Top Ten Tuesday: Best books of 2015

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week there is a new topic and this week’s topic is: Top Ten Best Books I Read In 2015

I’m going to narrow the field to the top ten books that I read that were published in 2015. Links are to my reviews

1) Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

“These were the names she whispered in the dark.
These were the pieces she brought back into place.
These were the wolves she rode to war.”

2) Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby

“But it’s terrifying to realise how much of your world is wrapped up in loving another person”

3) Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

“Life is a gift. Don’t forget to live it.”

4) Last Bus to Wisdom by Ivan Doig

“Believe me, I have looked this up, and the roots of fate and faith are not the same. Nonetheless, I picked up my wicker suitcase to follow Herman the German into the Old Faithful Inn.”

5) Whippoorwill by Joseph Monninger

“What we find in a dog is what we bring to a dog.”

6) Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

“I didn’t go there looking for you. I went looking for me.” My voice is soft, low, and shaky. “But now, here you are, and somehow, in finding you, I think I’ve found myself.”

7) Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

“In any moment, there were so many chances for paths to cross and people to clash, come together, or do any number of things in between. It was amazing we could live at all, knowing all that could occur purely by chance.”

8) A Cold Legacy by Megan Shepherd

“To make the right decision you must understand both paths before you,” he said quietly. “You must know your demons before you know whether to follow them.”

9) A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston

“I do fear him,” I said, which was close to the truth. “I fear him as I fear the desert sun and poisonous snakes. They are all part of the life I live. But the sun gives light, and snakes will feed a caravan if they are caught and cooked.”

10) The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E Pearson

“Three more days. That’s what Sven always told me. When you think you’re at the end of your rope, give it three more days. And then another three. Sometimes you’ll find the rope is longer than you thought.”

Top Ten Tuesday: Celebrating Thanksgiving with Fictional Families

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  Each week there is a new topic and this week’s topic is: Ten fictional families I’d like to celebrate Thanksgiving with

This is a fun topic! You’ll find that I use the term “family” in more of an abstract sense for some of these.

1) The Weasley family. Okay, so technically they wouldn’t even be celebrating this holiday, but can you imagine what Thanksgiving dinner would be like with this rowdy bunch? Such fun.
2) The Avery family (from Fangirl). Okay, really I just want to hang out with Cath and Levi (and maybe Wren). Their dad seems pretty cool too.
3) With Le Cirque des Reves (from The Night Circus). Not technically a family, but they might as well be. This would be the most magical Thanksgiving ever.
4) The Folchart family (from Inkheart). Obviously in this scenario Meggie and I are best friends and do everything together so of course we’d be having Thanksgiving together (with Dustfinger in attendance of course).
5) The Bennet family (from Pride and Prejudice). Another family that wouldn’t actually be celebrating Thanksgiving, but would be fun to dine with nonetheless.
6) The Garrett family (from My Life Next Door and The Boy Most Likely To). So much chaos, but also so much family and fun.
7) The royal family (from The Selection–or more precisely–The Heir). You just know you’re going to be eating some good food if you eat with these guys. As good as the main courses would be, I’d probably just go for the desserts.
8) Wish Catering (from The Truth About Forever). Everyone in this crew is so quirky but also really fun. I would LOVE to spend an evening with these folks!
9) The Covey family (from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before). You know they’re going to have some fun Korean dishes, but most of all–KITTY. Easily the best character in the book. Also, I’m sure Lara Jean will have made some yummy baked goods for dessert. Yum.
10) The Chatham family (from Saint Anything). I know, so typical of me to have two Sarah Dessen entries on my list. I can’t help it! The Chathams would be so fun and it would be awesome to just spend the night listening to some blue grass music.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Quotes

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  Each week there is a new topic and this week’s topic is: Top Ten Quotes I Loved From Books I Read In The Past Year Or So.

“‘Doesn’t look like much, does he?’ murmurs Frederick. ‘Hardly a couple of ounces of feathers and bones. But that bird can fly to Africa and back. Powered by bugs and worms and desire.’” – All the Light We Cannot See

“In any moment, there were so many chances for paths to cross and people to clash, come together, or do any number of things in between. It was amazing we could live at all, knowing all that could occur purely by chance.” – Saint Anything

“We are thickly layered, page lying upon page, behind simple covers. And love – it is not the book itself, but the binding.” – Honey, Baby, Sweetheart

“No one gets something for nothing. We all should know better.” – NEED

“He sweeps his paddle out in a wide arc, and the soft-blue glow appears again, somehow more special now because of why it happens. Because when these tiny little things are afraid, they shine.” – Things We Know by Heart

“Maybe the world isn’t full of signs so much as it’s full of people trying to use whatever evidence they can find to convince themselves of what they hope to be true.” – Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between

“’You’re alive, Bod. That means you have infinite potential. You can do anything, make anything, dream anything. If you can change the world, the world will change. Potential. Once you’re dead, it’s gone. Over. You’ve made what you’ve made, dreamed your dream, written your name. You may be buried here, you may even walk. But that potential is finished.’” – The Graveyard Book

“The thing is that people only get hurt—really hurt—when they’re trying to play it safe. That’s when people get injured, when they pull back at the last second because they’re scared. They hurt themselves and other people.” – Second Chance Summer

“’It’s not about winning or losing, really,’” he’s saying. “’It’s just the showing up every day. It’s stepping up to the plate and whiffing, and then doing it over and over again, whether you get a hit or not. It’s getting up every morning and failing and being disappointed and getting beat up and being let down, and then doing it all over again the next day.’” – The Comeback Season

“We were all survivors—every last one of us who limped our way out to the sidewalks that afternoon and spit in Death’s cold face.” – In the Shadow of Blackbirds

HW Assignment: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Note: This post was used as a homework assignment and 23009402may contain spoilers.

First let me preface this by saying that I absolutely love Sarah Dessen. I have read all of her books and loved almost all of them. This book is definitely no exception. I feel that Dessen defines her audience for this book best with her dedication: “For all the invisible girls” (dedication page). I do feel like this is a book that “invisible girls” will relate with, but at the same time, I think there are some aspects to it that are unrealistic.

Throughout the book, Sydney often thinks about how she’s invisible—especially to her parents. It comes as a shock, then, when the Chathams seem to notice her. This is essentially the aspect of the book that I have an issue with. There are plenty of invisible girls out there, but very few of them come across a Layla Chatham. This is the description that the reader is given of their friendship (emphasis added): “If I was the invisible girl, Layla was the shining star around which her family and friends revolved. We didn’t form a friendship as much as I got sucked into her orbit. And once there, I understood why everyone else was” (pg. 77). Layla chose to be friends with Sydney. Meanwhile, Sydney didn’t have to do a thing. This is not realistic! I wish that Dessen had made Sydney a little more proactive with making new friends and un-invisibleizing herself. I like that Dessen has relatable characters in her books—they really seem like normal girls—but more often than not they have a perfect friend who comes into their lives at the most perfect time. This might teach readers to be more complacent than they should be if they want to develop the kinds of relationships that Dessen writes about.

With all that being said, I really did love all of the friendships portrayed in the book. I was extremely effected when Layla moved her air mattress to block the door at that first sleepover—this is not your everyday kind of friendship. I also liked seeing that Sydney was able to maintain a relationship with her old friends.

Throughout the book Sydney’s dad is kind of a non-factor. Where Sydney’s mom has thrown herself into Peyton projects, her dad has thrown himself into work and has chosen not to be as present with his family. There are times, though, when his relationship with and feelings towards Sydney are apparent. I thought it was so perfect that Sydney’s dad is the one to save her from Ames. There are too many YA books where the love interest is the one who saves the girl and I love that Dessen chose to make that “savior” her dad instead.

I would recommend My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick as a read-a-like. It also features a girl meeting and being “adopted” by a family. Another good read would be Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park which deals a bit with sibling dynamics and potential feelings of inadequacy in comparison. Saint Anything got me thinking about the different saints. For anyone else who was curious, you can look them all up here (and yes, there is one for librarians/libraries).

HW Assignment: The Iron Trial by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare

Book1CoverNote: This post was used as a homework assignment and contains spoilers.

The theme in this book that I think children will most relate to is internal conflict. Initially, Call feels conflicted over the Magisterium. Even though his dad warned him against it, Call starts to feel at home and is enjoying his time at school. “He imagined being a mage and playing in bubbling springs and conjuring movies out of thin air. He imagined being good at this stuff, one of the Masters, even. But then he thought of his dad sitting at the kitchen table all by himself, worrying over Call, and felt awful” (107-8).

Another example is when Call finds out that he is really the Enemy of Death. He has a hard time deciding whether or not to tell anyone what he’s found out. He doesn’t want the others to hate him or to take away his magic. He justifies his actions to himself, “Even if he had been Constantine Madden once, it wasn’t like he remembered any of it. He was still Callum, wasn’t he? Still the same person. He hadn’t become evil. He didn’t wish harm to the Magisterium. And what was a soul, anyway? It didn’t tell you what to do. He could make his own decisions” (286). In this quote, Call also expresses conflict over his identity. He thought he was one person, but then finds out that he may have a darker side to him. I think this is another aspect of the story that children will be able to relate to. For the most part, kids try to be good, but they may have a dark side. Something within that tells them to say something hurtful to someone or steal a candy bar from the store. As the series progresses, I think that Call will be able to confront the bad side of himself and will be a good example to children who want to do the same thing. A similar example of this is Harry Potter from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. He’s told at the beginning of his journey that he could equally belong to both Gryffindor (good) and Slytherin (evil). Harry has an internal Gryffindor versus Slytherin battle throughout the entire series. Elisabeth Gattullo Marrocolla’s review of The Iron Trial on School Library Journal also compares the book to Harry Potter. She says that Clare and Black have created “…a cast of characters that’s both recognizable and excitingly new.”

Lastly, it’s refreshing to me that this book isn’t focused on the “golden-child, chosen one, savior of us all” character (Aaron). I think a lot of kids feel overshadowed by one or more of their friends or siblings, and I think they will be able to relate to Call in that way as well. Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen is another book that includes the theme of feeling overshadowed. In this case, Sydney feels overshadowed by her older brother Peyton, first because of his personality and then because of a drunk driving accident that he caused.

Day Two: 3 Days, 3 Quotes Challenge

Day number two! First off, just as a reminder, I was tagged by Emily @The Diary of a Bibliophile.

Rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Post a quote for 3 consecutive days (1 quote for each day).
  3. Nominate three new bloggers each day.

Today’s quote is brought to you by my favorite author, Sarah Dessen. This is from her latest release Saint Anything.

23009402“That was just it. You never knew what lay ahead; the future was one thing that could never be broken, because it had not yet had the chance to be anything. One minute you’re walking through a dark woods, alone, and then the landscape shifts, and you see it. Something wondrous and unexpected, almost magical, that you never would have found had you not kept going. Like a new friend who feels like an old one, or a memory you’ll never forget. Maybe even a carousel.” – pg 413

This book is definitely making my top 5 read this year. I loved it so much. For more of my favorite Saint Anything quotes, click here.

Nominations:

Josie @Josie’s Book Corner
Zakiya @To Borrow or Buy
Nola @Bookfuls Reviews

Like I said yesterday, feel free to ignore the nomination if you’ve already done it or are just plain not interested!