Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Today’s theme is books you can’t put down, from the first page to the last. Here are my top twelve favorites, books that hooked from the first lines and didn’t let go until the last.
12 Books to Read in One Sitting
I started reading We Were Liars on Saturday morning and ended up “just one more chapter” – ing myself into being almost two hours late to meet my then fiancé for lunch at his apartment. Oops. (He forgave me. Also, it was totally worth it.)
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.
I started reading this one about ten minutes before my mom came over for dinner. I love my mom and spending time with her is one of my favorite things, so the fact that I was really anxious to get back to this book really says something about it. I gave it to a friend after I finished it, and she had the same reaction– couldn’t put it down. I am counting the days until the third book in the series comes out this summer!
Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from illegal books obtained by his family, who are involved in the thriving black market. Jess has been sent to be his family’s spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library’s service.
When his friend inadvertently commits heresy by creating a device that could change the world, Jess discovers that those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics and books will burn…
I loved the series by Laini Taylor that started with Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and since I’d finished the last book, I was eager for an otherworldly book to scratch that itch. Which is exactly what I found in The Girl at Midnight.
Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she’s ever known.
Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she’s fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it’s time to act.
Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, though if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it’s how to hunt down what she wants…and how to take it.
But some jobs aren’t as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.
When author Kenley Davidson asked me to review her indie retelling of Cinderella, I was hooked as soon as I read the description of her twist on the tale. I immediately fell in love with the spunky heroine and loved that her prince is heavy on brains moreso than charm. If you’re into fairytales retold, you’ve got to get your hands on a copy of Traitor’s Masque.
What if Cinderella didn’t go to the ball to dance with the prince?
What if she went to betray him?
Trystan Colbourne never meant to be a traitor. All she wanted was to escape the suffocating walls of the place she used to call home, where her stepmother’s hatred has made her an unwilling prisoner.
Desperate for a taste of freedom, Trystan accepts an offer of sanctuary from an old family friend, and for a moment, it seems as though all of her dreams are about to come true.
But dreams are fickle, and neither politics nor princes are ever quite what they seem. When she agrees to attend the royal masque, Trystan is plunged headlong into a nightmare of conspiracy, espionage and intrigue. With lives and even kingdoms at stake, she may be forced to sacrifice everything she thought she wanted in order to save the man she loves.
Beauty by Robin McKinley
An oldie but a goodie. Once, when I was too sick to get out of bed, I read Beauty, finished it, and flipped back to the first page again rather than making the slog to the bookshelf for another book. There are books that you can read more than once, but it’s rare to find one you can read again as soon as you finish it. (Fun fact: the only other book I’ve done this with is The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton.)
Beauty has never liked her nickname. She is thin and awkward; it is her two sisters who are the beautiful ones. But what she lacks in looks, she can perhaps make up for in courage.
When her father comes home with the tale of an enchanted castle in the forest and the terrible promise he had to make to the Beast who lives there, Beauty knows she must go to the castle, a prisoner of her own free will. Her father protests that he will not let her go, but she answers, “Cannot a Beast be tamed?”
A horse race astride the most terrifying, carnivorous horses you can imagine on an imaginary island. Orphans whose livelihood depends on winning the race. Sound good? It’s so good that even though I started listening to it as an audiobook at work, I got home and pulled up an ebook version of the story so I could read the rest that night.
It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.
At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.
Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.
This was one of those books I tried like mad to get an ARC of and missed. I raced from one nail-biting chapter to the next. The suspense, the romance, the characters… all fantastic!
Four years ago, Judith and her best friend disappeared from their small town of Roswell Station. Two years ago, only Judith returned, permanently mutilated, reviled and ignored by those who were once her friends and family.
Unable to speak, Judith lives like a ghost in her own home, silently pouring out her thoughts to the boy who’s owned her heart as long as she can remember—even if he doesn’t know it—her childhood friend, Lucas.
But when Roswell Station is attacked, long-buried secrets come to light, and Judith is forced to choose: continue to live in silence, or recover her voice, even if it means changing her world, and the lives around her, forever.
Remember the poor guy I left waiting for lunch back when We Were Liars came out? Yeah. Him. He’s my husband now. He tried to make me go to bed one night (okay, it may have been after 2am) while I was reading this book. I may have waited until he fell asleep and then slipped out to the living room to read the last few amazing chapters of this story. I laughed; I cried; I laughed so hard I cried. Totally worth being a zombie the next day.
Sloane isn’t expecting to fall in with a group of friends when she moves from New York to Florida—especially not a group of friends so intense, so in love, so all-consuming. Yet that’s exactly what happens.
Sloane becomes closest to Vera, a social-media star who lights up any room, and Gabe, Vera’s twin brother and the most serious person Sloane’s ever met. When a beloved painting by the twins’ late mother goes missing, Sloane takes on the responsibility of tracking it down, a journey that takes her across state lines—and ever deeper into the twins’ lives.
Apparently when I’m sick, I have a habit of rewarding myself with a binge read of a fantastic book. I’d heard amazing things about Bone Gap but really wasn’t sure I was a magical realism girl, even though I loved The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma. I do this with historical fiction, too. I think I’m not into it and then I end up loving just about every historical novel I’ve ever read. So. Possibly I should reevaluate. Nevertheless– I loved Bone Gap. I kept waiting to fall out of love with a character or element of the story, and instead, kept turning page after page. I loved Finn and the way his perception of the world so shaped the story.
Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps—gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. After all, it wasn’t the first time that someone had slipped away and left Finn and Sean O’Sullivan on their own. Just a few years before, their mother had high-tailed it to Oregon for a brand new guy, a brand new life. That’s just how things go, the people said. Who are you going to blame?
Finn knows that’s not what happened with Roza. He knows she was kidnapped, ripped from the cornfields by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember. But the searches turned up nothing, and no one believes him anymore. Not even Sean, who has more reason to find Roza than anyone, and every reason to blame Finn for letting her go.
I’ve been a long-time fan of Caroline Stellings. She does this thing with characters that reminds me a little bit of Flannery O’Connor– where you think you’ve got these guys figured out and then she kind of turns the story on its head and you have to reevaluate all your perceptions. When she asked if I was interested in reviewing this book, she pretty much had me at Janis Joplin. This story explores race relations in the south as a black girl pursues her dream of becoming a singer in 1970. I couldn’t rest until I knew what happened to this talented girl with big dreams and an equally big heart.
The year Louisiana – Easy for short – meets Janis Joplin is the year everything changes. Easy is a car mechanic in her dad’s shop, but she can sing the blues like someone twice her age. So when she hears that Janis Joplin is passing through her small town of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Easy is there with her heart – and her voice – in hand. It’s 1970 and Janis Joplin is an electrifying blues-rock singer at the height of her fame – and of her addictions. Yet she recognizes Easy’s talent and asks her to meet her in Texas to sing. So Easy begins an unusual journey that will change everything.
Remember my earlier comment about historical novels? Here’s another case in point. I’ve read several novels about World War II that I really enjoyed, but I loved that this one explored that time period in a slightly different way. Instead of being about a heroic girl who’s part of the Nazi resistance, it reads a little more like a suspense story following a search for missing girl. That suspenseful feel kept me turning pages from start to finish.
Amsterdam, 1943. Hanneke spends her days finding and delivering sought-after black market goods to paying customers, nights hiding the true nature of her work from her concerned parents, and every waking moment mourning her boyfriend, who was killed on the Dutch front lines when the German army invaded. Her illegal work keeps her family afloat, and Hanneke also likes to think of it as a small act of rebellion against the Nazis.
On a routine delivery, a client asks Hanneke for help. Expecting to hear that Mrs. Janssen wants meat or kerosene, Hanneke is shocked by the older woman’s frantic plea to find a person: a Jewish teenager Mrs. Janssen had been hiding, who has vanished without a trace from a secret room. Hanneke initially wants nothing to do with such a dangerous task but is ultimately drawn into a web of mysteries and stunning revelations—where the only way out is through.
I was prepared for this book to be a kind of cheesy Christian teen romance, and honestly, that would have been okay. I was not prepared for it to sweep me away with its complex characters. I totally fell for Riley and could not put the book down until I found out whether he made it all the way to his best friend’s side. This book made me a huge fan of the author.
To get to the girl he loves, Riley Kane must head off on a road trip with the father he never knew. Then pray for a miracle.
Most teens would love to have a pro surfer for a dad. Just not Riley. Abandoned as a kid, he hates the sound of the ocean and the man who gave himself to it.
When the eighteen-year-old learns that his best friend is stranded at a New Mexico hospital as her father fights for his life, Riley hits the highway to head east. But when his Jeep breaks down before he even leaves California, he must rely on the one man he despises to get to the girl who needs him the most. And when it comes to the surfer with the Volkswagen van and dog-eared map, a thousand miles may–or may not–be enough to heal the past.