69. A Long, Long Sleep, Anna Sheehan. The first book I finished this year, and really excellent. And also somewhat undefinable. It's a retelling of Sleeping Beauty--sort of. But it's not a fairytaleish sort of telling. Sixteen-year-old Rose Fitzroy wakes up from her stasis chamber after 62 years. It's not the first time she's been put under--but never for this long! For the first time, her parents aren't there, Xavier, the boy next door, isn't there...everyone she knew is long dead, and the world is a different place. Suddenly she's the heir (or ward, depending on who you ask) of Unicorps, her parents' worldwide--no, make that solar system wide--business. She's got to start a new school (again), try to figure out how to make friends (something she was never very good at), and deal with the permanent loss of Xavier, who was always there for her before. And oh yeah--there's this plastine robot out to assassinate her. Bren, the boy who found her in the dusty apartment building basement, and his family are trying to help her physically, but only gradually, with the help of a strange alien boy named Otto who's a friend of Bren's does she realize she needs help in other ways, too. Ways that make her deal with things in her past... Excellent worldbuilding with a very human story at its heart.
70. For Darkness Shows the Stars, Diana Peterfreund. Oh, lovely! It’s been a while since I’ve found a book I could sink into that made me feel and made me think. I don’t care for Jane Austen because people don’t do anything except dress up and stare broodingly at each other and have misunderstandings because they won’t just TALK to each other. This is based on Austen but addresses those issues (like, it adds a plot). I don’t like dystopian because it feels so cold and bleak—I want to read about worlds I’d like to live in and fight for, not escape—but this one was full of hope, and the book was warm. It reminded me a little of The House of the Scorpion, too. Just lovely tension and full motivations for people acting the way they do and very sympathetic characters. Loved it!
71. A Million Suns, Beth Revis. I liked this better than the first one, largely because of not having that horrible season in it. They’re still in the ship, trying to find a way to land before it all ends.
72. The Future of Us, Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler. Kids in the 90s find a view of the future through Facebook.
73. Magic Under Stone, Jaclyn Dolamore. A worthy sequel, and a world I enjoyed being in.
74. The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Rae Carson. This was a really interesting book. I liked the main character, and how she grew more healthy (feelings about herself, as well as her physical health), and how she ended up stronger than anyone else she worked with. It was interesting how kind and strong the king seemed in the beginning, and then when we see him at the end, we realize just how weak he is. I’d like to see a sequel, because Elisa sure gave up a lot in this book, and I want to see her get something in the end. The story: Elisa is the chosen one, with a Godstone in her navel, and that means she is to do a great work for her people. But the Invierno—the evil, sorcerous nation to the north—is trying to take over. And a lot of people would love to have just her stone, who cares about her. She marries the king of a neighboring country as a political move to ally and fight together, but is kidnapped midway through and becomes truly a queen with the desert people. It’s only with her faith and power that she is able to destroy the sorcerers of the Invierno and turn the tide on the war.
75. The Swan Kingdom, Zoe Marriott. A retelling of the swan fairy tale, where the brothers turned into swans and the sister has to make the tunics for them to turn them back. Nicely done.
76. Seraphina, Rachel Hartman. About a girl, Seraphina, who is the daughter of a human and a shape-changing dragon. She lives in a world where there is a tenuous peace between dragons and humans, and someone wants to break that peace. Can she help defend it without revealing her secrets? And what about Prince Kiggs, who she’s in love with? What I think worked so well in this was having a character who has a secret, who might stand a chance to get what she wants most, but whose secret will destroy all of that if it gets out. And then force her to reveal that secret in sacrifice for something more important.
77. Mort, Terry Pratchett, Reread, to girls. I know, it’s called adult, but if it were published today it would be YA, because that’s what it IS. About a boy, Mort, who becomes an apprentice for Death, and who er, messes up the universe and has to fix it.
78. Shadows on the Moon, Zoe Marriott. A Cinderella retelling in a Japan-like fiction world. Some heavy issues in here, like cutting, and a lot of relative morals, which meant I am perhaps not the right reader.
79. Crown of Embers, Rae Carson. Sequel to The Girl of Fire and Thorns. I love it that a lot of things happened and characters grew and developed in this. It didn’t feel like the weak middle novel that some book 2s are.
80. Grave Mercy, Robin LaFevers. Upper YA (because of some of the thematic elements). I think the author was good at stringing things out so that you almost get a resolution, but not quite, so you keep reading for that. Medieval fantasy with mystery elements.
81. Entwined, Heather Dixon, reread. WANT MORE LIKE THIS.
82. Chime, Franny Billingsley. If there was ever a book that was the Orton effect, this is it. It feels like you’re looking through two layers at once, with a bit of glowing. Sometimes the glowing is warm and lush, and sometimes it’s ghostly and eerie. A strange, haunting story about a girl who thinks she did something horrible and is something horrible, and about a boy who helps her figure out the truth. And about psychological child abuse, too. And magic. Billingsly really nailed the very ending—here is this girl who’s been tricked and taught to hate herself and believes she can’t love anyone, and then she figures out with very specific language what she’s really thinking and feeling. Also, I liked how you think some of the characters are good and some are bad, only by the end, it’s switched. A little like Entwined, only with a whole different feel.
83. The Magician’s Ward, Patricia C. Wrede, reread.
84. Witchlanders, Lena Coakley. This one was nice—two boys from two warring countries who each have magic—one doesn’t even believe in magic, and the other one is his enemy. But they are some sort of magic twins, and together they need to try and make peace between the two nations. I assume there will be other books, as this is not ultimately resolved. Nice writing.
85. Bitterblue, Kristin Cashore. Of all of hers, I liked this one the best. It’s the kind of book you can’t read in piecemeal—you have to read it in great chunks. That said, why does Cashore insist on her love interests pointedly not committing to each other?? What is wrong with two people who are made for each other, marrying and living happily ever after together? Even if she thinks marriage is just a piece of paper, she won’t let her characters even stay in the same country. They leave. They refuse to make any ties or any kind of commitments. I love her writing, but the more books I read, the more I feel like I’m getting hit with a message that I don’t agree with.
86. Nightspell, Leah Cypess. I didn’t think I would like this so much because the story is supposed to be about some sisters. But it was interesting, even if there was a little horror in it, and I liked Kestin (the recently dead prince), too. I kind of hoped there would be something for him in the end, but the ending was…kind of loose, actually. Maybe there will be a sequel someday?
87. The False Prince, Jennifer A. Nielsen. I really liked this one, and it does make me think of a certain other book, but if I name it, it will spoil some of the surprise of this book. Looking forward to the sequel!
88. The Near Witch, Victoria Schwab. Liked this. Very atmospheric, a ghost story, with beautiful writing.
89. Cinder, Marissa Meyer. Cinderella, with a lunar cyborg, in future China. And she’s a mechanic, and there’s a worldwide plague going on, plus the lunar queen is trying to take over earth. And I like the characters. Very cool, and there’s a sequel.
90. The False Princess, Eilish O’Neill. Reread
91. A Bad Day for Voodoo, Jeff Strand. Horror, but funny. A kid is mad at his history teacher and his friend brings him a voodoo doll. Only, it’s a lot lot stronger than expected, and the teacher dies. And then they try to bring back the doll to where the friend got it, but run into problems with pretty awful criminals.
92. Keeping the Castle, Patrice Kindl. Very much Jane Austen-esque.
YA contemporary fantasy
93. The Unwritten Girl, James Bow. About a girl and her friend going into a story and her deciding to go through the hard parts to “free” the characters from where they were frozen in the moment she’d abandoned the books.
94. Fathom Five, James Bow. Rosemary and Peter are back. A fairy siren kidnaps Peter, claiming he’s a changeling and needs to come home now, and Rosemary follows to bring him back.
95. The Young City. Rosemary and Peter are back. They’re helping Rosemary’s brother move into an apartment in Toronto and fall through a hole in the floor to the hidden river below, ending up in 1884, where they have to figure out how to get back to their own time. And escape smugglers.
96. Vodnik, Bryce Moore. Tomas and his parents go back to Slovakia, the country he left at age 5 (he’s like 16 now). He sees all these weird mythological beings and gets stuck in the middle of them. He has to stop death from reaping his cousin and has to deal with a water and a fire spirit who both seem to have it out for him (even as they claim they are his friends). I liked the fact that he really lived there—it was very reminiscent of Germany, yet more run-down; kind of like what the Czech Republic was like. Plus, I could understand some of the Slovak in the book! So points for being a story about really moving somewhere, and not the 19 countries in two weeks approach.
97. Geek Fantasy Novel, E. Archer. Strange metafictional novel about a geeky programmer teen named Ralph who goes to England and gets entangled in some wishes his cousins wish for that are granted by their witchy aunt.
98. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, reread, to girls.
YA time travel
99. Ruby Red, Kerstin Gier, reread. Just the kind of fun time travel book I was looking for.
100. Sapphire Blue, Kerstin Gier. Now I have to wait another year to find out what happens next. Fun voice, mystery, intriguing boys.
101. London Calling, Edward Bloor. Reread. Really like this book; it feels like something that really happened, and it’s meaningful without being sappy. A time travel or ghost story of sorts, though not in the usual way you’d think.
102. A Circle of Time, Marisa Montes. Girl in a coma goes back in time to switch places with a girl who needs help from her abusive mother—and to save several people from accidents related to the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.
103. Dark Mirror, MJ Putney. I sort of felt like this was trying to be two different stories in the same book. Magic is outlawed among the nobility, but when their kids show signs anyway, they get sent off to a special school designed to root it out of them. Tory starts floating by magic, saves her nephew when he falls off a cliff—and gets send there. Then she finds a small group of students and teachers who are trying to learn more magic, and who meet underground and are trying to help defend England against Napoleonic threats via magic. Then halfway through the book, they turn up in 1940 England.
104. Tempest, Julie Cross. About a 19YO boy who can time travel—which he does just as his girlfriend gets shot, only then he gets stuck in the past, and finds out his dad is with the CIA, and he’s got to find a way to save his girlfriend, and figure out who he really is.
105. The Tomorrow Code, Brian Faulkner. I’m not sure this is really time travel, but it’s about two friends who, in the future, find a way to send messages back to themselves to try to prevent a global disaster.
YA historical fantasy
106. The Scorpio Races, Maggie Stiefvater. Reread to take apart and learn from.
107. The Perilous Gard, Elizabeth Marie Pope. Reread. There is a very Elizabeth C. Bunce-ish air to this. I love the sense of modernity in 1558 as compared to the dwindling druids. I love how matter of fact Kate Sutton is, and how she is such an excellent foil to the Fairy Folk. I love how she can’t understand how anyone could assume she was in love with Christopher Heron—“I’ve only spoken with him twice in my life!” (Something that modern YA authors could take note of!) I love how she uses the tools she has, and how Pope gets her heroes truly trapped, so it seems there’s no way out—until they use the small tools they have and do get out. Just an excellent, excellent book!
108. Edenville Owls, Robert Parker. He normally writes adult mysteries or thrillers or something, and this happened to be YA. It still has that feeling of looking back, from the adult perspective, even if on the ground the kids are young teens. The story: it’s just after WWII and a scary Nazi-type guy keeps threatening Bobby’s teacher. He gets his basketball team and his friend-who’s-a-girl Joanie to help run the guy out of town so he won’t hurt the teacher and her young child ever again—even though he’s the ex-husband (and a deserter and an imposter and a violent guy at that).
109. The Traitor in the Tunnel, Y.S. Yee. There are lots of things to like about these books—the Victorian setting, the spy factor, even the multicultural element. I do wish Mary had a bit more integrity, though. I would like her more.
110. Hooked, Les Edgerton. Useful book on book beginnings. I knew a lot, but liked the bit about how the story actually starts when the internal and external plot parts are both there in the inciting incident. I do wish there were more writing books with examples from my genre, though (children’s, since I read very little adult fiction).
111. Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell. Interesting NF book about how people who are extraordinarily successful got there. A lot of it is about opportunities they got that other people didn’t—the reason being, it gave them a chance to get more practice than anyone else. If you need 10,000 hours of practice at something, but you don’t get the chance to do that, you won’t get as far. Cultural issues can be a help (you know how to navigate interpersonal situations and feel you have some degree of power in a situation to mitigate things for your good) or a hindrance (you don’t speak up when you should, you get thwarted because nobody at home cares enough to encourage you and look for opportunities for you). So it was a bit of a frustrating book to read (because I already am well aware of how much chance opportunities play a role) and encouraging (all else equal, you still have to put in your 10,000 hours). A much better book than say, Rich Dad, Poor Dad, which I put down halfway through as being too pat (not to mention materialistic—what if I’m in the humanities because I LIKE that stuff? And what if I only want to make enough money to survive, because I actually don’t CARE about money? Why does that make me stupid?)
112. The Disappearing Spoon and Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from The Periodic Table of the Elements, Sam Kean. Oh, fascinating! It took me a while to read this because I never did take chemistry, and some of it was hard to grasp, but it was fascinating, all the same. It made me want to start doing experiments of my own and at the same time, made me want to not mix anything together ever again in case it explodes. A great book!
113. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain. I didn’t agree with all of it (ie the parts that assume Asians are anti-conflict and all introverty, as I know extroverted Asians who have no problems with conflict), but the rest of it was interesting, and yes, I’m definitely an introvert (who is not shy and has some extroverty tendencies, too).
114. The Kingfisher Book of The Ancient World from the Ice Age to the Fall of Rome. Fascinating book with great pictures. Did you know there was a city in Turkey that had no streets, and you had to take a ladder and walk around on the roofs to get around? Cool.
115. French Kids Eat Everything: How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters, by Karen Le Billon. I’m breaking my rule by putting this on my list—I only list books I’ve completely finished, and I had family visiting and had to bring this one back before I finished it. But I plan to finish the rest, and what I read was excellent. All those funny small pieces of culture shock when you move to another country were so well drawn! Loved it.
116. The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern. I didn’t realize this was adult until after I’d put it on hold. Not sure what I think about this book. It’s distant and strange, and I suspect the reviewers think there is Deep Truth in it, when hm, I’m not so convinced. But it was definitely different and engaging and clever. And I did want the circus to go on at the end, despite wanting the principle players free of it.
117. The Long Earth, Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter. Long on worldbuilding and philosophizing and low on plot. People can “step” from one earth to another parallel earth.
118. The Alloy of Law, Brandon Sanderson. Fun fantasy-western cross. I especially liked the banter between Wax and Wayne—so often, characters are alone in books, and I loved the best friend element. But—it’s not a stand-alone! Hoping there’s a sequel in the future, because some things definitely were left hanging at the end!
119. Midnight in Austenland, Shannon Hale. About a divorced woman who goes to Austenland only there is a real life mystery going on.
120. The Cellist of Sarajevo, Steven Galloway. This was a well-written adult literary book. About how having dignity and decency in the peaceful things is stronger than war.