To Voyage Through Time

Another year has passed, and more books have been read, allowing me to voyage through time. Looking back over my Goodreads list, I am reminded of the best books I read throughout 2018. Unlike 2017, I exceeded my reading goal. While I strived for 75, I completed the challenge at 114 books!

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Some stories made me laugh, others broke my heart completely, but what follows are my favorite books of 2018:

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1.) The Song of achilles by madeline miller

The battered copy of this book sat on my shelf for years. I must admit, the idea of reading this terrified me, because it was the best friend’s favorite. There was too much pressure. But I asked him so many months ago when I should finally read it, and he said, save it for the sun. So I took this worn copy on vacation. With the sound of the ocean and the too-warm breeze, I experienced the utter beauty and heartbreak that is this book. And somewhere along those many pages, this book became my favorite, too. I shared it with my other best friend, and now the three of us have collectively been ruined by this stunning story. I even received my own used copy, and I can’t wait to reread.

“And perhaps it is the greater grief, after all, to be left on earth when another is gone.”


2.) The Rules of Magic by alice hoffman

Since childhood, Practical Magic has been one of my favorite movies. So when I discovered Alice Hoffman had released a prequel to that beloved story set in 1960’s New York City, I knew it would be good. I had no idea it would be such an all-consuming read. It was both devastating and hopeful, filled with magic that was all-at-once practical and haunting. This is another book I can’t wait to revisit.

“When you truly love someone and they love you in return, you ruin your lives together. That is not a curse, it’s what life is, my girl. We all come to ruin, we turn to dust, but whom we love is the thing that lasts.”


3.) the wicked deep by shea ernshaw

The promise of a novel filled with the essence of both Practical Magic and Hocus Pocus is fulfilled by reading Shea Ernshaw's debut. Within these pages is a story filled with regret, revenge, lies, and most of all, love. And every bit of this summertime story is just as wicked and deep as the title assures. To read more about my thoughts, check out my review, “So Easily Conjured.

“Perhaps we all have some oddity, some strangeness we keep hidden along our edges, things we see that we can't explain, things we wish for, things we run from.”


4.) circe by madeline miller

After finishing Miller’s debut, The Song of Achilles, I was excited to read her sophomore novel. Being obsessed with Greek mythology, I couldn’t wait to start reading this. With the combination of heartbreak, fierce femininity, and witchcraft, I was in love. Now I’m left looking forward to whatever Madeline Miller writes next.

"Humbling women seems to me a chief pastime of poets. As if there can be no story unless we crawl and weep.” 


5.) the immortalists by chloe benjamin

As someone who enjoys the mysteries of tarot and prophecy, this novel, which begins with the Gold children discovering the day they will die was a perfect read. What follows are five decades filled with family, ambition, dysfunction, and belief. The unbelievably flawed characters within this narrative fear and follow their fate, and the result is both stunning and devastating.

“The power of words. They weaseled under door crevices and through keyholes. They hooked into invididuals and wormed through generations.” 


6.) my ariel by Sina Queyras

My unending love of Sylvia Plath led me to this collection of poetry. Sina Queyras explores the pull many feel to Plath’s last collection Ariel, taking inspiration from the groundbreaking text while still making it her own. After following the Plath Poetry Project myself, I recognized some of the most beautiful and horrific themes from Plath’s work, making this one of the most memorable collections I read all year.

“How can I escape the force of her narrative, how she pulls everyone and everything into her design?”


7.) my year of rest and relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

Upon the recommendation of a coworker, I went into this book expecting some kind of Jane Austen story, but I suppose I was judging too heavily on the cover. What followed was one of the most unlikeable narrators I’ve read in some time, but whom I continued to enjoy page after page for that very reason. Following the year of this unnamed character as she tries to escape the resentment of her past with sleep, much of this story reminded me of The Bell Jar. As such, this book was one of the most surprising and satisfying reads all year.

“But I think I was also holding on to the loss, to the emptiness of the house itself, as though to affirm that it was better to be alone than to be stuck with people who were supposed to love you, yet couldn’t.” 


8.) What if it’s us by becky albertalli & adam silvera

Going into this book, I thought about how much I enjoyed Love, Simon and how devastated I was with They Both Die At the End (the title says it all, and yes, it almost made this list). While this book did make me cry, it wasn’t in the same way as the latter. As someone who loved Dear Evan Hansen, who has a fierce appreciation of musical theater, and of course, Hamilton, I absolutely devoured this book. At times adorable, heartwarming, and so honest, this was one book I can’t wait to return to when life gets rough and I need some happiness brought back into my world.

“I just think you’re meant to meet some people. I think the universe nudges them into your path.” 


9.) wink poppy midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke

Since its debut, I’ve wanted to read this gorgeous book. Upon reading, however, I had no idea how dark and twisted this story would be. But I loved every moment within Wink, Poppy, and Midnight’s connected lives.

“People aren't just one thing. They never, ever are.”


10.) dark sparkler by amber tamblyn

I wasn’t sure what I was expecting from this collection of poetry written about actresses lost before their time. But it wasn’t the haunting beauty of this book. Throughout reading, I found myself stopping to look up these tragic stories, or recalling the times I’d heard of these women before. Overall, the experience was somewhat obsessive, so I haven’t read again since, but it is a collection I continue to think about almost a year later.

“I’m told Galileo wept at how big his hands looked, how small they felt, while pointing at the stars.”


11.) belzhar by meg wolitzer

Another book brought into my life based on my love of Sylvia Plath, became one I so loved. This was a story I talked about at work and at home and one that truly surprised me, which as a writer, is often a difficult feat. The narrative tackles ideas of lost love, isolation, memories, and writing. With obvious connections to The Bell Jar, I found myself enthralled as these characters tried to bring themselves back to life.

“Books light the fire—whether it’s a book that’s already written, or an empty journal that needs to be filled in.”


12.) the night circus by erin morgenstern

Technically this book was a reread, but this time, I enjoyed the story as an audiobook. This second read reminded me why I so loved this story the first time around, and truly came to life through the audio rendering. I found myself getting lost in the circus, and wishing it were real long after the story was through.

“We lead strange lives, chasing our dreams around from place to place.”


13.) the bees by laline paull

As a writer obsessed with honeybees, this story told from the POV of a bee was an absolute delight. This story handled the beauty and horror of what happens in hives, culminating in a terrifying tale of Flora 717.

“You have wings and courage and a brain. Do not annoy me by asking permission."


14.) malagash by Joey Comeau

This strange little book found its way to me during one of my many visits to The Strand in New York City. It was one, which sat on my shelf for too long until I took it on this year’s vacation. It would’ve been difficult for even the best of books to follow The Song of Achilles, yet this story still captivated me. Told from a daughter about to lose her father, Sunday attempts to create a computer virus that will preserve her dad forever. It was a beauty and a barrage of heartbreak.

“And if words mean something to you, if an idea moves you, aren't you changed, just a little?”


15.) tiny beautiful things: advice on love and life from dear sugar by cheryl strayed

Narrated by Cheryl Strayed, this collection of advice columns, both dazzled and destroyed me as I listened to the audiobook. So many of the anecdotes and advice were profound examinations of humanity and how we try our best to survive. I can’t wait to own a copy of this for myself to go back and discover the beautiful writing that stuck me so completely the first time. 

“Don't surrender all your joy for an idea you used to have about yourself that isn't true anymore.” 


16.) grief is the thing with feathers by max porter

I purchased this book for the best friend long before reading Ted Hughes’ Crow. However, it wasn’t until after my love of Sylvia Plath led me to the aforementioned title that I found my way back to this book. It was an oddity, to say the least. But one which examined the profundity of loss and grief in the most vulnerable way. This definitely is a strange read, as Crow helps two young boys and their father work through their grief for the mother and wife they’ve lost. I think I enjoyed this a smidgen more than the best friend for having knowledge of Hughes’ work. But this stunning story is one that can be enjoyed by anyone who’s felt the echo of losing someone they love.

“Ghosts do not haunt, they regress. Just as when you need to go to sleep you think of trees or lawns, you are taking instant symbolic refuge in a ready-made iconography of early safety and satisfaction. That exact place is where ghosts go.” 


17.) i am not your final girl by claire c. holland

Another book purchased for the best friend, this collection reminded me of everything I loved about Amber Tamblyn’s collection. These poems follow different fictional female characters from horror films. It is a timely collection, which tackles violence, femininity, and the act of surviving.

“There is nothing else in this world like realizing you’re going to live and not being sure you can.”

18.) these are the women we write about by kayla king

This might be cheating, but if I am being truthful, this book is both my favorite read and proudest accomplishment of the year. Inspired by the women within Greek myths, my micro collection of poetry examines femininity, both past and present. I hope if you are reading this post that you might take the time to discover the women we write about, but never really know.

“I’m still too brilliant to become anything else. But I’m not sorry for what I’ve written.”

As I dive into some new books this year, I can’t wait to be transported to different worlds and to voyage through time, book after book! 

Want to know more about the books I read in 2018? Be my friend on Goodreads

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The Most Memorable Books of 2013

Below are the thirteen most memorable books I read in 2013, in no particular order of course. There are still many more on my to read list but I guess those will just have to wait until 2014!

1. )Allegiant by Veronica Roth 

Though I have traveled with the characters of this series since it first came out, I'm not sure I could be any more devastated to finish this book. I, however, didn't love this book the way I'd hoped. And not for the reasons you might think. There were moments, which seemed to negate everything Roth worked so hard to build in her other two books. If you're looking for a book to make you feel brave or simply a world to get wrapped up in, I do suggest this series. Even though this is the final book in the trilogy, this doesn't mean Roth is done. Stay tuned for Four , her collection of short stories coming out in 2014, and the Divergent movie making it's big screen debut March 2014! 

2.) The Giver by Lois Lowry 

This is one of my favorite books of all time. Have you ever been asked what your favorite book is and had a difficult time answering? It seems like the typical college question, which I've encountered, and I always start thinking of my top five. Because my favorite is always changing, but the list of absolute favorites usually stays the same. And this is one of the books from that list. So why am I reviewing it under the 2013 books? Well, I reread it again this year, and fell in love with it all over again! Each time I read this book, I take away something new. I remember the first time I read this in eighth grade, thinking it was such a simple story, and yet, it is probably one of the most complicated books I've ever read. If you found your way to this book yet, you need to just that! And if you have, well I'm sure you know what I mean when I say it's amazing. Though this is an older book, they are making it into a film in the future with Jeff Bridges playing the Giver. I guess, until then, I'll just have to keep reminding myself that the book is always better so as not to be too disappointed when I actually see the movie.

3.) The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

I don't think I can properly assess this book just yet seeing as I'm not quite finished with it. But there's still a few more days in 2013 so it will happen. This is the third book by Gaiman that I've read this year and I've been just as pleased. In fact, I had one of those weird, geeky, my mind has just been blown moments while reading this book. There is a moment when Bod, the protagonist, meets the spirit of a witch named Liza Hempstock, which, if I'd read this first probably would have meant nothing. But because I read The Ocean At The End Of The Lane earlier this summer, I noticed the last name. You see, invisible reader, Gaiman's newest adult novel which debuted this summer is based around a group of witches named Hempstock. So you can see why my mind just couldn't take that connection. It made me start thinking about all of these irrational things about lineage and future stories and endless questions that really had nothing to do with my current reading of The Graveyard Book. Needless to say, I'm taking my time with this one. There is so much to find between these pages, which teaches you about life and love and imagination. It is worth your time to read!

4.) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling 

What can I say about what might be my favorite book series of all time? Certainly, if I don't say this is my favorite book, then I can say Jo Rowling is my favorite author. She gave me a childhood filled with magic and imagination and words and stories; she is the reason I still love words today. But as for this little boy with glasses and a lightning bolt scar, I just want to say thank you. This book and this series taught me about the importance of friendship and love and Harry Potter has been my best friend since third grade, and still is today. So why did this make the most memorable books of 2013? Well, invisible reader, I read this book every year during the holiday season, and every year it makes me feel like a kid again. Thus, I'm more able to enjoy the magic and innocence of Christmas. During this time of year it is easy to get lost in wrapping paper and shopping and the stress that always follows, but Harry always seems to make this season a little less stressful and for that, I'm always thankful.

5.) The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen 

Though this book ended much too soon, I absolutely fell in love! It was one of those books that I bought on a whim, which then sat on my shelf for far too long, and then completely consumed my life while I was reading it. Filled with magic, heartache, love, and loss, this book is one that is truly special to me. For anyone looking for a beautiful world to fall into, I would recommend this 110%. I look forward to reading more books by Allen and to falling madly in love all over again with her characters! There is something really special about an author and a story that can create magic like Allen and The Girl Who Chased The Moon. I can't wait to read this again in 2014!

6.) The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman 

As previously mentioned, I loved this book! Gaiman is the master of creating haunting stories, which stay with you long after the book is finished. The Hempstock ladies in this book gave a great example of female power and the importance of family. I've recommended this book to so many of my friends now that I've started to lose count. It's just that good. This book taught me that magic and whimsy combined with darkness is just like real life, and that it's okay to use both when writing. In fact, it's more than okay, it's necessary! If you're craving a good scare or just a fantastical world to escape to, read Gaiman's newest book!

7.) Oh the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss

For the longest time, I'd never really read this entire book. It may seem childish, but I promise Dr. Seuss writes about some pretty life-changing things in this short book. And this year, between graduating and getting into graduate school, I think I needed to read this book. I bought this for my sister this summer as a high school graduation present, but ended up reading it three or four times before I gave it to her. Sometimes we don't need thick tomes about life to help us see the light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes, all we need are a few rhyming words, some colorful pictures, and a guarantee that even when we can't see it, we'll be going places soon!

8.) No One is Here Except All of Us by Ramona Ausubel 

I borrowed this from the best friend, not really knowing what it was about. I started it the same way. But by the time I was done, I realized this was more than just a book. It was a testimony to the importance of words and stories and how they can carry us through even the worst moments of life. The book begins with a character who tells us about her story, but ends with a character who has had to change her story just to survive. It was beautiful and magical and devastating. If I had the chance to reread this, I would. In fact, I loved this book so much that I gave it to one of my own characters to read. And though that sounds crazy, it's not. I love the fact that this cover is not covered in disingenuous promises of greatness. It never boasts that it is wonderful and mesmerizing. It waits until you are waist deep in its words to whisper about how amazing it really is. If you are looking for a fantastic piece of fiction, this is one of them! I'm sure you've noticed that most of the books on this list are young adult fiction because the majority of the books I read are YA. But this book was so good I didn't even notice it wasn't YA.

9.) Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott 

I read this book to do a book "report" for my Writing for the Professions class and ended up loving it more than I thought I would. I've read quite a few books about writing. While those books have been informative, none were nearly as enjoyable as this one. The great thing about this book is that it doesn't simply profess all the things a writer should do. It gives wonderful anecdotes mixed with sage writing advice. And Lamott never says you should take her advice. She just puts it out there for you to take for yourself. There are several techniques I've used from this book that have worked quite well for my daily writing routine, and then there are others which didn't work for me. But that's the amazing thing about writing! It's a unique experience for everyone. So for any of you that are writers out there I recommend the book. And for those of you who aren't writers, this book is great regardless.

10.) Requiem by Lauren Oliver 

I am so sad that I had to give this three stars on Goodreads ( and even that's generous). But I promise it was necessary. The first book in this series, Delirium, was amazing. The second book, Pandemonium, wasn't spectacular but second books rarely are. But most often, the third book in a series is mesmerizing and beautiful and ties up all its loose ends. This, however, was nothing of the sort. I'm not sure if any of you have seen Silver Linings Playbook, specifically the scene where Bradley Cooper throws his book out the window. But that was the same reaction I had to the end of this book. Only I didn't throw it out the window. Instead I woke up the sleeping members of my family on our way home from Myrtle Beach. Though I wouldn't necessarily say you shouldn't read this series, I would caution you to begin the last book with care. It will most likely disappoint you. But for me, it gave an example of what not to do when I finish my series. So even though the end of this book was not amazing, it taught me that endings are just as important as beginnings.

11.) Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares 

Unlike Requiem, Sisterhood Everlasting was a great end to a beloved series. Though this book brought back some of my favorite characters, they were older, and so much had happened since I finished reading Forever in Blue (Book Four). This book was filled with an inescapable sadness, which left me weeping into the wee hours of morning. But that's life I suppose. And though these characters are flawed, they are more real to me than most people I know. If you haven't read The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants series yet, you should. And if you're scared to read the adult versions of your favorite characters you should be. But sometimes, even when we're most scared, life offers us the best experiences. This book was one of those great experiences.

12.) Crash by Lisa McMann 

I read this book pretty early into 2013, and can't wait to read the sequel, Bang, as soon as I have time. Plain and simple, this was a fun read. Lisa McMann is at her best when writing these supernatural books (I fell in love with her Wake series years before) with characters who are flawed, and often don't see themselves as special despite having unusual gifts. And yet, McMann creates characters for readers to care about. I read this book in one sitting, glued to the edge of my seat, and flipping furiously from page to page. If you're looking for a great, suspenseful read, look no further. As the first McMann book I've read since the Wake series finished, I was impressed!

13.) Smoke by Ellen Hopkins 

I have been waiting for this book since I finished it's companion in high school. And I must say, just like Burned, this did not disappoint. Ellen Hopkins has a way of writing about life, which feels real and gritty and flawed and beautiful, all while fitting into the constraints of poetic prose. The book brought me back to my first journey with Pattyn and I felt just as enthralled by this experience as the first time around. I don't think I could have asked for a better way to wrap up a story I have been thinking about for the past several years. Well done, Ellen Hopkins! Well done!

This concludes my reviews of the thirteen most memorable books from 2013! I hope you have found some great new books to discover. I hope you've looked back at the most memorable books you read this year. And if you're not a reader, I hope this post has made you interested in reading. It's truly one of the greatest things life has to offer. I firmly believe it only takes one book to make people life-long readers. And who knows, maybe one of those books is listed here for you!