Tuesday Top Ten

topten2013

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Book bloggers create their own lists based on the chosen topics and post links to our lists. It’s a way of all sharing our thoughts and our love of books.  And who doesn’t love lists??

So this week’s challenge was to list the top ten list of books that I’ve read so far in 2013 – I am just limiting myself to those for which I’ve written reviews, so these are actually my favorites since I started my blog in February (and in no particular order)!

  1. Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys – Funny and touching story set in the French Quarter of New Orleans in 1950.
  2. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan – A fun and quirky adventure melding the ancient with the latest technology.
  3. Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger – A mystery and a coming-of-age story set in 1960s small town Minnesota.
  4. With or Without You by Domenica RutaA searing memoir of the author’s relationship with her drug-addled and irresponsible mother and her own struggles with addiction.
  5. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell – A touching and endearing story of young love between two unique individuals.
  6. Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham – An amazing story of this founding father, a complex and fascinating man.
  7. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson Unique storytelling style combined with an up-close look at life in England during the two world wars.
  8. Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra – A difficult yet beautiful novel set during the wars in Chechnya.
  9. Screwed by Eoin Colfer – A well-told story – gritty, violent, and raunchy – but great characters and a lot of fun!
  10. Onion Street by Reed Farrel Coleman – Another installment in this wonderful detective series!

Eleanor & Park

eleanor & parkEleanor & Park is set in Omaha in 1986 and is a quirky, heartwarming, tear-jerking story of two misfits who find each other, and find in each other someone who can love them and accept them as they are.  Eleanor starts her first day at a new school and her wild red hair and crazy clothing is doing nothing to help her fit in.  Park, part Korean and nothing like the rest of his perfect and athletic family, reluctantly lets her share his seat on the bus and the two sit in absolute silence for weeks until he notices that she’s reading his comic books over his shoulder.  Slowly he begins to share his comics and they come to realize that these stolen moments are the best of their days.  Their relationship evolves slowly and beautifully from there, although not easily – Eleanor comes from a difficult home situation with a violent stepfather and an unresponsive mother – Park’s family is unsure about this strange girl he is bringing home – but they have that feeling all of us can remember – that teenage love is pure and true and conquer anything…

“You don’t have to be the kind of beautiful that everyone can agree on. If the right person finds you beautiful, you win. You win forever.”

I loved this book, proving to me yet again that there are wonderful stories to be found in the young adult genre, and that they can be engrossing to those of us who are more adult than we are young!  😉  I have struggled with finding the words to describe what makes their relationship so enduring – it is quirky, funny, sweet, gritty, awkward, difficult, pure and honest – there are shared X-Men comics and mix tapes (remember mix tapes?!) that make me reminisce about my own teenage days – there is friendship and acceptance and hope, even when it seems there should be no hope left.

“The me that’s me right now is yours. Always.”

Title: Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Publication: St. Martin’s Griffin, February 2013

Tuesday Top Ten

toptenlessmore

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Book bloggers create their own lists based on the chosen topics and post links to our lists. It’s a way of all sharing our thoughts and our love of books.  And who doesn’t love lists??

So this week the challenge was to choose the books that you thought you wouldn’t like and did – or those that you that you would like and didn’t.  This was a tough list for me – I try to read without expectation – and often it’s not until after I finish a book that I realize it failed to meet/exceeded expectations I didn’t even know I had!

First, five books I didn’t like as much as I thought I would:

  1. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – I did like this book, just not as much as I thought I would given all of the hype surrounding it.  Sometimes I think the more a book gets talked up the more likely I am to be disappointed by it…
  2. Wild by Cheryl Strayed – Another book that received a lot of attention (thanks to Oprah) and build-up that I found disappointing.  I wanted to hear more about the actual trail, the things she saw and the people she met.  Instead it seemed like a frustrating story about a person destined to make poor choices and shift blame onto others.
  3. Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes – Award winners are dangerous – subconsciously the expectations are high which makes it easier to be disappointed.  While the language was beautiful I was disappointed by the story and the characters.
  4. Appointment in Samarra by John O’Hara – This showed up on my to-read list after reading The End of Your Life Book Club and since it was number 22 of the best English language novels written in the 20th century I thought I couldn’t go wrong.  It wasn’t awful, I just didn’t understand it being in the top 100.
  5. 1776 by David McCullough – This is a wonderful book about the first year of the American Revolution, well researched and showing a seemingly unbiased account of events.  Unfortunately, I am a lover of stories and I wanted this book to tell me a story – it often felt too much like a textbook to me (although a very well researched and well written one) and I’m not a fan of most textbooks.

Now onto five books that I liked much more than I anticipated:

  1. Book Thief by Markus Zusak – I wouldn’t want to have a top ten list without this book in it somewhere!  Truthfully, I picked up this book at the bookstore and looked it over a number of times before I actually bought it.  Another holocaust book?  Nah – not today…  I never imagined the heartbreaking beauty that would be captured in those pages.
  2. Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz – I went through a period during my teenage years where I read a lot of Stephen King and a lot of Dean Koontz until I was honestly bored by them.  When my husband picked this one up and encouraged me to read it I was doubtful, but I love Odd and have become a true fan of this series.
  3. Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan – I expected to like this book, it’s about a bookstore after all!  I didn’t expect to love it, to love the melding of technology and antiquity, to become so engaged with the quirky set of characters and their quest.
  4. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell – I heard a lot of wonderful things about this book which made me a bit wary.  I wonder if buzz about a book will actually start to lower my expectations??  But the buzz around this story was well deserved and as Eleanor & Park fell in love I fell in love with them.   My review is coming soon!
  5. Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys – I was a fan of the author’s first book, Between Shades of Gray, but admittedly was concerned about her ability to write again so masterfully about a different time and place.  If anything, I ended up being a bigger fan of Out of the Easy, and was completely engrossed by both the setting and the characters.