Best of 2018: A Year in the Ruins

First off, if I can toot my own horn for a moment, I was notified yesterday that Beauty in Ruins was named one of the Top 50 Fiction Blogs & Websites for Fiction Book Readers & Authors in 2018 by Feedspot, which is very cool news! Thanks to all for being a part of that.

By the Numbers
This year I read 106 books (up just a tad from last year, which surprised me), and abandoned 12 to the DNF pile (which is down a bit from last year). Among the books that I did not abandon, there were 7 perfect 5-star reads this year (which, I am pleased to say, is 1 more than last year's total).

At a quick glance, it looks like 35% were shelved as Fantasy and 34% as Horror, while a quick look back shows that 32% were written by women, and 17% had some sort of LGBT content.

Most Popular Guests
Once again, I had the great pleasure of hosting a number different authors for guest posts, excerpts, or interviews this year. Gail Z. Martin, always a popular guest, stopped by to talk The Perils of Writing Sequels; Felix R Savage, in his first visit, showcased the SFWA Science Fiction Story Bundle; and Kane Gilmour had some fun, talking Kaiju Destruction in Kaiju Rising.

On the interview front we had two interviews that were exceptionally well-viewed - my chat with Tamara Thorne & Alistair Cross in the Spring, and J. Kent Messum's  Summer stop to talk about the US publication of Husk.

This year's most popular guest, however, was Reed James, who waxed eloquent about The Meeting of Fantasy and Erotica in his The Knight and the Acolyte series on the year's most popular post.

Most Popular Reviews
Going strictly by traffic to the Ruins, this year's most popular review towered over all others, nearly doubling the views of the second-most popular review. The Atrocities by Jeremy C. Shipp was a haunting, grotesquely beautiful, atmospheric work of Gothic horror, that was truly unforgettable, and I'm glad to see that readers took notice.

Going by those same numbers, the year's most popular author was Catherine Cavendish. Two of the books in her Nemesis of the Gods series (Waking the Ancients and Damned by the Ancients), along with the standalone Cold Revenge were popular with readers, taking 3 of the top 7 spots.

Rounding out the top 5 were Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames (no great surprise there), Knowing God by Donald Allen Kirch (the most popular WTF title of the year), and Art of War edited by Petros Triantafyllou (again, no great surprise,given its stellar collection of authors).

The Best of 2018
While the last few years have seen a number of authors make repeat appearances in the 5-star list, most of them wrapped up their series last year, opening the shelves to an almost entirely new crop of authors. There is one author, whoever, who deserves a special nod.

Not only is S. Nano the only author from last year's list to rank among this year's 5-star best, he managed the feat twice - first with La Contessa and then with The Red Queen. I do believe that may be a first, and is definitely worth celebrating.

Perhaps even more exciting is the fact that half of this year's top reads were from the WTF Are You Reading shelves, which has me excited for some of the books I have lined up over the holidays and for the start of the new year.
  • The Atrocities by Jeremy C. Shipp - a haunting, grotesquely beautiful, atmospheric work of Gothic horror with a series of final twists that elevate it from memorable to unforgettable.
  • La Contessa by S. Nano - a powerfully intense read, full of torment and pain, and yet still a pleasure that works as well as a piece of historical fiction as it does erotica
  • Shrink Inc: Worshiping Claire by Taedis - a smart, sexy, self-aware sci-fi novel that is as full of clever details as it is deep thoughts.
  • The Red Queen by S. Nano - an incredibly imaginative, erotic story, with elements of wonder and seduction, but it's also a deeply personal one.
  • Testament by David Gibbins - plenty of popcorn thrills, including chases, explosions, and narrow escapes, balanced by history, archaeology, and a human element.
  • The Siren and The Specter by Jonathan Janz - darker and more disturbing that you can possibly imagine, it's not just the best haunted house novel I have read in years, but one of the better horror novels I have read.
  • Damned by the Ancients by Catherine Cavendish - the strongest book in the series, finding ways to reinvigorate a haunting we thought already explored, and offering new surprises that lead to a satisfying climax.

What's Next for 2018
Looking to the new year, there are already a handful of titles I've either been chasing or am anxiously awaiting promised copies - Verses for the Dead by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child (Dec 31), The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons (Feb 5), The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie (Feb 26), and The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon (Feb 26).

Looking ahead even further, the titles I am most excited about this year - and I swear it is a total coincidence that all three authors are Canadian - include The Gossamer Mage by Julie E. Czerneda (Aug 6), Our Lady of Blades by Sebastien de Castell (Sept 19), and The God Is Not Willing by Steven Erikson (Nov 12).

While it's always hard to guess what a new year will bring, I do see myself digging deeper into my stacks of personal reads. Kristen Britain's Green Rider, Janny Wurts' The Wars of Light and Shadow, and Elizabeth Haydon's The Symphony of Ages are series I want to catch up with, and I have some holes to fill on my L. E. Modesitt Jr. shelves with Saga of Recluce, Spellsong Cycle, and Corean Chronicles.

On that note, I definitely see myself continuing with my preference for physical reads (especially of the mass market paperback variety).

Beyond that, I can't say what author or genre will dominate my imagination, but I look forward to finding out.


  1. Congratulations on your blog recognition! You must be pretty chuffed with that! Here's hoping for a great reading year in 2019 for all of us!

    1. Agreed! Looking forward to digging into my own shelves more and catching up. Happy reading!

  2. Wow awesome! Good luck for 2019!

    1. Thanks for being a part of it. Looking forward to getting back into the WTF dungeons over the holidays. :)

  3. Ruin of Kings, The Raven Tower, and The Priory of the Orange Tree are all books I'm looking forward to in the new year.

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    1. The Raven Tower arrived in the mail today. Talk about timely!

  4. Congrats, Bob! Beauty in Ruins is a wonderful site. Thank you for including my novel "Knowing God" as the "Most Popular WTF Title of 2018." LOL...FANTASTIC!


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