Sunday, December 29, 2013

My Favorite Reads of 2013

Recently, I was asked (along with other bloggers) to contribute my favorite books published in 2013. Check out the list here but I thought I'd share my other choices that didn't make the final list, in no particular order:

The Golem and the Jinni (Helene Wecker)
A rich, multi-cultural narrative that blends the immigrant story with Old World beliefs and legends. A golem and a jinni take separate paths but find themselves together in America, straining against the dictates of their natures and discovering themselves in the process. I was really immersed in the different histories of the characters, imagining deserts and dance halls as I turned each page.

Tell the Wolves I'm Home (Carol Rifka Brunt)
I have a rather biased review here, but in a nutshell, it tells how June is coming to terms with the death of her uncle Finn. They have a special bond, and she is devastated when he dies. But Finn has another life that he has kept from June. After his death, June meets Toby, and forms a delicate relationship with another soul who had loved and cherished her uncle. In my review, I admit that 'the prose can get bogged down by over-articulation,' but it was a story that really touched me deeply.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane (Neil Gaiman)
This will probably be included in a lot of year-end lists this so I'll be brief: it's a poignant and bittersweet coming-of-age.

Icon of the Indecisive (Mina V. Esguerra)
Mina's popular YA series ends on a high note. She takes elements from Filipino mythology and dresses them in familiar things: contemporary setting, love triangles, popular teens. But she also makes sure that Hannah's journey remains solid and relatable. It's great to read Pinoy YA -- popular Pinoy YA -- and discover that it has more to offer beyond the usual paranormal romance.

The Dream Thieves (Maggie Stiefvater)
I love Maggie Stiefvater's language and her fully-realized worlds. She peoples them with complex characters and The Dream Thieves is no exception. Here, she focuses the limelight on Ronan Lynch, a rich prep school boy whose titular capabilities hastens the Raven Boys along their quest for legend and power. I was looking forward to this book's release because I couldn't enough of the Aglionby boys Gansey, Ronan, Adam, and Noah. Ms Stiefvater's writing is very visual and poetic, keeping this series on my must-read list.

Project 17 (Eliza Victoria)
Ms Victoria crafts a world of high-stakes security and medical advancement against the backdrop of a futuristic Manila. Lillian is hired as the babysitter of Paul Dolores' brother Caleb, a smart and introverted man with schizoaffective disorder. Her job was supposed to be easy but her curiosity lands her in a more than what she bargained for. Great tension and action, plus I thought the characters are very engaging. I finished this in one sitting because it moved at a great pace.

Fangirl (Rainbow Rowell)
Fangirl chronicles a college experience that isn't quite like what we encounter here in Manila, but the insecurities, doubts, and struggles remain on point. It's a great look at college, writing, family, sisterhood, friendship, love; it tackles all these and makes them place nice with each other. It's the kind of book I wish I had read when I was younger. It's richly-layered despite a simple-sounding plot.

The Rosie Project (Graeme Simsion)
I loved the protagonist Don Tillman, a genetics professor with a mild case of Asperger's Syndrome. He has decided to embark on a Wife Project, which makes him cross paths with Rosie, his opposite in a lot of ways. Mr Simsion did a great job of capturing Don's voice and making his character come alive. He never breaks character. It's the kind of book I'd recommend to anyone who says they're tired of the same old romance tropes -- or to anyone looking for a romance that can easily be translated into a romcom flick.

What were your favorite books of 2013 (whether released this year or not)? Share your thoughts -- I'd love to know!


Tin said...

You've predicted right because I have The Ocean at The End of the Lane on my list too. :)For some reason, I feel like out of all of his works, this one is the Neil Gaimanest of them all. If that makes sense. Haha. :D

The Golem and the Jinni is high on my list already. And I must really read a Rainbow Rowell soon.

Have a great 2014, Chris! :D

Alex Lapa said...

I'm curious about Project 17! Will hunt it down.