Saturday, January 18, 2014

Arty -- 2014: ...And This Time It's Personal

Okay, that was lame. I'm sorry. But in a way, it's sort of true, because my failure of a reading year is something of an insult to my reader's pride. So 2014 will be a throwdown between me and my ability to balance reading with school, writing, relaxation, and the dreaded new enemy - TV shows. (By the way, Hannibal is really good so far.)

My goal in 2013 was to read 125 books. Surprisingly, I managed to make it and go a bit over to 151. Whoo! The first book I read was I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak (a very good way to start the year); the last was How To Twist a Dragon's Tale by Cressida Cowell (also a very nice way to end the year).

Like Persy, I didn't have too much trouble with picking out favorites - I actually had to go back through my records to supplement my list of "yes, these are my favorites." So, without further ado:


The End of Time by P.W. Catanese
If you've known me for any length of time, you'll have heard me raving about The Books of Umber. This year was the third time I've read The End of Time and it's still just as beautiful the third time around. Fantasy

The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
The Thief books have some of the best characterization/character development I've ever seen. The prose can be a bit tricksy but it's totally worth it - Gen and Irene have such arresting chemistry, while still claiming great personalities when they're by themselves. Ultimate love story. Not to mention the worldbuilding is good. Fantasy

The Selection by Kiera Cass
This is, unlike the above two books, on my list because of outstanding literary quality, but because it was just fun for me to read. It didn't take itself too seriously and the characters were still entertaining. What more can you ask a book? Dystopia (I think)

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
Where do I even start with this hilarious book? While the majority of it is really, really good, the best parts happen when Aziraphale (chubby bookish angel of the Lord) and Crowley (a demon "who did no so much Fall as Saunter Vaguely Downward") get together and banter. Greatly recommended. Urban/apocalyptic fantasy? (I'm grabbing at straws for genres for some of these; give me a break)

The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielsen
The second book in the Ascendance Trilogy, this book not only continues the story in The False Prince but makes it even better. Suspense is raised, characters are developed further, and a cliffhanger of agony is delivered. Fantasy

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Not many classics really stand up to the hype (in my extremely humble opinion), but the beautiful prose and the sheer atmosphere of this book raise it to artistic levels. Classic

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams
While The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was almost as good as I'd been led to expect, the second book was better. Funnier, more interesting, more thought-provoking - and, of course, really, really fun. Science-fiction (I guess)

The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton
Another book that stands up to the 'classic' label. JUST FOR THE ENDING. (Excuse the caps.) After I finished it, I just sat and tried to absorb it. Classic (because I have no idea what this would be classified as otherwise)

Surprised By Laughter: The Comic World of C.S. Lewis by Terry Lindvall
I'm not usually one for thick nonfic, but comedy plus Lewis is sure to be a winner, and this book did not disappoint. While I don't think it would be nearly as interesting if you're not a Lewis fan, for someone who is, it's barrels of fun. Nonfiction

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Atmospheric. Haunting. Tragic. It's hard to describe A Monster Calls. Easier to say read it. (I don't even know what genre this is. I suppose Fantasy is as close as it gets)

This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein by Kenneth Oppel
Frankenstein is forever one of my favorite classics and Oppel's take on Victor's backstory is fantastic. The writing is just Shelley enough to be reminiscent but not enough to be frustrating; the characters strike the balance between original and respectful. (Well, except Konrad, the completely original twin. I have no problems with him, though.) The second book didn't quite live up to the first's standards, but the first still retains its awesomeness. Science...fiction?

Kings and Queens of Great Britain by Eric R. Delderfield
Obviously I'm not a history scholar (yet) so I'm not certain of the accuracy, but this book seemed to do a very nice, tidy job of summarizing the history of the English monarchy. It was easy to read, and the facts I do remember seem to line up with later research. Do recommend. Nonfiction

The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis
Hello. Lewis fan here. Believe it or not, this is the first time I've read The Great Divorce and it was... unexpected. Melancholy, subtly heartwrenching. Convicting, I suppose. Classic

One Hundred More Poems from the Japanese by Kenneth Rexroth
I suppose that should be 'collected by' instead of 'by.' Again, I'm no Japanese poetry specialist (yet) but on a purely aesthetic level, these were some of the most beautiful poems I've ever read. Definitely recommended, especially to highschool teens who've read "The Road Not Taken" one too many times. (Nothing against Frost, of course. "Flower-Gathering" is my second-favorite poem. But "The Road Not Taken" is seriously overhyped.) Poetry


The How To Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell; Scarlet by Stephen Lawhead; the 43 Old Cemetery Road series by Kate and M. Sarah Klise; Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad; Red Dragon by Thomas Harris; The Tempest by Richard Appignanesi (manga Shakespeare); I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga; Jinx by Sage Blackwood; UnWholly by Neal Shusterman; Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz; Scarlet by Marissa Meyer; If I Found a Wistful Unicorn: A Gift of Love by Ann Ashford; Mythologies by W.B. Yeats; Murder in the Cathedral by T.S. Eliot; Companions of the Night by Vivian Vande Velde; Pocket Guide to the Afterlife: Heaven, Hell, and Other Ultimate Destinations by Jason Boyett


Bluestar's Prophecy by Erin Hunter
Oh, Warriors. This past year was the year of kissing my childhood goodbye. Fantasy

The Prince and the Snowgirl by Simon Cheshire
Mindless fluff in every possible way. Forgettable. Realistic fiction? What is the name for this?

Mortlock by Jon Mayhew
I don't even remember what happened in this book. I do remember wishing it was going to be over. Pity - the book is lovely, and the pages are edged in black. Fantasy

One Year Gone by Rebecca Dessertine
Supernatural supplemental novel by someone who works on the set. One word: ouch. And not in the "ouch, my emotions were compromised" sense as I was expecting. Urban fantasy (fanfic? bad fanfic?)

Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin
The ultimate "HECK NO" of the year. It's bad enough to read poorly executed run-of-the-mill YA dystopia; it's unbearable when it's based off of a story like "The Masque of the Red Death." I feel like going to leave consolatory flowers at Poe's grave. Dystopia

Here's to having a better 2014!

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