Top Ten Books Dealing With Tough Subjects


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!

I’M SO EXCITED I’M BACK TO DOING THESE! It actually required the CAPS. I’ve been away at school for so long and so busy that these have been impossible because I wasn’t able to visit all the blogs that visited me. But now I’m home and finals are over and I’M BACK!

This Top 10 list is probably the weirdest, most eclectic list I’ve ever put together, mostly because I’m not ashamed to admit I usually avoid books entirely about tough subjects. These are most certainly not all young adult books, and some of them are historical fiction because why cheat halfway?

whiteoleander1. White Oleander by Janet Fitch

I was given this book at way too young an age, but the details of the story stuck with me. This book is a visceral showing of the foster care system, neglecting mothers, violence and sex. I honestly can’t believe I finished it.

2. Beloved by Toni Morrisonbeloved

This is a classic for a reason. It makes this list because I didn’t expect it to affect me as much as it did. What do I know about slavery or rape or killing my own children? Nothing, thank God. But this book made my stomach churn and my eyes water and left me thinking, hard.

Who I Kissed3. Who I Kissed by Janet Gurtler

Look, a young adult book! When I heard the premise of this book–that the main character kills a boy with a kiss because there was peanut oil in her lipstick and he was allergic–I wasn’t sure it was going to go over well with me. I wasn’t sure it would work. But there is a real dealing with of grief throughout this book, both in terms of the main character, the victim’s family and even the main character relating this to her dead mother. It worked much better than I thought.

4. Nerve by Jeanne RyanNerve

I didn’t read this for handling of tough subjects, but I got it. Throughout this story, the main character deals with peer pressure, how far you’ll go for fame – and what happens when a room full of teens are given guns and told only one survives. My stomach was rolling with the action, and it stuck with me long after.

League of Strays5. League of Strays by L. B. Schulman

I’m still not sure how I feel about this book, but one thing’s for sure: this is one of the more candid, stomach churning pictures of bullying I’ve allowed myself to read.

6. Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarryPushing the Limits

The levels of adoration I have for this book are limitless. Despite the fact that this is billed as a contemporary romance, it really is so much more. The themes of family, love (besides relationship!) and healing after a huge traumatic incident are really strong and truly touching.

Code Name Verity7. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Technically, this is historical fiction. Personally, I think this is about so much more. I mean, the tagline is “I have two weeks. You’ll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.” This book deals with the bonds of friendship and the horrors of war all in one. I mean, the book OPENS with the main character being interrogated by the Gestapo. I very rarely cry for books, but this is one of those times.

8. The Last Song by Nicholas SparksThe Last Song

I know that these books are pretty cookie cutter and all, but this book had such a personal bent for me that by the end of the book I was bawling my eyes out. I still can’t read about the character of the little brother without sniffling.

mistress of rome9. Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn

Okay, this is historical fiction, so I’m kind of cheating. I mean, these “tough subjects” are somebody’s life. However, what I was struck by was a rather smaller part of the book, which is the physical and sexual abuse that Thea goes through at the hands of the Emperor. It was striking in how little it was underscore.

10. Streams of Babel by Carol Plum-Uccistreams of babel

I had almost forgotten about these books before I went looking for ones to fill this list, and now I’m struck with the need to read them all over again. These books are striking examples of what happens when you find yourself at Death’s door, when your mother overdoses and leaves you to die on your own and just about love in the face of death in general. Both it and it’s sequel just floored me.


Top Ten Books To Get In The Halloween Spirit

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Alright guys, this is kinda a strange list. My typical idea for this post would be scary books, but I don’t read many of those. So we’re just going to try this out and hope it goes well.

1. Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon

ZOMBIES. That’s Halloween-ish, right? You know it. I also reviewed this book at the beginning of the blog. So yeah. ZOMBIES.

2. Beautiful Lies by Jessica Warman

I actually DNFed this one because it FREAKED ME OUT. But I’m thinking some of you might like that, especially around Halloween.

3. League of Strays by L. B. Schulman

This doesn’t include any ghosts or ghouls, but it leaves chills at the back of your spine and that counts for me. I used the word “creepy” way too much in my review.

4. The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

VAMPIRES. EPIC vampires written BEAUTIFUL and CORRECTLY. You can’t get better than that. See my review for more.

5. The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan

DEMONS. Awesome demons. You can never get enough demons on Halloween.

6. The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

Necromancy. Werewolves. Genetic experiments. FREAKING EVERYTHING. You can’t miss with this one.

7. Jessica’s Guide to Dating the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

If you’re looking into snagging your own Edward this All Hallow’s Eve, allow Jessica to be your guide.

8. Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Arguably my funniest entry on this list, but c’mon. I couldn’t NOT put it on here. It’s HEX HALL. It has EVERYTHING. Spell Bound is the only review I have on the blog, but I loved them ALL.

9. Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton

Given the origins of this holiday, let’s through in some mythology, shall we? Also, demons and demon slaying. My review of the second book in this series, Wings of the Wicked, might tell you more.

10. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead


ARC Review: “League of Strays” by L. B. Schulman

League of Strays by L. B. Schulman

Goodreads | Amazon

When Charlotte Brody, a lonely 17-year-old student at a new school, receives an invitation to join The League of Strays, she’s intrigued by the group’s promise of “instant friendship.” The League does provide companionship–and even a love interest–but Charlotte grows increasingly uncomfortable with its sinister mission to seek revenge against the bullies of Kennedy High.  When escalating acts of vengeance threaten to hurl her down a path of remorse, Charlotte must choose between her new friends and the direction of a future she’s never fully considered.

3 stars

This review is of an ARC received from NetGalley. This book will be released October 1, 2012.

There is one reason and one reason only that this book escapes with a 3 star rating:

I’m giving it the benefit of the doubt that it was SUPPOSED to be this utterly creepy.

I hope you will get used to the word, because it’s going to be around a lot. Hell, it was in HALF of my Goodreads status updates. There was not a page in this book that didn’t make my stomach twist, and I’m still not sure it was in a good way. To be fair, thinking back on it, there was nothing particularly fast-paced or over the top anywhere within the pages. The hijinks the group got up to and the creeptastical things that were done were utterly and completely feasible. I think that made it creepier.

As a narrator, Charlotte is completely lackluster. She is one of those “good” girls who does everything her parents tell her. The entire reason she is invited to join the League of Strays is, as League founder Kade says, she is SUCH a goody two shoes and she needs to learn how to make her own decisions. Except for, until the end, she doesn’t. She just accepts what Kade says and does what he tells her to, blindly, just like she does with her parents. She worries a lot, but she never acts on her feelings, even when you’re screaming “CHARLOTTE YOU’RE AN IDIOT” at the page.

Uh, I totally didn’t do that. >.>

The novel finds its creepiest element in Kade, the founder of the League. From the second this guy popped into the picture, I was uneasy. The way that he thinks and acts CREEPED ME OUT. Worse, though, was his relationship with Charlotte. Clearly, this guy is bad news, but she’s like “Oh, he’s suspected of stalking, shoplifting, assault and basically all other sociopathic tendencies? Well, clearly, if he says he didn’t do it he didn’t because GOD HE’S SO HOT.”

No, Charlotte, no.

Unfortunately, Schulman did a fantastic job of making us a little unsure of who was really telling the truth between the school principal who had it in for Kade and Kade himself. After all, Richie was being beat up for being gay and Kade seemed to be the only one defending him. But still. There is ABSOLUTELY NO DENYING the amount of HELL-NO CREEPY oozing off Kade.

I say without pause that this book just definitely wasn’t for me. I avoid creepy books like the plague because I hate reading them. I also couldn’t stand the fact that Charlotte refused to make any of her own decisions, and of course hell-no relationships usually lead me to rant and rave in all CAPS. (Did you not see my review of Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey? Seriously.) However, technically, Kade never did anything bad to Charlotte. He was just manipulating the crap out of her and everybody else.

I have no idea how someone could read that synopsis and not know they were getting into something dark and creepy, but…since I did, I do have to say: if you are not looking for a book that can be summed up by CREEPY, run away. If you want a book with a unique premise and 288 pages of gut twisting without any fantastical or outlandish pretenses, however, then this is so totally for you.