2013 Top Five Books
All Fiction Books:
1) If You Find Me, by Emily Murdoch. This book moved me the whole way through, and then wouldn’t let me go for a week or two. A spectacular novel. (Also #1 YA)
2) Tampa, by Alissa Nutting.
3) Ghost Trio, by Lillian Q. Irwin
4) The Girl, The Gold Tooth, and Everything: A Novel, by Francine LaSala
5) Beyond the Pale: A Novel, by Elana Dykewomon
1) Ghost Trio, by Lillian Q. Irwin. A woman’s lover is hired away to play a series of piano concerts in California. She disappears. The main character’s love won’t let her accept that her girlfriend is dead, so she investigates.
2) The Girl, The Gold Tooth, and Everything: A Novel, by Francine LaSala. Of all the novels I read in 2013, this may be the hardest to categorize. A woman is a mother and housewife, with a husband who’s frequently away on business trips. She just can’t remember getting married or giving birth. Uber-creepy.
3) Exile on Slain Street (Clancy Parker Mysteries #2), by P.J. Morse. Who says mysteries can’t be funny? This time around, Clancy finds herself working undercover on the most horrible circumstances imaginable: a reality TV show.
4) The Panopticon, by Jenni Fagan. A teen-aged girl has been bounced from one bad foster home to another, steeped in a world of crime, drugs, sex, and worse. Then the State puts her in a place that could just be even worse. (Teen character, but not a book for young YA’s at all!)
5) Lake Thirteen, by Greg Herren. Three families have been spending summer vacations together for years, and their children are all like brothers and sisters. One year, things grow complicated, but the friends find themselves in a taut little mystery. This book works beautifully on two levels, as you’ll see below.
1) The Boy Who Could See Demons, by Carolyn Jess-Cook. A child psychiatrist takes on a young patient, who swears he can see demons. The demons move closer and closer to her life, and she has no idea how to help the boy.
2) Doctor Sleep, by Stephen King. It’s the sequel to The Shining, and King is in perfect form. ‘Nuff said.
3) Notes from Ghost Town, by Kate Ellison. A young artist loses her color vision after her friend is killed. Gradually, she picks up clues that lead to a conclusion she does not want to reach.
4) Tampa, by Alissa Nutting. Seriously. This woman—what she does, and how she does it—are frightening. This is one of the most disturbing, horrifying novels of the year. The one thing I keep reading in other blogs is “OMG, this is creepy. It’s awesome, but I could never recommend it to any of my friends.” I am recommending it to you. Be forewarned, the protagonist is just evil as hell.
5) The Girl, The Gold Tooth, and Everything: A Novel, by Francine Lasala (see above)
1) Beyond the Pale: A Novel, by Elana Dykewomon. This novel covers so much ground—yes, of course—including LGBT issues, that it’s impossible to describe adequately. It starts with an Eastern European Jewish family who make their way to America, only to find it wasn’t what they expected at all. Amidst the cracked and broken sidewalk grows a beautiful flower of love. Excellent novel.
2) Ghost Trio, by Lillian Q. Irwin (see Mystery)
3) At Her Feet, Rebekah Weatherspoon. A younger woman finds herself attracted to an alternative lifestyle, where an older woman disciplines her young charge. Nothing violent—just more psychological. Interesting book.
4) Lake Thirteen, by Greg Herren. Three families have been spending summer vacations together for years, and their children are all like brothers and sisters. One year, things grow complicated for one of the boys, because he’s come out as gay. Worse yet, his e-mails have all been unanswered. Is his vacation doomed? Or can his “family” see past his sexuality. Beautifully written book.
5) You Can Tell Just By Looking and 20 Other Myths About LGBT Life and People, by Michael Bronski. I am cheating here, for this is a non-fiction book about LGBT life and people. It’s overlong in some points, and a little over-scientific in others, but there are so many myths about LGBT people that its value for confused friends and parents supersedes my having put this on the wrong list. Sue me. Then learn 20 things.
1) If You Find Me, by Emily Murdoch. It could be a tough book for younger YA’s, but for most—especially 14+ I think it would be a great read.
2) Eleanor and Park, by Rainbow Rowell. A boy and a girl meet awkward, then life happens. One of the most beautifully told stories in years. (Rowell’s “Fangirl” deserves an honorable mention, too. Ms Rowell has been busy.)
3) What I Came to Tell You, by Tommy Hays. A family is torn apart when their wife and mother is killed. This novel is so sweet and beautiful as it shows the way they heal. Plus it’s set against a Thomas Wolfe background, which makes me happy (Wolfe being one of my favorite authors)
4) 4 to 16 Characters, by Kelly Hourihan. A girl is ridiculed at school, and has very few friends. Well, none, really. But when she gets online, she is hugely popular. She invents multiple characters, and comments in different chat rooms under different personalities. All is well, till the inevitable happens. I found this book to be important, because I don’t doubt it happens way too frequently.
5) The Panopticon, by Jenni Fagan. A teen-aged girl has been bounced from one bad foster home to another, steeped in a world of crime, drugs, sex, and worse. Then the State puts her in a place that could just be even worse. (Teen characters—and I think it is YA, but DEFINITELY not a book for young YA’s at all!)
That’s the list. Agree, disagree, discuss, ignore, whatever. These are my best from 2013. I’m sure I forgot some good ones, and I’m sure some that were borderline (“The S Word,” e.g.) could’ve fit somewhere. I’m not going to be reading as much this year. Setting a goal of 150 books for 2013 was a bit excessive, and I burned part of my brain out. We’ll see what 2014 brings. Happy Reading!