Jen’s Top 10 “How Have You NOT Read This” YA Books

It seems lately whenever I bring up one of my favorite books/series, people respond with a blank stare, a careless shrug, or, worst of all, an “I’ve never heard of it” type of comment. AHHH! So, I decided it’s time for me to give you the heads up on some books you MUST read if you haven’t.

Jen’s Top 10 “How Have You NOT Read This?” YA Books

1. Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

8490112On average, I read a book a week. AKA, I read a lot. However, no matter how many pages I turn, or how many stories I finish, Daughter of Smoke & Bone remains one of my favorites of all time. And it’s troubling how few people are even aware of it. No offense to Hunger Games  or Twilight, or even Divergent, but I wish the mass population would revere this story. Simply put, it’s awesome. Daughter of Smoke & Bone has everything a reader craves: intrigue, romance, humor, and, of course, adventure.

So go read it! And be sure to spread the word how awesome it is.

Check out my full review here!

2. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

11235712Sighhhhh…Just…God, just go read this series, okay? I can’t even begin…I can’t even tell you…AHHH! Just read it. Goooo.

Check out my full review here!

3. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

136251Believe it or not, there are still people in the world who haven’t read Harry Potter. *cue gasps* Every time I encounter one of these rare beings, they usually tell me, “Well, I tried watching the movies, but I just wasn’t into them.”

…That’s all I have to say about that.

*clears throat*


4. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

19063-1When people ask me, “What’s your favorite book?” I first glare at them, and then I tell them I don’t have a favorite (what book nerd does?). Then, when they still won’t leave me alone, I spout off a handful of memorable titles. The Book Thief is always on the list. Always. And it should be on yours!  I promise, it’s a tale you’ll never forget.

Check out my full review here!

5. Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

6050678Barking spiders! You haven’t read the Leviathan series? Are you mad? What’s not to like? A round-the-world adventure? A would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne? A commoner girl disguised as a boy? Daring deeds? Fun? AMAZINGNESS!

Hey, all you sods, I can fly and you can’t! A natural airman, in case you haven’t noticed. And in conclusion, I’d like to add that I’m a girl and you can all get stuffed!

…Hmmm, I think even I need to go read this–again. So much fun!

Check out more about Leviathan here!

6. Legend by Marie Lu

9275658Amongst all the dystopian books out there, Legend is my favorite. Think Les Miserables set in the future with a deadly virus, two badass protagonists, and lots of rip-roaring action.

In a nutshell, Legend is…

Read more about Legend here!

7. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

16101128Have you ever read a book as slow as possible? Because you’re dreading the end? Because you know when you turn that last page, the story will be over and you’ll be sad for days and days? Well, that’s how I felt while reading The 5th Wave. Although I’m not a huge fan of stories revolving around aliens, this one is both awesome and terrifying. It actually made me stop and think, “Oh crap. What if this actually happened?”

Dun, dun, dun…

I dare you to read it…Okay, forget the dare. I’m telling you to read it. Scoot, scoot.

Check out my full review here!

8. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

16068905Rainbow Rowell is officially one of my favorite authors of all time. In fact, I had a difficult time choosing which of her novels to recommend. The truth is, I recommend all of them (Fangirl, Eleanor & Park, and Attachments). Rowell is a master at character development and writing stories that have meaning and relevance. Trust me, you won’t be the same after experiencing one–or all–of her books.

Check out my full review for Fangirl here!

9. The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

7171637Adventure. Wit. Tears. Mystery. Romance…The Infernal Devices has it all! This prequel series to Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments is a MUST-READ! Especially if you’re looking for a new giddy book crush.

Oh, Will Herondale

“How rude. Many who have gazed upon me have compared it to gazing at the radiance of the sun.”

Jem still had his eyes closed. “If they mean that it gives you a headache, they aren’t wrong.”

Read more about The Infernal Devices here!

10. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

1217100I could easily list thirteen reasons why you should read this book, but I’ll only give you one: it’s life changing. So read it!

Check out my full review here!

Okay, I have about a hundred more books/series I could list, but I’ll end things here. Just take my word for it, these are books you MUST read! You won’t regret it.

What about you? What books make your “How Have You NOT Read This” YA book list?

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Book Review: Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

17237214Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan


New York Times  bestselling author David Levithan tells the based-on-true-events story of Harry and Craig, two 17-year-olds who are about to take part in a 32-hour marathon of kissing to set a new Guinness World Record—all of which is narrated by a Greek Chorus of the generation of gay men lost to AIDS.
While the two increasingly dehydrated and sleep-deprived boys are locking lips, they become a focal point in the lives of other teen boys dealing with languishing long-term relationships, coming out, navigating gender identity, and falling deeper into the digital rabbit hole of gay hookup sites—all while the kissing former couple tries to figure out their own feelings for each other.”

Jen’s Review

Moving. Mind opening. Wonderful.

Two Boys Kissing is a book that takes a controversial subject matter and casts a new, hopeful light on it. It’s a book that drives a stake of understanding, compassion and feeling into the heart of the reader. It’s a book that makes people stop and think in a different way. It’s a book that has the power to change minds–hearts–lives.

Things are not magical because they’ve been conjured for us by some outside force. They are magical because we create them.”

Two Boys Kissing is more than a story about two boys kissing. It’s a story about love. And life. And appreciating love and life. There is the sudden. There is the eventual. And in between, there is the living.” Gay or straight, we all journey through life experiencing many of the same things: joy and heartache, bravery and fear, acceptance and rejection, triumph and failure, love and hate, past and future, noise and silence, light and dark, ups and downs…We are all human. We are all alive. And we should appreciate that very basic, wondrous fact. No matter who you are, you are alive. You are here.

Now, I didn’t want this review to be a personal rant on the topic of homosexuality. We all have our own opinions on this subject, just like the characters in this book. Some of us support it. Some of us don’t. All I can say is I simply hope people will take the time to read Two Boys Kissing so they can gain perspective, and, hopefully, understanding. For me, I will say the biggest takeaway was this: Love is love, no matter what shape or form it comes in…Oh, and this has definitely become one of my personal mottos:

Your humor is your compass and your shield. You can hone it into a weapon or you can pull its strands out to make your very own cotton-candy blanket. You can’t exist on a diet of humor alone, but you can’t exist on a diet without it, either.

Jen’s Rating

4 Star

Read more about Two Boys Kissing here. 

Book Review: Just One Day by Gayle Forman

12842115Just One Day by Gayle Forman


“A breathtaking journey toward self-discovery and true love, from the author of If I Stay.
When sheltered American good girl Allyson “LuLu” Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.”

Jen’s Review

Once again, Gayle Forman delivers!

This is a book I’ve been meaning to read all year long, and I finally got around to it. Thank goodness, too! Just One Day was wonderful. It’s more than a tale about lost love. It’s about finding oneself, too. It’s about how one day can change your life–how one day can change you. Shells can be broken, fears obliterated, and personal identities transformed. You can go from being weak to strong, scared to brave, cookie cutter to unique.

We are born in one day. We die in one day. We can change in one day. And we can fall in love in one day. Anything can happen in just one day.”

The things I love about Gayle Forman’s books are they aren’t cliche, predictable or particularly easy. Fear not, when I say “easy”, I’m not referring to the actual writing. That’s simple, smooth and enjoyable. I’m referring to the actual content. Gayle Forman is a master of conflict. She knows how to weave a story in such a way that the reader is simultaneously frustrated and satisfied. You want something to happen, but then something else happens that takes you in the opposite direction. And at first you’re all angry and confused about that direction, but as the story continues down that waylaid path you realize, “Oh, this is good. Very good.”

“Then he opened it for me. Held my hand as I walked through it. And for one perfect day, I was on the other side. I was somewhere else. Someone else. And then he was gone, and I was thrown back into my little room. And now, no matter what I do, I can’t seem to find that door.

Just One Day is truly all about self-discovery. And not just for Allyson (aka, “LuLu”), but for the reader too. You’ll learn things about yourself you never knew, and question things you never questioned before. I know I did. And, more than anything, you’ll want to be “LuLu” for a day. Just one day. 🙂

“’C’est courageux d’aller dans l’inconnu’: It is courageous to go into territory unknown.”

I’m already on the waiting list at the library for Just One Day’s sequel, Just One Year. And I can’t wait to read it!

Jen’s Rating:

4 Star

Read more about Just One Day here!

Confession: I’m a fanatical fan of authors part 2

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a confession about how I’m a HUGE fan of authors. To me, they’re cooler than cool and bigger than any rockstar, movie actor or professional athlete. They’re also one of my biggest role models. As an aspiring author myself, I look up to these writers and hope to someday follow in their successful footsteps. (In case you missed it, here is my original post about this “Ah!” topic).

Yesterday, I had another “EEEEKS!” moment I had to share with you. During a mental break at work, I went on Twitter and decided to reply to a funny Tweet made by Marie Lu.

9275658And guess what? SHE REPLIED!

Screen Shot 2013-10-09 at 2.21.06 PMNeedless to say, I almost had a heart attack at my desk. Smothering my gleeful scream of “Ohmygawd”, I text a good friend who’s also a big fan of Marie Lu.

Her response: “!!!!”

Yes, my thoughts exactly.

Who knew Twitter could be such a magical place? I think I’m going to start keeping an “Ah! They Responded!” list from now on. Yeah? So far, that list contains Jay Asher, Jennifer L. Armentrout and Marie Lu.

Who’s next? 😉

Don’t forget, Champion, the finale to Marie Lu’s Legend series, is set to be released on November 5th!


Book Review: The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

3798703The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp


“This National Book Award Finalist is now a major motion picture — one of the most buzzed-about films at Sundance 2013, starring Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller.
SUTTER KEELY. HE’S the guy you want at your party. He’ll get everyone dancing. He’ ll get everyone in your parents’ pool. Okay, so he’s not exactly a shining academic star. He has no plans for college and will probably end up folding men’s shirts for a living. But there are plenty of ladies in town, and with the help of Dean Martin and Seagram’s V.O., life’s pretty fabuloso, actually.
Until the morning he wakes up on a random front lawn, and he meets Aimee. Aimee’s clueless. Aimee is a social disaster. Aimee needs help, and it’s up to the Sutterman to show Aimee a splendiferous time and then let her go forth and prosper. But Aimee’s not like other girls, and before long he’s in way over his head. For the first time in his life, he has the power to make a difference in someone else’s life—or ruin it forever.”

Jen’s Review


Sorry, sorry. I couldn’t resist.  But, really, The Spectacular Now was “fabuloso”. It lived up to all the hype of the recent media, and definitely lived up to my expectations. Author Tim Tharp infused a perfect blend of humor and drama, and created characters that were not only believable, but relatable. It’s one of those books that’s layered with hidden meanings and themes, and keeps you thinking about what those meanings and themes are the entire time. And, despite his downfalls and bad habits, you can’t help but want to experience the magic and wonder of the “Spectacular Now” with Sutter Keely, even if only for a moment.

My only complaint about this book would be the ending (don’t worry, I’m not going to spoil it for you; I despise spoilers!). I won’t say I was disappointed, per se. More like, “Hmm…”. I just can’t grasp why Tim Tharp finished Sutter Keely’s tale the way he did. However, I know there is a profound reason that’s eluding me at the moment, and I know if I went back and re-read it or discussed it with others who’ve read it, I’d get it and appreciate it. So, don’t let this part of my review scare you off from reading what was otherwise a wonderful book.

If you enjoyed YA contemporaries like Why We Broke Up, The Fault in our Stars, and The Perks of Being a Wallflowerthen chances are you’ll enjoy The Spectacular Now.

 Jen’s Rating

4 StarRead more about The Spectacular Now here.

Confession: I’m a fanatical fan of authors

Forget rockstars. Forget actors. Forget pro athletes and supermodels. Forget all the mega celebrities out there. To me, an author is the biggest superstar of them all. And when I capture one’s attention on Twitter?

You got it. I FLIP OUT! I may as well have received a high five from the Queen of England herself. Or, better yet, a smooch from Channing Tatumgrowl…

But I digress.

Let me say start out by admitting I’m new to the Twitter scene. I’ve only been on it for a couple of months now and I’m just getting the hang of it (er, sort of). When I first started following all of my favorite authors, I was too scared and/or shy to reply to their Tweets. Then I took the plunge and nervously started hitting the “Reply” and “Favorite” buttons. My expectations for a response or acknowledgment of any kind were low. Honestly, they still are. Authors are popular and busy. They can’t reply to everyone. However, I have received a few responses (as seen in the evidence below, thank you very much!).

Screen Shot 2013-09-20 at 1.28.11 PMJay Asher “Favorited” my Tweet! JAY ASHER! It’s ridiculous–and perhaps a bit juvenile–but I felt like I had won the lottery. After gleefully skipping around the house, I sat back down and saw he had responded to one of my Tweets:

Screen Shot 2013-09-20 at 1.27.59 PMCue dancing!

Nerd? Yes. Ashamed? NO!

Since that brief yet awesome exchange, my confidence has grown and I’ve started replying to author’s Tweets more often. Two weeks ago, I hit the jackpot again when Jennifer L. Armentrout responded to one of my replies to her:

Screen Shot 2013-09-20 at 1.27.40 PMOhmygawd, ohmygawd, ohmygawd…

Of course, nobody in my personal life understands these giggly, gushing, borderline fanatical responses of mine. They look at me like I’m a mysterious specimen that comes from another planet. Whatever, I don’t care! As a genuine lover of books and an aspiring author myself these Tweets are precious to me and keep me smiling for days and days.

Authors have and always will be my heroes–my role models. And I’d take them over any other celebrity on this planet. Even Channing Tatum 😉


Book Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

1217100Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher


“Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier. On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list. Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.”

Jen’s Review

I read this book two years ago, but I feel like I read it yesterday. That’s because Thirteen Reasons Why is a story that stays with you. It isn’t a happy tale–obviously–but it resonates with you, living deep inside you long after you’ve finished it.

As I read Thirteen Reasons Why, I found myself holding my breath, gripping the book, chewing my bottom lip, and fidgeting uncomfortably. I never stopped feeling. I went from sad to anxious to angry, back to sad, to confused, to frustrated…Although you already know Hannah Baker’s fateful ending from the start, you’re constantly wondering how things are going to end for the other narrator, Clay Jensen. What was his role in Hannah’s decision to end her life? What did he do to her–or not do? And how will hearing her tragic story change him? How will it change everyone who played a role in her death?

How will it change you, the reader? Many of us have never dealt with the serious topic of suicide this intimately before. But, I assure you, with every page, you’ll sense yourself evolving, your understanding on the matter deepening. You’ll feel yourself changing.

I want to shove this book into every hand of every person I know. Because Thirteen Reasons Why is more than a touching, shattering tale. It’s a lesson in life. So, here I am, shoving it into YOUR hand. Please, go pick it up and read it. You’re sure to be changed for the better. Or, at the very least, your awareness will be heightened and your sense of duty to humanity will be strengthened. I know mine is.

Jen’s Rating

5 Star

For a full synopsis, click here.