(I also note that today is a holiday. Happy Martin Luther King, Jr Day to all of you! May there come a time when everyone will start out at the same level playing field as each other. The cynic in me thinks "yeah right" but the optimist in me has hope.)
2013 saw a record number of books read (70, beating 2008's 65) since I started keeping records in 2001. Here's hoping I'll have as successful a summer as I had last year.
New (and notable) Authors that I discovered in 2013 include Jo Nesbo, Gillian Flynn, Tamora Pierce, Hugh Howey, Alex Grecian, and Scott Lynch.
My sister got the entire family into Stieg Larsson in 2010 and has now followed it up by getting us into Jo Nesbo. His detective, Harry Hole (pronounced closer to "holy" than "hole") is an interesting character. His female characters are often proactive and kick ass, which is nice to see. But try not to get too attached to the secondary characters - Nesbo has no qualms about offing the people we love. (The George RR Martin school of character writing, perhaps?) I am caught up with all of the Nesbo books which have been published in the US. (So still need The Cockroaches, I guess.)
Although I might someday reread the Harry Hole books, I decided that once was enough for the Gillian Flynn books that I checked out this summer. I think it was Greg McElhaton who introduced me to Gillian's books. I started with Gone Girl and then followed up with Sharp Objects and Dark Places (all three are stand-alone books - it's not a trilogy). Those aren't my usual style of books (psychological drama? Not sure how to describe them) but I wanted to continue reading to find out what happened next. I think I liked Dark Places best of the three, but I'd be hard pressed to say why that was.
I love The Devil's Panties and Jennie Breeden, the cartoonist for the series, loves Tamora Pierce books. So I decided to see if my library had any of her books electronically. I wound up checking out her Beka Cooper trilogy: Terrier (read in 2011), Bloodhound, and Mastiff. Not sure why I didn't follow up back in 2011 after reading Terrier, but I'm glad I tried her out again. I've now got Alanna on order from the library to expand upon my Tamora Pierce reading. I think lately I'm just in the mood for books which either star female protagonists or at least have strong females in lead roles in books.
In addition to Jo Nesbo, my sister introduced me to Hugh Howey and his Wool Omnibus. Her library had all 5 of the novellas/novellettes separately, but mine had the omnibus. So although she discovered the series first, I finished it first. (She can wait a LONG time for books since she's sharing them with all of Minneapolis. My books come from a larger pool of libraries and with fewer patrons. Go figure!) The first Wool story is very much of the sort of science fiction story that I think of when I think of "anthology science fiction." And that's actually a compliment. That he was able to take his original premise and continue it to a much bigger world was impressive.
I really got into Jago and Litefoot from Big Finish Productions this year and so Victoriana was appealing to me. No surprise, then, that I picked up The Yard by Alex Grecian. It tells of the early days of Scotland Yard and the development of the Murder Squad. I liked the characters right away and think he does a nice job with the female characters as well (though there just aren't enough of them IMO). The Black Country was a good follow up novel and I'm looking forward to more stories with these characters.
I first heard of Scott Lynch when someone on Twitter or Tumblr had pointed to his LJ post on why he had a black female single mother who was a pirate. Hell, anyone who writes a character like that has to be in my collection! This particular character doesn't show up until his second novel, Red Seas Under Red Skies, so I started with The Lies of Locke Lamora. Unlike the other books I mentioned above, I decided this series is more than just a "read from the library series." I've only purchased the first book, but I'll get the other two books (including the recently released Republic of Thieves) when they come out on sale. (Yeah, I'm a cheap-wad.) In addition to fascinating characters and strong females, the stories often involve some really clever sting (or several stings) which I always love to see developed (and sometimes love to see them crash and burn).
So yeah, lots of books read this year, some new authors discovered and added to my "must read more by" list. Read both of JK Rowling's non HP books and liked them (though I preferred the mystery). Read Lord of the Flies and Ethan Frome, The World of Poo (not Pooh), Dance for the Ivory Madonna (which not only had a male black lead but also a main character who was a fat female - the titular Ivory Madonna), and A Slight Trick of the Mind (soon to be a motion picture with Ian McKellan as an elderly Sherlock Holmes). Read two of the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Novellas, Ripple Effect and Nothing O'Clock. And also got two new (for me) Lois McMaster Bujold books under my belt (Spirit Ring and Captain Vorpatril's Alliance). All-in-all, a great year for book reading!
2014 has started out very strong. Five books done thus far (though two were started before 2014 began). Have a new author for this year in my collection: Laura Lam, who's written Pantomime and Shadowplay. Loved Pantomime so much I bought it and the sequel. Currently reading the sequel. I shall continue trolling for new authors and books via my Twitter feed and other sources, so I expect to find even more female protagonists who kick ass in 2014.
May you all enjoy reading some wonderful books this year!