Why Can’t You See? You Belong With Me: A Top Ten List

This week’s prompt at The Broke & the Bookish is dealer’s choice! Just a list of characters based on whatever I feel like basing it on.

I’m going with “childhood friends that grow up and fall in love.” (See what I did with those Taylor Swift lyrics? Huh? Say what you will, but the music video for that song is adorable.)

Even though I skate pretty close to the line a few times, I tried to stick with more of a “childhood friends” theme than a “second chance at love” thing – that could be a whole other list!

toptencharacter

Just One of the Guys by Kristan Higgins Goodreads / Amazon / My Review

All the swoons, seriously. I get teary-eyed every single time I reread this book, which I have done a not quite sane number of times. As a kid, a girl with a heap of brothers ends up sort of accidentally adopting another, who doesn’t have an ideal home situation. She has been in love with him forever, but getting him to understand that is basically about as rewarding as beating your head against the wall…..OR IS IT?

Before and Ever Since by Sharla Lovelace Goodreads / Amazon

This one skates pretty close (and, okay – maybe a little over) the “second chance at love” line. But the majority of the relationship these two characters have when they’re younger is a close friendship, with a side order of a metric ton of wonderful tension (just try and find something hotter than secret nighttime rooftop meetings). When the dude shows back up a lot of years later, all the drama happens. Plus, there is an interesting dash of magical realism!

The Masque of the Black Tulip by Lauren Willig Goodreads / Amazon

Spies! Of the historical lady-spy variety! This series is absolutely hilarious and I love it so. Basically all you need to know is that there is espionage, and there are childhood friends that don’t stay “just friends” for long.

Ain’t She Sweet by Susan Elizabeth Phillips Goodreads / Amazon

This one is interesting in that the characters weren’t exactly friends as children. And by not exactly? I mean not at all. A now down-on-her-luck ex-mean girl comes back to town, and things don’t exactly go so well at first…

Slow Summer Kisses by Shannon Stacey Goodreads / Amazon

Shannon Stacey can rock the romance novella like no other. That is all you need to know!

Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz Goodreads / Amazon / My Review

I always try to slide this in on all the lists, it’s so fabulous! This entire book is about the friendship between these two boys. Just try and come up with a case against them belonging together.

The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever by Julia Quinn Goodreads / Amazon

Oh man, this is the stuff dreams are made of! Dreams of adolescent girls, that is. A young girl lusting over the hot, older neighbor boy? A tale as old as time. The characters growing up a little and actually falling in love? Not quite so common… (Romancing Mister Bridgerton is also a great friends-to-lovers story by Julia Quinn!)

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han Goodreads /Amazon / My Review

This trilogy, man. Jenny Han is the one person on this planet that actually makes me anticipate love triangles (versus just rolling my eyes and avoiding them). A girl grows up with two brothers, but which one is actually right for her? I would bet money that the majority of readers change their mind on that score, maybe more than once!

Bed of Roses by Nora Roberts Goodreads / Amazon

This quartet is absolutely one of my favorite things. I have comfort read them SO MANY TIMES YOU WOULDN’T BELIEVE. This is the second of the four, and probably my favorite. Super hot people doing super hot things, while being close friends all the while. So sweet and swoonworthy. Also, my emotional investment in these folks causes me to get all weepy when they hit the obligatory conflict portion of the plot.

Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery Goodreads / Amazon

All the warm tingly feelings for this one, amirite? Anne and Gilbert are the classic friends-turned-lovers story. Doesn’t get any better!

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Read This…Then That: Plot Twisty, Family Secret Books

Seriously – crazy mysteries with shocking outcomes paired with weird and/or unreliable characters? Read them alllllll! (And don’t read plot summaries or pick up too many details beforehand!)

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Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn Goodreads / Amazon

This one is really wonderful and surprising. Also, the writing is fantastic. You’ll be left guessing up until the very end as to what on Earth is going on in the story. Is it supernatural? What family secrets is the MC hiding? The New England boarding school setting adds a really nice foresty and melancholy background for what turns out to be a pretty incredible story! I’m surprised I didn’t chop my fingers up with paper cuts at the rate I was racing through the pages to get to the end.

(These next two involve rich family summer vacation settings, which I’ve decided is one of my new favorite things.)

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart Goodreads / Amazon

This plot is BANANAS, y’all. I didn’t really connect with any of the characters quite as much as I’d like, but still. Whoa. If you like contemporary YA and/or mysteries and/or unreliable narrators and/or BIG OMG reveals – oh yeah, you should definitely read this. My lack of real involvement with the characters left me a little less dazzled then I know some people have been, but this was a solid read. I’m pretty sure my thought process while reading was IHAVEABADFEELINGIHAVEABADFEELING x 100. The end will leave you reeling hard.

Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore Goodreads / Amazon

This being adult, it moves a little slower than the previous two. It’s also a little different in that the biggest mysteries/conflicts don’t really involve the mental state of the narrator so much. Things build quietly and carefully as you get to know the cast of characters. Things are never comfortable though – I was tense and curious and nervous throughout the entire story. Once things get going? They don’t stop. There are several pretty major plot twists, and while some of them might not be huge surprises…some of them will catch you off guard! I very much enjoyed reading this, I ended up finishing it over the course of one day. I would probably recommend it the most out of the three. I’ve already grabbed up one of this author’s back list titles!

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Six Degrees of Separation: Burial Rites

So, two bloggers – Emma and Annabel – started a new meme called Six Degreeds of Separation. It sounded like a lot of fun, so I decided to join in!

Basically, they pick a book and anyone who wants to participate makes a list of six books in a “Read this…then that” format. It can be as specific or general as you want! Jane Austen can lead to Stephen King can lead to Nora Roberts. Whatever!

So, this month the chosen book is Burial Rites by Hannah Kent. It’s a really brilliantly written and atmospheric story set in 19th century Iceland surrounding a woman accused of murder.

Burial Rites

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent Goodreads / Amazon

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The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare Goodreads / Amazon / My Review

This has always struck me as a similar read to Burial Rites in a lot of ways – a harshly judged and misunderstood outsider in a community + a super atmospheric setting.

Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn Goodreads / Amazon

Oh, you want to talk more about books with birds in the title? Okay! This is the first in a fantasy series set in a fictional Oriental setting. It’s absolutely brilliant and stands alone just fine.

The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson Goodreads / Amazon / My Review

I absolutely can’t bring up a fantasy Oriental setting without talking about this one. It’s a novella written by one of my all time favorite fantasy authors – I will always be ready to fight that Sanderson is the king of world building. Plus, this is a novella. Lots of fantastic world building compacted into less than 200 pages.

Big Boy by Ruthie Knox Goodreads / Amazon / My Review

Speaking of wonderful and complex novellas – this is a contemporary romance with trains, family drama…and enough chemistry to start a fire.

Calico Palace by Gwen Bristow Goodreads / Amazon

Drama, chemistry…trains? How about Calico Palace, one of my favorite novels set during one of my favorite settings – San Francisco during the Gold Rush.

Ride the Wind by Lucia St. Clair Robson Goodreads / Amazon

Talking about my favorite historical periods always brings me local – this is a fictionalized account of a true story about a young girl who was kidnapped in 1836 by the Comanche Indians. She grew up and ended up raising her own family as one of them before being discovered and more or less forced away from them. Really fascinating and heartbreaking story.

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Top Ten Unique Reads

This week’s prompt at The Broke & the Bookish is top ten unique reads. These books are prettyvaried, but I definitely consider them all unique in one way or another! Putting this list together wasn’t nearly as difficult as I thought it would be at first.

unique reads

1. All Men of Genius by Lev AC Rosen Goodreads / Amazon / My Review

If has to be one of the most unique books I’ve ever read. I love it so much, and every time I think about how underrated it is I get a little sad. More people should be picking this up! A steampunk mashup of The Importance of Being Earnest and Twelfth Night? COME ON! The setting, characters, plot and romance are all fantastic. Read it read it read it.

2. Night Film by Marisha Pessl Goodreads / Amazon

I finally got around to this one at the beginning of the year, and it is definitely going to make an appearance on my best of 2014 list at the end of the year. This book is SO WEIRD and creepy and fascinating. You have totally never seen characters like these. Nope. A reclusive, mysterious horror film director + a desperate reporter equals one heck of a story.

3. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater Goodreads / Amazon / My Review

Deadly water horses, you guys! So original and wonderful. The beautiful writing and setting in this one completely wrapped me up into the story.

4. The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman Goodreads / Amazon

A Holocaust graphic novel using cats and mice, and the first graphic novel I ever read.

5. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern Goodreads / Amazon / My Review

Like The Scorpio Races, this one is unique because of the rich, vivid setting. The creepily beautiful circus depicted here is miles away from the craptastic carnival that hits my hometown every year, that’s for sure.

6. Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut Goodreads / Amazon

I’m pretty proud of myself for finally reading my first Vonnegut this year – and I’ve read several since then. This one hooked me because of how awesomely weird it is. Drawings of assholes, Vonnegut describing how he is writing himself into the story so he can talk to his fictional main characters…sigh. Mind blown.

7. The First Man in Rome by Colleen McCullough Goodreads / Amazon

This one is definitely unique in a different way than the rest of the books on this list. It is a 1000+ page chunkster set in Ancient Rome with a massive glossary, but it’s technically not non-fiction! It kinda straddles the line in a really awesome way.

8. Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey Goodreads / Amazon

I usually roll my eyes when I see what books adults think their children shouldn’t be reading. But uh, yeah. This one is probably for the grown ups. Great worldbuilding (and I mean GREAT) meets really intriguing characters and politics and religion and…BDSM. And sex. and BDSM. But mostly in a calculating, businessy way – this isn’t gratuitous porn by any means, but it is graphic. It’s also pretty awesome, and I recommend it a lot to fantasy fans.

9. Chime by Franny Billingsley Goodreads / Amazon / My Review

Super bewitching and eerie narrators for this win! This book is hard to describe, but if you love swamps and quirky, odd, sad, scary witchy things…you should be reading this! Definitely another underrated read.

10. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch Goodreads / Amazon

Ever since reading this in 2009, I have recommended it to about a million people. Prepare to meet the most sarcastic and hilarious band of thieves ever created in an incredibly complex and interesting world.

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My Oklahoma TBR

I really love reading books set in (or near) my home state! Especially if they are in rural areas like where I grew up. I recently rounded up a few titles I have on hand that I hope to read over the course of the next few months. To the best of my knowledge, they’re all at least mostly set in the great state of Oklahoma!

Oklahoma TBR

The Past Never Ends by Jackson Burnett Goodreads / Amazon

Not a lot of people have reviewed this on Goodreads, but the synopsis sounds really interesting. Plus – it’s only $2.99 on Amazon! It sounds like a murder mystery that tries to explore the notions of justice and unjustice as they apply to the sex trade.

Hope Ignites by Jaci Burton Goodreads / Amazon

This is the second in a romance series set in a fictional small town near Tulsa, OK. I enjoyed the first book of the series, and this one features a ranch owner. Yes please! I grew up in a family full of farmers and ranchers, so this will definitely be up my alley.

Paradise by Toni Morrison Goodreads / Amazon

So far, the only Morrison I’ve read is Sula – and I enjoyed it! I picked this one to read next based solely on the setting.

The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan Goodreads / Amazon

This is a nonfic that covers the Depression. My parents both speak highly of the documentary, so I’m looking forward to diving into the book.

The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp Goodreads / Amazon

This didn’t enter my radar until the movie was announced, and I don’t know a lot about it – just that it’s a young adult that starts with a guy waking up on a random front lawn. Intriguing, no?

Cimarron by Edna Ferber Goodreads / Amazon

I have an omnibus of three of Edna Ferber’s novels – two of her more famous books and this one. It actually sounds pretty awesome, too! A woman ends up in the Oklahoma Territory in the late 19th century. Her brilliant business sense eventually leads her to Congress and the forefront of the debates about the treatment of Indians.

The Innocent Man by John Grisham Goodreads / Amazon

Until I came across this, I didn’t realize Grisham ever wrote true crime. This covers a 1982 murder in Ada, OK and the mismanagement of evidence that led to a possibly erroneous trial.

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Do you guys have a thing for reading books set near where you’re from as well?

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Top Ten Influential Reads

I thought this week’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt at The Broke and the Bookish fit pretty well with the BookTube Influential Books Tag – so I did both! Feel free to check out the vlog version if you so desire.

ten influential books

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling Goodreads / Amazon / My Review

I mean, really. This series is everything.

Meet Felicity by Valerie Tripp Goodreads / Amazon / My Review

This series was an obsession of mine as a kid – we even took a family trip to Williamsburg! I absolutely adored everything about all these stories – 1776ish Virginia was a favorite setting of mine for many years thanks to Felicity.

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins Goodreads / Amazon

One of the first classics I actually read for fun once I grew out of the Great Illustrated Classics phase. I kinda wanted to be one of those snooty people, nose high, that could say ‘Yes, of course I read classics for fun!’ Then I picked this up, read it, and was too busy moving straight on to The Moonstone (also by Collins) to worry about anything else.

Kristy’s Great Idea by Ann M. Martin Goodreads / Amazon

The obsession I had with these books isn’t even funny! I read and owned literally hundreds of them – pretty sure they’re still boxed up in my parents’ garage. I can, to this day, still name all the characters and details about their personalities.

And Only To Deceive by Tasha Alexander Goodreads / Amazon /My Review

Historical mysteries are a favorite genre of mine, and it all started here. Also, I’ve picked these up to reread during more than one difficult time in my life because I find something extremely comforting about the characters.

The Stand by Stephen King Goodreads / Amazon

Reading this began both my interest in dystopian lit and in Stephen King himself. It also taught me a lot about characterization and what it really takes to be able to create great ones.

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery Goodreads /Amazon / My Review

Anne and Gilbert were two of my first book loves, and I can’t imagine how I could have survived childhood without my manymanymany binge watches of the amazing miniseries.

Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie Goodreads / Amazon / My Review

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – this is pretty much my book BFF. I’ve read it numerous times over the last decade, and it never fails to make my laugh/scream/cry in all the best ways. The characters and plot both resonate with me a lot.

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell Goodreads / Amazon / My Review

My all time favorite classic, and one of the first books I picked up based solely on a recommendation from a Goodreads friend. When I joined GR in 2008, my life changed a LOT, and this book kinda represents all that to me. Also, my feelings for this book are tied up with the miniseries. So, Richard Armitage.

The First Man in Rome by Colleen McCullough Goodreads / Amazon

I’ve never been prouder of a reading experience – this 1000 page chunkster kinda straddles the fiction/non-fiction line. It’s set in Ancient Rome and it is an extremely difficult and time consuming undertaking. But man, SO WORTH EVERY SECOND. There is a crazy huge 300 page glossary that you have to flip to constantly, and connecting with all of that as much as I did? Yeah, it was awesome.

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