A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle – A lovely, haunting little book set in Ireland, about a girl who meets a family ghost. Doyle’s slightly fantastical meditation on family featured the best dialogue I’ve read in a long time, possibly ever.
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein – Why can I not think of this book without coming to the brink of tears? Because it’s an emotional, beautiful, and harrowing story of female friendship, flying and spying (in WWII).
Lockwood & Co.: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud – Scary, clever, and funny: three words that describe this ghostly investigative story. It was also thrilling and can’t-put-it-down good. In other words, close to perfection.
The Lost Sun by Tessa Gratton – In an alternate version of North America, the biggest celebrities are the Norse gods. When one of them goes missing, two teens set out on an epic roadtrip. On the way they discover their destiny. Now what about that DOESN’T sound awesome? You’re right, nothing.
Mortal Fire by Elizabeth Knox – It took me two tries to get into this cerebral fantasy featuring math prodigy Canny, but once in I was absolutely amazed. It was, quite simply, BRILLIANT.
Rose by Holly Webb – Orphan Rose’s story is funny and touching, and the heroine is clever and plucky. Also, it’s set in Victorian England, and that’s always a draw for me. Somehow, it avoids cliché and settles in at ‘just right.’
Saved by Cake by Marian Keyes – Novelist Marian Keyes’ first cookbook is a darkly funny meditation on cake, depression, and did I mention cake? Laugh out loud fun AND delicious recipes…I really adore that combination.
Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold – This first book in the Vorkosigan saga is a compelling science fiction romance. It’s swoony AND complex, with well-matched characters on a dangerous journey. Heart it!
Sidekicked by John David Anderson – Relatable, hyper-aware Drew stars in this nuanced tale of middle school problems, first crushes, and, oh yeah, advanced superhero sidekick training. It’s perfect for young (and not so young) Marvel fans.
The Silvered by Tanya Huff – Fantastic world-building and an epic journey through a warring landscape seem to be two of my favorite story components. Add in werewolves and a steampunk aesthetic, and you have one hooked reader, right here.
Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton – Think Jane Austen, with dragons. Whatever you’re imagining isn’t even close to the awesome that is Tooth & Claw. I adored it, and have reread it already. Also, many thanks to the lovely Ruby Scarlett, who sent me a new copy to treasure.
Under My Hat edited by Jonathan Strahan – Short stories of witchy magic by some of my favorite authors, all gathered up in one volume? YES. Strahan put together one of the strongest anthologies I’ve ever read.
Written in Red by Anne Bishop – I’ve reread this book twice for a reason. It’s crazy-compelling. I love how Bishop plays with emotion and describes the worlds she writes. Just fantastic.
Were any of these on your list (official or not) for the best of the year?
By random chance and coincidence, there were 13 titles on my list for 2013. I did a bit of a breakdown that may appeal to anyone who is a closet numbers nerd like me. I had 4 middle grade, 4 young adult, and 5 adult books on my list. Twelve were fiction, one was nonfiction. There were 9 female authors, 3 male authors, and one anthology (the editor was male). I also figured out where each of the authors hails from, because I worry that I’m heavily biased towards North America. This year my list included 5 books by Americans, 2 by Brits, 2 by Irish authors, 2 by Canadians, 1 by a Kiwi, and 1 various (the anthology again). Fairly well-rounded, I’d say. I need to get an Aussie on the list next year, though!
And now the fun part: a giveaway! Two winners will receive their choice of any book from my Best of 2013 list (audiobook and/or ebook editions included, as available). To enter, simply fill out the FORM. Giveaway is open internationally, will end on January 31st at 11:59pm EST. Books will be shipped from Amazon or The Book Depository. Winners will be selected randomly and notified via email. Good luck!