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The Other Side of Lost by Jessi Kirby: Mood Board

Hey y'all!It's Grace here, writing from Athens, Georgia. I've finished a short run (it was hot) and spent most of the day lazing around and watching Cutthroat Kitchen. While I haven't exactly done much since camp, I have chipped away  at some books and largely enjoyed having no schedule.I'm going to be featuring this title on a ton of posts in the upcoming days. Every few months, I read a book that just blows me out of the water. One that I champion, and push on everyone. And I love watching it ripple throughout my friends and readers.In general, this is a book that I could see a lot of people (especially my age) relating to and appreciating. Whether you're a nature aficionado or glued to your iPhone, or both, it's relevant and searing in subtle and graceful ways.The Other Side of Lost is also a stellar read in terms of aesthetic. In the summers and at school, I love the scent of dirt, the aching of your legs after a long day of hiking, the colors of the mountains when you reach the top. Love. There are so many images related to backpacking that linger. Also, hiking is ALL about the little things -- both during the planning stages and during the actual day.So naturally, your girl made a mood board.

The Book

Novel: The Other Side of Lost by Jessi Kirby | GoodreadsRelease Date: August 7, 2018Publisher: HarperTeen

Girl Online meets Wild in this emotionally charged story of girl who takes to the wilderness to rediscover herself and escape the superficial persona she created on social media.Mari Turner’s life is perfect. That is, at least to her thousands of followers who have helped her become an internet starlet. But when she breaks down and posts a video confessing she’s been living a lie—that she isn’t the happy, in-love, inspirational online personality she’s been trying so hard to portray—it goes viral and she receives major backlash. To get away from it all, she makes an impulsive decision: to hike the entire John Muir trail. Mari and her late cousin, Bri, were supposed to do it together, to celebrate their shared eighteenth birthday. But that was before Mari got so wrapped up in her online world that she shut anyone out who questioned its worth—like Bri.With Bri’s boots and trail diary, a heart full of regret, and a group of strangers that she meets along the way, Mari tries to navigate the difficult terrain of the hike. But the true challenge lies within, as she searches for the way back to the girl she fears may be too lost to find: herself.

The Mood

Although it's on the smaller, more abstract side than the mood boards I have normally created for books, I love that it hits on a ton of the points of The Other Side of Lost. I wanted to include Snickers, but they didn't fit. I like the camaraderie; I love the little friends with their arms linked around each other. I love all the trail bits: trees and rain and roads and boots. They bring me back so easily.Jessi Kirby's writing style is simple and clear. It's not the most purple of prose, and so perhaps it could also be my personal experiences in the woods. Also, my desire to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. Still, I found the sensory aspects of this book to be so engaging and rewarding.

More treats tomorrow!

Coffeeshops of the Summer

Hey y'all!It's Grace here sitting at my kitchen counter after a long day of writing, packing, running, and making sweet potato fries. Good times. I love days that feel "full," that cater to all the sections of what I view as being a happy, healthy person: working out, reading, doing homework, making something productive. Like, during the school year, days when I go grocery shopping and do my laundry make me feel like I have myself together.Additionally, coffee shop hunting makes me feel like I've done a lot. It's a combination of the caffeine and the work space. Luckily, between New Orleans and Port Hope, I've gotten to discover some new ones and revisit some favorites.Normally, in Lexington, my usual question is just LexCo or Pronto, so it feels good to be able to write about some others.


The Vintage | Magazine Street

The Vintage was one of my best spots that I found in New Orleans. I was a huge fan. It functioned well both as a coffee house, and as a lunch restaurant, and -- if it were a few months later -- a well-stocked bar. The décor was so well put together, both the patrons and the baristas were friendly, and I just soaked in the atmosphere. The aesthetic was divine, and so up my alley -- my favorite coffeeshop discovery of the summer. So nice I went back twice.Drinks: My coffee was delicious.Food: They have a pretty small menu, but it's crammed with excellent choices; my flatbread was divine, and I came back the next day for some truffle fries.Lighting: Solid.Seating: A ton of it! Comfortable couches and cushions near one side, with lines of tables near another that were all marble or similarly nice. I would take so many pictures here.Crowded? No.

Drip Affogato Bar | Carondelet St

I actually completely stumbled across this one as I was walking from Magazine Street to Bourbon Street. I'd recognized it from my vigorous coffee stalking and being in Lexington has given me such a taste for gelato. So needless to say, I had to check it out. It's a tiny spot, very pristine and minimalist in an appealing way. The goods were expensive, and it didn't feel like a place that would be conducive to lingering, so I only got a small scoop of gelato. It was worth checking out though!Drinks: A small menu.Food: Just gelato, but it was great.Lighting: Solid.Seating: Tiny.Crowded? No.

Stumptown Coffee Roasters | Carondelet St

I'm glad I finally got to check out Stumptown as a coffee shop and not just a brand for me to grab on shelves. I'd tried their nitro cold brew before -- which Buddy Brew Coffee in Tampa turned me on to -- but was compelled to try it from the tap. It also smelled so much like roasting coffee beans, which was so wonderful. I loved the dark wooden vibe of Stumptown, but didn't stay long. It was standard, and solid.Drinks: Excellent.Food: I don't recall them having any.Lighting: Dark in the perfect way.Seating: Decent amount.Crowded? No.

Rue De La Course | Carrollton Ave

I popped into Rue De La Course after a long, hot day. All I wanted was a sandwich and a tea, which I got. I loved the atmosphere -- old bank building, gorgeous lighting fixtures, creaky wooden tables. It feels very open as a whole, and is probably one of the places I would study if I went to Tulane. Because it was pretty crowded, I had to go to the upstairs level, which was suffocatingly warm. Also, they don't have pricing on their board -- so it's kind of guess and check.Drinks: I just got an iced tea, but it was refreshing. They had a ton of different drink variations I would love to have tried if I'd been there longer.Food: My sandwich was fine, and it looked like they had a wide range. I wouldn't go out of my way to go there specifically for one, but it hit the spot.Lighting: Patchy. Some spots were pretty dark, but the open style of the building makes it feel airy.Seating: Hard wooden chairs.Crowded? Yes.


Coffee Public | Main Street

I discovered Coffee Public last year after bonding with the owner, who apparently almost played soccer at W&L. Their summer menu is so great: maple lattes and other syrups that are perfectly stereotypical for Canada, as well as various tea/lemonade/spritzer combinations that satisfy the heat. They offer yummy breakfast sandwiches as well as a cozy atmosphere with art, neutrally painted tables, bench seating -- and they serve their beverages in heavy beer mugs. I love the vibe, and it's been an excellent haunt.Drinks: Lots of variation, and they're all so good. They err on the sweet side, so the drinks feel more like a treat. Also, they come with striped straws or all dressed up.Food: Their pastries are well-done and their sandwiches are small but good.Lighting: Great.Seating: Wooden but comfortable.Crowded? Depends.I drink more coffee at camp than I do at any point else in the year -- more than during exam week at school. There are some coffee shops I LOVE in Brevard and Asheville, so let me know in the comments or via social media if you want me to do write-ups on those as well!

What have y'all been sipping on lately? Any good haunts?

WLS Gift Guide 2016

Hey y'all!It's actually been a few years since I've done a bookish gift guide around the holidays, but I've been itching to update my guide from 2014. (All those books still make excellent books though - I reread many of them from time to time!)During finals, I found myself absentmindedly creating the graphics for these and figured it was probably a sign that I needed to actually put it together. It took me a while, but I'm happy with the picks and categorization.Without further ado, here are some of the picks I recommend if you're really scrambling to get a good book for someone this holiday season - divided into categories by reader! Some of them overlap but for the most part, it works out pretty well this way.Starred are those that are especially great for reluctant readers.

The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider* | Goodreads

Newly disabled golden boy finds himself among a group of misfits - including the alluring new girl who's queen of the debate scene, but won't let go of the tragedy in her past. Read my review here.

Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle* | Goodreads

A small-town girl is cast in movie adaptation of the most beloved trilogy - and must navigate a real-life love triangle along with her new identity. My favorite part of this book is the absorbing rhythm of the language, and Paige's inner musings. Read my review here.

Austenland by Shannon Hale | Goodreads

Bookish girl wants to find her own Jane Austen story. Need I say more?

Me Before You* by Jojo Moyes | Goodreads

Heart-wrenching depiction of a romance that isn't meant to last. It blew up the box office this year, and it's a little cheesy, but actually lovely.

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh | Goodreads

Captivating retelling of One Thousand and One Nights with electrifying, complex characters. I threw this book across the room at one point (and embarrassed myself in front of my AP Lit class when I burst into tears.)

Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian | Goodreads

Burn for Burn is an intoxicating revenge story from a group of slighted high school girls. Vivid settings, vicious scenarios, and stunning relationship dynamics. (And I love love love both these writers - Siobhan is a great friend of mine.)

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver | Goodreads

Sam has seven days to relive the last day of her life - and decide which legacy to leave. Brutally honest in its portrayal of high school dynamics - but breathlessly philosophical - Before I Fall is a hit for a reason. Bonus: it's coming out in theaters this spring.

Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley | Goodreads

Sam is one of the strongest protagonists I've ever had the pleasure of reading, and not just because she's in the first class of girls at a prestigious military academy. Her grit and her charm leapt off the page. Read my review here.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda* by Becky Albertalli | Goodreads

This is a heartwarming, funny exploration coming-of-age about a kid who doesn't want to come out just yet - but he's falling in love with his pen pal. A little blackmail, plenty of jokes, and a sweet romance.

This Song Will Save Your Life* by Leila Sales | Goodreads

This is an old favorite of mine. It's battered, and well-loved. Elise is struggling to find the will to live, but her gig as an underground DJ helps her out with that. Throughout her stolen nights, she strings together parts of her identity again.

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson | Goodreads

This is a book that will wreck you if you're not careful. Beautiful, quiet, and dazzling, The Sky is Everywhere depicts the aftermath of a sister's death. As Lenny attempts to navigate life without Bailey, she encounters some unexpected challenges.

Anatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Portes | Goodreads

Anatomy of a Misfit is weird and quirky and also blisteringly alive in a way that's tough to pinpoint. It's pretty hit-or-miss. I love it, but I'm definitely a person who likes out-of-the-box stories. If you have someone who likes literary risks or offbeat narrators - rooted in a backbone of fun and loss - this is one for you.

Juniors by Kaui Hart Hemmings | Goodreads

I don't know why more people don't talk about this one. It dredges up a ton of the tropes seen in YA coming-of-age stories - a magnetic best friend, a new environment - but is still rather quiet. I love the poetic fascination with the Hawaiian backdrop, and some startlingly realistic touches scattered throughout it.

I'll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan | Goodreads

I'll Be There is an old soul of a book. It's original and emotional, but it's told in this simple language that reverberates throughout the book and makes it somehow stronger. It's warm, but also engrossing. A true portrait. Read my review here.


The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski | Goodreads

I read this entire trilogy over the course of two days. I've always heard people gushing about it, but never really gave it a shot. It's dreamy, political, and not afraid to get messy. It's rare that I find a book as dually plot- and character-driven. I'm a huge fan. Read my review here.

Throne of Glass* by Sarah J. Maas | Goodreads

This is a series that's been dominating young adult for the past few years, and for good reason. The backstory is so tangled and well-developed that it does truly feel as if you're dropped into something real and cinematic. It's larger-than-life.

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton | Goodreads

I had the pleasure of reading this one at the beginning of this year, and I wholeheartedly fell in love with it. I loved how vibrant the desert setting was, how insane the plot twists were, the chemistry between the characters.  I wrote earlier on the blog that it has "A weathered protagonist [who] still manages to seem fresh, thanks to thoughtful world-building, a Western vibe, and a supporting cast that keeps her on her toes."

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir | Goodreads

I'm currently rereading this series now, and I'm in awe. On my book Instagram, I call it "an excruciatingly well-written fantasy reread. Political, atmospheric, and sharp." It's long, but it's just absurdly brilliant - especially for those inclined towards fantasies with more military influence.

The Call by Peadar Ó Guilín | Goodreads

The Call is an inventive, malevolent take on the folklore of fey. It's eerie, dark, and structured beyond compare. (Sublime pacing.) In my review, I said: "Every page of it was unfailingly compelling, and the mood was fiercely independent of any other novel I can think of." Bonus for authentic disability representation.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater | Goodreads

Anybody who knows me - or my reading taste - knows that I absolutely worship Maggie Stiefvater's work. Every book of hers has struck a chord with me, in entirely separate ways. Her Raven Cycle series is one that I've relished over the past few years, and would make a great adventure pick. (I especially love the audiobook version!) Join a ragtag group of prep school boys and the local psychic's daughter as they attempt to find a lost Welsh king.

All Fall Down* by Ally Carter | Goodreads

Ally Carter is the queen of intrigue, and the queen of stories about teenage girls. Her protagonist in this series is a lot grittier than her others, but carries the same quiet strength. Political intrigue on the Embassy Row of a fictional country? Marvelous. Intensity, thy name is...

The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig | Goodreads

This pick is a lot quieter than the others, admittedly. I'm uber picky about my time travel narratives, but this one meets the standard. The amount of research in this one is respectable, and I enjoyed the twists in the plot. It's a solid read.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer | Goodreads

Fairy tales, meet cyborgs. Although it seems like a strange combination, Meyer pulls it off flawlessly. I still remember finishing this one for the first time: my heart pounding, in absolute awe. This series surprises me like no other. It has better action, world-building, and character development than anything else I can think of that's out there. Stunning.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor | Goodreads

This book is a marvel. Take an ethereal protagonist, dump her in Prague, add a high-stakes battle between fantastical creatures to the mix. It captures the adrenaline and atmosphere of a worldly, glamorous, creative, colorful war. One of my favorites of all time.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein | Goodreads

I don't really read historical fiction much - and I should, considering that two of my favorites are of the genre. Still, I'm incorporating this one on the adventure list because it is an adventure - granted, one that will actually rip your heart out. It's a clever, candid, and sobering portrait of the friendship between two women caught in World War II - one of whom is being interrogated by the Gestapo. Only read this if you want to be emotionally destroyed while simultaneously admiring everything about the book's construction.

Blood and Salt by Kim Liggett | Goodreads

A good ol' haunting cult-in-a-cornfield pick, Blood and Salt is a captivating slice of horror. I'm a huge fan of any books that can set themselves apart, and this one does so elegantly.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera | Goodreads

If you're like me and enjoy having existential crises on the reg, have I got the book for YOU. Milan Kundera has a distinctive way of looking at the world. Part novel, part I-don't-even-know-what-else, The Unbearable Lightness of Being is a philosophical and literary masterpiece. This is one that is definitely dear to me.

The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac | Goodreads

Kerouac - although one of my favorite writers - can be rather frustrating. I could talk for hours in book club about my feelings on The Dharma Bums. It's a favorite. It's pretentious. It's also weirdly humble in a lot of ways? Either way, The Dharma Bums makes a great let's-meander-through-the-mountains-and-get-drunk-and-muse-about-Buddhism-and-the-meaning-of-life book.

The Unfinished World: And Other Stories by Amber Sparks | Goodreads

I finished this one the other week at 3 A.M. in my common room, and couldn't stop crying. It's in my top three favorites of all time, and I'm not a huge short story gal. Either way, there is so much life between these pages: a time-traveler trying to destroy a painting, a pair of sisters growing apart, a taxidermist, love that doesn't last, love that does last. And each line is worthy of a highlight.

The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra | Goodreads

When I try to attempt to describe this one, all that comes to mind is "dark...and very Russian." It's most definitely dazzling, but it's also dizzyingly melancholy. Whether or not the ending is actually one of hope or of condemnation is a choice up to the reader. It's worth the read, if only to think about, and I know plenty of people to whom it would most undoubtedly appeal.

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby | Goodreads

I've discovered a lot about my reading taste over the past year, and one of my realizations was that my favorite genre is magical realism. Bone Gap, the recipient of the Printz this year, is a lush mystery of sorts. It has that small-town dreamlike feel, woven with undercurrents of secrets and characters too big for their own skins. I'm a huge fan.

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas | Goodreads

The Count of Monte Cristo is another favorite book, although it's much more old-fashioned. It's a tale of long-winded revenge, unfolding over years, and the plot twists are insane. It's still, to this day, one of the cleverest books I've had the opportunity to read. (I read the abridged version, though; I still need to get around to the unabridged.)

When Breath Becomes Air* by Paul Kalanithi | Goodreads

Although this book has been on the NYT list, and it's forefront at almost every bookstore or airport, I still want to express my gratitude for having been able to read it. Paul Kalanithi has a measured, steady way of looking at life - thoughtful, but also conservative. He doesn't use flowery language. He isn't out to prove something. He puts his thoughts to paper in a way that's honest, and deeply sad in hindsight. This book feels like a conversation, and that makes it all the more valuable.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks* by E. Lockhart | Goodreads

Frankie's out to prove that her preppy school isn't just a boy's club any longer. Definite #girlboss right there - drenched in that old-school, timeless feel.

The Awakening by Kate Chopin | Goodreads

Admittedly, I read this in my AP Lit class last year and wasn't expecting to connect with it as profoundly as I did. It has pockets of real, unrefined emotion, and it's also a good story.

The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality by Brian Greene | Goodreads

I am not a science person, no matter how much I would love to be. I watch Cosmos and read essays on string theory and attempt to wrap my head around all of it - and I love the process - but I'll never be as big of a physics aficionado as I'd like to be. However, I spent a week during the summer getting through this read, and I'm grateful. Brian Greene manages to illuminate a wealth of information in a way that's clear and understandable to the average reader (like me.) It's a fascinating read that changed the way I think about the world.

A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskowitz | Goodreads

Told in fragments and strange stories and raw encounters, A History of Glitter and Blood is a wildly innovative look at a post-apocalyptic city of fey.

What do y'all think?
If You Enjoyed The Sky is Everywhere

A little while ago, I decided to start a feature based on my little "recommended for" blurbs at the end of each review. Over at my group blog, Lit Up Review, the girls do the same thing so I decided to introduce one of my posts from there. I recently came up with recommendations for those who loved The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson.The Sky is Everywhere is a book that stays with you. It's wry, it's sad, it has this light to it that's impossible to capture in words. It's poignantly written and a book that affects you soul-deep. It's lovely. I read it for the first time when I was younger, stolen from my older sister when she got it on a road trip. I wasn't technically allowed to read YA at the time but I couldn't help myself - the story calls to you once you even read a single page. This is a glorious book.


litupskyiseverywhereThe Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson | GoodreadsWhen Lennie’s sister suddenly dies, the entire family is spun into a downward spiral. Bailey was the one that everybody looked up to, the one that Lennie thought was indestructible. Lennie was happy before, with her second-clarinet spot and shadow of obscurity but Bailey’s death suddenly forces Lennie to define herself.Lennie can find solace in Bailey’s boyfriend Toby, a comfortable fixture in the past who’s grieving as deeply as she is. Together, it almost feels like Bailey is back. Then, there’s the new kid in band, Joe. He’s the one who makes Lennie wonder who she was and who she wants to be. Toby reminds her of before but Joe reminds her that there’s still something after.Struggling to hold onto the pieces of her life with Bailey, Lennie’s pushed to understand how to move on without letting Bailey go. In an invigorating prose scattered with gorgeous poems, The Sky is Everywhere is a stunning exploration of death and what it truly means to live.

If you liked The Sky is Everywhere, you might like…

IF YOU LIKED LENNIE'S QUIET PERSONALITY AND SOFT WRITING13505655Lovely, Dark, and Deep by Amy McNamara | Goodreads

This book is so quiet but it’s unbelievably lovely. While I was reading it, it felt like every single other thing in the world was blocked out and it was just me, the snow, and the soft cadence of Wren’s commentary. Written in an absorbing style drawing from poetry-inspired roots, Lovely, Dark, and Deep is an impactful read. It’s a complete escape from the rest of the world and that sadness was portrayed in a way that was so beautiful. When Wren’s boyfriend dies in a car crash, she completely retreats from the world. She’d rather be alone with her artist father than off at college where the world continues as if nothing’s changed, but her world changes more than she expects it to when she starts to heal.1935234


Powerful, raw, and emotional, this book will never let you forget it. The edgy prose and realistic, if bitter, main character facing death much too early – everything about this book is completely gripping. I’ve reread it so many times and I never stop being positively shocked by it. When Tessa learns that her cancer is terminal, she’s ready to die, but not before she gives the world a taste of her own medicine when she starts working down her list of things to do before dying.

9672990 IF YOU LIKED THE MUSIC AND THE SISTER ASPECTSSaving June by Hannah Harrington | Goodreads

This one combines a few of my favorite things – music, humor, road trips, and memorable characters. It’ll leave you clutching it at 3 AM and choking back tears, but also with a profound appreciation for the world in its gritty glory. When Harper finds her sister June in the garage with the car still running and a mysterious playlist playing, she has to confront the fact that she didn’t know as much about her sister as she thought. Still reeling from grief and a shattered household, Harper escapes with June’s ashes on a road trip to California with the boy who made the playlist, determined to finally get some answers.

What books would y’all recommend?

If You Enjoyed The Book Thief

Hey y'all!A little while ago, I decided to start a little mini-series on the blog. Have y’all noticed the little “recommended for” blurbs at the end of my reviews? I always recommend a few books for people who like the book that I reviewed. I started doing this on my Twitter as well, where I’d name a book title and name a few books to read if you enjoyed that title.I know a lot of people really love The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. I have multiple people tell me it marks among their favorites. Between the gutting historical context and the engrossing perspective, and a thousand other things, it just all falls together so well. I read it for the first time this year and it took me a really long time to finish it but I didn't want to do so. It's one of those books that affects you. Not necessarily obviously, but it's one that burrows its way in and tells you you're a different person now that you know this story. It's subtle, funny, sad, everything that makes an excellent read.

THE BOOK THIEF by Marcus Zusak

The Book Thief 

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of I Am the Messenger, has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.

 It's hard to pinpoint exactly what makes The Book Thief so distinct and enthralling but I'm going to try and round up a few reads y'all might like if you loved it.So here goes:

if you liked the heart-wrenching history and atmospheric details


Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly | Goodreads

It's been three years since I first read this (it was actually one of the first books I ever reviewed on the blog) but it's still my number one, unequivocal favorite book. The lyrical writing somehow manages to incorporate little tidbits of history rooted in such elaborate, well-plotted research that I physically have no idea how one person could craft such a book. In addition, complex characters who will break your heart and multiple side-stories weaving through and everything else lead to utter perfection in a book. I don't use it lightly, but this book has everything that I could possibly ever want in a book and I have serious doubts about how I could ever find another book to take its place. It's a story that's affected me deeply.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein | Goodreads

This is one that took me a few attempts to get through, simply because I didn't have the time to read it in one sitting and by the time I'd pick it up again, I forgot some key details. It's a little slow to get going but the brutality of the circumstances mixed with the hilarious, poignant narration of the main character lead to a stunning read. This book left me sobbing. It took so many turns and the plotting was marvelously put together. I actually had a quiz on WWII the day after I read this book and I completely ignored my notes and read this instead to call it "studying" - not quite sure how well I did on that but the thoughtful details woven into the narrative are fascinating for any history buff. I loved this book and it's one that tugged at the heartstrings.

if you liked the slow-building intensity with strong foundations of character/plot

The 5th Wave (The Fifth Wave, #1)The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey | Goodreads

This book is long, so exhaustively engaging in the best possible way. It's stressful and well-written, dark with a plot twist around every other corner. The intensity is constantly ratcheted up a notch with an excellent overall arch to it. The characters are strong with a healthy complexity that keeps the story mainly plot-based but with a connection to each. It's a book that made a splash last year, and for good reason.

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead | Goodreads

While it's a middle grade - and wildly different from the subject matter - this book is a "quiet" book, one that excels in the subtlety that makes The Book Thief so distinct and intimate. It's been a while since I've read it but the details are still vivid. The characters mesh together and grow so steadily throughout the book. The plot is smart, snappy, and loops together magnificently at the end. Throughout, the slow pacing keeps it languid, not boring. It's thoughtful and heartwarming and also a little sad - profound in a way that's rare to discover.

if you want to take a risk on a book that's different but with a similar style

The Count of Monte Cristo

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas | Goodreads

I'm not a huge classics fan although I'd like to be, but this is by far the best book that my class had to read in eighth grade. The pure genius behind it makes it so easy to get over the initial shock of the older language, and the characters are so fascinating. Between the betrayal, intrigue, and overall timbre of the words, it's a really wonderful book. It's so clever and solid that I immediately thought of this one when reading The Book Thief, although there are no immediate parallels.

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson | Goodreads

A reason why The Book Thief was so successful was also because Death's narration still allowed you to connect with the characters and forge these unbreakable bonds of caring about them. In a similar fashion, Tiger Lily is narrated by Tinker Bell but forces you to  become so invested in the stories buried within this book. It's emotional. It takes a well-loved story and turns it upside down, with tragic characters and lovely writing and a story that will stay with you. This is one of my favorite books.

Graceling by Kristen Cashore | Goodreads

In a high-fantasy world gracefully built from the ground up, Graceling takes solid characters and an interesting writing style and creates a long but well-paced masterpiece. If you're looking for a wonderful series or world to delve into next, this one comes highly recommended for fantasy lovers. It reminded me of The Book Thief because of the protagonists' similar ways of thinking and the lush details that constantly add to the story.

If you have any requests for some books I should highlight in these, leave a comment below or tweet me with your favorites! What books would y’all recommend for fans?