Yesterday, I gushed over upcoming books I can't wait for, that I'd kiss a llama if it meant I got to read them right this moment. That list, however, was made a little easier by the fact I've been able to read several 2013 books already. So now let's gush about the books out of those that I've totally loved, that you guys should all be lining up at the llamas for. And let's not talk about how trying to pick favorites at the end of this year might just break me, considering how much I totally love even this small sample of 2013 books...
All links go to Goodreads, as well, so you can be sure to add these to your shelves!
17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma: I adored Imaginary Girls, and could not wait to get my hands on Nova's next book, and trust me when I say it so did not disappoint, in any way. Sadly, though, I can't actually talk about the reasons I loved it so much without spoiling. But it's intense, it's emotional, it's so stunningly well written, and it will lure you in and refuse to let go.
Nobody but Us by Kristin Halbrook: Heartbreaking, painful, but beautiful. The characters in this one are so nuanced, there is so much between the lines, and yet so much is not hidden either. With two strong, distinct voices, and the kind of story that will more than test readers, this one utterly captivated me. And maybe broke me a little.
The Program by Suzanne Young: I'm a huge, huge fan of Suzanne's stuff. But this one? Wow. It has all the elements I adore in a book, plays on such hefty themes yet doesn't hold back with it. There is such a strong romantic element to this one, too, yet it's also so much more than that. From the actual Program itself to who Sloane and James are, both before the epidemic and during, this one left me completely stunned.
Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger: Funny, yet sweet and thrilling as well, this one is such a blend of so many great things. Solid writing, with two very different POVs. A beautifully written setting, and particularly the way Shannon brings the winds literally to life in a way beyond just wind blowing through the air. And then there's the story itself, so intricate, so well scripted. This book had me hooked, and I'm just gonna say how much I love Vane, and how very much not like other boys in YA he is, in all the best ways.
Me, Him, Them and It by Caela Carter: There are a lot of reasons this one got to me, from the writing to the emotional intensity to the way the story played out. But what really stole me away with Evelyn herself. She's such a mess, even before she finds out she's pregnant. And though she doesn't always act so great, there is such a drive to her as well. This book doesn't hold back, either, and has a rawness to it that I loved.
The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler: This is my favorite Sarah book to date, which is certainly a hefty statement, I know. But what sold me with this, was just how strong the family element was. Even before meeting any of Jude's sisters on the page, I felt like I knew them. Then there's her father, and what's going on with him, handled so realistically yet gracefully. Jude is such a stellar character, so devoted and loyal to her family, yet not totally forgetful of herself either. The romance in this one is also one that feels so in the background, and yet it's so present, too.
Hysteria by Megan Miranda: I love Megan's writing, the way she builds the tension and intensity yet lets you really get to know her characters too. Add in the murder mystery element to this one, and I was sold on premise alone, but the book totally captured me. I felt so much for Mallory, and even the twists in the book left me surprised. The entire execution of this book totally worked for me, and left me begging for more from this author.
The Rules by Stacey Kade: This is another one that is hard to fully explain my love, without spoiling. But one thing that did majorly get me was the atmosphere of this one, how so, so lonely Ariane is. The almost constant fear she lives in at being discovered, the way she's accepted how she can't have any friends yet wants them all the same. Stacey stunned me with this one, taking things to deeper and darker levels than in her previous series. Zane, too, got to me, a kind of broken boy, who is so endearing and intriguing. This book is fabulous, and a must read. Even with the alien elements, there is still such a strong contemporary, relatable note to it.
Pivot Point by Kasie West: This is a book that even if the story ended up not working for me, the writing alone sold me. The voice is fabulous, witty and spry and engaging, yet also natural rather than forced. But luckily, the story amazed me too. From the intricacies peppered throughout the two futures playing out to the building mystery, plus the fabulous characterizations, and this book is a breathtaking and thought-provoking debut. Also, Trevor is ridiculously charming and sexy and lickable.
Taken by Erin Bowman: This was THE book of 2013 for me. I've been drooling for it since 2011, and was admittedly shameless in getting a copy of it. But oh, man, it so did not disappoint me. Erin's writing is fantastic, her characters engaging and well developed and left me a bit twisted. The story got to me, brilliant in it's scope and execution. This book was not at all 'just another dystopian' for me, yet had all the elements of a dystopian that get me.
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell: Confession: I went into this book unsure. Something about the 1986 setting was sort of a turn off to me. But I am so glad I read it, because it is just so freaking great. Even with the not quite contemporary setting, there is still so much to relate to, to love, and an honesty throughout that still rings true today. I loved the relationship between Eleanor and Park, the dislike at first that morphs into an unexpected and almost weird sort of friendship before progressing even from there. This is more than just a romance story, though, and the different elements all weave together in a way that just left me so enamored.
If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch: This is one of the 2013s I was most excited about, and even with that, it exceeded my expectations. The voice is incomparable, a girl who's not even just home-schooled, but essentially self taught from books her mom would bring to her. There is a certain drawl and dialect to Carey that is telling of this, yet doesn't knock her down to an uneducated or illiterate kind of level. Her entire growth across the course of the book is so well done, so intricate, and so natural. I adore this girl, and this book. It's gripping, it's painful, it's honest and it's hopeful.
Over You by Amy Reed: This is another auto-buy author, and one I couldn't wait to get the next book from. And though in some ways, this one wasn't quite as emotionally eviscerating as her previous works, it still left me raw. This is, truly, a coming of age and beyond kind of book. It's learning who you are, without someone else defining it for you or others. It's standing up for yourself, working through things, and figuring out what when you have to put yourself first, even if it hurts others. And even with all that, it's still an engaging read, with some strong characters and a fresh setting.
Mind Games by Kiersten White: As much as I loved the Paranormalcy series, I have to admit, I love this one more. It's darker, more twisted, and really pretty messed up. I freaking adore Fia in ways I can't even put into words, but she is such a broken mess, a product of what's she's been through in so many ways. She is intelligent and perceptive, sometimes too much for her own good, and there is such a screwed up honesty to her. Annie, too, was a fabulously done character, and not just the love between the two sisters but the back and forth between them totally got to me. Though this one switches in not only POV, but past and present, I was hooked and intrigued, held rapt not only by the writing but the story itself.
Ashes on the Waves by Mary Lindsey: I beta read this one, but it left me so many levels of stunned. The writing is so, so well done, reminiscent and influenced by Poe yet so obviously Liam as well. What got me the most, though, is the atmosphere of this one. It's creepy, mysterious, and intriguing wrapped up with touches of softness and even some humor. Then there's Liam, who is completely unlike most boys in YA, from his mindset to what he thinks and feels. This is the ultimate kind of romance, mixed with supernatural elements, a rich and luscious setting, and an overall feel that will leave you breathless.
Canary by Rachele Alpine: I will always be a sucker for a richly done coming of age story. Of figuring things out, of standing up for yourself, and this one nails that. But what I love even more, is that while Kate makes some huge strides, definitely learns a lot, I didn't walk away from this one feeling she had everything figured out. There was something so realistic to this, notable even within the realistic YA genre.