Top Ten Tuesday: My Favorite Books of 2013

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

Normally I write out reasons why I’m including each book on this list, but I’ve reviewed these books and mentioned them on so many lists that I feel like it’s not really necessary at this point. But believe me, creating this list was HARD. At the end of every year I feel like I haven’t read enough books, nor enough books that really wowed me. Do any of you feel that way at this time of year? I guess I’m not reading to be wowed, but I certainly like discovering new favorites. The books on this list are here because they’ve stayed with me this year (characters, plot, writing style, twists, etc.). I’d love to know which books are you favorites this year!

My favorite books of 2013 in no particular order…

1. Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith (My review)

2. Winger by Andrew Smith (My review)

3. Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller (My review)

4. Golden by Jessi Kirby (My review)

5. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (My review)

6. Rapture Practice by Aaron Hartzler (My review)

7. I’m With Stupid by Geoff Herbach (My review)

8. Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys (My review)

9. The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine (My review)

10. Dead Silence by Kimberly Derting (My review)

My favorite backlist titles read in 2013 (I couldn’t help but cheat)…

1. One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt (My review)

2. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (My review)

3. Recovery Road by Blake Nelson

4. Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles

5. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read in 2013

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

This post is actually difficult to write because despite my list, many of the books I read this year are written by authors I’ve read before. I consider that a good thing because it means former debut authors and new-to-me authors have continued to impress me. I’d love to know which authors are on your list! Hopefully we’ll share some similarities. Hopefully I’ll discover even more authors!

Top Debut Authors:

Hilary T. Smith–Wild Awake has engaging characters and beautiful writing. I hope she writes another book soon!

Rainbow Rowell–Eleanor & Park is Rowell’s debut YA release which rocked my world. Seriously. I LOVE that book.

Hollis Seamon–Somebody Up There Hates You surprised me in a great way. It was fun to read despite being a “cancer” book.

Robin Constantine–As soon as I finished reading The Promise of Amazing I wanted to read another one of Robin Constantine’s books. It’s too bad this hasn’t even released yet because that means I have to wait even LONGER for her next book.

Jessica Verdi–She tackles a big issue in My Life After Now without getting preachy. Plus, it’s an issue not enough found in YA. Win, win.

Aaron Hartzler–Rapture Practice is a great example of YA memoir while also being a fabulous and relevant story.

K.A. Barson–45 Pounds is a fun book that many of my readers will relate to. Plus, K.A. Barson is a Michigan author!

Top New-to-Me Authors:

Benjamin Alire Saenz–I can’t begin to explain how beautiful Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is.

Jo Knowles–So technically Jo Knowles isn’t new to me since I read Lessons From a Dead Girl a few years ago. I’m including her on this list because I read three of her other books this year and loved all of them. I feel like I truly discovered her this year.

Amy Reed–I loved reading Over You and now want to read everything Amy Reed writes.

My Favorite Books of 2013 (So Far)

toptentuesday-New

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

Review: Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith

Wild AwakeTitle: Wild Awake

Author: Hilary T. Smith

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Release Date: May 28th, 2013

Interest: Contemporary / Debut Author

Source: ARC received from the editor

Summary (From Goodreads):

Things you earnestly believe will happen while your parents are away:

1. You will remember to water the azaleas.
2. You will take detailed, accurate messages.
3. You will call your older brother, Denny, if even the slightest thing goes wrong.
4. You and your best friend/bandmate Lukas will win Battle of the Bands.
5. Amid the thrill of victory, Lukas will finally realize you are the girl of his dreams.

Things that actually happen:

1. A stranger calls who says he knew your sister.
2. He says he has her stuff.
3. What stuff? Her stuff.
4. You tell him your parents won’t be able to—
5. Sukey died five years ago; can’t he—
6. You pick up a pen.
7. You scribble down the address.
8. You get on your bike and go.
9. Things . . . get a little crazy after that.*
*also, you fall in love, but not with Lukas.

Both exhilarating and wrenching, Hilary T. Smith’s debut novel captures the messy glory of being alive, as seventeen-year-old Kiri Byrd discovers love, loss, chaos, and murder woven into a summer of music, madness, piercing heartbreak, and intoxicating joy.

To put it simply, I just loved Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith.

Smith’s writing is lively and beautiful.  I almost never take notes when I’m reading a book because it distracts me, but I had to write down multiple sentences and paragraphs while reading  Wild Awake.  If I didn’t want to stop, I took a picture of what I was reading so I would remember it when writing this review.  Here are a few of the sections I wanted to remember (quotes taken from the ARC):

“His smile is a jar full of fireflies.”

“…I feel more exposed than I ever have before, like I’m climbing a rock face with only a strand of dental floss for a harness. The music we’re playing is a dripline straight from our hearts, a confession of all that we are.”

“…I’ve traded in a jar full of pennies for a bar of gold.  It’s amazing how quickly the things you thought would make you happy seem small once you stumble on something true.”

Hilary T. Smith has lines like those woven throughout her entire novel.  I absolutely love her similes and metaphors.

Along with loving the writing, I adore Kiri Byrd.  She is alive on the page.  I simultaneously worried about Kiri while wanting to be her friend and spend time with her.  I worried for her because she is grieving over her sister and what she discovers about her sister.  I also worried for her because she’s manic and dealing with it all by herself.  (Note–I knew something was mentally wrong with Kiri, but didn’t think of mania–I have no idea why not–until Kelly @ Stacked pointed it out in her review, which is great by the way.)  What’s awesome about Wild Awake is that I never felt like I was reading a novel about grief.  I understood Kiri’s grief and empathized with her, but I never felt down while reading this.  I think the main reason I didn’t feel down is because Kiri is so exuberant.  Even at times that she shouldn’t be, she is full of life and wonder and wanting the best for herself and for Skunk.

Speaking of Skunk, his character is wonderful.  He and Kiri are both suffering, but they’re life rafts for each other.  He’s her “bicycle boy,” her “love-bison,” and so much more.  Kiri sees his potential and wants to help him heal.  I don’t want to say too much more because I’m afraid I’ll spoil something, but I sure do love Skunk.  Especially Skunk and Kiri together.

A couple people have asked me if Wild Awake would be okay for middle grade readers, and I’m honestly not sure.  There isn’t anything graphically sexual in this novel, but the themes and issues are deep.  I’m not sure if a middle grade reader would grasp what exactly is going on with Kiri and Skunk.  My best advice is to read this–because you’ll hopefully enjoy it anyway–then make your decision based on what you know about your readers.  I feel completely comfortable offering this to new freshmen in the fall, if that helps at all.

Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith is a must-read.  Based on this debut, I know that Hilary T. Smith is going to be an exciting voice in YA literature.  I can’t wait to read what she writes next!

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