My Favorite 2016 Releases Thus Far

Top Ten Tuesday, as  always, is hosted at my other blog — The Broke & the Bookish

This week’s topic: Top Ten Best 2016 Releases Thus Far

I’ve read quite a bit of 2016 releases and I have to say that it was REALLY easy to come up with this list because these were honestly the standouts for me with the exception of a couple others that could have easily made this list too. Some of the 2016 releases I read were lackluster for me but OH MAN these 10 were easily some of the best books I’ve read this year so far. It’s going to be SO hard to think about making a list again at the end of the year if I keep reading so many excellent books!

[Keep Reading]

Before I Blogged I Read: The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

There’s a lot of books I read before I started this blog in June of 2010 and I figured it might be fun to spotlight those! They won’t be an actual review because OMG YOU GUYS THAT WAS SO LONG AGO but I’ll just note a few things about it, if I enjoyed it and what my Goodreads rating was. So thus “Before I Blogged I Read…” was born. Because you know…I’m so original with my names for things. Check out PAST “Before I Blogged I Read” posts.



The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

(Amazon | Goodreads )
Rating: I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads
Date I Read it: October 2008

1. I was MEANT to read this book. So gather around, friends, for a little story. I was assigned to read this book in high school, looked at the cover, said GAG and managed to write an A+ report without reading it. So years pass between 2003 and I never think of that book again until my last semester in college in 2008 when I’m assigned this novel to do a HUUUUGE paper on. I had to laugh. Like, world, you must REALLY want me to read this book. So I did. And I EFFING LOVED IT. I am so glad this book wormed its way into my life because it was one of the best books I’ve ever read on so many levels. And I’m not going to lie, I wrote one of the best papers of my academic LIFE because of this book. I had so many thoughts and feelings. I had never been so excited about discussing the themes of book before. EVER.

2. This book was not at ALL what I judged it to be. I thought this was going to be JUST as war story or something. NOPE. I can’t even pin down what this book is. True, it involves war stories but it is SO MUCH MORE. It’s amazing, honestly. Thought-provoking, wonderfully written and has left this lasting impression on me the way it captures just the humanness of war and the intricacies of what it is to be human.  It was the type of book that I dog-eared the crap out of because there were just so many awesomely profound things. I hugged it, I laughed, I shouted at it and I cried. I actually want to do a re-read of it.

3. If you love truly amazing writing, you have to read this one. Seriously. The way this story was told. MAN. Makes me feel like the way I write is the equivalent of a 3 year old. It’s not just the particular way he strings together a sentence that is remarkable but it’s the way he makes you FEEL like you are there in the trenches or the emotion that exudes from the pages that grips you entirely and makes you want to weep for these men. It’s also the WAY he tells the story. The story truths and the happening truths and the always wondering what is real and not real. How it all is interconnected. It’s genius.

4. It is fiction but is also very based on the author’s own experience. Sometimes I forgot this book was fiction to be honest. I felt like I was reading someone’s very vivid and compelling accounts of the war and it really ties into his theme of truths and how sometimes story-truth is truer than happening truth. Through these interrelated stories from different angles of the war, we get glimpses of the happening truth and we feel that so devastatingly so, like sitting down with an old vet, but we get the story truth that helps us feel emotionally connected to it and to ache and feel raw alongside them.

Favorite Quotes:

A true war story is never moral. It does not instruct, nor encourage virtue, nor suggest models of proper human behavior, nor restrain men from doing the things men have always done. If a story seems moral, do not believe it. If at the end of a war story you feel uplifted, or if you feel that some small bit of rectitude has been salvaged from the larger waste, then you have been made the victim of a very old and terrible lie. There is no rectitude whatsoever. There is no virtue. As a first rule of thumb, therefore, you can tell a true war story by its absolute and uncompromising allegiance to obscenity and evil.”


“Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can’t remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story.”


 “I want you to feel what I felt. I want you to know why story-truth is truer sometimes than happening-truth.”


“He wished he could’ve explained some of this. How he had been braver than he ever thought possible, but how he had not been so brave as he wanted to be. The distinction was important.”



Have any of you read this one? Did you like it/not like it? Tell me what you thought! Was this required reading for anyone else??

Before I Blogged I Read: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

There’s a lot of books I read before I started this blog in June of 2010 and I figured it might be fun to spotlight those! They won’t be an actual review because OMG YOU GUYS THAT WAS SO LONG AGO but I’ll just note a few things about it, if I enjoyed it and what my Goodreads rating was. So thus “Before I Blogged I Read…” was born. Because you know…I’m so original with my names for things. Check out PAST “Before I Blogged I Read” posts.

the Book thief by markus zusak review

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

(Amazon | Goodreads )
Rating: I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads
Date I Read it: January 2009

1. The Book Thief is one of my all time favorite books ever. I just reread it in October with book club and it still held up for me. While there wasn’t the rawest emotion of a new read, I still felt like I was punched in the gut. This book just has everything — the writing is phenomenal, it’s unique, the characters were so important to me and it wrecked me. 5 years later and I can’t say I’ve ever read anything like this book.

2. While this book is set during a war it’s not at all a war book. I do tend to enjoy historical fiction set during WWII but this book was way more than that and it makes me sad that people might dismiss it because of that. I love that the perspective was different than so many books I’ve read before — it focused on a normal German family during this time. So often I read books where it’s the Jewish perspective and I always wonder what it was like for just your every day people who didn’t necessarily buy in to everything Hitler was about.

3. Death was a most memorable narrator. I think this is why I can’t get this book out of my head after 5 years. Personifying Death and using him as a narrator for the book? Totally risky business but it paid off for me! SO MUCH. Very unique and very effective for me.

4. It is definitely a more slow moving book but very powerful and amazing. I like slow, more quiet books personally but I’ll be real: It moves slow. It does. And it might take some people a little bit to get into it but it’s WORTH IT. The payoff is big. It’s very character driven and these characters are AMAZING. Some of my favorite characters ever and that is what makes me so nervous about seeing it translated on the big screen. WHAT IF THEY DON’T GET THESE CHARACTERS RIGHT??

Favorite Quotes:

““I am haunted by humans.”.” 

“I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn’t already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race-that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant.” 

” Rudy Steiner was scared of the book thief’s kiss. He must have longed for it so much. He must have loved her so incredibly hard. So hard that he would never ask for her lips again and would go to his grave without them.”



Have any of you read this one? Did you like it/not like it? Tell me what you thought! Are you going to see it in theaters?? Book club is going this weekend! EEEE!

Review: Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Book Title/Author: Just One Day by Gayle Forman
: Dutton Juvenile – January 2013
Genre: YA Contemporary
Series: Yes — Just One Year is out Fall 2013
Other Books From Author: If I Stay, Where She Went, Sister’s in Sanity, You Can’t Get There from Here: A Year on the Fringes of a Shrinking World

Amazon| Goodreads | @gayleforman

I received this from Penguin who was generous enough to provide me with a review copy in an exchange for an honest review. As always, this did this not sway my opinions in any way. Pinky promise!


As part of her graduation present, Allyson Healy and her best friend are spending a few weeks on tour in Europe. By taking one little risk, she ends up meeting Willem, an actor in a fun, underground Shakespeare troupe, who intrigues her with his free spirit and passion. By saying yes and taking a chance on spontaneity as Lulu, her more adventurous self, she finds herself having a life-changing day in Paris with Willem — who she discovers has disappeared without a goodbye. She returns home heartbroken and with questions about what that day meant and becomes determined to figure out who she is and escape the predictable little box she feels trapped in.

Oh Lord. Gayle Forman. You know my insane love for her books If I Stay & Where She Went so naturally this was one of my most anticipated reads for 2013. I tried to approach reading Just One Day as if it was written by somebody else because, you know, it’s hard not to fangirl automatically for your favorite author. But, alas, I could not do that because the things that make a Gayle Forman book, well, a Gayle Forman book, just crept up as I was reading. It’s the little pitter patters in my heart she is able to create or the fact that by the next page she is able to slice and dice my heart and makes it hurt so real.

Exhibit A:

It’s the amazing characters that you just want to spend more time with and care so much about (and oh my goodness — the minor characters are fab — Dee, Giant, etc). It’s the ability to make me feel every emotion so vividly. So, suffice it to say, this book was nothing short of amazing! I can’t say whether or not I liked it more/less than If I Stay/Where She Went because they make me feel something entirely different for different reasons but it is 100% what makes Gayle’s books my favorites. THIS IS ONE OF MY FAVORITES EVER!!

This story was amazing — one of the best stories of self discovery that I’ve had the pleasure of reading. I just relished in the details and the little moments that happened throughout their day and could relate as someone with an adventurous spirit. The day just sounded perfect and I think that’s what made a certain part even more excruciating.  The spark between those two was something special and magical to me. Willem, like Adam in If I Stay/Where She Went says the simplest of things that just make my heart melt.

Exhibit B (Oh my heart !)

And yes, the travel was delightful, the romance was super swoony but I really enjoyed watching Allyson figure out her way to being the self that incorporated the parts of “Lulu” that she loved after she returned from Paris. I LOVED that this wasn’t a quick transformation — it was little pieces and Gayle Forman used the utmost even pacing — and it wasn’t about finding herself for the sake of the boy though he made a lasting impression on her & still held answers for her. It was one single day, of doing something extraordinary, that helped her eyes be open to what COULD be — that she wasn’t okay with just being content and doing what was always expected. It was some of the best introspection I’ve read it a while and her journey of self discovery was one that hit home for me — a lot of things that have been weighing heavy on me lately were things that Allyson was thinking through. I have to be honest when I say it’s the type of novel that made me want to be a little more bold and say yes more often. It made me realize I’d made some right decisions that I was scared were wrong. So I really felt invested in Allyson’s journey because I really felt it — as I’m sure it will resonate with most readers in a way. I just know that personally these are some similar things I’ve been dealing with and talking about with my husband.

And the ending! Oh the ending! The Mayans better not be right because I NEED to read Just One Year!


Just One Day was one of the best books I’ve read this year and has even more secured Gayle Forman as one of my all time favorite authors. Just One Day made me feel a multitude of feelings — in the same way If I Stay/Where She Went made me! It’s everything I wanted and hoped for the moment I heard about this book — the travel was to die for, the adventures stirred up an insatiable want for my own adventure, the romance just made my heart pitter patter yet simultaneous burst out of my chest and Allyson’s story of self-discovery was honestly one I just really needed to read right now. Introspective and full of feelings, Just One Day will no doubt be another win for those previously familiar with her work and will take hostage those who’ve never had the pleasure of reading a Gayle Forman novel. Prepare your hearts, friends.


For Fans Of: Gayle Forman (obviously), amazing character development, feeling ALL OF THE FEELINGS, traveling stories, books with older protags (college aged what uppp), books that must might make you think, straight up amazing contemporary YA


Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it (I’m sure you have!!)? What did you think if you have read it? Did you feel all of the feelings???

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