2013 Year in Review: What Books Made the Cut?

I’ve discovered wonderful books either by word of mouth or because these gems have been on my Kindle for over a year! When I’m done with an e-book and the one-click twitch starts to take over because I need the paperback version, please know that’s a very good sign.  I only buy paperbacks of stories that I absolutely adore. Out of the 140 books I’ve read, only 33 have made it to my favorites-shelf on goodreads and I love them all for very different reasons.  I know, I know…I’m not supposed to have favorites but I do and I’m not shy about stating, I don’t love every book I read.  I just don’t.

Now the real question is…can you guess my EPIC read of the year??? When I say EPIC, I seriously mean EPIC! ;)

And so, without further ado, my absolute favorite books of 2013 are:

Erotica:

Captive in the Dark (The Dark Duet, #1)

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Captive in the Dark (#1) | CJ Roberts: Caleb is a man with a singular interest in revenge. Kidnapped as a young boy and sold into slavery by a power-hungry mobster, he has thought of nothing but vengeance. For twelve years he has immersed himself in the world of pleasure slaves searching for the one man he holds ultimately responsible. Finally, the architect of his suffering has emerged with a new identity, but not a new nature. If Caleb is to get close enough to strike, he must become the very thing he abhors and kidnap a beautiful girl to train her to be all that he once was.

Eighteen-year-old Olivia Ruiz has just woken up in a strange place. Blindfolded and bound, there is only a calm male voice to welcome her. His name is Caleb, though he demands to be called Master. Olivia is young, beautiful, naïve and willful to a fault. She has a dark sensuality that cannot be hidden or denied, though she tries to accomplish both. Although she is frightened by the strong, sadistic, and arrogant man who holds her prisoner, what keeps Olivia awake in the dark is her unwelcome attraction to him.

WARNING: This book contains very disturbing situations, dubious consent, strong language, and graphic violence.

The Siren (The Original Sinners, #1)

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The Siren (#1) | Tiffany Reisz: Notorious Nora Sutherlin is famous for her delicious works of erotica, each one more popular with readers than the last. But her latest manuscript is different—more serious, more personal—and she’s sure it’ll be her breakout book…if it ever sees the light of day.

Zachary Easton holds Nora’s fate in his well-manicured hands. The demanding British editor agrees to handle the book on one condition: he wants complete control. Nora must rewrite the entire novel to his exacting standards—in six weeks—or it’s no deal.

Nora’s grueling writing sessions with Zach are draining…and shockingly arousing. And a dangerous former lover has her wondering which is more torturous—staying away from him…or returning to his bed?

Nora thought she knew everything about being pushed to your limits. But in a world where passion is pain, nothing is ever that simple.

Women’s Fiction:

Undertow

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Undertow | Amber Lynn Natusch: How far does a girl have to run to escape a lifetime of pain and loss at the hands of Alaska’s notoriously unforgiving Bering Sea? Twenty-seven-year-old Aesa Fredriksen thought landlocked Columbus, Ohio would suffice, and it does until the fear of regret drives her to return to Dutch Harbor in a final attempt to make amends with her nearly-estranged father. Intent on salvaging the wreckage of their relationship, she reluctantly agrees to join him—the only family she has left—as he heads out to fish for king crab, forcing her to brave the very waters that pulled him away from her as a child. The waters that stole her mother’s life.
When the day finally arrives for the Norwegian Queen to sail off into an uncertain future, Aesa can’t help but fear the worst. Beyond the violent swells and impending storms, there is far more than death and danger awaiting her on her journey: love awaits her too.

Decker, a young but seasoned member of her father’s crew, is a force of nature as strong as Aesa, He’s her perfect match, and even she can’t deny it. But he too is a man of the sea, and with memories of tragedy and abandonment etched so deeply into her mind, can she overcome her demons and let him in or will she drown in her darkness, forever caught in its undertow?

God-Shaped Hole

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God-Shaped Hole | Tiffanie DeBartolo: When I was twelve, a fortune-teller told me that my one true love would die young and leave me all alone.
Everyone said she was a fraud, that she was just making it up.
I’d really like to know why the hell a person would make up a thing like that.

Written with the snap, glitter and wit of The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing, God-Shaped Hole is a memorable, poignant love story that will leave you weeping with laughter. It is told in the wry, vulnerable voice of Beatrice “Trixie” Jordan who replies to a personal ad, “If your intentions are pure I am seeking a friend for the end of the world.”

In doing so, she meets Jacob Grace, a charming, effervescent thirty-something writer, a free spirit who is a passionate seeker of life. He possesses his own turn of phrase and ways of thinking and feeling that dissonantly harmonize with Trixie’s off-center vision as they roller coaster through the joys and furies of their wrenching romance. Along the way they try to come to terms with the hurt brought about by their distant fathers who, in different ways, forsook them.

This story will prove so touching you will rush to share it with a friend or loved one or even a stranger.

Biker Romance:

Unbeautifully (Undeniable, #2)

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UnBeautifully (#2) | Madeline Sheehan: Warning: This is not a story about fate or destiny. This is a story about pain, sorrow, and suffering. This is an impulsive whirlwind romance between two lovers that are not meant to be together. Theirs is not a world with sunshine and roses. Instead, their love blossoms in a secret world full of crime, violence, and death. Their story is about what can be born from nightmares.

Danielle “Danny” West is the daughter of Deuce West, President of the Hell’s Horsemen Motorcycle Club. A sweet and beautiful girl, she loses her way, searching for things that are always out of her reach. Erik “Ripper” Jacobs is the Sergeant of Arms in the Hell’s Horsemen. Once a man who always had a smile on his face, his life takes a turn for the worst when a tragedy befalls him, leaving him scarred and broken. During a midsummer night, Danny and Ripper’s paths cross, forever changing their lives. Hastily, their lust turns to love until another tragedy forces them apart. On a journey that is marred with ugliness and chaos, Danny and Ripper must discover if their unforeseen connection can find the beauty in their world.

This is Danny and Ripper’s story.

Everything has beauty. Even the ugly. Especially the ugly.  Because without ugly, there would be no beauty.

Suspense/Action/Romance:

Sins & Needles (The Artists Trilogy, #1)

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Sins and Needles (#1) | Karina Halle: Ellie Watt is used to starting over. The daughter of a grifting team, Ellie spent her childhood being used as a pawn in her parents’ latest scam. Now she’s much older, wiser and ready to give her con artist life a rest. But returning to the dry desert town of Palm Valley, California means one more temptation than she bargained for – Camden McQueen. Once known as the high school weirdo, Camden is bigger and badder than the boy he used to be and a talented tattoo artist with his own thriving business. Ellie’s counting on Camden still being in love with her but what she’s not counting on is how easily unrequited love can turn into obsession over time. When Camden discovers Ellie’s plan to con him, he makes her a deal she doesn’t dare refuse, but her freedom comes with a price and it’s one that takes both Ellie and Camden down a dangerous road.

***The Artists Trilogy is a dark and sexy contemporary ride about three flawed individuals caught in a world where it’s so easy to justify the bad things we do. This is a pure adult read (Not YA or NA).

NA:

Vain (The Seven Deadly, #1)

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Vain (#1) | Fisher Amelie: If you’re looking for a story about a good, humble girl, who’s been hurt by someone she thought she could trust, only to find out she’s not as vulnerable as she thought she was and discovers an empowering side of herself that falls in love with the guy who helps her find that self, blah, blah, blah…then you’re gonna’ hate my story.

Because mine is not the story you read every time you bend back the cover of the latest trend novel. It’s not the “I can do anything, now that I’ve found you/I’m misunderstood but one day you’ll find me irresistible because of it” tale. Why? Because, if I was being honest with you, I’m a complete witch. There’s nothing redeeming about me. I’m a friend using, drug abusing, sex addict from Los Angeles. I’m every girlfriend’s worst nightmare and every boy’s fantasy.

I’m Sophie Price…And this is the story about how I went from the world’s most envied girl to the girl no one wanted around and why I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

YA:

Eleanor & Park

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Eleanor and Park | Rainbow Rowell: Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.

The Fault in Our Stars

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The Fault in Our Stars | John Green: Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

Just One Day (Just One Day, #1)

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Just One Day (#1) | Gayle Forman: Allyson Healey’s life is exactly like her suitcase—packed, planned, ordered. Then on the last day of her three-week post-graduation European tour, she meets Willem. A free-spirited, roving actor, Willem is everything she’s not, and when he invites her to abandon her plans and come to Paris with him, Allyson says yes. This uncharacteristic decision leads to a day of risk and romance, liberation and intimacy: 24 hours that will transform Allyson’s life.

A book about love, heartbreak, travel, identity, and the “accidents” of fate, Just One Day shows us how sometimes in order to get found, you first have to get lost. . . and how often the people we are seeking are much closer than we know.

Teacher / Student Romance:

A Different Blue

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A Different Blue | Amy Harmon: Blue Echohawk doesn’t know who she is. She doesn’t know her real name or when she was born. Abandoned at two and raised by a drifter, she didn’t attend school until she was ten years old. At nineteen, when most kids her age are attending college or moving on with life, she is just a senior in high school. With no mother, no father, no faith, and no future, Blue Echohawk is a difficult student, to say the least. Tough, hard and overtly sexy, she is the complete opposite of the young British teacher who decides he is up for the challenge, and takes the troublemaker under his wing.

This is the story of a nobody who becomes somebody. It is the story of an unlikely friendship, where hope fosters healing and redemption becomes love. But falling in love can be hard when you don’t know who you are. Falling in love with someone who knows exactly who they are and exactly why they can’t love you back might be impossible.

Tainted Love

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Tainted Love (#2) | Eva Márquez: “My name is Isabel Cruz, and I’m nineteen years old, almost twenty. I go to Lincoln University where I’m majoring in English. I’m a straight-A student, and I know what I’m doing with my life, but things weren’t always that way. Or rather, I’ve always known what I wanted, and it just hasn’t always gone along with society’s views. In high school, I had an affair with my swim coach. I wanted him, and I took what I wanted. We were together until I graduated, but he had a wife and kids, and I left him behind to come here. I left everything behind to come here. At least that’s what I thought.”

Isabel was never like the other girls at her school in the sleepy town of Hillside, California. At sixteen she fell in love with Tom, a married swim coach at Royal Oaks High School; their exhilarating and sultry affair continuing in secret for several years. Finally, Isabel realized that her own future had to come first, but even after relocating to Washington, D.C. to study at Lincoln University, she finds herself still wracked by guilt over jeopardizing the happiness and security of Tom’s young family. Now almost in her twenties and desperate to start a new chapter in her life, free from past controversies, Isabel will once again find that her beauty and precociousness will captivate another older man, this time a professor at her university. Confronted by this burgeoning affair, Isabel realizes just how deeply she still loves Tom and, in spite of the disapproval of her hometown community, her feelings become too strong to deny.

When Isabel returns to Hillside, reunited with Tom, she feels herself falling for him all over again, only this time with the tantalizing promise that things could really work out for them, especially since she is no longer the naive teen she used to be. But all is not as it seems; Isabel begins to hear rumors about Tom’s involvement with other girls at Royal Oaks High. Quickly this salacious gossip leaks to the local media and the authorities begin to investigate the claims. Only then does the true gravity of Isabel’s misguided choices begin to profoundly affect those around her and threaten to derail her life completely.

Tainted Love is the thrilling follow up to Sweetest Taboo by Eva Marquez, and rejoins Isabel Cruz as she tries to put her complex and forbidden romance with Tom behind her. Written from the perspectives of both Isabel and Tom, the irrational and desperate love they share is brought to vivid life by Marquez. Inspired by the conviction of one of her former high school teachers for sexual misconduct with a minor, it addresses a poignant modern taboo, one that is becoming increasingly common in the US, with unnerving insight and precision. Tainted Love is a must read for young adults, their parents and all fans of romantic fiction.

Unteachable

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Unteachable | Leah Raeder:  *This novel contains graphic sexual content and strong language. It is intended for mature readers.*

I met him at a carnival, of all corny places. The summer I turned eighteen, in that chaos of neon lights and cheap thrills, I met a man so sweet, so beautiful, he seemed to come from another world. We had one night: intense, scary, real. Then I ran, like I always do. Because I didn’t want to be abandoned again.

But I couldn’t run far enough.

I knew him as Evan that night. When I walked into his classroom, he became Mr. Wilke.

My teacher.

I don’t know if what we’re doing is wrong. The rules say one thing; my heart says screw the rules. I can’t let him lose his job. And I can’t lose him.

In the movies, this would have a happy ending. I grow up. I love, I lose, I learn. And I move on. But this is life, and there’s no script. You make it up as you go along.

And you don’t pray for a happy ending. You pray for it to never end.

Urban Fantasy:

Fractured (Caged, #5)

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Fractured (#5) | Amber Lynn Natusch: I thought about watching from afar, hidden by the nearby trees or headstones, so I could avoid the onslaught of grief I was sure to be bombarded with. It was cowardly, but I was certain that when faced with the totality of my own grief, I would crumble under the weight of any extra. He was always so strong both physically and emotionally – I selfishly wished for his strength in that moment. If I couldn’t be strong, then I would at least be honorable and bear my pain publicly, for all who loved him to see.

It was by my actions that he was about to be put six feet under, and I owed it to him to be there.

A Matter of Fate (Fate, #1)

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A Matter of Fate (#1) | Heather Lyons: Chloe Lilywhite struggles with all the normal problems of a typical seventeen-year-old high school student. Only, Chloe isn’t a normal teenage girl. She’s a Magical, part of a secret race of beings who influence the universe. More importantly, she’s a Creator, which means Fate mapped out her destiny long ago, from her college choice, to where she will live, to even her job. While her friends and relatives relish their future roles, Chloe resents the lack of say in her life, especially when she learns she’s to be guarded against a vengeful group of beings bent on wiping out her kind. Their number one target? Chloe, of course.

That’s nothing compared to the boy trouble she’s gotten herself into. Because a guy she’s literally dreamed of and loved her entire life, one she never knew truly existed, shows up in her math class, and with him comes a twin brother she finds herself inexplicably drawn to.

Chloe’s once unyielding path now has a lot more choices than she ever thought possible.

Under Different Stars (Kricket, #1)

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Under Different Stars (#1) | Amy A. Bartol: All she wants is a home, but can she find one…UNDER DIFFERENT STARS

Kricket Hollowell is normally not one to wish upon stars; she believes they’re rarely in her favor. Well versed at dodging caseworkers from Chicago’s foster care system, the past few years on her own have made Kricket an expert at the art of survival and blending in. With her 18th birthday fast approaching, she dreams of the day when she can stop running and find what her heart needs most: a home.

Trey Allairis hates Earth and doubts that anyone from his world can thrive here. What he’s learning of Kricket and her existence away from her true home only confirms his theory. But, when he and Kricket lie together under the stars of Ethar, counting them all may be easier than letting her go.

Kyon Ensin’s secrets number the stars; he knows more about Kricket’s gifts than anyone and plans to possess her because of them. He also knows she’s more valuable than any fire in the night sky. He’ll move the heavens and align them all in order to make her his own.

When everything in their world can be broken, will Kricket rely upon love to save her under different stars?

Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days, #1)

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Angelfall (#1) | Susan Ee: It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels’ stronghold in San Francisco where she’ll risk everything to rescue her sister and he’ll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.

Recommended for ages 16 and up.

Darkfever (Fever, #1)

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Darkfever (#1) | Karen Marie Moning: MacKayla Lane’s life is good. She has great friends, a decent job, and a car that breaks down only every other week or so. In other words, she’s your perfectly ordinary twenty-first-century woman. Or so she thinks…until something extraordinary happens.

When her sister is murdered, leaving a single clue to her death–a cryptic message on Mac’s cell phone–Mac journeys to Ireland in search of answers. The quest to find her sister’s killer draws her into a shadowy realm where nothing is as it seems, where good and evil wear the same treacherously seductive mask. She is soon faced with an even greater challenge: staying alive long enough to learn how to handle a power she had no idea she possessed–a gift that allows her to see beyond the world of man, into the dangerous realm of the Fae….

As Mac delves deeper into the mystery of her sister’s death, her every move is shadowed by the dark, mysterious Jericho, a man with no past and only mockery for a future. As she begins to close in on the truth, the ruthless Vlane–an alpha Fae who makes sex an addiction for human women–closes in on her. And as the boundary between worlds begins to crumble, Mac’s true mission becomes clear: find the elusive Sinsar Dubh before someone else claims the all-powerful Dark Book–because whoever gets to it first holds nothing less than complete control of the very fabric of both worlds in their hands.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone: Free Preview - The First 14 Chapters

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Daughter of Smoke and Bone (#1) | Laini Taylor“Errand requiring immediate attention. Come. The note was on vellum, pierced by the talons of the almost-crow that delivered it. Karou read the message. ‘He never says please’, she sighed, but she gathered up her things. When Brimstone called, she always came.”

In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she’s a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family. Raised half in our world, half in ‘Elsewhere’, she has never understood Brimstone’s dark work – buying teeth from hunters and murderers – nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn’t whole.

Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.

Now, for the most EPIC book, the EPIC series of 2013…drum-roll please…

Historical Romance:

The Bronze Horseman (The Bronze Horseman, #1)

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The Bronze Horseman | Paullina Simons: The golden skies, the translucent twilight, the white nights, all hold the promise of youth, of love, of eternal renewal. The war has not yet touched this city of fallen grandeur, or the lives of two sisters, Tatiana and Dasha Metanova, who share a single room in a cramped apartment with their brother and parents. Their world is turned upside down when Hitler’s armies attack Russia and begin their unstoppable blitz to Leningrad.

Yet there is light in the darkness. Tatiana meets Alexander, a brave young officer in the Red Army. Strong and self-confident, yet guarding a mysterious and troubled past, he is drawn to Tatiana–and she to him. Starvation, desperation, and fear soon grip their city during the terrible winter of the merciless German siege. Tatiana and Alexander’s impossible love threatens to tear the Metanova family apart and expose the dangerous secret Alexander so carefully protects–a secret as devastating as the war itself–as the lovers are swept up in the brutal tides that will change the world and their lives forever.

If you haven’t had a chance to read these books, I promise you, they’re AMAZING and all very different in their own right!!  Wishing everyone a fabulous 2014 filled with fantastic books! ;)

Comments

    • Cristina says

      John Green and Tiffanie DeBartolo are truly gifted writers!!! I can’t wait for you to read The Bronze Horseman Trilogy…it’s beyond fabulous! ;)

  1. says

    This is an incredible list of literature. Thank you for numbering Under Different Stars alongside these amazing works for 2013. I’m honored to be among these talented authors.

  2. Renata says

    Hi Cristina!
    Thanks for the great suggestions! I’ve just began to follow your reviews and as 3 of my favorite book are listed here, I’ll try the others! Starting by A Matter of Fate that looks great!

  3. Lara Peterson says

    Love it, I’ve added some to my list to read! Might I also suggest you try Stephanie Hudson’s ” The Afterlife Saga”. Along with Amy Bartol’s Premonition Series these are top of my list! Happy Reading!

    • Cristina says

      Hi Lara and I’m so glad you’re adding some of these to your TBR!! YAY! ;) I’m going to find Stephanie’s book and add it to my ever growing pile!! I’m a HUGE fan of The Premonition Series and I can’t get enough of it and I’m all about BRENNUS! *sigh* I love him and can’t wait for Iniquity!! If I hadn’t read all her books in 2012…I would’ve added everyone to this list! ;) Happy reading!

    • Cristina says

      Hi Sarah!! I read the first two books in 2012 or they would be on there and I hope to start the third book soon!!! ;)

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