My Top 10 All-Time Fave Books Since I Started Blogging

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Today’s topic is Top Ten Books You Would Classify As ALL TIME FAVORITE BOOKS from the past 3 years. I decided to make it easiest I would go with books I’ve read since I’ve started blogging, and seeing as I recently celebrated my two year blogversary, it seemed like a good time frame. I was also able to come up with a list very quickly by doing this. I’ve decided to make this week’s list in the order that I read the books, starting with the one I first first down to what I’ve read most recently.

1. Start by Jon Acuff

AKA, the book that started this blog.

Start_jacket.inddThis was the book I was reading when I started my blog, and this book (along with Acuff’s previous book Quitter) got me back to writing seriously again. If you’re out of school and feeling stuck in a job and/or with life in general, seriously read these.

2. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

AKA, the book that changed my worldview.

gr-unbrokenI think most are familiar with the general story of this book thanks to the movie’s release, which focuses on a WWII POW and survivor. I cannot fully express how amazing the story is. You just need to read it. My Review

3. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

AKA, the book that gave me feels like never before.

GR-bookthiefIt’s rare to find a book where the writing, story, and characters are all equally glorious and beautiful. This is one of those books. My Review

4. Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund

AKA, the book that is quite possibly one of the most “Amy” books ever written.

acrossastarsweptHave you ever read a book that just felt like everything about it was tailored just for you? If not, I hope you find it. This book was that for me. (And I loved the predecessor to this one as well!) My Review

5. Cress by Marissa Meyer

AKA, the book that made me realize this was going to be one of my favorite series ever.

cressThe characters and stories that Marissa Meyer have developed are just spot-on and WOW. My Review

6. The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

(We’ll focus on Shadow and Bone since it’s first)

AKA, that book that made me fall in love with fantasy.

gr-shadowandboneI bought this one on a whim when I saw it on sale, devoured it while on vacation, and haven’t looked back. I had not read much fantasy before this and a whole new world opened up to me after this. My Review

7. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

AKA, the book that made sure I stayed in love with fantasy.

GR-seraphinaI haven’t reread a book since I’ve started blogging, until now; I’m reading this one in preparation for the sequel, Shadow Scale. In my opinion, it is a slow start, but it is 100% worth it for the world-building and the people. My Review

8. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

(Again, we’ll focus on the first book, The Sorcerer’s Stone)

AKA, the book that made me want to go to Hogwarts.

gr-sorcerers-stoneI am now 5/7 of the way through with reading this series for the first time, and yes, I am loving it and totally on board with all the hype it’s gotten for 15 years. My Review

9. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

AKA, the book that made me look at my spiritual life differently.

screwtape-lettersThis is a book that I won’t say that I love quite in the same way as the others, but was an important read for me.

1o. Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

AKA, the book that made me not afraid of high fantasy.

gr-mistbornI can’t say I’m ready for The Way of Kings yet, but I’m ready for more of this world and more like it. My Review

What are some of your favorite reads from since you started blogging (regardless of time frame)?

Review: Mistborn

How to sum up Mistborn…


5stars2The end.

Wait, did you want more than that? You want to know my thoughts on the plots, the characters, the world, be convinced that you should read this? Fine. I’ll oblige.

gr-mistbornHere’s what you need to know up front: This is 600+ pages of fantasy goodness. This is not for everyone, but if that doesn’t intimidate you, or at least you’re open to the idea, then this book probably is for you. One of my first inclinations of the book after I had started reading was that the story is a bit of a slow burn. Let me emphasize: it’s not a slow, drawn-out beginning with massive info dump and waiting for the story to begin. But the story takes its time to develop. The characters take time to develop. That’s part of what makes this story so worthwhile, because in the end it will impact you in ways a lesser developed story just could not have done. It’s all completely worth it and it’s never boring, even when things are moving slower. I never felt that Sanderson was just feeding me unnecessary filler.

The book focuses mainly on Kelsier and Vin, both born as skaa (slaves, essentially), both gifted, but otherwise pretty different. Vin is a 16 year old girl; Kelsier is a 30-something year old man. Kelsier has spent much of his adult life leading people; Vin just tries to scrape by unnoticed and unharmed. Kelsier has developed his abilities; Vin is only vaguely aware of hers. But when the two meet, Kelsier recruits Vin and takes her under his wing, and though she believes he intends to use her for whatever purpose he has and then dispose her, she slowly learns to trust him and his friends as they work and train together.

After a while, we also get introduced to my favorite character ELEND! It seems I have a thing for young noblemen who are a little defiant (Prince Kai in The Lunar Chronicles, Kiggs in Seraphina, Nikkolai in the Grisha trilogy…), but seriously, he brings books to balls and reads them there! What is not to love about that? And his interactions with Vin are gold. In fact, my only complaint for this book is that I think the development between Elend and Vin ended up being a little rushed (which feels crazy to say about this book); they seem to go from flirtatious banter to relationship suddenly. Not that it was too soon, but there is no explanation that I recall about them talking outside the balls, so I don’t when they established things because suddenly it was like bam, they’re a couple. I just wanted more of those interactions, dang it. But hopefully there will be more in the next two books.

This book is hard to explain because it is a fantasy with an intricate world and magic system, and the plot has a little bit of everything going for it: action, adventure, drama, comedy, romance… But seriously, it was all good. It’s character-driven but the plot is great too. And while the ending for this book was satisfying and does not leave you on a cliff-edge, I am certainly anticipating more. (But Nikki did warn me that I will need to read books two and three back-to-back, so that has been noted!)

By the way, just as a warning, not everything in the ending is happy. But the ending is still good and worth it, I promise. There are feels of all kinds in this book.

So basically, if any of this sounds appealing to you at all, you should read it. I think you’ll love it. I know I’m glad I gave it a shot. And I’m happy to give my first read of 2015 5 stars!

If you’re a Mistborn fan, feel free to gush in the comments! 

Content advisory: Mild language, moderate violence

My Fantasy Team: YA Book Edition


Next weekend I’ll be drafting for my Fantasy Football team. I’m sure most of you are aware of what it is, but for those who are not, basically it’s a game of statistics played during the NFL season where participants “draft” real-life players from various teams for their virtual team, and their performance in their real-life games translates to the stats of your team. I’m not super into football,  but my friends were doing a league last year so I thought, “What the heck?”, and now I am doing it once again. Go Deep Space Niners! (That would be my team… named after the baseball team formed by the crew of Deep Space Nine in a season seven episode. I am a geek. By the way, don’t watch anything from season seven of Deep Space Nine before having watched the previous seasons. It’s chock full of character and plot spoilers.)

OK, how does this tie into Young Adult literature? Well, I thought it would be fun to create a “fantasy” young adult book, built by various characters and plot devices from different YA books. The books I decided to draw from:

yafantasy1 yafantasy2

Setting: Post -Apocalyptic Chicago divided into factions (Divergent)

Main Character: Elliot North (For Darkness Shows the Stars)

The Best Friend: Harley (Across the Universe)

The Love Interest: Prince Kai (Cinder)

The Antagonist: President Snow (The Hunger Games)

Plot Set-Up: Reality show where the Princes chooses his wife (The Selection)

Book Synopsis: Elliot North is persuaded by her father and her crazy best friend Harley (BTW, no love triangle here- Harley loved Elliot’s sister before she tragically died) to sign up for the selection, a lottery-style opportunity to compete for the Prince’s love for the entire country to see. Elliot finds the idea ridiculous, but signs up with the full confidence that she has a better chance of being selected for the show.

Yet as her unfortunate luck would have it, Elliot is selected, and is whisked away to downtown Chicago to meet the Prince… and the girls she is supposed to be competing against. She decides to try to enjoy the food and the pretty dresses until Prince Kai decides to kick her out, which she believes will be by her second day there, and is surprised when he actually seems to like her, despite her bluntness with him about her lack of care about him.

Elliot and Kai form an unlikely friendship, which leads to him allowing her to see her friend Harley when he comes to visit, and the two of them taking frequent walks down Navy Pier to watch the boats. Kai learns from Elliot just how bad things are among the different factions that are supposed to be united, but are anything but. Elliot learns from Kai that war is imminent with the neighboring country that used to be part of the same country as theirs before a civil war broke it apart, and that the other country’s President Snow seems eager to engage the forces.

Will Elliot come to care for Kai? Will President Snow make good on his threats? Will Harley’s new job at The Royal House affect Kai and Elliot’s relationship or even endanger his hopes of being an artist? It’s a trilogy of course, so it’ll be a while before you find all this out.

This isn’t actually my ideal YA book, but I still thought it was fun to construct elements from different stories and see how they would fit together.

What do you think? What elements would include for your “fantasy” book team?