This year I read a great deal, since I am still on low energy and need plenty of resting time. I chose many books based on recommendations from friends and family. I also went contrary to my nature and followed the recommendations of Amazon, since I read almost exclusively on a tablet device. Amazon and I have a close, enduring relationship. I pay Amazon lots of money, and it feeds my addiction. There might be something wrong about this relationship, but I can quit anytime I want to.
My taste in novels this year has been quite eclectic, such that you cannot pin me down to any one genre for very long.
This year I returned to some of my favorite contemporary authors, like John Grisham, Jeff Shaara, and David Baldacci. I also picked up a newly discovered novel by the late Pearl S. Buck, who has been a longtime favorite of mine. Loved the Grisham, Shaara, and Baldacci novels; grew very bored with Buck.
John Grisham: Sycamore Row and The Racketeer. Sycamore Row returns to the same characters as in Grisham’s first novel, A Time to Kill. Though the new story has nothing to do with the old, I enjoyed revisiting the characters and watching them have a new legal adventure. At times it moved a bit slowly, but the ending was worth it. The Racketeer involves several intriguing characters and weaves a tale that is fun to follow.
David Baldacci: I stopped reading Baldacci a few years ago when he killed nearly everyone I cared about in Last Man Standing. My husband told me that he liked a new series by Baldacci, the King and Maxwell books. We read King and Maxwell on audio during a road trip. The story included many interesting characters and involved a great story of international intrigue.
Jeff Shaara is always good for a wartime history. I have never met a Shaara book I didn’t like, so I read his World War 2 novels and thoroughly enjoyed them. I’ll pick up his newest Civil War books in 2014. His World War 2 series: No Less Than Victory, The Steel Wave, and The Final Storm.
One of my longtime favorite authors has been Pearl S. Buck. In 2013 her heirs announced that a new manuscript of hers had been found and authenticated. Wanting to see if the book would match her earlier excellence, I read Eternal Wonder. I put it back down about half-read. It was boring and did not hold my interest in the least. What a disappointment.
I was eager to finish the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth, so I picked up Allegiant. The novel answered all my questions from the first two books, Divergent and Insurgent, but not well. I was disappointed; it seemed as if the author was in a hurry to finish the novel, and she didn’t wrap things up well.
Patrick Rothfuss has written a fascinating fantasy novel, The Name of the Wind, which I read in 2012 and loved. His next novel, The Wiseman’s Fear, could probably rate as better than the first. The story is brilliant, and its characters are deep and engrossing. With the exception of a strange interlude into a fairy’s lair, the entire story held together extremely well. I can’t wait to read the third, which comes out in 2014.
Brandon Sanderson writes good fantasy novels, such as his Mistborn series. I thoroughly enjoyed Mistborn (book 1) and Well of Ascension (book 2). I thoroughly recommend these to any fantasy fan.
Alan Bradley continues to write an excellent series on the character Flavia De Luce, an 11-year-old prodigy in post-WW2 England. She is delightful, curious, bright, and humorous, and I love how he weaves an excellent mystery into this young girl’s life. His newest novel, Speaking From Among the Bones, did not disappoint.
The novel Sarum by Edward Rutherford has long been on my reading list, but it always looked too long and boring. This was the year to read lots of books, though, and I piled them on. Sarum is the novel of England, from ancient times to the present. Since Rutherford has to leap from one age to the next in his novel, he can understandably only focus on a few characters for a brief time. Just as I got to enjoy a character, Rutherford leaped ahead a couple of centuries and I lost the character. However, the book was well-written enough that I wanted to read more of his books. I picked up Russka, the novel of Russia. I will read his novel of Ireland next year.
My favorite genre is historical fiction, so I tend to gravitate in that direction when I don’t know where else to go. I launched into my continued love of the Plantagenet and Tudor rulers of England, and some of the books were well-written. Please keep in mind that some of these novels contain some salacious moments and may not be appropriate for teens. (Some may not be appropriate for me either!)
- The Forgotten Queen by DL Bogdan
- The White Princess by Philippa Gregory
- The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir
- The Kingmaker’s Daughter by Philippa Gregory
- Captive Queen: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine by Alison Weir
- A Dangerous Inheritance by Alison Weir
- Stolen Crown by Susan Higginbotham
- Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel
- Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
Not worth reading:
- A Daughter of Warwick by Julie May Ruddock
Some miscellaneous novels were recommended simply due to my past reading choices:
- She Wore Only White by Dorthe Binkert (not worth reading)
- War Brides by Helen Bryan (slow-moving and disjointed)
- The Orchid House by Lucinda Riley
- The Girl on the Cliff by Lucinda Riley
- The Lavender Garden by Lucinda Riley
- Blood and Beauty: The Borgias by Sarah Dunant (horrid)
- Murder on the Eiffel Tower by Claude Izner (boring and predictable)
- The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro
- Bristol House by Beverly Swerling
- The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin (predictable)
- The Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett (great book!)
Finally, a friend challenged me to read something not on any of my lists, namely I, Robot by Isaac Asimov. Though it was never anything like the movie, the book was interesting. Asimov’s science fiction peered into the distant future but used low technology that was available to him at the time, like slide rules and television tubes and paper books.
Our small group Bible study met regularly to discuss the book The Hole in Our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung. I am not, have never been, will never be a fan of the self-help Bible study book or even any topical study book meant for Christians. So getting me to read this book took a lot of effort and coercion on the part of my husband. This book turned out to be pretty good, elaborating on the Reformed view of holiness–sanctification–of the believer.
In all, that looks like 37 books. For a person low on energy, that sounds just about right! Can’t wait to see what I will be reading in 2014! Let me know what you recommend.
One response to “Books recommended, books panned for 2013”
Hi there! I’m glad I happened upon your blog! I love reading and am always looking for new recommendations. That being said, I think I will look up Jeff Shaara, I really enjoy wartime history books and actually haven’t heard of this author before. It’s nice to meet another big historical fiction fan! I think it’s one of my favourite genres because I get a bit of story while also learning some actual history (which in it’s nonfiction form has a tendency to confuse me…I guess it depends on the topic..). =)