Friday, January 3, 2014

2013 Book of the Year : Necessary Preemptive Eliminations

It's time to get the party started! That's that it is officially 2014, I can name my favorite book (my Book of the Year) for 2013. (Oh...and as a side note, Darian tells me that will soon be putting together his 2013 BOTY as well...stay tuned.)

Unfortunately, I fell short of my goal to read 64 books. For those of you new to the BOTY around my blog, I chose 64 in order to allow for the correct number of slots in a traditional bracket system (like those used for the NCAA basketball tournament). I ended up with a total of 48 books read, coming to 75% of my goal and falling 16 books short. Bummer. But...there are still plenty of books to choose from.

Disclaimer: When I say Book of the Year, I don't mean the best book published during the year...I mean the best book that I read during the year. Since a good majority of the books I read last year were thrifted rather than traditionally purchased or from my Nook, there are quite a few books on the list that were published more than a year ago. I figure that's will still give you some darned good books to read. Besides, most of these are still relevant books...I'm not dusting off old copies of some translated document from ye old past. Trust me, you'll still enjoy at least a few of them when all is said and done.

Now...down to business. Since I can't fill the full 64 book bracket, I'm decreasing down to the 32 slot version. That means that 16 books get eliminated before we even really start. Today's task? Eliminate the necessary 16 so that I can put together the bracket that will decide the winner.

And here (kind of sadly, but not really because they just didn't come up to snuff) are the automatic eliminations for the 2013 BOTY challenge. These books rated 1 or 2 stars and just didn't impress me. They're the first to find the chopping block.

1. Losing Charlotte by Heather Clay: 2 stars

I initially got suckered into this book by the cover. It just looked pretty. Will I never learn this lesson? I really tried to like it, but it just dragged along. It was boring. The reading wasn't smooth and easy, it was bumpy and it felt like there was too much effort into specifically selecting every word. There just wasn't a flow.

2. Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger: 1 star

As with my issues with Catcher in the Rye, I just don't get Salinger. I find him terribly boring and plain. This particular book was just a jumbled bunch of rambling. It didn't make any cohesive sense. Blah.

3. Seriously...I'm Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres: 2 stars

I was really disappointed in this book. I love Ellen and find her hilarious most of the time. This book started out cute and quirky, just like I expected, but then it all fell apart. It was so disjointed that I got lost a few times and found myself more frustrated than entertained.

4. The Sealed Letter by Emma Donoghue: 2 stars

This was a book that I probably should have just given up on. I didn't follow my 30 page rule (if I don't like it by page 30, I ditch it) and I paid for it. It bored me something awful. I did have a brief respite where it got interesting somewhere in the middle for about 75 pages, but then things just dropped right back off again. Yawn fest.

5. Life of Pi by Yann Martel: 2 stars

I am still scratching my head at this one. I'm trying to figure out how people got so excited about it, because I really just did not. It was boring and lacked cohesiveness. The ending just ticked me off. I thought that the basis for the story was a good one, but I didn't feel like it was put to good use.

6. The Next Queen of Heaven by Gregory Maguire: 2 stars

This was one of those books where I finished it and then thought to myself, what did I just read? It was SO weird. Now, I typically enjoy Gregory Maguire. I liked Wicked and I was somewhat entertained by Lost. This one though...nope. Oh, and the best part was that I was rewarded for reading all of the weirdo plot by having an ending that cropped up out of nowhere. Just *poof* no more story. I hate that.

My 1 and 2 star earners eliminated 6 of the necessary 16 books. Bummer, I was really hoping they would make it easier. Now I have to start killing off 3 star books. That's hard for me because 3 star books aren't necessarily bad, in most cases they just didn't wow me. Fine. If I have to.

This was actually pretty tough. Because I needed to eliminate 10, only four of the 3 star books will make it into the bracket. A couple of these just barely missed out. Such is life.

Here are the "worst" of the 3 star books that I read in 2013 that will no longer be in the running for the BOTY crown (as if they had a chance anyway).

1. This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen: 3 stars

This one was a hard one for me to eliminate. It was actually one of the few 3 star books that bordered between a 3 and 4 rating. I generally love Sarah Dessen and I've been sucked into more than one of her novels, but this one just didn't grip me. It was cute and quick to read, but it just didn't have a lot of wow factor.

2. Rasputin's Daughter by Robert Alexander: 3 stars

I like historical fiction quite a bit and this one gave me a new time period to obsess over. Czarist Russia may be next in line after Tudor England. I really did like the story, but it just plodded along a bit to easily. Like I said, most of these 3 star books are good, just not great.

3. The Virgin's Lover by Philippa Gregory: 3 stars

Gah. I hate to eliminate a Philippa Gregory. I do so love her books. Part of my irritation with this book may lie simply with the fact that it's about Queen Elizabeth I. For as much as I love Tudor England, she is not my favorite ruler. But the book did nearly lull me to sleep in the middle and it took me a bit of a push to keep going. It is definitely not my favorite of her books.

4. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot: 3 stars

I don't usually read non-fiction, so this book was definitely a departure for me. I think that's probably what really did it in. The writing is pretty solid, but a few of the characters did get on my nerves. It's hard to say "characters" when you know this is based off of real life, but some of them just felt overblown. The story itself is interesting and very detailed, but scientific non-fiction just isn't my cup of tea.

5. The 19th Wife by Greg Ebershoff: 3 stars

I had been excited to read this book for almost two years. Bummer. In all honesty, it was a good book, but I think my opinion of it got muddied by the fact that I had read Escape by Carolyn Jessop earlier in the year. Escape just outshone it. The bouncing back and forth between time periods got confusing at times. I also struggled with the fact that the book was fiction when it had so much non-fiction information. That usually isn't an issue for me, but with this book I found it distressing for some reason.

6. Deenie by Judy Blume: 3 stars

It feels almost sacrilegious to cut a Judy Blume book so early. Perhaps this would have rated higher if I were a tween. I typically still enjoy YA fiction, including books geared toward the 11-13 age set, but this one just didn't do it for me. It did make me somewhat nostalgic and I did find myself smiling now and then, but it doesn't have the bones behind it. It was no Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.

7. The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown: 3 stars

The Weird Sisters was another one of those books that I had been looking forward to reading for a while. It just didn't hold up to my expectations. However, it was a solid read and I struggled between choosing 3 or 4 stars for it's ratings. It's books like this where a half star rating system would be handy. I felt like this book had a lot more potential than it had developed.

8. Dreamland by Sarah Dessen: 3 stars

Sarah Dessen again. Poor girl can't catch a break. Two main things did this book in: the title and one of the primary characters. The title irritated me simply because this book could have definitely been titled something else...anything else. The name of the book just doesn't work for me. My second issue was Rogerson. First of all, who the crap is named Rogerson? Without even meeting him, I already want to punch him in the face. He sounds like a tool. And yup...sure enough...he's a jerk. I couldn't stand him.

9. Happiness Sold Separately by Lolly Winston: 3 stars

I like a nice solid ending. That's what really wrecked this book for me. I was doing great with it, enjoying the read (nothing too stellar, but still enjoyable), and then the ending happened. Meh. Not impressive...just okay.

10. Sea Glass by Anita Shreve: 3 stars

I wanted to like this one more than I did. It was a quick and easy read, but again with these endings. I actually really liked the main character in this book and thought that she was well written, but the loose ends didn't tie together the way I thought they should and the book kind of tapered off into nothingness for me. Boo.

And there you have it. Just like that, 16 books struck off the list. Next up...filling out the bracket and working out round one.


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