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top reads of 2013…so far (part 1)

Well, hello, July! I can’t believe half of the year is gone already! I’ve read some pretty fantastic books this year and am blowing my goal out of the water. Initially I had hoped to read 75 books this year; I’m already on book #51. Out of those 50 books I’ve read so far I’ve picked my favorites. This first part features 2013 releases. My favorites so far of the older titles I’ve read will be featured in part 2!

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The Madman’s Daughter (The Madman’s Daughter #1) | my review
Pub. Date: January 29, 2013

Dead flesh and sharpened scalpels didn’t bother me. I was my father’s daughter, after all. My nightmares were made of darker things.

The Madman’s Daughter is the first retelling of The Island of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells I’ve come across and it left quite an impression! It was creepy and had the perfect gothic feel and the experiments.

The second book, Her Dark Curiosity comes out January, 2014 and is a take on Jekyll and Hyde! CAN’T WAIT!

The Colossus Rises (Seven Wonders #1) | my review
Pub Date: February 5, 2013

On the morning I was scheduled to die, a large barefoot man with a bushy red beard waddled past my house.

Fans of the Percy Jackson series will be sure to enjoy this one. Jack is kidnapped and taken to a remote institute where he learns he’s a Select. While the Select have genes that enable their natural talents to elevate, not a single one has lived past 14. Jack has a year to live and he needs to uncover the powers of the seven ancients wonders in the meantime.

The second book in the series, Lost in Babylon comes out in October!

Pivot Point (Pivot Point #1) | my review
Pub Date: February 12, 2013

Pivot Point caught me off guard and surprised me in the best way. To be honest, going into the book, I expected a regular YA with a bit of barely-explained paranormal elements. Instead I got a fully developed world with wonderfully fleshed-out characters and a plot that had me captivated.

Addie has the ability to explore her future and base her decisions on the possible outcomes she sees. With her parents pending divorce, Addie uses her ability to determine which parent she should live with: stay with her mom in the Compound and be around other people like her, or move with her dad and live among Normals. Toward the end of the book the timelines began to meet and I LOVED IT. Also: no love triangle!

The second book, Split Second, come out next February!

The Best Man (Blue Heron #1) | my review
Pub Date: February 26, 2013

On a beautiful day in June, in front of literally half the town, wearing a wedding dress that made her look like Cinderella and holding a bouquet of perfect pink roses, Faith Elizabeth Holland was left at the alter.

The Best Man was my first Higgins, but it definitely will not be the last. Faith was left at the alter and fled her hometown immediately after. Now she’s back but she’s not sure if she’s ready to face her past. Chick-lit, contemporary romance, whatever you’d like to call it, is still relatively new to me. I’ve had a few rough experiences in the past with the genre, but decided to give this one a try and loved it. Watching Faith and Jeremy (her would-be husband had he not announced he was gay at their wedding) try to patch their friendship was great and Levi – Jeremy’s best friend and the man who convinced him to tell Faith his secret – was FANTASTIC. Also: there’s a dog named Blue. And a family-run winery. What more do you need?

The Perfect Match, the next in the Blue Heron series, will be out in October!

A Tale for the Time Being | my review
Pub Date: March 12, 2013

Print is predictable and impersonal, conveying information in a mechanical transaction with the reader’s eye.
Handwriting, by contrast, resists the eye, reveals its meaning slowly, and is as intimate as skin.

A Tale for the Time Being is not only one of my favorite 2013 reads, but a favorite OF ALL TIME. It lured me in, made me laugh, made me think, and stomped on my heart more than once. If there’s one book on this list you decide to read, make it this one.

One of my ALL-TIME FAVORITE THINGS EVER is a dual narrative and A Tale for the Time Being aces it. Ruth and her husband Oliver come across a diary on the beach one day and decide to translate the Japanese. In doing so they come to know – and ultimately care for – a suicidal 16-year old girl, Nao. Before she kills herself, however, she wants to share her great-grandmother’s story. Old Jiko is a 104-year old nun with her own temple and spent her youth as a writer, an anarchist, and an independent New Woman.

With each diary entry Ruth and Oliver become more and more emotionally invested in this girl’s life – and I was right there with them. I rejoice with them in Nao’s happiness and wanted to reach out to her after each bully attack. The way the novel ends is perfect and I wouldn’t have wanted it to go any other way. A Tale of the Time Being is one of those books that I loved SO MUCH that anything I say – no matter how high the praise – makes me worry I’m not doing it justice. Do yourself a favor and buy this book. I don’t have many auto-buy authors, but Ruth Ozeki immediately earned a spot on the list.

Life After Life | my review
Pub Date: April 2, 2013

One day, of course, all this would be consigned to that same history, even the mountains – sand, after all, was the future of rocks. Most people muddled through events and only in retrospect realized their significance. The Führer was different, he was consciously making history for the future. Only a true narcissist could do that. And Speer was designing buildings for Berlin so that they would look good when they were in ruins a thousand years from now, his gift to the Führer.

I typically read a lot of adult novels, but this year seems to have been more YA-centric. That said, the adult novels I’ve read have been AMAZING. Life After Life is not a book you can easily read in a day or two. It’s not a beach read. It’s a gloomy, rainy week read that requires every ounce of focus. Every time Ursula dies, she’s born again. There were a few bits of repetitiveness, but each life held different details and viewpoints. Ursula lived a full life, drowned when she was a child, got married and had children, remained single and took on many lovers, did her part in the Second World War, and became close to Eva Braun and Hitler.

A lesser author would have easily been overwhelmed, but Atkinson took full command of the novel and it all came full-circle. This is a novel built upon layers and most of those aren’t clear until the very end. Everything about this book was fantastic and it’s one I’ll be revisiting again soon.

herosguide The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle (The League of Princes #2) | my review
Pub Date: April 30, 2013

Mere words cannot defeat a true hero. Unless they happen to be the words to some sort of Instant Death spell. Magic is scary.

I hated reviewing this book because, just like A Tale for the Time Being, I was worried I couldn’t do it justice. Storming the Castle starts off right where the first novel ended and didn’t let me down for a moment. As much as I ADORED the first book, I think this one might be even better!

All four Princes Charming (Duncan, Frederic, Liam, & Gustav) and the princesses (Briar Rose, Ella, Snow, & Lila) were back and I hadn’t realized how much I missed them. New characters are introduced and they’re just as fantastic as the returning cast. For a Middle Grade novel, this book was pretty hefty – 500 pages – but I quickly devoured it. Whether you’re new to MG or a seasoned veteran of the genre, I highly recommend this series.

goldenboy Golden Boy | my review
Pub Date: May 21, 2013

When I was little the doctors called me a hermaphrodite. It’s got a lot of stigma, but as a word on its own I like it better. It’s a thing. It’s not between things. It’s an ancient Greek word. It makes me sound old, like we were always around. I like that.

Golden Boy was an emotionally hard-hitting novel and dealt with its subject in an extremely sensitive and graceful way. Max Walker is intersex. He identifies as male, but he has female reproductive organs as well. After a horrific assault, Max discovers he’s pregnant and Golden Boy explores the way Max and his family face his pregnancy.

The novel has a full cast of characters and the chapters are all told from a different perspective. Everyone felt so real and my heart broke many times for Max. Golden Boy is not going to be a novel for every reader, but I’m glad I read it.

outcast Outcast | my review
Pub Date: June 4, 2013

They come out of the sky and take you.
Everyone knows that.

Outcast might just be one of my favorite books period. 2013 had been an awesome year for my favorites so far! I normally don’t do angel books, but this one was different. These angels are downright creepy. For years they’ve been taking people in Riley’s town and one night she sees an angel in her yard. More than willing to defend herself, Riley shoots it and suddenly there’s no longer an angel lying before her. Instead there’s now a naked teenage boy. Over time, the two begin to piece together information – Gabe is fully convinced he’s still in the 1950s – and they begin to come up with a plan for the next year’s Taking.

This book had everything I love: 50s Greasers, not-so-angelic angels, creepy cult-like religions. Everything about Outcast was phenomenal!

HONORABLE MENTIONS (links go to my reviews)
A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty
An incredibly imaginative and original world where colors can attack – and harm – people!
Born of Illusion by Teri Brown
The Roaring 20s, magic, Houdini, and mobsters. Everything about this novel was fantastic.
The Year of Shadows by Claire Legrand
Cheating a bit with this one! Link goes to my goodreads review; the review here will go live in August. It’s Legrand – do I really need to say more?

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