Books I Missed in 2013

There were tons of great books from 2013 that I never read.  So I’m purposing to go back and pick up a few that made it on the Best of 2013 lists that sound appealing.  I decided to select at least 10 from this list with a few alternates thrown in.
1. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
2. Want Not by Jonathan Miles

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Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Allegiant by Veronica Roth (2013)

526 pages

Series: Divergent #3

Goodreads Summary: The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

Told from a riveting dual perspective, Allegiant brings the Divergent series to a powerful conclusion while revealing the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.

This is the third and final book in the Divergent series.  When I read the first two, I couldn’t wait to get to the next book.  It’d been so long since I read Insurgent that I forgot a lot about what happened. But after a quick summary from Wikipedia, I jumped into this book.

A lot of people talked about the different perspectives which not everyone liked. The first two books were told exclusively from Tris’ point of view.  This book alternated between Tris and Four which was somewhat confusing at first because I had to keep reminding myself who was who.  I didn’t feel like there was a huge difference in their voices but by the end of the book it became obvious why this tactic was used. Continue reading

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The Machine by James Smythe

The Machine by James Smythe (2013)

328 pages

Goodreads Summary: Haunting memories defined him. The machine took them away. She vowed to rebuild him. From the author of The Testimony comes a Frankenstein for the twenty-first century. Beth lives alone on a desolate housing estate near the sea. She came here to rebuild her life following her husband’s return from the war. His memories haunted him but a machine promised salvation. It could record memories, preserving a life that existed before the nightmares. Now the machines are gone. The government declared them too controversial, the side-effects too harmful. But within Beth’s flat is an ever-whirring black box. She knows that memories can be put back, that she can rebuild her husband piece by piece.

I recently read The Explorer by this author and really liked it.  But before I read that, I’d come across this book and have been wanting to read it for some time.  Looking back, I’m glad I read his other book more because I did like it better and The Machine wasn’t at all what I was expecting.

Based on the cover and it being touted as a modern Frankenstein, I thought it would focus primarily on the man who was affected by the machine.  Instead, the main character is Beth, his wife.  The story is written entirely from her perspective and, well, I just didn’t really like her that much.  I had a hard time caring about her and what she was going through. The first part of the book sets up the story, who she is, where she lives, and why she’s doing what she’s doing. Continue reading

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Odds On by Michael Crichton

Odds On by Michael Crichton (writing as John Lange) (1966)

215 pages

Goodreads Summary: To rob the finest resort in fascist Spain, three Americans need to blend in among the Mediterranean elite. And to do so, they will each need a gorgeous girl as cover. They find a depraved millionaire, a drug-addled nymphomaniac, and an assistant hotel manager who enjoys mingling with her handsome guests after hours.

The would-be thieves have used an IBM supercomputer to plan the perfect heist. Their crime has been calculated to the last detail, with every possible contingency planned for, save one: the women. The Hotel Reina is crawling with femmes fatales, and these crooks will be lucky to escape with the shirts on their backs.

I’ve read several Michael Crichton books and really enjoyed them.  So I was thrilled to discover that three of his early books were being published recently.  While his most popular books are usually thrillers with science fiction elements, this one is more of a mystery/thriller.

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Top Ten Tuesday: I’d Never Want to Live There/Be That Person

Top Ten Tuesday is an awesome book meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is worlds you’d never want to live in or characters you’d never want to trade places with.  I think this is a really unique topic so I’m going to do both.

5 Worlds I’d Never Want to Live In
The Machine by James Smythe: In this world, a Machine has been invented that allows people to erase painful memories.  However, they usually end up severely brain damaged. Not to mention something else pretty weird is happening in this world where there is flooding, land crumbling, and usually high temperatures.  I’d absolutely hate to live in the town where the book is set because the people are so jaded and there’s poverty and violence.
Divergent series by Veronica Roth: As much as I loved this series, I’d hate to live in the world of factions.  And I’d hate to live in the outside world which was revealed in the third book.
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch: The mystical lands in this book have plenty of magic and other cool things, but they are also kind of depressing.  The city has some pretty shady areas, there is a ton of violence and corruption, not to mention the children (especially orphans) are treated really badly.

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The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra

The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Practical Guide to Fulfillment of Your Dreams by Deepak Chopra (1994)

111 pages

Goodreads Summary: The creation of wealth has always been regarded as a process that requires hard work and luck–often at the expense of others. In this remarkable book, the author of Quantum Healing and other bestsellers reveals how to align with the subtle yet powerful, unseen forces that affect the flow of money in our lives.

I read this book for the first time probably back in 2010 and never reviewed it on my blog. But I re-read it this year and thought I’d finally post a review on it.  It’s a short little book that I read in one sitting but it’s also very powerful and full of great reminders.

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Friday Finds (4)

Friday Finds is back again!  I’m endeavoring to participate in this much more this year because I love discovering books this way.  Plus it’s a great way for me to track cool books without cluttering my Goodreads, and it is hopefully fun for my readers, not to mention it keeps track of all the fabulous blogs where I discovered these books and gives them credit.  Most of my book recommendations come from other readers and book bloggers so where would I be without them?
From Bibliophile by the Sea’s Mailbox Monday
The Dalai Lama’s Cat and the Art of Purring by David Michie

From Literary Exploration’s Top Ten 2014 Debuts List
Notes from the Internet Apocalypse by Wayne Gladstone

From various posts on Giraffe Days

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Lexicon by Max Barry

Lexicon by Max Barry (2013)

390 pages

Goodreads Summary: At an exclusive school somewhere outside of Arlington, Virginia, students aren’t taught history, geography, or mathematics–at least not in the usual ways. Instead, they are taught to persuade. Here the art of coercion has been raised to a science. Students harness the hidden power of language to manipulate the mind and learn to break down individuals by psychographic markers in order to take control of their thoughts. The very best will graduate as “poets”, adept wielders of language who belong to a nameless organization that is as influential as it is secretive.

Whip-smart orphan Emily Ruff is making a living running a three-card Monte game on the streets of San Francisco when she attracts the attention of the organization’s recruiters. She is flown across the country for the school’s strange and rigorous entrance exams, where, once admitted, she will be taught the fundamentals of persuasion by Bronte, Eliot, and Lowell–who have adopted the names of famous poets to conceal their true identities. For in the organization, nothing is more dangerous than revealing who you are: Poets must never expose their feelings lest they be manipulated. Emily becomes the school’s most talented prodigy until she makes a catastrophic mistake: She falls in love.

Meanwhile, a seemingly innocent man named Wil Jamieson is brutally ambushed by two strange men in an airport bathroom. Although he has no recollection of anything they claim he’s done, it turns out Wil is the key to a secret war between rival factions of poets and is quickly caught in their increasingly deadly crossfire. Pursued relentlessly by people with powers he can barely comprehend and protected by the very man who first attacked him, Wil discovers that everything he thought he knew about his past was fiction. In order to survive, must journey to the toxically decimated town of Broken Hill, Australia, to discover who he is and why an entire town was blown off the map.

As the two narratives converge, the shocking work of the poets is fully revealed, the body count rises, and the world crashes toward a Tower of Babel event which would leave all language meaningless. Max Barry’s most spellbinding and ambitious novel yet, Lexicon is a brilliant thriller that explores language, power, identity, and our capacity to love–whatever the cost.

This is the second book I’ve read by Max Barry, the first being Machine Man back in 2012. And wow, his books just are so incredible, very creative, unique, and so thought-provoking.  He is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors and I now want to go back and read some of his older stuff, not to mention I’m eagerly anticipating whatever he writes next. Continue reading

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How Much My Library Saved Me

Last year I did a post on how much money I saved from going to the library versus buying books.  In 2013 I read 92 library books, 70% of all the books I read this year.  So, I did a little math and found out, had I bought all those books, they would have cost approximately…$1,185.77.

I don’t buy a lot of books so I’m not sure what the average person spends per year on books.  I know I read more books than usual so my figures aren’t going to reflect the majority of people who purchase books.  I did some Googling and tried to find out if there was information out there about money spent on books but couldn’t find much concrete information.

If you purchase books, how much do you usually spend on them each year?  Do you have a book budget?  Or are you like me and get most of your books from the library?

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Top Ten Tuesday: My Reading Wishlist

Top Ten Tuesday is an awesome bookish meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is your reading wishlist (If you could make authors write about these things you would.  For example: a specific type of character, an issue tackled, a time period, a certain plot, etc.)
1. Books set in outer space!  I read two books like this last year, The Martian by Andy Weir and The Explorer by James Smythe.  I love books set in space, even if they aren’t really science fiction or have a lot of sci fi elements.  Anything with outer space or space travel involved catches my eye and it seems like most space books are space operas or epic sci fi series where space is involved, but really isn’t the main focus.
2. Fast paced heist books: I loved Ghostman by Roger Hobbs which fit this bill perfectly. I’ve written before how much I loved the Leverage series and I was so excited that several books adapted from the show were written.  But after reading one of them (The Con Job), I just  wasn’t as hooked on the book as I was by the show.  Ghostman totally had my attention and I loved every second of it.  So yeah, more of that please!
3. Fantasy without all the confusion: I rarely read fantasy because I have such a hard time getting into the world and keeping track of the characters.  Not to mention most of the names are strange to pronounce, contain so many syllables and consonants all crunched together and give me a headache.  And tons of the series are super long, out of order, have half books (e.g. Book 2.5) and are so confusing I don’t know where to start. So I’d love to come across some great fantasy that works for me.

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