Top Ten Tuesday #13

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly meme hosted by  The Broke and the Bookish. Click  here to read more and join!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Click here to read more and join!

This week’s TTT concerns top 10 books I’ve read in 2013. I’ve read under my usual number of books this year, and I might normally have a difficult time choose just 10 books. 2013, however, has not been my best year for reading–it started off well enough, and then I ran smack into one- and two-star books back-to-back-to-back. It frustrated me and stole a bit of my love for reading. I have read more books that aren’t brilliant but I do like, yet those aren’t enough to make my top ten. It’s only recently that I’m regaining enjoyment through some wonderful books, and I have some enticing reads planned out for the next few weeks. For now, though, here are my favorites of 2013:

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I am the Messenger

1. I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
After reading the heart-wrenching tear-jerker, The Book Thief, I wasn’t too sure that Zusak could impress me as much as he did with his 2006 bestseller. Whether he did or didn’t is hardly the point, as I don’t believe the two novels can compare against each other. The two books are profoundly different, and the one similarity they share is the person who wrote them: the wonderfully talented Markus Zusak. I am the Messenger punched my emotions all around, and at the same time, the story of Ed’s journey and personal growth is both touching and inspiring. If you haven’t read The Book Thief, or if you  have and didn’t enjoy it, I highly recommend giving this a try.

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Teeth

2. Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz
For nearly a month, I did a little dance around the bookstore with Teeth only to sit it back on the shelf. I wanted to buy it–not just read it, but physically own it–yet I had little knowledge of the plot. All for the best, I’d say. I did succumb to the strong urge to buy Hannah Moskowitz’s book, and once I had it I read it and didn’t stop until I hit the last page. It’s gritty, it’s beautiful, and it’s bleak. Some might call the end bittersweet… I think it’s just sad, and it still gets my emotions wound up months after finishing the book. Good on you, Moskowitz — I look forward to reading the rest of her novels!

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Siege and Storm

3. Siege & Storm (The Grisha #2) by Leigh Bardugo
Us Grisha fans waited a year to see this book’s publication, but how I wanted it to come out sooner–and desperately. Shadow & Bone remains one of my top favorite reads from 2012, just as Siege & Storm will remains one of my favorites from this year. Leigh Bardugo surprised me senseless and silly with how much growth both the characters and storyline undergo, and my one regret in reading Siege & Storm is reading it too soon and too quickly. Why? Because now all I care for is third (and–sob–last) Grisha book, Ruin & Rising, which does not come out until 2014.

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Saving Francesca

4. Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta
I’m disappointed that it took me this long to read a Melina Marchetta book. I did attempt Finnikin of the Rock–and I admit that just might not be the book for me–but it is Saving Francesca that became my first Marchetta read. It’s  heart-warming and heart-wrenching all at once, and it was well worth the moments my eyes teared up–and it is certainly worth reading for all the moments it made me laugh.

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The Knife of Never Letting Go

5. The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #1) by Patrick Ness
If anyone is searching for a gripping novel, this is for you. It’s an addicting page-turner where there is no place to pause.  The Knife of Never Letting Go is one of the best, if not the best, young adult dystopian novel I have read. Danger and risks await at every page and lurk in the margins, but more than that, I love the writing and I love the characters. Anyone who’s read this will understand my restless upset over Manchee, but I also enjoy the path that Viola’s and Todd’s friendship take. The villains are nothing but insane (and insanely evil), and more than anything, they are indestructible. (What is up with that?) Yikes.

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Warm Bodies

6. Warm Bodies (Warm Bodies #1) by Isaac Marion
No, I still have not seen the movie–but at least I read the book! I’m not sure where Marion will take this in the sequel, whether it will contain the same characters or introduce an entirely set that live in the same universe. Either way, Warm Bodies surprised me with its lucid eloquence and its equally intelligent characters. For a zombie, R shows keen perception of his environment and complex thought, and I enjoyed reading his journey of self-exploration and finding love.

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Dr. Bird's Advice

7. Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos
I took an instant liking toward Rosko’s protagonist, James Whitman. He’s endearing without trying, and he’s likable on an adorable level where I’d hug him if he were real. Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets tells the story of sixteen year old James and his struggle against depression, anxiety, and life itself. (Oh, and his therapist is an imaginary pigeon.) Books of this nature are typically “gritty” and mood-dampeners, but Rosko’s novel takes after the humor found in Ned Vizinni’s It’s Kind of a Funny Story. The story is not without flaws, but I enjoyed reading it nonetheless–and I intend to give it another go this summer.

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Alanna

8. Alanna: The First Adventure (Song of the Lioness #1) by Tamora Pierce
I finally did it: I read a Tamora Pierce novel! Alanna: The First Adventure makes the one and only Pierce novel I have read, but not for long. I have the rest of the series on hand, and–if I’m lucky–I can move onto Pierce’s next series within the next few weeks. Alanna is a strong and determined character who makes an excellent role model for young readers. I wasn’t blown away by the writing or world-building, but it did entertain me — I’m eager to see where Alanna’s journey leads (and I’m excited to read through more of Tamora Pierce’s series)!

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Alex Woods

9. The Universe versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence
The Universe Versus Alex Woods is the most recent book I have finished, and my review is scheduled to post soon — it’s a wonderful coming-of-age story about the very peculiar Alex Woods and his friendship with war veteran Mr. Peterson. The writing sits on the slow but steady side of pacing, yet I find the novel smart like its narrator (even if he is young and naïve).

 

Which of your 2013 reads make the top of your list?

In My Mailbox #7

*If you caught this post yesterday, that’s because my brain fried and couldn’t differentiate SATURDAY from SUNDAY. In other words, I scheduled it for the wrong day. This post is virtually the same, but with the ~pretty~ addition of graphics. Enjoy.

In My Mailbox is a book meme hosted by The Mod Podge Bookshelf. Click here to read more and participate!

In My Mailbox is a book meme hosted by The Mod Podge Bookshelf. Click here to read more and participate!

Earlier in the week I had a five-page, single-spaced research paper due. High volumes of absolute panic shot through me all last weekend–courtesy of procrastination–and I sank into Hermit Mode. I survived on ramen noodles and peanutbutterchocolatebanana shakes, and not a soul dared to disturb me. The only outside contact made was through Skype, which mostly consisted of one-sided research paper complaints–from my end, anyway.  For hours and days, I sat and sat in front of the computer: typing, sitting… typing, sitting. And so on. This cycle repeated for what must have been five days. Five days. Now, with my paper handed in and only finals left to worry about, sitting and typing at the computer is the very last activity I have in mind.

But books arrived in the mailbox and at my doorstep, and I then I found myself creeping through bookstore shelves… Which means one thing: I have new books! All of which I’m eager to share, and so here I am: sitting and typing…

Siege and Storm

I remember when I first read Shadow & Bone and how excited I felt to read a copy. As it happened, the book was released a few days before spring quarter ended, and Shadow & Bone was my reward for surviving pre-calc. This year I figured I’d save Siege & Storm for after finals (June 11th/12th), too. I figured I’d be adult-like and prioritize responsibly, which meant nothing but test prep. Siege & Storm proved too great of a temptation for me, because I read the book anyway. (Expect a review. But after finals. You see me prioritizing?) I delayed study time and blew off a night’s worth of sleep to finish Leigh’s book, and I have no regrets. The second book is a huge improvement from the first–not that I don’t like both–but the series grew up in Siege & Storm. I’m pining for Ruin & Rising already, and how could I not with an ending like that? Instead, I’m settling for a Bone & Shadow re-read.

S&B and TES

I was dumb enough to clump in my order of Shadow & Bone and Sanderson’s book with my Siege & Storm pre-order — otherwise these two would have shown up months ago! I’d hoped to re-read Shadow & Bone before Siege & Storm, but that didn’t work out. I intend to finish off the first Grisha book a second time before writing up  my S&S review, and besides… Since I finished S&S, I am left with a giant, gaping hole of nothingness wondering what to do in life now that I’m out of Grisha reading material. A re-read is exactly what I need.

The Emperor’s Soul has me particularly excited, though. I first learned of it after reading Carl’s convincing review from Stainless Steel Droppings. His commentary urged me to check the story out, and after reading many reviews on several of Sanderson’s other books, it’s difficult to think I’ll feel disappointed. The Emperor’s Soul sounds like an imaginative novella, and I even plan to read The Rithmatist afterward.

The Sweetest Dark

Pretty girls in pretty dresses aren’t exactly my favorite forms of cover art, and I admit that The Sweetest Dark‘s jacket discourages me. It’s the book’s summary, however–aside from the “girl-meets-two-handsome-boys/love triangle” aspect–that caught my interest. Mostly due to the books historical fantasy genre, Shana Abé’s series reminds me of Robin Bridge’s Katerina Trilogy. I can’t say Bridge’s The Unfailing Light impressed me (review to come later), but I did enjoy The Gathering Storm. I have my doubts about The Sweetest Dark, but I hope Abé will prove those doubts wrong.