Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Good and Bad of 2013

Late.
 
Always late.

2013 ended 7  days ago.

But here are my bookish reflections on the 49 books I read in 2013 (Goodreads says I read 52 -- my own list says only 49 -- not sure where I'm off -- oh well).

Favorite classic:  By default -- My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier.  Wow...how unfortunate that I didn't read a single classic this year.  Shameful.  However, I love me some du Maurier. 4 stars

Favorite fairy tale:  The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman -- I was scared, I was mesmerized, I was anxious…and ultimately, I was completely satisfied with the unfolding fable. 5 stars

Favorite Mother/Daughter book group selection:  Alas...once the girls entered 7th grade, they called it quits on MDBG.  I am now admitting for the first time that I failed to keep it together.  3rd-6th grade has to account for something, right?

Made me laugh out loudElizabeth the First Wife by Lian Dolan --I loved the theatrical setting; I loved ALL the references to Shakespeare; I loved the comparisons between Shakespeare’s characters and their real life counterparts (Henry V & Katherine = Duke & Duchess of Cambridge); I loved that she had Team Romeo vs. Team Hamlet vs. Team Twilight (Edward doesn’t stand a chance!); it was witty, it was smart, it was clever – something I would never attribute to “chick lit.” Marred by errors -- but still funny. 3 stars.

Favorite book club pickWyrd Sisters  by Terry Pratchett -- The story is a clever lampoon of Shakespeare from the opening scene onwards. It's a fast-paced romp through a parody of scenes, themes, and lines from Macbeth, Hamlet, Richard III and many more. Pratchett also throws in references to Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty (not to mention others I have probably missed). Not only is it a spoof of Shakespeare – but also a mash up of Shakespeare in Love, The Princess Bride and Monty Python. 5 stars

Favorite juvenile fictionFortunately, the milk by Neil Gaiman. Only Neil Gaiman could send a father out for groceries and have him encounter aliens, pirates, dinosaurs, vampires, and a host of other creatures, only to return from his time travels with his necessary item -- milk -- for his children's breakfast cereal.  A rollicking adventure -- with amazing illustrations. 5 stars
Favorite YA fictionCorner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty -- This book was like nothing I've ever read: part fantasy, part time travel, part whimsy, part science lesson (be prepared for a primer on Sir Isaac Newton), part potential teen romance -- it was quite delightful! 4 stars

I hated but everyone else lovedThe Giver by Lois Lowry -- Not a current book (I guess this could qualify as a classic), but I read it for the first time this year.  It was creepy.  3 stars

Favorite memoirWild by Cheryl Strayed  -- This was an amazing adventure. 5 stars

Biggest let downLetters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole -- an Internet/blogging darling - I never felt any attachment to any of the characters. The letters’ prose seemed to be far too modern to be written at the earlier part of the 20th century. As chapters shifted between time periods – there was no distinct “voice” to differentiate between the letters. If it hadn't been for the chapter headings, one wouldn’t know if it was Elspeth or Margaret “writing” the prose. The plot was thin, and the ending contrived and predictable. I was emotionally detached throughout the entire novel. 2 stars

Overall favorites of 2013
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell -- A cross between Bridget Jones meets a Friends episode, I didn't know I was going to love everything about this book. Everything. 5 stars

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty -- I really enjoyed this book and how the author turned run of the mill families into an escalating moral dilemma. 4 stars
The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton -- In vintage Kate Morton fashion, she weaves a story using mothers and daughters, past and present, mystery and secrets, to create an epic WWII historical drama that kept me reading every waking moment. 5 stars

So there you have it.  My winners and losers of 2013.

Goals for 2014

·        Just read.  No pressure.  No challenges.  Sometimes I'll write detailed reviews, sometimes I'll say, "I liked it" or "I didn't like it" and that will be OK.

Finally --

Keep calm and read a great book!