Monthly Archives: December 2013

2013: A Year in Review

Below is the list of all 48 books I read in 2013 ranked from ‘liked most’ to ‘liked least’.  I’ve grouped them by my rating (out of five stars) for an added level of differentiation.  Looking forward to what 2014 will bring!

5 STARS
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1 The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
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2 The Help by Kathryn Stockett
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3 The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan
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4 The House of Hades by Rick Riordan
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5 The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
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6 The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan
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7 The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
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8 The Elephant of Surprise by Brent Hartinger
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9 The Reaver by Richard Lee Byers
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10 The Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan

4 STARS
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11 Grime and Punishment by Z.A. Maxfield
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12 The High King’s Golden Tongue by Megan Derr
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13 The Last Four Things by Paul Hoffman
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14 The Man on the Third Floor by Anne Bernays
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15 Something Sweet by Megan Derr
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16 The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
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17 The Order of the Posion Oak by Brent Hartinger
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18 The Companions by R.A. Salvatore
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19 The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
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20 The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan
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21 The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan
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22 Double Feature: Attack of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies/Bride of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies by Brent Hartinger
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23 Geography Club by Brent Hartinger
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24 The Adversary by Erin M. Evans
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25 Built 4 It by Daisy Harris
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26 If It Ain’t Love by Tamara Allen
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27 Late Night Snack by Lou Harper
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28 Mindfuck! by Jessi Bond
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29 First Kiss by J. Tomas
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30 Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris
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31 A Little Gay History: Desire and Diversity Across the World by R.B. Parkinson
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32 College Boys by Daisy Harris
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33 The First Rule of Swimming: A Novel by Courtney Angela Brkic

3 STARS
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34 The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
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35 Running in Bed by Jeffrey Sharlach
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36 Deliberately Bound by Ava March
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37 Deliberately Unbound by Ava March
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38 Weaver by Katherine Arandez
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39 Einar by A.R. Jarvis
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40 The Godborn by Paul S. Kemp
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41 Love Gone Mad by Mark Rubenstein
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42 A Tale of Two Daddies by Vanita Oelschlager
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43 The Law of the Jungle by H.L. Holston

2 STARS
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44 King of Rags by Eric Bronson
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45 The Pilgrim’s Debt by Alec Aahana
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46 The Truth About Jack and Ray by Gabriella West

1 STAR
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47 Freshman Orientation by Brandon Reed
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48 Questions of Travel by Michelle de Kretser

Title: Weaver
Author: Katherine Arandez
Publication Date: September 11, 2013

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Review: 
Kate Merin has known about magic and a hidden history since a young age. As a sorceress descended from Kervanians (an extra-terrestrial race who accidentally ended up on Earth during the time of the dinosaurs), she possesses powers and belongs to grander traditions that the average human wouldn’t even believe exists. But when Kate’s brother Micheal leads Kate and their other brother Albert on a trek through the woods that involves them accidentally being transported back to prehistoric Kervanis, she quickly learns there is much more to the history of her people and her family – and they have a unique role in the events to come.

I would have to say I found the story enjoyable. It’s unique and there’s a rich world created here with a lot of potential. The writing style is generally easy to follow and I found it to be a relatively quick read. There are enough twists and turns in the story to keep the reader interested and guessing what might happen next.

That said, there were a few parts that I had to trudge through, especially early on in the book. Much of the exposition – the explanation of Kervanian history – is given through dialogue. These explanations from Kate to her siblings were a bit confusing at times (mostly because there’s no additional background at that point in the story – they made more sense to me as I worked further through the book). It’s also a bit jarring to be introduced to a number of characters early in the book that are made out to be important figures but disappear shortly thereafter, never to be seen again. (The author’s random self-insert near the end of the book was also a bit off-putting, but was brief enough that it was easy to overlook.)

Overall, I think it was a nice fantasy/sci-fi story and would recommend it if someone wants something quick and unique to read. But there were just enough little things that made this 3 stars instead of 4.

(I received an eGalley from the author in exchange for an honest review.)

Title: The Sparrow
Author: Mary Doria Russell
Publication Date: September 9, 1996

Rating: ★ ★ ★  
Review: 
I picked this up because it was the selection for a book club I joined recently. I found myself pulled in from the beginning and it was one that was difficult to put down. I’m torn between being excited I found this book and disappointed I never stumbled across it sooner, but I’m sticking with the latter.

Russell tells us the story, spanning a 60 year period, in a unique way. The book opens near the end of that period of time and then slowly reveals what happened through flashbacks interspersed with conversations from the present. It allows for some of the mystery to exist throughout the entire book and to build strong connections with the characters.

I loved the characters and the storytelling. The science-fiction setting and dystopian elements were just enough to keep me intrigued even though I don’t know that I’d say this book fits squarely into either genre. I definitely recommend it to fans of both.

Trigger warnings: [Violence, major character death, sexual assault]

Title: The Sea of Monsters
Author: Rick Riordan
Publication Date: April 1, 2006

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Review: 
This one was a little more action-packed than the first, perhaps because it’s just a bit shorter. I saw the movie before reading it and I guess I’m glad I did or I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed the movie as much. There are a number of different twists in the film adaptation, likely due to the need to make things even more action-oriented to appeal to the masses.

Overall, I enjoy the world that Riordan has created and the way I can tell he is building toward a larger story arc. An easy read, much like the first book, and a definitely enjoyable bit of YA fiction.

The Adversary by Erin M. Evans

Title: The Adversary
Author: Erin M. Evans
Publication Date: December 3, 2013

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Review: The Sundering has turned out to be an excellent way to jump back into the world of Forgotten Realms. The series is serving as a quick update of what’s going on with some of the major characters of the world and is setting up a bigger event that I’m guessing will spawn some new and unique adventures like nothing in the setting’s history.

The Adversary is the third installment and primarily follows the Tiefling Farideh and the twists and turns she faces as she continues to navigate the pact she made with a devil, Lorcan, and begins to learn more about her family history. The book is well-written and is up there with The Companions, which opened the series. One thing that did make me struggle a bit is that the beginning seems to move very quickly compared to the rest of the book, so it felt a bit jarring, but once things smooth out a bit, it really flows nicely. I’m definitely looking forward to the 4th installment.

(eGalley provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)