December 29, 2013

2013 End of the Year Book Survey

I quite enjoyed participating in the End of the Year Book Survey hosted by Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner last year, and couldn't resist the opportunity to again analyze my past year's reading. 

Without any further ado:

The Best in Books

1. Best book I read in 2013

I’ll keep this nice and short.

Young Adult Fiction: In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

Adult Fiction: Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

2. Book I was excited about and thought I was going to love more but didn’t

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell — I cannot properly express my disappointment over this. I expected to love it and ended up with more lukewarm feelings than anything else. I just couldn’t connect to the characters in any meaningful way.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013
Pivot Point by Kasie West — I don’t count paranormal or contemporary among my favorite types of genres, so I wasn’t expecting too much out of this debut. But, wow, was it so much better than I expected!

4. Book I recommended to people most in 2013
I  think it’s a toss-up between Megan Whalen Turner’s The Queen’s Thief series, Kristin Cashore’s Graceling Realm series and Elizabeth Wein’s Code Name Verity. I’ll be recommending these books for ever and always.

5. Best series I discovered in 2013
Dairy Queen series by Catherine Gilbert Murdock — There are a ton of series I started this year, but for the purposes of this question I decided to pick a new series for me where I had read more than simply the first book. In many ways, me reading the Dairy Queen series was a discovery, as it was something I ordinarily would never have been interested in. But I’m so glad I gave it a chance. D.J. Schwenk is an easily relatable protagonist and so genuine.

6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2013
I hesitate to elevate authors to “favorite” status until I’ve read at least a few of their works. Authors well on their way to becoming favorites, however, include: Cat Winters, Hannah Kent, Jandy Nelson, and Erin Bow.

7. Best book that was out of my comfort zone or was a new genre for me
The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson — This is a very dark contemporary, as protagonist Lennie grieves over her sister Bailey’s death. In addition to heavy grief themes, this book is just very quirky and music-oriented. None of these elements really appeal to me, but together they’ve created a beautiful book.

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013
All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill — If I remember correctly, the events of this novel all take place over a few days. And nothing less than the state of the world is at stake. The story has an almost cinematic quality to it.

9. Book I read in 2013 that I am most likely to re-read next year

I haven’t actually done any substantial re-reading since I started this blog, but I do, however, plan on re-reading Finnikin of the Rock (first read in January 2012) and then reading the rest of Melina Marchetta’s Lumatere Chronicles. It’s my pick for my work book club, so this is definitely happening.

10. Favorite cover of a book I read in 2013

11. Most memorable character in 2013
Sturmhond (from Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo)
Zuzana (from Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor)
Jessica Darling (from the Jessica Darling series by Megan McCafferty)

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2013
I’m going to go with a contemporary, a fantasy, and a historical fiction here.

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

All of these books made me want to use up packets of sticky notes. Beautiful line after beautiful line in all three.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on me in 2013
How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr — I discussed this a bit in my review, but to recap: How to Save a Life is a YA contemporary about a pregnant teenage girl and the teenage daughter of the woman who plans on adopting the baby. My family adopted a baby when I was a teenager, and so I was really able to empathize with Jill and her turbulent emotions.

14. Book I can’t believe I waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde — I love reading older books every once in a while, especially eighteenth and nineteenth-century British classics. I’d heard wonderful things about this beautifully written, dark story and even started reading it once, but it took a book club selection for me to finally read it in its entirety.

15. Favorite passage/quote from a book I read in 2013
Each man, when he dies, sees the landscape of his own soul.  
Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt

I know the expression love bloomed is metaphorical, but in my heart in this moment, there is one badass flower, captured in time-lapse photography, going from bud to wild radiant blossom in ten seconds flat.
The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

I fell in love with him. But I don’t just stay with him by default as if there’s no one else available to me. I stay with him because I choose to, every day that I wake up, every day that we fight or lie to each other or disappoint each other. I choose him over and over again, and he chooses me.
Allegiant by Veronica Roth

We can have in life but one great experience at best, and the secret of life is to reproduce that experience as often as possible.
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

16. Shortest and longest book I read in 2013
I did read some short stories, but for the sake of the survey I'm counting books, not novellas or short stories.

Shortest: And All the Stars by Andrea K. Host (204 pages)
Longest: The Diviners by Libba Bray (578 pages)

Not going to lie: this makes me depressed. I love my chunky books and I cannot believe I didn’t read anything over 600 pages. Definitely something I’ll need to work on in 2014.

17. Book that had a scene in it that had me reeling and dying to talk to somebody about it
Allegiant by Veronica Roth — No explanation needed. Right? Right.

18. Favorite relationship from a book I read in 2013
Friendship: Otter, Kestrel, and Cricket from Sorrow’s Knot by Erin Bow
Familial: Jill and her mother from How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr
Romantic: Lennie and Joe from The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

19. Favorite book I read in 2013 from an author I read previously
Rampant and Ascendant by Diana Peterfreund — Three words: killer unicorn huntresses. In 2012 I had literally just read Jane Austen’s Persuasion before reading Peterfreund’s retelling of it, For Darkness Shows the Stars, which led to some (possibly unfair) comparisons where For Darkness Shows the Stars came up lacking. This was not the case at all with her Killer Unicorns duology, however.

20. Best book I read based SOLELY on a recommendation from somebody else
The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson — Although this was first published in 2011, a number of my most trusted reviewers (Thanks Keertana, Courtney, Heather, Maja, Lauren!) loved this one, so I decided to give it a chance. And it’s one of my favorite contemporaries (favorite stories, probably) ever.

21. Genre I read the most from in 2013
I’m a fantasy fangirl through and through, so unsurprisingly I classified the most books as fantasies (a total of 24). Interestingly, I did really branch out in 2013 and read many books in a variety of genres. I classified 19 of the books I read this past year as contemporary (and this is coming from someone who’s convinced that contemporaries aren’t for her).

22. Newest fictional crush from a book I read in 2013

None, really. I guess I’m a bit beyond fictional crushes at this point. If I had to choose, I do like Sturmhond from Siege and Storm. And Joe from The Sky is Everywhere. And Titus from The Burning Sky.

23. Best 2013 debut I read
Oh this is a tie between Cat Winters’ In the Shadow of Blackbirds and Elizabeth Ross’ Belle Epoque. Both historical fiction. Both beautifully written. 

24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book I read in 2013
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent — I was so easily transported to the frigid, claustrophobic world of Iceland during the late 1800s as I read this book.

25. Book that was the most fun to read in 2013
The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani — I tend to read more serious books (no surprise there I’m sure). But I think that The School for Good and Evil is a very fun and lighthearted twist on fairy-tale culture.

26. Book that made me cry in 2013
Allegiant by Veronica Roth — Finishing this around midnight meant that any possibility for a good night’s rest was gone. I remember laying in my bed for quite a while just thinking over everything, and finally falling asleep with tears plastered to my face.

In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters — This was the first book that I finished after my maternal grandmother passed away, and so all of Mary Shelley’s revelations about death and the afterlife hit me pretty hard, especially that concluding scene between her and her beloved, Stephen.

27. Book I read in 2013 that I think got overlooked this year or when it came out
Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross — This is well written, about a fascinating historical time period/culture, is focused on female friendship, and brings forth an interesting discussion of beauty standards. I honestly don’t know why this book hasn’t received more love.

Looking Ahead

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2013 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2014
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente — If ever there’s a chance for a middle grade book to work for me, it would be this one. Simply everything about this book sounds wonderful and I cannot wait to read this entire trilogy.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2014
One? Yeah, sure. Broken down into a few categories:

Series Starter: Death Sworn by Leah Cypess
Series Ender: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
Debut: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Standalone: The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters

...And many, many more!

3. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2014
I’d like to better connect with other bloggers, whether it is through more post/comment interactions or through Twitter. Blogging at Late Nights with Good Books is something I do for me, regardless of the audience I reach. I’ve always loved reading, and now I really do like having the opportunity to review books, but I feel as though I’m missing out somewhat by not being involved enough in this amazing community. I definitely do want to get to know my fellow book bloggers better in 2014!
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Amanda loves few things better than sitting down with a cup of tea and a book. She frequently stays up far too late, telling herself she just needs to finish one more page. When she's not wrapped up in the stories of others, Amanda works as a children's librarian in a public library.


  1. Both of your best books were favorite of mine. So good. I've been super skeptical about diving into Rainbow Rowell's YA novels, but I sure loved Attachments. I've been so undecided about the Dairy Queen series. I can't get over what they're about regardless of how many people gush about them! Someday. :) The Sky is Everywhere! One of my favorites, such an amazing book. Your goal to read larger books is awesome. Big books SCARE me and I have no idea why. lol

    1. Yay! I'm pretty sure that means we both have a great taste in books. :)
      I really should read Attachments but I'm a bit hesitant after being such a black sheep when it came to Fangirl. Hmm.
      And you really should read the Dairy Queen series. I thought they'd be passable at most, but there's a lot of heart in this series. And it's kind of awesome to read books that take place in my current state of residence haha.
      I am so excited for Nelson's new book coming out this year. I have super high expectations, of course, but I think her new book will be up to them.
      Aw, you just need to find a fantastic big book to help combat your aversion to them. :)


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