26 January 2014

Top Ten (ummmm make that thirteen) Reads (for me) of 2013

13. Unwholly

Rife with action and suspense, this riveting companion to the perennially popular Unwind challenges assumptions about where life begins and ends—and what it means to live.

The first book in this series, Unwind, made my list of top ten reads last year as well.

12. Sweepers

The U.S. Navy made him the ultimate killer. Now they can't stop him...  

It begins with a routine police investigation. A beautiful woman is dead. A detective needs answers. And a newly appointed Pentagon admiral is scrambling for his career and for his life. Suddenly, the inner ring of the Pentagon is being rocked by a living nightmare: a Sweeper-a trained covert assassin, an ex-SEAL scarred by one horrific episode in Vietnam-has gone rogue. And his killing has just begun... 

With a searing insider's view of Pentagon politics, retired Navy captain P.T. Deutermann writes military suspense worthy of Tom Clancy and Nelson DeMile. Now, in his electrifying new novel, a powerful ex-Marine and a courageous woman face a kill zone: of deception, ambition, and sweeping revenge...

As the teenage ruler of his own country, Matt must cope with clones and cartels in this riveting sequel to the modern classic House of the Scorpion, winner of the National Book Award, a Newbery Honor, and a Printz Honor.

10. Hard Face Moon

On November 29, 1864, a village of Cheyenne and Arapaho encamped along Sand Creek in the southeastern Colorado Territory was attacked by Colorado Territory militia under the command of Colonel John Chivington. An estimated 150 to 200 Native Americans were killed, nearly all of them elderly men, women, and children. 

Nancy Oswald, author of the acclaimed young adult novel Nothing Here But Stones, uses the horrific events at Sand Creek as a shattering climax for the story of Hides Inside, a young Cheyenne unable to speak and struggling to gain acceptance as he grows to manhood and seeks to become a warrior.

Strong-willed and independent, Rachel Held Evans couldn’t sew a button on a blouse before she embarked on a radical life experiment—a year of biblical womanhood. Intrigued by the traditionalist resurgence that led many of her friends to abandon their careers to assume traditional gender roles in the home, Evans decides to try it for herself, vowing to take all of the Bible’s instructions for women as literally as possible for a year. 

(My comments about this book, as I do not recommend it to just anyone.)

8. Exodus Road 

(And I'm one of the lucky ones who gets to call Laura "friend!")

What if you lived in a place where you knew children were being sold for sex? Would you send your husband into a brothel to find them? Living in Malaysia, Laura's husband, Matt, who was a former youth pastor, became an undercover investigator deputized by the local police. He investigated hundreds of remote brothels, back alleys, and mafia-driven red-light districts, taking their marriage on a journey into the realities of what rescue from sex trafficking really costs. Laura chronicles her personal journey, as well as the beginning of The Exodus Road-- a nonprofit coalition of investigators which has fueled hundreds of rescues from sex slavery, spans several continents, and continues to grow today. This is her honest, gripping story from the front lines which will leave you both shocked and inspired.

(I've blogged about this book here.)

The author speaks from her own experience as well as including many stories from interviews with Christian workers who have gone through burn-out and have recovered. The organization, writing style and illustrations (i.e. graphics) make this an easy read. The first half of the book focuses on symptoms and causes, while the second half focuses more on solutions for recovery.

(Wrote a little about this book here.)

6. The Midwife of Hope River

A remarkable new voice in American fiction enchants readers with a moving and uplifting novel that celebrates the miracle of life. In The Midwife of Hope River, first-time novelist Patricia Harmon transports us to poverty stricken Appalachia during the Great Depression years of the 1930s and introduces us to a truly unforgettable heroine. Patience Murphy, a midwife struggling against disease, poverty, and prejudice—and her own haunting past—is a strong and endearing character [who] courageously attempts to bring new light, and life, into an otherwise cruel world.

Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family's apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours.

Paris, May 2002: On Vel’ d’Hiv’s 60th anniversary, journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write an article about this black day in France's past. Through her contemporary investigation, she stumbles onto a trail of long-hidden family secrets that connect her to Sarah. Julia finds herself compelled to retrace the girl's ordeal, from that terrible term in the Vel d'Hiv', to the camps, and beyond...

(Looking forward to watching this movie!)

4. Divergent

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself. 

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Khaled Hosseini, the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, has written a new novel about how we love, how we take care of one another, and how the choices we make resonate through generations. In this tale revolving around not just parents and children but brothers and sisters, cousins and caretakers, Hosseini explores the many ways in which families nurture, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another; and how often we are surprised by the actions of those closest to us, at the times that matter most. Following its characters and the ramifications of their lives and choices and loves around the globe—from Kabul to Paris to San Francisco to the Greek island of Tinos—the story expands gradually outward, becoming more emotionally complex and powerful with each turning page.

A cranky, atheistic philosophy professor loves to shred the faith of incoming freshmen. He is chosen by a group of scientists to create a philosophy for a computer-generated world exactly like ours. Much to his frustration every model he introduces—from Darwinism, to Existentialism, to Relativism, to Buddhism—fails. The only way to preserve the computer world is to introduce laws from outside their system through a Law Giver. Of course this goes against everything he's ever believed, and he hates it. But even that doesn't completely work because the citizens of that world become legalists and completely miss the spirit behind the Law. The only way to save them is to create a computer character like himself to personally live and explain it. He does. So now there are two of him—the one in our world and the one in the computer world. Unfortunately a rival has introduced a virus into the computer world. Things grow worse until our computer-world professor sees the only way to save his world is to personally absorb the virus and the penalty for breaking the Law. Of course, it's clear to all, including our real-world professor, that this act of selfless love has become a reenactment of the Gospel. It is the only possible choice to save their computer world and, as he finally understands, our own.

(Reviewed this one here... after reading it based on Brendan's recommendation!)

Jessica thinks her life is over when she loses a leg in a car accident. She's not comforted by the news that she'll be able to walk with the help of a prosthetic leg. Who cares about walking when you live to run?

As she struggles to cope with crutches and a first cyborg-like prosthetic, Jessica feels oddly both in the spotlight and invisible. People who don't know what to say, act like she's not there. Which she could handle better if she weren't now keenly aware that she'd done the same thing herself to a girl with CP named Rosa. A girl who is going to tutor her through all the math she's missed. A girl who sees right into the heart of her.

With the support of family, friends, a coach, and her track teammates, Jessica may actually be able to run again. But that's not enough for her now. She doesn't just want to cross finish lines herself—she wants to take Rosa with her.


Have you read any of these? What did you think?

What were some of your favorite reads from last year?

Any books you are planning to read this year?

(Please note that all book summaries were copied and pasted directly from amazon.com .)

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