Lucky 13: Top Ten (plus three) Reads of 2013

This year I made an effort to expand my reading horizons and in the process I discovered some amazing books! I read or listened to 200 books in 2013 and picking 13 favorites was nearly impossible, but after much fretting, I am finally satisfied with my 2013 “Best Of” list.

1. Favorite Nonfiction:

power of habit

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. I found this book fascinating. The case studies and anecdotes are compelling (and in some cases a little creepy). I found the suggestions and techniques for changing habits to be useful in my own ongoing quest to make healthier choices.

2. Favorite Picture Book:

crayons

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt. My nephews, ages 7, 8, and 9, think that they are getting too old for picture books, but I say you’re never too old for a charming and hilarious story! The letters from Yellow and Orange are my favorite!

3. Favorite Audio:

husband's secret

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty. Don’t let the gorgeous cover fool you, this is not fluff. This story has it all: family drama, hidden secrets, suspense, and even a touch of romance and humor. It was this book, more than anything else, that motivated me to walk the dogs in the recent blizzard-y weather.

4. Favorite YA:

reality boy

Reality Boy by A.S. King. Considering that the majority of my reading is YA, picking just one book for this list was a little painful. I must admit that I have become slightly obsessed with A.S. King’s books. Her books are full of heart-breakingly dysfunctional characters and the their struggles to have better lives. Her stories are powerful and empowering, and not just for teens.

5. Favorite Middle Grade:

hero's guide

The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle by Christopher Healy. This is the hilarious sequel to The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom. The League of Princes is off on another (mis)adventure and once again their leading ladies are there to save the day. Fans of fairy tales, fractured or otherwise, won’t want to miss this series.

6. Favorite Debut:

shadow

In the Shadow of the Blackbird by Cat Winters. I had to sneak another YA book on the list, but I think it will appeal to a wide range of readers. Fans of historical fiction will appreciate the old photographs and vivid descriptions of life during the great Influenza Pandemic of 1918. Readers looking for fright will find a devilishly delightful ghost story!

7. Favorite Historical Fiction:

secret

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton. This book covers the life of one woman, Dorothy, from her youth in pre-WWII England, through the war and into the present day. As she lay dying her daughter makes a startling discovery about her mother’s past. Full of twists and turns, I was guessing right up until the surprising end!

8. Favorite Graphic Novel:

relish

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley. Not sure about the whole graphic novel thing? Ease into them with the delicious memoir! Give this to your favorite foodie (but be sure to read it before you wrap it)!

9. Favorite Science Fiction:

ready player one

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. 80’s pop culture collides with future dystopian America. Virtual reality is the new reality and gamers are battling out for chance to win billions. This book was so much fun and the audio was narrated by Wil Weaton!

10. Favorite Book Recommended by Fellow Librarians at RRPL:

when she woke

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan. This is a modern retelling of The Scarlet Letter with a futuristic science fiction twist. Fascinating!

11. Favorite Mystery:

broken harbor

Broken Harbor by Tana French. This is the fourth book in the Dublin Murder Squad series. I love everything about French’s police procedural novels. The setting is vivid, the characters are well-developed and perfectly flawed, and the mysteries are suspenseful without being gruesome.

12. Favorite Funny Book:

last word

The Last Word by Lisa Lutz. This is the last book in the Spellman Files series and I suggest you start at the beginning. The series stars a highly dysfunctional family of private investigators. Hilarity ensues.

13. Favorite Fiction:

fangirl

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. This is my current favorite book. It is a charming coming-of-age story with lots of family drama, humor, and a sweet romance. This book is like a cozy blanket on a chilly day: you want to dive in and not come out. I realize that sounds cheesy, but I found this book to be so comforting. I have lots of love for Rainbow Rowell.

….and a last minute addition for luck! I promise, no more.

steelheart

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson. This is superhero science fiction. With a twist. Imagine living in a world with only super villains. In Steelheart, ordinary humans develop superhuman talents and use them to enslave and terrorize ordinary people. All but a small handful of people submit. The resistors call themselves The Reckoners and their only goal is to rid the world of Epics. This series opener is amazing!

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

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You’re the Tops!

The list I gift to you has a little bit of everything, variety being the spice!

In alphabetical order by author:

Lost Art of Mixing

Bauermeister, Erica: The Lost Art of Mixing  (fiction)

Curious Garden

Brown, Peter: The Curious Garden  (picture book)

crayons

Daywalt, Drew: The Day the Crayons Quit  (picture book)

Why Grizzly Bears Should Wear Underpants

Inman, Matthew: Why Grizzly Bears Should Wear Underpants  (cartoon collection)

relish

Knisley, Lucy: Relish: My Life in the Kitchen  (graphic novel)

Palacio, R.J.: Wonder (children’s fiction)

Fin & Lady (Signed Edition)

Schine, Cathleen: Fin & Lady (fiction)

Don't Lick the Minivan: And Other Things I Never Thought I'd Say to My Kids

Shirtliffe, Leanne: Don’t Lick the Minivan: and other things I never thought I’d say to my kids (non-fiction)

The Rosie Project

Simsion, Graeme: The Rosie Project (fiction)

Fort Starlight

Zuluaga, Claudia: Fort Starlight (fiction)

— Julie

Stacey’s Thirteen Titles of 2013 (plus two bonus books!)

I can’t help it. I have to stick with the tried and true: organization by author in alphabetical order! This way I can indicate an equal love of all the titles if there is a reason for the order of the list… ta-dah! There fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels, teen, and children’s books, all mixed in together. The one thing they have in common? They’re on my list! (ha!) So here they come:

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
Boys in the Boat by Daniel Brown

How in the world has this not been optioned for a major Hollywood movie? A great-and true!- story of young men who overcame a variety of obstacles to achieve greatness.

The Possibility Dogs: What I Learned from Second-Chance Rescues About Service, Hope, and Healing
The Possibility Dogs by Susannah Charleson
After years of working with search & rescue dogs, the author has begun to train shelter dogs to assist people with medical and emotional issues. This book relates her personal journey with her own animals, as well as those she’s trained, sharing both the happy and sad aspects of caring for four-footed creatures.

Swagger by Carl Deuker
Swagger by Carl Deuker
This book may have been written for teens but I would encourage parents, teachers, and coaches to pick it up as well. An important part of his highschool basketball team, Jonas and his parents must move before his senior year. Jonas thinks making the team at his new school is his biggest challenge -but that’s nothing compared to the troubles he finds himself facing in the end.

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures
Flora and Ulysses by Kate Dicamillo
Adorable! A squirrel gets sucked into a vacuum and comes out a poet? Love that! And Flora is pretty swell too!

Emerald Green (Ruby Red Trilogy Series #3)
Emerald Green by Kerstin Geir
The final book in the trilogy, this story does a great job of providing plenty of action while still wrapping up loose ends and solving the mystery!

From the Kitchen of Half Truth
From the Kitchen of Half Truth by Maria Goodin
The magical story of Meg May and her mom, a lady who loved to take the ordinary and make it into something extraordinary. Too bad Meg only likes verifiable facts.

Wars in Toyland
Wars in Toyland by Joe Harris
When his big brother goes missing, Matthew he will be the one to find Alex. And so the adventure begins! Beautiful illustrations and a clever story make this graphic novel a work of art!

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen
Relish by Lucy Knisley
If you like a little something funny to go with your meal? This is the graphic novel for you! Yes, recipes are included!

The Last Word: A Spellman Novel
Last Word by Lisa Lutz
As the last Spellman book, a much loved series, this was a scary book to read -what if the author ended things badly? But she didn’t! In fact, there’s a smashingly, suprising end -with a twist! Thank you Ms. Lutz!

Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles Series #2)
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
I try not to repeat authors in successive years but -each entry in this series is so strong I couldn’t help myself! This book uses the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale for it’s origin.

Eleanor & Park
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
An unconventional teen love story set in the 1980s, the appropriate time-period details are a nice touch.

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
A fictionalized account of life in Lithuania under Soviet control during World War II. Such a powerful story!

The Execution of Noa P. Singleton
The Execution of Noa P. Singleton by Elizabeth Silver
Noa has already been tried and convicted of murder by the book begins, leaving readers to discover the truth from stories told of the past.

The Engagements
The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan
Did you know a woman named Frances Gerety came up with the slogan “A Diamond is Forever” in 1947? Me either! And the power of a diamond engagement has only increased ever since, as demonstrated by the stories of individual couples through the decades.

and how can i not add:
Better Serving Teens through School Library-Public Library Collaborations
Better Serving Teens through School Library–Public Library Collaborations by Cherie Pandora and Stacey Hayman (Yes! That’s me!) True, it’s most likely to appeal to those who work with teens in school or public libraries but -it was published this year and I’m proud of it!

Please enjoy the week -like I will- and we’ll meet back here next Monday for our regularly scheduled Latest Additions, shall we?

— Stacey