Monday, March 31, 2014

2013: My Year in Books

 Here are my books from 2013 with my brief commentary-- now that it's pretty much APRIL, I have finally gotten to posting this. I have tried to mark where they were graphic novels, audiobooks, etc., and also what age they might best suit.  I'd say 66 books ain't bad.

  1. Across the Universe  - Beth Revis (half audiobook)
    • Great YA space travel dystopian novel with lots of twists and turns. Also got my husband hooked on this, muahaha.
  2. Delirium - Lauren Oliver
    • YA dystopian novel where love is illegal -- maybe not fleshed out as well as it could have been, but was fun along the way.  See #54 for my thoughts on the sequel.
  3. A Million Suns - Beth Revis (sequel to Across the Universe)
    • I don't normally read sequels, but I couldn't help myself with this one! 
  4. The Mysterious Benedict Society - Trenton Lee Stewart
    • My teens were obsessed with this, and it got a lot of hype, so I read it. So glad I did - funky characters, great dialogue, and totally fun to read. Great for upper elementary and middle grade readers.
  5. The Case of the Deadly Desperados - Caroline Lawrence
    • Western for the elementary set? Yes, please! Main character Pinky is hilarious and deadpan, and expect a lot of adventure, with a pinch of gruesome. Better for middle grade.
  6. When She Hollers - Cynthia Voigt
    • Flipped through this fast - YA novel about abuse, and about a girl who just won't take it anymore. Gritty and tough, but handles this topic well. Best for high school.
  7. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe - Benjamin Alire Saenz
    • WONDERFUL. Loved these characters - great for upper middle and high schoolers.
  8. The Dark Game: True Spy Stories, From Invisible Ink to the CIA  - Paul Janeczko 
    • Great nonfiction for YA readers, and a great writer for this high interest topic. Short chapters about different historical periods could gain the interest of a variety of readers. 
  9. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
    • Being a friend's favorite book, I was more persistent with this book than usual - (I actually put this down, and had to re-read the entire first chapter over) - but I am really glad I did. The writing is phenomenal, and the layout of the book is unique and intricate. Although it's a slower read, it's also one that really sticks with you and my mind kept drifting back to it long after I put it down.
  10. Code Name Verity - Elizabeth Wein
    • Deserving of all the hype it's gotten - a great YA historical fiction, also recommended to adult historical fiction lovers with great success. Powerful story of two young women in WWII who do extraordinary things.
  11. Stormbreaker - Anthony Horowitz
    • Fast YA read for spy lovers - especially those who imagine themselves to be young James Bonds. Easy to recommend for boys who need fast action and adventure.
  12. Girl in a Funk - Tanya Napier
    • Great upper for teen girls - things to do to boost energy, creativity, and clear your mind and your stress.
  13. Eleanor and Park - Rainbow Rowell
    • The characterization in this YA book was incredible - good realistic fiction for older high school (good amount of profanity) that will grab your heart and hold on.
  14. Okay for Now - Gary D. Schmidt (audiobook)
    • YA realistic fiction great for middle and high school readers (I've seen this listed as historical fiction -- it's set in the 1960s but doesn't read like historical fiction, if that makes sense). Character was jaded in a way that reminded me of Holden Caulfield, but without all the selfishness. 
  15. Daughter of Smoke and Bone - Laini Taylor
    • Wonderful fantasy of good vs. evil that had me hooked and wanting more. Good for high schoolers mostly due to sexual themes.
  16. Wake - Amanda Hocking
    • Deadly ancient mermaids prevail as young seductresses in this YA novel - slightly grotesque and alluring at the same time, I was hooked in this guilty pleasure book. Best bet for older middle and high schoolers.
  17. The One and Only Ivan - Katherine Applegate
    • Totally deserves the hype this received. Sweet, heartwrenching, and poignant -- and the writing was fantastic. And this from the writer of the Animorphs series! I was astounded.
  18. Matilda - Roald Dahl
    • So nice to re-read a classic. 
  19. To Dance - Siena Cherson Siegel (graphic novel)
    • Graphic novel for the young ballet lovers out there.
  20. The Trouble Begins at 8 - Sid Fleischman
    • Great photographic biography of Mark Twain and his time out West. Great for middle school and up. 
  21. The Secret Prophecy - Herbie Brennan
    • Like The Da Vinci Code for middle schoolers and up. Fun, fast read. 
  22. Drama - Raina Telgemeier (graphic novel)
    • Raina is AWESOME. I saw her speak at this year's Books for the Beast conference, and she's amazing and funny, and Drama speaks to anyone with a dorky streak. Funny, realistic, and true to life, I loved this, and her art is excellent.
  23. Smile - Raina Telgemeier (graphic novel)
    • I re-read this because I liked it so much.
  24. I'd Tell You I Love You But Then I'd Have to Kill You (Gallagher Girls #1) - Ally Carter
    • An all-girls spy school? Adventure, boys, and coolness is what you'll get here - a fun, fast read, and my teens are hooked on this.  Good for middle school and up.
  25. The Secret Tree - Natalie Standiford
    • Great summer read that addresses being yourself, keeping secrets, and that there's another side to every story. Great for upper elementary and middle readers.
  26. City of Ember - Jeanne DuPrau (re-read)
    • Re-read for book club (and sparked great discussion!). Good dystopian for older elementary and middle school.
  27. Beauty Queens - Libba Bray (audiobook)
    • I laughed out loud like a maniac listening to this audio. Libba Bray reads this audio, and it's hilariously satirical -- it spoofs reality TV, beauty queens, Sarah Palin, politics, commercialism, and so many other things I am probably leaving out. It's just excellent. Good for high school readers - some language and sexual themes.
  28. Fray - Joss Whedon (graphic novel)
    • Bad-ass girlness.
  29. Beautiful Creatures - Kami Garcia (graphic novel)
    • I didn't read the original non-graphic version, but this was fun all the same and made me feel like I should read it. 
  30. Bad Island - Doug TenNapel (graphic novel)
    • Cool concept and great execution! TenNapel rules, and his art's awesome. Good for older elementary and up.
  31. Sailor Twain - Mark Siegel (graphic novel)
    • Great adult graphic novel that incorporates Twain, the Mississippi, and mermaids. Neat.
  32. Amulet Book 1: The Stonekeeper - Kazu Kibuishi (graphic novel)
    • Awesome. Kibuishi rules -- great storyteller and great artist rolled into one. I love the way he takes you into his imagination. 
  33. Explorer: The Mystery Boxes - Ed. by Kazu Kibuishi (graphic novel)
    • This set of short graphic novel stories is woven together in such a unique way. I'm so impressed and recommend this to everyone under the sun.
  34. Princess of the Midnight Ball - Jessica Day George
    • BORING. Flat characters that didn't grab me at all.
  35. Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman
    • Mysterious little story. Liked it, and would recommend it to those who like a little weird mythological-fantastical touch in their stories.
  36. Fun with Spanish - Lee Cooper
    • Fits the title. I didn't think this would actually help me, but it did, and it was, well. Fun.
  37. Invisibility - Andrea Cremer and David Levithan
    • Fast YA read with romance, ancient curses, and invisible boys. I liked this a lot.
  38. The Moon and More - Sarah Dessen
    • Boring. This felt tired to me, and I haven't actually read much else by Dessen. It was bland and boring, and I was not impressed.
  39. Foiled - Jane Yolen (graphic novel)
    • I was disappointed by Yolen's graphic novel, and surprised in that as well. The premise was good, but the execution and plot was bad. It was like she thought "Well, I should write a graphic novel now!", only she didn't know she wasn't good at carrying a plot with dialogue. 
  40. Abandon - Meg Cabot (did not finish)
    • Apparently, I was on a bad streak. I wanted to like this YA take on the Persephone myth, especially since she wrote the Princess Diary series which was so popular. But no. I hated the main character, and couldn't stand anything she did/said, so I stopped reading.
  41. Juliet Immortal - Stacey Jay
    • I loved this. It felt like a guilty pleasure - but I couldn't stop myself. The soul of Romeo and Juliet are reborn in new bodies, and are (im)mortal enemies, who are fighting a battle of good and evil. Good for middle and high school YA readers.
  42. Romeo Redeemed - Stacey Jay
    • Juliet's story was so good, I wanted to know Romeo's side, and see what happened to him in this semi-sequel. Also awesome. Great beach read too.
  43. The P.L.A.I.N. Janes - Cecil Castelluci (graphic novel)
    • Art bandits! Loved the idea of this book, and good execution as well. 
  44. I Could Pee on This and Other Poems by Cats - Francesco Marciuliano
    • I cracked up at this so hard, I almost peed on this. Bravo! Having a cat, this all makes perfect sense.
  45. I Could Chew on This and Other Poems by Dogs - Francesco Marciuliano
    • Having had a dog, this also makes perfect sense. Even on the second one, I wasn't tired of this yet.
  46. Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library - Chris Grabenstein
    • A fun novel that made great use of literary allusion that I appreciated. A lot of other kids that read it - mostly elementary, said they also loved it. Bravo!
  47. Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card
    • Great story and great writing. This is hard sci-fi, and even with the militaristic and political nature of it, I was completely drawn in by the story, and Ender's character.
  48. Millions - Frank Cottrell Boyce (did not finish)
    • The premise of this -- what would happen if you found millions in cash near your house? -- is a good one, but it lost me with the weird (but not compelling) main characters who is obsessed with saints, and the slow pace. Couldn't finish it.
  49. A Tale Dark and Grimm - Adam Gidwitz
    • Not very deep, but a fun fast read. Read for Books for the Beast conference. Middle schoolers said it felt "young" for a teen book, and they read it in 2nd grade.
  50. Tiger Lily - Jodi Lynn Anderson
    • Beautiful, dark, and mysterious take on Peter Pan's Tiger Lily -- loved seeing this point of view, and the story is actually told from Tinker Bell's POV, which was really interesting. Read for Books for the Beast conference. 
  51. Trapped - Michael Northrup
    • Wanted to like this, but found the teenagers to be frustratingly dumb and unrealistic. They are stuck in their school during a blizzard, and they don't even try to explore it at all? Pffttt. Read for Books for the Beast conference.  Teens there liked it a lot, I will say that!
  52. Bootleg - Karen Blumenthal
    • A little dry at times, this is still a cool nonfiction book about prohibition. Read for Books for the Beast conference -- teens could not get through this, and said it was boring.
  53. Sacre Bleu - Christopher Moore
    • The type is blue/violet, and there are great prints throughout - so the book itself is beautiful. This weaves historical fiction of the impressionist artists in France with fantasy, and Moore does a phenomenal job. He's smart, bawdy, and hysterical, and this book is amazing.
  54. Pandemonium - Lauren Oliver - sequel to Delirium (go back to the top for my thoughts) 
    • Read for Books for the Beast conference, otherwise I probably wouldn't have picked up this sequel to Delirium. I liked it up until the end, where Oliver does the MOST ANNOYING AND PREDICTABLE THING EVER. Won't read Requiem on principal. Booo.
  55. Misfit - Jon Skovron
    • Awesome book about a girl with a demon mom (Astarte! Mythology!), and a priest demon-hunter dad. Excellent, and has great boy/girl teen appeal. Read for Books for the Beast conference, and all the teens really enjoyed this one.
  56. Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick - Joe Schreiber
    • Fast-paced, wacky book about a foreign-exchange assassin chick who ropes her host brother into chauffeuring her around NYC while she takes care of some business. Great high interest, low level book for teens. 
  57. Ghostopolis - Doug TenNapel (graphic novel)
    • TenNapel does it again! 
  58. I Can't Keep My Own Secrets: Six-word Memoirs by Teens Famous and Obscure - Ed. by Rachel Fershleiser and Larry Smith
    • This was so intriguing to read that I used as fodder to create my own Six-Word Memoir display for teens to write on post-its in the library. So much fun, and they were so creative. Woot.
  59. Jane, the Fox, and Me - Fanny Britt (graphic novel)
    • Quirky little graphic novel that I really enjoyed. Middle grade and teen appeal.
  60. Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins (re-read)
    • Re-read most of this before I showed the movie and held Hunger Games trivia. Still good a second time around.
  61. Darkly Dreaming Dexter - Jeff Lindsay
    • Weird. This was fine, but it didn't really grab me. Good to read a mystery again though, but Dexter didn't appeal to me that much. I've heard great things about the show, so maybe I should try that?
  62. Marathon - Boaz Yakin (graphic novel)
    • Great YA graphic read about Greek history, dramatized for awesome action-ness. Reminded me a lot of the graphic novel 300. 
  63. Divergent - Veronica Roth
    • Really fast read, and really good, but still not on the level of Hunger Games for me, mostly because the writing isn't as put-together, and there are some holes that (now that I've read the whole series), I can say, she doesn't really ever fill for me.
  64. Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birute Galdikas - Jim Ottaviani (graphic novel) 
    • I liked this, but it wasn't the most exciting thing ever, but it is nice to read nonfiction in a graphic format sometimes.
  65. The Clockwork Scarab - Colleen Gleason
    • Is this the first steampunk I've read? I think maybe. YA story featuring Sherlock Holmes's sleuthy niece, and Bram Stoker's vampire-hunting sister, and an ancient Egyptian cult. I was totally hooked. Best for middle and high school readers.
  66. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown - Holly Black
    • I liked this alright when I read it, but after reading some Goodreads reviews, was a little more disappointed in it, as they pointed out some serious flaws in the characterizations/writing that I overlooked while reading. But I liked it initially, so there's that, I guess?

Over 60 books this year -- woot! Of course, there was a good number of graphic novels in there, but still. :) There's my list. If you have any questions, or want to stay up to date with what I'm reading, I'm pretty good at updating my Goodreads -- you'll find me there at


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