6-22 The Fascinating 1920s with Lauri Robinson

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Best books I read in 2018

Hi everyone! 

I am Young Adult and Middle Grade author Barbara Binns, writer of contemporary and realistic fiction for adolescents and teens. As my tagline says, I write Stories of Real Boys Growing Into Real Men - and the people who love them.  

For the start of 2019, I am supposed to be blogging about my best reads of 2018.  That's really difficult.

First, you have to know that being a writer means I have less time for reading than I used to. Half of that is research material. I have a “to be read” fiction pile taller than I am. That means there are a lot of bestsellers I never finish because…well, they didn’t hold onto me and I have no time to stick to a book that doesn't.

Also, I write YA and Middle Grade books, books for the younger kids. So you probably think that’s also what she reads. Wrong answer. Which should be anticipated after I tell you my favorite Christmas movie of all time is Die Hard. I admit it, I’m not ashamed. Other genre-istas may give you their romance selections. I like a little murder and mayhem in my reading material. So here I give you the top adult, teen and children's books I read during 2018.

I place The Reckoning by John Grisham as number one from my 2018 adult reads. Grisham, known for meticulous legal thrillers, serves up one that does not lead down the expected path of heroic lawyers saving their innocent client. In fact, we know from chapter 1 that their client is guilty. There are romantic elements involved throughout the book, but it’s actually a murder mystery where the real question is "Why did he do it?"

The answer is embedded in the backstory, rural life in the south in the forties, racial tensions, and World War II. The author carefully holds back on revealing the past until I literally begged for a backstory dump. When he finally switched to the past I hung on every word. He took me through a love story, the Bataan death march, a mental asylum, and an execution. There were heroes and villains, and a romance, as one young man finds his soulmate engaged to another and chooses to throw his hat in the ring anyway and try for happiness.

I loved the romance, hated the war, and finally understood the hero, loved by the whole town, who felt killing the preacher was his duty. I found fulfillment in understanding the family and story set in the racially charged deep south in the late forties. There are layers of love and lust, heroism, and racial prejudice. In the end, nothing was what I thought it was, and things did not get tied up in a neat bow. I can’t tell much more in case you do read it. (If you already have, I would love to hear your take.)

I place Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi as number one from my 2018 YA reads. I know it's really a 2017 book, but I am behind in my reading. It's also a dark, magic-filled quest. High fantasy is not my usual genre, that's why, in spite of the hype, the fast pace kept me going. Zélie, a maji marked by her white hair, and Amari daughter of the cruel king who wanted to destroy magic and killed Zélie's mother, become allies in an attempt to restore magic to the land. They are pursued by Amari's brother Inan who wants to stop them and prove himself to his father.

Yes, this story does have a romance.

After years of reading about vampires and ghosts of European legends, I loved the West-African inspired fantasy elements. I begged for girls to succeed in restoring magic to the land.  I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to the sequel – Children of Virtue and Vengeance due out in March.

Obviously, my own novel, Courage, released in 2018, is my favorite children's read.  Yes, this is extremely blatant self-promotion, but every time I open the covers I find myself marveling that I actually wrote those words.

No, there is no murder or mayhem here, and no actual romance although close friendships are formed. But kids love it. I've begun visiting schools, and find the children I read are fascinated by the characters I've created. I already have additional visits scheduled for February and March. So yes, Courage has to be on my top list of 2018 books I have read.


Sarah Raplee said...

Children of Blood and Bone is on my TBR pile already, B.A. I'm really looking forward to reading it. I haven't read a high fantasy in a long time, either. Hearing you loved this book has moved it way up the pile!

Judith Ashley said...

B.A., Awesome doesn't begin to describe how wonderful it feels to open a book you've written (and in the process read numerous times) and still marvel at the story and how you told it? Congratulations!!! And I'm sure the children who are fascinated by your characters are caught up in "Courage" for just that reason. So exciting that you are doing more school visits.