Hello, nerdfighters! I apologise for my extended absence. But it is a new year which means a new start :) I really want to get back into organising the blurbing book club and giving you all lots of book recommendations in 2014...

To kick things off right, I'd like to share my top 13 books that I read in 2013.  Last year I read 220 books in total so it was quite hard to narrow it down to just 13.  The books below are in no particular order other than I've listed them in order of the date I read them. I loved every single one of these books. Please do share in comments your favourite books that you read last year! I'd love to hear them.  I've just noticed that the majority of my reading this year had a very contemporary/realistic slant. If you have incredible book recommendations in other genres then definitely do comment down below!

Just One Day by Gayle Forman

I really love Gayle Forman. Her books If I Stay and Where She Went were hugely emotional reads for me. I think she has a great voice and I love her beautiful writing style. I was very excited to read this book, the first book in a pair of books around the same characters. Both books (this and Just One Year) tells the story of a boy and a girl, Allyson and Willem who meet while Allyson is abroad during the summer before she starts university. They spend this one glorious day in Paris together having adventures and falling in love ... only for Willem to suddenly disappear afterwards. In Just One Day we get to see Allyson as she tries to pick herself up after this heartbreak and go back to her life and off to university.  While I of course loved the relationship between Allyson and Willem, for me I loved this story so much because of how much it is about Allyson breaking out of the mould that other people have formed her into.  Her trip to Europe has shown her what happiness looks like and it isn't her old life and she actively tries to change things.  And I really enjoyed reading of her journey towards this.  Sadly, I didn't enjoy Willem's story as much as Allyson's but still a good read.

Geek Girl and Geek Girl: Model Misfit by Holly Smale

Oh wow, do I love this series by Holly Smale! The first two books in the series were published this year and Geek Girl is Holly Smale's debut work.  She's created an amazing main character, Harriet Manners, who very easily has jumped onto my list of favourite characters ever.  Harriet is a teenager who is ... a bit of a geek. (Perhaps nerdfighters can relate?!) She's picked on at school for her geeky ways and all of the unusual facts she knows... and while she is out on a school trip, she's spotted by a modelling agency and shoots up very quickly into one of their top models. Does this change how the other students view her at school? No, it doesn't. Geek Girl is a very funny, geeky, and romantic read.  It had me grinning like mad, laughing at loud and being very close to tears. There's quite a bit in both books about bullying but also about family and friendship and staying true to who you are. Plus? Bonus points for including a likeable stalker as a secondary character!

Undone by Cat Clarke

Cat Clarke is an incredible writer. With each book of hers that I read, I find myself feeling such strong emotions. None more so than Undone about a girl who is struggling to get by after the suicide of her best friend. She goes on this mission to take down the popular kids in her school who she thinks forced her friend into his desperate act and in the process begins to lose herself into her anger and revenge. Meanwhile, her best friend has written her 12 letters, one a month to help her through the first year without him. Sob city, let me tell you.   I cried big, ugly tears reading this one. Very heartfelt and emotional. One that really made me think as well and I loved how complicated everything turns out to be.

The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks

Ooh. I'm a huge of Kevin Brooks in general. And I was super excited to read this one. It is a very unsettling and quite dark and disturbing book and I wish I knew more people who have read this book so that I can discuss it in more detail! The Bunker Diary tells of a boy who has been living rough for awhile and he is abducted by an unknown man and put into this bunker. He has no idea where he is, why he was taken or who is behind his kidnapping. As the story goes on, more people start arriving in this bunker and it just widens the mystery further as to what on earth is going on? I loved this book so much. Very creepy.

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

I really love The Infernal Devices series much more than Cassandra Clare's more popular series, The Mortal Instruments. And while I really wish there were more historical detail in TID, I do really love the action and the story and especially the main characters and their relationships with each other.  I cried like a little baby in this third and final book in the trilogy as Tessa finally decides between Will and Jem. (If you're interested, I'm totally Team Jem!) I didn't LOVE that epilogue, but the rest of the book with it's emotion overload more than made up for it.

You Don't Know Me by Sophia Bennett

I do love Sophia Bennett's books. I thought Threads, her trilogy mixing fashion and social issues, was wonderful. I especially loved The Look about a girl who is spotted by a modelling agency at the same time as her sister is dealing with cancer was really great as well. But this book, You Don't Know Me has been my favourite of Bennett's by far. I love how much the book is about friendship and song-writing and figuring yourself out and about cyber-bullying and a little about love.  It's a really great story about how a group of friends enters a singing competition and manage to kick out their fat friend after the judge's comments. Everyone thinks they know exactly what was going on in that moment but this book is all about how things are always much more interesting and complicated than they first appear. I loved this book to pieces, I really recommend it!

Monkey Wars by Richard Kurti

Monkey Wars is one of my favourite books that I discovered last year and despite it being a book that I read a fairly long time ago, it is still a book that has burrowed into my heart and stayed there.  I really loved this book.  I loved how surprising this book was to me.  It's about two groups of monkeys, the Rhesus and the Langur fighting but it's also more than that. Through the two main characters, Papina and Mico, Richard Kurti shows us about politics and war and power and the consequences of war and about propaganda and how terrible things happen and how certain personalities might come into power. This is a book about monkeys but it's also a book about humanity.  I really want more people to read this book.

Unbreakable by Elizabeth Norris

Wow, this book. Unbreakable is the sequel (and final book in this series) to Unravelling, a book that was described as 24 meets The X Files.  I think it's better compared to Fringe, personally, but in either case both books, Unravelling and Unbreakable are absolutely incredible, heart-stopping books. I was on the edge of my seat during both books absolutely terrified and furiously turning pages to find out what would happen next. The entire series is kept at a very fast pace with tension through the roof both in terms of action and a rather amazing romantic relationship. But seriously, fate of the world is in the hands of two teenagers and I still don't think I've recovered yet from the emotional roller coaster that was either book. If you haven't yet read either of these books I suggest that you high tail it immediately to your local independent book store!

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

I really hope that you all have already read and loved this book as much as I did. It's such a beautiful book. I really fell in love with both main characters, Eleanor and Park. I love that she's a bigger girl. We need more plus size main characters. And I love that Park is half-Korean. More diversity in YA like this, please!  I absolutely adored the relationship between these two characters, how it's pretty begrudging at first as they share the same bus bench and then slowly start to share comics and then, of course, more. There was so much beauty and build-up in this relationship that it regularly broke my heart as I read the story. Eleanor and Park was such a joy to read and I highly anticipate reading more by Rainbow Rowell in the future!

The Bone Dragon by Alexia Casale

Out of all the books I've read this year and out of all the books that made my top 13 list, I have to say that The Bone Dragon by Alexia Casale is my favourite of them all. 220 books read last year and I can say without question that the top book for me is this book.  I really want you all to rush out now and read this book.  It's the story of a girl who is being adopted into a new family. Her birth family put her through some terrible times and it's taken a lot for Evie to open up about the horrible things she's experienced. Because of this, she has to have a bit of her rib removed and a kindly uncle helps her to carve this bit of bone into a dragon. During the night, the dragon comes alive and helps Evie to move on and to find the courage and strength within herself. I love that while some obvious abuse has taken place in Evie's life, none of that abuse is mentioned explicitly. What is mentioned and is littered throughout this story are wonderful characters and very strong family bonds.  I love the dragon in particular. This book is about hope and revenge and about Evie finding a way to deal with all the darkness.

Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott

Elizabeth Scott is one of my favourite ever writers. Everything she's written whether it be a light-hearted contemporary romance - like Perfect You or Bloom - to something much more dark and twisted - I'm looking at you, Living Dead Girl - no matter what Elizabeth Scott writes you can be assured that it will be messy, complicated and emotional. And Heartbeat was just that for me.  It's the story of a girl, Emma, going through a rough time. She's getting bad grades at school, she doesn't know what to do with all of her anger for her step-father, and she might just be falling for a local bad boy, Caleb Harrison. The only person in the world who could help Emma sort through the mess of her life is her mother but sadly, Emma cannot really talk to her own mother. Because her mom is currently in hospital: brain-dead and only being kept alive by machines in order to keep Emma's unborn brother or sister alive until it might be safe for him or her to be born. I do love Elizabeth Scott and I will always be excited to read more of her stories!

This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

Yay, I love this book so much.  It's so much a story of finding a place to belong and something and people that you're passionate about. I loved the journey that our main character, Elise, goes on to find these things after a failed attempt at fitting in with the popular crowd.  She stumbles across a warehouse party and this group of friends, including mysterious DJ, Char.  There, Elise makes friends, falls in love and finds out that DJing is something she's both good at and enjoys.  There's so much to love about this book. It's painful and beautiful in its truths and I could relate to so much of what Elise has gone through.  I think it is definitely a book to be loved by nerdfighters.

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A. S. King

Please Ignore Vera Dietz was the final book that I read in 2013. I'd had it downloaded onto my Kindle for ages and I'd heard really good things about the author generally, but this was my first book by her. Definitely won't be my last though as it really made an impression on me! I have kind of a love/hate relationship going on with stories that are told involving flashbacks and so on but I thought that the flashbacks in this book really added a fantastic emotional layer to the narrative. Also? I have to say the somewhat bizarre perspectives really made me laugh. Some, like Vera's dad provided extra information, other's, like a pagoda, were just downright weird. But in a good way. I really love how even though Charlie Kahn is dead before the book begins we're still really able to get a clear grasp of who he is and what he means to Vera and why she's holding onto Charlie's secrets long after he's gone. What a great book! If reading this doesn't inspire you to pick up A. S. King's other books, then I just don't know what to say to you.

These were my top 13 books that I read in 2013. What were your favourites?

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Tags: 13, 2013, books, recommendations, top, ya


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Comment by Anna Marie Rooney on January 31, 2014 at 7:46am
Omigod, I'm reading Eleanor and park right now.. GREAT BOOK! Hav to say tho, the Richie riting in her books?.. Kinda obvious! Idno, was that just me? Anyway, gonna read clockwork princess now.. And hopefully the rest after! :)
Comment by s.k. on January 30, 2014 at 9:28am

I didn't read It's Kind of a Funny Story in 2013, but it's one of my favorite books. And I'd like to make a shout-out to Ned Vizzini, who unfortunately committed suicide on December 19,2013.

Comment by Erin on January 26, 2014 at 2:29pm

This has been out forever but The Graveyard book, I fell in love with it and bought two copies. A movie would be wonderful.
The Graveyard Book

Comment by Carolyn Wolfram on January 16, 2014 at 4:24pm

I loved It's Kind of a Funny Story too and loved it! I ordered Undone and look forward to reading that :) I also started reading The Selection series by Kiera Cass and was hooked! I love YA dystopian novels and this series has been added to my list of favorites!

Comment by Michelle on January 16, 2014 at 12:44am
I'm really glad you read and enjoyed It's Kind of a Funny Story, I really did as well! x
Comment by Amelia Deering on January 15, 2014 at 6:42pm
Comment by Amelia Deering on January 15, 2014 at 6:42pm
I read It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini. I don't think it's new, but I saw it at Barnes and Noble and I liked the cover (I know, I know, but it was cool) :P It's a really realistic and hones book about how a teenager deals with peer pressure and academic pressure, among other things. It has a very honest voice that sounded like how a teen talks and in addition to TFiOS and Looking for Alaska (I'm a new nerdfighter) it was definitely one of my favorite books this year.
Comment by Michelle on January 15, 2014 at 9:50am
I've read both, Ali! Thanks for sharing. I really love Meg Rosoff's stories in particular :)
Comment by Ali on January 15, 2014 at 9:25am
I know it's been out forever, but I recently read The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I connected really emotionally to the main character Charlie. I can't really say much because this book has me at a loss for words. Another painfully breath taking read is Just in Case by Meg Rosoff. It's about a boy called David, who suddenly realizes that death cold come at any minute, any second. That fate is inevitable. He attempts to hide from fate, rather than change it. This book should be read by every single person in the universe. It's message is astounding and I will carry it with me for the rest of my life.

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