My Own Personal Book Awards 2013

I know, I know, it’s January 15th already.  Sorry.  It’s been a little crazy around here.

This is the third year I’m running my own personal book awards!  It’s been fun to look back over everything I’ve read and really think about the books at the end of the year.

As always, the books are in no particular order in the categories below, because I find it too hard to choose favorites when it comes to book.

So, without further ado…

Favorite Reads of 2013

1. A Dirty Job
by Christopher Moore

This book is kind of a placeholder for the entire body of Christopher Moore’s work. I <3 him so hard it’s almost painful. So many of his books intertwine with crossover characters and worlds it’s hard to pick a favorite. But there is something particularly magical about this story, and I couldn’t be happier that there’s a sequel due out in 2014!

2.  11/22/63
by Stephen King 

Say what you will about Stephen King’s recent books–no doubt it’s all been said before anyway. This one was so intensely researched and beautifully crafted, I have a hard time believing anyone would find major fault with it.  Was it a bit slow at times, maybe. Was it so immersive in the historical period that I would have followed the main character anywhere? Oh yeah. I’ve never been that interested in the assassination the way some people are, but man did this book suck me in!

3.  Code Name Verity
by Elizabeth Wein 

It’s been months since I finished this book and I can still come to the verge of tears if I think about it too long. It was a tour de force. Like nothing I’ve ever read. It lived up to the hype, and then went on to blow my expectations up in my face–so so powerful. And if you’re an audiobook person, this is a masterwork. The readers are so perfect.  It’s like listening to the greatest actresses you’ve ever seen on stage or screen.

4.  World War Z
by Max Brooks

I only regret it took me so long to discover this book. I came to it through the movie, sadly, and the book was something I started listening to because my husband already had it in our audible account. Wow. This is NOT what I expected a zombie book to be. At all. Don’t be put off by the subject matter. And once again, if you’re an audiobook person–hell, even if you’re not–this audiobook is state of the art. An impressive cast of celebrity readers. I loved it.  LOVED it. And I’ve become a little obsessed with surviving the zombie apocalypse since I finished.

5.  Just One Day
by Gayle Forman

I think that Gayle Forman might be a wizard. She does magic with words. I read Just One Day and Just One Year, and while I love them as a duo, I really loved the character of Allyson, so I had to choose the first one as my favorite. This book made me want to go back to Paris so badly! I loved Allyson’s development throughout the story and how much she really came into her own. A great read.

Five Books That Made Me Feel Like a Hack as a Writer in 2013

1.  Code Name Verity
by Elizabeth Wein

To say that Wein created an innovative structure would be like saying Michaelangelo was pretty handy with a paint brush.  This book is a masterwork, truly.  I think it should be required reading in high schools and colleges.  I have rarely been so haunted by a book.  Rarely suffered such book hangover.  I want to sit at Wein’s knee and try to absorb some of her skill.

2.  Good Omens
by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman

Once again, Neil Gaiman appears in this category.  As I said last year, if Gaiman doesn’t make you feel a little bit like a hack as a writer, you’re probably not reading very carefully.  Working with Terry Pratchett, he creates a world so full of creative characters, humor, bizarre occurrances, and tightly woven mythology that you’ll hardly believe it’s not real.  Brilliant, hilarious, so fun.

3.  Fangirl
by Rainbow Rowell

Is Rainbow Rowell the best writer on earth?  Probably not. But somehow, she takes the same words we all have at our disposal, and puts them together in such a way that you fall in love with her characters.  I know everyone went nuts over Eleanor & Park, and I read that, too, but Fangirl just felt so real to me! I related to Cath even when I was so mad at her!

4.  Fool
by Christopher Moore

And once again Christopher Moore hits this category.  As much as I love his contemporary stories, his historical retellings make my jaw hang loose.  How he manages to write in a (admittedly not exact) Shakespearean style while still maintaining his signature silliness and engaging characters is beyond me!  This is another book with an upcoming sequel and I am fairly gagging for it!

5.  World War Z
by Max Brooks

I know, a zombie novel.  What blew me away about this book was the amazing variety of voices in the interviews.  Brooks created totally believable characters from all around the world in the most unbelievable situation you can think of.  The complex socio-political environment he creates is unparalleled.  I loved this book so hard, while simultaneously gnashing my teeth over my inability to think of plots this complex.

Favorite Female Characters of 2013

1.  Cath from Fangirl
by Rainbow Rowell

I related so strongly to Cath is was almost uncomfortable at times. I was a lot like her as a freshman in college (though I was not an internationally famous secret fanfic writer). She was real down to the last drop. Although it was kind of a “small” story (no alien invasions, secret babies, etc) I found myself wondering what would happen to her next.

2.  Allyson (“Lulu”) from Just One Day
by Leila Sales

Here’s another character I related to hard.  Such a good girl who wants so badly to be anything else. I loved following her on her journey through spontaneity and the painful recovery from it.  Lulu and I could be besties. We should be.

3 & 4.  Queenie and Maddie from Code Name Verity
by Elizabeth Wein

Rarely have I felt so passionately about characters as I did about the ones in this book.  Queenie and Maddie.  I’m getting choked up just thinking about them as I write this.  They are so richly developed, so brave, so perfect for their time and yet still compelling to a modern reader.  Elizabeth Wein, my hat’s off to you for all time.

5.  Amy from A Million Suns
by Beth Revis

I’m so late to the Across the Universe series, it’s embarrassing. But man, I loves me some Amy! She is realistically spunky, smart, emotional without being moody…she’s the kind of character I’d like to see more of in books.


Favorite Male Characters of 2013

1.  Willem from Just One Day/Just One Year by Gayle Forman

I’m not sure I’d actually want to date Willem, but for a book boyfriend, he’s pretty freakin’ dreamy.  I love a man with an accent, and then he does Shakespeare?  Please.  Where do I sign?  I can do without the obvious player status, but other than that, yum.

2.  Park from Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

No one has ever made holding hands sound as good as Park.  He is so adorably nerdy and so loyal and sweet!  I can’t decide if I want to make him my book boyfriend or keep him as a pet.  You know what I mean?  Oh Park you sweetie!

3.  Ben/Zombie from The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

I like Ben’s honesty.  There was just something about him that compelled me.  I thought he was the best character in the book.  The affection he had for his sister and the way he took on Sammy as a surrogate sibling.  It might not be the best alien invasion novel ever, but I liked Ben enough to put him on the list.  Evan on the other hand, be gone with you.  You annoy me.

4.  Devin from Joyland by Stephen King

If I hadn’t read so many great books this year, this one might have made the top 5 list overall.  There was just something so atmospheric and immersive about it.  And the pulp-inspired cover?  Please!  How fantastic is that?  Dev was such a great character.  The kind of guy you’d like to know in real life.  The perfect amount of youthful obsession with the ex-girlfriend without going into annoying territory.  He was brave but humble, interesting, and relatable.  Great character.


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