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  • Dani Vee

The best books of 2018

By Dani Vee from Words and Nerds

Best literary fiction in 2018

If you’ve listened to the podcast, you already know that my number one read for 2018 is Trent Dalton’s Boy Swallows Universe. After chatting to Trent twice this year (Episode 47: Boy Swallows Universe and Episode 69: By Sea and Stars) it becomes clear how much of himself he put into his debut novel. Trent speaks so openly and beautifully about his childhood and how it inspired the story, and as a result it’s hard not to love the novel. His heart and soul is on the page. Trent's style of writing and beautiful prose makes the book a pleasure to read, it is little wonder why this novel has been the best selling book of 2018. It is easily one of my all time favourite novels. Trent is a great bloke and speaks with such passion about books, his past and his family, what’s not to like!

Other stand-outs include Angela Meyer’s A Superior Spectre, a powerful and unique novel that explores consent, unrestrained technological advancement and gender fluidity. A book that makes you think and feel in equal measure. I loved speaking to Angela, she is such an intelligent and insightful writer. Catch her on Episode 45. A book cut from a similar cloth is The Fortress by S.A.Jones, an incredibly original read about toxic masculinity, feminism and transformation of self. I cannot recommend this book enough particularly in light of current societal issues. It’s an enlightening read. She chats about the book here in Episode 46. I also really enjoyed The Children's House by Alice Nelson. A beautiful novel set in New York exploring issues such as the displacement of refugees, family and customs. A stunning read. Podcast Episode 66.

Best historical fiction in 2018

Kate Forsyth writes about the forgotten women of history in Beauty In Thorns and captures the struggle of women who were oppressed by their context, and how they navigate the world within these limitations. The book focuses on the pre-Raphaelite artists and the women within this world who are as influential as the men, despite the men taking much of the credit. Kate is such a beautiful writer you will be lost inside her world and reluctant to leave. Kate chats about Beauty In Thorns and Bitter Greens in Episode 27.

The Pearl Thief by Fiona McIntosh is a brilliant novel about a woman having survived the Nazi regime in Prague, how it shapes her future and how it leads her to vengeance. Beautifully written, it’s a novel that explores all types of love. I loved this book so much! Listen to Fiona here Episode 65.

The best psychological thrillers in 2018

I’ve read so many psychological thrillers this year and I absolutely love them! When the revelations surprise me, I love them even more! Jack Heath’s Hangman was a book I read earlier in the year and devoured it in two sittings. Gripping, unique and a little twisted, I’m definitely looking forward to the next one. Also Jack is a great guy and if you’ve listened to his episode we talk about books but we also talk about our love of Jack Bauer from 24. A great guy! You can listen to Jack here Episode 32 (and for the non-cannibal version Episode 33.)

The Nowhere Child by Christian White was excellent! The novel centers around a kidnapping and moves from past to present to explain how it occurred. The setting in the United States is terrifying and incredibly interesting. If you are fascinated by cults this novel is amazing and insightful. Podcast Episode 50.

The Girl on the Page by John Purcell is a wonderful read exploring the publishing industry and literature through characters who will stay with you long after you’ve read it. During the podcast, John discusses how his protagonist Amy parallels Amy Winehouse, and with this knowledge allows you to read the novel in an entirely new way. The book allowed me to live vicariously through the brash and broken Amy who lives her life however she wants without apology. Podcast Episode 55.

The Escape Room by Megan Goldin is such a great novel. Set in New York; half of it inside an elevator, it’s a wonderful exploration of the people who live and breathe money and the impact of this on their lives. It explores moral ambiguity and revenge. Loved this book. Podcast Episode 40.

One by Andrew Hutchinson is a great read. Its poetic style really lends itself to the character’s confusion as he attempts to put the pieces of his life together with the reader. Reminiscent of the film Memento, it’ll capture you right until the end. Podcast Episode 38.

The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey was such a fascinating read. Her protagonist is so beautifully flawed and rather than judge her, we empathise with her through our own flaws. The novel weaves together the protagonist’s past and how it begins to collide with her present. Podcast Episode 44.

Call Me Evie by J.P. Pomare set in New Zealand is a great psychological thriller and I predict will be a huge success in 2019. It’s clever with multiple twists and the style of the book makes you feel as oppressed as the character. A wonderful debut novel. Podcast Episode coming soon.

Best Young Adult Fiction for 2018

The Build Up Season by Megan Jacobson explores domestic violence and is such an important read for all young people. It also captures our Indigenous culture in a beautiful and authentic way. Podcast Episode 56.

Sidekicks by Will Kostakis is a beautiful novel about friendship and grief and will capture even the most reluctant young reader. Podcast Episode 28.

Mallee Boys by Charlie Archbold is beautiful, heartbreaking and explores masculinity in a harsh environment. It made me cry three times, once in public. Read it! Podcast Episode 52.

The Red Ribbon by Lucy Adlington is beautiful historical fiction that will not leave you alone after you’ve read it. Beautifully written female characters and how they navigate their friendship and their lives in a place without hope. Podcast Episode 11.

Small Spaces by Sarah Epstein is a great psychological thriller for young people. It’ll scare the pants of you, and surprise you until the end. Excellent book! Podcast Episode 49.

Two Wolves by Tristan Bancks is an excellent novel exploring a whole host of issues about family and violence. An excellent suspenseful novel. Podcast Episode 31.

The Adventures of Catvinkle by Elliot Perlman explores similar ideas as his historical fiction novel The Street Sweeper, using the same concepts with a new audience. Beautiful writing, as usual but with a new voice and little bit of fun! Podcast