Quick Takes #5: Finishing up 2013

It’s that time again: when I’m so behind, I have to do Quick Takes.  Here’s what I thought of the last few books I read in 2013.  There’s kind of a lot of them, so buckle up!

Ironskin by Tina Connolly


How It Made Me Feel:


An alt-history mash-up of Jane Eyre, Beauty & the Beast, and fae lore.  What’s not to love?  It did start kind of slow, with a lot of one-to-one correspondence with Bronte’s original, but then things got crazy (in a good way)!  Definitely planning on reading the sequel.

Kushiel’s Justice by Jacqueline Carey


How It Made Me Feel:


I’m slowly making my way through Carey’s epic trilogy of trilogies about an alternate medieval France (and actually, a lot of the world), and I love each installment as much as the last.

The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman

golden compass

How They Made Me Feel:


I know, I haven’t read these before, it’s crazy, etc.  I do like them, they are well-written, and yet, I don’t feel an urgent need to go on to volume three.  I totally will someday, but for now I’m okay.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell


How It Made Me Feel:


Funny, sweet, touching, romantic–this is what I wish more contemporary romances were like.

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell


How It Made Me Feel:


It’s a sweet romantic comedy where the dude is basically a stalker–but you don’t care!  Also, I met Rainbow Rowell and she signed my copy.  She’s a lovely person!!

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein


How It Made Me Feel:


I knew it was a companion to Code Name Verity (women’s roles in WWII), so I knew it would break my heart and be really good.  It delivered, on both counts (although, on balance, not as absolutely heartrending as Verity was).

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon


How It Made Me Feel:


Intricate fantasy world (another alternate history!) that is beautiful and deadly and thought-provoking and just full of magic.  Can’t wait for volume 2, whenever that might end up being. (Probably late this year/early next year, by all indications.)

Zombie Baseball Beatdown by Paolo Bacigalupi


How It Made Me Feel:


Bacigalupi’s first middle-grade book was not bad, by any means, but I didn’t love it.  I was happy enough to finish reading it, but that was about it.  This is the first time I’ve been able to say that about his work, but what can I say?  Zombies and baseball, though not hated subjects, have certainly never been my favorites.

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan


How It Made Me Feel:


Riordan continues the story of the demigods from Percy Jackson–sort of.  There’s a twist.  Although I guessed most of what was going on fairly early in the book, middle grade readers might not–and just because I guessed it doesn’t mean I didn’t have fun getting there!  His style and flair remain consistent, so if you liked Percy, you’ll definitely like Lost Hero.

Faerie After by Janni Lee Simner


How It Made Me Feel:


A lovely conclusion for the trilogy. Simner’s spare writing style is enlivened with just enough lovely imagery that it is surprising whenever the reader encounters it.

Allegiant by Veronica Roth


How It Made Me Feel:


I felt basically all the feelings reading this series conclusion.  Especially at the end, when Roth makes a brave choice and, well…wow.

If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan


How It Made Me Feel:


Beautiful, longing story about first love.  It’s not perfectly written, but it’s a rare, valuable glimpse (for those of us with no idea about it) into the queer community in Iran.

The Fire Horse Girl by Kay Honeyman


How It Made Me Feel:


Well-researched and realistic historical fiction about Chinese immigrants in the early 20th century.  The only big criticism I have is that the writing style (simple, mostly unreflective middle-grade) didn’t always seem to fit with the serious topics under discussion.  I would have liked more character thoughts and discussion about why, exactly, it was important to save girls from brothels.  I think a lot of middle grade readers would need this to understand the gravity of the situation.

The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead


How It Made Me Feel:


This is one I’ve been meaning to read for a very long time, and I’m glad I did.  It is one of those books that is just full of Thoughts, with a capital T.  I’m still Thinking Thoughts about it, even though I finished it a long time ago.  It’s ostensibly about the rivalry between two different schools of thought on elevator inspection, but is really about race, marginalization, and the creation of mythologies.  Just lovely.

The Circle (Cirkeln) by Mats Strandberg & Sara Bergmark Elfgren


How It Made Me Feel:


The very first scene of the book is a magical death.  The Circle doesn’t get any lighter or happier, with a group, of witches who have to learn magic mostly by stumbling around, trying to figure out who is killing them.  Oh, and they often hate each other.  And several of them have very screwed up home lives.  It’s a lot like Buffy  in its metaphor-ness, and its action and sometimes darkness. I am eagerly anticipating the translation of the next volume.

…So, that’s it for 2013!  On to 2014!



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