Top Ten Tuesday TBR // The Variety Show ft. YA

My To-Be-Read list has always been towering, overflowing, even. I didn’t think it could get any worse, until I started book blogging. So many reviews! So many BOOKS! Here are some of my favorites that other people recommended, in no particular order.

1. Locavore by Sarah Elton

image A local grocery co-op recommended several books that all must be devoured, but this Canadian book takes the cake. In my relatively new exploration of local, minimally processed foods, this is the first decent book I’ve found that considers Canada instead of the US.

“Locavore describes how foodies, 100-milers, urbanites, farmers, gardeners and chefs across Canada are creating a new local food order that has the potential to fight climate change and feed us all. Combining front-line reporting, shrewd analysis and passionate food writing to delight the gastronome, Locavore shows how the pieces of a post-industrial food system are being assembled into something infinitely better.”

2. Dancing in the Dark by Robyn Bavati


Like many others, I’ve always been enthralled by ballet. I already have so many questions, like how does this girl afford secret ballet money? Classes aren’t cheap! I also think it will be interesting to have Jewish traditions thrown in the mix since I have minimal knowledge outside of watching the TV show Being Erica (I know, I know).

“Ditty Cohen is passionate about ballet–she loves how it feels to stand en pointe, to rise and spin across the room. But her Orthodox Jewish parents want Ditty to focus on the teachings of the Torah and to marry at a young age according to their religious tradition. Although her parents forbid her to take dance lessons, Ditty secretly signs up for ballet and becomes entangled in a web of deceit.”

3. Risuko by David Kudler


This is a book I found over at Ageless Papers Reviews and was stunned by the cover. After I added it to my Goodreads TBR shelf, author David Kudler contacted me and offered to send me a paperback ARC! Squee! My first ever ARC is en route, I can’t wait.


Though Japan has been devastated by a century of civil war, Risuko just wants to climb trees. Growing up far from the battlefields and court intrigues, the fatherless girl finds herself pulled into a plot that may reunite Japan — or may destroy it. She is torn from her home and what is left of her family, but finds new friends at a school that may not be what it seems.

Magical but historical, Risuko follows her along the first dangerous steps to discovering who she truly is.”

4. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn


It is very rare that I read thrillers, but I read the review over at Red Headed Book Lover and knew I needed this one. If I like the book I’ll definitely watch the movie to see how it stacks up. I’m notoriously easy going on movie adaptations of books, though, considering I’m a bookworm.

“On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?”


5. The Distance from A to Z by Natalie Blitt


Another book mentioned over at Ageless Papers Review, I have to admit this one sounds a like a cliché, but I can’t help myself. I used to passionately study French when I was back living in the US and was several years ahead of my grade level, so mixed with my love of YA novels, this is right up my ally.

“Seventeen-year old Abby has only one goal for her summer: to make sure she is fluent in French—well, that, and to get as far away from baseball and her Cubs-obsessed family as possible. A summer of culture and language, with no sports in sight.

That turns out to be impossible, though, because her French partner is the exact kind of boy she was hoping to avoid. Eight weeks. 120 hours of class. 80 hours of conversation practice with someone who seems to exclusively wear baseball caps and jerseys.

But Zeke in French is a different person than Zeke in English. And Abby can’t help but fall for him, hard. As Abby begins to suspect that Zeke is hiding something, she has to decide if bridging the gap between the distance between who she is and who he is, is worth the risk.” 


6. Last Will and Testament by Dahlia Adler


This is the last book I found over at Ageless Pages Reviews (oops can you tell I’m a fan?). Actually, I found the stand-alone sequel but decided I should start with the first book regardless. Apparently the characters weave in and out of the other books, which makes me expect something along the format of John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle’s Let it Snow.

“Lizzie Brandt was valedictorian of her high school class, but at Radleigh University, all she’s acing are partying and hooking up with the wrong guys. But all that changes when her parents are killed in a tragic accident, making her guardian to her two younger brothers. To keep them out of foster care, she’ll have to fix up her image, her life, and her GPA—fast. Too bad the only person on campus she can go to for help is her humorless, pedantic Byzantine History TA, Connor Lawson, who isn’t exactly Lizzie’s biggest fan.”


7. The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel


I read Cait @PaperFury‘s review of this book which wasn’t exactly glowing. Her biggest complaint was that she felt like she’s read it before – but I haven’t read a third of the books she has, so I have high hopes. I love YA dystopia stories.

“After a brutal nuclear war, the United States was left decimated. A small group of survivors eventually banded together, but only after more conflict over which family would govern the new nation. The Westfalls lost. Fifty years later, peace and control are maintained by marrying the daughters of the losing side to the sons of the winning group in a yearly ritual.

This year, it is my turn.

My name is Ivy Westfall, and my mission is simple: to kill the president’s son—my soon-to-be husband—and restore the Westfall family to power.

But Bishop Lattimer is either a very skilled actor or he’s not the cruel, heartless boy my family warned me to expect. He might even be the one person in this world who truly understands me. But there is no escape from my fate. I am the only one who can restore the Westfall legacy.

Because Bishop must die. And I must be the one to kill him.”


8. Riptide by Lindsey Scheibe


I read several great posts on the lack of diversity in the book world, so I grabbed a couple novels that were recommended. This looks deceptively like a light summer read (which, considering #snowmageddon would be welcome) but don’t be fooled. There is all kinds of stress bundled up in this story and I can’t wait to see how the main character manages to deal with it all.

“For Grace Parker, surfing is all about the ride and the moment. Everything else disappears. She can forget that her best friend, Ford Watson, has a crush on her that she can’t reciprocate. She can forget how badly she wants to get a surf scholarship to UC San Diego. She can forget the pressure of her parents’ impossibly high expectations.

When Ford enters Grace into a surf competition—the only way she can impress the UCSD surfing scouts—she has one summer to train and prepare. Will she gain everything she’s ever wanted or lose the only things that ever mattered?”


9. Outside Beauty by Cynthia Kadohata


There is something about the juxtaposition of both dark and light in this book that won’t let me walk away. Sure it’s about four girls, but it’s also about their relationship with their fathers and their cultures, and a mother who could never be described as perfect no matter how strong the family’s love may be.

“There’s only one way Shelby and her sisters can describe their mother: She’s a sexpot. Helen Kimura collects men (and loans, spending money, and gifts of all kinds) from all over the country. Sure, she’s not your typical role model, but she’s also not just a pretty face and nail polish. She is confident and brave; she lives life on her own terms, and her four daughters simply adore her. These girls have been raised outside the traditional boundaries. They know how to take the back exit. They know how to dodge crazed lovers in highway car chases. They do not, however, know how to function without one another.

Then suddenly they must. A late-night phone call unexpectedly shreds the family apart, catapulting the girls across the country to live with their respective fathers. But these strong-willed sisters are, like their mother, determined to live life on their own terms, and what they do to pull their family back together is nothing short of beautiful.”

10. The Town that Food Saved by Ben Hewitt


Okay, you caught me. Another local food / sustainable living nonfiction narrative. I have become increasingly interested in food since reading Unprocessed, but that was already after I had become vegetarian. I wish someone would’ve told me years ago “Kate, did you know that people who like facts write books about food???” because I always assumed the best it got was crappy diet books or fear mongering. I hope this is another winner!

“Over the past 3 years, Hardwick, Vermont, a typical hardscrabble farming community of 3,000 residents, has jump-started its economy and redefined its self-image through a local, self-sustaining food system unlike anything else in America. Even as the recent financial downturn threatens to cripple small businesses and privately owned farms, a stunning number of food-based businesses have grown in the region-Vermont Soy, Jasper Hill Farm, Pete’s Greens, Patchwork Farm & Bakery, Apple Cheek Farm, Claire’s Restaurant and Bar, and Bonnieview Farm, to name only a few. The mostly young entrepreneurs have created a network of community support; they meet regularly to share advice, equipment, and business plans, and to loan each other capital. Hardwick is fast becoming a model for other communities to replicate its success. Author Ben Hewitt presents the captivating story of a small town coming back to life, The Town That Food Saved is narrative nonfiction at its best: full of colorful characters and grounded in an idea that will revolutionize the way we eat.”


There you have it! A lot of YA, a couple nonfiction, a thriller (gasp), and a few books with diverse characters, too. Sometimes my TBR list grows in a monotonous repeat of the same genres, but not this week thanks to all the fab reviews I found.

Are there any books here you’ve read or plan on adding to your TBR? Let me know! I’m also on Twitter and Goodreads.

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