Friday, December 20, 2013

Jess' Top 7 of 2013

I read so many good books this year! Of course, I say that every year - and every year, it's true. :) I didn't hit my reading goal, as this year was a year of changes, but I still feel comfortable with the amount that I have read.

This year I tried to mix in even amounts of indie authors with traditionally published authors, but most of my favorite books this year weighed in on the traditionally published side. Please note that these are books I read this year, not necessarily books that came out this year.

Without further ado, here are my top 7 books from 2013:

#7: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
Not only did I love this book, I LOVED this series! Wasn't a huge fan of the movie, but that's how it generally goes with that sort of thing. :) I think you definitely need to check it out if you haven't yet and are a fantasy novel fan.

#6: The First Phone Call From Heaven by Mitch Albom
Even if you're not religious, I think you'll appreciate this book. The main character is actually a skeptic which makes it very enjoyable. It leaves you thinking "What if?"

#5: Reach: A Twin Bred Novel by Karen A. Wyle
Pretty sure this author deserves to be discovered by a big time publisher, because I just plain love her books! The first book of this series made my Top 7 list in 2011, and her second book deserves it just as much. If you like SciFi, check her out - you won't be disappointed.

#4: Cinder by Marissa Meyer
This takes the idea of "new spins on fairytales" into a steampunk realm and rocks it! You'll have fun placing the characters, and will probably enjoy the "Cinderella meets Firefly" feel to this book. The second book in the series is just as good, and there's a third book coming out in 2014 that I"m sure I will love!

#3: Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis
Take a post-apocalyptic future, add in a touch of government conspiracy and a faint echo of Little House on the Prairie (no lie!) and you have this incredible book! I loved the simpleness of this book, which takes almost as much talent to write as a very complicated book.

#2: The Never List by Koethi Zan
This book was dark, and haunted me - but it really deserves to be here! It's not very often that a scary book makes it on my list, so you know it has to be good. Not a great book to read before bed, but you could read it during the day. ;)

#1: The Host by Stephanie Meyer
I'm not the biggest Stephanie Meyer fangirl, but this book was leaps and bounds above the Twilight series - so if you like that series, you'll like this book! This is another post-apocalyptic novel, but in an "alien invasion" way, and it really drives home the idea of second chances. Not only was this a great book, but it was also a solidly good movie!

What were YOUR top books in 2013?

Recommended Read: The Never List by Koethi Zan

The Never ListThe Never List by Koethi Zan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A chilling and twisted tale told from the point of view of a woman with OCD held captive in a cellar for three years by a sadistic and evil man. As she unravels the past to insure he doesn't get parole, she discovers an even darker and more sinister plot involving more women then she could have ever imagined. This is a terrifying story and not for the faint of heart, but a story that deserves to be read because of its brilliance.

View all my reviews

Recommended Read: Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

Not a Drop to Drink Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A chilling look into the not so distant future where the government controls almost all water, and uses that as a means to control it's citizens. The plot is suspenseful, the characters brilliantly hardened by circumstances and intertwined in their struggle for survival. This is a truly remarkable book from a promising new author and well worth the read!

View all my reviews

Recommended Read: Reach by Karen A Wyle

Reach: A Twin-Bred Novel (Twin-Bred, #2)Reach: A Twin-Bred Novel by Karen A. Wyle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I adored Karen's first novel Twin Bred - in fact, it made it into one of my Top Books of 2011 ( ). So when she asked if I'd like to read her next book in the series, I jumped at the chance! I was definitely not disappointed.

Twin Bred are growing up fast as they set forth toward a new land and a new destiny far away from their home world. We get to find out more about the two who were left behind and find their paths linked once more, and all of the Twin Bred learn that difficulties can arise in any environment. The characters develop nicely, the plot is interesting, and the pace is just right. Another wonderful book by a great author!

View all my reviews

Recommended Read: The First Phone Call From Heaven by Mitch Albom

The First Phone Call from HeavenThe First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you received a phone call from a dead loved one, how would you respond? That is the phenomena that sweeps across the small and previously unremarkable town of Coldwater. Some find faith, others find opportunity, still others find answers to past questions. This story is breathtaking and beautiful, and I was so draw in that I could barely put it down! While I may perhaps be skeptical in life, I still found the haunting story to be a fantastic journey into the spiritual realm and imagined how I would react in the situation. This is another great book by Mitch Albom worth reading!

View all my reviews

Flop: The Hidden Masters and Unspeakable Evil by Jack Barrow

Recommended Read - Big Brother by Lionel Shriver

Big BrotherBig Brother by Lionel Shriver
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had to stew on this for a few days before deciding how to rate this book.

Honestly, the entire first part was boring, and a lot of the language used throughout was completely unnecessary. I am all about utilizing the English language intelligently, but sometimes it's more impressive to read a book that is simplistically beautiful than one that feels artificially full of large words. In fact, I sometimes wondered if the author was just trying to hit a word count rather than make a point.

That being said, when you strip away the pretentious language and often unnecessary meandering of the author, there was an incredibly poignant and beautiful story that paints the stark reality of obesity in many modern families.

As someone who works a day job that is at the forefront of the obesity revolution (as a manager of a health club run by former Biggest Loser contestants), I've seen so many of the moments in the book first hand and realize the complexity of what fighting obesity entails.

Without revealing any spoilers, I was initially disappointed with the ending - but then I stepped back and realized that the ending was right for this book and made a good and yet sad commentary on the realities of our culture.

Overall, if you can get past the verbiage to the heart of the story, I think you'll enjoy this book.

View all my reviews

Flop - The Mermaid of Brooklyn by Amy Shearn

The Mermaid of BrooklynThe Mermaid of Brooklyn by Amy Shearn
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I thought this book would be more... for lack of a better description, fantasy-inspired. Instead, I found it to be rather boring. The chapters are too long, and the tone, while conversational, was much too rambling for my taste. I didn't really get into the story at all until over a quarter of the way through it, and even then I ended up skimming a lot of the pages due to the boring babbling. I wanted there to be less whining and more mythical action, but sadly it just wasn't meant to be. There were a few moments of true brilliance here and there, so perhaps there is still some value here. Maybe stay at home moms would find this more interesting and relatable. But for me, I was just proud of myself for not giving up after the first couple of chapters. Then again, the ending was so awful that I regretted reading it, so maybe I should have stopped at the beginning!

Definitely not the kind of book for me.

View all my reviews

Recommended Read - Nate Rocks the World by Karen Pokras Toz