I was inspired by Gail Carriger to do a post about what I enjoyed in 2013. This will be a mix of short stories, books and comics I enjoyed last year. Since I didn’t start this blog til September last year, I will draw on my goodreads reviews as well as the posts here.
As I said in an earlier post I read 87 books last year and GoodReads says I read 151 things all together, so I had plenty to choose from. I have decided that if I only read the newest book in the series this year, I might still recommend the series because I love long series. The reads are in no particular order.
The longer works
The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
Young adult, dystopian science fiction
I didn’t think I would, but I greatly enjoyed The Hunger Games series in December. The story sucked me in and refused to let go before I had read all three books. I love that for once it made sense why a teenage girl could save the country. The story was dark and grim but also really uplifting and had a lot of hope. I really enjoyed the way Katniss struggled with her place in the world. Read my review here.
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
Science fiction, galactic empire
I think this was the best book I read last year. It was so refreshing, clever and entertaining. I will once again liken this to Dune. The main character is so different from most other science fiction I have read, but her motives are still very understandable. Loved the way Leckie played with the language and played with our perception of gender. This makes it sound it is a really high-brow read, but it is also so entertaining and have tons of action and definitely a sense of wonder. Read my review here.
Near future science fiction, short stories
3 books of short stories set in the same near future setting. The America as we know it has slowly collapsed and from its ashes something new of course arises. This series is about what kinds of societies might arise after peak oil and the nation has collapsed. The stories are so well written and are thought-provoking. If you find genetic engineering, the green movement, augmented reality, artificial intelligence or a million of the other themes at all interesting, you should give it a read/listen. The stories are written by authors like: Jay Lake, John Scalzi, Elizabeth Bear, Mary Robinette Kowal, Tobias Buckell, Seanan McGuire and more. Read my reviews of book 1, book 2 and book 3.
Milkweed Triptych series by Ian Tregillis
Alternative history, fantasy/science fiction
The last book in the Milkweed Triptych series came out this year, so I finally got around to read book 2 as well. This is alternative story starting in Great Britain under World War 2. Britain employs warlocks and Germany superhumans with battery driven powers. They are highly entertaining books, that had me on my edge of my seat the whole time. I have recommended them to a number of people and they all really enjoyed them. Read my full review.
October Daye series by Seanan McGuire
Book 7 of the October Daye series came out this year. It is one of my favourite urban fantasy series and I reread all of it in 2013. Wonderful series with a determined female protagonist As I have said before I really like stories of the fay. In the October Daye series McGuire mixes the procedural drama and fay court politics worthy of any political epic fantasy novel. There is backstabbing and intrigue but also strong friendships and loyalty.
Kara Gillian series by Diana Rowland
I read all of this series in about a month this year and it had me glued to the pages. The female protagonist is a very capable police officer who summons demons in her spare time. She has to hold her own in a male dominated world but has good male friends who has her back. She also have a friendship with another female and a strong relationship with her aunt. There is a good mystery, it is funny, entertaining and has great snark. This is very much in the angry trousers category and it is very good.
Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey
Science fiction, urban, dystopia
This is a the first of a two book series, but the first book is definitely the best and can be read on its own. This is set after the US militarised a zone around their border to Mexico. The book takes place in a forgotten city inside of that zone. It is such a beautiful tale! It had me raw with emotion, crying my eyes out at times and smiling brightly at others. The protagonist is a very unusual girl. It is kind of a superhero tale, but in many ways it isn’t.
Glamourist Histories by Mary Robinette Kowal
Gaslight fantasy, historical fantasy, Fantasy of manners
I read all 3 books in 3 days, so they are definitely page turners. I don’t think you will like them unless you find the regency period interesting. Kowal shows us a window into another time and sprinkle it with magic. The magic in these books are all illusions that works very well as a womanly art. I greatly enjoyed them and has since consumed pretty much everything that Kowal puts out. Read my review here.
The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross
Urban fantasy, Lovecraftian
So far I have read 2½ story (still reading the last one) as a part of the Laundry Files which is a series set in London in a world where the Cthulhu mythos is slowly creeping into the world. The protagonist is working for a government agency that deals with that kind of crap. They are quite entertaining and funny. If you like science babble I think you will enjoy this. Bob Howard is explaining how the crazy stuff is working in scientific terms and I have to say my high school physics is enough to follow most of it and it doesn’t really slow down the story. The cover of the first book makes it look like early 90s science fiction, don’t let that scare you. Read my review of the short story Equoid set in this universe. My review of the first book is here.
Georgina Kincaid series by Richelle Mead
Urban fantasy, paranormal romance
I read the series with a speed of one book a day, so they are fast reads and very enjoyable. The female protagonist is a bookstore clerk and a succubus and the book has a lot of book love in it. It is a fun and light read. There is a big romance plot. The series is quite entertaining quick reads. They are quite dark in places and there is surprisingly little sex for a succubus book. If you want succubus sex, watch Lost Girl (also quite recommended). There is a cool society of angels and demons in Seattle and lots of fun banter.
Peter Grant series by Ben Aaronovitch
I find this series quite funny and greatly enjoyable. Not all the books are equally strong, but they are all enjoyable. Police procedural with a strong sense of place. London is almost a character in the book, in much the same way as in Neverwhere. Or male protagonist is at the start of the first novel he is not particularly good at anything but he got a soft hard, but quite a few flaws as well. So far there are four books in the series.
Magic Ex Libris by Jim C. Hines
This series has a unique magic system and is a great fun adventure story, with some chewy enough bits to keep me interested. Our male protagonist works for an agency/secret organization that works to keep the magic of books under control. The book is entertaining and exciting and quite funny. I read the second book, Codex Born, in December and found it as enjoyable.
Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger
Steampunk, fantasy of manners
Do you like fun? I like fun, so of course I love Carriger’s Finishing School series. They are set in a steampunk version of the 1860s. They are boarding school books about a spy finishing school. They have some great female characters and feature female friendship as an important part of the plot. They are humours and funny. They are also full of fashion, steampunk devices and adventure. Read my review of the second book Curtsies & Conspiracies here.
Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold Story of English by John H. McWhorter
A great little entertaining book about the history of English. Very much worth a listen. The audio book is narrated by the author and that is a big plus for this book. Quite a lot of the jokes defiantly comes out better in the audiobook version than they would in print.
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
This was one of my favourite reads of December. It is a very emotional book made up a vigentes of scenes from two interwoven lives. The time traveler’s and his wife’s. One lived out of order and the other lived waiting for him to show up. It is a story of longing and quite a sad story, but it is also very funny and has a lot of happiness in it as well. If you like me have been living under a rock, I recommend you read it. Read my full review here.
Velveteen vs. The Junior Super Patriots by Seanan McGuire
This is a book about a teenage superhero who retired to get away from the celebrity circus but are drawn back into the world by events beyond her control. It is a highly funny, emotional and entertaining book. The book thinks a lot about exploitation of child-stars and about how we dehumanize idols. Two word review: Chewy and funny. If you want to read the long review it is here.
Battle Magic by Tamora Pierce
To me it wouldn’t be a good reading year, without some Tamora Pierce thrown in for good measure. So I am of course going to recommend her newest book. A great book full of strong emotions, beautiful travels so vivid you feel yourself transported and a growing sense of tension building up over the book because it is a prequel to later books. Read my full review here.
Saga by Brian K. Vaughan (Writer) & Fiona Staples (Illustrator)
Comic/graphic novel, science fiction
I am not a huge comics fan, but I really enjoyed Saga. The drawings are magical and the story is really interesting. The two protagonists are fleeing from their planet with their newborn baby on the arm from the most crazy creatures who are out to kill them because they are a dangerous symbol, and symbols are dangerous. And it won tons of awards last year.
The short stories
The Battle of Candle Arc by Yoon Ha Lee
I think it was wonderful to read a military Sci fi story that was not about the battle but still let it play a key role. And I also liked the terminology riffs – I love it when writers assumes that their readers are smart enough to follow them. I found it really refreshing to have this level of emotion in a military story. It is probably the best short story I have read all year. I adore Lee’s stories, they are always so fresh and emotional.
Before and After by Ken Liu
This story was a piece of stunt writing – it is all one long sentence. Like a flow of conciseness. And it worked really well. I particularly liked the last bit where it mused about thinking back being a bit like a run-on sentence. Do you have 10 minutes? I am sure you do, you should go read this cool little piece of flash fiction, it is just under 700 words. Read my full review here.
Sing by Karin Tidbeck
I find it hard to describe this story, but it is about love, parasites, and finding a home. It is a chewy short stories that make me think and are well told. It is a science fiction story told in a universe where humanity is everywhere and live on the most unlikely words. Read my full review here.
And Their Lips Rang with the Sun by Amal El-Mohtar. The story transported me to a land of blazing sun, ripe figs and flat roofed cities. The language was just poetic without being flowery and it was just beautiful. The story as well was beautiful. Read my full review here.
Of Alternate Adventures and Memory by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz. As the title suggest this story was about memory, but perhaps more accurately it is about the act of remembering as a society or choosing to forget.
This is Why We Jump by Jacob Clifton. This a story about home, about motherhood, about non-conformism and more. This was a thought provoking story set in deep space. It had me mesmerized even when I was walking through the busy cityscape.