Time for the end of the year book tally. This may seem premature, but I began the count on December 2 last year (my first day of freedom from school!) and so must end this year’s count as of the same day this year. In the end, I read 281 individual books, but the equivalent of 288 altogether because I read some books twice in order to refresh my memory before reading the next book in the series. Some books were novellas, so in those instances I counted 2 novellas as one book. Otherwise my count would be much higher still. Not all of the books I read are listed publicly, but most of them are. You can find them here.
Among my favorites?*
– The Mortal Instruments series and the Infernal Devices trilogy (both of which are still ongoing) by Cassandra Clare. Shadowhunter nephilim, Downworlders, and demons struggling with each other and themselves. Oh, and lots of humor and romance, too. These are among the books that I read twice. The first book is currently being made into a movie. Clare likes to make you fall in love with her characters, then rip out your heart and stomp on it a few times before (usually) putting it back in your chest. Warning: not all characters make it out alive…
– Graceling and Fire by Kristin Cashore. These are companion novels, not really a series. A third companion novel, Bitterblue, is set to release next year and I can’t wait! Great fantasy without being too heavy-handed about magic, especially “Graceling.” Katsa is one of the strongest female characters I came across this entire year. She is always true to herself and to those she cares for. These are books that I read twice, and would read again.
– Eon and Eona by Alison Goodman. These were excellent and, more than most of the books I’ve read, would appeal to male as well as female readers. Heavily Asian in feel, but it’s a fantasy realm, not ours. Dragons, Dragoneyes (the dragon rider who works with a dragon), political intrigue and, yes, romance. But the love story isn’t the focus at all. Survival is.
– The Soul Screamers series by Rachel Vincent. Bean sidhes (banshees) instead of werewolves and vampires. What’s not to love? Toss in some reapers, demons, maras, incubi, and dumb jocks with mean cheerleader girlfriends and you’ve got a great series.
– The Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter. A super secret spy school for teen girls. Lots of fun!
– The Study Trilogy by Maria V. Snyder. This is another that I feel would appeal to both genders. It starts with The Poison Study. Yelena is slated to be executed but is given a choice: become the Commander’s food taster, or hang. If she becomes food taster she will be fed a poison which will require daily receipt of the antidote in order for her to continue living; there will be no running away. She accepts, and the story takes off from there. She discovers that she’s not who she thought she was, and who she is could land her right back in the noose! Magic, political intrigue, some romance, great plots. Excellent trilogy!
– Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon. Intricate world-building that can be a little confusing, but worth the effort. Command of elements, secret societies, ancient battle between those who would use powers for good rather than evil. Yes, all old concepts. But this was done in a refreshing way. This was the first in a trilogy.
– The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin. I strongly recommend this one. Would appeal to both genders, is a bit of a psychological thriller with a twist ending that, for once, I didn’t see coming! It’s the first in a trilogy and given the very beginning and ending of the first, it’s killing me to wait for the second!
– Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins. Both of these allow the reader to get to know the characters, and let the characters get to know each other. The characters are flawed and human, but not irritating. Secondary characters are fleshed out and entertaining. Until you’ve read 50 gazillion books from the same genre, you have no idea how important these elements are!
– Hourglass by Myra McEntyre. Clever time-bender story, first of a series. Different characters can affect time in different ways, and learn about their abilities with the help of Hourglass, a secret group devoted to the subject. But a suspicious death hangs over the place and a series of events are triggered that have terrible consequences.
– The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff. One of Lucifer’s daughters (the one who’d rather watch t.v. than harm humans) goes to earth to find her half-brother (son of Lilith and Adam, and a good guy) when he goes missing. Along the way she recruits the help of a suicidal young man, someone she and her brother once saved. Her kind are being brutally murdered and she believes her brother is being held captive by the killer. There’s a twist or two in this one that worked. Told from multiple viewpoints, I could especially identify with the young man helping her. Been there.
– Drink, Slay, Love by Sarah Beth Durst. A vampire grows a conscience after being stabbed by a were-unicorn! What’s not to love about that? Loads of snark, but that’s balanced out by other characters. A couple of secondary characters were like the two Coreys in The Lost Boys. *G*
– The Yara Silva trilogy is excellent so far. She sees ghosts and must help them cross over (though she’d rather not be bothered), but there are those (both human and non-human) who want to stop her. Her Brazilian grandmother teaches her the ropes, so there’s a little cross-cultural heritage included. There will probably be much more of this in the last book as at least part of it should be taking place in Brazil.
– Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor is another angel/demon story, but it’s very different from the usual fare. Great world-building, no black-and-white absolutes, and includes exposure to different cultures. This was the first in a trilogy. Again, I’m stuck waiting for the next book to be released. Story of my life this year!
– The Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa. This was different because it plays with the notion of what happens when technology and fairy collide. Iron is toxic to the fae, but technology is taking over fantasy in the real world, and that has bled over into the NeverNever. I loved the gremlins, and of course Puck!
There should be honorable mentions. As many as I listed above, I feel like I’m being negligent in not listing others as well. There were some really good books. Legend, Matched, Dark Parties, and Divergent were excellent dystopians. I didn’t bother mentioning The Hunger Games because with all the hype many of you have probably already heard about the trilogy already. I’m excited about the upcoming movie of the first book!
Unearthly was a great angel story and I’m looking forward to the release of the next book in the series, Hallowed. Clarity was a fun psychic story/mystery. Touch of Frost (The Mythos Academy series) and Wildefire (from Wildfire series) are both promising starts to new trilogies. Both deal with ancient, cross-cultural mythologies and are fun to read. The Shift Trilogy is unique and the Bodyfinder Series is awesome.
There were just some great books this year providing many happy hours of entertainment. I have to stop looking at the list because I keep seeing something and thinking, “Oh, I should say something about that one!”
Then there were the books that sucked. Yes, I’m looking at you House of Night series, Witches of Santa Anna series, and the hot mess that was Oddily. The latter especially should come with a warning label: Stab out your eyes before reading!
(note: I’m not providing links to those here. You can find them on my list page, except for Oddily because… just no)
I discovered indies (independently published authors) this year after purchasing both a Nook and a Kindle. Yes, those ereaders are expensive upfront. But I can’t tell you how much money I saved on book purchases! Buying books online is cheaper than in stores, and ebooks are cheaper than physical copies bought online. I’ll always prefer the tactile experience of holding a physical copy of a book in my hands, but now I’m more selective about which of those I buy. This saved me enormously on shelf space as well. The indies often have grammar, spelling, and/or homophone errors. The authors need proofreaders or editors. However these writers can’t afford to hire the help they need. But the books usually only cost .99 cents and are sometimes more creative and interesting than mass market books. Big publishers tend to choose books based on trends, not originality, because they’re looking to ride the gravy train of whatever is hot at the moment. Don’t get me wrong- most of the books I’ve listed above were properly published. But I did read and enjoy a ton of indies, once I accepted the troubled writing quality. And sometimes they surprised me by being about as perfect as professionally published books. You just never know.
So that was my year. I’m going to start a new tally for this year now. I don’t expect it will be nearly as long because I intend to return to school in January. I’ve yet to figure out precisely how I’m going to post it. Many of the books I’ll read this year are continuations of series that I read last year. I like to keep them together, but I don’t want to mix up the 2 years. I’m still considering how I want to handle it. When I know, you’ll know, whether you want to or not.
*For listed series or trilogies, the link provided goes to the first book in the series. You may also look on my Book List page for listings of each book in the series in order with individual links to each.