A Year of Reading in Review: Hidden Gems

A Year of Reading in Review:


+ Best Books

+ Worst Books

+ Graphic Novel Sound Off

+ Non-Fiction Highlights

+ Yearly Goals - Did I make them?

+ Most Disappointing Books

+ New Favorite Author(s)

+ Promising New Debut Author

+ Disappointing Author - authors whose future books I won't be checking out

+ Hidden Gems - books I didn't think I'd like but did

+ Not All That Glitters Is Gold - Books I thought I'd love but didn't

+ Books I Wanted to Read But Didn't


Very rarely do I go into a book knowing I'm not going to like it (and usually that means I'm either reading a Book Club book or reading Anita Blake).  But sometimes, I pick up a book not really knowing what to expect or maybe even going so far as to think I would hate it (like how I thought before watching the "Stardust" movie).

I've had a lot of disappointing reads, but this year has been filled with some pleasant surprises.


Top 5 Hidden Gems of 2013


+ Interview with the Vampire - After I read "Twilight", I wanted to get back to the classics, so I bought "Dracula", "Guilty Pleasures" and of course, this.  I tried to read the book, but it just didn't work for me.  Then I tried an audiobook, but somehow, it was abridged.  I was pretty much ready to throw in the towel on this book and series, but I gave it one more shot.  I got an unabridged audiobook - and loved it!  I just really loved it.  It was fun, it was exciting and Lestat was amazing (yeah, I'm so glad the sequels mostly are from Lestat's POV, at least as of Book 4).  This is one of the cases where yes, it did pay off to give a book a second chance - I'm so glad I didn't write this one off!


+ Saga - I think I've probably told this story a bajillion times, but it's worth retelling once more.  I went into a comic book store to buy Star Wars comics and while talking to the clerk, he gave me the first issue of this comic.  And I LOVED IT.  And I immediately drove several miles to a Barnes and Nobles that had the first volume.  And I bought the second volume the day it came out.  And I bemoan waiting for volume 3.  It's just SO GOOD.  Original, brilliant character, stunning visual imagery, beautiful, gorgeous, captivating WOW!!!


+ The Cuckoo's Calling - I've tried to read mystery, and, well, our relationship is complicated.  If it hadn't been revealed that Rowling was the author of this book, I never would have bothered to read it.  But after "The Casual Vacancy", I had a lot of respect for Rowling as an author, and I gave this a whirl.  It was long, slow in places, riddled with strange language and cliches - but I liked it.  I liked it enough that I have renewed interest in the mystery genre again and am willing to give it a second-chance.


+ Gone Girl - THIS is the book that really renewed my interest in mysteries and thrillers - and it did so all while being one of the "popular" books.  Just like with the "popular" kids in high school, the popular, best-selling books tend to be superficial, shallow books written by a half dozen authors and written in the worst 3rd grade level English (OK, I'll stop insulting Nicholas Sparks now).  "Gone Girl" has been a New York Times Bestseller foreverrrrrr, so I partially thought it would be a shallow, badly written mystery with cheap thrills.  HAH!!  Instead it was smart, dark, and exciting.  It slapped me in the face and told me that I did like mysteries and thrillers, just SMART ones not the endless schlock by Patterson and his dancing troup of co-authors.  (OK, no offense to Patterson, really, but God, seems like every WEEK he's coming out with a new book!!) 


+ Empress Orchid - I really didn't know what to expect when I opened this book, sent to me by a dear friend and fellow bibliophile.  I like to read about Chinese culture, but books set in more modern eras (particularly the bloated 1860's) aren't my thing.  And in the past, every time I've read a book with Chinese character, it seems to be written in a style that just doesn't end up being my thing.  So I was reserved in my opinion of this - and I turned out to really like it!!  I thought Orchid was a great STRONG female character (and not in the "I can kick your @$$ and have no feelings like a man" - in a "I'm smart, but sometimes cry, but I can totally outwit you because I am conniving like that").  At the end, I had a hard time putting the book down.  I honestly can't wait to finish off Orchid's story with "The Last Empress"!