The Best Books of 2013

It’s time to choose my Top 10 books of 2013. You might have seen some of these already on my other top lists, but here I go again! This time I’ll only give you a few key words to tell you why I liked the book, so as not to repeat myself.

This year I read 84 books and graphic novels, and thus totally owned my GoodReads challenge of reading 60 books. With that said, though, there weren’t many books that I gave five stars to (many got four, though). This makes me thinks that next year I should read less and choose my books more carefully. I’ll write more about my reading resolutions later.

This post is linked at “Top Ten Tuesday”, a weekly book list meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish. All the links below take you to GoodReads.

Maija’s Top 10 books Read in 2013

Top 10 Best 2013_1

1. Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch
Magic in London, with a great villain + Inspector Nightingale!

2. Runaways by Brian K. Vaughan & Adrian Alphona
Teens with super powers, gadgets and magic! My favourite graphic novel series of the year.

3. Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed
A fun, bit old-schoolish sword-and-sorcery adventure in an interesting world. A quick and fun read!

Top 10 Best 2013_2b

4. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Another fun adventure, with great 80s references.

5. The Drowning Girl by Caitlín R. Kiernan
Lovely prose in a puzzle box of a story.

6. Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo
Great ending saved the boring beginning, and Frollo was an interesting character to follow.

Top 10 Best 2013_3

7. Hitchhiker’s Guide by Douglas Adams
I re-read the series this year, and this first book is still my favourite. I love how the aliens treat poor Arthur!

8. Doll Bones by Holly Black
I really enjoyed this middle-grade coming-of-age story with some creepy tones thrown in.

9. Eternally Yours by Cate Tiernan
There wasn’t much plot in this final book of the series, but I just love the main character, Nas, and her quips!

10. Moab is My Washpot by Stephen Fry
A very earnest autobiography of Fry’s school years. I could relate to a lot of his feelings, especially about musical talent.

Advertisements

Current Reads: Over Sea, Under Stone

This post is linked at “It’s Monday, what are you reading?”, a weekly meme that tells us what the blogosphere is currently reading. It is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. The links in the cover images take you to GoodReads.

I am currently reading

Over Sea Under Stone
Over Sea, Under Stone
(The Dark is Rising #1)
By: Susan Cooper
Genre: Children’s fantasy

Siblings Simon, Jane, and Barney are spending their summer holiday in Cornwall. They stumble upon a map that will guide them to an ancient, Arthurian treasure.

I’ve never read this fantasy series before! I don’t know why I never picked it up as a kid, especially because I remember reading and loving Cooper’s Seaward. I found this whole series in two bind-up volumes from a used book store earlier this year. I’m still in the beginning – so far it is a nice read, and some of the Arthurian plot points are starting to raise their heads.

Last week I finished reading

Great Expectations
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Top 10 New-To-Me Authors I Read in 2013

This post is linked at “Top Ten Tuesday”, a weekly book list meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish. All the book covers take you to GoodReads.

Finding new authors that you love can be hard – there is so much to choose from, and I have a tendency to pick up books by familiar authors. This year I mostly read authors I’ve read before, but I did manage to make a couple of new acquaintances. Putting this list together made me find out about the authors’ upcoming and past books, which will make it easier to find more to read from them in the future. To make things easier for you guys, I tried to provide links to everything and anything.

Fantasy & Science Fiction Authors

Rivers Of London Moon Over Soho
1. Ben Aaronovitch
My absolute favourite of this year’s new-to-me authors. In 2013 I read the first two wizard-detective Peter Grant books, Rivers of London (re-named Midnight Riot in the US) and Moon Over Soho.
What next?
The rest of the Peter Grant series out now, Whispers Underground and Broken Homes.

Throne of the Crescent Moon Ready Player One
2. Saladin Ahmed
I read Throne of the Crescent Moon, Ahmed’s debut novel, and loved the fast-paced, no-nonsense sword & sorcery adventure in an Arabian-style world.
What next?
While waiting for the next book in the Crescent Moon Kingdoms series, I’m planning to read his Kindle short story collection Engraved on the Eye, which I found available for free on Amazon.

3. Ernest Cline
Cline’s debut novel, Ready Player One, was almost like watching a movie with 80s references thrown in.
What next?
His second novel, Armada, will probably come out late next year. It sounds a bit like the 80s movie The Last Starfighter, and I’m intrigued.

YA Authors

Zombies Vs Unicorns Will Grayson, Will Grayson
4. Diana Peterfreund
I first read Peterfreund in the Zombies Vs. Unicorns anthology – she wrote my favourite unicorn story of the book, The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn. After that I read another killer unicorn short story Errant, and her novel For Darkness Shows the Stars + a short story in the same universe, Among the Nameless Stars. So I’ve already read quite a lot of her stuff!
What next?
I could read her Killer Unicorns series; Rampant and Ascendant, as well as continue with the For Darkness series with the novel Across a Star-Swept Sea and the short story The First Star to Fall.

5. David Levithan
I read Will Grayson, Will Grayson, which Levithan co-wrote with John Green (whom I’d read before). It made me curious to look into his solo projects, as well as his other collaborations.
What next?
He has written a lot of books! I’m excited to check out e.g. Boy Meets Boy, Two Boys Kissing, and his collaborations like Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares with Rachel Cohn.

6. Alaya Dawn Johnson
Another short story from the Zombies Vs. Unicorns anthology; my favourite zombie story, the beautiful Love Will Tear Us Apart. The writing and the atmosphere it created were spell-binding, so I think I should check out her novels.
What next?
I might try the novel that came out this year, The Summer Prince. The reviews at GoodReads are all over the place with 1 to 5 star ratings, so I think I’ll have to pick it up and form my own opinion. She has other stuff out, too, but this one caught my eye.

Graphic Novel Authors

Runaways Vol 1 Hawkeye, Vol. 1

7. Brian K. Vaughan
I first read and loved Vaughan’s Runaways (art by Adrian Alphona), the story of a group of teens who have run away from their supervillain parents. Then I picked up his science fiction & fantasy comic Saga (art by Fiona Staples), and liked it, as well. Vaughan writes great characters, and that is a big deal why I like his comics so much.
What next?
I need to read his dystopian comic series, Y: The Last Man (art by Pia Guerra). There’s also Ex Machina (art by Tony Harris), of which I yet know nothing. Should find out what it is about, I guess.

8. Matt Fraction
I really liked Fraction’s slice-of-life take on Hawkeye (art by David Aja). The art style was great, too, as Aja’s Eisner Awards prove. I read volumes 1 and 2, and am looking forward to the next one.
What next?
Hawkeye, Vol. 3: L.A. Woman, comes out next year. Before that I could check out Casanova (art by Gabriel Bá).

Classic Authors

The Hunchback of Notre Dame Peter Pan

9. Victor Hugo
The Hunchback of Notre Dame is my favourite classic from this year, but I’m still hesitant to read more from Hugo. While the characters were great, and the plot was great… Hugo often went off on tangents and made the book longer than necessary with his architectural essays.
What next?
I could read Les Misérables, which is even longer than The Hunchback, and I’m afraid it might be even more jam-packed with stuff that’s completely unrelated to the plot. If you’ve read both of them, how do they compare?

10. J. M. Barrie
I loved Barrie’s narrator voice in Peter Pan, and how the book was both charming and dark at the same time.
What next?
I actually don’t know. Has Barrie written something else that’s still currently available and stands the test of time?

So, that’s everything! I hope all the links are of use to someone. Tell me, were there any authors you like on my list?

Current Reads: Mostly Harmless

This post is linked at “It’s Monday, what are you reading?”, a weekly meme that tells us what the blogosphere is currently reading. It is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. The links in the cover images take you to GoodReads.

I am currently reading

Mostly Harmless
Mostly Harmless
(Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy #5)
By: Douglas Adams
Genre: Science fiction comedy
My copy: From the library

Arthur Dent is doing well, if you don’t count the two things he has lost: the woman he loves, and the world in which he lived. Due to a strange accident during hyperspace travel, he finds himself in a parallel world, and all he has to fall back on are a few sandwich-making skills.

It’s time for the final book in the Hitchhiker’s Guide series. This is the book I remember the least about – not kidding, I only remember that Arthur makes sandwiches – so it’s almost like I’m reading this for the first time. The parallel universe thing doesn’t quite sit well with me, since it seems like a device to ignore whatever was going on in the previous books. It doesn’t take too much enjoyment away, though, since the books have almost always been more about the current adventure instead of a big, series-spanning plot.

Last week I posted

November Wrap-Up

Last week I finished reading

Snuff The Fractal Prince A Brides Story Vol 4
Snuff (Discworld #39) by Terry Pratchett
The Fractal Prince by Hannu Rajaniemi
A Bride’s Story, vol. 4 by Kaoru Mori

Have a great reading week!

November Wrap-Up (2013)

I didn’t really feel like reading books in November, so I ended up going through a lot of graphic novels. I did finish a couple of very short novels, though! Here’s what I thought of this month’s reads.

Rating system
1 out of 5 – I didn’t like it: badly written or just got on my nerves
2 out of 5 – It was okay: other people might enjoy it more
3 out of 5 – I liked it: a fun/enjoyable read
4 out of 5 – I really liked it: good characters & plot, maybe some theme that spoke to me
5 out of 5 – It was amazing: I consider it a favorite and will probably re-read at some point

My favorite post of the month

Character names I love

This post is linked at “Best of the Bunch”, a monthly recap meme hosted by Always Lost in Stories. All the links take you to GoodReads.


Books

Fortunately The Milk
Fortunately, the Milk…

By: Neil Gaiman & Chris Riddell (UK edition)
First published in 2013
Genre: Time travel adventure for children
My copy: Borrowed from my sister

Dad has to go get milk for his kids’ breakfast cereals, and the trip to the corner shop turns into a quest of sorts that ends up taking him a very, very long time.

My sister bought this book from our trip to London. I ended up reading it first and I enjoyed it quite a lot. It’s not earth-shattering, but it is a fun adventure, and I bet kids will like it. The dad in the story faces dinosaurs, vampires and pirates, but fortunately, the milk manages to stay in his grasp. Or does it? Read the book to find out!

Chris Riddell’s illustrations bring the story to life. The US version has illustrations by Skottie Young, which no doubt suit the story as well, but from what I saw on Google I might prefer Riddell’s style. There’s no way to know for sure without reading both, though.

Fortunately, the Milk… will no doubt work even better if read aloud to your kid. Especially by you Dads out there. 4/5

So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish
So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

(Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy #4)
By: Douglas Adams
First published in 1984
Genre: Science fiction comedy (with a bit less science fiction this time)
My copy: From the library

Arthur Dent finds Earth and the girl of his dreams.

I continued my re-read of the Hitch-Hiker’s Guide series. I already have the fifth and final book out from the library, so I’m going to finish this re-read round soon. I’m reading them in Finnish, hence the strange title in the cover pic.

I was very surprised to find that Arthur Dent manages to have a pretty good time after all the troubles he has faced in the preceding novels. The story takes place predominantly in Earth, and is pretty heavily focused on Arthur. It’s always a shame when Zaphod isn’t present, since he is my favorite, but his absence enables the book to have a different, calmer tone from the previous ones. It is still fun, though, but more toned down.

So, it’s quite different from the rest of the series, and not my favourite, but still very good. Fenchurch is a likeable character, and I enjoyed her interactions with Arthur. And of course, there’s the biscuit story. And Marvin. 4/5


Graphic novels

Runaways Vol 1 Best of the Month sticker
Runaways, Deluxe Volumes 1-3
(issues #1-24)
By: Brian K. Vaughan, Adrian Alphona
First published in 2004
Genre: Superheroes

A group of teens finds out that their parents are supervillains, and run away from home.

I’ve been meaning to read Runaways for the longest time, and I finally did! I limited myself to reading only Brian K. Vaughan’s run, because I heard that the quality dramatically drops after the original creator team (Vaughan & Alphona) left the comic – characters acting out of character etc. But these originals were excellent, and ended in a good place to stop reading the series.

I fell in love with pretty much all the characters! Characters are a big deal for me in stories, so this was a large factor in me liking the series. Xavin was perhaps one of my favourites. But I also really liked Victor. And Nico. And Chase. And Gert. You get the idea.

Runaways was somehow such an easy read, I just breezed through the series – although the stories were anything but easy for the characters! There were also the lovely covers by Jo Chen to admire. Each one of the three volumes gets a whole-hearted 5/5.

(I also read a couple of one-shot mash-ups – Civil War: Young Avengers/Runaways and Secret Invasion: Runaways/Young Avengers – with Civil War having by far the better story. These weren’t written by Vaughan, but I mainly wanted to learn about the Young Avengers and how they interacted with our runaways, and that’s why I picked them up.)

Invincible
Invincible, Ultimate Collection vol.1

(issues #1-13)
By: Robert Kirkman, Cory Walker & Ryan Ottley
First published in 2005
Genre: Superheroes
My copy: My boyfriend’s collection

Mark Grayson’s dad is the planet’s most powerful superhero. Now Mark’s own powers start emerging, and he can join his dad.

So, after reading Runaways, I started to read about more kids whose parents have superpowers. Mark’s dads powers aren’t a secret in the family, though. In fact, it’s part of the fun to see the superhero goings on as part of the family routine. I really liked the art, and especially loved Walker’s lines. Walker just managed to capture so much with such few, simplified lines! I did grow used to Ottley after a while, though, and his art is not far off style-wise.

Invincible is the usual “young superhero learning about his powers and his responsibilities” story, but with some really unusual and unexpected twists. It has to be experienced. If you start to read the series, I highly recommend reading at least as far as issue #13 to get to all the madness.

This series manages to be at times a light-hearted story of a young boy with superpowers, while at other times it’s very dramatic and dark. I really enjoyed it. 5/5

The Unwritten Vol.1
The Unwritten, Volumes 1-3

(issues #1-18)
By: Mike Carey & Peter Gross
First published in 2010
Genre: Urban fantasy/horror/myth
My copy: From the library

Tom Taylor is tired of constantly being compared to the protagonist of his father’s hugely successful Tommy Taylor fantasy series. But is he the wizard boy made flesh?

Unwritten is about stories, and literature, and myths. It’s at times very gory, at times fantastic, and filled with great thoughts about how stories shape us and the world around us. And I didn’t like it.

The premise was very good and I was intrigued. Once I started to read, though, I wasn’t captivated. I wanted to like it, but something rubbed me the wrong way. I really couldn’t get into the story, and I didn’t care. The ideas were great, but I couldn’t care less if all the characters died. And if I’m not interested in any of the characters, I’m usually not able to stay interested in the story. I did like the third volume a bit better than the first two, but not by much.

If you like strong ideas, and perhaps don’t need the characters to carry it, you might like this. A lot of people adore the series. It’s just not for me, and I won’t be continuing with it. 2/5

The Walking Dead Vol 1
The Walking Dead, Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye

By: Robert Kirkman & Tony Moore
First published in 2004
Genre: Zombies
My copy: From the library

Zombie apocalypse. Survivors surviving.

I haven’t actually watched the TV adaptation of The Walking Dead past the first two episodes. I just wasn’t that into the characters, so I didn’t continue. What made me pick up the graphic novel was the fact that I was at the library downtown waiting for someone to come and meet me. To kill time, I decided to see how the original compared to the TV series.

It just so happens that the first volume of the graphic novels covered about the same part of the story as the few episodes I’ve seen. This definitely made the story lose some part of its allure for me, because I pretty much knew what was going to happen. I did find the original illustrated version of Rick Grimes to be much more likeable than his TV counterpart, though! I also liked the art style; I really dig b&w/grayscale. I wasn’t any more drawn in to this story than the TV series, though, so I don’t think I’ll be continuing with the series. 2/5

A Brides Story Vol 3
A Bride’s Story, Vol. 3

By: Kaoru Mori
First published in 2013
Genre: Historical fiction
My copy: From the library

Mr. Smith, the English researcher, finds himself as a house guest of the young widow Talas.

Kaoru Mori introduces us to a new set of characters in this third installment. Mr. Smith is still around – in fact we are now following him on his journeys to study the culture of the people around the Silk Road. There are ome cameos from familiar characters later in the book, though.

Kaoru Mori’s artwork is as lush as detailed as ever, and it alone would make this manga worth your time. But perhaps surprisingly, this volume also has the strongest storyline of the series. The previous ones did have an overarching storyline, but they were more focused on little scenes in the every day life of the characters. But volume 3 has a strong, bittersweet, romantic and quite sad story, and I was surprised that I was as taken with it as I was. 4/5

Saga Vol 2
Saga, Vol. 2

(issues #7-12)
By: Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples
First published in 2013
Genre: science fantasy
My copy: From the library

Marko and Alana are still on the run with their newborn baby, this time joined by Marko’s parents.

I’m torn… I still couldn’t care less about Alana and Marko, but I just can’t get enough of Prince Robot IV and the other people hunting the main duo! Especially Prince Robot IV, whenever he’s on the page I love the comic – those parts add one star to my rating! The coloring of the book is also very, very good. I don’t really know what to say! At times I love this, at times I’m indifferent. Will definitely be continuing with the series, though. I have to find out what’s next in store for my beloved Prince! :) 4/5

And that’s it! My, this is a huuuuuge post. I hope you enjoy it, and find something amidst all the reviews that fits you.

Current Reads: Snuff

This post is linked at “WWW Wednesdays”, a weekly reading meme hosted by Should Be Reading. All the links take you to GoodReads.

I am currently reading

Snuff
Snuff

(A Discworld Novel)
By: Terry Pratchett
Genre: Comic fantasy
From: My bookshelf

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a policeman taking a holiday would barely have had time to open his suitcase before he finds his first corpse.

Commander Sam Vimes of the Ank-Morpork City Watch is on holiday in the pleasant and innocent countryside, but not for him a mere body in the wardrobe. There are many, many bodies – and an ancient crime more terrible than murder.

Guys, I started reading yet another book! Last weekend I was going to visit another town (to see Rocky Horror, woot!) when at the station I realized I had packed no entertainment for the train ride. Shock & horror! So I went to the the station’s paperback store and picked up Snuff.

I had been craving for Pratchett for a while, and even though I haven’t yet read Making Money and Unseen Academicals, the two previous installments, I had read the previous Vimes/Guards book, Thud!, and that is all you need to read this Vimes book. I like that Pratchett has so many different character storylines to follow in the Discworld novels, so you can choose whether you want to read say, a Death book, or the witches, or a wizards book. I’m having much fun so far, and I love how Pratchett always seems to a have a more serious theme under all the comedy, especially in his later books.

Last week I finished

Saga Vol 2 So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish
Saga, Vol. 2 by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples
I still like the people hunting the main couple more than the main couple. Especially Prince Robot IV – he’s more or less the reason I keep on reading.

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish (Hitchhiker’s Guide #4), by Douglas Adams
Hoping to finish my re-read round of the series this year! I love the biscuit eating story in this one…

What might be next

Next I hope I’ll finish all three (!) books that I’ve started but not finished! That is, The Fractal Prince by Hannu Rajaniemi, The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. Wish me luck!
The Fractal Prince The Name of the Wind Great Expectations

Hope you all have a great reading week!