Jacob worries they’ve tampered with forces they should have left alone. Are their combined talents enough to protect them from enemies both living and dead?
PsyCop will always top my favorites list. I love Victor Bayne. I feel like we’re kindred spirits. I am devoted to his character, and this series. Still, I’m not trying to rationalize including Agent Bayne in my favorites. Every installment of this series is perfect. JCP never loses sight of her characters or sacrifices their personalities for the plots sake. That’s why this entire cast feels so real to me. Like they’re my friends. I really really want this book on audio!
6 – Legendary
by Stephanie Garber
After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.
The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister’s. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.
Welcome, welcome to Caraval…the games have only just begun.
Legendary was so awesome! While I enjoyed Caraval, I wouldn’t have counted it among my favorites. Legendary really pushed past the first book and took it to a whole new level. I loved getting to know more about Tella. She was so bold and vivacious, which made her a really enjoyable character. I also loved learning more about Legend. It was so good, I’m especially looking forward to Finale!
5 – Deal Maker
by Lily Morton
Jude is a highly successful model, but a very reluctant one. His life is full of casual hook-ups with pretty men in glamorous locations, but it’s still empty. However, circumstances decreed a long time ago that this was his path, so he’s resolutely stayed on it and accepted his fate with good grace. He made a deal with himself and his hook-ups. Get in, get out and no ties with anyone.
However, an accident at home one night leads to him making a new deal and accepting the offer of help from an unlikely source. It leads to an unexpected summer of falling in love with a larger than life man and his child.
But by the end of the summer his reasons for not staying are still valid. Will he turn away? Can he?
Asa is a talented actor who has spent time away from the scene to look after his son. But now he’s back, and the last thing he needs are complications from the gorgeous man who is staying with him. Scarred from too many betrayals, he has no intention of forming a lasting tie with anyone. However, he can’t resist the beautiful man with secrets, and to his horror he develops feelings.
But a deal’s a deal and they said it was just for the summer. What can Asa do with a man who has forever in his eyes and goodbye on his lips?
Deal Maker was another sequel I loved more than the first. Often, in romance, one character will hit you harder. It was true I loved Jude, so much, but I think a large part of what made Jude so spectacular was in how he was around Asa. I fell in love with his mischievousness, and Asa brought it out in him. Plus, it was one of the most wonderful ‘single dad falls in love’ story I’ve ever read. It got me on all fronts.
4 – LifeL1K3
by Jay Kristoff
Eve isn’t looking for secrets—she’s too busy looking over her shoulder. The robot gladiator she’s just spent six months building has been reduced to a smoking wreck, and the only thing keeping her Grandpa from the grave was the fistful of credits she just lost to the bookies. To top it off, she’s discovered she can destroy electronics with the power of her mind, and the puritanical Brotherhood are building a coffin her size. If she’s ever had a worse day, Eve can’t remember it.
But when Eve discovers the ruins of an android boy named Ezekiel in the scrap pile she calls home, her entire world comes crashing down. With her best friend Lemon Fresh and her robotic conscience, Cricket, in tow, she and Ezekiel will trek across deserts of irradiated glass, infiltrate towering megacities and scour the graveyard of humanity’s greatest folly to save the ones Eve loves, and learn the dark secrets of her past.
Even if those secrets were better off staying buried.
Jay Kristoff is fantasy fantastic. Sci-Fi too, apparently. He always gets it right, and LifeL1K3 was just one more book to solidify his status as a ‘must read’ author for me. Very few books have left me shook the way this one did. I couldn’t get it out of my head, and still find myself thinking about what the hell is coming next! Even though Nevernight is my favorite Kristoff series, it was LifeL1K3‘s cliffy that really slayed me.
3 – Leo Loves Aries
by Anyta Sunday
Theo Wallace usually laughs at the horoscopes his mom sends. Still hung up on his ex-girlfriend and practically friendless, this one begs him to reconsider. Because a friendship that stuck, that thrived…
Well, that would be a reason to leave past pains behind and look to the Bright Future.
When his sister Leone challenges him to find her the perfect date for a spring wedding, Theo uses it as a chance to make new friends. Theo’s ex economics tutor and newest roommate Mr. Jamie Cooper seems to be a possible and convenient match. Real convenient. Like written in the stars, convenient.
All he has to do is make sure this Jamie is good enough. Could really be The One for her, and the friend for him.
Leo Loves Aries was my everything. Maybe it’s because I picked this up when I was at my most low, just after I lost the baby, but for whatever reason this book mesmerized me. My favorite contemporary romance couples are Jamie Canning and Wes from Him, Gus and Casey from How to be a Normal Person, and now I have a third and it’s Theo and Jamie Cooper from Leo Loves Aries. So, yeah. They are my everything.
2 – Withered + Sere
by TJ Klune
Once upon a time, humanity could no longer contain the rage that swelled within, and the world ended in a wave of fire.
One hundred years later, in the wasteland formerly known as America, a broken man who goes only by the name of Cavalo survives. Purposefully cutting himself off from what remains of civilization, Cavalo resides in the crumbling ruins of the North Idaho Correctional Institution. A mutt called Bad Dog and a robot on the verge of insanity comprise his only companions. Cavalo himself is deteriorating, his memories rising like ghosts and haunting the prison cells.
It’s not until he makes the dangerous choice of crossing into the irradiated Deadlands that Cavalo comes into contact with a mute psychopath, one who belongs to the murderous group of people known as the Dead Rabbits. Taking the man prisoner, Cavalo is forced not only to face the horrors of his past, but the ramifications of the choices made for his stark present. And it is in the prisoner that he will find a possible future where redemption is but a glimmer that darkly shines.
The world has died.
This is the story of its remains.
All my notes are below, in the sequel, along with the link to the series review.
1 – Crisped + Sere
by TJ Klune
In a world ravaged by fire and descending into madness, Cavalo has been given an ultimatum by the dark man known as Patrick: return Lucas to him and the cannibalistic Dead Rabbits, or the town of Cottonwood and its inhabitants will be destroyed.
But Lucas has a secret embedded into his skin that promises to forever alter the shape of things to come—a secret that Cavalo must decide if it’s worth dying over, even as he wrestles with his own growing attraction to the muted psychopath.
Cavalo has twenty-one days to prepare for war. Twenty-one days to hold what is left of his shredded sanity together. Twenty-one days to convince the people of Cottonwood to rise up and fight back. Twenty-one days to unravel the meaning behind the marks that cover Lucas.
A meaning that leads to a single word and a place of unimaginable power: Dworshak.
Look, obviously I love TJ Klune. I know everyone will chuckle, seeing him top my list. I just want to point out that I don’t love him for no reason. His writing is phenomenal. However, THIS duology, Immemorial Year, is special because it is so effing gripping. It’s so dire. So distraught. It’s freaking absolutely brilliant. And yet they’re one of his least read books. He got such an underwhelming response he’s discontinued the series. (No, it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger.) It’s freaking tragic. It breaks my heart that it isn’t more beloved, especially in a world currently crazy about harsher fantasy/dystopian/dark stories. If that’s what you like, PLEASE READ IT!
Man, these were some great reads. They’re all on my mind again, and I already want to reread!
I definitely want to know how many of these you loved, or if you haven’t read them I recommend you add them to your TBR shelf immediately! They’re all fantastic!
What books have been standout for you I haven’t listed?