Sunday, 26 January 2014

Sunday January 26th, 2014: 2013 Staff Favourites

Many publications and websites release "best of the year" lists, and TBPL staff are doing the same! Unless otherwise stated, the works were published in 2013.

Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane was Shauna Kosoris' favourite. She describes it as a "fantastic read." You can find her full review on the TBPL Off the Shelf blog.

Ruth Hamlin-Douglas, another fantasy reader, enjoyed the latest instalment in an ongoing series: Hunted by Kevin Hearne, the sixth title in Iron Druid Chronicles. Packed with druids, Greek gods and goddesses, and the Tuatha De Danann, this engrossing series promises a fun and exciting read.

The Bookman's Tale: a novel of obsession by Charlie Lovett is, according to the write-up, "guaranteed to capture the heart of everyone who truly loves books." Helen Cimone was drawn in by this description: "a mysterious portrait ignites an antiquarian bookseller's search through time and the works of Shakespeare for his lost love." Sold! It's been added to my to-reads list!

Jesse Robert's favourite of the year was The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty. This quick-moving, plotty novel is full of dark secrets, complicated relationships, and painful emotional collisions between characters.

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton won Canada's Governor General's Literary Award, the UK's Man Booker Prize, and was TBPL's Chief Librarian's favourite read of 2013 - pretty impressive accolades! John Pateman promises that "it is a compelling murder mystery and gripping page turner that keeps you guessing right up to the final page." Bonus: the author was born in Ontario!

Barb Philp's top pick was Kate Atkinson's Life After Life, a novel that asks "What if you had the chance to live your life again and again until you finally got it right?" She warns that the inventively structured novel requires concentration to keep the threads straight but pays off in a great read.

Stephen Hurrell spent his 2013 reading "awesome" Swedish crime mysteries. Stieg Larssen, author of the Dragon Tattoo series, is the most well-known author of this style, but there are many others to explore. Despite being published prior to 2013, Cell 8 makes Steve's top of the year list. Written by journalist Anders Roslund and convicted criminal Borge Hellstrom, this modern crime thriller full of twists and turns is part of the ongoing Grens & Sundkvist series.

Like Stephen, Raegan Rocco's favourites were all published prior to 2013. She also had more than one favourite read last year, including Matched, a youngadult dystopian series by Ally Condie, and Annexed by Sharon Dogar: "so moving and brilliant. I still think about it." Making Bombs for Hitler by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch, a novel about a young child forced into slave labour in a munitions factory in Nazi Germany, also made her list.

The first of my 2013 favourites was Hannah Moskowitz's Teeth, a very mature young adult novel. This book is such an odd little thing, full of magic realism and filtered through darkness and dread. This book is not a general crowd-pleaser and I can understand why, but for me it is something very special. My favourite middle-grade novel of 2013 diverges completely into farce and light-hearted fun. The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle, book two in the League of Princes series by Christopher Healey is a hilarious fantasy series featuring a familiar cast of fairy-tale characters. This series would make an excellent read aloud for families or classrooms!

What was your favourite read of 2013? Drop by the blog to join the conversation!

Laura Prinselaar

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