Top Ten Most Surprising Reads of 2019

It’s that time of year again!  I’m ready.  For probably most of the rest of the month, you’re going to see what I liked/didn’t like about the books of 2019.  And I’m so here for it.  I love looking back on books and seeing what was awesome, and what maybe wasn’t.

So let’s check these out!  These were the ones I either picked up without knowing anything about the book or they exceeded my expectations by quite a bit.

What’s funny is these picks were only January through August…but I think you’ll be seeing the others soon.

Top Ten Most Surprising Reads of 2019

1. Something Real by Heather Demetrios

I wasn’t sure I was going to like this, based on how I don’t really like or watch much reality TV (and that’s the subject of this book–a family with a ton of kids who’ve had a TV show basically their whole lives).  But actually, it was so much better than I expected.

2. The Good Neighbor: The Life and Works of Fred Rogers by Maxwell King

I am loving this resurgence of stuff about Mr. Rogers, and this book was worth it.  There was so much in this book about Mr. Rogers that I didn’t know before and it made me respect him all the more for it.  The man truly did love kids with his entire heart and everything he did was to help kids.

3. On the Spectrum by Jennifer Gold

The only reason I originally picked this up was because there were Eiffel Towers on the cover and I’m a little obsessed with reading stories about France.  But this story ended up being so much more, especially with the main character’s half-brother being on the spectrum (which was part of the reason for the title, if you didn’t know).  It was such a sweet story though.  Truly touching.

4. All Fall Down by Ally Carter

I’ve enjoyed Ally Carter’s writing before, but I kind of figured this would fit the same formulaic mold of her previous series.  And while I wasn’t entirely wrong, I did enjoy the darkness in this story.  I think Grace is probably one of the darkest characters she’s ever written and there was something edgy and real about that that I was drawn to.

5. A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

I’m a sucker for a Beauty and the Beast retelling, so this was a shoo-in when I found out about it.  I actually even forgot it was on my to-read list when I found it at the library.  I read the jacket and was like, “Why is this not on my list?” (…yeah…it was there…)  But man, did this blast everything out of the water.  Such an entertaining story.  I even went out and bought it after I read it.

6. The Dead Queens Club by Hannah Capin

I had this one as an ARC and I was looking forward to it from my history nerd side.  A modern retelling of King Henry VIII and his six wives?  Sounded promising.  And while it maybe didn’t exceed my expectations, it definitely took me by surprise with its wit, feminism, and interesting twists.  Some of the connections to history were incredibly subtle and I appreciated them all the same.

7. The Leaving Season by Cat Jordan

I’d been aware of this book for some time, but reading it was actually something of an experience.  It ran the gamut of emotions, from happy to sad to despairing to hopeful to lost to everything else in between.  It was such a poignant book.

8. Speak Easy, Speak Love by McKelle George

I want to preface this by saying that I abhor the Roaring Twenties.  I loath them, the excess of the time, the wild parties and Flappers and all of that.  (I’m not sure why, but it strikes me the wrong way.  Maybe it was a bad experience with The Great Gatsby, I don’t know.)  But this semi-modern retelling of my favorite Shakespearean comedy, Much Ado About Nothing, had my attention.  And truly, it was incredibly well done.  Even the stuff about the 20s.

9. City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

I had this Middle Grade book from Scholastic sitting at my house for a while.  I like to read these books before I take them to school and the kids steal them.  I like ghost stories, Scotland, and Victoria Schwab, so I figured it was going to be good.  But in many respects, it was better than I thought it would be.  And it was a super fast read, which I loved too.

10. An Affair of Poisons by Addie Thorley

“Poison” in the title had my attention because…well, I’m weird like that, I guess?  But the jacket hooked me, talking about royals and poisoning plots and magic.  Oh, and France.  We’ve established my obsession with that.  For a book I’d not heard of until I saw it at the library, it completely exceeded my expectations.  I loved everything about it.

Top Changes To My Reading Habits

Hey everyone!  So I guess I missed this one last week, which is ironic considering it was actually one that I wanted to do.  But I’m not sure how it works for a “Top Ten” list as I can’t really say I have ten changes or even necessarily five.  But this is something worth talking about.  So let’s chart some of my reading territory!

Beware, though: Here be dragons.  (I’m sorry, I had to.)

Top Changes To My Reading Habits

Let’s start this story around 2004 because I totally explains why I am the way I am.

#1) Picture me as a dorky 7th grader.  My school library contained just as many adult books as children’s books, from classics to current fiction.  I was told from the time I was in elementary school that I had an advanced reading level and I needed to push myself.  (Anyone else do AR in school?  Hey-o.)

For that reason, I actually started a lot of my reading career with three authors: Agatha Christie, Mary Higgins Clark, and V.C. Andrews.

Oh yeah.  At 13, I’m reading about dudes murdering people and cutting up their bodies to hide them in freezers or mothers who are so twisted they pretend the female twin is actually the male twin and freak out when she acts like a girl.  Those are actual plots of two of the books I remember.

Kind of explains a lot, doesn’t it?  It was even worse, looking back, when I did a book report to the class on Flowers in the Attic while every other kid was doing something like Redwall.

Let’s jump ahead a few years.

#2) The year is now 2009.  I’m a senior in high school and it’s common knowledge between my friends, classmates, and teachers, that I’m going to be reading a different book in two days.  I got through them really fast.  And I loved books that were bizarre and had shock value with their covers.  (Going Bovine by Libba Bray, Putting Makeup on Dead People by Jen Violi)  It was an easy conversation starter, if someone saw my cover.  I was more than happy to talk to them about the book, but I was still awkward and had trouble with small talk with people I didn’t know well.

My tastes at this time were decidedly YA.  I’m not sure when that became the case, but I slowly eased away from the murder mysteries I’d grown up with.  (And V.C. Andrews eventually became just too weird.  I have not regretted walking away from that.)

I actually started Goodreads in the summer of 2008, so I can actually track what I was reading from that point forward.  In 2009, my favorite books involved Fae, fairytales, magic, and LOTS of vampires.  OMG, so many vampires.  (It was the age of Vampire Academy, Twilight, and Evernight, to name a few.)  I do still enjoy the occasional vampire story, but I’m also not exactly mad that craze is over.

Let’s bounce ahead another say, 3-4 years.

#3) In 2013, I was two years into this blog.  (I know, right?  Holy Toledo, Batman, it’s been almost 9 years as of right now!)  Around this time, I was starting to get my first author requests to read indie books.  It was an exciting time, but since I said “yes” to pretty much everything that came my way, I ended up finding out very quickly which ones I should start saying “no” to.  The vampire craze was over by this time and yet I was still saying yes to vampire books.  And they were pretty creepy by this point as they tried to stay unique.

At this point, zombies and spirits were in high demand.  I loved ghost love stories like Hereafter and zombie love stories like Die For Me.  But I was also branching out a little more toward YA contemporary romance.  Not that I hadn’t read them before, but they were starting to become a little more prevalent.  I was near the end of my college career at this point with a boyfriend, so my reading time was limited.  And yeah, the whole “boyfriend” thing may have played a role into how many love stories I was reading.

#4) In 2015, I read the most books I’ve ever read in a single year at 174.  And that’s not counting rereads, which Goodreads didn’t track at the time.  I was also at the end of my first year of teaching/beginning my second during this year and I think I read so much to retain my sanity.  I didn’t know what I was doing as a teacher yet, but reading?  I knew how to do that–and do it well.

I was still reading a lot of YA love stories, like anything by Kasie West or Sarah Ockler, but this was also the year I discovered Outlander.  Yes, I read every single one of the Outlander books that year and still managed to read 174 books overall.  I literally don’t know how I did it, except that I read those Outlander books in about 3-4 days each because I couldn’t put them down.

And with that, there is a shift beginning.  I started discovering a love for historical romances around this time.  Sarah MacLean was my gateway author there.

#5) Now, getting up to 2018-2019, I’m noticing a lot of higher-concept books.  They have to have an interesting plot, not just be whatever’s popular to get me to read them.  Like This Is How It Happened by Paula Stokes, about a girl dealing with the aftermath of a car crash that put her in a coma and killed her boyfriend.  Or The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand, a modern retelling of A Christmas Carol with a twist.

But I’m also still reading a lot of historical romances.  I find I’m drawn to that genre for the same reasons I like YA: it’s a genre predominately written by women with delightful female heroines going through realistic issues.  I’m at the point right now where I can only stand to watch the news maybe twice a week.  But romances make me happy.  They’re fun but real and don’t get the recognition they deserve as a genre.  Rarely do I find a poorly written historical romance.

So when I go a little while without posting a new review, it’s probably that I’m reading a historical romance rather than YA.  I try to alternate them because there are still so many YA books I want to read and it’s still my home-base, but there’s an excitement now to fully explore this other genre too.

I think that about covers it!  So maybe it does kind of work as a list.  Who knew?  Though admittedly it’s more like a timeline, but I think that makes it better.

Top Ten Goodreads Award Nominees I’m Interested In

Hey everyone!  It’s that time of year again where the Goodreads Awards are looking for votes!  I voted last week in the opening round, so I fully expect the list of nominees to get longer/better this week.  (In fact, the next round opens today!)  So from the nominees available to me now, these are the ones I either voted for or am very curious to read.

Top Ten Goodreads Award Nominees I’m Interested In

1. Again, But Better by Christine Riccio

The main character in this, from the blurb alone, reminds me of myself in college.  That alone interests me.  But more than that, she goes on a semester abroad in London which would be awesome.  And there’s this hint that magic might be involved in this story, which also would be pretty awesome, though I need to see how this turns out.

2. Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

This reminds me a lot of an old-school rom-com.  You’ve got two teenagers working the night shift at a Seattle hotel where they get to know each other over the long hours and try to unravel a mystery together.  Both are a little quirky, but sweet.  I’m going to have to keep this in mind this winter as I look for something to curl up to.

3. The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

Is it possible to not read a Ruta Sepetys novel?  I don’t even care what she writes about, I’ll read it.  I checked this out from the library last weekend and I’m so excited to get to it!

4. The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen

I’ve had this book checked out from the library for a while.  It’s been a few years since I’ve read a Dessen novel and I really need to get back to her writing.

5. The Toll by Neal Shusterman

This series…the first two books were nearly life-altering.  I’m only exaggerating a little.  They really are fantastically written and tremendously entertaining.  I’m very very excited to read this finally, though I have the feeling it’s going to break me.  I mean, do you remember how Thunderhead ended?  *scream face*

6. Defy Me by Tahereh Mafi

We were left on quite the cliffhanger in the last book and, while this series isn’t my favorite at this point anymore, I’m still interested in knowing what happens next.  I don’t think this one probably deserves to win the award (though I haven’t read it), but I think it’s probably worth the read.

7. American Royals by Katharine McGee

I only just found this thanks to the awards and I gotta say, it appears to be a combination of two of my favorite things: George Washington (yeah, I’m not joking about him being one of my favorite things/people; he’s my spirit animal) and monarchies (though that’s really just because of the drama).

8. Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds

I hadn’t heard of this one before either, but it sounds interesting.  It reminds me vaguely of like Before I Fall, except after.  This story seems to be about a boy whose crush (girlfriend?) dies and he’ll do just about anything to get her back, including believe in time travel.  And then there are supposed to be unintended consequences and all of that fun stuff.  I’ll be looking for a copy of this.

The Ones That Have My Vote (So Far)

9. The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson

I love a good mystery and this series is a great one.  Twists you weren’t expecting, a mystery you seriously cannot figure out ahead of time, and unique and interesting characters.  I have enjoyed this series so so much and it’s only the 2nd book.

10. A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

This book took me by storm.  I mean, I was already certain to read it since it was a Beauty and the Beast retelling, but Oh. My. God.  If y’all haven’t read this, you need to move it up on your TBR.

Top Ten Books I Could Reread Forever

I have been on a total reread kick this year and I’m not really sure why.  Is it the familiarity?  Is it that I respect these authors and I want to model my own writing after them?  Is it that I’m rediscovering some of my old favorites and I want to see if that magic is still there?  (Probably a little of all of the above.)

So I figured there was no bigger compliment than talking about the books I love so much that I just keep rereading them over and over again, and usually for the same reason–they hit me right in the heart.

There’s actually a way to sort your books on Goodreads by the number of times you’ve read them and that made this super easy.  (On a completely unrelated note, I’ve read Twilight FIVE TIMES?!)

Top Ten Books I Could Reread Forever

1. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

One of only two books on this list with a male protagonist, my current count for this book is 6 reads.  This is in large part because I teach it every year. I can literally tell you what happens in what chapter.  But every time I read it, no matter how well I know the story, I still find myself drawn into the story.

2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

This book is so nuanced that you can’t help but find it charming and real.  I’ve read it something like 4 times already (which is saying something since that book is like 550 pages), but every read has me falling in love all over again with Liesl and Rudy and Papa and Mama.  I find something different to love about them every single time.

3. The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

So maybe this book is Greek mythology fluff.  I don’t care.  This representation of Hades as a depressed, taciturn god who sees his own death as an inevitability and Kate as the optimistic, selfless heroine just gets to me.  Neither of them are perfect, but they are kind of great for each other.

4. The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

I just recently finished rereading this one for only the second time, but I love Elisa’s transformation in this story so much.  And knowing what I do about where this series goes, it’s so cool to look back at all the clues dropped that I never picked up on before.  This is an ace fantasy series that does not get the credit it deserves.

5. Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers

The third book in the His Fair Assassin series, Annith’s story has always been my favorite.  I’ve related to her far more than I did Ismae or Sybella, though both of them were also amazing leads.  Annith is kind of a goody-two-shoes because that’s how she survived.  If she did what she was supposed to–before she was asked–she was less likely to be tortured.  Her strength to step out into the world on her own and make her own way is always inspiring and fun to read, especially as she makes numerous missteps along the way.

6. The Host by Stephenie Meyer

Again, a book I don’t think gets enough credit.  Do you realize how hard it is to write a conversation between a character in someone’s head and the actual character herself?  This is just about the only alien book I’ll ever tell you I loved, but it totally deserves it.  Wanda’s character just…I understand her.  I feel her on a level I rarely feel characters.

7. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

I adore this series for the humor.  Rose not only battles evil Strigoi vampires, but she battles seriousness with her own brand of sarcasm and wit.  I love that.  I will admit that as a teacher now myself, Rose’s relationship with Dimitri is now kind of weird for me, but you still can’t help but love that Russian in a cowboy duster.

8. If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Able to tear me to bits in no time, I just can’t help but love this story.  The elements of the story are raw and real.  It’s difficult not to feel the pain that Mia goes through.

9. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

This story.  For all its darkness (and trust me, there’s lots), it still retains something of a hopeful note to it.  That little light at the end of the tunnel is what keeps us going through the story.  Not to mention there are some very interesting, very heartbreaking characters.  I’m a sucker for those.

10. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Let’s not even pretend this wasn’t going to make the list.  Goodreads tells me I’ve only read the series 4 times, though it feels like more than that.  (Well, maybe not the later books.)  In fact, last week being Spirit Week at school, I dressed up as Harry and Hermione on two separate days.  These characters are part of my life like none other.

Top Ten Halloween Freebie

Hey everyone!  So I’ve already done like 2 Halloween related ones that I did to replace the category I didn’t want to do (and November’s not looking good either, in my opinion).  For this one, I think we’ll just take a look at the last 10 books I added to my to-read list.  Sound good?  Cool.

I had a lot of fun writing this!  I hope you find some new books to check out.  (Many of these aren’t out yet–so put them on your TBR!)

The Last Ten Books I Added To My To-Read List

1. Wait For Me by Caroline Leech

After finishing In Another Time, I knew I needed to check out this book, which is also a historical fiction set in Scotland.  Except this time, it’s about a Scottish girl who starts to fall in love with a German POW.  (German POWs were sent all over the world to work, since the men were all off at war.  Think Summer of My German Soldier.  Even in my tiny hometown in northern Indiana, we had German POWs to help on the farms.)

2. Once a King (A Clash of Kingdoms, #3) by Erin Summerill

My understanding of this series is that this book is set in the same world as the other books, but we’re following a different narrator this time.  And this is a character I fell in love with in the last book, so I’m really excited about this.

3. Gravemaidens by Kelly Coon

This book actually comes out today.  It’s a fantasy story where maidens are chosen to join a dying ruler in the afterlife.  It’s an “honor” but it’s really nothing more than human sacrifice, you know?  And when our narrator’s sister is chosen as one of these gravemaidens, she’s determined to change that.

4. The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

This just came out earlier this month, but it’s basically the most political YA book of this fall.  No one is allowed to talk about a girl’s 16th year, otherwise known as her “grace year”.  It’s the year a girl’s skin supposedly becomes an aphrodisiac and can lure men away from their wives and girlfriends.  Girls are banned to the forests to release their magic without harming anyone, but it’s not safe.  Poachers wait in the woods to capture grace year girls to make a fortune on the black market.  This book has already been optioned as a movie by Elizabeth Banks.

5. Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon

This book had me from the description “contemporary retelling of Beauty and the Beast.”  Sign me up.  Princess Jaya Rao has a running feud against the Emerson clan, who is targeting her little sister.  So when Jaya finds out she’s attending boarding school with Grey Emerson, she’s determined to make him fall in love with her and crush his heart into a million little pieces and burn the remains into ashes.  Ahem.  But Grey’s reclusive habits and the secrets he’s hiding him make him alluring…not like the enemy she thought he was.

6. The Empire of Dreams (Fire and Thorns, #4) by Rae Carson

Y’ALL, THERE’S ANOTHER BOOK IN THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS SERIES.  I about did a spit-take when I found that out.  It doesn’t release until April, but this girl got her hands on an ARC.  Boo-yah.  It’s not told from Elisa’s perspective, but she’s still a character in the story.  Instead, we’re following an orphan named Red Sparkle Stone, who admits that her name is weird.  But it looks to have the same political machinations as the previous books as well as a girl who desires to prove herself.  I love it.

7. Be Not Far From Me by Mindy McGinnis

I truly never know what McGinnis is going to write about next, but you can almost always guarantee it’s going to be about the most unlikely of heroines.  In this story, we meet Ashley, who goes hiking in the Smokies with her friends.  When she catches her boyfriend cheating on her, her own drunken rage sends her storming into forest on her own…until she falls into a ravine.  She wakes in the morning to discover she’s utterly lost–and far from any signs of civilization.  I’m here for this survival story, I tell you what.

8. The Merchant’s Daughter by Melanie Dickerson

I’m still a little iffy on the way these are all supposed to be Christian lit, but the fairy tale angle grabs me every time.  And this one being Beauty and the Beast grabs my attention.  But I’m very worried because reviews I’ve seen are saying this one is super preachy, which I don’t do well with at all.  So it may be on my to-read list, but it’s on probationary status.

9. The Upside of Falling by Alex Light

This book unfortunately doesn’t come out until February, but it looks delightful.  It’s essentially a Shakespearean-esque rom-com, full of misunderstandings and plans to trick people.  Becca, while being teased about being single, impulsively lies and says she has a boyfriend.  Brett, the captain of the football team, overhears her lie and decides to step in as her mystery man.  It’s a win-win for both of them–their friends stop bothering them.  But it’s hard to “date” someone when you know nothing about them.  Still, there’s something there between them, especially since they’re both struggling to hold their lives together at the moment…and this might be the realest thing about their lives right now.

10. All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban

Billed as something akin to Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, this book is getting bananas good reviews already and it’s not even out until March.  A queen bee, a star athlete, a stoner, a loner, a valedictorian, and a music geek are all invited to a scholarship dinner, only to discover it’s a trap.  Someone has locked them in a room with a bomb, a syringe of poison, and a note saying they have an hour to pick someone to kill…or they all die.  They all are hiding secrets, but what’s the connection between them all?  And as time runs out, what’s going to happen?  Dude, this is going to win awards next year, mark my words.

Top Ten Most Interesting Villains

Ok, so once again, I find myself not liking the topic for this week. (10 books I would pick new titles for…picking titles is hard and I’m not going to judge that.  I’d end up doing titles like Harry Potter and That Time There Was A Psycho In Hogwarts.  Which, upon reflection, fits Every. Single. Book.)  I digress.  The point is, I don’t want to put my energy into something I’m not at least a little passionate about, so I changed the topic again.

I think perhaps I’ve done this topic before a few years ago, but being nearly Halloween, I think it’s still a pretty good topic.  I was just talking to someone this past weekend about the complexities of It, so it’s got me in the right mindset.

Also, my definition of “villains” is a bit loose, seeing as not every villain can be a Lord Voldemort type.  (And because he is like the King Villain, I’m leaving him off the list to make room for less well-known baddies.)  Sometimes, these “villains” are simply antagonists that keep making bad choices but aren’t inherently evil.  Ok, glad we got that settled.

Let’s take a look!

Top Ten Most Interesting Villains

1. Amarantha from A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

There are so many potential villains I could have chosen for this series, but I had to tread carefully.  (Spoilers and all that.)  But Amarantha is definitely one who ranks high on the list for her sadism and vengeful spirit.  She’s unpredictable and cruel for the fun of it, which makes her a very dangerous foe.

2. The Director/US Government from Internment by Samira Ahmed

This is the only one I chose that was actually a society as a villain–and it’s absolutely horrifying.  In this book, Muslim Americans are relocated to detention centers for the “safety” of the American people.  The Director in particular, if I had to choose a single person, was the epitome of everything that is wrong with this society.  Brutal, cold, and unfeeling, he likes to think he’s doing his best for his country while really just embracing racist actions.

3. Truly Devious from Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Two books in and we still have no idea who this person (or people?) is.  But it’s fantastic.  This series deals with two separate crimes: the kidnapping of a mother and daughter in the 1930s and a killer in the present time.  And in both cases, the criminals are genius-level masterminds, covering their crimes so well that even when you do find a clue, it’s nearly impossible to know who’s actually guilty.  I grew up reading mysteries and I’m still left guessing.

4. Queen Elara from Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

I may have disliked where this series went after the first two books, but I can’t deny that Queen Elara is one of the scariest villains to grace YA fantasy in the last few years.  Sneaky and power-hungry, Elara will stop at nothing to get her way and deflect any blame from coming her way.  It’s chilling and it’s masterful.

5. Lada Dracul from the And I Darken series by Kiersten White

Make no mistake, she may be one of the narrators in this series, but Lada is definitely the antagonist.  (“Villain” may be too strong of a word for her in the first few books.)  In this gender-bent take on the actual history of Vlad Dracul, Lada is ruthless, uncaring, and vengeful.  She demands to have what is hers and will stop at nothing to get it–even if it means cutting down thousands of people to get it.  And she will.  But man, you have to admire this girl’s drive in a time when women weren’t typically in leadership positions.  She earned every bit of fear and respect she got.

6. Warner from Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Going back to my previously mentioned definition of villains, Warner fits that type perfectly.  He makes a lot of bad decisions, a product of his upbringing more than anything.  It makes him a captivating character because you see there’s some good in him, but he keeps choosing to do terrible things.  But I have a soft little squishy spot in my heart for him.

7. Guy of Gisbourne from Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

Any Robin Hood story has to have a good villain.  Most of the time, it’s the Sheriff, but there’s a very good case to be made in this series for Gisbourne to be the main villain.  He’s smart and single-minded in his hunt for what is his.  It’s all in good fun to read each new iteration of the legend, but I enjoy how this one made Guy the one to watch for.

8. Anima Industries from Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

My only entry on this list that was a company (there are quite a few dystopias where I considered it).  When you’ve got a company that’s figured out a way to bring vicious zombies into the world, they’re probably the bad guys.  And like many of the other entries on this list, they’re incredibly ruthless.

9. Queen Red from Splintered by A.G. Howard

Much like what I said about Robin Hood, you’ve got the Queen of Hearts as another villain to always keep your eye on in each retelling.  She’s known as Queen Red in this series, but this lady is crazy.  What else can you expect from a being of Wonderland?  And because she’s crazy, you can’t predict what she’ll do next or where she’ll show up.  She doesn’t play by anyone’s rules but her own.

10. The Virus from The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe

I debated about putting this on the list because it’s not an actual person, but I decided I needed to.  A virus can’t help what it does, but the destruction it leaves in its wake can be more terrifying than any single person.  This virus kills almost everyone it comes in contact with, young or old.  Families are destroyed, friends lost, all because they come in contact with this.  And when you’re trapped on an island where the virus is taking over and you have no way off, things are going to get really scary.

Top Ten Extraordinary Book Titles

Ok, this week’s topic is kind of awesome.  We basically get to pay homage to the most awesome book titles out there.  Book titles are hard, so any that are creative enough to catch your attention from the title alone deserve some attention.  I’m happy to give them that.

Let’s go!

Top Ten Extraordinary Book Titles

1. Take the Key and Lock Her Up by Ally Carter

I absolutely love that all the books in the Embassy Row series have titles taken from children’s rhymes, but this one is my favorite.

2. The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe

When we think of Auschwitz, we don’t typically think of them having books or someone who could be labeled a “librarian.”  That alone was enough to make me pick it up.  (Also, highly recommend.)

3. There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

As a horror story, this title perfectly captures the edgy, creepy vibe of the story.

4. The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand

Y’all, I gotta give props to any story that puts my name (well, that’s not my last name) in a book title.  And the afterlife part definitely draws me in too.

5. It’s a Wonderful Death by Sarah J. Schmitt

I love the play on words here with It’s a Wonderful Life.  They sort of have similar themes, for sure, but totally different stories.  This book was a lot of fun.

6. Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray

I like the urgency this book title gives the story.  Before the Devil breaks you.  It’s almost haunting.

7. This Is How It Happened by Paula Stokes

You know, I like how upfront this is.  You don’t know what’s happened (well, I do, since I’ve read it.  Also, highly recommend), but you know the story’s probably been twisted somehow if someone has to step back and say, “No, this is how it happened.”

8. Putting Makeup on Dead People by Jen Violi

You know a title’s good when you can make the librarian do a double take.  I absolutely got one of those looks when I checked this out like a decade ago, back before check out was self-service at my library.  I miss those looks.

9. The Only Alien on the Planet by Kristen D. Randle

This title is so interesting and different from how the book actually is.  The book is about someone who is so odd he seems like an alien to everyone around him.

10. A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

Like with the play on words in #5, that’s why I appreciate this one.  Any Sherlock fan is going to recognize this title as “A Study in Scarlet.”  I like how it immediately tells you this is a Sherlock story with some kind of twist.