We thought it would be fun to participate in Jamie from The Perpetual Pageturner’s annual end of year survey! It was a lot of fun to reflect on our reading journey over the past year, and some of the answers even surprised us, haha. So hang in there (this has somehow turned into a mammoth-size post – we joked it was the survey that never ends) and let’s chat in the comments!
1. Best book you read in 2013?
[Rachelia] (Audiobook) Beauty Queens by Libba Bray, (Traditional) The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider tied with Dare You To by Katie McGarry, (Indie) Anatomy of a Girl Gang by Ashley Little.
[Kaitlyn] I’m really struggling to think of a book I loved — while I enjoyed a lot of books this year, there weren’t a lot that stood out to me as long-lasting favourites. I did really like The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton, as well as A Room with a View by E.M. Forster, so those would probably have to be the best ones of 2013 for me.
2. Book you were excited about and thought you were going to love more but didn’t?
[R] Sadly, SO many! I feel like 2013 was a bit of a disappointment for me in terms of the books I wanted to read and love. I guess the biggest disappointment for me was Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Everybody practically LOVED it, and while I could totally relate to Cath and have been involved in the fanfic world, I just felt a lot of things (like the Simon Snow & fic snippets) didn’t work, and that there were too many plot lines for them to pull together properly.
[K] The Cadet of Tildor by Alex Lidell. I was really excited to read this after hearing comparisons to Tamora Pierce, Kristin Cashore, and Megan Whalen Turner, I guess the expectations were really high. I found the writing rambly and uninteresting, and this book just couldn’t keep my attention.
Also, Playing Hurt by Holly Schindler. It was horrible and the message this novel portrays completely ruined it.
3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013?
[R] Hmm, I guess Adaptation by Malinda Lo. I always end up reading her books even though they are usually way outside my bookish comfort zone in terms of genres. I expected to like it because I enjoyed Ash and Huntress but I couldn’t put it down and ended up giving it 5 stars.
[K] The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure. I thought it would be more about Laura Ingalls Wilder but the parts about McClure were really interesting and made the book pretty special. Plus, all the Little House references were awesome for a fan like me.
4. Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most in 2013?
[R] In terms of mentioning it on the blog, I think it’s likely The Harem by Safia Fazlul. It blew me away and gave me hope for New Adult books with its hard-hitting look at the lives of a diverse group of young women and their journey into the depths of sex work in an attempt to find autonomy in a life ruled by their parents and culture and the expectations both produce!
[K] I read Fire by Kristin Cashore when it first came out, but reread it twice in 2013. For fantasy lovers, I always recommend this book. I’ll recommend to just about anyone, actually, as Rachelia can attest (I’ve been bugging her to read it for ages!).
5. Best series you discovered in 2013?
6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2013?
[R] Well, I “discovered” her in 2012 but this year I actually read author and blogger Marie Landry’s books. She’s actually the author I’ve read the most of this year too. I started with her NA romance The Game Changer which I really enjoyed, and then she stole my heart and made me bawl with The Waiting Storm, a YA novel about a family coming to grips with their mother’s death. My new favourite though is her recent Christmas novella The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!
[K] Rachel Hartman – while her second novel isn’t out yet, I loved Seraphina and can’t wait to read more by Hartman.
7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?
[R] S.E.C.R.E.T by L. Marie Adeline. I don’t read very many erotica novels, but I really liked this book and I thought it had a healthy portrayal of sex and could even be read as a feminist text.
[K] The Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater. It just seemed very Twilight-esque and since I’m not a fan, I wasn’t sold on this series. I enjoyed it okay, but honestly felt like it was a bit of a waste of time for me.
8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?
[R] Ten by Gretchen McNeil. Read this all in one sitting and it definitely kept me on the edge of my seat and me gasping at the twists and turns it threw at me!
[K] I really liked Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen and sped through it as quickly as possible. I actually read it in a couple hours all in one sitting! It isn’t necessarily thrilling but the mystery and suspense is enough to keep you hooked until the end.
9. Book you read in 2013 that you are most likely to re-read next year?
[R] Ooooh I love this question because I actually re-read a few books this year and I’ll probably do so again in 2014. I can see myself re-reading The Madness Underneath (Shades of London #2) by Maureen Johnson and Star Cursed (Cahill Sisters #2) by Jessica Spotswood to revisit these wonderful stories and prepare for books 3!
[K] Seraphina — especially the hardcover edition. It’s absolutely gorgeous and the beveling is really cool, too.
11. Most memorable character in 2013?
[K] Oskar Schell from Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer was a very memorable character for me — I still think about his story months after I read the book.
12. Most beautifully written book read in 2013?
[R] Rose Under Fire and my re-read of Code Name Verity, both by Elizabeth Wein. Sure, they both are beautifully written in parts, but I think I love them more for the beautiful female friendships that Wein has created.
[K] One book that sticks out in my mind for its fantastic writing is How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff. I didn’t like the plot all that much but I loved Rosoff’s ability to string beautiful sentences together.
[R] I’m going to go with Anatomy of a Girl Gang. Two months later and I still think of the book and characters, and when I think of a certain scene, my stomach still rolls. To have that impact months and more than 10 books later is pretty significant.
[K] The Defining Decade by Meg Jay. I don’t normally like “self help” or science-y books, but after having this one recommended to me several times I finally picked it up from Chapters. I’m so glad I did, because I’ve re-read some of the chapters multiple times and I find it so relevant to my life.
14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read?
[K] Divergent and Legend — mostly because there was so much hype surrounding them. While I liked them both, they didn’t really live up to expectations for me as I found them pretty stereotypical of the YA dystopian genre.
15. Favorite passage/quote from a book you read in 2013?
[R] Pass. I don’t do near well enough of a job actually remembering the quotes I love. I highlight them on my e-reader and then sadly, forget about them.
[K] I highlight passages all the time but I almost never find them again until I reread the book. Here’s one that I did make special note of, though, from How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff:
“I was dying, of course, but then we all are. Every day, in perfect increments, I was dying of loss. The only help for my condition, then as now, is that I refused to let go of what I loved. I wrote everything down, at first in choppy fragments; a sentence here, a few words there, it was the most I could handle at the time. Later I wrote more, my grief muffled but not eased by the passage of time.
When I go back over my writing now I can barely read it. The happiness is the worst. Some days I can’t bring myself to remember. But I will not relinquish a single detail of the past. What remains of my life depends on what happened six years ago.
In my brain, in my limbs, in my dreams, it is still happening.”
[R] Shortest: Glitter & Doom (Masque of the Red Death #1.5) by Bethany Griffin which I loved and thought added a lot to the character development of this series. Longest: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl which I did not enjoy, and the length probably added to my dislike and strong opinion of this book, haha!
[K] The longest book I read this year was a reread of Pilgrim by Timothy Findley. The shortest was Blog, Inc.: Blogging for Passion, Profit, and to Create Community by Joy Deangdeelert Cho. Love them both!
17. Book that had a scene in it that had you reeling and dying to talk to somebody about it (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc.)? Be careful of spoilers!
[R] Hmm, there was some revelations in Rose Under Fire that I just wanted to chat with people with, mostly stuff that heralded back to the first book. Other than that I can’t really think of anything?
[K] I’m really blanking here… to be honest I don’t think any of the books I read had any shocking moments in them! There was one detail about a certain romantic relationship in Meg Rosoff’s How I Live Now that was a little surprising but that’s about as ruffled as my feathers got this year.
18. Favorite relationship from a book you read in 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc.)?
[R] I have too many and I feel like I’ve mentioned the books so many times already so I’m going to pass, haha.
[K] Definitely Julia and Jason from Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill. I love them both individually and they are so cute together!
19. Favorite book you read in 2013 from an author you’ve read previously?
[R] Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan, two of my favourite authors! I didn’t expect to love this one but it was so funny but also very heartfelt.
[K] Definitely The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton. I felt that this one was a little different from her typical style but I loved that about it.
20. Best book you read in 2013 that you read based SOLELY on a recommendation from somebody else?
[R] Uhhh I don’t think I read one based on a single recommendation. Is that bad, haha?
[K] The Defining Decade by Meg Jay — I don’t typically go for self-help or psychological type books. It was recommended to me by a librarian and the Chapters employee who rang me up (which I guess technically makes it not a single recommendation…), and while I was skeptical, I was pleasantly surprised by this one!
21. Genre you read the most from in 2013?
[R] I think I’m almost tied between my favourite genres: contemporary and historical fiction (around 16 books each).
[K] I read a lot of contemporary fiction, both adult and YA, with a smattering of fantasy (my favourite genre).
[K] Jason from Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill (I think anyone who’s read this book will agree). He’s not someone I’d want to date now, but he was definitely the perfect imaginary boyfriend when I was in high school.
23. Best 2013 debut you read?
[R] Historical — In The Shadow of the Blackbirds by Cat Winters was rich with historical details and a haunting romance. Contemporary — The Waiting Tree by Lindsay Moynihan which wasn’t afraid to pull the punches (it opens with a gay oral sex scene) but at the same time was a quiet novel about being different in a small town and dysfunctional families.
[K] Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas — I think Maas nailed it with pretty much every aspect of this book. I’m looking forward to the second in the series with very high expectations after this fantastic debut!
24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?
[R] The Rebellion of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell by William Klaber really transported me back to rural Montana on the frontier during the mid-1800s. Days after the book was finished, I still felt like I was living the story and kept finding myself myself getting exciting to return to the characters, only to remember that the book was over!
[K] I loved the world in the fantasy YA novel Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. I was not a huge fan of this book overall but one thing I really enjoyed was the details Maas provided on her fantasy setting — both the universe as well as more specific settings, like the castle.
25. Book that was the most fun to read in 2013?
[R] Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. This book had me laughing out loud and smirking to myself on various trains and buses while I commuted!
[K] Jill Shalvis novels are some of my favourite guilty pleasure novels, and I loved her newest, Rumor Has It. It was funny, cute, heartwarming, and pretty sexy too!
26. Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2013?
[R] Nothing topped my ugly cry session for my reread of Code Name Verity. I did NOT think it was going to affect me the exact same way, but I cried to the build up of KISS ME, HARDY to the end.
[K] I cannot think of one book I cried over. I had a pretty rough year personally so I think I was reaching for books that would cheer me up or help me escape. No sad ones for me!
[K] Mark Dunn’s Ibid is an older book (published in 2005) that I had never seen talked about anywhere until a professor recommended it to me. I love it — I thought it was so witty and amusing — and it’s very cleverly done. Would like to see more unique books like this take center stage!
1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2013?
[R] Most definitely Pop! Goes the Reader. I loooove how Jen writes lengthy, but thoughtful and critical reviews (often addressing racism and sexism too, yay!). Also, I’m jealous of her writing skills – her posts just read beautifully! Jen is one of the nicest and most caring bloggers out there too. Can’t wait to see what she brings to the blogosphere in 2013!
[K] I love G Reads!, which I discovered this last spring and have loved following Ginger’s reviews. We have similar taste in books so I always read her reviews. I also love I Believe in Story, which takes a pretty unique approach to book blogging. I love reading about her perspective on the publishing industry.
2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2013?
[R] This is haaard. I think my favorite review may be for The Madness Underneath (Shades of London #2) by Maureen Johnson because I think in working through my feelings while writing the review I started appreciating what Maureen Johnson actually did with Rory and the story. I actually think about my feelings about this book a lot, and I may even write a follow-up reflection post on it.
I think my best written review was Stony River by Tricia Dower.
[K] I am new to book blogging, and I have been sloooowly easing into it since this summer. But my favourite review was probably The Defining Decade by Meg Jay. I just really like that book, and it’s one that I don’t see discussed a lot in the book community online.
3. Best discussion you had on your blog?
[K] I really liked discussing some of my favourite books with Bookish Comfort readers on my introduction post — because who doesn’t like talking about their very favourite books?! I also really liked the discussion in the comments on the A-Z Book Survey, which has got me wanting to do a Tamora Pierce read-a-thon.
4. Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else’s blog?
[R] I’ve been really bad keeping track of this kind of thing since I fell off the bandwagon doing the weekly Required Reading posts. But I absolutely love how practically every post (including the reviews) on Stacked is thought-provoking. Two faves from this year are: Female Sexuality in YA Fiction: Exploring the Range of Experiences and Fat is Not a Disability: It’s a Book Deal Breaker.
[K] I really liked Maria’s post “No More Chick Lit.” I enjoy “beach reads” and romance novels every once in a while as a way to decompress from the busyness of life. Sometimes a chunky thought-provoking novel just adds more stress to my life. That being said, I don’t like that there’s a negative stigma associated with people who read anything considered “chick lit.” It’s unfair — just because I like books about ladies by ladies doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy other more “literary” books, too.
5. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
6. Best moment of book blogging/your book life in 2013?
[R] Definitely going to the Ontario Book Blogger Meet-Up in early November! While I felt a bit shy, it was great to meet people I’ve been chatting with for a year and a half and talk books.
[K] I have never really participated in any book events, but while shopping in one of my favourite used bookstores (Attic Books in London, ON), I came across signed editions of all of Timothy Findley’s books, who is one of my favourite writers ever. I couldn’t afford them, but it was a crazy feeling to stumble on such a find!
7. Most popular post this year on your blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
[R] Our most-loved post this year was Google Reader is Retiring… Now What? 4 Alternatives.
[K] One post that I wish got more comment love is actually one written by Rachelia: her review of The Harem by Safia Fazlul. I haven’t read it myself but Rachelia’s review sounded so great — the book covered so many issues that would be great to discuss, like race and gender.
9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
[R] We are *just* in the process of migrating over to WordPress, but I’m going to call it and saw the Ultimate Book Blogger Plug-In!
[K] I really like What Should I Read Next (good in a pinch), Chapters-Indigo’s iPhone app (makes book shopping so much quicker), and The Novel Cure (it’s a book, but basically provides book recommendations in a really unique way).
10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
[R] I just have 1 more book to read and I’m half way through it so I think it’s safe to say I’ll reach my Goodreads goal of 75 books. As for my other challenges I still have to do an official update but I definitely surpassed my challenges for e-reading, historical fiction, and feminist books! I think I just barely made the witches and witchcraft challenge and I almost (lacking 1 book) made the TBR pile challenge. Unfortunately, I failed at my non-fiction challenge. Overall that’s pretty good though!
[K] I utterly failed at meeting my reading challenges. Last year I set a goal for 2013 to read 52 books, roughly one per week. According to my Goodreads account, I’ve only read 14 — I think I forgot to list a few I read while studying abroad, but the bottom line is it wasn’t the best year for me reading-wise.
[R] GAH just 1?! Cheating (as I almost have on everryyy question, eek) and breaking this down a little haha. From my shelves: Inheritance by Malinda Lo. Historical: Hild by Nicola Griffith. Contemporary: The Symptoms of My Insanity by Mindy Raf.
2. Book you are most anticipating for 2014 (non-debut)?
[R] I still have to read Lola but I’m looking forward to Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins.
[K] I’m pretty intrigued by Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill. (It has hockey in it, after all!) I’m also excited about Once in a Lifetime by Jill Shalvis as well as her next installment in her Animal Magnetism series, Then Came You. (I’m a huge Jill Shalvis fan!)
[K] I’m really excited about A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger. It’s set in London in 1385 (Chaucer’s England), and is a thriller involving King Richard II’s assassination. Holsinger is a medieval scholar, which means this book has to be impeccably researched.
4. Series ending you are most anticipating in 2014?
[R] The Cahill Witches Chronicles with the third book Sister’s Fate by Jessica Spotswood. Can’t wait to see how this fabulous series comes to a close.
[K] I’m pretty excited about Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins! While I didn’t like Lola and the Boy Next Door, I LOVED Anna and the French Kiss. Especially after studying abroad in France, I am really excited to re-enter Perkins’ magical world of high school in Paris.
5. One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging in 2014?
[R] I definitely need to comment more and regularly! I’d also love to be more personal on the blog and more open to sharing myself with readers.
[K] I really want to visit other people’s blogs more, and comment more, too. I love reading other people’s opinions on the books they’ve read and I love getting to know more people, so I don’t know why this always feels like a chore to me. I also really want to spend some time culling my to-read list (which spans Goodreads, Pinterest, and Chapters.ca). I feel so disorganized whenever I need to pick a new book at the bookstore, and I don’t think I even want to read all of them anymore. It’s definitely time for some spring cleaning!
Whew! That’s it!
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What were your best of books of 2013? Did we have any in common? What are you looking forward to in books for 2014? Leave a link if you have done the survey too!