It's the end of the year, so that means it's time to choose the best books of 2013!
Romance: "The Chocolate Kiss" by Laura Florand.
Magalie works in a small but magical tea/chocolate shop that seems threatened when Phillipe, a renowned pastry chef, decides he's opening a shop literally down the street. Sparks fly between the two business rivals, but they seem to want to torment each other, daring the other to try their famous treats. A lavish confection of a romance, with sweet and spicy chemistry between Magalie and Phillipe, made me stay up until late in the night reading!
Amish Romance: "A Simple Faith" by Rosalind Lauer.
An Amish teen comes in contact with a young nurse after a tragic traffic accident and both women's lives are changed. Elsie is content to work in her parents' store and never marry, or so she thinks. Haley is content to be a nurse and isn't going to try to make a romantic move toward the new psychologist. Is their romance ahead for both women? This is a lovely story of two sweet couples that will warm your heart.
Mystery: "Omens" by Kelley Armstrong.
A wealthy woman named Olivia Taylor-Jones is thrown to learn she is the birth child of convicted serial killers. Her mother supposedly knew, but is suddenly distancing herself from her and her fiance leaves. Olivia finds herself completely cut off and on her own, and seems guided to the small town of Cainsville. Her birth mother's lawyer, Gabriel Walsh, soon convinces her to speak with her, and Olivia finds herself digging into her past and the murders her parents supposedly committed and begins to question everything, even her new strange little town. Armstrong is the master of creating sympathetic but strong female protagonists, and she continues to do so with Olivia.
Thriller: "The Last Kiss Goodbye" by Karen Robards.
A combination of mystery, romance and paranormal, this book follows Dr. Charlotte Stone as she studies serial killers, hunts them and possibly falls in love with the ghost of one! Charlotte can see ghosts, which helps in her line of work, but the ghost of Michael Garland, a convicted killer who claimed he was innocent and died right in front of her, is hanging around, helping with cases like her latest one against The Gingerbread Man and throwing a complication into her love life. Readers are going to keep wondering is Michael actually innocent or playing Charlotte, and so far we haven't gotten a clear answer...
Paranormal: "Generation V" by M.L. Brennan.
This dark vampire novel follows a vampire who isn't a brooding hero but instead is a sarcastic film theory vegetarian student who can't hold down a job. He's a disappointment to his vampire mother who doesn't approve of his "veggie" lifestyle and he is getting involved with vampire politics by wanting to rescue a young girl being kept as a "pet." I loved the character of Fort, who is the complete opposite of any vampire hero ever. He can't keep a girlfriend, has a loser roommate who won't pay rent and isn't exactly charming and seductive - but is instead completely relatable.
Time Travel: "Here I Go Again" by Jen Lancaster.
A grown-up "mean girl" named Lissy is given a strange concoction to gain peace and enlightenment by a former classmate after her life finally falls apart - losing her job, husband and house. She wakes up in her 17-year-old body and sees it as her chance to change her ways. But as Lissy becomes nicer, she doesn't see any improvement in the lives of her classmates and finds there is always a "mean girl." Can she find a way to improve her future by changing the past? This is a funny book for anyone who would like to change their high school experience.
Young Adult: "The Moon and More" by Sarah Dessen.
A story of a young woman making the transition from high school to college life set in a tourist-y seaside town, this is a perfect coming-of-age novel. Emaline is working for her mom's family business and dealing with her estranged father. She's has hit a rough patch with her long-term boyfriend, Luke, and a new guy, Theo, just in town for the summer seems willing to take his place. With everything in her life up in the air, what will happen to her by the end of summer? Emaline is a strong heroine that readers will relate to.
Book That Ends A Series I Read As a Teen: "Janie Face to Face" by Caroline B. Cooney.
"The Face on the Milk Carton" series comes to a conclusion with the story of kidnapped child, Janie, who must come to terms with her two families at long last. Janie's relationship with high school boyfriend Reeve is also finally settled. This was a fitting end to the series and speaks a lot about family, trust and love. It was good to see everything finally wrapped up in a just way.
Contact Amy Phelps at firstname.lastname@example.org