My Top Ten Favorite Reads of 2013

TopTenBooksof2013I don’t normally review or star books. As an author myself, this is just a choice I’ve made because publishing is such a fickle, prickly business for both writers and reviewers. I read purely for enjoyment and escape and prefer to focus only on the best of the best.

I choose TEN favorite reads each year. To each of them, and only them, I give five stars on Goodreads. That simply means relative to all the books I read that year, those books occupied the top ten slots. Without this system, I might have given any of this year’s books less than five stars or last year’s eleventh (and higher) books five stars, so first caveat is there’s no comparison between years.

But here are the ten that impressed me the most of the 84 books I read in 2013, listed in reverse order of my reading:

1.  Last Hour of Gann by R. Lee Smith (Science fiction meets Outlander. I loved the epic-ness of the story, partly due to its very long length, but mostly due to the amazing world-building and the lizard-guy hero.)

2.  The Story Guy by Mary Ann Rivers (Such beautiful writing and because of and despite the unlikely premise, it flowed with all sorts of emotional loveliness.)

3.  Tangled by Emma Chase (Drew—the character who voices what most men are probably thinking and yet we still loved him BECAUSE he was so real—eye-rolling but noble.)

4.  Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley (An award-winning YA from a few years back, the heroine giving the hero the finger in the restaurant at the beginning sold me on this one at the get go. The rest did not disappoint.)

5.  After Hours by Cara McKenna (Loved the big, scary hero who knew what he wanted at the very beginning.)

6.  Reasons I Fell for the Funny Fat Friend by Cassie Mae (Funny, sweet, humble and poignant—my favorite type of YA story.)

7.  Painted Faces by L. H. Cosway (Never in a million years thought I’d love a book about a man-whore, cross-dresser. The witty heroine was a huge factor in this one.)

8.  Hopeless by Colleen Hoover (Captivating writing style and an unforgettable hero. The title of the book is clever too.)

9.  On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves (I love shipwrecked—or planewrecked in this case—stories and this one did not disappoint. Throw in a May – December romance and some adventure and I was sold.)

10.  Ride With Me by Ruthie Knox (Cross-country bicycling with a grouchy, wounded bear of a man and slowly falling in love…sigh…loved it.)

I’ll end by stating this was an extremely difficult choice and there were many others that were strong contenders, so I’ll give them Honorable Mention (no particular order):  Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren, Run to You by Charlotte Stein, Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, Beautiful Bad Man by Ellen O’Connell, Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare and Escorted by Claire Kent. One of this group I had to unstar because in re-evaluating my top ten list, I had eleven. They were ALL so good! And there were other fabulous ones I didn’t even mention.

2013 was an amazing year for reading!

Happy New Year and happy reading in 2014!

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Whereupon the Moody Author Returns…

Marlene screen cap from movie Shangai Express

Marlene screen cap from movie Shangai Express (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well hello there! Long time no chat.

I’ve been busy…stewing in my worries:

Worried about my blogs being attacked and destroyed again. (do I restore or move on? what else should I be doing? what was that spam comment about? was that a scout for more attacks? why me?)  -20 pts

Worried about my outstanding submissions (they hate them, they like them but are having a hard time convincing acquisitions, they lost them, they’re too busy, they don’t think they’re special enough to even warrant a response, they’re passing my query / manuscript around the office as an example of what not to do, should I nudge or be patient?) -15 pts

Worried about the book I’m editing (is it boring? lacking emotional depth? unfunny in a pathetic kind of way? a hallmark of a clueless amateur? just plain stupid?) -5 pts

Worried about my self-published book, which was free for a while but no longer is, really doing nothing more than encouraging a few hoarders to add one more book to their colossal TBR piles (which should really be labeled NBROC = Never Be Read Only Collected like the crazy lady who collects cats but can’t possibly take care of them all.) -10 pts

Worried my online persona comes off too much like Marlene Dietrich (I vant to be alone) or Woody Allen—paranoid and needy only much less talented—or ego-centric like Scarlet O’Hara. This post is clearly exhibit Z. -10 pts

Worried about my job (new boss, dark secrets I can’t share, peoples’ livelihoods in my hands, my own tentative future, what if I have to go job-hunting?…good gravy I’m old…a place like Google wouldn’t even hire me to do basic accounting because the whole employment world is Abercrombie and Fitch in some respects and I’m the fat girl they don’t even want to be seen wearing their clothes.) -50 pts

Worried my husband’s a little too prepared for the zombie apocalypse / North Korean invasion / alien invasion / Mad Max-like societal deterioration when the water runs out and the power grid goes down and the underground Tremor worms come out to feast. -5 pts

So yeah…I been a little busy fighting windmills in my head.

Worry

But on the bright side:

I (Lila) signed with a new publisher for a novella releasing in late Q3 or early Q4! Thank you, Liquid Silver Books! +20 pts

I (Lila) had a short story accepted by an anthology. Thank you, Evernight Publishing. +15 pts

Those agents and publishers with my full manuscripts (three of them) haven’t said “no” yet either. +15 pts

I’m ahead of my Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge pace by eight (8) books. Never underestimate the therapeutic powers of a good or even mediocre book. +5 pts

My new boss actually seems like a nice guy who values my opinion…worth its weight in gold. +10 pts

My youngest son is getting straight A’s and has lettered in band. (If you knew the meandering path he took before he finally had the epiphany that led this achievement, you’d be even more amazed. Count me amongst the believers in the power of music to soothe the savage beast.) +15 pts

My oldest is finally taking pride in his appearance and might actually have a girlfriend…or at least a girl friend. See the difference a single space makes? Yeah, that’s how real life works sometimes too. +10 pts

My husband actually seems to still love me after twenty-two years. And so does my dog.  +23 pts

So…in summary, and because it’s always about the math, I give my mental health a:  -115 + 113 = -2.

Writing this post gave me a +5 boost, so right now, at this very moment, I’m a +3, but like a weather vane, easily redirected by the lightest of breezes.

On that positive note (literally) and before the winds change, I’ll bid you adieu and get back to editing His Acadian Lady.