My Top Ten Favorite Books of 2013
The end of the year and the time to rank my reads has arrived. It's always hard to choose favorites, but this year was difficult for a different reason. I feel like I've been in somewhat of a reading and blogging rut for the past year. While I've certainly read books that I loved, I feel like I have fewer that I'm raving about. Maybe with the passage of time I'll feel differently.
I have a clear favorite for the year, but the other 9 are somewhat mixed. So, I'll list my #1 book for the year and the remaining nine are listed in no particular order.
This Song Will Save Your Life is a serious contemporary novel. So serious that I sometimes felt like I was peeping at a train wreck and dreaded what was going to come next when I turned the page. This sounds like a bad thing, but really the book was beautiful. Beautiful in a depressing sort of way. Don't worry though, it does have an uplifting end.
Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing.
All Our Yesterdays is different from most books you read. It takes chances and succeeds. It give you three dimensional heroes and villains. Good people doing hard things and bad people whose choices kinda make sense even though they're horrible. I really can't recommend this book enough.
"You have to kill him." Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.
Only Em can complete the final instruction. She’s tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present—imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside.
Marina has loved her best friend James since the day he moved next door when they were children. A gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America’s most famous families, James finally seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, James’s life crumbles apart, and with it, Marina’s hopes for their future. Now someone is trying to kill him. Marina will protect James, no matter what. Even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it. At least not as the girl she once was.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
As an avowed sci fi hater, this is not a book I ever expected to read. My
Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.
Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker's Guide ("A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have") and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox--the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod's girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years.
Across a Star-Swept Sea is based on the novel The Scarlet Pimpernel This immediately puts me on a positive footing with this book. I love The Scarlet Pimpernel (Have you ever seen the musical? It's as good or better than the book). Persis Blake is one of the best strong female protagonists in years. To say this book is well-written is an understatement. The characters are lovable, the story is engaging, it ties in to the first book while also standing on its own...I could go on.
Centuries after wars nearly destroyed civilization, the two islands of New Pacifica stand alone, a terraformed paradise where even the Reduction—the devastating brain disorder that sparked the wars—is a distant memory. Yet on the isle of Galatea, an uprising against the ruling aristocrats has turned deadly. The revolutionaries’ weapon is a drug that damages their enemies’ brains, and the only hope is rescue by a mysterious spy known as the Wild Poppy.
On the neighboring island of Albion, no one suspects that the Wild Poppy is actually famously frivolous aristocrat Persis Blake. The teenager uses her shallow, socialite trappings to hide her true purpose: her gossipy flutternotes are encrypted plans, her pampered sea mink is genetically engineered for spying, and her well-publicized new romance with handsome Galatean medic Justen Helo… is her most dangerous mission ever.
Though Persis is falling for Justen, she can’t risk showing him her true self, especially once she learns he’s hiding far more than simply his disenchantment with his country’s revolution and his undeniable attraction to the silly socialite he’s pretending to love. His darkest secret could plunge both islands into a new dark age, and Persis realizes that when it comes to Justen Helo, she’s not only risking her heart, she’s risking the world she’s sworn to protect.
Rose is a plucky girl as an American pilot flying out of England. She is daring and gutsy, as any volunteer pilots in that day would be. But she also feels very young. She is forced to grow up very quickly when imprisoned in Ravensbruck. The heart of this book is about the relationships that Rose develops at Ravensbruck with a group of Polish political prisoners. They lived to help each other survive. They became closer than family. Rose Under Fire is a beautiful, touching, heart-rending novel. If it wasn't for Code Name Verity, I would have thought it was a perfect book.
While flying an Allied fighter plane from Paris to England, American ATA pilot and amateur poet, Rose Justice, is captured by the Nazis and sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious women's concentration camp. Trapped in horrific circumstances, Rose finds hope in the impossible through the loyalty, bravery and friendship of her fellow prisoners. But will that be enough to endure the fate that’s in store for her?
For Darkness Shows The Stars has that wonderful indefinable quality where everything just fits and feels wonderful. I came to appreciate the complexity of the world-building. It was vivid, fully-formed, and eventually made a lot of sense. Similarly Kai and Elliot were wonderful three dimensional, flawed but lovable characters. The side characters too had strong back-stories and fit into the plot well. I had some trouble getting into the book, but pretty quickly I was flying through the pages.
It's been several generations since a genetic experiment gone wrong caused the Reduction, decimating humanity and giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.
Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family's estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot's estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth--an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go.
But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret--one that could change their society . . . or bring it to its knees. And again, she's faced with a choice: cling to what she's been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she's ever loved, even if she's lost him forever.
Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers
Dark Triumph is a strong second in the His Dark Assassins series. Sybella is a harsh character. Rather than being put off by her darkness, I grew to admire Sybella's strength and her practical nature. If you loved Grave Mercy, you'll love the passionate relationship that builds between Sybella and Beast, based on trust and respect.
When Sybella arrived at the doorstep of St Mortain half mad with grief and despair the convent were only too happy to offer her refuge - but at a price. The sisters of this convent serve Death, and with Sybella naturally skilled in both the arts of death and seduction, she could become one of their most dangerous weapons.
But her assassin's skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to the life that nearly drove her mad. Her father's rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother's love is equally monstrous. But when Sybella discovers an unexpected ally she discovers that a daughter of Death may find something other than vengeance to live for...
Clockwork Princess shows how Cassandra is capable of putting together a compelling story with a multitude of richly described, unforgettable characters. This book is the perfect ending to a well written trilogy. It features the best love triangle I've read, a slew of compelling characters (both main and side), passionate romance, and a fast flowing plot.
A net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute. Mortmain plans to use his Infernal Devices, an army of pitiless automatons, to destroy the Shadowhunters. He needs only one last item to complete his plan: he needs Tessa Gray.
Charlotte Branwell, head of the London Institute, is desperate to find Mortmain before he strikes. But when Mortmain abducts Tessa, the boys who lay equal claim to her heart, Jem and Will, will do anything to save her. For though Tessa and Jem are now engaged, Will is as much in love with her as ever.
As those who love Tessa rally to rescue her from Mortmain’s clutches, Tessa realizes that the only person who can save her is herself. But can a single girl, even one who can command the power of angels, face down an entire army?
Danger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment, and the tangled threads of love and loss intertwine as the Shadowhunters are pushed to the very brink of destruction in the breathtaking conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy.
Richelle Mead has a talent for delivering consistently satisfying, swoon worthy novels. Indigo Spell is no exception. Sydney moves further along the path towards independence from the Alchemists and love with Adrian - I'm not saying this as a spoiler. I think we all know that's what will eventually happen. Indigo Spell is the first of two Bloodlines books published in 2013. Fiery Heart came out in November. I loved both books, but I think I liked Indigo Spell a little better.
Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets--and human lives." In the aftermath of a forbidden moment that rocked Sydney to her core, she finds herself struggling to draw the line between her Alchemist teachings and what her heart is urging her to do. Then she meets alluring, rebellious Marcus Finch--a former Alchemist who escaped against all odds, and is now on the run. Marcus wants to teach Sydney the secrets he claims the Alchemists are hiding from her. But as he pushes her to rebel against the people who raised her, Sydney finds that breaking free is harder than she thought. There is an old and mysterious magic rooted deeply within her. And as she searches for an evil magic user targeting powerful young witches, she realizes that her only hope is to embrace her magical blood--or else she might be next.
Just One Day is a book that will make you realize the importance of shaping your own destiny. How one even can be the catalyst for so much more. It is such a vivid, emotional story that you will forget it's fiction and will cheer, cry, mourn, and rejoice at every turn in Allyson's journey towards life.
When sheltered American good girl Allyson "LuLu" Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.
And my FAVORITE book of 2013 is
. . .
. . .
. . .
. . .
It seems like everyone and their sister listed a Rainbow Rowell book as their favorite for 2013. And I'm staying par for the course. Fangirl was incredible. It has "it," that intangible quality that takes a book from great to truly special. It's a wonderfully written, well-rounded look at a beautiful, damaged girl's life. There's a sweet romance with a lovable, three dimensional guy. There's an embrace of fan culture that so many of us are involved with. Fangirl really does have everything.
A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.
Cath is a Simon Snow fan.
Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .
But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.
Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.
Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.
For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?
Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?
And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?