2013 End of Year Book Survey

1. Best book you read in 2013?

I gave the following books five stars on Goodreads:

2. Book you were excited about & thought you were going to love more but didn’t?

Ash by Malinda Lo. I love a good Cinderella retelling but wound up being bored by it in the end.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013? 

Permission Slips by Sherri Shepherd. I had zero expectations, and I had no idea Sherri is as funny as she is.

4. Book you recommended to people most in 2013?

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

5. Best series you discovered in 2013?

Apparently, A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty is the first of a trilogy, and I thought that book was just delightful, so that pleases me.

6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2013?

Rainbow Rowell. Read two of her books (E&P and The Attachments), enjoyed them both.

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

Probably The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot best qualifies here. Super interesting and totally not my normal fare.

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2012?

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty. Once I got past the first few chapters (too many characters! few of them that important!), I was wholly absorbed in the book and wanted to see how everything would shake out.

9. Book you read in 2013 that you are most likely to re-read next year?

I’m not a big re-reader, and I probably wouldn’t re-read any of these books next year. But the books I’m most likely to reread sometime in the future are Eleanor & Park and Book of a Thousand Days.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013?

The Selection by Kiera Cass   Aya in Yop City by Marguerite Abouet

11. Most memorable character in 2013? 

Tik Tok from Tiger Lily. Yes.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2013?

Eleanor & Park

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013? 

Make Just One Change by Dan Rothstein (reviewed on my teaching blog) completely changed how I taught my course this fall.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read?

Everything I read was either new to me or completely off my radar, so.

15. Favorite passage/quote from a book you read in 2013?

None really stood out to me this year.

16. Shortest & longest book you read in 2013?

Longest was The House of Hades by Rick Riordan; shortest was Junie B. Jones Is (Almost) a Flower Girl by Barbara Park.

17. Book that had a scene in it that had you reeling and dying to talk to somebody about it? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

  • the ending & epilogue/final chapter to The Husband’s Secret
  • Eleanor & Park–just…everything

18. Favorite relationship from a book you read in 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc)?

Eleanor & Park as well as Park’s relationships with his parents in E&P, Tik Tok and Tiger Lily in Tiger Lily, and James and Raleigh in Silver Sparrow.

19. Favorite book you read in 2013 from an author you read previously?

Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale

20. Best book you read that you read based SOLELY on a recommendation from somebody else?

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple — I read it because Jasmine told me to.

End of Year Mini Reviews: Saints, Aya, and The House of Hades

I haven’t written a proper review since October?! That’s just not on. Especially considering I have read a ton of books since then. Me and this blog have a lot to hash out in the next few days/weeks. In the meantime, here are some mini reviews.

Saints by Gene Luen Yang

1. Saints by Gene Luen Yang – This is half of a two-part series about the Boxer Rebellion in China. I thought the two books would come in together, but I guess whoever had the first book wasn’t done with it. I was planning to read them as a set, though.

What I liked about this book is how small in scale it is, even though it deals with a huge conflict. Saints follows Four-Girl as she discovers Christianity and leaves her family’s home. I really liked that she is not really directly engaged with the rebellion and is instead just trying to figure out her place in the world. The rebellion does directly touch her life, but the focus of the novel is on her day-to-day struggle to fit in with her family and community. So often stories about war are, you know, about war, so that was a pleasant surprise. Another unexpected and interesting approach Yang takes is with regards to Four-Girl’s conversion to Christianity. It’s less about spirituality and more about protection and rebellion. As far as the art goes, the graphics are delightful as usual. I love Yang’s artistic style.


Aya in Yop City by Marguerite Abouet

2. Aya: Life in Yop City by Marguerite Abouet (illustrated by Clément Oubrerie) – It took me a little while to get into this slice of life graphic novel set in the Ivory Coast during the late 1970s–mostly because the artwork inside the novel isn’t quite as detailed as the cover, so that was disappointing. The novel also doesn’t really have a clear plot right away; it mostly establishes the setting and relationships in the beginning. Once the relationships and setting are established, the drama starts to pick up, and I became much more interested. The main takeaway of course is that people are the same everywhere. Some of the cultural mores are different, yes, but, in general, Aya and her friends/family deal with family, work, and societal drama. There’s a “who’s the daddy?” plot, a plot about a boy who disappoints his father, several plots about infidelity, etc. I mean, you know, the usual. By the end I was engaged, but I’m not necessarily interested in picking up the next part of the collection.


House of Hades by Rick Riordan

3. The House of Hades by Rick Riordan – I continue to be delighted by this series and by Rick Riordan. The best part of this book is that all of the demigods get a chance to narrate so the story feels more balanced, and a lot of character development happens. I have to give Riordan props for anticipating my needs/wants as a reader as well. At one point, I found myself thinking, “Man, I really miss [specific character]” and then that character showed up within a couple of chapters. I also started getting annoyed with how heteronormative all of the characters/relationships are, and then he introduced a gay character. So I have much respect for Riordan as an author based on those two instances alone. Also: plot, characters, etc. I’m also starting to warm up a lot more to the characters I didn’t feel a proclivity towards, so that’s nice as well. I’m looking forward to seeing how everything shakes out.

I did read more books than the three featured here, but I’m trying to figure out the best way to discuss them. Mostly, with them, I’m concerned with certain patterns or trends I noticed, so they aren’t really fit for typical reviews, I think. We shall see.