What would year-end for a blog look like without some kind of year-end retrospective? Fortunately, I am opinionated and I like making lists, so jump on the bandwagon shall I!
But first! In the Christmas spirit, I will be doing a giveaway for a paperback copy of Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo! By happy chance I have two copies of the book, so I thought why not share the love? The contest will last one week and is for U.S. readers only. Interested? Check out the giveaway here or click the image below!
Now on to the good stuff. These books represent the top ten percent of books I what read this year and naturally all books had a “buy it” recommendation. The list below is divided by genre.
The Wise Man’s Fear (Kingkiller Chronicle #2)- by Patrick Rothfuss – When people discuss epic fantasy, it’s usually to talk about series like A Song of Fire and Ice (Game of Thrones) or maybe the Wheel of Time series. These books deserve to be in that same conversation. When I publish my Worst of 2013 list you’ll see that a common gripe is a lack of world building. This series has that in spades. The “magic” of the world is a rather clever mix of chemistry and magic and as a result, the world we get is less Medieval Times and perhaps what might have been had we had this system instead of the steam power and the industrial revolution. All of the characters are interesting; we get strong women. Kvothe sometimes skirts the line of a being a Stu, but he can be genuinely unlikable and most importantly there are consequences to his actions (even if don’t always get to see it). This series is not perfect, but the storytelling is so spot on and the world so compelling that you don’t care. This is epic fantasy at its finest, and anyone with a hint of interest in this sub-genre absolutely owes it to themselves to check it out.
Vicious – by V.E. Schwab – A book so good that it’s only be out for two months and it’s already been optioned by Ridley Scott’s production company. It’s a rare beast, a tale of powered characters that you really can’t call superheroes. There are no good guys here, only shades of grey. There is a ton of action here, and yet it’s almost a fascinating character study of what happens when you discover that power exists and find a way to harness that power. It’s an absolutely brilliant book and I really hope that it makes it to the silver screen. It absolutely deserves it.
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore – by Robin Sloan – This is a book written by a bibliophile for bibliophiles, especially late Gen-X and early Millennials who can remember a time without the internet and a world without bookstores was more or less unthinkable. This is a book to read when you just want to feel happy. The plot is lightweight, and the ending borders on sappy, but if you don’t feel warm and fuzzy after having read it, I will revoke your book lover’s card.
S. – by Doug Dorst & J.J. Abrams – Yes, I just reviewed it. Yes, it deserves to be on this list. It’s a brave, wildly imaginative book whose production values match up to the grandness of the idea. It’s an amazing, tactile experience and anyone who loves good book owes it to themselves to pick it up.
Young Adult Fantasy
The Rithmatist – by Brandon Sanderson – Sanderson is a rare talent, capable of jumping between young adult (The Rithmatist, Steelheart) and adult (he helped finished The Wheel of Time series, people and his own Mistborn triology) with an easy that most authors aspire to, but never quite manage. Any of his books are worth your time and money, but there is something so immensely creative about a world where magic is literally chalk drawings brought to life and that teaches hard life lessons (no, you don’t always get to be the hero) and worthy life lessons (you may not get to be the hero, but if you work hard, study hard and put your heart into it you can accomplish a hell of a lot in life) without getting preachy or saccharine? It’s amazing. This is a bit on the younger end of YA fic, but honestly, it’s genuinely an all ages book. As an added bonus, the drawings are fantastic at illustrating the “magic.” A wonderful book all around I can’t wait to see a sequel.
Shadow and Bone (Grisha #1)- by Leigh Bardugo – I’m giving away a copy of this book! This should not be a surprise. 🙂 As you’ll see on my worst-of list, one of my biggest gripes with Young Adult genre fair is that world building is generally lazy, lacking or both, generally in favor of an insipid love triangle. This is none of those things. In fact, this is one of the YA books that really could be at home with the “adult” fantasy and fit right in. Alina is a fantastic female lead – smart, brave, grows into her confidence and willing to do what she needs to do. She’s not perfect, she can be uncertain and she has a good moral compass. The author even plays with the traditional YA love triangle – it’s there, but it’s decidedly not the focus and better still, it doesn’t define Alina. Seige and Storm is also excellent and it’s one of the few times in recent memory I find myself legitimately excited for the third and final installment of a YA series.
So there you have it, my top six books! Look forward to hearing your favorites! Don’t forget to enter to win 🙂