My Favorite 2013 Reads and a Reading Challenge for 2014

What a difference a year makes. Last year I struggled to reach my goal of 50 books and barely scraped past the finish line at midnight. This year, I met my goal of 50 way early and then upped it to 100. Right now I'm at 81 books and don't think I'll quite make my goal...but no regrets. I have read more than the year before, and I have read some pretty awesome books.

How do I define an awesome read? It's one that yanks me into the story and holds me hostage (okay, in all honesty, it simply makes me ignore everything else like making dinner, eating lunch, laundry etc.).  I keep reading and turning the pages until it's done. Then it resonates -- haunting me even after I have walked away from the book. It's a story with staying power.

So, without further ado, here are some stories I really, really enjoyed this year: 

I love a good fantasy story with a complex world order, an interesting female lead and magic. This one also had a fun/unreliable god stirring up all kinds of trouble, two very nice males, and loads of tension. But the reason this gets top billing is because it led me to hunt down and read Crista McHugh's other books. Always happy to discover a new favorite author! :)

The Goddess of Fried Okra is Texas women's fiction at its best - a bit quirky and a lot of heart. It's definitely going on my keeper shelf and I do plan to re-read it. It also led to a very nice email exchange with author Jean Brashear

This has to be one of my favorite epic fantasies. Complex world with intriguing politics, great characters and message, a little bit of romance and lots of adventure. Another plus point: a non-Western setting, which is kind of hard to find. And, yes, the writing is beautiful. Another one for keeper/ re-read shelf.

I didn't think I was into alien fiction, but I loved this. Then when I went to research author Jennifer Armentrout, I discovered this is her first adult offering. I'm looking forward to more. Meanwhile, because I enjoyed the story so much, I will go read her YA offerings set in the same world and focused on other aliens. Yup, she's definitely made me a fan of aliens...which goes to show a well-executed story is what matters.

Writing wisdom that I need to read and re-read. author Dani Shapiro has the uncanny ability of bringing up things I have worried about, but never mentioned to another soul (because I may be seen as more neurotic than I already am)...and for addressing those issues in a way that makes sense to me. Yes, this will also be going on my Keeper shelf. So glad I found this book.

My Personal Reading Challenge for 2014: 

I have decided to focus on female fantasy writers next year. While there are quite a few talented female authors in the field, I have woefully read too few and epic fantasy still comes across as a largely male dominated genre. So I have decided to remedy the lack in my reading and help create more awareness about female fantasy offerings.

To make it easier, I'm calling it A to Z: Female Fantasy Authors and yes, I plan to go down the alphabet between 1/1/2014 and 12/31/2014. I'll be using the blog, my Goodreads and Pinterest accounts and my FB author page. Anyone want to join me? It's always more fun to have buddies along :)


  1. Hey if you want to read a couple of great fantasy series by female authors I have a couple for you Jean Johnson's Sons of Destiny 8 book series also there is Shifting Plains which is connected and the new Guardians of Destiny I think there are 2 out. Also C L Wilson's Tarin Soul 5 book series is one of my absolute favorites.

    1. Thanks Eva! I'm taking notes...always nice to discover new authors :)