2013 Book Review

2013 Reading Recap:
Total pages read: 12289 (approx. 3000 less than 2012)
Number of books read: 34 (16 less than 2012)
Chunksters (over 450 pages): 11 (3 more than 2012)
Genre breakdown:
Non-fiction: 5 (1 less than 2012)
General Fiction: 2
Mystery: 5 (big drop – 26 less than 2012)
Historical fiction: 2 (2 less than 2012)
Thriller/Spy: 15 (10 more than 2012)
Young Adult/Youth: 4
Pictures / Animal: 1 (couldn’t resist the “Lil Bub” book)

I met two of my reading goals and got to the halfway mark on the third. I reject 19 books, and that’s a record for me. Sadly, several were rejected 1/4 or 1/3 in to the story. One was rejected at the 90% spot because I could NOT take any more of the whole thing.

I had three “Top Reads”, and that’s less than in years past, but given how few books I read this year it’s still good. Here’s my recap of my top three books for 2013:

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech – This is the story of Salamanca Tree Hiddle (Chickabidee), her gramps and gram (Gooseberry), her friend Phoebe (Peeby), her mom, her dad and various other people she meets.

There is a trip cross country with a story within a story. You’ll see life in all it’s various stages played out. I found the characters captivating, believable, and lovable. I saw my own family in the story. I saw some of my friends, and I made new friends with every character in the book.

Considered young adult fiction (ages 12-18), the story has enough depth for most adults who simply enjoy a good read. When I finished the book, I sobbed for a good 30 minutes. It’s one the best books I’ve read this year, and it’s one of the worst books I’ve read this year. I recommend it, and do keep the tissues handy.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan – Why did it take me so long to find this book? How did I even find out about this book? I wish I knew the answers to those questions. What a delightful read. Books, wizards, Google, secrets, codes, a touch of romance, travel, history and spies. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is a modern day fairy tale. Or is it a modern day adventure? A thriller? It’s all of those and more!

Our protagonist, Clay Jannon, is out of work. He stumbles into Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore and his life immediately changes. Rather than just sit and collect a paycheck, Clay discovers a need deep inside to solve the puzzle of the bookstore. He enlists the help of some friends, and takes us all on a fun adventure.

As a long ago user of Aldus PageMaker (now owned by Adobe), I loved the nod to Aldus Manutius. I loved the nods to modern computers and the tie in to old time printing. I laughed over some comments about print vs ebook, especially since I started out by reading a hard bound copy from the library and then bought the ebook and finished reading on my Kindle.

I found myself totally wrapped up in this story and it was hard to put the book down. When the final secret was revealed I smiled, wiped away a tear and thought, YES! This book was “the right book exactly, at exactly the right time.”

Overboard!: A True Blue-Water Odyssey of Disaster and Survival by Michael J. TougiasOverboard! is the heart-wrenching, heart-stopping, riveting telling of a 2005 maritime rescue involving two sail boats. The At Ease had set sail from Chesapeake Bay with Bob Cummings and Jerry McCarthy aboard. They are heading to Charleston, SC to sail in the Charleston to Bermuda Race.

The Almeisan holds Tom Tighe (captain and owner), Loch Reidy, first mate; and a three member paying crew of Chris Ferrer, Kathy Gilcrest and Ron Burd—all experienced sailors and all ready and eager for the experience of a blue-water trip to Bermuda.

While the main thrust of the story is about the souls onboard the two sail boats, it also involves several members of the U.S. Coast Guard. Tougias weaves them into the story in a grand way and I felt the stress and concern of every member of the U.S. Coast Guard rescue teams. I worried that they would all come home alive. I found their bravery and courage incredible and encouraging.

The story wouldn’t be complete without recognizing the captain and crew of the USNS Seay. Called into action by the US Coast Guard, this ship lead a search and rescue mission of four ships. Eventually the Seay came alongside and “protected” the Almeisan. The Seay also sailed to Boston with the Sakura Express, serving as an intermediary between the Sakura Express and the US Coast Guard. A great picture, that gives you a sense of the enormity of the seas and shows the Almeisan and Seay can be found here.

One of the other ships in the S&R, was the Sakura Express (a tanker carrying jet fuel and part of AMVER). They also showed courage and tenacity in rescuing those in the water. Their care and concern with those they picked up had me in tears.

Tougias has a wonderful talent for drawing the reader into the event so that I felt as though I was on the boat, in the water, and struggling to survive. I likely would have read this story in two days time, except I found it necessary to put it down in order to breathe, relax and focus on simple, every day, stress free happy events.

A rich, wonderful telling of a difficult true-life event. I highly recommend this book, and it is one of my top-reads for 2013.

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