Posted in bookish rambles

Where is the love?

Over the last few days I have been seeing a lot of people talk about the best books of the year so far- both in YA and adult categories.  While I thought long and hard about doing this as well (and still might), it got me thinking about some of the books that I have loved in the past- I mean went fan-girl bananas for-but haven’t seen much chatter about.  So I present to you my list of hype worthy books that never got the hype they deserved.

  1. I Shall Not Hate, Izzeldin Abuelaish.  This book is one of the most inspiring that I have ever read.  Izzeldin was a doctor working in hospitals on both sides of the Gaza Strip.  In this book he is very candid about the war, prejudices, his treatment on both sides, and the loss of his daughters who were killed.  I still tear up when I talk about it.  I cannot imagine having something like this happen, but what really floored me is his reaction.  It would be easy to lay blame, become hardened, hurtful…. instead he is still an advocate for peace.  He did not let this tragedy destroy him, or his remaining family.  He chose not to hate, and instead insist upon peace, love, and understanding.
  2. Eva Luna, Isabel Allende.  This has long been my favorite book.  With a touch of magical realism and a flare for words Allende brings to life this intriguing woman.  We follow Eva as she tells us the story of her life, loves, and discoveries.  The characters are unique and charming, and the world she built in the jungle is so real that on cold nights I open up that book just to feel the humid heat.  How does this book not have a fandom?!?
  3. Kids of Appetite, David Arnold.   This was definitely a YA fave from last year.  We open to Vic and Mad stalling for time, each in their own interrogation room (seriously, what an opening)!  As he attempted to fulfill his father’s last wish, Vic is engulfed in a group of street kids.  Having a birth defect, he had never been able to really interact with people easily, but Mad, Baz, Zuz and Coco take him into their little family and life changes for all of them.  I don’t want to go too far into it, you can read my review here.  All I am going to say, is that this book needs hype.  Everyone should read it!  I loved it and am still mildly obsessed with it.
  4. A Taste For Monsters, Matthew J Kirby.  Another favorite from last year, this book blew me away.  Evelyn Fallows is a down on her luck young woman who had been disfigured badly in her previous job.  As a madman called Leather Apron is terrorizing London, Evelyn finds safety in a hospital as a probationer.  She looks after John Merrick, also known as the Elephant Man.  As the two get close, she notices that Merrick is visited by ghosts- Leather Apron’s victims- looking for closure.  Kindhearted man that he is, he wants to help and give comfort, but it is taking a toll on him.  To protect her new friend, can Evelyn find the strength to find the answers herself?   Seriously guys, this book is fantastic and I just didn’t find that many reviews on it.  How are we not talking about this book still- and always?
  5. Passenger, Alexandra Bracken.  I guess there were a lot of books from last year that I am still obsessed with.  On the night of her big performance, Etta learns a secret.  Her family can jump through time!  Practically kidnapped and thrown back in time, Etta tries to come to terms with this new reality and discover who is friend and foe.  With an amazing caste of characters and gorgeous world building I feel like this deserves at least Hunger Games level hype.  The sequel, Wayfarer, was even better, allowing for some fantastic character development.
  6. Learning to Swear in America, Katie Kennedy.  An end-of-the-world novel where our hero is a socially awkward teen genius from Russia who is just now learning the ins and outs of dating and human interaction.  Yuri and his friends were fantastic, well developed characters that you loved to death.  The book was both hilarious and heartfelt.  I remember seeing it reviewed here on WordPress and thinking…. I have to have this.  It took me over completely.  I am still waiting for I<3 Yuri shirts and memorabilia.
  7. The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko, Scott Stombach.  All his life (seventeen years), Ivan has lived the a Belarus hospital for Gravely Ill Children where he spices up the day to day hum drum by manipulating everyone around him.  He is a brash potty mouthed little demon that is both hilarious and annoying, often getting the better of his nurses.  Then Polina shows up.  While she is, indeed, terminally ill, there is such a life force to her that Ivan knows she doesn’t belong.  As the two get to know one another they both grow as people, maturing before our eyes.  The personal growth I saw in Ivan was mind blowing.  This was just a really great read- and I may or may not know how to call someone a “beef whistle” in Russian.  Seriously, lets get some merchandise out for this one.  I would totally wear that shirt!
  8. The Eagle Tree, Ned Hayes.  I have to say, this is one of the most unique narrators I have ever read.  March Wong is autistic, and has a lot of trouble being understood.  His obsession of trees, and climbing them, has landed him in some hot water in the past and with the threat of having him taken away, his mother is trying to curb that.  It is his love of trees, though, that allows him to find his calling and branch out, allowing others into his world.  I felt like Hayes did an exceptional job with this book, making March the hero of his own story and bringing the struggle that people with autism and their loved ones go through.  March needs a fan club.
  9. Love in Lowercase, Francesc Miralles.  Samuel is a loner.  A linguist and a genius, he never did learn how to interact with others and has no one in his life.  When Mishima, a stray cat, arrives at his apartment and refuses to leave, Samuel is forced out of his comfort zone and into an intriguing world with unforgettable characters.  Again, where is the merchandise?!?!  Where are the Samuel/ Mishima fan clubs?
  10. Invisible, Shari Shattuck.  Ellen is severely overweight and self conscious.  She has learned to make herself so unnoticed as to be invisible.  Having lived her adult life hoping never to be seen, Ellen isn’t ready for the moment when everything changes.  Coming off the bus, Ellen notices a young blind woman being robbed and rushes in without thinking.  Temerity doesn’t care what Ellen looks like, only that Ellen was there.  She takes her new friend in hand and with the help of her brother Justice starts giving Ellen the things she needs for a better life- basic nutritional education and a whole lot of confidence.

I may love this one best because it has such a great message.  No one made Ellen change her life- there was no boy that would fall for her if only…. instead this is about a woman not only beginning to learn how to love and take care of herself, but a testament to the power of friendship and encouragement.  Sometimes I think Ellen has partially inspired my own drive to become healthier.  Both she and Temerity need fan clubs.

Of course, I could name a hundred others… but you get the point.  Which books do you think did not get the hype they deserved?  And what are you still obsessed with?

Amber

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