The Book Review Blog for The-Paisley.com

Favorites of 2013

Hello everyone and welcome to my Top Reads of 2013. These are books that I read and reviewed this year. They were not necessarily published this year. There are thirteen books in all. They are in no particular order because HOW COULD I CHOOSE!?! I found it too hard to just go with 1o that I had to expand to the 13 seeing that it is the end of 2013 after all. Will next year be my top 14 books? Not sure but I digress. **Note: Main book titles are links that will take you to my full reviews of each book and those reviews in turn have links to Goodreads and Amazon.**

Shiloh by Helena Sorensen

In a world of perpetual darkness, a boy is born who wields remarkable power over fire. Amos is no more than seven when he kills a Shadow Wolf and becomes a legend in Shiloh. He would be destined for great things were it not for the stories his father tells about a world beyond the Shadow and a time before the Shadow. Only madmen hold to such tales, and in Shiloh, they have always come to bad ends.

Amos is fearless. He walks with easy confidence, certain that the Shadow cannot touch him. Even his family is in awe of him. His father marvels at his skill with the bow, his mother thanks the gods that he has all the courage she lacks, and his sister, Phebe, worships him for saving her from an attack of the Shadow Cats.

On a trip to the village of Emmerich, Amos rescues the Magistrate’s son, Simeon, from the village bullies. Simeon, fair-skinned and pale-eyed like other Dreamers in Shiloh’s history, becomes Amos’s constant companion and dearest friend. Simeon becomes a part of Amos’s family, listening to fireside stories told in a way he’s never heard them before and learning to wield a bow and arrow.

The year the boys turn twelve, they are itching to prove themselves. An impetuous plan to steal a beautiful lantern goes miserably awry, and the lantern’s owner prophecies that Amos will be devoured by the Shadow. For the first time, a seed of fear is planted in Amos’s mind, and when his father is killed by a Shadow Wolf on the last day of the Great Hunt, the fear takes hold. If so great and brave a man as his father could fall to the Shadow, what hope has he?

Why I love Shiloh: Shiloh is a story of strength, redemption, loss, growing up, and finding oneself. I immediately fell in love with the characters and got to watch them grow over the 13 years that Shiloh encompasses. The setting is vivid in its shades of gray, and the descriptions of anything light or colorful are stunning. Sorensen uses song to great effect over the course of the book, which is just awesome. I look forward to venturing back into this world.

*****

Inception by Teal Haviland

Teal Haviland Inception CoverThe world is in danger. Mankind is sinking deeper into darkness it cannot understand.

Demons are easily capturing souls as they lead men and women down dangerous paths from which there is no return, while Javan, one of the Fallen, seeks an ancient book and the power it promises. If he succeeds, humans — and the world as they know it — will be destroyed.

There is someone who is capable of stopping Javan . . .

If she discovers him in time.

Gabrielle is one of the most powerful angels ever created, her job one of the most important. She has come to Earth to learn more about humans and what influences them, and to fight evil she sees growing at an alarming rate. She soon finds herself carelessly distracted with one human in particular, however. Lucas Watkins holds a promise of peace and love for Gabrielle that she never believed she could have again.

As feelings between her and Lucas become more than she can deny, so do the dangers mounting against him. After discovering who Lucas is, and the choice he faces, she realizes Darkness will come for him through demons and fantastical beings he thought only existed in his imaginings — forcing fairytales to become his reality.

Caught between her new mortal ties and ancient immortal responsibilities, Gabrielle must race against what seems to be an ever-quickening clock to learn what she needs to know, protect Lucas, uncover Javan’s plan, and find a way to stop him and all who live in Shadows.

Things become more complex than she ever anticipated, her decisions more critical, and what begins as a quest for information rapidly places her in an even more crucial position within the longest and most important war ever waged.

Join Gabrielle and her allies in a story of love – past and present – fantastical beings, hidden realms, magic, fate, loss, and the fight of good versus evil.

Why I love Inception: With a unique spin on angels, demons, and other fantastical creatures, Inception had a complex and plot that caused me to experience all the feels. Seriously. All. The. Feels. The main characters are dynamic and the secondary characters are among some of the best I’ve met–ever . I had such reactions to this book while reading it that I took to Twitter to chronicle them. I can’t wait to get back into the Reaping Chronicles and all of its realms…particularly the one with the shape shifters.

*****

Lichgates by S.M. Boyce

LichgatesKara Magari is about to discover a beautiful world full of terrifying things—Ourea.

Kara, a college student still reeling from her mother’s recent death, has no idea the hidden world of Ourea even exists until a freak storm traps her in a sunken library. With no way out, she opens an ancient book of magic called the Grimoire and unwittingly becomes its master, which means Kara now wields the cursed book’s untamed power. Discovered by Ourea’s royalty, she becomes an unwilling pawn in a generations-old conflict—a war intensified by her arrival. In this world of chilling creatures and betrayal, Kara shouldn’t trust anyone… but she’s being hunted and can’t survive on her own. She drops her guard when Braeden, a native soldier with a dark secret, vows to keep her safe. And though she doesn’t know it, her growing attraction to him may just be her undoing.

For twelve years, Braeden Drakonin has lived a lie. The Grimoire is his one chance at redemption, and it lands in his lap when Kara Magari comes into his life. Though he begins to care for this human girl, there is something he wants more. He wants the Grimoire.

Welcome to Ourea, where only the cunning survive.

Why I love Lichgates (and the whole Grimoire Saga!): Lichgates has everything that makes for a great tale. I was immediately drawn into the story, lost in the beautiful and dangerous world of Ourea beyond the last page. A major book hangover for sure. It’s rare that I use the word “perfect” in my reviews, and it appeared in my Lichgates review more than once. I immediately contacted S.M. Boyce after reading Lichgates so that I could fangirl over it. It is the first time I had ever done that. Treason, Book 2 in the Grimoire Saga, is just as wonderful.

*****

First Frost by Liz DeJesus

First FrostFor generations, the Frost family has run the Museum of Magical and Rare Artifacts, handing down guardianship from mother to daughter, always keeping their secrets to “family only.”

Gathered within museum’s walls is a collection dedicated to the Grimm fairy tales and to the rare items the family has acquired: Cinderella’s glass slipper, Snow White’s poisoned apple, the evil queen’s magic mirror, Sleeping Beauty’s enchanted spinning wheel…

Seventeen-year-old Bianca Frost wants none of it, dreaming instead of a career in art or photography or…well, anything except working in the family’s museum. She knows the items in the glass display cases are fakes because, of course, magic doesn’t really exist.

She’s about to find out how wrong she is.

Why I love First Frost (and Glass Frost!): It’s a split-worlds book. There’s the one that we live in, the other of living fairy tales. That there are artifacts from one world, full of magical properties, housed in a museum in the other is just awesome. Also a story with one of it’s settings in a museum! I work in a museum, can I go on fairy tale adventures too?! Bianca is a great character and the secondary characters are first-rate too. The situations she and her friends find themselves in throughout both books made them ones that I refused to put down.

*****

A Matter of Fate by Heather Lyons

A Matter of FateChloe Lilywhite struggles with all the normal problems of a typical seventeen-year-old high school student. Only, Chloe isn’t a normal teenage girl. She’s a Magical, part of a secret race of beings who influence the universe. More importantly, she’s a Creator, which means Fate mapped out her destiny long ago, from her college choice, to where she will live, to even her job. While her friends and relatives relish their future roles, Chloe resents the lack of say in her life, especially when she learns she’s to be guarded against a vengeful group of beings bent on wiping out her kind. Their number one target? Chloe, of course.

That’s nothing compared to the boy trouble she’s gotten herself into. Because a guy she’s literally dreamed of and loved her entire life, one she never knew truly existed, shows up in her math class, and with him comes a twin brother she finds herself inexplicably drawn to.

Chloe’s once unyielding path now has a lot more choices than she ever thought possible.

Why I love A Matter of Fate (and the whole Fate Series): This series forced me to run a gauntlet of emotions. Seriously. All. The. Feels. I enjoyed the main character, and truly loved seeing her grow over the course of the series. The secondary characters are also awesome, and the non-traditional love triangle is a definite plus. This is one of the first books that had me torn between both of the main character’s male options.

*****

Silent Orchids by Morgan Wylie

Morgan Wylie Silent Orchids CoverA dying realm.

The ancient evil of the Droch-Shúil has been unleashed.

The Orchids have been silenced… but for how long?

Daegan, elite of the Ferrishyn warrior tribe of Faeries, is charged with a mission to find the Sol-lumieth, a mysterious new power that could change the fate of all in the realm of Alandria. But he is conflicted by his purpose, and he cannot trust the motives of those he serves. He has too many questions and they must be answered.

Kaeleigh, a girl abandoned as a small child just outside Missoula, Montana, is now 18. She is trying to discover who she is and where she belongs. In her heart, she feels she has family out there… somewhere. Desperate to unravel the mysteries of her past, she embarks on a journey that will forever change her along with her two best friends, Finn and Chel—who have secrets of their own.

Why I love Silent Orchids (and Veiled Shadows): Kaeleigh is a multifaceted character who I couldn’t help but like. The same goes for her friends. I loved that everyone wasn’t quite who they seemed, whether they knew it or not. The world of Alandria is in itself its own character, and when a setting come alive as it does in Silent Orchids, I’m all in, completely hooked, totally immersed. Also this book, as well as Veiled Shadows, has a great cut-to-black cliffhanger that will leave you wanting more.

*****

The Survivors by Amanda Havard

Survivors Cover HavardIn 1692, when witch trials gripped the community of Salem, Massachusetts, twenty-six children were accused as witches, exiled, and left for dead. Fourteen of them survived.The Survivors is the first installment of the tantalizing tales of the fourteen ill-fated Survivors and their descendants, who have been content in hiding for over three centuries. Isolated on a Montana mountainside, only Sadie, the rogue daughter, dares to abandon the family’s sacred hiding place. But no matter how far Sadie runs, something always pulls her back.On a muggy summer night in Tennessee, she witnesses a shocking scene that will change her life forever. It is the first in a sequence of events that will drag her from the human world she’s sought to belong to for over a century and send her back to her Puritanical family and into an uncertain future filled with cunning witches, mysterious nosferatu shape-shifters, dangerous eretica and vieczy vampires, millennia-old mythology, and the search for her own mortality. After all…HOW DO YOU KILL A SURVIVOR? The Survivors will steal your heart and invade your mind. Fall into the pages of Sadie’s life, a world so frighteningly similar to your own, you’ll find yourself wanting to go to the Montana mountains to find the Survivors for yourself. And it is only the beginning.

Why I love The Survivors (and the whole The Survivors Series): The premise of the book, and subsequent books, completely drew me in to Sadie’s plight to find mortality after decades of trying to fit in, first within her family and then with the human population. I could not pin down what would happen throughout the story. Major props for the twists and turns keeping me guessing. With great characters, the suspense, and the romance, The Survivors has much much more than other books that find themselves in a similar vein. I did not want to leave this series after reading the three books out in the series so far back to back to back.

*****

Jabberwocky by Daniel Coleman

Jabberwocky

The story behind Lewis Carroll’s masterpiece poem. You know how it ends, but you won’t believe how it happens. Meet the characters and creatures that inhabit the world long before the arrival of Alice.

.

..

Why I love Jabberwocky: I found it so awesome that this book was based off of the poem with the same name. It completely took on its own essence, from setting to characters. I loved the setting, done so well that I believed that what was happening could actually happen. Jabberwocky is being republished within the next year, slightly altered, and I cannot wait to read the new version.

*****

Strength by Carrie Butler

Strength-CarrieButlerWhen college student Rena Collins finds herself nose-to-chest with the campus outcast, her rumor-laced notions are shattered. Handsome, considerate, and seemingly sane, Wallace Blake doesn’t look like he spends his nights alone, screaming and banging on the walls of his dorm room. Hell, he doesn’t look like he spends his nights alone, period.

Too curious for her own good, Rena vows to uncover the truth behind Wallace’s madman reputation—and how two seconds of contact had left her with bruises. Of course, there are a few setbacks along the way: guilt, admiration, feelings of the warm and fuzzy variety…

Not to mention the unwanted attention of Wallace’s powerful, supernaturally-gifted family.

They’re a bloodline divided by opposing ideals, two soon-to-be warring factions that live in secret among us. When Rena ends up caught in their crossfire, Wallace has no choice but to save her by using his powers. Now they’re really in trouble. With war on the horizon and Rena’s life in the balance, he needs to put some distance between them. But Rena won’t let go. If fighting is what it takes to prove her own strength and keep Wallace in her life, then that’s what she’ll do—even if it means risking a whole lot more than her heart.

Why I love Strength (and Courage): Strength shattered my expectations by far exceeding them. I like Rena (she is so real) and Wallace (totally swoonworthy) separately, but together? Wow! Rena and Wallace made a great couple and it was lovely to see their relationship grow and develop. This is a paranormal romance, but even without anything paranormal, I would have still highly enjoyed this book.

*****

Soul Survivor by Michelle Nicole

soul survivorHailee Mai Hart is just a simple, normal girl. Or so she thought. When she left her one-horse town for a college education in the big city, she never could’ve imagined what awaited her.

She’s quickly thrown into a world filled with angels, danger, and a curse … her curse. Come to find out, she’s not so simple after all. She’s actually the last of her kind, and the fate of the world rests on her shoulders. She has one chance to save Earth, and it all comes down to one choice: Light or Darkness. What is right and what is wrong is all a matter of perspective, which leaves her heart dangerously tangled. No matter which path she takes people will die, and that’s just not an option.

Will she be able to save everyone, or will she be the Soul Survivor?

Why I love Soul Survivor: Soul Survivor captivated me from the beginning. Hailee continues to be one of my favorite characters from this year. She is very true to how I imagined her based off of the synopsis alone. I love her family and the other secondary characters. You can totally get lost in the eyes of the boys vying for her attention. There were twists I did not see coming, which I always appreciate. This is the only book this year that made me cry.

*****

Steel Lily by Megan Curd

Steel Lily Megan Curd CoverAVERY PIKE is a commodity. No, more than a commodity. Her existence is guarded at all costs.

She’s a water Elementalist, the strongest of her dwindling kind. She creates steam to provide energy to fuel Dome Four: the only thing standing between humanity and an earth ravaged by World War III. No steam, no Dome. No Dome, no life.

Or so she thinks.

That is, until a mysterious man offers her a way out of having to donate steam. A way to escape the corrupt government of Dome Four. While the offer seems too good to be true, Avery is intrigued. But when she arrives to her new home, she realizes the grass isn’t any less dead on this side of the fence. Instead, the lies are just hidden better.

…Which means digging deeper.

When Avery enlists the help of her friends to uncover the truth, she learns that while some secrets are better left concealed, humankind was never meant to live in a cage. And when you can control the most sought after resource, you can learn to control anything…including the fate of your world.

Why I love Steel Lily: This was such a page-turner. The plot drew me in and this book was one that I did not want to put down and read late into the night. There were twists I wasn’t expecting, seriously bombshell twists. I loved all of the characters, especially Avery; they’re all so dynamic, and after those twists I mentioned? Wow! The Dome settings were also awesome, you can almost feel the humidity of Dome Four with all of the steam.

*****

Open Minds by Susan Kaye Quinn

Open Minds

When everyone reads minds, a secret is a dangerous thing to keep.

Sixteen-year-old Kira Moore is a zero, someone who can’t read thoughts or be read by others. Zeros are outcasts who can’t be trusted, leaving her no chance with Raf, a regular mindreader and the best friend she secretly loves. When she accidentally controls Raf’s mind and nearly kills him, Kira tries to hide her frightening new ability from her family and an increasingly suspicious Raf. But lies tangle around her, and she’s dragged deep into a hidden world of mindjackers, where having to mind control everyone she loves is just the beginning of the deadly choices before her.

Why I love Open Minds: Open Minds has a great premise, and I love the idea that a future stage in human evolution is that we’ll be able to read minds or jack them. Kira is a great character and her internal struggles with her being a Zero and later a mindjacker are palpable, as are the those between the choices she must make in order to do what’s right. I love the variety of secondary characters too. Open Minds is a fast-paced read that I could not put down.

*****

Ghost Hand by Ripley Patton

Ghost HandSeventeen-year-old Olivia Black has a rare birth defect known as Psyche Sans Soma, or PSS. Instead of a right hand made of flesh and blood, she was born with a hand made of ethereal energy.

How does Olivia handle being the girl with the ghost hand? Well, she’s a little bit morbid and a whole lot snarky.

Her mother thinks her obsession with death, black clothing, and the local cemetery is a bid for attention. But when Marcus, the new guy in Olivia’s calculus class, stares at her like she’s a freak, Olivia doesn’t like it. And when her hand goes rogue, doing things she never imagined possible, Olivia finds herself running for her life with Marcus from a group of men bent on taking the power of her hand for their own nefarious purposes.

Why I love Ghost Hand: Olivia is a character I rooted for from the start. She’s not afraid to take things into her own hands, one of which has PSS, Psyche Sans Soma. The physical descriptions of these PSS body parts, blue and composed of that have the ethereal energy are really neat. Over the course of the story, she meets others with PSS and they are a great bunch, and Marcus is a puzzle that I can’t wait to figure out. Ghost Hand was a truly enjoyable, fast-paced read with twists and turns and just hints of a potential budding romance.

*****

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you liked my Top 13 of 2013! Happy New Year to all and Happy Reading!


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