Books I Loved in 2013 2


I’m starting a new feature on the blog. I’m going to post my reviews here, rather than Goodreads. I dislike the direction that site is going since Amazon took it over. Anyways… There’s not much I love more than coffee, so rather than stars… books will be rated by how many delicious cups of coffee they deserve. To kick us off, I am going to review my top 4 books of 2013. Books that are honestly some of the best books I’ve read ever.

reviews

#4. Under the Never Sky – Veronica Rossi

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Synopsis: Aria is a teenager in the enclosed city of Reverie. Like all Dwellers, she spends her time with friends in virtual environments, called Realms, accessed through an eyepiece called a Smarteye. Aria enjoys the Realms and the easy life in Reverie. When she is forced out of the pod for a crime she did not commit, she believes her death is imminent. The outside world is known as The Death Shop, with danger in every direction.

As an Outsider, Perry has always known hunger, vicious predators, and violent energy storms from the swirling electrified atmosphere called the Aether. A bit of an outcast even among his hunting tribe, Perry withstands these daily tests with his exceptional abilities, as he is gifted with powerful senses that enable him to scent danger, food and even human emotions.

They come together reluctantly, for Aria must depend on Perry, whom she considers a barbarian, to help her get back to Reverie, while Perry needs Aria to help unravel the mystery of his beloved nephew’s abduction by the Dwellers. Together they embark on a journey challenged as much by their prejudices as by encounters with cannibals and wolves. But to their surprise, Aria and Perry forge an unlikely love – one that will forever change the fate of all who live UNDER THE NEVER SKY

This book came out of nowhere and was shockingly good. It’s absolutely a book I will read again and again. It’s hard to pin down exactly what I love about this book. Aria, the main character, is definitely part of that. But honestly I think I like Perry a smidge better. All the characters are interesting, the world is immersive, and the plot catches you and doesn’t let you go. Rossi treats her audience like the intelligent beings they are and does not hold your hand as she introduces weird and bizarre world-building. Concepts are written about, and then left to hang there as you attempt to wrap your brain around them. It’s an engaging book that makes your mind work, something authors today miss far too often.

The third book comes out soon, and I really do hope it’s better than the sequel. This book would be SO much better if the followup did it justice.

4

#3. The Rules for Disappearing – Ashley Elston

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Synopsis: She’s been six different people in six different places: Madeline in Ohio, Isabelle in Missouri, Olivia in Kentucky . . . But now that she’s been transplanted to rural Louisiana, she has decided that this fake identity will be her last.

Witness Protection has taken nearly everything from her. But for now, they’ve given her a new name, Megan Rose Jones, and a horrible hair color. For the past eight months, Meg has begged her father to answer one question: What on earth did he do – or see – that landed them in this god-awful mess? Meg has just about had it with all the Suits’ rules — and her dad’s silence. If he won’t help, it’s time she got some answers for herself.

But Meg isn’t counting on Ethan Landry, an adorable Louisiana farm boy who’s too smart for his own good. He knows Meg is hiding something big. And it just might get both of them killed. As they embark on a perilous journey to free her family once and for all, Meg discovers that there’s only one rule that really matters — survival.

I stumbled upon this one reading someone’s blog tour. I wound up getting an advanced copy of this one and I’m so very glad I did. Meg is a wonderful character, if a little frustrating at times. It’s all twisty and turny, I couldn’t put it down because I was desperate to know what on earth was going on. I enjoy the sweet relationship between Meg and Ethan, it’s adorable and just what a good YA romance needs.

What Meg and her family go through is heartbreaking and sometimes soul-aching. I love how Meg just buckles down and gets it done. She’s totally a badass and exactly the kind of female MC that I like to see in my books. Yes, she leans on Ethan for help… but I didn’t find it over unrealistic. Let’s face it… not everyone is completely self-sufficient… and part of this book is Meg learning to trust other people. There are some wonderful supporting characters in here.

The story unwinds wonderfully and keeps you turning pages so fast you’ll need to watch for papercuts!

Another great point for this one is that the author is a wonderful person. I know that shouldn’t matter… but it does because I like to support nice people. I can not WAIT for the next book because the ending had me freaking right the hell out.

4-5

#2. Almost Amish – Kathryn Cushman

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 Synopsis: Julie Charlton is at the breaking point. She’s overwhelmed and burned out, and in today’s unrelenting society, her kids are, too. When her sister-in-law Susan, a Martha Stewart-in-training, lands the chance to participate in a reality TV series promoting simple living, and needs another family to join her, it seems like the perfect opportunity.

The location is an idyllic farm outside an Amish community in Tennessee. Julie, with her two children, joins Susan and her teenage daughter for a summer adventure. Susan needs to succeed in order to become self-sufficient after an ugly divorce, Julie needs to slow down long enough to remember what her priorities are and regain a sense of purpose and meaning. It becomes clear from the start that “living simple” is no simple matter. With the camera watching every move, Susan’s drive for perfection feels a lot like what they left behind, while Julie suddenly finds herself needing to stand up for slowing down. With each new challenge, their season of “going Amish” gets more and more complicated, as each woman learns unexpected lessons about herself and her family.

Every once and a while a book comes along that changes your life. In 2013 I was blessed enough to read two of them, this is the first. From the prologue I knew that this was going to be one of those books. I had a hard time finishing this one, because I wasn’t ready for it to be over. I have actually read it about five times since first reading it.

Julie is someone who feels totally lost. As though everyone around her has found their special niche and she’s floundering. I know exactly how she feels. She is constantly fighting the feeling of “not good enough” and wondering what exactly it is that she contributes to the world that is unique to her. Life is flying by and Julie  is watching… not participating.

Susan is her sister-in-law and also someone I totally relate to… which is odd considering she’s the “opposite” of Julie. She’s uptight, angry, frustrated, and feels as though she has the weight of the world on her shoulders. None of us know what that’s like eh?

Throughout the book I just kept feeling as though something inside of me was being put back together. Almost like I was being given permission to just be myself. This is a book that I reach for every time I feel as though things are spiralling a little out of control and it refocuses me and strengthens my faith.

5

 

#1. The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho

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Synopsis: Paulo Coelho’s enchanting novel has inspired a devoted following around the world. This story, dazzling in its powerful simplicity and inspiring wisdom, is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried in the Pyramids. Along the way he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself king, and an alchemist, all of whom point Santiago in the direction of his quest. No one knows what the treasure is, or if Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles along the way. But what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of the treasure found within. Lush, evocative, and deeply humane, the story of Santiago is an eternal testament to the transforming power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts.

A really great friend of mine, Lora, suggested that I read this book. I went out almost right away and picked it up. About 10 pages in I had just one question… HOW is this book not the number one book every where?! Seriously. SERIOUSLY.

“We are afraid of losing what we have, whether it’s our life or our possessions and property. But this fear evaporates when we understand that our life stories and the history of the world were written by the same hand.”

The book talks about how each person has a Personal Legend and that our hearts long to see us fulfil this most basic of purposes. When we move in the direction of our Personal Legends our heart speaks to us and guides us. The universe conspires to help us along the way.

Santiago’s story is engaging, compelling and the most inspirational thing I have ever read. It has obstacles without being head-to-brick-wall frustrating (as is too often the case with books now), and is some of the best story telling EVER. I’m not going to say anything else about it because I don’t want to spoil it. Just read it, it’s a short book and SOOO worth it.

Reading this book was like the most refreshing glass of ice cold water just pouring over my parched soul. That’s not hyperbole at all, just fact.

5


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