Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Five Star Reads

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
 This week's theme asked us to come up with a list of our most recent 5 star reads. 

 The year is AE3, 3 years after the Event. Within the walls of Meritropolis, 50,000 inhabitants live in fear, ruled by the brutal System that assigns each citizen a merit score that dictates whether they live or die. Those with the highest scores thrive, while those with the lowest are subject to the most unforgiving punishment--to be thrust outside the city gates, thrown to the terrifying hybrid creatures that exist beyond.

But for one High Score, conforming to the System just isn't an option. Seventeen-year-old Charley has a brother to avenge. And nothing--not even a totalitarian military or dangerous science--is going to stop him.

Where humankind has pushed nature and morals to the extreme, Charley is amongst the chosen few tasked with exploring the boundaries, forcing him to look deep into his very being to discern right from wrong. But as he and his friends learn more about the frightening forces that threaten destruction both without and within the gates, Meritropolis reveals complexities they couldn't possibly have bargained for...

At fourteen, barefoot and running wild, Rose is delighted to be apprenticed to Akiva, the witch of the forest. She thinks it will be all enchantment and excitement, and not so much fuss about baths. The reality is much more sober and practical- that is, until she meets a mysterious wolf in the forest and is tricked into stepping off the path . . . 
In young, naive Rose, Bastian sees a way of escape. Cursed to remain in the shape of a wolf after running afoul of a powerful enchantress, he has lived many decades under a spell, and now he is both desperate and ruthless. But by breaking part of Bastian’s curse, Rose has caught the attention of Cassandra, the enchantress who cursed him: and Cassandra is by no means ready to forgive and forget. 
Meanwhile, wardens have been disappearing from the forest, one by one. Rose is certain that Cassandra is behind the disappearances, but can she and Bastian get to the bottom of the matter before Akiva disappears as well? And are Bastian’s motives entirely to be trusted? 

Sometimes the little girl in the red hood doesn’t get eaten, and sometimes the wolf isn’t the most frightening thing in the forest.

Fashion design major Cat Mitchell has a closet full of gorgeous clothes - and not a single thing fits. After two years of runway modeling for easy cash, an accident shattered her lower leg bone and her self-esteem in just one swift fall. Ten months of no exercise, prescription steroids, comfort eating and yoga pants meant returning to campus as a size twelve instead of her former size two. 

When her gorgeous long-time friend with benefits sees her for the first time after her accident and snubs her in front of all her friends, Cat’s self-image hits rock bottom. Her sorority sisters all insist that she looks gorgeous, but all Cat sees is the roll of her stomach when she sits down, or the dimpling at the back of her thighs that wasn't there last year. Cat’s therapist prescribes something radical to stop the downward spiral - nude modeling for a nearby college's human form drawing classes. 

When Cat faces her fears and bares it all for the class, she realizes that she's posing naked in front the most gorgeous, buffest guy she's ever seen in her life. He asks her out after the class, and after one steamy night together, Cat's absolutely smitten.

Nate’s pretty close to perfect – he takes Cat rock climbing when he discovers that it makes her feel strong and becomes a great chef after he learns that the perfect pesto sauce makes her swoon. Cat starts to feel like her old self again - confident and beautiful - as long as Nate's around. Even when he discourages her from entering the Real Woman Project, a design competition for plus-sized apparel, she reasons that he's just trying to prevent old body image wounds from splitting wide open again.

But when Cat goes home with Nate for Thanksgiving, she discovers something shocking from his recent past that proves that he hasn’t always been so encouraging of women of all shapes and sizes. Cat has no idea what to think, but she does know one thing - this might destroy their relationship before it's even had a chance to get off the ground. 

Before Cat can figure out whether the real Nate is the sensitive, adoring guy she fell in love with, or an undercover asshole, she'll have to finally feel comfortable in her own skin - even if it means leaving him forever.

Or…what she thought was perfect.

President of her sorority. Legions of friends. A promising career in journalism. It’s exactly what she wanted, exactly what she’d always planned. But after her slimy bastard of a boyfriend cheats on her with her archenemy, everything she built comes crumbling down. 

She needs out. Now.

But leaving everything behind means she has to live with Max, a mysterious guy from the past. Living with him isn’t the wisest decision she’s ever made—Max isn’t friendly, he keeps a lot of secrets, and sneaks out in the middle of the night. There’s definitely something shady about him, but at least he seems to understand what she needs. In fact, he seems to know it better than she does. 


When Charlotte shows up on Max Archer’s doorstep, he knows he can’t turn her away. He wishes he could—she’s broken, lost, comes with too much baggage, but he owes her his life. Whatever she wants, he’ll find a way to make it happen. Problem is, Max doesn’t count on Charlotte wanting more than he’s willing to give. 

He doesn’t count on her wanting his heart. 

Abandoned by her parents at fourteen, Jessica knows what it means to struggle. She's vowed that getting her degree is the only thing she has time for, until a summer internship brings Justin into her life.

But Justin has scars of his own. A tour of duty in Afghanistan has left him with wounds. A medical discharge from the Navy leaves Justin struggling to make sense of his new reality. Then he meets Jessica; but can the two of them leave their pain in the past and make a future together?

I'm kind of a curmudgeonly son of a bitch, so I don't give 5 star ratings very often. Therefore, I had to go back several years to find 5 books that I rated 5 stars. It takes a lot to get a perfect rating from me, so when something does, I usually can't shut up about it til everyone I know reads it. 

Aza Ray is drowning in thin air. 

Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live. 

So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn't think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name.

Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who’s always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia. 

Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—and as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war is coming. Magonia and Earth are on the cusp of a reckoning. And in Aza’s hands lies the fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?

Allyson says: Seriously, this book. It had been a really long time since I had been as impressed with a story as I am with Magonia. Aza Ray and Jason were so different and unusual, but you can't help but falling in love with them and wanting to hear more about their world and their story. 

Luxury spaceliner Icarus suddenly plummets from hyperspace into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive – alone. Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a cynical war hero. Both journey across the eerie deserted terrain for help. Everything changes when they uncover the truth. 

Allyson says: I hate sci-fi so much, but this book just completely blew that apart. It helps that most of the book doesn't really feel sci-fi, once they land on the planet. 



Aria has lived her whole life in the protected dome of Reverie. Her entire world confined to its spaces, she's never thought to dream of what lies beyond its doors. So when her mother goes missing, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland long enough to find her are slim.

Then Aria meets an outsider named Perry. He's searching for someone too. He's also wild - a savage - but might be her best hope at staying alive.

If they can survive, they are each other's best hope for finding answers.

Allyson says: I have been going through a major dystopia kick for the past several years. This is one of the best YA dystopia that I have read in a long time. 

In the violent country of Ludania, the classes are strictly divided by the language they speak. The smallest transgression, like looking a member of a higher class in the eye while they are speaking their native tongue, results in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina has always been able to understand the languages of all classes, and she's spent her life trying to hide her secret. The only place she can really be free is the drug-fueled underground clubs where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. It's there that she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy named Max who speaks a language she's never heard before . . . and her secret is almost exposed.

Charlie is intensely attracted to Max, even though she can't be sure where his real loyalties lie. As the emergency drills give way to real crisis and the violence escalates, it becomes clear that Charlie is the key to something much bigger: her country's only chance for freedom from the terrible power of a deadly regime.

Allyson says: I am actually kind of questioning if this one really is a 5 star read, since it has been so long since I have read it, and honestly I don't remember too much about it! Nor have I continued on, but I think that's cause of Mariela and how much she hated the ending of the trilogy. 

Seventeen-year-old Cassie is a natural at reading people. Piecing together the tiniest details, she can tell you who you are and what you want. But it’s not a skill that she’s ever taken seriously. That is, until the FBI come knocking: they’ve begun a classified program that uses exceptional teenagers to crack infamous cold cases, and they need Cassie.

What Cassie doesn’t realize is that there’s more at risk than a few unsolved homicides—especially when she’s sent to live with a group of teens whose gifts are as unusual as her own. Sarcastic, privileged Michael has a knack for reading emotions, which he uses to get inside Cassie’s head—and under her skin. Brooding Dean shares Cassie’s gift for profiling, but keeps her at arm’s length.

Soon, it becomes clear that no one in the Naturals program is what they seem. And when a new killer strikes, danger looms closer than Cassie could ever have imagined. Caught in a lethal game of cat and mouse with a killer, the Naturals are going to have to use all of their gifts just to survive.

Allyson says: Criminal minds for YA, that's all that needs to be said! 


  1. Someone I know read The Naturals and it sounded so good! I definitely need to read it myself! I've also heard great things of Under the Never Sky! Great list :)

    Here's my Top Ten!

  2. I haven't read any of these but Picture Perfect looks like a great summer read that will definitely be getting added to my TBR!

  3. I really loved the Under the Never Sky! And These Broken Stars was SO good. I'm glad to see them make your list. I haven't read any of the others, but The Pledge and Magonia are on my TBR. I also MUST read Jennifer's The Naturals series after loving The Fixer and The Long Game. Great lists; thanks for stopping by my top ten! :)

    Holly @ The Fox's Hideaway

  4. The Naturals is a hard book to put down! I need to read the sequels....
    My list: http://amandanicolle.blogspot.com/2016/03/take-ten-top-ten-of-my-most-recent-5.html?m=1

  5. These Broken Stars has been sitting in my library queue for a while now, and seeing it here makes me want to actually get started on it soon. I just keep hearing so many great things about it from random people IRL. Also, is it bad that I'm adding Magonia to my list of books to check out because I see that Neil Gaiman had nice things to say about it? Probably...

  6. I haven't heard about Under the Never Sky or Magonia but they sound really intriguing! And These Broken Stars may have just gone up on my TBR list. Okay, it did. :D