The Snobbery’s Naughty and Nice List 2013 Edition

Woo. Another year over and time for another list of things that didn’t suck and some that did. This year Heather will be contributing, so I’ll do my best to keep my own comments short.

Mrs Claus with the Naughty List

This will never get old. Ever.

sj’s List

  • NicecomicsImage almost totally swept my favourite comics of the year. Two brand new titles (Sheltered and Sex Criminals), and two that were new-to-me (Revival and Saga). I’m following all of these monthly now, no trade waiting for me. The Unwritten is my lone Vertigo title, I read all of the trades in a matter of days, then started buying them as they came out. I’m still waiting to read the last arc, though, cos it was a Fables crossover and I fucking hate Fables. I know, I know.
  • Naughtybad YA2013 was apparently the year for lackluster finales to YA trilogies. UNBELIEVABLY, I was not the only one who felt this way. Veronica Roth’s Allegiant and Lauren DeStefano’s Sever all garnered many, many poor reviews. I was shocked. I may have disliked them for different reasons than everyone else, but for once, I was not in the minority. Hm.
  • Nicegallagher girlsProbably my biggest surprise of the year, Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls was hands down my favourite new-to-me YA series that I read in 2013. I read the first five in a matter of days, then spent months with the agonizing wait for the finale. Take note, other authors: this is how you end a damn series. Highly recommended to just about anyone.
  • Honourable Mentions: Peter Stenson’s Fiend, Steve Weddle’s Country Hardball, Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep, Justin Jordan/Tradd Moore’s The Strange Talent of/Legend of Luther Strode

Heather says: When sj asked me to contribute to Santa’s naughty and nice list, I could name five books in a nanosecond. But sj has rules, and she would only count one book per author. So instead of naming my favorite books, my list, with the exception of a single entry, consists of my top favorite authors of 2013.

Heather’s List

  • Niceheather niceI discovered the brilliance of Jasper Fforde early in 2013 with the book Shades of Grey. It was a recommendation from sj, and she usually doesn’t steer me wrong. Grumpy Grandpa Librarian raised his one eyebrow in silent judgment when I checked it out. Methinks he should read more. I loved Fforde’s work so much that I bought his books in paper copies.

    I’m a sneaky-peeper on Goodreads, back when Goodreads had something to peep at. I hated the Goodreads recommendations.

    “You liked Lord of the Rings? You might also like Lord of the Flies. They both start with the letter ‘L’ and are not actually about the Lord.”

    I had to find ways to get recommendations on my own, so I perused friends’ lists to see what they were loving, and Rainbow Rowell‘s work kept appearing. I read Fan Girl and Eleanor & Park. Rowell really gets what it’s like to be awkward. She gets it. I have an allergy to romance, but Rainbow’s work doesn’t trigger the gag reflex. None of her characters are perfect. They’re people. They do smart things, and they do stupid things, and they suffer consequences. I love characters I can root for. I also like Rainbow herself. She is funny and adorable on Twitter. Follow her now, thank me later.

    Ender’s Game. One of these things is not like the other. I loved this book. I found it in the free bin at my local used bookstore a few months ago, and I read it in a day. I cried, I cheered, I hurt deeply for this poor, poor child. But the author is not a kind soul, and that bothers me. Ender was my first five-star book of this year, but I still feel conflicted about putting him on my list.

  • Naughtyheather naughtyI’m pretty forgiving and forgetful, and I hesitate to condemn any author’s work to the pits of the Naughty List, but here you go.

    I, Saul was definitely not the book the blurb told me I was getting. It was boring and ridiculous. Like I said, I can forgive lots of things. The inexcusable bit was receiving an invitation from the publisher to join a blog tour promoting the stupid thing weeks after I had read, reviewed and passed the review on via NetGalley. If they aren’t going bother to read the feedback, why did I read the book?

    The only other name on my naughty list isn’t a book. It’s Goodreads. Don’t look at me like that, Goodreads! You know what you’ve done!


Heather and I don’t always agree on what we read, but this year we agreed on two books that were our very best reads.

They were…

best of

Chris Holm’s The Big Reap and Justin Robinson’s City of Devils! We both reviewed each of these titles and they totally blew us away. You can read our reviews for The Big Reap here and here, and for City of Devils here and here.

In fact, we loved them so much and want you to love them too that we are giving away a copy of each! Thanks to Kate at Candlemark and Gleam and Vicky at Angry Robot, we have a paperback of each book to give away to YOU! All you have to do to enter is comment below and tell us what your best books of the year were. On January 3rd, I’ll put all the names into the Hat and draw two lucky winners. Super easy, right?

85 thoughts on “The Snobbery’s Naughty and Nice List 2013 Edition

  1. I loved, loved, loved The Gallagher Girls – I read the first five in rapid succession and then rage-quit Allegiant so that I could move onto United We Spy.

    I also loved all the Chris Holm books – and that is ALSO a way to end (maybe end?) a series or at least the trilogy – I’m still trying to digest that particular punch to the gut. Kevin Hearne is another writer who has managed to keep me on the edge of my seat through a series – his Iron Druid series is everything that urban fantasy should be.

    Jim Butcher can also go on my naughty list – I couldn’t even be bothered to finish the last book, Harry Dresden just isn’t interesting to me anymore. But at least he doesn’t make me ragey, like Sookie Stackhouse.

  2. Ooh! I’d love a copy of The Big Reap! Best books of the year, huh? I haven’t read City of Devils yet, so not that one. (it’s sitting on my coffee table waiting oh so patiently) I’ll go with Gaiman’s Ocean at the End of the Lane and from late last year, Saladin Ahmed’s Engraved on the Eye. Oh, and The Resurrectionist: The Lost Work of Dr. Spencer Black by E.B. Hudspeth. Fun stuff.

    • Sorry. I just moved 1000+ miles with 4 kids. There was barely time to write, let alone do images. :(


      AR is in the UK so you’re totally eligible.

      • Is that moving house again, or just visiting relatives?

        Um, I romped my way through the Game of Thrones books ‘cos they were jolly good. I also re-ignited my WWII obsession by reading a fascinating book called Spitfire Women of WWII, which was about the 166 female pilots who flew Spitfires, Hurricanes, etc. throughout the war. They didn’t fly in combat, but their job was still dangerous, they were paid less than the blokes, weren’t shown how to use all the instruments, and had to deal with the usual 1940s prejudice against women.

        Another one called How the Girl Guides Won the War also surprised me.

        On the naughty side of things the only thing I can think of is David Copperfield by Dickens. The writing is damned impressive, but I can only put up with it in small 10% chunks when in between other books. Nothing really happens, y’see.

  3. Just the ones I’ve read this year, eh?
    Huh… I think my top favs of this year were Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross and the Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks. Oh, and a Small Furry Prayer by Steven Kotler. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards was quite touching and the Henchmen’s Bookclub by Danny King was highly entertaining.

    I wonder… if I can finish two more books in the next 4 days, I’ll have met last year’s reading goal, which was 15 books more than this year’s goal.

      • About 20 years ago, I used to read almost all things Image – mostly because they were new and I didn’t have a 40+ year backlog on which to catch up – but then I got hooked. However, my then-bf & I split and he got the comics (although I’d paid for about 65% of them for the prior 4 years) and I just never got back into them. The closest I get to that genre these days are the webcomics, Questionable Content and Between Failures.

  4. Do the books in question have to be *from* 2013, or can they simply be books I read *during* 2013? (Also yay for not being in the minority when you had criticisms about something! I have yet to experience that, but it sounds really nice.)

  5. I too loved Eleanor & Park, and am about a third of the way through Attachments, as we speak. I plan to read Fangirl before Landline comes out, and then devour that too. Go Rainbow!
    My three favourite books that I read for the first time this year (although only one of them actually came out this year) are Eleanor & Park (obvs), The Casual Vacancy and Silk.
    Boom. Competition entered. :P

  6. Blade of Dishonor by Thomas Pluck is one of the best books I’ve read this year – am currently reading, in fact… Just finished The Gauguin Connection, by Estelle Ryan, very interesting take on autistic mannerisms and behaviour. Then of course, there was The Walls of the Castle by Tom Piccirilli. And really enjoyed the other two Chris Holm books, too…

    … and THE BIG REAP, Chris F. Holm.

  8. I had the pleasure of meeting Chris Holm in August (Killer Nashville) and bought his Dead Harvest-excellent read!- easily one of my favorites this year. I have his two short story collections on my Kindle,(love them) but not the other two Collector books- I would so love to win Big Reap. Other fav reads this year were Stephen King’s Joyland (which came out in 2013) and Karen Russell’s Swamplandia (which did not,) as well as Joe Hill’s 20th Century Ghosts (short stories) I’m currently reading his “Horns” and am confident that its going to make the list as well. For something completely different, I just finished Sarah Caudwell’s four book Hilary Tamar series. Unfortunately, that series was ended by Caudwell’s untimely death. I still love Dresden Files, though I did like the earlier books more. I came across quite a few clunkers this year, but as my reading time was minimal- :( I chucked any book that I didn’t like after only a few pages, and so really don’t have any memorable bad book.

    • Joyland was another that almost made my list!

      I started quitting books this year, and considered talking about a few of them, but decided to keep my list to things I actually finished.

      GOOD LUCK!

  9. I didn’t read nearly as much as I should have/wanted to in 2013, but there were definitely a few gems. :)

    “Namaah’s Curse” and “Namaah’s Blessing” by Jacqueline Carey…these are the two final installments in her most recent trilogy, so the first book also gets an Honorable Mention despite the fact I read it last year. >.> Anyways, Carey is one of my all-time favorite authors and I absolutely adored these two books. Rich characters, thriving societies, intricate plots, and an ending which made me smile. Doesn’t get much better.

    “Her Secret Desire” by C.J. Archer has a very stupid name, but was surprisingly enjoyable. It’s one of the free Kindle novels I ended up reading/reviewing recently and it was a lot of fun. Definitely had its hokey romance novel moments, but they weren’t painfully awkward like most romances are and I genuinely liked the characters.

    “Cocaine Blues” by Kerry Greenwood, definitely. Despite its breakneck pace and the show strangely being better than the books, I still love all of its characters and it was just SO much fun to read. Never a dull moment.

    “The Torment of Others” by Val McDermid…so far her whole Carol Jordon/Tony Hill series has been exemplary, but this one stood out for me. The characters experience a lot of growth, and it definitely kept me hooked. Also a lot of moments where I didn’t want to keep reading but felt like I had to, which was an interesting sensation. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart, though. (Neither is the rest of the series. McDermid makes Stephen King look like a happy-go-lucky schoolboy skipping around in the sunshine playing with a rainbow hued lollipop.)

    “Hellboy”, Vol. 3 by Mike Mignola. For some reason, this was the first chapter of the series which really grabbed me and finally made me excited about the Hellboy universe. I absolutely adored the first movie (We won’t talk about the 2nd one) and Vol. 3 was pretty much the first time I felt that same adoration again. I’m not able to fully quantify *why* this one did it for me where the others failed, but there you have it.

      • They’re excellent. They also manage to be very different from the Kushiel series in all the right ways. They’re their own stories, not just extensions of a world which was already popular. In fact, Carey goes about fleshing out parts of the world she didn’t get to in the Kushiel series, or actively ignored because they weren’t part of Phedre’s story. And if you were uncomfortable with any of the masochism in the first books, (as some folks I tried to rec Kushiel to were) all of that’s gone in the new trilogy. It makes a very brief appearance with one character but she never takes it to the same degree that she did for Phedre.

      • Oh, I also love how the new series spans a huge number of societies and cultures. There is a HUGE focus on “no one culture is perfectly good or perfectly bad”, and the characters get a chance to explore each one personally instead of just making knee-jerk reactions based on stereotypes. It’s beautiful.

  10. Eleanor & Park was definitely one of my favorites this year, and I gifted it to my 15-year-old cousin for Christmas. I am really hoping she’ll like it (although I’m counting on her loving it).

    I really enjoyed Doctor Sleep, the Collector Series, NOS4A2, The Dark Tower, and the half of the Harry Potter series I’ve read so far this year. I had a lot of liked but didn’t love books this year.

  11. New to me this year was Kat Richardson’s Greywalker series. I devoured them all. Kevin Hearne someone else mentioned, those books make me laugh out loud. I also loved Lindsey Faye’s books, Gods of Gotham, and Seven for a Secret.

    Goodreads would probably make me crabby too if I used it for the recommendations, but really I only use it to keep track of how many books I am reading a year and what books I have read in a series.

  12. Just finished “Double Dead” by Chuck Wendig last night, and I was blown away. I didn’t think the story of a vampire in the zombie apocalypse was something I really wanted to read, but Chuck really delivered the goods. Thrilling, action packed and it answers the question “What might happen if a zombie bit a vampire?

    I’ll add “NOS4A2″, “Locke and Key”, and “Doctor Sleep” to my Nice list, and “The Cuckoo’s Calling” to my naughty list for not making me want to finish it. (I checked it out of the library and was not inspired enough to renew it.)

  13. I read 200 books this year, and so many of them were good.

    Off the top of my head, my favorites were: the Thursday Next novels, The Stand, The Song of Achilles, Blasphemy (Sherman Alexie), and The Flame Alphabet. I know there are more, but I’d have to look at my list to remember.

  14. I came across Saga recently and was planning to pick it up (exquisite illustration + Brian K. Vaughn script = No brainer). Will do so now for sure.

    As for Orson Scott Card, I say don’t let the artist get in the way of the art. Think of what Michelangelo probably had to say. Yikes.

  15. The Summer of Jest took over 2013 for me, but that’s OK because Infinite Jest is my favorite book EVER. Chris Holm is on my wish list (because of your reviews), so I would love a copy. I’d read it as soon as I finish The Last Dark (which my loving wife just gave me for Christmas) – the LAST book in the LAST Chronicles of Thomas Covenant!

  16. Pingback: Nearly Wordless Wednesday: The Old Year in Pictures | Becoming Cliche

  17. OH YAY! more lists of books to read. I can tell you my favourite book this year was called The Tigers Wife. My favourite authors this year are Hilary Mantel and Jeannette Walls. My surprise book was I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak. Read this one first, Heather.. he made me laugh out loud in an airport! Imagine!.. have a wonderful new years you two!! c

  18. This year I finally read the Spanish translation of The Little Prince, which has been one of my favorite books for nearly 15 years now. This translation is absolutely beautiful and I’ll be re-reading it again soon since I got it for Christmas.

  19. Lindsay Hunter’s Don’t Kiss Me is one of the best single-author story collections I’ve ever read. I also read Bengtsson’s The Long Ships, which is a wonderful portrait of Viking life. There’s probably some other stuff, too.
    On the flip-side, I’m reading a short story collection for eventual review that seems to be everything that’s wrong with contemporary literary short fiction. Maybe I’ll change my mind as I read more, but…I’ve had it for months and I’ve only managed to read four stories because it makes me angry and listless. I’m hate-bored with it.

  20. I’m probably too late, but my favorite books of 2013 were, in no particular order, “The Rathbones,” “The Bitter Kingdom,” “Life After Life,” “Code Name Verity,” and “MaddAddam.”

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