Monday, January 13, 2014

Best Books of 2013

Unusually so, I read a lot of older books this year, including many re-reads. One of my goals for 2013 was to buy fewer books and to curb my buying habit, and in turn, to support my library by donating that money to the library and borrowing what I needed to read. I also ended p re-reading a whole bunch and re-discovering those books, which had brought me so much joy previously.

I read traditional Regency romances Hampshire Hoyden by Michelle Martin (Fawcett, Jun-93) and The Mad Miss Mathley by Michelle Martin (Fawcett, Aug-95) thrice this year. I loved them both so much. They were true traditional Regencies with clever dialogue, nuanced and in-depth character development, developing romantic interest, only kissing, and wit.

In the latter part of the year, I embarked on Georgette Heyer's novels and read 13 of them almost back-to-back. My most memorable reads were The Corinthian (Sourcebooks, Jan-09), Faro's Daughter (Sourcebooks, Jan-08), The Nonesuch (Sourcebooks, Jan-09), Sylvester (Harlequin, Jan-04), and Frederica (Sourcebooks, Jan-08). Three of the books have unforgettable heroes, while the other two unforgettable heroines. Heyer is such a gifted writer, able to create such distinctive characters, even secondary ones. Her leisurely writing style allows her to explore fine nuances of situations, quirks, and dialogue.

More of my top faves in the traditional Regency realm were: Imprudent Lady by Joan Smith (Fawcett, Sep-78), The Sandalwood Princess by Loretta Chase (Avon, Nov-91), Mad Earl’s Bride by Loretta Chase (Avon, Jun-13), Lord Richard's Daughter by Joan Wolf (Signet, Jul-83), A London Season by Joan Wolf (Signet, Jan-81), Reforming Lord Ragsdale by Carla Kelly (Signet, Oct-95), and Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand by Carla Kelly (Signet, Dec-94).

Joanna Bourne's spy romances set in France and England always rise to the top of my year's reading list every year I re-read them. The Spymaster's Lady (Berkley, Jan-08) and The Black Hawk (Berkley, Nov-11)

Another series I love is C.S. Harris's St. Cyr Regency mysteries. This year's book What Darkness Brings (NAL, Mar-13) was no exception.

The following authors never fail to produce books that land them on my top favorites list. Always in my Dreams by Jo Goodman (Zebra, Nov-04) is a Victorian book set in the U.S., Chance of a Lifetime by Jodi Thomas (Berkley, Jan-13) is a contemporary western, Unlocked by Courtney Milan (self-pubbed, Sep-12) is a British Victorian novella, and The Good Daughter by Jane Porter (Berkley, Feb-13) is a women's fiction novel (or what, Jane calls Modern Lit).

The Wild Hunt (St. Martin's Press, Oct-91) was my first book by Elizabeth Chadwick and a haunting medieval at that. It certainly will not be my last. I look forward to reading other books in 2014.

Poetry of William Blake as selected by Peter Butter (Everyman, Jan-96) is no surprise to anyone who knows me and my abiding love for the poetry of the Romantic Age.

A surprising addition to my Best Of list is The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan, a middle grade novel by Hyperion in Jan-06. Excellent world-building with close ties to Greek mythology with just enough variance to add a historical feel to the fantasy.

I can't say enough good things about The Pomodoro Technique by Francesco Cirillo (self-pubbed, Oct-06). It's a time management technique that focuses on a single task done in 25-minute increments of time. I have blogged about it in detail here.

My entire list of 109 books is available for you to look at, if you so wish.

An aside: To read what books were popular in 2013 in romance according to Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers' Weekly, Library Journal, etc., please read Just Janga's Blog.