I usually don't do book reviews, but once in a while, it's fun to blog as a reader rather than a writer. Here are my favorite books that I read this past year. I read many other fantastic books as well, but if I have to limit myself to five...
(Listed in the order in which I read them.)
1. Plain Kate by Erin Bow
I have already gushed about Plain Kate -- the poetic language, the heartbreak. I loved this book so much that I bought two copies – one to keep and one to underline and analyze. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes fairytales and bittersweet stories.
2. Push by Sapphire
Push is not an easy book to read. It's told from the point of view of a girl who was sexually abused by both her father and her mother and becomes pregnant twice by her father. The narrator's voice is very strong, and despite its dark subject matter, the story is surprisingly hopeful.
3.Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
My writing group reads a young adult book once a month, and this was the first book since The Hunger Games that all five of us loved. I couldn’t figure out how to blog about it though. I remember trying to draw principles about why it worked, and the only thing I could come up with was “be interesting and hilarious,” which, while true, isn't exactly the type of concrete advice that makes for useful blog entries. So yeah, still no idea how it works -- I mean, as far as I can tell, there isn't even a plot for the first few chapters. But I was still turning the pages, and laughing my head off.
4. Vicarious Pleasures and In Sickness and in Health by Jacob Appel.
Okay, so this is technically two, but they are short stories so I'm counting them as one. I don’t often read literary fiction, but I was really drawn to these stories. I love Appel’s characters -- he paints incredibly vivid, complex, yet identifiable people in just a few pages. And both the stories had endings that left me thinking.
(FTC Disclaimer: I received these two as review copies from the publisher, but that had nothing to do with their inclusion on this list.)
5. The Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning
I had an interesting experience with this series. I actively disliked the main character Mac in the first book – I mean, seriously wanted to punch her in the face. The next two books felt like a lot of set up and not really books in their own right. But the series had an addictive pull. Mac grew as a character over time, and all the setup from the earlier books paid off on a grand scale in books four and five. The series itself is hard to put in a genre. It’s a paranormal romance at the core, with lots of action, plus the cast size and world building of an epic fantasy. Ultimately, your opinion of the series will depend on your reaction to the male lead Jericho Barrons. If you enjoy romances involving conflicted and dysfunctional, yet intriguingly sexy men, you’ll probably like the Fever series. (Parental Advisory: This series is not family-friendly. At all.)
So, dear readers, your turn. Have you read any of these books? What are you own picks from the past year?