My Top Ten Books of the Year

This post is linked with The Broke and the Bookish and The Novel Knight.

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According to my 2016 Goodreads Reading Challenge, I read 105 books this year.  I thought I would give you a list of my 10 favorite (and maybe a couple more) books.

1.

My absolute favorite book of the year was Girl In Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow.  I read it twice this year.
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Book blurb via Goodreads-Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people lose in a lifetime. But she’s learned how to forget. The broken glass washes away the sorrow until there is nothing but calm. You don’t have to think about your father and the river. Your best friend, who is gone forever. Or your mother, who has nothing left to give you.

Every new scar hardens Charlie’s heart just a little more, yet it still hurts so much. It hurts enough to not care anymore, which is sometimes what has to happen before you can find your way back from the edge.

My review: I LOVED THIS BOOK!!! This book was hauntingly beautiful from page 1 to page 400. In fact, this book was so good that I am afraid this review will not do it justice.
Charlotte who goes by Charlie is a seventeen year old girl who has had a rough start. She has seen and experienced a lot of bad stuff in her short life and the only way she feels she can escape from that pain is to create a different sort of pain through cutting herself. Charlie ends up in a group psychiatric hospital ward where she finally feels safe from the people she was hiding from. There are some interesting nurses, doctors and patients she interacts with that help her realize that she is worth saving. When she is discharged, Charlie moves from Minnesota to Arizona to start a new life but when she gets there it is not as easy as she thought to stay away from old habits. Charlie meets Riley West, a musician , fighting his own demons. They hit it off right away because of their shared painful pasts. However, Charlie realizes that maybe becoming Riley’s friend isn’t the best thing for her recovery.
The author weaves Charlie’s story together beautifully through out the book. We get bits and pieces of her past to help us understand her hurt and anxiety. The descriptions of Charlie’s struggles are sometimes so heartbreaking it is hard to read. For example, “When the door closes, I turn off all the lights and curl up in the bathtub in a very tight ball. I imagine myself inside an egg, a metal egg, impenetrable, locked on the outside, ANYTHING to keep myself from crawling to my kit…” (Charlie’s kit contains glass to cut herself with). Though it may seem Charlie is weak, she is actually a very strong character. She is only 17 throughout most of the book and has to survive on her own in a strange city. Charlie works hard to transform herself and to put the pieces of her life back together.
Working with teens everyday, I know cutting is a problem. It is called NSSI (Non-Suicidal Self-Injury). It can be triggered by a variety of reasons, stress, anxiety, bullying, abuse, feelings of worthlessness. Girl in Pieces does an amazing job showing us how sad and lonely self-harming can be. The author writes from her own experience which she talks about at the end of the book. Ms. Glasgow says, “Self-harm is not a grab for attention. It doesn’t mean you are suicidal. It means you are struggling to get out of a very dangerous mess in your mind and heart and this is your coping mechanism. It means that you occupy a small space in the very real and very large canyon of people who suffer from depression and mental illness.”

2.

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3.

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4.

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5.

world

 

6.

indian

7.

monster

8.

stillawork

9.

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10.

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Honorable Mention

What were some of your favorite reads this year?

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History Is All You Left Me Review

I buddy read this book with La La in the Library.  Check out her post HERE!!

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Book Blurb via Goodreads

When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universeimplodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.

To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart.

If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.

1.What are your general thoughts?

LA LA: The beginning of the story was wandering and sometimes downright bland to the point of being boring. I was happy when it picked up around 30%, but it slowed down again. At one point I was thinking it as going to be a three star, but the last 40-45% really packed a punch.

As I said in my Goodreads review I really appreciate Adam’s skill at writing sex scenes where the reader will only envision what they already know. This is important to me because YA is classified appropriate for 12-18 year olds and there is a large difference of maturity levels between those ages.

I also loved that the story pointed out serious romantic/sexual relationships in high school are not always a positive thing. The couples in this book show how much responsibility a serious relationship is, and how this can cause a lot of stress which in turn effects school, family, and friendships in a negative way.

JOLENE: I thought this was a very good read.  Even though it starts off a bit slow, the pay off at the end is worth the wait.  This is definitely not a happy book. There are a few funny moments but for the most part it is about dealing with the loss of a friend, a lover, a son, and a bright future full of possibilities. I believe this is an important read for not only teens but people who are around teens.  We all deal with grief in different ways and it is imperative we don’t judge how someone else deals with a devastating loss. Mr. Silvera does an excellent job weaving the story together.  We learn about Griffin’s and Theo’s history little by little and are introduced to Theo’s boyfriend, Jackson, and his importance in Theo’s life along the way.

  1. How did you feel about the plot?

LA LA: I thought the story line was wonderful. It shows how people deal with tragedy differently. It also highlights the differences in relationship motivations; how one person’s reason for being with someone can be totally different from their partner’s. It also points to teens not being mature enough for serious sexual relationships. There was also a puzzle theme throughout the book, both figuratively and literally, which was interesting.

JOLENE:  The story line was great.  I thought the pacing was good because even though we know Theo dies early on, we are not sure how or why.  I think that is one of the reasons I kept turning pages at the beginning.  Theo’s death and circumstances around it are revealed bit by bit through the entire book.

  1. What did you think about the characters?

LA LA: I liked all of them. I saw some Goodreads reviews where readers were saying they couldn’t stand Griffin, the MC, and it was reflected in their rating, but the way he was handling life was what the story was about. I don’t get these people who don’t understand characters can’t be perfect, especially in YA where growth/change arcs are so important. I found I had empathy for all of them, but I didn’t get drawn in by any of them. I don’t quite know why that is because I was deeply invested in the MC of Silvera’s first book, More Happy Than Not. That story made me cry, this one did not.

JOLENE:  I liked the main characters.  I wasn’t sure of Wade at the beginning but his purpose is all fleshed out by the end of the book.  Even though Griffin bugged me, I totally understand why he was written the way he was.  Griffin definitely developed throughout the story which I believe is the point of this story and grieving for a loved one. Jackson’s and Griffin’s relationship was my favorite.  Reading them share their memories of Theo to each other was very poignant.

  1. Was the ending satisfying?

LA LA: Yes. It was well developed, not rushed, and it gives closure.

JOLENE: Yes, I liked the ending.

  1. Rating and recommendations?

LA LA:  I gave it a good solid four stars. The weak beginning really worries me because teens will drop a boring book like a hot potato, and with this book they would miss out on the thought provoking back half. It is of course diverse, being about gay couples, and this is a big plus when it comes to YA. Like I stated previously, I didn’t find myself falling in love with any of the characters. I think I could have in Wade’s case, but he was underdeveloped. His character was used primarily as a sounding board for Griffin and Theo, and for me, that was a shame. Some of the waffling around between Theo and Griffin in the beginning could have easily been taken out to make room for development of Wade.

JOLENE: I give this book 4 stars.  This is a great book for teens who are dealing with grief and loss.  My favorite aspect of the book was how Griffin and Jackson had to put their differences behind them and become friends.  They were the only ones that knew how the other felt.  Those moments in the book, for me, were very sweet and heartbreaking.  I, too, wish the beginning wasn’t as slow but if readers are familiar with Mr. Silvera’s first book, hopefully, they realize there will be a great second half of the book.

EXTRA QUESTIONS : based on events from the book and inspired by the #BBTC Twitter chat hosted by Brittany’s Book Rambles

  1. Most Embarrassing moment with parents growing up?

LA LA:  I was so high at my high school graduation that I fell asleep in my seat. Thank goodness I was sitting next to a friend and they let me nod off on their shoulder. I was so out of it when I walked up to the platform (it was outdoors) that I couldn’t find the stairs, so the principal had to walk to the edge of the stage and bend down to give me my diploma. I felt the need to get high because of  my warring divorced parents both being in attendance.

JOLENE: When I was about 14, we were getting ready to go on vacation and as my parents and I got in the car my mom asked me if I had packed enough maxi pads.  My dad and brother were in the car too and I rememeber being so mortified that they had heard my mom ask me that. It wouldn’t bother me now but at 14 I wanted to crawl under the back seat.  

  1. Interesting events/arguments at family holidays?

LA LA: That would be when my mother finally saw my tattoo. I had stayed over night for Christmas and at the breakfast table, when I reached for the jelly, my robe sleeve crept up and it was exposed. I had had it for over a year and had managed to keep it hidden. My stepfather banned me from the house and wouldn’t let my little sister visit me anymore (she was three years old) because he said I was a bad role model. That didn’t last long though because they forgot I babysat for her free of charge. Ha ha. I also was not allowed to take my gifts home with me. Scenarios like this are why I love reading about loving accepting parents like in this book.

JOLENE:  I had strict instructions never to get my ears double pierced so of course as soon as I turned 18, I went and got them double pierced. But that wasn’t nearly as bad as when my brother and his friends showed up one day with their ears pierced.  I think everyone in town heard the repercussions of that.

  1. Biggest fear?

LA LA: Something bad happening to my son. He has been my life force since the day he was born and I don’t know how I would continue on without him.

JOLENE:  Definitely something happening to my kids.  But another fear that many find weird is that I will get eaten by an animal.  I can’t even watch wild life shows and watch an animal eat another animal.

Thanks to La La for buddy reading this with me!

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About the Author:

Adam Silvera was born and raised in the Bronx. He has worked in the publishing industry as a children’s bookseller, marketing assistant at a literary development company, and book reviewer of children’s and young adult novels. His debut novel, More Happy Than Not, received multiple starred reviews and is a New York Times bestseller, and Adam was selected as a Publishers Weekly Flying Start. He writes full-time in New York City and is tall for no reason.

My Favorite Genre-Fantasy

This post is linked up with  Saturday Situation and Stacking the Shelves.

This is my favorite Genre-Tell me yours!

This blog feature originated on Drew’s blog, The Tattooed Book Geek.  I also saw it on La La’s blog, La La in the Library.  It looked like lots of fun so I thought I would give it a try.

What is your favorite genre?

It was hard to choose but my favorite genre is Fantasy!

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Who is your Favorite Genre Author?

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I know this may sound cliche, but my favorite Fantasy author is J.K. Rowling. I think the way she can weave together a story is brilliant.  Every time I re-read the Harry Potter books, I find something new.

 

What is it that keeps pulling you back?

As a little girl, I loved watching reruns of I Dream of Jeannie and Bewitched because  I wanted to have magical powers. So I love Fantasy books with that magical aspect.  I think it would be so awesome to snap my fingers, wiggle my nose, or wave my wand to clean my bathrooms! Also, a lot of Fantasy books have cool magical creatures like griffins, unicorns, and  dragons.

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What book started your love of this genre?

When my kids were little I started reading them The Chronicles of Narnia books by C.S. Lewis. My favorite one of the series is The Magician’s Nephew. It is the first book in the series but I believe the last book written for the series.  It is the origin story of how the land of Narnia came to be and why the wardrobe is magical in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

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If you had to recommend one book from your favorite genre to a non-reader or someone looking to start that genre, what book would you  choose and why?

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The Hobbit has everything, wizards, a dragon, elves, magic, and more.  It is fairly easy to read and if the reader likes it, they can continue on to the Lord of the Rings books.  If not, The Hobbit can be read as a single book too.

Honorable Mentions

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This is a fun series.  It too has dragons, elves, and magic.  I recommend the Eragon series to teenagers all the time.

Why do you read?

This is a tough question.  There have been many different reasons I read depending on my age.  As a little girl, I didn’t have a lot of kids to play with so I went to the library every day after school and would check out books.  When I had kids, I started to read YA books to make sure they were appropriate for them to read.  That is how I found Harry Potter. Now, I read because I have a hard time sitting still! It also does provide a way to escape from reality when I need to.

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Tell Me Tuesday-Review of The Radius of Us

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Tell Me Tuesday is a weekly blog feature put on by La La in the Library.It is where we discuss what we have been reading and why.  Tell us!

Last Week’s Read

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The Radius of Us by Marie Marquardt

I received this book from NetGalley. This book was fabulous! I loved it from page one! It was so beautifully written. I kept highlighting my favorite passages and had to stop because I was highlighting the whole book! The story is told from two points of view. Gretchen, is recovering from a violent attack in an alley a few months ago. Phoenix escaped with his little brother from a gang in El Salvador who was trying to kill them. He is trying to become a US citizen but his past could keep him from this dream. Gretchen unexpectedly runs into Phoenix mistaking him for her attacker. What ensues is an unlikely relationship. This book sheds light on the danger teens face due to the gang activity in South America and these teens running for their lives to America. Another great thing about this book is that there are several beautiful drawings through out.

Currently Reading

La La and I are buddy reading this book.

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Goodreads Blurb

When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.

To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart.

My Next Read (I think)

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I have been trying to read more Adult Fiction and I received this book from First to Read.  I have heard good things so I may give this one a try.

What are  you reading?

Waiting on Wednesday-A Dog’s Purpose (the movie)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly blog feature by Breaking the Spine.  It is where you get to highlight a book that you can hardly wait for.  Here is mine.

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Book Blurb from Goodreads

This is the remarkable story of one endearing dog’s search for his purpose over the course of several lives. More than just another charming dog story, this touches on the universal quest for an answer to life’s most basic question: Why are we here?

Surprised to find himself reborn as a rambunctious golden haired puppy after a tragically short life as a stray mutt, Bailey’s search for his new life’s meaning leads him into the loving arms of 8 year old Ethan. During their countless adventures Bailey joyously discovers how to be a good dog. But this life as a beloved family pet is not the end of Bailey’s journey. Reborn as a puppy yet again, Bailey wonders, will he ever find his purpose?

Heartwarming, insightful, and often laugh out loud funny, this book is not only the emotional and hilarious story of a dog’s many lives, but also a dog’s eye commentary on human relationships and the unbreakable bonds between man and man’s best friend. This story teaches us that love never dies, that our true friends are always with us, and that every creature on earth is born with a purpose.

Since the book has been available for a few years, I am anxiously awaiting the movie. I believe it comes out at the end of January 2017. Here is a clip. Click the link below.

A Dog’s Purpose

Tell Me Tuesday/Stacking the Shelves

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This post is linked with The Sunday PostStacking the Shelves, and Tell Me Tuesday.  Tell me Tuesday is a weekly feature put on by La La in the Library. It is where we discuss what we have been reading and why.  SO TELL US.

What I Read Last Week

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I found this book very slow to get into and that every character made me angry. I guess when a story takes place in Ireland in the 1850’s there is going to be a lot of superstition and ignorance and not a lot of advancement in medicine so the characters will seem idiotic. With that said, the book did a great job of keeping me in suspense and guessing at how the little girl, Anna, was still alive after 4 months of fasting. The author weaves the back story of Florence Nightingale and the main character Mrs. Wright nicely and provides wonderful knowledge of the famine in Ireland and the beliefs of the Catholic Church. All these things combined push the story forward.

Goodreads Blurb

In the latest masterpiece by Emma Donoghue, bestselling author of Room, an English nurse brought to a small Irish village to observe what appears to be a miracle-a girl said to have survived without food for months-soon finds herself fighting to save the child’s life.

What I am Reading Now

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Goodreads Blurb

Ninety seconds can change a life — so how will the ninety seconds of Gretchen and Phoenix’s first encounter change theirs?

Told in alternating first person points of view, The Radius of Us is a story of love, sacrifice, and the journey from victim to survivor. It offers an intimate glimpse into the causes and devastating impact of Latino gang violence, both in the U.S. and in Central America, and explores the risks that victims take when they try to start over. Most importantly, Marie Marquardt’s The Radius of Us shows how people struggling to overcome trauma can find healing in love.

What I am Reading Next

I will be Buddy Reading this with La La in the Library!!!

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What are you reading? Tell me.

A Few of my Favorite Holiday Books and Movies

This post is linked with Stacking the Shelves and The Sunday Post. Be sure to take a peek at what they are reading.

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I was inspired by The Tattooed Book Geek to post  a few of my favorite Holiday movies and I decided to add a few books in there too. This is a book blog after all right?

Favorite Books

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This book is a set of 3 interconnected stories.

Goodreads Blurb

A Christmas Eve snowstorm transforms one small town into a romantic haven, the kind you see only in movies. Thanks to three of today’s bestselling teen authors—John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle—the magic of the holidays shines on these hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and breathtaking kisses.

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Goodreads Blurb

Whether you enjoy celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or New Year’s there’s something here for everyone. So curl up by the fireplace and get cozy. You have twelve reasons this season to stay indoors and fall in love.

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I loved the Little House books as a kid and I still enjoy rereading them now and again.  One of my favorites is The Long Winter.

Goodreads Blurb

The adventures of Laura Ingalls and her family continue as Pa, Ma, Laura, Mary, Carrie, and little Grace bravely face the hard winter of 1880-81 in their little house in the Dakota Territory. Blizzards cover the little town with snow, cutting off all supplies from the outside. Soon there is almost no food left, so young Almanzo Wilder and a friend make a dangerous trip across the prairie to find some wheat. Finally a joyous Christmas is celebrated in a very unusual way in this most exciting of all the Little House books.

Favorite Movies

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I have enjoyed A Christmas Story since I was a kid.  The great thing about this movie is that I enjoyed it from the kid’s perspective and now I enjoy it from the parents perspective.  Also, thanks to this movie, I can’t see the word FRAGILE without pronouncing it Frah-gee-lay. (It must be Italian)

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When this movie first came out I was a little wary because I am not a huge Will Farrell fan.  I was pleasantly surprised at how family friendly this movie was.  My young children at the time LOVED it and we have watched it every year since. I even have video of my kids reenacting scenes from the movie when they were only 5 and 3.

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I love the music in this movie.  When my kids were little, a neighboring town had Polar Express train rides at night for the kids.  They could wear their pajamas and hot chocolate and bells were handed out.  Of course, Santa was at the end of the trip at the “North Pole”.

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This is a movie I didn’t enjoy until I was an adult.  Favorite quote: “You surprised to see us Clark?” “Eddie if I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet I wouldn’t be more surprised than I am now.”  There are some other great quotes but they are not family friendly.  Go HERE to read more quotes.

What are some of your favorite Holiday books and movies? I would love to know.

Tell Me Tuesday

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Tell Me Tuesday is a weekly blog feature put on by

La La in the Library.

It is where we discuss what we have been reading and why, so check out our blogs and let us know what YOU are reading and why.

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This post is also linked to The Sunday Post by the Caffeinated Book Reviewer and Stacking the Shelves by Tynga’s Reveviews

I finally got some reading done this week! Here is a quick review of my latest read.

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This is both a retelling and in a way a sequel of the Phantom of the Opera story.  It is beautifully written with rich characters both old and new.  The setting of the Opera house and Paris is magnificent and I totally felt like I was there. There was lots of music, romance, intrigue and mystery. The best part I think is that the author takes this story in a whole new direction instead of just retelling the same story with new characters. If you haven’t read the original Phantom of the Opera or seen the musical or movie, I feel like you can still read this book without being confused.   I highly recommend this book if you are a Phantom Phan.

Check out my other bookstagram photos on Instagram HERE!

Currently Reading

chemist

 I was a little wary of this one but I am enjoying it so far.

BOOK BLURB-She used to work for the U.S. government, but very few people ever knew that. An expert in her field, she was one of the darkest secrets of an agency so clandestine it doesn’t even have a name. And when they decided she was a liability, they came for her without warning.

Have a great week reading what makes you happy!