Top 10 books I read in 2013!!

This Tuesday’s top ten, as sponsored by The Broke & Bookish blog, is the top 10 books you’ve read in 2013.  This year I read more than I had in several years previous, so I will have to refer back to my Goodreads list to remember which ones were my favorites. 🙂

1) Phoenix Rising, by Pippa Ballantine.  This book was delightful steampunk, and I adored the characters in it.  Their awkward interactions… priceless!!  I also laughed a fair bit while reading it (well, in my head – I tend not to laugh out loud when I read books, not sure why).

2) Slumber, by Tamara Blake.  This is one that I got from NetGalley, but man, did it stick with me!!  I really want to see a sequel to this, as much as I am sure that I won’t.  It’s a YA novel, and is excellently written.  However, prepare for the ending if you decide to read it… that’s all I’ll say about that!!

3) In the Garden of Beasts, by Erik Larson.  I posted my review of this awhile back here on my blog, but goodness, this is another one that stuck with me.  It’s a novelized history of the US ambassador to Berlin in 1933… and it is so very gripping.  I’m not usually one to rave about nonfiction, but this one was absolutely excellent.

4) The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer.  This is another that I wrote a review of on here, I believe.  It’s another WWII book, but a novel this time, and I really adored it and the characters in it.  I’m sad that Ms. Shaffer died, because I’m sure she could have written more amazing novels had she had the time.

5) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  The feels, all the feels!!  I adored this book, as cliche as that may be… I mean, it’s one of the best known YA novels of recent years and it seems like everyone who read it loved it.  But still, it definitely makes it into my top 10 of 2013.

6) City of Bones by Cassandra Clare.  I know there are a lot of mixed feelings about this book’s author, and I never would’ve picked it up except my book club was reading it and it looked interesting.  And it was interesting!!  It gripped me from the first page… and the ending… whoa. 🙂 Now I just have to see the movie…

7) The Broken Rules of Ten by Gay Hendriks.  This one was another NetGalley book, but it was excellent even if the formatting for Kindle was odd.  I can’t put my finger on why I adore this book as much as I do, except that Ten was a very adorable character at such a young age, and it’s been a long time since I’ve read a book that portrayed youth in such an honest way.

8) Soulless by Gail Carriger.  This book was entirely fluff, but it was good escapism reading. 🙂 This year has been rough enough for me that I need books like that, and I am glad that I have the rest of the series to read as time allows – and I mean, any book that is in a series entitled “The Parasol Protectorate” wins, doesn’t it?

9) Postcards from Nam by Uyen Nicole Duong.  This was an excellent, excellent book, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.  The writing is luminous and paints vivid word pictures of Vietnam during the war and of the children involved.  It is a painful novel to read, in parts, but is still one of my favorite books that I have read in quite some time.

10) I shall wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett.  This is the first Tiffany Aching novel that I read, and since I adore Pratchett, of course it had to be in my top ten!! 🙂 Once again, wonderful escapist reading, and Tiffany is such a lovable protagonist.  Plus, the Wee Free Men!!

Those are my top 10 books read in 2013, and believe me, it was tough to pick out of the 50-some that I did get read before this past fall semester ate my face. 😉 What are YOUR top ten? I’d be interested to know!!

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Hope ~ read & ponder.

Hope

Hope is with you when you believe
the earth is not a dream but living flesh,
that sight, touch, and hearing do not lie,
that all things you have ever seen here
are like a garden looked at from a gate.

You cannot enter. But you’re sure it’s there.
Could we but look more clearly and wisely
we might discover somewhere in the garden
a strange new flower and an unnamed star.

Some people say that we should not trust our eyes,
that there is nothing, just a seeming,
there are the ones who have no hope.
They think the moment we turn away,
the world, behind our backs, ceases to exist,
as if snatched up by the hand of thieves.

– Czeslaw Milosz.

“…that there is nothing, just a seeming…” – how I love that line.

Milosz is a genius… now I just need to find a book or seventy of his works so I can read more of his poems. 🙂

I’m still alive!!

So, readers, I apologize.  It has been a good while since the last time I updated – almost 2.5 months!! – but I am still here.  I’ve just been lax about updating, but certainly not lax in other areas of my life.  This semester finished off nicely grade-wise for the courses I was taking, and I am reveling in my few days of freedom in between getting internship hours and holidays and family time. (Not that I don’t love my family and love our get-togethers!!)

The most exciting thing that has happened since I last updated is that I have returned to writing poetry.  I wrote avidly as a teenager – I mean, what emo teen doesn’t? – and took some poetry writing classes when I was in college, and while I kept up with writing it for awhile, I stopped creating probably in 2011 or shortly before.  I am now in a writer’s group that meets weekly, led by my mentor (and retired poetry professor), and I have connected with some amazing women.  The group is small – only 7 of us total, counting my mentor – and it really is like therapy some nights… but with some wonderful writing getting critiqued!! 🙂

Because of this, I am getting into some international poets’ works, such as Czeslaw Milosz and the well-known Pablo Neruda.  I love American poets too, but there’s just something about international poets that I find extra inspiring – I can’t really explain it except their views on life are even more varied than those that are here in the States (and there really is a lot of variety to be found in these 50 states!!).

Holidays have been busy as well – and that has taken away from my writing and reading time.  Christmas was wonderful, spent with my amazing parents and fun-loving sister (who is visiting here from “down South” where she’s getting her PhD).  New Year’s is also my husband’s birthday, but I am fairly certain that we won’t be celebrating it, at least in the traditional sense.  I am trying to do what he wants rather than what my traditions demand, which is harder than it sounds!!  Hopefully, though, we can at least have cake and sparkling grape juice to celebrate on New Year’s.  I’m pretty sure he would be amenable to that.

Because of life events, I have not had much time to read.  My NetGalley books have fallen by the wayside but right now I am so tied up with other projects that it is difficult to pull myself back into the reading and reviewing world.  I will eventually, I am sure, but it will take a bit.  I’m currently reading Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, and you guys, that books has all the feels in the world.  It’s like The Fault in Our Stars all over again, except I don’t know the ending of Eleanor & Park, obviously, since I haven’t gotten there yet.  I’m about 45% through the book… so good.  I can’t wait to read more of Rowell’s novels.  There’s something so satisfying about finding a good YA author.  Additionally, it makes me happy that her books aren’t dystopian novels, since those seem to be the hype these days, and I am not particularly a fan. (Okay, so I love The Hunger Games, but aside from those…)

Long enough, my friends.  I will try to be more prompt about updating in the coming months, but with an internship plus two classes, I am kept pretty busy.  I am hoping that with summer will come some semblance of relaxation, though that is a long ways off yet (and between now and then, I need to figure out how I’ll pay for summer’s classes…).  I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday!!