Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: It's An A From Me

I'm a little late to the party today, but I didn't want to miss my favorite weekly meme.  I don't love the topic du jour:  Top Ten Books I Predict Will Be Five-Star Reads for Me.  Since I give out A grades so seldomly on my blog, it's difficult to predict which—if any—I will end up loving that much.  So, I'm going to put a little spin on my list and go with the Top Ten Books That Received A's From Me Most Recently.  That's an easier Top Ten to put together for me :)

Speaking of Top Ten Tuesday lists, doncha just want to make your own right now?  You totally can!  It's simple—all you have to do is jet on over to That Artsy Reader Girl, read a few simple guidelines, create your own list, and then hop around the book blogosphere checking out other people's posts.  Easy peasy.  Fun, too.  If you're looking for a way to check out new blogs, check in on old favorites, and discover new books to check out from the library, look no further.

Alright, here we go with the Top Ten Books That Received A's From Me Most Recently

Not surprisingly, half of these are books that were nominated for a Cybils Award in the YA Fiction category, for which I was a Round One judge.  I ended up loving many of the nominees, but these (1-6) are the ones I adored most, in no particular order.  Speaking of the Cybils, winners will be announced on Valentine's Day, so stay tuned.  I can't wait to see which books won, especially for YA Fiction.


1.  With the Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedomy review
Why I loved this book:  "It stars a strong heroine, who's surrounded by other colorful, sympathetic, likable characters.  The plot is engrossing, entertaining, and powerful.  Acevedo's prose is lyrical (not surprising since she's a poet), but approachable.  With themes of family, home, and community, it's a warm, moving novel that made for enjoyable reading." 


2.  Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribaymy review
Why I loved this book:  "Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay is a timely, hard-hitting novel that explores an underrepresented place and an issue that has been underexplored in the media and in fiction.  Ribay's descriptions of The Philippines make it obvious that he's been there—the details brought to mind the sights, smells, and phrases that I remember from the year I lived in the country.  While I think Ribay's depiction skews more toward the negative than the place really deserves, the vivid setting does create an authenticity that makes the story even more poignant.  Patron Saints of Nothing features a cast of complex, sympathetic, flawed characters about whom I came to care very much.  Its plot kept me turning pages wanting to know what was going to happen to them all.  Although the novel is sad, it's also moving and, ultimately, hopeful.  Unique and touching, it's a stand-out book that deserves all the accolades it's gotten."


3.  Let's Go Swimming On Doomsday by Natalie C. Andersonmy review
Why I loved this book:  "The characters are sympathetic, interesting, and complex.  The plot speeds along at a furious pace, with lots of action and heart-pounding scenes.  Anderson's prose is strong and her descriptions vivid, all of which makes the novel come to terrifying life.  Timely and moving, Let's Go Swimming on Doomsday is an exciting, important read that should appeal to even reluctant readers."  


4.  Sorry For Your Loss by Jessie Ann Foleymy review
Why I loved this book:  "I've read a million books about grief, so I expected Sorry For Your Loss by Jessie Ann Foley to be just another run-of-the-mill story about loss.  And it is, in the sense that it concerns a family rocked by tragedy and the ways in which each individual member deals with it.  In other ways, it's not a typical grief story because, really, Sorry For Your Loss is about being seen.  This is something Pup struggles with as the youngest in a big family, the average Joe in a clan of overachievers, and the quiet, steady friend who puts up with being walked all over.  He's someone with whom everyone can relate at some level or another and it's impossible not to root for him.  As much as I love Pup as a character what I actually enjoyed most about Sorry For Your Loss is Foley's depictions of life in a large family.  Since I come from one, I know all too well the laughter, tears, tension, drama, and messy love inherent in big broods.  Foley's version rang so true for me that I found myself really feeling Pup's story on so many levels.  Sorry For Your Loss is a beautifully-written novel that's touching and true, relatable and real, poignant and powerful.  I adored it."


5.  The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetysmy review
Why I loved this book:  "Chock-full of vivid detail, Sepetys brings post-war Spain to colorful life, highlighting both its beauty and its struggles.  The main characters aren't anything super special, but they're likable and sympathetic.  Gentle but evocative and powerful, the story is also engrossing and compelling.  I'm not sure if teen readers will have the patience for its 472 pages, but I loved it." 




6.  The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Leemy review
Why I loved this book:  "It touches on a number of issues, maybe too many for one book, but still, it's a thought-provoking historical novel.  Which isn't to say it's preachy or heavy-handed.  It's not.  In fact, it's funny, engrossing, and compelling.  Jo is the kind of heroine who's easy to like and root for—she's smart, loyal, hard-working, and brave.  She's surrounded by equally interesting characters, who make for a colorful, fun cast.  With all these elements combining against a vivid historical backdrop, it shouldn't be difficult to see why I enjoyed The Downstairs Girl so much.  It's one of my favorite reads of 2019 and I highly recommend it for both adult and teen historical fiction lovers." 

Before my reading got hijacked by the Cybils, these next four earned my highest praise:


7.  Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Centermy review
Why I loved this book:  "From start to finish, it's a funny, upbeat, heartfelt novel that is simply a joy to read.  It's so engaging that not only did I inhale it in (almost) one sitting, but I also immediately missed everything about it as soon as I closed the book.  As humorous as the story is, it's also poignant, affecting, and sweet as Cassie learns some important lessons about family, forgiveness, friendship, and, of course, love.  Things You Save in a Fire has gotten all kinds of positive buzz—trust me when I say there's a reason for that.  It's a delightful read that I absolutely loved."


8.  The Bookshop on the Shore by Jenny Colganmy review
Why I loved this book:  "Like its predecessor, The Bookshop on the Shore is warm, sweet, and funny.  I adored everything about it, from the setting to the writing to the characters, both new and familiar.  As much as I enjoyed The Bookshop on the Corner, I liked this one even better as it has more depth to it.  Colgan writes such fun books." 


9.  The Bright Unknown by Elizabeth Byler Yountsmy review
Why I loved this book:  "The Bright Unknown is a bit of a departure (although an Amish family does have a small cameo in the novel), but it still showcases Younts' trademarks—lush prose, sympathetic characters, and a gentle tone that makes her stories shine with empathy, humanity, and heart.  As heartbreaking as this tale is, it's also thought-provoking, faith-promoting (without being heavy-handed or cheesy), and hope-filled.  I adored it." 


10.  The Island of Sea Women by Lisa Seemy review
Why I loved this book:  "Rich with detail about Jeju, the haenyeo, and Korea's tumultuous history, the novel is expansive and intimate at the same time.  The culture it explores is fascinating, the story it tells heartbreaking, but empowering.  Although The Island of Sea Women isn't a quick read, it's beautiful, absorbing, and unforgettable.  I loved it."  

There you have it, ten of my A-grade reads.  What do you think?  Have you read any of these?  Were they A reads for you?  I'd truly love to know.  Leave a comment on this post and I will gladly return the favor on your blog.

Happy TTT!

38 comments:

  1. Seriously, all of these books look like fabulous reads! Nice job on your list.

    My TTT .

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    1. I thought they were all fabulous :) In different ways, but all excellent.

      Thanks for coming by, Lydia!

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  2. That’s a great list! I’ve only heard of two books from your list😊

    Also, the comment will be posted using my old blogspot handle but my blog is on Wordpress with a similar handle😊

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    1. Hopefully, you found some new titles to intrigue you!

      Thanks for coming by! No handle shows up on your comment. If you see this, will you leave me a link so I can come visit you? Thanks!

      Delete
  3. I loved...LOVED....Things You Save in a Fire. I also loved the book that preceded it, the heroine is briefly mentioned in this book. Katherine Center has become one of my favorite authors from these two books. I will have to look into your others. :)

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    1. I just discovered Katherine Center last year, so I'm still working on her backlist. I've read two so far -- FIRE and HOW TO WALK AWAY. I liked the former better, but I still loved the latter. Center is awesome! Glad I'm not the only fan :)

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. Thanks for the comment on my TTT!

    The Downstairs Girl looks like something I would enjoy and will have to get added to my TBR.

    My TTT

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    1. It's a really good book! It's different from other YA books out there, but it's still an engrossing, funny, and entertaining read. I loved it.

      Thanks for coming by!

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  5. The Island of Sea Women was so good!

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    1. Wasn't it? I thought the setting and historical elements were fascinating. I've enjoyed several of See's books and definitely need to read more.

      Thanks for coming by, Marg!

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  6. I have read three books on this list, and I have to agree, total A material. A successful book, for me, makes me feel, and Center and Foley and Acevedo all made me feel a LOT. They made me care about their characters, and they left me in a good place at the end of the story, while keeping me engrossed the entire time.

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    1. Yes! I love that description of a successful book and I totally agree. All the books I mentioned moved me or made me think or just made me feel all the feels.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Sam!

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  7. Those all look like great books! I really want to read FOUNTAINS OF SILENCE and WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH. Hope we both love them!

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    1. Those are both great books. Really different from each other, but both compelling and engrossing. I hope you enjoy them.

      Thanks for coming by, Kasey!

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  8. Yes, you know that I loved The Island of Sea Women. My favorite of 2019. I have not read Things You Save in a Fire yet, but I own it. Maybe soon and I'm making note of several others on your list. I just finished doing read/listen of the 3 Truly Devious books by Maureen Johnson. Had a wonderful time with those!

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    1. TRULY DEVIOUS is so fun! I need to re-read it before I go on to the next books. I'm glad you enjoyed them so much.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Kay!

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  9. This was definitely a difficult topic for me, as I don't do predictions well (and I expect/hope each book is going to be fantastic). I haven't read any of the ones on your list but, knowing they were top books has me adding quite a few to my TBR.

    Happy reading :)
    Megan | Ginger Mom & Company

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    1. Oh, good! I'm glad you've found some titles that appeal to you. Let me know what you think of them if you get around to reading them.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  10. I haven't read any of the books you mentioned but I'm glad you enjoyed them so much! ♡

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    1. Thanks! It's always exciting when you find new books to love, isn't it?

      Thanks for coming by!

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  11. I adored Things You Save in a Fire. It will most likely be a 5 star read.

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    1. Same! I loved everything about it.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  12. Replies
    1. Most of them would make great book club reads. Lots of issues to discuss!

      Thanks for coming by!

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  13. There are so many books on this list I want to read! With the Fire on High has been on my TBR for awhile... I think it's time to read it.

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    1. Definitely! It's a great book that combines beautiful writing with humor, drama, romance, etc. Let me know what you think of it when you read it.

      Thanks for stopping by, Kerri!

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  14. The Bookshop on the shore looks so fun!

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    1. Colgan's books are always fun! I've read a couple of hers and definitely need to read more. They just make me happy :)

      Thanks for coming by, Greg!

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  15. This is such a great list of diverse titles! I'm looking forward to reading SO many of these but I have read Things You Save in A Fire and it was so so good :)

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    1. Isn't it the best book? It's such a lovely combination of humor, heart, romance, and drama. I loved it SO much and obviously I'm not alone in that!

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  16. Such a great list! I have read all but 3 and gave them high marks as well. I have Sorry for Your Loss on my shelf so I'll now read it sooner thanks to your suggestion.

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    1. Great minds think alike :) I probably wouldn't have read most of these if not for the Cybils, so I'm glad I got to be a judge last year. I read some duds, but I also found some truly wonderful reads. I can't wait to see the results on Valentine's Day!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Helen!

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  17. I loved Things You Save in a Fire too. Such a great read!

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    1. It really is a great read, isn't it? No wonder it's gotten so much love from critics and bloggers.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  18. #6 and #10 have crossed my radar recently...they look interesting, especially #10. I've been on an Asian history/literature kick lately, maybe I'll pick one of them up at some point!

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    1. THE DOWNSTAIRS GIRL is a pretty fast read, but THE ISLAND OF SEA WOMEN isn't. I recommend them both, obviously, but which one you want to start with might depend on your mood, you know?

      Thanks for coming by!

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  19. I need to become braver about putting my own spin on TTT topics! This is a great list and I’ve read several! I love an occasional YA read! I think Sepetys is a great cross over author!

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  20. I have Island of the Sea Women to read and also anticipate a great read, I know it is long.

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