Friday, December 27, 2013

The Best of 2013

Can you believe that 2013 is almost over? A lot has happened this year:
Despite doing all of this, I was able to finish 64 books (as of Christmas Eve, when I wrote this). Here are my 10 favorites from this year.  They are broken up into fiction and non-fiction and are in no particular order.

FICTION

The Awesome Girl's Guide To Dating Extraordinary Men: Several months before this book came out, I had pretty much acknowledged (in my mind) that I wasn't going to hear much from Ernessa T. Carter for a while.  She just had twin girls and also has a toddler, so I thought that she was pretty much getting used to life as a mother of three.  Little did I know she had this wonderful book in store until a few weeks before its release.  Davie from 32 Candles is now a self-help guru and her advise is sprinkled all over in this book about three friends who have a complicated relationship with love.  Thursday loves one-month stands until this recurring dream about a man makes her pause.  Sharita is looking for Mr. Right and thinks she's found him in every man she meets.  Risa knows she has found The One and is willing to make it in the music industry to prove her love.  Tammy, David's sister from 32 Candles, also pops up in this book.  Those who loved 32 Candles will also love this book.

Dream Girl Awakened: I already gushed about this book here.  And I just got approved to read an advanced copy of the sequel!

Calling Me Home:  I've seen people compare this book to The Help and I don't know why, because this book is way better.  Isabelle, who is an 89 year-old white lady, needs to go to a funeral, but she can't drive.  She calls for the help of her black hairdresser, Dorrie, to take her from Texas to Ohio.  What happens during this trip and the story that Isabelle tells will blow you away.  As a teenager in the late 1930s, Isabelle falls for her black maid's son.  So imagine how that went.  I really enjoy this book and I hope this does eventually  make it to the big (or small) screen.  I rarely get choked up when reading books, but I did with this one.

Americanah:  It looks like both the New York Times and Beyonce has lead many readers to this book.  Ifemelu and Obinze are sweethearts in Nigeria, hoping to make a new life in America. While Ifemelu was able to make it to the United States and makes a new (but complex) life, Obinze doesn't and becomes an illegal immigrant in England, then a wealthy businessman back in Nigeria.  This book might have been almost 500 pages, but it covers a lot, from lost loves to life as a immigrant in America.

Close Quarters:  Have you ever read a book that was so good that you can't put it down and couldn't wait until you found out the ending?  That was what Close Quarters was for me this year.  Melina and Malik are roommates in a Brooklyn brownstone and are as different as night and day.  When Melina's rich boyfriend Ellison proposes, she questions what she wants in life.  And Malik winds up in a tricky situation at work.  The roller coaster ride these roommates find themselves in made this an enjoyable read.

Antebellum: Over a year ago, a friend and I were talking and he had a book idea about white kids going back in time during slavery.  This book is like my friend's idea, but instead of some white kids, we have a rapper. A rapper who goes by the name Da N***a.  After Moses (the rapper's real name) gets caught up in a feud, he goes back in time during slavery and finds out what it was really all about.  Moses comes back to modern times with a renewed sense of purpose. The prequel for this book, The Seven Days, was released over the summer.

NONFICTION

Men We Reaped:  Jesmyn Ward's memoir about her life and loosing five young men in her life (including her younger brother) is a very powerful and gripping book.  She talks about her struggles of growing up poor in Mississippi, being raised (mostly) by a single mother and how it is like to live in a plural universe where African-Americans are often ignored.

Nine Years Under:  I have several friends whose family has owned a funeral home for over 100 years.  This book made me actually wonder what it's like working with the dead.  Sheri Booker started working at the Wylie Funeral Home in West Baltimore at 15.  For the next nine years, Sheri saw all of the drama and hard work that comes with working there.  The cast of characters also made this book a welcome treat.  Look forward to see more from Sheri!

The Good Nurse:  This true crime book about the "Angel of Death" Charles Cullen, who might have killed hundreds of people, was detailed and read more like a story/newspaper article than your typical true crime book.  There was also no extensive background on Cullen or any of the victims (probably because there were too many).  It started off slow, but did pick up.  I only had one problem with this book: the lack of pictures (us true crime fans like pictures).

Nobody's Women: Until the three women who had been kidnapped and were found alive earlier this year, the Anthony Sowell case was probably one of the biggest cases to ever hit Cleveland.  During a routine arrest, police found 11 bodies in Sowell's home.  Most of the victims lived in the fringes of society and several weren't reported missing.  Investigative reporter Steve Miller did a great job of weaving this story together and making this a very interesting read.

I hope to have the book signing posts on Tina McElroy Ansa and Omar Tyree up soon.  In the new year, I plan to attend the South Carolina Book Festival and the National Book Club Conference.  Enjoy the rest of the holiday season and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

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