Top Ten Tuesday: My Favorite Books From the Past 3 Years

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

Even though this is still a tough list to narrow down, I’m happy this TTT topic isn’t simply my all-time favorite books; I would never be able to narrow it down! I’d love to know which books have been your favorites over the past 3-5 years; maybe I’ll be able to add more to my to read list.

I’m focusing my list on what I read and loved between the years 2012, 2013, and 2014. Since there’s still so much to read this year I’m not including it.

Favorites read in 2012:

Boy 21 by Matthew Quick (My review): This book will forever be a favorite of mine. It fits so many categories and no matter how many times I’ve read it (and I’ve read it a lot courtesy of reading it aloud) it pulls on my heart strings EVERY TIME.

Something Like Normal by Trish Doller (My review): The fact that I considered naming my first child Travis should be explanation enough, right?

Easy by Tammara Webber (My review): Easy was one of the first New Adult books I read and it caused a book hangover. I had to read a few books after finishing this one before I got over it.

Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally (My review): This is Miranda’s debut and it’s still my favorite of the five books she’s published so far.

Favorites read in 2013:

Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith (My review): A beautiful cover, quote-worthy passages, and an imperfect character make this a winner.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz (My review): This is such a beautiful story of friendship and love.

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (My review): Speaking of a beautiful story of friendship and love, I couldn’t get enough of Eleanor and Park’s story. I’m still wanting more.

Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller (My review): Trish Doller is on this list twice; you’ve read these books, right?!

Winger by Andrew Smith (My review): It’s not very often that a book makes me laugh and cry within a few pages. It’s no wonder Ryan Dean’s story is one of the most popular titles in my classroom library this year.

Favorite read in 2014:

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay (My review): Reading in 2014 was off for me, but this debut stands out more than all the rest. The slow burning relationship between Josh and Nastya is perfect and moving.

Top Ten Tuesday Collage

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.

I Wish These Books Had Sequels

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday post is all about books we wish have sequels.  I’m surprised this list was so hard to compile considering how often I finish a book and think, “What? It’s done? I need more!”  Thankfully I was able to come up with ten books that need sequels.

Something Like Normal by Trish Doller–I simply want more from this book.  I’m happy with the ending, but I LOVE this story and am being selfish by wanting more.

Dead to You by Lisa McMann–What the heck happened with that ending?! There should be at least a few more pages, if not an entire sequel.

The List by Siobhan Vivian–Too much happened in a short book that took place in a short time span. Another book would be just fine.

Easy by Tammara Webber–Book. Hangover. I still want more of this story and the characters.

Every Day by David Levithan–The ending left me feeling cheated. There really should be a sequel.

When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney–This is just me being selfish again.

 

Warped by Maurissa Guibord–It’s been a long time since I’ve read this so I can’t remember exactly why I think there should be a sequel. If I remember correctly, there’s an open ending that made it feel like a sequel is possible. Plus, I really love this book.

One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt–I just want to make sure Carley is doing okay.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell–If you’ve read this book, then you understand why this is on my list.

Kindness for Weakness by Shawn Goodman–I’m just a little confused about the ending.  It’s not exactly clear what happens to the main character.

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: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor & ParkTitle: Eleanor & Park

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Release Date: February 26th, 2013

Interest: Positive reviews / Historical fiction

Source: ARC received from the publisher

Summary (From Goodreads):

“Bono met his wife in high school,” Park says.
“So did Jerry Lee Lewis,” Eleanor answers.
“I’m not kidding,” he says.
“You should be,” she says, “we’re sixteen.”
“What about Romeo and Juliet?”
“Shallow, confused, then dead.”
”I love you,” Park says.
“Wherefore art thou,” Eleanor answers.
“I’m not kidding,” he says.
“You should be.”

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.

I’m really tempted to simply write, “Eleanor & Park is fabulous. You must read it now!” and leave it at that.  I’m not, however, because I really want to gush over everything I love about it.

I felt such an array of emotions while reading Rainbow Rowell’s YA debut.  I laughed plenty of times, and I think I teared up just as many times as I laughed.  Eleanor and Park come alive on the page and I couldn’t help but love them.  There were so many times that I wanted to hug Eleanor.  She needs lots of hugs.  Park is absolutely adorable and so real.  And his parents?!  I ended up loving them big time.

Something that surprised me about Eleanor & Park is that it’s written in third person.  I didn’t even realize it at first because it’s *that* well done.  I never felt like I was reading it as an outsider; I always knew exactly how Eleanor and Park felt.  I’m often turned off by books written in third person because it distracts me.  The characters in third person novels don’t always stick with me, but that’s not the case with Eleanor and Park.  Rainbow Rowell wrote third person the way it should be written.

I love that Eleanor & Park is a love story, but it’s not an overly mushy love story.  It’s a love story that’s sweet and tender.  It’s even bittersweet at times.  But it’s also a story about self-discovery and opening up.  Both and Eleanor and Park are discovering who they are, and they’re discovering it through each other and through their relationship.  Park doesn’t need to be like his friends and who his father wants him to be.  Eleanor discovers what a family really is and how to love herself.  Really, Eleanor & Park is simply perfect and you need to read it.

I have Eleanor & Park labeled as historical fiction since it takes place in 1986.  It’s awful labeling that time period as historical fiction, but for today’s teens, that is historical fiction.  There isn’t a big moment in history taking place in this book, but there are plenty of 80s allusions present that I’m sure many of my students will wonder about.

To sum this up, Eleanor & Park is already a favorite of 2013.  There’s no doubt in my mind about that.  Rainbow Rowell can’t write another YA novel fast enough because I want to read everything she writes.  Thankfully she has some adult/new adult novels out that I can read.

Book Trailer Thursday (104)–Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

I read Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell in one sitting the other day, and I’m still loving it and thinking about it.  Sigh.  I’m extra happy that not only is there a book trailer for this debut, but that there’s four!  They’re mini trailers with some excellent quotes from the book.  I hope you enjoy them!

Eleanor & ParkSummary (From Goodreads):

“Bono met his wife in high school,” Park says.
“So did Jerry Lee Lewis,” Eleanor answers.
“I’m not kidding,” he says.
“You should be,” she says, “we’re sixteen.”
“What about Romeo and Juliet?”
“Shallow, confused, then dead.”
”I love you,” Park says.
“Wherefore art thou,” Eleanor answers.
“I’m not kidding,” he says.
“You should be.”

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.

Reading Gaps

This month both Cindy Minnich at Charting By the Stars and Donalyn Miller at The Nerdy Book Club posted about reading gaps.  I’ve posted about my literary Achilles heel this year, which is similar to both of these posts.  Since posting about my own reading gaps, I’ve read quite a few fantasy novels and loved them.  I’m still sticking with my 2012 challenge to read more fantasy and science fiction, but I’ve decided to add to that challenge for 2013.

It’s my goal in 2013 to read more historical fiction and LGBT fiction.

Eleanor & ParkI can’t explain why I’m not more drawn to historical fiction, especially since I’m a history minor.  I love American history.  I love the 1920s.  I’ve even bought quite a few historical fiction YA novels to add to my class library because I have students who enjoy reading that genre.  But for some reason I don’t make time to read it myself.  This year I read and loved Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood.  The Diviners by Libba Bray wasn’t my favorite, but I still enjoyed reading it.  So maybe I need historical fiction with a magical twist?  Even though I don’t like thinking of the 80s as historical fiction, it is for our teens right now.  Besides Eleanor and Park (which I know I’ll enjoy) and Other Words for Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal, are there other YA novels that take place in the 80s or around that time and have been written recently?  I like reading historical fiction that feels contemporary, even though that’s kind of backwards.

Here are some historical fiction novels I’d like to read in 2013:

I Am JI love contemporary realistic fiction, so reading more LGBT fiction really shouldn’t be a difficult challenge for me.  I think this is a gap for me simply because I haven’t made a strong enough effort to read more of these novels.  It has nothing to do with not liking novels with LGBT issues or characters.  I want to read more of these books because I know I have students who need these stories.  I just read Ask the Passengers by A.S. King and absolutely loved it.  Every Day by David Levithan wasn’t my favorite for a few reasons, but I love how he wrote A as a character who understands love outside of gender and sex.  I’ve been wanting to read I Am J for I don’t know how long.  If you have any suggestions for me, I’d love to have them.  I’ve already moved The Miseducation of Cameron Post to the top of my reading pile not only because I’ve been wanting to read it, but also because it’s a Morris shortlist contender.

Here are some LGBT fiction novels I’d like to read in 2013:

 

Waiting on Wednesday–Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.  It’s designed for bloggers to spotlight the upcoming releases that they simply can’t wait to read.

This book looks absolutely fantastic.  Plus, I’ve already been reading rave reviews from some very trusted bloggers and friends.  First love?  Misfits?  I’m in!  I hope I can find a copy at NCTE! 🙂

Title & Author: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Release Date: March 5th, 2013

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Summary (From Goodreads):

“Bono met his wife in high school,” Park says.
“So did Jerry Lee Lewis,” Eleanor answers.
“I’m not kidding,” he says.
“You should be,” she says, “we’re sixteen.”
“What about Romeo and Juliet?”
“Shallow, confused, then dead.”
”I love you,” Park says.
“Wherefore art thou,” Eleanor answers.
“I’m not kidding,” he says.
“You should be.”

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.

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