The end of 2013 is here! And what a crazy year it’s been! I read more books this year than ever – finally reaching over one hundred books read in one year. As of December 31, 2013, I read a total of 103 books!! I think I may actually be brave, and make my goal to read 100 books in 2014. But it isn’t about the numbers for me. I focused on picking up books that I wanted to read; spending time away from the computer and enjoying the act of reading. I plan to continue that in 2014.
Once again, I also challenged myself to read new-to-me authors. Originally, I planned to read at least fifteen new-to-me authors during 2014, and I am happy to report that I successfully completed my goal – reaching twenty-one authors! This coming year, while I hope to continue to read some new-to-me authors, I am not going to make it a reading goal. Instead I hope to read more books from my TBR pile. (I’ll have more on 2014 reading goals coming soon.)
Blogging had its challenges this year, some of which are detailed in my Top Ten list, below. I am pleased with our new home here at WordPress and with GoDaddy. And I am happy to report that the challenges did not slow down our posts at all. Looking back at 2013, we published 494 posts during the year. That’s up over 30 posts from 2012! And after taking some time off, we brought back Sunday Snippets in August 2013. Thank you to Una, who creates the posts each week. We are also looking forward to expanding the Sunday Snippet feature in 2014!
The most popular post of 2013 was the Mistletoe Madness post from Larissa Ione on December 16. Scheduled just before the release of her latest title, Reaver, Ms. Ione shared a fun holiday-themed short featuring some of her Demonica characters. This post also generated the most comments of 2013, thanks in part to a Reaver-themed giveaway that Ms. Ione graciously sponsored. The Saturday Conversations posts also brought in a few new commenters, and I’m hoping to pick that up again, after the New Year.
Once again, I really have enjoyed blogging and discussing books with all of you. I have a great group of loyal readers, and I thank you each of you from the bottom of my heart. My blog is a labor of love, and I’m happy to share it with you all! Below is my TOP TEN for 2013… How did 2013 go for you? What were your favorite reads during the year? Any highlights you want to share?
10) I read over 100 books during the year! I know that I mentioned that above, but it is truly an accomplishment that I’ve secretly hoped I could reach one day, and 2013 was the year! I am happy that I read each of those 100 books on my own terms, and never once did I feel that I was behind on reviews. (Well, maybe once…)
9) After the dramatic and explosive finish to the ten-book story arc of the Midnight Breeds series, author Lara Adrian came back in 2013 with Edge of Dawn. This, the eleventh title in her paranormal romance series, kick-started a whole new story arc, jumping 20 years into the future and changing the game by opening up the Breeds world to the humans. It was a risky move, and it paid off. I look forward to continuing this beloved series as it continues to grow outside of its initial parameters.
8) 2013 was the year of the GHOST! And I don’t mean the disembodied spooky kind… I mean the sexy, cold-hearted Psy kind! On June 4, after must anticipation and a highly successful PR campaign, Nalini Singh released Heart of Obsidian. The long wait was over when she finally revealed the identity of the GHOST. While I was a little underwhelmed by how it was addressed in the book, I enjoyed his story, and loved how Ms. Singh is changing and molding the Psy/Changeling world. This is one of my favorite series, and I cannot wait to read the next title, due out next summer. I was also fortunate to have the opportunity to interview Ms. Singh. She is such a cool lady!
7) I don’t know if I read more of them in 2013 than previous years, but I read and enjoyed several novellas and anthologies during the past year. Many authors put out “filler” novellas for their on-going series. One that I enjoyed was Kiss of Venom by Jennifer Estep. In a fabulous twist, Ms. Estep shared with readers a story from Owen’s point-of-view. It was so wonderful for those of us who suffered Owen’s break-up with heroine Gin. I liked that it gave us insight into what he was thinking, but not telling Gin. One of my favorite anthologies from 2013 is Enthralled, which featured stories from Lora Leigh, Alyssa Day, Meljean Brook, and Lucy Monroe.
6) In 2013 we saw a male/male romance reach the best seller list! JR Ward’s Lover At Last was my most anticipated read of 2013, and I LOVED it! Chronicling the long awaited, smoldering, unrequited love between Qhuinn and Blay, Lover At Last hit all the right notes in my opinion. I truly enjoyed Lover At Last from beginning to end and every bit in between. Blay and Qhuinn (and the reader) finally got the story they so richly deserved. I was delighted that every part of the book, including the numerous side stories, was well-written and enjoyable. Overall, I feel that as a whole book, Lover At Last is the best yet of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. The book was also voted at the best romance book of 2013 at GoodReads. Yea for Qhuay!
5) It seems like every year I have to say goodbye to a beloved series, and 2013 is no different. This year saw the close of two series I have long enjoyed. First was the completion of the Books of the Order series by Philippa Ballantine with the release of the fourth title, Harbinger, in August. Overall, it was a wonderful story and fantastic ending to this complex and engrossing series. I came to enjoy the trio along with the Rossin, and what occurs during Harbinger is a perfect ending for this series. Prophetic in nature and grandiose in scale, Harbinger takes the group we’ve come to care about and puts them through the ultimate tests in a battle for Arkaym. The story was completely riveting – much along the scale as the earlier three books. On its own merits, it is a worthy tale full of excitement and action. However, as the crowning jewel of an epic tale, it is extremely successful.
In addition, during that same week, I said good-bye to one of my top 10 favorite series of all time, The Guardian Series by Meljean Brook. After a nearly two year wait, Ms. Brook FINALLY shared with us Michael’s story in Guardian Demon. At over 570 pages, this book is a behemoth. And the bottom line is, Ms. Brook’s does a marvelous job finalizing the series. She takes the time to not only explore the complex relationship between Michael and Taylor, but she explains the whats and whys of how the world got to the place it is in by the time the final battles occur. She brings back all of the previous characters and lets readers know where they are and what they’ve been up to. She furthers her own wonderful mythology, while providing a means to an end. Guardian Demon was a completely satisfying read and is one of my all-time favorite books!
4) During the past year, I ran two awesome events. The first was the Urban Fantasy Summer Reading Event during the first two weeks of July. The purpose of the event was to highlight some of the great Urban Fantasy authors and series with summer releases. Authors such as Ilona Andrews and Darynda Jones donated wonderful prizes to lucky winners. It was a lot of work, but I really enjoyed it. I am thinking about doing something similar again next summer, but not during the Fourth of July vacation week!
I also co-hosted with Jennifer, the Book Nympho, the recently concluded Mistletoe Madness event, which ran during the first three weeks in December. The event spotlighted authors with winter releases, featuring all sorts of romance and urban fantasy genres. The authors prepared holiday/winter-themed posts from their characters POV or set in their series. The posts were AMAZING and the prizes they donated, fabulous! Jennifer and I had such a great time, we will definitely be back for round two in 2014!
3) Back in July 2013, I hit a rough patch when Blogger flagged my blog as spam and deleted it. I was very lucky that I had my entire blog back up and running in under twelve hours, but it was a very stressful time. With the wonderful help of Rachel (aka Parajunkee), I finally made the leap to WordPress and a self-hosted blog. There was a steep learning curve, but I am so thankful I made the transition. Now that I am settled in, I find I like the format and style of WP a lot more than I did with blogger.
2) With the move to WordPress, I finally updated the look and design of my blog. A big thank you to Parajunkee for all of her hard work on the beautiful design! This is something I started thinking about back a year ago, but never quite got around to it. No matter how long it took, I am so utterly happy with the look and functionality of my blog. From the fonts and graphics to added security and layout, I enjoy looking at and using my blog. I hope you do, too!
1) I read some wonderful books during 2013! While it was hard to narrow down the entire list, my top five favorite books I read during the past year are:
- My Wicked Nanny by Ann Mayburn
- Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews
- Guardian Demon by Meljean Brook
- Archangel’s Legion by Nalini Singh
- Night Blade by JC Daniels
Looking at those books, I see a common thread of deeply emotionally satisfying stories. I love books that make me feel, but don’t crush me under emotional baggage. I adore each of these stories: the heroes and heroines, and reading each book brought me both heartache and joy.
Honorable mentions go to the following:
- Bound by Night by Larissa Ione
- By Private Invitation by Stephanie Julian
- No Reservations by Stephanie Julian
- Harbinger by Philippa Ballantine
- A Witch’s Handbook of Kisses and Curses by Molly Harper
- The Cursed by Alyssa Day
- Heart of Iron by Bec McMaster
- Lover At Last by JR Ward
- Deadly Sting by Jennifer Estep
I hope you all had a wonderful 2013 and I look forward to sharing my love of reading with you during 2014! Happy New Year!