Writer Tamago’s Top 12 Books for 2013

And…as with the movie list, the criteria is that I read the book for the first time in 2013, not that it was published in 2013, although some of them were. In no particular order of preference, then…

1. Goblin Secrets by Will Alexander. Will haunts the reader with this innocent story of childhood. His city is mystic and his use of folk lore is masterful.

2. Young Miles by Lois McMaster Bujold. I was introduced to this book for the first time in our SF book group, and Miles is amazing to watch. It’s like trying to catch a runaway train. The complicated plots and vivid characters make for exciting, clever storytelling.

3. The Golden City by J. Kathleen Cheney. One of the first historicals I’ve read in a long time that is NOT anachronistic. Solid writer, excellent characterization, and by God, frustrating but satisfying romance.

4. Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow. Classic old fashioned science fiction meets Disney World. It works. It really does.

5. Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon. Asks us to consider our entire lives as a work in progress, so we can free ourselves up to be more creative.

6. BPRD 1948 by Mike Mignola. The background of the Hellboy universe, with extra servings of Dr. Broom.

7. Courtney Crumrin Volume 3 Collected by Ted Naifeh. As long as there are Courtney Crumrin collections coming out, Naifeh will most likely make my list.

8. Machine by Jennifer Pelland. Why haven’t the major companies picked up Jennifer Pelland? She’s been nominated for big awards, and she wrote a novel like Machine. She is perhaps the most under-rated author in SF today, and that aggravates me. As to this book, it’s definitely for adults. I would call it an intense thriller of a book, with a horrific answer to the question of what is and isn’t alive.

9. My Story Can Beat Up Your Story by Jerry Schechter. What started with Walter Jon Williams at Taos Toolbox, continues in me through the good graces of Lou Anders, who presented about Schechter’s book at last year’s Convergence. This plotting mechanism really, really works for me, and I think my writing continues to improve because of it. Thanks to all 3 gentlemen.

10. Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope. The patron saint of working writers everywhere, Trollope is funny and farcical, yet heart touching and genuine. And what’s more, his writing still resounds as relevant among his fans. As soon as Bryon and I finish the Wodehouse Jeeves and Wooster run, I will recommend that we read Trollope together, which means given the respective output of both authors, you may see another Trollope book lauded here in 2030.

11. Saga by Brian Vaughn. A Christmas present from my exquisite friend Lisa, I can’t say enough good things about this series, with its offbeat mercenaries, star crossed and strange lovers, and serious championship of the abused. My favorite bit from the most recent issue of the series was when Slave Girl, who is a tiny child who was sexually abused, but then rescued by The Will, that mercenary I mentioned, was telling The Will’s partner that she was dirty because of all the awful things she had been made to do. And Lying Cat, The Will’s partner, whose major ability is to tell an untruth, hissed out “Lying.” And she hugs him. And I went off to cry for half an hour.

So, you should read that.

12. Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig. From the blood of the same vein that Pelland opened to write Machine, I think, the main character is a mangy woman who can see how others die, and shows up to capitalize on it. And then, there’s this interesting journey with horrible men and good men and just too much drama. I ate it with a spoon, have read the sequel, and look forward to the next that’s coming out.


I’d love to hear about what books you might recommend.


Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

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