Books of 2013

After a holiday season packed with travel, family, and friends, I felt a little wiped out. It's been really nice to get back into a more regular schedule, and now I've finally had time to look back on some of my favorite releases of the past year.

These titles are all either standalones or introduce new series.

The Mad Scientist's Daughter, by Cassandra Rose Clarke

The Mad Scientist's DaughterThis book has pretty prose, vivid descriptions, and an easy pace that never ends up feeling slow. I thought the characters were both relatable and compelling. The heroine had some blind spots that led to trouble, but they were understandable rather than stirring up drama for drama's sake. It's been months since I finished it, but the emotional impact of the story has stuck with me.

Perdition, by Ann Aguirre

Perdition (Dred Chronicles, #1)The tone is dark enough tone to fit the space prison setting, but thankfully it never crosses the line into that bleak sense of despair that some gritty novels reach for. There's a good mix of intrigue and action as well. The characters aren't always the most admirable people, but their backgrounds and circumstances are developed well enough to make them still feel sympathetic. I'm really looking forward to the next one of these.

A Natural History of Dragons, by Marie Brennan

A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady TrentBetween the historical memoir style and the "science in a fantasy world" concept, this book really drew me in. The heroine has a strong, distinctive voice that reminds me a little of Amelia Peabody, which is also a plus. And while I love stereotypical fire-breathing carnage as much as the next girl, it's always nice to read a different take on a subject as familiar as dragons.

A Spear of Summer Grass, by Deanna Raybourn

A Spear of Summer GrassThis historical novel includes a mystery plot, but the characters are the main attraction. They're selfish, tawdry, a bit anachronistic, and sometimes they're downright mean. Despite all this (or maybe because of it), I was fascinated by their story. It had lush descriptions of far-flung places and a complex ending that still felt inevitable. I usually prefer more likeable leads, but this one really worked for me.

How to Create the Perfect Wife, by Wendy Moore

How to Create the Perfect Wife: Britain's Most Ineligible Bachelor and His Enlightened Quest to Train the Ideal MateThis is a nonfiction account of a man who picked out a pair of orphan girls and subjected them to a bizarre new style of education meant to make them both strong and intelligent. He expected that one of the girls would eventually marry him and submit to his every whim. While his plan would have been considered shocking even at the time, it's unnerving to hear how far he was able to take things.

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