Books We Love A Year End Round up

Last month we castigated you all sufficiently enough for your lack of readership and passion for reading.  As we do our year end round up it’ll suffice to say that you guys prefer to watch movies than to read.  That much is sure.  Regardless, we thought we would highlight some of the best books of the year and proclaim a winner for the best book of all of 2013.  Tall order, but that’s how we roll around here at Books We Love.  So without further delay… let us commence with a review of the literary highlights of 2013:

December – The Repeat Year by Andrea Lochen

repeatOver the course of the past year we have had the privilege of reviewing a pile of upside down and backwards books.  October List is one, the Shining Girls is another.  But with The Repeat Year we were given a society of people called repeaters with the unique “skill” to redo sections of history.  And while this isn’t specifically your standard sci-fi novel, Andrea handles the threads perfectly and avoids dropping any details as she deftly carries the plot forward.  The Repeat Year is sort of the Antithesis to the Shining Girls, and yet, similar structurally.  Both brilliantly written in totally different ways. Never mind the fact that The author of this book, Andrea Lochen was the ONLY individual to comment on ANY of the Books We Love Posts… For the entire year. We should have thrown the entire year her way if we had any clue at all what we were doing.

Books We Love A Year End Round up

November Winner – October List by Jeffery Deaver

october listThe October List began with a murder – but the narrative began at the end – chapter 36 if we remember correctly.  And we at Books we Love adore books that work against the standard grain.  October List reminded us of Memento (or the short story version entitled Memento Mori) which runs backwards over the course of a three day weekend.  Gabriela McKenzie is awaiting word from the kidnappers of her six year old daughter.  She will be paying $500k and will also be handing over the mysterious October List.  As the book moves forward, you will need to continue reevaluating what you were told earlier…

October Winner – Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

doctor sleepDoctor Sleep is The Shining part II – yes, we know that was exactly what it was supposed to be.  Redrum.  But that is what it is.  Do you understand what we are saying here?  Redrum. The hotel boiler exploded and we are now watching those implications play out.  Redrum. We get to watch as alcoholism rears its ugly head all over again.  Redrum.  The dead begin visiting all over again.  Redrum.  We meet the True Knot, who are quasi-immortal, and live off the steam that children with the shining produce when they are slowly tortured to death.  Redrum.

September Winner: Night Film by Marisha Pessl

night-film We still can’t stop talking about Night Film.  Even now.  Months later.  We loved the subculture here.  The Infinite Jest, killer movie idea and the concepts behind entertainment as a murder weapon.  We loved the regressive nature of the investigation and the mystery of it all.  Marisha Pessl has a gorgeous novel here with all the important textures and grittiness inherent inside the dark corners of the underground movie sub-culture.  And it just didn’t hurt to see so many amazing similarities between David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest.

August winner:  The Expats by Chris Pavone

The Expats - Books like gone girlKate Moore is a working mother, struggling to make ends meet, to raise children, to keep a spark in her marriage . . . and to maintain an increasingly unbearable life-defining secret. So when her husband is offered a lucrative job in Luxembourg, she jumps at the chance to leave behind her double-life, to start anew.  Then another American couple arrives. Kate soon becomes suspicious that these people are not who they say they are, and she’s terrified that her own past is catching up to her. So Kate begins to dig, to peel back the layers of deception that surround her…

July winner:  Serena by Ron Rash

serena Ron Rash is a magician with words.  We loved the opening lines “When Pemberton returned to the North Carolina mountains after three months in Boston settling his father’s estate, among those waiting on the train platform was a young woman pregnant with Pemberton’s child. She was accompanied by her father, who carried beneath his shabby frock coat a bowie knife sharpened with great attentiveness earlier that morning so it would plunge as deep as possible into Pemberton’s heart.”  It was a gorgeous read.

June winner:  Red Moon by Benjamin Percy

Red-Moon-novelRed Moon is a modern retelling of the werewolf novel told from the perspective of a hunted subclass of the world.  The inverted discussion about racism and prejudice was such a unique way of discussing a very old topic.  The novel itself reminded us a lot of The Brilliants and The Passage so much.  These three books could signal a whole new way of writing on such an old concept.  If you like great writing and you like an upside down concept and an inside out thinker – then Percy’s Red Moon will definitely be for you.

May winner:  A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra

constellationA Constellation of Vital Phenomena was this year’s Orphan Master’s Son for us.  It was so grand and sweeping in its telling that we sat agog throughout.  Mix a few key details together, the Chechen wars, a pile of amputation details, threat of landmines throughout, snipers galore, an orphan with nowhere else to go, and what do you get?  You get one of the greatest books of the year.  Searing is the best word for this book.  Which was our reaction to The Orphan Master’s Son as well… which is high praise coming from us.

April winner:  Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

shininggirls We’ve read Lauren Beukes the Shining Girls several times now we loved it so much.  And we just don’t read a book multiple times, its not how we work.  But this time traveling serial killer novel was awesome at pretty much every level.  The only area where this novel floundered was in explaining how or why this time traveling house was created or where it came from.  But if you can suspend disbelief on this particular point, then it might become a favorite of yours… as it did for us.

March winner: The Twelve by Justin Cronin

twelveJustin Cronin reinvented the post apocalyptic novel from the ground up while at the same time breathing new life into the world of the vampire. A vampire virus is let loose on the world when the military tries to develop a weaponized human.  These vampires are not Bella and Edmond.  They are monsters of the Ridley Scott Alien variety.  The Twelve is the long awaited sequel to The Passage and in it we get the next round of heart stoppingly scary end of the world fun.

Feb winner: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

perks of being a wallflower“I walk around the school hallways and look at the people. I look at the teachers and wonder why they’re here. If they like their jobs. Or us. And I wonder how smart they were when they were fifteen. Not in a mean way. In a curious way. It’s like looking at all the students and wondering who’s had their heart broken that day, and how they are able to cope with having three quizzes and a book report due on top of that. Or wondering who did the heart breaking. And wondering why.” Gah.  Brilliance.

January winner:  Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player OneThis book is the geek’s wet dream.  The geek book of the year.  Heck, decade.  It is an eighties arcade game throwback.  Its a futuristic, post apocalyptic, massive multi-player universe wherein the entire world is on one big massive easter egg hunt in search of the world’s richest man’s estate. If you know Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicron, or better yet Reamde, you will understand this book immediately. If you don’t know either of those two books, then never mind… just move on.  There is nothing to see here.

So, those are our candidates for the best book of 2013.  Of those books, which one would you pick for the best book of the year?  Sure, there aren’t a lot of Man Booker type books in that list… though we are working our way through The Luminaries now.  (Talk about a big book.)  Regardless, there are some really great books in this list here.  We enjoyed them very much anyway, and we enjoyed sharing them with you.  But which one is the best?

Our Winner – S by J. J. Abrams

So, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena should have won.  It was by far the most beautifully written novel of the year.  We wouldn’t be surprised if it runs the book awards board.  But that’s just us – don’t take our word for it, “On the morning after the Feds burned down her house and took her father, Havaa woke from dreams of sea anemones.”

But alas, we chose not to go with Phenomena after all.  Instead, we went with S, by J.J. Abrams (oh and Doug Dorst… don’t forget Doug!).  In order to justify our selection we think we should let shots of the book review itself for you… and you can decide on your own.

s1 Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

Abram’s S just had that X-factor that made book publishing relevant again.  When a book like this is published it causes people who don’t by hardbacks to quickly run to the nearest bookstore and purchase said book.  It also has the librarians of the world all kinda up in arms right now.  We kid you not.

Anyway – it was a fun year reading with you. Until next time.  And a special thanks to Andrea Lochen (author of for swinging through and giving us the SINGLE comment of The Repeat Year) for swinging through and commenting on our December post which included her book for consideration.  She may have single handedly kept us reviewing books for the future.  We will have to see though.  Thanks for a great year.