Happy New Year! My top 10 books of 2017!

Happy 2018!  In honor of the new year, I thought I’d talk about the best of the best of last year. Here are my top ten reads from 2017. I know I always say “in no particular order,” but this time, they are in descending order. This was such a hard decision because, for the first time in quite a while, I had way more than ten five-star books to choose from!

Coming in at #10 on my list is Infini by Krista & Becca Ritchie. Has a book ever ripped my heart out quite so much as this one?  Luka Kotova is still in my head all these months later. I’m honestly tearing up just thinking about him.

At #9 is The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman. Hoffman is an amazing storyteller and, here, she perfectly captured the ambiance of New York with a little magic. The book is at times heartbreaking, at times funny, and always enjoyable.

I’m happy to put Operation Prom Date by Cindi Madsen at #8 on this list. This book was cute and fluffy and left me wondering why I’d never found a boy like that when I was in high school. I’m eagerly anticipating Cindi’s next YA release.

Next up, at #7, is Turtles All the Way Down by John Green.  I’m sure this book is on literally everybody’s “Best of 2017″ lists, but it certainly deserves its spot.  This book was about anxiety more than anything else, and I have to applaud it for portraying the nitty-gritty details and not just the cute, quirky bits that often make their way into YA novels.

Book #6 is Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon.  I flat-out devoured this book.  It’s such an interesting concept for a YA book and was so well-executed.

Rounding out the top five is Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. This was my only re-read of the year and I absolutely adored it. Like, even more, the second time around.

It’s getting hard to rank these books, but #4 would have to be Anything You Can Do by R.S. Grey. This was the first book of hers that I ever read and it still stands as my favorite.

We’re getting close to the end, and heading off the top three is The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. This just barely got the edge over #4 on the list because of the resolution at the end.

#2 on my list is My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows. This book was just so much fun, so engaging, and never once felt like it was nearly 500 pages. I cannot wait to read their next Jane book.

Finally, at #1, is The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.  I am still in utter shock that this was a debut novel. Angie Thomas masterfully described race relations in America without ever once sounding pushy.  This book should be required reading.

2017 Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge

That’s that!  I have officially completed the 2017 Modern Mrs. Darcy reading challenge!

  1. a book you chose for the cover: Batter Up by Robyn Neeley
  2. a book with a reputation for being un-put-down-able: Infini by Krista & Becca Ritchie
  3. a book set somewhere you’ve never been but would like to visit: Seven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse
  4. a book you’ve already read: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
  5. a juicy memoir: Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham
  6. a book about books or reading: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
  7. a book in a genre you usually avoid: Damaged Like Us by Krista & Becca Ritchie
  8. a book you don’t want to admit you’re dying to read: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
  9. a book in the backlist of a new favorite author: The Allure of Julian Lefray by R.S. Grey
  10. a book recommended by someone with great taste: Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
  11. a book you were excited to buy or borrow but haven’t read yet: Faithful by Alice Hoffman
  12. a book about a topic or subject you already love: Glamour by A.L. Jackson, Sophie Jordan, Aleatha Romig, Skye Warren, Lili St. Germain, Nora Flite, Sierra Simone, and Nicola Rendell
  13. a Newbery award winner or honor book: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
  14. a book in translation: The Vegetarian by Han Kang
  15. a book that’s more than 600 pages: A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab
  16. a book of poetry, a play, or an essay collection: Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
  17. a book of any genre that addresses current events: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  18. an immigrant story: Lucy and Linh by Alice Pung
  19. a book published before you were born: Beauty by Robin McKinley
  20. three books by the same author: Double Team, Prince Albert, and Prick by Sabrina Paige
  21. a book by an #ownvoices or #diversebooks author: If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
  22. a book with an unreliable narrator or ambiguous ending: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
  23. a book nominated for an award in 2017: The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry
  24. a Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award winner: A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

Book review: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli [re-read]

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: AmazonGoodreads
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Source: Purchased

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

 

I hate (and I mean hate) re-reading books, but it’s something I used to do a lot when I was younger.

In elementary school, I think I re-read the same three or four Royal Diaries until my school’s librarian was like, “Sara, maybe check out something else for a change.”  In middle school, I switched over to Tamora Pierce and honestly, I probably read each of her books at least five times.  For the most part, I stopped re-reading by the time I was in high school.  I think it was around that time that I realized just how many books there were that I hadn’t read yet. I realized that the books I could read weren’t just limited to what I could find in my library or in the tiny bookshop downtown.  I also got my first debit card and realized I could buy totally new books online with my babysitting money.  The only books I re-read these days are my nephew’s storybooks. I’ll never stop appeasing him by reading it “just one more time.”

But sometimes, my yearly reading challenge will insist that I re-read a book.  Unfortunately, I don’t think reading the same board book sixteen times in one night counts.  If I’m being perfectly honest, I don’t understand the point of this prompt.  I think this is the third year that I’ve been asked to re-read a book, and I always leave it until the very end of the year because there are just so many other books that I could be reading.

Obviously, it would be better to re-read a book that I loved.  The problem with that is that most of the books I’ve loved are part of a series, and what, I’m just going to re-read one of the books?  No, once I get going, I’ll be in a ten-book rabbit hole and there goes a month of my life.  I’d initially chosen a cute, summery book that I planned to read in August, but then life got in the way.  So, in honor of Love, Simon, I decided to re-read Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda.  You can see my first review here.

I liked Simon vs. the first time around. The second time around?  I loved it.  Has Simon always been this goofy kid who stumbles through life not really knowing what to do with himself?  I mean, I suppose so, but he’s just so much more endearing than I remembered.

Another thing that was just more than I remembered was the whole blackmail aspect. In the two years since I first read this book, I had almost completely forgotten about it.  Talk about a conflict.  And Simon’s reaction!  And the eventual way that it all turns out.

And the romance.  First of all, it’s even more adorable than I remembered, and – I can’t believe I’m admitting this – I’m glad I re-read this book so that I could see all the little hints about Blue’s identity.  I’m so curious about how this is all going to play out on the big screen, and I couldn’t help but picture the actors as I was reading.

I never thought I’d say it, but this is one book that I could see myself reading over and over again.

As a side note, don’t you think everyone should have to come out? Why is straight the default? Everyone should have to declare one way or another, and it should be this big awkward thing whether you’re straight, gay, bi, or whatever. I’m just saying.

Final rating: ★★★★★

#mmdreading: a book you’ve already read

Top Ten Tuesday: Unique book titles

Happy Top Ten Tuesday! Today’s theme is top ten unique book titles, and this is a theme that is very close to my heart.  For better or for worse, I’m often drawn to books with unique titles.  Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t, but here are ten uniquely titled books that I’ve reviewed since starting this blog.

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👍 A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
👍 Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
👊 The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash by Candace Ganger

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👍 The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland by Rebekah Crane
👍 The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell

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👊 Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
👎 The Biology of Luck by Jacob M. Appel
👎 Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia by Jenny Torres Sanchez

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👍 All the Feels by Danika Stone
👎 The First Fifteen Lives of Harry Augustifteen by Claire North

What are some uniquely titled books that you’ve read?

Book review: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: AmazonGoodreads
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Source: Purchased

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

I read this book, in its entirety, on November 28, 2015. As of January 2016, I have still not reviewed it. I think this is because I want to do this book justice in my review, but I’m not really sure how. I really, really enjoyed this book. I’m glad that I read it, and I think that most people would enjoy it, too. But how to articulate what’s great about this book? That’s just stumping me.

Because what’s great is Simon, and how so many people can relate to him.

What’s great is the friendships in this book, because they’re real.

What’s great is how nobody’s perfect, and all the characters accept that.

What’s great is the romance, which builds mostly through anonymous emails.

What’s great is that this book is so honest and realistic.

In this book, you’re not going to find boys who look like they just stepped off a runway. You’re not going to get characters who, as teenagers, have the kind of eloquent conversations that most adults can only dream of. You’re not going to find perfect, angelic characters who always know the right thing to do and say at the exact right moment.

You’re going to get teenagers. Normal teenagers, who fight with their friends and overreact and do stupid things. But teenagers who also learn to accept things outside of their norm, and learn great life lessons.

This book is fun to read, that’s for sure. But it’s also an important book, because it deals with issues of sexuality and race without shoving it in the reader’s face. I’ve added Becky Albertalli to my list of authors to watch.