Tuesday, January 7

Bookish Recap of 2013

For the past few years, Nath and I have done a recap post or two.  We thought we would combine what we've done before with a few categories from that End of the Year Book Survey from The Perpetual Page-Turner that's been making the rounds.  :P

So here's a few more books we'd thought we'd highlight from our 2013 reads.

Most anticipated book


Nath: By the time Magic Rises was released, it would have been two years since the last Kate Daniel book and as such, you can see why Magic Rises was one of my most anticipated books of 2013! I just enjoy Kate's kind of kick-ass-ness and love her wicked humor... and the situations she find herself into which often induce her to bang her head on the nearest hard surface :P

Stevie and Clay have been a couple in the making ever since Ms Rose transported us to Baltimore and finally, they were getting their book! Woohoo!


Ames: I anticipated a lot of books this year.  But did I read them once I got my grubby hands on them?  That's a whole different story.  Haha.  Every author on my auto-buy list, I looked forward to all of those.  But I'm behind on a lot of series so I would have bought the book because I like to support my authors, but I probably didn't read the book.  However, I did read Heart of Obsidian and that was one I was really looking forward to.  :P

Nath: I think it says something that you are caught up on the series and you read Heart of Obsidian as soon as you did Ames :P

Book I was really looking forward to and measured up to my expectations


Nath: As I keep saying, Watch your Back featured Stevie and Clay as the main characters and well, we've been waiting for their books ever since they appeared in You Belong to Me in 2011! Actually, even longer if you've been waiting for Clay's story as he was introduced eons ago. In the end, the wait was worth it. Stevie and Clay's story was intense and suspenseful, exactly what we want and expect from Ms Rose!

My other pick was The Rising by Kelley Armstrong. While I was looking forward to the book, I was also a bit apprehensive simply because I felt this trilogy was missing something. However, I was really looking forward for Maya's group to meet Chloe's group... and it happened and it was good! Also, Maya chose the right guy! LOL. Anyway, I'm probably biased, but to me, Ms Armstrong ended the trilogy on a high note and I do hope to see these characters again in the future :)


Ames: I enjoyed 2012's Tangle of Need, but it definitely left me wanting more.  So that meant I had big expectations for Heart of Obsidian.  And Nalini really delivered with this one.  Like I said in our Best of post, this was the only A+ read for me in 2013 that wasn't a re-read.

Book I was really looking forward to, but didn't measure up to my expectations


Nath: I'm a huge fan of Kelley Armstrong and am always looking forward to her new releases. Even though Loki's Wolves was a collaboration, it was no exception. I was especially excited because I had heard Ms Armstrong and Ms Marr talk about the concept of Loki's Wolves during a conference and it sounded good. Plus, two of the most popular and successful Young Adult authors teaming up? Hard not to have high expectations. In the end though, Loki's Wolves just didn't do it for me. It read a bit too young for me and the concept simply wasn't original enough :( If I pick up the sequel, Odin's Ravens, it's because I'm a long-time fan of Ms Armstrong.


Ames: Dead Ever After was the finale to the Sookie Stackhouse series. This series had steadily been going downhill and although I was happy with who Sookie ended up with, the way it ended was a huge let down.  Eric was a shell of his former magnificent self.

Book that took me by surprise


Nath: I picked up Love and Other Scandals because the blurb was cute and the cover caught my eye and A Witch's Handbook of Kisses and Curses, because I'm a fan of Ms Harper. I hadn't been wowed by these two authors' last few releases and so didn't have high expectations for these two books... but in the end, I was really pleasantly surprised by both and ended up loving them :)


Ames: I honestly can't remember where I saw Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore mentioned but it appeared like magic and I was totally swept away.  I like mysteries and quests and secret societies and a sneak peek into the inner workings of Google (that one scene gave me goosebumps!) and super huge warehouses full of esoteric treasures.   It was lots of fun to read and I hated when we came to the end of the MC's quest.  I just wanted it to go on!  And then Down London Road...I didn't care for Jo when she was introduced in On Dublin Street.  But Wena sang this book's praises and I decided to take a chance, I'm really glad I did.

Nath: I need to give Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore another go!

Book that I recommended the most


Nath: Need I say more? Written in Red was my reply to everyone who asked me "What good book did you read lately?" for a few months after I read it :) A close second was Pivot Point.


Ames: I really had to think about this category and in the end I had to ask my friends what books I recommended!  It was more an author than a particular book.  Rainbow Rowell was my go-to gal.

Book that was recommended to me and I'm glad I read

Nath & Ames

Nath: Truthfully, if Letters to Nowhere hadn't been recommended to me, I probably would never have picked it up. Why? Simple: self-published contemporary YA/NA novel... Oh and the cover doesn't really stand out ^_^; Yes, yes, I'm shallow. Lucky for me, Letters to Nowhere was recommended to me by Brie from Romance Around the Corner. Even then, it took Li's review to convince me to pick it up, and oh boy am I glad I did! And what did I do after that? Well of course, recommend it to Ames! LOL.

Ames:  I suffer from having too many books to read (#readerproblems haha) and I was struggling one day and I asked Nath what was the last excellent book she read.  No hesitation, she said Letters to Nowhere.  And she was right.  It was excellent and this characters have definitely stuck with me long after I finished reading their story.

Book that I should have read before 2013


Nath: Actually, not just Rosemary and Rue, but the whole October Daye series. What stopped me was the fae aspect of the series - not a fan of fae... and because of that, I've been missing on a solid urban fantasy series. However, it's all remedied now :)


Ames: I'm a big fan of Meljean's and I have no idea why I didn't pick this book up sooner.  But I'm so glad I finally got around to reading it.  In fact, I read it twice.  I love Rhys and Mina.  She shoots him!  I love heroines that shoot heroes.

Nath: LOL, I know why you didn't pick it up earlier: #readerproblems!

Ames:  Too true.  I have too many books to read.  LOL

Best new-to-me series


Nath: Do you know how good a book has to be for me to be willing to read it as a serials?!? And after reading the second installment, Return to Sender, I still want more!! LOL.

Ames:  And it's self-published!  LOL


Ames:  I've only read 1 book out of the Virgin River series (the first one).  But since there's a kajillion books in that series, I figured I'd start fresh.  AND I really enjoyed the first book in the series.  The second and third not so much, but I'm still looking forward to reading more.  I just loved the humor and the characters.

Another series I read the first book from was the Amour et Chocolat series by Laura Florand.  I loved the Parisian setting of The Chocolate Thief and I can't wait to read more.

Nath: You read a book in the series?! Oh yes, you did read The Chocolate Thief! I completely forgot! Just so happy that you enjoyed it!

As for the Thunder Point series... well I have read almost all of the Virgin River series and I guess that's why it didn't wow me ^_^; I liked The Wanderer as well, it sounded like a promising new start, but with the other two books, it felt like we were walking down a known road.

Series that are still going strong

Ames & Nath/Nath

Ames:  I think this is one of the only series I'm all caught up on.  All others have fallen by the wayside.  So of course this would be my pick.  It's so good and still fresh. Also, I don't really read PNR anymore, but I can't get enough of Nalini's characters.

Nath: I agree with Ames on the Psy-Changeling series. One of the best paranormal romance series out there and I'm always looking forward to the next one :) The strength of this series is not just the romance, but also the overall storyline and Ms Singh has managed to keep it interesting and fresh.

Another series for me would be the Kate Daniels series. Magic Rises was a solid installment and there's just so many possibilities for the future :)

Series that I've given up on


Nath: Fool's Gold series by Susan Mallery and Lucky Harbor series by Jill Shalvis. I haven't given up on them yet, but I'm trying to... which is a sad thing to say ^_^; I have nothing against the authors and their writing, but I find the two series to be too similar and they are not going anywhere.  With every addition, all you get is more characters. Also, I'm fed up of small town romances... Still, the books of both series are quick reads and perfect picks when you don't know what to read, hence the reason why I haven't been able to give up on them yet.


Ames:  I'm not saying this with 100% certainty, but I've somewhat given up on the Anita Blake series by Laurel K. Hamilton.  In past years, I've always read the latest book as its come out (requested from the library of course), but this year I got it from the library...and then sent it back un-read.  I just had no urge to read it.  So I may go back one day, see what's going on, but I'm over it.  I always called the AB series my literary crack, and we all know I've had a new pimp these days: Kristen Ashley.  hehe

Best debut novels

Nath: For me, it was Pivot Point all the way. Alternate/parallel storylines are great reads when well-written, but can also be disasters if the authors don't have a good grasp of their concept. Ms West pulled it off on every front: great concept, great characters and interesting story... but more importantly, she really impressed me with her writing. After reading Pivot Point, I automatically put Ms West on my auto-buy authors list :)


Ames: I thought this book was so cute and poignant at the same time.  The focus is a mother-daughter relationship but there are cute boys too.  LOL

Best new-to-me authors


Nath: For me, it was Kasie West and Joss Wood. Ms West impressed me with her debut novel, Pivot Point, and followed it up with The Distance Between Us:) As for Ms Wood, just love her category romances. These two authors were my discovery of 2013 and I'm looking forward to reading a lot more of their books in the future :)


Ames:  Cara McKenna is an author who I'd never heard of before this year.  And I've read two of her books and enjoyed the heck out of them.  After Hours and Unbound.  After Hours was super steamy and Unbound had an emotional impact on me.  She is on my radar, that's for sure!

Best come-back author


Nath: Two historical romance authors whom I adore but haven't wow-ed me in a while with their releases: Julia Quinn and Laura Lee Guhrke. I had high expectations for Ms Quinn's new series, the Smythe-Smith Quartet, because the Smythe-Smith musicales were such funny events in the Bridgertons series... However, the stories so far haven't been what I expected. As such, I was really pleasantly surprised with The Sum of All Kisses! It would have been among my picks for the Best and Favorite Reads of 2013 post had it not been for last fifth of the book where the story got over-the-top ^_^;

As for Ms Guhrke, well it's been quite some time since her last release in 2011, Trouble at the Wedding... and well honestly, that book was meh, especially compared with the rest of the series. So after this little hiatus, I was a bit apprehensive with her newest release, When the Marquess Meets his Match, but I ended up enjoying it quite a bit and now looking forward to the next one!


Ames:  I'm picking Carly Phillips.  With her recent self-published title, Dare to Love, Ms. Phillips has made it back onto my radar.  I used to read her ages ago but then my tastes shifted and her books didn't appeal to me anymore.  But I enjoyed Dare to Love and look forward to the rest of the series.

Author that I've glommed


Nath: For me, this year, it was without contest Seanan McGuire. I read all 7 books of her October Daye series as well as her newest installment in the Incryptid series, for a total of 8 books. This kind of glom is rare for me nowadays because it means there's a backlist! It's even more surprising given that Ms McGuire was not a new-to-me author... So what happened? I finally put aside my dislike of fae and tackled the October Daye series so I wouldn't go into Urban Fantasy withdrawal LOL.


Ames: Kristen Ashley. Is this a surprise to anyone?  I tackled all but the very last Rock Chick book this year and the Fantasyland series.  And the Unfinished Heroes series (not my favorite at all). I've also re-read my favorites by her a kajillion times.  LOL  And the best thing is I'm not done reading her backlist! Cracktastic.

Best author


Nath: This one is never an easy pick... but I think this year, I have to go with Anne Bishop. She made a controversial decision last year with her last book of the Black Jewels series, Twilight Dawn - one that made me choose not to read it. However, you got to admire her for having the guts to make that decision and go through with it... and then, she put everything behind and came back this year with Written in Red. My hat off to her.


Ames:  I have so much respect for Nalini Singh and her writing. I love her Guild Hunter series as well as the Psy-Changelings.  I may not be caught up on it, but I love Elena and Raphael so much I can't move on from their books.  LOL  So yeah, it's all about Nalini.  Maybe in 2014 I will bring myself to catch up with the Guild Hunters.

Nath: Interesting Ames, that our picks for 'best authors' wrote our 'favorite reads' of 2013 :) Guess it's only fitting and it shows we're consistent! LOL.


Rowena said...

Another great post ladies!

I would be surprised if anyone was surprised that you glommed the heck out of Kristen Ashley, Ames. =)

Nath, you were right when you said that both the Fools Gold and Lucky Harbor series are simliar. I gave up on Fools Gold but am still enjoying Lucky Harbor.

And Ames, the author that you pimped out to me the most last year was Rainbow Rowell and Kristen Ashley. How could I forget about Kristen Ashley? Ha!

Li said...

Love this post - the detail!

Nath - big YAY for the October Daye series!!! Plus the fact you basically got to read the whole series at once. We can now count down to the next book together ;-)

Also hurray for the fact that LETTERS TO NOWHERE love has been making the rounds...

Ames - I've pretty much given up on LKH as well. As well as Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum books - had the latest out and returned it unread as well...

readerholicnotes said...

Great list!

Nath--didn't realize you hadn't read the October Daye series...and then read them all at once. I'm still one or two books behind in that series! Since you and Li both liked Letters to Nowhere so much maybe I should give it a try. I just haven't been in the mood for too many contemporaries in the last year.

Ames--I used to read LKH, but gave up several years ago. And I'm way behind on the psy-changeling series, but maybe I'll try to catch-up this year. I also have your problem, Ames--too many books and series to keep up with.

nath said...

Rowena - Sensible choice Rowena. I think in the Lucky Harbor series is better than the Fool's Gold one. Especially now that the Fool's Gold has suddenly taken a military turn.

Li - Thanks! :)

It is nice to be able to read whole series at once from time to time.

Jan - Definitively give Letters to Nowhere a go, Jan. I'm curious to see how you'll enjoy it, given you don't read many contemporaries and YA/NA.