Book Activism: January/February

Though these be reviews in nature, I prefer to think of them as raising awareness.

Book activism, if you will.

There will be links to further check out these titles should my enjoyment make you curious.

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

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If you follow me on any social media platforms, you will have already seen me gush over this book. What a joy to read. The whip-smart dialog and super sexy, steamy romance set this book apart for me from other rom-com’s.

Description from the internet:

Nemesis (n.) 1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome.

2) A person’s undoing

3) Joshua Templeman

Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude.

Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job…But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

I read it in two days. I carried it around with me like a security blanket. I sniggered in the parking lot to pick up my son at school when I came to a sexy scene and realized only I knew what I was reading. Loved the characters, the pacing, the setting, and the sexy times.

I would 1000% like to see this made in a movie. Some fan casting to wet your whistle.

The Hating Game on Goodreads

Follow Sally Thorne on Twitter because she is adorbs

And/or on Instagram 


The Heartbeats of Wing Jones by Katherine Webber

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Shifting gears to a YA debut by London-based, American author, Katherine Webber. From the first time I read the description of this book, I knew I wanted to read it.

Description from the internet:

Wing Jones, like everyone else in her town, has worshipped her older brother, Marcus, for as long as she can remember. Good-looking, popular, and the star of the football team, Marcus is everything his sister is not.

Until the night everything changes when Marcus, drunk at the wheel after a party, kills two people and barely survives himself. With Marcus now in a coma, Wing is crushed, confused, and angry. She is tormented at school for Marcus’s mistake, haunted at home by her mother and grandmothers’ grief. In addition to all this, Wing is scared that the bank is going to repossess her home because her family can’t afford Marcus’s mounting medical bills.

Every night, unable to sleep, Wing finds herself sneaking out to go to the school’s empty track. When Aaron, Marcus’s best friend, sees her running one night, he recognizes that her speed, skill, and agility could get her spot on the track team. And better still, an opportunity at a coveted sponsorship from a major athletic gear company. Wing can’t pass up the opportunity to train with her longtime crush and to help her struggling family, but can she handle being thrust out of Marcus’s shadow and into the spotlight?

The prose blew me away. Voice and passion pulsed from every page. I loved the setting, which is 1995 Atlanta, and loved the characters even more. Katherine’s descriptions of everything from the track field to Wing’s LaoLao’s dumplings were absolutely delicious. I immediately felt I was back in time experiencing a taste of a world I have never seen, and thankful for the chance to see it through Wing’s compassionate eyes.

What a completely satisfying and rewarding read.

This book is already out in the UK, but will not be out in America until March 14th.

The Heartbeats of Wing Jones on Goodreads

Follow Katherine on Instagram and also live in London vicariously through her

And vicarious living can also be done through her Twitter

(I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for honest feedback.)


Girl out of Water by Laura Silverman

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Another YA, by the super rad Laura Silverman. I was so intrigued by this book, which is such a departure from what I normally read, that I simply could not wait to get my hands on it.

Description from the internet:

Ocean breeze in her hair and sand between her toes, Anise can’t wait to spend the summer before her senior year surfing and hanging out on the beach with friends. Santa Cruz is more than her home-it’s her heart. But when her aunt, a single mother, is in a serious car accident, Anise must say goodbye to California to help care for her three young cousins.

Landlocked Nebraska is the last place Anise wants to be. Sure, she loves her family, but it’s hard to put her past behind her when she’s living in the childhood house of the mother who abandoned her. And with every Instagram post, her friends back home feel further away.

Then she meets Lincoln, a charismatic, one-armed skater who challenges her to swap her surfboard for a skateboard. Because sometimes the only way to find your footing is to let go.

Oh how I FELT for Anise! Such a compelling character. Her voice just leaps off the page at you. She is complicated without being angsty, and her journey is relatable and real, and a little swoony. I did find myself wishing for the ocean right along with Anise, but was so wrapped up in the plot that it didn’t deter me. Definitely a great early summer read.

This book comes out May 2017, so keep it in mind for those lazy, hazy days.

Girl out of Water on Goodreads

Follow Laura on Twitter 

And Instagram for bookish and social awareness news. 

(I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for honest feedback.)


Follow Me Back by A.V. Geiger

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I decided to read this book for two reasons:

  1. My trusted friend, Kayla Olson (author of The Sandcastle Empire, which I will have a post for next week!!! STAY TUNED), insisted. Intensely. Maybe she hovered over me while I requested it from NetGalley.
  2. It is relevant to my fangirl interests.

It SLAYED me.

Description from the internet:

Tessa Hart’s world feels very small. Confined to her bedroom with agoraphobia, her one escape is the online fandom for pop sensation Eric Thorn. When he tweets to his fans, it’s like his speaking directly to her…

Eric Thorn is frightened by his obsessive fans. They take their devotion way too far. It doesn’t help that his PR team keeps posting to encourage their fantasies.

When a fellow pop star is murdered at the hands of a fan, Eric knows he has to do something to shatter his online image fast—like take down one of his top Twitter followers. But Eric’s plan to troll @TessaHeartsEric unexpectedly evolves into an online relationship deeper than either could have imagined. And when the two arrange to meet IRL, what should have made for the world’s best episode of Catfish takes a deadly turn…

*flails all over the room* *Tweets @ author in panic* *emoji face explosion*

This book was not what I expected. Every time I felt I had gotten my footing, had figured something out, it changed. And I loved every second. I was completely sucked in to the mystery and romance. Loved how the author used Transcripts and Tweets, as well as traditional prose narration to weave the story.

This book is out in June and I highly recommend you add it to your TBR list.

Follow Me Back on Goodreads

Follow A.V. Geiger on Instagram

and Twitter and use the #EricThornObsessed hashtag to express your feelings 

(I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for honest feedback.)


I’ll just go bury myself in books now.

xo,

Rebekah

The Good Dinosaur Rewrite

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Spoiler Courtesy

If you haven’t watched Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur, and plan to, you may not want to read this.

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I have given this a lot of thought since I took my son to see The Good Dinosaur on Black Friday, and since it keeps swirling back to me the way a boomerang is supposed to I decided to share it.

First you must understand: I am a believer in the movie making magic that Pixar Entertainment wields. I pretty much go in to their movies with the expectation to be floored, wowed, torn into tiny pieces of human emotion. Over the years, I think I’ve developed an addiction to their specific brand of story. I gear up for the feels and I have rarely been let down.

I am also a writer that has endured — will always have to endure — high-level critique of my work. I know how hard it is to take that in, and even more, I understand how easy it is to get lost on the story’s journey, veering, spiraling, floundering until you no longer even recognize the work you’ve ended up with. I know how hard it is to fix it once you get to that soul-crushing crossroad.

That said, I have a pretty huge note at the story level of The Good Dinosaur, and rather than only tell you what I think isn’t working, I am going to offer what I would do to fix it.

Here is the movie description:

Luckily for young Arlo, his parents (Jeffrey Wright, Frances McDormand) and his two siblings, the mighty dinosaurs were not wiped out 65 million years ago. When a rainstorm washes poor Arlo (Raymond Ochoa) downriver, he ends up bruised, battered and miles away from home. Good fortune shines on the frightened dino when he meets Spot (Jack Bright), a Neanderthal boy who offers his help and friendship. Together, the unlikely duo embark on an epic adventure to reunite Arlo with his beloved family.

It would take too long to give you a play-by-play of the entire plot, so what I am going to do instead is focus on the key points I feel like needed to be revised.

Shall we?

Concept and Set-up:

What if dinosaurs didn’t die out but lived on? The movie offers a society (similar to the world in CARS) run by dinosaurs. They have evolved to the point of creating their own jobs for themselves, finding ways to sustain their food supply, forming family units. They are essentially humans in dinosaur clothes.

I do think this concept works for an animated feature. Children can get into it, like they did CARS, and adults can pick out the finer nuances of the idea. (An example: The T-Rex cattle wranglers, meat eaters, that look like they are riding horses because of their tiny little arms. Pretty fabulous!)

But that is not the only BIG IDEA at play in this story. We also have parallels drawn between the world of Good Dinosaur and the Range, like Home, Home on the, as well as the classic protagonist spirit journey arc.

THEN we have the protagonist’s inability to fit in with his family because he’s timid and fearful.

Thanks to the protagonist’s fear, his father ends up dead.

But it’s not until the little Caveboy comes back a second time, that the inciting incident happens. Arlo (the protagonist) finally shows some story gumption when he confronts the Caveboy and blames him for his father’s death, chasing the boy away from the safety of his home and getting swept off by the river.

It is, to me, a case of too much, too fast. It gets muddled on delivery.

My Revision:

The description of the movie leaves out a huge chunk of this information and instead focuses — as it should — on Arlo’s journey. The issue with the setup is figuring out a way to make Arlo’s stakes high enough so that he needs to take this spirit journey, and endearing enough that we need to follow him on it.

I am suggesting two major changes:

  • Eliminate his brother
  • Leave his father alive.

Begin with the world set up: Dinosaurs don’t die.

Go to the small picture: a single dinosaur family surviving.

Introduce Arlo — scrawny, fearful, not really built for field labor, and is subtly seen as a disappointment by his father. On farms, boys usually take over once their father’s can’t run it anymore, but that isn’t Arlo’s strong suit. To give it a feminist edge, hint that his sister is better suited for this work and also wants it more than he does. Build the relationship with his sister up, show that Arlo needs to face his fear of letting his father down, and show how that manifests in him being fearful in other situations.

Introduce the Critters eating their food supply, and Arlo’s inability to kill the Caveboy. Have a scene here where Arlo says something awful to his father about farm life. Have his father call him a coward. And then, to drive it home, have his father go searching for the Caveboy to finish Arlo’s job and get injured. Arlo blames himself, and when he sees the Caveboy again, he CHOOSES to catch him to prove he’s not a coward. This is of course the wrong motive, which is important to show his growth through the story.

He falls into the river, goes unconscious and finds himself far from home with no survival skills and no idea how to get home.

This gives Arlo’s character real tension and tightens the plot, we don’t waste all that time on the father’s death, and we don’t meander with the brother that adds nothing to the plot. Arlo needs to be active, and he needs to be searching for something more. He’s a kid, of course he wants to get back home, he’s worried he’ll be in trouble because they’ll think he ran away, and probably secretly worried they will be fine without him, but Arlo is on this journey because of fear, and I think, because he needs to find out who he is. This is a coming of age tale, after all.

Things this changes:

  1. Needing to get home to help with the harvest. In the movie as it is now, Arlo arrives home at the end when they have already finished bringing in the harvest, negating this motive. They are exhausted and for all they know he abandoned them. By eliminating the father’s death, and making the sister more active, this would no longer need to be a driving force for Arlo, leaving him to have deeper goals and motives.
  2. The conflict he has over his father’s death. This is not The Lion King, guys, and for me, the father’s death had little emotional resonance. He spends the whole time either watching his son fail, or telling him to face his fear. Telling is the key word. With all that telling, I lost interest. I also feel like this is something I have seen too many times, and in this case it didn’t add to the movie.
  3. The connection between Spot (Caveboy) and Arlo over the loss of a parent. I think this could still be established. Arlo is a lost child, and so is Spot. All they have now is each other.

Smaller Points:

Shaman Character-

There is a weird Styracosaurus introduced early in the second act that could have served as a Shaman or Spirit Guide. Later, the father is used as a sort of Spirit Guide. Streamline this, pick one Shaman character and have that character recur at least three times in the story. Again, this is about utilizing the concept and worldbuilding. When you are trying to create an imaginary world, some things need to be told and retold to make the world feel fully fleshed out.

More characters on the Range-

Another way to utilize your world building is by using common and recognizable archetypal characters to fill out the world and drive theme home. Arlo needed to experience more for this to be a true spirit journey. His experiences are not varied enough, and his encounters to not provide enough of an argument.

Final Thoughts

The script would have to be revised throughout based on these changes, with an emphasis on the spirit journey concept and worldbuilding. By cutting unnecessary plot points, and getting the tension off a death and onto the struggle of the main character, the story will already feel less passive and more focused.

Critique is a compliment, it means I cared about this story. It is easier to stand on the outside of something and see the problems and even the solutions, than it is to be inside trying to solve them in real time. This is one opinion of a way to improve a story, and I don’t claim to be an expert on any of this.

Also, Pixar, if you are interested in hiring me, my contact info is in my bio. I have a screenplay sample, and I’m available immediately.

YA Superlative Blogfest: Head of Class

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The YA Superlatives Blogfest is hosted by Katy Upperman, Tracey Neithercott, Jessica Love, and Allison Miller. It’s a chance to highlight the best, most affecting, most entertaining YA reads of 2013. Get ready to add to your TBR pile!

Favorite Dystopian —

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Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis. I choose this book because it’s an unusual take on the dystopian genre. The rural setting and quiet story were deeply affecting, haunting even. Lynn, the protagonist, is one of the most unusual voices I’ve read this year.

Favorite Science Fiction —

So, I need some more straight Sci-Fi in my reading life. I WATCH oodles of science fiction, but I only have two books on my list this year. Since I had lukewarm feelings about both, I refuse to answer.

Favorite Fantasy —

I think it’s nefarious to peer pressure me into answering this question. I am a fantasy writer. I definitely read more fantasy than any other genre, which means almost all my answers can also be considered fantasy. I am picking two. (three)

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The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater. I can’t talk about these books coherently. The Raven Boys was my first read on 2013, and then I reread it before The Dream Thieves (which I read in a little over a day). Feels. I feel too many things about this series. It makes my stomach swim. Maggie Stiefvater is easily my favorite author.

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Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas. I enjoyed Throne of Glass, but Crown of Midnight destroyed me. It is YA High Fantasy at it’s best. It is all the things I love about High Fantasy with a super-freaking-sexy love story woven in.

Favorite Contemporary —

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Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. Duh. I was late to the Rainbow Rowell fan club, but I’m now a firm believer. This book will make my top five for the year. I can’t begin to explain it, and nothing I say can prepare you for the experience of reading it. I had heard nothing but praise and still I was shocked by my reaction.

Favorite Action/Adventure —

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Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo. It counts. They’re on a quest through a big chunk, on the run through another, and it’s just so flipping fantastic the whole time.

Favorite Historical Fiction —

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The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. Yeah, it’s not ACTUALLY historical fiction, but it works because it takes place in a historical setting. Plus, it’s brilliant. I seriously loved this book. It’s all atmosphere and feels.

Favorite Comedy —

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I don’t know that I read anything truly considered COMEDY this year. But the book that made me laugh most was Austenland (which I know isn’t YA, but it’s the best I can do.) by Shannon Hale. It was also a super fast, lighthearted read.

Favorite Mystery —

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17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma. This could almost be a Genre Bender, the story is that layered. It is not what you expect, which makes it a successful mystery.

Favorite Romance —

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The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson. It counts. It’s the love story I love the best.

Favorite Paranormal —

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The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black. This one is a love or hate situation. I loved it. I didn’t ever willingly put this book down.

Favorite Family Drama —

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A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. I know it’s not YA, I know it’s fantasy, but if A Game of Thrones isn’t one messed up family drama, I don’t know what is.

Favorite Genre Bender —

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The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin. This book seems paranormal, kind of has a mystery, and also is a love story. Noah Shaw is one of the sexiest boys ever written.

YA BOOK CLUB: ALLEGIANT

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YA Book Club is a product of Tracey Neithercott’s brain. This usually results in a lot of fun times and general shenanigans. For full details and instructions click the link.

The book of the month is…

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Allegiant by Veronica Roth.

I will not even try to do a post without spoilers. At this point I can’t imagine what purpose that would serve any of us. Though, I will say, THIS POST CONTAINS MANY SPOILERS AND DRAMATIC EXCLAMATIONS. 

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SPOILERS THROUGHOUT!

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I have a lot of good things to say about the Divergent trilogy as a whole. I think the creation of Four (because when you can be called Four why would you ever go by anything else?) and his existence in our imaginary world is one blessing that cannot be taken from us. The story is absorbing. The world is compelling and largely believable as a functioning future version of our own world. The swoon and the feels present in all three books never disappointed me.

I am impressed by Veronica Roth’s storytelling ability. Her prose is clean, bold, sometimes stark, but always engaging. She created characters that were flawed, strong, weak, broken, beautiful, and deeply real.

I have a lot of good things to say about Allegiant individually.

For me, Tris was never my favorite narrator. I had a hard time connecting with her from the beginning of the series. It’s hard to explain. I loved Four, though, and while I don’t think the dual POV in Allegiant was distinct enough for me, I still very much enjoyed having his POV because it helped me see Tris in a new and kinder way. I found myself more attached to her and more aware of her beauty and goodness than when I was confined to her head.

I think this was genius on Veronica Roth’s part because…when Tris dies, it resonated with me for days. Tris became a woman capable of true sacrifice over the course of this series. She became solid but vulnerable in Allegiant, and losing her was truly devastating. However true to the character and the story as it may be, watching Tris die still didn’t sit well with me and it has taken me a a few weeks of intermittent mulling to discern why.

My reasons are three-fold:

1. I can see a way out. I can see how Tris could sacrifice herself for Caleb (which, yep, she had to do) and still survive. As writers we give ourselves outs in our prose, sometimes they are small and wobbly because you don’t ever intend to use them but feel safer with them there. Sometimes they are foreshadowy and red-inked because you need to know they won’t go away. It was written, in multiple places, that Tris could withstand serums. I believe she could have survived had David not shot her. I also think there was a way to redeem Caleb’s character and save Tris from David’s bullet. I think Caleb could have done something. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m reaching. Maybe she could have reached a little too. For us and for Four.

2. Four didn’t get to say goodbye. The death will never feel satisfying to me, and it will never feel worthwhile for this reason. It will always be a little incomplete and unfinished. I needed more than I was given. I can even understand the argument that the way in which she died — and all the unsaid and unfinished — was appropriate for this series and world. I am not sure I care though. As a reader, I felt a little let down. It hurt.

3. Taking those other thoughts into consideration, this next one is completely and utterly personal. I am writing a series (hopefully someone else will agree and want to publish it), in first person POV, so I know what it feels like to share headspace with a character. As attached as I am to my protagonist, and as much as she is a part of me, I try to believe that if I HAD to kill her to tell her story honestly then I would. I respect Veronica Roth for her willingness to do this with Tris, because I am sure it was very painful. Having said that and understanding why she felt this was the right ending, it bothered me that she (Veronica Roth) didn’t fight harder for Tris. This is not an attack on her writing ability, nor is it an attack on her person. I just feel this way, and it won’t go away.

Beyond my problems with the books (overall and Allegiant specifically) I still think the Divergent trilogy is a well-written, engaging and accessible series. Veronica Roth is a talented writer, and someone I expect, and hope, to be writing for years to come. I think the ending overshadowed some of the other big, fascinating aspects of the book. The world outside the fence is a broken but interesting place. The relationships feel real and vulnerable, which make the characters feel more human.

For Veronica Roth’s first series, at such a young age, Divergent is a powerful example of her talent. I am able to get past my own muddled feelings to still recommend this series to everyone and anyone, and that speaks volumes to its value.

The Top Five YA Books I Read in 2012

I have ambitiously decided to narrow down the thirty books I read this year, consisting of mostly YA, to my Top Five.

Yes. I’m going to try. *Cracks Knuckles*

I read a few non-YA books this year, but as I am a Young Adult writer, I think it’s most appropriate to limit the Top Five list to just YA. No offense meant for the amazing “Adult” books I read.

There is a certain gut reaction I can’t ever seem to escape, but I am really going to try and be conscious of reason. I write fantasy, so I read a heck-of-a lot of it this year. I will make sure to include a smattering of the brilliance happening all over YA, not just in fantasy, because there is a lot of amazing stuff to be seen. Try to keep in mind, I am still playing catch up, so some of my favorite reads may not have been published this year at all. In fact, I am sure at least two will not.

OK, so, enough chatter. Onto the list, starting with number 5.

5) The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green

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I loved this book for so many reasons. It was my first John Green, which is sad, so I added all of his books to my TBR list. I actually picked this book up because Veronica Roth recommended it at the reading for Insurgent I attended earlier this year.

I am so glad she did. From the moment we are introduced to Hazel, and then Gus, they capture the reality of people living (and dying) with a disease and the sentiment of trying to make sense of an otherwise confusing world. They are children becoming adults. The tragedy is tempered skillfully by wit and humor, so it’s never too much. Until it finally is. Then it crushes you.

This book is a good read for a girl or boy. It also has the added bonus of creating a love story for the dying that anyone will root for. Check it out, even if you don’t like Contemporary.

4) The Girl of Fire and Thorns, by Rae Carson (Bonus: Its sequel The Crown of Embers)

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I found this book through a YA Highway suggestion, and again, I am so thankful I did. This is true high fantasy with a twist. Rae Carson set her book in a world influenced in dress and environment by an area in northern Africa between Algeria, Morocco, and Spain.

What’s even more compelling about these books than the landscape and food, is Elisa, the protagonist princess and fated bearer of a mystical stone of power. I really fell for Elisa, her transformation from weak, overweight princess to freedom-fighter and Queen is wonderful. Rae Carson draws on the classic Tropes of Fantasy literature and spins them around until their heads pop off. **Bonus** The Crown of Embers has a super steamy romance.

If you aren’t sure about high fantasy, this is a great pick for you. It’s nerve racking, tragic, inspiring, and based in a compelling world.

3.  UnWind, by Neal Shusterman (Unwholly is the sequel)

unwindunwhollyThese books will not be for everyone. UnWind was published in 2009, and it’s sequel, UnWholly was just released in the fall of 2012. UnWind is one of the most difficult books I have ever read in terms of theme.

It takes place after the Second Civil War in America, which was over the issue of Abortion. The solution is that life is inviolable from birth to thirteen, but from the ages of thirteen to eighteen a parent has the option to UnWind their child. UnWinding is a process where each piece of the body is separated and redistributed. The story follows three fated UnWinds and how they battle to stay alive, or in some cases, die.

This is a gut-wrenching subject and Neal Shusterman doesn’t shy away from it in the slightest. If you are a parent, especially of a teen, I think it is an important book to read. It is a brilliant commentary, as well as a non-stop roller coaster of a read. If you can get through it, it just might change you. If you can’t tell, I feel very strongly about these books. I think you will too.

2) Shadow and Bone, by Leigh Bardugo

sbAnother high fantasy flipped on its backside. This is Leigh Bardugo’s debut novel, and it speaks volumes about her potential as an author. She’s been around the Hollywood scene as a make-up artist for a while, and her eye for the dramatic is definitely felt in the pages of Shadow and Bone.

This awesome slice of fantasy takes place in a Czarist Russian inspired world called Ravka. A magical force has created the dangerous fog known as the Shadow Fold, which slowly grows around the country, cutting it off from resources and endangering the lives of the citizens. The First Army of the King is aided by a magical army called Grisha, led by the mysterious Darkling. The story centers around an orphan girl named Alina who possesses a dormant power much needed in this desperate nation. A power she never knew she had. This power changes her world forever.

Alina is a vibrant narrator, with a certain snark and sharpness to her that is refreshing, and the plot vibrates along at a comfortably quick pace. This book isn’t my number one only because I am a little jealous of the Fabulous Leigh for writing it and not me. I think anyone, even those who generally loathe high fantasy, can get into this book. If you haven’t already picked it up, do it…now!

**Bonus** Sexy boy love interests are exponential!

And…my favorite read this year…

1) When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead 

wyrmThis was a hard choice for me. When You Reach Me is actually Middle Grade, which I don’t usually read in, but I had heard non-stop raves for this book, so I had to. I am tickled pink that I did. Every time I think about this book, I smile, which is why it is number one on my list. It touched the child in me while giving me food for thought and stroking the science fiction nerd deep down.

When You Reach Me was the Newbery Winner for 2010, among other prestigious awards, but it’s really a very gentle, simple slice of life tale with a truly golden heart. It takes place in 1979 New York City, and is told by Miranda, a twelve year old girl who’s best friend doesn’t want to be friends anymore. When Miranda begins to receive mysterious notes with eerily accurate information in them, her world turns upside down.

I don’t want to tell you anything else. Just, seriously, read this book. Like, tonight. It’s short and sweet. It will reaffirm the goodness of humanity, the mystery of the universe, and the joy of true friendship. Be warned, you will probably cry, so keep tissues by your side. Anyone, anywhere, can read this and appreciate it. I would even read it aloud to younger children.

Phew, I feel better now. A few Honorable Mentions that I must now mention are:

Hope you enjoy the list, and get a few great reads out of it. Feel free, or largely compelled, to share your own list, especially if it differs greatly from mine. I am ALWAYS looking for more books to pile on my TBR list.