1. Night Film, Marisha Pessl - You better bet this on my list of best books of 2013! AMAZING! I really don't often rush right out to get BOTNS recommendations, but this was one I couldn't resist. A journalist chases the story of what really happened to the daughter of a famous filmmaker who created disturbing horror movies that have taken on mythic status over time. The characters were crazy and fun, the plot was all sorts of winding and nutballs, and I didn't really see the ending coming. Again, you know I'm a sucker for epistolary type works...and so I loved the fact that Pessl added all sorts of documents to her book. Even better, you can download an app that you can use to scan certain pages for even more bonus content! My only regret is that I didn't wait until October to read it.*
2. The Lemon Grove, Ali Hosseini - This is super, sad. I read the book, enjoyed it, felt it was beautiful, and then it almost completely passed out of my brain. Clearly, it didn't make much of an impression. (iBooks sale page strikes again!) What I can say is that it did an excellent job of bringing to life a culture I know very little about.
3. Little Wolves, Thomas Maltman - I learned about this book on BOTNS, but if I remember correctly it came up during the topic discussion, and was not one of the main recommendations. (I could be wrong...too lazy to go look back at their show notes...) This book falls into the category of "awesome books I'm glad I read, but have no desire to actually own." Based on an actual event, it's both the story of a horrific crime as well as ultimately a redemption tale.
4. Pigeon English, Stephen Kelman - This was a long-ago recommendation from BOTNS, which I picked up on the iBooks sale page a while back. What I loved about Pigeon English was the amazing way in which the author so convincingly took on the voice of his protagonist. The book is told through the point of view of a ten year old immigrant boy living in a really rough area of London...and my goodness, that's exactly what you get from the page. It's a masterclass in how to capture a voice. What I didn't love was the plot...and so I didn't finish the book. I wound up skimming the last half.
5. The Dirty Streets of Heaven, Tad Williams - I love Williams, but I haven't read him in ages and ages. A friend alerted me to the fact that this one was on sale, so I snagged it...and I LOVED it! Interesting take on heaven and hell and the role of angels and demons.
6. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell, Susanna Clarke - OK, I've got to admit...I'm having serious trouble getting through this book. At 1500ish pages on my ipad, I'm only about 200 pages in, and so far it's pretty darn dull. It *should* be right up my alley, hitting many of my favorite/most beloved genres and literary types. But my oh my...I just can't get into it! Yes, I am planning on reading the whole thing. Why? I feel I *should*? Sigh.
7. Briar Rose, Jane Yolen - An old, old favorite. It's a beautiful little book - part of a series of modern fairy tale reinterpretations that were published back in the 90's when I was discovering my true love for such things. Yolen uses Briar Rose to tell a Holocaust story, and it is both devastating and beautiful. World events were such that I needed the comfort this book brings. If you are unfamiliar with Yolen's work, I simply cannot recommend it enough.
8. The Right to Write, Julia Cameron / 9. Wild Mind: Living the Writer's Life, Natalie Goldberg - Both of these books are ongoing books as I am actually working through and doing the writing exercises. Why? Well, I'm hopefully developing more of a writing habit and improving my skills. I'm really enjoying both!
10. Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed, Glennon Doyle Melton - Melton is the creater of the popular website Momastery, and I believe I found her through my friend Sarah. The book is a collection of personal essays which are brutally honest and full of some amazing insight and truth. I really needed it right now.
11. Affliction, Laurell K. Hamilton - Anita Blake #22, and amazingly enough it was fun again. I've kept reading them - even though the last few have been pretty horrid (and oddly boring) - and was happily surprised that Hamilton managed to get some of her magic back. I find myself hoping this will be the last one...but I'm sure it's too much of a cash cow for Hamilton to give it up now.
12. Dark Currents, Jacqueline Carey - This is the first time Carey had ever disappointed me. Truth told....I only made it about 50 pages into the book, and just couldn't go any farther. Took me a little while to pinpoint the problem, but when I did it was glaringly obvious. This particular world of Carey's is entirely too derivative of many other worlds out there (most obviously Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and so it feels like she's jumping on a bandwagon instead of doing her own thing. It just doesn't work, and quite frankly others have done it better.
*Coming up in October: An entire month devoted to ghosts, monsters and things that go bump in the night. That's right! An entire month of Halloween-appropriate books!