Britt's Picks

Britt's Picks 2011
Britt's Picks for 2012
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The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer - Michelle Hodkin 
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When Mara Dyer wakes up in the hospital she has trouble remembering how she got there. Slowly details are filled in though. She was with her friends and boyfriend in an abandoned asylum when it collapsed. She's the only one who survived. Mara has a hard time dealing with this and is suffering from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) so her family decide it's time for a fresh start and they move to Florida. Things in Florida are okay. Mara makes a friend, Jaime so school isn't so terrible...then there is that cute boy, Noah. English accent, disheveled clothes and tousled hair make him hard to resist. The only problem Mara has, are her hallucinations. She's trying to play it cool so her family doesn't have to worry, but Mara is having a hard time telling between what's real and what's not. When a few people start dropping dead, Mara knows that something has to be going on. She can't figure everything out on her own though.

The Curiosities - Maggie Siefvater, Tessa Gratton and Brenna Yovanoff 
There are three authors involved in the Merry Sisters of Fate site. A site where three authors challenged themselves and each other to write a small piece of fiction each week. This is but a small look into the process and the end results.
I would definitely recommend it to aspiring authors. There are not only some of these ladies lovely tales, but lots of notes and scribbles that talk about the writing process. That's what really makes this book unique is that added touch beyond just the stories. 

The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls - Claire Legrand
One day Victoria's friend Lawrence goes missing. This does not fit in with her perfect plans to make him a bit less...rough around the edges. She also is sort of concerned for his well-being. His parents tell Victoria that he's visiting his sick grandmother, but something about this excuse seems a bit off. Maybe it's Lawrence's parents that seem off. Victoria decides it's up to her to investigate what has happened to Lawrence and the other kids who seem to be disappearing. Victoria has a sinking feeling that it all might have to do with the Cavendish Home. She's not sure what goes on there, so she'll have to investigate and what she finds will surprise her.

The Templeton Twins Have An Idea - Ellis Weiner
The Templeton Twins, Abigail and John, are inventors just like their father. They are clever kids, so when they get kidnapped by Dean D. Dean they know just what to do. Dean D. Dean has accused their father of stealing his idea, so he figures that kidnapping the Templeton Twins will be a way to get the credit for the invention. What he doesn't count on is the cleverness of the Templeton family (and their ridiculous dog). 

This was such a fun story. I loved the narration.

The Diviners - Libba Bray
Evie O'Neill is simply too big for her small Ohio town, so when her parents ship her off to New York to live with her uncle she doesn't put up much of a fight. Evie images that New York will be a fabulous place for her to really shine. Doesn't hurt that she already has a friend there, Mabel. She is pos-i-tute-ly thrilled to meet up with her old friend and do some shopping and hit light up the town. She doesn't even mind having to work a little in her uncle's Museum of American Folklore, Superstition and the Occult (The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies to the folks who have heard of it). Then the murders start happening. Evie's uncle is consulted and she thinks it might be swell to tag along, what she doesn't expect is to be drawn into this investigation so deep. Evie has secrets that may help, but she doesn't know who she can trust with them. She's not the only one with secrets though. Across town there's Memphis Campbell who has been living in the back room at his aunt's with his younger brother. Their father was supposed to find work and send for them, but as the years go by that seems less and less likely. The murder's don't rate high on his radar, until something horrible happens that hits close to home. Then things start to really pick up for Memphis. Meanwhile Evie and her uncle and the rest of their crew are on a hunt to find and/or stop the killer. The information they have just doesn't seem to add up right though. They don't have much time to figure it all out though.

I don't even know where to start with this book. just still in shock with how fabulous it was. I love Libba Bray's other novels, but this one is just startlingly amazing.

Wake - Lisa McMann
Janie started getting sucked into people's dreams at her first sleepover. She doesn't know why or how it happens, but she doesn't care for it. While she's in someone's dream though, her body is left behind, so it's not ideal for her to step in during school or in public. She can't tell people what she sees though. When Janie realizes that not only can she see the dream, but that she is in the dream. She starts to imagine what she can do. Maybe she can help people. That is if the dreams aren't nightmares so horrible they leave her numb.

This book was amazing. I really didn't think is was going to be this good. Lisa McMann crafted such an interesting idea revolving around dreams. Dream-state is a very curious thing, and I love twists on it. Janie was a pretty great character too. I also adored Cabel.

Nothing Like You - Lauren Strasnick
Holly just wants to lose her virginity and get it over with. Her mom's dead and her best friend dates a new girl every other day. Holly just wants to be a part of something for herself. She just wants to feel something. So, she sleeps with Paul. Holly is ready to just leave it at that, but then Paul pursues her and Holly decides to go with it. Then Paul gets back together with his old girlfriend, he still wants to fool around with Holly though. She doesn't love the idea, but she's okay with it until she gets to know Saskia. They have to team up for a school project and Holly decides she a really great person. Paul doesn't want to accept that Holly is done with him and he threatens to destroy her. All Holly wanted was to feel something but numbness and now she's up to her neck in mistakes. Hopefully she can find a way out of this before she leaves to go to college and never has a chance to fix things.

As You Wish - Jackson Pearce
Viola didn't mean to summon Jinn, but she had a strong wish and there he was. Jinn just wants her to make her wishes so he can go home, but Viola doesn't want to wish. Usually his masters know exactly what they want and he can be on his way in no time. Hours pass and then days and the relationship between genie and master changes. Jinn is no longer sure what he wants and Viola has already used up some of her wishes. Once she wishes the last wish he'll be gone, from Earth and her memory.

I haven't read too many genie books, so it was a nice change of pace and a fresh idea to me.

Break - Hannah Moskowitz
Jonah wants to break every bone in his body, because broken bones grow back stronger. His slightly younger brother Jesse is allergic to everything and can practically only eat protein shakes and apples. His baby brother won't stop crying. So Jonah knows it's up to him to be the strong one. He has to take care of Jesse. How can he do a good job though, when he keeps breaking his bones? The answer is, he can't. His self-destruction send him down a bad path and Jonah may be the one who needs the most help.

The concept of someone breaking their bones so that they can be stronger makes no sense to begin with. Ones Jonah explains the whole reason of why he believes it though, it makes more sense...maybe too much sense.

Fade Out - Nova Ren Suma
Dani loves film noir movies. Little Art plays those lovely black and white flicks, which is the only good thing in her middle-of-nowhere town. Dani wishes her life were more like the movies and less like the suck-fest it has become now that her parents are divorced. Then one day, a mystery presents itself and Dani is on the case. There's a girl in polka-dot tights and she knows she has to figure out who she is and what she's doing. There's deeper reasons why this mystery means so much to her, and as she unravels the mystery she discovers things about herself and the people around her that she never would have known. 

This was such a fun read. Even though she is selfish and sarcastic, she was quite a great character. 

Looking For Alaska - John Green
Miles is interested in the last words of dead people. He wants to seek the "Great Perhaps" that Francois Rabelais spoke of and thinks the best place to start is at a boarding school. So he packs up and moves South to Culver Creek. Here he meets the Colonel and Alaska Young. The Colonel is Miles' roommate and Alaska is everything Miles never knew he wanted. Even through her ups and downs, Miles is obsessed with her. At first he thinks that maybe boarding school isn't as exciting as it could be, but soon enough things start to change. Miles finds that a lot will happen to him at boarding school, more than he cares for. He might even find a glimpse into that "Great Perhaps".

 If you haven't read John Green, I don't know what you're waiting for, but you should be. If you read any realistic fiction at all make sure you check this one out. This was John's first, and it's just as good as his other novels. Maybe even better.

Faking 19 - Alyson Noël
Alex and M are best friends. M is the most popular girl in the school, so Alex gets a pretty high ranking too. They decided that L.A. is the place to be, since there are nightclubs and older boys. Even though Alex should be studying to improve her grades, she follows M into the city. There they meet so guys and pretend to be nineteen, legal. Alex is struggling with a lot of things though, and faking nineteen just adds to the complications. She gets a much older boyfriend and spends almost all of her time in L.A. She dreams of a life different from the one she has, but if she can't graduate high school, she'll be stuck there for another year. Alex has little time to figure her life out and M doesn't seem to care about her friends despair. M just wants to have a good time, worry-free. 

This book was a lot better than I was expecting. I was really expecting it to be a shallow read. Alex was a pretty complex person though, so that made the book way more interesting.

Queen of Everything - Deb Caletti
Jordan found her hippie mother to be a bit too "out there" so she decides she should live with her father. He's an optometrist, and very level-headed. At least, he used to be. Lately he's been acting a bit strange and Jordan thinks she knows the cause...Gayle D'Angelo. She's a married woman and her dad is in love. Jordan knows there's not a lot she can do about it since he is an adult, but she can tell that this is wrong. Besides that, Jordan is living a typical teenage life. She has an accidental boyfriend, but a crush on somebody else and her best friend gossips with her at work. Things are going pretty well until things with her father's love life blow up in a way Jordan could never have imagined.

 This was a pretty interesting novel. Jordan had a lot of stuff going on. It must be nice but a little strange having your divorced parents living so close. Jordan can easily bounce between household, so when one house proves to be too much she can just go over to the other one. This book was incredibly predictable though. From the first chapter, I knew exactly what was going to happen. The side stories were still interesting though, so it didn't ruin the book. It's just a shame that it was so obvious.

Paper Covers Rock - Jenny Hubbard
Is Male, Alex, starts writing in the journal his father gave him at the beginning of the school year. He's started after one of his best friends dies. Is Male is not the most direct narrator however, and tells you many stories around his friend's death. Slowly in brief passages the truth of what happened at the rock comes out. Is Male didn't know the whole story, he still isn't sure what is true. His journal helps him through his journey though, helps him be okay.

Transcendence - C.J. Omololu
Cole has started having these weird daydreams. All of a sudden she'll sink into one. They are all of other people though, in other times. This started while she was visting the Tower of London. There she met a guy named Griffon. The questions he asks her when making she is okay, hint that he knows something more about what is happening to her. The closer they get, the more she learns. Cole finds out that those visions are her past, and someone from before is out to get her now. There are others who can remember the lives they once led, people who have known for years. If Cole can't figure out why someone is after her, she might not have much time left in this life. So good. This book was simply amazing.

Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone - Kat Rosenfield
On a night where everything started to change for Becca, a dead body changed her town. The unknown corpse of a girl on the side of the road, left her small town fumbling. The cops weren't sure what to do with a murder case, and no one knew how this could have happened in this town. Everyone knew one thing though: the person who did this couldn't have been from around here. Becca wants to escape this town at the end of the summer, but the murder has left her rattled. Her plans seem less sure and she finds herself curiously drawn in to the gossip surrounding the mysterious girl. Amelia Anne Richardson was on her way to her big new life, until something happened that left her stuck in a small town she never knew. Amazing. Can that be the end of my review? I mean, what else is there to say. This book was just as good as I had hoped it would be .
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This is Not a Test - Courtney Summers
Sloane already feels dead on the inside, ever since her sister abandoned her. So why is she fighting to survive? A zombie invasion seems like the perfect cover for her to just give up completely. Unfortunately, there are five other people that are part of her group now. They care whether she lives or dies, so she is supposed to care too. As the days pass and no help comes for them though, just surviving might not be enough. If help doesn't come for them, they may have to seek help. Sloane doesn't see the point to go on, but she can't bring herself to give up just yet. 
Everything Courtney writes is fantastic. If you haven't read anything by her yet, you definitely should.

 Tina's Mouth - Keshni Kashyap and Mari Araki
Tina M. attends a "fancy" school. At this school she is taking a philosophy class in which she has been assigned to keep an existential diary. She decides to address her diary to Sartre, who is one of the philosophers they are studying. In it we watch Tina discover how to be, how to grow up and who she really is. 

Definitely check this one out if you enjoyed Persepolis or love graphic novels that make you think.

Damosel - Stephanie Spinner
The Lady of the Lake played a crucial role in the tale of the Great King Arthur. But what did she do when she wasn't helping the king? She did what others do, bide their time. She talked with her cousin and found a fellow whom she cared deeply for. She used magic and tried to right some wrongs. In this novel, you will get to read about The Lady of the Lake's life before and after she helped Arthur.

If you are an Arthurian legend fan, I highly suggest that you check this one out.

Where Things Come Back - John Corey Whaley
"If I had a gun, I would shoot the Lazarus woodpecker in the face." Colin is your typical seventeen-year-old kid in a small, dull Arkansas town. Nothing exciting ever really happens, and he dreams of escape. Enter John Barling. He is a middle-aged man who has supposedly seen a bird that was thought to be extinct—and he's seen it in Lily Arkansas. Now Colin's town is in a Lazurus frenzy. Everyone has high hopes about what this means and what this means for Lily. Then Colin's brother Gabriel disappears. Hardly a mention can be made above the woodpecker hubbub. Weeks pass and Colin gets more hopeless, while the town's hopes raise higher at the thought of that damn Lazurus woodpecker. In another Southern town a young missionary has returned from Africa down-trodden. He wants to spread God's word, but doesn't think that just feeding people is enough to do it. Slowly these two stories meld together and show that things don't always make sense or happen as you expect them to.

Winter Town - Stephen Emond
It's winter again, which means Evan is eagerly awaiting his childhood friend's arrival. The Lucy that comes this year though, isn't what Evan was expecting. After her parents divorced she went south to live with her mother. Little by little that has been changing her. This year Lucy shows up with piercings, dyed hair and a distant attitude. At first Evan is completely taken aback. He wanted his old Lucy, slowly he sees beneath the surface and catches glimpses of his old friend. She grew up with him, but has been spending the last few years growing up alone. They are in different universe now, but they both want to share the same one again. The timing might not be right though, they both have to figure out who they are and where they are going. 

Blood Wounds - Susan Beth Pfeffer
Happy families are not all the same, they're just better at faking it. Happy families hide the anger and resentment right below the surface, waiting for it to boil over.
Willa has a happy family. She has a stepfather and sisters, but they are all happy and love each other. Everything seems fine, until Willa's real father murders his family and comes for her. She doesn't really remember him and didn't know he had little girls, didn't know she had half sisters. Willa decides that she has to go to where her parents came from and mourn those little girls. She has to find her roots, what she's made of. Even her happy family isn't enough for Willa until she can go dig in the past and find out the truth about her life that she's forgotten.

May B. - Caroline Starr Rose
May's father decides that May needs to help the family out. The harvest was great this year, and they need some extra money. He takes her fifteen miles west out in the prairie to help a new couple settle into prairie life. Unfortunately the wife is less than willing to accept the quite loneliness of the great west. Soon the wife, Mrs. Oblinger, takes off to head back home. Mr. Oblinger, upon finding out races into town to try and stop her. May is left alone to get supper ready. Night comes and goes, and then another, and then another and May thinks they might not ever come back. A month or so passes and May is still completely alone. She has no way of telling her family what has happened and she has no way of getting home. Then the blizzard comes and May isn't prepared. She's trapped inside the home with no escape, and no one coming to get her for a while yet.

Love & Leftovers  - Sarah Tregay
When things get rough in Marcie's parents marriage, she's dragged away from Idaho and all her friends to New Hampshire. What she thought at first was going to be a summer trip, last well past labor day. Marcie now doesn't know if she will ever be going home, and it's hard to have long-distance friends and a boyfriend. Her mother has her own issues going on, so Marcie is left on her own. Then a cute boy starts paying her attention. What starts out as a friendship may turn into so much more. How can she live two lived though, how can she know who to love? Will she ever go home, or is she stuck in New Hampshire forever?
I would definitely recommend this to lovers of novels in verse, realistic fiction and, of course, love.

Born Wicked - Jessica Spotswood
Cate and her sisters are witches. Their mother was a witch too. Now that she's dead though, Cate is tasked with looking after her sisters and keeping their eccentricities a secret. You see, people don't like witches, they are considered wicked and are sent away...or worse. Cate's mother did not leave her very much advice on how to go on, she said no one could be trusted not even their father. Cate also has to worry about coming of age. If she doesn't pick a husband or choose to go into the Sisterhood, the Council will choose for her. With all this on Cate's shoulders it would be nice for her to have an ally. Someone who could know her secret and help her and her sisters stay safe.

I would recommend that anyone who likes a good old-fashioned witch novel should pick this up.

Chopsticks - Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral
Glory and Frank are now neighbors. Glory is a piano prodigy with a dead mother and a demanding father. Frank is a Mexican immigrant doing poorly in school. They fit together though and everything is okay. Until Chopsticks. They both become obsessed with the song and Glory accidentally plays it when she's not supposed to. Over and over again. They need to find their sanity. They need to find their place in the world. All they need is to be together.

Still Waters - Emma Carlson Berne
Hannah doesn't know for sure if she loves her boyfriend Colin. The pressure is on her to say it though, since he's already said it a few times. Each time she says she has to think about it or that the moment has to be perfect. Hannah just wants them to be alone, really alone so that she can know for sure. She decides to surprise him with a trip to his family cabin for the weekend. Colin isn't thrilled about going there, because he doesn't remember liking it but he reluctantly agrees. It's way off the beaten path though, hidden deep in the woods. Hannah gets a very uncomfortable felling, but tries to let it go. She just wants this too be a nice weekend before Colin goes off to college. When more strange things start happening, the trip goes from fun to scary. Hannah and Colin don't know what's going on, but this is not the trip they had planned.
If you like Psychological Thrillers, snatch this one up right away. This book really creeped me out. I read it in one sitting, right before bed and could feel the cool lake air drifting into my dreams.

The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern
Sometimes there are magicians who pretend to have magic, but are simply skilled at illusion. Other times there are magicians who have real magic but have to pretend they are just illusions. The Night Circus is spawned and one of the latter magicians audition for the illusionist job. She has been practicing and training all her life to face her competition. She does not yet know who they are, but they know who she is. They are playing a game that has rules not made clear to them. The circus and all the people involved are pawns, and sometimes sacrifices are made. The two competitors get in too deep, when they let their emotions get the better of them. Few people know of this hidden secret that the circus keeps, most are just dazzled by it's elegance and whimsy. Step inside a tent and perk up your ears to hear the story of Le Cirque des Rêves.
What a wonderful story. I never wanted it to end. I took my time with this, devouring just one morsel at a time. The story plays out as if you were meandering around the circus.

Looking for some other great recommendations? You can try Wicked Awesome Books or the YALSA website.

Here are the Top Ten Books that were picked for last year from YALSA!
  1. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare 
  2. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins 
  3. Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick 
  4. I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore 
  5. The Iron King by Julie Kagawa 
  6. Matched by Ally Condie 
  7. Angel: A Maximum Ride Novel by James Patterson
  8. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White 
  9. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver 
  10. Nightshade by Andrea Cremer 

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