Book Lists Book Reviews

Fourth and Final Quarter

December 31, 2013

The end of the year! And this was by far my best quarter. Not only did I read MORE books than another quarter, but also I felt like I read better books. And, as usual, the double-speed audiobooks are my best friend.

Also, I was on the Cybils committee for Easy Reader and Early Chapter Books this year (look for the short list to be announced later this week), so I read 35 books around 100-ish pages, that I didn’t list here. But, you know, I just want to give myself credit for that SOMEWHERE.

  • Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
  • I feel like everyone absolutely loved this book. And I only thought it was fine. Kind of lost me about halfway through.  

  • Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher
  • A solid YA book about a girl writing letters to a guy on death row, confessing that she too is a murderer, except she didn’t get caught. I read this on the plane on the way to NYC and then handed it off to Kayla

  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  • I really really loved this book about a twin going off to college by herself, and trying to navigate her complicated family life, balance her wildly popular fan fiction writing, and possibly fall in love. 

  • A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff
  • I wouldn’t be surprised if this got a Newbery nod next month. That said, I didn’t really love it. Savvy was much better. 

  • Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot by Bill O’Reilly
  • This sparked my interest in reading more about Kennedy and since then I’ve read. . .well, no other books about Kennedy. But I have big plans too!  

  • Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley (full review here)
  • This YA graphic novel about food, cooking, and eating was completely delightful. I’m not much of a graphic novel reader, but I immediately requested her other book from the library. 

  • The Boy on the Bridge by Natalie Standiford
  • I read How to Say Goodbye in Robot back in Boston and I still remember how depressing it was, and how miserable I felt after reading it. This one, about a girl studying abroad in 1980s Communist Russia who falls in love, despite all the warnings about relationships with people trying to get themselves to the US, was better. 

  • Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson
  • I have a hard time with books where the plot hinges on someone misunderstanding something or being a complete idiot (seriously, you’re going to promise your awful mother to do ANYTHING SHE WANTS? No. That’s stupid). Still a fun read.

  • Hattie Ever After by Kirby Larson
  • I loved Hattie Big Sky and this was a very worthy sequel, even if it did take me six months to get around to finally reading it. 

  • Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
  • This will always be one of my favorite books. It’s nice when something is excellent every time you read it (this was #3 for me). 

  • Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card
  • Just as good, maybe better, than Ender’s Game. 

  • Shadow of the Hegemon by Orson Scott Card
  • Hmm, I just about lost faith in the Shadow series in this one. 

  • Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
  • I couldn’t find ANYTHING available to listen to, so I downloaded this series which I read back in 2010 and listened to it all again. Deeeelightful and fun. 

  • The Off Season by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
  • This is a solid series – even the second book is good. 

  • Front and Center by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
  • I maybe possibly cried a little during the end of this book. 

  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  • When I finished Year of No Sugar, I clicked over to this on my Kindle and ended up reading the whole thing. I liked it less the second time – without the element of surprise, I found it a little flat, although the dialogue still made me laugh. 

  • Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier
  • Unbelievably, the middle book of this series was the best. Also, I’m all about teen romance, but this one was a bit swoony even for me. 

I’m excited about all the reading I have planned for 2014 (more of it, for one). Any books you’d like to suggest? I’m all ears.

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  • Reply Allie @ Everyday Adventures December 31, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    I read Catch Me If You Can a loooooong time ago, but I enjoyed it too, even though I think I agree that the movie is better. And I hadn't heard of Ketchup Clouds, but it's definitely going on my list! I just posted about my favorites for this year too!

  • Reply Carole December 31, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    I don't know HOW you read this much — in a QUARTER! I read under 40 books during the whole year. But this makes me know I raised you right 🙂 Can't wait for our Girls' Book Club this year. . .

  • Reply Kayris December 31, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    I just posted my fourth quarter and best of 2013. I read 159 books this year!

  • Reply NGS December 31, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    I am totally with you on Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. Everyone raved about it and I thought it was just okay. I LOVE Ender's Game (and LOVE LOVE Speaker for the Dead), but I haven't read the Shadow series. I'll put it on my library list.

    And the whole Dairy Queen series makes this Wisconsin resident's heart melt. D.J. is the kind of character who really sticks with you when you're done reading.

  • Reply RA December 31, 2013 at 7:27 pm

    Ah, well, sorry that Penumbra didn't catch hold for you. Ender's Shadow is my favorite Ender book, though!

    I'm posting my favorites from the year later this week, but since we are Goodreads friends, none of them will come as a shock. 🙂

  • Reply JoLee December 31, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    Ender's Game really is great every reread. It's probably my most read book.

  • Reply Emily December 31, 2013 at 8:41 pm

    Can't remember if you've read The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton by I really loved that one.

  • Reply smalldog December 31, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    I don't know if you've read/heard of them, but I'm currently whipping my way through the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde. And I keep thinking, "I wonder if Janssen would like this. What would Janssen think? I want Janssen's opinion, dang it!" So…I officially recommend it! It's so many genres lumped together I'm not even sure how to classify it, but to sum up: it takes place in an alternate past/contemporary universe, and books are real. People can sometimes get into and out of them…and can potentially change plots! It's wonderful fun.

  • Reply Laura H December 31, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    I'm sorry you didn't like the audio of Catch me if You can, I loved it. Reader was great.

    Dairy Queen series was delightful.

  • Reply Kelsey January 1, 2014 at 4:31 am

    So impressive! Excited to start discussing books with you 🙂

  • Reply Lady Susan January 2, 2014 at 12:39 am

    Can't believe you didn't love Penumbra's. I think though that we can still be virtual friends. 😉

  • Reply Peaceful Reader January 2, 2014 at 1:09 am

    Have you read Elizabeth Wein's two books Code name Verity and Rose under fire? Excellent choices!

  • Reply Meghan January 2, 2014 at 2:44 am

    So, I noticed you read a book before it came out? How often do you receive books before they come out?

  • Reply Sarah Notes January 8, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    I am SO glad I'm not the only person who didn't care for Mr. Penumbra…it lost me about half way, too. In fact, I don't even think I finished it! I have been wanting to read Ender's Game for a while…need to go on that 😀

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