The 2013 Year in Review

Happy New Year, everyone! It’s been another great year of books—I can’t believe I finished the challenge this year, I didn’t expect to. To celebrate, I’ve compiled my Year in Review. I have lists below, but this year I also have an infographic of sorts. Unfortunately I can’t make it embed because Infogr.am, the website I used, is for some reason completely defective that way (and I spent all day trying to create one with Javascript and JQuery, but to say that didn’t go well would be a massive understatement). If you’re interested in seeing the graphic, you can click here. You can scroll over the map to see how many books were based in each country.

On the note of lists, they’re below. As with last year, they’re a backwards countdown from 10 (or 5 on the smaller lists). I’ve also included the full 100 books at the end of the post, under the jump. I won’t include a list of the ones I finished from the Stylist list, because it was really just Anna Karenina.

A final announcement: I think it’s time for me to end my book challenge, at least for a while. The past three years have been fun but also incredibly stressful. By the end of this year specifically I was sick of reading, and I just wanted to stop. So for 2014 I’m not going to set an amount of books to read. However, I’ll probably post book reviews once in a while.

Anyway, enjoy the lists!

Best 10 of 2013:
10. The Dogs Are Eating Them Now — Graeme Smith
9. The Demonologist — Andrew Pyper
8. The Ice Princess — Camilla Läckberg
7. Enemies Within — Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman
6. Nikolski — Nicolas Dickner
5. Starbucked — Taylor Clark
4. Me Before You — Jojo Moyes
3. The Reluctant Fundamentalist — Mohsin Hamid
2. The Imperfectionists — Tom Rachman
1. Sweet Tooth — Ian McEwan

Worst 5 of 2013:
5. The Golden Spruce — John Vaillant
4. Public Secrets — Nora Roberts
3. The First Deadly Sin — Lawrence Sanders
2. Creatures of Light and Darkness — Roger Zelazny
1. Easy Money — Jens Lapidus

Ten Best Fiction:
10. Infidelity — Stacey May Fowles
9. Crazy Rich Asians — Kevin Kwan
8. Green Grass Running Water — Thomas King
7. Spin — Catherine McKenzie
6. Blankets — Craig Thompson
5. Nikolski — Nicolas Dickner
4. The Reluctant Fundamentalist — Mohsin Hamid
3. The Imperfectionists — Tom Rachman
2. Me Before You — Jojo Moyes
1. Sweet Tooth — Ian McEwan

Ten Best Non-Fiction:
10. Mrs. Kennedy and Me — Clint Hill
9. In The City of Bikes — Pete Jordan
8. Lost Girls — Robert Kolker
7. La Seduction — Elaine Sciolino
6. Some Great Idea — Edward Keenan
5. Heads In Beds — Jacob Tomsky
4. Some Girls, Some Hats and Hitler — Trudi Kanter
3. Starbucked — Taylor Clark
2. The Dogs Are Eating Them Now — Graeme Smith
1. Enemies Within — Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman

Ten Best Romance:
10. Inner Harbour — Nora Roberts
9. Wallbanger — Alice Clayton
8. Chesapeake Blue — Nora Roberts
7. Born In Fire — Nora Roberts
6. Seducing Ingrid Bergman — Chris Greenhalgh
5. Rising Tides — Nora Roberts
4. Sea Swept — Nora Roberts
3. The Lost Wife — Alyson Richman
2. Me Before You — Jojo Moyes
1. Sweet Tooth — Ian McEwan

Ten Best Crime/Mystery:
10. A Lesson In Secrets — Jacqueline Winspear
9. Paris to Die For — Maxine Kenneth
8. The Black Echo — Michael Connelly
7. The Guilty Plea — Robert Rotenberg
6. Stray Bullets — Robert Rotenberg
5. The Black Ice — Michael Connelly
4. The Concrete Blonde — Michael Connelly
3. The Black Box — Michael Connelly
2. Blue Monday — Nicci French
1. Stranglehold — Robert Rotenberg

Ten Best Horror/Thriller:
10. The Preacher — Camilla Läckberg
9. The Drowning — Camilla Läckberg
8.  Defending Jacob — William Landay
7. The Hidden Child — Camilla Läckberg
6. The Stranger — Camilla Läckberg
5. The Ice Princess — Camilla Läckberg
4. The Reluctant Fundamentalist — Mohsin Hamid
3. The Lost Boy — Camilla Läckberg
2. The Demonologist — Andrew Pyper
1. The Stonecutter — Camilla Läckberg

Five Best Historical (Fiction and Non-Fiction):
5. The Dressmaker — Kate Alcott
4. Seducing Ingrid Bergman — Chris Greenhalgh
3. The Lost Wife — Alyson Richman
2. Some Girls, Some Hats and Hitler — Trudi Kanter
1. Sweet Tooth — Ian McEwan

Ten Best Canadian Novels:
10. Stray Bullets — Robert Rotenberg
9. Infidelity — Stacey May Fowles
8. Green Grass, Running Water — Thomas King
7. Spin — Catherine McKenzie
6. Stranglehold — Robert Rotenberg
5. Some Great Idea — Edward Keenan
4. The Dogs Are Eating Them Now — Graeme Smith
3. The Demonologist — Andrew Pyper
2. Nikolski — Nicolas Dickner
1. The Imperfectionists — Tom Rachman

Five Best Short Stories:
5. A Scandal In Bohemia — Arthur Conan Doyle
4. Le Bal — Irene Nemirovsky
3. Benjamin Button — F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. The Copper Beeches — Arthur Conan Doyle
1. The Speckled Band — Arthur Conan Doyle

For anyone who’s interested in the full 100 books, you can head under the jump and see the final tally for the year.

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The 2012 Year in Review

Happy New Year, everyone! I can’t believe it’s actually 2013, and I’ve finally put my challenge to bed for the second year in a row. To celebrate, I’ve compiled my Year in Review! You can look forward to lists upon lists upon lists (the best and worst 10 of 2012, and some genre-specific lists). I almost had an infographic but it didn’t want to work for me, so everyone will just have to be happy with lists.

I’ve also included the full 100 books at the end of the post, as well as the list of the books I managed to read from the Stylist challenge list this year. (In case you were wondering what was happening with that, I’ll be continuing the mini challenge into 2013.)

A disclaimer: as with last year, all of these rankings are purely my own personal opinion. Don’t be surprised if they clash with the real critics’ reviews (and, believe me, some will). Oh, and they’re counted down backwards from 10 (or 5, on the smaller lists).

Best 10 of 2012:
10. A TWO-WAY TIE: Nine Dragons — Michael Connelly AND Tigers in Red Weather — Liza Klaussman
9. The Night Circus — Erin Morgenstern
8. Into the Darkest Corner — Elizabeth Haynes
7. Before I Go To Sleep — S.J. Watson
6. The Emperor of Paris — C.S. Richardson
5. Old City Hall — Robert Rotenberg
4. The Far Side of the Sky — Daniel Kalla
3. The Russian Concubine — Kate Furnivall
2. The Marriage Artist — Andrew Winer
1. When She Woke — Hillary Jordan

Worst 10 of 2012:
10. Seriously…I’m Kidding — Ellen DeGeneres
9. From the Secret Files of J. Edgar Hoover — Athan G. Theoharis*
8. Casino Royale — Ian Fleming
7. Love in the Time of Cholera — Gabriel Garcia Marquez
6. A Home at the End of the World — Michael Cunningham
5. Chasing the Dime — Michael Connelly
4. The English Patient — Michael Ondaatje
3. If You Were Here — Jen Lancaster
2. Atonement — Ian McEwan
1. Sense and Sensibility — Jane Austen
*Fabulous as a history-essay resource, less fabulous for casual reading.

Ten Best “Humanity”:
A self-created category for the novels that were all people-centric stories that didn’t fit neatly into identifiable genres. Naturally, these were some of the books I loved the most.
10. The Professor of Desire — Philip Roth
9. Everyman — Philip Roth
8. Little Bee — Chris Cleave
7. Beauty Plus Pity — Kevin Chong
6. Tigers in Red Weather — Liza Klaussman
5. Maine — J. Courtney Sullivan
4. The Uncoupling — Meg Wolitzer
3. Why Men Lie — Linden MacIntyre
2. The Emperor of Paris — C.S. Richardson
1. Daughters-in-Law — Joanna Trollope

Ten Best Romance:
10. The Last Boyfriend — Nora Roberts
9. The MacGregor Brides: Julia — Nora Roberts
8. The Very Thought of You — Rosie Alison
7. The Perfect Hope — Nora Roberts
6. My Dear I Wanted to Tell You — Louisa Young
5. The MacGregor Grooms: Ian — Nora Roberts
4. Jane Eyre — Charlotte Bronte
3. The Marriage Artist — Andrew Winer
2. Arranged — Catherine McKenzie
1. The Russian Concubine — Kate Furnivall

Five Best Chick-Lit:
5. Waking Up Married — Mira Lyn Kelly
4. Sweet Talk — Julie Garwood
3. The Singles — Meredith Goldstein
2. One Fifth Avenue — Candace Bushnell
1. Behaving Badly — Isabel Wolff
*Yes there is a difference between romance and chick-lit. Chick-lit is usually a lighter, funnier story. (Not that Nora Roberts isn’t light reading, but she qualifies as romance because the sole purpose of her novels are getting together two characters.)
**I recognize that chick-lit can be used as a derogatory term to devalue writing which is targeted specifically for women. I mean it in only the best of ways, as a self-proclaimed chick-lit lover.

Ten Best Crime/Mystery:
10. Echo Park — Michael Connelly
9. The Narrows — Michael Connelly
8. A Darkness More Than Night — Michael Connelly
7. The Closers — Michael Connelly
6. The Drop — Michael Connelly
5. Lethal — Sandra Brown
4. Angels Flight — Michael Connelly
3. Nine Dragons — Michael Connelly
2. Low Pressure — Sandra Brown
1. Old City Hall — Robert Rotenberg

Five Best Horror/Thriller:
5. Tigers in Red Weather — Liza Klaussman
4. The Creeper — Tania Carver
3. The Surrogate — Tania Carver
2. Into the Darkest Corner — Elizabeth Haynes
1. Before I Go To Sleep — S.J. Watson
*I almost had to scrap this category because it only really had 4 books that qualified, but I slipped Tigers in Red Weather into the line-up because it has a really creepy sub-plot.

Five Best Fantasy/Science Fiction:
5. The Bane of the Black Sword — Michael Moorcock
4. The Sailor of the Seas of Fate — Michael Moorcock
3. The Weird of the White Wolf — Michael Moorcock
2. The Night Circus — Erin Morgenstern
1. When She Woke — Hillary Jordan
*Thanks to my step father, I actually read enough fantasy/sci-fi books to justify a best-of list for the genre.

Five Best Historical Fiction:
5. The Very Thought of You — Rosie Alison
4. My Dear I Wanted to Tell You — Louisa Young
3. The Winter Palace — Eva Stachniak
2. The Russian Concubine — Kate Furnivall
1. The Far Side of the Sky — Daniel Kalla

Five Best Biography/Memoir:
5. Bossypants — Tina Fey
4. A Thousand Farewells — Nahlah Ayed
3. The End of Your Life Book Club — Will Schwalbe
2. Tolstoy and the Purple Chair — Nina Sankovitch
1. Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes — Kamal Al-Solaylee

Ten Best Canadian Novels:
I read so much amazing Canadian literature this year that it needed its own list.
10. A Thousand Farewells — Nahlah Ayed
9. The Sentimentalists — Joanna Skidsrub
8. The Winter Palace — Eva Stachniak
7. Beauty Plus Pity — Kevin Chong
6. Arranged — Catherine McKenzie
5. Old City Hall — Robert Rotenberg
4. Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes — Kamal Al-Solaylee
3. Why Men Lie — Liden MacIntyre
2. The Emperor of Paris — C.S. Richardson
1. The Far Side of the Sky — Daniel Kalla

For anyone who’s interested in the full 100 books, and the status of the Stylist
list, you can head under the jump and see the final tally for the year.

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The 2011 Year in Review

I was going to wait until the last day of the year to do this, but since I am sitting around my house, twiddling my thumbs and lacking things to do, I thought I’d take some time to summarize my year in books.

I was also going to post the complete 100-books list here, so you could see what I read all together, but that would be the longest list ever and then you’d probably want to skip reading the post. So I’m sure if you’re terribly interested in a book-to-book recap of this year’s reading, you can start back at the blog’s beginning and go forward from there!

Anyway, if you know me (well, or at all), you know that I am, for the most part, a pretty organized gal. And I rely on lists. I could not live without lists. I need them. So I thought, what better way to sum up my year than in lists? After looking over my full hundred books, I compiled a series of lists to break down the hundred, which covers the best and worst books, some genre-specific lists, counted down from 10 (or 5) to 1. All the lists are my own personal opinion, and don’t be surprised if they sometimes clash with critics’ opinions of the books/genres.

Best 10 Books of 2011:
Read as: my ten personal favourites
10. Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You — Peter Cameron
9. The High Road — Terry Fallis
8. The Best Laid Plans — Terry Fallis
7. Son of a Witch — Gregory Maguire
6. Water For Elephants — Sara Gruen
5. The Nature of Jade — Deb Caletti
4. When You Were Mine — Elizabeth Noble
3. 11/22/63 — Stephen King
2. The Fifth Witness — Michael Connelly
1. The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest — Stieg Larsson

Worst 10 Books of 2011:
Read as: the ten books that I felt were remarkably awful
10. Very Valentine — Adriana Trigiani
9. Dust Tracks on a Road — Zora Neale Hurston
8. Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evils of Slavery — Quobna Ottobah Cuogano
7. Red Riding Hood — Sarah Blakley-Cartwright
6. Divine Evil — Nora Roberts
5. The Search — Nora Roberts
4. Night Smoke — Nora Roberts
3. Nightshade — Nora Roberts
2. Night Shadow — Nora Roberts
1. Night Shift — Nora Roberts
…Sensing a pattern, here?

The 10 Least Memorable Books of 2011:
Read as: I’d have trouble explaining the plot to you because I can’t remember it, or they were just plain boring to read. If you want to know why a certain book made the list, ask me in the comments.
10. The Brethren — John Grisham
9. It’s Kind of a Funny Story — Ned Vizzini
8. William and Kate: A Royal Love Story — Christopher Andersen
7. One on One — Peter Mansbridge
6. Onstage, Offstage — Michael Buble
5. The Case for Falling in Love — Mari Ruti, PhD
4. The Nutcracker, retold by Mark A. Taylor
3. Lady Gaga: Critical Mass Fashion — Lizzy Goodman
2. If You Ask Me — Betty White
1. Never Let Me Go — Kazuo Ishiguro

10 Books to Make You Weep:
From emotion, not frustration, just to be clear.
10. Water For Elephants — Sara Gruen
9. Flesh and Blood — Michael Cunningham
8. The Forgotten Waltz — Anne Enright
7. The Nature of Jade — Deb Caletti
6. The Time Traveler’s Wife — Audrey Niffenegger
5. The Truth About Delilah Blue — Tish Cohen
4. When You Were Mine — Elizabeth Noble
3. The Kite Runner — Khaled Hosseini
2. 11/22/63 — Stephen King
1. One Day — David Nicholls (Placed number one because it’s the only book in the challenge that actually made the robot weep.)

10 Best Chick-Lit/Romance Books:
And I mean “chick-lit” in the very best way.
10.  Lucy Gets Her Life Back — Stef Ann Holm
9. A Vintage Affair — Isabel Wolff
8. Girls In White Dresses — Jennifer Close
7. Then Came You — Jennifer Weiner
6. One Day — David Nicholls
5. Something Borrowed — Emily Giffin
4. The Next Always — Nora Roberts
3. The Nature of Jade — Deb Caletti
2. The Single Girl’s To-Do List — Lindsey Kelk
1. When You Were Mine — Elizabeth Noble

10 Best Mystery/Thriller Books:
10. The Poet — Michael Connelly
9. The Scarecrow — Michael Connelly
8. The Girl Who Played With Fire — Stieg Larsson
7. The Brass Verdict — Michael Connelly
6. The Lincoln Lawyer — Michael Connelly
5. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo — Stieg Larsson
4. True Evil — Greg Iles
3. The Fifth Witness — Michael Connelly
2. 11/22/63 — Stephen King
1. The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest — Stieg Larsson

5 Best Young Adult Books:
5. The Book of Spells — Kate Brian
4. Gone — Michael Grant
3. The Golden Compass — Philip Pullman
2. The Nature of Jade — Deb Caletti
1. Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You — Peter Cameron

5 Toughest Reads:
When I say ‘tough’ I mean that the content is either tough/upsetting to read, or that it requires a certain maturity level to understand it.
5. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo — Stieg Larsson
4. Divine Evil — Nora Roberts
3. Flesh and Blood — Michael Cunningham
2. Various Positions — Martha Schabas
1. The Kite Runner — Khaled Hosseini

10 Books With Horrible Dialogue:
When I say “horrible” I mean unrealistic, cliche, or downright hilariously painful.
10. Happy Ever After — Nora Roberts
9. Very Valentine — Adriana Trigiani
8. The Search — Nora Roberts
7. Divine Evil — Nora Roberts
6. Night Smoke — Nora Roberts
5. Nightshade — Nora Roberts
4. Night Shadow — Nora Roberts
3. Night Shift — Nora Roberts
2. Ice Blue — Anne Stuart
1. Skyward — Mary Alice Monroe

Responsive/Friendly Writers:
This is just a complete list of every author who has tweeted me/commented on the blog/talked to me this year, either in an interview or in response to my review. They are all lovely, wonderful people and I love that they’re so friendly and approachable. Oh, and this isn’t in a specific order of who’s the nicest.
1. Angie Abdou (The Bone Cage)
2. Terry Fallis (The Best Laid Plans, The High Road)
3. C. Noelle Susice (No Rules…Just Write — self published)
4. Jory John (All My Friends Are Dead)
5. DiDi LeMay (A Winter Solstice Celebration)
6. Tatiana de Rosnay (A Secret Kept)
7. Hiromi Goto (Chorus of Mushrooms)

That’s all for this year, folks. I’ll see you next year (in two days from now) to do this challenge all over again, but with a somewhat twist.

Also: I’m going to try to be better with recommendations this year, so if you possess a book you wish I would read and discuss, let me know and send it my way. All loaners will be treated with tender loving care!

Happy New Year!

– Kelsey