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Petrik Leo’s Top 20 Books of the Year (2018)

Petrik Leo’s Top 20 Books of the Year (2018)

Time really flies huh? Another year is coming to an end soon! This year I’ve read and reviewed 129 books. It’s been another fantastic reading year. Considering the high amount of 4.5 and 5 stars books I’ve rated this year, I’ll even say that this year miraculously ended up being my best reading year so far. There will be four rules I set in this list in order for me to give appreciation to more authors rather than having only a few authors hoarding this list.

  • Rereads don’t count
  • One book per author
  • The book listed here are not exclusively published this year.
  • Outside of the two top spots (for good reasons), none of these are in particular order. All have merit, and most have different strengths that make them stand out from each other; putting a rank on them feels odd to me, especially when every book in this list now resides on my ‘favorite books’ shelf.

All the books listed below received a rating of 4.5 or 5 out of 5 stars from me. Without further ado, here are the top 20 books I’ve read in 2018! (All full reviews of these books can be found on my Goodreads page; some are already available on this blog.)


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Interview with Ben Galley

Interview with Ben Galley

Hello everyone, this is Haïfa and today I have a special guest at Novel Notions. 

On the occasion of the release of his unique and dark tale of bound ghosts, unsanctioned murderers and dead gods, we are hosting Ben Galley on the blog today to chat about Chasing Graves, his inspirations, self-publishing and his future projects. After deeply enjoying Task’s original and gripping story in The Heart of Stone, and after hearing Chasing Graves, was an Egyptian mythology-inspired fantasy, I knew I had to read it as soon as possible. I’m very glad I did because Chasing Graves was atmospheric, unique and both dark and funny! I can’t wait to explore more of the Far Reaches and see what fate Ben is planning for his characters.

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A Time of Blood (Of Blood and Bone, #2)

A Time of Blood (Of Blood and Bone, #2)

ARC provided by the publisher—Pan Macmillan— in exchange for an honest review.

A Time of Blood by John Gwynne
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A Time of Blood earned my absolutely undying praise for its impeccable, top-notch quality.

Currently, there are only three fantasy authors in the world who can compel me to drop every book in my reading plan and start their newest published work instead; John Gwynne is one of them. There will never be a shortage of praises I can give towards Gwynne’s books. I’m serious, I have insanely high expectations towards his books and yet somehow each of his newest works never fail to not only meet but also exceed my expectations. If you believe in my recommendations and somehow you still haven’t read any of Gwynne’s books, you need to redeem yourself immediately. A Time of Blood was such an incredible and riveting reading experience that I finished it in less than 24 hours; it made me totally ignore reality.

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The Fall of Gondolin

The Fall of Gondolin

The Fall of Gondolin by J.R.R. Tolkien
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Here it is, the third and final Great Tales of Middle-Earth in its full form. Not really.

This was my first time reading The Fall of Gondolin and I must say it reminded me of the Trojan War. I’ll be honest that I don’t have a lot of things to say regarding this book. I can seriously copy paste my Beren and Luthien review with a few tweaks and it would describe my thoughts on the book appropriately.

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Beren and Luthien

Beren and Luthien

Beren and Luthien by J.R.R. Tolkien
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Unlike The Children of Hurin, unless you’re a lover of poetry or you’re a diehard Tolkien fans, I doubt the overall content of this book will be enjoyable to read.

The Children of Hurin has a novel format with a standalone story. The novel begins with a preface from Christopher Tolkien, then the story starts and continues until the end without break in prose form. It’s pretty much a standard standalone fantasy novel format with a self-contained story that can be read and enjoyed by anyone who loves fantasy novel. Beren and Luthien isn’t like The Children of Hurin. Although I’m super happy that I approached The Children of Hurin without knowing anything about it and ended up loving it, I wish I have known about the overall content of Beren and Luthien before I bought it; because I wouldn’t have bought it.

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Year One (Chronicles of the One, #1)

Year One (Chronicles of the One, #1)

Year One by Nora Roberts
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

You had me scared there for a while, Nora, but you came through. Just in a way that was different from what I was expecting.

Have you ever picked up a book by an author you love and when you start reading it you keep having to remind yourself that said author wrote it? That was what I struggled with at the beginning of this book. Yes, the writing style I had come to love was still undoubtedly present. There’s just something about Nora’s prose that always resonates with me. As I’ve stated in previous reviews of her work, Nora’s novel’s are like a bubble bath for my brain; they’re what I turn to when I’m stressed or sick or just in the mood for comfort.

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The Children of Hurin

The Children of Hurin

The Children of Hurin by J.R.R. Tolkien
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I never expected Tolkien to write a story as dark and tragic as the one portrayed in The Children of Hurin.

First, a full disclosure that might anger Tolkien fanatics. Despite the fact that I’ve watched The Lord of the Rings trilogy more than ten times, I’m sorry to say that I wasn’t able to finish reading The Fellowship of the Rings because I was extremely bored with it. It’s most likely because the movie has tainted me with its fast pacing, I have no idea why but the book was so boring that it drowsed me to sleep several times, not even halfway. I also failed to finish The Silmarillion. Twice I almost made it halfway—the first time was more than ten years ago, the second time was just a few days ago—and twice I just can’t bare through it anymore. Throughout the years, I have asked some fans of Tolkien whether it’s absolutely necessary to read (not watch) the main trilogy and The Silmarillion first before attempting the three Great Tales of Middle-Earth. Some said as long that I have watched the movies and have the basic knowledge from the first half of The Silmarillion or some thorough Wikipedia research (which I did on both account), it should be enough. Heck, some even said it’s better to not read The Silmarillion first for maximum experience of going in blind. Of course, there were also some that weren’t kind—some even felt offended only Morgoth knows why—by the idea that I’m reading The Silmarillion or attempted this without actually reading the main trilogy first. Guess what? I’m going to offend them more because I finished this book without reading The Silmarillion or The Lord of the Rings trilogy and I super loved it.

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Leverage in Death (In Death, #47)

Leverage in Death (In Death, #47)

Leverage in Death by J.D. Robb
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

There is something about Nora’s writing, both as herself and as J.D. Robb, that hooks me from the first sentence and doesn’t let me go until I’ve read the final chapter. So it’s no surprise that Leverage in Death worked incredibly well for me and broke my first ever (and hopefully last!) reading slump. While I’ve picked up some great books in the past month, nothing grabbed me enough to entice me further into its pages. I should’ve known that Nora would prove to be the cure to my dilemma.

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A Memory Called Empire (Teixcalaan, #1)

A Memory Called Empire (Teixcalaan, #1)

ARC provided by the publisher—Tor Books—in exchange for an honest review.

A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Easily one of the cleverest sci-fi debuts I’ve read so far.

A Memory Called Empire is Arkady Martine’s debut novel and the first instalment in the Teixcalaan series. Ambassador Mahit Dzmare arrives in Teixcalaan only to find out that the previous ambassador from the same mining station as hers has died. Contrary to her belief, nobody wants to admit that his death wasn’t an accident, and now it’s up to Mahit to uncover who’s behind the murder. At the same time, she also has to save the place where she came from—Lsel—from the Teixcalaan expansion. A Memory Called Empire at its core is a murder mystery story. If you start this book expecting tons of action, there’s a chance that you’ll be sorely disappointed. The main charm of the book lies in Mahit’s challenges in navigating the unfamiliar culture of Teixcalaan; it’s a book heavily centered on politics. In my opinion, this novel was a bit reminiscent of The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson. The main difference between the two is that while I disliked The Traitor Baru Cormorant, I highly enjoyed reading this one due to a superb prose that clicked with me.

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Cover Reveal: A Time of Blood (Of Blood and Bone, #2) by John Gwynne

Cover Reveal: A Time of Blood (Of Blood and Bone, #2) by John Gwynne

Hi everyone! Petrik from Novel Notions here. I’ll keep this introduction brief. John Gwynne is one of my top favorite authors of all time. Ever since I finished The Faithful and the Fallen series by him, it has become one of my top three most favorite series of all time. This January, Gwynne released A Time of Dread, the first book in his newest trilogy, Of Blood and Bone. Today, I want to bring you guys a cover reveal of the second book in Of Blood and Bone trilogy. Seriously, if you love epic fantasy and haven’t read any of Gwynne’s books, you’re missing out on one of the greatest fantasy series to grace our world. Without further ado, time to bless your eyes with this glorious cover reveal of A Time of Blood!

Cover art by Paul Young.

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