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.

Review: The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine

The Promise of AmazingTitle: The Promise of Amazing

Author: Robin Constantine

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Release Date: December 31st, 2013

Interest: Contemp / Debut Author

Source: ARC received from the publisher

Summary (From Goodreads):

Wren Caswell is average. Ranked in the middle of her class at Sacred Heart, she’s not popular, but not a social misfit. Wren is the quiet, “good” girl who’s always done what she’s supposed to—only now in her junior year, this passive strategy is backfiring. She wants to change, but doesn’t know how.

Grayson Barrett was the king of St. Gabe’s. Star of the lacrosse team, top of his class, on a fast track to a brilliant future—until he was expelled for being a “term paper pimp.” Now Gray is in a downward spiral and needs to change, but doesn’t know how.

One fateful night their paths cross when Wren, working at her family’s Arthurian-themed catering hall, performs the Heimlich on Gray as he chokes on a cocktail weenie, saving his life literally and figuratively. What follows is the complicated, awkward, hilarious, and tender tale of two teens shedding their pasts, figuring out who they are—and falling in love.

I loved The Promise of Amazing and want to read Robin Constantine’s next book right now. Unfortunately, I’ll be waiting for at least a year to read that next book since The Promise of Amazing is her debut novel. And what a fun debut it is!

Sometimes I need something sweet and romantic to read. The story of Wren and Grayson is exactly what I needed this week. I loved reading from both of their perspectives and getting a well-rounded view of who they are as characters and what they were each going through during the story. Just like Wren and Grayson were instantly attracted to each other, I was instantly hooked to their story.

I’ll admit, insta-love usually doesn’t work for me, but it works in this book. I bought into their attraction to each other. It’s honest and very much what I remember feeling like when I fell hard for guys in high school. I’ve read some criticism about this part of the story, but I think many of the adult reviewers forget what it’s like in high school. I don’t remember everything from high school (thank goodness!), but since I’m a high school teacher I see this happening ALL THE TIME. It’s one of the reasons I loved reading this book so much. It took me back to high school/early college. It made me think of the students that I should hand this to next. It’s become one of my favorite contemporary realistic fiction romances and I know many of my students will consider this a favorite as well.

Since I’m bringing up the topic of romance, I know some of you will want to know just how romantic this is. There’s plenty of kissing and some references to sex. Wren and Grayson are older high school students so this makes sense, however there’s really never anything explicit described. Grayson is/was a player so that’s when most of the references to sex come into play. I appreciate that Robin Constantine wrote such a stellar teenage romance without getting too detailed. I don’t have freshmen this year, but I’d feel more than comfortable handing this to a freshman reader.

I really like that while this is very much a romance, it’s also about Wren and Grayson wanting to change. Wren doesn’t like being described as “quiet” because she associates that with boring. Grayson has gotten into trouble at school and is ready to change his ways. These two characters crossing paths makes sense because they help each other change. More importantly, neither characters forces the other to change. Simply meeting is what really drives each of them to put their desire to be different into action.

If you’re looking for book pairings, I think readers who enjoy Simone Elkeles, Kody Keplinger, and Stephanie Perkins will enjoy The Promise of Amazing.

Waiting on Wednesday–The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine

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.

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Normally I’m not a fan of characters on book covers, but how cute is the cover for The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine?!  The premise doesn’t sound like anything I haven’t read before, but it does sound like a book my students and I will enjoy.  I love a good love story/coming of age combo.  What do you think?

The Promise of AmazingTitle & Author: The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine

Release Date: December 31st, 2013

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Summary (From Goodreads):

Wren Caswell is average. Ranked in the middle of her class at Sacred Heart, she’s not popular, but not a social misfit. Wren is the quiet, “good” girl who’s always done what she’s supposed to—only now in her junior year, this passive strategy is backfiring. She wants to change, but doesn’t know how.

Grayson Barrett was the king of St. Gabe’s. Star of the lacrosse team, top of his class, on a fast track to a brilliant future—until he was expelled for being a “term paper pimp.” Now Gray is in a downward spiral and needs to change, but doesn’t know how.

One fateful night their paths cross when Wren, working at her family’s Arthurian-themed catering hall, performs the Heimlich on Gray as he chokes on a cocktail weenie, saving his life literally and figuratively. What follows is the complicated, awkward, hilarious, and tender tale of two teens shedding their pasts, figuring out who they are—and falling in love.

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