Top Ten Books of 2019

Hey everyone!  Here we are, the end of a decade and the beginning of a new year.  It’s time now to talk about the best books of the year, and I think I’m going to do an all-genre list.  Normally I’d just stick with YA, but there are a few other books I’ve read this year that I feel deserve some mention, but I’ll keep that to a minimum.  YA is, as always, my main focus.

So let’s take a look!  And yes, they are in order of how I would recommend them.  Should be fun.

Top Ten Books of 2019

10. All Fall Down by Ally Carter

One of the more unexpected books I read this year, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this.  We’re introduced to Grace, who is dealing with some huge emotional issues revolving around the death of her mother (that Grace witnessed) and there’s a lot of political drama between the nations on Embassy Row.  It’s dark, suspenseful, and impossible to put down.

9. An Affair of Poisons by Addie Thorley

This is only one of two books on this list that I picked up without any prior knowledge of the book or author.  And to say I had fun reading this magical historical fiction would be putting it mildly.  A re-imagining of 17th century France with alchemists, we follow Mirabelle, a young poisoner-in-training who realizes too late that she’s only been a cog in a deadly machine.  Mix into that a kitchen boy who is the illegitimate son of the King and you’ve got a daring story.

8. The Five by Hallie Rubenhold (Nonfiction)

This book was recommended to me by a friend who is a librarian.  This is one of the boldest and most feminist nonfictions I’ve ever read and it was so eye-opening that I can’t even tell you.  The Five takes a look at the unfortunate lives of the five confirmed victims of Jack the Ripper.  They weren’t prostitutes like we’ve been told for over 100 years–instead they were unfortunates, poor women whose life circumstances had forced them to make difficult choices.  Addicted, homeless, divorced, it didn’t matter.  But you’ll never look at them or Victorian England the same way again.

7. A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

I read this one back in the first week of January and I loved it.  Some of it was the nostalgia value of having the book set in 2002, where dial-up internet was still a thing and everyone closely guarded their phone’s minutes.  But on the other hand, this book tells a very important story, of life after 9/11 for those who were Muslim Americans.  And it’s so important that we can see the world from another perspective.

6. Speak Easy, Speak Love by McKelle George

A twist on the Shakespearean comedy, Much Ado About Nothing, this book places the well-known tale into the Roaring Twenties in New York.  Bootleggers, flappers, and mobsters run amok in this story set in a small speakeasy trying to remain afloat.  It’s that juxtaposition between the familiar (the play) with the unfamiliar (the setting) that made this a lot of fun to read.

5. On the Spectrum by Jennifer Gold

This was the second of two that I picked up with no prior knowledge.  I picked it up for the Eiffel Towers on the cover, but I stayed for the characters and the unexpected depth.  The “spectrum” in the title does in part relate to our narrator’s brother’s autism, but also in part to her own issues with an eating disorder.  And the fact that both of these were portrayed as a spectrum next to each other was so different and so moving that I couldn’t help but get swept along with the story.

4. My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie (Historical Fiction)

Anything by these two is quickly becoming my favorite thing.  This story, from the perspective of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton, was certainly no exception.  It’s more of a life story than anything, going from the 1770s when Eliza’s family deals with the early years of the War for Independence all the way to the 1850s.  It’s quite the span and it can be a bit dense at times, but I did not cry harder over a book this year than I did this one.  So many tears were shed, even when I knew what was going to happen.

3. The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen

I’m well aware of Dessen’s reputation as a writer–at least 3 of her books live on my shelves and I’ve read many more.  But for some reason, I was still taken aback by this story of class and identity.  There’s the Lake North/North Lake class conflict that was really interesting, coupled with Emma’s/Saylor’s struggle to figure out who she is and who she wants to be.  It was a lot of fun to read and it slowly gets beneath your skin until you’re actually sad the book’s over.

2. Brazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLean (Romance)

I read a lot of romance novels because I enjoy their characters, plots, and happy endings in this not-so-happily-ever-after world.  And Sarah MacLean is the queen of romance, if I do say so.  Each book is better than the last and this one continued to blow me away.  I could not put it down.  The heroine is feisty, stubborn, and clever, which is the best combination.  The hero is strong, powerful, and wickedly smart.  It certainly doesn’t hurt that the hero is nicknamed “Beast” and the plot has some resemblances to Beauty and the Beast, which is my favorite story (obviously).

Now, on to the #1.

Drum roll please…

1. A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

I suppose this shouldn’t be much of a surprise, considering it is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast.  But it was such a bombshell.  The heroine has cerebral palsy, which makes her something of an outsider in her Washington, D.C. home.  And our hero is a prince in what is essentially a fantasy realm, cursed in a way that he feels helpless to ever break free.  Part of that curse involves kidnapping girls to see if they can fall in love with him.  Only he’s running out of time and hope.

Thank God the sequel comes out soon.

Top Ten Reads of the Decade

I keep forgetting that this marks the end of a decade.  Can you believe it?  When this decade started, I was a wide-eyed senior in high school, 18 years old and discovering more every day what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.

Now I’m 28, a college graduate and a 6th year middle school teacher now established in a house of my own.  It’s crazy how many things have changed and how many things have stayed the same.

One of the constants?  My Goodreads account, lucky enough for you!  I started my acount on Goodreads in 2008, a little less than 3 years before I started this blog in 2011.  So I thought it might be fun to go through an try to pick out my favorite reads from each year!  I can’t promise they actually came out the year I read them, but at the time, they blew my mind.  I’m only choosing from books I rated 5 stars at the time, which is unfortunately still making this a difficult decision.

Let’s take a look!

Top Ten Reads of the Decade

2010 – Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

So many existential books this year (maybe because I had no idea where my life was about to take me after high school?), but this is the one that left the biggest mark.  I remember being in the minivan, on a family vacation that summer with this book.  I’d packed a backpack with 5 books to tide me over for a week.  (It was pre-Kindle.)  I was reading this in the van, trying to hide my tears from the other five family members in the vehicle with me.  It moved me that much and I’ve never forgotten that.

2011 – The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

There was a lot of stiff competition this year, with options like Stolen by Lucy Christopher (which was an Experience), Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, and Die For Me by Amy Plum.  I was deep into my paranormal phase at this point, so nearly every book I loved was supernatural in some way.  But The Goddess Test had to be my pick because I’ve read the book like 8 times since.  There’s just something about Kate and Henry that keeps me coming back time and time again.

2012 – Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

My paranormal phase clearly took a turn for the dark side during this year, as some of my contenders for my top book were Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers (about assassins working for Death), The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson (about murderous ghosts), Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake (again, a murderous ghost), and Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter (again…you get the point).

But in the end, I had to go with the book that shifted my world view the most.  This book is beauty in an uncomfortable story.  A story about love, hope, and determination, we follow Lena as she struggles to survive the harsh conditions the Soviets put her family through in the 1940s after they are taken from their home in Lithuania.  I’ve read it multiple times and it never gets old–or easier to read.

2013 – With All My Soul (Soul Screamers, #7) by Rachel Vincent

This was actually a hard decision because there weren’t many options.  At 112 total books for the year, this was the least I’d ever read in a twelve-month period.  (My students would still freak out about that number being WAY too high.)  But I settled on this book because at the time, I remember it being the absolute best finale I’d ever read in my life.  It was creative, brazen, suspenseful, and satisfying.  I still stand by that.

2014 – The Watch That Ends the Night by Allan Wolff

And we’re back to a slew of fantastic books to choose from.  I ended up choosing this one because this book hits so many of the right chords.  It’s a story of Titanic told in verse–from multiple perspectives.  I studied Titanic extensively as a kid (and well into my twenties) and I thought this book did everyone justice, from the third class passengers to the first, from Captain Smith to the rats who stowed away on the ship.  (Yes, the rats.)  Each voice was distinctive and the inevitable events of the night of April 14th are everything you want it to be.  It’s brilliant and underrated writing.

2015 – Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

You know how I said 2013 was my least read year?  Now we’re in my most read year, at 174 books.  I still don’t know how I physically did it, being a first year teacher AND having 8 of those books being from the Outlander series, which are massive tomes of 1000+ pages each.  And now the hard part was the clear trend I had toward social themes of every shade and shape, making so many of these books incredibly important.  So while I want to pick books like Outlander or Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed (about the horrors of arranged marriages among some cultures today) or The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler (about what it means to have a voice), I had to choose the breakout debut of the year that showed the realities of mental illness.  Made You Up is moving, clever, and a book I will keep recommending for years to come.

2016 – A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2) by Sarah J. Maas

Around this point in time, I started getting far more critical with the books I read.  In the past, if I enjoyed a book, I gave it 5 stars.  Now, it had to move me to tears or make me think or be impossible for me to put down to earn 5 stars.  It’s actually kind of fascinating how the number of 5 star reviews seems to be dwindling.  This year, I only had 19.  Out of 168.  So of course, I had to go with the queen.  This is my favorite book in this series and I love how it completely changes your outlook on characters we’d previously met.

2017 – Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Ok, so I lied.  This is the year I read the least.  I only read 108 this year.  (“Only,” right?)  This decision, though, is not getting any easier.  In fact, of the 20 5-star reviews I had, 8 of them are rereads and thus disqualified.  However, the obvious choice of the ones left was Scythe.  Dark, wise, and slightly satirical, this social commentary on death and power is so fascinating.

2018 – The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones

It didn’t take much for this book to win my vote because this one blew my butt off the couch while I was reading.  It surprised me so much that I could not put it down and I think I might have been crying by the end.  And it all started because there was a weird title on the library shelf that caught my eye.

2019 – To Be Announced Soon…

You actually kind of luck out here!  Next week, I’ll count out for you my top ten of this year culminating in my favorite book of the year.  Unfortunately that does mean you need to wait to find out what I picked, but you get ten books instead of one.  That makes up for it, right?

Top Ten Rereads of 2019

I know there’s a constant debate out there–to reread or not to reread?  That is the question.  Personally, I love to reread.  If a book, the plot, or the characters managed to worm their way into my head and/or my heart, you can betcha I’m going to go back and check in on them again at some point.  There was something special about them and I’m not going to let that disappear.

For me, rereading is a lot like watching a favorite movie over and over again.  Sure, maybe I know all the words to When Harry Met Sally or Willy Wonka, but that doesn’t mean I get less enjoyment out of the experience.  In fact, it usually makes it better because I’m anticipating things.  And I’m catching the details I missed last time.

So in honor of all of that (and because I had an unusually high number of rereads this year), I figured I’d devote a list to the books I reread and enjoyed.  Not all are YA, but I hope I can introduce you to something new and worthwhile.

Top Ten Rereads of 2019

1. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

This year marked my sixth time reading this book.  Before you start thinking I’m nuts, I teach this book.  I know it backwards and forwards at this point, but the ending still gets me every time.

2. The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand

As I mentioned last week, this is truly becoming my new Christmas tradition.  Only the second time I’ve read it, it has become a cute, touching Christmas read for me.  Some people read A Christmas Carol or Pride and Prejudice for the Christmas season, but this one is mine.

3. Never Seduce a Scot by Maya Banks

Ok, this is one that’s a romance novel, but it’s so good.  I won’t get on my soapbox about why romance is so underrated when it shouldn’t be, but I’ll simply say that romance shows us a world where women are listened to and treated with respect.  In this book, we’re introduced to two Scottish clans were fight like the Hatfields and McCoys.  The King declares that the two families must unite, if only so they can’t rise up against him.  And that’s how we meet our two heros, particularly Eveline, who is deaf and no one knows it.  (Everyone thinks she’s addled from the fever that nearly took her life.)  I can’t tell you how much I love this representation of Eveline.  Her story alone, her strength, guts me every time.

4. Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt

It’d been ten years between readings of this book and I remembered loving it the first time.  Perhaps not as much the second time around, but I always like to read a story where Death is personified as a person.

5. The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

I’ve talked before about how much I love this story and how much it means to me.  Much like what I said about #3 on this list, I just love the representation and the heroine’s journey.  Elise starts off the story meek, passive, and insecure, but she doesn’t end it that way.  I love her story arc.  This was one of the first stories I ever read where I discovered my love of fantasy.  If it hadn’t been for this book, I might never have read Sarah J. Maas.

6. Some Girls Bite by Chloe Neill

This is an old favorite of mine, hearkening back to the days when vampires were hot.  (So about ten years ago.)  In this story, we’re introduced to Merit, a college doctorate student who is nearly murdered on campus, only to be saved by vampires she now has to pledge her undead life to.  It’s clever, funny, and cute in a lot of unexpected ways.  But mostly I love Merit’s sarcasm.  It’s charming.

7. Destined by Jessie Harrell

One of my favorite retellings, this is a retelling of Eros (Cupid) and Psyche.  It’s not modernized in the least, preferring to stick with the Greek cities.  It stays very true to the myth, only embellishing where the original myths lacked detail.  It can fall into the cliches and it is sometimes pretty corny, but I still love it.

8. On Dublin Street by Samantha Young

Another romance, this is a modern love story with a dark side.  I’m not sure why, but I’m really drawn to stories with a dark side.  In this, we’re back in Scotland (I’ve got a thing for Scotland, ok?) and a bartender named Jocelyn who has no one.  With her family dead, she’s very closed off to everyone who tries to get to know her.  Enter Braden, who doesn’t take no for an answer and is determined to get past Jocelyn’s defenses.  Braden’s a bit of an alpha, which I typically don’t like, but there’s a lot of heart to go with him and that makes up for it.

9. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

I teach this book too, but even if I didn’t, I would have read it this many times.  This is one of my favorite books.  So beautifully written, so marvelously told.  Again, I love that Death is personified (here, he’s our narrator), but I adore Liesl Meminger and the years we spend with her and Rudy and Mama and Papa and Max and everyone else.  They all become so real and I can’t ask for more than that from a book.

10. Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers

Rarely anymore do I read this book cover to cover, but that’s just because I know which scenes are my favorite.  (I pretty much skip most of the first hundred pages to get to the action.)  But this book, no matter how many times I’ve read it, makes me shiver each time.  Each and every time.  It comes back to something about the writing.  And, once again, Death is personified.

****

Apparently my two favorite things are Death personified and Scotland.  And while maybe I should be weirded out by the former or at least the combination of these two, I can’t say I am.  If you pitch me a book with either of these two things as part of the premise, you’ll probably have my attention.  And I’m not ashamed of that.  Books about Death (as a person) seem to have such a unique and interesting perspective on life, which appeals to my philosophical side.

And the ones about Scotland, well, I just can’t pass up a good brogue.

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.