Top Ten Tuesday: Ten books I liked but can’t remember

Happy Top Ten Tuesday! It’s time for another post already! Today’s theme is ten books I really liked but can’t remember much of anything about. So, this is actually my everyday life and I had a lot of fun with this topic!

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Finding Mr. Brightside by Jay Clark: ♬ Coming out of my cage and I’ve been doing just fine but I don’t think that’s what this book is about ♬
❔ The Deal by Elle Kennedy: I know I loved it. I remember Garrett and a smart girl and I know I want to read the rest of the series, but that’s it.
❔ Beyond the Stars by Stacy Wise: You can see where my priorities are in life because all I remember is that either the famous guy or the personal assistant had a dog. I think?

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❔ The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre: I think the boy lived in a trailer park and that was some sort of issue? I think I also cried.
❔ My Sister’s Secret by Tracy Buchanan: Yeah, I literally remember nothing.

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❔ Under My Skin by Shawntelle Madison: I think she gets possessed? Or someone pays to possess her? There’s something with possession. I think?
❔ The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin: Honestly, all I remember is that it was a hassle to get the protected ARC file to open in my Nook.
❔ The Spirit Keeper by K.B. Laugheed: All I remember is that this was one of the very first ARCs I ever got and I think it takes place in the 1700s.

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❔ The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg: Literally all I can remember is that she can bewitch paper and I’m pretty sure I shipped her with the professor.
❔ The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma: The girls were in some kind of prison, right?

What books did you love that you can’t remember anything about? Did my memory deceive me here? Are the bits and pieces I remember about these books totally wrong? Let me know!

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.

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I’ve liked a lot of books lately, but The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things hit me on a totally different level. Sage and Shane are completely awesome, beautifully flawed characters who defy pretty much every teenage stereotype that exists in young adult novels.

Sage prides herself on leaving her dark past behind her and moving on to a cheerful future. She makes a point to leave a compliment on a random student’s locker every day (written on hot pink sticky notes in sparkly purple pen, no less). She helps out so much at home that her friends think she’s crazy. She volunteers. She tries her best to get good grades. All this so that maybe she can forget what an awful person she used to be. Shane is trying to lay low and make it through high school without ending up in juvie. He made a lot of mistakes at his old school, so he just wants to keep to himself, avoid conflict, and make it through the next few months. Sage and Shane weren’t counting on finding each other, but maybe they’re just what each other needs.

The first thing that I noticed about The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things was the beautiful writing. Each sentence flowed so well, and the dialogue felt natural. Actually, everything felt really natural, from the personalities of the characters to the conflicts to the pacing. It was pretty near perfect, and I had a tough time putting it down at night!

I felt like the characters were really well-developed, from the main characters to their friends and the minor characters who have their own little lives on the sidelines. I think it’s rare, particularly in young adult novels, to have minor characters whose personalities are so developed that we understand the rationale for their actions. I was surprised at the amount of attention given to the main antagonist in the story, and the fact that small offhand comments from the beginning of the book were followed up on throughout.

The only semi-negative comment I can make has to do with the language used in the book. Yes, it is 100% natural for RIGHT NOW. But in five or ten years, I’m wondering if the people who read it will be thinking, “She can’t even? She can’t even what? That’s not a full sentence!” or “Why do these characters keep saying ‘forever alone’ and what does that mean?!” Aguirre does a great job of not dating the book through its use of pop culture (for example, when Sage watches Crazy Stupid Love, she mentions that it came out years ago but she’d never seen it), but as a total linguistics nerd, I wonder how today’s slang is going to hold up in the future.

Aside from that totally minor complaint, everything in this book is amazing, and you should probably preorder it right now.

Thanks to Goodreads First Reads and the publisher for the free copy!

Final rating: ★★★★★ (more like 4.5)

For my 2015 reading challenge, I’m checking off #36: a book set in high school.