Top Ten Books I Read In 2013

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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: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

From the author the New York Times bestseller Eleanor & Park

A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .

But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

My Rating: 5 cupcakes

Fangirl is one of those books that sounded so brilliant that I knew I had to read it immediately. You see, I’m a fangirl. Fictional characters and the actors who portray them have ruined my life on many occasions. Like Cath, I used to read and write fanfiction stories, and had many awkward moments in high school when my best friend and I were caught writing slash fics in the middle of French class (the fics weren’t actually in French, though; we weren’t quite that talented). My high school teachers held Harry Potter themed dinners where my classmates and I would dress up like the characters before attending the movie premieres, and I’d line up for hours whenever a new Harry Potter book was released. While I’m not very active in the fandom anymore, it was responsible for giving me the courage to actually put my writing out there for people to read, and it’s so neat to see that people actually “get” how wonderful these communities can be.

Anyways, this is what a New Adult book should look like. It perfectly describes how going to college involves a transition from the familiar to the unknown, and how it can be difficult to take in all at once. Not everything can be found on Google, as Cath explains, and there are so many potential sources of social anxiety – like what to do at the cafeteria once you’ve finally found it. There were so many things that reminded me of my first year: the dorm rooms that don’t seem large enough to house two people, the awkward silences before the first lecture, and the nicknames for people around campus (Cath and Regan have Wolf Girl and Venezuelan Lindsay Lohan, we have Cape Girl and Thor Girl).

Our protagonist, Cath, was quite easy to love and sympathize with. She’s an introvert who is uncomfortable in social situations, and who would much rather inhabit the world of Simon Snow. Writing is Cath’s preferred form of self-expression, and I loved how her fanfiction stories – which were interspersed between chapters of Fangirl – mirrored what was happening in her life at the present time. As the story unfolds, Cath becomes more independent, builds new relationships, and gets a better idea of who she is, and it’s beautiful to watch.

Fangirl also showcases Rowell’s ability to create the cutest, most swoonworthy romances ever. The relationship between Cath and Levi is slow to build, starting as friends who exchange witty banter and growing into something more. And Levi! That boy is someone I would love to date. He’s always smiling, genuinely charming, and would do anything to help someone out, whether it’s walking them home from the library at midnight or driving them to a bar to help their drunk sister. He and Cath are virtually polar opposites, yet their relationship dynamic works so well. It’s comfortable, comforting, and just so sweet.

While the romance was definitely important, familial relationships also play a pivotal role in Fangirl. Cath’s father is dealing with manic depression, her mother has been out of the picture for years, and her sister has left the world of Simon Snow in favour of bars and boys. These struggles are heartbreaking at times, but so realistic, and it’s so nice to see characters who are genuinely close with their families; after all, family is important.

Overall, Fangirl is one of the best books I’ve read this year. It’s character-driven, filled with adorable romance, and is incredibly easy to relate to. It’s safe to say that this has solidified Rainbow Rowell’s position on my “automatically-buy” list, and I can’t wait to see what she writes next.

Top Ten Books On My Fall TBR List

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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 on my fall tbr list.” This one was so difficult to narrow down to only ten items, since there are so many books that I want to read, and there are so many fall releases that look excellent. Here are a mere ten of the books that I’m excited to read:

1. Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano
I loved the Chemical Garden trilogy, so I can’t wait to read Perfect Ruin. The synopsis sounds interesting, and all of the snippets that Lauren has been teasing us with via her twitter account just make me even more excited to read this!

2. The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
I’ve read a lot of early reviews of this, and the general consensus is that it’s an excellent book. I love CSI-type stories, and the fact that teenagers are working with the FBI in this makes it even better!

3. Vicious by Victoria Schwab
I’m seriously so excited for this one. I was able to preview the first 100 pages through Netgalley, but of course the story left off at an incredibly interesting part — which means that I’ve been impatiently waiting for the release date ever since. I need more morally ambiguous superheroes in my life.

4. Allegiant by Veronica RothI’ve had this book on pre-order for what seems like forever. I can’t wait to see how Tris and Four’s journey ends, and I’m incredibly excited to see part of their adventure from Four’s perspective. Of course, I probably won’t be able to read it until early winter (thanks, university) but just knowing that it will be at home waiting for me upon its release makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

5. More Than This by Patrick Ness
It’s no secret that I’m in love with Patrick Ness’ writing. Between A Monster Calls and the Chaos Walking series, Patrick Ness has made me feel every possible emotion, and his words have impacted my life in a meaningful way. I’ve seen a few glowing reviews of this book, so I can’t wait to read it!

6. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
This book is basically about my life, so even if it weren’t by Rainbow, it’d certainly end up on my to-read list. Of course, the fact that it is a Rainbow Rowell book makes me want to read it even more — after reading Eleanor & Park and Attachments, she’s definitely near the top of my “instant-add to tbr” list.

7. The Year of Shadows by Claire Legrand
This book looks so good. I love middle grade books and I love books about ghosts, so this sounds like the perfect fit! Claire Legrand is also pretty fantastic, so I’m really excited to (finally) read one of her books.

8. The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
I know, you’re probably all thinking, “but Erin, this book has been on so many of your lists, how have you not read it yet?” I’m thinking the exact same thing. It was (finally) published today, so you can bet that I’ll certainly be paying Gansey and my Raven Boys a visit sometime soon!

9. Fortunately, The Milk by Neil GaimanI know that this is a children’s book… but it’s written by Neil Gaiman, so it just has to be on my to-read list. Seriously, I’d read his grocery lists. It looks like such a cute, fun, and strange story, and I can’t wait to read it to the kids that I babysit!

10. Just One Year by Gayle Forman
I can’t wait to read Willem’s story – taking a peek into his head is going to be such a fun experience! I’ve seen excellent reviews for this, so I’m sure that it will be just as good as Just One Day.

Which books are on your fall to-read list?3

Waiting on Wednesday (August 14)

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Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases that are eagerly anticipated.

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Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell has an expected publication date of September 10, 2013.

From the author the New York Times bestseller Eleanor & Park

A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .

But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

After reading Attachments, which I loved, I came to some very important realizations:
1) I want Rainbow Rowell to be my best friend
2) Anything that she writes is automatically going to be added to my to-read list

While waiting for my hold on Eleanor & Park to come in, I decided to see if she had any more books out. I was excited to see that Fangirl was coming out in September, and as soon as I read the synopsis, I knew that I had to read it.

You see… I’m a fangirl.

Fictional characters and the actors who portray them have ruined my life on many occasions. I read and write fanfiction stories, and had many awkward moments in high school when my best friend and I were writing Merthur fics in the middle of English class. My high school teachers held Harry Potter themed dinners where we would dress up like the characters before attending the movie premieres (I was a pretty flawless Snape one year; another year I dressed as Malfoy and was convinced to roll down the aisle of the theater like Lauren Lopez does in A Very Potter Musical because I have no shame).

I feel like Fangirl is basically the story of my life, so I’m ridiculously excited for it. Hurry up and get here, September – I need this book!

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What books are you waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me a list or a link to your post in the comments below.
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