Friday, December 20, 2013

Novels: The Best of the Best in 2013

I'm going to come right out and say it:

This year I was VERY picky about the 5 stars I handed out.

Usually I'm not so reserved. I fall in love with the story and a handfuls of stars are thrown the novel's way. But this year...I'm not sure what it was. I read plenty of books that agreed with me, but very few I fell in love with

For example, I enjoyed Jolina Petersheim's debut release The Outcast. An extremely original Amish story. Fresh and well written. 

Denise Hildreth Jones' Secrets Over Sweet Tea was a great Southern women's fiction with strong characters and good story telling ability. I'll be reading more of her work for sure.

And despite many reviews to the contrary I really liked Rene Gutteridge and Cheryl McKay's Greetings from the Flipside.

But I was hard pressed to be wowed this year. Goodreads informed me this evening that I read 100 books in 2013.

And I did find 10...yes EXACTLY TEN that simply wowed me. That when I put down the book, I wished I didn't have to.


I have not fallen for very many Love Finds You titles...but Tricia Goyer and Ocieanna Fleiss hit this one out of the park. A beautiful blend of love stories... I was wowed by this title!


I just read this title a couple weeks ago. It's a novella, so maybe it shouldn't be included on this list, but I'm putting it on here anyway. ;-) Such a small word count...such a great romantic impact and that's hard to do.


Sarah Sundin continues to get better and better with every one of her novels, but I think this one is my favorite-- hands down by her. It's a perfect symphony of historical details and romantic tension all against the war-torn Italian countryside. Way-good.


I am having to wait waaaay too long for the third book in this series, let me just say that right now! Elizabeth Ludwig has written an amazing cast of characters in this series and I won't be requesting the third one to review. I've already pre-ordered it. :-)


Candace Calvert blends a great balance of romance and medical tension in this latest title. I love that her books are fast-paced with moments of perfect sweetness. Her characters always live and breathe for me on the page and this one even more so!


What can I say? It's Laura Frantz. Enough said. Truly.


Deeanne Gist puts soo much research into her novels and it truly shows. I love that she takes the reader by the hand and guides them through a world we will never know or see outside a book. And she makes it come alive


Katie Ganshert is a MUST for my keeper shelf. The way this woman sees the world is so unique and perfect for her voice. For all contemporary fiction fans, this book--and author-- is a must-must-must read. You will not be disappointed. It was edged out of my number 2 slot just barely.


Oh. My. First let me say kudos to the Bethany House design team, because putting a hero on the cover of a romance novel is pure genius. ;-) But also let me say this book blew. Me. Away. And I know I wasn't the only one. This one will be very, very hard for Jody to beat to replace my favorite of her books!


The best book I read in all of 2013 I actually read in 2012...before it was formally released and I just barely contained my ecstatic emotions on the blogosphere until it was actually 2013 to release my review. I did not expect to so thoroughly fall in love with this title like I did. I did not expect to be so completely blown away by the characterization, the voice, everything. I knew, of course, I would enjoy the story. But I was wowed. Just about a month or so ago, I read the book again. This time the completed and polished version. And I read it slower, about a chapter a day. I feel deeper...harder. This my friends, is a title worth so much more than a handful of stars. 
So much more.

So there you have it. My list of 10 not-to-be missed reads from 2013.
What would you add or subtract from the list?

What were YOUR fabulous reads of 2013??


  1. Okay - now I MUST read Catch A Falling Star!

    I'd have to think long and hard to pick my favs of the year, but a few good ones that come to mind are: Ransomed dreams, by Sally John, Skip Rock Shallows, by Jan Watson, and Firefly Island, by Lisa Wingate. Hmm…I'll have to create a post of my own top reads for 2013. :) Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Yes, Cheryl, you MUST! I read Firefly Island by Lisa fact I read a couple of her books this year. I greatly enjoyed Firely Island!

  2. I am so honored to be on this list, Casey-girl!! Thanks for encouraging me today, sister!!

    1. Absolutely! This list would not have been complete without it! And I have a feeling A Broken Kind of Beautiful will make the list next year too. :)

  3. Thank you SO MUCH for the very sweet words, Casey!! The cover DID really push the book over the top didn't it?! LOL Thanks for including me! And 100 books?! Wow! That's like 2 a week! LOVE it! :-) Have a Merry Christmas!

    1. Of course!
      Ahhhh...yes Bethany House is getting wise to their female reader population. ;-)) And I have NO idea how I pulled out 100 books this year. I read a lot slower than most years. No breaking 200 like I did a couple years ago. LOL!

  4. What an honor to be included on this list - with such great company! Thanks, Casey!

    1. Thank YOU, Sarah for writing a great book. :-))

  5. Return To Me by Lynn Austin was my best read this year.

    1. Lynn Austin is a fabulous author. My favorite of hers is still Hidden Places. My dad has read it probably 5-6 times and I'm not that far behind him. :)

  6. Omigoodness, Casey. I'm so very honored to see Rescue Team on this prestigious list--stellar company and stellar, discerning reviewer. Humbled. Thank you so much.

    1. I loved it, Candace! Your title had to go on my list for that reason alone. :) Super excited to see what you've done with #3!! :)

    2. What I loved about this novel is the extraordinary development of the secondary characters. :)

  7. Agree with all of your list (at least those I've read!) but I think my favorite read this year has to be Katherine Reay's Dear Mr. Knightley. Maybe part of the reason was because I wasn't sure what to expect and so finding myself falling in love with it was even more of a surprise!

  8. Hello Kara! I just finished reading Reay's book and found it very enjoyable. I'm eager to see what she does with her upcoming release. And you're right, it did have more than a twist of the unexpected that had me engaged!

  9. I love several that you chose, but I love Kim Vogel Sawyer's writing so her new 'What Once Was Lost' is my favorite for the year. Try it.


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