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Stand-Out Books of 2013!

It’s that time of year again!

You (hopefully) have your gift cards and holiday money clasped excitedly in your hand after last week’s festivities and you’re wondering: just what do you want to buy?

Well, books of course!

So, here I am with my fourth annual Stand-Out Books of the Year post – compiling my personal recommendations for your convenience.

Just as in every year – there are way too many good/great/excellent reads to list out – so I have picked just 35 novels that stood out to me as I look over the last year of reading. Even though a book may not be on here, it doesn’t mean that I didn’t like/love it.

These are choices among the books I reviewed, not only read. Some books I read in 2013 aren’t going to have reviews post until 2014 – so I don’t want to confuse everything by including those in this year’s post.

Also, the books listed may or may not have actually been released in 2013 – I just read them in 2013.

My stats are down a little bit this year, but I did start working at…

Rags & Bones: New Twists on Timeless Tales

Rags & Bones: New Twists on Timeless Tales is a YA fantasy/speculative fiction anthology edited by Melissa Marr and Tim Pratt.

In this novel we have a collection of retold fairy tales, science fiction, dystopia, etc. written by a mass of modern day, award winning, best-selling authors such as Kelley Armstrong, Neil Gaiman, Kami Garcia, Holly Black, Carrie Ryan and more!

As always in an anthology there are the stories you find stronger than others, but overall I found Rags & Bones to be a solid, impressive collection.

By taking familiar (sometimes not so familiar) tales and boiling them down to their rags and bones (an apt description from the inside jacket cover) we are presented with something new.

It’s an eccentric, varied group. Below I’ll go over some highlights.

Carrie Ryan’s story, given first, That the Machine May Progress Eternally was creepy and thought-provoking. A dystopian world made more real by man’s own weakness. I have yet to encounter a short story by Carrie R…

Who Needs Magic?

Who Needs Magic? is a YA contemporary fantasy novel, and the sequel to Don’t Expect Magic, by Kathy McCullough.

I really, really enjoyed Don’t Expect Magic – a new twist on fairy godmothers – so, if you haven’t read it, I suggest you read my review here.

And maybe avoid this review of the sequel…

Delaney Collins knows she is a fairy godmother (f.g.) – in fact, she’s sort of embraced it.

After all, it brought her together with her boyfriend and kinda/sorta helped to repair her relationship with her dad.

So, she’s ready for her next client. Ready to make some magic.

But months have gone by with… nothing.

While working at Treasures, the second hand shop that allows her to do her retooling of vintage boots, Delaney meets Ariella – apparently another f.g.

She’s everything you’d expect for an f.g. Perky, pink, and powerful.

Once Delaney runs across Jeni and finally feels that f.g. pull to make some magic, she finds that having another f.g around might not be helpful.

At all.

Like I said e…

The Man Who Was Poe

The Man Who Was Poe is a middle grade/YA historical mystery novel by AVI.

It’s been two days since Sis and Edmund’s aunt left them to hide in a solitary room. The food’s run out and though Edmund desperately wants to follow his aunt’s final directions of not leaving the room until she returns, he sneaks into the shadowy streets of 19th century Providence, Rhode Island to buy some bread.

He’s only gone minutes. But when he returns, though the door is still locked – Sis is gone.

When a strange man offers to help Edmund find his sister, Edmund’s desperate fear causes him to agree.

Yet the man is volatile, gloomy and seems to have his own agenda.

Will this man help Edmund find Sis? Does Edmund have a choice but to let him try?

The Man Who Was Poe has a lightly spooky, lightly atmospheric tone. This tone increases as Mr. Dupin, the man who offers to help Edmund – and who may also be actually Edgar Allan Poe – becomes more illuminated.

Mr. Dupin is creepy, disturbingly unstable and truly u…

Golden Girl

Golden Girl is a YA 30s era fantasy novel, the second in The American Fairy Trilogy, by Sarah Zettel.

I am a broken record. Doesn’t change the importance of the message though: Do not read this review on Golden Girl until you have already read the first book Dust Girl!

Haven’t read Dust Girl? Check out my review here. It’s a terrific book!

If you have read Dust Girl, then go ahead and proceed to a brief synopsis and then review of Golden Girl

It was not long ago that Callie LeRoux was in Kansas, deep in the midst of the Dust Bowl.

Now Callie is in search of her mother and a father she’s never known – whom she now knows is a fairy prince.

Making her half-fairy. And heir to his throne.

Her search has brought her and her friend Jack to California, knowing that amidst the great weather and glamorous starlets the fairies are sure to be thriving.

It doesn’t take long to realize that Callie is now in enemy territory.

It’d be great if that prophecy about her started yielding some results …

Unbreakable

Unbreakable is the start to a new YA supernatural contemporary series called The Legion by Kami Garcia, co-author to the popular book Beautiful Creatures.

Kennedy’s life has changed drastically.

When one night her beloved cat Elvis slipped out of the house (out of the ordinary as it is) and she chased him to a cemetery (not the best place to be at night, kinda creepy), her eyes became glued on an apparition.

A girl.

Floating.

Maybe transparent.

After grabbing her cat and heading home, Kennedy convinced herself that what she saw wasn’t really what she saw and headed out to the movie theater with her best friend in new boots her awesome Mom just bought her.

It was when she came home that the world shattered around her.

Her Mom was dead.

They said heart failure.

But then, four weeks later, as Kennedy is spending her last, tearful night in her bedroom before starting what she thinks will be her new life at a boarding school, identical twins Jared and Lukas Lockhart break in and destro…

Darkbeast Rebellion

Darkbeast Rebellion is a middle grade fantasy novel, and the sequel to Darkbeast, by Morgan Keyes.

Yet again this is a review that you want to avoid unless you’ve read Darkbeast first (review here).

Deal?

Keara and Caw are fleeing for their lives with their previous Traveler companions Goran and Taggart. Only recently has Keara found that they too spared their darkbeasts instead of sacrificing them on their twelfth birthday as is the law.

Caw is more than a creature that takes on her darker deeds and thoughts and gives her an emotional boost. He’s her friend. She could not, and will not, kill him.

Now that they are being hunted by the ruthless Inquisitors, Taggart is convinced that he can take them all to a safe haven for darkers – a group of people who have spared their darkbeasts and live in secrecy.

But they are freezing and exhausted and the journey just might kill them…

Just as in the first novel Darkbeast, Darkbeast Rebellion portrays a sweet bonding between man and animal as …

Untold

Untold is the second book in the gothic YA supernatural Lynburn Legacy by Sarah Rees Brennan.

The first book, Unspoken, was amazing – as you can read in my review here.

The second book, Untold, is also amazing – which you can read below.

HOWEVER, if you haven’t read Unspoken yet don’t you dare!!! You don’t want to know ANYTHING about book two before you read book one, ya hear?

Okay then. If you’re still reading this that better mean you’ve read Unspoken…

Sorry-in-the-Vale is a small, quiet town in England.

Or so it seems.

Actually it is the center of a terrifying sorceress family called the Lynburn’s, where they ruled for generations through blood and power. It’s been some time since it’s been that way.

But Rob Lynburn is determined to bring the old ways back.

That’s why Rob brought his family back to Sorry-in-the-Vale, including his troubled nephew Jared – though they didn’t know that was the reason initially.

The battle for Sorry-in-the-Vale is gearing up to be a tough one as there …

Midnight for Charlie Bone

Midnight for Charlie Bone is a middle grade fantasy novel and the first in the Children of the Red King series by Jenny Nimmo.

Having lived with his odd, less-than-pleasant paternal grandmother (along with his mother, fraternal grandmother, and secretive uncle), Charlie has always known that she has thought little of him. That he wasn’t “special”.

What Charlie didn’t realize is just how “special” she expected him to be.

When he discovers a sudden ability to hear the conversations of people in photographs when he looks at them, his grandmother makes it clear this is what she’s been waiting for.

Suddenly he’s being pushed to go to an elite private school for the magically endowed – a place Charlie would rather not go.

But once he’s roped into a mystery involving a dangerously sought after item and a missing girl, Charlie realizes he may find more answers at the school…

A British children’s fantasy? I was VERY ready to give it a shot.

It had a little bit of an eccentric, pleasant tone – …