Thistle (thistle_chaser) wrote,
Thistle
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2013: A Year of Books

I suspect I'm not going to get my current book done by tomorrow night, so I'm going to post this now.

Total books read in 2013: 53. Goal was 50/50bookchallenge, so yay!
"Read" counts as reaching at least the 50% mark (ebook readers usually display a percent instead of a page number, so it's easy to judge that).

Of the 53 I finished:
Loved: 21
Liked: 5
Okay: 6
Disliked: 7
Hated: 14
(For 2014 I want to post a rating, 1-5, when I do the review. For this year, I had to reread my review and make my best guess as to liked/loved/etc.)

New this year:
1) "Book 30" a catch-all "book" for all books I didn't finish, all books too short to count as a real one (like graphic novels), children's books, etc, so I'd get credit but not too much credit for them. 26 books fall into book #30.


The Iron Trail: An Alaskan Romance
Guards! Guards!
Treecat Wars
Shadow Squadron: Elite Infantry
The New Ghostbusters Volume 1
One Hen
Custer's Last Battle: Life in the Buffalo Days
The Compassionate Warrior: Abd el-Kader of Algeria
Goliath's Secret
G.I. JOE Volume 1: Homefront
The Thrilling Adventure Hour
The Art of the Last of Us
It’s a Feudal, Feudal World
Kenta and The Big Wave
Where do I live?
The Troop
G.I. JOE: The Cobra Files Volume 1
The Legend of Korra: The Art of the Animated Series, Book One
Uglies, Choose Your Own Adventures for adults, Flesh Cartel, Doglands
Finders Seekers (Ghatti's Tale)
Surviving the Fog
Thumbprint
Sekret
Lover Eternal (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 2)
Survivors
One Woman Farm

2) "Challenge books". On 50bookchallenge, someone posted a challenge her library was doing.
1. Read a novel by Charles Dickens, born on February 7, 1812.

2. Read a book where one of the main characters is an animal. (This could also be a biography of an animal or a memoir about life with a special pet.)

3. Read a history of a country you'd like to visit.

4. Try a new format: listen to an audiobook, read a graphic novel

5. Read an award-winner.

6. Read a debut novel.

7. Read (or re-read) Pride and Prejudice, first published in January 1813.

8. Read a book published in 1913.

9. Read a book about books.

10. Read a banned, censored or challenged book.

11. Read a memoir by someone you've never heard of.

12. Read something humorous.

13. Read a book about science.

14. Read a book about art.

I did:
Read a book published in 1913: The Iron Trail: An Alaskan Romance
Read a memoir by someone you've never heard of: Letters of a Woman Homesteader
Read a book where one of the main characters is an animal: Call of the Wild/White Fang
Read an award-winner: A number of this year's books won or were nominated for something.
Read a debut novel: The Narrowing Path
Try a new format (listen to an audiobook, read a graphic novel) : Read a few graphic novels.

So I succeeded at the challenge, but only by chance. After the first two books, I decided my reading time was too short to read books I didn't really want to. I'm not going to do this sort of thing again.

So! Now, the big part of the post. All 53 books I read, a quote from my review of each, and a link to the full review.



1) Goliath (book 3 of Leviathan trilogy), by Scott Westerfeld. (Loved)
"I don't think there was one thing I disliked about the trilogy as a whole... except that it ended. I actually said "Noooo!" out loud as I finished the last page."

2) Call of the Wild by Jack London (Liked)
"If Mary Sue and Gary Sue wanted a pet, it would be Buck (the main character/dog from this book). Near the end of the book I skimmed four pages straight describing just how perfect of an animal Buck was."

3) White Fan by Jack London (Liked)
"Unlike Call, it didn't have page after page of "he's so perfect, every muscle was perfect, every hair in his pelt was perfect, his eyes were perfect, his breath was perfect...". White Fang was perfect in most ways, but at least this time London didn't go on and on about it for multiple pages..."

4) Letters of a Woman Homesteader a collection of letters by Elinore Pruitt. Also here. (Okay)
"...it's an incredible look into what the west was like back then [1913]..."

5) Infected: Prey by Andrea Speed (Disliked)
"Earlier this year I read White Fang and Call of the Wild (published in 1915 and 1917), and they were way less dated than this book (published in 2010). At one point the main character said "Every teenager in the world has a MySpace page", and I laughed out loud."

6) Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalup (Loved)
"This was the very rare sort of book that had me saying out loud "This is a very good book" while reading the first paragraph."

7) The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis (Hated)
"Amazon has a quick answer for why I didn't like The Voyage of the Dawn Treader very much. It's listed under:

www.amazon.com › Books › Religion & Spirituality"

8) Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan (Hated)
"The book had such potential, but these idiot characters rarely treated imminent death as anything more than a mild annoyance because it interrupted their angsting about not being with the person they loved."

9) Kazan the Wolf Dog by James Oliver Curwood (Loved)
"... I think somehow the issues made it better. I enjoyed wondering how in the world Curwood came to such inaccurate conclusions. (How does one picture a beaver able to move 10 pounds of stuff with a scoop on its chin? Did he see a beaver once and think its tail end was its front end?)"

10) Chanur's Venture by C. J. Cherryh (Loved)
"This is one of those classic scifi series."

11) Kindred by Octavia E. Butler (Okay)
"It felt like the book was more of an excuse to teach people how wrong and evil slavery was..."

12) Dragon and Thief: The First Dragonback Adventure by Timothy Zahn (Hated)
"If you would name your kid Sapien, you might like this book."

13) Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepety (Loved)
"It feels strange to say I enjoyed a book about a horrible period of time in which people were abused and killed, but I did."

14) Harmony by Satoshi Ito (Hated)
"Eventually it got to the point that the characters were comparing their society to Nazi Germany (Godwin's law...) because apparently the Nazis wanted to wipe cancer out, too."

15) The Last Free Cat by Jon Blake (Hated)
"These two kids outsmart every adult they meet. In a physical fight, they beat multiple cops. The two kids hitch a ride with a trucker. The boy watches the trucker drive. Five minutes into the trip the trucker stops the truck. The boy physically beats the trucker in a fight and then the two kids drive away in the tractor trailer, able to drive perfectly after watching for five minutes."

16) Old Man's War by John Scalzi (Loved)
17) The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi (Loved)
"Now and then I don't want to review a book. It's not that the book is bad, just the opposite: it's that it's so good I know I can't do it justice."

18) The Last Colony by John Scalzi (Liked)
"The rule of this series seems to be: The further I get from the first half of the first book, the less I like the story."

19) Zoe's Tale by John Scalzi (Hated)
"Scalzi said this was the hardest book he ever wrote. I wish he would have given up on it."

20) Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi (Hated)
"Yes, somehow Fuzzy Nation was somehow worse than Zoe's Tale. That's saying something."

21) Terms of Enlistment by Marko Kloos (Liked)
"This part of the book was somewhat less interesting for me. All rah rah military we run 20 miles for fun and piss manly man piss. And guns! Lots of guns! (By this time I had known the author's feelings on [guns], and it colored this part for me.)"

22) Zoo (The Enclosure Chronicles) by Tara Elizabeth Part two of review here. (Hated)
"The author has a title for every chapter. One was " :) ". There is no texting in the book. The kids have no tech at all, all they do is talk. I wanted to drive my head through a wall at that point. Are you so damned lazy you can't figure out some words you want to use as a title? "

23) G.I. JOE: The IDW Collection, Volume 2 (Loved)
"The story was as mature as I could have wanted, and wonderfully dark. Oh so dark. I loved it so much."

24) Tamed by Douglas R. Brown (Okay)
"While the idea of the plot is very, very interesting, unfortunately the author isn't very good. He's not horrible, and happily his grammar is fine and he knows how to use a semicolon, but other than the technical aspects of writing? Sadly he falls short."

25) G.I. Joe: Tales From The Cobra Wars (Loved)
"When I say that five of the seven stories didn't really work for me, it might make the book sound bad, but that's not the case at all. If I had paid for the book, the last story alone would have been worth the money, and one of the others was really enjoyable, too."

25) The Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough (Disliked)
"This was typical of the symbolism in the book -- kind of 'beat you over the head'ish."

27) Clean Slate Complex by Megan Thomason (Loved)
"The main character was a teenage girl, and boy am I tired of reading stories told from their POVs. Snarky, smart-mouthed, sarcastic, confident to a fault -- every teenage girl from a YA book always seems the same. At least this one was the least annoying of all the ones I've read recently."

28) Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (Loved)
"Which leads to what made me sad about the book: OASIS sounded so great, I'd happily live and work in it. "

29) The Narrowing Path by David Normoyle (Loved)
"This was a brutal, dark book, and I loved it."

30) Catchall "book" for all graphic novels, short books, kids' books, etc. See end of list.

31) Blood of the King by Bruce Blake (Liked)
"If you ever played D&D or read a fantasy book, it will be familiar in a good way."

32) Wool by Hugh Howey (Loved)
"I loved the ending so amazingly much. This may be my favorite book story of the year."

33) Graceling by Kristin Cashore (Loved)
"A few people are born Graced -- they're the best in the world at something. It could be something useful, like fighting, designing weapons, riding horses, or it could be something somewhat helpful, like being able to bake the very best cherry pies in the world, or it could be totally useless, like being the best person in the world at spotting pictures in the clouds or counting backwards."

34) The Flesh Cartel, "books" 1-8 by Rachel Haimowitz and Heidi Belleau (Disliked)
"I'm torn as to call these books a scam or not."

35) The Commodore's Daughter by Jamie Brazil (Loved)
"I feel like I just need an explosion of words across the page instead of organized sentences and paragraphs: I REALLY REALLY LIKED IT AND YOU SHOULD READ IT TOO AND JUST TRUST ME ON WHY IT'S ONLY $3 ON AMAZON WHICH IS TOTALLY RIPPING THE AUTHOR OFF SO JUST TRUST ME AND GO READ IT."

36) Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (Loved) Part two of review.
"The problem with trying to describe this book is that every little detail is a spoiler. In fact, I'd encourage you to go to Amazon and buy it without reading the site's review or any customer reviews."

37) Sky Jumpers by Peggy Eddleman (Disliked)
"Unfortunately Sky Jumpers became one of those stories where all the kids outsmart all the adults with an unbelievable ease, where all the adults make stupid decisions, and where none of the action could be believed."

38) The Island by Jill Minkman (Okay)
"So, it was an okay book. Not horrible, not good. Would have been many times better without the "romance"."

39) Island of Fog by Keith Robinson. (Okay)
"In conclusion: It's worth the price [free]. It wasn't a bad book, I just had no emotional connection with it and little drive to finish it."

40) The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Ferengi Rules of Acquisition by Quark (with help from Ira Steven Behr) (Disliked)
"If I had paid for this book, I would feel cheated. (Ironic, huh?)"

41) Dark Lover (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 1) by J.R. Ward (Loved) Part two of review.
"Surprisingly I'm liking the story. A lot. The glossary isn't the author's only sin (her characters are named things like Rhage, Zsadist, Dhestroyer, Vishous, and Phury, which makes me froth at the mouth..."

42) Mind Bond by Julie Haydon (Hated)
"Rereading my post, I feel more frustrated than anything. I still want to read the book I thought this was!"

43) The Songs of Distant Earth by Arthur C. Clarke (Hated)
"I did like Songs a lot at first. The first quarter of the book was nicely science-heavy, but soon enough that fell away and was replaced by nothing but characters I felt nothing for and relationships I didn't care about."

44) Extinct by Ike Hamill (Hated)
"Gods above, the characters (all of them!) were just so stupid. Except the kid. The other main character was a kid who was smarter than anyone else (not really that hard, I guess...). Worst of all, whenever he was in the same scene with adults, the adults got even more stupid just so the kid could look smarter!"

45) The Ask and the Answer (Chaos Walking, book two) by Patrick Ness (Loved)
"A good book, but not as good as the first one."

46) Monsters of Men (Chaos Walking book 3) by Patrick Ness (Loved)
"While this book is marketed as a YA book, there is no way in hell that I would describe it that way. Such serious, violent, dark (sort of -- the kind of dark normal humans in bad situations might do), human things happened!"

47) Three short stories set in the Chaos Walking world by Patrick Ness (Okay.)
"This story also illustrated something I really like about Ness's writing: He can be subtle. He writes adult themes (same sex relationships, physical sexual relationships), that could be missed by younger folks but that adults can see."

48) More Than This by Patrick Ness (Hated)
"I didn't like the characters and didn't buy any of them as real. I even less bought the world as real. The whole book just didn't work for me, no matter how much I wanted to like it."

49) The Cruel Path by David Normoyle (Loved)
"My only disappointment with the book was how short it was. I hadn't realized it wasn't a full book (e-book version), so it ended way, way, way before I was ready for it to."

50) Lord of the Flies (Hated)
"Still, I enjoyed reading the wiki page a lot more than the 60% of the book that I got through, so I suppose it's for the best."

51) The Darkling Sea by James Cambias (Hated)
"It's possible I wasn't the right audience for A Darkling Sea. The men were Macho Men and the women swooned before them (okay, maybe not swooned, but fell in love for no reason)."

52) Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat (Loved)
"This story wouldn't have worked nearly as well if the author hadn't been such a great writer. Every character felt real, every one had a unique voice, and it was great fun keeping track of all of the motives."

52) The Hunger Gays by Nathan Alexander (Disliked)
"If someone had said "I want to rewrite Hunger Games in the worst possible way, while adding in a bunch of very bad, totally unbelievable gay sex", the result would be this book."


I think that covers everything! There are a ton of links, so if something is broken, let me know and I'll track down the right one.

2014 goals:
1) 50 books. I had quit WoW and RPing for a while early in 2013, so I had a lot of reading time for a couple months, which gave me a big leg up on hitting 50 for the year. I suspect it will be more of a challenge in 2014.
2) Accept fewer books for review. Often they come with deadlines to get reviews in, which makes reading them less fun and more like work.

I hope everyone read some great books in 2013 and will get to read even more in 2014!
Tags: 2013 books, 2013 books overview, book review
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