Top Books of 2013

This is going to be different than most Top 2013 lists due to how I’m doing the best books I’ve read in 2013, not the best that were published.  Most of the books I read in the past year were written before 2013, so I couldn’t even get up to 5 Top Books.

8.  The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

The Moon and More

This book is definitely different from all of Dessen’s other works due to the fact that the main character ends up with no guy at the end of the book.  I found this empowering because it shows that you do not truly need love to make you happy, and – most of all – you should never settle for anything less than the best.  It was funny and heartwarming and heartbreaking, though I expect nothing less from Dessen.  She’s my guilty pleasure.

Inferno

7.  Inferno by Dan Brown

I have always been a big fan of Brown’s Robert Langdon series and he does not disappoint here.  This tells of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy and is set in Italy which was a nice change.  Langdon is funny and the villains are always clever and the appeal to his stories never fades away.

6.  Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor and Park

I wrote a review about this book, so check it out here.  But It was a heartwarming book about young love despite many odds against it.  Young love is often seen as trivial and dubbed as “puppy love” but Rowell looks at it with clarity and proclaims that even if the love fades away, for that moment it is as true as anything else in this world.  Love can get you through the hardest of times and will be there to comfort you at the end of the day.

Game of Thrones Book 1

5.  A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

This book contained romance and battles and empowerment.  I was so immersed into the characters of Martin’s world that they became almost like close friends to me during my reading.  I found myself speaking aloud as though I was from Westeros.  The characters were so well crafted because Martin is a craftsman of human emotion and behavior.  It’s no wonder that this series is so popular.

4. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Mr Penumbra's 24 hour bookstore

For any lover of books, this is a good read.  It’s basically about a cult of book lovers.  But it is also about a mix of conservative and liberal ideas, mixing old with new, which is such a relevant topic for discussion in recent years.  It addresses the dying world of books and its combination with technology, and the method for doing so was intriguing.

Ready Player One

3. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

I have never really been into video games before, but I do love items based off of video games (such as Scott Pilgrim).  However, this book was exciting even for those who aren’t normally video game connoisseurs.  The relationships between the characters were so different considering so few had actually met in person, which brought up the topic of online relationships, and the plot was unlike most things I’ve read to date.

2.  The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

the curious incident of the dog in the night-time

While I would normally list this as my #1 favorite book, it’s been moved to #2 because of a reason I’ll give later.   The topics brought up and the method for doing so are unprecedented.  Nothing I have seen compares or is done in such a way.  Christopher is such a unique character in a world too afraid to broach the topic of mental illnesses such as Aspergers.  While broaching what it is like to live with the disease, the book also peaks into the world of the parents and adults around.  Overall, a very well done book.  And I recommend listening to it on Audiobook if you have the chance.

Allegiant

1.  Allegiant by Veronica Roth

This is #1 because it closes my favorite series (probably) of all time.  It does one thing that most other books don’t do, but the method behind doing so was sound.  The ending was heartbreaking but I can think of no better way for it to have ended.  Everything about the book was fantastic and the series went out with a bang.  Just thinking about the ending makes me sad, oh geez.  There are few things on this world that have effected me in such a way. I have always said that a book that can make me cry is a good book because it has done its job.  Well, if we’re looking at that scale, Allegiant has done it’s job and has done the job of several other books.

I hope you all had a lovely holiday!  Keep on reading!

Currently Reading

Currently Reading

A Song of Ice and Fire Book 2: A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin

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Book 3 – A Game of Thrones

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Last night I finally finished the first book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series: A Game of Thrones.  In the past, I had tried to read this book many times but felt daunted by both the size and the differing point of views.  In the past, I have always favored books that fixated on one character rather than a whole host of characters whose names I had to remember and whose heads I had to immerse myself in.  However, this time around I sat myself down and committed to getting through the books entirety.  I also wanted to give the novels a try and then watch the television adaptation of the novel before the newest season airs.

At first, it was difficult and I wanted to stop and put the book down frequently.  Soon enough, I could barely stop to put the book down.  For three days straight, I read and read until I was thinking like a Medieval Lord.  I’m already onto book 2 of the series which is already enslaving my mind.

For those of you who don’t know what A Game of Thrones is, the story is set in the mythical Westeros and follows

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Above shows a few of the Stark children (from R to L) Robb, Sansa, Arya and Bran.

several key characters through major events.  A Game of Thrones references the politics behind holding a throne which the book thoroughly explores.  There is deceit and treachery and thoughts of personal gain behind every move as a King or even a Lord.  The main family followed throughout A Game of Thrones is the Stark family who resides in the northern Winterfell set in the Seven Kingdoms.  As readers, we follow the family through their happiest and darkest moments with questions as to how we would react in such situations.

My favorite characters throughout the novel were Tyrion Lannister (otherwise known as the Imp who is brother to the Queen Cersei), Jon Snow (Bastard of Lord Eddard Stark), Arya Stark (Daughter of Lord Eddard Stark), and Daenerys Targaryen (exiled princess, daughter of the mad kind Aerys II).

I’ve always enjoyed novels about bravery and family, namely in the Lord of the Rings series, so my love for this was no surprise.  A Game of Thrones was filled with abundant wit, bravery, love, loyalty, and political intrigue.  These, paired together, made for an excellent novel and one I am happy to finally have conquered.

For those who are thinking of reading it, I recommend doing so.  It may seem like a daunting task, but the end result will be accomplishment at having read a semi-difficult book and one that is ever so popular in recent days.  I also recommend watching the television show if you don’t have time or the energy to read the book.  I have already watched half of the first season which follows the first book well, almost copy and pasting select dialogues into the show.

If I was going to rate the novel out of 5 stars, I’d give it a 4.5.

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Currently Reading

Currently Reading

I keep trying to get through it but always get distracted a quarter of the way through.

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Book 2 – Fangirl: A Journey Into the World of Fandom

Fangirl is Rainbow Rowell’s 2nd Young Adult book.  It was published September 10th by St. Martin’s Press and has been met with mostly positive reception.

Upon hearing the name, I was immediately enticed!  When I was younger, I was very involved in the world of Harry Potter fanfiction, so I related right away.  I understood the lingo and the passion behind fanfiction that is discussed throughout the book.

Fangirl follows Cather (Cath) Avery through her first two semesters at college.

The cover shows main character Cath behind her laptop being pestered by friend and (future) love interest Levi as she writes fanfiction.

The cover shows main character Cath behind her laptop being pestered by friend and (future) love interest Levi as she writes fanfiction.

From the get go, Cath is nervous about her new environment.  She thinks her roommate Reagan hates her, her twin sister Wren would rather room with a complete stranger than the twin she’s lived with for eighteen years, and she has no idea how to make new friends.  Her only solace is through writing “Simon Snow” fanfiction.  Simon Snow is a fictional series that bears a strong resemblance to the Harry Potter series.  Cath goes by Magicath on the interwebz and has a strong following behind her fic called “Carry On, Simon” which she has put her heart and soul in.

As someone who lived a similar lifestyle from 8th to 10th grade, I understood much of what Cath talked about in terms of writing fanfiction, the pressures of writing fanfiction, the online community and the fandom.  However, I’m not so sure someone who has not lived this lifestyle would like the book.  The characters and their relationships are intriguing, as are the short interludes where Cath reads her fic aloud, but I don’t quite know if someone who has never read fanfiction would read and enjoy Fangirl.

Considering I did live a similar lifestyle for a large chunk of my adolescence, I related heavily to the book and I enjoyed that there was finally a book that touched on how powerful fanfiction can be.  Many adults look down on such activities, but it truly is a wonderful creative outlet for those fans who truly do not wish the story to die once the last book finishes or the words cease to continue.  It was nice to finally have a published author acknowledge how important fanfiction is to the literate, imaginative youth of today.

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Book 1 – Eleanor and Park: A Mirror of Teenage Inadequacy

Eleanor and Park

The book cover shows the silhouettes of Eleanor and Park (L to R) and their shared bond over music.

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell is a love story between two high schoolers in 1986.  They must deal with parental troubles, school bullies, and new love simultaneously.

Eleanor is new to school and, being “chubby” and in high school, she is picked on.  Park, at first, doesn’t even talk to her because she is a new student.  However, since they are on the same bus and sit next to each other, they soon realize their shared passion for both music and comic books.  This creates a bond between them that eventually leads to holding and hands and a full-fledged relationship.

I had heard of the success of Eleanor and Park for a long time, knowing that Rainbow Rowell is emerging as a well-known author, but I had yet to read her books until recently.  Eleanor and Park is her first Young Adult novel and has been reviewed in the New York Times by acclaimed author John Green.  As a giant John Green fan, his enthusiastic review urged me to pick up the pages – or at least pick up my Kindke,

It was one of those books that you truly don’t wish to put down.  I bought it on my Kindle at 8p.m. and read until 1 when I finished.  The book dealt with heartbreak and recovery and friendship above all else and there were quite a few times when I just got the chills because something was said beautifully or some character did something touching.  We all remember being lonely in high school, not able to fit in, and Rowell encapsulates those feelings through both characters although in different ways.  Our own feelings of self-consciousness and inadequacy are mirrored back us through both points of view and we become the characters.  We emote their emotions and we hurt with them.  I laughed and cried and, at the end, my heart broke for the pair of them.

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