What I Read: 2013 Edition

I’ve mentioned before that I keep track of all the books I read, and until last year I posted a list of my favourites from each month. I’ve also posted that I’m bad at reviewing things, which is one of the reasons I stopped that monthly feature. But listing my favourites once a year is hardly a hardship (unlike writing a novel during the month of November, which I did not finish once again)!

As of today, I’ve read 108 books since January 1, excluding the DNFs. Bear in mind that these are books that I read this year; they weren’t necessarily published in 2013. There also isn’t much romance on this list. I read quite a lot of it, but I’m a fan of non-romantic sci-fi and horror as well, including books that by all rights I should’ve read years ago.

The links will take you to Goodreads. Also, there may be spoilers ahead, both on GR and here. You have been warned.

Doctor Sleep, Stephen King

It’s the long-awaited sequel to The Shining, which I first read in high school and have re-read a few times since. King is hit-or-miss for me—anyone whose backlist is as extensive and diverse as his is bound to have a few “meh” books among them—but Doctor Sleep lived up to the hype. Danny Torrance grew up, and unsurprisingly, he turned out a little (a lot) screwed up, but he’s a likeable character. He knows he’s ultimately responsible for the choices he’s made in life and turns his life around. As The Shining was about a man who had failed in every area of his life—as a husband and father, as a teacher and writer—that happened to be set in a haunted hotel, Doctor Sleep is about a man wrestling with alcoholism and who happens to have paranormal abilities.

Forged in Blood (I and II), Lindsay Buroker

I’ve mentioned before how much I like Ms. Buroker’s books, and after waiting patiently (with a few thousand other fans) the story of the Emperor’s Edge wrapped up in two volumes. Finally we saw the action from Sicarius’s point of view! Epic fantasy is touch and go for me (don’t shoot me, but I couldn’t make it through any of the Lord of the Rings books and there’s no way I’m sitting through the films, either) but I really loved the EE universe and characters, and felt a little sad when I finished the last book.

Paragon, Aubrey Watt

Probably my favorite sci-fi romance of the year, Paragon focuses on the relationship between a neuroscientist strong-armed into a top-secret project in the middle of the Arizona desert and the android she is responsible for bringing to consciousness. It’s intellectually heavier than a lot of the SFR I read (and write), asking questions about what it is that makes us human and what sentience really means. It touches on the ethics surrounding artificial intelligence without being preachy, letting the reader draw her own conclusions about those issues while still telling the love story between Chal and Alan.

Wool, Hugh Howey

I bought this with the expectation of having time on my hands when I was called for jury duty selection in the spring, and due to an eff-up at the courthouse that left me seething and out a day’s pay (stupid bureaucrats, THIS IS WHY PEOPLE HATE YOU) I was too pissed off to read it. Anyway, I did get around to it, and then I cursed the courthouse a little more because IT. WAS. EPIC and I was too cheesed off to get into it right away.

I love post-apocalyptic stories and I love mysteries, and Wool has both. Not all of the questions in it are really answered in the novel—how the surviving members of the human race came to live in underground silos, why silos weren’t in contact with one another—but I was fine with that; the story is told from many viewpoints and the reader has multiple ideas as to why those events happened. Apparently the explanation for the silos comes about in Wool’s prequels, which are on my TBR list, but I’ve been putting off reading them because I liked it as a standalone.

Last Hit, Jessica Clare & Jen Frederick

I’m not a big fan of New Adult. I don’t care for heroes in illegal, violent professions (in this case, he’s an Eastern European hit man). But as I’ve said before, Jessica Clare is one of my auto-buy authors, so I bought Last Hit and it may very well be my favourite book of the year.

The hero and heroine are both damaged. There’s no getting around that. While the book certainly doesn’t fall into the dark erotica category, it does have some dark subject matter—the black market slave trade is mentioned, there are some brutal interactions between Eastern European gangsters and Nick (the hero) continues to carry out his work as an assassin even after meeting Daisy. It’s dark and intense, and it completely lacks the whiny early twenties angst that has turned me off of New Adult in the past. It’s an NA book for the reader who doesn’t usually care for it.

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