Between the two Nikki’s, we read over than 75 books in 2018. While not all of them were new releases, we did have some top favorites of the year! Here’s a breakdown on what we loved! We’ll do the best to avoid spoilers and warn you when they come up!

Number 10 – Penryn and the End of Days trilogy

By Susan Ee

The end of the world has happened and angels have taken over Earth. 17-year old Penryn is struggling to keep her mother, her sister and herself safe when their hiding spot is infiltrated by an injured angel. The angel, known only as Raffe has to help Penryn and her family survive the other angels. Over the course of the trilogy, relationships bloom and bust. I read this entire trilogy over the course of a single day because I was so enamored by the story and wanted to know what happened to Penryn and Raffe. The story does get a little strange towards the middle with some giant flying “locusts,” interdimensional travel and a huge “middle book syndrome” in the second book leads this to be at the bottom of our top faves. The binge-worthiness gets it on the list, but the problems with the story sink it to the bottom.

Number 9 – Escaping From Houdini

By Kerri Maniscalco

This is the latest installment in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series by Kerri Maniscalco, released September 18, 2018. The series is “Presented by James Patterson” as a way to gain a larger following from his huge fan base. The third book in the series follows our protagonists, Audrey Rose and Thomas Cresswell as they journey on an ocean liner while on their way to America. As this series is known to do, the boat is plagued with mysterious deaths and the two must use their powers of deduction and sleuthing skills to find the killer.

SPOILERS: This book introduces us to a potential romantic rival for Thomas in the eyes of Audrey Rose in the form of Mephistopheles, the leader of the Midnight Carnival. This potential love triangle may be a bummer for some, but it just added to the tension and enjoyment for me. It did harken back to the best part of the first book – is this potential love interest also a murder? We also get name drop of Harry Houdini, who is the love interest for Audrey’s cousin, Liza, who has run away from home to be a magician’s “beautiful assistant.”

This book may not tick all the boxes for everyone, but it delights me in its sense of romance, mystery, tension, and adventure. While an enjoyable read, this book does have some issues with inconsistent characterization of some of our favorite main characters, which ranks it as the lowest of the three.

Number 8 – Hunting Prince Dracula

By Kerri Maniscalco

The second book in Stalking Jack the Ripper series ranks only slightly higher than the newest installment in that the characters are very much themselves in this book. In this one, we follow our dynamic duo as they go to Romania in pursuit of education at the notable forensic medicine school located in the one and only Bran Castle. Vampiric style murders begin appearing all over the town and Audrey Rose has to face the trauma of the past in order to solve the mystery.

This book introduces us to a new setting, a new murderer and new characters, but the same fun protagonists. Fans of the first book will certainly enjoy the continued witty banter between Audrey and Thomas in this book, while getting to meet some fun new rule-breaking female characters.

Again, in this book, the murderer is not who was expected which leads to a fun mystery we get to unravel alongside the characters.

Number 7 – Stalking Jack The Ripper

By Kerri Maniscalco

Of course for the top of the three, we have to give this spot to the original. Stalking Jack the Ripper sat on my shelf for way too long before I finally picked it up and once I did, I devoured it over two days. The story of Jack the Ripper has always interested me, so getting to see it from the view of a young girl studying the murders was a fun new take. I immediately fell in love with the characters and have a deep appreciation for their witty banter. As someone who frequently points out dialogue as the best parts of books, this has some of my favorite bits of dialogue. The tension and mystery and illicit romance bring this book to be one of my favorites of all time.

Do you also love this series? Check out our Audrey Rose and Thomas Cresswell magnetic bookmark duo.

Number 6 – Haemans

By Nicoline Evans

We found this book at Bookcon 2018 and had the pleasure of getting to meet Nicoline. When my flight was delayed back home from New York (for four hours….Ugh), I piled up in a chair and immediately dove into this book.

When I finished, I immediately knew I wanted to find a place to put this in our monthly book box – and we did. Haemans was featured in our October 2018 box under the theme Greater Than These Bones, a box showcasing characters living with mental illness, physical disability and terminal disease. (These boxes are still available for purchase here.)

With a story that spins off of the lost Russian Princess Anastasia, the majority of the Russian population has become addicted to a special brand of cocaine – laced with their own human blood. This gives them super human abilities for a whole new race of Haemans. This book follows Sevrick in his quest to reclaim his true love from the grips of addiction and the dangers of associating with the newly appointed royals.

Haemans touches on all the best parts of romance, thriller, zombie flick and introspection on our own society and how we treat those who have fallen into addiction.

Number 5 – My Lady Jane

By Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows

This book. THIS BOOK. My Lady Jane was so hyped up on Booktube and Bookstagram. It was pitched to me originally as a historical fiction with a twist, following Lady Jane Grey, the 16-year-old cousin of King Edward. Based on the real life woman of the same name, My Lady Jane tells the story of the woman who was Queen for nine days.

Given that I don’t tend to like historical fiction all that much, I was reluctant to pick it up, but I had spare Audible credit and decided to give it a go. This is a book I really encourage listening to in the audio format because the narrator really adds to the experience of this story.

Now, I don’t want to give away too many spoilers for this book, because the surprise is what makes it so special, but I will let you know this…historical fiction, in this case, really means historical FANTASY. There was a huge fantasy element to this story that was really fun. Second, this book is FUNNY! No one told me it was going to be so funny. If you like the comedic style found in The Princess Bride, this book is the one for you.

****Please note I have left the second book by this team, My Plain Jane, off this list. While I enjoyed My Plain Jane, I feel that My Lady Jane was so special because I didn’t know what to expect going in – and a lot of the references were easy to pick up on with a basic high school level knowledge of history and Shakespear. My Plain Jane doesn’t require you to have read Jane Eyre to understand the story, but you will get a lot more out of this take on it if you have – which I have not and I feel my reading experience suffered because of it. I AM looking forward to the next book, My Calamity Jane.

Number 4 – Obsidio

By Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

What is there to say about Obsidio that hasn’t been said a thousand times? This is the third and final book of the Illuminae Files trilogy, my first foray into the Sci-Fi subgenre of YA. Released March 13, 2018, this is one of the few books outside of Harry Potter releases that I pre-ordered. There is no best format for these books – the physical and e-copy have so much visual aspect to the story, but the audiobook has a huge voice cast and sound effects. This series has been truly immersive and a wild ride.

In this final installment, all of our favorite characters from the first two books have joined forces, and we’re introduced to a new set – those who survived the initial attack on Kerenza.

With more of everyone’s favorite sociopathic AI system, a wild roller coaster of emotion and a finally satisfying ending, this was a truly masterful wrap-up for the series. Check out our Illuminae inspired items here.

Number 3 – The Cruel Prince

By Holly Black

The Cruel Prince. Cardan. Faeries. This book ticks all my boxes. I am so conflicted and confused by my feelings towards this book. When I was reading this book, my boyfriend stopped to ask me, about halfway through, what was happening. And I had to stop and think and tell him the truth. Nothing. Nothing was happening. But I loved it anyway. If there was ever an argument about atmospheric books, this is it.

I don’t think I need to tell you what this book is about. A young girl is taken from the human world to the faerie world by the man who killed her parents and is raised there among them.

This story follows that human girl, Jude and her journey towards power in a world that doesn’t think she deserves it and doubts her ability to take it for herself. The political intrigue, deception and magic found in this story left me breathless by the end of it.

Number 2 – The Wicked King

By Holly Black

Now…I know what you’re saying – This book didn’t come out until January of 2019 – how could it be on your favorite books from 2018? That’s because ya’ girl got an advanced copy. This has only added to my frustration because from my knowledge, there won’t be ARC’s of the third book which means I have to wait two months longer than people who got it at release date.

Anyway – this book does the same thing the first one did – the first half of the book is a lot of nothing – just plotting, brooding and scheming. The second half of the book, though, is when EVERYTHING happens. And it all happens. All of it. All the things. They happen. At once.

And to avoid spoilers, I won’t tell you how it ends, but I will tell you that I seriously contemplated throwing my phone (I had an e-arc) across the room when I was done because of how frustrated I was. But there is something that might tide you over until the next book comes out – check out our section of Cruel Prince inspired items.

Here’s a bonus picture of me meeting the queen herself, and her apologizing for breaking my heart time after time with her books.

Number 1 – The Disasters

By M.K. England

I know! How is my top book of 2018 a SciFi when I said I don’t really like SciFi AND I had an arc of Wicked King? Guys, trust me, I’m just as surprised as you are. This book though – was one of the most enjoyable books I think I’ve ever read.

With a diverse cast of characters and great representation out the wazoo, this book has something for everyone. This is an adventure following four rejects from the space school – an engineer, navigator, pilot and nurse. When their escape pod crash lands after narrowly getting away from the explosion on the base, they have to hide, sneak and steal their way into safety.

Well – there you have it! Top 10 reads of 2018. This list surprised me as I was coming up with it! I hope you enjoyed reading about the books I enjoyed – and if any of these peak your interest, let me know!

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