2013 ended on a pretty low note, reading-wise. I tried to read two Eva Ibbotson novels and wound up DNF’ing both of them. A Countess Below Stairs failed the 50 page test; The Morning Gift fared slightly better, but also ended up on the discard pile (for the end of The Great Book Purge of 2013…which is morphing now into TGBP13-14). While I was interested in the story and Ibbotson’s treatment of Jewish refugees in England in light of her own life experience, I found the heroine to be pretty Mary Sue-ish.
Earlier in the month I finished Garry Disher’s Whispering Death, a mystery set on Australia’s Mornington Peninsula. I enjoyed the mystery as I read it, especially the way the disparate threads all tied together in the end. I even liked the way some questions were left unanswered about the history that came for a few of the characters outside the scope of the book. I do think there may be some backstory to Inspector Hal Challis that might impact how readers perceive him in this book, so it might be worth reading the series in order.
I haven’t finished my post on AAR’s Top 100 list; it’s about half finished. Starting from my posts the last time they did the poll was tempting, but since my opinions of various books have changed over time, I decided to start from scratch.
Best of 2013 (published in 2013)
- Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch — I’m not sure it’s fair to include this book, since it won’t be published in the US until February 2014, but it was actually published in the UK in 2013 so it counts. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. There were some technical flaws in this book that tighter copy editing would have helped, but I do think Aaronovitch is an excellent storyteller.
- American Savage: Insights, Slights, and Fights on Faith, Sex, Love, and Politics by Dan Savage.
- Spook Squad by Jordan Castillo Price
- I’m still inching through Jeremy Scahill’s Dirty Wars; I can’t read too much at a time because I find it demoralizing.
Best of 2013 (published before 2013)
- My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger
- Sacred by Dennis Lehane
- Wicked Gentlemen by Ginn Hale
Strictly speaking, none of these books are genre romance, even though a couple of them have been widely read or recommended by romance readers. I’m not entirely shocked by this, since I’ve been less enthused about what’s getting published by romance imprints this year. I’ve got some hope for the coming year, since Carla Kelly has a new historical coming out.
Several series that I usually anticipate have edged off my auto-buy list: the In Death series feels like it has come to a resting place for me as a reader; I’m bored by the Archie/Gretchen dynamic in Chelsea Cain’s series (unchanging, feels stale); etc.