Highlights of 2013

I know I probably should have timed this more appropriately for yesterday, but oh well — I don’t mind being a day late to the party after a couple months of not blogging much at all. I missed being around!

High-level recap: I set my reading goal at 100 books in 2013. I finished 80, so I fell short, but I’m still pretty proud of myself. I was right on-track (and even a little ahead) right through October, and then life kinda threw a couple of curve balls. Considering I was probably in single-digits of number of books read in 2012, I’m not complaining!

In celebration of a year well-read, I’ve decided to discuss a tidbit about my favorite 14* reads of the year—countdown style**! I’m sure that the top 3 at least will surprise none of my regular readers šŸ˜‰

*NOTE: I was going to do 13 books for 2013 because that’s all cutesy and everything, but I got down to 14 and couldn’t decide, so we’re ringing in 2014 with 14 books instead …

**Caveat: in fairness, I’m only selecting my favorite book per series—there were a few series I rated every book, or nearly every book, 5/5 stars, and that could easily fill all 14 places

Fourteen

Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2) by Leigh Bardugo

I wanted to make sure this one made the list, simply because I keep thinking about it even now. It wasn’t a favorite as I read it, but it’s really stuck with me, and that merits some mentioning.

I read both books out so far in this series relatively close to each other. The first book was okay—I enjoyed it, but wasn’t terribly thrilled. I read the second book so quickly because I started having dreams about the book, which is always a good sign. I chose the second book because it really stepped it up a notch and some of my criticisms of the first book were improved with the second book.

The world Bardugo has created in this series is spectacular, and while it has some relatively minor setbacks, I’ve been thoroughly captivated by the world and the characters. Still needs some polish, sure, but I look forward to reading more of Bardugo’s work in 2014—she’s pretty high on the list, in fact!

Thirteen

Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School #1) by Gail Carriger

This is one I read before the blog existed, so there’s not a review to link to. I might fix that at some point, or I might not. This was basically my first good introduction to steam punk — my book club read this book, and I fell in love with it.

While not necessarily one of my favorite books of the year, it makes the list because it serves a purpose in my development as a reader. One of the goals I set myself in the last year or so was to start branching out of my genre niche, at least a little bit. This book was my first real step in that direction.

More significantly, it was a step that’s encouraged me to keep taking more steps.Ā Soulless, the first book in the Parasol Protectorate, a different series set in the same world asĀ Etiquette and Espionage is already sitting on my bookshelf waiting to be read, and I’m just now trying to get my hands on the second book in the Finishing School series so I can continue this adventure. More to come on this one in 2014 for sure.

Twelve

First Truth (Truth #1) by Dawn Cook

I have to say that this was an amazing discovery for me. When Kim Harrison revealed that her name was a pseudonym, and that her real name was Dawn Cook, I recalled the name sounding familiar. When I found the Truth quartet reprinted with the author listed as “Dawn Cook as Kim Harrison,” I was thrilled. Kim Harrison has long been among my favorite authors (and for a very long time I would argue was my single most favorite author), so this was a particular treat.

I loved this book—it has an intriguing plot and even more intriguing characters. At this point, I’m currently rather shocked that it’s been about a year since I’ve read the first one, and I haven’t even gotten around to the second one yet. Guess what will be fairly high up on my list in 2014?

Eleven

Once Burned (Night Prince #1) by Jeaniene Frost

I read almost all of Jeaniene Frost’s books in 2013, so at least one had to make the list. I chose this one to be representative of the lot because … well, Vlad. I’ve loved Vlad as a character throughout all of the books, but never more than in this one. And I liked Leila’s character more than I usually do with the females in Frost’s books.

What I particularly liked aboutĀ Once Burned is interwoven tidbits from history. Frost did a lovely job of weaving Vlad’s past into the present-day plot-line without feeling like she was stretching things too far. And she did a good job of keeping Vlad in-character with the Impaler so famous for serving as the inspiration of Dracula

Ten

Trickster (Daughter of the Lioness #1-2) by Tamora Pierce

This is another one that I read before I started this blog, so there’s not a review I can link to. I enjoyed it so much I very well might reread it at some point in the relatively near future and write a review here, though, so it’s likely that you’ll have that to look forward to. I read a duology print, so I read both books, Trickster’s Choice andĀ Trickster’s QueenĀ at the same time.

Pierce is one of my all time favorite authors. When most of the kids my age were fan-girling over Harry Potter, I was going crazy for The Song of the Lioness and the Immortals quartets. I stopped keeping up with Pierce through college, when I stopped keeping up with almost all of my favorite authors, but I’m getting back on track now.

Trickster’s ChoiceĀ is a particular favorite of mine because of how devious it is. To most of the world Aly is little more than a slave girl, yet she manages to lead a revolution. It’s cunning and witty, and just the kind of plot I tend to love. I absolutely love Aly as a character—I’m tempted to go so far as to say she’s probably my favorite female character of the year, but I’m not quite sure if that’s a true statement.

Nine

Biting Bad (Chicagoland Vampires #8) by Chloe Neill

I discovered the Chicagoland Vampires series toward the end of 2012 and fell in love. Neill cranks out some truly excellent novels, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed each and every one of them. I absolutely love the world Neill has built, and she’s done a lovely job of writing her readers into it. I’ll let you read my reviews for specific details on that, but it’s certainly worth mentioning as a highlight of the year.

Besides, what list of good things of 2013 list would be complete without including Ethan Sullivan? Yummy šŸ™‚

Eight

The Revivalist Series by Rachel Caine

I really wanted to put all three books from the Revivalist series on this list because they were all that good. This is one of the series that resulted in me making the groundrule/caveat stated above that I would only include one book per series because otherwise this list had the potential to get out of hand. I still couldn’t decide which book from the series to go with, so I just put the first one. They were all amazing. So I decided to just put down the series, and I’ve included links to all three reviews. What can I say? I hate making decisions.

Caine is probably one of the most creative writers I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading, and if you’re familiar with my reading collection, you’ll know that’s a pretty bold statement. I’m always seriously impressed by the concepts and ideas she explores in her worlds, and by how well put-together they are. These books are a particular favorite of the ones she’s written—I’m glad my local book club decided to read the third one when it cam out, and I’m even more glad I decided to catch up instead of missing out. Definitely one of the highlights of the year.

If you want to know more, you should go read those reviews. I don’t need to repeat myself here šŸ˜‰

Seven

Succubus Revealed (Georgina Kincaid #6) by Richelle Mead

I barely made a decision on which book from the series to choose for this one. If I hadn’t cheated on #8, I totally would have just listed this entire series instead of picking one, because it’s really tough to say any one book in this series was a particular highlight — they all had to fit together to be as perfect as they were individually. I honestly just choseĀ Succubus Revealed because it was the last one in the series and Mead did a beautiful job wrapping everything up—seriously, an absolutely gorgeous ending and I loved every minute of it. Endings are hard, and she wrote an amazing one.

If you want to know more about why I’m so gaga about this series, go read the reviews—I have all of them up here except for the first book (which I read pre-Classy Cat). Here are the other links.

Oh, and Seth Mortensen. *sigh*

Six

Ever After (The Hollows #11) by Kim Harrison

As some of my more regular readers might know, and has been somewhat implied already in this post, I went through most of college reading very little. There were a good four or five years where I hardly touched a book.

Kim Harrison remained ever present, though. I’ve been diligent about her books. A new one gets released and you can count on me to own it and have it read, if not within in a week, then within a month. It all depends on how much time I have to read. That means that this one was bound to make it to my 2013 highlights list before I even knew I’d be writing one. It had a pretty much guaranteed spot unless the book really disappointed me.

It didn’t, of course, disappoint me. I have had a character crush on Algaliarept since … What, 2005? Wow, that makes me feel like I’m getting old. We’ll just say for a really long time. Harrison’s world is so textured and rich that I feel like I grew up there. I absolutely love the idea of the Ever After, and I’m Thrilled at the development between Rachel and Trent. Just … Thrilled. Capital T. *Giggles*

(Seriously, teenage Liza comes out when I try to talk about Kim Harrison—there’s no reigning her in…)

Five

Gameboard of the Gods (Age of X #1) by Richelle Mead

This book was beautifully crafted. It was an excellent read. I never would have decided to read it if my book club hadn’t put it on their reading list, so kudos to that. I don’t want to repeat my review—I suggest just reading it.

It’s worth noting that Richelle Mead made the list twice (well, 7 times if you count the entirety of the Georgina Kincaid series)—I still haven’t decided how I feel about her as an author, because I really wasn’t a fan of the first Vampire Academy book. After a couple of home runs this year, however, I think I’m planning on giving those another go.

Four

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1) by Deborah Harkness

Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy #2) by Deborah Harkness

All right, so I’m listing two here and cheating again. And I’m really stretching things, because in all fairness, I read at least half ofĀ A Discovery of Witches in 2012, not 2013, but I loved them both so much, and they both show up on my goodreads 2013 list, so I’m counting them. I read them back-to-back anyway.

Harkness is amazing—her ability to weave a fantasy story so laden with historical fact is amazing, and it completely drew me in. Since I read these so early on in the year (obviously), there’s not a review up on here, and I honestly think that’s a fault of this blog. At some point I will read these books again so I can write a fresh and insightful review. This will likely happen right before I decide to read the third book, The Book of Life, next year.

Three

Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

There just isn’t enough that can be said about this book. I’ll be honest I wondered how much of the hype was just hype, but it truly is a good novel. Morgenstern is a master of imagery, and she made every bit of this story moving and emotional. It was a bit of a slower read, but every minute was worth it.

Why did this make it to my top three for the year?

It stopped to make me think. All of the imagery seemed to carry a message, and the words all mattered. So often we read stories as if they don’t carry a purpose, but we forget that the original reason we had stories was to give meaning to the world around us, to communicate with each other.

Besides, it was just really well-written. If you want to know more, go read the review.

Two

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

This book made me laugh harder than almost any other book this year, and it made me cry harder than almost any other book this year. It might have actually won the prize for the hardest cry, but it’s a close call.

I honestly don’t have much I can say about this one that hasn’t been said in its review. It stood out among the books I read this year (and it wasn’t fantasy, which is really saying something). I strongly encourage any reader of any age/gender/genre to read this book.

One

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle: Day One) by Patrick Rothfuss

Seriously, if you haven’t read this yet, you need to. This is the single best book I have read. Ever, not just in 2013. As one of my good friends and I were just discussing the other day, Rothfuss might possibly have out-written Tolkein. His skill with storytelling is spectacular, and his attention to detail in his writing it noteworthy.

I wrote an extra long, extra detailed review on this one, so I don’t want to waste time on it here. Just … Go read it!

(I’m reading Day Two right now — it’s excellent, so far)

Advertisements

Posted on January 1, 2014, in Miscellaneous. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: