Most of my free time is spent on fangirling, reading or writing–necessarily in that order. Fangirling pretty much takes up the majority of the pie but reading comes real close too. So you must know that I have read a lot of books in my entire existence. I challenged myself to try and read all types of genres but I unfortunately have no backbone to read a paranormal-slash-horror book. Not my cup of tea.
Anyways, there are a ton of books I enjoyed immensely and I would like to share them so here is the list of my Top 5 reads:
1. My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Genre: Young-Adult, Romance
“One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all,
was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.”
I know, I know. It’s such a cliche but can you blame me? Huntley Fitzpatrick created a perfect book that’s exactly my taste. I gobbled this masterpiece page by page and every single minute reading it was bliss. There was not one element in the story that I didn’t like. The heroine was kick-ass likeable, the hero was very much swoon-worthy and the Garrets are just pure love (especially George). The development of Jace and Samantha’s relationship was realistic and I really enjoyed all their interactions. It was very sweet and refreshing.
I figure most people won’t bother to even pick up this book to read the blurb because the cover pretty much screams “young-adult” but I got to recommend this one. Give it a chance. It’s not the typical teenage drama where girl clumsily bumps into boy and then they fall in love. Nuh-uh. Their first meeting was so out of the books and original I had to give the author a thumbs up. Also, the book tackles not only relationships but family problems as well.
If you’re looking for a book with just the right amount of fluff, angst and drama, then this is the book for you!
Book blurb: My Life Next Door
The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, numerous, messy, affectionate. And every day from her balcony perch, seventeen-year-old Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them…until one summer evening Jase Garrett climbs her trellis and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love and stumble through the awkwardness and awesomeness of first romance, Jase’s family makes Samantha one of their own—even as she keeps him a secret from her disapproving mother and critical best friend. Then the unthinkable happens, and the bottom drops out of Samantha’s world. She’s suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?
A debut novel about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another.
2. Making Faces by Amy Harmon
Genre: New Adult, Romance
“If God makes all our faces, did he laugh when he made me?”
If there was a book that made my emotions stir and my brain ponder life altering thoughts, this was it. ‘Making Faces’ was so thought provoking and beautiful that I know I wouldn’t ever forget this story. I wouldn’t lie. This made me cry. The absolute beauty of the people in this book was so inspiring.
This is not your typical romance book. In fact, romance seemed to be a secondary element in this story. I think what the author truly wanted to inculcate to her readers was the development of one’s character. The heroine in this book was not considered pretty which was a rarity now in contemporary books if you ask me. Her best friend was not another girl who’s usually more outgoing than her but rather a crippled guy who happens to be a genius. Their friendship was so beautifully crafted and I truly felt that wow, how lucky for them to have each other. Friendships like that are very rare and to be honest, in my circle of friends, I do not know one like them.
The hero was your typical town golden boy–adored by everyone; belonged to the popular bunch. He was the exact opposite of the heroine. But in a really amazing happenstance, their paths cross and it didn’t just intersect, it merged. Together, they were perfect, but alone, they were a disaster. I know people have differing opinions about lovers ‘completing each other’ but I believe that there are those people who need others to feel ‘whole’ again and I think that Ambrose and Fern are just that.
This book was about the power and beauty of love, friendship and family amidst all chaos. Read it and you might just end up quoting Shakespearean life analogies by the minute you finish it. Haha.
Book blurb: Making Faces
Ambrose Young was beautiful. He was tall and muscular, with hair that touched his shoulders and eyes that burned right through you. The kind of beautiful that graced the covers of romance novels, and Fern Taylor would know. She’d been reading them since she was thirteen. But maybe because he was so beautiful he was never someone Fern thought she could have…until he wasn’t beautiful anymore.
Making Faces is the story of a small town where five young men go off to war, and only one comes back. It is the story of loss. Collective loss, individual loss, loss of beauty, loss of life, loss of identity. It is the tale of one girl’s love for a broken boy, and a wounded warrior’s love for an unremarkable girl. This is a story of friendship that overcomes heartache, heroism that defies the common definitions, and a modern tale of Beauty and the Beast, where we discover that there is a little beauty and a little beast in all of us.
3. A Different Blue by Amy Harmon
Genre: New Adult, Romance
“Once upon a time
there was a little blackbird,
pushed from the nest.
You must probably realize by now that Amy Harmon is one of my favorite authors because yes, my Top 3 is another book from her. ‘A Different Blue’ is so much like ‘Making Faces’ with the only difference being the female lead as the center of the story. Amy Harmon’s books have that one staple element: damaged hero/heroine.
This time, the lead is a female who journeys into self-discovery. Of course, she meets a guy who helps her do just that but really, there was little romance in this one compared to ‘Making Faces’. The author made sure that the book tackled all of the heroine’s demons and dealt with it which resulted to a roller coaster of emotions. I liked that the heroine and the hero’s relationship started from being friends until they realized that they love each other more than that. I also realized that people who are broken do not need a lover but a friend more than anything else.
The characters in this book stood out in their own way. For example, the heroine didn’t really have friends that’s why she always felt alone despite having casual acquaintances around her. Hence, her difficulties dealing with life. She had no one to lean on to. Eventually, those casual acquaintances she had were taken from her by circumstances that she didn’t see coming (not by death by the way).
The book also showed how good people can become evil and how bad people can change for the better. It’s all about protecting their loved ones or finally deciding to reward themselves a better life. Either way, Amy Harmon showed how one fatal action can result to a multitude of unwanted consequences.
I find this book a little sensitive because it discusses sex, drugs and all those teenage drama but I still give it 4 stars because it is enlightening and inspiring. Nothing beats a good book with a happy ending.
Book blurb: A Different Blue
Blue Echohawk doesn’t know who she is. She doesn’t know her real name or when she was born. Abandoned at two and raised by a drifter, she didn’t attend school until she was ten years old. At nineteen, when most kids her age are attending college or moving on with life, she is just a senior in high school. With no mother, no father, no faith, and no future, Blue Echohawk is a difficult student, to say the least. Tough, hard and overtly sexy, she is the complete opposite of the young British teacher who decides he is up for the challenge, and takes the troublemaker under his wing.
This is the story of a nobody who becomes somebody. It is the story of an unlikely friendship, where hope fosters healing and redemption becomes love. But falling in love can be hard when you don’t know who you are. Falling in love with someone who knows exactly who they are and exactly why they can’t love you back might be impossible.
4. Flat-out Love by Jessica Park
Genre: Young Adult, Romance
“I want the guy. The everything guy. Not the dumb Prince Charming, nauseatingly-perfect-everything guy.
That’s pathetic. I want the flaws-and-all, everything guy.”
The first reason I loved this book was because the male lead was not your typical romance hero with bulging muscles, tan skin and golden blonde hair. Nope. Matt, the hero, was a very funny guy with an IQ that matched that of Mark Zuckerberg’s. He was not built like a greek god but a computer geek instead. I must tell you though. I am a sucker for smart and funny guys so Matt is my perfect book boyfriend! (Haha.)
Flat-out love was a beautiful read. It’s about a family struggling to continue on after a huge tragedy that of course shook their very foundation. Then, the heroine comes in, cool, beautiful and amazingly smart, Julie manages to squeeze into their emotions until they finally realize that their family needed fixing. But know that Julie was only the ignition. The rest was all up to the family to work out their demons and live like a normal American family again.
Matt’s family was dysfunctional. And when I say dysfunctional, it really was. Finn was the MIA oldest brother, Matt was the geek middle child, Celeste was the weird sister with parents who are constantly out of the house. Celeste was the one who had so much trouble coping up with the family’s problem (ugh, sorry I don’t want to give spoilers!) so she was very aloof thus made her the school’s alienated student. She had no friends. The parents seemed to be trying to escape the responsibility so that left Matt to the job. He tried so hard to put back the family together but of course it was futile if the participants weren’t cooperating. That was when Julie entered their life. They were acting like everything was fine and normal at least until Julie pointed out all their flaws.
Again, just like ‘My Life Next Door’, this book was not your typical young adult romance with teenagers and raging hormones. This book was about slowly accepting reality, letting go of the past and finally moving on.
I also wanted to share how I felt bad for Matt. he was the one who got burned the most. As if it was not enough that the family seem so hung up to that one person he wanted to become or replace, the girl he loves was also starry eyed for the phantom he created. It was like receiving a love indirectly. Behind the mask, it was him but the girl was thinking another. You’d understand me once you read it.
This book was emotional but the end was worth it. This has a book 2 by the way. The second installment was about Celeste, the youngest child, now all grown up and a senior in high school. I can’t wait to read it.
Book blurb: Flat-out Love
Flat-Out Love is a warm and witty novel of family love and dysfunction, deep heartache and raw vulnerability, with a bit of mystery and one whopping, knock-you-to-your-knees romance.
It’s not what you know–or when you see–that matters. It’s about a journey.
Something is seriously off in the Watkins home. And Julie Seagle, college freshman, small-town Ohio transplant, and the newest resident of this Boston house, is determined to get to the bottom of it. When Julie’s off-campus housing falls through, her mother’s old college roommate, Erin Watkins, invites her to move in. The parents, Erin and Roger, are welcoming, but emotionally distant and academically driven to eccentric extremes. The middle child, Matt, is an MIT tech geek with a sweet side … and the social skills of a spool of USB cable. The youngest, Celeste, is a frighteningly bright but freakishly fastidious 13-year-old who hauls around a life-sized cardboard cutout of her oldest brother almost everywhere she goes.
And there’s that oldest brother, Finn: funny, gorgeous, smart, sensitive, almost emotionally available. Geographically? Definitely unavailable. That’s because Finn is traveling the world and surfacing only for random Facebook chats, e-mails, and status updates. Before long, through late-night exchanges of disembodied text, he begins to stir something tender and silly and maybe even a little bit sexy in Julie’s suddenly lonesome soul.
To Julie, the emotionally scrambled members of the Watkins family add up to something that … well … doesn’t quite add up. Not until she forces a buried secret to the surface, eliciting a dramatic confrontation that threatens to tear the fragile Watkins family apart, does she get her answer.
5. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Genre: Young adult, Romance
“For the two of us, home isn’t a place. It is a person. And we are finally home.”
This book was kinda old, published in 2010, but hey, I loved it to bits that’s why I’m sharing it still. ‘Anna and the French Kiss’ was the cutest book ever! Set in Paris France, the hero bearing a sexy English accent–not to mention he was also hella funny–this book will definitely make you swoon. Perfect read for the summer. It’s light and fluffy, it’s your typical teenage chick lit all the way–minus the raging hormones. I also realize that most readers steer clear of YA novels because let’s face it, we old people are not made for appreciating young love anymore but I love reading a good YA so yeah, bummer. I’m only 21 so I guess I’m still allowed to enjoy it right? (:D)
The story mostly delved around building friendships and relationships. Anna was new in town (Paris) so she had troubles adjusting to the custom of living a luxurious life and people were speaking in French so she was mostly confused. Of course at first, she hated the move but eventually fell in love with it to the point that she felt more home in Paris than in Atlanta.
Now the problem lies when the boy she has major crush on has a girlfriend (who is away for college) and it doesn’t help that the boy keeps on sticking to her. See this book doesn’t really have a very much complicated plot. It’s just about two people finding out that they are each other’s soulmate while the guy was in a relationship with another girl. There was no cheating of some sorts, don’t worry. The hero and the heroine were decent enough not to jump into the fire. But–there’s a but, Anna’s other friend also has a major crush on the English boy. Uh oh. And the thing is, the friend had first dibs on the English boy even before Anna came and even before English boy had a girlfriend but she was unfortunately–friendzoned. This, she doesn’t accept or realize so she still pines for him from afar until she caught Anna and English boy kissing then bam–their frienship falls apart.
Some people say this book was about teenagers having first world problems but what’s wrong with that? This was a nice, cute read and I definitely would read it again. Anna and Etienne’s (the English boy) relationship was so ideal and beautiful and hello–they found each other in the city of love so that’s 100 points for you already.
You can’t go wrong with a Stephanie Perkins book. It’s full of love, fluff and fun. ‘Anna and the French Kiss’ was my favorite book from her so far. It’s a sweet read with a very nice character development. If you need some spirit boosting, this is the book for you. It’ll also help you brush up your history knowledge, mostly French, so really, this book is gold.
Some cute scenes from ‘Anna and the French Kiss’:
“Oh my. He’s English.
“Er. Does Mer live here?”
Seriously, I don’t know any American girl who can resist an English accent.
The boy clears his throat. “Meredith Chevalier? Tall girl? Big, curly hair?” Then he looks at me like I’m crazy or half deaf, like my Nana Oliphant. Nanna just smiles and shakes her head whenever I ask, “What kind of salad dressing would you like?” or “Where did you put Granddad’s false teeth?”
“I’m sorry.” He takes the smallest step away from me. “You were going to bed.”
“Yes! Meredith lives here. I’ve just spent two hours with her.” I announce this proudly like my little brother, Seany, whenever he finds something disgusting in the yard. “I’m Anna! I’m new here!” Oh, [Gosh]. What. Is with. The scary enthusiasm? My cheeks catch fire, and it’s all so humiliating.
The beautiful boy gives an amused grin. His teeth are lovely – straight on top and crooked on the bottom, with a touch of overbite. I’m a sucker for smiles like this, due to my own lack of orthodontia. I have a gap between my front teeth the size of a raisin.
“Étienne,” he says. “I live one floor up.”
“I live here.” I point dumbly at my room while my mind whirs: French name, English accent, American school. Anna confused.
He raps twice on Meredith’s door. “Well. I’ll see you around then, Anna.”
Eh-t-yen says my name like this: Ah-na.”
Book blurb: Anna and the French Kiss
Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris–until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all…including a serious girlfriend.
But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?
So there. 5 totally amazing books that will rock your brains. Haha. If you have questions, feel free to ask me below. And if you have read those books listed above, you can also share your insights with me. It’s always fun to exchange ideas about books. And before I forget, these books may fall under the romance category but all of these are clean of steamy scenes. I know there are people who prefer wholesome books so I carefully selected all the books that I put in this list. Have fun and have a great day! 🙂