Friday, January 3, 2014

What's Your Top Five Books of 2013?

Stephanie Morrill and Jill Williamson have written a combined two dozen speculative and contemporary novels for teens. They also blog obsessively here at When not writing or blogging, they can be found at the teen table at writer's conferences or wherever chocolate is being given away. Hang out with Stephanie at and Jill at

Since it's a new year, we thought it would be fun to talk about favorite books in 2013. So we came up with our top five books we read in 2013. This doesn't mean the book was published in 2013. Just that we read it and it had a huge impact on us.

Stephanie's List

11/22/63 by Stephen King
This was my favorite book that I read this year. I think it's actually one of my all-time faves because even though  I read it over the summer I still think about it on a regular basis. The story was completely different than I thought it was going to be, and only a master writer like King could pull off such a complex tale.

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
This is the book that both made me laugh AND cry the most. Gorgeous prose, great characters, and such a different picture of life than I normally see in fiction.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Earlier this month my three-year-old had a crazy long seizure during dinner and the hospital ended up keeping him for observation. My sister-in-law was helping me pack an overnight bag and asked what book I wanted to bring. Pride and Prejudice was a no-brainer. There's something about it that just comforts me. Didn't plan on rereading it this year, but I was happy to have it with me at the hospital.

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
I'm a sucker for a great contemporary YA book, and I really loved this one. Lola is such a quirky character and I still think of her when I see people wearing funky outfits. This isn't a book I recommend to ultra-conservative readers, but I devoured it.

Circle of Spies by Roseanna M. White
This one isn't available for purchase yet, but I helped proofread it this summer when Roseanna was turning it in to her editor. I think some conservative Christian readers will raise their eyebrows, but I adored Marietta. She's a totally different type of heroine for Christian historical romance, and I loved it.

Jill's List

Dune by Frank Herbert
I made it my goal last year to start reading one of everything that's famous in science fiction and fantasy. I am far from accomplishing that task. And while I read many famous books---and I could see why they are famous---most I had no desire to continue the series. Of all of them that I've read so far, none was more surprising to me than Dune. It was a hard book to read. It's very political. But it was so different and creative and brilliant . . . I learned a lot from reading it. If you write spec fiction, Dune should be required reading.

The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson
I don't know if I've told you, but my agent told me I have an author crush on Brandon Sanderson. I guess that's probably true. I'm in awe of him and his books. He is by far the most creative author I've come across. Each of his ideas are so unique, I read through them, enthrallingly jealous. The Rithmatist is about a kid who can't do the magic he is so brilliant about. And it's a murder mystery too. The storyworld and magic is amazing, frankly, and you all should go read it. It's the first in a series, and so you'll have to wait. And wait. And wait. Because Brandon Sanderson is writing, like, five series at a time or something. But it will be well worth the wait. Sanderson is by far my new favorite author.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
This was one that everyone said you have to read. So I got it for my birthday, and it went in my To Read pile. For a long time. And I finally dug it out and just could not get into it. It took me a month to read those first few chapters. But once I understood what was going on, I couldn't put the thing down. It's quite brilliant. It made me bawl. And it's one of those books you walk around in a daze after reading because it rattled you so.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
I have no idea how to pronounce her last name. But this is a book that's been out for a while. And I finally read it. I loved that it was a stand-alone, and it inspired me to seek out some stand-alone ideas in the future. But this book had a brilliantly fresh concept, and was wonderfully written. It's about people who ride murderous water horses in a race. Really fun.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
This book reminded me of my own Blood of Kings books. It was medieval fantasy from a single point of view, and I loved it! I have the second book, and I know once I get a chance to read it, I'll be eager to order book three. In this story we follow a princess who is married in a political deal. Her husband doesn't love her. Then she is kidnapped for months, only to learn many secrets that threaten her husband's kingdom. I highly recommend it.

How about you? What are your five favorites that you read last year and why did you like them?


  1. The Book Thief is definitely up there on my list. One of my favourite books of all time - incredible.

  2. I think my top five favorites would be Dragonwitch, The Sky Riders, From Darkness Won, the Septimus Heap series, and The Seventh Door. I actually did a blog post on this, but it has top 10 instead of top 5.

  3. I'm reading The Book Thief now : ) I'm still in the first couple chapters, though.

  4. My favorite books of 2013 would be Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson, The Notorious Benedict Arnold by Steve Sheinkin, Pies and Prejudice by Heather Vogel Frederick, and Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter. All these books are absolutely wonderful: I would highly recommend them!

  5. Stephanie's The Unlikely Debut of Ellie Sweet (of course *grins*), Burning Sky by Lori Benton, Soul's Gate by James to remember when I read certain books, LOL. (And am very happy to report that thus far those at my conservative publishing house haven't raised any brows over Marietta--though I daresay someone will at some point, LOL.)

  6. TFIOS is amazing, it made my favourites list last year! Lola and the Boy Next Door and The Book Thief are books I really need to get around to reading soon!

    My Top Books of 2013:

  7. Wow, let's five?

    In no particular order:

    1. The Scorpio Races--I'm with you, it was BEAUTIFUL, really drew me into the storyworld which is extremely rare for me.
    2. The Unlikely Debut of Ellie Sweet--because it made me cry and I still can't quite explain why, but I adored it so much I've already read it three times...
    3. Glass Girl/Perfect Glass (can't they go together?)--because they were so beautiful and emotional and I LOVED THEM SO MUCH.
    4. Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover or United We Spy from the Gallagher Girls series--can't decide which I loved more, but because the suspense was incredible and even though it's a spy story, they had such depth to them I was astonished.
    5. The Narrow Road--this one's the misfit here. It was non-fiction and a school book, but I loved it because it made me think, it made me laugh, it made me cry.

    And thanks for making me think hard about what I read last year this morning! :)

    1. From Amo Libros:
      I read the first 3 Gallagher Girls books last summer, too! I was really impressed with the way Ms. Carter managed to make a warm family-and-friends circle in the midst of a group of people who dedicate their lives to "doing bad things for good reasons" as she puts it. And the descriptions -! Some description gets the the way for me, but hers just made everything come alive in vivid color! And the characters...XD They're great!

  8. First Date by Krista Mcgee and the rest of the series are really fun to read. I reread First Date a week or so ago and it was almost as good as the first time. The Reluctant Prophet series by Nancy Rue is a must-read for all who want to put their faith into action. Tournaments,Cocoa and One Wrong Move, the third in the Real Life series by Nancy Rue, was also very interesting. The Language of Sparrows by Rachel Phifer is a long, yet beautiful tale. (I got it for an honest review on Netgalley.) These books are not in a particular order. I don't know what's my fifth favorite book is, but these are wonderful.

  9. Okay, top five!
    1. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
    2. Don't Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon
    3. Boundless by Cynthia Hand
    4. Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger
    5. Pivot Point by Kasie West

    Honorable mentions go to.... Stephanie's Ellie books (I loved them SO much, just didn't have room for them on the list!! Gah!! The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandana and The Scorpio Races by Maggie Siefvater, like Jill said, amazing book. The writing style is so beautiful I just want to bathe in it or something, lol.

    (Ohhh, and what is the eyebrow raising thing in Roseanna's book?)

  10. Girl of Fire and Thorns was my number one read this year, too, Jill! It's such a great story. I just finished the trilogy on New Year's Eve and am sad it's over.
    ~Sarah Faulkner

  11. 1. Throne of Glass (and its sequel, Crown of Midnight) by Sarah J. Maas
    2. Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer (Jodi's Daughter)
    3. Crash Into You by Katie McGarry (I also read Dare You To in 2013, and the first book in the series, Pushing the Limits, in 2012. All are amazing)
    4. Any book from Jenni James' "Faerie Tale Collection," but specifically her version of Cinderella
    5. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

  12. 1. Divergent and the rest of the series by Veronica Roth. I just LOVED it. The end of the series made me angry at first, but I have to admit it was beautiful.
    2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (I enjoyed all her books very much, but somehow this struck me as the best)
    3. I think I read The Hunger Games series this year...
    4. London Confidential series by Sandra Byrd
    5. Cherry Crush by Cathy Cassidy

    1. Oh, I read Divergent too! It's a great book. :)

  13. I recently read the first three books of Scott Lynch's Gentleman Bastard series, and I loved them! Great characters, setting and plot. I laughed and I cried a lot.
    George R R Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series is another favourite of mine. Incredibly complex and brilliantly done. More laughter and tears there.
    Other books I've read and enjoyed this year include Les Miserables by Victor Hugo and The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. And I re-read The Princess Bride and still love it.

  14. I actually just wrote a post on this on my blog. My list is here:

  15. In no particular order, I loved:
    1. There You'll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones--I read this for the first time this year and loved it SO much! It will definitely be a keeper on my favorites shelf.
    2. The Unlikely Debut of Ellie Sweet--I enjoyed this so much that I read it twice! It's such a unique story and Ellie has a lovely voice.
    3. The Help--This book is great. I love the themes, and the book changed my perspective on life. I'll definitely reread this eventually.
    4. To Kill a Mockingbird--I reread it this year. It's one of my favorite classics.
    5. Ring of Secrets--I loved the characters and the plot, and Roseanna's prose is beautiful.

    1. First, thanks--second, my scroller thingy moved a bit while I was reading your list, and I read "To Kill a Mockingbird" and then "I loved the characters and plot, and Roseanna's prose..." and went "huh??" LOL

  16. For me, oh, it's hard to pick the top five books I read last year. I've read so many good ones! But here I go!

    1. Cinder by Marissa Meyer. I read this on a church trip, and it was soooo good I couldn't put it down, even to watch a movie.
    2. Oh, hmm. I'd say Divergent by Veronica Roth.
    3. Legend or Prodigy by Marie Lu!
    4. The Selection or The Elite by Kiera Cass. I adored them both!
    5. Oh my goodness. I just don't know! I'd have to say... The first Septimus Heap book. It was good!

    Tabby (

  17. Loved this list! Don't have time at the moment to list my own top five, but I do want to say Whispers from the Shadows was my favorite book of 2013 (and it was published last year, so double points, right?) AND now I'm looking forward to Marietta's story even more!

  18. Mine were actually seven books, not five. It was the Harry Potter series. I thought they were well-written and the characters were fabulous. Like I needed another fandom.... *sigh* I'm Slytherin. 8) Anyway, I love analyzing J.K. Rowling's writing style and seeing what works for her and why, and should I apply the same things, etc.

    1. Oh P.S. Jill and Stephanie, I love the profile picture! I hope to hear you two speak at OYAN again this year. I know I went the last two years and learned a lot from you two. :)

  19. ...Only five?! Alrighty, here we go :) The Knife of Never Letting Go, The Lonely Heart's Club, The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet, Steampunk! (an awesome short story collections), and Divergent.

  20. Five?!? Wow. I don't know if I can pick *just* five, but I'll try...

    -->The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet
    -->The Unlikely Debut of Ellie Sweet
    -->The Apothecary's Daughter
    -->The Tutor's Daughter
    -->Left Behind >The Kids<: Triumphant Return ( Book 40)

    Ok, I think that's *just* five. ;) I love ya'll's picture! :) Thanks for sharing!!

    1. I love left behind: the kids :)

    2. Yeah, they are awrsome

  21. 1. The Book Thief, I got latched on the very first chapter. Loved it. I still cried at the movies even after I knew what was coming. First time I ever cried when someone died in a book.

    2. Love Finds You in Annapolis Maryland. You are a great writer Mrs. White, I couldn't put it down. :)

    3. Do Hard Things. Actually still reading this one.

    4. The Witch of Blackbird Pond. Wish she had written more books, I've read all of hers.

    5. A Plain Disappearance.

    Can't wait to read more great books in 2014!

    1. The witch of blackbirds pond is a favorite of mine. I love all if her books, but especially Bronze Bow .

    2. I know, it's one of the best. If she was still alive I would beg her to write more! I love all her characters from the start.

    3. From Amo Libros:
      I LOVE Witch of Blackbird Pond! It's one of my all time favorites! And I totally agree, I wish she'd written more books. They're just so good, sort of sweet and wholesome and filling. They make you glad you read them and sorry they're over. And I always come out feeling like I've grown a little, or learned a little. They're...filling. But in a good way.

  22. Only five.... Okay, lets see...
    1. Counted Worthy. It's not actually published (YET!!! :D), but it was so good I imagine it's only a matter of time before it is.
    2. The Septimus Heap series. I'm not usually a wizard book girl, but I really liked these.
    3. The Magic Thief. I read this one right after starting OYAN, when I was analyzing every book I read, and this was the only one I could actually just read and enjoy.
    4. Broken Glass King. Again, not published, but it was so good...
    5. Kidnapped. I read this like every year, and love it every time. :)

    1. Ooh, I love kidnapped! Have you ever read the sequel? It's called Catriona

  23. (wrote this all out and then accidentally closed the tab. nearly fell apart)
    Here I go ... I almost quit this to go dig these gems back up when I looked at my gorgeous book list from this year.
    -- "Catching Fire" by Suzanne Collins -- this was my favorite out of the three. This series made me an emotional wreck for weeks. I would just lay on my bed in a 'real or not real' trance, and for days I had Katniss' voice inside my head, describing how the cold spoons felt, grasped in my trembling hands. I was a mess.
    -- "Whispers from the Shadows" by Roseanna M. White -- (very upset that I hadn't enough room to stuff all the books I've read of hers on this list. Why only one? Why?!) I adored Gwyneth (Thad was fabulous and all, but we didn't connect as much as Gwyneth and I). I related to her on a level that was unexpectedly deep. The nightmares, the art, the fear ... we think alike. And Roseanna, I want to meet you, and then I would hug you, and we would eat cupcakes whilst I babbled about your awesomeness. The end.
    -- "The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet" by our own sweet Stephanie Morrill -- Ellie. I would wrap her up and take her home and we would be the bestest of friends... if she was only real.
    -- "How to Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee -- this book affected me so deeply, and made me weep, and I will say no more, so as to avoid repeating aforementioned scenario.
    -- "From Darkness Won" by Jill Williamson -- the long-awaited (for me, at least) conclusion to a beatiful and gripping trilogy. I couldn't have been more delighted with it. Achan and Vrell. Yes.
    (and because I'm a rebel .... "Kisses from Katie" by Katie Davis, "Anything" by Jennie Allen, "Mama's Bank Account" by Katherine Forbes, and all of Melanie Dickinson's loverly fairytales)

  24. Ooh, great picks! :D

    Let's see, mine are:

    1. Eleanor & Park, because it's Eleanor & Park. Seriously, Rainbow Rowell is a GENIUS.
    2. The Host, because it was unique and a great story about love, whether it be romantic, love between friends, or the love a family shares.
    3. Wonder, because it was the best MG book I've read EVER. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made my heart break and mend again. It was incredibly deep.
    4. Allegiant, because the ending was heartbreaking and beautiful.
    5. The Unlikely Debut of Ellie Sweet, because I could totally relate to Ellie, and for so many more reasons. :) This review says it all:

  25. Dragonwitch was my very favorite read of this year. And one of my most favorite reads EVER!!!

  26. As if I could pick five. I did pick five of my favorites for my blog, though. I was surprised to find so many non-fictions ranking high on my list. Here they are (in no particular order):
    1. Secret Believers, by Brother Andrew
    2. Moccasin Trail, by Elois Jarvis McGraw
    3. Tales of the Heartily Homeschooled, by Rachel Starr Thomson
    4. God's Smuggler, by Brother Andrew
    5. Orphan Justice, by Johnny Carr

    P.S. That picture looks awfully familiar! ;)

  27. I am astounded that you narrowed it down to 5! I got my list down to 13! (7 books less then last year!) My top five were:
    1) The Coldest Girl in Cold Town by Holly Black
    2) Oblivion by Sasha Dawn
    3) Between The Devil and The Deep Blue Sea by April Genevive Tucholke
    4) Allegiant by Veronica Roth
    5) Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

  28. BRANDON SANDERSON! Okay, all I've read if his are the Mistborn books, but I absolutely loved them, and I want to read more of his stuff. (Also I love Writing Excuses.)
    Here's my list:

    1. The Mistborn books.
    2. Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas (oh my gosh, the secrets she kept from the reader...)
    3. The Archived by Victoria Schwab
    4. Entwined by Heather Dixon
    5. The Blood of Kings Trilogy (I finished the third book early last January, so I actually read most of it in 2012, but I'm counting it anyway.)

    1. From Amo Libros:
      If you're ever in the mood for a lighthearted series with an unreliable narrator, check out his Alcatraz Vs.________ series. There's four books out right now and they're hysterical! If ONLY he would WRITE BOOK 5!!!!

  29. 1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
    2. These Broken Stars
    3. The Fault in our Stars
    4. Allegiant
    5. Not a Drop to Drink

  30. 1: A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
    2: On the road - Jack Kerouac
    3: 1984 - George Orwell
    4: Little Brother - Cory Doctorow
    5: Squirrel seeks chipmunk - David Sedaris

  31. Some of my favorite books would probably be.... (in no particular order)
    1. The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet (I loved that book!!)
    2. Interrupted: A Life Without Words by Rachel Coker
    3. Magna by Nicole O'Dell (for some unknown reason I really liked that story!!)
    4. Me, Just Diiferent
    And.... (for some reason I am having a terrible time remembering books I've read...)
    5. Outcasts
    I like that picture of you both!! :-)

    1. Ugh, sorry, it should Captives...

  32.'s hard to pick only five.

    In no particular order:

    1: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - I'm still suffering emotional trauma, but it was a great book. Can't wait to see the movie.
    2: The Chosen by Chaim Potok - I learned more about modern Jewish culture than I ever knew before.
    3: The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton - Reread this book in August and cried just as much as I did the first time.
    4: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen - I just LOVE this book! I read it in a day, curled up on by bed while munching a few apples. It was fun. :)
    5: The Screwtape Letters and Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis - Can't really separate the two in my mind, because I read them both together. I have so much respect for C.S. Lewis!

    I guess I cheated, because that's six. :) It's so hard to narrow down choices!

    1. I just got those two books by C.S. Lewis for Christmas. Can't wait to read them! The Silver Chair and Last Battle are the best books ever. :)

    2. I hope you enjoy them! Screwtape was especially fascinating to was food for thought and motivation for character improvement. I enjoyed it immmmm-ensely. :)

      My favorites in the Narnia series are probably The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, and The Horse and His Boy. :) I really want a movie of the latter!

    3. From Amo Libros:
      I LOVE NARNIA!!!!! I'm always so disappointed when I open my closet and it doesn't lead anywhere :(
      I have trouble picking my favorites (they very) but my top 3 of 7 would be The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, and The Horse and His Boy.

  33. I read so many books this year, but I'll list 5 :)
    1. The Coral Island by R. M. Ballintyne
    2. The story of a Bad Boy by Thomas Bailey Aldrich
    3. Miss Pat in the old World by Pemberton Ginther
    4. Oh Mountains be my refuge by Arlene Sande
    5. Angeline Goes Traveling by Frances Margaret Fox
    All of these books were so good, and most were published late 1800's early 1900's.
    I aslo reread three all-time favorites - Ella Enchanted by Gail Levine and Lyddie and its sequel Jip by Katherine Paterson.

  34. 1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
    2. Slated by Teri Terry
    3. 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher
    4. Code by Kathy Reichs
    5. The Host by Stephanie Meyer.

  35. Ok, of course I can't remember much, probably because I haven't read as much as I usually do last year. It's been so hectic.
    One of the books I did get excited over was the Go Teen Writers book and I haven't finished it yet, but that's the only one I can think of at the moment.
    But, I was just wondering, is it possible we could do another collaboration story, that was so fun.


  36. 1. The Curse of the Spider King.
    2. Lunitic( from the circle series)
    3. The Return of the King.
    4. Orbit
    5. Anomly

  37. 1. The Abolitionist by Elisabeth Allen
    2. Swipe by Evan Angler
    3. The Orphan King by Sigmund Brouwer
    4. Welcome to Camden Falls by Ann M. Martin
    5. The Railway Children by E. Nesbit

  38. Only five? This will be a challenge....

    1. Divergent by Veronica Roth
    2. Insurgent by Veronica Roth
    3. Allegiant by Veronica Roth
    4. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
    5. Looking for Alaska by John Green

  39. Hmm...well, I wrote a post on my favorite authors I discovered this year, but not books.

    Anyway, here it goes:
    1. Keeper of the Lost Cities (Shannon Messenger)
    2. Revised Life of Ellie Sweet (you know who)
    3. Divergent series (Veronica Roth)
    4. False Prince (Jennifer A. Nielson)
    5. A Tale Dark and Grimm (Adam Gidwitz)

    I really hope to read Jill's books this year.

  40. My top 5 were:

    The Clockwork Heart by Dru Pagliassotti
    Divergent by Veronica Roth
    The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet
    To Kill a Mockingbird-Harper Lee
    The Hobbit- J.R.R Tolkien

  41. Wow, thanks for all the love, guys! And for building my "to read" list!