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Top Ten Tuesday: Merry Christmas, Happy Book-adays

This week’s theme for Top Ten Tuesday is ten books to give as gifts. With Christmas just around the corner, this is perfect timing to scour all the lists over at The Broke and The Bookish because we’ll all be posting about the BEST of the best. We are both bringing you five favorite books that we want to gift because we thought this week’s topic was awesome!  Don’t forget to check out Jen and Jamie’s picks over at TBatB.


I’ll kick things off today. I absolutely, without a doubt, love giving gifts.  I always want to go above and beyond what I should (ya know, budget wise) because I want to shower the people I love with things I think they’ll love. I told a friend of mine recently that books aren’t just a form of entertainment for me – they’re an escape.  I want them to make me emote and feel and take me on a journey. I want to completely get lost in the words and for the characters to feel like my best friends. The books I’m bringing you today are books I’ve read in 2011 that were some of my favorites.

If you’ve been following my tweets or reading the blog, you’ll see how much I gush about Stephanie Perkins and Suzanne Collins. Please note that without a smidgen of a doubt they are two of my favorite authors in the whole wide world. You should absolutely check into their books, but for today’s purposes, I’m trying to mix things up to share some books I haven’t previously raved about.

1.    Forgotten by Cat Patrick : A girl forgets the past and remembers the future. How does that even happen? It was an obscure concept to me, but MY GOSH Patrick’s writing was so incredibly beautiful. I adored this book. Mourned it when it was over.

I’d gift this to: someone who was a fan of Hourglass by Myra McEntire or Unforgettable by Loretta Ellsworth. Someone who likes to read things that are based on reality, but have a slight twist to them. (This isn’t a paranormal book.)

2.    Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta: This was an incredible story of a girl finding her place in the world, defining her friendships, falling in love for the first time, and discovering the truth about her family’s history. I appreciated the writing so much and as all the stories were so cleverly intertwined, I felt myself slip into the pages and want to be friends with everyone.

I’d gift this to: one of my best friends and I’d include a personal note to let them know how thankful I am for him or her. I’d let the person know I’ll always have their back no matter what amount of drama arises.

3.    The Summer I Turned Pretty, It’s Not Summer Without You, and We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han: I know I cheated and that’s three books, but they’re a series! They go together like wine and cheese. These were the perfect beach reads for me this summer. Loved the sweet love stories and the family drama.

I’d gift this these to: My friends who love happy endings and love stories – the girls who love fairy tales (though this isn’t one) and reading about first love. These go to the girls who love love.  (Or greatly miss summer and yearn for the days of warmth and sand between their toes.)

4.    Small Town Sinners by Melissa C. Walker: This book is about a girl who is searching to understand Christianity on her own terms – not to just accept what her parents have taught her to believe. Though this wasn’t an easy read for me because there were some things that blew my mind, I do think it has a specific audience.

I’d gift this to: someone like my younger sister or brother who is going through the stage in life where they are questioning a lot and trying to find their own footing.

5.    Populazzi by Elisa Allen: you can read my full review here, but I think this book is an excellent demonstration of what it’s like to be a teenager in today’s society. Teenagers tend to feel a bit indestructible – Cara is no different as she tries to break into her new school’s social scene to climb the ladder to become the Supreme popular girl.

I’d gift this to: a girl in high school who yearns for popularity. My cousin went through a ton of bad things in her last year of high school, and I’d like to think that if she read something as well-written, funny, and relateable as this, she would have felt better about reaching the end of her senior year not being on top of the social ladder.

 E S T E L L E

Hi! Happy Tuesday everyone! I’m going to go about this list from a slighly different angle than Magan. Every year, for the past few years, I’ve made a point to gift my two best friends from college books. They are both science people, heavily involved in academia and don’t always have a chance to do fun reading during the semester. I’d like to think of it as my task to give them the best of the best to enjoy on their breaks. Unless they were playing a trick on me, they seemed to always love the selections and even traded with each other after they were done. Come to think of it, I did this book exchange with two other girls from college at one point and now my longtime buddy, Rachel, and I are about to do the same for the second year in a row. Sometimes I think a book is one of the most personal gifts you can give someone. While you may have a large pile of favorite books to choose from, you have to take in account the other person’s tastes and personality. It’s not easy. But I love a challenge. Here are some of my favorite books to gift others:

1.    God-Shaped Hole by Tiffanie deBartolo: (Contemporary Adult Fiction) Beatrice, a cool jewelry designer living in Los Angeles, answers a personal ad on a whim. “Seeking a friend for the end of the world.” (Chris Cornell lyrics.) Instead of the freak she was expecting, it leads her to Jacob Grace, a passionate writer.

I know this sounds like typical chick lit but it’s so far from that. I can’t tell you the amount of lines I highlighted or folded down in my original copy from 10 years ago. I found this look on a new writers table, and I have never looked back. In fact, I started my own GSH trend when I got a ton of people to read it in high school. This book is raw, dark, lovely, happy, idealistic, hopeful, sexy, and romantic. These characters are so realistic, and go on quite the journey together.

I’d gift this to: Someone who can appreciate a REAL love story. A music lover. A fan of really good writing. A person who loves to dream of going to other places, and doing other things.

2.    The Wonder Spot by Melissa Bank: (Contemporary Adult Fiction) Coming-of-age story that follows Sophie from seventh grade to adulthood. Relationships, moves, the works.

I had the opportunity to listen to Melissa Bank read chapters from this book at my college. I remember how exciting it was because the book hadn’t been published yet, and when I finally read the whole thing cover-to-cover I was floored. I love books that span a good chuck of time in a characters book and Sophie is such a relatable character. In fact, I have to reread this very soon!

I’d gift this to: Probably any female in her 20s who again, appreciates good writing and likes a good mix of humor and drama.

3.    How to Breathe Underwater by Julie Orringer: (Contemporary Adult Fiction) A collection of nine moving short stories.

I think this is a book that someone gifted to me, and now I’ve given it to at least 2 different people. I love a short story collection every now and then. You can stop and go as you please. Although if you pick this one up, I’m not sure you are going to want to take that much of a break in between each. Warning: these stories deal with some extremely tragic and depressing moments. But at the same time, the writing is so obsessively awesome… There are bright spots too, don’t get me wrong but some of the stories will leave you saying “whoa.”

I’d gift this to: A person who appreciates the craft of writing. (There are many different styles in this collection.) Someone who wants to get a lot out of a few pages and may not have the time for a few novel.

4. Autobiography of a Wardrobe by Elizabeth Kendall: (Memoir) A life story told through the eyes and ears of her closet.

I absolutely love books with a creative format, and this is one of them. Kendall takes us through her life through the clothes she wore, the clothes her mother wore, what she bought, what she coveted, and what was popular during the time periods of the book. I also love to hear about how writers get into writing, and there’s a lot of that here as well. I love the flow, and the cover is pretty. (Big plus!)

I’d gift this to: A lover of fashion or shopping. Fan of memoirs, and someone who would appreciate a story told in an refreshing format.

5.    North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley: (Contemporary YA) Terra is determined to leave her her small town for college as soon as she can. She can’t stand the way some people look at her because of the port-wine stain on her cheek. Her dad is controlling and unsupportive of her art and her mom gives into his every whim. During a secret mission with her mom during winter break, Terra gets in a car accident and meets Jacob and his family. He and his mom provide the push Terra and her mom need to embrace new experiences and come to some intriguing conclusions.

I can’t say enough amazing things about this book. I could not put it down. The characters were so real to me and the author expertly crafts some intense family dynamics plus there is a good amount of traveling in this book which I absolutely loved. You learn a little bit about a new place, and it really plays such a role in the turning point in the lives of many of these characters.

I’d gift this to: Any female in any age bracket. I think anyone can relate to Terra’s plight to some degree. She’s an awesome, strong character with a lot of ambition. Jacob is pretty handsome and wonderful himself. And I love the relationship between Terra and her mother even if it is difficult at times. A must read. Beautiful, poetic writing the whole way through.

…anyone else love our NSYNC Christmas album title? Only the best, classiest Christmas tunes EVER.

December 15, 2011 - 2:11 pm

Estelle - Oh! I can’t wait for you to read a few and let us know what you think! I know sometimes our choices are a bit… off the beaten path. Loving your blog and so glad you came to visit ours 🙂 AND P.S. It’s almost Friday!

December 14, 2011 - 10:10 am

Alexa @ Alexa Loves Books - As always, you girls have such brilliant book suggestions! I’ve added just about everything you guys posted about onto my TBR. Haha.

December 13, 2011 - 10:12 pm

Magan - Haha! Cheyenne, I feel like my list exponentially grows every day. There are more books to read than I can keep up with! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

December 13, 2011 - 7:17 pm

Cheyenne Teska - Awesome choices! I haven’t read a single book on here but I do see some that I’ve been meaning to get to! 🙂

December 13, 2011 - 2:51 pm

Magan - Hi Jessie! Awesome! Thanks so much for stopping by! =D

December 13, 2011 - 2:50 pm

Magan - YES! Jellicoe Road was so awesome. It did take me a bit to get into because of how the story was told, but in the end I was so hooked.
I can’t wait to hear what you think about Small Town Sinners. It was probably one of the most different contemporary YA novels I read this year because of how it was written.
I also 100% second Estelle’s choice on North of Beautiful. She recommended I read it, and WOW. I was on a plane crying through parts of it because it was so touching. Thanks so much for stopping by! 🙂

December 13, 2011 - 2:04 pm

Lucy - Awesome lists! Jellicoe Road seems like it is the gold standard in YA. Everyone loves it.

I loved the Summer series too, and hope to check out Small Town Sinners soon since I’ve heard good things about it.

The Wonder Spot sounds super good and so does North of Beautiful. Thanks for the gift recs and happy holidays!

December 13, 2011 - 12:14 pm

Jessie - Forgotten made my list too. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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