Thursday, December 26, 2013

2013 My Year in Books!

Woohoo! I've read 25 books this year! Which isn't too bad considering I've been in nursing school the whole year. (The following is major spoiler free. Some minor spoiling possible.. but I tried not to)

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
This is the second book in the Cinder series. I liked this one a lot. I love good YA books and this is some great dystopian/fantasy/awesomeness. Following Cinder's example this is another retelling of a classic fairy tale which I LOVE.
Recommended for: YA fans, teens, sci-fi fans, dystopian lovers, fairy tale lovers

The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson
This is the second book in the Name of the Star trilogy. It's no secret that I love Maureen Johnson and all of her books, but this one was great! I'm not normally a huge fan of ghost stories or books with ghost characters, but this one is awesome. Hilarious, witty, dark and gripping all describe this awesome book. You definitely have to read The Name of the Star first, but then devour this one. I'll just apologize for recommending this one now… because once you finish it… well you'll be upset!
Recommended for: YA fans, teens, sci-fi fans, people who love ghost stories, MJ fans, crime solving

Crewel by Gennifer Albin
Another YA dystopia novel. Can you tell I can't help myself from devouring them?? This one is an interesting take on controlling and creating "perfect lives". Adelice can weave time with matter and therefore affect real life, not to mention disrupt time and space. This is a super interesting take on sci-fi and fantasy. I like being intrigued and amused by something and this dystopian YA novel has a great premise. Apparently the sequels already out and I didn't know it!
Recommended for: YA fans, teens, sci-fi/fantasy fans, people interested in weaving?! :p

The Crane's Dance by Meg Howrey
I loved, loved, loved this book. I'm not even quite sure why I loved it so much. I underlined quotes that I loved, which I rarely do when reading a fiction book. It's about a woman who is a principal dancer in a ballet company in New York, dealing with the stress of her job, her sister's mental breakdown and her own seeming spiral into madness. It was great for sooo many reasons.
Recommended for: ballet lovers, artists, YA, adults, anybody!

Waiting to be Heard by Amanda Knox
I picked this up as soon as it came out. I never really followed her trial that closely when it was going on.. but I was interested in hearing the story from her point of view. This is an interesting book, allowing Amanda to have a voice, really, for the first time since her trial began. I'm still not sure what I think about the whole thing. Did she do it? I don't' know. I don't think so. If she did, I don't think that there was enough evidence to convict her..
Recommended for: real crime lovers, true crime fans, memoir enthusaists

Baghdad Burning by Riverbend
I enjoyed this book that is a slightly edited version of blog posts from a girl living in Baghdad during the American invasion who calls herself Riverbend. This was an enlightening read and offers a different view of the American invasion in Iraq. I've read a fair amount of books by other Middle Eastern authors and this one was fascinating as well. She provides an insider's account of what Baghdad was really like in 2003 and 2004 while showing that many people in Baghdad were well educated and that Islamic fundamentalism was rare before the American military showed up.
Recommended for: history buffs, people interested in the Middle East, feminists, memoir enthusiasts

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
My dad told me about this book before it was published. About how the author was being touted as the 'next J.K. Rowling'. So we bought it and I read with cautious optimism. This book is really nothing like Harry Potter other than the fact that many of the characters have more magical or mystical abilities. But I enjoyed it quite a lot. Should she be compared to Rowling? Time will tell. This is only the first of seven books that will be published in this series. I'm intrigued by the start of the series and interested to see where the rest of it will take us.
Recommended for: YA fans, sci-fi/fantasy lovers, people who like loooong series, fans of magic

Five Days at Memorial by Sherri Fink
I had read about this book before it was published and I knew that it was a journalist's investigations into possible euthanasia at a hospital in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. I was very interested in this book as a nurse and as a person who loves New Orleans. I approached this book feeling that I had pretty strong opinions about euthanasia, about right and wrong. But after reading this epic (it comes in at about 550 pages) my views on euthanasia, about who deserves to die, who deserves to live, and who makes these decisions during a natural disaster, were suddenly much less clear. The situation in hospitals in NOLA and in the city as a whole were deplorable. There were decisions being made that could have been avoided and there was tremendously bad aid provided by the government, the military, and private companies. My general take away from this book was that New Orleans was abandoned after Katrina and horrible things happened as a result.
Recommended for: medical professionals, anyone interested in ethics, New Orleans lovers

Allegiant by Veronica Roth
This is the final book in the Divergent trilogy that started in 2012. I was intrigued when I first heard about this series because it had been written by a 22 year old, who had just graduated from Northwestern. Her book had been chosen for publication and a movie studio had already optioned the rights to all three books, before the first was published and the second and third were even written. I thought this was an amazing accomplishment for a new author. I loved Divergent. It was innovative and a new take on the now common YA dystopia genre. I like Insurgent fairly well, although not as much as Divergent. Then came the much anticipated third book, Allegiant. I had grand hopes for the finale. I so wanted to like it. And I did like it, well enough. But there wasn't as much action or excitement as the first two and… I don't know it felt more like a middle book than a finale.

The ending of Allegiant has been widely discussed and many readers are incredibly angry with the way it ended, some going so far as to send death threats to Roth. Completely uncalled for behavior, that should never be condoned. Just because authors are now public figures and allow their readers a lot of access to them, DOES NOT mean it is alright to send authors death threats when you don't like a choice they make in THIER book. Did I love the ending of Allegiant? No. Did it make sense for the characters and the story? Yes.
Recommended for: YA fans, dystopian lovers, futuristic society fans, sci-fi/fantasy lovers

I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

I meant to read this memoir as soon as it came out, but alas school got in the way. I had heard about Malala when the rest of the world did in 2012 when she was shot in the head by the Taliban in Pakistan for speaking out about girls' rights to attend school. I knew that she was already a kickass proponent of girls (and every child's) right to an education but until I read this book I didn't realize that she had been an outspoken opponent to the Taliban for years. She started writing and giving speeches about the importance of education when she was around 11 years old. She submitted writing that became part of a few blog posts about what it was like to live as young girl under Taliban rule in Pakistan. You can tell from this book that Malala is an incredibly smart girl and more than that she has the drive and the passion to learn everything she can and truly change her world for the better.

Recommended for: feminists, children, memoir enthusiasts, teens, adults

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