Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Books Read in 2018: A Review

image from openclipart.org by j4p4n

Followed By Frost”  by Charlie N. Holmberg.  I had 20 pages left to this book when the calendar year changed.  It counts as 2018 but.  I enjoyed this book.  Unknown, I read “Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet” in late 2017 and was captivated by the same lyrical, fairy tale magic in her first story.  Both books link to traditional fairy tale lore while telling their own unique story.  Both stories incorporate romance without making the works feel like a traditional romance and both stories have action and stakes without gratuitous violence or action scenes.  Holmberg’s style and connection to “Deep Magic” got me interested in their publication, that I read this past summer.

Chris from writers’ group wrote an "The Works of the Apprentice" which features alchemy and is published here.  It inspired me to think of what kind of urban fantasy I could take with alchemy in the mix.  This prompted research, and that lead to reading many books on essential oils.  I thought, “if anything in this world could turn into gold if mixed, it would be these essential oils.”  

Essential oils, for those who don’t know, already make a TON of fantastic claims, and it seems one of the few “new agey” remedies that spark scientific interest. I delved into the lore and science of the oils.  Through this I read: 
Essential Oils For Weightloss,” 
"Essential Oils Natural Remedies: The Complete A-Z Reference of Essential Oils for Health and Healing,” 
"Aromatherapy for Natural Living: The A-Z Reference of Essential Oils Remedies for Health, Beauty, and the Home,” 
"The Essential Oil Diffuser Recipes Book: Over 200 Diffuser Recipes for Health, Mood, and Home (Essential Oils Reference Book 1),”
 "Surviving When Modern Medicine Fails,”
 "Surviving When Modern Medicine Fails: A Definitive Guide to Essential Oils That Could Save Your Life During a Crisis,”
 "Winter Collection: Over 150 Lessons To Stay Warm, Happy & Healthy During The Cold Months,” 
"Baking Soda Power! Frugal and Natural: Health, Cleaning, and Hygiene Secrets of,” 
"EPSOM SALT: 50 Miraculous Benefits, Uses & Natural Remedies for Your Health, Body & Home (Home Remedies, DIY Recipes, Pain Relief, Detox, Natural Beauty, Gardening, Weight Loss).”

My opinions on these books like my thoughts on essential oils is mixed.  Do I still think there’s a wonderful urban fantasy story involving aromatherapy?  Yes, but I need even more research to see where this kind of story would/should go.  Do I want to feature a botanist who grows the plants in just the right way or a distiller or a perfumist who has a natural talent that greater than she understands or an actual skilled alchemist potion expert whose main ingredients are these essential oils?  Who would the antagonist be?  What’s the goal?  

Rounding off my “researchy” 2018 book reads, I read plant based pagan books for the more straight magical system elements of plants.  I read "A Green Witch’s Cupboard” and Martin’s earlier book "Triple Duty Spice Rack.”  I enjoyed both reads.  They gave practical information on how to keep dried herbs and spices and they spoke towards the magic/healing that can come from cooking/eating the right foods at the right time.  This appeals spiritually and intellectually as we know the complex interplay of food we eat determines how we absorb vitamins and minerals and whether our body can use them.  I enjoy melding folklore and traditional uses of cooking ingredients with modern research on the two and these books were more about the folklore portion that inspires my creative cooking and storytelling perspective.  

 My reading also included diet and nutrition books.  This January my husband and I went on the Ketogenic diet.  After I’d looked through tons of internet sites for information and recipes, I turned to books.  Health related reads included: 
"The Keto Diet: The Complete Guide to a High-Fat Diet, with 
More Than 125 Delectable Recipes and 5 Meal Plans to Shed Weight, Heal Your Body, and Regain Confidence,” 
"Fruit Infused Water: 98 Delicious Recipes for Your Fruit Infuser Water Pitcher,” 
"The Wicked Good Ketogenic Diet Cookbook: Easy, Whole Food Keto Recipes for Any Budget,” 
"The Easy 5-Ingredient Ketogenic Diet Cookbook: Low-Carb, High-Fat Recipes for Busy People on the Keto Diet,” 
 "33 Easy DIY Deodorant Recipes: for Staying Dry, Feeling Cool and Smelling Fresh.” 

 My feeling on these readings were mixed.  Leanne Vogel‘s book changed everything I ate and how I considered eating.  While I haven‘t wholesale adopted every detail she recommends, I found her willingness to explore how a person feels and who that relates to a diet very impactful and created a more introspective look at my food choices.  The other recipe books provided inspiration and groundwork for me creating my own meals, but I still can‘t keep to a recipe for long.  

Fruit infused water was a fun, casual read.  I drink about 20-40oz of fruit infused water as part of my new year‘s resolution to drink more water.  The book was a passing curiosity.  

Using more natural products in my life and becoming more waste free was a 2018 goal.  I considered making natural deodorants, but this book combined with online research turned me off from that idea.  Instead, I buy Tom’s brand.

Health-wise I also read “Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World,” and I did the eight-week plan.  The book was a retread of known information but a wonderful refresh course.  I’m also reading “The Highly Sensitive Person.”  No way I will finish this book this year but it’s been a thought provoking and healing read so far.

Most of these books are chosen from the Kindle Unlimited selection.  Nonfiction Kindle books are a strange phenomena because they are often self published and it makes me wonder about the credentials of those who publish the information.  What doesn't help are the links to blogs and websites.  No matter how professional the blog: it's not a scientific study.  I did not care for how many of the same graphics these authors sourced.  On the other side, it did teach me about how a nonfiction book might be used to build a person's name recognition, "personal brand", and sense of authority.  Interesting and scary.

I read and enjoyed “The Book of the Unnamed Midwife” and “The Book of Etta.”  I prefer Etta to the unnamed midwife.  And I will go into further detail in my “Kindle Unlimited” series during 2019.

 “Dragon Ridden” is a wonderful series.  I wrote a post in my “Kindle Unlimited” series that details what I loved and I left detailed reviews for each book on Goodreads.  I’m looking forward to a 2019 release of a fourth book.  Also a cool thing to note: T.A. White writes three series at once and I love how she works multiple projects at the same time successfully.  Since I prefer to work this way, it gives me hope for victory in my writing practice.

I read Sarah Fine’s “Reliquaryseries and while it was a wild addicting ride, I also found the books ridiculous and terrible.  My reviews go into further often spoiler-y detail.  That said, Sara Fine has such a great style in her writing and compelling book summaries I have two of her books in my queue to be read 2019.  At some point, I‘d like to do a deep dive into both what makes her work compelling and what turned me off so much in this series.

I love Annette Marie’s “Red Winter” trilogy I read last year.  This year I read her “Steel & Stoneseries and her “Spell Weaver” series with a more mixed reception.  The first three Steel & Stones are great, but they fell apart after book 3.  There were occasional moments of “Hurrah!” and long patches of missed marks.  I read through “Spell Weaver” because I liked Lyre so much in “Steel & Stone” but this series is a weak step-child in an otherwise much loved universe.  

Marie re-introduced me to the split world urban fantasy.  While I‘ve no intention to write one of these soon, it was interesting to see her take, and it got me thinking about future possibilities.  I appreciate how Marie introduces her fantasy to the modern world across her three series and look forward to scenarios she writes.  

Next, we have “Traitorborn” a follow up read from 2017’s “Secondborn.”  Loved this series and think it may be one of the young adult works for adults to read this year (and next when the third comes out).  Check out my “Kindle Unlimited” write up.  

Continuing in the 2018 trend for series, I finished “The Tree of Ages” series I‘d started in 2017.  One thing I love about Kindle Unlimited is that many authors using this service turn our series books in a fast pace.  I’m never left waiting so long for the next installment so I don‘t have to reread the first book.  I covered this series through my “Kindle Unlimited” posts and it was a welcome addition to my 2018 reading list.  

Cards of Chaos,” is the first book I read because someone recommended it via Twitter.  And it’s an amazing read.  I can not promote this work enough.  It has stunning cover art and complex, deep writing to match.  It’s a shame this work only have 12 ratings on Goodreads with four reviews.  If you like a fantasy with folklore elements please consider picking this one up.  

Jasmin Silvera wrote a sequel to “Death’s Dancer” called “Dancer’s Flame” and it was ok.  I loved “Death’s Dancer” and recommend urban fantasy writers and writers looking to combine magic and motion read the first book because Silvera executes these ideas almost perfectly.  “Dancer‘s Flame” isn‘t as strong as the first book, but it‘s still a good read.  I recommend both as wonderful fantasy escapes.

Matchmaking for Beginners” was a book I read with my mom, and like most books she suggests, it‘s a funny light romp.  I’m surprised I enjoyed it (and I don’t know why since this always happens ^_^). I classify the work as an idea beach read and as a great introduction to fantastic elements seen in more hard fantasy works.

The Last Necromancer” is a book with a lot of promise it doesn‘t deliver on.  I don’t want to go into too much detail here.  Check out my review on Goodreads, or most readers take on the work.

I raced through “Angelfall” and it‘s my favorite book series of 2018 hands down.  I’m looking forward to great things from Susan Ee.  

Elf Killers” is the second book I chose based on a Twitter post and I did not care for it. There is a second book from this author in my queue and I plan to check it out to see if it‘s just the way she went about building a world in this book I didn’t care for or if this is an overall style skip for me.  I can‘t recommend this book, but it has an audience who will enjoy reading it.

I gave up on “Lost in Arcadia” this year and I don’t have a lot to say about that either.  As my review states there‘s too, many characters introduced in rapid succession that don’t seem to have defining traits.  Add to that a slow start, and I couldn‘t make myself care.  

That‘s it, my 2018 reading list.  What did you read this year?  Did you meet your reading goal?  Did you read more fiction or nonfiction this year?  Did you like most of what you read?  Do you have a favorite and a least favorite?  If you could suggest one book for me to read in 2019, what is it and why?


  1. CARDS OF CHAOS sounds interesting. I'll have to check that one out.

  2. Yes please do. I can't recommend it often enough. It's more than a stunning cover.