My Fave Reads of 2013

I know I said I didn’t have time for these lists, but that was last year. It’s January and I wanna talk about what I read in 2013, dammit! So let’s go! Here’s the top 15 reads of the year (series are grouped together as one), listed in the order in which they were read:

  1. Divergent & Insurgent by Veronica Roth – I loved Tris Prior’s struggle and spirit and Four soon became one of my favorite male protagonists. This series was last year’s Hunger Games for many, including me. Can’t wait for the movie.
  2. Bone River by Megan Chance – Such an intriguing, beautifully written story. And so well-researched! The twist was a bit predictable to me, but I really enjoyed this one. Bonus: it was a bit outside the box in terms of the genres I usually read.
  3. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – This one goes without saying. It started off slow, but once the real story began to take shape, I couldn’t put it down. Others may have disagreed with the ending, but I thought it was perfect. I hope the movie adaptation does it justice.
  4. World War Z by Max Brooks – This is THE most thought-provoking zombie apocalypse novel you’ll ever read. Formatting the book as a government report, written and presented after the war, was unique and added a touch of realism that can’t be found in other stories in this genre. The movie…not so much…but thanks for coming, Brad Pitt.
  5. Under the Dome by Stephen King – This turned out to be one of my favorite reads by Stephen King, even if it was a tome and took me almost a month to finish. All I can say is I live in a small town and now I’m terrified of everyone. Thanks, Steve. The TV series is also enjoyable, thought it has taken many liberties, often straying quite far from the original story.
  6. This Plague of Days (Seasons 1 & 2) by Robert Chazz Chute – Another high-brow zombie tale, but this one takes a look at the survivors in very different way. How can it not when one of the survivors is a teenager on the autism spectrum? I definitely recommend this serialized tale.
  7. The Davinci Code by Dan Brown – I know I’m late to the party on this one, but it was absolutely brilliant and it made my list. Don’t judge me. (Just recently saw the movie. Not bad.)
  8. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – Yup, late to the party again. But I had to read this before the movie released and it was probably the best sci-fi book I’ve ever read. And, for once, the movie adaptation was almost equally as amazing.
  9. Wool, Shift, & Dust (The Silo Saga) by Hugh Howey – This series is phenomenal and Hugh Howey has made leaps and bounds in my mind, quickly earning the title of My Favorite Author. Can’t wait to kidnap him and keep him in our attic to pick his brain read more from him.
  10. Headhunters by Jo NesboThe Harry Hole Series had been recommended to me long ago, but the library didn’t have the first installment. Fortunately, I found this standalone novel by Nesbo and thoroughly enjoyed it. What a thrilling ride!
  11. The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon – This novel was highly publicized prior to its release and I worried that it wouldn’t live up to the hype. It did. Excellent world building, characterization, and attention to detail. Can’t wait for the rest of the series.
  12. Defending Jacob by William Landay – How far will parents go to defend their child? This novel shows you how far. This was an excellent legal thriller with an accurate representation of the human psyche.
  13. Horns by Joe Hill – This novel was weird and awesome at the same time. That’s really all I can say. Movie adaptation on the way, too, starring Harry Potter all grown up.
  14. Brilliance by Marcus Sakey – I’m so glad I read this novel. It is what the title implies: a work of brilliance. I particularly loved the way Sakey paralleled his plot with current events and politics, but in a subtle, clever way. And there’s a sequel on the way! Yippee!
  15. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – The most poignant WWII story since The Diary of Anne Frank. Told from the POV of Death (a detail I’m not sure if the movie was able to grasp, but I’ll soon find out), this is definitely a must read.

There you have it, folks. I don’t know about you, but I’m excited to see what my list looks like at the end of 2014! Have you read any of these? Are there any other books you’d like to recommend?

Jerks & Irks LVIII: I Failed My 2013 Goodreads Challenge

2012 was The Year of the Kindle. Having received a Kindle Fire for Christmas 2011, I devoured books the following year, reading over 75 altogether. I realize that number is subjective: impressive to some, a drop in the bucket to even more voracious readers than myself. But I was excited to have so many books at my fingertips.

In 2013, I set my first Goodreads Challenge for 75 books. I figured since I had done it the year before, I could do it again, right? Wrong. I failed to realize how much more I’d be writing in 2013 than the previous year (3 books and a couple of short stories), or how many hours would be spent marketing and maintaining a presence on social media. December rolled around and, with the end of the year in sight, I was forced to cheat amend my Challenge total to 60 books. I had read 59 and was reading the 60th with more than enough time to spare. I even fantasized about reading a 61st book for good measure.

Then the library–the LIBRARY of all places–took me down, guys. You see, some of the traditional publishers still insist on charging $10 or more for an e-book, which is irksome in and of itself. Therefore, if I want to read one of these books, I usually see if my local library network has a digital copy first. Thus was my process when I downloaded Night Film, by Marisha Pessl (EXCELLENT book so far, by the way).

I was 57% through it when my lending period was about to expire. I renewed it, as I had done before with other borrowed books, but THE LIBRARY took it away anyway. Just electronically snatched it off my Kindle and placed me on a waiting list (1 of 1). I was devastated. I’m not the type of person who can read multiple books at once; I have the short-term memory of a pill bug. I whined a lot, trudging through short stories and trolling Facebook instead of reading myself awake in the morning and to sleep at night.

The new year came and went and I was stuck on 59 books. I failed my Goodreads Challenge.

The library sabotaged me. CURSES! *waves fist in the air*

How about you? How did you fare with your own Goodreads Challenges?

Jerks & Irks LVII: I Wish I Had Time To Make Lists

It’s that time of year when blogs and websites are rolling out their “Best of” and “Worst of” lists like so many enumerated red carpets. I want so badly to participate as more than a spectator, but I’m a bit busy at the moment. First, I cooked my annual Christmas dinner for the in-laws. That took several days of preparation, followed by several days of decompression. Not to mention I’m doing that whole writing thing I do. I know I’ve been relatively quiet on that front, but I swear I’m still doing it. Blood in the Paint is currently with my editor and I’m working on two short stories for two separate anthologies due out in 2014. But if I had the time to TP the internet with fluffy, bouncing rolls of lists, here’s where I would start:

  • Ten things I learned about publishing. Notice I didn’t say self-publishing or independent publishing or traditional publishing exclusively. As an author, I feel it’s my duty to research all the facets of my industry to make the best possible informed decisions. I learned a lot. Most of it I’ve already blogged about along the way, but I wish I could put it one central location for my readers. Perhaps when I publish Blood in the Paint, I’ll do a Then and Now post, defining the differences between when I published Blood in the Past and what I know now.
  • Ten bizarre real-life crimes I wish I would have thought of first. We’ve all heard that truth is often stranger than fiction. It really is when it comes to crime. And sometimes I get so JEALOUS that I didn’t write about said crimes first in one of my books or stories. Grrr! (Although, I won’t be writing this list, I’ll still be composing it for a local appearance I have scheduled this spring. Be sure to check the events page often!)
  • Ten songs that made my brain bleed and ooze out of my ears. I don’t listen to the radio much anymore because of this, which means, I probably don’t even know the titles of the songs I would include on this list, if I had the time to write it. However, I’m pretty sure I could look up recent songs by Kanye West and be half there.
  • Ten books I didn’t have a chance to read in 2013. According to Goodreads, I’ve only read 59 books this year. I’m finishing up my 60th now. My original goal was 75, but that wasn’t gonna happen unless I downloaded 15 short stories, so I updated the damn goal. Don’t judge me. I might still create and post this list if I can find the time this week. Fingers crossed.
  • Ten things I hope to do in 2014. This one would be fun, because if I phrase it like this, I can take “hopeful” liberties and not worry about actually being able to do them. I hope to make the best sellers list. I hope to go back to Tahiti. I hope to wake up 30 pounds lighter. You get the idea…
  • Ten movie characters I absolutely loved/loathed. This one would be so much fun! Hubby-pants and I go to the movies quite often. The only problem is I tend to completely forget a movie the moment I leave the theater. Like, I can’t even hold an intelligent conversation about it during the car ride home. It’s scary. Even if I had the time, I’d need quite a bit of memory-jogging for this one. Yikes.
  • Ten television series of 2013. I know I seem to be an anomaly–an author who watches quite a bit of TV–so I wish I had the time to let everyone in on the types of television shows I indulge in. How I used to love Homeland, but I thought it was a letdown this year. How I also felt Scandal was a letdown this season until the very last episodes. Or how much I enjoyed The Walking Dead. Or how I had no idea how many people watched Duck Dynasty until very recently…
  • Ten nifty writing tools I hope to acquire in 2014. There’s that word “hope” again. I don’t necessary need anything, but who doesn’t love new gadgets? This is another list that would take a bit of poking around on the internet, so it’s probably not gonna happen. Maybe I can live vicariously through someone else’s list.
  • Ten non-writing projects to complete in 2014. Of course I’d have to come up with ten projects first, but sometimes it’s nice to do something outside of writing. Last summer I acquired a jug-like vase from the in-laws’ shore house before they put it in on the market and I’ve been drawing Picasso-inspired images on it. I intend to paint them and coat the vase in a protective gloss. This is the only such project I have going on right now, but I’m sure if I trolled my Pinterest boards I could find a few things.
  • Top ten favorite reads of 2013. This one goes without saying. All of us writerly/bookworm types do one. I did one last year. And I’ll be doing one this year. I’ll find the time. Who knows? Maybe I’ll find the time for all of the above ideas and pepper your January with Top Ten lists! Be afraid. Be very afraid…

*Disclaimer: No, the irony is not lost on me that this is a list and I made time to write it and post it. 😉