2017 started out rough.
I thought the first year teaching was supposed to be easier the later in the year it got, but turns out, the second semester was just as stressful.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to spend as much time reading as I would have liked, but I was able to read a few notable books. Teaming up with Top Ten again this week, I’m sharing the best books I’ve read so far this year.
Between Shades of Gray | Ruta Sepetys
Although the title may be a tad misleading, Between Shades of Gray has nothing to do with 50 Shades of Gray. In fact, it’s story is probably the exact opposite. Between Shades of Gray tells the story of a young Lithuanian girl named Lina. Lina and her family are arrested by the Soviets and basically treated like cattle as they are shipped across Serbia. Between Shades of Gray gave an eye-opening perspective of the lives of refugees and what the culture was like around the time of World War II.
Brave Enough |Nicole Unice
There are two books I’ve read so far this year that I’ve recommended every time it comes up in conversation. Brave Enough is one of those books. Unice talks about our struggle to accept our flaws and failures, especially in a world that is obsessed with perfection. Even in light of the seriousness and conviction, I loved Unice’s sense of humor throughout the whole book. She constantly challenges us to choose to live brave every day.
Present Over Perfect | Shauna Niequist
And this would be the second book I constantly suggest. I actually love this book’s message so much that I’ve bought multiple copies to give to people I feel would benefit from reading it. In Present Over Perfect, Niequist shares her story of healing from the unrealistic expectations we can sometimes set for ourselves. The biggest takeaway I got from this book is that we need to make sure we are giving our best selves to those who deserve it. Often times, we try too hard to impress those who ultimately don’t matter, and then our closest friends, spouses, and kids get the leftovers, which is usually cranky, irritated versions of ourselves.
Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass Series #5)| Sarah J. Maas
But really. Empire of Storms was an amazing addition to the already compelling saga. I think this book really made me love Aelin. I related to her character in Heir of Fire because I think what she was feeling emotionally mirrored my own emotions, but the Aelin of Empire of Storms was the sacrificial, strong heroine I truly admired. And Manon’s story arch and character development through this? Amazing!! I cannot rave about this book enough.
I wrote a review of Empire of Storms that you can check out here.
The Unwanteds (Unwanteds Series #1) | Lisa McMann
and The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard Series #1) | Rick Riordan
Because I taught 5-8th grade this past year, I was constantly reading a variety of books at different reading levels. I’m a strong believer in reading what the kids are reading – it allows me to offer better suggestions and have better discussions when I’ve read what they enjoy.
The Unwanteds and The Sword of Summer are books I would highly recommend, especially for boys. Both books have adventure and action (perfect for kids that need a quick-paced read). The Sword of Summer is more sarcastic and witty, whereas The Unwanteds is a bit darker. To imagine The Unwanteds mood, think The Hunger Games meets Harry Potter.
I’m not a huge Rick Riordan reader. Don’t get me wrong – I think he’s an amazing author! He just writes so many books so fast, and I just can’t keep up! But the thing I appreciated most about The Sword of Summer is Riordan’s ability to pull in things from his other books – his series clearly take place in the same universe, so it’s neat to see the characters mention on another.
A Court of Thorns and Roses (Court of Thorns and Roses Series #1) | Sarah J. Maas
Again, Sarah J. Maas. I know, I know.
But. To be fair. I only just discovered her books this year, so I’m still overwhelmed by her writing.
A Court of Thorns and Roses is a retelling of the classic fairytale “Beauty and the Beast”. Maas also threw some other pieces of folklore into the mix, which just added more complexity to the story.
I’m currently reading the third (and final) book in the series! I’m a little depressed by that, but I’m also excited to find out how Feyre’s story ends.
I wrote a review of A Court of Thorns and Roses that you can check out here.
The Running Dream | Wendelin Van Draanen
Weregirl | C.D. Bell
I love werewolves. Anything that adds a twist to typical folklore and mythology is irresistible to me. That’s mainly why I picked this book up. And it was about a long-distance runner, which I easily identify with.
In this novel, Nessa is on her way to a scholarship and her ticket out of the small-town life. However, it turns out there’s a bit more to her small town than meets the eye.
I love the twist at the ending – I really wasn’t expecting it! This book was pretty quick to get through – another good read if you’re looking for something to breeze through during the summer months.
Violet Grenade | Victoria Scott
(plus she’s my favorite person I follow on Instagram)
Violet Grenade takes us into the life of Domino, a homeless girl who finds herself under the protection of Madam Karina. Madam’s home for girls may not be as promising as Domino initially thought, but with the help of her friends she finally finds a place in the world.
If you’re interested you can check out my review over Violet Grenade here.
Well, there you have it – my top ten favorite books of 2017. Based on this selection, I think the rest of 2017 has a lot to offer!