Media Gal’s Favorite Books of 2018

Media Gal celebrates the end of 2018 by reviewing her favorite books of the year.

As 2018 come to a close, I wanted to reflect on the awesome books this year brought us. My personal Goodreads goal was 18 books in honor of 2018 and 47 books were read (and still counting!). So as we march into 2019 and look forward to all of the fantastic books that are to come, here is a list of my favorite books I read in 2018 by publication date:

  1. The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury

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Fairytale retellings are my absolute favorite and this retelling of Aladdin did not disappoint. I picked it up because Aladdin was my favorite Disney Animation movie growing up, and I love books featuring djinn. This romance is heady and the heroine is clever. A perfect fit for anyone who wants a fairytale retelling that features lovely romance, action, and depth of story.

Fun fact: There is also a short prequel story called “The Jinni” found on Wattpad!

When Aladdin discovers Zahra’s jinni lamp, Zahra is thrust back into a world she hasn’t seen in hundreds of years—a world where magic is forbidden and Zahra’s very existence is illegal. She must disguise herself to stay alive, using ancient shape-shifting magic, until her new master has selected his three wishes.

But when the King of the Jinn offers Zahra a chance to be free of her lamp forever, she seizes the opportunity—only to discover she is falling in love with Aladdin. When saving herself means betraying him, Zahra must decide once and for all: is winning her freedom worth losing her heart?

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  1. An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

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This standalone was enchanting, and the romance between Rook and Isobel is sweet. While I gave it 4 of 5 stars due to a couple of questions I had, I don’t think this story is one to miss. And look at that awesome cover by Charlie Bowater! After you read this story, don’t miss out on Rogerson’s next standalone, Sorcery of Thorns, coming out in June of 2019.

Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes—a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love—and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.

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  1. The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

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The first in a duology, this story was fantastic at showing the horrors of obsessing over beauty in a fantastical world. Orléans is both a world I would totally be fascinated to visit and yet want to steer clear away from — it reminds me of when frosting is far too sweet and leads to cavities (but, truthfully, in the best way). I love Clayton’s honesty with the author’s note at the end, and I cannot wait for The Everlasting Rose to be published this coming March!

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.

But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision.

With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.

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  1. The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross

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TQR was actually a book I was sold to by my university. The University of Georgia had sent out that fellow UGA alumna Rebecca Ross was having her debut party at Athens’ local indie store, Avid Bookshop. Curious, I went to the debut party because I wanted to hear what Ross had to say about her process of being published and I wanted to buy her book. Avid was full from door to door with people and Ross ended up selling out of her book at the store that night (which is a pretty fabulous way to start, I think!). I’m so glad I was able to meet Ross that night and read TQR. Now all I really want is to study knowledge at Magnalia House and obtain my blue cloak with a constellation sewn upon it. Look out for The Queen’s Resistance, book two of the trilogy, when it releases in March!

And for good measure, here’s a photo from Ross’ debut party! =)

When her seventeenth summer solstice arrives, Brienna desires only two things: to master her passion and to be chosen by a patron.

Growing up in the southern Kingdom of Valenia at the renowned Magnalia House should have prepared her for such a life. While some are born with an innate talent for one of the five passions—art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge—Brienna struggled to find hers until she belatedly chose to study knowledge. However, despite all her preparations, Brienna’s greatest fear comes true—the solstice does not go according to plan and she is left without a patron.

Months later, her life takes an unexpected turn when a disgraced lord offers her patronage. Suspicious of his intent, and with no other choices, she accepts. But there is much more to his story, and Brienna soon discovers that he has sought her out for his own vengeful gain. For there is a dangerous plot being planned to overthrow the king of Maevana—the archrival kingdom of Valenia—and restore the rightful queen, and her magic, to the northern throne. And others are involved—some closer to Brienna than she realizes.

With war brewing between the two lands, Brienna must choose whose side she will remain loyal to—passion or blood. Because a queen is destined to rise and lead the battle to reclaim the crown. The ultimate decision Brienna must determine is: Who will be that queen?

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  1. The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

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I love a good graphic novel, and this story was sooo cute! If you love fashion, stories about being true to yourself, and love in so many beautiful ways, then this book is perfect for you!

Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride―or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia―the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion!

Sebastian’s secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances―one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone’s secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect a friend?

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  1. A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan

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Another great fairytale retelling I read this year — I had yet to read one focusing on King Midas! This story combined Greek and Mediterranean mythology that made my heart happy. There were some questions left unanswered, but I am thrilled to hear a sequel will be coming out!

King Midas once had the ability to turn all he touched into gold. But after his gift—or curse—almost killed his daughter, Midas relinquished The Touch forever. Ten years later, Princess Kora still bears the consequences of her father’s wish: her skin shines golden, rumors follow her everywhere she goes, and she harbors secret powers that are getting harder to hide.

Kora spends her days locked in the palace, concealed behind gloves and veils, trying to ignore the stares and gossip of courtiers. It isn’t until a charming young duke arrives that Kora realizes there may be someone out there who doesn’t fear her or her curse. But their courtship is disrupted when a thief steals precious items from the kingdom, leaving the treasury depleted and King Midas vulnerable. Thanks to her unique ability to sense gold, Kora is the only one who can track the thief down. As she sails off on her quest, Kora learns that not everything is what it seems—not thieves, not pirates, and not even curses. She quickly discovers that gold—and the power it brings—is more dangerous than she’d ever believed.

Midas learned his lesson at a price. What will Kora’s journey cost?

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  1. Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake

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The Three Dark Crowns series is probably one of my favorite series of all times. The world building and history is amazing, and I love the sharp politics and story twists and turns. It makes my little Slytherin heart so happy! Number three of the quad did not disappoint and I have soooo many questions that I want the last book, like, two months ago. Also, check out Queens of Fennbirn, the novella collection of the series — it, too, will not disappoint.

Queen Katharine has waited her entire life to wear the crown. But now that she finally has it, the murmurs of dissent grow louder by the day. There’s also the alarming issue of whether or not her sisters are actually dead—or if they’re waiting in the wings to usurp the throne.

Mirabella and Arsinoe are alive, but in hiding on the mainland and dealing with a nightmare of their own: being visited repeatedly by a specter they think might be the fabled Blue Queen. Though she says nothing, her rotting, bony finger pointing out to sea is clear enough: return to Fennbirn.

Jules, too, is in a strange place—in disguise. And her only confidants, a war-gifted girl named Emilia and her oracle friend Mathilde, are urging her to take on a role she can’t imagine filling: a legion-cursed queen who will lead a rebel army to Katharine’s doorstep.

This is an uprising that the mysterious Blue Queen may have more to do with than anyone could have guessed—or expected.

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  1. Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas

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Last but certainly not least: I have loved the Throne of Glass series for years now. This book was pretty close to perfect for the end of the series, and I purchased the Barnes & Noble edition featuring the awesome artwork by Charlie Bowater (there is a trend in this post as you can see, haha). This book made me weep out of sadness and happiness. I can’t believe this series is finished, but I am looking forward to Maas’ Crescent City series that is being released in 2019 along with more books featuring the Inner Circle in Maas’ ACOTAR series.

Aelin has risked everything to save her people―but at a tremendous cost. Locked within an iron coffin by the Queen of the Fae, Aelin must draw upon her fiery will as she endures months of torture. Aware that yielding to Maeve will doom those she loves keeps her from breaking, though her resolve begins to unravel with each passing day…

With Aelin captured, Aedion and Lysandra remain the last line of defense to protect Terrasen from utter destruction. Yet they soon realize that the many allies they’ve gathered to battle Erawan’s hordes might not be enough to save them. Scattered across the continent and racing against time, Chaol, Manon, and Dorian are forced to forge their own paths to meet their fates. Hanging in the balance is any hope of salvation―and a better world.

And across the sea, his companions unwavering beside him, Rowan hunts to find his captured wife and queen―before she is lost to him forever.

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What was your favorite book you read in 2018? Did you read any of these? If so, what did you think of them?

Thanks for stopping by!

MG, Media Gal Reads

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