Best Fiction Books 2018

Each year I share my best fiction books – books that caught me up and for whatever reason, didn’t let me go.  They’re the books that gave me a book hangover, making it difficult to move on to my next read.

Thanks to GoodwinDZN for the graphic.

This year, Laura is also joining me sharing her top fiction book of 2018.

I use Goodreads to record the books I’ve read and mid-December was surprised that in 2018

Best Fiction Books 2018

I hope you enjoy the format this year! I have still categorised but not by genre and my overall best fiction book is last. 

Before we get to mine, here’s Laura’s top fiction book of 2018:

Little Edward Carey

The wry, macabre, unforgettable tale of an ambitious orphan in Revolutionary Paris, befriended by royalty and radicals alike, who transforms herself into the legendary Madame Tussaud. In 1761, a tiny, odd-looking girl named Marie is born in a village in Alsace. After the death of her parents, she is apprenticed to an eccentric wax sculptor and whisked off to the seamy streets of Paris, where they meet a domineering widow and her quiet, pale son. Together, they convert an abandoned monkey house into an exhibition hall for wax heads, and the spectacle becomes a sensation. As word of her artistic talent spreads, Marie is called to Versailles, where she tutors a princess and saves Marie Antoinette in childbirth. But outside the palace walls, Paris is roiling: The revolutionary mob is demanding heads, and . . . at the wax museum, heads are what they do.

Edward Carey’s Little is a wonder – the incredible story of a ‘blood-stained crumb of a girl’ who went on to shape the world.

Laura says:

Out of all the books I have read it is the most memorable so far this year.

I love history and it was fascinating to find out about Madam Tussaurd, who led such an interesting life.


I loved the illustrations within the book too.

You can read Laura’s review here.

There are ten books in total on my best fiction books of 2018 list.

My best fiction book for intrigue, secrets and lies:

The Peacock Summer by Hannah Richell.

The Peacock Summer Hannah Richell

At twenty-six, Lillian feels trapped by life. Her marriage to Charles Oberon has not turned out the way she expected it would. To her it seems she is just another object captured within the walls of Cloudesley, her husband’s beautiful manor house tucked away high in the Chiltern Hills. But, with a young step-son and a sister to care for, Lillian accepts there is no way out for her. Then Charles makes an arrangement with an enigmatic artist visiting their home and his presence will unbalance everything she thought she knew and understood.

Maggie Oberon ran from the hurt and resentment she caused. Half a world away, in Australia, it was easier to forget, to pretend she didn’t care. But when her elderly grandmother, Lillian, falls ill she must head back to Cloudesley. Forced to face her past, Maggie fights to hold herself and her family’s legacy together as she learns that all she thought was real, all that she held so close, was never as it seemed.

Two summers, decades apart.
Two women whose lives are forever entwined. 
And a house that holds the dark secrets that could free them both.

Why

It is suspenseful, poignant, and yes compelling but there’s so much more.  It’s a dark and gritty look at humanity.  Duty and what should be done conflicts with personal happiness. 

The Peacock Summer holds its secrets close (one secret I didn’t guess) and the emotions I felt while reading are not fleeting. 

My best fiction book for a kick-ass heroine:

Lost Solace by Karl Drinkwater

Lost Solace Karl Drinkwater

Sometimes spaceships disappear with everyone on board – the Lost Ships. But sometimes they come back, strangely altered, derelict, and rumoured to be full of horrors.

Opal is on a mission. She’s been seeking something her whole life. Something she is willing to die for. And she thinks it might be on a Lost Ship.

Opal has stolen Clarissa, an experimental AI-controlled spaceship, from the military. Together they have tracked down a Lost Ship, in a lonely nebula far from colonised space.

The Lost Ship is falling into the gravity well of a neutron star, and will soon be truly lost … forever. Legends say the ships harbour death, but there’s no time for indecision.

Opal gears up to board it. She’s just one woman, entering an alien and lethal environment. But perhaps with the aid of Clarissa’s intelligence – and an armoured spacesuit – Opal may stand a chance.

Why


I loved the fact we have two (I’m counting Clarissa, the AI in this) strong female leads who make split second decisions from very limited options, showing true grit and resilience.  Who are not adverse to breaking the rules to get what’s needed and pushing through to the end and yet are loyal and steadfast.  An appearance from a senior member of the military only serves to highlight issues of freedom and morality.  Do you follow what you know to be true or do you bend your knee to the hierarchy?  It’s not until later on that we find out for sure what drives Opal’s behaviour.  For once it didn’t matter to me.  She had my vote from the beginning.  All readers will be able to able to identify with the psychology that underpins the story as well as feel a connection to Opal.

My best fiction book for atmosphere:

The Story Keeper by Anna Mazzola:

The Story Keeper Anna Mazzola

Audrey Hart is on the Isle of Skye to collect the folk and fairy tales of the people and communities around her. It is 1857 and the Highland Clearances have left devastation and poverty, and a community riven by fear. The crofters are suspicious and hostile to a stranger, claiming they no longer know their fireside stories.

Then Audrey discovers the body of a young girl washed up on the beach and the crofters reveal that it is only a matter of weeks since another girl disappeared. They believe the girls are the victims of the restless dead: spirits who take the form of birds.

Initially, Audrey is sure the girls are being abducted, but as events accumulate she begins to wonder if something else is at work. Something which may be linked to the death of her own mother, many years before.

Why


From the beginning there is a foreboding, a sense of doom and a ‘heavy’ atmosphere as Audrey journeys by boat to Skye … which continues throughout the story, almost becoming a character in its own right.  I loved the isolation and the harshness of the climate around the Buchanan Estate and villages and thought Anna Mazzola used this to full effect.  I fell under its spell.

My best fiction book for strongest loyalty to a character:

While I Was Sleeping by Dani Atkins

Book Review While I Was Sleeping Dani Atkins

I don’t remember what happened or what has changed.

I can still hear your voices but you can’t seem to hear me.

I was about to be married and had everything to look forward to.

Now I have to find a way back – to you, to our family, to us.

Why


There is one simple thing that makes a huge difference to this story (in my opinion) and that is hearing Maddie’s narrative first.  When it came to Chloe’s narrative I thought oh no, I’m going to have all the feels for her now.  But NO!  I was loyal to Maddie.  She had my heart.  It gave her an advantage.  So when the rest of the story unfolds, at first, I felt hatred.  I felt like the worst person in the world to wish so much harm.  In fact, the strength of my feelings surprised me.

My best fiction book for all the feels:

One Day In December by Josie Silver

One Day in December Josie Silver

Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn’t exist. After all, life isn’t a scene from the movies, is it? But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there’s a moment of pure magic…and then her bus drives away.

Laurie thinks she’ll never see the boy from the bus again. But at their Christmas party a year later, her best friend Sarah introduces her to the new love of her life. Who is, of course, the boy from the bus.

Determined to let him go, Laurie gets on with her life. But what if fate has other plans?

Why


One Day in December really did sweep me off my feet!


It was easy to identify with all the characters and become emotionally involved.  I always enjoy both leads narrating and for me, this really did add depth in this story.  I felt uncomfortable when the characters did and of course all the emotions that come from a star-crossed love story.  I wasn’t really sure who I wanted to champion as I wanted Laurie, Sarah and Jack to be where they should be romantically, but where was that?  


Mental health/PTSD is written realistically and is an integral part of the story.  It’s a key event that prompts change and although led me away from where I wanted the story to go, is also integral to the ending.  And wow!  what an ending.  I was literally sobbing.

My best fiction book for being pushed out of my comfort zone:

Our House by Louise Candlish

Our House Louise Candlish

On a bright morning in the London suburbs, a family moves into the house they’ve just bought on Trinity Avenue. Nothing strange about that. Except it’s your house. And you didn’t sell it.

FOR BETTER, FOR WORSE.
When Fi Lawson arrives home to find strangers moving into her house, she is plunged into terror and confusion. She and her husband Bram have owned their home on Trinity Avenue for years and have no intention of selling. How can this other family possibly think the house is theirs? And why has Bram disappeared when she needs him most?

FOR RICHER, FOR POORER.
Bram has made a catastrophic mistake and now he is paying. Unable to see his wife, his children or his home, he has nothing left but to settle scores. As the nightmare takes grip, both Bram and Fi try to make sense of the events that led to a devastating crime. What has he hidden from her – and what has she hidden from him? And will either survive the chilling truth – that there are far worse things you can lose than your house?

TILL DEATH US DO PART.

Why


Our House made me feel very uncomfortable in that I knew how I should feel. But. I didn’t. We have rules and laws in our society for a reason don’t we and they should have had more of an impact on how I felt. However, emotions are powerful and sometimes there is no black and white but the murky path in-between.


This is a story shrouded in darkness and motives that come from the light that lead to dark and the dark that lead to well, dark.  Fi’s strength is her weakness and even though all we see is Bram’s weaknesses I felt that ultimately, he had colossal strength.  Neither are ‘better’ than the other, just different in how their childhood’s laid the pattern on how they view the world.   Who is the victim and who the perpetrator?

My best fiction book for world building:

The Bitter Twins (The Winnowing Flame Trilogy) by Jen Williams

The Bitter Twins Jen Williams

The Ninth Rain has fallen. The Jure’lia are awake. Nothing can be the same again.

Tormalin the Oathless and the fell-witch Noon have their work cut out rallying the first war-beasts to be born in Ebora for three centuries. But these are not the great winged warriors of old. Hatched too soon and with no memory of their past incarnations, these onetime defenders of Sarn can barely stop bickering, let alone face an ancient enemy who grow stronger each day.

The key to uniting them, according to the scholar Vintage, may lie in a part of Sarn no one really believes exists – a distant island, mysteriously connected to the fate of two legendary Eborans who disappeared long ago.

But finding it will mean a perilous journey in a time of war, while new monsters lie in wait for those left behind.

Join the heroes of THE NINTH RAIN as they battle a terrible evil, the likes of which Sarn has never known.

Why

Jen William’s takes world building to a different level entirely. 

Her world building is awe inspiring.  The different tribes and the politics, fell-witches, Eborans and their history is seamless.  The settings are amazing – in Ebora, Sarn, the Wild, and the Winnowry.

There is such depth to the different cultures, their customs and rituals.  What a creative mind she has!  Where does she get her ideas!  So magnificent…

My best fiction book for the best romantic activity:

One New York Christmas by Mandy Baggot

One New York Christmas Mandy Baggot

Lara Weeks is heading to New York with best friend Susie for the Christmas trip of a lifetime.

festive break in the snowy Big Apple visiting the tourist hotspots, not to mention the shopping, seems like the perfect way for Lara to get over her ex-boyfriend. Or maybe make him so jealous he begs for a second chance.

Enlisting the help of gorgeous actor, Seth Hunt, doesn’t quite go to plan, but there’s something about him that has Lara wishing for a different kind of happy ever after

Why

Sometimes there’s such an awesome activity in a story that you want to run with it in your own life.   


I loved Seth’s inspired idea for how to travel the world ♥  So creative and very romantic.

I might magpie his idea. 🙂

My best fiction book for inspiration:

The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes by Ruth Hogan

The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes Ruth Hogan

Once a spirited, independent woman with a rebellious streak, Masha’s life has been forever changed by a tragic event twelve years ago. Unable to let go of her grief, she finds comfort in her faithful canine companion Haizum, and peace in the quiet lanes of her town’s lido.

Then a chance encounter with two extraordinary women – the fabulous and wise Kitty Muriel, a convent girl turned magician’s wife turned seventy-something roller disco
fanatic, and the mysterious Sally Red Shoes, a bag lady with a prodigious voice – opens up a new world of possibilities, and the chance to start living again. But just as Masha dares to imagine the future, her past comes roaring back …

Why


If you’re looking for inspiration on finding the small joys in life then The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes by Ruth Hogan might be just the thing you need.   I’ve felt honoured to be a part of this healing journey.  An uplifting story that left me feeling at peace.

My best fiction book overall:

The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale

The Toymakers Robert Dinsdale

Do you remember when you believed in magic?

It is 1917, and while war wages across Europe, in the heart of London, there is a place of hope and enchantment.

The Emporium sells toys that capture the imagination of children and adults alike: patchwork dogs that seem alive, toy boxes that are bigger on the inside, soldiers that can fight battles of their own. Into this family business comes young Cathy Wray, running away from a shameful past. The Emporium takes her in, makes her one of its own.

But Cathy is about to discover that the Emporium has secrets of its own…

Why


The Toymakers will take you back to your childhood, to the sights and sounds and smells, evoking memories and comfort and safety.  To a time of innocence and wonder. 

Papa Jack’s experiences taught him the truth which we get to see when he ‘shows’ Cathy Wray (I felt it keenly at the time but it’s fading now which makes me feel sad) and his sons, Kaspar and Emil need to understand this truth before they can become the magicians they have the power to be.  In the darkest and most brutal time is when you find the brightest light …


It’s a fascinating concept and felt real.  And at the end when we find out … mind blowing!


The Emporium is a time out of time, with worlds within worlds and The Toymakers is an experience I won’t be forgetting for a very long time.  Outstanding.

Best Fiction Books 2018

Reading is, of course, subjective.  What works for me might not work for you as our different experiences in life lead us to interpret the worlds that authors create differently.  If you have anything to say about my choices, don’t hesitate to leave a comment or chat with me on social media.

Best Fiction Books 2018 Jera's Jamboree
Giveaway

Would you like to read one of my (or Laura’s) best fiction books of 2018?

I am gifting three digital copies to UK residents (one digital copy each of their choice) via Amazon.

Easy entry on the Rafflecopter below.  Please read the terms and conditions before entering.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

Married with two sons in their early 20’s, I love my day job as an Inclusion Lead. I am passionate about early help, expressed not only in my setting but also as a member of Bournemouth’s Early Help Operational Board. It’s an honour to be working alongside others to instigate change and growth.

I’m also passionate about my love of reading, being out in nature and creating with crochet.

I’ve been blogging for seven years at Jera’s Jamboree.

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30 Comments

  1. December 21, 2018 / 12:40 pm

    Wow, I’m honoured to be in the list, all thanks to Opal and Clarissa! You may be pleased to know that the audiobook is almost finished, and the narrator was so good at bringing their relationship to life that my neck prickled in a few places. Plus, the sequel (Chasing Solace) has been written, and is just finishing the beta reading process, so that will be out in 2019, answering many of the questions from the past plus “what happens next?”

    Many thanks for including me, I am so excited about it, and will be shouting about this everywhere! 🙂 You’ve supported me since Harvest Festival, and I really appreciate it. Peace and love to everyone!

    Oh, there are a few books here that appeal to me, so I’ll be updating my wishlists.

    • December 21, 2018 / 1:26 pm

      Readers who enjoy audio are in for a treat then Karl. 🙂 Can’t wait to lose myself (and time hahaha) with Chasing Solace.

      Blessings of the solstice.
      Shaz
      x

  2. Anthony G.
    December 21, 2018 / 4:44 pm

    My absolute favourite book is Small Island by Andrea Levy. In fact, she’s my favourite author. The recent BBC adaptation of her book The Long Song was very good.

  3. Elizabeth Cooke
    December 21, 2018 / 5:00 pm

    One of my fave books from recent years is Time and Time Again by Ben Elton – absolutely gripping and incredibly clever!

  4. julie Ryan
    December 21, 2018 / 6:28 pm

    Fab selesction

  5. December 21, 2018 / 7:43 pm

    Awesome giveaway! There have been so many great books this year but my favourite was probably ‘The Cruel Prince’ by Holly Black. 🙂

  6. Chris Andrews
    December 21, 2018 / 9:37 pm

    Do you have a favourite book (doesn’t have to be from 2018)?

    mine is Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine . . . . a brilliant read

  7. Ruth Harwood
    December 22, 2018 / 9:02 am

    My fave book ever is the count of monte cristo, but really enjoyed reading Sabaa Tahir’s Reaper at the gates in 2018! xx

  8. Claire Woods
    December 22, 2018 / 10:33 am

    Currently reading and enjoying Roar by Cecelia Ahern

  9. Samantha R
    December 24, 2018 / 12:22 pm

    My favourite book this year has been A Little Life by Hanya Yanigihara.

  10. Elizabeth Smith
    December 24, 2018 / 12:30 pm

    Favourite book ever is 1984. Just started Too Close For Comfort and it looks most promising

  11. nicola day
    December 25, 2018 / 5:09 pm

    Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

  12. AnnaSSS
    December 26, 2018 / 7:42 am

    My favourite is Buried Angels by Camilla Lackberg.

  13. jo liddement
    December 26, 2018 / 2:16 pm

    The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah was a favourite novel of 2018 and totally had me gripped!

  14. Carol Boffey
    December 26, 2018 / 5:27 pm

    great giveaway

  15. lorraine kirk
    December 26, 2018 / 5:28 pm

    I loved reading A Gentleman in Moscow this year

  16. December 26, 2018 / 7:22 pm

    My favourite books are the Twilight trilogy

  17. Fiona jk42
    December 26, 2018 / 9:29 pm

    my favourite book, not from 2018, is Justine, the first book of the Alexandria Qaurtet by Lawrence Durrell.

  18. Tracy Hanson
    December 27, 2018 / 10:30 pm

    Hard decision, but love The Night Stalker by Chris Carter. His books are amazing and that’s my favourite.

  19. Richard Saunders
    December 28, 2018 / 9:07 am

    Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

  20. Ana Claudia Nunes
    December 28, 2018 / 11:36 am

    I absolutely love all the books from Jodie Picoult.

  21. Collette SR
    December 28, 2018 / 11:50 am

    My favourite book from 2018 has to be as Tilly and the book wanderers Pages and co by Anna James such a beautiful concept

  22. Sam Parkes
    December 28, 2018 / 11:56 am

    I love Victoria Hislop books. My two favourites are The Island and The Sunrise

  23. Ann Grisdale
    December 28, 2018 / 4:59 pm

    What an awesome giveaway! The only problem? Which of the amazing choices on the book list to choose…..

  24. December 28, 2018 / 5:20 pm

    The Book Thief is one of my favourites

  25. December 28, 2018 / 5:21 pm

    an all time favourite of mine is The Book Thief

  26. Janine Houghton
    December 28, 2018 / 10:45 pm

    My favourite book ever is The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullogh

  27. December 29, 2018 / 11:56 am

    Thank you for sharing your favourite books with me. My list has got a lot longer 🙂

    Congratulations to the three winners: Natalie, Claire and Becca.

    I’ll be running more giveaways in 2019 so stay tuned!

    Shaz

  28. December 30, 2018 / 5:06 pm

    Little is going on the TBR!

    A very Happy New Year to you and Laura x

    • December 31, 2018 / 9:41 am

      Little really did blow Laura away 🙂

      Happy New Year to you too Lindsay. x

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