book review

So Easily Conjured

The promise of a novel filled with the essence of both Practical Magic and Hocus Pocus is fulfilled by reading Shea Ernshaw's debut, The Wicked Deep. Within these pages is a story filled with regret, revenge, lies, and most of all, love. And every bit of this summertime story is just as wicked and deep as the title assures. 

From the beginning, the haunting lyricism with which Ernshaw conjures her story is enough to draw readers in, and what's more, drown them entirely in beautiful language. The style blends a contemporary narrative with historical elements given through the titled chapters spread throughout the entirety of the novel. Though the narration of these titled chapters does not follow the linear action of the novel, they are just as captivating as the world seen through Penny Talbot's eyes. Penny believes deep in her bones that the three Swan sisters who were drowned in the harbor of Sparrow, Oregon 200 years ago, do indeed return each summer to drown as many teenage boys as they can. It becomes most clear that "magic was not always so linear. It was born from odium. From love. From revenge." And what begins as a story of revenge soon becomes one filled with love. 

Throughout the story, tensions remain high, stakes fraught with the impending deaths of innocent boys. There is a ticking clock to keep readers swept up in the urgency of the story; the Swan season wanes toward the summer solstice, which marks the day the sisters were drowned after being accused of witchcraft so many centuries ago. Like the descendants of Salem, Marguerite, Aurora, and Hazel Swan were not witches. Yet, they're resurrected every summer, taking over the bodies of young girls in town before slipping from the skins back to the ocean below. It's a rather dire set of circumstances in a town that knows entirely too much of their tragic fates, best explained within the narrative:

"Murder. That's precisely what it is. Calling it a curse does not unmake the truth of what happens here each year...It's as predictable as the tide and the moon. It ebbs and flows. Death comes and goes." 

Held within those few lines is the essence of the story, that constant sway between life and death, killer and victim. And the villains of the story, those Swan sisters with the ability to lure boys to their deaths, are proven to be just as flawed and complicated as any good antagonist should be. What was most unexpected, however, was how their villainy washed away as their tragic fates were shared, making it hard not to accept their revenge.  Best explained by Penny, "Guilt slithers through me, a thousand regrets, and I wish for things I can't have: a way to undo all the deaths, to save the people who've been lost." 

The other characters within this novel are no less authentic. Everyone from Penny's grief-stricken mother to Bo, the new boy in town who hides something just as dark as the town; they all seem to hope for something better. As readers, we learn that "the truth slips between the edges of the lies." These people, like Penny, are broken. She misses her father. Her mother has been driven into darkness most maddening by the disappearance of her husband three years before, and Bo found his way to Sparrow filled with his own heartbreaks. At their core, they are all searching the shores for something. Like Bo explains:

"They're always reasons to stay. You just need to find one reason to leave." 

Shea Ernshaw's strengths within this debut do not merely lie at the bottom of an ocean filled with exquisite language, intricate history, and poignant characters, but rather imbue power into the story with elements of magical realism. The notions of curses and revenge, of momentary resurrection and ghosts might be hard to comprehend amidst the contemporary small town setting. But this is the farthest thing from a summer beach read because of the elements of magical realism woven throughout the narrative in a manner that seems so easily conjured. These details act as a juxtaposition to the haunting reality of death. From the forgetful cakes Penny's best friend's mother bakes, "intended to make you forget the worst thing that's ever happened to you--to wipe away bad memories," to the way Penny and her mother are able to divine the future by reading tea leaves; there is a hint of magic in everything. This acts as a way for the reader to better comprehend the strange events of Sparrow, Oregon, and thus, too, the characters to accept that something wicked most certainly comes from the sea.

Sparrow is a mysterious place, while Penny's home at Lumiere island acts as a protection against everything happening around her. The lighthouse is able to shine light onto the murky truths beneath the waves, and as such, the island becomes its own kind of character within the novel. Just as Penny and Bo gravitate toward the orchards and cottages, the reader, too, will feel bound to the island and the veil of safety it offers against the brutality of the risen sisters.

Reading the line, "Some places are bound in by magic. Ensnared by it," this feels like truth carefully crafted to encompass the marks we leave, even after we're gone. So too, does this truth: "Ghosts remain. But sometimes, the past is the only thing keeping a place alive...But it persists, because it must. Penance is a long, unforgiving thing. It endures, for without it, the past is forgotten." Throughout this book, there were many more lines and paragraphs, which took my breath as I drowned within them, ensnared by Ernshaw's skill to take the reader deep into her characters' lives. Lines resonate long after being read. None so much as:

"Perhaps we all have some oddity, some strangeness we keep hidden along our edges, things we see that we can't explain, things we wish for, things we run from." 

In the end, Shea Ernshaw's debut, The Wicked Deep, will leave readers under its eerie spell. Though this book is a standalone with a satisfying conclusion, it is clear that "endings are never so simple." And navigating this haunting tale to the last page will leave readers looking forward to whatever Ernshaw conjures next! 

All best,Kayla King.png

These Are a Few Of My Favorite Reads

Last year around this time, I set a Goodreads goal of reading 100 books. All this time later, I can't say I achieved this goal. And maybe any other year, this would have been more of a disappointment, but in the past year I've faced more rejection and accomplishment than I ever expected. Maybe those things happened at the cost of not reading as voraciously as I have in the past, but that doesn't mean I love reading or books any less.

 

In fact the 52 books I did read, helped me appreciate the craft and writing and helped me fall in love with reading all over again! 

 

 

What follows are my favorite books from 2017:

 

1.) The Careful Undressing of Love by corey ann haydu

This was the first book I read in 2017, and it set high standards. With beautiful, lyrical writing, and heartbreaking characters, this promised a great year of reading.

 

2.) The Secret Lives of People in Love by simon van booy

I remember texting the best friend asking if he'd ever had a sentence break him, because I was breaking beneath the beauty of this short story collection.

 

3.) Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Though this was technically a reread, I did listen to the audiobook version for the first time and Lin Manuel Miranda brought this story to life. 

 

4.)The Collected Poems: Sylvia Plath by sylvia plath

Starting the Plath Poetry Project in April, I used this collection as a road map month by month. Though there's not much left of Sylvia's last year, there are more than enough poignant poems within this collection.

 

5.) Heartless by MARISA meyer

This is one of those audiobook listens I now need to own in hard copy because I can't wait to read this again. Taking all my favorite things: Wonderland, retellings, and villain backstories; this story was one I haven't forgotten!

 

6.) We Are Okay by nina lacour

Fun fact: this is one of the comp. titles I've used for my book while out in the query trenches! Nina's work was all at once heartbreaking and reviving, and this, too, is another audiobook I *need* to own!

 

7.) Caraval by stephanie garber

Filled with fun, adventure, and illusion, I'm thrilled to know the sequel will be coming soon. This was another fantastic audiobook listen that truly took me into the world of Caraval!

 

8.) Ten Miles One Way by patrick downs

This was the first book I started after moving this year, and it was one I anticipated because I loved the freshman novel by this author (Fell of Dark). However, I finished this book beside the best friend while on the subway heading to the Cloisters in NYC. As the characters traversed a city, so did I, and I couldn't imagine reading this haunting book any other way.

 

9.) Rome: Poems by Dorothea Lasky

Though originally a birthday gift for the best friend, it is currently living on my shelf. I found within this poetry collection, a narrative voice similar to my own, and I continue to reread it now because it gets better each time.

 

10.) Like Water by rebecca podos

While reading this book, I had so many thoughts of, "just one more chapter," and then, all too soon, I was finished. It was a book that demanded to be read and felt and I haven't forgotten Vanni or her summer at Mermaid Cove.

 

11.) Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them: Illustrated edition by newt scamander/j.k. ROLLING, illustrated by Olivia Lomenech Gill

Loved the movie. Loved the audiobook. But there is something about the illustrations that really brought Newt's work to life!

 

12.) Turtles All the Way Down by john green

I must confess I was nervous to read this for fear I wouldn't like it as much as John Green's other books. But this story made it's way to the #2 spot in my John Green favorite ( 1.) Looking For Alaska, 2.) Turtles All the Way Down, 3.) Will Grayson Will Grayson, 4.) The Fault in Our Stars).

 

13.) Warcross by marie lu

Another audiobook that succeeded to transport me both with narration and storytelling. While I'm not a gamer by any means, there was still so much to enjoy from this book, as well as a nod to Lu's Legend series, which I devoured many years before.

 

14.) A History of the Unmarried by Stephen S. Mills

While I've also read this before, I'd never read it straight through, but rather read sporadically. Perhaps organizing my own poetry collection inspired me to read this the way Mills intended. Maybe not. Either way, this is another brilliant poetry collection.

 

15.) Whichwood by Tahereh Mafi

I’m embarrassed to say this is my first Tahereh Mafi book I’ve ever read, but rest assured, it will not be my last. I can’t wait to read the companion, Furthermore. Mafi brings readers into a world of the macabre with just enough humor to get through the brutality and honesty of loss and living after grief. 

 

16.) Harry Potter: A Journey Through the History of Magic by british library

One of my favorite Christmas gifts from my sister, I was most astonished by the story behind J.K. Rowling being picked up by Bloomsbury. Currently in the query trenches, Rowling's struggle resonated with me beyond the pages of this book.

 

17.) The Wicker King by K. Ancrum

Fun fact: this is the other comp. title I'm using for my book, which is currently in the query trenches. Ancrum's work is haunting, beautiful, and human. I can't wait to see more from this author in the future!

And I can't wait to see what's in store for this new year of reading! 

Want to know more about the books I read in 2017? Be my friend on Goodreads

All best,Kayla King.png

The Careful Undressing of Curses

Corey Ann Haydu's newest novel, The Careful Undressing of Love, offers an interesting premise: the girls of Devonairre Street are cursed. Any boy they love is destined to die. We are introduced to Lorna, one of the Devonairre Street girls for whom this curse is part of every day life. And to make matters in this book even more complicated and intriguing, these girls live in an alternate version of the Brooklyn we know. 

Haydu gives us a world in which Times Square was bombed in 2001, the Twin Towers still stand, and the world crumbles and rebuilds in much the same way our world has in the aftermath of 9/11. This works as a significant underlying disturbance to the other moving pieces within this novel, and is handled with the understanding that one event has the power to incite change. As someone who was young when the Twin Towers fell, I've had to live through such changes; our world is also one which exists in the after.

Instead of studying the who and the why of such events in a history book, Haydu's characters must study the history of those "Affected." This small change to the realities of our world depicts a poignant look at history, and a way to further alienate the main protagonist, Lorna, as she deals with the death of her father from the tragic bombings. She must live with the notion that she is now one of the Affected, whom people study and memorize and remember. Such is a difficult idea to live with in a world where devastation is commonplace, where lemons are used to handle grief, and where tea is to be consumed with more honey than anything else. But even those things can't keep bad things from entering the lives of those who live on Devonaire Street. After all:

 "we can't stop the world from happening."

Haydu's literary realm is an odd world that is not quite magical realism, but which exists with a touch of those elements. While the premise is enough to intrigue any reader, the world building is rich, and real enough to feel like home. Haydu's characters are flawed and flirt wth the idea of love despite the fact that any boy a Devonairre Street girl falls in love with is then fated to die. It happened to Lorna's father, and her best friend's dad, and her other friends as well. Death has taken husbands and boyfriends, etc. But the curse doesn't feel real to the girls growing up in a world of after until a local love and friend to all on Devonairre Street is killed.

The reality of the curse seems justified. 

And still Lorna doesn't believe. Lorna doesn't want to believe. She has her garden and her mother and her friends and her boyfriend who she-doesn't-love-but-maybe-sort-of-could-love. It is all complicated in the best way. And through all of the many complications within the outside forces, i.e. the curse and the bombings, there are still the complications of the human heart. Most profoundly, Haydu writes:

"Maybe you never know if you're in love or not...Maybe no one knows, and we all wander around talking about it like it's something tangible and knowable, but actually we're all full of it. Maybe even the people who say they're in love are wondering is this what they meant?"

 

While Haydu writes with this same kind of philosophical musings in her characater, Lorna, this style never feels out of place. The Careful Undressing of Love is a literary YA novel with a lyrical language, which puts many adult works of fiction to shame. There is an essence of wondering about life and the world and love that we have all felt within our youths, which, perhaps, carry into the people we become as adults. Because there is such a lush and luxurious writing style within this novel, this will appeal to both young adult audiences and those older. After all, the best books in the world have been written about death and love and this book combines both aspects of life with a devastating sense of wisdom that only comes from losing those we most love. 

And then there are the girls (and boy, they are LornaCruzCharlotteDelilahIsla), and they offer the best that an ensemble cast of characters can: variety, authenticity, and more truth than can be handled in one sitting.

While I easily could have finished this book in one night, it was the kind of novel that I wanted to savor for fear that another of its kind won't reappear any time soon.

Then there are the mothers of these girls and the mother to them all, Angelika, who keeps the rules of Devonairre Street so they may never forget the men and the love and the curse that tears both things from them in time.

There are the rules: honey cake and shared birthdays and long hair and honey in lavender tea, gardens and benches and lemon trees. Lemons for grieving and wool to keep out heartbreak and love and loss. Skeleton key necklaces provide them with literal keys when they can't seem to find the key to the curse. They can't seem to break the cyclical nature of love and death and dying and loss and mourning the love. Though they try to fill those spaces with donuts for anniversaries and red and white braided bracelets,  whiskey and wine, music and memories and pictures; all the items they must keep for fear they might forget. It is enough to make one's head spin, but which Haydu writes into perfect clarity. Of course wool must be worn to funerals, and of course lemons must be offered to those suffering a doomed and damaged heart.

Then there are lines that break hearts beyond the page:

 "There is a quietness that is quieter than other silences. There is a line between what feels crazy and what feels acceptable, and when it's blurry, the world is a scarier place. There is a time of night when you haven't slept and anything seems possible. There is a kind of sadness that feels so heavy and tight that you would do absolutely anything to not carry it anymore."

 

Much of the book is composed of soul-searing prose that is so beautiful it has the power to break the reader. And there is more to learn about Lorna and the Devonairre Street girls between the pages of Corey Ann Haydu's newest novel, The Careful Undressing of Love

Writing this review, I'm listening to Lana Del Rey's song This Is What Makes Us Girls because it puts me back into Haydu's world of curses and love and loss.

At times heartbreaking and inspiring, this brilliant novel is sure to keep readers thinking about the cursed girls of Devonairre Street long after the story is finished. 

The Edge of Something Real

Tina Sears' debut novel, The River's Edge, is the kind of story that will bring readers to the edge of something real. Following the protagonist, Chris Morgan, during the summer of 1976, this novel is at times bright with the beauty of first love, friendship, and family, while maintaining a sense of secretive danger, which is compelling. 

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While the beginning of the novel introduces young adult readers to a time they may not know, Sears has painted such a realistic picture of summer in the 70s that may juxtapose the experiences of readers. But through these differences of time and place there is still the beautiful, but untouchable mean girl (Julie), the sweet boy next door (Reds), and a cast of other characters who offer a sense of escape for Chris as the summer carries on. Stakes are set high, because Chris must hide a dangerous secret from both family and friends. 

Tina Sears brings readers to the edge of childhood innocence and takes them across the line into the brutality of sexual assault. Such is handled with tact and care. In the vein of Ellen Hopkins, this debut author tackles topics which (still) too often appear as taboo within the YA literary world. Sears is unafraid to show the monsters in real life, but does so with careful consideration for her main character, Chris. This is not the kind of book that is gratuitous by any means, yet it shows just enough of the disturbing side of family secrets and sexual assault to convince the reader that Chris's fear is justified throughout the story. 

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Life continues on even as tragedy happens, just as it does in the real world beyond these pages. Chris's parents are struggling with the idea of divorce back home, her mother on the verge of her own darkness and depression. And then there is Reds, who is such a welcomed breath of innocence in a story that loses such to the act of violence. 

Throughout this summer of dance marathons and underage drinking, falling in love, and drowning in darkness, there is the river. The unpredictable way it flows forward, waters raging, serves as a sort of metaphor within the story. Chris's life becomes unpredictable, her own self raging at the fact that something has been stolen by someone she trusts. And we learn what has been taken can't be given back.

Despite the realization of what sexual assault takes from a person, especially one so young, there is also the revelation that there is bravery in overcoming such scars:

"We all have our scars to carry with us. Scars are a sign of bravery."

Throughout the course of this stark and authentic narration told from Chris's first person point of view, the reader grows closer to the urgency and terror that she feels, which only pushes the story forward at a fast-paced speed. While the content may disturb, readers will need to know that Chris is going to be okay. 

This is the kind of novel that offers an extra element of poignancy because of the times in which it is told. Without cell phones and other such technology there is the added element of isolation that takes Chris on the path to awakening. Such seems to be understood by the author and used as a tool to bring a story of this caliber to light. 

Perfect for fans of Ellen Hopkins, this novel is one filled with sweetness and sensibility, terror, truth, and above all else, bravery, and love. Chris is the kind of character who can help victims of similar situations to feel connected, while also bringing empathy to readers who may not understand such horrors.

The River's Edge is a haunting novel, which resonates long after the last page. Tina Sears is an author to watch in the future for further works that will contribute the same catharsis to our ever-darkening world. 

All best,Kayla King.png

Fangirling Over Fangirl

I just finished Rainbow Rowell's young adult novel, Fangirl, and I'm so sad it's over. Reading this book was like finding a piece of sea glass on the beach when you're not looking, like wishing on a fuzzy dandelion and having your wish come true. It was completely unexpected, but so rewarding in the end. Picking up this book, I knew it would be good; I'd already madly in love with Eleanor and Park when I read it back in January.

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There was something about Cath, Wren, Reagan, and Levi, which made them seem so real despite the fact that they are just characters in a book. They are flawed, imperfect, and speak their minds honestly. And for the short time I spent with them in this fictional world, they were like my best friends. I connected with Cath as a writer and lover of a fandom, which many people often snub. But luckily, like Cath, I've found friends who support my love of all things nerdy. I have family to supports me, too, and a love for the stories I've read, and the stories in my head. 

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I can't wait to go back and read this lovely piece of YA lit. again, but I'm also saddened because I'll never have the unknowingness the next time around. There is something so perfect and magical about reading a really good book for the first time. But there's also something wonderful about reading your favorite book again and again because you never read it the same way, even if the book doesn't change. You're the one who's changed. And because you've changed, there are certain lines you pay more attention to, which make you smile a little brighter, phrases to break your heart, and scenes that still make you cry. 

I think that's the beauty of all books. Having the ability to go back and spend time with some of your favorite people in worlds you enjoy is important to stay positive, to have faith in this world when bad things happen. And for me, it's even more important because it shows words and stories are still important, making me believe my words and my stories are important. too. And I can't wait to share them with the world. But until then, I think I'm going to fall into fictional place I love!

Book Love

Today, I wanted to give some much deserved book love to Cinder by Marissa Meyer.

I absolutely loved this book! It was refreshing to see Cinderella be more than someone scrubbing floors and wearing pretty dresses; Cinder is a bad ass female! The way Meyer twists the traditional fairytale, breathes new life into Cinderella, while all at once delivering nostalgic gems hidden within the text.

There is a beautiful moment in the story: 

 "If there was one thing she knew from years as a mechanic, it was that some stains never come out." 

Though simple, this seems to encapsulate everything, which later happens within this delightful retelling. It's exciting to see that other people are just as enthralled with fairytales as I am. I can't wait to read Scarlet and Cress, the next books in the wonderfully eerie Lunar Chronicles.

The Most Memorable Books of 2013

Below are the thirteen most memorable books I read in 2013, in no particular order of course. There are still many more on my to read list but I guess those will just have to wait until 2014!

1. )Allegiant by Veronica Roth 

Though I have traveled with the characters of this series since it first came out, I'm not sure I could be any more devastated to finish this book. I, however, didn't love this book the way I'd hoped. And not for the reasons you might think. There were moments, which seemed to negate everything Roth worked so hard to build in her other two books. If you're looking for a book to make you feel brave or simply a world to get wrapped up in, I do suggest this series. Even though this is the final book in the trilogy, this doesn't mean Roth is done. Stay tuned for Four , her collection of short stories coming out in 2014, and the Divergent movie making it's big screen debut March 2014! 

2.) The Giver by Lois Lowry 

This is one of my favorite books of all time. Have you ever been asked what your favorite book is and had a difficult time answering? It seems like the typical college question, which I've encountered, and I always start thinking of my top five. Because my favorite is always changing, but the list of absolute favorites usually stays the same. And this is one of the books from that list. So why am I reviewing it under the 2013 books? Well, I reread it again this year, and fell in love with it all over again! Each time I read this book, I take away something new. I remember the first time I read this in eighth grade, thinking it was such a simple story, and yet, it is probably one of the most complicated books I've ever read. If you found your way to this book yet, you need to just that! And if you have, well I'm sure you know what I mean when I say it's amazing. Though this is an older book, they are making it into a film in the future with Jeff Bridges playing the Giver. I guess, until then, I'll just have to keep reminding myself that the book is always better so as not to be too disappointed when I actually see the movie.

3.) The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

I don't think I can properly assess this book just yet seeing as I'm not quite finished with it. But there's still a few more days in 2013 so it will happen. This is the third book by Gaiman that I've read this year and I've been just as pleased. In fact, I had one of those weird, geeky, my mind has just been blown moments while reading this book. There is a moment when Bod, the protagonist, meets the spirit of a witch named Liza Hempstock, which, if I'd read this first probably would have meant nothing. But because I read The Ocean At The End Of The Lane earlier this summer, I noticed the last name. You see, invisible reader, Gaiman's newest adult novel which debuted this summer is based around a group of witches named Hempstock. So you can see why my mind just couldn't take that connection. It made me start thinking about all of these irrational things about lineage and future stories and endless questions that really had nothing to do with my current reading of The Graveyard Book. Needless to say, I'm taking my time with this one. There is so much to find between these pages, which teaches you about life and love and imagination. It is worth your time to read!

4.) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling 

What can I say about what might be my favorite book series of all time? Certainly, if I don't say this is my favorite book, then I can say Jo Rowling is my favorite author. She gave me a childhood filled with magic and imagination and words and stories; she is the reason I still love words today. But as for this little boy with glasses and a lightning bolt scar, I just want to say thank you. This book and this series taught me about the importance of friendship and love and Harry Potter has been my best friend since third grade, and still is today. So why did this make the most memorable books of 2013? Well, invisible reader, I read this book every year during the holiday season, and every year it makes me feel like a kid again. Thus, I'm more able to enjoy the magic and innocence of Christmas. During this time of year it is easy to get lost in wrapping paper and shopping and the stress that always follows, but Harry always seems to make this season a little less stressful and for that, I'm always thankful.

5.) The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen 

Though this book ended much too soon, I absolutely fell in love! It was one of those books that I bought on a whim, which then sat on my shelf for far too long, and then completely consumed my life while I was reading it. Filled with magic, heartache, love, and loss, this book is one that is truly special to me. For anyone looking for a beautiful world to fall into, I would recommend this 110%. I look forward to reading more books by Allen and to falling madly in love all over again with her characters! There is something really special about an author and a story that can create magic like Allen and The Girl Who Chased The Moon. I can't wait to read this again in 2014!

6.) The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman 

As previously mentioned, I loved this book! Gaiman is the master of creating haunting stories, which stay with you long after the book is finished. The Hempstock ladies in this book gave a great example of female power and the importance of family. I've recommended this book to so many of my friends now that I've started to lose count. It's just that good. This book taught me that magic and whimsy combined with darkness is just like real life, and that it's okay to use both when writing. In fact, it's more than okay, it's necessary! If you're craving a good scare or just a fantastical world to escape to, read Gaiman's newest book!

7.) Oh the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss

For the longest time, I'd never really read this entire book. It may seem childish, but I promise Dr. Seuss writes about some pretty life-changing things in this short book. And this year, between graduating and getting into graduate school, I think I needed to read this book. I bought this for my sister this summer as a high school graduation present, but ended up reading it three or four times before I gave it to her. Sometimes we don't need thick tomes about life to help us see the light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes, all we need are a few rhyming words, some colorful pictures, and a guarantee that even when we can't see it, we'll be going places soon!

8.) No One is Here Except All of Us by Ramona Ausubel 

I borrowed this from the best friend, not really knowing what it was about. I started it the same way. But by the time I was done, I realized this was more than just a book. It was a testimony to the importance of words and stories and how they can carry us through even the worst moments of life. The book begins with a character who tells us about her story, but ends with a character who has had to change her story just to survive. It was beautiful and magical and devastating. If I had the chance to reread this, I would. In fact, I loved this book so much that I gave it to one of my own characters to read. And though that sounds crazy, it's not. I love the fact that this cover is not covered in disingenuous promises of greatness. It never boasts that it is wonderful and mesmerizing. It waits until you are waist deep in its words to whisper about how amazing it really is. If you are looking for a fantastic piece of fiction, this is one of them! I'm sure you've noticed that most of the books on this list are young adult fiction because the majority of the books I read are YA. But this book was so good I didn't even notice it wasn't YA.

9.) Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott 

I read this book to do a book "report" for my Writing for the Professions class and ended up loving it more than I thought I would. I've read quite a few books about writing. While those books have been informative, none were nearly as enjoyable as this one. The great thing about this book is that it doesn't simply profess all the things a writer should do. It gives wonderful anecdotes mixed with sage writing advice. And Lamott never says you should take her advice. She just puts it out there for you to take for yourself. There are several techniques I've used from this book that have worked quite well for my daily writing routine, and then there are others which didn't work for me. But that's the amazing thing about writing! It's a unique experience for everyone. So for any of you that are writers out there I recommend the book. And for those of you who aren't writers, this book is great regardless.

10.) Requiem by Lauren Oliver 

I am so sad that I had to give this three stars on Goodreads ( and even that's generous). But I promise it was necessary. The first book in this series, Delirium, was amazing. The second book, Pandemonium, wasn't spectacular but second books rarely are. But most often, the third book in a series is mesmerizing and beautiful and ties up all its loose ends. This, however, was nothing of the sort. I'm not sure if any of you have seen Silver Linings Playbook, specifically the scene where Bradley Cooper throws his book out the window. But that was the same reaction I had to the end of this book. Only I didn't throw it out the window. Instead I woke up the sleeping members of my family on our way home from Myrtle Beach. Though I wouldn't necessarily say you shouldn't read this series, I would caution you to begin the last book with care. It will most likely disappoint you. But for me, it gave an example of what not to do when I finish my series. So even though the end of this book was not amazing, it taught me that endings are just as important as beginnings.

11.) Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares 

Unlike Requiem, Sisterhood Everlasting was a great end to a beloved series. Though this book brought back some of my favorite characters, they were older, and so much had happened since I finished reading Forever in Blue (Book Four). This book was filled with an inescapable sadness, which left me weeping into the wee hours of morning. But that's life I suppose. And though these characters are flawed, they are more real to me than most people I know. If you haven't read The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants series yet, you should. And if you're scared to read the adult versions of your favorite characters you should be. But sometimes, even when we're most scared, life offers us the best experiences. This book was one of those great experiences.

12.) Crash by Lisa McMann 

I read this book pretty early into 2013, and can't wait to read the sequel, Bang, as soon as I have time. Plain and simple, this was a fun read. Lisa McMann is at her best when writing these supernatural books (I fell in love with her Wake series years before) with characters who are flawed, and often don't see themselves as special despite having unusual gifts. And yet, McMann creates characters for readers to care about. I read this book in one sitting, glued to the edge of my seat, and flipping furiously from page to page. If you're looking for a great, suspenseful read, look no further. As the first McMann book I've read since the Wake series finished, I was impressed!

13.) Smoke by Ellen Hopkins 

I have been waiting for this book since I finished it's companion in high school. And I must say, just like Burned, this did not disappoint. Ellen Hopkins has a way of writing about life, which feels real and gritty and flawed and beautiful, all while fitting into the constraints of poetic prose. The book brought me back to my first journey with Pattyn and I felt just as enthralled by this experience as the first time around. I don't think I could have asked for a better way to wrap up a story I have been thinking about for the past several years. Well done, Ellen Hopkins! Well done!

This concludes my reviews of the thirteen most memorable books from 2013! I hope you have found some great new books to discover. I hope you've looked back at the most memorable books you read this year. And if you're not a reader, I hope this post has made you interested in reading. It's truly one of the greatest things life has to offer. I firmly believe it only takes one book to make people life-long readers. And who knows, maybe one of those books is listed here for you!