December 27, 2013

Shera’s Top 10 Books of 2013

Usually I wait until the new year to do these, but I thought it would be kind of nice to it while 2013 is wrapping up. It would be exceedingly funny if I read a book in between that time frame that makes me want to put it on this list!

Now these are my, Shera’s, top 10 books of 2013. This list is based on books that I’ve read in 2013, so it’s not just made up of books released in 2013.  (Because this year I did abysmal at keeping up with 2013 releases. Oh, the shame.)

If you want to read my reviews for the books listed, then click on the titles. (If there is no links that means I have yet to review it. The shame. I know.)

***This top ten list is in no particular order and only one author can be picked per spot.***

Stormdancer (The Lotus War, book 1) by Jay Kristoff


Grab it: Goodreads | Amazon

The Shima Imperium verges on the brink of environmental collapse; an island nation once rich in tradition and myth, now decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshipers of the Lotus Guild. The skies are red as blood, the land is choked with toxic pollution, and the great spirit animals that once roamed its wilds have departed forever.

The hunters of Shima’s imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a thunder tiger – a legendary creature, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows the beasts have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shōgun is death.

Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a talent that if discovered, would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shōgun’s hunt, she finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her.

But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire.

Stormdancer is the second steampunk title I’ve read, and boy does it make up for the first disappointing read! This book is beyond a heady rush and I love the combination of Japanese mythology, fantasy, and steampunk. Sure there was the whole lack of what are the lotus flowers that this whole world is based on, but that’s just a minor void compared to this amazing world! (No really. Read my review so you can understand why I loved this one!

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, book 1) by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Boys

Grab it: Goodreads | Amazon

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.
Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.

Stiefvater is an author that I’ve been waiting for to mature. Her writing has always been beautiful and at times has blown me away. However, her storytelling always lacks something. Emotions. Bad passing. It’s so strange that this title is the one that Stiefvater has finally hooked me in.

This book could be considered dull with it’s slow meandering, but Stiefvater weaves an enchanting tale around the whole thing. This book is a like a dream. With Indian Jones treasure hunting (though not as cinematic or as action packed), beautiful emotions, mysteries of both the paranormal and love. Each character is an enigma that slowly get revealed and I felt so invested in each one.

Really this book is a lot of things rolled into one. It’s one of the single most unique titles out there on the market!

Pooka in My Pantry (Monster Haven, book 2) by R.L. Naquin

Pooka in My Pantry

Grab it: Goodreads | Amazon

Zoey Donovan—empath, wedding planner, go-to girl for monsters with personal problems—has been marked twice for pickup by Death. On both occasions, Riley the smoking-hot reaper has refused to follow through. For his breach of protocol, Riley is now on probation. For her refusal to die on schedule, Zoey's right to live is challenged. She will have to undergo a life-or-death trial, but she won't know when or where it will happen…

Staying alive might not be so difficult if the Leprechaun Mafia hadn't strolled into town. Now every business owner with the slightest connection to the supernatural community is being threatened with the most appalling bad luck if they don't pay up. Mirrors are smashed, bodies are dropping, and Zoey's still got clients waiting for fabric samples.

With a little luck, she might be able to save everyone and still have time for a second attempt at a decent first date with her favorite reaper.

If you haven’t read this series do. If Urban Fantasy is you’re thing, this is the series for you. What I love is that Zoey is a lead who might not be super kickass lady tough, but she’s strong. It’s nice to have a different kind of tough lady in UF. What I love even more is the humor. It kind of reminds me of the Jane True series, but keep in mind neither series have anything in common but their own brand of quirky humor.

Mine to Posses (Psy-Changeling, book 4) by Nalini Singh


Grab it: Goodreads | Amazon

Clay Bennett is a powerful DarkRiver sentinel, but he grew up in the slums with his human mother, never knowing his changeling father. As a young boy without the bonds of Pack, he tried to stifle his animal nature. He failed...and committed the most extreme act of violence, killing a man and losing his best friend, Talin, in the bloody aftermath. Everything good in him died the day he was told that she, too, was dead.

Talin McKade barely survived a childhood drenched in bloodshed and terror. Now a new nightmare is stalking her life--the street children she works to protect are disappearing and turning up dead. Determined to keep them safe, she unlocks the darkest secret in her heart and returns to ask the help of the strongest man she knows...

Clay lost Talin once. He will not let her go again, his hunger to possess her, a clawing need born of the leopard within. As they race to save the innocent, Clay and Talin must face the violent truths of their past...or lose everything that ever mattered.

To be honest more of these would have made it on to my top 10 list, but since I don’t do repeat titles I decided to go with the book that evoked the most feelings and still makes me think “this series is the shit!”

The Psy-Changeling series is everything amazing that you’ve heard fans tell you. No. Really. The cheesy covers and hearing about this title from a glance makes it seem like lame PNR gimmicky stuff. It’s not. Singh is a master world builder. It isn’t just about the romance, there’s war and revolution on the horizon for the world, new mysteries, political unrest, and more.

These books are the perfect mix of happily ever afters, darkness, humor, and romance. (Plus, these characters are smoking hot and they burn up the pages!)

Eye of the Tempest (Jane True, book 4) by Nicole Peeler


Grab it: Goodreads | Amazon

Nothing says "home" like being attacked by humans with very large guns, as Jane and Anyan discover when they arrive in Rockabill. These are professionals, brought into kill, and they bring Anyan down before either Jane or the barghest can react. Seeing Anyan fall awakens a terrible power within Jane, and she nearly destroys herself taking out their attackers.

Jane wakes, weeks later, to discover that she's not the only thing that's been stirring. Something underneath Rockabill is coming to life: something ancient, something powerful, and something that just might destroy the world.

Jane and her friends must act, striking out on a quest that only Jane can finish. For whatever lurks beneath the Old Sow must be stopped...and Jane's just the halfling for the job.

As mentioned Peeler’s Jane True series is hilarious. The humor would be enough to keep me reading even if the rest of it sucked. But it doesn’t. The world is awesome, the conflict and mysteries fun each time, and I am in love with Jane True. Watching her grow up into this amazing person is really fun.

This is the book that shows readers Peeler’s grander plans.

The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden, book 2) by Julie Kagawa

The Eternity Cure

Grab it: Goodreads | Amazon

Out here in the Fringes, there is only one rule: Blood calls to blood. She has done the unthinkable: died so she might continue to live. Now Allie, the reluctant teenage vampire who was cast out of Eden, and Zeke, the human boy who loves her, must attempt to save the world from a deadly new strain of plague. In order to do so, they must first hunt down the monster who holds the promise of the cure—and Allie’s beloved mentor—in his sadistic grip…. Joined by Allie’s blood brother, Jackal, this unlikely posse of companions will brave a landscape stalked by raiders, rabids, and rogue vampires. But even if they survive, they’re bound for the Inner city, and a vicious showdown that will test their bonds in ways they never expected. It may just be that becoming undead was the easy part. Confronting the horrors of Allie’s awakening hunger, her growing feelings for Zeke, and the uncertainties of their future is going to be the ultimate challenge.

The Immortal Rules made it onto my list last year, and this title was one of my most anticipated releases of 2013. Kagawa does not disappoint. There are not enough words to say how much I love this series! What needs to said beyond vampires and dystopian. More please!

Dying Bites (Bloodhound Files, book 1) by D.D. Barant

dyingbitesGrab it: Goodreads | Amazon

Her job description is the “tracking and apprehension of mentally-fractured killers.” What this really means in FBI profiler Jace Valchek’s brave new world—one in which only one percent of the population is human—is that a woman’s work is never done. And real is getting stranger every day…

Jace has been ripped from her reality by David Cassius, the vampire head of the NSA. He knows that she’s the best there in the business, and David needs her help in solving a series of gruesome murders of vampires and werewolves. David’s world—one that also includes lycanthropes and golems—is one with little knowledge of mental illness. An insane serial killer is a threat the NSA has no experience with. But Jace does. Stranded in a reality where Bela Lugosi is a bigger box office draw than Bruce Willis and every full moon is Mardi Gras, Jace must now hunt down a fellow human before he brings the entire planet to the brink of madness. Or she may never see her own world again…

After reading this first entry into the series it pains me that this series isn’t more popular. The world is amazing and this setup has some flaws, but they’re easy to get over and move on.

It mixes alternate realities and fantasy beautifully.

Falling Kingdoms (Falling Kingdoms, book 1) by Morgan Rhodes (AKA Michelle Rowen)

fallingkingdomsGrab it: Goodreads | Amazon

In a land where magic has been forgotten but peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest is simmering. Three kingdoms grapple for power--brutally transforming their subjects' lives in the process. Amidst betrayals, bargains, and battles, four young people find their fates forever intertwined:

Cleo: A princess raised in luxury must embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of a magic long thought extinct.

Jonas: Enraged at injustice, a rebel lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country impoverished--and finds himself the leader of a people's revolution centuries in the making.

Lucia: A girl adopted at birth into a royal family discovers the truth about her past--and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.

Magnus: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, a firstborn son begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword...

The only outcome that's certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?

"Falling Kingdoms will gut you emotionally. It will make you ache, cry, and beg for the sequel as you turn the last page. I absolutely loved it."--Julie Kagawa, New York Times bestselling author of The Iron Queen

"This triple-layered tale of bloodshed, heartbreak, and tangled court intrigue kept me turning pages very late into the night."--Lesley Livingston, award-winning author of Wondrous Strange

Young Adult fantasy titles always make me happy. Let us be honest. Most YA fantasy titles are about girls (or boys) finding there inners strength and falling in love by the end of the book or series. Epic fantasies are rare to find in YA. No really. I can only think of two series. (It could be three but the series was originally sold as an adult title and I’m sticking by that!)

When Throne of Glass came out claiming it was the Game of Thrones of YA, bitterness. Let’s be honest it took a cool assassin and turned her into a love struck damsel. While I enjoyed it, at this point I can’t take it seriously.

Now this one. Ah, this one is epic! More then one main character, one’s that we know are being pitched against each other. You love them and it hurts to see them suffer, especially when they cause another character grief. There’s grand wars and grander schemes. Check it out!

What Kills Me (What Kills Me, book 1) by Wynne Channing

What Kills MeGrab it: Goodreads | Amazon

The fight for survival begins.

An ancient prophecy warns of a girl destined to cause the extinction of the vampire race.

So when 17-year-old Axelia falls into a sacred well filled with blood and emerges a vampire, the immortal empire believes she is this legendary destroyer. Hunted by soldiers and mercenaries, Axelia and her reluctant ally, the vampire bladesmith Lucas, must battle to survive.

How will she convince the empire that she is just an innocent teenager-turned bloodsucker and not a creature of destruction? And if she cannot, can a vampire who is afraid of bugs summon the courage to fight a nation of immortals?

This one has its flaws, but it is tons of fun!! No really. I was staying up late into the night to finish it. It’s been so long since a YA vampire book made me do that. Thank you.

The Sweetest Dark (The Sweetest Dark, book 1) by Shana Abé

The Sweetest DarkGrab it: Goodreads | Amazon

For fans of Lauren Kate and Libba Bray, The Sweetest Dark is filled with thrilling romance, exciting adventure, and ancient magic. Shana Abé brilliantly captures the drama of post-Victorian England, while unfolding a passionate love story that defies time.

“With every fiber of my being, I yearned to be normal. To glide through my days at Iverson without incident. But I’d have to face the fact that my life was about to unfold in a very, very different way than I’d ever envisioned. Normal would become forever out of reach.”

Lora Jones has always known that she’s different. On the outside, she appears to be an ordinary sixteen-year-old girl. Yet Lora’s been keeping a heartful of secrets: She hears songs that no one else can hear, dreams vividly of smoke and flight, and lives with a mysterious voice inside her that insists she’s far more than what she seems.

England, 1915. Raised in an orphanage in a rough corner of London, Lora quickly learns to hide her unique abilities and avoid attention. Then, much to her surprise, she is selected as the new charity student at Iverson, an elite boarding school on England’s southern coast. Iverson’s eerie, gothic castle is like nothing Lora has ever seen. And the two boys she meets there will open her eyes and forever change her destiny.

Jesse is the school’s groundskeeper—a beautiful boy who recognizes Lora for who and what she truly is. Armand is a darkly handsome and arrogant aristocrat who harbors a few closely guarded secrets of his own. Both hold the answers to her past. One is the key to her future. And both will aim to win her heart. As danger descends upon Iverson, Lora must harness the powers she’s only just begun to understand, or else lose everything she dearly loves.

Filled with lush atmosphere, thrilling romance, and ancient magic, The Sweetest Dark brilliantly captures a rich historical era while unfolding an enchanting love story that defies time.

Been putting off Shana Abe’s work seems to be a thing for me. So when the YA title fell into my lap I decided enough was enough, my time had come to read an Abe title.

It was a haunting and wonderful experience. Just check out my review.

Well that’s it folks! Hope you’re all enjoying the Holidays, and the book!

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