Friday, January 24, 2014

Robin's Top 5 Books of 2013

I read 53 books in 2013 and that doesn't include the unpublished books I read from my writing group and other author friends. Now you might be thinking I must be sitting around on my behind all day long because that is a stinkin' lot of books. Sometimes I wish that were the case, but I do have five kids and a husband to take care of. In actuality, I only "read" about 20% of the books. The rest I listened to on audiobook while running, cleaning, doing laundry, cutting coupons etc. So here they are:

Lola and the Boy Next Door
Of Triton
Anna and the French Kiss
Spy the Lie: Three Former CIA Officers Reveal Their Secrets to Uncloaking Deception
Only the Good Spy Young
Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover
And Then There Were None
I Am the Messenger
Perfect Scoundrels
Uncommon Criminals
Tiger's Destiny
Tiger's Voyage
Tiger's Quest
Félicité Found
The Maze Runner
Life After Theft
I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You
Heist Society
Shine: The Knowing Ones

Since you probably don't have time to read more than 50 books a year, I'm going to give you my top picks for 2013. How do they make it on my list?

1.) They receive at least 4 out of 5 stars.
2.) They keep my interest from first page to last.
3.) They have good taste (not trashy).
4.) They are well-written, well-thought out, and unique in some way.
5.) I would read them again.

Hope you have fun reading them!


Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
4.5 Stars 
Breathtaking, heartbreaking, merrymaking. 
Clockwork Princess truly transported me to a world where I felt the characters were real enough to touch. Cassandra Clare knows how to bring characters and relationships to life. 

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer4.5 Stars
Action-packed, laced with some fun romance. 
This in #2 in the Lunar Chronicles. I am really loving this series. The characters are so alive. The fairy tale elements are a delight to read. I loved discovering how Meyer was able take the story of Little Red Riding Hood and turn it upside down and inside out in a sci-fi world. Scarlet is trying to find her kidnapped grandmother and then has a run in with a man called Wolf, who she ends up liking, but who sometimes wants to eat her. I mean, how did she come up with this stuff?

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
4 Stars
Eye opening, heart wrenching, a good historical read. 
Louis Zamperini goes from boyhood delinquent to talented runner. Thinking he's on his way to his dreams of the Olympics, WWII unfolds and he is drafted into its ranks. His B-42 is downed at sea. Through wisdom, strength, and unending endurance he tries to survive against thirst, hunger, and sharks. His perseverance is tested even longer as he becomes a POW in Japanese territory.

I not a huge fan of non-fiction, but this one definitely turned my head. True stories are sometimes hard to get through because you know that there is no simple answer to complex problems in real life. Reading about Louis (and his friends) helped me understand a different side of WWII from the holocaust and Germany. The suffering of Americans in another part of the world opened my eyes to a strength I didn't think possible. The historical element of this book was brought forth using interesting facts and never-ending action. Glad I took the time to break away from fairy tales and love stories to give this one a chance.

Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson
4.25 Stars
Sweet and fun love story reminiscent of Jane Austen's Emma. 
It was refreshing to read a character who didn't want to give up her dreams of traveling to India and wasn't willing to let society change her mind. The mystery, the flashbacks, the regency time period, the clean romance, the references to music and birds--all these aspects made it worth the read.

Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter 
5 Stars
Funny, clever, quick read.
Yes, this is a young adult book. Yes, it is about a girl who leaves a boarding school (she conned her way into) to help steal back paintings to save her father. Yes, it's a little juvenile in parts. BUT, I totally loved it! I couldn't help laughing out loud in so many parts. I loved how the perspectives changed, and yet you still felt like you could be Katarina, the cool and witty con artist. Don't ask me how the author did it, but I found that I could totally relate to this teenage girl and her plight as a member of this family in the business of stealing. I realize that stealing is wrong and I'm not in support of the Heist Society's lifestyle. That being said, I seriously want to join Katarina's family. Yeah, I'm kind of a little crazy like that. This is #3 in the series, but I have loved each one!

Tiger's Destiny by Colleen Houck (yes, I realize this is #6, but I couldn't resist)
4.5 Stars
A lovely ending to a compelling, adventuresome, intellectually-stimulating, and heart-strings-pulling series. 
This is #4 in the Tiger's Curse series. I'm so pleased with how this book ended! I wasn't sure how Colleen Houck would be able to tie loose ends. Somehow she did. The final battle got my blood pumping and the last scenes with Ren and Kelsey had my heart racing. It was a truly perfect end to this epic romantic fantasy!

Honorable Mention: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo 
4 Stars
A dark and emotional fantasy. I can't wait until the 3rd book, Rise and Ruin.