My Top 10 Reads of 2013

Hello everyone!  It’s kind of that time of year when we reflect on what as happened over the last 365 days.  I thought maybe it was time to think about which books I enjoyed most this year.  And I think maybe some of them will surprise you.  I decided which titles to include by going through the 115 books I’ve read this year and thinking about which ones seemed to resonate with me.  Those were the ones I felt confident I would recommend to someone based on just hearing the title alone.  Once I had it narrowed down to 16 books, I had to decide on only 10.  Now, the book at 10 is no less impressive than the book at 1.  Each is great for its own reason, and I hope you’ll give all of them a chance.

10. The Diviners by Libba Bray

Released: September 18, 2012

I originally gave it: 5 Roses

Why?: First of all, I was incredibly wary going into this because it dealt with the 1920s, even though I love Bray’s writing style.  And she won me over.  This was an incredibly funny and creepy read.  It’s a mammoth of a book, but it’s definitely worth the time.  I loved the combination of historical fiction and paranormal mystery.  There is a plethora of interesting characters, creepy moments that will make you wish you’d read it with the lights on, and enough humor to give it a lighter feel.

9. Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Released: July 3, 2012

I originally gave it: 4 Roses

Why?: This pick was almost more about nostalgia than anything else.  While it wasn’t a perfect read, it stayed with me long after I finished the book.  I mean, I grew up with Peter Pan.  The fact that this was a story about the fierce Tiger Lily but told by Tinkerbell was really all I needed to know.  I was sold.  It’s such an interesting way to tell the story, and it quickly won me over.  This was by far the most interesting narrative of this year.

8. Elegy (Hereafter, #3) by Tara Hudson

Released: June 4, 2013

I originally gave it: 4 Roses

Why?: When I went back through my list, this one stuck out to me.  I think it’s because I’ve come to admire Amelia.  She’s gutsy and spunky while still maintaining this feminine, calm air.  I thought this finale to the series was very fitting of her and her story.  It was hard to read at times because of the emotion it evoked, but it stuck with me long after I finished.  Plus, the character development was fantastic.  I have a weakness for that.  And anyway, who doesn’t love finishing a series?  Loose ends = tied.

7. The Goddess Legacy (Goddess Test, #2.5) by Aimee Carter

Released: July 31, 2012

I originally gave it: 4 Roses

Why?: It’s never been a secret that I love this series.  It’s definitely one of my favorites.  (Hmm…perhaps an upcoming top ten list?)  Anyway, I had been feeling a little disappointed with the 2nd book in the series when I decided to read this.  And this was just amazing.  It contains 5 novellas about the characters we have come to know and love before they entered the series.  Really, this could be labeled as #0.5 and it would be fine.  There are no series spoilers and it’s just good old fashioned Greek god politics and scandals.  Who doesn’t love that?

6. For Darkness Shows the Stars (For Darkness Shows the Stars, #1) by Diana Peterfreund

Released: June 12, 2012

I originally gave it: 5 Roses

Why?: I remember being really surprised by this book.  It wasn’t that I thought it would be bad, but I had never read anything by this author before.  But my God, did she go into detail.  Painstaking detail.  As the reader, you are completely taken into the world she creates.  I noted that she even included nursery rhymes that fit this world, which is a detail I rarely see.  It shows that she immersed herself in that world as she wrote and I was so taken with it.  It was a very, very lovely read and I can’t wait to start the sequel.

5. Taken (Taken, #1) by Erin Bowman

Released: April 16, 2013

I originally gave it: 5 Roses

Why?: Because of the nature of the story, most of it is completely mysterious when you start the story.  And that absolutely works in its favor.  I didn’t know anything about what was going to happen.  All I knew was that I liked Gray and I wanted to see what happened to him.  The plot had a lot of twists and a lot of action in it.  It was gripping.  I sincerely think this would be a great book for boys too.  It reads like an action-adventure tale, and Gray is a great lead.

4. Golden by Jessi Kirby

Released: May 14, 2013

I originally gave it: 4 Roses

Why?: I didn’t read this too terribly long ago, but I still feel moved by it.  I think there’s so much to learn from it, no matter your age.  Even though the perspective is completely Parker’s, there are almost two narratives as she reads the journal she finds.  I was pulled in by the mystery as to what happened to the town’s golden couple, but I stayed for the emotion.  There is really a lot of depth here that I still can’t completely comprehend.  I immediately wanted to reread it once I finished.

3. In The Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

Released: April 2, 2013

I originally gave it: 5 Roses

Why?: I love historical fictions, and I almost completely missed this one.  My prejudice for the 1920s almost made me skip this novel set in 1918.  I’m so glad I read it. This is a time period I admittedly know very little about. But Mary Shelley sees all of the chaos.  World War I.  The Spanish Influenza.  American propaganda. There’s so much stuff about life in this time that I had no idea.  Sure, I’ve read in history class about all of these things, but it never felt real until I read this.  Then toss in a little paranormal element and this was a winner.

2. Dare You To (Pushing the Limits, #2) by Katie McGarry

Released: May 28, 2013

I originally gave it: 5 Roses

Why?: I’ve gushed about this book for months.  To say that I loved it would be an understatement.  I connected with every aspect of this story.  I felt for Beth and how she felt divided between two different lives.  I felt for Ryan and how he dealt with parents who expected too much from him.  Plus, it didn’t hurt that I’m very familiar with baseball, which is Ryan’s main sport.  I thought everything about this book was pure gold.  The love story was amazing and now, I’m afraid Katie McGarry can’t top herself.  But if anyone can write a better love story, it’s her.

1. With All My Soul (Soul Screamers, #7) by Rachel Vincent

Released: March 26, 2013

I originally gave it: 5 Roses

Why?: I had a love-hate relationship with this book before I even opened the cover.  I wanted to read about some of my favorite characters, but I didn’t want their story to be over.  My love won out.  And I cried when I finished this.  Kaylee is admirable and strong.  She does things I only wish I could do…and I’m not talking about her paranormal abilities.  Her story is so cleverly written that I rarely see twists coming before they happen.  This finale was one of the most amazing finales I’ve ever read.  While I was sad to see their story end, I was so glad I had read it.

Antigoddess (Goddess War, #1)

First Lines: The feather were starting to be a nuisance.  There was one in her mouth, tickling the back of her throat.  She chewed it as she walked, grabbing it with her molars and pulling it loose.

As a lover of Greek mythology, this was a must on my to-read list.  And as a fan of Anna Dressed in Blood, this also meant I was very interested in this book.  I found this at the library and knew I had to take it home with me.

Gods aren’t supposed to die.  They’re gods.  But Athena is quickly learning that death could be a very real possibility for her.  Feathers are choking her, erupting in her insides until she fears she’ll die stuffed like a pillow.  When Hermes shows up on her doorstep with a fever eating him alive, she knows she needs help.  Together, they travel the world, looking for answers.  Their search brings them to Cassandra,  a girl who used to be a powerful priestess.  Now, she’s a pretty normal girl who is loved by a god.  Cassandra doesn’t even know gods exist, but she may be the key to their survival.  Hera is part of the opposing side that is killing gods in a futile attempt to prolong their own lives.  They’re grotesque forms of their past glory.  And Athena will need every advantage she can get to beat them.  The Goddess War is about to begin.

I started this just before the holidays got into full swing, but I didn’t finish until after Christmas.  This meant that my reading was highly interrupted.

As a result, I thought the first half of the book was a little slow.  But it wasn’t entirely a product of the holidays.  The narrative flips between Athena and Cassandra.  Each side needs an incredible amount of set-up, and as a result, it takes twice as long to sink into the story.  I really tried to jump right in, but it just didn’t quite happen.  It was a lot better when the narratives merged.

Once Athena and Cassandra met, things definitely picked up and it got pretty exciting.  This is kind of a modern take on The Odyssey and/or The Iliad.  So that was interesting.  (I should probably admit that I never had to read either one from beginning to end.)

When it came to characters, I really liked Cassandra and her friends over Athena.  That was another reason why the narrative felt bogged down to me.  I kept wanting to go back to Cassandra rather than read more about Athena.  She’s not exactly the friendliest person.  I completely understand why she is the way she is, but it didn’t make me like her any more.  She had a way of ruining whatever good feelings I had for her.  I’d start feeling sympathetic and then she’d act in a way that I didn’t agree with.  Bye bye sympathy.

It was a really cool premise for a book and maybe not exactly what I look for when I want a Greek mythology story.  I may not have been wowed in every scene I read, but I did still like the overall story.

Screenshot 2013-12-30 09.07.29

(This tweet from Kendare Blake is LEGIT!  And so true!)

Spotlight Friday (93)

Hey everyone!  I hope the holidays treated you right, no matter what you celebrate.  Now, maybe you have some gift cards to spend and are looking for the right book to buy.  Are you patient?  Here are three new books that may be worth your money.

No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale

Release Date: January 7, 2014

Summary (from Goodreads)Small towns are nothing if not friendly. Friendship, Wisconsin (population: 688) is no different. Around here, everyone wears a smile. And no one ever locks their doors. Until, that is, high school sweetheart Ruth Fried is found murdered. Strung up like a scarecrow in the middle of a cornfield.

Unfortunately, Friendship’s police are more adept at looking for lost pets than catching killers. So Ruth’s best friend, Kippy Bushman, armed with only her tenacious Midwestern spirit and Ruth’s secret diary (which Ruth’s mother had asked her to read in order to redact any, you know, sex parts), sets out to find the murderer. But in a quiet town like Friendship—where no one is a suspect—anyone could be the killer.

What’s To Like:  I love mysteries.  And this has the feeling of one of those subtle, freaky ones where you don’t know who did it until the end.  You see their faces, but you may not know them.  Those are the creepy stories that get me the most.  Plus, there’s just something so schmaltzy and yet still horrifying about this cover.  I can’t decide whether it’s adorable or oddly horrifying.

Hollow City (Miss Peregrine, #2) by Ransom Riggs

Release Date: January 14, 2014

Summary (from Goodreads)This second novel begins in 1940, immediately after the first book ended. Having escaped Miss Peregrine’s island by the skin of their teeth, Jacob and his new friends must journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world. Along the way, they encounter new allies, a menagerie of peculiar animals, and other unexpected surprises.

Complete with dozens of newly discovered (and thoroughly mesmerizing) vintage photographs, this new adventure will delight readers of all ages.

What’s To Like: I know that with a lot of boys (some even college age), the first book was incredibly popular.  I enjoyed it too.  So I’m really looking forward to seeing what London (my favorite city, which I really want to visit) has to bring to the table.  These photographs are creepy and cool at the same time.

My review of Hollow City

Fragile Spirits (Souls, #2) by Mary Lindsey

Release Date: January 23, 2014

Summary (from Goodreads): Paul has always known he was a Protector, fated to serve a Speaker who could hear the voices of spirits lingering after death and help those souls find peace.

Vivienne ignores the voices of the dead.

Paul has always followed the Protector’s rule book, preparing diligently for the day when he’d be matched with his Speaker and fulfill his destiny.

Vivienne never does what she’s told.

So when Paul is matched with Vivienne, they both find the pairing less than satisfactory. But a kidnapping, a malevolent spirit and power stronger than both of them may just prove that they are two halves of the same whole.

In a stunning story about the beauty of fate and the power of secrets, Mary Lindsey returns to the world of Shattered Souls with a breathtaking thrill-ride of a novel.

**Note from author: This book begins one month after Shattered Souls leaves off. Lenzi and Alden are featured in this book, but reading Shattered Souls is not a prerequisite.

What’s To Like: I like the world that the first book created, so I’m interested to back to it.  I also kind of like the idea of following different characters.  I don’t really remember a whole lot about the first book, so this is a great way for me to not have to reread the first book before diving into this one.  I’m just really drawn to ghost stories or those about souls.  Weird, I know, but I love them all the same.

My review of Fragile Spirits

Crash Into You (Pushing the Limits, #3)

First Lines: Eleven years, two months, seven days.  The last time I had physical contact with a blood relative.  The fingers of my left hand drum against the steering wheel and my right hand grips the stick shift.  The urge to shift into First, slam the gas and hightail it out of the dismal gray parking lot pulses through my veins.

When I saw this on the library shelf, I do believe the first thought going through my mind was, “MINE.”  And from there, it was in my hands before I really thought about it.  Because if anyone remembers, I fangirled hard over the last book.  Plus, I’m on a romance kick right now, so this was absolutely perfect.

*Even though this is the 3rd in a series, it works as a stand-alone.  But I highly recommend you also add the others to your to-read list.*

From the outside, Rachel Young’s life is perfect.  Straight A’s, comes from a rich family, goes to an elite private school, designer clothes.  But Rachel keeps secrets from her overbearing brothers and wealthy parents, and her secrets are getting harder to keep.  She’s racing her Mustang GT down back country roads, which she knows she shouldn’t be doing.  The other secret is Isaiah Walker, the tattooed foster kid Rachel has no business even talking to…yet she can’t get him out of her head.

Isaiah has secrets too.  Secrets about where he really lives and how he truly feels about Rachel.  Because no matter how angelic this rich girl looks, he does not want to get involved with a girl who decided to slum it.  But when their shared love of racing gets them both in over their heads, they’ll have to work together to get out.  Six weeks is all they have.  Six weeks to see how far they will go to protect each other.

I don’t think McGarry ever writes a bad character.  I really don’t.  Characters are always flawlessly written in ways that make them nearly impossible not to relate to.  When I started reading this book, the pages flew under my fingers as I was getting to know Rachel and Isaiah.  (And I really did have to get to know Isaiah, even though he was in the previous two books.  He’s not really like he’s presented in those books, at least in my opinion.)

Having said that, I didn’t connect with this book as much as I did to Dare You To.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the story for this to be the case.  I simply didn’t know anything about cars.  And that’s a huge part of the story.  It’s the first thing that draws Rachel and Isaiah together, and I just didn’t understand it.  I know so much more about baseball from Dare You To.  Plus, I just think I’m a little more like Beth than I am like Rachel.  Nothing wrong with that.  It was bound to happen eventually.

I really liked the story, especially when we were looking at Rachel’s life.  I understood her and why she did the things she did.  I’m older than Rachel and I still feel caged like that some days.  Everybody does.

There were some parts that didn’t seem to fit the story as well as I would have liked.  Some parts in the middle of the story ramped up the suspense and action for a chapter or two and then eased back down.  Which is fine, but for some reason it felt like it was pulling me out of the normal flow of the story.

And the ending…it wasn’t what I expected, but I think it tied everything up in a good way.  I didn’t really feel completely connected with Isaiah until that point.  He’s a hard guy to understand.

Overall, I thought it was still a fantastic read.  It was just a little harder for me to sink into because I felt I lacked the background knowledge (and interest) to understand cars.

Screenshot 2013-12-22 21.16.33

(My second tweet from the amazing Katie McGarry!)

Spotlight Friday (92)

Hey guys!  So I recently did a huge search for books that were coming out in 2014, so I have plenty to do Spotlights on over the next couple of months.  And let me tell you, a lot of these look simply amazing.

A Breath of Frost (The Lovegrove Legacy, #1) by Alyxandra Harvey

Release Date: January 7, 2014

Summary (from Goodreads)In 1814, three cousins-Gretchen, Emma, and Penelope-discover their unknown family lineage of witchcraft. Beyond the familiar manicured gardens and ballrooms of Regency London, a dangerous, alluring new underworld visible only to those with power is now open to the cousins. 
But unbeknownst to them, by claiming their power, the three cousins have inadvertently opened the gates to the Underworld. 
Now the dead, ghouls, hellhounds-and the most terrifying of all: the spirits of dark witches known as the Greymalkin Sisters-are hunting and killing young debutante witches for their powers. 
And, somehow, Emma is connected to the murders…because she keeps finding the bodies. 
Can the cousins unravel the clues and mystery behind their heritage and power before their gifts are stripped away …or even worse, another witch is killed?

What’s To Like: First of all, Harvey is a brilliantly funny writer.  I read her books for the humor most of the time.  (And the romance for the other, but this looks to have little or no romance in it.)  I’m really interested in this for its historical aspect.  I freaking love historical fictions set in London.  I’m a total geek when it comes to this stuff.  Some people get star struck by celebrities…I get star struck by a city.  Anyway, who doesn’t love a good dose of magic thrown into their historical fiction?

My review of A Breath of Frost

The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher

Release Date: January 7, 2014

Summary (from Goodreads)Ashlee Parker is dead, and Emily Shepherd’s dad is accused of the crime. A former soldier suffering from PTSD, he emerges from the woods carrying the girl’s broken body. “Gone,” he says, then retreats into silence.

What really happened that wild night? Emily knows in her bones that her father is innocent — isn’t he? Before he’s convicted, she’s got to find out the truth. Does Damon Hilary, Ashlee’s charismatic boyfriend, have the answers? Or is he only playing games with her — the kinds of games that can kill?

What’s To Like: If anyone can write this story, it’s Lucy Christopher.  This woman knows how to write a story and turn it on its head.  I’ve only read one of her other books (Stolen), but it was so freaking amazing.  I have a feeling we’re going to find ourselves, at one point, inadvertently rooting for the killer.  Because that’s how great of a writer she is.

Defy (Defy, #1) by Sara B. Larson

Release Date: January 7, 2014

Summary (from Goodreads)A lush and gorgeously written debut, packed with action, intrigue, and a thrilling love triangle.

Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king’s army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince’s guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can’t prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.

The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she’s sworn to protect?

What’s To Like: While I’m really over the whole love triangle thing, I know it’s not going away.  And besides…it kind of sounds interesting here.  I mean, a prince wants her?  Cool.  I also really like the whole Mulan vibe I get from this.  A girl dresses as a boy to be a soldier and has to keep her identity a secret.  That’s what I really want to read about.

My review of Defy

The Silent Soldiers – A Blog Promo and Excerpt!

Hey guys!  So I’m changing it up today and giving you a little something different.  This is a promo for some paranormal funness.  Keep reading for more!



From the new Young Adult Supernatural Fantasy author comes the newest supernatural superhero series that will keep you wanting more.

Luke is an ordinary young boy, or so he thinks, living with his uncle and cousin after the death of his parents shortly after his birth. Little does Luke know, he is about to embark on a life changing journey to his grandfathers’ house for the summer.
Upon his arrival at his grandfathers’ estate he learns the world he lives in and what he is, is not what it appears to be. Luke finds himself fighting for his life with a team of supernatural kids his age against a powerful dark wizard and all his minions.
Filled with demons, faeries, vampires, werewolves and more, this novel will put Luke through a gauntlet of trouble and turmoil, leading up to a final climatic battle.

Read the Reviews

“This is the first book that I reread right after I finished it the first time. Can’t wait for book #2 to come out.” ~Amazon Customer Review


“I just finished reading this book, and I must say that it is one of the best young adult books I have ever read. It’s full of action, suspense, and mystery. There is some plot twists and turns that are easy to figure out before you get there, but overall, for a first time published author, it is a home run. I’m looking forward to seeing more from this author, particularly in regards to this series….” ~Amazon Customer Review

Excerpt Below!

“It is almost time Master. The child will come of age in less than two weeks.  How soon will you be able to return to the earth realm?” asked a woman’s voice.

“It has been nearly fourteen years since the child was born, and I was banished. I am waiting for the precise moment in which I can make my return,” said a man wearing a long black cloak.

A hood completely covered the figures head.  The only part of the man’s body, that was visible beneath the dark colored garment he was wearing, was his glowing red eyes. The man was standing in the middle of a cave barely lit by the fire of a single torch hanging on one wall. Suddenly the man’s image started to fade and we realized he wasn’t in the cave at all.  The man had projected his image from some unknown location.

“I have completed the final arrangements for your arrival. We are ready to assist you in capturing the child, Master. The woman’s voice came from the shadows of the cave just out of reach of the light from the torch. The outline of her body was visible, but it was impossible to see any of her features.

“Have you located the child? My plans can be carried out much more smoothly if we can take him before he learns about our world.

“No, Master, I have not. We have done everything in our power to locate and capture him. His parents went to great lengths to ensure that no one would find him. We have a lead that he could possibly be hiding in the Dallas area. We are searching the area day and night I assure you.

“You have done well my child. According to the prophetess the child will be returning to the mansion soon,” the man said looking toward the old lady crouched against one wall of the cave.

The old lady against the wall was bound with small silver chains wrapped around her body. She whimpered softly. Suddenly a long silver whip flashed out from the woman in the shadows. It struck the old lady in the back causing her to scream out in pain.

“You will keep quiet in the presence of our Master,” says the woman fiercely. The chained old lady became instantly silent before the man began to speak again.

“We must obtain the child. He is a key element in my plans to rule this horrid planet the humans call earth. If he unites with good he will forever be my enemy.”

Author Bio

1Travis Stinnett has worked as a Licensed Practical Nurse in long term care for 11 years. He lives in South Arkansas with his beautiful wife Crystal and his three wonderful children Jordan, Katie, and Levi. He has been reading young adult paranormal fiction for decades and has created his own style in this genre of novels. “The Silent Soldiers” is Travis’s debut title and is the first in a series of books in the paranormal fiction genre. “Back To School” is the second novel in “The Silent Soldiers” series and will be released early 2014.




Book 1 on Amazon: