Top 15 books of 2009

2009 has been an awesome year for young adult books. I have had the pleasure of this being my first year book blogging as well. I have poured over my list of books I have read this year (around 200 in all), and my top ten quickly became a top twenty. Since all my favorites can’t be mentioned I had to stop the buck somewhere and leave some off.

In no certain order:

Cashore had a hit with me in this novel. A prequel to Graceling which I did like but not really love, Fire follows a girl through finding safety and love while dealing with her past. A father who was literally a monster and what that meant to the way she wanted to live her life. It also explains how the Graced King in Graceling came to be what he was.

I can relate so much to Ethan, oh so much. Growing up in a small town in the very southern tip of Virginia. Ethan’s town of Gatlin sounds like a big city. We had one stop light, civil war reinactments, and the sign coming into the town even says “Welcome to Saltville the salt capitol of the confedercy”. Oh the ways I can relate to a teenager who loves to read growing up in a confederate town. However Gatlin has something Saltville never could, beautiful creatures known as casters. Lena doesn’t know anything about herself but is coming to the realization that her sweet sixteen is (I can’t resist, gonna throw some southern at ya) gonna be a doozy of a birthday. Will she strive for what is right or take her fate with the dark?

First things first, I cannot gush enough about the cover of this book, it still leaves you with some room to imagine the character. While all the time drawing you to those perfect lips. Also I have to say, my husband being Dutch and ‘van’ being in my name there is a problem with this book. Any Dutch name with van in it the van will always be lowercase. It is a prelude to the last name, and unimportant part of it. Mine is van Hylckama Vlieg, and the van in van Alen should also be lower cased. Now that I have had my mini rant about proper Dutch form. Hello! The fourth installment of the Blue Bloods books by de la Cruz are amazing. I could not put this book down. I stayed up a whole night, I had to know what was going to happen next. If you didn’t read this in 09 or you haven’t picked up the series I suggest you do, vampires with a HUGE twist. Heaven Hell, Fallen Angels and Lucifer, blue and silver blood. Amazing.

Gayle Forman has a masterpiece in this one. Not the same old teenage angst novel here. The main character was completely stable in her mental state, and loved her parents and thought they were awesome. Normalcy to the max and I ate that up like strawberries and cream. It was so refreshing to have a story which turned to be pseudo heartbreaking, while also showing a strong sense of family. If I stay is not to be missed.

On this one I should probably just say “SQUEEE” and move on. I mean we have all surely read and loved the latest Suzanne Collins? Nod your head if you are with me? Catching Fire is just as if not even more amazing than it’s predecessor The Hunger Games. I didn’t want to read either of these books, I told myself they are too wildly popular you will never like them, it will just be a dissapointment and you will have to tell all your tweeps (that’s the language of cool for twitter friends) that you didn’t like it and everyone would be like 0_o at you. However I read The Hunger Games mostly do to Michelle over at and loved it. I was crying about having to wait a month for Catching Fire when Trish from Hey Lady let me borrow her awesomely pristine ARC. Please if you haven’t read it and you read nothing else from this list let it be Catching Fire.

The end to one of the most lovely series ever written. Clare wrote a trilogy so haunting, and so real it was like you could feel yourself developing battle wounds. The characters were likable and well thought out and although I would have loved for it never to end the way she sewed up even the smallest of plot made me dance for joy. If there is one thing I cannot stand its the end of a series with gaping holes that will go unanswered for eternity. Keep an eye out for a new trilogy from Clare set in Victorian England.

If you read this blog on a regular basis you will know that LJ Smith is a staple here. From The Vampire Diaries, Secret Circle, Dark Visions, and Nightworld. This series is my definitive favorite. LJ has so many fun creatures running around these books with the main focus of course being vampires. The apocalypse is nigh and there are only a few wild powers around to right the wrongs of the Nightworld residents. Sabotage is the name of the game and with the next installment we will know who wins!

I guess this is more middle grade but I just cannot get enough of Septimus Heap and his little band of misfits! This spot was a toss up between Percy Jackson and the Olympians and this, but not every one of the books I have read can make this list. Septimus always has a good sense of right and wrong and a lot of empathy for those less fortunate. The stories read fast and have a good pace. I usually cannot wait to finish the book once I am started. The books feature adorable little illustrations and maps of the lands Septimus and friends will visit.

Another Middle Grade book, again about a wizard but Bran Hambric is much more than wizardry. Bran lives in a town where magic is feared to the point of hatred and finding out he is a mage himself and how to deal with that are the focus of the books. Can Bran race against time and find out about his real parents and right the wrongs they unleashed into the world, or will Bran himself create more evil and not worry about the cost to his soul? A really great read. To the point, quick, and with little plot twists all through out the novel.

Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble was quite the little delight. A teen historical fiction focusing on the last Tsar family of Russia it was full of historical content as well as folk tales and stories from the region. Told chapter by chapter by a teen-aged boy and girl protagonists Dreaming Anastasia deals with love, magic, fate, and death in a neat little package. If you like YA fiction and you like it historical and missed this one than I suggest you running out and getting a copy to read over the holiday break.

I admit I am a little late to the game with Laurie Halse Anderson. I found her this year, with this exact book that I won from Get Glue. I have since back read her entire catalog and I cannot say enough wonderful things about this author and the issues for teens that she tackles. Constantly battling her books from being banned in libraries through out the nation. Anderson is a beam of light that sheds truth one book at a time and deserves an award for helping our children learn more about the world and themselves, rather than the fear mongering and banning she faces almost daily. The disturbingly delicious plot of Wintergirls follows two teen girls on their quest to be a true winter girl. The girl who is so skinny she is almost dead but not quite. Hovering in the borderlands. This book also gets the best book trailer of the year award from me. A powerful read.

I have this thing about zombies. I dislike them horribly. I do not like zombie movies. I thought I would not like zombie books. Watching everyone’s tweets did however make me pick up this book. I am so glad that I did. I was late in reading it and late reviewing it but it really is a must read of 2009. Don’t get me wrong, this book has major disadvantages. Their are plot holes the size of an ocean in this book but I think the next book will take care of those. If you can get over that fact the story in its own right is amazing. Growing up in a post zombie apocalyptic setting Mary really has only known one life. You do not marry for love, you marry to procreate. In kind of a communist setting, everything is given and taken away by the sisters, a fanatic religious group that keeps the town in order. No one knows what lies beyond the fence until ‘the fast one’ shows up and ruins the only life that Mary knows. She dreams of seeing the ocean but does the ocean really exist anymore?

There is one thing you may (or may not) know about me and that is I love The Grimm Brothers. So a retelling of one of their classics already has a negative vibe from me. George floored me with her telling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. She took the greatest things from the original tale and elaborated and sewed in so many beautiful and heartbreaking plots that the reader ends up in tears. The author took my negativity and turned me into an absolute fan of her retelling and made me wonder why the Grimm Brothers didn’t add so much of the creativity into their story. A fantastic read.

One of my favorite covers of the year. I love when the author and publishing company leave absolutely everything to my imagination. I really do not need you to slap faces and towns on the cover for me. Reading is my creative escapism, learn a lesson from this cover and let me be the pilot of what I envision from your words! Another post apocalyptic novel. This time however magic and faeries have ruined our planet. Again a small town who is scared of magic, and any children born with magic in their veins are immediately killed when the parents are certain. Magic is left everywhere in this world. In the bushes and grass, constantly afraid of being bled to death by an apple tree is really no way to live. The character however manages to find her way in this overly religious and over zealous community and I love her spunk and style.

Another great understatement of a cover. Oh how I loved this book. It took me through so many deep and dark twists and turns I didn’t know which way was up anymore. The love story was phenomenal and how the characters met and what they didn’t know about each other said it all. The end of the book had me a complete mess on the couch in tears wish a plague of locusts on the author when she bumps it around and has me singing her praises all over the living room. A wonderful quick paced read.

So there we have it my top 15 posts. My top adult read of this year goes to Follow Me by Joanna Scott. Some of the runner ups that got left off mostly for plot holes or just because they didn’t move me the way these did are Blood Promise, Warrior Princess to mention a couple. I hope you made it through this meandering post and that you read and liked some of the same. If you have a top books of 2009 post please link me to it on twitter or here in the comments I am curious to see the favorite reads of all of you. If you do not have a blog just write in the comments your favorite books of this year.

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Review: Thirst No. 1 by Christoper Pike

I picked this up on a whim at a bookstore, I wanted a fun read that didn’t require too much thinking while I had some family from Holland around. I started reading and as always started doing some research and this is another one of those 3 for 1 rebound and repubbed books from the 90′s that I seem to favor a lot. I loved immediately the ideas that Pike had for the book, the last of her kind Sita is 5,000 years old and has had of course quite an amazing life. Meeting Krishna and doing his will and being very religious at the same time as being a vampire who has no qualms about killing was a fun niche. However the dialogue left a lot to be desired and the characters other than Sita were half formed at best. Just when you think you are delving into something more substantial with a secondary character the door is closed in your face and you are left wondering exactly how that happened. The books flow well into one another and I will pick up Thirst No. 2 when it comes out in January to continue the story. I am interested in how everything ends.

I am not too crazy about the cover. I never really like when a person is on the cover of a book, I like to make my own decisions about the look based on the description the author gives. I think I would have imagined Sita differently if given the chance, and I think that took away a bit from my enjoyment of the book.

All in all if you love rebound 3 in 1 books, vampire stories, L.J. Smith, and fast tracked ancient past recounts then you will definitely enjoy parts of this novel. Worth picking it up for the fun value.

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Review: The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

People have recommend that I read Carrie Ryan’s” The Forest of Hands and Teeth for some time now. I was always hesitant stating the fact that I dislike zombies, and flesh eating, and rotting corpses and really anything undead that isn’t a vampire. Finally in search of a great book to read and after watching the trailer 50 times over the past few months (this book should really be a movie) I ordered the book and it came in the mail yesterday. I was immediately swept up in Mary’s story and feeling claustrophobic with her as she lived her life fenced in her small village ran by religious zealots.

Carrie Ryan created a world many generations after the zombie apocalypse (hey we all know its coming with all the wonky stuff they are doing in labs now) and what life is like for the few who survived the initial outbreak.

Author Carrie Ryan

Author Carrie Ryan

Mary’s Mother told her there was an ocean with water full of salt as far as you could see. No one else in the village save for Mary believes these tales and when Mary is forced with the decisions pressured on her by her circumstances. Who to marry, to become a sister, or to run on a new path to find the ocean she is hit with many hardships with all her choices.

I gave this 4 out of 5 stars only because I wish we would have learned more of the secrets along the way. So many things were hinted about but left open. Maybe that is resolved in the next book which seems to pick up with Mary’s daughter possibly from the description.



Coming March 2010

Gabry lives a quiet life, secure in her town next to the sea and behind the Barrier. She’s content to let her friends dream of the Dark City up the coast while she watches from the top of her lighthouse. Home is all she’s ever known, and all she needs for happiness.

But life after the Return is never safe, and there are threats even the Barrier can’t hold back.

Gabry’s mother thought she left her secrets behind in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, but like the dead in their world, secrets don’t stay buried. And now, Gabry’s world is crumbling.

One night beyond the Barrier…

One boy Gabry’s known forever and one veiled in mystery…

One reckless moment, and half of Gabry’s generation is dead, the other half imprisoned.

Gabry knows only one thing: if she is to have any hope of a future, she must face the forest of her mother’s past.

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Review: The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

To be quite honest I had never heard of this book until I saw the trailer linked from Twitter in reference to the moving coming out next month. After watching the trailer I said to myself “wow that had to have been a book first”, a little tiny search on Yahoo brought up a plethora of results and I am happy to say that Sebold’s book is the second I purchased on my Sony Pocket Reader. I tore through this book in a day, staying up into the night to finish it. It brought me out of my funk of not reading after having the baby and put me back on track. I am so happy to have read the book before watching the movie.

The story follows fourteen year old Susie Salmon from her after life as she deals with her rape and brutal murder. She resents being killed and wishes her murder to be brought to justice. She also wishes to relive her first kiss and have many more, she wishes of course to have grown up. We watch her family crumble under the pressure of having a child murdered, her school friends grow up without her. How everything evolves except for Susie who is stuck just watching waiting for her murder to be captured.

This is a lovely story that will keep you on the edge of your seat, and will also make sure you lose some sleep due to the fact you cannot put the book down. Don’t watch the film without buying a copy first!

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Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Thirteen Reasons Why follows Clay who is listening to outdated tapes from a suicide victim he went to school with. The girl Hannah who made these tapes sent the box to the first person who she wanted to listen and then committed suicide. I really wanted to like this book because so many reviews and people I spoke with did but I couldn’t help the fact that I couldn’t stand any of the characters. Clay for being too wussy to talk to Hannah, and Hannah for blaming everyone else for her problems. Things that shouldn’t have happened and that were not great in her life, but also things she set herself up for, even on purpose towards the end. The book never said how Hannah ended her life but there was a lot of speculation. A lot of girls deal with worse things than Hannah in high school and live productive normal lives, I guess I just expected if this girl was going to end her life and be dramatic by sending tapes to everyone on the list that something life changing might have happened. I am the first to love the books that deal with tough issues for teens. Wintergirls from Laurie Halse Anderson is one of my favorite reads of the year. She however makes the situation grave enough so that these are extreme cases. This book gives the air of “Oh so that was a tough year in school it sucked, kill yourself and do something really cool while you do that!” Hannah blames her counselor for not running after her, why did she leave if she truly wanted help? I found Hannah’s reasoning annoying and her reasons not good enough. This being said, the writing style is amazing and I love the different fonts for when Hannah is talking and Clay is talking or thinking. If you like Wintergirls or Speak then you may want to pick this up.

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