Here are my 10 favourite fiction books I read in 2013 covering contemporary young adult, paranormal romance, dystopia, and urban fantasy.
It’s a Book by Lane Smith
A wry exchange between an IT-savvy donkey, a book-loving ape and a mouse forms this playful and lighthearted examination of print as a medium in the digital age. With a subversive and signature Lane Smith twist, this satisfying, perfectly executed picture book has something to say about the importance of reading to children and adults alike.
Why? It’s gorgeous, timely, and heartwarming.
Contemporary Young Adult
How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr
From the best-selling author, Sara Zarr, comes the remarkable story of what it means to be a family, and the many roads we can take to become one. Jill’s life lost all meaning when her dad died. Friends, boyfriend, college – nothing matters any more. Then her mom drops a bombshell: she’s going to adopt a baby. Mandy is desperate for her life to change. Seventeen, pregnant and leaving home, she is sure of only one thing – her baby must never have a life like hers, whatever it takes. As their worlds change around them, Jill and Mandy must learn both how to hold on and how to let go, finding that nothing is as easy – or as difficult – as it seems.
Why? Because the psychological aspects of every character is spot on, it’s very realistic, and again, heartwarming. But be prepared for the emotional rollercoaster – the creepy, the sad, and the fearful moments.
If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch
What happens in the woods, stays in the woods…
Carey is keeping a terrible secret.
If she tells, it could destroy her future.
If she doesn’t, will she ever be free?
For almost as long as she can remember, Carey has lived in a camper van in the heart of the woods with her drug-addicted mother and six-year-old sister, Jenessa. Her mother routinely disappears for weeks at a time, leaving the girls to cope alone. Survival is Carey’s only priority – until strangers arrive and everything changes . . .
Carey is a strong, resilient, loving and earnest character who is flawed but determined to find light in the darkness – a magnificently human heroine for modern readers.
Why? Heartbreaking story of an incredibly strong and brave main character who’s never encountered our kind of ‘normal’ and she is downright petrified of it. Her feelings are your feelings, and they are remarkably intense.
Speechless by Hannah Harrington
Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can’t keep a secret. Until now. Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast—and nearly got someone killed.
Now Chelsea has taken a vow of silence—to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting anyone else. And if she thinks keeping secrets is hard, not speaking up when she’s ignored, ridiculed and even attacked is worse.
But there’s strength in silence, and in the new friends who are, shockingly, coming her way—people she never noticed before; a boy she might even fall for. If only her new friends can forgive what she’s done. If only she can forgive herself.
Why? This details what it means to have a real friend and why its value is priceless – you can’t buy it. I also related in not wanting to speak after trauma. And as a former bad girl, being silent taught her what not to say and to listen and observe how others feel and act. There’s that old saying, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”
Adult Paranormal Romance
Heart of Obsidian (Psy-Changeling, #12) by Nalini Singh
Step into New York Times bestseller Nalini Singh’s explosive and shockingly passionate Psy-Changeling world…
A dangerous, volatile rebel, hands stained bloodred.
A woman whose very existence has been erased.
A love story so dark, it may shatter the world itself.
A deadly price that must be paid.
The day of reckoning is here.
From “the alpha author of paranormal romance” (Booklist) comes the most highly anticipated novel of her career–one that blurs the line between madness and genius, between subjugation and liberation, between the living and the dead.
Why? It’s the long-awaited book that exceeded all expectations by taking a supervillain and giving him a living, breathing Achilles heel and by providing illuminating insight into how he became so… wrong. It was believable without being clichéd.
Wolf with Benefits (Pride, #8) by Shelly Laurenston
Ricky Lee has no plans of getting serious about anyone, but he will protect Toni Jean-Louis Parker. Not just because he’s been hired to do so, but because it’s the right thing to do. And if that means traveling around the country with one complicated She-jackal, dealing with chocolate-eating wild dogs, instigating trouble between his brothers, and having the most amazing sex he’s ever had…well, who said his job didn’t have perks?
Toni doesn’t know how she keeps getting herself into these situations. But even she has to admit there’s something about Ricky Lee Reed that she finds kind of interesting…and downright sexy. Now they just have to survive long enough to figure out if what they have is worth fighting for…
Why? Gut-bustingly funny, as always. Some may have disliked this one based on the narcissistic and selfish prodigies that were the female main character’s younger siblings, but I found them profoundly refreshing. Most of them weren’t bad children, obsessive and eccentric and immensely funny in the situations they sometimes found themselves in, but this kind of character is rarely so accurately portrayed although they do do have quite a bit in common with Aunty Irene. *sniggers*
Adult Urban Fantasy
Magic Rises (Kate Daniels, #6) by Ilona Andrews
Atlanta is a city plagued by magical problems. Kate Daniels will fight to solve them—no matter the cost.
Mercenary Kate Daniels and her mate, Curran, the Beast Lord, are struggling to solve a heartbreaking crisis. Unable to control their beasts, many of the Pack’s shapeshifting children fail to survive to adulthood. While there is a medicine that can help, the secret to its making is closely guarded by the European packs, and there’s little available in Atlanta.
Kate can’t bear to watch innocents suffer, but the solution she and Curran have found threatens to be even more painful. The European shapeshifters who once outmaneuvered the Beast Lord have asked him to arbitrate a dispute—and they’ll pay him in medicine. With the young people’s survival and the Pack’s future at stake, Kate and Curran know they must accept the offer—but they have little doubt that they’re heading straight into a trap…
Why? Because Kate is badass! Killing (or slicing) left, right and centre. She’s also graceful under pressure and can snark with the best of them. And a beloved character heroically sacrifices themselves for the happy futures of those she loves the most. And despite the sad, there’s plenty of trademark humour.
Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles, #2) by Marissa Meyer
This is not the fairytale you remember.
But it’s one you won’t forget.
Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. The police have closed her case. The only person Scarlet can turn to is Wolf, a street fighter she does not trust, but they are drawn to each other.
Meanwhile, in New Beijing, Cinder will become the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive – when she breaks out of prison to stay one step ahead of vicious Queen Levana.
As Scarlet and Wolf expose one mystery, they encounter Cinder and a new one unravels. Together they must challenge the evil queen, who will stop at nothing to make Prince Kai her husband, her king, her prisoner . . .
Why? Because it surprisingly surpassed the debut which produced a lukewarm response from me despite the hype. Plot took a backseat to character and relationship development with a touch of humour, and it worked really well. Plus, Little Red Riding Hood is one of my favourite fairy tales so her partnership with Wolf just plain did for me.
Animal Farm by George Orwell
‘All animals are equal. But some animals are more equal than others.’
Mr Jones of Manor Farm is so lazy and drunken that one day he forgets to feed his livestock. The ensuing rebellion under the leadership of the pigs Napoleon and Snowball leads to the animals taking over the farm. Vowing to eliminate the terrible inequities of the farmyard, the renamed Animal Farm is organised to benefit all who walk on four legs. But as time passes, the ideals of the rebellion are corrupted, then forgotten. And something new and unexpected emerges. . .
Animal Farm – the history of a revolution that went wrong – is George Orwell’s brilliant satire on the corrupting influence of power.
Why? It was George Orwell’s year, politically and technologically speaking. I highlighted this to death because it’s highly relevant to today’s global political situations.
Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas
Eighteen-year-old Celaena Sardothien is bold, daring and beautiful – the perfect seductress and the greatest assassin her world has ever known. But though she won the King’s contest and became his champion, Celaena has been granted neither her liberty nor the freedom to follow her heart. The slavery of the suffocating salt mines of Endovier that scarred her past is nothing compared to a life bound to her darkest enemy, a king whose rule is so dark and evil it is near impossible to defy. Celaena faces a choice that is tearing her heart to pieces: kill in cold blood for a man she hates, or risk sentencing those she loves to death. Celaena must decide what she will fight for: survival, love or the future of a kingdom. Because an assassin cannot have it all . . . And trying to may just destroy her.
Love or loathe Celaena, she will slice open your heart with her dagger and leave you bleeding long after the last page of the highly anticipated sequel in what is undeniably THE hottest new fantasy series.
Why? Because she read negative reviews of the debut like mine and used that criticism to improve her writing. We now have a ruthless, badass assassin who actually kills, and does it so beautifully. And Maas really turns up the emotion. Grief endured by the main character was raw and overpowering, you felt it in your bones. I wanted to scream with her.