This has been one of the most…exciting years I’ve lived so far. Not only have I finished my studies (for the most part), but I published my first work of fiction and have started writing another one. I’ve read as many, if not more, books this year than I think I read in all the previous years combined. It’s not because I was illiterate or that I disliked reading. It’s just that I come from a family that values food much more than books, so I rarely had enough money to satisfy my craving to read—although I often visited the library. I read mostly nonfiction; now I read mostly fiction. The ebook revolution—and their affordability—has greatly contributed to my being able to buy more books now. Not being in school anymore helps, too. I’ve read so many great books this year that I couldn’t settle for just a top 10 list. I went for 12 instead, one for every month. See the list after the jump.

The-Edge-of-Never-JARedmerski1. THE EDGE OF NEVER, by J.A. Redmerski

My rating: 5 stars – Absolute must-read. It’s amazing!!!

This has become one of my favorite books, giving Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows a run for its money. It was difficult to decide which I like best, but I settled on this one because it’s a beautiful story. The main character, Camryn Bennett, knows she doesn’t want the same, ordinary kind of life almost everybody else has. This compels her to go on a journey with no destination in mind. It leads her to the person who will change her life, Andrew Parrish, a guy with aims very similar to hers. As they go on their journey, the two fall in love with each other.  Andrew and Camryn’s desire for something more in life is contagious…and let’s face it. Who hasn’t honestly at least considered packing and going on an aimless trip?

2. FLEE (CODENAME: CHANDLER) by J.A. Konrath and Ann Voss Peterson

My rating: 5 stars – Absolute must-read. It’s amazing!!!

This is another book which was hard to place, as it was really, really awesome. It’s about “Chandler”, a woman who’s secretly a super spy working for an agency so covert only three people know about it. She’s somewhat like Black Widow, but more girl-next-doorsy. The events of this novel (it’s part of a trilogy) see Chandler going on the run after her cover is blown. The events are so fast paced you’ve barely given enough time to breathe before things pick up again. This is easily the most action-packed book I’ve ever read, and one of the most original spy plots. This book’s too good to spoil for you, so I won’t say anything more.

3. OUT OF LINE, by Jen McLaughlin

My rating: 4.5 stars – A stunning page turner!

This is a classic story of star-crossed lovers, but don’t start yawning! There’s a reason this book has an incredibly high percentage of 5-star reviews: it’s hard to put down. Out of Line also made this list because it is one of those books I wish I’d written. It’s New Adult romance, but not too syrupy or pink-tinted to keep guys away from it (I’m looking at you, The Notebook). The protagonist is Carrie Wallington, a college freshman. She’s finally broken free from her father’s suffocating control and is eager to make her decisions by herself. Carrie soon crosses paths with Finn Coram, a stranger who may or may not already know who she is. Much against his resolve, the two start getting to know each other, unwittingly falling in love. Carrie awakens feelings in Finn that he hasn’t felt for any other woman. Unfortunately, he has a secret that may cost him everything.

castle-richard-heat-rises4. HEAT RISES, by Richard Castle

My rating: 4.5 stars – A stunning page turner!

This is the third book in the Nikki Heat mystery/thriller/police procedural series. The titular character, Nikki, is a homicide detective for the NYPD. I’ve read the other two books, and though they had plenty of mystery and action, I didn’t find them nearly as thrilling as this third installment. Nikki finds herself working her most dangerous case yet. People want her dead, and go to great lengths to get away with that. The action scenes are pretty thrilling, especially the skirmish at Central Park. Helping Nikki on the case, as always, is witty reporter Jameson Rook. They are on a relationship, but their romance takes a backseat to the thrills and mystery of the book. Complete5.
ON DUBLIN STREET, by Samantha Young

My rating: 5 stars – Absolute must-read. It’s amazing!!!

I admit I was a bit wary to read this, because I thought it would be like Fifty Shades: just a guilty pleasure kind of read with no truly significant plot. One you wouldn’t want to be caught dead with if you’re a guy, unless you’re hoping to pick up tips. I was wrong. Dublin Street exceeded my expectations by quite a tad. It’s about Jocelyn “Joss” Butler, a young woman who fled a painful past in the U.S. to live in Scotland. We meet Joss just when she’s moving in with a new roommate, Ellie Carmichael. Unbeknownst to Joss, Ellie is the younger sister of a mysterious man that she met earlier in a cab ride. That man, Braden, meets Jocelyn again during a particularly funny but embarrassing situation. From the start, they feel a powerful attraction towards each other. Jocelyn, however, is unwilling to give away her heart. She’s afraid of feeling the pain of loss again, and Braden will have to break down her walls if he’s to have a chance to live HEA with her.

6. KILLING SARAI, by J.A. Redmerski

My rating: 5 stars – Absolute must-read. It’s amazing!!!

There’s a reason Redmerski made this list more than once: she can write. Really. Good. Books. This novel is another of her great hits. Be advised, though, that this is nothing like The Edge of Never. This is a dark thriller, told from the first-person POV of Sarai, a young woman who has been held prisoner by a Mexican drug lord for most of her teenage years and early twenties. One day, an American comes to visit Javier, the drug lord. Upon seeing him, Sarai decides to sneak away in his car. Sarai does not realize that she’s escaped from a killer and fallen into the hands of another one. Her new partner, Victor, is a professional hitman who reluctantly agrees to care for Sarai. He sees something in her that compels him to protect her. Together, they join forces to stop Javier once and for all. Unfortunately, they may find that they have another enemy, one closer to home. And Victor may not be able to save Sarai from death…much less from the darkness that’s taking her over.

7. A DARK MIND, by T.R. Ragan

My rating: 4.5 stars – A stunning page turner!

by T.R. Ragan: This is another of my favorite mystery series. I chose this book, the third in the series, because I find it to be the best so far. The books follow Lizzy Gardner, a private investigator with a painful past. When she was a teenager, Lizzy was kidnapped by a criminal who became known as Spiderman because he’s fond of spiders. In A Dark Mind, Lizzy takes it upon herself to solve the case of the most cunning criminal she’s met so far, the Lovebird Killer. When he gets wind that Lizzy’s after him, he decides to retaliate. He is very confident that he’ll be able to do what his idol Spiderman never could: defeat Lizzy Gardner once and for all.

8. BURNING MAN, by Alan Russell

My rating: 4 stars – Seriously liked it!

I liked this book enough that I regretted not reading it earlier. The book is about Michael Gideon, an LAPD cop. He works in the K-9 division with his partner, a German Shepherd named Sirius. Don’t let this very original name dissuade you from reading this book, it really is good. After capturing a notorious criminal in the midst of an inferno, Gideon is left with deep physical and emotional scars. After recovering, he is reinstated in the force. The Chief decides to place Gideon in charge of a new division dedicated to solving quirky cases. However, no one knows that Gideon is concealing his PTSD so that he won’t lose his job with the police. Contrary to my expectations, he handles it exceedingly well. Gideon has steely courage and a good sense of humor. His latest case is one of the quirkiest yet: a crucifixion.

9. NEVER FORGET, by Emma Hart

My rating: 4 stars – Seriously liked it!

This is another book I was wary to read, because it struck me as the kind of syrupy, rosy romance I described earlier in this post. However, once I started reading I couldn’t stop. Never Forget is a very good New Adult romance novel. The story is about Alexis ‘Lexy’ Edwards, a city girl sent to live with her grandmother in Lilac Bay, Devon for the summer. She hates having to endure a full two months there…until she meets Alec Johnson. He has a ladies’ man reputation, causing Lexy to be reluctant to start a relationship with him. Eventually, she’s unable to resist the attraction and they start dating. What Lexy doesn’t know is that Alec is keeping a secret that will tear her apart when she finds out. Emma Hart has written other books. She’s one of the most successful indie authors I’ve come across. Fans of Nicholas Sparks will find much to like in Emma’s works.

10. KISS OF FIRE, by Rebecca Ethington

My rating: 4 stars – Seriously liked it!

This book is a hidden diamond! It is one of the best non-Harry Potter fantasy/magic stories I’ve read—not that I’ve read many. This is not one of my most read genres because I think there are few great books in the category. I’m impressed when authors come up with their own species or magical legend instead of using/twisting already known ones (I frown every time I come across a fantasy book about Atlantis). Kiss of Fire introduces Joclyn—you’ll like her once you get past that odd spelling—Despain, a seemingly normal girl. Unbeknownst to her, she has powerful magical abilities that she received when she was a little girl. A small creature bit Joclyn, leaving a distinctive dragon-shaped scar on her neck. After discovering the mark, Ryland (her childhood best friend and love interest) is crestfallen when he realizes that Joclyn is the person his father, Edmund, has been seeking for years to kill. Her powers make Joclyn a dangerous threat to Edmund’s evil intentions.

11. PURSUIT, by Karen Robards

My rating: 4 stars – Seriously liked it!

This is the only paper book on the list. I’ve read far more ebooks this year than print books. Why? I really like my Kindle Paperwhite, but that doesn’t mean I dislike print books. Mostly, I’m buying books in print form when they have nice cover art. Pursuit is the best print book I’ve read this year. It’s a thriller/romantic suspense centering on Jessica Ford, a rookie lawyer who somehow ends up assisting the First Lady. Shortly afterward, they kind of flee in a car. Next thing Jess knows, she’s lying in a ravine at night, badly injured. It appears that she was in an accident that killed everyone else in the car, including the First Lady. Now, people want answers from Jessica, including Mark Ryan, a Secret Service agent who resolves to protect Jess after she’s attacked in the hospital. The question is: Was the First Lady’s death really an accident?

12. DEADLY AIM, by Patricia H. Rushford

My rating: 4 stars – Seriously liked it!

The first in a series of mysteries featuring Angel Delaney, a cute police officer with the Sunset Cove, Oregon police department. We meet Angel when she’s on her way with her partner to handle a situation that emerged. It all ends with Angel being forced to shoot a twelve-year-old boy, resulting in his death. The odd thing is: Angel remembers firing only one shot, and the boy received three. Angel is condemned by the public and fired. She tries to present evidence that will convince others she acted in self-defense, but the evidence is mysteriously stolen. Now, Angel will need the help of Detective Callen Riley to clear her name and uncover who’s behind it all. The Angel Delaney Mysteries is an old series, as this first book was published in 2004, but it’s awesome. I’m looking forward to reading the next installments.

That’s it for now. On my next post, I’ll list my 12 favorite characters that I read about this year. This post was going to be the last of 2013, but it became so long that I decided to split it off into two. The next post is coming up very soon, so stay tuned. Have a Merry Christmas!


3 thoughts on “THE TOP 12 BOOKS I READ IN 2013

  1. […] So, that’s it for this year. These are the books I enjoyed reading most. As usual, they are all from a variety of genres. Mystery, sci-fi, and romance are my favorites, so they encompass the majority of the books that I buy. You could find something to like here. My previous Best Reads of the Year lists are here: the list for 2015, the one from 2014, and the list from 2013. […]

  2. […] There you have it. Those are the best books that I read in 2015. Even with the somewhat smaller pool, choosing only 12 was difficult. Have you read any of the books in this list? Did you enjoy them? If you haven’t read some of these, they make great Christmas presents for others or for yourself. You can read last year’s list at this link. And the list for 2013 is here. […]

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