So I know I’ve been absent from posting on my blog. I admit it and I accept the punishment of barely any traffic. I’m on the cusp of finishing up my FIRST DRAFT of my FIRST full length novel EVER. So yeah, I’ve been busy doing other things. You know, the things I TALK about doing on my blog posts.
Anyway, I promise January will be more active. If you missed it, I will be reading the Harry Potter series for the FIRST TIME starting in January. I’ll be posting my thoughts and reactions to one book in the series per month, so if you haven’t read them either or are up for a re-read, join me! I also will be posting about my final drafting and querying journey here and at YAStands for my bi-weekly post there, so if you are in the same boat or interested in seeing how I take this rough first draft to the finish line and (maybe, hopefully, possibly??) snag an agent, then stay tuned for those!
To get back into my blog skills, I wanted to cover my top reads of 2013. This doesn’t mean the books were all published in 2013, only that I read them during this time. Also, they are in no particular order. Without further ado, here we go!
1. THE SEA OF TRANQUILITY by Katja Millay
Guys, this book BLEW ME AWAY. I can’t even begin to explain how much I loved it. I picked it up because (at the time) my story was in dual narrative and I wanted to read more examples of dual POV. I saw a lot of hype over this story and even though I never had heard of the author, I was intrigued by the blurb and opening prologue so I went ahead and purchased it. I was NOT disappointed. Katja Millay has such a beautiful way of writing. And so many “little” things in the story turn out to be big things. Everything weaves together to some sort of closure by the end and I just love love love this book!! See my full review here.
2. THE MADMAN’S DAUGHTER by Megan Shepherd
I’m not that familiar with the horror genre so this wouldn’t be a normal pick from me. But I wanted to read something different and it got a shining 5 star review from one of my trusted CPs, so I borrowed it from her to read. It. was. awesome. I personally HATE blood and guts and gore. I can’t watch scary movies because of this fact and could never be in the medical field. But READING about it wasn’t so bad. It was so intriguing to me to read a main character who had the interest in the science of it all. Of how muscle and bones and brains go together and make something alive. There were MANY twists that I was blindsided by but also totally made sense. I hated the ending only because it hurt my heart but it also has made me feverish to read the second book. Well done, Megan Shepherd.
3. DARE YOU TO by Katie McGarry
This was another book I picked up because it was dual narrative. I heard Katie McGarry’s PUSHING THE LIMITS was awesome but I got her latest book DARE YOU TO on NetGalley so I decided to read that one first. SO FREAKING GOOD. The two points of view were fresh and unique. I absolutely loved Ryan as a good-boy but willing to risk things for Beth because he loved her. Just because he didn’t have a hard life growing up didn’t mean there weren’t issues still in his life that were hard to deal with. And Beth was all rough edges and grunge but seeing her softer and vulnerable side made me feel for her so much. I eventually read PUSHING THE LIMITS and loved it too but this one was still my favorite. See my full review here.
4. CLOCKWORK PRINCESS by Cassandra Clare
Cassandra Clare is one of the few authors that I can read who writes in third person. It really is not my preference and I usually feel distant from the story when it’s not first person. However, she has a way of writing that makes third person FEEL like first person. George R.R. Martin also has this talent when writing his GAME OF THRONES series. So, of course, I was enthralled with this series because you got to be so close and “in the heads” of so many characters. I think I like this series BETTER than the MORTAL INSTRUMENTS series (even though I still love that one). I just like the setting (London) and then steampunk feel. And I’m so head over heels in love with Will Herondale that I just can’t stand it. Some people say that the ending was a cop out, and I can understand it, but I also am not complaining because it made me ball my eyes out with happiness. So, how can that be bad?
5. SKYLARK by Meagan Spooner
Oh, SKYLARK. How much I loved thee. The main pull here was I liked the new take on magic and how it is part of everyone’s life source. That everyone is born with magic inside of them. In this society, you are harvested of your magic at a certain age and left with only what you need to live. Then there are those that are renewables, who can renew their magic even after expending or losing some of it. This whole idea really intrigued me along with the different affects it has on people void of magic but still alive. Shadow people. I also HAVE to comment on the love interest, Oren. Without giving too much away, I just LOVED the tension between Lark and Oren and how, even though nothing *really* happens between them, I could feel how much they were drawn to each other and grew to care for each other. Any time they DID have a close interaction I re-read it a few times to just simmer in it. What keeps them apart is VERY sad and almost seems impossible to get around. That’s what makes the want for them to find a way to be together so much stronger while I read it. See my full review here.
6. DIVERGENT (full series) by Veronica Roth
I am kind of behind the ball on this series. I had heard about it and always wanted to read it but, you know, the ever-growing TBR pile sometimes gets in the way of that. When everyone started freaking out about the ending of the third book (ALLEGIANT) and the loads of blog posts and tweets with spoilers attached, I knew I had to read the series NOW or likely fall into reading a spoiler and knowing this most horrible/awesome/crazy ending. So I started DIVERGENT and read through ALLEGIANT in a few weeks. The whole series was so thought-provoking and the world she created was so intriguing that I thought about it all for days. That’s when you know it was good. Was it the best writing ever? Not really. But the way Tris stayed true to her character throughout the series really resonated with me. It might not have been the ending that fans wanted but it was the ending meant for the characters Roth created. I applaud her for sticking to her guns.
7. THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green
I know, I’m SO late to join the John Green bandwagon it’s not even funny. But I finally read THE FAULT IN OUR STARS and I finally got to lay in bed balling my eyes out for the characters. So yeah, it was pretty good. I’m SO excited for the movie as well. I think this one really has the potential to be absolutely amazing. Kind of like how THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER was an AMAZING book and an AMAZING movie. They are two different art forms so they can’t identically mirror each other. I get that. I understand that. They both held up their own in emotion and storytelling. I’m hoping the same for THE FAULT IN OUR STARS movie in 2014. I’ve also been given LOOKING FOR ALASKA to read as well and was told it could be better than this one. Impossible, right? We will see 🙂
8. THE DREAM THIEVES by Maggie Stiefvater
Oh, Maggie Stiefvater. Let me count the ways I just absolutely freaking adore you to pieces. Ronan Lynch. Gansey. Chainsaw. The Grey Man. I could go on and on and that is just from this one book. Don’t get me started on all the others. This book. What can I even say about THE DREAM THIEVES that doesn’t need to be shouted from the roof tops. Nothing. I have to admit here that for some reason, when I read the first book in this series (THE RAVEN BOYS) I just couldn’t get into it. I don’t know what it was about it but I wasn’t as intrigued with that book as I have been with all of Maggie’s others. But I love her so that I decided I needed to read THE DREAM THIEVES and holy cow, I’m glad I did. The writing was SO good. Every sentence in the story had a purpose. There were twists and unexpected gestures and the characters were so complex and real. And can I say again: RONAN LYNCH. We learn so much more about him in this book and I absolutely adore him now. I’m definitely going to go back and read THE RAVEN BOYS again and see if I was just in a funk when I read it the first time. All I can say is I am a Maggie fan for life.
9. PAPER VALENTINE by Brenna Yovanoff
This was one of the first books I read in 2013 and I still love everything about it. It was such a fresh take on a paranormal kind of setting. The “ghost” in the story is like a full fledged character that interacts with our MC, Hannah, on a daily basis. This story is really about friendship and regret and guilt and learning to accept yourself for who you are. Yes, there was a love interest (I’ve always got to have a hint of romance somewhere) but that was not that main theme by a long shot. There was a serial killer and a mystery to solve. There was a friendship to question and resolve. There was a choice to be made about accepting what others think as your own opinions or doing what you want and feel even if it’s not the popular choice. I really loved the raw voice of Hannah and how the paranormal of this story was subtly masked to make it something I could fully relate to and apply to my own life. See my full review here.
10. THE BONE SEASON by Samantha Shannon
This book got a lot of hype because of the many comparisons to the Harry Potter series (there will be seven books, Samantha is British, it is being published by the same publishers as Harry Potter, and it’s paranormal/fantasy). But I think that is where the comparisons end …and to be honest, this series is SO different from HP. The main character starts off much older (I think 19) and the feel of the book is meant for an older audience. I will admit that the first couple chapters were slow going for me. There was a lot of info-dumping and not a ton of exciting action. I started to worry that the effort of reading the book was not worth it. But, oh boy, was I wrong. Once Paige is captured and taken to Oxford, the action and excitement does NOT stop. I absolutely love her relationship with her keeper, Warden. She has every right to hate him and just when you think he’s a horrible creature, he does something unexpected and your whole perception is thrown off. The world building was also amazing. The cast of characters is large and yet I didn’t find myself getting confused. There are also a lot of terms thrown around for all the different types of clairvoyant. I did stumble a little bit on those parts but it wasn’t enough to throw me out of the book. I am super excited for the sequel and there is also talk of a movie! See my full review here.
EASY by Tamara Webber
I dipped my toes a bit into New Adult reads this past year and this was probably my favorite read. I still love YA the best but as New Adult expands and becomes more complex and diverse, I think it will be an age-range I’ll be reading more often. This was really great story telling with a swoonworthy and troubled boy. Sorry, I am kind of a sucker for tattooed, motorcycle riding hotties. What can I say?
HUSH, HUSH by Becca Fitzpatrick
If you know me at all you know how I love me some snark. And man, does Patch bring snark to a whole new level. Yeah, I understand this might fall into the whole “why does the girl stick around a guy when she gets the feeling he wants to kill her?” I know, kind of the Bella-syndrome we’ve seen a lot of in YA. But, sorry, I don’t know that I could resist such snark and sexiness rolled together either. Just sayin’ …I heart Patch.
This year has been a GREAT year of reads. I was inspired and awed. I laughed and cried and threw books across the room when appropriate. I re-read sections of text over and over because they rang so true and poetic. I can’t wait until 2014 and all the other books I have to look forward to!
Next week, I will be posting about what I learned with my own writing endeavors this year. The week after that, I plan to post my most anticipated reads for next year.