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My Favorite Books of 2013

I’ve been seeing a lot of posts like this one on twitter. Since I often find my next good book on such lists, and I read 87 books last year, I figured I could make my own list. I was going to do a Top Ten but like any good pageant girl, I know that a Top 12 is superior. 😉

Before I start my list I want to tell you that one of my favorite personal mottos is, “Life is too short to read bad books.” So all 87 books I read were good or I wouldn’t have finished them because there are just way too many other books waiting to be read.

So here we go. In no particular order…

Cave Women Don't Get Fat

I read Cave Women Don’t Get Fat towards the very end of the year so when I was thinking of doing this post, it popped into my head immediately. I’ve read probably every book about the paleo lifestyle on the market but I really loved this one because it was geared towards women. It’s written in an easily understandable style and I think it would benefit all women, who want to live healthfully, to read it. Additionally, the author Esther Blum is super nice and it’s been fun to read her newsletter and to engage with her on twitter @EstherBlum.

Think Like a Rock Star

It seems like Think Like A Rock Star was a big part of my life in 2013. I had been on Mack Collier’s email list for a while and when he said his new book was coming out and we might be able to read an advanced copy if we applied to, I jumped right on it. What a GREAT book! In it, Mack talks about how brands should look at how rock stars treat their fans and use it as a tool in how they treat their customers. We all know it would be awesome to have fans, right? Mack also gained a big fan (and friend) in me. I was excited to travel to Birmingham for Y’all Connect and meet Mack in person at what was a terrific conference. Find Mack on twitter @mackcollier.

Looking for MeIf I weren’t such an airhead, I would have also gotten a chance to meet the fabu Beth Hoffman (after I left Birmingham and on my way to Cincinnati) but I got my days mixed up. I read Beth’s first book Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt in 2010 and it remains one of my favorite books of all time.  I was so excited to get Looking for Me into my hands and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a wonderful, heartwarming story that I loved. It also made me really want to visit Charleston and that’s where David and I are planning our 35th anniversary trip in April. Thanks, Beth! Find Beth on twitter @wordrunner.

Killer Ambition

I stumbled across this book when I found that the Huffington Post does book reviews. I thought, “I know Marcia Clark!” When we moved back to the US after living in the Middle East, I was having trouble acclimating. The OJ Simpson trial was on TV so that’s what I did every day. For months. I watched the trial. So, honestly, I feel like I know Marcia Clark.   Killer Ambition got good reviews so I read it. I loved it! It is the third book for Marcia Clark and, although they are about Rachel Knight, they are stand alone stories. After reading this book, I went on to read her other two books and am looking forward to the next one. I’ll admit to being a little star struck when @thatmarciaclark tweeted me. I love twitter!

Seven Deadlies

Oh how I love Ms. Gigi Levangie’s books! And this one was different than the rest. It was kind of twisted. And funny. It totally reminded me of Kurt Vonnegut, an author I enjoyed reading a lot for those very reasons. Seven Deadlies: A Cautionary Tale is a very clever spin on the seven deadly sins as seen through the eyes of a high school girl in Hollywood. Expect to be caught off guard and laugh out loud when you read this book. I also have fun connecting with @GigiLevangie  on twitter. She’s a pretty funny gal, which I more than appreciate!

Secrets of the Southern Belle

I’m a big fan of the Real Housewives shows although I will admit to not having watched the gals from Atlanta. Phaedra Parks, who wrote Secrets of a Southern Belle, is part of the Real Housewives of Atlanta cast. This is a wonderful book which (and please forgive me for sounding like someone’s grandma even if I am) I feel many young women today could benefit from reading! Although I was born and raised in northern Illinois, I found many of the thoughts in this book ones that we’re passed down to me from my mother and grandmother. Excellent book! On twitter @PhaedraParks.

Lowcountry Bombshell

This is another time where I read the second book before the first one. Lowcountry Bombshell is the second in the Liz Talbot Mystery series.  Liz Talbot is a smart and fashion conscious private investigator. I loved this book and read it right on the heels of Looking For Me. Lowcountry Bombshell also takes place in South Carolina. I was already planning a trip to Charleston and this book actually offered restaurant ideas that I’ve added to my list. Although the book is fiction, the restaurants are real! It was fun to read this book and I ordered the first book in the series and it’s on my list to read this year. I’ve also enjoyed connecting with author @susanmboyer on twitter! 

The Storyteller

I don’t know why I am always so sure I’m not going to like a book from Jodi Piccoult when that has never been the case. I have, though, picked up her books in the past, read what the story was about and thought, no, not for me. But then I take it and read it and love it. The Storyteller is an incredibly awesome book. I knew, right away, that I would like this one because the subject matter involves the Holocaust, a topic I’ve read much about. I did not want this book to end. When a book is this good, it’s hard for me to put into words just what makes it so. On twitter, @jodipicoult.

Empty MansionsI’ve never been a big fan of history. Oh, I like super old things like the Bible and the history of ancient Egypt but American history? No, thanks. Boring. Except for this book wasn’t boring. Empty Mansions is a cool book about a billionaire industrialist in the early days of America. The book begins with an empty mansion and his youngest daughter. The story of the family is fascinating and extremely interesting. A true American success story. I can no longer say I don’t like American history! Find the author @BillDedman.

Under the Jewelled SkyI have never been to India but I sure hope to visit there one day. I chose to read Under the Jewelled Sky because I thought it would show me what India is like. And it did that. Author, Alison McQueen writes a haunting tale of two generations of an expat family  who are stationed in India. The descriptions of everything from the palace to the refugee camp are so detailed you can see it in your mind’s eye. I liked that they visited, and eventually lived in, Ooty since my cousin’s daughter just finished up an assignment there and I had heard of it before. I’ve connected with @Alison_McQueen on twitter which, as you know, I think is awesome!

Waking Up In HeavenBooks about people who die and have an experience in Heaven are very intriguing to me so the choice to read Waking up in Heaven by Crystal McVea was an easy one. The book is hard to put down and I read it straight through. Awesome (I know I say that a lot but, truly) is a good word to describe her story. Again, I connected on twitter with @CrystalMcvea and she is a sweetie!

Buck: A MemoirBuck: A Memoir is another book that I don’t feel qualified to write a good review for, so my review is short but I will tell you this is an awesome book. Another that I couldn’t put down. It’s so out of the realm of what I normally read but I was immediately drawn into this story of a young boy trying to make his way on the streets of Philadelphia and I felt like his biggest cheerleader by the end of the book. The author is on twitter @mkasante.

So there you have it. That was way harder than I thought it was going to be. I really worry a lot that I don’t do justice to wonderful books I read by reviewing them. But I want to thank ALL of the authors I read this year for writing such great stuff.

If you want to see what else I read this year, you can visit my Goodreads page. That’s where I keep track. 🙂

Note regarding “awesome”: I promise to buy some more adjectives by next year. 😉