Favorite Book Feature Leftovers, Part 1

On the last Friday of each month of 2017 I featured one of my favorite books. But because I have way more than only twelve favorites, I thought I’d do a couple posts on the leftovers with short features about each of the books left on my favorites shelf.

Lexicon by Max Barry

This thrilling novel combines science fiction and linguistics, which fascinates me. I’ve only read this book once, but it’s a smart novel that sticks with you. If you’re interested in linguistics you would love this book.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

This eerie dystopian book is about books being banned in the future and being burned by firefighters. This book has had a huge influence on my writing, and it’s one of only a few of the classics that I enjoy. Fahrenheit 451 is also one of the stories that inspired my current work-in-progress.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

This is one of those books that I keep coming back to because of how heartbreaking and honest it is. Charlie’s story about growing up resonates in so many ways and makes me laugh and cry every time I read it. I also absolutely love the film version.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One is an incredibly original story about people living in a virtual world to avoid how terrible the real world has become. The world-building in this book is so detailed and inspiring to me as a writer. I can’t wait to see the movie version when it comes out this year.

Becoming Myself by Stasi Eldredge

This book is the only work of nonfiction on my shelf, and it’s a beautiful book about becoming who God intends you to be. I read through this book with a women’s group at my church, and it was amazing to share our stories and work on becoming ourselves together.

It’s Not Going to Kill You, and Other Stories by Erin Flanagan

This story collection is by my favorite college professor. I got to interview her on this collection for my university’s literary journal, and it’s a great book. The best part of this collection is the common theme of looking at how big events affect the characters’ everyday lives, my favorite of which is “Feather the Nest,” a story about 9/11.

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

This was the only fantasy on my shelf until I recently added The Reader. I love fairy tales, and this is a fantastic adventure story. However, I do like the movie more than the book.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

This popular book about cancer and love is as beautiful as it is sad. I just love how honest this book is. Green doesn’t shy away from the difficult topics, and the result is an incredible story. Another great read is This Star Won’t Go Out: The Life and Words of Esther Grace Earl, which is a collection of work by and about the late Esther Earl, the girl to whom The Fault in Our Stars is dedicated.

Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Running Out of Time was my first favorite novel. This is the book that made me want to write. It’s a fascinating story about a girl who lives in a small town in the 1840s. But when the kids of the town start getting sick with diphtheria, she is sent outside only to find that it’s 1996 (the year the book was published). My favorite part about this book is the mix of past and present.

How it Feels to Fly by Kathryn Holmes

Holmes’ second novel solidified her as one of my absolute favorite authors. This is a book about a dancer with body image issues, but it’s not your typical ballerina with an eating disorder story. Instead, Holmes tells a incredible story about anxiety and overcoming insecurity.

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Some of my favorite books!

I have ten more books on my favorites shelf to tell you about, so look for part 2 soon!

Favorite Book Feature: The Distance Between Lost and Found by Kathryn Holmes

This year I’ve been featuring one of my favorite books on the last Friday of every month, telling you why it’s one of my favorites. You can find the full list of my favorite books here. March’s featured book is The Distance Between Lost and Found by Kathryn Holmes.

I’m a huge fan of Kathryn Holmes. Her second novel, How It Feels to Fly, solidified her spot on my favorite author list alongside Kiera Cass, Neal Shusterman, and Laurie Halse Anderson. When I first read Holmes’s debut novel, The Distance Between Lost and Found, it blew me away with how good it was.

This book is about a a young girl named Hallelujah who has been silent ever since the night of some incident with the preacher’s son, Luke. We don’t know what exactly this incident was, just that Hallelujah couldn’t get herself to tell anyone what really happened and that Luke has been making fun of her ever since. Hallelujah has lost all of her friends and the respect of her parents.

Six months later, Hallelujah is on a youth group retreat in the Smoky Mountains. Luke is still making fun of her and everyone is still ignoring her, except for new girl Rachel. But Hallelujah can’t let anyone in, and ends up pushing her away too.

But then Hallelujah, Rachel, and Hallelujah’s former friend Jonah get separated form the group and quickly end up lost in the mountains. Faced with many difficult obstacles, the three try to find safety and get back home. While looking for rescue, they question God and each other, and try to find a way to open up about what they’ve gone through.

This book is fast-paced and exciting. It takes place over only a week, but you finish the book feeling like you’ve known Hallelujah, Jonah, and Rachel forever. I love all of the survival elements. Being lost in the mountains is scary and dangerous, and it is really interesting watching these characters find ways to survive.

I love how this book weaves in the themes of silence and violence against women and finding ways to open up. We don’t know exactly what Luke did to Hallelujah at first, but we see how it affects her and we’re right alongside her, cheering her on and hoping she finds a way to open up and tell others what’s happened to her.

My favorite part about this book is how it also weaves in themes of faith and God’s role in their survival. Holmes does exactly what I hope to do in my writing—let God have a role but not make it a Christian fiction novel. With it being a youth group retreat, God naturally has a role in this book, and each day lost on the mountains brings Hallelujah and her friends either closer or farther from God. I will say that I don’t like the end of the book as much as I was hoping. I don’t want to give it away, but I will say that I was expecting Hallelujah to turn out a little differently after their journey.

The Distance Between Lost and Found will always be one of my favorite books. I chose to feature it this month for two reasons. The first is that I’ll be going on vacation to the Smoky Mountains for the first time in about a month. I’m so excited for my first trip to the mountains, though I don’t plan on hiking off on my own like Hallelujah and her friends. The second reason is because when I read this book for the first time two years ago, it made me want to turn my favorite short story I’ve ever written into a novel. I tried back then, but it didn’t work for a lot of reasons. Now I know how to do it right and I’ve returned to that story. I read this book this month to help me prepare for this novel. And it’s going to be an amazing writing journey.

The Distance Between Lost and Found
The Distance Between Lost and Found by Kathryn Holmes

Best Reads of 2016 and What I’m Looking Forward to in 2017

Last year was the first full year that I wasn’t a student, and it was wonderful. With the crazy amounts of reading required of an English major, I barely read anything that wasn’t assigned to me during my time at college. I couldn’t wait for the day that my reading list no longer doubled as a class syllabus. Now my reading list is multiple stacks of library books that I’m afraid to put all together in one pile because it will probably be taller than me. I can’t read them fast enough.

My 2016 was full of wonderful reads. I read 64 novels. I didn’t keep track of nonfiction books, but I read a handful of those as well. And I’ve made it one of my goals for 2017 to make even more time to read as I forgot just how much I love it thanks to years of school. Here’s a list of some of my favorite books I read in 2016, as well as a list of books I’m looking forward to reading in early 2017.

Best of 2016:

Looking forward to in 2017:

  • Replica by Lauren Oliver
  • The Reader by Traci Chee
  • The other Starbound books by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
  • Illuminae and Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
  • The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
  • Metaltown by Kristen Simmons
  • The Thousandth Floor by Katherine McGee

What I’m Reading – How it Feels to Fly by Kathryn Holmes

With her second novel, How it Feels to Fly, I think Kathryn Holmes has officially made my favorite author list alongside Kiera Cass, Neal Shusterman, and Laurie Halse Anderson. Her first novel, The Distance Between Lost and Found, instantly made its way to my favorite books shelf, and I can’t wait to buy my own copy of How it Feels to Fly to join it.

This novel is about a dancer with body image issues. But it’s not your typical ballerina thinks she’s fat and starves herself kind of story. Holmes gives us something unique. The book features Sam, a girl who loves ballet but whom ballet doesn’t love with her new, curvy body type. Sam has only gained fourteen pounds, but now she was barely accepted into a summer intensive program, her mom constantly warns her about her eating habits, and she feels like everyone is looking at her.

To help with her anxiety, Sam goes to a therapy camp called Perform at Your Peak, which is for artists and athletes with anxiety. There, her therapist and peer advisors help her to start to confront her anxiety and come up with coping methods. But Sam’s future in the ballet world is so uncertain and she still feels that her body is against her.

This is a beautiful novel about overcoming anxiety and body image issues. I feel that everyone can relate to this book in some manner with the way that Holmes weaves in the other camper’s stories and problems. I highly recommend Holmes’s novels and I can’t wait to see what she does in the future!

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How it Feels to Fly by Kathryn Holmes