Best Books of 2013

Books read and to be published in 2014

Shadowplay (Pantomime #2) by Laura Lam

The book I didn’t have time to read, but simply had to force myself to find the time – especially after how lovely Ms Lam was at Brighton WFC and told me I simply had to get it from NetGalley while I still could. It didn’t disappoint! Even better than the first (and that’s saying something) with a new character as a favourite, which was unexpected, as Micah is an amazing MC.

Books read and published in 2013

The Cuckoo’s Calling (Cormoran Strike #1) by Robert Galbraith

Ah, the book that made the internet jump. The news that J. K. Rowling had a new book out and no one knew it was her. That lawyer and his-wife’s-friend (wonder how that friendship is now?) are awful for being so very unprofessional but cheers to them, because otherwise I wouldn’t have heard of this book for who knows how long. This is a book where I kept thinking ‘I need to find out if the author has written anything el– oh wait’, because her writing style was just that different. Picture Idris Elba as the main character, with a good snapshot of life in London and decent characters, and you have a winner.

The Darwin Elevator (Dire Earth Cycle #1) by Jason M. Hough

I came to this book in a strange way, and I’m so glad that I did. It’s dystopian set in a very remote part of Australia for no other reason than the author searched for a place near the equator, then built his novel around it. The ship and places in the town are named for actual places, which gives it ingrained history as we see how things have progressed in their time – Nightcliff is no longer simply a suburb by the sea with expensive houses, it’s now the town meeting place. A slight Firefly feel and certainly different to most scifi/dystopian novels I’ve read recently.

Fearsome Journeys (edited) by Jonathan Strahan

One of the better anthologies, with an excellent short from Scott Lynch – The Effigy Engine: A Tale of the Red Hats – along with other authors such as Saladin Ahmed, Trudi Canavan, K. J. Parker, Kate Eliot, Jeffrey Ford, Robert V. S. Redick, Ellen Klagesh, Glen Cook, Elizabeth Bear, Ellen Kushner & Ysabeau Wilce, and Daniel Abraham. Jonathan Strahan is an editor where no matter what anthology he’s put his name to this time, you can depend on it being worth the time and money.

Him & Me by Jack Whitehall

As is my custom, I always have to buy a book in Heathrow departures lounge, and this time I opted for a book that wouldn’t really work as an ebook anyhow. Jack Whitehall is one of my favourite comedians, and learning of his life with his father co-writing to keep another perspective on the stories was excellent. And hilarious. Co-passengers were probably sick of my muffled snickering throughout the flight.

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

She’s just as good in print as she is online. Allie Brosh is hilarious, and though I tried not to buy any books whilst away in England, I couldn’t help myself. And it was worth it. With new as well as already-online stories to share, Hyperbole and a Half is a book that would appeal to many for her wit and timing and the way she manages to capture something we can all relate to. Especially regarding dogs.

One Small Step: An Anthology of Discoveries (edited) by Tehani Wessely

As the title suggests, each short revolves around a discovery, whether it be a new beginning, or some king of small step towards something greater. All written by Australians and quite engaging, whilst being well presented.

Prickle Moon by Juliet Marillier

A collection of shorts from Juliet Marillier that fit firmly in the hand of her other novels – perfect for someone to sample to see if they’d wish to read her lengthier work. This includes the Sevenwaters novella, ‘’Twixt Firelight and Water’ which is set between books five and six.

A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent by Marie Brennan

The book I started my year on, picking perfectly, in my opinion, as it was easily one of my favourite novels of the year. Set in the year 1895 in a magical realm that’s quite alike Victorian England, where females are expected to be proper and marry well, despite the fact dragons exist and the gentler sex are somehow meant to avoid such notions as wanting to study. Bah. Lady Trent is a marvellous main character, and the writing within is elegant, extremely captivating, and was a joy start to finish. If you love Mary Robinette Kowal’s work, you’ll love this series.

The Republic of Thieves (Gentleman Bastard Sequence #3) by Scott Lynch

And now my actual favourite novel of the year, the long awaited third book in the Gentleman Bastard Sequence. Book two (Red Seas Under Red Skies) ended in the cliffhanger to end all cliffhangers (though perhaps slightly beaten by Sherlock season two cliffhanger – I wonder if Scott would forgive me for saying that) and somehow, book three manages to take us beyond that, continuing on in a way that is believable yet doesn’t lessen what happened in the previous book – we all wondered how he’d manage to write his way out of that one.

We also finally meet Sabetha, the female of the Gentleman Bastard group, who has been spoken of yet not seen in books one and two. Here we start seeing them as children as is the fashion in series (jumping from various points in their timeline) and we see them throughout to when they’re quite a bit older, and then also in the ‘present’. And Sabetha is so fantastic. She’s not perfect – she’s real, just as much of a jerk as Locke and the perfect match. And the twins Calo and Glado are even more hilarious. And Bones. And- I could go on.

Throughout it’s a sturdy book, with the same witty and snarky dialogue we love, seeing yet another part of the world, with the bonus of a bit of playacting – something I’ve always been partial to. The ending of this book however, is beyond my tiny little mind. It still hasn’t sunken in, and I read this months ago. It can’t be true, can it?

The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1) by Brandon Sanderson

This is simple a fun tale that’s easy to visualise, and many can sympathise with the main characters, as most of us would have experienced something we wish to join, and yet (for whatever reason) may not. The characters are likeable and the world easy to picture, and this is, overall, a quick and enjoyable story for younger readers that’s just as enjoyable for older, that may be better for those who love maths. I don’t, I still managed to enjoy it, but I’m just sayin’.

Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2) by Leigh Bardugo

Alina and Mal continue their struggles. This is a second book that doesn’t suffer at all from middle-book syndrome and leaves us desperate for more – book three can’t come soon enough, but until then, there’s a handful of shorts to read: The Witch of Duva, The Tailer and The Too-Clever Fox (my favourite).

Splashdance Silver (Mocklore Chronicles #1) by Tansy Rayner Roberts

This was Tansy’s first published novel which she accomplished at 19, a few years ago now. This year she’s gone back, slightly edited, and re-released it, along with the next two in the series Liquid Gold and Ink Black Magic though Fablecroft. Though in parts you can tell it’s an early novel, as it’s not as brilliant as her later works, gawd is it still brilliant. The characters are excellent, the plot is flowing, and there are countless laugh-out-loud moments.

A Trifle Dead (Café La Femme #1)  by Livia Day

Written by Tansy Rayner Roberts (but writing as Livia Day), set in Tasmania, and very descriptive with food and clothes, this is a rich and amusing crime book with excellent characters that you can’t help but adore, whether it’s the room mate or the love interest – the main character being a given. The dialogue in this is fun, and I can’t wait for the second book to come out!

Vicious by V. E. Schwab

I obtained a 100-page preview of this novel via NetGalley, and from page eight I was quoting lines to my partner and friends, sneaking paragraphs at work and unable to put it down, whilst at the same time forcing myself to because I only had 109 pages and I didn’t want them to be over.

I grabbed the full novel as soon as it was out, and wasn’t disappointed. Again, witty dialogue and compelling characters continue to make novels my favourite without doubt.

The Willful Princess and the Piebald Prince by Robin Hobb

Another gift to myself whilst on holiday, this time the excuse being it’s hard to find a copy of this where I live. It was worth the wait (and weight, in my suitcase), it went beyond all expectations, it was beyond beautiful, and it was such a joy to read. It tells the tale of a legend we hear slightly of in the Farseer books by Robin Hobb, and it gives another depth to the background of it all.

Written in Red (The Others #1) by Anne Bishop

To be honest, for the first 20% or so I couldn’t tell whether I wanted to put it down or not. Asia grated on my nerves to the point where the book wasn’t enjoyable. Then everything else outweighed that, and I found I really love the differences in this book that Bishop has taken time to stress. Yes, there’s vampires and werewolves in this – but they’re not the ones we usually see, and there’s so many others besides.

Books read in 2013 (yet published earlier)

The Dragon Keeper (#1 Rain Wild Chronicles) by Robin Hobb

Hobb manages to write characters who are utterly annoying, and yet you don’t hate reading about them. As this series has a large cast and changes from POV from each chapter, it can be a trial if it means you spend a chunk of the novel reading about someone you care little for – yet Hobb makes it engaging. The same is said for her plot, which is slow in this book, yet if you love her worldbuilding it won’t be a bad thing. Utterly wonderful.

Enchanted (Woodcutter Sisters #1) by Alethea Kontis

Suggested to me by the very awesome Tehani, another friend with whom I have almost identical reading tastes. Many fairytales twisted into one, with a household full of siblings who have their own tale to carry, as they sure aren’t displayed as a gift. One of those quick books you can’t put down, and the words flow so effortlessly you find you’ve finished the novel in almost one sitting.

Quarter Share (Golden Age of the Solar Clipper #1) by Nathan Lowell

Nothing really happens, yet it’s still an entertaining read. At no point does anything massively gone wrong and then things happen to fix it. Possibly because this was originally a podcast. Either way, it’s just… a nice read, with interesting characters, an interesting way of life, and people just being nice to each other for once.

This is Not a Game (Dagmar #1) by Walter Jon Williams

Dagmar Shaw’s job is writing ARGs – massively multi-player games where players access information etc on the web, but sometimes partake in real-world and real-time events, too. It’s all about puzzle-solving and cross-referencing with other players to figure out what the next clue is and how the game’s story is going to unfold. When things go wrong for Dagmar, she finds herself tapping into this Group Mind, and the possibilities inherent in having several tens of thousands of people – bored people with access to the wonders of the internet – willing to work for you if you have something interesting for them.

A very engaging read, and while there’s more in the series, I haven’t had a chance to grab them yet. Looking forward to it, though!

A Waltz for Matilda (Matilda #1) by Jackie French

What a novel. Set in 1984 Matilda really goes through a lot for someone who’s just 12 years old – readers of our world would struggle to relate to such a thing – honestly, read what she goes through. Yet, despite her age and the location she finds herself in, Matilda manages to struggle through in an inspiring way, and the reader learns of Australian history and country as she does so. A wonderful series.

The Whitefire Crossing (Shattered Sigil #1) by Courtney Schafer

Dev, the main character, is a rider who makes journeys back and forth between/over the Whitefire mountains for whomever wishes to hire him. Sometimes he does a bit of smuggling on the side, usually of magical items which are banned. Then he’s asked to smuggle over an actual person, Kiran, and that’s when things get interesting…

Another series I haven’t had the chance to read more of just yet. Quite an excellent tale, especially for a first novel, though the second half of the novel was a little slow. Engaging characters, and I shall certainly be reading on.

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