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.

Sunday, January 5

Best and Favorite Reads of 2013

Beginning of the year means that everyone is looking back at the reading year that just ended and making their list of Best and/or Favorite Reads. Ames and I are no exception :) I enjoy doing this post with Ames, just to see what books we have in and not in common. It's just interesting to see how we've gone in different direction with our readings and where we intersect :)

Hope you guys enjoy this post! And let us know what you think of our picks!!

Contemporary romance


Ames:  After starting a Kristen Ashley glom in November 2012, I could not get off the contemporary romance train.  I didn't read a lot of CR before that, I think because I was devouring contemporary M/M.  But I definitely noticed the majority of my reading this past year was contemporary romance.  And a lot less M/M to be honest.  But that's ok.  I love Samantha Young's writing and even though I wasn't too fond of the heroine, Jo, of Down London Road in previous books, Young is such a strong writer that I couldn't help but like her and enjoy the heck out of Jo's book.  And Julie James, I think it's safe to say she may always be in my top picks for any year.  LOL

Nath: Love Irresistibly almost made it onto my list, Ames! It was definitively an enjoyable book, but was missing a bit of omfph that would have made it a wowzer.


Nath: Contemporary romance is one of my favorite reading genres and that means I read a lot of it :) Unfortunately, I felt underwhelmed by it in 2013. I think a lot of it has to do with the small-town romances over-saturation ^_^; I've enjoyed a lot of small-town romances, but after a while, it's just too much and I felt I wanted something else this year. I admit my two picks didn't really jump to my mind as Best and Favorites, but Can't Stop Believing is the only contemporary romance I gave an A grade to and The Chocolate Touch, I really enjoyed for the intensity and Paris setting and will definitively be a re-read :)

Ames:  It's funny that you felt underwhelmed by the CR lot this year, and yet I couldn't get enough!  LOL  Maybe it was all the self-published titles I read?

Nath: Oh, I couldn't get enough either, Ames... However, I just wasn't wowed. Ms Thomas' Harmony series are usually winners for me and Can't Stop Believing wasn't an exception, but her style is so quiet, gentle. What I wanted was a punch in the face wow and I didn't get it this year :( And one of the reasons for that is that most books being released nowadays are re-hashes, they don't feel new... Sigh.

Category romance


Nath: While reading The One that Got Away, I knew it would be making this list. It was such an intense romance between Evie and Logan and I looooved it :) Seems like the feeling I'm looking when I'm reading category romance, because I had the same feeling for last year's favorite, Her Best Worst Mistake by Sarah Mayberry... In any case, The One that Got Away has set the bar for me for the Harlequin KISS line and very few have come close.

Ames:  How did I miss this one?

Nath: LOL, dunno my friend because I did review it :P

Romantic Suspense/Mystery/Cosy Mystery


Nath: There's a reason why I call Ms Rose the "Queen of Romantic Suspense"... because she delivers! Once again, she has written my favorite RS read of the year :) Fans have been waiting for Stevie and Clay's book for years and it was really good! I also think it closes the Baltimore chapter and I wonder where Ms Rose will take us next :)

A lot of RS nowadays are about military men and women and I seriously wish authors would go back to writing about cops and agents like Ms Rose. They'd have more chance to make my Best and Favorite Reads list :P

Ames:  I was so caught up in contemporary romances, I didn't read any romantic suspense!  No Karen Rose!  :(  Not even a re-read of Count to Ten.  *gasp*  I have to fix that pronto!

Nath: Seriously, not even a re-read of Count to Ten?! I was in a reading slump at the end of 2013 and I almost re-read all of Ms Rose's backlist! I can understand not reading other RS because there isn't that many out there, but no Karen Rose! Tsk, tsk! I'm actually so envious of you Ames, because you have so many of hers to glom on! LOL.

Paranormal romance


Ames:  This is a no brainer.  I didn't read a lot of PNR this year and the ones I did read were re-reads or from auto-buy authors like Ms. Singh here. I'm not so good with finding clues and hints so I kind of wasn't making guesses as to who the Ghost was.  But with that said, I wasn't blown away or shocked by who it was.  Go figure.

Nath: I think it's because there was so much speculation going around and unless Ms Singh chose to introduce a new character, it was kind of obvious ^_^;


Nath: Well, Heart of Obsidian made it on my list as well. I think it says it all right? LOL. While Heart of Obsidian was the Ghost's book, I didn't have many expectations. I actually think the reveal was a bit anti-climatic! However, I really enjoyed Kaleb and Sahara's romance and thought it was interesting to have a Psy-Psy couple :)

As for A Witch's Handbook of Kisses and Curses, well it was my surprise of the year I think. Truthfully, I wasn't expecting much because I was a bit disappointed with Ms Harper's last couple of releases... but A Witch's Handbook of Kisses and Curses just turned out to be a delightful read!

Urban Fantasy/Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Steampunk


Ames:  The Iron Duke is not a 2013 release but I only just got around to reading this past year.  And let me say, I love Rhys.  LOVE HIM.  Him and Mia together are one of my favorite couples ever.  

And the Last Hour of Gann, with all the buzz on this book I had to read it.  And I really enjoyed it.  It's something very different but it really brought me down.  LOL  But still good.


Nath: Loved, loved, loved Written in Red! I just enjoyed everything about this book, but especially the feel... the sense of community that the characters and setting displayed which was very reminiscent of Shadalor's Lady which is another of my favorite book by Ms Bishop. I just can't wait to read the next book!

I've grown to love the Mercedes Thompson series and Frost Burned was another solid installment, although a bit disappointing after the epic ending of Fair Game. What I really appreciated in this book is that it wasn't about Adam and Mercy's relationship, but more focused on the pack and politics.

Ames:  It's kind of funny...how much you love Written in Red but you never really brought it up with me.  Or maybe you did but I didn't pay attention because it was UF?  And as for Frost Burned...*sigh* I'm so far behind in that series that I actually want to re-read it the earlier books to catch up.  I did re-read the first two books but even now that feels so long ago.

Nath: LOL, I'm pretty sure I brought it up with you, Ames, because I brought it up with everyone! However, I probably didn't push it with you because it is an UF. However, you should seriously give it a try. Ideally, end of February since Murder of Crows come out in March. *wink, wink*

By the way, I don't think you're that behind in the Mercy Thompson series. IIRC, you did read Silver Borne, so you're only missing River Marked... and Fair Game since you have to read the epic ending to know a bit what's going on in Frost Burned. See, only 2 books behind, not bad :P

Historical romance
Ames: Another non-2013 release, but I didn't read a lot of historical romance this year.  I'm really not lying when I say I read a lot of contemporaries!  LOL  But I thought this one with the pretending to be someone else and the back and forth banter was too cute.


Nath: As I mentioned earlier, I'm really a contemporary romance reader :) However, what do you do when you run out of contemporary romance to read? Well you switch to historical romance LOL. Unfortunately, I don't think 2013 was a good year for historical romance... and not just because the number of books released is down, but just the readership's reception to them. I think readers are just a bit over-saturated... I know that's how I felt and as such, I didn't read as many historical romance books as previous years. One though that caught my eyes and later, my heart, was Love and Other Scandals. It was just such a great, fun and refreshing read! Definitively my favorite historical romance of the year :)

Young Adult


Ames:  My YA reading was down this past year, but what I did read was top quality.  Rowena and I buddy reviewed The Reece Malcolm List and that one was just awesome-sauce.

Proxy was mentioned on Goodreads somewhere (before I quit) and it was an interesting concept and the ending totally blew me away.  I can't wait for the sequel.

Letters to Nowhere was recommended to me by Nath and I'm so glad I read it.  The gymnastics aspect to it just made this so awesome.

Nath: The Reece Malcolm List is on my TBR pile. Definitively going to have to pick it up at some point. As for Proxy, I've never heard of it... Not even from you! Or I don't remember! Need to go check it out!


Nath: I was intrigued by Pivot Point's blurb and once I read it, was just blown away. I loved it, it was just sooo good! Definitively hit the right note for me :) And it wasn't just the characters or story, but the writing as well! Ms West is definitively in the running for Best New-to-Me author :P

New Adult


Ames:  New Adult is a genre I really jumped on the bandwagon whole-heartedly.  LOL  Yes it's drama-y and angsty but sometimes it really really works.  And here's two perfect examples.  Into the Deep ends on a cliffhanger though.  Ugh.  But I loved that story.  Fangirl made me cry.  Always a great reaction to a book.  It means it has its hooks in you!

Nath: Drama-y and angsty are the two reasons I actually avoid most New Adult books unless it comes high recommended! LOL. I read and enjoyed Fangirl and I did think of picking it, but I feel there was something missing... However, I really enjoyed the college and grown-up atmosphere of the book. Nice change from high school characters!


Nath: LOL, Ames and I have been going back and forth about what genre Letters to Nowhere is :) We usually categorize it as YA/NA :P Well for this post, it is NA for me. As I mentioned earlier, I haven't jumped on the bandwagon for this new genre yet, but I gotta say, Letters to Nowhere was one of my favorite reads this year. I loved Karen, Jordan, their romance and the gymnastic background of the book. If there are more NA books like this one, well bring them on!

Ames:  I say YA because Karen isn't over 18 yet.  LOL

Nath: But she doesn't go to regular high school and is more mature for her age because of her life as an athlete, so really... :P

Ames:  I'm not going to argue with you on this one.  haha



Ames:  Vanity Fare was one of my first reads of 2013 and I thought it was cute.  It was a bit unexpected for me considering the heroine is divorced and that can sometimes not be a good combination...with bitterness and what not.  However with Vanity Fare, this was not the case.

Mr. Penumbra's was a magical book for me.  It's about a guy working the night shift at a bookstore and the patrons that came in are very unusual.  This felt like a fantasy novel but when I closed the book, the magic was all in the words and the mystery surrounding the patrons and technology.  Yes, technology.  I still think about this one.

Loved Don in The Rosie Project.  And Rosie too.  And go read my review for The Girl You Left Behind.  This book really had it all.


Nath: I'm not a big fiction reader, but I definitively enjoyed The Rosie Project :) Obviously, I wasn't the only one :P You gotta love a man like Don looking and finding love!



Ames:  I loved Love Lessons.  It was just too cute.  And Try...was very sexy.  I liked it, liked the characters but this ended on a cliff-hanger, so I can't wait for the sequel.


Nath: So Love Lessons was my only m/m read of the year, but had it not been, it would still have made this list :) It was a great book, such a great romance between Walter and Kelly... and seriously, who wouldn't be rooting for them?!


Ames:  Holly from Book Binge recommended Beauty and the Billionaire and I'm so glad I read it.  The hero is a virgin and the whole dynamic between him and Gretchen was too hot.  Lauren Dane is one of my favorite authors and Cake was a fun, sexy read about two artists.  It was hot too!


Nath: Two very different novellas, but two great ones :) Snow-Kissed was just so angsty and you could really feel for Kurt and Kai. Also, what is a better romance than a husband loving his wife and wanting to win her back? As for Brazen,  it was just so nice to read from Nick's POV... also, I'm just not ready to accept that this series is over :P

Favorite Read of 2013


Ames:  I had a hard time picking my favourite read for 2013.  There were a few books I re-read obsessively but they weren't 2013 releases.  LOL  But in the end, Heart of Obsidian was the only book I read this year that I gave an A+ to.


Nath: For me, choosing Written in Red as my favorite read of 2013 wasn't a hard decision. It was actually such an easy pick, given how many times I've re-read and recommended Written in Red :) Simply loved it!


And those were our Best and Favorite Reads of 2013! Stay tuned because we have one final post coming up to recap our 2013 reading year!