Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Best Fiction Books of 2013 Blog Hop & Year Review
Ages ago, like in either May or June, I signed up to be a part of the Best of Blog Hop hosted by Diane Estrella. Of course I decided to focus on the fiction one.
Last year at the end of the year, I wrote a long post about what had gone on in my life, the books I loved, the ones I was disappointed in, the movies I adored, etc. I'm not really going to do that this year, as much fun as that was. I just don't have the time. But I will talk about the books - fiction of course - that I found to be outstanding. My problem comes in narrowing down the selections. I've read at least 140 books this past year - fiction, nonfiction, or children's. This is of course the ones that I actually remembered to track on Goodreads. So I actually probably read over 150, because I know that I didn't log all of them. So to help me narrow down the list of ones I felt were outstanding, I'm only going to list ones I actually posted a review for on my blog. But even then, that list is still rather large. So I'm going to try to include only the top 25 for the year.
Here they are in no particular order. Click on the title to go to my review of the book.
1. A Memory of Light - by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson - I love this 900+ page book because it finally brings closure to a series that I started over ten years ago. Though if you want to start this series, it's best to start it at the beginning. :)
2. A Noble Groom - by Jody Hedlund - I seriously think I spent more time with the cover closed than with it open to read! But this book is probably my favorite one of Jody's and worth the read and reread.
3. Stealing the Preacher - by Karen Witemeyer - Crockett Archer. I loved Crockett when I met him in Short Straw Bride, and his story lived up to my expectations. The supporting cast of characters made this a delight to read. And as with any of Karen's books, I've found that I read them entirely too quickly!
4. Love at Any Cost - by Julie Lessman - A new series. While it was sad to say goodbye to the O'Connor's, I fell in love this family pretty fast. And Jamie has become my favorite of Julie's heroes, surpassing the spots held by Colin and Stephen.
5. King - by RJ Larson - the final volume in the Books of the Infinite Series. I was thrilled to see Ela get a happily ever after. I also loved the king and of course the destroyer-horse Pet/Scythe.
6. Though My Heart is Torn - by JoAnne Bischof - A heart-wrenching saga. This couple just can't get a break. As much as I wanted to dislike Cassie, I found that I couldn't and she was just as much a victim as Lonnie and Gideon.
7. The Wedding Dress - by Rachel Hauck - first book I've read by this author. It pulled me in and wouldn't let me go.
8. House of Hades - by Rick Riordan - the lone children's book on my list. I've followed Percy Jackson for a several years now. Each book just gets a little bit better. I think that this one my be my favorite to date.
9. Pilgrimage of Promise - by Cathy Bryant - I'd gotten this from the author to review, not really knowing what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised by it. Once I finished it, I went back and read books 1 and 2. Book 3's sitting on my Kindle to read and I hope to get to it in 2014.
10. Wings of Glass - by Gina Holmes - Written in the form of a letter to the narrator's unborn baby, I wasn't expecting this to be such a heavy topic. But the way it deals with the topic of abuse is beautiful.
11. Love's Awakening - by Laura Frantz - a beautiful story of love overcoming long-held grudges. This one is literally just as beautiful as the first.
12. Stranded - by Dani Pettrey - I absolutely adore the McKenna family! Gage's story is no different. This man is wounded by his past and outside of his family, doesn't like to let anyone get close to him. Plus there's mystery and romance.
13. On Distant Shores - by Sarah Sundin - I loved this book. I loved seeing how both Georgie and Hutch grew and changed as the story developed. I'm going to be so sad when this series is over.
14. That Certain Summer - by Irene Hannon - While not at all like her suspense books, this story of two sisters pulled me in and held my attention through to the end. Still it was a wonderful romantic book to read on a semi-lazy summer day.
15. Rules of Murder - by Julianna Deering - This was one of the highly talked about books I'd seen on Social Media this year. It's a cross between Agatha Christie and Jane Austen. But it's quirky enough that I enjoyed it.
16. Made to Last - by Melissa Tagg - I saw fun reviews, blog posts, tweets, etc all over my Facebook page for this book. This is pure chick lit. I loved loved loved it! The romantic in me practically swooned.
17. Vanished - by Irene Hannon - The first book in a new romantic suspense series, I couldn't wait to see what happened. Ranks up there with the O'Malley Series and Dani Pettrey's books as favorites.
18. Trapped - by Irene Hannon - I wasn't sure if the second book would be as good as the first. Because sometimes, the second book flops. But not so on this one. In fact, this one is even better than the first. It's a hold -onto-your-seat kind of story.
19. The Icing on the Cake - by Janice Thompson - For some reason, I enjoyed this romantic comedy more than the first one in this series. Haven't quite figured out why that was. But it was enough to make my list for the year.
20. The Heiress of Winterwood - by Sarah Ladd - I first saw the cover for this book ages ago. When it came up for review, I wasn't able to request it at that time. But I did manage to get a copy. And for a debut author, this book didn't feel at all like a first novel. I am looking forward to the second in the series.
21. My Hope is Found - by JoAnne Bischoff - Seriously these books need to come with a kleenex warning. But I found myself eagerly anticipating this conclusion. I won't give away the ending, but it was a journey I won't forget.
22. Bride for Keeps - by Melissa Jagears - This is the author's debut book. And it's a twist to the mail-order bride story. I'll admit that I read A LOT of mail order brides/marriage of conveniences books this year. And it's a storyline that never really gets old for me.
23. Undeniably Yours - by Becky Wade - I'd not read the author's debut book, but I loved this one. It was light-hearted and came at a time for me when I was overly stressed and needed something light and fluffy.
24. Wishing on Willows - by Katie Ganshert - I loved the first book, Wildflowers from Winter, and was excited to read Robin's story. I needed the Kleenex for this one. It reminded me in style to what I call the classic Karen Kingsbury.
25. Once Upon A Prince - by Rachel Hauck - I'm a hopless romantic. I love all things fairytale related. And princes, and castles, and happy endings. I loved Nate and Susannah in this book. I felt I'd read a fairytale story by the end of it.
So while I read a lot of really excellent books, it was a hard decision to narrow it down to the 25 that I have listed. I really tried to trim the list down as well. In fact, since I just limited it to ones I've posted reviews about on my blog, these three titles didn't make it - Ella Enchanted, The China Garden, and Lynette Easman's newest one, No One to Trust. The review for No One to Trust will be posted in January.
I read a couple of books that while I may not have ranked them outstanding, they did stand out. Burning Sky by Lori Benton and Under a Blackberry Moon. Both of these books had characters who were not the typical heroine. Yet I found them slow moving, though rich in history. Other authors I enjoyed this year include Rose Gordon, Cora McCormick, Susan May Warren, and more.
I did find a few books/authors who disappointed me this year.
JK Rowling - Casual Vacancy - I love Harry Potter. I knew going into it, that this would be vastly different. But I wasn't expecting to feel like I'd been tortured.
Karen Kingsbury - A longtime fan of hers, I was disappointed in both the Chance and Fifteen Minutes. She's lost me as a reader.
Jessica Dotta - Born of Persuasion - There is no middle ground on this. The entire review will come soon. But it was either really good or really bad.
So that's what my favorites & disappointments were like this year. What about you?
Check out the other blogs who are also participating in the Best of Blog Hop. The full list is featured here
I exceeded the maximum number of characters in my labels post. So authors, I couldn't list all of you.