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Favorite/Least Favorite Books of 2013

3 Jan

First post in one million years! I don’t know if anyone even reads this blog anymore, haha. I don’t think I ever even made a favorites post for 2012……. Anywho, I set a really low reading goal for myself last year- only 50 books. That was mainly because for the first half of the year I was working 60+ hour weeks and had hardly any time for reading. I actually ended up reading 58, which was good, I guess.

To be honest, I don’t really remember any particularly standout books, either good or bad, offhand. I will have to go through my list and see…In no particular order…


1. Shades of Earth by Beth Revis- Although the finale to the trilogy had a really ugly cover, the story did not disappoint. It was a highly satisfying ending! I just wish it could have had a pretty cover to match the first 2.

2. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer- While I didn’t like it nearly as much as Cinder, it was still very enjoyable.

3. A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin- This was by far my favorite so far in the Song of Ice and Fire series! Unfortunately, I’ve heard the next couple of books aren’t that great so I’m afraid it may have peaked here.

4. Because it is my Blood by Gabrielle Zevin- The sequel to All These Things I’ve Done. I think I liked it even more than the first.

5. The Book of Lost Things by John Connoly- Seemed at first like a children’s story, but it was actually anything but.

6. Curtain by Agatha Christie- Her last Poirot novel, it was written decades before it was published. I read all of Agatha Christie’s books in the order they were published, and towards the end they definitely declined in quality. That’s why reading this was such a relief!

7. Endless Night by Agatha Christie- This was her 70th book out of 80 that I read, and probably the last really good one.

8. Fire and Thorns series by Rae Carson- I liked this series much more than I thought I would when I began the first novel, The Girl of Fire and Thorns.

9. Call the Midwife series by Jennifer Worth- I began this series at the very end of 2012, shortly after getting into the Call the Midwife TV series. I really liked all of the books.

10. Tie between The Crime at Black Dudley by Margery Allingham and A Man Lay Dead by Ngaio Marsh- After finishing Agatha Christie, I was desperate for some more cozy mystery authors. These two both reminded me more of Georgette Heyer than Christie but I highly enjoyed both and can’t wait to read the rest of their books.

As you can see, I cheated on a lot of the above- listing series and a tie. Haha! Now on to the flip side of the coin:

LEAST FAVORITE- other than the first book, I didn’t actually hate any of these. They were just not very good or they didn’t live up to the hype.

1. Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta- This book had been spoken really highly of in the YA booktubing community. The description sounded good, too. But I hated, hated, hated this book. Boring, poorly written, cheesy, etc. Reminded me of previous hated YA books like Graceling and The Naming.

2. Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff- A steampunk Japan fantasy! But it was really disappointing and misused a lot of random Japanese that was thrown in.

3. Boundless by Cynthia Hand- It wasn’t bad, but definitely a disappointment compared to the first two books.

4. Reached by Ally Condy- I wasn’t crazy even about the first book in this series, Matched. I’m not sure why I even continued with it.

5. The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith- I think the hype killed it. It wasn’t bad, but I would rate it maybe a 7/10. I was so excited for this being such a huge Harry Potter and mystery fan- of course a detective novel by JK Rowling would have to be super amazing, right? Instead, it was just “pretty good.”

6. Stardust by Neil Gaiman- It sounded really cool, but for some reason, I just wasn’t that into it.

7. Black and White by Malorie Blackman- An alternate reality where the white people are the oppressed race and blacks are the privileged. Like many of the others on this list, it was a really cool concept, but I wasn’t blown away.

8. Outpost by Ann Aguirre- I wasn’t crazy about the first book, Horde, and I liked this one even less.

9. NOTHING! Surprise, I couldn’t think of anything else.

Overall, 2013 was a very underwhelming year in reading for me. That’s largely due to the fact that I only read about half or fewer books than I have in the past few years. Hopefully 2014 will be a little more exciting.


Best Books of 2011

13 Mar

Sorry to be so late on this post! I can’t believe I haven’t already posted this! I swear I thought I did. I don’t know what’s up with the formatting for this by the way. I did NOT type everything in italics, and even going back trying to change it, it stays like this!

1. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle- Definitely the best of the Sherlock Holmes novels- no long flashback scenes like the others.

2. The Talisman Ring by Georgette Heyer- Hilarious combination of romance and mystery. Loved the characters.
3. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini- Not enough tears to cry. Even better than The Kite Runner.
4.Eon/Eona by Alison Goodman- Action-packed fantasy/dragon series that I couldn’t put down.
5. Divergent by Veronica Roth- Finally found a dystopian I liked just as much or even more than The Hunger Games!
6. Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers- Mystery not involving a murder. Excellent Harriet Vane/Peter Wimsey scenes.
7. Champagne for One- by Rex Stout- By far my favorite Nero Wolfe mystery so far.
8. A Game of Thrones– by George R. R. Martin. Action-packed and addicting.
9. Cards on the Table by Agatha Christie- One of many great Agatha Christie novels. Loved how she did something different with only four murder suspects.
10. The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan- Great to see Percy Jackson again.
Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder- Not your typical YA fantasy.
Across the Universe by Beth Revis- A sci-fi/murdery mystery/dystopian. Covers a lot of great genres!
If I Stay by Gayle Forman- One of the few contemporary novels I enjoyed, and even this has a hint of the supernatural.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte- This gets better with every reread!

I’m Alive! Some Agatha Christie reviews…

26 Nov

Yes, I’m still here. I really miss updating this blog. The past couple weeks I’ve actually managed to read some books again! I actually reached my goal of 111 books this year already. I think I’m going to hold off on reading any new books until the new year so I can catch up on stuff for this year….maybe! Well, here’s an update. Sorry if you’re sick of Agatha Christie…but I’m not, so here’s what I thought of the books I read in the last few months.

The Moving Finger- Someone is sending nasty anonymous letters in a little village. One of the letters supposedly drives a woman to suicide. This is a Miss Marple novel but she’s not in it a whole lot. The narrator, a newcomer to the village, tries to do some sleuthing on his own, but obviously doesn’t quite get it. This is another favorite of mine. I always seem to love the Miss Marple novels. I just seem to really like the casts of characters in the small village settings. I don’t think I solved it, but I don’t remember! My Rating: 10/10

Towards Zero- A Superintendent Battle novel. An old woman is murdered and her nephew is the obvious suspect but everything is not as it seems. I liked the idea behind this story but there were some little side-plots that I felt were thrown in and didn’t really fit. I solved this one. Too easy. My Rating: 7/10

Death Comes as the End- Really different from all Christie’s other novels- this one’s set in ancient Egypt. Really interesting concept and well-done, in my opinion. I do prefer her contemporary novels but this was neat for a change. A man brings a new young concubine home and she ends up dead. Then other family members stop dying. Is it her ghost seeking revenge? I don’t think I guessed this one either until very close to the end when it was almost too late! My Rating- 8/10

Sparkling Cyanide- A reworking of her short story, “Yellow Iris.” A woman is poisoned at a dinner party and her husband seeks to recreate the events a year later. This one has a totally different conclusion and features Colonel Race instead of Poirot. I preferred “Yellow Iris” to this, actually. I liked the new twist but Colonel Race really failed as a detective and that was a big let-down for me. I didn’t solve it either. I got so good at guessing after a while but I guess that couldn’t last! My Rating- 7/10

The Hollow- Country house party….Poirot stops by to visit just as a man falls over dead from a gunshot wound. Is it his wife, standing over the body with a gun? This was another good one because of how you got to see in the characters’ heads. No one’s actions seemed to make sense until you find out the solution, which…I did guess! My Rating- 9/10

The Labors of Hercules- Poirot’s friend tries to tell him that he should spend his time reading the classics instead of solving mysteries. True to his name, he somehow stumbles upon mysteries that recreate the labors of Hercules. This was a series of short stories that varied in terms of quality. Some were pretty good, others were kinda boring. My Rating- 7/10

Taken at the Flood- A family patriarch dies in the Blitz but his new young wife miraculously survives….before he has written a new will. She is left with everything and his family is struggling because they had been dependent on him. Then some people die, but not necessarily who and why you would think. Really confusing book! I was completely wrong on everything. I also found one part of the ending really disturbing.  My Rating- 8/10

Sadly my ability to review these books went down since I waited so long!

Agatha Christie- N or M?, The Body in the Library, Five Little Pigs

29 Jul

N or M?- The third Tommy and Tuppence novel. They’re middle-aged in this one, set during WWII, and feeling useless. They jump at the chance to do some spying to help in the war effort. They have to track two spies, N (man) and M (woman) at an inn. I thought it was cute to see an older Tommy and Tuppence, but the book was nothing special.

Solved it? I guessed M, which was rather obvious, but not N.

My Rating: 6/10

The Body in the Library- The third Miss Marple book. The body of a bleach blonde young girl is found in Miss Marple’s friends, the Bantrys’ library. I absolutely loved the first two Miss Marple books and while I liked this one, it paled in comparison to those two.

Solved it? No…I had my own theory all worked out but it was no good.

My Rating: 8/10

Five Little Pigs- Carol Crale seeks Poirot’s help. Her mother was convicted of killing her father sixteen years previously and died in prison. She sent her daughter a letter insisting on her innocence. Poirot interviews everyone involved in the case to find the real culprit. I really enjoyed this book and its somber feel.

Solved it? Yeah, I was right on track with Poirot and picking out the clues!

My Rating: 10/10

Latest Agatha Christies…

10 Jul

I read three Agatha Christie books in the last week- that makes up half of my total read books for the week! I’ve been trying to make a point to alternate- one Christie, one other, etc. They’re just so addicting!

Sad Cypress- I got shades of Dorothy L. Sayer’s Strong Poison in this. A woman is on trial for murder, and a man in love with her tries to find evidence of her innocence. Lord Peter Wimsey helped Harriet Vane, but in this case, country doctor Peter Lord (see the names?) enlists Poirot’s help for Elinor Carlisle. This book was kind of on the sad side. Elinor was obviously depressed, her aunt died and her fiance fell in love with another woman. Then the other woman dies and Elinor is accused of both her murder and her aunt’s. It had romance in it but unlike some of Christie’s other books it has a much more realistic ending- nothing cheesy here.

Did I solve it? Yes, I figured practically EVERYTHING out.

My Rating: 10/10

One, Two, Buckle my Shoe- Poirot’s dentist is found shot in the head. Was it suicide, or is it something larger at play? This book wasn’t bad, but it’s far from being one of my favorites. I found Poirot’s thoughts while at the dentist’s office to be really amusing, but like I’ve said before- I’m just not that crazy about her books that take on international intrigue. I like ’em straight and cozy.

Did I solve it? Not really. I played with different ideas, and the correct solution was one of them, but it doesn’t really count.

My Rating: 6/10

Evil Under the Sun- Poirot vacationing at the seaside. None of his vacations are ever free from murder. Like Death on the Nile and Triangle at Rhodes, this one concerns a love triangle where beautiful wife is murdered. This was an enjoyable read, but I thought it was a bit too similar to the other stories I just mentioned. They’re not all carbon copies of each other or anything, but I guess I just needed more time in between these books to appreciate this one more.

Did I solve it? Partly.

My Rating: 8/10

Agatha Christie Finished!!!

1 Jul

Not that I’ve finished reading all of Christie’s books, but with this post I’ve caught up with reviewing all of the ones I have read.

Cards on the Table: An eccentric rich guy invites four murderers and four sleuths to a party. While the two groups are in separate rooms playing bridge, the rich guy dies. This is very different from her other novels where everyone is a suspect- only four people could have done it. This was an excellent, tightly plotted book. I enjoyed seeing four detective characters work together- Poirot, Ariadne Oliver, Colonel Race, and Superintendent Battle.

  • Did I solve it? Yes, but not using the bridge game like Poirot did. I know nothing about bridge so it was all over my head.
  • My Rating: 10/10

Dumb Witness- Poirot gets a letter from an old woman, but by that time she’s dead. The dumb witness refers to the woman’s dog, Bob. Hastings has a few cute “conversations” with Bob, but this book was nothing special to me.

  • Did I solve it? Yes, I had one theory at first that was totally wrong but I picked up on the same things that Poirot did.
  • My Rating: 7/10

Murder in the Mews- Four long short stories featuring Poirot. This book wasn’t that great. The three murder stories I felt would have been better fleshed out as full-length novels. The theft story I thought was boring and totally obvious from the very beginning.

  • Did I solve it? I solved one of the stories, “The Incredible Theft.”
  • My Rating: 6/10

Death on the Nile- A couple on their honeymoon in Egypt is being stalked by the husband’s ex-fiancee. Then the wife turns up dead. Poirot and Colonel Race are both on the boat. I loved this mystery even though I had an inkling of what was going on the whole time. I thought Colonel Race’s subplot of finding a spy was extraneous and totally obvious, and perhaps there are a bit too many characters to keep track of (for me at first, at least!)….but I loved it.

  • Did I solve it? Yes. I went back and forth between A and B…then realized C was the best answer. I also guessed the spy character, because it was totally obvious and it didn’t really fit within the book either.
  • My Rating: 9/10

Appointment with Death: A sadistic woman who maintains total control over her family is murdered while vacationing in Petra. Poirot just can’t catch a break. I really liked this book and the characters, but I do have to admit the ending was kind of cheesy.

  • Did I solve it? No…total fail.
  • My Rating: 8/10

Hercule Poirot’s Christmas: A locked room mystery with Poirot- a rich but cruel multi-millionaire invites his family for Christmas and is killed in his room. The whole family had a motive to kill him. I thought I would like this one more than I did. The actual mystery and the solution were interesting but it was very dialogue heavy. A lot of it was just the detectives questioning the family members, and then discussing those interviews and various possibilities. The parts were stuff was actually happening were good, but there weren’t enough of those.

  • Did I solve it? Well, I played with the idea in my head but it wasn’t until the end that I took it seriously…so kind of.
  • My Rating: 6/10

The Regatta Mystery- A series of kind of random short stories. There are two Parker Pynes (one diamond theft, one relationship one), one Miss Marple, five Hercule Poirots (all murders, I think), and one totally unrelated one. The latter, “In a Glass Darkly,” has supernatural elements- a man sees a woman being strangled in a mirror, but it’s a premonition, not a real reflection. It was…quite weird and very unlike Agatha Christie. Of these, I liked the Poirot stories the best because they were murders. I found it a weak collection on the whole.

  • Did I guess it? I guessed most of the Poirot ones.
  • My Rating: 6/10

Agatha Christie…getting there…

30 Jun

Why am I always too lazy to write about something immediately after I read it? I just want to know. I’ve always been a procrastinator.

Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?- A man dies at a golf course. Was it accident or murder? What was the meaning of his last words, “Why didn’t they ask Evans?” No Poirot or other detective connection here. Just a pair of Bright Young Things, kind of like Tommy and Tuppence (the same actors played them in adaptations, funnily enough). I liked this one at first, but it fizzled out for me halfway through. I’m not sure why, actually. And the solution to who Evans made me wanna smack myself! At least, I probably would have if I were the one investigating.

  • Did I guess? Yes.
  • My Rating: 7/10

Three Act Tragedy- A man drops dead at a party. Old age or poison? This is a Poirot novel, but Poirot is barely in it. He used to get on my nerves, but somewhere along the line I came to love him, ego and all. This book seemed kind of cold to me. Not just because of the relative lack of Poirot. I just couldn’t connect and I found it draggy in bits.

  • Did I guess? Yes, but I didn’t know the motive.
  • My Rating: 7/10

Death in the Clouds- Woman murdered on a plane. Poirot saves the day. It was interesting to read about the earliest days of commercial air travel, but this book was good but nothing special for me.

  • Did I guess? Yes, I kept going back in forth between two characters but I got it right.
  • My Rating: 7/10

The ABC Murders- Poirot and Hastings. A seemingly psychopathic serial killer is bumping off people in alphabetical order. I really enjoyed the twist in this one.

  • Did I guess? I can’t remember..I think if I did, it was very late in the game.
  • My Rating: 8/10

Murder in Mesopotamia– The wife of an archaeologist in Iraq is receiving threatening letters and winds up murdered. Another Poirot. The narrator in this one is interesting- not a detective, and not a “bright young thing,” but a no-nonsense hospital nurse. I found this book really enjoyable, but the solution was a bit too far-fetched.

  • Did I guess? Yes, I thought it would be too crazy, but it was actually the right solution. You really have to suspend disbelief for it.
  • My Rating: 8/10