So I tend to have two very different lists, and I’ve brought both of them up before… My Favorites List and my Annual Read List. Now my Favorites list usually compiles all of my favorite books. I remember going over quite a few of them in an older blog post: My Top 5 Favorite Books. But what is my Annual Reads List?
This list is reserved for my ultimate-ULTIMATE favorites! These are the ones that are just so dang good that I can’t let them sit on my shelf for too long. These are the ones that I have to read every year so I can feel ALL the things and be reminded of how much I love these stories.
So…what’s on my annual reads list?
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
I mean, c’mon guys, are you really that surprised that this one makes the top? I’ve reread this book every year since my sister gifted it, and I have no plans on stopping anytime soon. Every time I read it, it feels like I’m coming home. And every time I read it, I always gleam something new from it. And every time I read it…it still gives me a gosh-awful book hangover. At least that’s how you know a book is good. *winks*
The synopsis: “The Outsiders is about two weeks in the life of a 14-year-old boy. The novel tells the story of Ponyboy Curtis and his struggles with right and wrong in a society in which he believes that he is an outsider. According to Ponyboy, there are two kinds of people in the world: greasers and socs. A soc (short for “social”) has money, can get away with just about anything, and has an attitude longer than a limousine. A greaser, on the other hand, always lives on the outside and needs to watch his back. Ponyboy is a greaser, and he’s always been proud of it, even willing to rumble against a gang of socs for the sake of his fellow greasers–until one terrible night when his friend Johnny kills a soc. The murder gets under Ponyboy’s skin, causing his bifurcated world to crumble and teaching him that pain feels the same whether a soc or a greaser.”
Smoke and Mirrors by Me
I SWEAR this is not me being vain, haha! This book went through a lot with me — the final years of high school, getting married, and through a miscarriage. There’s a lot in this book that I really need to hear, so I try to make it a point to read it every year… Not only to see how far my writing has grown and how far I’ve come, but to remember where I started.
Synopsis: “2107. Newburgh, New York.
Winter is coming, more brutal than ever. The American people are starving and freezing to death. Meanwhile, the Jun police force continues to exert their power over everyone. They hoard food for themselves, get drunk on Elixir, and kill without mercy. The financial capital, New York City, ruled by the Chang Council, is the only refuge – but it would be suicide to make the sixty mile trek on foot during the winter.
Miriam needs to escape her past, and the walls of New York City are all that will keep it at bay.
Christina is very sick and requires the warmth and medicine New York City provides.
Penn wants the easy-going, protected life that comes with freedom from the Jun.
Calvin lost his parents to the same sickness that now grips his sister, and he can’t afford to lose someone else.
Rhianna just wants to have fun with the only family she’s ever known and is excited to go outside and experience the world.
Deric wants to save the ragtag group of orphans he calls his family, but he fears the price of the journey will be too high.
But when a tragic event happens to one of his family members, Deric decides to risk the journey to New York City in hopes that his family will finally have the safety and protection they deserve. It will be dangerous, but the group is willing to face it together.
If only their pasts would stay buried in the snow…”
Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon
This book basically paved the way for my love of bittersweet endings. This book is raw, and the chapters are short, and the love story is so realistic and gut-wrenching. I love this book with every fiber of my being, and I definitely make sure to read it every year. It’s one of those books that sticks with you no matter what, and I believe it’s one of the books that made me into the writer that I am today.
Synopsis: “My disease is as rare as it is famous. It’s a form of Severe Combined Immunodeficiency, but basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in fifteen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.
But then one day, a moving truck arrives. New next door neighbors. I look out the window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black t-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly. I want to learn everything about him, and I do. I learn that he is funny and fierce. I learn that his eyes are Atlantic Ocean-blue and that his vice is stealing silverware. I learn that when I talk to him, my whole world opens up, and I feel myself starting to change—starting to want things. To want out of my bubble. To want everything, everything the world has to offer.
Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.”
Those were my initial three, but since 2019, quite a few more have been added…
Fawkes by Nadine Brandes
This is the perfect, and I mean, quite literally, the PERFECT read for fall! One of my favorite memories of 2019 was curling up on my couch during a blustery fall day with this book and a cup of coffee or tea, happily poring over the fantastic world that Brandes created. It’s clean, so younger YA readers can enjoy. It’s overall a really phenomenal tale, and I loved being introduced to Brandes’ work in such an exquisite way.
Synopsis: “Thomas Fawkes is turning to stone, and the only cure to the Stone Plague is to join his father’s plot to assassinate the king of England.
Silent wars leave the most carnage. The wars that are never declared, but are carried out in dark alleys with masks and hidden knives. Wars where color power alters the natural rhythm of 17th century London. And when the king calls for peace, no one listens until he finally calls for death.
But what if death finds him first?
Keepers think the Igniters caused the plague. Igniters think the Keepers did. But all Thomas knows is that the Stone Plague infecting his eye is spreading. And if he doesn’t do something soon, he’ll be a lifeless statue. So when his Keeper father, Guy Fawkes, invites him to join the Gunpowder Plot—claiming it will put an end to the plague—Thomas is in.
The plan: use 36 barrels of gunpowder to blow up the Igniter King.
The problem: Doing so will destroy the family of the girl Thomas loves. But backing out of the plot will send his father and the other plotters to the gallows. To save one, Thomas will lose the other.
No matter Thomas’s choice, one thing is clear: once the decision is made and the color masks have been put on, there’s no turning back.”
The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
If you’d like to read my reviews on TLC series, you can find the posts here and here. If you don’t want to have to endure that much squealing, please just know that these books became a core love of mine, and I’m dying to read them again. These books gave me the courage to tackle a dystopian Robin Hood retelling; they’re one of the main reasons Tales of Nottingham is coming your way. Not to mention, these books are just fabulous to lose yourself in, in general. PLEASE give them a read if you haven’t already!
Synopsis of Book 1, Cinder: “Sixteen-year-old Cinder is considered a technological mistake by most of society and a burden by her stepmother. Being cyborg does have its benefits, though: Cinder’s brain interference has given her an uncanny ability to fix things (robots, hovers, her own malfunctioning parts), making her the best mechanic in New Beijing. This reputation brings Prince Kai himself to her weekly market booth, needing her to repair a broken android before the annual ball. He jokingly calls it “a matter of national security,” but Cinder suspects it’s more serious than he’s letting on.
Although eager to impress the prince, Cinder’s intentions are derailed when her younger stepsister, and only human friend, is infected with the fatal plague that’s been devastating Earth for a decade. Blaming Cinder for her daughter’s illness, Cinder’s stepmother volunteers her body for plague research, an “honor” that no one has survived.
But it doesn’t take long for the scientists to discover something unusual about their new guinea pig. Something others would kill for.”
The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater
YET ANOTHER SERIES THAT I SQUEALED TO DEATH OVER IN 2019. Check out the reviews here and here, if you want! I have had friends try to get me to read these books for ages, but something you should know about me is long series tend to scare me. I’m not saying I won’t read a book if it’s part of a long series, but I normally have to work up the dedication to stay focused to one particular series, especially since the book I read will often changed based on the mood I’m in. (Any other mood readers out there???)
BUT I didn’t even need to do that with this series, because I was hooked from the very first chapter. This series became, hands-down, one of my all-time favorite series that I’ve ever written, and I can’t wait to start them again this year.
Synopsis of book 1, The Raven Boys: “‘There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,’ Neeve said. ‘Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.’
It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.
Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.
His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.
But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.
For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.”
Wild Blue Wonder by Carlie Sorosiak
I have mentioned this before, and I will mention it again… This book is one of four or five books in the world that has ever made me cry. I simply don’t cry when I read. (Probably because I use all my tears on Disney movies…)
It’s easy to read, it’s heartfelt, it’s a book about grieving and healing and mending and finding new love and rekindling friendships after a devastating loss. I seriously cannot recommend this book enough, so please please pleaseeee go read it!
Synopsis: “There are two monsters in this story. One of them is me.
Ask anyone in Winship, Maine, and they’ll tell you the summer camp Quinn’s family owns is a magical place. Paper wishes hang from the ceiling. Blueberries grow in the dead of winter. According to local legend, a sea monster even lurks off the coast. Mostly, there’s just a feeling that something extraordinary could happen there.
Like Quinn falling in love with her best friend, Dylan.
After the accident, the magic drained from Quinn’s life. Now Dylan is gone, the camp is a lonely place, and Quinn knows it’s her fault.
But the new boy in town, Alexander, doesn’t see her as the monster she believes herself to be. As Quinn lets herself open up again, she begins to understand the truth about love, loss, and monsters—real and imagined.”
And last but certainly not least:
The Enchanted Sonata by Heather Dixon Wallwork
A friend gifted this to me for Christmas one year, and it’s a retelling of the Nutcracker and the Pied Piper combined. I’ve never read a Wallwork book before, so I was kind of nervous going in; not sure what to expect. And oh my landa, was this book EVERYTHING I wanted and more.
The book is whimsical and dark and is so full of Christmas and true love that I could just squeal looking at the book sitting on my shelf! A mostly-clean read with no language or explicit scenes (kissing is included, of course), it’s definitely a book that YA readers of all ages can enjoy.
Synopsis: “Clara Stahlbaum has her future perfectly planned: to marry the handsome pianist, Johann Kahler (ah!) and settle down to a life full of music. But all that changes on Christmas Eve, when Clara receives a mysterious and magical nutcracker.
Whisked away to his world—an enchanted empire of beautiful palaces, fickle fairies, enormous rats, and a prince—Clara must face a magician who uses music as spells…and the future she thought she wanted.
The Enchanted Sonata, a retelling of The Nutcracker Ballet with a dash of The Pied Piper, will captivate readers of all ages.”
So that’s my annual reads list, friends! Do you have any books that you like to reread year in and year out?
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