2013 in books

Books

I tried to organize them for you this year. Books I read together in a series are grouped in boxes. I used Amazon Affiliate links, but obviously you can get these books anywhere or borrow a lot of ‘em (like we did). Books I loved are asterisked!

Fiction

Fantasy / YA

Ender’s Game – Everyone said I needed to read this, and I kind of didn’t love it. It was a little too Lord of the Flies for me? I guess? Like, kids killing people? Although I adored the Hunger Games, so go figure. My friends insist I need to read the whole series before I pass judgement.

The False Prince – I need to read the rest of the books in this series; it was cute. The boys would like this.

The Thief – I actually started this and abandoned it, I can’t remember why, I probably just got sidetracked, it’s still on my to-read list.

The Crown of Embers – Book 2 *

The Bitter Kingdom – Book 3 *

I should have re-read the first book; I was a little lost at first, but I got my bearings quickly enough. Such a great series! Excellent writing, and the ending was perfect.

Beyonders: A World Without Heroes – Book 1 * – I re-read this so I could read the next two books in the series back to back.

Beyonders: Seeds of Rebellion – Book 2 *

Beyonders: Chasing the Prophecy – Book 3 *

I’ve loved Fablehaven and Beyonders for the kids – it did occur to me in reading Beyonders that Brandon Mull doesn’t do a lot of appearance description. I have no idea what Jason or Rachel look like.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones – Book 1

The Mortal Instruments: City of Ashes – Book 2

The Mortal Instruments: City of Glass – Book 3

The Mortal Instruments: City of Fallen Angels – Book 4

The Mortal Instruments: City of Lost Souls – Book 5

I finally read the above series to see what all the fuss was about. I admittedly went in with some preconceived notions after reading some of the DRAMZ about the author. I was pretty full of eyerolls for the first few books, but I think they improved towards the end. Though! There is a sixth book coming out, and oh my, I don’t think I’ll read it. I did see the movie: holy massive plot changes, batman.

Delirium – Book 1

Pandemonium – Book 2

Requiem – Book 3

I don’t think these were terrible, though I remember being a little annoyed while reading. I didn’t write a review/note for myself so I just know that I didn’t wholeheartedly love them.

Legend – Book 1 *

Prodigy: A Legend Novel – Book 2 *

I liked these. They are kind of a different spin on a dystopian society. If she drags these out into like 5 books it will probably get tired, but I liked these two.

Reached – Book 3 of the Matched series – I really should re-read to refresh my memory, I read this series kind of overlapping with the Divergent series and both plot lines get tangled up in my head. I think I liked the first in this series best, but I remember liking how this book wrapped things up.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone * – Apparently this book got a lot of hype when it came out, and I’m rather glad I missed it. I read it without knowing what to expect. It is quite unlike anything I’ve ever read, and the writing has kind of a different twist, I like the author’s voice. If you’re religious, the seraphim / fallen angel storyline can be a little weird, but if you can suspend reality it works.

One of my favorite authors, Cinda Williams Chima, came out with a new book in a series I read a few years ago, so I went back and re-read:

The Warrior Heir – Book 1

The Wizard Heir – Book 2

The Dragon Heir – Book 3

And then tackled the new book: The Enchanter Heir – Book 4. I’m very sorry to say it was pretty disappointing. I didn’t adore the Heir series, but I liked it okay. This new book though, is like a crazy departure. The series was complete, and this feels like it’s been awkwardly added on as an afterthought. I was completely lost for the first half of the book wondering how in the world it was supposed to tie in. There are two more books coming and I don’t think I’ll read them. I still highly recommend her Seven Realms series, though.

Allegiant (Last book in the Divergent Series) – I listened to this one on audiobook while I worked, and… eh. To be fair, I don’t think I should have overlapped this series with the Matched series (I read both at the same time waiting for books to become available at the library). I will say I didn’t love the first book as much as everyone else did, so I kinda stuck with this just for the sake of finishing. Maybe I’d like it better if I started over and read it straight through.

Grave Mercy – interesting. I liked it. Didn’t love it completely though (there’s a particularly ridiculous scene that kind of ruined everything), but it’s a really different premise (assassin nun) and is well researched and well written.

Seraphina * Absolutely gorgeous writing. It’s a tad slow in the first part, but then it picks up. Expertly plotted. Really different dragon story, loved the characters. Can’t wait for the next book (it’s a long wait, March of 2015).

Throne of Glass – I’m currently reading this. So far it feels a lot younger / simpler, a little less rich and colorful, after reading Seraphina.

Modern Fiction

The Fault in Our Stars – My friend Kat recommended this to me. I really liked it, lots of language though. I think it would make a really good book club group if you don’t have pearl clutchers (I am one, kinda) over the f-bomb.

Eleanor & Park – By Rainbow Rowell. I really loved this along with the rest of the planet. TONS of language, though it makes sense to set the scene and background of (particularly) Eleanor’s home life. Love that she’s chubby. Love the ending.

Fangirl – By Rainbow Rowell. A ton of language again, which made less sense for me. I didn’t like this as well as Eleanor & Park.

Historical / Classics

Wives and Daughters * Loved. Even incomplete, I loved it. The movie is pretty fabulous, too.

North And South * Again, loved. The movie was good, though the ending was really silly and not true to the time period.

Cranford * The little mini-series is super cute. Dame Judi!

Religious / churchy / scriptural books I read this year

Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife – Life after death book, if you like that kind of thing, and I’m kind of fascinated with it. This one is believable, and I liked it.

Visions of Glory – I hesitate to even add this one to the list. It surged in popularity amongst members of my church this year, and I read it because I rather like ‘beyond the veil / life after death books,’ but I have a lot of issues with this book. While at first I liked some parts of it, after marinating on it and talking with some others, I cannot recommend it. There are some fairly unbiased and unemotional (people get kind of rabid over this book) reviews here and here.

The Gospels Made Whole – Bible & LDS scripture telling the story of Christ’s life as a whole. I quite liked this.

Isaiah Decoded

Apocalyptic Commentary of The Book of Isaiah * – E. and I are still studying this, it’s my favorite Isaiah ‘help’ book so far. General Christian reference, not LDS specific.

The Book of Isaiah: A New Translation With Interpretive Keys from the Book of Mormon (Obv. LDS perspective)

The Last Days: Types and Shadows from the Bible and the Book of Mormon (Ditto).

Writerly books I read this year

The Hero with a Thousand Faces (Started last year, continued to reference this year.)

The Writers Journey (Started last year, continued to reference this year.)

The Forest for the Trees

The Fire in Fiction: Passion, Purpose and Techniques to Make Your Novel Great

Writing the Breakout Novel

The First Five Pages * My favorite how-to book so far.

Notable Series the Kids Read

I did not keep very good track of what the kids read this year. We didn’t really have any family read-alouds, as J, N, and K just tear through things on their own.

J. read the entire Nicholas Flamel Series (6 books)

He also read the entire The 13th Reality Series and was extremely bummed out with the way it ended. I feel the same way about Dashner’s adult series. I’m still mad about The Death Cure.

He also read all the books in the Erec Rex Series, though I guess it ends on a cliffhanger and there isn’t much word from the author so he’s worried she won’t finish it.

He read the Beyonders Trilogy after I was finished with it.

He started the Leven Thumps Series, but then grandma gave him…

The Kane Chronicles for Christmas so he’s switched to that, I think he’s close to finishing the first book.

N read the whole Fablehaven Series, as he was kinda little when I read it aloud to J.

He followed that up with the Beyonders Trilogy after J. & I had read it.

Grandma gave him the first few books in the Unfortunate Series of Events books, and I believe he’s knee deep in the first one right now.

Miss K. has discovered the Magic Treehouse Series – which I think are kind of terrible, but she loves them and blows through them quickly.

She’s also liking the new (young) Amelia Bedelia books, which are cute and fun.

Grandma got her the first couple of Amy Wild, Animal Talker books from Usborne, and she is reading the second one now.

SO!

I’m sure I’m forgetting things, but I think that’s fairly accurate. Any recommendations for me? Here’s my Want to Read list on Goodreads – not in any particular order. (I finally switched from Shelfari this year.) What did you read and absolutely love this year?

Comments

  1. Michelle says

    There is a cute series that my son is enjoying, The Imaginary Veterinary (the third book is coming out in a few weeks, I think) by Suzanne Selfors. The first book in the series was the $1 bargain book in a Scholastic book club flyer that he brought home, and I can’t resist them.

    Have you read any of the Penderwick books? I love them so much – they remind me of All of a Kind Family.

    I tried Divergent and couldn’t get into it. I put it aside before I even made it to page 100 (my usual rule for myself is that I have to give a book 100 pages before I give up).

    I liked Silo (another dystopian novel).

    We read the Fablehaven series this year. And we listened to all of the Kane Chronicles, The Emerald Atlas and now we’ve stared listening to the Heroes of Olympus series (we listen to books in the car, because the only station I don’t think is trash is NPR, but sometimes the programs are a little too mature for DS to listen to).

    We just started A Wrinkle in Time as our bedtime reading. We go back and forth between fiction and historical non-fiction because G loves American history so much.

    I went through a Julia Child phase, where I read/listened to everything about her. G actually loved listening to Dearie with me.

    And, as I do every year, I re-read the James Herriot series.

    There are about a hundred I’m forgetting, but these were the highlights for us.

    Are you on Goodreads?

    • says

      Okay, first. Love that you now have a gravatar so I know who I’m responding to!

      And I have five tabs open looking up just about everything you recommended. Yes, I switched from Shelfari to Goodreads just a little while ago, I added the link at the bottom of the post – it goes to my “Want to Read” list.

      I remember loving A Wrinkle in Time as a kid, I think I read them in the 4th or 5th grade, I might even have some copies around here somewhere.

  2. says

    My oldest (13.5) loves Brandon Mull and flew through Fablehaven last year and Beyonders as fast as the books were available at our library (my mom takes the boys every week and they’ve gotten to be close with the children’s librarians who find stuff for them now). I haven’t read them but was a little frustrated with his journalling about them but you’ve shed some light on why he had such a hard time writing up story maps about them, he’s very visual but couldn’t describe anything and just couldn’t explain to me why there weren’t any details he could talk about =) The 9 yr old wants to start Fablehaven soon and I think he’s gonna start blowing through these series, too.

    My mom got me into the Elm Creek Quilts series from Jennifer Chiaverini. They’re fast, fun reads with lots of historical bits woven into the stories (and some of them are entirely historical fiction – mostly civil war times) Highly recommend

    • says

      I didn’t realize it while reading Fablehaven aloud, but reading Beyonders by myself… I actually went back to the beginning and tried to find where he described these kids… and… nothing! I mean, you get some must-haves described like the white hair / beard / blindfold for the old king, some details about the displacer being able to pop off appendages, and in the 3rd book some descriptions about the giants and the character connected to them, but I have no idea if Jason and Rachel have brown hair, blue eyes, or even if they’re brown skinned or light skinned.

      It kind of felt like man-writing, to be stereotypical about it. But you know how guys can be so obtuse about things like the length of a girls hair or eye color or whatever? It was kind of like that. Hardly any description about clothing either, though a bit here and there. Mull makes some really creative worlds and characters and we all really like him, but I definitely think he could ramp up his character building with more descriptions. I think that’s why there’s so little fan art out there, nobody ends up with a draw-able picture of what they look like.

      Anyway! Googling the Elm Creek Quilt series, that seems like something I’d really like, and my mom too.

    • says

      Oh! Now that I look at it, I’m almost positive my mom has read the Elm Creek Quilt books!

  3. says

    The rest of the Ender’s Game books are very different kinds of books. I like them a lot, but I have friends who do not.

    The Ender’s Shadow series, which I love, is more like the first Ender’s Game book.

    • says

      I don’t know if I should give them a try or not. Did you see the movie? I heard grumbles about it.

      • says

        Yes, I really liked the movie too. People grumble because it’s not 100% true to the book, but it couldn’t have been with the time constraints and only 1 movie instead of multiple. I think they did a really good job.

        The rest of the Ender’s series isn’t at all like Lord of the Flies. It’s much more philosophical and stuff. My guess is that you’d like them better than Ender’s Game.

  4. says

    I loved “Reached.” Really felt like the author grew leaps and bounds as a writer, which is the first time I can say that for a YA trilogy (comparing to Hunger Games-that last book was incomprehensible, I literally had no idea what was going on for 80% of it- and, gulp, Twilight which technically isn’t a trilogy but you know what I mean).

    My goal was to read 52 books this year and I read 33 (a ton of non-fiction, which is unusual).

    I re-read the Little House on the Prairie series for the first time since I was a kid, and that was a real eye-opener. Man, those books are bleak from an adult perspective! I was so depressed and terrified after the Long Winter (my favorite book as a kid) that I couldn’t bear to continue. What’s that quote about books and coming back to them and realizing that it isn’t the book that’s changed, it’s you? Yeah. That.

    Fiction favorites: “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” by Neil Gaiman; “11/22/63″ by Stephen King; “Contact” by Carl Sagan and “Under the Dome” also by SK. I went on a Stephen King binge near the end of the year. I also read “The Stand” which was good but I think “Under the Dome” is better. Neither are for the faint of heart violence-wise.

    Non-fiction life-changers that I would heartily, heartily recommend: “Physics of the Future” by Michio Kaku; “Vagabonding” by Rolf Potts; and “Apocalyptic Planet” by Craig Childs.

    • says

      I really need to give the Reached series a more focused go. I know I liked it better than Divergent, but I kept getting the storylines confused.

      I’m almost afraid to go back and read any more favorites. I couldn’t believe how annoyed I was with the Heir series… if I re-read Seven Realms maybe I’ll have changed and I’ll hate them, too. I keep planning to read the Prairie books to my kids, I bought the whole set. That will be eye opening because I too, absolutely loved them as a child.

      I am looking all of those up except for Mr. King, he usually freaks me out and then I can’t sleep.

  5. says

    Oh yes, just went back through my 2012 books to see if I had any YA/kids books to recommend. I do: a book called “Wonderstruck” which was loaned to me by an 8-year-old. Your kids might like it, I loved it, my mom loved it, etc. It’s hard to explain but it’s an illustrated novel. Really quick read and absolutely fascinating from a writing/art perspective. Just a great family book with hints of “From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.” Which brings me to my very favorite book of all time: “The View from Saturday.”

    • says

      Oh cute, looking it up… and “The View from Saturday” too, because I haven’t heard of that one.

  6. says

    I liked The False Prince and started listening to the second…….and it just couldn’t hold my interest. I might try again, but I might not.

    I liked Legend, but again, I am having a hard time getting into Prodigy. I thing I am getting burned out on the whole YA Distopia.

    Love Wived and Daughters and North and South with the accompanying movies. Swoon!

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