My Favorite Books of 2013 (So Far)


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

For today’s Top Ten Tuesday post, we’re supposed to compose a list of our favorite books of 2013 (so far).  This was a harder list to create than I thought it would be; it would probably be easier to create at the end of the summer after I’ve been able to catch up on my reading.  Some of these titles will remain on the list at the end of the year, but I know many will be replaced by even better titles.  It will be fun to find discover those books!

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (Goodreads) (My mini review)–This will remain a favorite at the end of the year.  I hope many of my students will read this in the future.

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (Goodreads) (My review)–Not only will this definitely be a favorite at the end of the year, Rainbow Rowell is a new favorite author.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the UniverseEleanor & Park

I’m With Stupid by Geoff Herbach (Goodreads) (My review)–What a way to end a truly wonderful trilogy.

One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt (Goodreads) (Review posts on Friday)–I just finished reading this and can’t stop thinking about Carley and the Murphys.  Plus, I’m still sniffling.

I'm With Stupid new coverOne for the Murphys

Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith (Goodreads) (My review)–I love the characters in this 2013 debut, but I think the writing is what really won me over.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett (Goodreads)–So I’m definitely cheating here because I haven’t finished this yet, but I’m loving the audio and the story way too much not to include it on this list.  It’s fabulous.

Wild AwakeThe Help

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys (Goodreads) (My review)–I liked this more than Between Shades of Gray.

Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt (Goodreads)–This is another fantastic audiobook that I thoroughly enjoyed.  It’s middle grade, historical fiction, and full of well-developed characters.  Listening to the audio meant I missed out on seeing the different birds from Audobon’s Birds of America, however.

Out of the EasyOkay for Now

Game by Barry Lyga (Goodreads) (My review)–This was even better than I Hunt Killers and it has a crazy cliffhanger!

Dead Silence by Kimberly Derting (Goodreads) (My review)–This is one of my absolute favorite series, and even though I haven’t heard of a fifth book in the series, I’m still holding out hope that this isn’t the last book!

GameDead Silence

Flash Reviews (21)

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the UniverseTitle: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Author: Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers

Source: Purchased

Summary (From Goodreads):

A lyrical novel about family and friendship from critically acclaimed author Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

Flash Review:  I wish I would have written a full review of this when I finished reading it, but I really just wanted to sit back and enjoy how much I enjoyed it.  Is that weird?  I had never even heard of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe before it received multiple ALA awards this year.  I’m happy it received so many honors because this book deserves attention.  I have a feeling it will really only speak to specific readers, but it still deserves praise and a wide readership.  I’m going to recommend it to John Green fans, which I realize is a broad scope of readers, but I think those who enjoy the verisimilitude in Green’s books will enjoy it in this book.  The conversations between Dante and Aristotle are simple and complex and beautiful.  Their story is beautiful.  I couldn’t put it down, and then trying to immediately put into words all of my feelings when I was done was nearly impossible.  I read it on my Kindle and when I finished I knew I had to find a way to get a copy with all of the medals in my classroom.  So far I’ve only been able to find a copy with the Printz honor medal.  I know I haven’t really “reviewed” this, but I still hope you read it.  It’s going to be a favorite of 2013.

Blood Red RoadTitle: Blood Red Road

Author: Moira Young

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Source: Borrowed from the library

Summary (From Goodreads): Saba has spent her whole life in Silverlake, a dried-up wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms. The Wrecker civilization has long been destroyed, leaving only landfills for Saba and her family to scavenge from. That’s fine by her, as long as her beloved twin brother Lugh is around. But when a monster sandstorm arrives, along with four cloaked horsemen, Saba’s world is shattered. Lugh is captured, and Saba embarks on an epic quest to get him back.

Suddenly thrown into the lawless, ugly reality of the world outside of desolate Silverlake, Saba is lost without Lugh to guide her. So perhaps the most surprising thing of all is what Saba learns about herself: she’s a fierce fighter, an unbeatable survivor, and a cunning opponent. And she has the power to take down a corrupt society from the inside. Teamed up with a handsome daredevil named Jack and a gang of girl revolutionaries called the Free Hawks, Saba stages a showdown that will change the course of her own civilization.

Blood Red Road has a searing pace, a poetically minimal writing style, violent action, and an epic love story. Moira Young is one of the most promising and startling new voices in teen fiction.

Flash Review:  There are only a few books I chose for my Young Adult Lit II class without reading them first, which I know isn’t best practice, but I chose them based on LOTS of discussion with trusted teachers and librarians.  I haven’t been disappointed in those choices, and Blood Red Road was one of them.  The first thing that caught me off guard while reading was the dialect.  It was harder for me to read than the dialect in The Knife of Never Letting Go.  And the lack of quotation marks around the dialogue made it even harder, but ultimately I loved it.  I’m still not sure why Moira Young chose to skip the quotation marks, but I think it will make for great discussion when we read it in class.  Saba is a pretty awesome heroine; her bravery and overall hardcore attitude often put Katniss to shame.  The summary’s description of Blood Red Road being an “epic love story” isn’t accurate, in my opinion.  There’s a nice love story, but I would never call it epic.  When I think of an epic love story I think of Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor or something sweeping like that.  Overall, I would have liked to know Saba more than I did; I felt like I knew Jack and Emmi better than Saba.  This is a book that will appeal to many readers who enjoy action and adventure with a little bit of romance.

Just One DayTitle: Just One Day

Author: Gayle Forman

Publisher: Dutton Juvenile

Source: ARC received from the publisher

Summary (From Goodreads): A breathtaking journey toward self-discovery and true love, from the author of If I Stay

When sheltered American good girl Allyson “LuLu” Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.

Just One Day is the first in a sweepingly romantic duet of novels. Willem’s story—Just One Year—is coming soon!

Flash Review: It seems like everyone absolutely loved Just One Day.  I gave it three stars on Goodreads, but that’s mostly because of a few scenes at the beginning and some with Dee (a character introduced later in the story) in the middle.  If it weren’t for those few things, I wouldn’t have finished this book.  Allyson is one of the most annoying characters I’ve ever read, which makes me feel like a horrible person for thinking that because she’s depressed.  I think it’s more the reasons why she acts the way she does for over half of the book that bothers me so much.  She knew Willem for one day, hence the title, and is completely hung up on him for months.  Really?  Get over it.  Maybe if I was sixteen or seventeen and reading this I would have felt differently.  The big reason behind her feeling so low is her mother, which is why I feel bad saying she’s so annoying.  I simply wouldn’t call Just One Day romantic.  It’s about soul-searching and discovering yourself.  It borders on New Adult since Allyson is away at college and breaking away from her parents.  If I had gone into reading this prepared for all of that, maybe I would have liked it more.  I wish Gayle Forman would just write from a guy’s point of view because I didn’t think If I Stay was so great either, but I LOVED Where She Went.  I’m hoping I feel the same way about Just One Year which is from Willem’s perspective.

As always, thank you for the Flash Reviews idea, GreenBeanTeenQueen!

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