Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten New To Me Authors I read in 2013

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme sponsored by the blog, “The Broke and The Bookish.”

Thank God for my short story reading project. Without it, I don’t think I have read ten “new to me authors” this year. About half of the following are form short story reading. Here they are, in descending order with #1 being my favorite.

10. Kevin Lynn Helmick
His novella “Driving Alone: A Love Story” was “different” and brilliant.

9. Douglas Watson
I loved his short story collection “The Era of Not Quite.” Read my post about it here.

8. Kyle Minor
His story collection “In the Devil’s Territory” was one of my favorite books of the year. I posted about it here.

7. Caitlyn Horrocks
Her short story, “The Sleep,” will be a finalist in my upcoming 2013 short story reading project awards post. See my post about it here.

6. Hugh Howey
I was spellbound by his runaway self-published hit “Wool” earlier this year. What a page-turner!

5. Henryk Sienkiewicz
The “elder statesman” on this list, his short story, “The Lighthouse Keeper of Aspinwall” was wonderful.

4. Neil Gaiman
Yes, I’d never read him until this year’s “The Ocean at the End of the Lane.” He hasn’t seen the last of me…

3. Steven Milhauser
His unique short story “Phantoms” was also among my favorites of the year. I think he also has a new story in the latest New Yorker. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s in my plans.

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2. Ruth Ozeki (above)
I just finished it, but certainly one of my favorite novels of recent years was her “A Tale for the Time Being.” I highly recommend it.

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1. Betty Smith (above)
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” was my other favorite novel for the year. A classic that I had somehow neglected until now. Also highly recommended.

Other new to me authors I enjoyed (“Honorable Mention” if you will): Alexander Pushkin, Rob Smales, Lori Benton, Jade Eby, R.J. Sullivan, Robert Rebein, Marissa Meyer (the Lunar Chronicles one, not the Yahoo CEO), Stephen Chbosky, Eric Garrison, Orson Scott Card, Kristal Stittle, Hagiwara Sakutar, Sam Lipsyte, Claire Keegan, Charles Beaumont, Rebecca Emin, and Alice Adams.

What a fun list to put together! Being reminded of discovering all these great, new (to me) authors made me feel good about my 2013 reading accomplishments.

What about YOU? Who were your favorite literary discoveries in 2013?

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Top Ten Tuesday – “sequels I can’t wait for…”

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the wonderful folks at The Broke and the Bookish

“Top Ten Sequels I Can’t Wait to Get my Hands On” I haven’t done one of these in a while, so I thought I’d better make an effort to “keep my membership current” :-A) Then I saw this topic and thought, “No way I can come up with ten. I don’t read series!” Looking over my “Read” list on Goodreads, though, I realized that more accurate would be “I don’t finish series!” There are some I wouldn’t mind continuing with, and a few that I’m re-reading, so although I think the spirit of this week’s topic is meant more to be ‘sequels that haven’t been published yet that I’m waiting on,’ I’ll go ahead and be a rebel. In fact, that’s the only way I’d come up with ten anyway… 🙂

Here we go, from least anticipated to most anticipated:

10. The Madness Underneath (Shades of London #2) by Maureen Johnson

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I found the first book in this series, “The Name of the Star,” surprisingly good. Good enough to recommend to a few friends who have now also read it and proceeded on in the series. Maybe I will too…

9. Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2) by Leigh Bardugo

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The first book, “Shadow and Bone” was one I read after a gushing NY Times review by Laini Taylor (author of the confusingly similar – to me, anyway – titled, “Daughter of Smoke and Bone”). It is somewhat standard YA fare, but I found the setting intriguing, with all the Russian-sounding names and places. This one I’ll likely read, but not sure when it will reach the top of the batting order.

8. Speaker for the Dead (Ender’s Game #2) by Orson Scott Card

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Probably gonna see the Ender’s Game movie here this upcoming weekend. I hadn’t gotten around to reading the original Ender’s Game until this year, but thought it was very good. Somewhat afraid that a weaker sequel might “ruin” it for me, but we’ll see. Other trusted reader friends have enjoyed the whole series, but I’m not generally a Sci-Fi/”space wars” kinda guy…

7. Catching Fire (Hunger Games #2) by Suzanne Collins

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Yes, I’ve already read this series, but re-read the first one before the movie and want to do the same with book 2. Plus a gang of friends is organizing a group outing to go see the movie soon, and I’d like to be able to remember what the heck is going on… 🙂

6. Insurgent (Divergent #2) by Veronica Roth

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I liked the first one well enough and am kind of curious where things end up for Tris and the Dauntless (and the other factions). Like a lot of other series on this list, this is one that I’ve recommended to some of my friends who are “recreational readers.” It has been well-liked by all so far.

5. Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer

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The first book, “Cinder,” was perhaps my favorite YA read of the year (not that I read that many), but I found the premise of having the protagonist be a cyborg to be fascinating. I even forgot she was in just a few pages! I’ve recommend this to others too and it’s been popular with them, so why not press on with the series?

4. Taran Wanderer (The Prydain Chronicles #4) by Alexander Lloyd

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Another re-read. The Prydain Chronicles were a favorite of my junior high reading years. Earlier this year I started re-reading the 5 books and only made it up to book #3. I’d like to go on, though, and I remember that number 4 was a favorite back in the day… The Prydain Chronicles are kind of like a younger person’s Lord of the Rings. Fun reading for any age, though. You should check them out. THe picture above is of the actual old edition I have from the 70s(?)

3. The Daylight War (The Demon Cycle #3) by Peter Brett

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The first two books were awesome. I don’t often read this genre, but I found the characters in this series to be very well done. And the world plagued by demons was awesome. I couldn’t wait for this one to come out when I finished #2, but when it finally did, I didn’t get to it right away and still haven’t. I have no idea why. I wrote an earlier post praising this series. You can find it here.

2. The Shift Omnibus (prequel to the Wool Omnibus) by Hugh Howey

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Are “prequels” allowed for this list? I’m assuming they are – as long as they are published after the original. The Wool Omnibus was a surprise favorite read of earlier this year for me. I always meant to write an epic post praising it, but never have (story of my blogging life). Maybe it’s time to do that too. I’ve kind of been waiting for the opportunity for a significant stretch of uninterrupted reading time/days where I could read this one in just a few days, like I did the first one…

1. Whatever “new” J.D. Salinger work comes out…

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This is the only one on the list that I really “can’t wait” to get my hands on. This was BIG news  when it came out recently that previous unpublished works will be released. Salinger’s “The Laughing Man” was one of my favorite short story reads of 2013.

Well, that’s it for me. What are you unable to wait for?

May Reading – The Month Ahead

I’m always interested in hearing what my friends are reading (this is why Goodreads.com is favorited in my browser). Maybe you are the same way? Here’s what I think I’ll be working on in May:

First, a few ‘required’ reads, including a re-read of Kurt Vonnegut’s novel, Slapstick, for the monthly meeting of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library Book Club. The club has covered all of his novels already and this will be the first “repeat” since I began participating. I think this was only the third Vonnegut novel I had read at the time of my initial reading, and – now that I’ve learned so much more of this author and his works – I’m really looking forward to revisiting it.

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(above: the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library’s replica of Kurt Vonnegut’s study)

One of the reading groups at Bookmama’s Bookstore in Irvington is meeting on the 29th to discuss the second half of the Tolstoy Classic, Anna Karenina. I attended the first meeting, but have kind of left the daunting novel lie fallow for a few weeks. I need to pick it up again and see what happens to Anna, Vronsky, Constantin, & Kitty. When I finish this book, a serious gap (one of very many, I’m afraid) in my cultural literacy will finally be filled. I wouldn’t mind seeing the movie adaptation with Keira Knightley in the title role either…

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My Great Books Foundation discussion group is meeting on the 21st to discuss the famous Lawrence Sargent Hall story, “The Ledge.” It is also my turn to lead the discussion, so I plan to thoroughly read this one and be prepared.

(below: Lawrence Sargent Hall, author of “The Ledge”)

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I’ve also been reading Veronica Roth’s novel, Divergent, and may even wrap that one up this weekend. I’m liking it so far, but I admittedly have a thing for dystopic fiction. This one kind of feels like Harry Potter meets Hunger Games meets Brave New World. I know a few of my fellow bloggers were disappointed in the sequel, but enough of them also liked this one to cause me to take the plunge.  Oh, and it’s set in a post-apocalyptic(?) Chicago too (don’t you recognize Lake Michigan on the cover?), so as a midwesterner that’s a plus.

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What else? Oh, yeah, I hope to start reading The Shift Omnibus by Hugh Howey. It’s the anticipated prequel to the addictive “Wool” omnibus, which I tore through last month and have been recommending around to anyone who dares ask me. Someday I’ll post about “Wool” – if I can get my act together and write something decent.

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There are four Saturdays in May, so that means I’ll read four stories for my annual “Deal Me In” short story project. Which stories I read, however, will be determined by the luck of the draw, which is part of what makes this annual project so fun for me. That, and my line-up of fifty-two stories this year is perhaps my strongest yet. AND It’s not too early to starting thinking about coming up with YOUR OWN list of fifty-two stories for 2014 and join in the fun. Fellow blogger Dale at Mirror With Clouds is also doing the short story “Deal Me In” project with me this year.

Well, that’s about it for me (even though I will likely read a few random and unanticipated stuff too, as always). What about YOU, though? What will you be reading in May? I’d love to hear about your reading plans…