It’s coming up to Christmas and it’s time to do the book review blog version of a sitcom’s dream episode. Yep, the best (imo) of 2013.
The Very Best Five (published in 2013)
1. Up to the Challenge (by Terri Osburn)
I read a lot of contemporary romance and a book needs to be pretty special to stand out. I’m tempted to put her first book Meant to Be in the Best 5 as well, but maybe I’ll let the #1 spot be for both her books and make room for someone else.
2. Heart ofVenom (by Jennifer Estep
It’s book 9 in the author’s elemental assassin series. I usually start to yawn after three or four books and there was a bit of that a few books ago, but this one blew me out of the water.
3. Raw Deal (by Mark Henwick)
The first of two novellas in the Best 5, Raw Deal reminded me of those great hard boiled detective stories of the 1930s…but with vampires.
4. Night of Cake & Puppets (by Laini Taylor)
Laini Taylor writes books you want to read out loud. You just want to say what she has written. Night of Cake & Puppets was a beautiful, sublime fairy tale and the second novella in my Best 5.
5. Lingerie Wars (by Janet Elizabeth Henderson)
One of the rare books that had me laughing like an idiot. And yes, when I was writing my review for this I did google “erotic kilt” and I would strongly urge you not to.
Notable Mentions – The Hits
…and the Misses
(yes the irony of mentioning Bloodring is not lost on me).
Young Adult / Fantasy
Why am I sitting here tormenting myself, trying to write a review for this book?
Those who have read Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Days of Blood and Starlight will know and love Zuzana and Mik. But until now we’ve only been given fleeting glimpses of their lives. In this novella, on the shorter end of novellas, we finally see them star in their own story.
On a bleak winters night Zuzana, who has been quietly infatuated with Mik , finally gathers her courage to ask him out. With a treasure map, a couple of puppets and five wishes she sends him on treasure hunt around Prague.
If I could give this book 10 Stars I would. I just can’t put into words how masterful this book is. I read a fair bit of Young Adult fiction and a lot of it is kind of sub-standard…a bit like christian rock. Laini Taylor gives us a master class in how good the genre can be. This is what every author should strive to write.
Young Adult / Paranormal Fantasy
Tessa has a gift, though she would call it a curse. When she touches people or objects people have used, she is bombarded with visions. She goes through life avoiding touching anything that has been handled by others. Labelled as a freak, her family takes her from California to Texas in the hopes of fresh start, but the town they have moved to is also home to a pack of werewolves.
After escaping a disastrous party, she gets her first kiss from Dastien, and then Dastien’s wolf decides to claim her with a bite. Suddenly all her problems are multiplied ten fold with pack politics piling on top of schoolwork and being a new werewolf, and as an alpha strong enough to rival the other alphas in the pack she is definitely causing a stir.
Becoming Alpha is pretty damned good. As you expect of a debut novel the author has thrown everything into it and that occasionally doesn’t work, but it’s done with such enthusiasm…almost approaching glee that it’s hard to hold it against her. It’s a good fun story about werewolves and witches with interesting characters. It’s a lot of fun.
(I should note that while this book very much reads as young adult there is a bit of bad language which might make it unsuitable for younger teenagers.)
Many thanks to Ink Monster LLC and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC.
When a much loved preacher and anti-abortion campaigner is gunned down outside a women’s health clinic, the police immediately look at the doctor as the most likely suspect. Dr Stephen Nicoletti, is an Ob/Gyn and one of the few doctors in Mississippi who will perform abortions.
It’s left to Philadelphia PD transplant, Detective Darla Cavannah to sift through the evidence and find the killer. But with an incompetent partner who is determined to push his own anti-abortion agenda gunning for the doctor, she has to spend just as much time fixing up his messes as investigating the crime…all the while a killer is on the loose and he’s got a plan.
The Last Clinic surprised me. I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did. It reminded me a little of another book set in Mississippi, A Time to Kill by John Grisham, but I think this book is better. I don’t read too many male authors, and this book has quite obviously been written by a man, but he’s managed to write a female main character who is both interesting and has depth.
It’s a solid debut novel and a good start to series that has a lot of potential.
Many thanks to Random House and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC
When Lottie travels to New Orleans, she fully expects it to be a few days of drinking and partying. But almost immediately she starts having vivid flash backs to a drama that unfolded 200 years earlier.
With help from Xavier, the sceptical owner of a shop selling voodoo trinkets to tourists, she needs to unravel the mystery, end a curse, and hopefully be alive at the end. But the malevolant spirit that cursed her family has other plans.
Disclosure: Leslie Fear is both a Facebook and Goodreads friend of mine.
Villere House is an old school ghost story. It’s well paced, well written and entertaining. The romance didn’t entirely work for me, but to be honest that was probably because I kept thinking about the author’s children reading it…it’s hard to get past that. The real highlight for me was the ghost story. It’s rollicking good fun and even managed to creep me out a little.
Honor and Brogan have been friends with benefits for 17 years. Despite loving him for all of that time he’s never seen her as anything more than passing time. As he describes it, she’s like “an old baseball glove”. With her biological clock ticking away she is desperate for more…marriage, children, forever.
But when she suggests marriage, Brogan laughs it off as messing with a good thing. And then a matter of weeks later he rubs salt in by becoming engaged to her best friend.
Tom is an Englishman on a work visa. When the college where he lectures announces they won’t be renewing his tenure his time in the U.S. is suddenly short. But he is desperate to stay in the U.S. and close to the boy he considers his son, so Honor and Tom decide on a marriage of convenience. He will get his green card and be able to stay in the U.S., she will be able to salvage some of the shreds of her pride and hopefully get a child in the bargain.
That marriage of convenience plot line generally annoys me. It’s usually a whole bunch of misunderstandings and missteps and honestly it’s always felt like slow torture to me. But, The Perfect Match is actually pretty good. it’s your typical feel good contemporary romance but with likeable characters and a solid story it worked. I did struggle with the “marriage for green card” aspect but everything else was so good that I’m willing to let that slide.
Many years earlier Tessa left Apple Valley, Washington rather than watch her sister marry the man she loved. After her sister’s death she finds herself the guardian of Alex, a 10 year old boy with autism and the owner of an old Victorian that has suffered from years of neglect.
Her plan is to sell the house and then return to the East Coast with Alex and her Aunt Gertrude. But Alex wants to stay in Apple Valley and when Cade, the guy who broke her heart years earlier starts showing up, she finds herself struggling to keep it all together.
Christmas books are a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. I generally read one or two at this time of the year every year. I honestly don’t expect all that much from them except that I feel good by the end. The House on Main Street gives me everything I want, and then it gives me a whole lot more. It’s a great story, the start to a new series, the first book by Shirlee McCoy I’ve ever read but definitely not the last.
I’m kind of excited to continue with the series when The Cottage on the Corner comes out in 2014.
Many thanks to Kensington and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC