I know, I know. Another one of those end-of-year lists. How obnoxious. Yet, I can’t seem to stifle my inner list-maker long enough to let this opportunity slide. My one point of order? This is my list of favorite books released this year. I am making no claims that these are the best books of 2013, or that this list is the best list out there. I just happen to think it is.
(Also, this list details books that are new releases for 2013. Here’s a list of books I read in 2013 that weren’t released this year. I liked them a lot so you should totally check out that list.)
The year 2013 was a truly great year because we saw not only two new books by Gail (the second being the sequel to Etiquette & Espionage, Curtsies & Conspiracies), but the beginning of a new series! While the Parasol Protectorate series is not YA, it has definite crossover appeal and I devoured those books. Here is Gail’s new series for YA readers (although all readers will love it), set about 20 years before her Alexia Tarabotti first wielded her dangerous parasol. It can be read completely independently of her other series, but there are some fun character overlaps. Click here to read my review of Etiquette (out now in paperback!), and here to read my review of Curtsies.
New Orleans in 1950 is a bit of a departure from Sepetys’ first book, which explored the Soviets’ mistreatment of their Baltic prisoners during World War II. I’m still not quite sure how she does it, but Sepetys gives her newest book stakes that are just as high as those in her previous novel. While Out of the Easy is an arguably lighter read than Between Shades of Gray, it is also a fascinating and heartbreaking story about how far one girl will go to get an education, and the ties that bind her to New Orleans. This is a really gripping historical fiction novel, and I can’t recommend it—or its author—enough. Click here to read my review of Out of the Easy (out in paperback in April) and here to read my review of Between Shades of Gray (out now in paperback).
This book is by a debut author, but the confidence in this story and the lyricism of the prose would have you think differently. It’s the story of what you would do for someone you loved, what happens if that action demands too much of you, and how you can heal from giving too much of yourself. It’s a hopeful story, and while there is a lot of darkness (further compounded by the setting, the unsettling dark void of deep space), there is also a light at the end that is not unrealistic. This book is out in paperback, and you can read my review here. Also, keep an eye on this author. Her next book is Breaking Sky, and it sounds awesome.
This book is hard to read, but it’s also hard to ignore. I first heard of it and couldn’t get the premise out of my head. I finally read it, and I was blown away by the voice and the energy of this story, and the emotional arc that had me laughing and sobbing. Angie is a girl we can all recognize, in ourselves or in our own lives, and her struggle to express and experience her feelings, she makes so bad choices. She also discovers some really amazing things in this book. I couldn’t stop reading it. Angie stuck with me for weeks after I finished the book. Click here to read my review. Click here to read about what awesome things Charlton-Trujillo is doing for at-risk kids.
This is the time of New Year’s resolutions, and this book couldn’t be more relevant. Seriously. If you've ever gotten stuck in a dress, or told yourself you can lose x-amount of weight just in time for that big event, read this book. Ann’s story may seem like it starts off as weight-loss, love-yourself story, but it will surprise you with its honesty, its humor, its examination of family and why we say and do the things we do when it comes to food. Barson’s story is brisk, funny, and heartfelt, and it will put you in the perfect state of mind to feel healthy about yourself. And, it will make you laugh a lot. Click here to read my review.
Eleanor & Park and Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
To think that a year ago, I had never even heard the name Rainbow Rowell. I first heard about her in BookPage, back in February. I thought Eleanor & Park looked really good, but I was a broke student in her last semester of college, and so I asked for the book for my birthday, in May. By the time I got it, it seemed that I was already late to the “Rainbow Rowell is the Coolest” club. And then, in September, we got ANOTHER new book from her! But seriously, though. Rainbow Rowell is a very skilled and beautiful writer, and the stories she creates are moving and funny and entertaining, and they make the world seem like a better place, despite the fact that she writes about some very dark topics—abuse, mental illness, loneliness, and isolation. Rowell’s books are a reminder than everyone deserves love and life can be unexpectedly awesome. Click here to read my review of Eleanor & Park, and here to read my review of Fangirl.
I don’t think I need to go on and on about how awesome King’s writing is (resisting temptation…). I didn’t think that I could love a book as much as I loved Ask the Passengers, but Reality Boy was brilliant. It’s a book that punches you in the face to get your attention, and once you’re immersed, there’s no coming up for air until the last page. I love how King wrote the scenes from Gerald’s present and his childhood to interact and play off of each other, and the sly way in which she takes clichés—like running off to join the circus—and turns them on their head in this book. Go get a copy. Click here to read my review. (Bonus! King also released a collection of short stories earlier this year called Monica Never Shuts Up. Read my review here.)
Think of all of your favorite tropes and heists and character quirks from the TV show Firefly. Imagine how awesome they would be in a YA book. Here is that YA book. It’s not Firefly in book form, because that would be boring, but it is an irresistible mix of fun, physics, and action aboard a magnificent smuggler ship that will capture your heart much like the cast of Firefly did. Capetta goes beyond that, though: her characters are searching for connection and finding it in unlikely places, and they are confronting strange science that will change their universe. Click here to read my review. Look for the sequel, Unmade, in Fall 2014!
If that title doesn’t get your attention, then the cover will. And if neither of those elements convinces you to put this book on your to-read list, then allow me to elaborate. Blaze is the kickass protagonist you’ve been hoping to find your entire reading life. She’s smart, she’s witty, she’s confident, she loves all things Marvel, and she can still get all girly over a boy. But when that boy doesn’t turn out to be the hero she thought he was, she sets out to expose him for the creep he is. Blaze’s journey isn’t exactly orthodox, and she may be a little naïve when it comes to relationships, but here is a heroine who won’t back down, won’t dumb down, and is proud of her passions. (And also, super hilarious.) Click here to read my review. This book is out in paperback, and Crompton’s next book, The Real Prom Queens of Westfield High, is out in February!
What were some of your favorite books read in 2013? What are you looking forward to in 2014?