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Staff Picks For Favorite Books of 2013

IN THE December 28 ISSUE

FROM THE 2013 Articles,
andCynthia Chow,
andEvery Other Book,
andFantasy & Fangs,
andLorie Lewis Ham,
andMysteryrat's Maze,
andSandra Murphy,
andTerrance V. Mc Arthur
SECTIONS

by KRL Reviewers

KRL reviewed a lot of really good and great books in 2013, but we decided to give our best shot at choosing our top 5 of the year–some of us cheated a little, but here are our choices! And if you are an author who is not on the list, take heart–like I said, they were all good books!

Cynthia Chow:

Craig Johnson’s A Serpent’s Tooth
This is a series that has only grown stronger. Walt Longmire is such a strong character, damaged but who retains his humanity and dry humor. The themes will touch readers but never seem too preachy, and the writing is always so smooth and compelling.

Michael A. Kahn’s The Flinch Factor a lot of this is sentiment, but I absolutely adored this series written over ten years ago and so I was thrilled to see its return. This legal mystery was as fresh and fun as the earlier books and brought back the same humor while having allowed for all of the characters to have grown.

Timothy Hallinan’s The Fame Thief
I loved the dark humor, original characters, and Hollywood lore. Characters who are flawed and imperfect and unapologetic about it are always a treat, and Hallinan continues to be a favorite author of mine with his acerbic sense of humor and wit.

Lucy Burdette’s Topped Chef
I’m a sucker for a foodie mystery and this one is crafted by a skilled writer with a psychology background. Reality show competitions, the food trends of the future, and an upcoming wedding all combine into one tasty treat of disasters and fun.

Tina Whittle’s Blood, Ash and Bone
This relatively new series has become one of my favorites. Featuring a very competent gun dealing heroine and her boyfriend, a former special ops agent suffering from traumatic brain injury, the characters couldn’t be more original or the writing any more fun. The progression of their very complex relationship is just as fascinating as the mystery, which encompasses the KKK and its new marketing techniques. The tone is never too dark though, and the wry humor always prevails.

Terrance Mc Arthur:

When I tried to make a list of the 5 favorite books I reviewed this year, I had 18 books. I cut and pruned, and this is my Fabulous 5:

The Family Way by Rhys Bowen
I love the Molly Murphy series, an Irish private investigator in turn-of-the-century New York. This time, she has married her police detective, is pregnant, and has promised to stop sleuthing. But when there are missing children, unwed mothers, and nuns involved, you know Molly will be in the thick of it.

Generation V by M. L. Brennan
A fresh take on vampire biology, with a doormat of a loser starting to transform into a full-fledged vampire while struggling to maintain his humanity. Look for foreign vampires, shape-changing foxes, and people in the cellar.

The Mist-Torn Witches by Barb Hendee
Sisters that work as herbalists and phony fortunetellers develop real powers to help a noble nobleman overcome his bad brother.

Fonduing Fathers by Julie Hyzy
The White House Executive Chef finds out that her Arlington-buried father was dishonorably discharged and accused of theft by his last employers, and she wants to know how he was still interred with honors. Cloak-and-dagger action and some great recipes.

Oodles of Poodles by Linda O. Johnston
The director of a no-kill rescue shelter is an observer on a movie location filled with poodle pups, Hollywood egos, and murder.

Viva Jacquelina!Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, Over the Hills and Far Away by L.A. Meyer Tenth of the Bloody Jack series. Jacky (Mary) Faber- orphan, ship’s boy, pirate, Boston finishing-school student, shipping-fleet owner, spy, convict, and entertainer is off to Portugal and Spain with the Duke of Wellington, famous painters, and gypsies. Lively fun for Young Adult adventurers.

Sandra Murphy:

The Sound and the Furry by Spencer Quinn, a Chet and Bernie Little Detective Agency Mystery
This is the best Chet and Bernie yet. It takes place in Louisiana, has a great plot and Chet gets all the good lines. It’s hard to tell a story from a dog’s point of view. For instance, Chet only hears one side of a phone call and his attention span is less than stellar. Quinn does this better than anybody else, makes it fun and doesn’t forget the mystery as he does it.

Drizzled with Death by Jessie Crockett
Just when you think every job, hobby, or pastime has been covered in mysteries, here’s a new one. Drizzled refers to a maple syrup business. The characters are funny, the hint of romance makes me want the next book now, and it was a good mystery on top of it.

The Curse of the PTA by Laura Alden
We all get jobs no one else wants, including us. That’s the case here as the main character is now in charge of the PTA. Too bad that at her first meeting, the guest speaker is killed. Good character development, the kids are believable without being too cutesy, and you gotta feel sorry for anybody stuck with a thankless job.

Going Through the Notions by Cate Price
If you love vintage and all the little notions sold in sewing stores, whether you know what they are or are used for, this is the book for you. The notions are still in the original packaging so good for someone who will use them or for collectors. A nice twist on a hobby theme and characters you’ll want to know.

Woof at the Door by Laura Morrigan
Any time there’s a pet psychic, you’ve got to expect a little woo-woo in the story. However, Morrigan makes this tale believable. The character doesn’t get full blown, detailed messages from the pets, doesn’t talk to them like Dr. Doolittle. She reads their emotions more than anything. It’s blended nicely in a complex murder plot and very well done. Don’t avoid the book because of possible woo-woo. Enjoy the story as I did.

Lorie Ham:

Like everyone else it is so hard to pick my top 5 favorite books I’ve reviewed this year. For one, I’ve read so many it can be hard to remember them all, but also because I’ve read so many good ones. So if I reviewed your book and it didn’t make my list, take heart–I did enjoy it!

Billionaire Blend by Cleo Coyle
I love this series! Not only are they fun mysteries, but I love the coffeehouse setting and the characters. What better combination than mystery and coffee.

Who Needs Enemies by Keri Arthur
This book has one of my favorite combinations–mystery together with fantasy. Keri is a very popular fantasy author and this was a step out from her other series–this one she self-published as an e-book. The main character, Harriet Phillecky, is a rare part elf, part siren and wanted by neither race, but she doesn’t care. A successful news photographer turned paranormal investigator, Harriet now has a ‘family’ of friends that include fun loving and loyal ogres who constantly raid her refrigerator and take over her TV, a dragon who drinks too much, and her business partner in investigations–a former cop named Ceri. This book is just so much fun I can’t wait for the next in this new series.

Possession by Kat Richardson This is another one with a mystery/fantasy combo. Harper Blaine is a private investigator whose life took a very strange turn when she became a Greywalker, throwing her into the world of the supernatural. Possession is the latest book in this series, but the first one I have ever read. I loved the characters, the Seattle setting, and the mystery ghost story so much that I went back and started reading the series from the beginning.

Shadow of the Alchemist by Jeri Westerson
This is the latest in a Medieval Noir series featuring Tracker Crispin Guest. Again we have the mystery, but with swords and knights, and kings, and in this book even an alchemist. Jeri does a wonderful job of creating a mystery set in this exciting world from the past.

Dead, White and Blue by Caroyln Hart
Carolyn Hart’s Death On Demand mystery series introduced me to the modern mystery. Until I found her and Marcia Muller, the only mysteries I had ever read were Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie. So I always look forward to the next book. One of my favorite things about this series for me is the setting of a mystery bookstore! Can you tell with mysteries setting goes a long way with me? Coffeehouse, mystery bookstore, and swords and knights! Carolyn Hart is a wonderful writer and I enjoy her characters, her setting of course, and the way she spins an old-fashioned mystery.

I also have to mention two more that didn’t make the top 5. One that I can’t leave out because it was such a fun pairing–The Heist by Lee Goldberg and Janet Evanovich, and for non-fiction Melody Moezzi’s book Haldol and Hyacinths: A Bipolar Life.

You can purchase any of these by using the Amazon link below and a portion will go to help support KRL!

Feel free to share your 2013 favorites with us in the comments section, check out the full reviews of the above books by clicking on the titles, and you can check out all of our book reviews in our books section.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 JillNo Gravatar December 29, 2013 at 4:20am

Thank you for this list. I’ve read some of the books but not all of them. Now I have a new list to take to the bookstore and library.

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2 mary kennedyNo Gravatar
Twitter: @marykennedybook
December 31, 2013 at 5:12am

An excellent list! Thanks so much for posting.

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3 Michelle FidlerNo Gravatar January 2, 2014 at 1:24pm

I have Rhys Bowen’s The Family Way but haven’t read it yet although I did recently finish her book The Twelve Clues of Christmas. I also have Curse of the P.T.A. and some Julie Hyzy books.

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4 mary grayNo Gravatar February 14, 2014 at 3:39pm

hi! just found your site through a link from Michael Kahb/Rachel Gold novels. Just finished Flinch Factor, which I loved. I noticed other books mentioned here are also ones I am reading, and authors I like, as in Rhys Bowen. do you have a regular newsletter, or other, that I could follow? Our tastes seem uncannily similar. thanks, mary

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