Happy New Year!
Here’s my annual wrap-up post for 2013 (2012 summary for comparison) – it’s a long one, so settle in.
My Very Favourite Books of 2013
I’ve felt like this year hasn’t been a fantastic reading year for me in terms of keeper books, and looking back at the list of books I’ve read this year, the number of 5-star reads support that feeling – I’ve only had seven (compared to the usual ten or more) books on this list. It’s a personal list and I’d be the first to admit that these aren’t necessarily technically perfect, but they’re the stories that just… work for me – I kind of wander around for a few days afterwards just thinking about the world and characters (please say I’m not the only one!).
Interesting (to me, anyway) things about this list
- They’re all by new-to-me authors, so either my usual favourite authors didn’t wow me with their 2013 books or I had too high expectations for their releases – I suspect the actual answer’s somewhere between the two.
- Three of them are for the final books in their respective series/trilogies – so if I’m being honest, the 5 stars are really for the series as a whole, as opposed to the book listed here.
- I’m going old-school with this list – four out of the seven were released prior to 2013 (as you can probably tell by the some of the covers – love them!).
Enough rambling – here are my favourite books of 2013 (in the order in which I read them, more or less):
Allison Parr‘s RUSH ME (new adult): I actually gave this 4 stars to start off with, but then (a) I kept on thinking about Rachael and Ryan and (b) did a re-read (I usually never do re-reads, much less in the same year), and loved their romance so much that I ended up bumping up my grade. Escapism romance + messiness of first love/lust + NYC brought to life = keeper.
CS Pacat‘s CAPTIVE PRINCE Vols 1 and 2 (M/M fantasy romance): Listing both together, as they’re two halves of the same book, IMO, though it was really Volume 2 that elevated this series to one of my favourites of the year. I’m excited that Berkley snapped up these self-pubbed books because it’s an amazing story and deserves a wider audience. Although be warned, these books aren’t for everyone - they’re certainly trigger-y (at least, the first book is), but that incredibly intriguing Damen/Laurent relationship combined with court intrigue and politics took over my head for a few days, and I cannot wait to see where Volume 3 takes us.
Debra Doyle & James D MacDonald‘s BY HONOR BETRAY’D (SF): I had the first book in the Mageworlds series in my TBR pile forever, and finally got around to reading it – and then promptly glommed the rest of the trilogy. I’ve a soft spot for space opera in general, but what elevated these books above the rest was the sheer twistiness of plot reveals. Clever and excellent fun.
PB Ryan‘s A BUCKET OF ASHES (historical mystery): The first book transported me straight into 1860s Boston, and I was immediately hooked on not just the mysteries, but a slow-burning (and surely impossible) romance. This sixth and final book was the culmination of the series-long romance arc – and PB Ryan totally delivered.
Julie Cross‘s LETTERS TO NOWHERE (YA): I was not expecting to enjoy this YA as much as I did. The elite gymnastics aspect wasn’t just wallpaper - everything rang true, especially that positive yet competitive friendships which were portrayed to perfection. Plus sweet romance and feelings that left a lump in your throat.
Kate Elliott‘s JARAN (SF): I’m not sure how I’ve not read this before, but I loved this old-school epic SF/fantasy hybrid, which was the first in the Jaran series. Not just Tess & Ilya’s relationship (though that obviously kept me up late reading), but this whole foreign world came to life for me.
Martha Wells‘ THE GATE OF GODS (fantasy): This was the final book in her Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy and proved to be one of those unputdownable books for me. It was the perfect ending to the series, and like JARAN, I was left wondering how I managed to miss out on these books earlier.
New-to-Me Authors I’m Glad I Read in 2013
Apart from all of those listed above, here are the other new-to-me authors I enjoyed during the year:
- Ankaret Wells: Self-pubbed author, intriguing world-building but plotlines tend to wander on a bit
- Helen S. Wright: Another old-school space opera gem – I thought A MATTER OF OATHS was lots of fun
- Marko Kloos: Originally self-pubbed, his military SF novels will be published by Amazon’s 47North in 2014
- Emma Bull: Only read a short story of hers, but liked it – her WAR FOR THE OAKS is meant to be a UF classic (and is in my TBR!)
- Katriena Knights: Her UF NECROMANCING NIM was both fast-paced and sexy, and begs for a sequel
- Elle Kennedy: Ménage stories are somewhat out of my comfort zone, but she sold me with HOTTER THAN EVER
- Joanna Chambers: Historical M/M romance that felt authentic, which is a bit of a rarity
- Alexis Hall: His M/M romance debut GLITTERLAND promises much to look forward to
- KJ Charles: M/M romance in a historical fantasy setting – I’m looking forward to more in her A Charm of Magpies series
New Adult / Young Adult
- Scarlett Dawn: I suspect her paranormal Forever Evermore series will be my new guilty pleasure in 2014
- Diane Stanley: YA-veering-on-MG (or vice versa) fantasy, liked her Silver Bowl books, but thought there was potential for so much more
- Sherry Thomas: Kind of surprised it took me this long to read one of her books – and also that it was a YA fantasy, not historical romance
- Ashley Gardner: Her Regency-set Captain Lacey series kept me pretty much occupied over October, which leads nicely on to…
Author Most Glommed in 2013
Apart from the authors in my favourites list (I’m sounding like a broken record, sorry), I read my way through the first six of Ashley Gardner‘s historical mystery books – while these didn’t capture my imagination the way that PB Ryan’s series did, they were solid and showed a different side of London to the more usual glittering balls of the ton (and the first three are available in an e-bundle for £0.77 at the moment – you’re welcome).
I also read five Mary Baloghs (I know, I kept quiet about both of these authors over 2013, didn’t I?), prompted by the 2-in-1 reissues of her backlist. I’m not yet a Balogh die-hard, but I’m starting to understand why her historical romances are favourites amongst so many readers.
|# of books read||150||164||144||141||115|
|# published during current year||90 (60%)||78 (48%)||73 (51%)||77 (55%)||55 (48%)|
|# of authors read||100||103||91||88||71|
|# of new-to-me authors||41 (41%)||31 (30%)||26 (29%)||29 (33%)||22 (30%)|
|# of library books||14 (9%)||28 (17%)||24 (17%)||20 (14%)||n/a|
I’m not surprised my total is down from 2012 – I thought it would be a lot lower, to be honest. Yay for the number of new-to-me authors I branched out and read this year (and I was obviously rewarded for that, based on my lengthy list above of new-to-me authors I enjoyed) .
I was dreading the library books percentage – I pretty much stopped using my local library during the last quarter of the year. But I think that was also driven by me reading more digital-only releases and from smaller/indie pubs – I tend to use my library for the higher-profile new releases in hardback (i.e. when I’m not entirely sure I want the book and I know the library will be ordering it), and there was fewer of these in 2013 for me.
Genre-wise, romance and fantasy pretty much made up two-thirds of what I read over 2013 (61 and 44 books respectively) – I suspect there was a fair few books that could fit into either though, bearing in mind they’re two of my favourite genres.
And finally, here’s how the year looked like for me:
And that’s it (I’m glad I only write this once a year)!
I’m still in the process of adding all my 2013 reads onto Goodreads (I’m up to September at the moment), but the full 2013 list will be here once I’m done.