Best of 2018 – Short Stories

Have I mentioned I read a lot? I feel like I have. But in case you didn’t know, I read. A lot.

And sometimes I really need something quick and lovely to rake its claws down the insides of my heart. That’s where short stories come in. Somehow, this medium can pack a punch that leaves me pining for days, sometimes far longer than a novel. So with no further ado, I give you the nine short stories that I have dearly loved this year. While the list is not exhaustive, these are some of my favorites and I hope you will like them, too.

“If We Die Unjustified”

The day never really dawns, not like in poetry or paintings. The clouds just stretch and itch at the sky, so it’ll scratch a scab wide enough for the sun to show face. Winter’s got hold of the city and all the other cities ‘round, and sometimes the sky’s just too weary to bother.

The world we live in is unforgiving, and if you sometimes want to remake it, I recommend this story by A. Merc Rustad.

“In the Ground, Before They Freeze”


The story goes: there was a mountain woman who loved a lowland man.

This one is going to gut you and grow in you, and there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s by a new-to-me author, Margaret Ronald. 

“Asphalt, River, Mother, Child”


There is no way to mark the seasons, here in the underworld, Mebuyen’s town with its endless river and little stone house. The sky turns from a pale gray day to a soft blue night, and there are no stars. She recognizes all this only because of Adriana’s endless questions. Mebuyen answers, and tries not to grow fond. She’s too old for that sort of thing.

Isabel Yap remains one of the brightest voices in the short fiction world right now, and this story is no exception. Dealing directly with the current political climate in the Philippines, this story is rawly human and will twist your heart into knots.

“Till Human Voices Wake Us”

Okay, another tear-jerker here from writer Rachel Halpern. This one is about mermaids and families and you should probably know there are content warnings for suicide and self-harm associated with this story. But I promise it’s about healing, too.

“A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies”


You’d think it would make us happy when a kid checks out the same book a zillion times in a row, but actually it just keeps us up at night.

This is a story about doing what’s right, regardless of the consequences. It’s about the escape that books can give you. It’s about magic. Thanks to Alix E. Harrow for this read.

“Field Biology of the Wee Fairies”

This story by Naomi Kritzer is one of my favorites for this year. It’s wonderful and engaging and I love Amelia, the main character, with all my heart. 

“Angel of the Blockade”


My ship’s been voted ugliest on Corona Nine Station ten years running. Her name is Goodluck Gray Pearl, after my parents and my auntie, the way my auntie named me after her auntie, Chrysanthemum. No one but her calls me Chrysanthemum—to everyone else I’m just Nata, because I didn’t want anyone getting weird botanical ideas. I don’t know what the Pearl looks like, and I don’t care. She’s my elephant: Each of her parts feels random, unrelated, and adds up magically to spaceship. All that matters is that I can weave them together into a set of wings so we fly across the void, faster than anyone else.

If you look at the publication date for this one, it technically came out in 2017. Fortunately, I didn’t find it until 2018 so it made this list. Alex Wells is responsible for this grungy-lovely piece of science fiction featuring a blind smuggler. The science on this one is really fun.

“The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington”


The first Negro tooth purchased for George Washington came from a blacksmith, who died that very year at Mount Vernon of the flux. 

This is another sizzling story from Fireside Magazine, written by Phenderson Djèlí Clark. The title speaks for itself.

“Mothers, Watch Over Me”

This story by Maria Haskins wraps up our list. It’s another story that might make you cry, and I listed it previously on the blog. 

I hope you enjoy these reads! If you have a story you think should have made my list, leave it below. I’m always looking for more stories to read. I hope everyone has a lovely holiday, if you’re celebrating, and I’ll catch you next week for the last post of the year!


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Best of 2018 – Novels and novellas

It’s so hard to pick my favorite books. 

I mean, you read so many, right? Or, well, I read so many. If there were a monster that could only fill the deep gullet of its belly with words, then I would be that monster. I read a LOT. It’s like breathing.

So every year I try to keep a list of the books that make me smile or laugh out loud or weep uncontrollably and every year I doubtless fail. I know there are things that I will miss, books I really loved but that I can’t quite bring myself to put on my best of list and books that touched me despite not being my favorite and really, who am I kidding? I love all the books, unless I don’t. I’m not really a halfway kind of person when it comes to the written word, and so when I read a book I either love it or, more rarely, hate it. If it makes me feel sort of meh, I don’t finish.

Anyway, the point is that these books are happy, good, glowing things that are worth your time. There’s probably something on this list for everyone and if there is something you’ve read and liked and you want to know about stories like it, I can probably point you in the right direction. It’s a talent of mine.

Without further ado, my 2018 list for novels and novellas: 

In Other Lands

Urban Fantasy, Portal Story, Coming of Age, LGBTQ. This book has a lot going on. The pacing is good for the scope of the time that is taken up in this novel. It’s also a standalone, so don’t worry about getting into this and having to commit to some long series. Everything you need is contained within its cover from the beginning. 

I read this book early in the year and it read, for me, like a balm. It’s the story of a boy who is used to not being loved, and all the problems that he makes for himself because of that habit. And it’s the story of his friends, who stand by him despite his best efforts, and of the magical world they call home.  I hope you read it and love it and feel comfort.

The City of Lost Fortunes

I’ve mentioned this book before, but since it technically came out this year I need to mention it again. I met Bryan Camp at WFC in November of 2017, devoured his book, can’t wait for more. Also he’s a cool guy. This book is set in New Orleans, but unlike most of the similar books mining such a rich setting, The City of Lost Fortunes feels real and lived in. That’s probably because Bryan is a native, and a native with good attention to detail and a love for the city he calls home in all of its chaotic glory. Urban Fantasy.

The Stone in the Skull

Epic Fantasy. This book takes place in the same secondary world that Bear previously created for The Range of Ghosts. Because of that, it is easy to see just how far she has come as a writer. Range of Ghosts and the ensuing novels are solid, well-written, and inventive. The prose in The Stone in the Skull, however, practically leaps of the page. It nonetheless loses none of the excellent elements of the original world, expanding on them in ways that feel natural.

Some of my favorite books in secondary world fantasy have been written by this author. Her skill in research in writing is something I aspire towards. Also she’s a gem and she liked my dress at Futurescapes. It is one of the highlights of my life. So I hope you will read this book and enjoy it as much as I did.

Iron and Magic

You may remember a few years back when I discovered Ilona Andrews. This husband and wife team write the most excellent romance and magical action. This year I have read several of their works, since I’ve been in the mood for romance recently, but since I do love the world of Magic Shifts I decided to recommend this one. It is the start of a trilogy that can be read alone, but I wouldn’t waste the chance to read the recently completed Kate Daniels series, of which this story-line is a spin off. Romance, Urban Fantasy, Post-Apocalyptic.

Glory’s Teeth

This is the only novella that made my list this year. I did read a few, mind, and there were some exceptional ones. But there is only so much space on this list and I’m kind of pushing it as it is with seven titles instead of my usual five or so. Luckily, you can read Glory’s Teeth as a standalone, though the author has other works in this world if you can’t get enough.

This book was an unexpected find. I actually saw the author post about it through someone else I follow on Twitter, proving that, occasionally, social media does sell books. The story made me absolutely sob. It’s about a girl who also happens to be a wolf destined to consume the world, the torment of feeling empty and alone, and the hunger to be alive. And it is so very, very delicious.  Urban Fantasy, Norse Mythology.

Trail of Lightning

Gritty, inventive, excellent – these are all words one might use to describe Rebecca Roanhorse’s debut release. And it is definitely gritty. The gore in this book is not to be underestimated. Nor is the refreshing approach to the world. Roanhorse uses her own Native heritage as inspiration in creating a dynamic, grungy world where myths come alive, and not always for the better. While it’s not necessarily a hopeful book, it is a solidly vengeful one, and it sets up nicely for future sequels. Action, Urban Fantasy, Post-Apocalyptic.

Space Opera

Last but definitely not least, for those of you who haven’t heard of this wonderful book, we have Space Opera. Ambitious it may be, but this book sticks the landing, as Valente is wont to do. In a story reminiscent of Hitchhiker’s Guide but definitely it’s own, with aliens and absurdity and tongue-twisting prose, Valente takes us on a journey that seems to be about what makes good music but is actually about what makes someone human. Above all, this is a hopeful read. It’s the story you didn’t know you needed in 2018, the longest and shortest year on record, and I have it last so that you will remember it best. Science Fiction, Weird, Eurovision.

I hope you enjoy these reads, folks! Don’t forget to let me know if you’ve read one of these, I’d love to hear how you liked it.


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