Ever read a book you’re just dying to talk about with friends, but can’t because they’ve never read or heard of it? I know the feeling so as such I decided to give a little shout out in my corner of the blogosphere to all the writers whose amazing books aren’t just loved the way they should be. For this all books have around 10,000 or less Goodreads ratings, a general lack of hype on blogs and Booktube, and are just as a whole relatively unknown. Ready to find your new favorite reading gem?
Memoirs are a tricky kind of story to write. Cowriters have to take the stories of a compelling and inspirational person, one who may not be a born wordsmith, and from there make it a book. Many come across as preachy, or as a cash grab by a washed up has been celebrity. When done right though, they continually blow my mind at the grasp of emotional punch they pack to a reader. Positive: A Memoir by the truly inspirational Paige Rawl was one such masterful attempt. Geared for middle grade and young adult readers it tells two separate but concurrent stories in Rawl’s life; her lifelong battle with HIV and the bullying she has endured because of it. Not only does it educate grade school bookworms in a very approachable way on the truths and myths of the HIV virus, it also offers an emotional and highly personal look at the journey Rawl has taken to be at ease in her own skin. Not nearly enough people have read and recommended this awe inspiring book that is a must have on the shelves of all libraries. I believe it is my civil service duty to get you to pick it up!
I believe I’ve mentioned this vastly underappreciated young adult historical fiction novel many times over the course of my time blogging, more than likely in reference to it’s stellar characters, meticulously detailed research, and rich plot. Though the genre in itself doesn’t get nearly the credit it deserves this book in particular really drew the short end of the stick as it sinfully goes unknown by the general reading public. Not only does it have a beautiful cover, credentials that attest to the greatness contained in its pages, but a fascinating plot synopsis as well. In a nut shell it’s about lovers Ada, who lives in West Berlin, and Stefan, trapped in East Berlin, as they’re relationship is tested at the height of Communism in the 1980’s. I mean how could such a Romeo and Juliet-esque tragic love story not be getting more adoration? It’s practically a crime in itself! But seriously, just pick it up!
I’m a contemporary girl through and through, but while that means I pick up realistic fiction at a less than healthy rate, I am in turn a bit more critical to judge the books actual merits. Having never heard of What Happens Next, and feeling in the mood to give an indie author a go I picked this up. Boy, am I glad I did too! It ended up being one of my favorites of 2014 and I continually try to get all my reading buddies to just give it a chance no matter what past trepidations of the genre they have. Clayton is a master at building characters, and from page one I was rooting for the sassy and spunky Sid as I watched her grow so much as a character, overcoming obtsacles and mending relationships with her mom, friends, and the adorable love interest Corey. The story has a difficult theme at it’s core, but the book is so much more than that, being both a romance, a family story, and an uplifting story about breaking free from stigmas. Worth checking out for anyone who loves a good contemporary (or really just anyone)!
In an attempt to fulfill a football related requirement in a reading challenge I was participating in, I broke my sports-fiction phobia and against my better judgement picked Gym Candy up. As a girl with zero understanding of the game this was bound to be a disaster that would leave me DNFing it by page 50, I thought going into it. In an unlikely turn of events though this book blew my mind in an epic way, shattering all prior with standings in the process. Not only was it easy for me to comprehend and digest, but the book brought genuine heart and fruit for thought on a complex issue I’ve never read about. If you’re like me and are letting misconceptions cloud your chances of reading a surprisingly fulfilling genre, Gym Candy is the place to start. No joke, Deuker can make miracles happen with a couple rainy touchdown sequences. Young or old, man or woman, sporto or gym class dropout, pick it up!
This book is totally, utterly, completely fluff fiction. No joke, it could take a fast reader less than two hours to complete the book in it’s entirety. Contained in those pages though is the story of Rosemary Goode, a teenage girl much more than ordinary and far from a shallow well. While everyone’s praising Julie Murphy’s Dumplin’ for being the “original” story of a confident, at home in her own skin, young woman all I can do is be like “Yo, check out Artichokes Heart“. They literally have only a few minor differences, with the main character in both being a sassy girl figuring out her place in the world. While, from what I can tell at least, Artichoke’s Heart seems like a much more character driven story (there’s very little of an actual plot) both tackle similar themes of how we vs. others perceive ourselves, accepting you for you, and just living life the way you want to live it. This book is way under recognized and if you’re ever looking for a book to fly though, one refreshingly free of many of the clichés I find in YA, look no further.
A book quite popular among our neighbors across the pond it never quite caught on in the same way her in the states. The premise could hardly be more intriguing; it’s told in epistolary format from a teenage girl to a prison inmate on Death Row as she writes to confess a misdoing she’s committed that continues to plague her. While we don’t find out until the very end the horror that’s haunting Zoe we do see vignettes of her life a year earlier that paint interesting character studies of Zoe herself, her family, and two polar opposite brothers smitten with her. Pitcher writes in a way that’s both breathtakingly lyrical and incredibly fast paced, she develops characters and their growth from Point A to B, and is an expert storyteller, leaving me to wonder why this isn’t on more peoples Top 10 list. If you’re looking for something a little different and are prepared to get the Kleenex at the ready, I would recommend this selection.
With the issue of bullying at the forefront of student, parent, and lawmaker minds I’m surprised it took this long for a book to be written detailing the perspective of a bully. Tease is more than worth the wait though as I could not have hand picked a better author myself to write such a provocative book on a controversial subject increasingly prevalent in our world. Maciel takes on the story of Sara, a junior in high school whose taunts and harassment ultimately result in a classmate killing herself. From there everyone has an opinion on the “monster” and “killer”, criminally guilty in the eyes of both the court system and the public media. Flipping back and forth from the small actions that led to an undeniable tragedy, to Sara as she reflects on her role in a death and how she intends to move forward. In less skilled hands Tease could have easily divulged into a free for all jumping off point for an author to express their opinions on a sensitive issue, but Maciel never delves into that territory, instead opting to show both sides of a story with no concrete side of right and wrong. Incredibly researched, with genuine heart and feeling that left me conflicted by the end in the way my opinions stray. Readers will go in with one mindset and come out at the very least with a renewed perspective. Required reading for all junior high and high school students in my opinion!
What are your favorite under appreciated books?