Top Ten Tuesday: 2014 Debuts I’m Excited For

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. For more info about the meme and how to participate, click here.
I went crazy the other day and added all the 2014 debuts that seemed interesting to my Goodreads shelves and ended up with way too many to choose from. Somehow I managed to narrow it down to the ten that seem the most fun. These are in no particular order, just as I came across them on my shelf. I’m excited to discover new writers and stories!

1. A Death-Struck Year – Makiia Lucier

For Cleo Berry, the people dying of the Spanish Influenza in cities like New York and Philadelphia may as well be in another country–that’s how far away they feel from the safety of Portland, Oregon. And then cases start being reported in the Pacific Northwest. Schools, churches, and theaters shut down. The entire city is thrust into survival mode–and into a panic. Headstrong and foolish, seventeen-year-old Cleo is determined to ride out the pandemic in the comfort of her own home, rather than in her quarantined boarding school dorms. But when the Red Cross pleads for volunteers, she can’t ignore the call. As Cleo struggles to navigate the world around her, she is surprised by how much she finds herself caring about near-strangers. Strangers like Edmund, a handsome medical student and war vet. Strangers who could be gone tomorrow. And as the bodies begin to pile up, Cleo can’t help but wonder: when will her own luck run out?
Riveting and well-researched, A Death-Struck Year is based on the real-life pandemic considered the most devastating in recorded world history. Readers will be captured by the suspenseful storytelling and the lingering questions of: what would I do for a neighbor? At what risk to myself?

2. Nil – Lynne Matson

On the mysterious island of Nil, the rules are set. You have one year. Exactly 365 days–to escape, or you die.

Seventeen-year-old Charley doesn’t know the rules. She doesn’t even know where she is. The last thing she remembers is blacking out, and when she wakes up, she’s lying naked in an empty rock field.

Lost and alone, Charley finds no sign of other people until she meets Thad, the gorgeous leader of a clan of teenage refugees. Soon Charley learns that leaving the island is harder than she thought . . . and so is falling in love. With Thad’s time running out, Charley realizes that to save their future, Charley must first save him. And on an island rife with dangers, their greatest threat is time.

3. Lies We Tell Ourselves – Robin Talley

In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever.

Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily.

Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town’s most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept “separate but equal.”

Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another.

4. The Secret Side of Empty – Maria E. Andreu

As a straight-A student with a budding romance and loyal best friend, M.T.’s life seems as apple-pie American as her blondish hair and pale skin. But M.T. hides two facts to the contrary: her full name of Monserrat Thalia and her status as an undocumented immigrant.

But it’s harder to hide now that M.T.’s a senior. Her school’s National Honor Society wants her to plan their trip abroad, her best friend won’t stop bugging her to get her driver’s license, and all everyone talks about is where they want to go to college. M.T. is pretty sure she can’t go to college, and with high school ending and her family life unraveling, she’s staring down a future that just seems empty. In the end, M.T. will need to trust herself and others to stake a claim in the life that she wants.

5. Prisoner of Night and Fog – Anne Blankman

In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her “uncle” Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf’s, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.

Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler.

And Gretchen follows his every command.

Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can’t stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can’t help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she’s been taught to believe about Jews.

As Gretchen investigates the very people she’s always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

6. Providence – Lisa Colozza Cocca

The eldest of ten children on a dirt-poor farm, Becky trudges through life as a full-time babysitter, trying to avoid her father’s periodic violent rages. When the family’s barn burns down, her father lays the blame on Becky, and her own mother tells her to run for it. Run she does, hopping into an empty freight car. There, in a duffel bag, Becky finds an abandoned baby girl, only hours old. After years of tending to her siblings, sixteen-year-old Becky knows just what a baby needs. This baby needs a mother. With no mother around, Becky decides, at least temporarily, this baby needs her. When Becky hops off the train in a small Georgia town, it’s with baby “Georgia” in her arms. When she meets Rosie, an eccentric thrift-shop owner, who comes to value and love Becky as no one ever has, Becky rashly claims the baby as her own. Not everyone in town is as welcoming as Rosie, though. Many suspect Becky and her baby are not what they seem. Among the doubters is a beautiful, reclusive woman with her own terrible loss and a long history with Rosie. As Becky’s life becomes entangled with the lives of the people in town, including a handsome boy who suspects Becky is hiding something from her past, she finds her secrets more difficult to keep. Becky should grab the baby and run, but her newfound home and job with Rosie have given Becky the family she’s never known. Despite her guilt over leaving her mother alone, she is happy for the first time. But it’s a happiness not meant to last. When the truth comes out, Becky has the biggest decision of her life to make. Should she run away again? Should she stay–and fight? Or lie? What does the future hold for Becky and Georgia?

7. Something Real – Heather Demetrios

There’s nothing real about reality TV.

Seventeen-year-old Bonnie™ Baker has grown up on TV—she and her twelve siblings are the stars of one-time hit reality show Baker’s Dozen. Since the show’s cancellation and the scandal surrounding it, Bonnie™ has tried to live a normal life, under the radar and out of the spotlight. But it’s about to fall apart…because Baker’s Dozen is going back on the air. Bonnie™’s mom and the show’s producers won’t let her quit and soon the life she has so carefully built for herself, with real friends (and maybe even a real boyfriend), is in danger of being destroyed by the show. Bonnie™ needs to do something drastic if her life is ever going to be her own—even if it means being more exposed than ever before.

8. Rites of Passage – Joy Hensley

Sam McKenna’s never turned down a dare. And she’s not going to start with the last one her brother gave her before he died.

So Sam joins the first-ever class of girls at the prestigious Denmark Military Academy. She’s expecting push-ups and long runs, rope climbing and mud-crawling. As a military brat, she can handle an obstacle course just as well as the boys. She’s even expecting the hostility she gets from some of the cadets who don’t think girls belong there. What’s she’s not expecting is her fiery attraction to her drill sergeant. But dating is strictly forbidden and Sam won’t risk her future, or the dare, on something so petty…no matter how much she wants him.
As Sam struggles to prove herself, she discovers that some of the boys don’t just want her gone—they will stop at nothing to drive her out. When their petty threats turn to brutal hazing, bleeding into every corner of her life, she realizes they are not acting alone. A decades-old secret society is alive and active… and determined to force her out.
At any cost.

Now time’s running short. Sam must decide who she can trust…and choosing the wrong person could have deadly consequences.

9. Creed – Trisha Leaver

Dee Langley is seventeen and mere months away from total freedom and a life where state social workers, counselors, and foster parents don’t dictate her every move. She has spent years trying to eke out a normal existence, hiding from her past and walking the tenuous line between denial and self-preservation. A weekend away with her boyfriend, Luke, and his brother, Mike, seems like the perfect opportunity to forget and start over. Little does Dee know that she’s just trading one hell for another.

When an unexpected storm and a lack of gas force their car off the road, Dee, Luke, and Mike find themselves with no other choice but to wander into the nearby town of Purity Springs for help. But it’s not good Samaritans they find, but rather complete and utter silence, every store and every house abandoned. Forced to seek shelter in one of the deserted homes, they uncover a disturbing book with explicit instructions on how to correctly rear a child, complete with a hand written record of its use. It’s not until the next morning, however, that they discover the alarming truth – the town isn’t abandoned; it is populated by a deadly cult, and the leader, Elijah Hawkins, has plans for the three of them. The group’s only hope for survival lies in the hands of Elijah’s son, Joseph. But is Joseph really their ticket to freedom or is his game just as deadly as his father’s?

Three went in, and three will come out, but not a single one will ever be a shadow of who they once were.

10. Love Letters to the Dead – Ava Dellaira

It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May did. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to people like Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, Amelia Earhart, Heath Ledger, and more; though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating new friendships, falling in love for the first time, learning to live with her splintering family. And, finally, about the abuse she suffered while May was supposed to be looking out for her. Only then, once Laurel has written down the truth about what happened to herself, can she truly begin to accept what happened to May. And only when Laurel has begun to see her sister as the person she was; lovely and amazing and deeply flawed; can she begin to discover her own path.

End of Year Book Survey 2013

Time for the end of the year book survey created by Jamie from The Perpetual Page Turner!

1. Best Book You Read In 2013? (If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2013 release vs. backlist)

Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi Harmonic Feedback by Kelly Tara and Vain by Fisher Amelie where my only five star book these year so I’m going with those. I read four more five star books but three were re-reads and one was a cook book so they don’t count.

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More
But Didn’t?

Allegiant by Veronica Roth, I didn’t dislike it and I actually did give it four stars but it I guess I hoped I would have loved it even more because I really like the first two books in the series. Although I have to mention Greed by Fisher Amelie as well, I was less excited for it than I was for Allegiant but because I loved Vain so much, I jumped right on the second one in the series, which unfortunately was super disappointing.

3. Most suprising (in a good way!) book of 2013?

Shatter Me (Shatter Me #1) I guess, I had read good and bad things about it and because the bad things were pretty bad, I didn’t think I’d like it but I ended up liking it a lot, the whole series actually.

  4. Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most in 2013?

I don’t think I necessarily recommended anything a lot but I guess the Razorland trilogy could count.

  5. Best series you discovered in 2013?

Shatter Me (Shatter Me #1)

  6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2013?

Tara Kelly

  7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

 I’m still reading Feed (Newsflesh #1), or actually still have to go back to it but I did read the prequel novellas of the series and I really enjoyed those. I never really read zombie novels so this was something new for me. Unless you count Razorland but I don’t really count that as a zombie series.

 8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?

 9. Book You Read In 2013 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

None, I think. There’s enough new stuff to read! So far, my only planned re-read is Divergent before the movie comes out but I didn’t read that in 2013 so that doesn’t count.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013?

11. Most memorable character in 2013? 

  Toss up between Danielle from OCD, The Dude, and Me and Mallory from Going Vintage.

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2013?

I’ll have to go with Erase Me and The Heart Goes Last, both installments in Margaret Atwood’s Positron series. If there’s anything by her that I read, nothing else can beat it for me. And I’m not even counting my re-read of The Edible Woman.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013? 

I guess Going Vintage in the sense that it made me think about all this modern technology we use and mostly take for granted. Can’t say it was a huge impact or anything but it’s the only book that comes to mind here.

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read? 

Shatter Me I guess, it had been on my to read list for a while. But also A Streetcar Named Desire, I was an English Lit major after all.

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2013?

Portia De Rossi’s foreword in Vegan Cooking for Carnivores, I always love stories about how people became vegan. This is a bit of a cop out but I don’t really remember anything else in particular.

16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?

 17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

I can’t really think of anything but Horde (Razorland #3) maybe because of all the stuff happening.

18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).

I’m gonna go with Danielle and Daniel from OCD, The Dude, and Me but the group from Harmonic Feedback has to be mentioned as well.

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2013 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

20. Best Book You Read In 2013 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:

  21. Genre You Read The Most From in 2013?

Young Adult

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013?

Can’t say I have one.

23. Best 2013 debut you read?

24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?

I don’t really know and to not repeat myself as I already mentioned a lot of the same books, I’m going with Requiem (Delirium #3).

25. Book That Was The Most Fun To Read in 2013?

  Even though it dealt with some serious stuff, Flat-Out Love (Flat-Out Love #1).

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2013?

I don’t remember… Requiem I think? But I can’t say for sure. Horde maybe as well. No wait! I think that for sure Vain made me cry!

27. Book You Read in 2013 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year Or When It Came Out?

OCD, The Dude, and Me is a little gem that only has 534 ratings on Goodreads.

I don’t really blog enough to answer all of these but let’s give it a go.

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2013?

I never really keep track of what I find when but I recently came across Pop! Goes The Reader which has to be awesome judging by the name alone already and it really does seem like a pretty awesome blog.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2013?

3. Best discussion you had on your blog?


4. Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else’s blog?


5. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?


6. Best moment of book blogging/your book life in 2013?


7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?


8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?


9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?


10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year? 

  I wanted to read 50 books, which I reached at some point so I upped my challenge to 75 books, and I ended up reading 79. I also participated in the Debut Author Challenge but this will continue till January, I still have 1 more books to read for this one. I tried the Autumn Challenge but I really failed there. I also had a list of ten books that I wanted to read in 2013 and I ended up reading 6 of those.

 1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2013 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2014?

The Book Thief because everybody loves it and I want to have read the book before the movies comes out here. Ready Player One because it was on my list of books to read in 2013, lots of people love it, and I really finally want to read it

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2014 (non-debut)?

3. 2014 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

I have only checked some of the debuts but this one seems pretty interesting: Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley

4. Series Ending You Are Most Anticipating in 2014?

See question 2, they’re all series endings.

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2014?

Read 75 books, participate in another Debut Author Challenge because I had a lot of fun discovering new books and authors and branch out my reading through the Literary Merit Badges over at I Believe in Story.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I read in 2013

 Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. For more info about the meme and how to participate, click here.

Top Ten Books I read in 2013

1. Harmonic Feedback – Tara Kelly

2. Vain (The Seven Deadly Sins #1) – Fisher Amelie

3. Through the Ever Night (Under the Never Sky #2) – Veronica Rossi

4. Unravel Me (Shatter Me #2) – Tahereh Mafi

5. Pushing the Limits (Pushing the Limits #1) – Katie McGarry

6. OCD, The Dude, and MeLauren Roedy Vaughn

7. Requiem (Delirium #3) – Lauren Oliver 

8. Horde (Razorland #3) – Ann Aguire

9. Saving Francesca – Melina Marchetta

10. Flat-Out Love (Flat-Out Love #1) – Jessica Park

Top Ten Tuesday: 2014 Releases

 Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. For more info about the meme and how to participate, click here.

Top Ten 2014 Releases

A very late list but I was just looking at some releases for 2014 on Goodreads.
1. Into the Still Blue (Under the Never Sky #3) – Veronica Rossi
2. Ignite Me (Shatter Me #3)Tahereh Mafi
3. Renegade (Mila #2) – Debra Driza 

4. Fairwil (Wilfair #4) – Alysia Gray Painter

5. Panic – Lauren Oliver

6. Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss #3) – Stephanie Perkins

7. Kissing in Italian (Flirting in Italian #2) – Lauren Henderson
8. Encore (Amplified #2) – Tara Kelly
9. All the Rage – Courtney Summers
10. Chasing Before (The Memory Chronicles #2) – Lenore Appelhans

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Was Forced to Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. For more info about the meme and how to participate, click here.

Top Ten Books I Was ‘Forced’ to Read

I ended up looking back at some of my favorite reads at university. At first I intended to divide this into 5 likes and 5 dislikes but I ended up with 10 likes instead. I simply couldn’t leave any of these out!

1. The Diviners – Margaret Laurence 

This books basically changed my life, my now PhD supervisor assigned it to me for my term paper after I took my first class with him back in 2002 (I think). It was my first class about Post-Colonial Literature and my first venture into Canadian Literature. And I never looked back. Now I’m doing a PhD in Canadian Literature and he’s my supervisor, and I couldn’t wish for a better one than him. It’s funny because I just realized that he probably has no idea how much he and this book geared my way during my studies.

2. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

A course about utopian and dystopian literature and my first read of Atwood. Another life changer, a couple of years later, I fell in love with her writing and I’m now doing my PhD on Margaret Atwood.

3. 1984 – George Orwell

 Read this for the same class as The Handmaid’s Tale and it’s still one of my favorites. It’s so scary and haunting and something that never seems to be not relevant.

4. The Great Gatsby – Scott F. Fitzgerald

Read this for an exam and I really liked it, I should reread it sometime.

5. Angle of Repose – Wallace Stegner

I honestly don’t remember what I liked about this but I do remember that I liked a lot. Read it for an American Literature class but I don’t remember at the moment what exactly was the topic of the class.

6. As For Me And My House – Ross Sinclair

Read this for a American and Canadian Literature comparative class, I absolutely loved the imagery in the book. So haunting. I also want to recommend Ross Sinclair’s wonderful short story collection, The Lamp At Noon and Other Stories.

7. Absalom, Absalom! – William Faulkner

This was one was also part of the comparative class and as it was paired with my favorite, The Diviners, it was what I took on as my presentation and term paper topic. Faulkner is definitely not an easy read but it’s an intriguing one.

8. Who’s Afraid of Virigina Woolf – Edward Albee

This one I read for the same exam, I read The Great Gatsby for, and I really liked it as well but it’s too long ago to properly say something about why I liked it.

9. The Heidi Chronicles – Wendy Wasserstein

One of my final oral exams was about American plays and this was one of them, granted I was allowed to compile my own list of plays but there were some I enjoyed more than others, and this one I really liked which is probably no surprise since it’s a female coming of age story.

10. My Mortal Enemy – Willa Cather

Read this for a class on Willa Cather and again, it’s too long ago to remember why but I did like it.

Book Review: Going Vintage

Title: Going Vintage                         

Author: Lindsey Leavitt
Genre: Contemporary YA
Rating: 3.5/5

The Cover

I really like this cover, it’s very different from other YA books out there. It looks cute but not corny and it really fits the title of the novel. I like the colors, the retro look of it and even the fonts are nicely done.

The Story

Mallory finds out that her boyfriend Jeremy is cheating on her, cyber cheating to be more precise, so she decides to not care about boys anymore but more than that, she decides to go vintage and not use any modern devices anymore. Having been burned once, she feels like it’s better to say safe and not even use the computer anymore. On top of not using any modern technology anymore, Mallory finds a list of goals her grandmother once made in the 60s and she decides to try and do everything her grandmother put on that list. Things on that list are: becoming a pep club secretary (except Mallory has no idea yet what a pep club actually is), organizing a dinner party, do something dangerous, find a steady and sew her own homecoming dress. Her sister and her Jeremy’s cousin end up helping her, and so does her grandmother but as she finds out, completing the list is not as easy as it looks like.

My thoughts

As fun as the cover makes the book out to be, and it is a fun and easy read, there’s more behind the story. It’s a really heartwarming tale of family and friendship and it makes you wonder if we all really need all this modern technology. Yes, we can all agree that it makes our lives easier and we all love the internet for various reasons (and let’s face it, I doubt anybody would still want to live without it) but sometimes electronic devices to get in the way of actually living or spending time with people. It’s fun to see how Mallory deals with this, going from having a hard time without using her cell phone or computer but realizing that life can be good without them as well.

There is of course also a romantic storyline in the book, it is definitely well done and it develops rather slowly, which is always a good thing. I enjoyed most of the other characters in the novel too, especially Mallory’s sister Ginny is quite hilarious, and her grandmother is adorable. Another thing I really liked is every chapter starts with a list Mallory made and it sort of introduces you to what will happen in the chapter. There are some small things that either don’t really make sense or are weird additions to the story but I won’t get into those because it would ruin some plot lines for those that would like to read this book.

All in all, if you’re looking for a fun and fluffy read that has a bit more substance and originality to offer than a lot of other novels out there I’d definitely recommend Going Vintage.

Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale

Title: The Handmaid’s Tale                                       

Author: Margaret Atwood
Genre: Feminist dystopia
Rating: 5/5 stars

The Cover

The books has several covers from different publishers but most of them feature an image of a handmaid. I don’t particular like or dislike this cover and I’m not sure it’s something that attracts readers but it does give you a good idea as to what the handmaid’s look like and I find the fact that they’re pictured with a huge wall next to them quite fitting to what they have to endure in their lives.

The Story

The novel tells the story of Offred, a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. Handmaid’s are only used as baby machines so to speak, they’re property of their Commanders and are required to have sex with them every month in the hopes of getting pregnant because the Commanders actual wives can’t have children. Offred’s commander is called Fred, which is where here name comes from, which shows how much of property they really and how much value they have. Offred used to be a normal woman before society changed into this hell, she had a a job, a husband, a daughter and a name of her own but then things changed and she was stripped of all her rights and freedom by the new dictatorship and through flashbacks we get images of Offred’s life before Gilead was founded.

My Thoughts

Even though this book was written in 1985, it still seems scarily accurate, it’s a world that, while it may seem far-fetched, could become a reality. Especially considering that in many places women don’t have the rights that are taken for granted in other countries. It’s scary to imagine a world like it, maybe even scarier than other dystopias dealing with dictatorial regimes because what is going on in Gilead is downright disgusting.

What I find especially interesting of this story is that it is set at the beginning of this new society, unlike many other dystopian novels that are set way into the future when people don’t know any other life. Offred, however, knows how it was before and she knows the freedoms that she has lost. I think this makes the reading of this novel a completely different experience because even though you know what a free live is, reading about it through the character that doesn’t have it anymore, is a different thing.

Being a huge Atwood fan, I’m maybe biased when I say this but this is a engaging novel that pulls you into an emotional and grueling story. It’s like a scary dream you don’t seem to wake up from. The writing style is maybe something you either love or hate, it’s different and needs some getting used to because it’s more unconventional than conventional but it’s something you have to experience yourself.