Best New-to-Me Books of 2013 (so far!)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme over at The Broke and the Bookish.  Today’s topic is



10. Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach | The voice in this one is so great, and it’s not super often I read YA aimed at male readers, and I can appreciate that.  It’s about Felton Reinstein the summer he went “from a joke to a jock,” but it’s really about a family falling apart and about friendship in unlikely places and about keeping things together when everything is falling apart.

9. Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos | This was a brilliant debut book by Roskos, and again, great voice!  The main character is an ultra-self-aware high schooler who understands that he is depressed and needs help, only his parents aren’t willing to get him that help.  This is his story of stumbling toward something like healing.

8. Shatter Me by Taheri Mafi | Although I didn’t love the sequel to this book, the first one was riveting.  Juliette’s touch is lethal– to most people, that is.

7. Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi | While I didn’t adore the superfastcramthingsin ending, I was very much drawn to this story about Aria, who lives in a biosphere, and what happens to her outside of it in the “Death Shop.”  I mean, come on.  How can you not want to read a book that has a “Death Shop” in it?  (The sequel– Through the Ever Night— is waiting impatiently on my bedroom floor to be my next read.)

6. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker | What happens when the rotation of the earth begins to slow?  Beautiful writing.


5. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell | I think Rainbow Rowell is my best author find of the year so far.  She has the funniest, cleverest voice I’ve read in a long while.  I really liked Attachments, which is about a computer IT man who falls in love with a woman through secretly reading her emails to her friend.  Awkward.

4. Every Day by David Levithan | Gender-bender!  “A” inhabits a different body every day– but loves the same girl every day.

3. Fire by Kristin Cashore | This is the companion book to Graceling, but I actually liked the characters even more than the first book (I liked them too!).  Gosh, how to describe this book?  Fire is a “monster” with red-orange-pink-gold hair, and she can control most people’s minds– but not Prince Brigan’s.  Swoon-worthy.

2. The Knife of Never Letting Go & The Ask and the Answer, both by Patrick Ness | Okay, so I am loving the Chaos Walking trilogy (I’m on the third book right now, so be prepared for a big review!), which takes places on another planet– “New Earth”– where you can hear men’s thoughts– their noise.  Book one was great– book two was incredible.  

1. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell | This book was brilliant.  I love so much about it– the characters and the writing.  Oh my gosh, the writing is unreal.  I am a total sucker for any YA writer whose words are like lyrics.  This book is about two teenagers who are young enough to know that first love almost never lasts … but willing to try anyway.  I am so excited for her next novel (Fangirl) to be released later this year!

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Just finished …

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead | Brilliant!  This is a children’s book, meant for younger ages than the books I usually read, but it was absolutely incredible.  This is the story about Miranda, a young girl in New York City, who starts receiving mysterious notes from an unknown sender, asking her to “write out the whole story, from beginning to end.”  She is, of course, confused, but after a cast of wonderful characters are introduced, everything begins to fall into place.  I actually shouted aloud the moment that everything finally clicked into place for me– I was that excited.  Absolutely loved it.

Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley | Another Printz winner, so I had high expectations.  The writing was good, and it had two storylines that merge into one (a device I am rather fond of).  It also was very interesting, especially all the writing about the Book of Enoch, but in the end, the book didn’t wholly touch me.  Whaley didn’t make me love the characters quite enough to care enough.  I wanted to love this one; I really did.  One story is about Cullen Witter, his small town that is going crazy over an extinct woodpecker who has supposedly been seen again in their community, and the disappearance of his younger brother Gabriel.  The other story begins with a young missionary on his first mission.  Seems right up my alley, doesn’t it?  I didn’t hate this book, but it just didn’t go far enough to truly capture me.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness | Oh man.  So good.  I wept.  This is a fascinating story about Conor, whose mother is dying of cancer, and about the yew tree in the churchyard out of their window.  In the evenings, the tree walks and talks to Conor, telling him stories and demanding one from him, all as he deals with the emotions of his mother’s slow fade.  So real, so raw, so dark, so clever.  A must-read.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine | I found myself easily sucked into this re-telling of Cinderella, even though I think that Levine needed a couple more drafts of the manuscript (how pretentious am *I*?  wow.).  Still, a sweet story for children.  Ella was blessed/cursed at birth with the need to obey all orders … as she grows up and falls in love, she seeks a way to end the spell that binds her, and this is the story of what happens.  I honestly did find myself rather heartbroken as I read this story … I applaud Levine for that!

Going Bovine by Libba Bray | This book started out INCREDIBLE and hilarious and interesting– Cameron, a teenaged slacker, is diagnosed with the human equivalent of mad cow disease, which essentially eats holes in your brain, making it like a sponge.  The descriptions were fantastic and dead-on and intense.  And then Cameron starts drifting out of reality and in his unconscious state, he goes on this completely bizarre roadtrip with a dwarf and a yard gnome, guided by a punk angel in torn fishnets.  In a lot of ways, I suppose I have to give Libba Bray credit, since it did seem very dream-like.  The problem was that I was just not incredibly interested– and it went on far too long.  Outside of Narnia, I’m not a huge fan of big quests in books.  This just got too wacky and too long for me.  I finished it though because I was so won over in the first part of the book by Bray’s phenomenal writing.

City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare | Okay, so this is book #5 of the Mortal Instruments series, and it’s (obviously) safe to say I’m hooked.  I am writing this mini-review at 1:25am, having just finished it.  I don’t know how Cassie Clare keeps doing it, but she just introduces such heartbreaking plot elements in every novel.  I feel like I can’t truly review this book without any spoilers, since there are four other books before it, all filled with twists and turns and secrets revealed.  I will say that I am PUMPED for the sixth and final book of this series … which I just looked up and discovered is not coming out until March 2014.  Two-thousand-freakin’-fourteenYou have got to be kidding me.  Speechless.  (I don’t know how Potter fans did it … I didn’t start the series till Hallows was released.)  Well, I guess it’s time for bed.

Currently reading …
The Narnian by Alan Jacobs, all about the life and creativity of C.S. Lewis, my favorite

En route to my mailbox …
The Casual Vacancy by Jo Rowling
Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta

So. Freakin’. Pumped.