Top 10 of 2013: Best Books of 2013

This year, Coranne and I are happy to take part in the Top 10 of 2013 meme.  There have been a ton of amazing books that have come out this year, or which we've read this year, and so we're spreading our top picks out with a new theme every day.

Today, we're each sharing the best books we've read in 2013.  Be sure to share your favorites in the comments - the books don't have to be published in 2013, just ones that you've read this year.

Coranne's Picks

By Carey Corp & Lorie Langdon
Published on August 20th 2013
Published by Zondervan
See our review here!
Veronica doesn't think she's going crazy. But why can't anyone else see the mysterious blond boy who keeps popping up wherever she goes? When her best friend, Mackenna, invites her to spend the summer in Scotland, Veronica jumps at the opportunity to leave her complicated life behind for a few months.

But the Scottish countryside holds other plans.

Not only has the imaginary kilted boy followed her to Alloway, she and Mackenna uncover a strange set of rings and a very unnerving letter from Mackenna's great aunt—and when the girls test the instructions Aunt Gracie left behind, they find themselves transported to a land that defies explanation. Doon seems like a real-life fairy tale, complete with one prince who has eyes for Mackenna and another who looks suspiciously like the boy from Veronica's daydreams. But Doon has a dark underbelly as well. The two girls could have everything they've longed for...or they could end up breaking an enchantment and find themselves trapped in a world that has become a nightmare.
"Doon is T'HE book that you need to read of 2013.  If you were a fan of Lisa T Bergren's River of Time series or are a fan of mythology and light fantasy- this is a book that you NEED to have.  I don't know how to say this- I sat and read this book in ONE SITTING.  I stayed up most of the night to read this (and as a mother of two babies- this is NOT something I do.)  I loved Doon so much I have read it twice since."

By Rae Carson
Published on August 27th 2013
Published by Greenwillow Books
See our review here!
The epic conclusion to Rae Carson's Fire and Thorns trilogy. The seventeen-year-old sorcerer-queen will travel into the unknown realm of the enemy to win back her true love, save her country, and uncover the final secrets of her destiny.

Elisa is a fugitive in her own country. Her enemies have stolen the man she loves in order to lure her to the gate of darkness. As she and her daring companions take one last quest into unknown enemy territory to save Hector, Elisa will face hardships she's never imagined. And she will discover secrets about herself and her world that could change the course of history. She must rise up as champion-a champion to those who have hated her most.
"Man, what an explosive ending to one of my favorite series!  The Bitter Kingdom is the final book in the Fire and Thorns Trilogy.  Elisa has really come full circle in this book.  She is a confident and strong leader who has fully developed her pretty awesome powers."

By Sarah J. Maas
Published on August 27th 2013
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens

See our review here!
An assassin’s loyalties are always in doubt. But her heart never wavers.

After a year of hard labor in the Salt Mines of Endovier, eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien has won the king's contest to become the new royal assassin. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown – a secret she hides from even her most intimate confidantes.

Keeping up the deadly charade—while pretending to do the king's bidding—will test her in frightening new ways, especially when she's given a task that could jeopardize everything she's come to care for. And there are far more dangerous forces gathering on the horizon -- forces that threaten to destroy her entire world, and will surely force Celaena to make a choice.

Where do the assassin’s loyalties lie, and who is she most willing to fight for?
"This book was EXPLOSIVE.  I absolutely loved Throne of Glass and I was a little afraid of reading Crown of Midnight.  Usually when I love a first book, the second can be awful and even a little boring.  There was absolutely no boring moments in Crown of Midnight.  It was exciting, heartbreaking and hands down the most shocking book I have read in a long time.  A lot of the twists and turns I didn't expect and Celaena's story goes far deeper than I first realized. "

By Rosamund Hodge
Published on January 28th 2014
Published by Balzer & Bray
Review coming soon!
Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast in this sweeping fantasy about one girl's journey to fulfill her destiny and the monster who gets in her way-by stealing her heart.

Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

By Marissa Meyer
Published on February 4th 2014
Published by Feiwel & Friends
Review coming soon!
Rapunzel’s tower is a satellite. She can’t let down her hair—or her guard.

In this third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker—unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can.

Sarah's Picks

By Marcus Sedgwick
Published on February 5th 2013
Published by Roaring Brook Press
See our review here!
Seven stories of passion and love separated by centuries but mysteriously intertwined—this is a tale of horror and beauty, tenderness and sacrifice.

An archaeologist who unearths a mysterious artifact, an airman who finds himself far from home, a painter, a ghost, a vampire, and a Viking: the seven stories in this compelling novel all take place on the remote Scandinavian island of Blessed where a curiously powerful plant that resembles a dragon grows. What binds these stories together? What secrets lurk beneath the surface of this idyllic countryside? And what might be powerful enough to break the cycle of midwinterblood? From award-winning author Marcus Sedgwick comes a book about passion and preservation and ultimately an exploration of the bounds of love.

"It's very hard to categorize this book, to assign it a genre or say it's similar to something else.  It's very often a horror story, but not in a nightmarish/gruesome sort of way.  There's just a creeping suspicion as you're reading that all is not quite right, and the final reveal at the end answers all of your questions and takes your breath away."

By Francesca Lia Block
Published on August 27th 2013
Published by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
See our review here!
Seventeen-year-old Penelope (Pen) has lost everything—her home, her parents, and her ten-year-old brother. Like a female Odysseus in search of home, she navigates a dark world full of strange creatures, gathers companions and loses them, finds love and loses it, and faces her mortal enemy.

In her signature style, Francesca Lia Block has created a world that is beautiful in its destruction and as frightening as it is lovely. At the helm is Pen, a strong heroine who holds hope and love in her hands and refuses to be defeated.

"This book is unlike most other dystopian/post-apocalyptic novels that you've read.  Block's writing style makes everything seem somewhat ethereal, like it's all a dream world.  Everything felt surreal, in some sort of land just beyond magical realism but not quite full blown fantasy."

By Laura Bickle
Published on September 3rd 2013
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers
See our review here!
One girl. One road. One chance to save what remains…

After a plague of vampires is unleashed in the world, Katie is kicked out of her Amish community for her refusal to adhere to the new rules of survival. Now in exile, she enters an outside world of unspeakable violence with only her two “English” friends and a horse by her side. Together they seek answers and other survivors—but each sunset brings the threat of vampire attack, and each sunrise the threat of starvation.

And yet through this darkness come the shining ones: luminescent men and women with the power to deflect vampires and survive the night. But can these new people be trusted, and are they even people at all?

In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, it’s up to one Amish girl to save her family, her community, and the boy she loves . . . but what will she be asked to leave behind in return?

"There are plenty of heartbreaking moments in this book, so have tissues handy, but also be prepared to be on the edge of your seat, rooting for everyone to make it out okay.  And, of course, there are lots of touching passages, and moments of great humor, as well.  I loved the ending, too, which seemed to wrap everything up just neatly enough to leave you satisfied."

By Mindy McGinnis
Published on September 24th 2013
Published by Katherine Tegen Books
See our review here!
Regret was for people with nothing to defend, people who had no water.

Lynn knows every threat to her pond: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most importantly, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty, or doesn't leave at all.

Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. Having a life means dedicating it to survival, and the constant work of gathering wood and water. Having a pond requires the fortitude to protect it, something Mother taught her well during their quiet hours on the rooftop, rifles in hand.

But wisps of smoke on the horizon mean one thing: strangers. The mysterious footprints by the pond, nighttime threats, and gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won’t stop until they get it….

With evocative, spare language and incredible drama, danger, and romance, debut author Mindy McGinnis depicts one girl’s journey in a barren world not so different than our own.
"I think I loved it most because it felt different from most dystopian novels.  There's nothing paranormal or supernatural -- just a world running out of water, where those rich enough to pay for water are kept safe in walled-up, strictly managed cities, while everyone else has to fend for themselves.  The characters aren't superheroes, or genetically modified in some way, or even particularly brilliant, they're just real people doing their best to survive. "

By Erin Bow
Published on October 29th 2013
Published by Arthur A. Levine Books
See our review here!
In the world of Sorrow’s Knot, the dead do not rest easy. Every patch of shadow might be home to something hungry and nearly invisible, something deadly. The dead can only be repelled or destroyed with magically knotted cords and yarns. The women who tie these knots are called binders.

Otter is the daughter of Willow, a binder of great power. She’s a proud and privileged girl who takes it for granted that she will be a binder some day herself. But when Willow’s power begins to turn inward and tear her apart, Otter finds herself trapped with a responsibility she’s not ready for, and a power she no longer wants.
"The worldbuilding here is astounding, and all of the information flows naturally to the reader.  There are no lengthy, out-of-place infodumps that jolt you out of the story.  Through the use of storytellers in the culture of Westmost, we get glimpses at the mythology that drives the community, which helps flesh the history of the world out.  The White Hands are also a real threat, and we do get to see them in all of their heart-stopping, terrifying action in the story. "

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