by C.L. Polk
In an original world reminiscent of Edwardian England in the shadow of a World War, cabals of noble families use their unique magical gifts to control the fates of nations, while one young man seeks only to live a life of his own. Magic marked Miles Singer for suffering the day he was born, doomed either to be enslaved to his family’s interest or to be committed to a witches’ asylum. He went to war to escape his destiny and came home a different man, but he couldn’t leave his past behind. The war between Aeland and Laneer leaves men changed, strangers to their friends and family, but even after faking his own death and reinventing himself as a doctor at a cash-strapped veterans’ hospital, Miles can’t hide what he truly is. When a fatally poisoned patient exposes Miles’ healing gift and his witchmark, he must put his anonymity and freedom at risk to investigate his patient’s murder. To find the truth he’ll need to rely on the family he despises, and on the kindness of the most gorgeous man he’s ever seen.
If you’re a judge-a-book-by-its-covers kind of reader, well, then this book is sneaky and wicked. Wicked good, quite frankly because from the cover you think: “Oh, England and witches. Righto. Harry Pottery.” But no, no, no. WITCHMARK is somewhere else. Somewhere fantastical, populated by Invisibles and Mages and Storm-Singers. Oh my! But wait, there’s more! A murder mystery? Family intrigue? AND a love story? Yup! Yup! Yup! — Jen Payne
As you may have guessed, I’m a big fan of the Goodreads Reading Challenge. Last year, it helped me reads more than 50 books; see Goodreads: A Year in Books (2018).
This year, I’m hoping to get to even more of the books on my To Read list.
Join me? Visit Goodreads to sign up today!
(If you’re a Goodreads members, click here and we can follow each other’s progress!)
“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.” – Neil Gaiman
IMAGE: The Moonlight Bed, Jacek Yerka
Several years ago, actress Lena Dunham tweeted “Let’s be reasonable and add an eighth day to the week that is devoted exclusively to reading.” Would that it were possible, right?
Lacking an eighth day, we’re left to our own devices to make time for reading. For me, there are treasured Sunday mornings — pre-dawn, coffees at the ready, reading side-by-side with my boyfriend Matt. Then good habits, like carrying a book in my purse, weekly visits to the library, and reading before bed help keep the spirit alive through the work week right back around to those quite Sunday hours.
And all of that good reading mojo has paid off…for the first time in six years, I exceeded my personal Goodreads Reading Challenge goal, reading 54 books in 2018! This year’s tally of 15,121 pages included fiction bestsellers and some classics, one cookbook, poetry and nonfiction, along with a handful of self-published books by some amazing local authors.
Following closely in the footsteps of 2017, you’ll find several Young Adult novels on my list again, including Ransom Riggs’ new book in the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series: A Map of Days. (“Fair warning: you’ll realize about 2/3 of the way in that you’re going to finish the book soon and you’ll have to wait – again – for the next in the series to magically appear! Pace yourself.”)
Another fun find this year was the Penguin Drop Cap Series, 26 collectible hardcover editions of classic works of literature, each featuring on its cover a specially commissioned illustrated letter of the alphabet by type designer Jessica Hische. This year I read H, Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse. My local library seems to have a good selection of these special titles, and it’s fun to try to spot them on the shelves. Click here to see all 26.
According to star ratings, some of my least favorite books in 2018 were Brida by Paulo Coelho (“insipid romance”) and The Book of Hidden Things by Francesco Dimitri (“Nope. Nope. Nope.”). I disliked 1984 by George Orwell so much — “a terribly wretched book” — it completely subverted my attempt to read the 100 books featured in The Great American Read.
Brida was not the only “insipid romance” that earned one or two stars. I was also not a fan of The Atomic Weight of Love (Elizabeth Church), An Obvious Enchantment (Tucker Malarkey), or An Itailan Wife (Ann Hood). Which is not to say I don’t like a good love story. I adored The Course of Love by Alain de Botton — “This should be required reading. For everyone. Period.”
New reads from some of my favorite authors included Keri Smith’s uber-clever book The Wander Society (“Solvitur ambulando!”), Anne Lamott’s Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers (“A balm, antidote, inspiration…Wow! and Thanks!”), and Brené Brown’s Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone (“We need this kind of thoughtful examination and heartfelt solutions now more than ever!”).
I recently recommended One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd (Jim Fergus) to a friend, and realized it was one of the most memorable books I read this year. (“we want this to be a true story…and are ever-surprised that it is not”)
Other books that stand out include Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy (“a clever piece of dystopian fiction”), Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffengger (“Wonderfully, weirdly delicious!”), and The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan (“I savored it slowly… ”).
But if asked specifically, I would put at the top of my list The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley (“Magically, magically good!!”)
It was, apparently, a good year for reading. But I suspect I’ll run out of superlatives if I don’t stop here. You can read my complete list of 2018 books on Goodreads (click here)…but I want to know about you, too. What were your favorite books in 2018? List them in the commend section below!