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16 books of 2018 that deserve more attention and a spot on your TBR list
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CHARLESTON, S.C. – Let’s face it, there were a lot of great books released in 2018. And if you’re partial to one genre over all the others, chances are you missed some favorite reads that will end up on your most-recommended list.
With so many book review sites and lit festivals and millions of everyday readers using sites like Goodreads to recommend books and aggregate lists, it’s easy to lose track of some amazing page-turners over the course of a year. With 2018 being the year of the political novel, whether laying bare the inner workings of the government, tracking geo-political conspiracies, or thrillers co-authored by a former president, a lot of oxygen in the room was consumed there.
But it’s time to slow down, enjoy the holiday season – and pick up a title you may have missed this year. All of them are in the CCPL catalog and ready for your eager eyes.
Here they are in no particular order.
When Michael walks through the doors of Catholic school, things can’t get much worse. His dad has just made the family move again, and Michael needs a friend. When a girl challenges their teacher in class, Michael thinks he might have found one, and a fellow atheist at that. Only this girl, Lucy, isn’t just Catholic . . . she wants to be a priest.
Lucy introduces Michael to other St. Clare’s outcasts, and he officially joins Heretics Anonymous, where he can be an atheist, Lucy can be an outspoken feminist, Avi can be Jewish and gay, Max can wear whatever he wants, and Eden can practice paganism. Michael encourages the Heretics to go from secret society to rebels intent on exposing the school’s hypocrisies one stunt at a time.
In her childhood, Rose Franklin discovered a giant metal hand buried outside Deadwood, South Dakota. As an adult, she led the team that uncovered the rest of the body parts which together form Themis: a powerful robot of mysterious alien origin. She, along with linguist Vincent, pilot Kara, and the unnamed Interviewer, protected the Earth from geopolitical conflict and alien invasion. Now, after ten years on another world, Rose returns to find her old alliances forfeit and the planet in shambles. She must pick up the pieces of the Earth Defense Corps as her friends turn against each other.
Also on OverDrive!
In this young adult novel, Alice, afraid of explaining her asexuality, has given up on finding love until love finds her. It takes place in college, there are a ton of scenes set in a library (added bonus!), and it explores the nuances of sexuality.
Grace, adopted at birth, is raised as an only child. At sixteen she's just put her own baby up for adoption, and now is looking for her biological family. She discovers Maya, her loudmouthed younger bio twin sister who was also adopted ; and Joaquin, their stoic older bio brother, who has no interest in bonding over their shared biological mother after seventeen years in the foster care system. Grace struggles to between cautious joy at having found them, and the true meaning of family in all its forms.
In the twelve stories collected in Certain American States, Catherine Lacey, the author of Nobody Is Ever Missing and The Answers, picks apart the minutiae of the human condition with the skill of a surgeon, giving life to a collection of ordinary people seeking -- and failing to find -- the extraordinary in their lives. The characters in Certain American States are continually coming to terms with their place in the world before change inevitably returns. A woman leaves her dead husband's clothing on the street, only for it to reappear on the body of a stranger; a man reads his ex-wife's short story and neurotically contemplates whether it is about him; a young woman's attempt to deal with family tragedy is interrupted daily by a mute stranger showing her incoherent messages on his phone. These are stories of breakups, abandonment, and strained family ties; loneliness, happenstance, starting over, and the constant destruction of the self. Catherine Lacey's elegiac and inspired prose is at its full power in Certain American States, her first collection of short fiction, further establishing her as one of the singular literary voices of her generation.
A freshman at MIT, seventeen-year-old Mei Lu tries to live up to her Taiwanese parents' expectations, but no amount of tradition, obligation, or guilt prevent her from hiding several truths--that she is a germaphobe who cannot become a doctor, she prefers dancing to biology, she decides to reconnect with her estranged older brother (who was kicked out of the family for dating the wrong girl!), and she is dating a Japanese boy.
Evan Panos's strict immigrant Greek mother sees him as a disappointment. His workaholic father is a staunch believer in avoiding any kind of conflict. And his best friend, Henry, has somehow become distractingly attractive over the summer. His only escape is drawing, in an abandoned monastery that feels as lonely as he is. And Henry makes Evan believe that he deserves more than his mother's harsh words and terrifying abuse. As things escalate, Evan has to decide how to find his voice in a world where he has survived so long by being silent.
Arthur Louis Pullman the Third has been stripped of his college scholarship, is losing his grip on reality, and has been sent away to live with his aunt and uncle. He discovers a journal written by his grandfather, the first Arthur Louis Pullman, a Salinger-esque author who went missing the last week of his life and died hundreds of miles away from their family home. Using the journal as a guide, Arthur embarks on a cross-country train ride to relive his grandfather's last week. His journey is complicated by a shaky alliance with a girl who has secrets of her own and by escalating run-ins with a dangerous Pullman fan base.
Danny has been an artist for as long as he can remember and it seems his path is set, with a scholarship to RISD and his family’s blessing to pursue the career he’s always dreamed of. Still, contemplating a future without his best friend, Harry Wong, by his side makes Danny feel a panic he can barely put into words. Harry and Danny’s lives are deeply intertwined and as they approach the one-year anniversary of a tragedy that shook their friend group to its core, Danny can’t stop asking himself if Harry is truly in love with his girlfriend, Regina Chan.
Uniquely told through letters from death row and third-person narrative, Bryan Bliss’s hard-hitting third novel expertly unravels the string of events that landed a teenager in jail. Luke feels like he’s been looking after Toby his entire life. He patches Toby up when Toby’s father, a drunk and a petty criminal, beats on him, he gives him a place to stay, and he diffuses the situation at school when wise-cracking Toby inevitably gets into fights. Someday, Luke and Toby will leave this small town, riding the tails of Luke’s wrestling scholarship, and never look back. And then their worlds start to unravel.
A certain pen, a certain book, and a certain person can craft entirely new worlds through a branch of science called scriptology. Elsa comes from one such world that was written into creation, where her mother―a noted scriptologist―constantly alters and expands their reality. But when her home is attacked and her mother kidnapped, Elsa is forced to cross into the real world and use her own scriptology gifts to find her. In an alternative Victorian Italy, Elsa finds a secret society of young scientists with a gift for mechanics, alchemy, or scriptology―and meets Leo, a gorgeous mechanist with a smart mouth and tragic past. She recruits the help of these fellow geniuses just as an assassin arrives on their doorstep.
Octavia has only ever had one goal: to follow in the footsteps of her parents and become a prestigious whitecoat, one of the scientists who study the natural wonders of Faloiv. The secrets of the jungle’s exotic plants and animals are protected fiercely in the labs by the Council of N’Terra, so when the rules suddenly change, allowing students inside, Octavia should be overjoyed. But something isn’t right. The newly elected leader of the Council has some extremist views about the way he believes N’Terra should be run, and he’s influencing others to follow him. When Octavia witnesses one of the Faloii—the indigenous people of Faloiv—attacked in front of her in the dark of night, she knows the Council is hiding something. They are living in separate worlds on a shared planet, and their fragile peace may soon turn into an all-out war.
The daughter of two astronauts, Romy Silvers is no stranger to life in space. But she never knew how isolating the universe could be until her parents’ tragic deaths left her alone on the Infinity, a spaceship speeding away from Earth. Romy tries to make the best of her lonely situation, but with only brief messages from her therapist on Earth to keep her company, she can’t help but feel like something is missing. It seems like a dream come true when NASA alerts her that another ship, the Eternity, will be joining the Infinity.
Romy begins exchanging messages with J, the captain of the Eternity, and their friendship breathes new life into her world. But as the Eternity gets closer, Romy learns there’s more to J’s mission than she could have imagined. And suddenly, there are worse things than being alone….
When Lady Katherine’s father is killed for being an illegally practicing Catholic, she discovers treason wasn’t the only secret he’s been hiding: he was also involved in a murder plot against the reigning Queen Elizabeth I. With nothing left to lose, Katherine disguises herself as a boy and travels to London to fulfill her father’s mission, and to take it one step further–kill the queen herself.
Katherine’s opportunity comes in the form of William Shakespeare’s newest play, which is to be performed in front of Her Majesty. But what she doesn’t know is that the play is not just a play–it’s a plot to root out insurrectionists and destroy the rebellion once and for all.
Everyone in Tenney’s Harbor, Maine, has heard of the Garrison tragedy. A mysterious fire. A family of five reduced to one. For people like Pearl Haskins—whose dad was the caretaker of the Garrison property when the house went up in flames—the whispers about that night are more than upsetting. They hurt. With her disgraced father now trying to find steady work in between booze benders, Pearl is stuck waiting tables at the town’s country club where the rich townspeople come in the summer to flaunt their money and gossip about one another.
Hidden beneath the glittering façade of wealth and luxury, Pearl discovers a dark and twisted web of lies and betrayals that, once untangled, will leave no life in Tenney’s Harbor unchanged. That is… if it doesn’t take Pearl’s first.
In small town Michigan, Penny, an aspiring journalist, teams up with the nerdy boy-next-door and the town’s star quarterback to find her conspiracy theorist father after he goes missing and several other townspeople turn up dead in the woods.
The deeper she digs, the weirder things start to get. Townspeople repeat the same phrases—verbatim. Men in black suits stroll around Main Street. Chunks of her memory go missing. Pretty soon, Penny’s research leads her to the long-ago meteorite crash in Bone Lake’s woods, and she’s going to have to reconsider her definition of “real” if she wants answers.