Storypushers’ favorites for 2013

It’s the end of 2013, and that means it’s time to reflect on our reading this year. So many fantastic books! So much awesome storytelling! All three of us went gaga for Rainbow Rowell and Elizabeth Wein and adored Holly Black’s gorgeously dark “Coldest Girl in Coldtown.”  We also had many different favorites across both age groups and genres, and spent many hours sharing them with each other – and now with the world!

Cover art for four of our 2014 favorites

~The Top 5(ish) published in 2013~

Julie’s picks:

Emily’s picks:

Katy’s picks:

  • “Boxers” and “Saints” by Gene Yuan Yang
  • “Gulp” by Mary Roach
  • “Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock” by Matthew Quick
  • “Shadows” by Robin McKinley
  • “The Cuckoo’s Calling” by Robert Galbraith
  • plus I simply must second “The Ocean at the End of the Lane”

~That one book that gave us a literary hangover~

Cover art for the three books that gave us literary hangovers

Julie: “Life After Life” by Kate Atkinson, no question. I consumed the story of Ursula’s life and death, and death and life back in February and it was the book I compared all others to this year. And then I delved into Atkinson’s backlist…

Emily: “Eleanor & Park”, by Rainbow Rowell.  Obviously, I’ve become just a tiny bit obsessed with Rowell’s extreme awesomeness, and I keep going back and re-reading sections of this book, and her others.  Her next novel, “Landline”, is probably the book I’m most looking forward to in 2014.

Katy: “Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock” by Matthew Quick gave me a literal crying-jag hangover, including a headache and the shakes! On a metaphorical level, other characters with tragic stories or mental issues are always compared now, and not always favorably, to the realized, funny and tragic Leonard.

~Older books we fell in love with~

Julie: I fell so hard for the FitzOsborne trilogy by Michelle Cooper and wanted Princess Sophie of Montmaray to be my best friend. (I reviewed the first book here, and let me just say that the two sequels are equally wonderful and heart-wrenching.)

Emily: I just, finally, read “Code Name Verity”, and wow.  Just wow.  I also discovered Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell mysteries, and they have been some of my favorite reads of the year.  If you dig Sherlock Holmes but also crave a strong female lead, these books are the best.

Katy: I was captivated by Mary Robinette Kowal’s writing, specifically the “Shades of Milk and Honey” series; I also discovered “His Majesty’s Dragon” by Noami Novik for the first time, a shocking lapse on my part.

~Sequels that more than lived up to the promise of the first book~

Julie: 2013 was a year rich in amazing sequels – Maggie Stiefvater’s “Dream Thieves,” which I loved even more than “Raven Boys,” and ditto to Marissa Meyer’s “Cinder” sequel “Scarlet.” Sarah Rees Brennan published “Untold,” where she once again proved herself an author who makes you laugh, makes you cry, and then waves something shiny off to one side while sliding a knife between your ribs. “Rose Under Fire” by Elizabeth Wein isn’t strictly a sequel, but it is amazing.

Emily: I have been mostly disappointed by the sequels that I’ve read, or tried to read, in 2013, but “Rose Under Fire” was the exception.  As I’ve said, I actually read it before “Code Name Verity”, and now I can’t wait to go back and re-read it.  I also enjoyed Robin LaFevers “Dark Triumph” somewhat more than its predecessor, “Grave Mercy”.

Katy: This isn’t a sequel per se, but I just loved “The Cuckoo’s Calling”, far more what I would have expected from JK Rowling than “The Casual Vacancy”. Cherie Priests’ Clockwork Century series has been getting really excellent, after a slightly slow start.

~The books we didn’t love as much as we expected to~

Julie: Probably David Levithan and Andrea Creamer’s “Invisibility,” but I adored “Everyday” so much that it had a really high bar to reach.

Emily: This is controversial, I know, but I just could not get into Maggie Stiefvater’s “Dream Thieves”.  I adored “Raven Boys”, and I was so looking forward to this one, but it has not grabbed me yet, despite many attempts to get into it.  I’m sure that when I do get sucked in, I’ll love it, but it hasn’t happened yet.

Katy: “Doll Bones” by Holly Black – not to say that it wasn’t a great kids book; it was a nice, slightly spooky, tale of friendship and adventure. It just didn’t blow me away like her other writing has – I think I was subconsciously expecting the character and story complexity that she brings to her teen novels.

~The debut (or at least new to us) authors whose next books we will gobble up~

Julie: Rainbow Rowell, Prudence Shen and Kelsey Sutton.

Emily: Rainbow Rowell, Demetria Lunetta and Paul Rudnick.

Katy: Erin Lange, J Anderson Coats and Maureen McQuerry, Lish McBride whenever her next one appears.

~On the top of the 2014 To Read Pile~

Julie: That’s a tough one! I really want to finish Rae Carson’s wonderful “Fire and Thorns” trilogy. The first book I’m excited about that’s published in 2014 is “Dreams of the Golden Age” by Carrie Vaughn, out Jan. 7.

Emily: As mentioned, Rainbow Rowell’s “Landline”, due in July, tops my list.  I also got sneak peeks at a few really exciting winter and spring releases, and the ones that I am most excited for are “Salvage”, by Alexandra Duncan, due in April, “Far From You”, by Tess Sharpe, also due in April, and “Half Bad”, by Sally Green, due in March.

Katy: “Fangirl”, which I managed to have put off so far, despite the fangirling of my blogger associates! The book that’s literally on top of my to-read pile is “Fiddlehead” by Cherie Priest. Upcoming titles I’m super excited about include the final Locke & Key volume, “Alpha and Omega” (February), “Raising Steam” by Terry Pratchett (March), and “Skin Game”, the latest Dresen Files book (May).

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