I noticed today that there are a ton of people posting about books that they don’t talk about enough because of the Top Ten Tuesday meme. Funny enough, I actually have been planning to write this post for months and kept putting it off. So, I thought, “why not today?!” Here is my list of books that I don’t talk about enough and that I think deserve more attention!
Joni, Underway by Kelly Oram
Nineteen year old Joni Monday is loving life as an adult—living on her own, dealing with grown-up things like jobs, hook-ups, and doing her own laundry. Best of all: after finishing her first year at ASU, she will never again be called a freshman.
But when her brother is suddenly killed in a car accident, Joni’s adult life is turned upside down. Struggling to cope with loss, guilt, and anger—not to mention the meddling of friends and family trying to “fix” her—Joni is relieved to be presented with an escape in the form of a sailing trip her brother had been planning for months before he died.
With her first step onto the sailing vessel Lady Marguerite, Joni plunges into an adventure that will mark the beginning of her real adult life—a journey across the ominous dark blue of the Atlantic Ocean with a small, eccentric crew, and the young Captain Reid, whose gorgeous looks are only outmatched by his talent for care and kindness. Unfolding through the ups and downs of life at sea is an unforgettable story reminding us that love will always be a work-in-progress and coming of age never gets old.
~~This book was such a great coming of age story. It had a lovable cast of characters and a great love story. Also, it was set on a boat, which is not a setting I encounter very often. I love Kelly Oram, and this is one of my favorite books of hers that I never talk about, or hear talked about.
The Queen’s Fool by Philippa Gregory
A young woman caught in the rivalry between Queen Mary and her half sister, Elizabeth, must find her true destiny amid treason, poisonous rivalries, loss of faith, and unrequited love.
It is winter, 1553. Pursued by the Inquisition, Hannah Green, a fourteen-year-old Jewish girl, is forced to flee Spain with her father. But Hannah is no ordinary refugee. Her gift of “Sight,” the ability to foresee the future, is priceless in the troubled times of the Tudor court. Hannah is adopted by the glamorous Robert Dudley, the charismatic son of King Edward’s protector, who brings her to court as a “holy fool” for Queen Mary and, ultimately, Queen Elizabeth. Hired as a fool but working as a spy; promised in wedlock but in love with her master; endangered by the laws against heresy, treason, and witchcraft, Hannah must choose between the safe life of a commoner and the dangerous intrigues of the royal family that are inextricably bound up in her own yearnings and desires.
~~I believe that this was the first book of Philippa Gregory’s that I ever read. I have read a large number of her Tudor family books, and this one still sticks with me. It is largely about Queen Mary, which is kind of fun because it looks at her from the standpoint of her not being the absolute villain that history makes her out to be. I still think about this book today, and I read it over ten years ago, which I believe says volumes.
Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution by Michelle Moran
The world knows Madame Tussaud as a wax artist extraordinaire… but who was this woman who became one of the most famous sculptresses of all time? In these pages, her tumultuous and amazing story comes to life as only Michelle Moran can tell it. The year is 1788, and a revolution is about to begin.
Smart and ambitious, Marie Tussaud has learned the secrets of wax sculpting by working alongside her uncle in their celebrated wax museum, the Salon de Cire. From her popular model of the American ambassador, Thomas Jefferson, to her tableau of the royal family at dinner, Marie’s museum provides Parisians with the very latest news on fashion, gossip, and even politics. Her customers hail from every walk of life, yet her greatest dream is to attract the attention of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI; their stamp of approval on her work could catapult her and her museum to the fame and riches she desires. After months of anticipation, Marie learns that the royal family is willing to come and see their likenesses. When they finally arrive, the king’s sister is so impressed that she requests Marie’s presence at Versailles as a royal tutor in wax sculpting. It is a request Marie knows she cannot refuse – even if it means time away from her beloved Salon and her increasingly dear friend, Henri Charles.
As Marie gets to know her pupil, Princesse Élisabeth, she also becomes acquainted with the king and queen, who introduce her to the glamorous life at court. From lavish parties with more delicacies than she’s ever seen to rooms filled with candles lit only once before being discarded, Marie steps into a world entirely different from her home on the Boulevard du Temple, where people are selling their teeth in order to put food on the table.
Meanwhile, many resent the vast separation between rich and poor. In salons and cafés across Paris, people like Camille Desmoulins, Jean-Paul Marat, and Maximilien Robespierre are lashing out against the monarchy. Soon, there’s whispered talk of revolution… Will Marie be able to hold on to both the love of her life and her friendship with the royal family as France approaches civil war? And more important, will she be able to fulfill the demands of powerful revolutionaries who ask that she make the death masks of beheaded aristocrats, some of whom she knows?
Spanning five years, from the budding revolution to the Reign of Terror, Madame Tussaud brings us into the world of an incredible heroine whose talent for wax modeling saved her life and preserved the faces of a vanished kingdom
~~I knew next to nothing about Madame Tussaud before I read this book. I learned so much about her life and her work, as well as a side to the French Revolution that I really didn’t know about. This was such a fun, fast-paced historical fiction that I really don’t feel like gets the credit it deserves.
Mark of the Lion Trilogy by Francine Rivers
This best-selling trilogy chronicles a tale of persecution and perseverance of 1st-century Christians in hedonistic Rome.
#1 A Voice in the Wind: Torn by her love for a handsome aristocrat, a young slave girl clings to her faith in the living God for deliverance from the forces of decadent Rome.
#2 An Echo in the Darkness: Turning away from the opulence of Rome, Marcus is led by a whispering voice from the past into a journey that could set him free from the darkness of his soul.
#3 As Sure As the Dawn: Atretes. German warrior. Revered gladiator. He won his freedom through his fierceness . . . but his life is about to change forever.
~~If people know who Francine Rivers is, it is generally because of her novel, Redeeming Love. While I adore that book, this series seems like a hidden gem. It is absolutely fantastic. Hadassah is such an inspiring character, and her story really deserves to be heard by more people.
Titanic: The Long Night by Diane Hoh
~~ I discovered this book in the depths of my obsession with the Titanic when I was in elementary/middle school. I still love this book today. The two main characters are quite different, but are both so much fun in their own unique ways. This book also has a sequel that takes place after the sinking that is almost as good as the first book.
Far From the Tree by Robin Benway
Being the middle child has its ups and downs.
But for Grace, an only child who was adopted at birth, discovering that she is a middle child is a different ride altogether. After putting her own baby up for adoption, she goes looking for her biological family, including—
Maya, her loudmouthed younger bio sister, who has a lot to say about their newfound family ties. Having grown up the snarky brunette in a house full of chipper redheads, she’s quick to search for traces of herself among these not-quite-strangers. And when her adopted family’s long-buried problems begin to explode to the surface, Maya can’t help but wonder where exactly it is that she belongs.
And Joaquin, their stoic older bio brother, who has no interest in bonding over their shared biological mother. After seventeen years in the foster care system, he’s learned that there are no heroes, and secrets and fears are best kept close to the vest, where they can’t hurt anyone but him.
~~This is a gorgeous book about adoption, the foster care system, and finding out more about your birth family. I read this when I was at the beginning of our adoption journey and it brought me to tears. I don’t know why more people (including me!) don’t talk about this book more. It is poignant and grossly under-appreciated.
The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee
By day, seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan works as a lady’s maid for the cruel daughter of one of the wealthiest men in Atlanta. But by night, Jo moonlights as the pseudonymous author of a newspaper advice column for the genteel Southern lady, “Dear Miss Sweetie.” When her column becomes wildly popular, she uses the power of the pen to address some of society’s ills, but she’s not prepared for the backlash that follows when her column challenges fixed ideas about race and gender.
While her opponents clamor to uncover the secret identity of Miss Sweetie, a mysterious letter sets Jo off on a search for her own past and the parents who abandoned her as a baby. But when her efforts put her in the crosshairs of Atlanta’s most notorious criminal, Jo must decide whether she, a girl used to living in the shadows, is ready to step into the light.
~~I’ll be honest, I picked this book up because of the gorgeous cover several months after its release because I had never heard of it. Jo is such a fantastic character! She is strong, independent, and spunky. Also, it covers a part of history that I didn’t know anything about, which is always such an exciting thing for me. More people need to be talking about/reading this book!
Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake
When a tornado rips through town, twelve-year-old Ivy Aberdeen’s house is destroyed and her family of five is displaced. Ivy feels invisible and ignored in the aftermath of the storm–and what’s worse, her notebook filled with secret drawings of girls holding hands has gone missing.
Mysteriously, Ivy’s drawings begin to reappear in her locker with notes from someone telling her to open up about her identity. Ivy thinks–and hopes–that this someone might be her classmate, another girl for whom Ivy has begun to develop a crush. Will Ivy find the strength and courage to follow her true feelings?
~~Now, when this book first came out I was talking about it a lot, but I haven’t really since. This is a shame because it is such a fantastic book! There are really not that many middle grade novels that talk about the LGBT community (at least that I am aware of, please tell me more titles if you know of any!). The art on the cover is stunning, and is echoed in the pages of the story, as the main character is an artist. This is a beautiful book that deserves much more attention. (I did write a review for this when it first released if you are interested in hearing more of my thoughts: Book Review: Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World)
UnEnchanted by Chanda Hahn
Mina Grime is unlucky, unpopular and uncoordinated; until she saves her crush’s life on a field trip, changing her High School status from loser to hero overnight. But with her new found fame brings misfortune in the form of an old family curse come to light. For Mina is descended from the Brothers Grimm and has inherited all of their unfinished fairy tale business. Which includes trying to outwit a powerful Story from making her it’s next fairytale victim.
To break the fairy tale curse on her family and make these deadly occurrences stop, Mina must finish the tales until the very Grimm end.
~~I make no secret of my love of fairytale retellings. This was one of the early series that helped to develop that love, and no one ever talks about it! It really takes so many fairytales and flips them on their end, all while having its own unique and intriguing plot.
The Spirit Keeper by K.B. Laugheed
A fiery frontier woman falls deeply in love with her Native American captor on an epic journey
The thirteenth child conceived of miserable Irish exiles, Katie O’Toole dreams of a different life. Little does she know that someone far away is dreaming of her.
In 1747, savages raid her family home, and seventeen-year-old Katie is taken captive. Syawa and Hector have been searching for her, guided by Syawa’s dreams. A young Holyman, Syawa believes Katie is the subject of his Vision: the Creature of Fire and Ice, destined to bring a great gift to his people. Despite her flaming hair and ice-blue eyes, Katie is certain he is mistaken, but faced with returning to her family, she agrees to join them. She soon discovers that in order to fulfill Syawa’s Vision, she must first become his Spirit Keeper, embarking on an epic journey that will change her life—and heart—forever.
~~I have always loved learning more about Native Americans and their history. This was a lovely historical fiction with a bit of magic mixed in that I remember absolutely loving when I first picked it up. And, today I found out that there is a sequel that I didn’t know existed, so now I know what my next read is going to be 😉
I hope you were able to discover a new book today! If you have ever read any of these books, please let me know! What are some books that you think deserve more attention? Let’s talk down in the comments!
Love and happy reading,