Bookish Review of 2013, part 1

2013 has been a great year for me with regards to reading. I’ve read a total of 411 books (hopefully it will be 412 by the end of 12/31/2013 but as of 12/30/2013 it is 411), far exceeding my original 2013 goal of 263 books. I’m extremely grateful to the authors, publicists, publishers and assorted others such as BookBrowse, BookTrib, SheReads, Shelf Awareness Pro, GoodReads and LibraryThing for providing me with a host of advance reading material. I’m also very grateful to my local public library, the Kanawha County Public Library for its fantastic digital offerings, not to mention its great librarians, staff and events.

I’ve been fortunate to read some great books this year and to be introduced to some wonderful authors. (My favorite fiction author list grew by leaps and bounds this year.) I was recently asked by friends and family members to name a few of my favorite books for 2013 and I had to stop and think about it, for quite some time. The problem wasn’t naming my favorites but limiting it to just a few books. I decided to tell everyone to wait until January 1, 2014 for me to fine-tune my list. In an effort to do just that, I decided to make a list of favorite books published in 2013. Okay, I admit that the list is kind of long, but I simply couldn’t eliminate any books from this list. (I thought about doing a list of favorite new-to-me authors, but felt that might be overkill.)

Favorite Books Published in 2013 (Jan – June)

Cover of Snow by Jenny Milchman was my seventh read for 2013 and a fantastic mystery-suspense-thriller not to mention an awesome debut by Ms. Milchman. If you enjoy reading about wintry settings during the winter months, then this is one you’ll definitely want to read.

Speaking From Among the Bones by Alan Bradley was my sixteenth read for 2013 and the fifth in the Flavia de Luce series. Who is Flavia de Luce? Flavia is an eleven-year-old detective and child genius (in my opinion). Think Encyclopedia Brown meets Nancy Drew with a touch of Columbo, Hercule Poirot, and Miss Marple. You haven’t read any of the Flavia de Luce books? What are you waiting for…the next book is scheduled for release in mid-January 2014, so you have some time to get caught up!

Next is A Cold and Lonely Place by Sara J. Henry. This was my twenty-fourth read for the year and the second in the Troy Chance series set in the Adirondacks. Yes, this was another mystery-suspense read and another great book with a wintry setting.

Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler was my twenty-eighth read. This is another remarkable debut and is a wonderful blend of historical and contemporary fiction. I enjoyed this book so much that I’ve recommended it to friends, family and my local book groups. I cannot say enough good things about this book so I’ll simply say this: read this book!

Garden of Stones by Sophie Littlefield was another out-standing historical fiction book and my forty-fourth read of the year. Publishers Weekly said “Littlefield has a gift for pacing…page-turning action and evocative, sensual, harrowing descriptions.” 

My fifty-fifth read for the year was The House Girl by Tara Conklin. The House Girl was the #1 IndieNext Pick, a GoodReads Choice Nominee for Best Fiction, and more. This book has been lauded and applauded by BookList, BookPage, the Library Journal and more as an “exquisite debut novel” and “the rare novel that seamlessly toggles between centuries and characters and remains consistently gripping throughout…” This is another book that strongly urge you to read.

My eighty-fifth read for the year was another outstanding historical fiction read, The Ashford Affair by Lauren Willig. I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Willig’s Pink Carnation series and was just as delighted with The Ashford Affair, another great blend of contemporary and historical fiction.

Another debut work that I found quite enjoyable was written by an acquaintance and one of my favorite librarian’s, Sarah Title’s Kentucky Home. This is a contemporary romance that had just the right amount of romance and humor and was my eighty-seventh read for 2013.

My one hundred and first read for the year was Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. I’ve been blessed to read a number of outstanding works that combined contemporary and historical fiction and Orphan Train definitely fits in this category. I’ve actually read this book twice this year, with my most recent reading as part of a local book group as our December group read. Orphan Train was just a delightful the second time around.

2013 also seems to be the year for great debut works, and The Raven’s Gift by Don Reardon is no exception. This dystopian suspense thriller kept me on edge from the first page to the very last and was my one hundred and thirty-ninth read of the year.

Part 2 of this review will feature books read from July through December of 2013 and features more great debuts not to mention great mysteries, suspense-thrillers, and perhaps more historical fiction.