Tag Archives: James S. A. Corey

This Year in Reading 2013

I’m probably not the only book blogger who ends up reading many more books than she actually blogs about, at least I hope I’m not. Most often it’s because I don’t always anything to say that I think the Internet wants to read after I finish a book. Partly because of that, and partly because I thought it would be fun, I thought I might wrap up this year in reading in the perennial tradition of the internet and the end of the year: with a best-of list.

Best Discoveries:

cover image via Goodreads

cover image via Goodreads

I am always looking for authors whose writing style echoes Mary Stewart, and this year, I found someone who actually comes really close! Susanna Kearsley writes delightful books: history, mystery, and romance combine with light paranormal elements to make for really enjoyable reading. I started with The Shadowy Horses (my favorite so far), and I still daydream about Eyemouth, Scotland. If light paranormal elements (clairvoyance, etc.) aren’t your cup of tea, you might try Every Secret Thing, which was published under a pseudonym (Emma Cole) – every bit as good as her other books, but without the fantastical elements that may not be to everyone’s taste.

cover image via Goodreads

cover image via Goodreads

I’ve yet to outgrow my liking for books where the right girl meets the right guy and then after going through a few requisite troubles and misunderstandings, they’re well on their way to the proverbial happy-ever-after. There are times when, frankly, nothing else will do but that sort of story, but it’s harder than you might think to find a story like that that isn’t plagued by shoddy writing or besmirched by either the trappings of the romance novel (“bodice ripping”) or extensive bad language, or both. Which is why, when I discovered Hester Browne’s books this year, I was overjoyed. I started with The Runaway Princess, but Swept Off Her Feet is my favorite so far.

Best Reads of the Year:

jane_prudence

via Goodreads

Jane and Prudence, by Barbara Pym. Oh, how I love Barbara Pym! I’m not sure anyone does social satire better than she does. Who else delivers us such gems like this one, about an awkward social visit: “She had been feeling that things were pretty desperate if one found oneself talking about and almost quoting Matthew Arnold to comparative strangers, though anything was better than having to pretend you had winter and summer curtains when you had just curtains.” Jane and Prudence is another example of Barbara Pym at her best. I loved it fiercely.

The Tortoise and the Hare, by Elizabeth Jenkins. I wrote about this book months ago, but I’m still thinking about it, and it was truly some of the finest writing and characterization I’ve read all year. Highly recommended, in spite of its bleakness.

The Age of Miracles, by Karen Thompson Walker. I’ve also already written about this one, and recently, but…have you read it yet? You should really read it.

Best Surprise: Leviathan Wakes, by James S. A. Corey. This was my best – and biggest – surprise read of the year, because it wasn’t a book I thought I’d enjoy as much as I did, and I certainly didn’t expect to connect with or care about the characters as much as I did.

Greatest Reading Feat: Middlemarch. Enough said.

Best generally bookish thing(s): Joss Whedon’s adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing tops the list, followed closely by Tom Hiddleston’s portrayal of Henry V in the BBC’s Hollow Crown miniseries. If you didn’t see it when it aired on PBS in the US, well, stream it on Amazon as instantly as possible. Both of these were too good to miss.

So tell me: what tops your list of best books and/or best general bookishness for 2013?

In Which I Venture Into Space

You guys! An asteroid almost hit Earth last week! Separately-but-relatedly, a meteorite did explode and hit Earth last week!

And it all makes the perfect introduction to the book I finished reading a few weeks ago…because, that book was set in space!! Maybe that seems like a reach…bear with me! The characters were frequently reminding the reader that one didn’t even need bombs – all that would be necessary to wage war from space on planetary life was dropping rocks. The meteorite last week brought this powerfully to mind.

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Cover image via GoodReads

One of the books I included in my dad’s Christmas booklist was an adventuresome-sounding space tale called Leviathan Wakes, by James S. A. Corey (pseudonym for a writing team composed of Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, who is George R. R. Martin’s assistant). It was one of those situations where I read the book description and instantly thought of someone, in this case, my dad.

I was speaking to my mother on the phone last month when I heard my dad laughing in the background. “He’s really enjoying his January book,” my mom says. “He’s been laughing a lot.” My curiosity had been piqued by this story, too, and as part of my ongoing efforts to broaden my reading horizons, I decided to read this book “with” my dad.

Although I’m a huge fantasy nerd, I’ve never really been a huge reader of science fiction. I watch science fiction movies happily, but when it comes to going to other worlds entirely inside my own head through a book, I’ve gravitated away from the spaceships and lasers of science fiction and toward the magic wardrobes and wands of fantasy. (I realize that my describing science fiction in terms of spaceships and lasers will be offensive to some readers of science fiction, and I apologize. I agree, it’s a gross generalization.)

Leviathan Wakes is set in the indeterminate future: the human race has colonized Mars and many moons and the Asteroid Belt, but hasn’t ventured any further. Tensions abound between Earth and Mars (the inner planets) and between Earth, Mars, and the “Belters”, represented by the Outer Planets Alliance (or the OPA). Told in the alternating viewpoints of James Holden, the XO of an ice mining ship, and a detective named Miller who works on a space station, the action starts pretty much right away, and doesn’t really stop until the story closes.

This is a story about a search for a missing girl, a search for truth and justice, and about an alien particle; but maybe all you really need to know is that it is very similar in a lot of ways to Joss Whedon’s television show Firefly – and I think can safely say that if you enjoyed Firefly, you should definitely check out Leviathan Wakes. There was not a lot of science, but there was action, mild horror (one reviewer cited the Amazon-identified statistically-improbable-phrase “vomit zombies”), character development, and lots of suspense…cf. this conversation with my dad:

For the record, he didn’t tell me anything. He can be so irritating.

It was super-exciting, y’all, and really a lot of fun imagining a life in a time and place so different from my own. Reading outside your comfort zone can be really rewarding. If you haven’t tried it lately, there’s no time like the present!