The Best of 2018

I once again participated in the Goodreads Reading Challenge in 2018. Last year I set my goal for 80 books. According to my records I read 851. Like last year, 11 of these got top marks -- five stars. As is the past, I will be listing these fine reads in no particular order. Without further ado, my highest recommended books of last year.

Crash Override: How Gamergate (Nearly) Destroyed My Life, and How We Can Win the Fight Against Online Hate by Zoe Quinn

A first hand look at the dark side of the internet told by Zoe Quinn and others, as well as a description of what we can do to stop the abuse and help the victims of it.

From the review: “This is an amazing, revealing, and to be honest, at times hard to read book that everyone should read.”

Memory's Last Breath: Field Notes on My Dementia by Gerda Saunders

When the author began to show signs of dementia, she did what she had always done throughout her professional career -- she took field notes for further analysis. The result is a fascination examination.

From the Review: “
Memory’s Last Breath” is a mixture of autobiography and a chronicle of her mental deterioration. The book is touching, heart-warming, sad, and informative.

Fatale, Vol. 4: Pray for Rain by Ed Brubaker, Elizabeth Breitweiser (Illustrator), Sean Phillips (Illustrator)

The fourth volume in Brubaker’s Fatale series, a supernatural/noir comic book which follows the mysterious main character across the decades. The series hits its stride when it ventures into ‘90s Seattle.

From the review: “What happens when you add equal parts amnesia and serial killer to the Fatale storyline? You get a heaping help of awesome, that's what.”

The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister's Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine by Lindsey Fitzharris

Discover the world of medicine in the 1800s. Specifically, learn how Joseph Lister worked to transform surgery from something risky at best to something which patients might actually survive. His work promoting germ theory helped pave the way for modern medicine.

From the review: “An amazing look at surgery in Victorian England and one of the men who changed it.”

Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente

An hilarious first contact novel. The premise is that the way other life forms determine the sentience of any particular species is by inviting them to participate in an inter-galactic singing competition. As long as the newcomers don’t come in last place, they will be accepted.

From the review: “Space Opera blends over the top humor with moving characters and stories. I could not go fifteen minutes without laughing while listening to this book.”

We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix

Grady Hendrix has done it once again, providing not only a world class horror story, but a wonderful examination of art, creativity, and the bonds of friendship. This story of sold souls and lost futures is sure to connect with any reader who enjoys the power of music.

From the review: “I could write another review extolling the writing talent of Grady Hendrix, but I don't think I would do the book justice.”

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

One would not expect that growing up as a mixed race individual in apartheid South Africa would be something that provides numerous tales filled with humor and touching emotion. Noah recounts his childhood with both humor and honesty.

From the review: “An informative and entertaining examination of life in post-Apartheid South Africa. Noah describes his life with honesty tinged with humor.”

The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler

A compelling book which switches between two interconnected storylines. The first concerns a young mute and his life in a traveling show. The second a young man, possibly a distant relation, who receives the book describing the travels of the show. Both times are connected by the bizarre deaths which happen on the same date -- 24 July.

From the review: “Often times, when a book shuttles between two sets of characters or two time frames, the reader ends up speed reading through one to get to the more interesting one. This is NOT the case with The Book of Speculation. In fact, I found myself heartbroken every time the scene switched because I wanted to know what happened to this set of characters RIGHT NOW, completely forgetting that was how I felt at the end of the last chapter.”

The Dispatcher by John Scalzi

Set in a world where the dead return to life 999 times out of a thousand, Scalzi creates a wonderful sci-fi mystery. Tony Valdez is a Dispatcher. His job is to a “dispatch” people immediately before they die, allowing them to reset and relive. However, when a fellow Dispatcher disappears under suspicious circumstances, he is drawn into an underworld of unsanctioned death and worse.

From the review: “A mark of a great author is when you read something of theirs and your first thought is ‘That’s genius! Why didn’t I think of that?’ and then you’re annoyed the whole time because someone else came up with the brilliant idea.

“Scalzi does this all the time.”

The Call by Peadar Ó Guilín

You know that an author has done an amazing job when the fantastic world created starts to bleed into your own existence. In
The Call, children are taken by the Fae into a horrible world called the Greylands, revenge for when the Folk were driven from this existence. Ó Guilín brilliantly weaves post-apocalyptic survival tales with Irish folktales. This was so well done that I started to cast sideways glances at the large grassy mound across the street.

From the review: “The relationships between the various characters are written well and realistically. The threats they face are gruesome and terrifying. I'm going immediately from this to the sequel.”

Red Clocks by Leni Zumas

Zumas explore what it means to be a woman, how womanhood and personhood are defined, in a time when women’s rights are being stripped away. This book is thought provoking and haunting.

From the review: “A brilliantly written book that is a little difficult to read due to the current political climate. The book follows the interwoven stories of five women living in a near future where abortion is illegal, and the Personhood Amendment limits reproductive procedures and adoption to two parent families. Heartwarming and chilling at the same time.”

1 I must have missed putting in the dates on some of them. Unfortunately, I am too lazy to back and see what I missed.