Paranormal Picks: 10 Best Books of 2013

December 30, 2013 Paranormal Picks 3

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Every year, with the compilation of Best of Lists, the issue of overlap and repetition becomes an issue.  In an effort to avoid repeating ourselves, the somewhat truncated Best of 2013 lists below.

Julia’s 10 Best Books of 2013

Based on an exhaustive survey of the profession (re: Listening to NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast in the Car) creating end of year top ten lists can be stressful for some critics and reviewers.  Through the magic of Goodreads, however, I find that my own list writes it self (and thank goodness it does, as my 13 Most Wanted for 2013 post has little overlap with my final list).    Looking at just those books that wrung an unequivocal  5/5 rating from me this year, below are the ten books that still make me sigh like a fan girl at the end of the year.

Written in Red (The Others #1) by Anne Bishop

Given that I’ve read and re-read this book three times before the year is out, it’s unquestionably my favorite of the year.  This book is Bishop’s classic mix of innocence and menace, brutal magic and the pure of heart.  I can’t wait to visit The Others again, but clearly reading WRITTEN IN RED is sufficient to keep me occupied for months to come.  Re-reading Abigail’s 5/5 review, there’s little I don’t agree with.



The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2) by Maggie Stiefvater

Though THE RAVEN BOYS had already established that Stiefvater wasn’t writing the usual teen romance, I still found myself surprised and delighted by THE DREAM THIEVES.  A love story to heartbroken boys, battered villains, and the grey area between white and black hats.  For more unabashed gushing over this gorgeous and heartbreaking book, read my full review here.

Unravel Me (Shatter Me #2) by Tahereh Mafi

This series started out so heart wrenching and surreal, I never expected the post apocalyptic landscape to morph to include teenage superheros.  I would have expected even less to find that I am still utterly emotionally invested in this story.  Whether it be full length novels or heartwrenching novels, I swoop down on everything in this series.  Though Abigail wasn’t quite as over the top swoony as I was, her review says “This series has a plot, characters, and writing that are beyond beautiful.”

Shadows by Robin McKinley

Robin McKinley has long ago achieved “instant pre-order” status, writing some of my favorite fantasy and urban fantasy titles.  Though SHADOWS was a slow starter for me, once I adjusted to the narrator’s teenage voice, I found myself enthralled as much for the dogs as for the magic.  By book’s end, I knew I had found another favorite.

Between (The Between #1) by Kerry Schafer

As numerous breakfast table conversations have proven, trying to convey the vivid, visceral feeling of a dream almost always leads to failure.  In Schafer’s BETWEEN, however, those surreal moments interweave with the waking world to beautiful effect.  BETWEEN was so good I couldn’t believe it was a debut, I can’t wait read what comes next.

Untold (The Lynburn Legacy #2) by Sarah Rees Brennan

I’m a fan of Brennan in all forms, from UNSPOKEN to her hilarious “An Unexpected Hotness of Dwarves” Hobbit re-cap.  UNTOLD took me back to the banter and blood of Sorry-in-the-Vale.  Beyond how much I love Brennan’s witty teen heroes, I also love how clearly magical ability isn’t what defines a hero in Brennan’s world.

Wolf with Benefits (Pride #8) by Shelly Laurenston

This is the Pride book I’ve been waiting for all along. Beautifully paced action, hilarious dialogue, and just the right amount of shifter mayhem and violence mixed in with the romance. I’ve always preferred the bear books, but Ricky Lee is right next to Bo and Crush on my favorites list. Toni’s family of prodigies brings all the crazy fun of the wild dogs, but with a sweet, centered heroine who is a pleasure to read. And as much as I was rooting for Toni to succeed, Ricky Lee’s good natured courtship was practically ursine in its sweet, funny sexiness. There is plenty of page time for past favorites (I particularly loved Bo’s appearances), and I’m dying for more of Livy, the bad tempered little shifter that even bears treat with respect.  This was Kate’s first book in the Pride series, read her review here.

Slashback (Cal Leandros #8) by Rob Thurman

Everytime I pick up a Cal Leandros book, I wonder how I haven’t read all of them before.  SLASHBACK, in particular, with it’s back and forth jumps between past and present, is a remarkably accessible book for being 8th in a series.  Fans of Urban Fantasy, action, or buddy flicks will all find much to love in SLASHBACK.  “There are few relationships as appealing as a deep friendship, and as as devoted, damaged, and codependent as the brothers Leandros may be, they are also indisputably friends.”

Cold Steel (Spiritwalker #3) by Kate Elliott

While past Spiritwalker books held my attention, COLD STEEL is the one that touched my heart.  All of Elliott’s prior work builds an incredible foundation for book three, where her characters struggle and grow as the world convulses around them.  This brand of magical realism doesn’t leave much hope for a sweeping Happily-Ever-After, but is all the more emotionally touching for it’s flaws.  Read my full review here.

Loki’s Wolves (The Blackwell Pages #1) by K. L. Armstrong & M. A. Marr

I’ve read quite a lot of popular, YA fantasy over the years. Anything my younger sister likes, I pick up and read along. Some of these collaborations have been great (she gets credit for Harry Potter, to be sure). Some have been disappointments… either too juvenile or too derivative to hold my attention. I approached LOKI’S WOLVES holding my breath, hoping not to find a Norse Percy Jackson, and within one chapter, all my fears were allayed.  LOKI’S WOLVES is that rare book that was interesting as an adult while remaining completely appropriate for kids. Read my full review here.


Kate’s Best Books of 2013


  1. Written in Red by Anne Bishop – 5/5
  2. All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill – 5/5
  3. Tempest Reborn by Nicole Peeler – 5/5
  4. Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas – 5/5
  5. The Cursed by Alyssa Day – 5/5
  6. Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs – 4/5
  7. Bittersweet Blood by Nina Croft – 4/5
  8. Generation V by ML Brennan – 4/5
  9. A Witch’s Handbook of Kisses and Curses by Molly Harper – 4/5
  10. Fifth Grave Past the Light by Darynda Jones – 4/5

Kristina’s Best Books of 2013


  1. Deadshifted by Cassie Alexander
  2. Heart of Venom by Jennifer Estep – 4/5
  3. Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger – 4/5
  4. Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews – 5/5
  5. Fairies in My Fireplace by R.L. Naquin – 4/5
  6. Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh – 4/5
  7. Written in Red by Anne Bishop – 5/5
  8. Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs – 4/5

Which titles are on your Best of 2013 list?

3 Responses to “Paranormal Picks: 10 Best Books of 2013”

  1. Angie F.

    Unravel Me is my #1 book of the year! It’s sooo good!

    I’ve been seeing nothing but good things for Written in Red, so I may need to check it out.

    • Kate

      Angie- I think, as the only book that made it on all three of our lists, that we definitely recommend you do check it out. 🙂 And I know for Julia and I it was a re-read (I read it three times!).

  2. Mina

    “Written in Red” definitely is number one in my ranking. And “Magic Rises” made it as well [but alas, it’s Kate Daniels so there is no competition] as “Cold Steel” into the list. Other books that made it into my top ten are “Chimes at midnight” by Seanan McGuire, “Hot blooded” by Amanda Carlson, “Forged in Blood” by Lindsay Buroker, Juliana Scott’s “The Holders”, “A natural history of dragons” by Marie Brennan and both of Maggie Stiefvater’s “Raven Boys Cycle”-books. Hm, actually this was really hard – there are more books I really loved. And I feel bad to have left Mercy Thompson and the Susan Es’s “World after” out… but there were just too many great books!