Another year, another set of bookish resolutions. I must say, I did rather well with my 2013 resolutions: I changed over to wordpress, completed the vast majority of my bookish challenges, and even read a lot of favourites. Let’s hope 2014 goes just as well!
1. Read more adult fiction
2013 was my year for YA. And while I adore the genre, I feel like I’ve been really neglecting my urban fantasy shelves. I KNOW this is because I am tempted by the quicker YA reads… but I need to think beyond that! I am missing out on lots of amazing books which, when they are good, take just as “long” to read as YA.
In short: THERE’S NO EXCUSE KAY!
2. Find a Blog Layout I LOVE
Ever since moving to wordpress, I’ve become very fickle with my blog design. I have yet to come up with a layout that I absolutely adore and it is bugging the bejeezus out of me. I have another new one in mind that may work… maybe? Gosh I hope so. Changing layouts is so much work!
3. Keep better track of my series
I read and own a whole tonne of series – so many, that I am starting to get rather confused about which ones I own and which I don’t! So, I have a super-top-secret project in the works to help me keep track… more on that soon!
4. Read some more out-of-my-comfort-zone books
I have shelves and shelves of wonderful novels purchased prior to blogging – most of them literary fiction, non-fiction and classics – that have been neglected since I found my favourite genres. I want to try to read at least ONE of them this year!
5. Finish my bloody goodreads challenge!
Another year has passed without me completing my goodreads challenge… never again!!
Another year, another bookish survey! I love the questions that The Perpetual Page Turner has put together… let’s all take a look at the best in books of 2013!
Best in Books 2013
1. Best Book You Read In 2013? (If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2013 release vs. backlist)
GAH. Ok… this is a tough one. I REALLY want to say Outpost by Ann Aguirre… but then I think about Scarlet by Marissa Meyer and Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs and These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner… and suddenly I’ve forgotten the question.
2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
Probably Blue-Blooded Vamp (Sabina Kane, #5) by Jaye Wells. I adored the first 4 books in the series, but the finale was a let down… not bad, but not as kick-ass as the first books. Oh, also The Rising by Kelley Armstrong. I had been looking forward to that book for THREE YEARS and it just didn’t live up to any of my expectations.
3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013?
Dare You To (Pushing the Limits, #2) by Katie McGarry for sure. I REALLY didn’t expect to enjoy this book – I thought it would be too New Adulty and would get my feminist hackles raised. So glad it didn’t and SO GLAD I picked it up!
4. Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most in 2013?
Probably The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I really loved this book (of course) but the reason I recced it so much was visibility. It is on so many 3-for-2 tables and display windows, it is always easy to point out to people for a recommendation.
5. Best series you discovered in 2013?
Again, GAH. I loved the Heist Society series by Ally Carter and the Pushing the Limits series by Katie McGarry… but I am going to have to go for Susan Ee’s Penryn and the End of Days (Angelfall). Love Love Love her take on the angelic apocalypse!
6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2013?
The lovely Ally Carter gets this honour. This year, I’ve read a whopping SIX of her novels, interviewed her on the blog and met her in person… so needless to say, I have very quickly become a big fan!
7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?
The Adventures of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks was my very first pure comic book. I had read graphic novel adaptations before, but those don’t really count as you already know the character. The Adventures of Superhero Girl was completely out of my comfort zone but I adored it. It gave me a whole new respect for the genre.
8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?
Hmm… no book really comes to mind when I think “thrilling”… but for “unputdownable” I am going again with Dare You To by Katie McGarry. I read that thing in a single 6 hour sitting!
9. Book You Read In 2013 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
I am not a good re-reader. I always WANT to but… there are so many good books out there! So: none. 🙂
10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013?
Gorgeous doesn’t even BEGIN to describe this cover. I mean, I normally hate prom dress covers but this one is so stunning (and relevant to the plot!) that I am willing to be forgiving.
11. Most memorable character in 2013?
I am going to go with my name sake: the star of Ally Carter’s Heist Society novels, Kat! She’s one of the smartest characters I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading and certainly deserves a nod in this survey.
12. Most beautifully written book read in 2013?
I’d have to say Alice Hoffman’s Survival Lessons. This is a beautiful non-fiction book that probably won’t appeal to everyone… but if you’ve recently had a struggle with health issues or perhaps suffered a loss of some sort, you will appreciate it. It’s a beautifully constructed little life saver.
13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013?
Hmm… I stepped away from this question for a good two days as I had no idea how to answer… but then I thought of Jackson Pearce’s Sweetly. I had been so vehemently opposed to her book Sisters Red, it had rather put me off of fairytale retellings altogether. But Sweetly was beautiful and completely changed my mind. So, biggest impact? I’d say so!
14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read?
Endgame by Ann Aguirre, for sure! I read a lot of last-in-the-series books this year, but this one? OMG it was amazing. I can’t believe I waited so long!
15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2013?
Ahem, I’m going to have to say…
16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?
Longest: Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead – 594 pages
Shortest: Survival Lessons by Alice Hoffman – 83 pages
17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!
This is going to win as the weirdest answer ever, but the overwhelming amount of sexism and racism in the Sherlock Holmes novel The Sign of Four had me ranting at everyone. I was going around quoting bits of it to people in shock, waiting for them to share their disgust with me… which never happened. Apparently I’m not supposed to get worked up about these things in books over 100 years old. I’ll tell you what I told them: Jane Austen never resorted to these stereotypes. And neither did Oscar bloody Wilde. For shame, ACD, for shame.
18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).
Wolf and Scarlet (Scarlet by Marissa Meyer) win this award. Yes, Katie McGarry would be an obvious choice for relationships but Meyer’s take on these two just hit home for me. I was clutching this book to my chest and swooning, I kid you not.
19. Favorite Book You Read in 2013 From An Author You’ve Read Previously.
Outpost by Ann Aguirre! It had been over 2 years since I’d read the first book in her AMAZING Razorland trilogy, but I walked right back into the verse like it was yesterday.
20. Best Book You Read In 2013 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:
Survival Lessons by Alice Hoffman – I never, ever would have picked this up had I not been so convincingly pitched it at BEA. Blogger + Blogger + Word of Mouth Rec = Must Read.
21. Genre You Read The Most From in 2013?
22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013?
Zach from Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girl series. I’m only 3 books in but… eep! He’s completely crushworthy, and I can totally see why everyone loves him.
23. Best 2013 debut you read?
I’ll go with Amanda Sun’s Ink for this one. It was a really lovely to see a completely different culture portrayed so faithfully in a mainstream YA novel. Very unique.
24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?
Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman wins this one! I ADORED the verse: it was like Doctor Who meets Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. For such a short children’s novel, it packed a big punch.
25. Book That Was The Most Fun To Read in 2013?
Heist Society wins again! This book was an absolute treat. It was like Ocean’s Eleven only with more adorableness.
26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2013?
I am so boring: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green made me cry about, er, 10 times? It was glorious torture.
27. Book You Read in 2013 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year Or When It Came Out?
I think Ann Aguirre’s Razorland Series – Enclave, Outpost and Horde – doesn’t get anywhere near enough recognition. READ IT PEOPLE!
I hope you are all having a very very Happy Christmas today. I, for one, am at my mother’s for the holiday, enjoying some homemade mulled wine with her and sharing my Christmas lunch with my hounds! Wherever you are, I hope you’re enjoying the holiday just as much.
In bookish news: I seem to have stumbled into a Gallager Girl marathon (Ally Carter)! I may just finish the entire series this month… *gasp*
Lots of love,
Munich Market © Tourismusamt München
Taking part in the annual Virtual Advent tour is an absolute joy; it gives people around the world to share their Christmas experiences and traditions. When I last took part, I shared one of my greatest Christmas memories: watching the classic Bing Crosby/Bob Hope Road movies. This year, I thought I’d take you to the Christmas heartland and the home of the Advent Calendar… Central Europe.
Christmas Market in Salzburg © Dead Book Darling 2013
Central Europe – Germany in particular – is the home of Christmas. Most of our modern Christmas traditions were exported from the Germanic principalities in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Christmas trees? Wreaths? Advent Calendars? Thank the Germans for those! So, of course, it would make sense for Germany to have the “purest” interpretations of our modern Christmas traditions.
In much of Central Europe, Christmas means Christmas markets, hot mulled wine, meeting friends out in the cold and kitsch-to-some-I-just-call-it-lovely decorations. Throughout my childhood, my mother did her very best to recreate this environment wherever we were in the world. Her family is from Bavaria and it is the definition of Christmas she (and I) grew up with. But as wonderful as at-home decorations can be, nothing beats the “real thing”. So this year, we went to Bavaria and Austria for the Christmas season.
Let me just say this: Munich is the very definition of Christmas. The city is covered in Christmas markets – dozens, literally – that are open every single day of the week, starting in late November and ending at the end of the year. Their Christmas markets date back to the fifteenth century and are as popular now as they were then. They are magical places: happy environments were you’ll find people of every generation. They are where you go with your friends, with your parents, with your children… These markets truly embody the Christmas spirit.
Wonderful Christmas Decorations in Salzburg © Dead Book Darling
While I love Christmas all over the world, I really do think there is something special in the air in Bavaria. As Germanic Christmas traditions have been exported to the rest of the world, visiting the country this time of the year feels rather like stepping into the Christmasland! They capture the Christmas spirit in such a genuine way. It doesn’t feel commercialized or over the top… it’s just people celebrating the turn of the season with the people they love.
Christmas Tree in Marienplatz, Munich © Dead Book Darling 2013
I hope this post has introduced a few of you to the magic of Christmas Markets and of Bavarian Christmas. If you can’t jump on a plane, I’d recommend checking out the Virtual Christmas Market tour on the Bavarian tourism site. It’s quite a treat!
The back of “Days of Blood and Starlight” by Laini Taylor is perfectly non-spoilerific. Other summaries, though? They can be pretty bad.
I’ve been reading long enough to know that there are a lot of bad summaries out there: be they in the form of an incorrect literary reference (“It’s just like the Hunger Games except it’s not!”) or by adding in a romantic triangle that doesn’t exist (“Dru can’t choose between the boys… because she doesn’t care!”).
But last week I have had the displeasure of reading a book whose summary has committed the worst of sins: spoilers.
The offending summary can be found on the back of the UK edition of Patricia Briggs’ Hunting Ground – an absolutely amazing book, but one in which the action on the back cover did not take place until 2/3rds the way through the book. To make matters even worse, the summary spoils a major character death from the book*. WTF?
Here’s the offending summary (hidden to protect those of you who wish to remain pure):
View Spoiler »Anna Latham didn’t know how complicated life could get – until she became a werewolf. And now she’s not just part of any pack, but under the direct supervision of Bran, leader of the North American werewolves. And her mate is his son Charles, the pack enforcer.
With all the advances that have been made in forensics, the werewolves will not be able to hide their existence from humans much longer – and Bran wants their coming out party to be on his terms. But his European counterparts don’t see things the same way. Anna and Charles are chosen to represent Bran at a key meeting. But when a French werewolf, one of Bran’s most vocal opponents, is found murdered, Charles’s reputation shoots him to the top of the suspect list. And among the wolves, there is one penalty for breaking the law: death. The killer must be found, or Charles will take the fall.
« Hide Spoiler
Of course summaries are, by their very nature, bound to give away a certain amount of the plot. I understand that. I mean, even saying “Harry Potter is a wizard” is technically a spoiler for the first 4 chapters of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. But that is to be expected. Saying “Harry meets Voldemort in this first book!”, however, is a spoiler I do not expect to find in my summary. And that’s what happens in Hunting Ground.
Spotting this offender made me look back at the summaries for some other books I’ve read recently… and I found another sinner in the pack. This summary for Scarlet by Marissa Meyer not only manages to spoil the ending of Scarlet, it also sets up the plot of the third book, Cress!
View Spoiler »This is not the fairytale you remember. But it’s one you won’t forget. Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. The police have closed her case. The only person Scarlet can turn to is Wolf, a street fighter she does not trust, but they are drawn to each other.
Meanwhile, in New Beijing, Cinder will become the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive – when she breaks out of prison to stay one step ahead of vicious Queen Levana.
As Scarlet and Wolf expose one mystery, they encounter Cinder and a new one unravels. Together they must challenge the evil queen, who will stop at nothing to make Prince Kai her husband, her king, her prisoner . . . « Hide Spoiler
Exactly what drugs were these publishers on when they thought these summaries were a good idea… and how can we get them to rehab?
* It is worth noting that although this summary was on my edition, the US edition seems to have a much better one.