Top Ten Books of 2013

Another year, another new set of favourites to share! Nicely coinciding with Top Ten Tuesday, here are my top ten books from 2013. As usual, this is my personal top ten so it includes plenty of books that came out before 2013. That said, there’s a healthy mix of 2013 releases in this year’s pile!

Angelfall by Susan Ee Heist Society by Ally Carter

The “I can’t believe I waited so long to read these” books

1. Angelfall by Susan Ee

2. Heist Society by Ally Carter

Outpost by Ann Aguirre Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

The sequels that surpassed their predecessor

3. Outpost by Ann Aguirre

4. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Crash Into You by Katie McGarry These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

The surprise 2013 releases of awesome

6. Crash Into You by Katie McGarry

7. These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green Sweetly by Jackson Pearce 

The “lived up to the hype” books

7. The Fault in our Stars by John Green

8. Sweetly by Jackson Pearce

Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs Endgame by Ann Aguirre

The adult spec fiction selection by authors I’ve always adored

9. Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs

10. Endgame by Ann Aguirre

That’s it for this year! I leave 2013 with these words of advice:

Rupaul NATURE

5 Best Reads of 2012

As I mentioned in my 2012 wrap-up post, 2012 wasn’t my best reading year. I just didn’t get too many books done! So, rather than a Top Ten of the Year post (as has been my tradition), I am only selecting five books from my read pile to highlight.

  1. Aftermath by Ann Aguirre
  2. Darkness Falls by Cate Tiernan (reviewed here)
  3. River Marked by Patricia Briggs
  4. If I Die by Rachel Vincent (reviewed here)
  5. Doubleblind by Ann Aguirre

10 Best Books of 2011

I’ll be honest, 2011 wasn’t the best year for me book-wise. For starters, I only managed to get through 63 books this year. While that looks like a lot, it means there a loads of books that I didn’t manage to get through – mostly ARCS, sorry publishers! Out of those 63 books, I only gave five a 5 star review. In other words, only 8% of the books I read this year did I consider excellent. Now compare that to 2010, where I gave nine books 5 stars. Five vs. nine! Isn’t that just depressing?

That said, there have been some truly standout novels this year. Some of them had been on my TBR pile for years while some were from brand-new authors. Here’s how they break down genre-wise: 3 Dystopian YA, 2 Adult Fantasy, 2 YA Urban Fantasy, 1 Adult Urban Fantasy, 1 Literary Fiction, and 1 YA Science Fiction. They’re a diverse bunch of books, but they are all worth a read! (Click on the titles to read my reviews.)

Top Ten Books of 2011

Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs

1. A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

A Game of Thrones should really count as 3 books, considering it is big enough to double as a weapon! If you’ve somehow missed all the buzz about the HBO series based on this book, you’ve obviously been hiding under a rock. It is fantastic. Read the book, watch the show, go to a convention!

2. Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs

Patricia Briggs writes amazing books and Cry Wolf was no exception. I absolutely loved how the novel jumped between different characters, and wow what a plot. A-MA-ZING.

 

3. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins 

Yep, The Hunger Games. It took me forever to get to this book but it was ludicrously amazing. I even got my mother to read it (she adored it, btw!). Catching Fire and Mokingjay were just good and OK, but they did not detract from the brilliance of this book.

4. Moloka’i by Alan Brennert

Moloka’i is unlike all the other books on this list – it’s historical literary fiction! But wow, is it ever extraordinary. Even if you don’t usually read this type of book, I would give it a shot.

 

5. Academy 7 by Anne Osterlund

Do not be fooled by the cover of Academy 7, this is YA science fiction at its very best. The only, only issue I had with this book? It was too bloody short! Moooore, Anne Osterlund. More!

6. Pure by Julianna Baggott

Pure is kinda a cheat for this list. The book doesn’t come out until 2012 but I couldn’t help but add it to my list. While it isn’t perfect, it was one of the most terrifying YA novels I have ever read.

 

7. Temeraire by Naomi Novik

Temeraire! What a fantastic book! Dragons and Napoleon and magical magical writing. Read it!

8. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor 

Daughter of Smoke and Bone was probably one of the most unique YA books I’ve ever read. I am so very, very glad that it has gotten the praise it deserves. Oh, and Laini? Awesome awesome pink-haired lady.

The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong UK cover enclave-ann-aguirre

9. The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong

I was afraid to read The Gathering, as I adored Kelley’s Darkest Powers trilogy and everyone knows that sequels never live up to the original! The only exceptions being The Godfather II and… The Gathering! This book was every bit amazing.

10. Enclave by Ann Aguirre

Ann Aguirre’s Enclave lived up to everything I expected from it. And I expected a hell of a lot. Her Sirantha Jax series is a fantastic read, so I hoped and prayed that her venture into YA would be just as great . It was – it really was!

Top Ten Books on my Winter TBR pile

Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish): 10 books on my winter TBR pile. This year, I am going to finish the Debut Author Challenge. Come Hell or high water, I will succeed. That means I need to get 6 more debut books off my TBR shelves before the end of the year! And once I’m done with those I am going to get to those fabulous sequels that somehow I never have time for.

The Debut 2011 Authors:

 

1. Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton – I’ve heard nothing but brilliant things about Tessa’s work, so I fully expect Blood Magic to live up to the hype it has gotten. So much so that I even bought this book in hardback!

2. Unearthly by Cynthia Hand – I’ve read reviews of Unearthly written by people who usually dislike YA PNR, especially the type with angels! So, I am sure I am going to love it.

3. Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini – I’ll be honest, I’m not that excited about Starcrossed… am I off my head for being skeptical?

4. Die for Me by Amy Plum – Oh, Paris. I am expecting Phantom of the Opera and fully expect to get it!

5. Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton – Another urban fantasy author breaks into the YA market! I love it when adult authors write for YA audiences, so I expect very good things from Kelly.

6. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs – This book is stunning and yet utterly disturbing. I simply can’t imagine not adoring it.

The YA sequels I have been longing to read:

7. Muse by Rebecca Lim – I adore Rebecca’s Mercy series (read my reviews of Mercy and Exile) and cannot wait to start this. If it weren’t for the Debut Author priorities, I would be all over this book right now!

8. Forever by Maggie Stiefvater –  I KNOW. How could I not have read this book?? I really really really adore this series, and I cannot wait to start Forever… no, really!

9. Defiance by Lili St. Crow – It makes me sad and excited to know that this series is complete – can’t wait to see what violence Dru has been up to!

10. Rip Tide by Kat Falls – I absolutely adored Dark Life, which unfortunately didn’t get the praise it deserved. Still, cannot wait to start on the sequel! (Btw, make sure you buy the US version of this book. The UK cover is something awful!)

10 Best Reads of 2010

2010 has been a rather awesome year for me, book-wise.  I managed to read 71 books – perhaps not as impressive as some lists out there, but certainly a record for me.  The past few months have made it hard for me to read and review as much as I used to, new job, new course and – basically – a whole new life in a new area. But what hadn’t changed is my love for reading – so don’t expect me to be going anywhere!

So, my ten favourite reads of 2010.  I list these with lots of love, as I have discovered some fantastic new authors this year (Ann Aguirre, Jaye Wells) and read some fantastic reads from old favourites (The Reckoning!).

Red-Headed Stepchild (Sabina Kane #1) by Jaye Wells The Mage in Black (Sabina Kane, #2) by Jaye Wells

1. Red-headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells
2. The Mage in Black by Jaye Wells

OMG this series.  The first book in this series was such a surprising read.  I can’t even remember buying this book, and I only picked up as part of the New Authors Challenge.  But reading it was practically transformative.  I hadn’t felt this way about a book since The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong!  As soon as I got my copy of The Mage in Black, I started reading it and didn’t stop till I had finished it.  It was just as good as the first!

The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong Firespell by Chloe Neill
3. The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong
4. Firespell by Chloe Neill
I was worried that The Reckoning wouldn’t live up to all my expectations for the Darkest Powers series – I needn’t have.  It was beyond amazing!  If I could only recognise one YA series, it would be this one.

Firespell stood out from the other YA debuts of 2010.  Chloe Neill is a fun and funny writer, with a very different twist on the whole paranormal YA scene.  Her adult series is also fantastic – so give her a shot!

Graceling by Kristin Cashore Grimspace by Ann Aguirre
5. Graceling by Kristin Cashore
6. Grimspace by Ann Aguirre
Graceling was my Poison Study of 2010 – high fantasy that made me want to just sink into the novel and never return.  I adored every word and am nervous/excited about reading Cashore’s second book, Fire.

Grimspace.  Grim-OMFG-space.  I adored this book.  Aguirre set my heart a flutter and just… yeah. OMG this book.  And what’s even more astounding is that she keeps up the quality in the second novel of the series, Wanderlust. I can’t wait to review that one!

rules-of-attraction Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
7. Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles
8. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Rules of Attraction was fantastic.  Everything you could possibly want from a Contemporary YA romance – if you want a fab, Romeo-and-Juliet-esque romance, read this!

I am so very glad I finally read the Vampire Academy series!  I knew everybody loved it, but I had no idea why until I read it.  I haven’t finished the series yet, but it is certainly one of my favourite YA series… ever.

Shiver Maggie Linger Maggie
9. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
10. Linger by Maggie Stiefvater
I haven’t written a review for Shiver or Linger, because I really don’t know what to add to the conversation.  These books are stunning.  Seriously, beautiful beautiful books which I highly recommend to ALL readers.  It was hard to choose between Shiver and Linger for the Top Ten of 2010 – so both made the list!

So, that’s all for 2010. I am super excited about this new year, and I want to thank all DBD followers for sticking it out with me this year. It’s been great reading your comments and following your blogs – so thank you!

10 LGBT Young Adult Books to Add to Your TBR Pile

What with the new Let’s Go Beyond Tolerance Blog and The Story Siren’s LGBT YA fest crowding up the net with LGBT YA goodness, I thought it my duty to pitch in!  In the spirit of rainbow-flag waving, here are a few great YA books with gay, lesbian and transgender themes.  This is not at all a comprehensive list of the YA LGBT books out there – more like a jumping off point for those of you looking to move out of the paranormal YA section!  *is guilty*

Some of these I’ve read, but most of them I haven’t!  But I’ve included links to reviews around the blogosphere, so if you want to check out a “proper” opinion, check those out.

Btw, you should all start following Amanda over at The Zen Leaf (if you aren’t already!).  She has written fabulous reviews for most of the books on this list!

When Nina learns the shocking truth that her best friends Mel and Avery have fallen in love with each other, their friendship is rocked by what feels like the ultimate challenge. But it’s only the beginning of a painful, funny, and gripping journey as three girls discover who they are and what they really want.

2. My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger

Best friends and unofficial brothers since they were six, ninth-graders T.C. and Augie have got the world figured out. But that all changes when both friends fall in love for the first time. Enter Ale. She’s pretty, sassy, and on her way to Harvard. T.C. falls hard, but Ale is playing hard to get. Meanwhile, Augie realizes that he’s got a crush on a boy. It’s not so clear to him, but to his family and friends, it’s totally obvious! Told in alternating perspectives, this is the hilarious and touching story of their most excellent year, where these three friends discover love, themselves, and how a little magic and Mary Poppins can go a long way.

Reviews: The Book Smugglers

Awesome little fact: All the models on the cover are men – possibly even the same man. ♥

3. Geography Club by Brent Hartinger

Russel is still going on dates with girls. Kevin would do anything to prevent his teammates on the baseball team from finding out. Min and Terese tell everyone they’re just really good friends. But after a while, the truth’s too hard to hide – at least from each other – so they form the “Geography Club.” Nobody else will come. Why would they want to? Their secret should be safe.

Reviews: AfterEllen

James and Alex have barely anything in common any more – least of all their experiences in high school, where James is a popular senior and Alex is suddenly an outcast. But at home, there is Henry, the precocious 10-year-old across the street, who eagerly befriends them both. And when Alex takes up running, there is James’€™s friend Nathen, who unites the brothers in moving and unexpected ways.

5. Luna by Julie Anne Peters (2006)

For years, Regan’s brother Liam has been nursing a secret. By day, he is Liam, a passably typical boy of his age; at night, he transforms himself into Luna, his true, female self. Regan loves and supports her brother and she keeps his Liam/Luna secret. Things change, though, when Luna decides to emerge from her cocoon. She begins dressing like a girl in public; first at the mall; then at school; then at home. Regan worries that her brother’s transgender identity is threatening her own slippery hold on normalcy. This serious, powerful teen novel was a National Book Award finalist for Young People’s Literature.

Reviews: Shooting Stars Mag

6. Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher (2009)

Logan Witherspoon recently discovered that his girlfriend of three years cheated on him. But things start to look up when a new student breezes through the halls of his small-town high school. Sage Hendricks befriends Logan at a time when he no longer trusts or believes in people. Sage has been homeschooled for a number of years and her parents have forbidden her to date anyone, but she won’t tell Logan why. One day, Logan acts on his growing feelings for Sage. Moments later, he wishes he never had. Sage finally discloses her big secret: she’s actually a boy. Enraged, frightened, and feeling betrayed, Logan lashes out at Sage and disowns her. But once Logan comes to terms with what happened, he reaches out to Sage in an attempt to understand her situation. But Logan has no idea how rocky the road back to friendship will be.

Reviews: Library Lounge Lizard

OMG I want this book like a mad woman.  And that cover? *swoons*

7. Keeping You a Secret by Julie Anne Peters (2005)

With a steady boyfriend, the position of Student Council President, and a chance to go to an Ivy League college, high school life is just fine for Holland Jaeger. At least it seems to be. But when Cece Goddard comes to school, everything changes. Cece and Holland have undeniable feelings for each other, but how will others react to their developing relationship?

Reviews: The Zen Leaf

8. Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan (2005)

In this school, the gay kids and the straight kids all get along just fine, the quarterback is a cross-dresser, and the cheerleaders ride Harleys– yet the road to true love is still a strange and winding path, as Paul discovers when he meets the boy of his dreams.

Reviews: Voracious YAppetite and The Zen Leaf

9. Of All The Stupid Things by Alexandra Diaz (2009)

It really was a stupid thing that Brent Staple did – doing it (so the rumour goes) with Chris Sanchez, one of the guy cheerleaders. Who’d have thought that Brent, the school’s hottest jock, could be gay? But the doubt about Brent doesn’t just hurt Tara – it’s the beginning of the end for an inseparable trio of friends. Tara’s training for the marathon, but also running from her father and her fear of ever being abandoned again. Beautiful Whitney Blaire’s got everything and nothing, because her parents have never had time for her. And Pinkie has a compulsive need to mother everyone to make up for the mom she never stops missing. The girls couldn’t be more different, but doesn’t that just prove the strength of their friendship?

Then new-girl Riley arrives in school, wafting her long black hair and a scent of lilacs. Suddenly, Tara starts to feel things she’s never felt before for a girl – and to reassess her feelings about Brent and what he may/may not have done. Is Tara gay – or does she just love Riley? And can the map of her deepest friendships ever be redrawn in a post-Riley world

Reviews: The Zen Leaf and The Story Siren

One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two teens—both named Will Grayson—are about to cross paths. As their worlds collide and intertwine, the Will Graysons find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, building toward romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history’s most fabulous high school musical.

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