Sunday, January 12, 2014

Top Reads in 2013

My current DayZero list does not include a specific goal for the number of books to read in a calendar year; I decided that my volume is fairly consistent from one year to the next (and I could use that goal slot for something else).  However, I enjoyed the opportunity to make a highlights list of my reading in the past years, so I am going to continue that practice.  Here are the titles that stuck with me in some way from the past year (in roughly the order that I completed them) ...

Fated (Alex Verus, #1)Fated by Benedict Jacka
A wonderful new find for urban fantasy, this is the first in a series set in London (one of my favorite cities).  The hero is an ordinary guy who just happens to be a wizard.  Creatures from fairy tales and myths move in and out of the stories - but never quite as the storybooks portrayed them.  Sound like Jim Butcher's Dresden novels, well, they are ... and they aren't - definitely worth a read if you like this genre.

What the Cat SawWhat the Cat Saw by Carolyn Hart
I liked this one much less for the central mystery than for the skillful handling of the character of the cat.  How do our pets really see us as companions and do they grieve us when we are suddenly gone?

Tim Gunn's Fashion Bible: The Fascinating History of Everything in Your ClosetTim Gunn's Fashion Bible by Tim Gunn
I'm not a person who wears the latest fashions.  In fact, my wardrobe - both at work and at home - was chosen more for comfort than to make any sort of statement but reading this title made me realize that I do have some strong opinions on fashion.  And, it had some helpful tips for how to chose clothes that help you feel comfortable while looking your best.

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and DisappearedThe 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
I picked up this book because I saw that it was at the top of the bestseller lists in several European countries.  I liked it because of its frank acknowledgment of the fact that the elderly can still feel young inside.

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear SugarTiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed
This book made me feel hope.

Mrs. Lincoln's DressmakerMrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini
I never realized that Mary Todd Lincoln had her dresses made by a black ex-slave dressmaker.  This title gave a fascinating look into a well known period of American history from an unusual viewpoint.

Etiquette and Espionage (Finishing School, #1)Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carringer
This title is the first in a new young adult series by the author of the adult Soulless series and set in the same world.  If you've read the young adult "Gallager Girls" spy school series, imagine setting it into a steampunk world with vampires, werewolves, and many other interesting characters.

On Basilisk Station (Honor Harrington, #1)On Basilisk Station by David Weber
The first book in the Honor Harrington series ... I have been reading my way through this science fiction series since March - picking them up when my pile from the library dwindles.  They are based on the Forester novels of Horatio Hornblower.  I have been viewing them as an odd sort of comfort read - no matter how bad the political situation that I am dealing with, Honor is surely dealing with something worse!

Coronets and Steel (Dobrenica, #1)Coronets and Steel by Sherwood Smith
This series is a light and easy wish fulfillment - a little fantasy, a little romance, and a secret (surprised) heiress to a tiny kingdom in Europe.

Product DetailsMoving Your Library by Steven Carl Fortriede
This book is not really of interest to a wide audience; however, I wanted to include it in this list.  My city will build a new library building this year, and I read over a dozen books in 2013 about library design, construction and various other related topics in preparation.  This one had the most concise and practical information of any of them.

Lady at the O.K. Corral: The True Story of Josephine Marcus EarpLady at the OK Corral by Ann Kirschner
I must admit that my main mental pictures of the famous shootout in Tombstone come from the movie starring Kurt Russell.  It was interesting to take a historical look at what happened from the view of the woman in his life (who was not his wife at that time) and what followed after.

I Could Pee on This: And Other Poems by CatsI Could Pee on This and Other Poems by Cats by Francesco Marciuliano
I savored this little collection of poetry.  It was a Christmas gift, and I made it last all the way into summer by only allowing myself one tidbit at a time.  Sadly, my cat just couldn't understand why I would read something from it to him and then laugh hysterically; at times, he even seemed a bit affronted.  If you've lived with a cat, you will recognize these poems.

The Astronaut Wives Club: A True StoryThe Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel
I've read The Right Stuff and several other biographies and histories about the men in the space race; this book looked at what the wives were experiencing in the background.  I cringe to think of the amount of pressure that the media put on those women.

William Shakespeare's Star Wars: Verily, a New HopeWilliam Shakespeare's Star Wars by Ian Doescher
Kudos to the author - what a successful mashup novel.  It has the plot and even some of the lines from "A New Hope" but reads exactly like a Shakespearean play. I'm plotting to try it as reader's theater!

Platypus Police Squad: The Frog Who CroakedPlatypus Police Squad : the Frog who Croaked by Jarrett Krosoczka
My stand-out children's title for the year.  This was a fun mystery set in Sydney, Australia with the classic rookie/veteran cop pair ... they just happen to be platypuses.  A great way to introduce kids to the hard-boiled detective and police procedural subgenres.

The CircleThe Circle by Dave Eggers
 What does social media do to us?  Does it make us more connected to our friends, safer, happier?  Think you can easily answer those questions ... read this book and see if your answers change.