Top Ten Books I Read In 2013

ttt

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly book meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, she posts an idea relating to books and encourages other book bloggers to respond with their own top ten lists.

This week’s topic is “top ten books I read in 2013.” 2013 was an excellent year for reading, thanks to the discovery of both Goodreads and book blogs. While it’s virtually impossible to narrow down all 217 books that I read this year to the 10 that I thought were the best, the ten below are ones that I really enjoyed reading — and ones that I’ll likely read again.

1. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
When I received this book, I stayed up all night reading it — I laughed, I cried, I highlighted poignant quotes, I had my heart broken, and I felt a strange sense of hope within all the angst and despair. It’s such a touching, important, powerful book, and I can’t recommend it enough. My review can be found here.

2. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
I’m convinced that Rainbow writes books for me, personally. Fangirl perfectly captures what it’s like to be a fangirl and what it’s like to go away to college in true Rainbow Rowell style: it’s quirky, fun, adorable, and character-driven. My review can be found here.

3. The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
This was one of my most anticipated reads of the year, and it completely surpassed my (already high) expectations. I don’t know how I’m going to survive the wait until the third book — I need more of my Raven Boys in my life!

4. Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
Crown of Midnight addressed all of the issues that I had with Throne of Glass, kept me guessing at every turn, and made me feel all the emotions. It’s such a good example of how to write a sequel since I enjoyed it a lot more than Throne of Glass, and I can’t wait to see where the series will go from there. My review can be found here.

5. Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
Between swoonworthy boys, magic, and inventive fairytales/mythology, this series is so enthralling. And the Darkling! (I know that I already said swoonworthy boys, but he really deserves his own special mention). Can Ruin and Rising please hurry up and be released?! My review can be found here.

6. The Archived by Victoria Schwab
The Archived has such a unique and spooky premise, and it definitely delivered on that front. I easily got lost in its world, which I desperately wanted to know more about, and the mystery aspect of it, which kept me guessing throughout the story. My review can be found here.

7. Angelfall by Susan Ee
Angelfall single-handedly redeemed angel books in my eyes, which is certainly no small feat! Its post-apocalyptic setting, amazing female lead, and brutal angels make it a step above the rest for good reason, and it’s definitely worthy of all of the hype surrounding it. My review can be found here.

8. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
This book both broke my heart and healed me. It’s a really moving piece on grief and loss, and I’m so, so glad that I read it. My review can be found here.

9. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy NelsonThe Sky is Everywhere is a beautiful piece on grief, love, and loss. It’s lyrical, moving and honest, and will definitely stay with me for a long time to come. My review can be found here.

10. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
I don’t even know how to describe The Ocean at the End of the Lane. It’s beautiful, haunting, nostalgic, creepy, and filled with so much wisdom. There’s a reason that Neil Gaiman is one of my favourite authors, and this book is just another reason why.

What were some of your favourite reads of 2013?3

Book Review: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.

But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…

This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.

It wants the truth.

My Rating: 5 cupcakes
A Monster Calls
is an unflinchingly honest story. It talks about our darkest, innermost secrets and how we leave certain things unsaid because we’re afraid that speaking them aloud will make them real. It speaks of guilt, responsibility, grief, and loss. Most importantly, it speaks about love, and just how difficult it is to let go.

As many reviewers have mentioned, you really must read the paper copy of this book so that you don’t miss out on the beautiful, dark, and sometimes haunting illustrations that accompany this story. They were done by the incredibly talented Jim Kay, and some samples can be found on his website.

Coner is a character that everyone can relate to, whether they’ve been in the same situation as him or not. He feels invisible, misunderstood, angry, and confused. His complete belief and hope in his mother’s recovery was both inspiring and heartbreaking, and there were many times where I just wanted to reach into the book and hug him.

I just loved the monster. To me, he was the embodiment of truth: paradoxical in all ways, and not always the easiest to face. As the yew tree, the monster was both capable of healing (through the treatment) and harming (through the poisonous berries) an individual. It was able to show Coner difficult and confusing truths about the world itself: that good and evil aren’t as clear-cut as we’d like to imagine; that sometimes being seen is worse than being invisible; that stories are incredibly important; that sometimes it’s easier to lie to ourselves than to face the truth. Most importantly, though, the monster showed Coner the truth that he had been hiding from himself, and how his thoughts are just that: thoughts.

You do not write your life with words, the monster said. You write it with actions. What you think is not important. It is only important what you do.

A Monster Calls is something that everyone should read, whether they’ve experienced loss or not. We cannot all have a monster calling our name to teach us important truths, which is why this story is so important: it’s beautiful, powerful, heart-wrenching, and healing. It reminds us to treasure every moment, to love fiercely, and to forgive both ourselves and those around us.  It’s a story that touched me personally, and will resonate with me for quite some time.

Top Ten Books That Should Be Required Readings

ttt

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly book meme created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every week she posts an idea for relating to books, and encourages other book bloggers to respond with their own “top ten” list.

1b2

This week, we had a choice between “top ten books that you’d pair with a required reading” or “top ten books that should be required readings.” I decided to do the latter, so here are the books that you’d have to read if you were in my high school English class:

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak / Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
These books are thought-provoking, heartbreaking, and honest accounts of World War II. They may be works of fiction, but they’re just as impactful as The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank.

Paper Towns by John Green / Every Day by David Levithan
Paper Towns reminds us that loving the idea of a person can be dangerous; we should love people for who they truly are, not for who we envision them to be, which is a lesson that everyone could benefit from learning.

Every Day teaches a very similar lesson: we shouldn’t judge people based on their appearance; instead, it’s what’s on the inside that truly counts. I’m not sure if it would appeal to the guys very much… so if not, they can always just read Paper Towns.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins / Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
These books are more accessible to students than Brave New World or 1984, but they still contain many of the same important ideas as the dystopian classics.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Many high school students face the same problems as Charlie and his friends, making it a book that’s easy to relate to and easy to learn from.

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson / A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
These books hold so many important lessons about life and loss. They’re both so different from one another, which is good; after all, the grieving process is different for everyone and there’s no “right” way to do it.

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Before I Fall shows the power that our actions and our words truly hold. It caused me to reevaluate some of my life choices, so hopefully it would remind students that they should think before they act – after all, we aren’t all lucky enough to get a second chance.

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick / The Bully Book by Erik Kahn Gale
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is heartbreaking and deals with heavy subjects, but is a story that everyone needs to hear. Bullying is a problem that a lot of people ignore until it’s too late — until someone is pushed over the edge like Leonard is. I’d also hand out copies in the staff room, since the well-meaning Herr Silverman, who actively takes an interest in his students’ lives, is the kind of teacher that every teacher should have as a role model.

I know that it’s a middle grade read, but The Bully Book is incredibly important. It examines why the “grunts” are chosen to be bullied, the effect of bullying on the victims, the bystander effect, and peer pressure. Since bullying is (unfortunately) a reality in many schools, the powerful and thought-provoking message that The Bully Book holds would hopefully make a difference in at least one student’s life.

Extra Credit: read more books! I’d be happy to provide a list of my favourites in hopes that it would inspire more students to read for pleasure. Of course, this list would include the Harry Potter series, Shadow and Bone, and Throne of Glass, so there’s really no excuse for them not to become voracious readers.

1b2

Which books would be on your required reading lists?3