Monday, December 23, 2013

Bloggers’ Best of 2013: Heise Reads & Recommends!

This December I am once again hosting some of my favorite bloggers here on Katie’s Book Blog.  I asked them to pick a few of their favorite books from 2013 and their one most anticipated book of 2014.
Today I have Jillian from Heise Reads & Recommends!

Jillian Heise is a National Board Certified middle school language arts teacher allowing her to discuss thoughts and insights about books with real teen readers, and all-around awesome 7th & 8th graders, every day of the school year. Her students are used to her sharing her reading life, the importance of making reading a habit, appreciation for rockstar authors, and love of fictional characters with them. Heise Reads & Recommends is her blog where she shares her book recommendations beyond her classroom walls. Jillian is a voracious reader and self-admitted book pusher with towering TBR stacks and does not feel the need for a program to change that. On twitter, she is @heisereads and is always happy to recommend a book to any reader in need.

Best Debut(s)

Pivot Point by Kasie West
Kasie West has quickly become a favorite of mine after reading this fresh voice in YA this year (she has this series and also standalone contemporary romances-The Distance Between Us). I’ve already gotten to read her 2014 releases also, Split Second (Feb), the sequel to PP, and On the Fence (June), and I’ve loved all of her books. I’ve dubbed her the Queen of the First Kiss Scene and her books never stay on the shelf in my classroom. I need more Kasie books in my life!
Altered by Jennifer Rush

Jenn’s voice is a fun new on in YA and this book is an addictively good, completely intriguing story. I was hooked on this action-packed, heart-pounding, surprising story from the first page and couldn’t stop until I was done. This is another one that has become a favorite of my students also. I was lucky enough to get to read the sequel, Erased (Jan), already, and it’s a strong sequel that answers many questions.

Best Start of Series

Crash by Lisa McMann
Lisa’s new Visions series is another student favorite in my classroom. Her writing is fast-paced, engaging, and exciting, and the suspense elements in this series make it a page-turner for sure. The sequel, Bang, is even better, and my students and I are all anxiously awaiting the final book, Gasp, coming in June.
The Program by Suzanne Young
This was an unexpected favorite of the year for me, about a dystopic future with an epidemic of teen suicide, that I could not stop reading once I had started. I had to know how this gripping, suspenseful story would end. And, luckily, I was able to get the sequel, The Treatment (April), which I thought was even better than the first. This is a quick, two-book series, that is very popular with my students.

Best Series Finale

Champion (Legend #3) by Marie Lu

I loved the Legend series from the start, and this finale was exactly right for this series. If anyone would ask me which YA dystopian trilogy to read if they could only read one, I would say it is this one.

Best Standalone(s)

Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller
A second book by Trish Doller that is just as rich, heartbreaking, and hopeful in its own ways as her first one, Something Like Normal, which is also a favorite. I absolutely love the multiple layers of her books, the brutal honesty of the characters, the richness of the settings, and the addictiveness of the journey through her stories.

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

I surprisingly like this book very much. Smart, likeable characters, a compelling setting, and a story that had me rooting for the main character and kept me reading to the very end.

Best Unexpected Favorite(s)

My Life After Now by Jessica Verdi

Not what I was expecting, but I really enjoyed reading this book. Deals with a tough issue (AIDS) in a non-preachy, accessible way with a strong teen voice. Love the character, love the dads, love the friends, love the story.

The Living by Matt de la Pena

A thrill-ride, page-turner, heart-pounding in fear for what’s happening and what might happen, suspenseful thriller of a novel. Shy is smart, sensitive, a guy who cares about his family and is trying to make a crappy situation better. He’s endearing in his worries, hopes, desires, realness. Engagingly written with a plot that keeps it moving forward, and reveals about a world that has changed a bit from what we know.

Best All Around

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

This book is SO good! I thought I was over vampire novels, but not this one. An intriguingly and thoroughly built world. A likeable main character. And a vampire who says all the right things. The pacing and the suspense…it is cleverly written.

When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney

An achingly, heartbreakingly, healingly incredible novel. It ripped me apart and stitched me back together one small piece/scene/conversation at a time. Some books are hard to let go of and forget, and this one will be with me for a long time because of its sincerity and how it hits just the right notes.

Most Anticipated 2014 Release(s)!

Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

Elizabeth is one of my favorite go-tos for fun, feel-good books. Her contemporary romances are so enjoyable, and this one even takes place in Wisconsin (where she and I are both from) so there’s extra fun in it. I think it’s her best book yet!

The Retribution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #3) by Michelle Hodkin

Can. Not. Wait. I’ve been an obsessive Mara Dyer fan since reading an advanced copy of the first book, and I am dying to read the end of this series and find out where Michelle takes this twisty story.

What do you guys think of Jillian’s choices?  Have you read any of them?  Do you agree with her about any of them?
Make sure to check back tomorrow for the next blogger’s picks!
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1 Comment

  1. Christina Kit.

    It’s always interesting when a blogger is also a teacher or works with teens – they offer a very valuable perspective and have awesome recommendations for all types of readers.

    I too LOVED Lisa McMann’s new series!! Her characters are perfectly flawed and perfectly funny and relatable 🙂

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