Alright, this is my last “looking back at 2013” post. I think. But the thing is, with so many great books coming out all the time, even some of the greatest can get lost in the shuffle. So I wanted to highlight a few books from 2013 that are really wonderful but just haven’t been checked out much. Hopefully you’ll all decide to try something new, and discover how great these under-appreciated gems are!
Shadows by Robin McKinley – I’m a huge Robin McKinley fangirl all around, so of course I had to read Shadows right when it came out. And I really think it’s one of her best. Certainly Shadows is a little more mature than some of her earlier work, and the combination of world-building, critters, and a fantastic and unique narrative voice make it really stand out. In a world that is both very like our own and completely different and weird, Maggie struggles with her hatred for her new stepfather Val and the creepy shadows that follow him around. Add in a devastatingly handsome new friend, her lovable and hyperactive border collie, increasingly bizarre events being covered up by the government, and remedial math, and Maggie has her hands more than full.
Over You by Amy Reed – I can’t even begin to explain all the reasons, but I really, really loved this book. I picked it up because of a rave review on Stacked, a favorite blog of mine, and I fell in love. Really you could just read the Stacked review to see why it’s great, but there are a few things I especially loved. Like the fact that Max was an ancient mythology nerd. Or how well written Sadie was, so that even when I wanted to smack her, I still understood why Max loved her. Like getting to read a book that focused so much on female friendship (even if it was a toxic one.) Or Max herself, a fascinating character to see develop. And like the fact that even weeks after finishing it, I was still thinking about Over You.
The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson – This is a third in a trilogy (oh yes, that trilogy that I keep writing about – there’s a reason I obsess over it). So obviously, if you haven’t read the first two this is probably not going to be one you check out. But this book was so good. It was probably my favorite of the series, and I love this series. There’s adventure, travel, danger, romance, and a whole lot more of Elisa turning into the awesome and powerful queen she was meant to be. Plus, if it’s your thing, a lot more of the history and politics of Elisa’s world. So catch up on the Girls of Fire and Thorns series if you need to, and if you’ve read the first two but held off on The Bitter Kingdom, I highly recommend picking it up ASAP.
The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr – As a former piano player, I was of course intrigued by a book about a piano prodigy who quit playing, and how she handled her family and her love of music afterwards. What I was not expecting was a quiet book focused on character that I still could not put down. I found myself pulling out my Kindle while I waited in two minute lines just to read a little more of this book. Lucy is a flawed but realistic character, one who I couldn’t help rooting for even when I saw where she was going wrong. And her story is perfect for anyone trying to sift through all the outside influence and figure out what they love and why, who they love and why, and what they want their life to be.