Top Ten Tuesday: Books with fall-themed covers

Happy Top Ten Tuesday!  Today is all about fall vibes, or more specifically, ten books with fall-themed covers.  Did you know that a lot of books have summer and winter-themed covers, but not a ton of books feel like fall?  I’ve picked out ten books that feel like fall to me – be it their color scheme, the back-to-school vibes, or one that looks like Halloween.  Regardless of how much (or little) I might have liked these books, here are ten covers that fit the bill.

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🍂 Emerge
🍁 Joyride
🍂 The Moment Before

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🍁 The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
🍂 Pushing the Limits
🍁 Cursed
🍂 Sugar Skulls

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🍁 Eleanor & Park
🍂 The Perfect Son
🍁 Prima Donna

What are your favorite fall books?

Top Ten Tuesday: Books that are set in high school

Happy Top Ten Tuesday!  This week’s theme is a back to school freebie, so I decided to go with ten books that are set in high school.  Have you ever noticed that even when characters are of high school age, we don’t really see them in their natural environment? Books often take place over the summer or on the weekend, or the actual high school experience is just glossed over.  In these ten books, the school itself plays a big role.

The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre
Operation Prom Date by Cindi Madsen
Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
Cherry by Lindsey Rosin
Falling For Forever by Melissa Chambers

Joyride by Anna Banks
The Tyrant’s Daughter by J.C. Carleson
What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler

What are your favorite books set in high school?

Top Ten Tuesday: Underrated or hidden gem books

Happy Top Ten Tuesday!  Whether it be higher ratings, more exposure, or just more appreciation, today’s theme is all about those books that just deserved better.  I had to go back to 2015 for this topic since I didn’t read too many underrated books in the last year.

Take a look through my choices and let me know which underrated books you’ve enjoyed recently, or if you disagree with any of my picks.

Sometimes people don’t want to read books because of the themes.  Sometimes they even go so far as to rate them really low without even reading them.  I don’t understand this, but it’s pretty common on Goodreads.  So here are four books about social issues that I think deserve either a much higher average rating or much more exposure.

What We Saw is a retelling of sorts. Much like the Steubenville rape case, the teens in this book have witnessed the sexual assault of their classmate while standing by and doing nothing.  Was it her fault?  She was drinking, after all. She had been flirting with the boys. But she never said yes. The teens in this book dissect the issue of consent in what I think is honestly a brilliant way.

Joyride doesn’t seem like it’s going to be one of those “issue books,” but then it sneaks in there. I think that this book is even more relevant now than it was back when I read it in 2015, with our President-elect’s impending inauguration on Friday.  This book is about two siblings trying to fly under the radar after their parents’ deportation. Although the children are both citizens, without an adult to raise them, they run the risk of being sent to foster care until they’re of age.

It’s pretty common knowledge that a lot of adults are freaked out by the idea of teenagers having sex, even if they themselves had a lot of sex when they were teenagers. The thing is, I think it’s really important to expose teenagers to sex-positive attitudes so they don’t see their feelings as dirty or wrong, and so that they know how to handle them.

Cherry is about four teenage friends who make a pact to lose their virginity.  But that’s not really what it’s about.  It’s more about an open, honest, frank discussion between four girls about consent, masturbation, LGBT relationships, and figuring out when you’re ready for that next step.

Firsts, on the other hand, is about a teenage girl who does her male classmates a “favor” by helping them get over their first, fumbling, awkward time between the sheets, in hopes that they might give their girlfriends a nice first time. This book has a whole discussion of this behavior without ever settling on a position.  Is it good?  Is it bad?  It’s up to the reader to decide.

Originally I was just looking for books with a low average rating, but then I stumbled across some books with despicably low review counts.  I thought I might as well include these obviously hidden gems.

You’re probably really sick of me talking about Seven Ways to Lose Your Heart. I mean, it’s been on like every list I’ve posted for the last two months. (I’m probably exaggerating, but at this point, I’m not even sure.)  I just can’t believe that a book this amazing only has 45 ratings on Goodreads. Please, please, please go read this book. It’s so good!

The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things was one of my favorites of 2015. I remember very little of the plot, but I do remember very clearly how it made me feel. More people deserve to feel that way, and I am shocked that this book only has about 2500 ratings on Goodreads.

From the cover, you’d think that The List is one of those stereotypical new adult books in which the girl falls for a dark, daring, mysterious jerk.  It’s really not.  It’s about an extremely sheltered young woman who heads to college and is encouraged by her roommate to try new things. Somehow, less than 300 people have read this gem of a book. I blame the cliched cover.

Finally, here are four books that deserve much better average ratings than they have.  I think this is the true spirit of today’s topic, but I haven’t read too many books recently that I thought deserved much higher ratings than they got.

The Last Boy and Girl in the World is a great story of a town that floods and how its teenage residents deal with it.  When I read this ARC, it seemed like everybody was hyping it up.  I thought the book was amazing, but somehow it only has 1700 ratings and a paltry 3.4 average on Goodreads. It deserves better.

Clearly, the problem with Armada is that everybody expected and anticipated a sequel to Ready Player One. And I get that, I really do.  But Cline made it clear that Armada was its own story, and I think that a lot of people were disappointed by that.  Yes, RPO was great. But so is Armada, in its own way.  It’s certainly better than its 3.4 average rating would have you believe.

And, lastly, we have You Know Me Well.  One of my favorites of 2016, it’s about a teenage boy and girl near the end of their high school experience who unexpectedly meet up over a weekend and find they have much more in common than they would have thought. And it’s not a romance! I just can’t believe that a book by an author as well-known as David Levithan only has 4700 ratings.  And not only that, but also that a book this great doesn’t have at least a 4-star average.

ARC review: Joyride by Anna Banks

Joyride by Anna Banks
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Goodreads • Amazon
Publication Date: June 2, 2015
Source: ARC via Netgalley

A popular guy and a shy girl with a secret become unlikely accomplices for midnight pranking, and are soon in over their heads—with the law and with each other—in this sparkling standalone from NYT-bestselling author Anna Banks.

It’s been years since Carly Vega’s parents were deported. She lives with her brother, studies hard, and works at a convenience store to contribute to getting her parents back from Mexico.

Arden Moss used to be the star quarterback at school. He dated popular blondes and had fun with his older sister, Amber. But now Amber’s dead, and Arden blames his father, the town sheriff who wouldn’t acknowledge Amber’s mental illness. Arden refuses to fulfill whatever his conservative father expects.

All Carly wants is to stay under the radar and do what her family expects. All Arden wants is to NOT do what his family expects. When their paths cross, they each realize they’ve been living according to others. Carly and Arden’s journey toward their true hearts—and one another—is funny, romantic, and sometimes harsh.

Carly Vega doesn’t exactly lead the life of a typical teenager.  She and her brother Julio live alone, trying to stay under the radar so that nobody realizes that their parents are nowhere to be found.  The Vegas, illegal immigrants who led a productive and quiet life, were deported to Mexico, leaving their two oldest children alone.  Now, Carly and Julio work themselves to exhaustion trying to earn enough money to smuggle them back into the country.  Carly hasn’t really had a childhood, because every time she tries to do something for herself, she’s met with disapproving glares and lectures.  That’s just the way her life is, until she meets Arden Moss, a former high school sports star who is dealing with his own familial issues.  Together, they’ll learn to be true to themselves instead of blindly following their family’s orders.

I was actually fairly surprised at how much I liked this book.  I honestly thought that it was going to be your typical young adult romance, in which boy and girl fall in love, boy and/or girl does something stupid, angst ensues, and then at the very last second, boy and girl fall back in love.  That’s not what I got, not at all.  In fact, Joyride is more a story of the impact of illegal immigration than anything else.  The story of Carly’s family is devastating, and unfortunately all too common.  With everything that you hear about in the news, it’s almost overwhelming to read about the struggles that she and her brother go through to earn enough money to smuggle their parents back, not even knowing whether it will work this time.

And then on the other side of the novel, we have Arden Moss.  On the surface, Arden Moss is a former jock who used to have it all.  Then he just threw it all away to turn into a slacker.  But is that really what happened?  Arden is still reeling from his sister Amber’s death, and he harbors a lot of resentment toward his father for failing to get her the help she needed for her mental illness.  And this is another big issue tackled in this book.  Mental illness is a real concern for a lot of people, and unfortunately, many people feel that if you pretend that it doesn’t exist, it’ll just go away.  But that’s not the reality, and we see the consequences of that attitude in Amber’s suicide.

I was so surprised when I was reading this book that it wasn’t just another vapid teenage romance.  It tackles big, important, relevant issues in a great way.  I thought the writing was great, and actually really enjoyed that the narration changed from first person to third person, because I got a sense that we were inside Carly’s head, but kind of watching Arden from afar.  I’ll be on the lookout for other books by Anna Banks, because this book was such a pleasant surprise.


For my 2015 reading challenge, I’m checking off #11: a book with a one-word title.