the Little Red Reviewer

The Best of 2013.

Posted on: December 29, 2013

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s that time. If you’ve been paying attention, nothing on this list will be a surprise to you.  If you happened to stumble by because you like “year end” lists,  these are my top ten speculative fiction books I read this year.  Looking for a good read? go find one of these.

Some of them are old.

Some of them are new.

Some of them were borrowed.

None of them are blue.


I’ve linked the titles to my reviews.  In no particular order:

Sky Coyote by Kage Baker (1999) – the second in The Company series, this novel is told from Joseph’s point of view (and yes, Mendoza is still really, really pissed off at him). Joseph gets to do one of his favorite things – pretend to be a God. But this time, he’s got to get even the skeptics to believe his act.

The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch (2013) – No surprise this one made it to my best of the year list, as this is one of my favorite fantasy series.  It’s true, I ranted a little about a character who really annoyed me, but holy shit, that ending??  holy shit!  Also, I do just happen to have a Cinnamon colored dress/jacket combo and a four cornered grey hat in the making.

The Incrementalists by Steven Brust and Skyler White (2013 )- Secret societies, multiple personalities, sublime prose, metaphysics, unexpected romance, characters that rip each other to shreds.  What more could you possibly want? I got meddled with, my switches got hit, and I never wanted it to end.  Just go read it already. Everything about this book was spot-on perfection for me.

Use of Weapons by Iain M. Banks (1990) – only the best Culture novel of the best space opera series in existence.  Not the easiest book in the world to read, but the subtlety, and the reveal at the end, and oh god I knew something was so horribly wrong as soon as he said he was going to cut his hair. . .

The Melancholy of Mechagirl by Catherynne M. Valente  (2013)- I’m a total cretin for not understanding the poetry, but the short stories in here are beyond gorgeous.  Valente just doesn’t write, the woman paints with words, you just want to crawl under the blanket of them and breathe every single one in.   Ink, Water, Milk will be going on my Hugo ballot.

War for the Oaks by Emma Bull (1987) – It’s been said Bull wrote the book on Urban Fantasy.  I say no one has yet come close to what she did with this novel. Bull spoiled me on UF the way Banks spoiled me on Space Opera. Nothing else even compares.

Firebrand by Gillian Philip (2013) – Pure fun.  Snarky characters, vicious fae creatures, an ultra sexy main character, a plot that kept my turning pages and staying up way too late at night. Within just a few chapters of reading this first book in the Rebel Angels series, I found myself obsessed with the entire series.

A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan (2013) – This is the memoir of Lady Isabella Trent, naturalist, scientist, dragon expert.  This is one of those books that I felt was written just for me, and I knew it would be on my best of list when I read it way back in March. Also going on my Hugo ballot.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin (2010) – what? no review link? I haven’t even had the chance to review this one yet, I was involved with a read along for it that ended last week. After her mother’s death, Yeine becomes one of the heirs to the throne. Raised in the hinterland, she has no idea about the cruelty of the Arameri. This novel was flat out brilliant, filled with original magic, enslaved gods, and inhumane nobles.

Jagannath by Karin Tidbeck (2012) – an unassuming short story collection that blew me out of the water.  On the surface, this seems like such a simple collection – not much in the way of fifty cent words, no obvious literary tricks.  But this is one creepy wallflower that will stick with you.

Hey, I just noticed something.  Want to pretty much guarantee I’m going to like your book?  Make sure your last name starts with a “B”.

30 Responses to "The Best of 2013."

Yes to so much of this! We should repeat the readalong fun when Thorn of Emberlain comes out… 😉

Also, I have a copy of The Melancholy of Mechagirl sitting near the top of my TBR. Which reminds me… 😀


Natural History of Dragons nearly made my own list (and I could have easily added it but for not wanting an unmanageable post)


but unmanageable posts are the best! 😉


Jagganath would make my list. My favorite SF/F/H books of the year are The Adjacent by Christopher Priest, NOS4A2 by Joe Hill, North American Lake Monsters by Nathan Ballingrud and Dark Eden by Chris Beckett.


Loved In the Garden of Iden and can’t wait to read Sky Coyote


Love your selections for 2013 — I’m adding a bunch of these to my list, and scheduling a reread of the Company novels. The more you talk about them, the more I want to go through them again. 🙂


I requested a bunch of Company novels through paperback swap, I’m like number 30 of 32 on the request list. 😦


Good stuff! I have added a few books to my lists that I look forward to getting around to. 🙂


Jagannath made my ‘Best Of’ list as well (*cough* here – *cough*), and The Melancholy of Mechagirl may well have got in it if I’d stretched it out to ten. I really must get round to reading some Kage Baker sometime, it’s a name I keep seeing cropping up.


thanks for the link! I tried reading Murakami’s 1Q84, it just didn’t click with me. 😦


1Q84 is a bit of a monster. I generally recommend that people start with Wild Sheep Chase. It’s more manageable and a pretty good coal mine canary for Murakami.

Our lists won’t overlap much, just because I haven’t read most of those, but at there might be a shared opinion or two.


Yeah, I suspect that 1984 would still be sitting in the TBR pile if it hadn’t been for the joint effort. I should do more of those. Anyone else got any imposing books they’re a little wary about starting lying about the place?


It’s hard this year for me to do best of’s. There weren’t any standouts I read. The book i was most excited about was Republic of Thieves. Enjoyed NOS4A2, Ocean at the End of the Lane, and Ancillary Justice (saw your review) to name a few.

P.s. I plan on buying my confusion ticket tomorrow. It sounds like it will be busy!


I really need to get a copy of NOS4A2 . Excellent to hear you’ll be at ConFusion!


I don’t know… I think there’s quite a bit of blue in some of those covers. ^-~

Sounds like a great list, though! I’ll have to try to track some of them down. (Notably “Republic of Thieves” as I’m woefully behind on the series.) May 2014 give you as many or more awesome books to read!


Oooh so many of these are on my to-read list. Yey. I just posted my year’s reading list and am doing a blog hop for end of the year posts like this. I’d love it if you joined the linky. All the best for 2013. x


The Incrementalists is on my to read list for 2014
My 2 favorite reads of 2013 were Blue Remembered Earth by Alastair Reynolds and Nova by Samuel Delany (though reading NOS4R2 now and really liking it)


Read the Bull years and years ago and should probably reread it – can’t remember if it was War for the Oaks or DeLint’s Moonheart that got me into urban fantasy but they both remain two of my favorites


DeLint got me into urban fantasy years ago, with maybe Yarrow or maybe Greenmantle. I like Bull’s style a little better. I’ve got her Territory sitting around here somewhere, definitely want to read it sooner rather than later.


I would have been disappointed to not see Valente on here, lol! I was thinking of you today when my copy of The Bread We Eat in Dreams arrived.

I have about half of Jagannath to read, which is a shame because I was loving it before getting distracted. Which is one of the negatives of having books only on the Kindle as they get lost. When I have paper books unread they are always close by and a constant reminder to me. She is a unique voice and I hope to be reviewing this book for myself early in 2014.

I started The Incrementalists recently and it is very good thus far. Glad to hear that it holds up that way all the way through.

I’m not sure why I limited myself to 12 (as you did to 10) except that I found myself feeling that most of the books I read are ones I would recommend and I knew the list would get ridiculous if I didn’t set some reasonable limit.


Nice list. Sounds like a lot of stuff I’d like, even if most of it is stuff I’ve never heard of. I struggle so much to keep up with what’s already on my unread shelf, I’ve more or less given up going into libraries and bookshops. It’s hard enough trying to get around to books I’ve been meaning to read for years – why does brilliant new stuff keep coming out! 🙂 Anyway, I have a few Iain M. Banks books for my Kindle, having read Transition last year, so I might start with your recommendation. It’s as good a place as any.


I love checking out everyone’s lists at this time of year – although it should come with a ‘tbr warning’. Still not read The Incrementalists but I have book vouchers and I’m not afraid to use them! In fact, I’ve ordered the book by Bull already plus need to start Use of Weapons. Been getting behind and trying to catch up with everything! Almost back to where I should be at.
Lynn 😀


I always get great recommendations from your blog and these all sound good. But first I need to read Garden of Iden. Firebrand, Dragons, and Hundred Thousand Kingdoms sound amazing.


Happy New Year, Red.


Happy New Year to you too Richard! 😀


Hm, there’s another Peter commenting further upthread! 😉

I remember I didn’t enjoy Use of Weapons much at the time, but it’s the one that has stuck with me the most out of the Culture novels I’ve read (Consider Phlebas, Player of Games, UoW, Look to Windward). Interesting to read your take!


Hi Peter, thanks for commenting! How’s it going?

Yeah, I think I had a little personal “thing” happening with Use of Weapons. 😉 I really need to read Consider Phlebas one of these days.


Gah! So many of these are on my wishlist. Why can’t all my time (or at least most of it) go toward reading? *cry*


looking forward to Valente, thanks for your list


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FTC Stuff

some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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