Top 10 Books of 2013

Even though I ended the year without a bang, I still had a pretty spectacular year in books. I recently sat down and stared at my Goodreads 2013 shelf  thinking this list would be hard to compile, but not so much. Ten books immediately jumped out at me, and now I get to share them with y’all! They are also in completely random order and quotes are from my own reviews.

Without further ado:

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#1 – Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

A BOOK FILLED WITH AWESOME. Richly layered, such amazing attention to detail, great sense of place. I want to read everything about geisha history and culture.

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#2 – A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Francie is my new favorite heroine of all time. Her sad moments are filled with joy, her happy moments sobered by sorrow. She’s independent, smart, and dreamily lonely. Her story is both tragic and uplifting. I wanted to crawl inside this novel and live there forever.

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#3 – Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

I like to think of Walter as a storytelling magician.

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#4 – Heft by Liz Moore

She writes people filled with a gritty humanity that makes you yearn for a happy ending. Kel and Arthur go through so many trials and push through so many obstacles that you barely understand how they are still surviving. But they are surviving and it is spectacular.

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#5 – Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

So many tears – an ugly cry that I haven’t cried in a long time. Her ending is difficult, layered, and will leave at least a tiny hole in your heart, but I never really yearned for a different conclusion.

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#6 – Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Hartman has built a world that was an absolute pleasure to visit. I wanted souvenirs!

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#7 – The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

I sat down the next evening and read it in one sitting. Four hours that ran the emotional gamut. READ. THIS. BOOK.

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#8 – The Illusion of Separateness by Simon Van Booy

The man can destroy you in six words and rebuild whole worlds in just six more. Talent oozes from every single sentence.

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#9 – The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

So many of The Goldfinch’scharacters are a slave to their own artistic endeavors – Hobie and his restoration, Pippa and her music – and arguably, Donna Tartt and her writing. Familiar books such as Oliver Twist and Great Expectations were woven throughout The Goldfinch and gave life to each character. It would be ridiculous to think Tartt didn’t do this on purpose and for a very specific reason. I believe it’s her way of showing how she’s chained to past literary giants.

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#10 – Sea Creatures by Susanna Daniel

I was sucked in from the first page and didn’t let go until the last word. Sitting here writing this review, my heart continues to break for these characters. Daniel’s writing feels almost like coming home amid one of the worst familial disasters ever.

 

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The Walking Dead Compendium One by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Tony Moore, Cliff Rathburn

unnamedY’all know by now I’m obsessed with all things Walking Dead. I started reading the comic almost two years ago, but never got around to finishing the first compendium because I didn’t want to jump ahead of the television series. I had watched seasons one and two which ended just before the prison arc. Now that I’m midway through season four, I finally felt ready to finish the huge tome that had been sitting at my bedside collecting dust for far too long.

The Walking Dead follows Rick Grimes. He’s a small town Southern sheriff who is shot in the line of duty just before the zombie apocalypse begins. When he awakens from a coma a few weeks later, he’s alone in a hospital in a world overrun with the undead. His mission becomes finding his wife and son and staying alive.

It’s a simple premise, but the social commentary is anything but. The many, many characters are so well done and so compelling that I’m shocked every time I think of how many words there aren’t in this graphic novel. The walking dead actually refers more to the humans still living because humanity feels almost like a thing of the past in this new, brutal world. Many people have become monsters. Others are struggling daily to avoid just that. No one is left the way they began.

And people die. Hell, almost everyone dies.

What I love most about the reading/watching experience is how well both mediums compliment each other. The show brings to life the essence of the comic perfectly – and I don’t often say that. The series fills out the holes, the details, the development of the comic. But they aren’t the same beast. Each tells stories in different ways. You might get from the same point A to the same point Z, but B-Y will be entirely unique which never leaves the audience bored.  I’ll even go ahead and admit that the television show might actually be better than the source material. Robert Kirkman even agrees with that observation to a certain extent.

I can’t wait to get my hands on the second compendium. I’m no longer afraid to read ahead for spoilers. And you shouldn’t be either! Even if you only pick only one medium – the written or the visual – you just can’t go wrong with The Walking Dead.

 

 

A Watch List

Okay, so just because I haven’t been reading much doesn’t mean I haven’t been doing other things. Most especially, watching the good ol’ television. Here’s what’s I’ve seen and the things I thought while doing the seeing:

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The Walking Dead – obviously I love this show something fierce and just wanted an excuse to post more Norman Reedus. But also, I love how much of a character Georgia has become. It’s nice to see my home featured so prominently. Plus, I can literally feel what the characters are feeling (heat and humidity-wise) by merely stepping outside my door. I can take a drive down the same backroads they travel. And even take a trip to Woodbury (a.k.a. Senoia) if I so choose!

Six Ways to Sunday – a great little 90s indie film starring Deborah Harry (and maybe Norman Reedus, too) which I loved when it first came out and have rediscovered all these years later and still love it. It’s about a boy and his mother (the Jewish mob, Adrien Brody with some unfortunate hair styling, and Agent Coulson also make appearances).

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Sons of Anarchy – I watched this in my efforts to avoid Breaking Bad. Just finished watching the third season and it’s hitting all of my buttons!! I’m feeling really nostalgic for Jimmy’s motorcycle which we exchanged for some much needed car repairs many years ago. We need another Suzuki cruiser in our lives.

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Supernatural – I’m rewatching season 7. I’m not sure where I quit the show, but have decided to catch back up. Because Felicia Day. Plus, Dean Winchester. I missed him. And Cas!!

Moonshiners – Okay, I don’t want this, but Jimmy does. He is borderline obsessed.

What have you been watching?

Also, Bonus Reedus:

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Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

unnamedOMG, Brooke has a proper book post up on a Monday morning. Just like the good old days. Praise be to all things holy. Seriously. Merry effin’ Christmas, y’all.

The Litwits met yesterday and we had another kick ass meetup/discussion. Our Christmas selection this year was Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares which I absolutely dreaded reading. Not just on my own behalf, but on everyone in the group’s as well. I had nothing to worry about, however, as the read was mostly painless and even pleasurable for most ladies.

The book is really your typical YA fluffy contemporary. Dash and Lily are 16-year-old Manhattanites who meet through a moleskin journal they trade back and forth, completing tasks and dares they dictate to each other. It’s cute, cheesy, schmoopy, and filled with Christmas cheer and holiday cynicism.

Our group decided it’s not amazing writing or anything mind-blowing, but Levithan and Cohn have created a simple story that should be satisfying to most teenagers and way less than painful for adults to sit through. You might even find yourself smiling at bits along the way.

What’s not to like? Plenty if you’re reading with a fine-toothed comb, but there’s no need for that! Yes, Dash is pretentious and Lily is immature. Yes, many of the episodes are cliche, over-the-top, and just downright implausible. And yes, even the writing suffers due to the back and forth alternating perspectives. Cohn and Levithan are playing with the traditional writing format which sometimes works and sometimes ends in EPIC failure.

Even still, most of us liked it against our better judgment. Perhaps it’s just the Christmas magic?

Speaking of Christmas magic, how about some Norman Reedus while we suffer through the TWD midseason withdrawals?

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I’ll Be Back!!

Hiya, lovelies! I’m enjoying my little break from blogging/vlogging/social media more than I thought I would. I have started reading again (slowly, but surely) and hope to have my interwebbing back in full swing by the beginning of 2014. A little vacation never hurt anyone and is my guilt free Christmas present this year. I do miss y’all though, and will most certainly be back.

I still haven’t finished a book since the end of October. I think I’m at 97 on the year which is not too shabby. Book club is this weekend and we’re reading Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares to honor the holiday season. I’m halfway through so I’ll definitely be finishing that one. Another book I hope to finish before the New Year is The Walking Dead Compendium One. I’m reading a bit of it every day. Technically it’s a reread for me (well, up until halfway through The Gov’s storyline). That’s all I’m promising to finish in 2013!!

Other books that I’m hoping to dive into (or finally finish) soon are The Song of Achilles (halfway through), Night Film (halfway through), Snow Country (haven’t started), and Perfection (the new Rachel Joyce – haven’t started). Wish me heaps of luck ‘cause I’m going to need it. Can I make it too 100 books on the year?

In other news, life is moving swimmingly along. Thanksgiving was quiet and peaceful. Jimmy’s family normally eats at our house, but his parents opted for Disney World instead. So we just ended up attending an upscale buffet at a nice hotel in Midtown. We didn’t do any real Black Friday shopping. We did manage to squeeze in a viewing of Catching Fire and holy smokes it was so good! Jimmy even really enjoyed it after not liking the first one.

Anyway, that’s all for now and I’ll be seeing y’all soon. Happy Holidays!!

The Walking Dead: Too Far Gone (MAJOR SPOILERS)

The-Walking-Dead-Season-4-Episode-8-Too-Far-GoneThe mid-season finale was gutting. I literally screamed at the television in agony as Hershel met his end and cheered in utter euphoria when Michonne’s katana ripped through The Governor’s heart.

The beginning of the episode made me so sick. TG standing there convincing all these people that Team Prison needed to go and that they were baddies. I’m so glad at least Lilly seemed to see through his bullshit. Then in the camper with Michonne and Hershel (such a great scene) I loved Michonne’s “I’m going to kill you” line. Perfection. Hershel was the perfect Hershel. I’m glad he got this moment.

Rick finally told Daryl about Carol. And I think Daryl handled it the exact way that he should have. I never thought Daryl would go running after Carol like some lovesick Romeo. Mostly because I do not ship Daryl/Carol at all. I have a hard time shipping Daryl with anyone period. I like him being a lonewolf. Unless he wants to get closer to Rick….just saying.

What has come to my attention is that Carol may not have killed Karen and David after all. Something about the way things are playing out has me thinking it might really have been Lizzie all this time. And I definitely think Lizzie is doing the rat mutilations. I think Lizzie is a fledgling psychopath and that Carol knows.

Rick’s standoff with the tank was just so horrendously sad. He’s trying so hard and you can see how far he’s come (superb job by Andrew Lincoln). I hated the Hershel beheading. HATED IT. I couldn’t even watch it. I wanted everyone to just stop what they were doing and stab TG a million times.

Could Daryl have been more of a badass this episode? Blowing up the tank and then waiting for Mitch to crawl out of his hidey hole and putting a bolt through his mother effing heart. Didn’t even give him the clean death through the head. LOVED IT.

Rick and Carl’s reunion and finding Judith’s carrier filled with blood? The writers love to just destroy us, don’t they? Carl going apeshit on that walker out of grief was a fantastic moment and Chandler Riggs played it beautifully. I love that they are going to play homage to the comic book for a while with the Grimes boys.

Now that everyone is going to be split up (hopefully not for too long), I’m excited to see how these new dynamics play out. I was getting kind of bored and complacent at the prison. I love our group on the road. What the hell is Tyreese going to do with all those kids (I’m guessing he has Judith as well)? What the hell is Daryl going to do with Beth (please don’t go there TWD)? And poor Glenn is stuck with all the prison redshirts.

February is so far away!!! But the return of the show will make a good 30th birthday gift!