The End is Near: My first end of year literary wrap-up Part One

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A year is coming to an end. This year was an exciting year for me. In June, after my wonderful Book Expo of America adventure in June, I decided to write this very blog (thank you Shelia!). This year also marked a great year in books. And, I got to share some of them with you. How exciting!

This is my first time doing a year-end book wrap up on my blog (and, ever!).  For this first part I am going to list My 13 favorite books I read this year. Although a majority were published this year, there will be a few that were released in prior years but were a first read for me.

My 13 Favorite Books I read in 2013

  1. Every Day by David Levithan (5 Stars)

  Mr. Levithan did it again. He made me fall in love with him all over again. He reminded me why he is my favorite male YA author who can write just about everything. Even his only adult contemporary novel was great. I loved A. He was a honest character who was very mature, articulate, and wonderful for his age. There were so many quotes I loved. He talked about first loves and how they hurt. Just all of it was great; very well-written and jam packed with meanings, metaphors, and everything I love of Levithan’s. So glad I got to meet him in September at the Brooklyn Book Festival. He was so down to Earth. Read him if you haven’t. Or, if you have, pick this one up. Like Now. It will stay with you.

      2. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Powell (5 Stars)

Rainbow Powell, you had me at awesome music. I loved this book so much. It wasn’t one of those sappy High School first love stories where everything is all good, dandy, and forever. This was a realistic story I could relate to. It was a raw, hit you in the heart story that I would reread again. Rainbow Powell, I am a fan.

3. The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider (4 and a half Stars)

A freebie from BEA, I think I would have bought this anyway. Another realistic YA novel about first love in High School. I laughed, I cried, and I cried. Great read. It was also nice that the narrator was a guy for once. I typically don’t read ones where a guy is the speaker, so this was either refreshing or just done very well. I’ll go with both. Another book I can see as a reread.

4. Just One Day by Gayle Forman (4 Stars)

Two words: double happiness. And, another. Stain. Two great romance based metaphors I will always remember. And, massive swoon alert. I swooned pretty much throughout. I am listening to the sequel on audio and am loving it, too.

5.) Under the Light (Light, #2) by Laura Whitcomb (5 Stars)

Another must read, in my opinion. A Certain Slant of Light is one my favorite books of all time. I was so thrilled a second book was coming out after years. No way was I disappointed. I loved reading this story. It takes place both during and after the first book, if that makes sense, but through the “possessed” point of views. So, it is the boy and girl’s perspective first when they met on a different plane after leaving their bodies; then, connecting what happened, trying to remember, and coping with being back in their bodies. It was a beautiful story. I definitely swooned, but it’s a little easy for me to do.

6.) All My Friends are Superheroes by Andrew Kaufman (5 Stars)

I had been waiting a year to read this. I was not disappointed. I read this on a bus and could not stop laughing. Andrew Kaufman takes the ideas of what we think of superheroes and transforms the abilities to make an every day, average personality trait ad quality to be something so much more; a real superhero move to be. I read the tenth anniversary edition where he added more superheroes at the end. I was very happy with his new add on. Another book I would recommend to really anyone. It was less than 200 pages long and felt much shorter.

7. Undertaking Love by Kat French (5 Stars)

Such a funny romance novel. It was sexy in the right places. Funny in the perfect places. And entertaining everywhere in between. I couldn’t put it down. I’ve never been a huge fan of chick lit, but what French did was just great. She wrote perhaps my favorite metaphor for love this year: a rock and a lighthouse. A character in the book always wore a broach of a lighthouse. You find out it represents her husband and their love. He considered her his lighthouse that rested on his rock. It is beautiful and something I will always remember.

8. Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen (4 and a half Stars)

I have liked Edgar Allan Poe for a while. I didn’t realize he had an affair. And a great one at that. Frances Osgood was a fascinating character who I enjoyed learning about. I never heard of her prior, so it was nice learning about her. And, Poe’s crazy wife! Wow. His wife was crazy, but her mother. The apple did not fall far from the tree. Let’s just say I haven’t been that surprised by an ending in a while. I got it on netgalley; I will most likely buy it in the near future. So great.

9. The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley (4 and a half Stars)

I listened to this on audio from audible. The narrator was fantastic. I think they may be why I loved the book as much as I do. I love it when that happens. If you like historical fiction, this is for you. If you don’t, this is for you still because it takes part in the present. Two love stories in one, ladies. Can’t beat that. And, the last sentence from each period (is the same) was awe inducing.

10. Six Months Later by Natalie Richards (5 Stars)

A lot of YA novels I read are predictable, but enjoyable for the most part. This is not your traditional YA novel. I like teen romances, but this teen mystery genre, I may have to take a part in. I loved the suspense, twists and turns, and the characters. Every bit had me on the edge.

11. The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey (4 Stars)

Jane Eyre is one of my favorite novels of all times. A classic novel, it’s hard not to be a fan. This novel was a great adaptation of a classic novel that has struggled with vampires, poor sequels, and spin-offs. It was a great retelling, but just as great of a stand alone. I truly loved it.

12. Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill (4 Stars)

Another YA novel. This was one of those books that I felt connected to in some way. I don’t know why, to be honest. Based around sports, it is a foreign territory for me. I liked ice skating as a child, but hockey never. Yet, it wasn’t a turn-off. As much as it was about sports, it was about so much more, too. You read about the characters struggles, challenges, and grow with them.  I am happy I get to be part of the book blitz tour because it was such a good read. I think fans of Jennifer E. Smith would love this book. From dual perspectives, it was a no brainier to add this book to my top list.

13. The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen (5 Stars)

Oh, Sarah. How can I not include you? This wasn’t one of my favorite books of hers, but I definitely enjoyed it. She never fails to impress me with the way she crafts characters. The females are always strong, independent thinkers that I want to befriend. The love interests aren’t half bad either. Wes from The Truth about Forever is still my favorite. This book might not be a good starter book if you haven’t read her before, but if you’ve read one, I wouldn’t be discouraging if you read this next.

 

There you have it. My top 13. Reading close to sixty books this year, it was a little difficult to choose. I hope you find some books here that interest you. Some great reads, I tell ya.

 

Stay tuned for part two: My top 13 books I wish I read this year published in 2013. And, part three: My top 14 books I am looking forward to reading most this year. *spoiler, some were released in 2013.

 

Happy reading!

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It’s Monday! What are YOU Reading?

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This week was a little busy. And, disappointing. I was able to read The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider in very fast. It was a great coming of age/first love story that wasn’t very traditional and overdone, making it one of the best books I have read so far. 

My review is here https://indiewritergirl0329.wordpress.com/2013/07/30/not-your-love-at-first-sight-ya-book-the-beginning-of-everything-by-robyn-schneider/

It isn’t out, yet, but when it comes out you should check it out, at least. And, for you goodreads.com lovers, here’s the link

 http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13522285-the-beginning-of-everything

 

I tried reading How to Paint a Dead Man by Sarah Hall I bought for cheap on my nook. I am only on page 30, maybe. It is just very slow. So, I tried to read another book, but that turned out to be a Christian novel. I am listening to The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, and narrated by Ari Graynor, one of my favorite indie actresses. 

This week will hopefully be more productive in regards to reading. I have a few posts lined up.

Happy Monday, and happy reading!

-Indie 

 

Not your love at first sight YA Book: The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider

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The Beginning of Everything

The Beginning of Everything

By Robyn Schneider

Expected Publication August 27, 2013

Katherine Tegen Books (imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)

330 pages

Genre: YA realistic fiction

Four and a half stars

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13522285-the-beginning-of-everything

Golden boy Ezra Faulkner believes everyone has a tragedy waiting for them—a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen. His particular tragedy waited until he was primed to lose it all: in one spectacular night, a reckless driver shatters Ezra’s knee, his athletic career, and his social life.

No longer a front-runner for Homecoming King, Ezra finds himself at the table of misfits, where he encounters new girl Cassidy Thorpe. Cassidy is unlike anyone Ezra’s ever met, achingly effortless, fiercely intelligent, and determined to bring Ezra along on her endless adventures.

But as Ezra dives into his new studies, new friendships, and new love, he learns that some people, like books, are easy to misread. And now he must consider: if one’s singular tragedy has already hit and everything after it has mattered quite a bit, what happens when more misfortune strikes? 

The Beginning of Everything is a coming of age story that centers around seventeen year old Ezra Faulkner who has seen his fair share of tragedies; often letting them control him and dictate his future. Newly “crippled” by a devastating car accident that led his “friends” to abandoning him, replacing him as SGA president and captain of the football team. In short, when he started his senior year, he didn’t know why to sit or who he was on the first day. None of his tennis friends, or people he thought were important, visited him in the hospital. Not only did his leg get damaged, not only did he lose the ability to play sports, he lost a part of himself he couldn’t recognize or care to fix.

As he looked around the cafeteria, he needed to make a choice. So he sat down at the table where his best friend from childhood sat. Tobie suffered a childhood tragedy, too. When Ezra and he celebrated Tobie’s birthday at Disneyland, a tourist sat up in the ride and severed his head which landed in Tobie’s lap for the duration of the ride, changing the dynamic of their friendship. Now, after Ezra faces his own, it is Tobie and his group of misfit friends that allow Ezra a chance to do a do-over. No strings attached, expected, or anything.

Enter new girl Cassidy Thorpe who needed a change, just like Ezra. And, as new girls come, apparently, secrets are tied around her. But, what is her secret? As Ezra finds himself, with the help of Cassidy, his ever changing love, Ezra discovers the truth behind Cassidy’s sad eyes and guarded past.

Although parts of this novel read as a first love book, what is different about this novel is the love story isn’t prominent or perfect in any sense. Rainbow Rowell’s novel Eleanor and Parkis slightly similar to this novel (and almost as good of a read)  where the love is imperfect with a hidden background the girl is trying to keep to herself, what Schneider does, successfully in my opinion, show the imperfections of life that doesn’t need to change a person, not really anyway. She writes about the angst, with many good indie band plugs I can say, and gracefully this coming of age story becomes beautiful despite of the tragedies and hurt. That, we all have a past and our problems to work out, but in the end they manage to sort themselves out with a little push. They do not define us as much as we think, or give them credit for. This novel isn’t really about discovering the truth behind the accident, or the way Ezra copes, it is about realizing the beginnings turn into middles, but not ends; not right away. I have always had a problem with thinking about the next. What happens next with the characters? Surely it is not a fictional death? That after that last period is typed their lives stop. Yes, they are not really real, but yet they are. These characters can easily be you or me. An us and a them. High School love happens. So does the aftermath of that love. 

Schneider gives me a satisfying hope. And not a feeling of being left alone afterward. This is definitely a book I would reread. There are quotes that make me think; think about myself and how I react and live. One of my favorites is “The world tends toward chaos, you know,” It does, the world really does. And as much as Cassidy continues to say how she is helping it along, we all do. With the choices we make. And, it isn’t a bad thing. It just is. This is one of the first time I truly realized and accepted that. When we say our lives have been chaotic, what does that really mean? It just means, I am starting to feel, that each of our decisions, choices, and everything in between affects the world, and it isn’t a bad thing. It is the right thing. We need to keep moving along without second guessing ourselves or questioning our existence. OUr lives can be busy, but chaotic? Maybe that is just a word used too frequently. Maybe busy and chaotic aren’t really the same.

I love when YA books offer me this kind of substance and thought provoking sentences. Some YA books are just fluff, good fluff but fluff. Even the semi-realistic ones. There is love interests in all these novels, but the real love interest and story line in this story isn’t truly between Ezra and Cassidy, it is between Ezra and Ezra. Learning to love yourself despite the flaws you think you have. I would add more quotes, but as they are towards the end I will keep them to myself for a bit.

I hope you give this book a chance when it comes out next month. I am happy I got my advance copy when I attended the Book Expo of America. One of the best finds so far.

Happy reading!

-indie

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