Best of 2013: Books

2013 has been the year of books for me. I have always been an obsessed reader, but when I created and took on my own challenge to read 100 books, I realized that while I would have to stay dedicated, it was actually possible. I think in a year’s cycle I would normally read about 80 books, so if I worked a little harder, 20 extra isn’t that much more. It is challenging to find new, interesting material all the time. With my book challenge, I promised to explore books I haven’t read yet, discover authors I haven’t tried yet, and look into genres I’m sure I wouldn’t love.

Here is my list of the best books I read so far in 2013 

*These are all books I read for the first time this year, not necessarily brought out within 2013.

The Indigo Spell – Richelle Mead (2013)

Book three in the Bloodlines trilogy. I read the first two and anxiously waited for this one’s release. It was as good as I hoped it would be. Bloodlines is mostly about Sydney Sage, an Alchemist that had been taught to hate vampires, is forced to live with them to do her job. It puts a new twist on the vampire/human romance, because she really hates vampires. Her love story with Adrian keeps me glued to the pages. The latest book in the series, the Fiery Heart, has just been released, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

The Witness – Nora Roberts (2012)

Nora Roberts have written enough books to create her own universe. With over two hundred books her universe has good and bad parts. The Witness falls into the part which is equivalent to the Maldives – it is beautiful and brilliantly written. Elizabeth Fitch’s life goes horribly wrong the one night she chooses to defy her mother. She witnesses Mafia murders and is forced into witness protection. Her mother deserts her, and after the murder of the two Marshalls she trusted, she knows she must escape her name or die. Years later, Elizabeth has turned into Abigail Lowry, a brilliant computer hacker. She meets Brooks Gleason and has to decide whether she will hide forever, or come forward and imprison Ilya Volkov for his crimes.

The book is suspenseful and emotional. I pitied Elizabeth Fitch, a true pawn in her mother’s master plan. Nora Roberts spins a tale that keeps you up at night that haunts you until you finish it. This is one of the books I would really recommend to her new readers.

The Villa – Nora Roberts (2002)

Another brilliant book by Ms. Roberts, the Villa is about Sophia Giambelli and the Giambelli-MacMillan wine empire she will inherit one day. When it becomes obvious that someone is out to get her and her family, Sophia realizes she is in great danger and must be careful with her trust. Her love interest with Tyler MacMillan becomes intense, and together they must field the danger directed at their heritage.

The Villa is superb with its superb description of details, and an interesting mix of strong and weak female characters.  I am so glad I stumbled upon this book. It is a fantastic read and I would recommend it to everyone.

Veronica Roth – Divergent (2011)

Instead of being another Hunger Games knock-off, Divergent and the two other books in the series is original. Set in Dystopian Chicago, society is divided into factions – traits that represents the good in society. Beatrice, of Abnegation, is the main protagonist and Divergent follows her story how she changed factions to become Dauntless, what it means to be Divergent and how she witnessed the demise of her world.

Veronica Roth – Allegiant (2013)

This is the last book in the Divergent series. It is better than Insurgent,  and I enjoyed it more. Tris and her boyfriend Four help lead the resistance against Jeanine Matthews and the Er Finally,

Honorable mentions

*These are books I have read for a second time and enjoyed it more this time around (or books that simply didn’t make the first 5)

  1. Eat, Pray Love – Elizabeth Gilbert (2006)
  2. Insurgent – Veronica Roth (2012)
  3. Carnal Innocence – Nora Roberts (1991)
  4. The Mystery of Mercy Close – Marian Keyes (2012)

Book Review: Allegiant (Veronica Roth)

Allegiant

Book: 66/100

Tris Prior and her boyfriend Four is at the Erudite headquarters. They, and most of remainder of Chicago, just learned why Jeanine Matthews was prepared to go to the extreme measures she did for the truth to remain secret. Edith Prior, the woman in the video they watch, tells them that their faction-based society was implemented to try and restore humanity, each faction focusing on a character trait that is needed for society’s survival: Fearlessness (Dauntless), Selflessness (Abnegation), Truth (Candor), Peace (Amity) and Erudite (Knowledge). Now, after Jeanine’s death and the coup of the government by the factionless, led by Four’s mother Evelyn Eaton, Tris, Four and some of their friends need to decide what to do – venture outside the fences and see what is happening out in the world, or try and fight the regime that is threatening the lives they were used to and want back.

Tris is kidnapped by the Allegiant – a rebel group determined to see what lies outside the walls. She and Four sign up to dare the escape. When she hears that her brother Caleb is sentenced to death for conspiring with Jeanine Matthews, she insists he joins them, and Four and Zeke (one of the Allegiant and a friend) break him out. The three of them are joined by Christina, Cara, Uriah, Tori and Peter, the spineless bully who’s live had been saved by Tris on a few occasions.  During their escape Tori is killed. After driving for a while outside the boundaries, they are met by a woman named Zoë, and Amar, Four’s Dauntless trainer who was assumed dead. The group learn more about how their society had developed – that the government had tried to restore the genetic faults in humanity by implementing the faction system in some cities, sealing them off. The Divergent that developed had become “genetically pure” and was supposed to mean that society was being restored.

When Four and Tris realize that the Genetics Bureau plan to wipe everyone’s memories in Chicago to re-implement the faction based society, they are panicked – all their friends will lose their memories. They concoct an elaborate plan to save everyone, carrying a huge risk for Caleb – who volunteers to risk his life to steal the Memory serum from the leaders of the Bureau.

Will their plan work and will their society be peaceful once and for all? Will Caleb come out alive?

Rating: 8/10

Allegiant is by far the most impressive book in the series. Everything becomes clear, and Tris and Four finally reaches a place where they can fully trust each other. I found the fact that their society was a huge clinical trial highly amusing because of the environment I work in.

The end was devastating. Without giving away the largest plot twist of the century – I WON’T DO THAT ON THIS BLOG – it was heart-breaking and unbelievable that the author had enough balls to do that. She outstripped JK Rowling and Suzanne Collins in the I’m-a-nutty-author department by a long shot, I will tell you that.

So, go read the books. You will most likely love them, and weep at end.

Book Review: Insurgent (Veronica Roth)

Insurgent

Book: 65/100

After the Erudite faction used simulation serums on the Dauntless faction to have them attack the Abnegation faction in dystopian Chicago, the trilogy’s main protagonist goes to Amity, the group in the city that honours peace above everything. She, her boyfriend Four, her brother Caleb, her enemy Peter and Four’s abusive Father Marcus goes to Amity, and they are granted refugee as long as they reside in peace there. One day Tris follows Marcus and overhears him speaking to Johanna, the leader of the Amity, and he tells her that the Erudite attacked Abnegation because they were planning to reveal a secret to the city that the Erudite didn’t want to get out. Tris confronts Marcus but he refuses to tell her anything, and she is agitated that he obviously doesn’t find her worthy to bear the secret.

What remains of the pure Dauntless faction and the Abnegation needs to flee again when the Erudite and Dauntless traitors arrive at Amity and discovers the group when they see Four’s trademark tattoos. They manage to jump on a train and find themselves among the factionless – people who aren’t in a specific group for a number of reasons. On the train they meet Edward again – the Dauntless initiate who got stabbed in the eye by Peter in his sleep in jealousy. They learn that the leader of the factionless is Four’s mother, who is supposed to be dead. Four tells Tris that he discovered that his mother never died, but faked her death to escape his abusive father, leaving him behind. They have one of their many disagreements about full disclosure there. Tris and Evelyn hit it off on the wrong foot, and Tris openly distrusts her. Caleb tells Tris that he is taking their friend Susan to safety where most of the Abnegation are hiding now.

Tris and Four leave the factionless to go to the Candor headquarters. There, they are subjected to a truth serum to ensure they aren’t telling any lies. Jack Kang, the leader of Candor, questions them and Four confesses he left Abnegation to be free of his abusive father. Tris confesses to killing Will, causing a rift between her and her friend Christina, who was in love with Will. Four is also angry with her because she didn’t confide in him and he asked her plenty times what was wrong. The Dauntless traitors once again cause distress when they attack the Candor headquarters with Eric leading them. Tris and Uriah (who is also Divergent) realise that Eric is trying to catch and kill all the Divergents. The Dauntless arrive after Tris injures Eric, and he is taken into confinement for questioning.

Jack Kang arranges a meeting with the Erudite, and Tris, Four and some of their friends secretly goes to listen what is happening. The Erudite demands that the Eric is set free, the Divergent are handed over, and that those who didn’t receive the latest serum, which gives the Erudite control over people from long distances, receive the injection.

Four has a fight with Tris because she is always endangering herself. He tells her that he will end things between them if she doesn’t stop her reckless behavior.

Four, Tori and Harrison are elected new leaders of the Dauntless, and Four kills Eric afterwards. Tris and Four meet with the Evelyn and Edward. Tris still dislikes Evelyn, feeling that she abandoned Four as a child to his merciless father.

Tris offers up her life once again to save the Dauntless. She and Christina discover that the simulation serum the Erudite used to control the Dauntless in their attack on the Abnegation causes a faction member to commit suicide every two days if a Divergent person isn’t handed over to the Erudite. Tris goes to the Erudite and is taken captive by Jeanine Matthews. There she undergoes tests to develop a Divergent-proof simulation serum. She discovers that her brother Caleb is a traitor and has been working with Jeanine the entire time.

Four rushes to the Erudite headquarters to save her. Peter helps them escape, telling Tris that he owes her for saving his life. The three of them travels to the Abnegation part of the city, and Tris and Four confess their love to each other.

Marcus convinces Tris that her parents died to save information that Jeanine Matthews wanted destroyed. He wants the information displayed before the attack on the Erudite that can permanently destroy the information. Tris, Christina and Marcus infiltrate the Amity headquarters to tell their leader Johanna what is going on. She and a few other Amity members choose to leave their faction after most of the Amity chooses to remain impartial.

The group infiltrates the Erudite, and they realize that the sensitive information won’t be on the computers everyone can access. Tris heads to Jeanine Matthews’ private lab. There she finds Tori and Jeanine, and tries to prevent Tori from killing Jeanine. She fails after a struggle and Tori stabs Jeanine.

Tris now looks like a traitor, and Four is angry with her for siding with his horrible father. Evelyn announces a new factionless government and society. This causes uproar, but they are unable to do anything because there are so many factionless. Tris and Four reconcile. The secret information is revealed, and they learn that Chicago’s faction system was implemented by an organization fighting for justice and peace. Amanda Ritter, the person relaying the information, tells them that Chicago was sealed off from the rest of the world so that they could regain the moral sense the entire world had lost. When the Divergent population had started to become greater than the other factions, the Amity was supposed to open the gates of the city and let everyone out. They realize that that is why Jeanine Matthews were so intent on killing the divergent – she knew that if they were part of the world again, she would become powerless. Amanda Ritter lastly discloses that she would enter Chicago and become part of its society under the name of Edith Prior, making Tris a certain descendant of Edith.

Who is Edith Prior and what lies behind the gates of Chicago?

Rating: 6.5/10

Insurgent certainly wasn’t my favorite book in the Divergent trilogy. It seems that Tris and Four is constantly fighting about nonsense, and the book was full of useless events that weren’t needed for the storyline.

However, the book was still readable and good in its way. Jeanine Matthews is still an impressive psychotic maniac, determined to remain in control of their world. Caleb’s betrayal was brilliantly done, displaying how flawed their system was becoming.

The end finally told the readers where the rest of the world was – I had wondered how they would implement the entire globe’s existence eventually.

The series is really good, and although not my favorite book, Insurgent is essential to understand the last book.