Lucy's post on her absolute favorite books got me thinking about mine... So here they are in no particular order! I would recommend these books to absolutely anyone. 
(And may have already pushed them into people's hands on far too many occasions.)


Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

This book is one of the best mysteries I have ever read, complete with plenty of red herrings, suspense, and 'did not see that coming' moments. Make sure to read it now as the movie will be out in a couple of weeks!!





We Were Liars by E. Lockhart 

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.

The truth.

This book is absolutely haunting. Between it's lilting prose and shifting truths, it will stay with you long after you close the last page. 






The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan 

basis, n.

There has to be a moment at the beginning when you wonder whether you’re in love with the person or in love with the feeling of love itself.

If the moment doesn’t pass, that’s it—you’re done. And if the moment does pass, it never goes that far. It stands in the distance, ready for whenever you want it back. Sometimes it’s even there when you thought you were searching for something else, like an escape route, or your lover’s face.


Anyone who has ever been in love will appreciate the descriptions of something completely indescribable through ordinary words. 





Feed by Mira Grant 

The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beat the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop. The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED.

Now, twenty years after the Rising, Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives-the dark conspiracy behind the infected. The truth will out, even if it kills them.


FEED is the electrifying and critically acclaimed novel of a world a half-step from our own---a novel of geeks, zombies, politics and social media.

Zombies and bloggers. It doesn't get much better than this. 




Hideous Love: The Story of the Girl Who Wrote Frankenstien by Stephanie Hemphill 

An all-consuming love affair with famed poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, a family torn apart by scandal, a young author on the brink of greatness: Hideous Love is the story of the mastermind behind one of the most iconic figures in all of literature, a monster constructed out of dead bodies and brought to life by the tragic Dr. Frankenstein.


This luminous verse novel reveals how Mary Shelley became one of the most celebrated authors in history.

Always a sucker for free verse novels, this one is both wonderfully written and about a wonderful writer. Sometimes, history is more interesting that any stories we could imagine. 




All of the book summaries and cover pictures come from the amazon. I mean absolutely no copyright infringement and use all, with proper credit given, under fair use policies. 




            Hello again, readers! As I promised last week, here is the list of my five least favorite books I’ve ever read. Now, unlike my first list, this one is difficult. Not because I haven’t read any bad books, but because I am incredibly forgiving towards the fault of any book I pick up. I usually class how good/bad a book based on how easily I can pick it back up and start reading from a random point. The books below, I realized that I have never even considered reading them again, either for the bad taste left in my mouth, or the drooping accrued in my eyes after reading some amount. To start with, #5 is a book that, while not individually bad, can’t stand up to its peers.

#5- Shades of Earth by Beth Revis

            Shades of Earth is the final book of the Across the Universe trilogy, which also consists of a first book by the same name and A Million Suns. I put this book here not because it is splendidly awful, but because it was a disappointing end to what was a wonderful series otherwise. The story centers around two characters, Amy and Elder, as they live on the generational ship Godspeed on its destination to Alpha Centauri.  While Elder is the offspring of crew members, destined to become the new ship leader, Amy has been woken up from a cryogenic sleep, after being frozen with her parents who were important personnel for colonization. Elder’s conflict is based around his growing responsibilities, while Amy’s is based around the fact that, being on a generational ship traveling slowly towards her destination, she may never see her parents again. While Elder’s role is handled well in the final book, Amy’s- which I favored- is, by the end, is done away with in favor of drama. The antagonists as well are a drop in quality, and the trauma and death they bring is a result of not talking to the main characters, and assuming they’re dangerous. The previous enemies were unscrupulous extremists who were trying to keep the ship safe, yet still had feelings and reasons. The book, in my feeling, just didn’t provide a nice conclusion to a well-liked series of mine. But with how much I liked the originals, I guess I can’t blame anything but my own opinion on this one.

#4- Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

            This is another book which is probably just my opinion coloring my thoughts, especially because it’s a very popular work which has sold many, many copies (seriously, check its Wikipedia page, it still sells a quarter million books each year). Holden Caulfield is a troubled youth who wanders around New York for a couple days after being expelled from a preparatory school. While the book is often expressed as being a coming-of-age story for Holden, and it’s said that the book holds a strong theme of teenage conflict, I can’t understand it. The story is told in first-person, which is usually fine, but since Holden rarely observes people except to either express faults or remember anecdotes about them, the reader cannot determine whether his opinions are valid. Holden also flips opinions and thought-tracts on a whim, which means you can’t even tell if he cares about what he thinks about. The result is that you can’t tell whether he has actually grown up throughout the book, because his thought patterns follow the same paths as they did before. And these thoughts are pessimistic enough that I get a habit of not caring what he thinks, since he assumes the worst about people a lot of the time. This combines to make a slog of a book, which I don’t care to read a second time.
           
#3- Shadow Spinner by Susan Fletcher

            This is a bit of a cheat considering that this is a young adult website, and the book is one I read when I was twelve as an assignment, but it’s bad enough that I can feel it’s justified to put here. Shadow Spinner is based off of the tale of Shahrazad, who had to tell a different story to her husband, the sultan, each night so that he would delay killing her like his other wives. As she runs out of stories, she enlists the help of the protagonist, Marjan, who travels the city in search of stories. Seeing how easy it would be to make a small collection of Arabic stories that may not be known to a western audience, or to even throw a bit of historic culture in for a book that seemed made to be read as schoolwork, they managed to make the story worse by not doing any of that. Instead of several stories, like the book says, it’s the continuation of a single, dull story that Marjan must piece together by finding random people in the city, who all follow flat character types and have no memorable quirks at all. I can say this with safety because a different book that I read that same year, was able to be a silly “avoid this marriage because I’m a free spirit” story in the Middle Ages with more memorable characters. What I don’t like about this book is that if they decided to go the easier route of making it a collection of stories, it would have been much better than the choice they went with. In sixth grade, I had heard of Shahrazad before, and of course knew of Aladdin, but I didn’t have any other experience with eastern stories. This means that a book tailored to educate me tossed that aside in favor of such a dull tale that I had to find the book just to relearn the protagonist’s name. You have to be especially oblivious and stubborn to write so far off the mark.

#2- Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

            Did you know that Charles Dickens was paid per word for many of his novels, and that’s why many of them are so long? You really can’t tell with most of them, especially Oliver Twist. No, it’s really quite subtle with how much he has written.
            Yeah, I don’t like this book, and I can believe that anyone forced to read this in seventh grade or younger can agree with me. The messages are good- children shouldn’t have to be forced into labor, purity should be rewarded, and a bunch of other noble causes. But the book is dull, dull, dull. You can’t help rooting for the antagonists when they are the most interesting characters in the book by far. Though it’s not hard with the competition given. Oliver himself is such a blank slate that his only trait is that he’s an innocent child that shouldn’t be exposed to such atrocities. And like I said before, the word counts are atrocious, needlessly describing and narrating everything imaginable…
            And that’s it. That’s everything I can think of in criticism of this book. Charles Dickens got across the messages he wanted, he got paid well for it, and that’s it. My issue is that he managed to mess up the most basic points of the story in favor of giving his opinion, points like having a good protagonist, and not making your audience fall asleep by the end of each chapter with the descriptions. If you want a piece that captures the thoughts and culture of London and England in this time, you’d do better with something that both has a smaller page count and wasn’t written at the time, like The Great Train Robbery. That book manages to do everything better than Oliver Twist while also narrating a historic event, and in less words too. If you pick up Oliver Twist, I hope it is only for use as a cheap anaesthetic.

#1- The Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer

            I didn’t want to put these books as number one, I really didn’t. There are both enough die-hard fans and critics to make talk of the series online a risky move in of itself. But before I learned of all the backlash, I was picking Twilight up from my cousin, who had already worked her way through most of the series. I guess the reason that I picked up the other books was the same reason people watch a car wreck- I wanted to see if anything else interesting happens. And with this series, it didn’t. 
            Series should generally improve in writing with each new book, since authors get more practice with producing work, though with exceptions that can stem from the plot of several books being planned out in the beginning (which may have been what happened with Shades of Earth). Through the entire four-book series of long books, I could not see any improvement in characters and writing. Bella, our perfect protagonist, doesn’t change; Edward, our *sparkle* mildly creepy “soul mate,” stays the same, and goodness knows we can’t see any development in any of the more minor characters. Everyone’s pretty, even Bella, who seemed in the beginning to try to narrate herself as only mediocre in looks, but soon drops that like a hot potato because Bella, as you know, is perfect. Scenes get such flowery, delightful prose that you almost forget that you’re not reading about pieces of an art gallery. Maybe Stephanie Meyer wrote them together, maybe she got a little full of herself after Twilight turned a profit, I don’t know. But I find it hard to believe that she was unable to improve the quality of her books. There should never be a point where work you create now is consistently as bad or worse than what you’ve made before.  I had put Shades of Earth as number five on this list because while the writing was still great, it fell behind its predecessors due to its subpar plot and ending. But a series that remains subpar until the end gets no sympathy from me, because it can only be the work of an author that’s isn’t trying in their work.

          Those last ones were particularly hard to write, due to the fact I both read them a while ago and have probably bleached most memory of them from my mind. But as I said with the beginning books, all of this is my opinion, and should be treated with the proper respect (none at all, of course!). Next review is up Monday, and next Friday will be... something. I'll figure it out at some point. See you all next week!

                                                                         Title: Brutal Youth
Author: Anthony Breznican
  Pages: 416
 Publisher: St. Martin’s Press/Thomas Dunne Books
 Published: June 10, 2014        Ranking: 5/5    
      
Three freshmen must join forces to survive at a troubled, working-class Catholic high school with a student body full of bullies and zealots, and a faculty that's even worse in Anthony Breznican's Brutal Youth.

With a plunging reputation and enrollment rate, Saint Michael’s has become a crumbling dumping ground for expelled delinquents and a haven for the stridently religious when incoming freshman Peter Davidek signs up. On his first day, tensions are clearly on the rise as a picked-upon upperclassman finally snaps, unleashing a violent attack on both the students who tormented him for so long, and the corrupt, petty faculty that let it happen. But within this desperate place, Peter befriends fellow freshmen Noah Stein, a volatile classmate whose face bears the scars of a hard-fighting past, and the beautiful but lonely Lorelei Paskal - so eager to become popular, she makes only enemies. 

To even stand a chance at surviving their freshmen year, the trio must join forces as they navigate a bullying culture dominated by administrators like the once popular Ms. Bromine, their embittered guidance counselor, and Father Mercedes, the parish priest who plans to scapegoat the students as he makes off with church finances. A coming-of-age tale reversed, Brutal Youth follows these students as they discover that instead of growing older and wiser, going bad may be the only way to survive.
Not that I haven't said this a million times before on the website, but i WILL BE GRADUATING HIGH SCHOOL WAY TOO SOON. Which probably makes it to early for me to be able to shake my head at the silly antics of the high school students and say 'those darn kids....' At any rate, this book kept the pages flying as I tore through trying to figure out exactly how everyone in the school would survive the year (as I so often wonder about my class now). It is, in short, one of the best novels about schools that I have read in a long time.

Breznican's real pull for this novel is his ability to weave different characters and plotlines seemlessly together. Chapters switch between view points often, as once showing a student or a teacher or someone outside the confines of the school. This multi-threading lets you see almost every character in several different lights and through different lenses. No one ever has all the information (especially not in high school) so how the children manage to run away with rumors and live their live accordingly is fascinating, especially when you as the reader get to know the truth of what's happening with someone (o, at least some, the author manages to keep some delicious secrets guaranteed to infuriate you) 

With so many characters, you think the characterization would diminish in some way, but that is no where near the truth. Almost all of the characters and their developments arcs and crafted perfectly. You won't notice the characters on some contrived path to the end, their changes and mental shifts are so unnoticeable that by the time you have this new character, you are struck with both the wonder and appreciation for how you got there. This complexity also means you don't always know who the villains are- or who they'll be when you turn the next page. 

The book combines deliciously crafted moral ambiguity with a complex and ever-interesting plot, that will keep readers not only interested but confused as to how they would respond. Both of these things mean that if you're looking for a book to stay with you long after you close the last page, this one is it.

This book is a ARC given to me by St. Martin’s Press! While I love getting free books and am eternally grateful to the author and the publisher, all above opinions are mine and mine alone. 

Both the synopsis of the book and the picture of its cover come from the author's websiteI mean absolutely no copyright infringement and use both, with proper credit given, under fair use policies. 

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer  
Release Date: September 30, 2014

If life were fair, Jam Gallahue would still be at home in New Jersey with her sweet British boyfriend, Reeve Maxfield. She’d be watching old comedy sketches with him. She’d be kissing him in the library stacks.

She certainly wouldn’t be at The Wooden Barn, a therapeutic boarding school in rural Vermont, signed up for an exclusive, supposedly life-changing class called Special Topics in English that focuses—only and entirely—on the works of Sylvia Plath.

But life isn’t fair. Reeve has been gone for almost a year and Jam is still mourning.

When a journal-writing assignment leads Jam into a mysterious other world she and her classmates call Belzhar, she discovers a realm where the untainted past is restored, and she can feel Reeve’s arms around her once again. But, as the pages of her journal begin to fill up, Jam must to confront hidden truths and ultimately decide what she’s willing to sacrifice to reclaim her loss.

Girl on a Wire by Gwenda Bond  
Release Date: October 1, 2014

A ballerina, twirling on a wire high above the crowd. Horses, prancing like salsa dancers. Trapeze artists, flying like somersaulting falcons. And magic crackling through the air. Welcome to the Cirque American!

Sixteen-year-old Jules Maroni’s dream is to follow in her father’s footsteps as a high-wire walker. When her family is offered a prestigious role in the new Cirque American, it seems that Jules and the Amazing Maronis will finally get the spotlight they deserve. But the presence of the Flying Garcias may derail her plans. For decades, the two rival families have avoided each other as sworn enemies.

Jules ignores the drama and focuses on the wire, skyrocketing to fame as the girl in a red tutu who dances across the wire at death-defying heights. But when she discovers a peacock feather—an infamous object of bad luck—planted on her costume, Jules nearly loses her footing. She has no choice but to seek help from the unlikeliest of people: Remy Garcia, son of the Garcia clan matriarch and the best trapeze artist in the Cirque.

As more mysterious talismans believed to possess unlucky magic appear, Jules and Remy unite to find the culprit. And if they don’t figure out what’s going on soon, Jules may be the first Maroni to do the unthinkable: fall.



Death Coming Up The Hill by Chris Crowe 
Release Date: October 7, 2014

It’s 1968, and war is not foreign to seventeen-year-old Ashe. His dogmatic, racist father married his passionate peace-activist mother when she became pregnant with him, and ever since, the couple, like the situation in Vietnam, has been engaged in a “senseless war that could have been prevented.”

     When his high school history teacher dares to teach the political realities of the war, Ashe grows to better understand the situation in Vietnam, his family, and the wider world around him. But when a new crisis hits his parents’ marriage, Ashe finds himself trapped, with no options before him but to enter the fray.








All of the book summaries and cover pictures come from the amazon. I mean absolutely no copyright infringement and use all, with proper credit given, under fair use policies. 








                                                                                                                                                                                                                   TitleThe Loop 
Author: Shandy Lawson  Website|Twitter|Facebook
Pages: 208
         Publisher:  Disney-Hyperion        Published: April 30, 2013
                Ranking: 3/5              
                                                                                      Ben and Maggie have met, fallen in love, and died together countless times. Over the course of two pivotal day--both the best and worst of their lives--they struggle again and again to resist the pull of fate and the force of time itself. With each failure, they return to the beginning of their end, a wild road trip that brings them to the scene of their own murders and into the hands of the man who is destined to kill them.

As time circles back on itself, events become more deeply ingrained, more inescapable for the two kids trapped inside the loop. The closer they come to breaking out, the tighter fate's clutches seem to grip them. They devise a desperate plan to break free and survive the days ahead, but what if Ben and Maggie's only shot at not dying is surviving apart?

            Maggie and Benjamin are star-crossed lovers, brought into a cruel time loop of Fate itself- in a contrived situation that seems much better on paper than in practice. The concept of a time loop is in of itself, very interesting.  How and why are you brought into one?  What are the conditions you have to meet to get out of them? How are the repetitions decided? The idea, even, that the act of falling in love with someone- and dying with them- is dictated by such a time loop raises questions by itself. But the book dodges many of these inquiries, and as such leaves out much of the idea’s potential. The love question is never brought up between Benjamin and Maggie either- The two just roll with the fact that they are perfect for each other.
            The “loop” they find themselves in is this: After meeting for the first time in Shreveport, Louisiana, Ben and Maggie ask a man to place a bet for them at a horse race. The bet pays off well, but the man shoots them before taking the money for himself. This man, called Roy, also ends up in the loop as well, and it’s up to the couple to find to avoid their fate. All the while, the force they call Fate is trying ever harder to keep them from straying from the path that they found themselves on. The first problem ends up being that it’s never stated how they get out of the loop, though it’s implied that simply changing the events enough breaks the loop itself. In that case, it’s no certainty that surviving changes it enough, because Roy can still shoot them at the end. Fate also pressures the characters in odd ways, such as causing extreme sickness whenever they go against “her” will, and making circumstances bend to get them on the right track. But there is no established reason why this is happening to Ben and Maggie in particular, except with the mention that Maggie has been in four of these already.
            The romance especially is off. While they could have made it a very interesting situation that the two were forced into, both are ready to die for the other within hours of meeting. We hear little about why they should be together, and in fact Benjamin mentions in the narration that he doesn’t know anything about Maggie, but still feels that they should be together. What could have been a twisting, turning narrative into what impact both Fate and choice have on lives is eschewed in favor of a must less satisfying story turning a great idea into just an okay book.

--Lucy

Both the synopsis of the book and the picture of its cover come from the Amazon. I mean absolutely no copyright infringement and use both, with proper credit given, under fair use policies. 

Ever find a book you absolutely adore? Want to read another one just like it? This new feature on InkBitten is just for you!


If I Stay by Gayle Forman 

On a day that started like any other

Mia had everything: a loving family, a gorgeous, adoring boyfriend, and a bright future full of music and full of choices. Then, in an instant, almost all of that is taken from her. Caught between life and death, between a happy past and an unknowable future, Mia spends one critical day contemplating the one decision she has left—the most important decision she’ll ever make.

Simultaneously tragic and hopeful, this is a romantic, riveting and ultimately uplifting story about memory, music, living, dying, loving




Gayle Forman's If I Stay came to the big screen just last month, bringing the classic novel about love, loss, and family back into the spotlight. Just as much a tear jerker as John Green's The Fault in Our Stars, the book is a personal favorite of mine.

But what to read after this?




Before I Die by Jenny Downham

Tessa has just months to live. Fighting back against hospital visits, endless tests, and drugs with excruciating side effects, Tessa compiles a list. It’s her To Do Before I Die list. And number one is Sex. Released from the constraints
of “normal” life, Tessa tastes new experiences to make her feel alive while her failing body struggles to keep up. Tessa’s feelings, her relationships with her father and brother, her estranged mother, her best friend, and her new boyfriend, are all painfully crystallized in the precious weeks before Tessa’s time runs out.

Links: This book, like If I Stay, shows the tragedy and limbo of a life so close to death while also managing to incorporate a blossoming romance and a wonderful family. 






If He Had Been With Me by Laura Nowlin 

Throughout their whole childhood, Finny and Autumn were inseparable—they finished each other’s sentences, they knew just what to say when the other person was hurting. But one incident in middle school puts them in separate social worlds come high school, and  Autumn has always wondered what if…


The night she’s about to get the answer is also one of terrible tragedy.

Links: I'm a sucker for a novel told in flashbacks. This one, just like If I Stay gives a beautiful and in-depth look at the main characters by digging into the past. 





Loud Awake and Lost by Adele Griffin 

LOUD. There was an accident. Ember knows at least that much. She was driving. The car was totaled. She suffered back injuries and brain trauma. But she is alive. That's the only thing left she can cling to.

AWAKE. Eight months later, Ember feels broken. The pieces of her former self no longer fit together. She can't even remember the six weeks of her life leading up to the accident. Where was she going? Who was she with? And what happened during those six weeks that her friends and family won't talk about?

LOST. One by one, Ember discovers the answers to these questions, like a twisted game of dominos. And little by little, the person she used to be slips further and further away.


Links: A car crash. Something lost. An uncertain future. Both books make you wonder, 'where do we go from here?'



All of the book summaries and cover pictures come from the respective author's website (Gayle Forman, Laura Nowlin, and Adele Griffins) except for Jenny Downham, whose website I could not find (her book information/ picture come from amazon). I mean absolutely no copyright infringement and use all, with proper credit given, under fair use policies. 

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