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My Top 10 List – 2013

December 9, 2013

We have just posted our Top 10 Lists for 2013 at Little Professor, so I thought I would share mine with you.  And my boy-nuggets, because why not?  Drew has fairly different taste than I do, so some of you might be interested in his favorite books of the year as well.
These are just print books.  We don’t sell ebooks at the store, so we don’t put any on our list.  I’ll do a non-traditional Top 10 List on Friday.

My List:

WithoutSummerWithout a Summer by Mary Robinette Kowal
This is the third in the Glamourist Histories novels and takes place almost entirely in London.  It is fantastic for anyone who is a fan of the Regency period.  Think Jane Austen meets Harry Potter.
As a dilettante geologist I really appreciate that Mary deals with the Year Without a Summer – in 1816 due to a confluence of events including several volcanic erruptions global temperatures plumitted.  It snowed in Massachusits in June.
Mary does an amazing job of working this historical event into her world.  We also get to see more of Melody, Jane’s exceptionally beautiful sister.  She gets to become her own person rather than being the very flighty cause of minor misfortune as she is in the first book.

questionA Question of Honor by Charles Todd
This is the fifth book in the Bess Crawford series.  (Yes, I like to read series.)  This time, Bess is facing a question of honor that touches on her own family.  While treating wounded in France she is told by a dying Indian sergeant that Lieutenant Wade, a man from her father’s regiment, is still alive.  Bess knows that that is impossible.  Lieutenant Wade escaped from the British Army camp in 1908 after murdering a family while home on leave.  He fled into enemy territory and was presumed killed.  Now, ten years later, there is evidence that he is alive and back in the army.
Bess feels obligated to investigate because if he survived then there would be suspicion cast on her father, who trained him and then failed to apprehend him.  There is also a strong sense of curiosity because Wade had always seemed like the kindest, most thoughtful of men.  How could such a man go on to murder five people, including his own parents?  However, if Bess could recognize him after so long, there is a equally strong possibility that he could recognize her, and take steps to eliminate the danger she poses.


Parasite by Mira Grant
I’ve already talked, at length, about how much I love Parasite, so I won’t go into it again.  I’ll just leave you with a quote from the book:

Shadows dancing all around;
Some things better lost than found.
If you ask the questions, best be sure you want to know.
Some things better left forgot,
Some dreams better left unsought
Knowing the direction doesn’t mean you have to go.

The broken doors can open if you seek them on your own.
My darling boy, be careful now, and don’t go out alone.
(Parasite by Mira Grant – pp 207 & 208)


The Riddle of the Labyrinth by Margalit Fox
This is my only nonfiction on my list this year.  I don’t read very much nonfiction.  It just… Yeah, I don’t really have a good excuse, but for whatever reason I almost never read nonfiction that isn’t for my book club.  This was different.  It was about linguistics!  And archaeology!  And Linear B!  It was just the right kind of nerdy for me.  Let me preface all this by saying I was the one who took linguistics and then went and asked my professor for more morphemics worksheets.  This book takes an already pretty amazing story, the deciphering of Linear B, and adds an underdog element.  Alice Kober, an almost unknown American woman, worked on the script for years, amassing thousands of notes and greatly contributing to the worldwide search for a solution.  Michael Ventris is remembered as being the shining star who deciphered Linear B, but Fox makes a compelling argument that he was standing on the shoulders of people like Kober, who, sadly, did not live long enough to see the secret of the script cracked.
This book would make a wonderful gift for an ancient history buff, a casual linguist, or even someone interested in learning more about the often unsung roles of women in the making and deciphering of history.

steelheartSteelheart by Brandon Sanderson
I haven’t actually reviewed this book yet, and I’m shocked at myself!  It’s Brandon Sanderson’s newest YA and the first one to really be aimed at the upper age range there.  It certainly could be read by the younger folks, but it’s groove is more the 12 and ups.
Steelheart takes place in a world after Calamity.  Calamity being some form of celestial event which gave rise to superpowered individuals known as Epics.  Epics live up to the motto: power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  Chicago  is ruled by the Epic known as Steelheart.  His power is that he can turn anything non-living into steel.  He is said to be invincible, but David has seen Steelheart bleed.  Steelheart bled on the same day that Chicago’s ruling Epic murdered David’s father.  David has spent the years since that day planning the Epic’s downfall.
The only people brave enough to fight the Epics are the Recokners.  David has gathered enough information on their practices to be fairly sure of when their next hit will take place.  He just has to get there, survive the fight between the Reckoners and their target, and avoid getting killed as a spy.  No problem.
I got an early copy of this book and it was fantastic.  It does end on, not so much a cliff hanger, as a sense that you need the next book soon.  Luckily, the next book is already in the works.

arrivalsThe Arrivals by Melissa Marr
I’ve talked about this book before too, which isn’t surprising.  I write a book blog.  Most of my favorite books will probably have been covered on my blog.  The short version is:  A western!  In an alternate dimension!  With Vampires!
It sounds strange.  It’s also strange because Melissa Marr is known for paranormal romance YA.  So what’s she doing writing an adult, paranormal, western?  Well, authors can explore outside their genres.  It’s not nice to pigeonhole people.  Only desks should be pigeonholed.  And then given to me because those desks are awesome!

piratesMagic Marks the Spot by Caroline Carlson
This is Book 1 in The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates series.  (I just got an ARC of Book 2 and I am stupidly excited!)  Hilary Westfield is a perfectly normal young woman.  Her father is a naval man of great repute.  He captures pirates for a living and has plans to send his daughter to a traditional finishing school.  It’s all very civilized.  However, Hilary has a perfectly normal urge to NOT go to finishing school, and instead, go become a pirate.  She has applied to the Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates.  Who have rejected her.  But, Hilary is undaunted.  She is perfectly capable of running away from her fluffy finishing school and setting off on her very own pirate adventure.  And that is exactly what she does.

huntedHunted by Kevin Hearne
I’ve talked about Kevin’s Iron Druid series before and even done a giveaway of the first book.  I love these books.  Hunted is the sixth book in the series.  This is one, unlike the Bess Crawford series, that I would absolutely suggest you read in order.  First of all, why would you ever deprive yourself of any time with Oberon – Best Dog in Fiction Ever?  Next, if you haven’t followed Atticus’s story you’ll be very confused about why there are so many gods hanging around and why they all want to kick Atticus’s ass.  So, go read Hounded, fall in love with the Iron Druid, and then read back up to this point.  Artemis and Diana (yes, we’ve got the Greek and Roman pantheons going here) are after Atticus for interfering with their followers.  Bacchus is after him.  Vampires are after him.  The usual Celtic forces are after him.  And he has to finish up his apprentice’s initiation as druid.  What results is an amazing, haphazard trip across Europe and another great story about the Iron Druid.

blackoutBlackout by Robison Wells
I’ll be honest, books don’t usually scare me.  Sometimes they upset me.  Other times they disturb me.  Frequently they make me cry.  But they rarely scare me.  Blackout scared me.
Rob Wells is the brother of Dan Wells.  I like Dan Wells.  I freaked out at him at a convention once.  And then bought him carrot cake.  But I’ve never met Rob.  I do, however, listen to Rob on his podcast with Dan, Do I Dare to Eat a Peach, so I feel like I know a little bit about him.  I thought, If John Cleever didn’t scare me I should be totally ok with anything Rob comes up with, right?  No.  Wrong.  I was wrong.
Blackout is about kids.  It’s about what happens to kids when a virus spreads through the population and gives them super powers.  It’s about what happens to them when some of those powers are used for terrible things.  It’s about what happens when the government steps in and the population is frightened by the worst acts of terrorism imaginable.
This is not a book for the faint of heart.  I honestly don’t know who is worse, the terrorists or the government.  I don’t know who the good guys are.  And sometimes, I find myself sympathizing with the bad guys.
Jack and Aubrey are just normal kids.  Mostly.  They’re going to a high school dance when all hell breaks loose and the army shows up.  They’re just trying to survive the next month, the next day, the next minute.
Alec and Laura are trained terrorists.  They’re trying to create as much damage and panic as they can before their time is up.
Circumstances throw all four of these kids together and the lines between them get very blurred.

SomethingMoreThanNight_Tregillis_StaehleSomething More than Night by Ian Tregillis
This is a book I’ve been waiting for for almost three years.  It’s a noir mystery set in a Thomas Aquinus heaven.  You know I love a displaced noir (Lowtown anyone?) and this one has been highly anticipated since May of 2011 when I heard Ian read the first chapter at LepreCon out in Phoenix.
Gabriel has been murdered and his trumpet, the Jericho Trumpet, has gone missing.  Why this should matter to Bayliss, a fallen angel with a passion for detective movies, is almost as big a mystery as the murder itself.  But circumstances and the Metatron intervene, making it his problem.
Then there’s the dame, because in this kind of story, there’s always a dame.  Usually one with great legs.  This girl’s name is Molly and Bayliss accidentally killed her.  He was trying, you see, to kill her brother, but Molly went and did something heroic and died.  But in doing that, she because an angel.  Instead of being a quiet, complacent angel like her brother would have been Molly has ideas.  She goes off on her own and gets into trouble that ties her to Bayliss’s investigation.
The Trumpet must be found or Bayliss and Molly may not survive much longer.
It’s amazing.  The tone, the descriptions, the high medieval versions of heaven and the heavenly host.  The Pleorma where the angels live, the way Molly constructs her new home.  The way memories are stored in the architecture of an angel’s dwelling…  I cannot even begin to tell you how amazing this book is.  Please, please, please, just go out and buy it!


Drew’s List
I’m not going to give you descriptions of these because I couldn’t get him to write them up for me.  Just follow the links to get to the Goodreads pages:

Bait  by Kent Messum

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

What the Family Needed by Steven Amsterdam

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

Johannes Cabal: The Fear Institute by Jonathan Howard

Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon

Night Film by Marisha Pessl

Lexicon by Max Barry

N0S4A2 by Joe Hill

Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles by Ron Currie Jr.

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