Top Ten Books That Will Make You Swoon

top ten tuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s theme is:

~Top Ten Books That Will Make You Swoon~

I love a bit of romance in books, especially in Young Adult (except where there are love triangles – a particular pet peeve of mine). I enjoy a well-written, deep romance filled with swoon-worthy love interests and there are some books that deliver this in spades. Here is my list of ‘swooniest’ books:

where she went1. Where She Went by Gayle Forman: I love the continuation of the romance of Adam and Mia (this time shown from Adam’s perspective). Watching these two young lovebirds reconcile over the course of an evening in New York City (after a chance encounter) truly made my heart melt.

fangirl2. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell: Not as heart-hitting as her previous novel Eleanor & Park, Fangirl nevertheless contained a really sweet love story between fan-fiction writer Cath and Levi, her roommates ex-boyfriend (trust me it is not as bad as it sounds!). Cath and Levi were such a lovable pair of misfits it was hard not to get swept up in their romance.

if i die3. If I Die by Rachel Vincent: Without giving too much away of the plot, the romance in this novel is a genuine treat between two characters who are perfect for each other. Not all fans liked this development but I was a happy camper having shipped these two from the start. The love interest in this book does so much for the heroine – it is really super-sweet.

illumination4. Illumination by Rowan Speedwell: I loved the romance that developed between rock-star Adam and the reclusive artist Miles. Miles was such a genuinely sweet and awkward character and Adam was such a lost soul – a perfect match really. The romance was steamy and charming at the same time.

invisible5. (In)visible by Anyta Sunday: Not a very well-known book which is a shame because the romance between the two main characters Rune and Scott is delightful (at least when it finally happens). Rune is an invisible boy and Scott is the only one who can see him. They meet as young teens but are separated when tragedy strikes. They eventually reconnect when they meet up again years later.

fire6. Fire With Fire by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian: Odd choice I know (since it is about three teenage girls getting revenge on those who have wronged them), but the romance between Lillia and Reeve just slays me. The fact that it begins as part of the revenge plot only makes it that much sweeter when Lillia realises Reeve’s feelings for her are genuine and that she returns them.

know not why7. Know Not Why: a Novel by Hannah Johnson: Howie and Arthur – there are just no words for how swoon-worthy this pairing is. This was one of my favourite reads last year as the characters (all of them – not just the two main characters) are straight-up adorable.

anna8. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins: Oh Étienne St. Clair. You are my type of love-interest. Sweet and funny but also a little bit selfish and weak at times – yet your flaws just make you more endearing. Étienne and Anna are one of my favourite YA pairings – I really loved their romance and the Parisian setting just made it even more idyllic.

dream9. The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater: The non-kiss blew me away (you will need to read the book to get what I mean here!). The slow-budding attraction between the two characters in this book were full of swoony moments and longing looks. Delicious!!

golden10. The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead: I know Adrian and Sydney don’t actually get together in this book (although they do in the next book The Indigo Spell) but that kiss at the end of the book would leave just about anyone hot and bothered. I love Adrian and I have also grown to love Sydney as well. They really are perfect for each other so when Adrian finally makes a move on Sydney at the end of the book (after pining for her throughout – which Sydney is utterly clueless about!) I jumped up and down and let out a huge cheer (my other half gave me the side-eye but he is used to my book-related outbursts!!). I totally swoon over this couple and their interactions just get better and better.

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Top Reads of 2013

I must apologise once again for not having posted in some time. I have been going though some tough times in my personal life which has not given me any real time for blogging. I am hoping to rectify this at some point but for now, here are my top reads of 2013.

10: Angelfall by Susan Ee

angelfallSo many people have raved about this book I half-expected it to be a complete disappointment. Luckily (for me) it turned out to be an exciting, adrenaline-filled rush of a book – one I simply could not put down. Penryn was a great protagonist and I really ended up loving Raffe, the ‘fallen’ angel who becomes her companion when Penryn has to save her younger sister Paige from the clutches of a group of angels intent on harming her. 

9: The Tied Man by Tabitha McGowan

tied manThe Tied Man was an enthralling, unnerving and intense read. I felt positively battered when I got to the end of this book but it was well worth the emotional turmoil it put me through. This was a very dark read but was also incredibly emotionally satisfying.

8: Speechless by Hannah Harrington

speechI thoroughly enjoyed Speechless and thought its overall message was a positive one. Protagonist Chelsea learns the hard way the damage passing on a seemingly harmless piece of gossip can cause. Seeing her go from being a rather thoughtless, unlikable character to one with remarkable strength and courage was a joy to read.

7: Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

sweetThis book gutted me. I think it is one of the most heart-breaking books I have ever read. Managing to be both bleak and yet somehow hopeful – this book has stayed with since I first read it. This was my first Sara Zarr novel – it will definitely not be my last.

6: If I Die by Rachel Vincent

if i dieI loved the whole Soul Screamers series but this entry (book 5 of 7) was my favourite. This is where the stakes are truly raised for protagonist Kaylee Cavanaugh. When Kaylee discovers what fate awaits her, she finds herself turning to an unlikely source for help and comfort (and as a total fangirl of this pairing I couldn’t help but squee at this development!!). This was my favourite book series read this year and If I Die was the most exciting and emotional installment.

5: Dark Space by Lisa Henry

dark spaceLisa Henry is a new author for me. I was totally blown away by Dark Space – a truly fantastic space opera saga (and I am overjoyed to find out a sequel is now in the works!!). It was creepy and intense and had an almost claustrophobic atmosphere (being set primarily in a space station on the edge of alien territory) yet at the same time it managed to convey a sweetly compelling love story. The protagonists Brady and Cameron are two very different young men but the bond that grows between them was lovely to behold, even if there was an overwhelming sense of impending doom clouding their developing romance.

4: Sins & Needles by Karina Halle

sinsKarina Halle was another new discovery for me this year. Sins & Needles was the first book written by her that I read. I immediately tore through Karina Halle’s entire back catalogue once I had finished reading this.  Although overall I think I may prefer her Experiment in Terror series, I was totally sucked into this book and I loved the main character Ellie Watt. Her flaws made her seem all the more real and relatable to me (also Camden is one of the hottest love interests I have ever read – definitely my book boyfriend of the year – move over Adrian Ivashkov!!).

3: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

jellicoeI had a bit of a Melina Marchetta book fest last year. I read all of her catalogue – except for this book – which I had heard from reliable sources was the best of all her works. I could not convey eloquently enough in words just how brilliant this book is. I would urge anyone who has not already read this to seek it out. It is a fantastic, beautiful, if somewhat initially confusing read. I saved it for a time when I most felt I needed to read it – and the book did not disappoint.

2: Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

wanderloveI adored this book with the strength of a hundred fiery suns. I stated in my original review that it is probably one of the best, if not the very best, YA novels I have ever read. I loved the story of Bria, a young girl who finds herself on a journey through Central America, and her friendship and eventual romance with Rowan, a young wanderer she meets on her travels. An evocative and inspirational book – I could not put it down. When I finished reading I almost wished I hadn’t read it yet so I could discover it all over again.

1: Suicide Watch by Kelley York

suicideThe number one spot was a close call for me but in the end I had to go with Kelley York’s Suicide Watch. This book has left a lasting impression on me and I have actually re-read it several times already this year. This book made me feel – it completely and utterly captivated me. It manages to be both depressing yet completely uplifting at the same time. Suicide Watch is a truly beautiful story that will haunt me for a long, long time.

Honourable mentions:

These books just fell short of my top ten but were exceptional reads that I would wholly recommend:

Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz
Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff
Crush by Laura Susan Johnson
Know Not Why by Hannah Johnson
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

If I Die by Rachel Vincent

if i dieOk total fangirling moment here – I absolutely loved this book. If I Die is the fifth book in a series that has completely captured my attention and stole my heart. It was the most nail-biting, tense and exciting book yet. I was captivated from the very first chapter right to then end (and what an ending). If I thought My Soul to Keep was a game-changer well this book completely and utterly turned everything around and on its head. I am still reeling from all the twists and turns. Rachel Vincent – I salute you. Never have I been more surprised (and delighted) about how a story has developed.

You know you are in for a bumpy ride right from the very first chapter. Kaylee walks in and overhears a conversation between Tod (her boyfriend Nash’s reaper brother) and her father. Tod has to deliver some devastating news to Kaylee. The latest reaper list is out – and Kaylee’s name is on it. Kaylee’s father is determined to overturn this but Tod advises that her life cannot be extended. Since her mother gave her life in exchange for Kaylee’s in the accident all those years ago, Kaylee has been living on borrowed time – and there are no second chances.

Kaylee is left reeling from this news. However, there is no time for her to dwell on her predicament when she discovers that one of her teachers is actually an Incubus, who has been preying on young, impressionable teen girls, and who has made her best friend Emma his next target. Kaylee throws herself into yet another investigation, all the while trying to come to terms with her imminent demise and also trying to juggle her conflicted feelings for Nash and set her affairs in order. Throughout the course of her investigation, Kaylee finds herself relying on Tod more and more until suddenly she realises she can no longer hide from what is right in front of her anymore. Kaylee must make a decision about which boy holds her heart, even though her time is very quickly running out…

This was definitely my favourite book yet. If I Die was such an incredible read. Right away the story hooks you in. Rachel Vincent is not afraid to shake things up and when you find out that the main character is going to die in the very first chapter, you know that you are in for quite a ride. My heart broke with Kaylee when she discovered what her fate was going to be. In typical Kaylee style, she did not sit around bemoaning the fact that she was going to die within a week; she took action and threw herself into helping others once more.

Kaylee may be starting to make herself into something of a martyr but I really like the fact that she is so selfless but at the same time realistically flawed. She doesn’t always make the best decisions, but they are from the heart every time. Case in point: what happens between Kaylee/Nash/Tod. I admit, I was very happy with how this triangle was resolved. I have long been an advocate of her ultimate choice, though how it transpires is a little unfortunate for all parties concerned.

**SPOILER ALERT – HIGHLIGHT TO VIEW**

Nash is a character I have struggled with but I really felt sorry for him when he saw Kaylee and Tod kissing – he did not deserve to find out like that. Still I feel that Kaylee made the right choice, even though it hurt of all three them.

**END OF SPOILER**

I liked the Incubus plotline but my interest really lay with Kaylee’s personal storyline. I loved how the two eventually converged even though what ended up happening to Kaylee ripped my heart into teeny tiny pieces.

**SPOILER ALERT – HIGHLIGHT TO VIEW**

If I didn’t already love Tod before, his being unable to reap her soul when she was dying would have done it for me, especially with the consequences it had for him – thank heavens Kaylee managed to get Tod restored or I would have heaved my book over the room and probably never returned to the series! 

**END OF SPOILER**

Thane (the reaper sent to take Kaylee’s soul for the second time) was another interesting character. Even though Tod ‘fed’ him to Avari I very much doubt this is the last we will see of him.

If I Die was by far and away the best book in a series that has surpassed all my (high) expectations. The series just goes from strength to strength. The storylines are always interesting but really makes the series so special are the characters. They are so realistically depicted: selfless but flawed at the same time. I have to say Kaylee is one of my favourite protagonists. Even when I find her actions frustrating, I always root for her and admire her strength and innate goodness and courage in the face of adversity. Tod is my favourite character in the series (and right up there with Adrian Ivashkov as my favourite YA male). I just adore his snarkiness but you really get to see another side of him in If I Die. Even Nash has really grown on me and, heaven forbid, so has Sabine. I felt for her in the last book but could not bring myself to like her at all. This book changed my opinion completely.

**SPOILER ALERT – HIGHLIGHT TO VIEW**

I could perhaps even root for her and Nash as a couple and I would never have said that whilst reading the last book!!

**END OF SPOILER**

Emma once again proved what a great friend she is (I love seeing well depicted girl friendships in YA). Alec wasn’t in the book much but I still liked what we saw of him. Even Sophie didn’t annoy me too much.

Kudos Rachel Vincent. Another exciting instalment in a series that continues to impress at every turn. I cannot wait to read Before I Wake.

Overall score: 5/5 stars