• Books of 2013

    Date: 2014.01.02 | Category: Books, Me | Tags:

    It’s time for my annual rundown of books I read in 2013. I always love going back over my Shelfari list and remembering (or trying to forget) what I read over the course of the year. I read a lot leading up to Norah’s birth, then things slowed way down after that. But I still managed to read 56 books this year, and that makes me happy.

    Instead of my top 10, I’m going to list them a little differently like I did last year. So, let’s get to it.

    My favorite new Young Adult (YA) author: Rainbow Rowell
    I read all three of her books this year and absolutely loved them. Fangirl was probably my favorite, but Eleanor & Park was a very close second. And Attachments was pretty dang fantastic too. They all cover awkward young people at crucial moments in their young lives and manage to tie in great, nerdy things like Dungeons and Dragons, comic books and fan fiction. I also love that her characters and not perfect. Their hips are too big and foreheads too long. They are normal people with flaws, but most of them are easy to love.

    My Other Favorite YA Author I Discovered This Year: John Green
    The Fault in Our Stars is definitely one of the best books I read this past year about two kids with cancer who fall in love. It’s so sad, but so wonderful. Looking for Alaska was also quite good. ( And they are both only $3.99 in the Kindle store right now).

    Speaking of YA, I read a lot of it. And they are almost all done in trilogies. Several of those trilogies came to a close this year. Which leads me to:

    Worst Ending to a YA Trilogy: Allegiant by Veronica Roth
    I loved the first book in this series, Divergent. But after I finished reading Allegiant, I stopped, erased what I had just read in my head and made up my own ending, then shared it with my friend Susan. We both agreed my ending was better.

    Best YA Trilogy: The Infernal Devices (Clockwork Angel / Clockwork Prince / Clockwork Princess) by Cassandra Clare
    Forget that whole Mortal Instruments series Cassandra Clare wrote, The Infernal Devices books blow that out of the water. Not only is the writing better, but the story and characters are wonderful and it is one of the few YA trilogies I’ve read that actually ends well.

    Best Guilty Pleasure Reads: The Selection and The Elite by Kiera Cass
    It’s The Bachelor meets The Hunger Games. Both are sort of awfully wonderful.

    Worst Book That I Knew Would Be Bad and Still Felt Compelled to Read: Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris
    The conclusion to the Sookie Stackhouse books was absolutely terrible, but I had invested so much time in them I needed to know how they ended. Again, I probably should just write my own ending for that one too.

    Most Disturbing Book: The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
    I love warped fairy tales, and this is a fantastic one, but there is a scene with the huntress in this book that played on all my childhood nightmares and I still try not to think about it before I fall asleep sometimes.

    Best Non-Fiction Read: Wild by Cheryl Strayed
    This book made me want to get up and hike up mountains in the snow. My original review: “A great emotional, spiritual and physical adventure of one woman who chased away her sorrows through the amazing Pacific Crest Trail, walking over 1,100 miles. I’ve seen many people fault the author for being unprepared and an idiot, but I love that she owns her mistakes, chastises herself briefly and moves on. I love that they all lead up to her great accomplishment. A great read that makes me want to go backpacking again.” (Also only $3.99 in the Kindle store right now).

    Best Epic Fantasy: The Lions of al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay
    I love that most of this author’s books are mostly single volume tales with an insane amount of world building and loosely based on real historical events. If you have the time and energy, pick this one up. The main female character is especially impressive.

    Craziest and Most Awesome Book About the Rainforest and Fertility : State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
    I have a whole new respect for doctors who do c-sections after reading this book. But there was this crazy, immersive, magical quality to this book that makes me want to read it again.

    Best Sci-Fi Classic That I Finally Read: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
    I got on a sci-fi kick this year and read quite a  bit of it, including a bunch of older titles that have won Hugo Awards, but this one was still my fave. This one about a boy who is basically bred by the government for his strategic war brain and the path they put him on really captivated me. (Also $3.99)

    Best Book About Messed Up People That They Made Into a Movie: The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
    I loved the crazy characters in this book and their weird weird story. Please read this before you watch the movie. The movie is great, but it’s much more feel-good than the book. And the book keeps one of the most important parts a mystery and the movie blurts it out right away. ($4.99)

    Best Fantasy Adventure: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
    You know how I feel about Neil. If you don’t, then you should know he’s my favorite. I was thrilled that he released a new book last year and it was everything I hoped it would be made of: good writing, great story and an insane imagination.

    Most Disappointing Read: The White Queen by Philippa Gregory
    I’ve read a lot of books that have taken historical moments or tales and imbued them with strong women and mysticism (The Dovekeepers and The Mists of Avalon, for example). This one did that but fell short. This is the story of  the wars of the Plantagenets who ruled before the Tudors. I expected a lot more plot and drama. Instead, I felt like vast swathes of the story were skipped over and accepted for what they were.

    Best eBook Sensation: Wool by Hugh Howey
    Dystopian society living inside a silo buried in the ground. The worst offense you can do is ask to go outside. They fit you with a suit, let you out long enough to clean the lenses so everyone can see the outside world, then you die from the harsh outside environment. But there is, as with all good dystopian reads, something the higher ups aren’t letting the general population in on. This book grew in popularity when it was released only as an ebook. Howey has since released two more, but I haven’t picked them up. Still, a good read!

    Best Book About Clairvoyants: The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
    This is apparently the first book of seven planned. I loved that is was something different (even if it was wrongly compared to Harry Potter). I think it was also a bit over-hyped, but I really loved the story about clairvoyant people being outlaws and collected and made as slaves to a crazy alien race, so I’ll forgive.

    Other Books Worth Picking Up:

    The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker – Magical realism about a golem and a jinni living and surviving in a more modern New York. A bit long, but good.
    Under the Never Sky ($2.99) / Into the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi – YA dystopia, but better than most I’ve read. And the final installment comes out this month!
    Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce – A girl goes missing and comes back many years later claiming to have been secreted away to fairyland. Is she telling the truth, or just insane?
    Across the Universe trilogy (Across the Universe / A Million Suns / Shades of Earth)  by Beth Revis – A floating spaceship full of people who have been cryogenically frozen and the people who maintain the ship. All of a sudden the frozen ones start getting killed…
    The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach – Beautiful writing about several college boys who play baseball. It actually made me care about baseball, but was way  too long.
    Shadow and Bone ($2.99) / Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo – The first two books in a very cool trilogy that taps into mythology and magic. Loved reading these.

    Note: I don’t get paid to do this (I wish!) But if you click and buy, I do get a few pennies to spend on buying myself more Kindle books. :) I’ve also noted where some of them are on sale for awesome prices in the Kindle store.