Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Favorite Reads of 2013

Yay for books! I read about 70-ish of them this year (and I had the privilege of editing some more). While I'm still reading a lot of Christian fiction, I'm continuing to enjoy more and more secular YA books, along with a tiny bit of non-fiction and other reads. Thanks to my Kindle, I've been delighted to discover some books I might never have heard of or tried if not for the sale prices and browsing on Amazon. In fact, my favorite read of the year was one such discovery. Here's my list of favorite reads from 2013:

#8 Grave Consequences by Lisa T. Bergren

No "sagging middle" for this series! I adored the intrigue surrounding this Grand Tour, along with the romance. The one thing I especially appreciated about this second book was the journey. I loved the places the characters visit and how each different spot challenges them. This leg of their trip seemed more exotic and exciting than the first or last, at least for me. You can read my full review HERE.

 #7 Mistaken by Karen Barnett

I wish I had this one in paperback - just look at that cover! And the story inside is similarly colorful and mysterious, a gem of a historical romantic suspense that takes place during an interesting era (Prohibition) and in a region of the world that I love (the Pacific Northwest). You can read my full review HERE.

#6 The Ryn by Serena Chase

An epic debut! I loved the characters and the author's creativity in telling their story. It doesn't get much better than a well-written and unique fairy-tale retelling! You can read my full review HERE.

#5 A Spark Unseen by Sharon Cameron

Cameron's debut, The Dark Unwinding, made my favorites list last year, and its sequel was quite satisfying! Definitely enthralling and wonderfully engaging - clever historical fiction for the YA crowd, creatively told. You can read my full review HERE.

#4 Barefoot Summer by Denise Hunter

A refreshing contemporary romance for any time of the year! The descriptions and emotions are highly engaging, and the take-away message tied in with the title is wonderful. (I love a complex story with a simple, easy-to-remember but profound take-away.) You can read my full review HERE.

#3 Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

I greatly enjoyed Cinder, the tale of a Cinderella cyborg, but I enjoyed Scarlet's story even more. This series is addictive, and this particular story had me racing through the author's thrilling and terrifying fantasy world. You can read my snack size review HERE. (Note that there is some more intense violence in this second installment of "The Lunar Chronicles" series.)

#2 Songstone by Lena Goldfinch

I fell in love with Lena's work when reading The Language of Souls last winter, and many of you know that my love for that story led to me becoming a beta reader for Lena, which eventually led to a business partnership that has been one of the biggest blessings of 2013 for me. I had the pleasure of beta-reading and editing this story, and I adored it both times through. The location. The atmosphere. The struggle for identity and a future. And of course, Pono (the hero). The deeper points are so poignantly told, and the story is so heartfelt and beautifully imagined. This is my favorite of Lena's books so far, although I have loved each one!

#1 Recalled by Cambria Hebert

And here it is - the surprise of the year for me. I found Recalled for $.99 on Amazon during one of my all-too-frequent Kindle shopping sprees. The cover looked interesting, and the premise had potential, so I thought it couldn't hurt to give it a chance for that price. It certainly didn't hurt! Instead, the story proved to be a jewel in the rough, an indie book that, while having some rough edges (a few grammatical errors and swear words), glowed brightly - so much so that I promptly re-read it for the Contentment Reading Challenge only a few months later. Recalled is the story of a boy who loses everything, but has the chance to gain even more than he had - but only if he "escorts" a certain girl to her death. It's a story about difficult decisions, constant close calls, and rare revelations. It's a story to keep you up at night and leave you moved by its portrayal of love. It's perhaps not a story for everyone, but I, for one, am so happy to have come across it! You can read more of my thoughts after re-reading the book HERE.

***

I found these reads to be enjoyable and thought-provoking, and I hope you'll find them to be the same for you if you pick them up sometime (or if you've already done so). You can find more of my thoughts on books on Goodreads and Shelfari - I'd love to connect with you there! And of course I hope to continue to share book reviews and other bookish posts here.

Please feel free to share you favorite reads of 2013!
Happy New Year's Eve!

20 comments:

Kara said...

Wow Amber, love the new blog look and I'm so excited about your fave reads for this year!! You have me intrigued about A Spark Unseen and Recalled, never heard of these :) Ryn is on my TBR list and looking forward to that one for 2014, I'm sooooo glad you have such great YA books listed!

Thanks so much for sharing this post and have a super New Years, hugs and blessings to you :)

Lisa Tawn Bergren said...

Thanks so much for including GRAVE! And I loved BAREFOOT SUMMER too. Many here look so good. Blessings on your 2014!

Lena Goldfinch said...

Amber, thanks so much for including Songstone. That means a lot. Our partnership has been one of my greatest blessings this past year too. Hugs!
Lena

Grace M said...

I've only read one of these("Grave Consequenses") but I have a desire to try the some of the others.

Glad you seemed to have a good year in reading in 2013. Happy New Year, Amber! :-)

Rissi said...

*High Five*

Lisa's was wonderful; such a deep enjoyable series in general. Ooo! I *need* to read 'A Spark Unseen' (and its prequel) as well as 'The Ryn.' Cannot wait for the 2014 line-up. ;)

Karen Barnett said...

Thanks for including Mistaken, Amber! What an honor to be listed among these great titles. I've been wanting to read Grave Consequences for some time. It's waiting for me on my Kindle. :)

Melanie said...

Great list, Amber!! I loved Grave Consequences and it was probably my favorite of the series, too. :)

Mistaken and Barefoot Summer were such great reads!

I'm listening to Scarlet right now and it's good so far!

You have me intrigued about Recalled - will have to look at that book on Amazon. :)

Happy New Year, Amber!

My favorite reads of 2013: Christian Bookshelf Reviews

Serena Chase said...

Thanks, Amber! I have to read Denise Hunter's book and Cambria Hebert's. They're showing up on a lot of lists and somehow they never even hit my radar! So many great books on this list, most of which I have had the privilege of reading.Thanks so much for including THE RYN! *hugs*

Amber Stokes said...

Kara,

Thank you so much! I might mention this in another post, but the header picture is from our last trip to Virginia City, which is the main setting of Forget Me Not, my next release. :) And I loved the "Warm Winter Wishes" background!

I've really fallen in love with some YA reads - I'm finding that I'm gravitating toward them more and more. :) So happy I could share some recommendations! Like I noted in the post, Recalled does have some language, and it's an imaginative look at the Grim Reaper, angels, etc., but the theme and the story are just wonderful. Loved it! And I highly recommend Sharon Cameron's books!

Hope you enjoy The Ryn - it's awesome! *Hugs* and blessings to you, as well, and thank you for your support and friendship!

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Lisa,

My pleasure! Grave Consequences was a fabulous read, and I really enjoyed the whole series. Glad you loved Barefoot Summer, as well!

Hope you have a blessed 2014, too! Looking forward to hearing more about your dystopian series. :)

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Lena,

It's truly a beautiful story, and I'm so honored I had the chance to edit it. And I'm thrilled by your kind words! So, so grateful for your friendship and our business partnership. Big hugs back!

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Grace,

Grave Consequences was a wonderful read, wasn't it? :) I hope you enjoy some of the others if you do end up checking them out! Hope you had a great year of reading, too, and happy reading in the new year, friend!

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Rissi,

*High five back!*

Lisa's series was so enjoyable - such fun, and very intriguing! I do hope you enjoy Cameron's books and The Ryn! Awesome reads, in my opinion. :)

I'm excited for all the reads to come in 2014, as well! I've got some fabulous-looking books in my TBR piles and on my Kindle...

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Karen,

My pleasure! Thank you so much for writing it. :)

I'm sure you'll love Grave Consequences! Have you read Glamorous Illusions? The whole series is great. :)

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Melanie,

Thanks so much! :)

So glad you agree about Grave Consequences! And I'm glad you're liking Scarlet so far. :) I absolutely cannot wait for Cress!

I think Recalled is currently $2.99 on Kindle... I truly loved it, and I hope you like it, too, if you give it a try!

Thanks for sharing the link to your favorites list! I'll go leave a comment in a moment. :)

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Serena,

Happy to include your debut - it was a fabulous one! Looking forward to more books from you. :) Thank YOU for all your support with my debut's release, as well!

And you should definitely read Hunter's and Hebert's! I think you'd really enjoy both. :)

~Amber

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

I SO need to try Mistaken.

Happy New Year sweet A!

Julie said...

Great list Amber! Love that you are branching out and reading different genre's! YA has long been a favorite of mine. Happy New Year!!

Amber Stokes said...

Juju,

I really enjoyed it, and I hope you do, too! :) Happy New Year to you, awesome Juju! *Hugs*

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Julie,

Thank you! It's been great fun to try some new reads and discover some fantastic stories. :) Looking forward to more great books in the new year!

Happy New Year, and thank you for your continued friendship!

~Amber