Friday, April 19, 2013

Book Honor Roll

Here is a list of the books that have stayed with us well past reading them. The ones that we recommend to my friends over and over again. They are in no particular order. Each story holds a special place in our hearts, for very different reasons.  As we find new books that we feel are worthy of this list we will update this post.  For now, here are our favorite reads!

Danielle's Picks

They Cage the Animals at Night by Jennings Michael Birch

They Cage the Animals at Night was my first book true love!  I read it for the first time in sixth grade when we had to do a book report on an autobiography.  It was my first late night marathon read, I could NOT put it down.  It was also the first book to make me cry.  I have now read this countless times and no matter what it always gets to me!

This is the story of an eight-year-old boy named Jennings and his time in foster care due to his mother's ailing health.

The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer

I won't lie, the first time I tried to read The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer I got half way though chapter one and gave up on it.  I just wasn't in the right place for it.  I had never read anything paranormal before, I had not seen any of the movies, and frankly, I just wasn't in a place in my life where reading was a priority.  A few years ago I had to have my gallbladder removed the day AFTER a hurricane came through my town so I came home from the hospital to no power for 4 days.  My niece had been bugging me to read Twilight I was bored, painfully bored, had no power and was pretty much on bed rest.  I saw Twilight sitting all sad and lonely on my bookshelf and decided to give it another try.  By the time I had power back I had read all 4 books AND had all the DVDs that were available waiting by the TV to be watched.

I fell in love with the romance... once I got past Edward's creepy stalker ways.  (I have to say though, after reading what has been put out there of Midnight Sun I don't find them all that creepy anymore)  The whole true love that can conquer all theme is one I really enjoy and Twilight has it in spades.  I also think that is why my favorite book in the series is Eclipse.  I love how Edward and Bella's relationship grows in that book!  I was NEVER EVER on Team Jacob, sorry, from his introduction in Twilight I never saw it happening I just knew Jacob and Bella's connection was different and not love.

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

Oh Harry, how do I love thee!  I became a Harry Potter fan really late in the game.  The first movie was on TV one day and I happened to catch it.  I loved the movie so much I had to read the book, and every other book that was out before I would allow myself to watch the next movie.  I actually remember calling out sick from work to read Half Blood Prince and Goblet of Fire because I could not put them down (if your reading this sorry Kathy, but you gave me the books!).

This series for me was all about the bonds of friendship and doing the right thing even when its not easy.   Harry, Ron and Hermione share a connection and a loyalty that I really haven't seen in other books.  Things between them are innocent enough in the beginning  but you really get to see them grow up over their seven years at Hogwarts.  Because this series takes place over such a long time frame I felt that you could really see the characters grow and mature and become the best versions of themselves.  I mean, middle school/high school isn't hard enough without an evil wizard out to kill you, right?

The alternate reality within our own reality was another huge draw for me.  Could it be that Hogwarts really does exist out there beyond what us muggles are willing to believe (outside of Universal Studios that is!).  The pure fantasy of this series is done so well I truly felt immersed in the world.  I cannot wait to share this one with my daughter.

Slammed Series by Colleen Hoover

Will Cooper is one of the most butterflyingly awesome book boyfriends out there!  He is sweet, sensitive, caring, responsible, and self motivated to boot!  He constantly steps up to the plate to take on life's challenges and leads Lake (Layken) gently though her own all while denying himself of the one thing he truly wants.  Totally swoon worthy.  There is a whole lot to the story of Will and Lake from carving pumpkins, dinner time suck and sweets, special stars with all the answers, and why I said  Will is "butterflyingly" anything.  However, if I tell you any of it it will ruin the whole butterflying story!  So I won't.  Just know that I was in love with Will so quickly my head was spinning, and my heart was broken into a million pieces over and over again for both Will and Lake only to be put back together just a little bit to be broken all over again.

Just do yourself a favor and trust me, pick up Slammed; you'll learn a thing or two about the Avett Brothers and slam poetry all the while falling hard for an amazing guy.  I cannot wait book three of this series; This Girl, due out on April 30, 2013 and told from Will's POV, go head pre-order it, you know you want to!

Hopeless by Colleen Hoover

I really have no clue how she does it, but Colleen Hoover writes a story so amazing and gut wrenching; where things happen you couldn't possibly imagine in a way that you just can't talk about without ruining that coveted "first read" experience.

Hopeless is a story about first love, dark pasts and healing.  Sky's story about more than "boy meets girl, they fall in love" SO much more.  Sky and Holder have been through more together than they could of ever possibly imagined.  This story played with my emotions like a yo-yo leaving me in love, shocked, revolted, disgusted and overjoyed all at the same time.

The entire time I read Hopeless I just kept saying to myself, I cannot imagine what has to be going though Holder's mind right now!  The good news is, I don't have to wonder much longer.  The companion book told from Holder's POV, Losing Hope, is due out October 13, 2013 and is also available now for pre-order!

Update: 8/16/13 -

Losing Hope was AMAZING.  An absolute must read!  I actually think I love Holder even more now.  His story is heartbreakingly beautiful and deserves to be on this list in its own right!  See my full review here.

Thoughtless Series by S.C. Stephens

A love triangle, a smokin' hot rockstar, true love and a tour bus, what more could you ask for in a series?  I know, Kellan Kyle!  He sweet loving guy who doesn't know how big his heart really is.  There are characters here that I love to love, and a few that I love to hate, and even one that completely surprised me in the end.

This series really put me through the ringer   Kellan and Kiera are the perfect couple but getting together is far from easy for them.  Each book made me cry tears of anger, fear, and joy.  It also brought me back to a genera of music I had forgotten how much I enjoy.   Its been a pleasure to rock out with my daughter to the playlists for each of these books!

Heller Series by JD Nixon

There is no excuse for you not to try this amazing series, the first book, Heller, is FREE!  That's right, you will pay zip, zilch, nada for the first book and the rest are very reasonably priced.  Once Tilly gets to the fateful interview with Heller in chapter two the insanity gets going and does not stop!  Tilly's adventures in the Warehouse and as a member of Heller's Security team are as entertaining as they are nerve wracking.

I love Heller, talk about a hot alpha male that takes care of what  is his.  He is a character so full of mystery we aren't even sure of his real name.  That really is okay though, because he protects the few people he chooses to love so fiercely its almost a fault.  However, his idiocy when it comes to all things related to Tilly is beyond frustrating, I mean, really, how stupid can one man be? (Extremely, as it turns out.)

The Chocolate Lovers Series by Tara Sivec

My husband actually kicked me out of bed every time I picked up a book in this series because I kept waking him up laughing!  I don't think I have EVER laughed so hard in my life about anything.  I actually had to put down Troubles and Treats a few times just so I could breathe... literally breathe.  I was in serious fear of peeing my pants at all times and refused to take a sip of anything while I was reading for fear of spitting all over my Nook... or choking.

Seduction and Snacks as well as Futures and Frosting focus on Claire and Carter while Troubles and Treats lets you into the heads of Jenny and Drew.  Once you read the first two books you'll understand why I was so afraid to be in Jenny and Drew's heads, but yeah, sooooooooooo worth it!  All the characters in this series are just down right hysterical.  The books aren't only about the hilarity though, there is a very sweet and touching love story there too!  Three couples with a strong bond of friendship, lots of tasty treats and a whole lot of seduction going on in this series!

The Gamble by Kristen Ashley

This book is actually the first book in the amazing Colorado Mountain Series by Kristen Ashley, but I wanted to separate it for the purposes of this list.

While I LOVE the Colorado Mountain Series in its entirety, if I ever find Max, I'm stealing him from Nina and marrying him! (shh don't tell my husband!)   Yes, he is that good!  This super hot Alpha Male is so sweet, and so gentile and has the most perfect heart I have ever encountered in a book boyfriend!  The way he cares for and about Nina from the moment he meets her just about melted my heart.  
As soon as you fall in love with Max and Nina their lives are shifted and you find yourself in the middle of a super intense murder investigation.  This book keeps you on your toes and looking out for what happens next in Gnaw Bone.   Did I mention Max is mine?  Okay good, just checking!

Watch Over Me by Tara Sivec

This book has stuck with me since the moment I read the last word.  It is beautifully written and you can feel every ounce of emotion Tara Sivec poured into this beautiful novel.  I've heard her say that this novel is her baby and that it is deeply personal to her and that shows in every line on every page.  The moment I finished I knew I had to add this one to the Honor Roll.  Click here for my full review.

Jillian's Picks

Thoughtless Series by S.C. Stephens

Who doesn’t love a good love triangle? (At least when it is someone else’s!).  I started off this series HATING Kellan and Keira, but somewhere in the middle I started rooting for them like I was a high school cheerleader!  Kellan is most definitely NOT the quintessential rock star.  Yes, he is god-like and uber talented…but he remains faithful to his girl, even in the most tempting situations, and for that reason alone I think he may very well be my most favorite book boyfriend ever!  

Beautiful Disaster/Walking Disaster by Jamie Maguire

I have never been a fan of boxing/fighting of any kind…until I met Travis that is.  At first glance (or read) you would think this hunky, muscular, sex crazed man-god was one of the most angry messed up beings alive.  However, once I really learned his back story, my heart melted for him and I just wanted to give him a hug (ok, well…maybe a little more than a hug, but I digress).  Talk about being a man of his word…I don’t think I will ever look at a pigeon the same way again.  And for Abby…it is a wonder she even made it to college alive.  She has to be one of the most stubborn characters ever created.  There were points in this book where I literally wanted to ring her neck and tell her to stop being so stupid! It is sure to be a lethal combination when two people who are so damaged and carry as much baggage as they do come together.  One might even call it a beautiful disaster!

Slammed Series by Colleen Hoover

Talk about an emotional roller coaster!! I was in love with Will from the minute he was introduced to me! He seemed almost too perfect.  He was gorgeous, had manners, respect, strong family values…I was sure I was going to find out that he was alien of some sort.  I also fell in love with Lake's entire family.  My heart broke for them on more than one occasion, and I was so glad that they found Will when they did.  Their families fit together even more perfectly than I could have ever imagined.  As soon as Tiny Tot is able to really hold a conversation I am going to implement a daily suck/sweet at dinner time! And I may have told my hubby to go butterfly himself once or twice…

The Chocolate Lovers Series by Tara Sivec

This series had been on my to-be-read list for MONTHS.  Danielle was hounding me to read it almost since I met her.  I started reading it at the PERFECT time…just when I needed a good, light, HYSTERICAL read.  I have belly laughed with this series more than I have ever laughed with every other book I have ever read (which is a LOT) combined! The dynamic between this group of friends and their children is priceless.  I would probably die of mortification if Tiny Tot came out with even half of the stuff Gavin says, but I am seriously in love with that kid! I really admire the honesty and comfort level the group has with one another…though, maybe I wouldn’t want to be THAT open with all of my friends.

The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson

This series is definitely not my typical angsty romantic love story read, but I got sucked in almost immediately.  Once I got past the first 50 pages or so of boredom I was hooked.  Thankfully someone had warned me it was a slow start or I would of put it down after the first few pages.  It was definitely worth it.  This entire series had more twists and turns and anxiety ridden moments than anything I have ever read.  Just when you thought, ok where else can this story possible go and how are there still 100 pages left?? BAM! Blindsided and shocked beyond belief! Just be warned that there are a few really graphic violent themes to this story…but if you are OK with that than definitely put this on your to-be-read list!

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

It took me awhile to get on this bandwagon.  My hubby read it and RAVED about it for weeks and kept trying to get me to read it but his description of it seemed too weird/messed up for me…I mean, really…”districts” that are able to me manipulated to mess with people, lotteries to see which kids will essentially be sent off to be killed? (especially since Tiny Tot was JUST born when I read this.)  But, YES, REALLY!!!! Such an awesome read.  I read the entire series in 2 days and then was mad that I didn't read it slower because it was over too soon.  I laughed, cried, held my breath, yelled at my nook…all signs of a great book. 

Three Weeks with My Brother by Nicholas Sparks

So Nicholas Sparks’ books happen to be one of my guilty pleasures.  I have read most, if not all of them and though usually fairly enjoyable none of his novels made it onto my honor roll.  Three Weeks with My Brother is actually a memoir he wrote after travelling the world with his brother.  They spent time touring Guatemala's Mayan ruins, Peru's Incan temples, Easter Island, the killing fields in Cambodia, the Taj Mahal and Ethiopian rock cathedrals.  This book bounced back and forth between the experiences they shared on this journey together and memories of their childhood growing up.  The man who writes all of these “fluffy” romance novels actually happens to be a very insightful person who went through many challenges and tragedies growing up.  They decided to go on this trip together very spontaneously (which is very much the opposite of how he usually lives his life with his wife and many children) because they were both in their mid-thirties, and now (after the death of their younger sister) the only surviving members of their immediate family.  It was a very touching story and made me really like the man behind my guilty pleasure!     

The Smoke Jumper by Nicholas Evans

This book took hot firefighters to a whole new level for me!  I didn't even know that there were people who jumped out of planes and landed right in the middle of forest fires to put them out.  This book had everything from friendship, self discovery, tragedies, to a love triangle to end all love triangles! It was extremely well written and I fell in love with each of the characters for different reasons.  I smiled with them, cried with them and yelled at a few of them! I read this book over 10 years ago and it just stuck with me.  It is still one of my favorites to this day!    

Collision Course by S.C. Stephens

This story was gut-wrenching and beautiful at the same time.  Many teenagers have faced a tragedy just like Lucas did…and many authors have written about it.  S.C. Stephens told this story from a completely different angle and she absolutely NAILED it.  I cried more during this book than any other.  I cried tears of sadness for this poor boy who lost not only his first love and best friends in this tragic car accident, but also all of the people around him who blamed him for it.  I also cried tears of happiness for Lucas and Sawyer for finding each other and helping each other heal and move on from the ghosts of their pasts.  This book really shows how not judging someone based on rumors and speculation can  help create something absolutely beautiful.  

Hopeless by Colleen Hoover

Colleen Hoover manages to get me every single time! I get sucked into her books immediately and don’t sleep until I am finished, and Hopeless was no exception.  The mysterious past between Sky and Holder was definitely not what I was expecting at ALL.  This book completely shocked me more than once! I was skeptical of Holder for awhile, but completely fell in love with this damaged boy and his messed up past! Thank goodness Sky found him (or should I say thank goodness he found Sky)! Despite the real possibility of losing the girl he loved, he helped guide her through the murky waters of her past and unlock many memories that I am not sure I would have wanted unlocked.  In the end it helped Sky to really move on and open up to a whole new life of love and trust.   

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

Talk about a really F’d up book! It is narrated by a 14 year old who met a very tragic and violent end.  It is her story as told from Heaven.  Susie is unable to move on and fully embrace heaven and all of its wonders until her killer is brought to justice. Despite the fact that she is no longer among the living, she helps to do just that!  In a very unconventional way, Alice Sebold really hit a home run while covering a very controversial and hard-to-swallow topic.  This is another book that I read over a decade ago (well before it was made into a movie) that has stuck with me. 

Every Breath (Every Life Series #1) by Tasha Ivey

Every Breath literally had every aspect that you would need to make a book amazing!! It was suspenseful, romantic, hysterical, and terrifying. I could not put it down.  I got sucked into its web and I didn't want it to end. You end up loving, hating and empathizing with each character at some point throughout the story.  Please go read it and make it one of your new favorite books too!! You won't regret it.  See my full review here.

Just One More Breath by Leigha Lewis

Talk about all the feels! I was crying within the first 5 minutes.  My heart broke for Nicole immediately and I was rooting for her from the beginning. The strength that she showed through this story was very empowering.  And Shawn. Holy swoon. Definitely my new book boyfriend. His selflessness and thoughtfulness throughout this book made every man I've ever met pale in comparison. He is the whole package, sweet, compassionate and hot!!

This is hands down my favorite book of the summer! Add it to your TBR list ASAP!! Though it does have a very difficult story line, be warned, it contains possible triggers.  See my full review here.

1 comment:

  1. Although I haven't read all of the books, it is a great list!