Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Best of 2013!

I'm a little late in getting this together this time around, so I hope you'll forgive me.  Also, I feel the need to add the disclaimer that I am basing this on the books I read in 2013.  Some of them may have been published earlier.  Unfortunately, I can't read everything I want when I want because I'm not a robot (I'm kind of glad about that actually).  This comes into play especially in the sequels section of this overview.  I usually have to save those for the summer.  Bonus, that means series books get to be on my radar a little longer.  :)

I'm also going to include some fun book/library related graphics in here to add visual interest and just because I want to.

With no further ado, I present 2013 in review!  Let's start with the breakdown.  I read a whopping 135 books in 2013!  Yes, you should all bow down to me and my reading prowess.  

Realistic Fiction--26
Science Fiction--15
Historical Fiction--26
Sports-1 (I guess I better get busy on that front.)

Now, if you're doing the math.  (God bless you if you are; someone should.)  You will probably see that my numbers don't add up.  That's because there is some cross over.  For shelving books, I have to be clean in designating books to a particular genre, but we all know most books fall into at least two genres.  

Most of the books I read last year were middle school, but all of them weren't.  This best of 2013 will be concerned with middle school books that are available in the Campbell Library.  If you want to know the best of the rest, click on that Goodreads widget to your right.  Heck, join and send me a friend request while you're at it.  The more book recommendations, the better!

Onto the judging!  Let's see how I rated those 135 books:

Five Stars--23 books
Four Stars--60 books
Three Stars--45 books
Two Stars--4 stars
One Star--0 books
No Stars--2 books (I didn't rate these because I didn't finish them.  I don't think it's fair to rate a book you haven't actually read.  If you want to know why I didn't finish them, go to Goodreads.  Neither was a middle school book.)

I agree with my friend and hero, Mr. Gaiman.  That's why I'm going to pick more than five!  :) If you click on the book cover, it will link you to my original review of the book

Fiction (In no particular order)

This is not just one of my favorites for this year, but it is one of my all time favorites!  Clare Vanderpool won the Newbery for her first book, Moon Over Manifest, and I have to admit it was good but not my favorite.  (Gary Schmidt was robbed!) So Navigating Early was one of those books I knew I should read, but I wasn't very excited about it.  This is one of those times when I am happy to admit I was wrong.  This book is an amazing mix of myth, longing, and old fashioned quest novel.  It surpasses genre to become one of those amazing books that can surprise, delight, and reveal.  You must all read it, or suffer in the knowledge that you missing out on a beautiful experience.

I picked this book solely based on the cover art.  It was an impulse based on that cool graphic which you can't really see in this small image.  I am so glad I did.  This is a beautiful story about growing up and facing the truth, and it's a western!  And a mystery!  It really reminded me of the True Grit remake that came out a couple of years ago.  

Do you really still need me to tell you about this one?  Come on, if you haven't read it yet, do it now!  This book is amazing, and it will probably win the Newbery for 2014.

Oh my awesomeness!  I love this book.  It's no surprise really since it is that perfect blend of fantasy and horror I love plus the ghost of Jacob Grimm is a main character.  It is just wonder and complex perfect.

I love good fantasy.  Unfortunately, a lot of fantasy is mediocre at best, so this book was a gift for my little fantasy loving nerdy heart.  It's one of the best fantasy novels I've read in years with original ideas, a complex plot, and well-written characters.  Hallelujah!  

No one is more surprised than I am to see this book on my best of 2013 list.  I read it thinking it would be an OK read and fairly popular with kids.  I ended up loving this alternate version of reality where ghosts have invaded England and can do real harm.  There is enough plot and character development here to really sink your teeth into, and it has a decidedly Dickensian feel.  Don't worry there are plenty of thrills and chills, too!

Zany characters with clever names and mysterious pasts?  Count me in!  I loved this mystery set in the south that is really about figuring out who you are and where you belong.  

This sci-fi version of Jane Austen's Persuasion is a true romantic treat!  It's rare to find a good romance that is more about the spirit than the body even in young adult literature, and this book is a great success.  My heart was caught up in the "will they/won't they" painful struggle of true love.  Plus, that cover is gorgeous!  It has nothing to do with the book, but isn't it lovely.  

Here's another cheer for beautiful cover art.  This is just striking; I love it!  Think of this one as kind of a Harry Potter in steampunk Victorian London as an overly exuberant girl.  Then just read the book because it's some of the best literary fun I had all year!

This historical novel is based on the true story of Jack Gruener, Holocaust survivor who withstood the horrors and hardships of ten different concentration and death camps.  It is a chilling reminder of the evils in our past and of the power of hope.

OK friends, that's ten.  I'm sure you are all saying, "But what about...."  Feel free to leave it in the comments.  I probably loved it, too!

Sequels that Didn't Murder My Love for the Series

So, as I mentioned earlier, I usually have to save sequels for the summer.  This means I may not have yet read the new sequel in your favorite years.  Sorry, maybe it'll make the list next year!

This was my Christmas gift to myself.  Neal Shusterman, you are a crazy genius!  If you haven't started the Unwind series yet, what are you waiting for?  It will blow your mind!

The Lunar Chronicles continues with the story of Scarlet.  This one is just as good as the first, but a whole lot bloodier.  Not only do we get to meet Meyer's version of Little Red Riding Hood and her Big Bad Wolf, but we learn more about Cinder's shrouded past.  I can't wait for book three!

If you are a Hunger Games fan, and you haven't read this series, what is wrong with you?  You will love it!  Prodigy is just as good as Legend, filled with action and good character development.  Read it!

I just love these books.  Reading them is like eating good chocolate!  They are the perfect blend of action, adventure, and romance.  LOVE!

Nonfiction:  Hurrah for Learning Things!

Not only is this book full of fabulous information, but it is also highly entertaining!  A good book about space always brings out my inner Star Trek nerd and my long held dream to travel the stars.  Read it!

I never cease to be amazed at what a great writer can do with great source material.  I expected this book to be good.  It was amazing and highly readable.

I highly recommend this fascinating look into the weird and wonderful life of Steve Jobs.  It's a great and true story about a man overcoming plenty of challenges, some of his own making, to find success and achieve his dreams.

This book looks at the Civil Rights movement through the eyes of some of the children who participated.  This is a great introduction to the Birmingham Children's March and the events that led up to it.  

Ms. Grandin is a great example to all of us.  She looked at her life and her personal challenges and found a way to turn them into strengths and live a happy and fulfilling life.

Well friends, that's the end of my year in review.  I hope you had a great year between the pages and outside them!  Happy reading!

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