Thursday, January 2, 2014

My Top 13 Books of 2013

My Top 13 Books of 2013 

First let me set the rules.
Rule 1: Series count as one book. We will be here all day if I haveo list every book individually (plus I would never fit it into 13).
Rule 2: These are not ranked in any order. I simply couldn't choose between any of them and since this is my blog, and I say I don't have this is what you get.
And I think that's all the rules I have. So let's get started:

1. The Lord of the Rings
The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, #1)  The Two Towers (The Lord of the Rings, #2)  The Return of the King (The Lord of the Rings, #3)
What can I say? This series is the ultimate standard against which all high-fantasy is measured. Of course I was going to love it. I have no idea why it took me this long to finally read them, but I think I read them at just the right time in my life. The story of these tiny hobbits setting out to save the world is touching and epic and everything I love in high-fantasy on full display.

2. Unsouled
UnSouled (Unwind, #3)
This is a series that, for whatever reason, I always underestimate. Either that or they are getting better and better as the series progresses (which is almost unbelievable in itself). This series covers a myriad of topical issues in a way that isn't shoving that fact down your throat. Neal Shusterman is a master of plot and character development. I love Connor, Lev, and Risa and how much they've changed since the beginning of this rollercoaster. I cannot wait to see this brilliant series wrap up in 2014.

3. Champion
Champion (Legend, #3)

This was a fantastic ending to a fantastic series. June and Day's story had a full arc that was really beautiful. I think their problems were resolved in the perfect way. This series is completely un-put-down-able (shhh... that's totally a word). It's action-packed and the plot is always full of twists and turns.

4. The Fairyland Series
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland, #1)  The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There (Fairyland, #2)  The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two (Fairyland, #3)

Gorgeous characters in a gorgeous world with some of the most gorgeous writing I have ever encountered. This series is whimsical and unique. There is always something new in Fairyland to be discovered. The metaphors are brilliantly incorporated into the prose and the imagery is spectacular.

5. Fangirl

I love all things Rainbow Rowell, but this book spoke to me deeper than her others because I identify with Cath on a level that few other characters have accomplished. She's a bit socially awkward and sort of a dork, but also incredibly smart and caring. This book chronicles her first year of college with all of its ups and downs. It focuses on her relationship with her dad and sister, which was touching and very genuine. Also, LEVI. He's like no other male character I've read. He's charming and happy and considerate. I want one.

6. Allegiant
Allegiant (Divergent, #3)
CONTROVERSIAL BUT SPOILER-FREE EXPLANATION: I  love how Veronica Roth finished off her wildly popular series. She took risks that not many authors would dare to take, thrusting her characters into a new political situation so far into the series and so far removed from the world of the past. But she managed it beautifully and I think that it was exactly what the series needed. Tris shone in this book, her bravery was inspiring.

7. Percy Jackson and the Olympians/Heroes of Olympus
The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1)  The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #2)  The Titan's Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #3)  The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #4)The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #5)  The Lost Hero (The Heroes of Olympus, #1)  The Son of Neptune (The Heroes of Olympus, #2)  The Mark of Athena (The Heroes of Olympus, #3)The House of Hades (The Heroes of Olympus, #4)

SHUT UP. THIS DEFINITELY COUNTS AS ONE. (I know it shouldn't, but it's the only way I could make 13 work without having to make an impossible decision between these nine books). I am kicking myself for not reading these when I was younger, but I think I enjoyed them just as much(if not more than) I would have reading them as a kid. They're hilarious. The characters leap off the page and pull you into their world with them. The adventure is perfectly plotted and paced.
Then in the Heroes of Olympus series, the world expands. You're introduced to Piper, Leo, Jason, Frank, and Hazel (all of whom I love deeply).
There are not enough good things that I could say about this world that Rick Riordan has created. I will read anything Riordan writes for the rest of his career. He's absolutely brilliant.

8. The Song of the Lioness Quartet
Alanna: The First Adventure (Song of the Lioness, #1)  In the Hand of the Goddess  The Woman Who Rides Like a Man  Lioness Rampant (Song of the Lioness, #4)

Another series I should have read long, long ago. How did I not even hear of these until now? It's about Alanna, a girl who wants be a knight. She wants to go on quests and learn swordplay. She's so kick-butt and sassy and smart. Her problems feel natural to a girl in her position and so do her relationships. Her story arc in the series combined is fantastic because it takes place over a period of around six years, so you see her grow and mature. She has earned her place in my all-time favorite heroines list. (Plus, her and George are the cutest thing in the history of ever, end of discussion).

9. The Book Thief
The Book Thief

One of the most beautiful stories I have ever encountered. Hope and love in one of the darkest times in history. It is a story of life among much too much death. A girl who loves stories and a family who offers protection to those who need it. This book will stay with me forever. I earnestly believe that everyone should read this book, because it changes you when you read it. You start to see the world differently.

10. Crown of Midnight
Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, #2)
I loved Throne of Glass (I mean, it made my Top 12 of 2012 list last year and everything). But this book. THIS BOOK. Completely fantastic. Utterly brilliant. It had me crying and cheering. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. I cannot wait for the next four books in this SPECTACULAR series. All of the characters are so well-written.

11. The Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy
The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns, #1)  The Crown of Embers (Fire and Thorns, #2)  The Bitter Kingdom (Fire and Thorns, #3)

YA High fantasy at its finest. The world is so broad and interesting. The characters are brave and unique and genuine. Rae Carson is a very thoughtful writer. By that I mean that you can tell she puts a lot of thought into both her world-building and the implications of her characters' decisions. She put a lot of effort into making Elisa a great role model for girls as well as relatable. Elisa has a mind of her own and is a ruler to be reckoned with.

12. The Lumatere Chronicles
Finnikin of the Rock (Lumatere Chronicles, #1)  Froi of the Exiles (Lumatere Chronicles, #2)  Quintana of Charyn (Lumatere Chronicles, #3)

This series broke my heart while simultaneously filling it. I fell in love with Lumatere and Charyn and all of the people living inside them. The writing is masterful. The imagery and use of language is breathtaking. The stories are heart-breaking with a sliver of hope mixed in. The tone is mystical and foreign, yet you feel right at home inside the story. It felt like I knew the characters. I cried for them and I rooted for them. No amount of explanation could ever describe the beauty of this story.

13. The Grisha Trilogy
Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1)  Siege and Storm (The Grisha, #2)

This series is very high concept with an extraordinary level of execution. A high fantasy combined with clearly defined, almost scientific, magic, elements of Russian culture and folklore, and a sort of steampunk twist thrown into the mix. YES! And while that sounds like it shouldn't work, by golly, IT DOES. The uniqueness of this story, along with the themes concerning freedom and choice, make it an unbelievably incredible read.

Honorable Mentions: The Kane Chronicles (I figured I already had enough Riordan on the list. Even though I am a firm believer that you can never have too many Riordan books), Sweetly (that is one fantastic retelling), Eleanor and Park, Attachments (what can I say? Rainbow Rowell just wins), The Infernal Devices (*cough*WillHerondale*cough*), Dark Triumph, The House of the Scorpion, The Diviners.

Here's to 2014. May it be filled with as many great reads as 2013 was.

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