January 2, 2014

Year-End Wrapup: What I Read in 2013

This is a list of the books I read last year. Most of these have reviews on my Goodreads page.

Hunted, Kevin Hearne (fiction, urban fantasy)
The Shattered Dark, Sandy Williams (fiction, urban fantasy)
Secretariat, William Nack (nonfiction, horse racing)
The Purity Myth: How America's Obsession With Virginity is Hurting Young Women, Jessica Valenti (nonfiction, feminism, women's issues)
Gun Show Nation: Gun Culture and American Democracy, Joan Burbick (nonfiction, gun control, cultural studies)
Reboot, Amy Tintera (fiction, young adult, post-apocalyptic)
Better Off Without 'Em: A Northern Manifesto for Southern Secession, Chuck Thompson (nonfiction, politics/government, Southern culture)
Contaminated, Em Garner (fiction, young adult, post-apocalyptic, zombies)
The Summer Prince, Alaya Dawn Johnson (fiction, young adult, science fiction, post-apocalyptic)
The Darkest Minds, Alexandra Bracken (fiction, young adult, science fiction, psions, post-apocalyptic)
Reality Check: How Science Deniers Threaten Our Future, Donald R. Prothero (nonfiction, science, current events, climate change, evolution)
Magic Rises, Ilona Andrews (fiction, urban fantasy)
Body Work, Sara Paretsky (fiction, mystery)
Autumn Whispers, Yasmine Galenorn (fiction, urban fantasy)
Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies: On Myths, Morons, Free Speech, Football, and Assorted Absurdities, Chris Kluwe (nonfiction, essays, sports)
Unremembered, Jessica Brody (fiction, young adult, science fiction, time travel)
Solstice, P.J. Hoover (fiction, young adult, science fiction, Greek mythology, climate change)
Does Jesus Really Love Me? A Gay Christian's Pilgrimage In Search of God In America, Jeff Chu (nonfiction, religion)
Tales From the Triple Crown, Steve Haskin (nonfiction, horse racing)
Fragments, Dan Wells (fiction, young adult, science fiction, post-apocalyptic)
Writing the Paranormal Novel: Techniques and Exercises for Weaving Supernatural Elements Into Your Story, Steven Harper (nonfiction, writing)
The Farm, Emily McKay (fiction, young adult, vampires, post-apocalyptic)
Haunted Moon, Yasmine Galenorn (fiction, urban fantasy)
The Last Gun: How Changes in the Gun Industry Are Killing Americans and What It Will Take To Stop It, Tom Diaz (nonfiction, current events, gun industry, gun violence)
Agave Kiss, Ann Aguirre (fiction, urban fantasy)
Nightshifted, Cassie Alexander (fiction, urban fantasy)
False Memory, Dan Krokos (fiction, young adult, science fiction)
The Prey, Andrew Fukuda (fiction, young adult, science fiction, post-apocalyptic, vampires)
The Wichita Divide: the Murder of Dr. George Tiller, the Battle Over Abortion, and the New American Civil War, Stephen Singular (nonfiction, current events, abortion, reproductive rights)
Bruce, Peter Ames Carlin (nonfiction, biography, rock music)
Skylark, Meagan Spooner (fiction, young adult, fantasy)
After: Nineteen Stories of Apocalypse and Dystopia, edited by Ellen Datlow (fiction, young adult, anthology, dystopia, post-apocalyptic)
What's Wrong With Homosexuality? John Corvino (nonfiction, current events, sexual orientation, debates)
A Natural History of Dragons, Marie Brennan (fiction, fantasy)
I Am Ozzy, Ozzy Osbourne (nonfiction, memoir, rock music)
Once, Anna Carey (fiction, young adult, post-apocalyptic)
Yesterday, Kelly C.K. Martin (fiction, young adult, post-apocalyptic, time travel)
Cold Days, Jim Butcher (fiction, urban fantasy)
Origin, Jessica Khoury (fiction, young adult, science fiction)
The Hunt, Andrew Fukuda (fiction, young adult, science fiction, post-apocalyptic, vampires)
Gunmetal Magic, Ilona Andrews (fiction, urban fantasy)
Seraphina, Rachel Hartman (fiction, young adult, fantasy, dragons)
The Emperor of All Maladies, Siddharta Mukherjee (nonfiction, medicine, cancer)
Doubletake, Rob Thurman (fiction, urban fantasy)

That's quite an eclectic collection, if I do say so myself, even if it's weighted towards young adult and urban fantasy. Here's a few best-ofs.

Best Non-Fiction Book: Secretariat, William Nack. (I can read this over and over again. The beautiful, elegaic, lyrically written story of a great horse.)
Best Fiction Book: Magic Rises, Ilona Andrews. (Kate Daniels' story is steaming towards its bloody conclusion, the characterizations are deepening, the plot is tightening, and the tension is unbearable.)
Best Young Adult Book: Fragments, Dan Wells. (This was the tightest category by far, as I gave several YAs five-star reviews this year. But Dan Wells' book, and its ideas, concepts, and characters is the one that has lingered in my mind, so it--barely!--edges out its competition.)
Worst Book: Once, Anna Carey. (This is on my read list, but I couldn't finish it. I got two-thirds of the way through and realized I didn't like these characters and didn't give a damn what happened to them, so I said "Screw it" and moved on to something else.)
Most Disappointing Book: Autumn Whispers, Yasmine Galenorn. (This author used to be on my Instant-Buy list...now, I don't know. This overstuffed, tangled mess may have ruined the entire series for me. It's maddening because she can do so much better.)
Best Out-of-Left-Field, Improbable Combination That Works: Solstice, P.J. Hoover. (See the description for this book? Young adult, science fiction, climate change, Greek mythology? How, you ask, could all that possibly gel? But it does. Wonderfully.)

I didn't hit my Goodreads Reading Challenge (50 books) last year, so I've challenged myself to only 40 books this year. This may sound quite low, but when you have a day job and are also trying to write and submit your own stories...well, I do the best I can. At any rate, see you with my lists on Goodreads and Pinterest this year, and happy reading!

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