Top 10 Favourite Reads of 2018

No, it’s not Tuesday but with the end of the year finally here, it’s time to start wrapping up on all the books I read in 2018. For this reason, here I am, counting down my favourite reads of the year. I am terrible when it comes to comparing and ranking things which is why my top tens are never ordered. Yet, this time around I’m actually going to try and do a proper countdown all the way up to my favourite read of the year. Can you hear me hyperventilating already? The pressure is intense, man. PANIC. To put it into perspective, I’ve read 89 books this year (I’m going to try my best to crack the big 9-0 before the year ends *crosses fingers & toes*) and have to pick TEN. JUST TEN.

So, here they are, in order, my 10 favourite reads of 2018:


34913691Let’s kick things off with a majorly hyped book. The Cruel Prince has some big flaws – lacking world building, slow pacing for the first half of the novel, a lot of unlikeable or eh characters, and am I completely addicted anyway for some inexplicable reason? Oh…..yes. The backstabbing, murder, political machinations, toxic romance, shades of grey characters, dark and twisty writing – I’m kind of in love with it all in an almost guilty pleasure kind of way. The second half of this book and especially the ending is just so addictive and exciting that I’m practically itching to get my hands on The Wicked King. It’s my most anticipated 2019 release, easy.

Divider 3


34530151A lot of people are going to wonder why this one is so low on my list so let me explain. The Hate U Give is fantastic. No, really, the fact that this is an author debut is insane. It’s wonderfully written, the characters are rich and very well developed, and the story itself is topical, emotional and impactful. I admire THUG for all of these reasons and recommend that everyone read it at least once to better understand privilege, racism, and the importance of standing up for what is right. However, at the same time, it’s not something I would ever see myself re-reading or a book I could say I “loved” or was completely transfixed by, which is why it sits at number nine.

Divider 3


21028311This is another hyped up and somewhat flawed read which for some reason I couldn’t help gobbling up like an all-you-can-eat buffet complete with a chocolate fountain at the dessert table. To All the Boys is the fluffy, adorable, and sweet YA contemporary I didn’t even know I needed that would be able to make me smile even on an absolutely terrible day. Sure, it’s predictable, the plot is a little silly, and the ending is incomplete (to put it mildly), but it’s not meant to be a heavy read and I had such a wonderful time reading it that I immediately tracked down and read books two and three. Also, the fact that it features a mixed race protagonist is great. Basically just LJ x Peter K forever.

Divider 3


36160193Warcross was my very first introduction to Marie Lu and what a fabulous one at that. I raced through this book like crazy, ridiculously keen for answers to all the story’s big plot questions. The warcross matches themselves were so much fun and a feast for the imagination – it’s basically virtual reality capture the flag on speed. The characters in Warcross were also really well done too, especially the MC, Emika, who became one of my favourite characters of 2018 (well, if we ignore Wildcard *cough*). She’s smart, talented, and pretty kick ass. I may not have been that keen on one of the major twists of the book but that didn’t stop me desperately craving book two the minute I finished it. I’ll definitely be checking out more of Marie’s books in future after the fun time I had with this one.

Divider 3


34810320Sadie was not a light read by any means – murder, child sexual abuse, loss, poverty – but from the get go I was hooked. There’s just something about this dark, little book which grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. The writing and pacing are so perfectly done with the divide between first person and podcast transcripts. Sadie, herself, was both strong and vulnerable, and I wanted nothing more than to protect her from the world’s evils on her journey toward revenge. The ending of this one will be gnawing at me for a long time to come.

Divider 3


Image result for the song of achillesI’d heard amazing things about this book for ages before finally reading it, and people weren’t wrong. This was the book that reminded me just how much I love history. It’s the perfect blend of mythology, magic, war, romance, and emotional trauma wrapped up in one innocent looking, book shaped package. Miller’s attention to detail is phenomenal and blended with her straightforward writing style, immerses you without ever feeling overwhelming. The characters are beautifully developed, both good and bad, and even though the story is an old one, Miller tells it in an emotional and impactful way that really does manage to hit you hard in the feels. The perfect reminder that I need to branch outside of YA more often.

Divider 3


Related imageAs if this wouldn’t make the list. It feels like so long ago that I read Simon. I mean, it kind of is a long time ago as it was one of the first books I read in 2018. At the time, Simon was the latest in my attempts to branch into the YA contemporary genre and it’s probably what encouraged me to read so many of these kinds of books this year. This book made me feel so happy, so good about the world at the end of it, that I just couldn’t wait to write a review. Honestly, I believe Simon could win over even the most cynical of readers. There’s great LGBTI representation, the writing itself is actually laugh out loud (or in my case, snort) funny, and it really does take you on an emotional rollercoaster of ups and downs. If you’re in a reading slump, this is the novel cure for you.

Divider 3


Image result for scythe neal shustermanI waited ages to get my hands on this book, meaning the expectations were very high because of all the positive reviews I’d seen during that period. To my relief, it wasn’t a let down in the slightest, mostly because Shusterman’s world is wonderfully original and fantastically constructed. I sucked up every detail like a ginormous sponge. The concept is compelling, a little crazy, somewhat terrifying, and perfectly executed even with the slower pace of the plot. The characters themselves are likeable and layered, and I really enjoyed reading through their arcs.  Also, a big plus, the romantic subplots are properly developed and don’t take over the main storyline. Simply put, I loved this book (and the sequel, too!).

Divider 3


umqxjlfoedq7lj67v7w0Yes, this is two books but both of them have to be on this list and I feel weird about giving them separate slots so here they are, bundled together. This series gave me serious life at the start of 2018. My god, this is sci-fi at its best. I don’t even know where to start. Once they got going, and they really, really do, I could barely put them down until I finished. The story is so full of action, twists and turns, and backstabbing/plotting, it’s phenomenal. The characters are memorable, complex, have a wonderful dynamic, and when things go wrong for them, it really plays with your emotions. The other star of this series is Brown’s world building, or should I say ‘universe building’, which is just so damn good. The scale of it all is crazy. I will definitely be rereading these at some point.

Divider 3

And that brings us to my final pick of the year, my favourite read, which was…


Are you ready?


33160963Ta dah! Evelyn Hugo is my number one read for 2018. Not that it should be a big surprise to anyone who’s read my review. I knew this book would be magic from the very beginning. I just had that feeling, you know the one, and I was right. Honestly guys, I love this book. Adore it. It’s actually joined The Time Traveller’s Wife as one of my favourite books of all time. The characters in this story are so real and multifaceted, the love and care Reid gives them simply jumps off the page. This is especially so for Evelyn, herself, with all her imperfections. The LBGTI representation is fantastic, particularly with regards to the historical context. Honestly, I could sit here forever and talk about all the reasons I love this book and we wouldn’t even scrape the surface. The writing, structure, heartbreaking romance, old Hollywood setting, ah! It’s so good. Read it, read it, read it.

Divider 3



*Exhales* Made it! That wasn’t so hard was it? I’m kidding. That was agony. I’ll probably think about this list for the next week agonising about what I coulda, shoulda, woulda done. But hey, sometimes you just have to pick and stick with it.

What were your favourite reads of 2018? And what’s the last book you plan to read for the year?


Never Forget, Never Give Up, Never Be Quiet: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

5 stars


Now that’s how you write an author debut.

Over the years, I’ve seen quite a lot of books raved about online, but there are only a few that reach the level of The Hate U Give. This book deserves all the love it receives and more.

I confess, I spend most of my time buried in books that don’t really deal with very heavy, real-world issues. I usually read books to get away from the real world, which is why it’s taken me so long to finally read THUG – I just wasn’t sure whether it’d be something I’d actually enjoy. As usual, I shouldn’t have worried, because this book is fantastic and, above all, eye-opening.

I’m not going to write an extremely lengthy review because it’s been done thousands of times before and probably far better than I’d ever manage. So let’s keep it short and sweet.

Who, What, Where?

The Hate U Give is YA contemporary novel set in the poverty affected, crime-ridden, and heavily African-American populated area of Garden Heights. This is the home of our protagonist, sixteen-year-old Starr Carter and her family. After attending a house party, Starr gets a ride home with an old friend, Khalil. On the way, they’re pulled over by a police officer who, shortly after, shoots and kills Khalil. As the only witness, Starr is placed in a terrifying position – does she speak up, risking the wrath of not only the police but the local gangs, or stay silent, even if it means sacrificing justice for her friend?


One of the most basic pieces of advice people give to young writers is ‘write what you know’ and that’s exactly what Angie Thomas has done. Thomas grew up in an area of Mississippi not too different from Garden Heights and because of this she has intimate knowledge of the poverty, crime, domestic abuse, drug issues, prejudice, education barriers, fear, and violence African-Americans face in parts of the US. But instead of just preaching to us about these issues, Angie places us smack bang in the middle of it so that we can experience them through the eyes of someone who sees it all every day.

When Starr sits in the passenger’s seat of Khalil’s car, her mind running over every piece of advice her parents have given her for dealing with police, we actually feel her terror. The idea that this is what people of colour experience when they come in contact with those who are supposed to protect them horrifies me. I don’t think I have ever been more aware of my privilege than I was in that moment and that is the power of Angie Thomas’ writing.

However, the most wonderful thing about THUG is that it’s not just about the negatives. As outsiders, we look at neighbourhoods like Garden Heights and all we see are the problems. In this book, Angie helps us realise that despite these issues, this is still someone’s home and there’s so much good we don’t see – loving families, kids playing on the street, thriving local businesses, and a tight-knit community.

THUG’s success isn’t just about its subject matter, it’s also well written, engaging and filled with memorable characters. The plot itself is very multilayered – Starr dealing with issues of race in her friendships and romantic relationship, community issues in Garden Heights, particularly in relation to drug lord, King, and then the treatment of black people by law enforcement and the media. Because of this, the plot has a lot of room to move which allows Thomas to address some intense topics with a character heavy and personal focus

Each of the characters in the novel, even the smaller ones, leave an impression, whether it be good or bad. They’re developed, distinct and actually feel like real people. As a protagonist, I found Starr to be very strong. She’s brave and possesses great emotional complexity. I sympathised with her, felt concern for her, rooted for her, and raged with her.

I wish I could explain just how big an impact this book has but even with thousands of words, I don’t think I’d succeed. Instead, all I can say is, read this book – it’s educational, emotional, and an important reminder of just how far we all have to go to achieve equality.

5 Stars

And That’s a Wrap: August Edition

August comes to a close. Hello, September. It feels like every time I sit down at my computer it’s time to write another wrap-up. This was a good month in terms of the number of books I got read vs books I piled onto my TBR but not so great posting wise.

Books I Read

Some of you may have seen my post at the beginning of the month regarding my plans to undertake the NEWTs magical readathon hosted by booktuber, G @ Bookroast in August. I am very happy to say that I passed the readathon with flying colours and finished off the month with a total of 10 books! Overall I attained 4 NEWTs and my “grades” were:

  • Arithmancy – Outstanding
  • Transfiguration – Outstanding
  • Charms – Outstanding
  • Defence Against the Dark Arts – Acceptable

I largely stuck to my set out TBR (go me!) except for one exchange which was Sharp Objects for The Upside of Unrequited. Here’s what I read:

August Reads

P.S. I Still Love You – Jenny Han ★★★★

After the ending of the first book, I was so glad to finally get the cute Lara Jean and Peter reconciliation I wanted. That is until they split up again. Pffftttt. Still, I enjoyed this one. The series is fluffy and sweet in typical YA contemporary fashion, and I love the characters. John Ambrose was a really nice addition and I think this is another love triangle where I actually wouldn’t have minded either candidate. Who knows, later in life John and LJ may end up together. I do wish that there had been a better resolution to the game of tag and some sort of catharsis regarding LJ and Gen’s divide though.

Always and Forever, Lara Jean – Jenny Han ★★★.5

So the plot in this one is pretty minimal – it’s all ‘which college should I go to’, can our relationship survive, wah, wah, wah. But eh, I had a pretty good time anyway. Peter was a bit of a pain at times which made me a little cranky. Me: Come on, boy, you love the girl so don’t hold her back!  Then there was a moment toward the end when I was like: you two better not break up. I did not sit through three books for you to crush all my hopes and dreams. Luckily, all ended up well and the last iteration of the relationship contract was super adorable. Major awwwwws were made.

A Promise of Fire – Amanda Bouchet ★★★.5

I went into this one thinking it’d be more fantasy-fantasy than romance-fantasy so I was a little surprised. I ended up kind of guilty pleasure enjoying it though, even though it has a few problems. I mean, the story starts because the male lead kidnaps the MC and forces her to stay with him so they can use her magic = bit of a dodgy foundation for a r/shp. Still, the world building is okay, the side characters are good, the MC is kick-ass and the romance is steamy enough. Hopefully in book two there’ll be some more non-romance plotlines, the MC will stop ending up in life-threatening injury situations all the time, and she’ll finally tell everyone her damn secrets.

The Cheerleaders – Kara Thomas ★★.5 | Review

I was a bit disappointed with this one but I have a feeling I went in with too higher expectations for some reason. I was really hoping for an intense and twisty mystery but most of it fell flat for me. I didn’t really like how the mystery was resolved, especially since we’d been led to think it might have been bigger in scale than it was. Also, a lot of the characters felt quite underdeveloped. I did enjoy the friendship between the MC, Monia, and her classmate, Ginny though.

Circe – Madeline Miller ★★★★

Miller’s writing continues to be fantastic. At times, Circe almost feels like a collection of short stories with linking material to fill in the gaps. Some “stories” I found more interesting than others. There were times when I was really, really engaged and others when, weirdly, I was almost bored. I found this book really sad a lot of time, poor Circe had a bit of a rough life, so I was glad it ended on a more positive note. The characters were very strong and Miller did a great job of weaving together the mythology.

The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas ★★★★★

Fantastic. The writing, characters, themes – everything was A+.

Sharp Objects – Gillian Flynn ★★★

After getting stuck into the HBO series, I couldn’t resist giving the book a go too. Just like Flynn’s other novels, this one’s far from happy. Every character has secrets and a dark side. Although it’s technically a mystery, the focus is more on the people than the murders. I liked it but I feel as though I would have enjoyed it more had I not accidentally found out who the killer was prior to the end. Still, both of the twists were good and Camille was a complex and sympathetic protagonist.

Soulless – Gail Carriger ★★★.5

For the first part of this book I was very unengaged and almost just going through the motions BUT after the first hundred pages I actually ended up having a fairly good time. It’s no masterpiece but it’s a fun urban fantasy with a spunky heroine. The romantic element is a bit out there but still pretty amusing. The writing is very tongue in cheek most of the time and I may read the sequel if I’m in the mood for something light, sexy and involving werewolves & vampires.

The Plastic Magician – Charlie N. Holmberg ★★.5 | Review

This was a very light and simple book. It’s almost like watching a Disney movie in written form – the good guys are oh, so good and the bad guy is basically a moustache-twirling villain. The plot is very straightforward – point A to point B and the romance is kind of sweet but forgettable. Overall, it’s an okay book, I was just a little bored. There’s nothing unexpected or bold, it is what it is.

Ash Princess – Laura Sebastian ★★★★

I knew to keep my expectations in check with this one, it’s nothing original, and surprisingly, I ended up enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would! I didn’t mind Theo as a protagonist – yes, she has a lot of back and forth and emotional turmoil but it’s pretty fair under the circumstances. I’m looking forward to seeing her come into her true badassery. The magic system was pretty interesting as well so I’d like to find out more in later books. I think there’s some decent potential here and I’ll probably continue with the series.

Books I Bought

After last month’s debacle in purchasing willpower, I only ended up with 6 new books on my shelves this month and two of them I read shortly after buying. At this point, I’m pretty proud of myself and I’m sure my bank account is thanking me, too.

August Buys

Blog Posts

It was a bit of a weak month for me posting wise. I have a feeling I’ll be in a need of a break from blogging and bookstagram soon but we’ll see. Other than the two reviews linked above, here are my posts from August:

Book Tags

The Greek Mythology Book Tag

Page to Screen

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Let’s Talk

What Makes a Great Book Cover


New Additions to My Goodreads To-Read Shelf 3#

WWW Wednesday | 29.08.18



Palo SantoI love popping on a bit of music while I blog and this month I’ve had two albums on repeat – Palo Santo by Years & Years and the new Mamma Mia!: Here We Go Again Soundtrack. I’m really loving this direction for Years & Years – it’s darker and more intense, with some great beats. The Mamma Mia soundtrack is just a nice, happy album to put on. You can never go wrong with a bit of ABBA, really.


Image result for sharp objects hboI haven’t watched a lot of TV this month. For some reason, I’ve been gravitating towards movies a bit more. No clue why. However, I did get massively into the new HBO adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects. It’s a super slow burn kind of mystery and most of the characters are demented in some way, but I’ve enjoyed it. Amy Adams is a fantastic actress and I loved seeing her on the small screen. Also, the music choices in this series are amazing!

Related imageI’ve also finally gotten back into Poldark. My sister and I watched the second half of season 3 and have now gotten stuck into season 4 after picking up the DVDs over the weekend. I’d forgotten how much I love this show. The scenery is stunning and even though the plot can be a bit melodramatic, I’m still so here for it. Having Aidan as eye candy isn’t bad either…


Not much to report here, as usual. Work has started to pick up a little, but not as much as I’d like. I’ve been continuing to take driving lessons every week in the hope that I’ll eventually get my licence (it’s only been like NINE years).

Divider 2

And…that’s a wrap!

How was your August? What was your favourite read?

August TBR: NEWTs Magical Readathon

July is done, my OWLs readathon is complete, and I’m ready to move on to a newer, bigger challenge – the NEWTs readathon. Like last month’s readathon, this, too, is a Harry Potter themed readathon and hosted by G @ Book Roast. It’s based around a set of wizarding exams taken by Hogwarts students during their schooling. While the OWLs are taken in fifth year, NEWTs are completed in seventh, and just like this readathon, they’re supposed to be tough.


  1. To win the readathon you must pass two NEWTs and achieve an Outstanding grade in at least one of them
  2. Subjects work in tiers and each level must be unlocked in turn to reach an Oustanding grade – the passing grades are: Acceptable, Exceeds Expectations, and Outstanding.
  3. You may only attempt NEWT subjects previously completed during the OWLs readathon (unless you’re doing NEWTs without having done OWLS – then you just pick & choose).

I “passed” 9 OWLs in July so I had a lot of choice in selecting NEWT subjects. I’ve ended up setting TBRs for 5 of them – Arithmancy, Charms, Transfiguration, Ancient Runes, and Defence Against the Dark Arts. There are three books for each subject, meaning 15 in total. Don’t worry, this is massively ambitious for me. There’s no way I’ll get even close to finishing but what can I say? I love having choice. So here is my exciting (for me at least) looking TBR for the month ahead:


I’d actually planned on reading Circe during OWLs but after realising I wasn’t that keen on the NEWTs challenges for the subject I allocated it to, I decided to push it back to August. I’d say it fits the ‘charming cover’ requirement very well. I’m determined to read it this time!

I expect to get through Arithmancy very quickly as I’ve picked three YA books that all happen to be fairly short in length. Great for powering through a readathon.

Enough blabbering, wish me luck!

What are you planning on knocking off your TBR pile this month? Anyone else planning on undertaking a readathon?

Love Ashley



New Additions to My Goodreads To-Read Shelf 2#

I feel like one of the characteristics of being a bookworm is constantly thinking about the many, many books that you would like to read but do not in any way have the time to (seriously, would someone get me a time turner already?). It seems like they just continue to pile up, and up, and up until eventually you find yourself sitting in a mental book fort, wondering how the hell you got here. Your brain is on the next book even as you’re reading the current one. It’s crazy! And of course, that is why I present to you the 5 latest books to join my Goodreads to-read shelf – because it’s never big enough, I tell ya.

E & P

I’ve heard it’s cute, warm, sweet, tingly and….that the ending hits you in the chest. Like a semi-trailer. Okay, Rowell, my heart is READY.

The Hate U Give

Up until now I actually didn’t think I’d ever read this one, it just wasn’t something that really interested me (although I know it deals with some REALLY important and topical issues). But it’s rare that you see the amount of love for a book this one has, plus it’s been on the NY times bestseller list forever.


I’ve read three of MM’s The Lunar Chronicles books so far and quite enjoyed them, and I really like the concept for this one – people with special powers, heroes, villains. Yeah! Also, the cover is awesome.


I’ve been super torn over whether to read this sequel or not because I enjoyed about three quarters of Caraval before being massively disappointed by the climax. However, I’ve decided to take the plunge and give it a go. Fingers crossed.

My Lady Jane

I saw this book making the rounds last year, and people seemed to really be enjoying it, but I never properly looked into it until recently when the sequel started popping up. It sounds like a bit of fun and it’s always nice to have something to break up the more dramatic ya-fantasy stuff I read. Points for historical elements too!


What are the most recent additions to your to-read shelf?

Have you read any of these books? What did you think – should I pick up a copy or remove them from my virtual shelf before you can say 1-star review?

Love Ashley

Top 10 Tuesday: Books I feel like Everyone’s Read but Me

I wasn’t really feeling this week’s allocated TTT topic or any of the variations I could come up with for it. Instead I’ve dug up this older topic from the archives on The Broke and the Bookish which is top ten books I feel as though basically everyone out there has read except for little old me. I could come up with a whole lot more than ten for this one but for now here’s a few.

1Image result for shatter me

Shatter Me – Tahereh Mafi

This series is everywhere. Like EVERYWHERE, but it got even worse when Restore Me came out this year. I plan on giving it a read soon just to see what all the fuss is about.

2Image result for fangirl rainbow rowell

Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell

When you talk about YA contemporaries, this is one that constantly seems to come up. It entered the top 100 reads list at my bookstore this year which definitely increased the feeling of being the only one who hasn’t read it.

3Image result for the hate u give

The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas

The love for this book is crazy. It was on the NY times bestseller list for ages and ages, and it was all anyone talked about online for a good long while. Now there’s a movie coming out and the FOMO is real guys…

4Image result for rupi kaur books

Milk & Honey and The Sun and her Flowers – Rupi Kaur

I’ll be honest, I’m not a massive poetry person. I can admire a lovely phrase or two but I’m not about to go out and buy a book especially devoted to poems. These two works blew up in a huge way last year and the closest I’ve come to reading them is seeing a couple of photos on bookstagram. However props to Rupi Kaur for making poetry cool.

5Image result for Looking for alaska

Looking for Alaska – John Green

Come on, I had to include a John Green book here because (a) everyone seems to love them and (b) I don’t read them. I’ve been hearing about this book ever since I was in high school and it seems to be the JG book to read other than The Fault in Our Stars (which I actually have read!).

6Image result for to kill a mockingbird cover

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

This is one of those classics that I feel like HEAPS of people have read, likely because it was part of their English curriculum but also because I hear it’s fantastic. I’m not big on classics but part of me is tempted to read it sometimes just to join in on the conversations.


Image result for percy jackson and the olympians

Percy Jackson and the Olympians series – Rick Riordan

This is kind of a cheat answer because I’m actually three books into the series (only two to go!), however I feel like this series was almost a second Harry Potter for people a bit younger than me. Essentially everyone in the bookish part of the internet has read them and the spin off books, and they’re just crazy about them!

8Image result for his dark materials cover

His Dark Materials Series – Philip Pullman

This is another really beloved children’s series that I feel like A LOT of people read when they were younger but I somehow missed entirely.

9Image result for 1984 cover

1984 – George Orwell

Another classic that people have read because of school or just out of pure interest, likely because it’s great and still culturally relevant. Again, I’m a bit classically deprived here…

10Image result for to all the boys i've loved before

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before – Jenny Han

Yes, another YA contemporary, I know. I only just recently started picking up a few books in this genre and this one seems to pop up like a game of whack-a-mole. It’s actually so much so, I bought a copy last week. Hopefully I’ll finally get why everyone’s always talking about it. Also apparently the rights have been acquired by Netflix, so that’s cool?

BonusImage result for The Name of the Wind

The Kingkiller Chronicles – Patrick Rothfuss

This is a fantasy series that’s become huge. Basically everyone I know who enjoys this genre has read these. It’s been on my Goodreads to-read shelf for ages but I keep putting it off because I’ve heard the beginning is extremely slow. Then again, I should probably learn from my Nevernight experience and just do the damn thing already.


Which books do you feel like everyone else has read but you? (Don’t worry, I won’t judge…much. Kidding, I won’t at all, promise).

Love Ashley