Wednesday, January 1, 2014

what i read in 2013

Linking up with Haley from Carrots for Michaelmas!


New books read:

Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi.  This is the second book of a young-adult trilogy, which is set in a future, post-apocalyptic world -- in this case, the apocalypse was the onset of a phenomenon called the Aether about three hundred years prior.  The Aether isn't fully explained, but it's some kind of near-constant, devastating, electrical atmospheric phenomenon which makes survival on earth very difficult.  When it began, a few thousand people were chosen by lottery to live in "pods" or protected cities, safe from the Aether (cities which they never, ever leave) and spend most of their lives in a virtual reality world called the Realms.  Everyone else was left on the outside, to survive as best they could-- and over the years, some of them developed special powers as a result of mutations caused by exposure to the Aether.  The story (of course) involves the meeting of two teens, Perry and Aria, one from the outside world and one from inside the pods.  I actually enjoyed it a lot-- as well as the first book, Under the Never Sky.  It's a teeny bit predictable, but it's cleverly done and well written, and the fantasy world is pretty well fleshed out despite the lack of scientific explanation.  Of course there's a love story (of course) but it's actually a truly believable one. (I've already pre-ordered the third book, Into The Still Blue, which comes out next month!)

Storm Front by Jim Butcher.  This is the first book of a series which my brother Sam recommended to me.  The main character and narrator, Harry Dresden, is a bona fide wizard living in modern-day Chicago and working as a private investigator.  It was a lot of fun.  I wouldn't mind reading more of this series.

Graceling, Fire, and Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore.  This is another young-adult fantasy trilogy.  Apparently I read a lot of those this year.  The premise of this one is that, in a certain land, some babies (unclear exactly how many-- maybe one in fifty?) are born with a Grace, or special skill... which can be anything at all.  Some Graces are valued, like fighting or cooking, or singing, or being ridiculously good at math.  Some are a bit useless, like fearlessness or being able to hold your breath indefinitely, or being able to open your mouth bizarrely far (as one character can do).  Some Graces are looked upon with suspicion, like mind reading-- but all Gracelings are looked upon with some suspicion, at least in most places.  And you can tell who the Gracelings are because their eyes are two different colors.  I enjoyed this series, but it wasn't my favorite.  The morality espoused by the books was also a bit questionable at times.  But the premise was interesting and pretty well-done, with a lot of "what-ifs" followed out to their logical conclusions (which I find a lot of fantasy books don't do), and some genuinely suspenseful and surprising moments.

Shelter by Harlan Coben.  Apparently also the first of a young-adult series.  Not a fantasy (though it does deal with ideas of fate and destiny).  The main character, Mickey Bolitar, has just moved in with his uncle after his father died in a car accident and his mother was put into rehab.  And his new girlfriend, Ashley, has mysteriously disappeared.  Sucks to be him, right?  Then a creepy, crazy (or is she?) old neighbor lady tells him that maybe his father isn't dead after all.  Mickey doesn't know what to think, but he knows he needs to find out what happened to Ashley, and hopefully find out more about his father and this crazy neighbor lady while he's at it.  Enjoyable and reasonably well-written, it addressed sometimes-horrifying subject matter with maturity and non-gratuitousness.

The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley.  I purchased it on Kindle in a moment of desperation.  It was moderately helpful.  I would recommend it to my patients' parents (or my friends), especially if they lean toward attachment-style parenting.

The Sinner's Guide to Natural Family Planning by Simcha Fisher.  If you use NFP, and you haven't read it, you should.  It's not a how-to-do-NFP book, so much as a how-to-stay-married-and-not-cry-in-frustration-while-doing-NFP book.  Read, laugh, cry, nod, recommend to others.

NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman.  A very interesting, absorbing book which uses various research studies to challenge common preconceptions about raising children.  Chapter titles include "The Inverse Power of Praise," "Why White Parents Don't Talk About Race," "The Science of Teen Rebellion," "Why Hannah Talks and Alyssa Doesn't," and lots more.  Really fascinating.

Allegiant by Veronica Roth.  This is the third book of a young-adult trilogy.  In this future dystopian city, everyone lives their life in one of five factions, each focused on a certain virtue:  Abnegation (the selfless), Candor (the honest), Erudite (the intelligent), Dauntless (the courageous), or Amity (the peaceful).  The faction you are in determines everything about you-- where you live, what you wear, how you act, what careers are open to you, etc.  At age 16, each person gets to decide whether they will stay in the faction they were born into, or transfer to a different faction (where they will remain for the rest of their lives).  The trilogy starts when the main character, Beatrice Prior, is about to make that decision.  The premise sounded silly to me before I read them, but I actually LOVED this series.

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell.  An interesting, hard-to-put-down book exploring how we make snap decisions without even realizing how (such as whether you like a certain food or whether you're attracted to someone, or doctors deciding whether someone is likely to be having a heart attack, or police officers deciding whether someone is about to pull out a gun).  It discusses what goes into those decisions, when we can and can't rely on them, and what the consequences are.  The Tipping Point is definitely on my list for 2014.

Books re-read:

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.  The last time I read this, I was in high school.  I didn't realize back then how hilarious (in a good way-- like, a her-writing-is-super-clever way) Austen is.

Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth.  These are the first two books of the trilogy that ended with Allegiant, which I discussed above.  Love.

All seven Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling.  Ahhh, Harry Potter.  Some of my favorite books of all time.  (Hermione is my girl.) This was my first time going back and re-reading them after finishing the 7th book, so it was fun to pick up on things and read them in the light of what I knew was going to happen.

Books started but not yet finished:

Miracles by C.S. Lewis.  Well, C.S. Lewis is wonderful, of course.  This book is quite a bit denser and less conversational than some of his other works like Mere Christianity, though, so it's taking me awhile to get through it.  It's hard to find time to sit down and really concentrate on what I'm reading for any extended period of time, with littles in the house.

Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O'Neill.  This is one I think I'm actually not going to try to finish-- at least not for now.  It's well-written, but very depressing, and I found I just wasn't enjoying myself as I was reading it. (I got probably halfway through, or nearly halfway.)  Here's Amazon's synopsis:
At thirteen, Baby vacillates between childhood comforts and adult temptation: still young enough to drag her dolls around in a vinyl suitcase yet old enough to know more than she should about urban cruelties. Motherless, she lives with her father, Jules, who takes better care of his heroin habit than he does of his daughter. Baby's gift is a genius for spinning stories and for cherishing the small crumbs of happiness that fall into her lap. But her blossoming beauty has captured the attention of a charismatic and dangerous local pimp who runs an army of sad, slavishly devoted girls—a volatile situation even the normally oblivious Jules cannot ignore. And when an escape disguised as betrayal threatens to crush Baby's spirit, she will ultimately realize that the power of salvation rests in her hands alone.

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen.  I'd already read the three Jane Austen novels that it seems like everyone has read (maybe because they were made into movies with big-name stars?)-- Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Sense and Sensibility (omg, how much do you love that book cover for S&S on Amazon?! I wish my copy looked like that!).  Mansfield Park is equally charming.  (I hate Mary Crawford already.  She's so obnoxious.  I just want to smack her.)  Northanger Abbey and Persuasion (again with the gorgeous cover!) are on my list, hopefully for 2014... but I have a LOT on my list for 2014, so we'll see.  They're on my in-the-near-future list, anyway!

What books did you read in 2013?


  1. Lots of fantasy books here to recommend to my older teens:)

    1. Yes! I enjoyed them a lot! Do be warned, though, that pretty much all the young adult novels on my list did include sexual themes-- no graphic or explicit scenes, but obvious as to what's going on.

    2. If you'd like, I can let you know the details if that's a concern for you. (The Graceling trilogy was probably the most explicit and disturbing, the Divergent trilogy the most PG.)

  2. I need to get Simcha's book now! Thanks for linking up ; )

    1. You definitely should! I'm making my husband read it next. ("Making him" in the best sense, you know.)