Hello loves! Welcome to another new blog series where every two weeks we will feature a new top ten list! Emily and I thought it would be a really fun thing to do, and we already have our top ten lists through the rest of the year picked out! For this first post, I decided to feature standalone books because they can be hard to find sometimes. I read a lot of romance, which should not be a surprise at this point, but I did try and throw a few books in there that were outside the romance genre. There is no particular order to this list because that would have been asking too much considering these are some of my favorite books that I have ever read! I hope y’all enjoy this new series!
1. The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
I live in a world without magic or miracles. A place where there are no clairvoyants or shapeshifters, no angels or superhuman boys to save you. A place where people die and music disintegrates and things suck. I am pressed so hard against the earth by the weight of reality that some days I wonder how I am still able to lift my feet to walk.
Former piano prodigy Nastya Kashnikov wants two things: to get through high school without anyone learning about her past and to make the boy who took everything from her—her identity, her spirit, her will to live—pay.
Josh Bennett’s story is no secret: every person he loves has been taken from his life until, at seventeen years old, there is no one left. Now all he wants is be left alone and people allow it because when your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space.
Everyone except Nastya, the mysterious new girl at school who starts showing up and won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. But the more he gets to know her, the more of an enigma she becomes. As their relationship intensifies and the unanswered questions begin to pile up, he starts to wonder if he will ever learn the secrets she’s been hiding—or if he even wants to.
The Sea of Tranquility is a rich, intense, and brilliantly imagined story about a lonely boy, an emotionally fragile girl, and the miracle of second chances.
Quick Thoughts: This is an OG title for me because I read this book so many years ago, but I still have a quote from this book on my wall. It was a poignant story that makes this more of a nostalgic pick than anything. This is a book that has stuck with me over several years!
2. Archer’s Voice by Mia Sheridan
I wanted to lose myself in the small town of Pelion, Maine. To forget everything I had left behind. The sound of rain. The blood. The coldness of a gun against my skin. For six months, each breath has been a reminder that I survived—and my dad didn’t. I’m almost safe again. But the moment I meet Archer Hale, my entire world tilts on its axis . . . and never rights itself again.
Until I trespass into his strange, silent, and isolated world, Archer communicates with no one. Yet in his whiskey-colored eyes, something intangible happens between us. There’s so much more to him than just his beauty, his presence, or the ways his hands communicate with me. On me. But this town is mired in secrets and betrayals, and Archer is the explosive center of it all.
So much passion. And so much hurt. But it’s only in Archer’s silence that we might just find what we need to heal . . . and live.
Quick Thoughts: This is another OG book/author for me that I always come back to even though I first read it back in 2015. I loved the message that Mia had to give through Archer and the other characters in the story. It was truly beautiful.
3. The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.
Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.
At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.
Until one day, he does…
As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?
Quick Thoughts: This was my first Holly Black book for me and i was completely captivated my her unique writing style and the absolute mystery in this book. Plus it is so rare to find a YA fantasy book that is a standalone so I felt it had to make the list.
4. Ghostface Killer by M. Never
Once, I was nothing.
Hungry, abandoned, wandering, and alone. An adolescent street rat fighting for crumbs.
Then a chance encounter changed my entire world.
A man in an expensive suit asked me how much my life was worth.
I didn’t have an answer, because I didn’t know.
He asked if I thought it was worth killing for.
Impulsively, I said yes…
He found me, then fostered me, and in the interim turned me into a killing machine. A modern day La Femme Nikita.
Now, I only have one mission. To avenge the death of the man who saved me.
There’s an invisible war on the streets. Us against them. Family against family. Power against power.
They call me Ghostface Killer because they never see me coming.
I understand the weight of that danger.
Because now here I stand, three months pregnant with the barrel of a gun pressed to my head cause I never saw him coming…
5. Drumline by Stacy Kestwick
Traditions are important. Especially in the South.
College football. Rivalries. Tailgating. Halftime shows.
Some things just don’t change.
Until Reese Holland shows up with her long legs and no-bullshit attitude to audition for the prestigious all-male Rodner University snare line.
It doesn’t matter how much hazing she has to endure from Laird Bronson, with his narrowed green eyes and arrogant smirk. She wants that damn spot, and she’s more than good enough to earn it.
She expects there to be tension. Even friction.
But not sparks hot enough to burn the entire campus down.
6. Ryan’s Bed by Tijan
I crawled into Ryan Jensen’s bed that first night by accident.
I barely knew him. I thought it was his sister’s bed—her room. It took seconds to realize my error, and I should’ve left…
I didn’t jump out.
I didn’t get embarrassed.
And that night, in that moment, it was the only thing I craved.
I asked to stay. He let me, and I slept.
The truth? I never wanted to leave his bed. If I could’ve stayed forever, I would have.
He became my sanctuary.
Because—four hours earlier—my twin sister killed herself.
7. Whispered Prayers of a Girl by Alex Grayson
A tortured soul meets a damaged family…
A lonely man, a widowed woman, a carefree boy, and a broken girl… Can the four come together and help heal each other? Or will fear of the unknown and guilt about the past keep them apart?
Her whispered prayers break her…
At night, as she’s drifting off to sleep, I press my ear to the door and listen to her heart-wrenching pleas. Her words are agony to my healing heart, but I cherish the sound of them, for that’s the only time I ever hear my beautiful daughter speak. Since her father died two years ago, she’s grown quiet and withdrawn. Cat’s Valley was to be our new beginning, a place where my family and I can heal, but what we find there is so much more.
Scars mar his body. Pain has left him in pieces…
Four years ago, I lost the two things I cherished most in the world. They were ripped from my arms in the most painful and cruel way. Since then, I’ve kept to myself, preferring to stay away from the pitying looks and murmured rumors. Everything changed when she and her children barged into my life. It was an accident, and I don’t deserve them, but now that they’re here, I’m not sure I can let them go.
Quick Thoughts: I love having kids in books because they add a whole different element to the story. This was an emotional book that punched you right in the gut. The tragic pasts of both of these broken families is heart wrenching, but the magnificent way they come together is inspirational.
8. Forever Right Now by Emma Scott
Darlene Montgomery has been to hell and back…more than once. After a stint in jail for drug possession, she is finally clean and ready to start over. Yet another failed relationship is just the motivation she needs to move from New York to San Francisco with the hopes of resurrecting her dance career and discovering that she is more than the sum of her rap sheet. As Darlene struggles in her new city, the last thing she wants is to become entangled with her handsome—but cranky—neighbor and his adorable little girl…
Sawyer Haas is weeks away from finishing law school, but exhaustion, dwindling finances, and the pressure to provide for himself and his daughter, Olivia, are wearing him down. A federal clerkship–a job he desperately needs–awaits him after graduation, but only if he passes the Bar Exam. Sawyer doesn’t have the time or patience for the capricious—if beautiful—dancer who moves into the apartment above his. But Darlene’s easy laugh and cheerful spirit seep into the cracks of his hardened heart, and slowly break down the walls he’s resurrected to keep from being betrayed ever again.
When the parents of Olivia’s absentee mother come to fight for custody, Sawyer could lose everything. To have any chance at happiness, he must trust Darlene, the woman who has somehow found her way past his brittle barbs, and Darlene must decide how much of her own bruised heart she is willing to give to Sawyer and Olivia, especially when the ghosts of her troubled past refuse to stay buried.
Quick Thoughts: This is a book that talks about true sacrifice and taking responsibility for your actions. There is a twist in this one that made me absolutely sob because it was so perfect and unexpected.
9. A Wish for Us by Tillie Cole
A story of music. A story of healing. A story of love conquering all.
Nineteen-year-old Cromwell Dean is the rising star of electronic dance music. Thousands of people adore him. But no one knows him. No one sees the color of his heart.
Until the girl in the purple dress. She sees through the walls he has built to the empty darkness within.
When Cromwell leaves behind the gray skies of England to study music in the South Carolina heat, the last thing he expects is to see her again. And he certainly doesn’t expect that she’ll stay in his head like a song on repeat.
Bonnie Farraday lives for music. She lets every note into her heart, and she doesn’t understand how someone as talented as Cromwell can avoid doing the same. He’s hiding from his past, and she knows it. She tries to stay away from him, but something keeps calling her back.
Bonnie is the burst of color in Cromwell’s darkness. He’s the beat that makes her heart skip.
But when a shadow falls over Bonnie, it’s up to Cromwell to be her light, in the only way he knows how. He must help her find the lost song in her fragile heart. He must keep her strong with a symphony only he can compose.
A symphony of hope.
A symphony of love.
A symphony of them.
10. The Accidentals by Sarina Bowen
Never ask a question unless you’re sure you want the truth.
I’ve been listening to my father sing for my whole life. I carry him in my pocket on my mp3 player. It’s just that we’ve never met face to face.
My mother would never tell me how I came to be, or why my rock star father and I have never met. I thought it was her only secret. I was wrong.
When she dies, he finally appears. Suddenly I have a first class ticket into my father’s exclusive world. A world I don’t want any part of – not at this cost.
Only three things keep me going: my a cappella singing group, a swoony blue-eyed boy named Jake, and the burning questions in my soul.
There’s a secret shame that comes from being an unwanted child. It drags me down, and puts distance between me and the boy I love.
My father is the only one alive who knows my history. I need the truth, even if it scares me.
Quick Thoughts: I have read and loved Sarina in the past, and I knew I would take a chance on her YA Contemporary debut because of that. I really really loved this book because I got to read about a father and a daughter finally getting the chance to build a relationship. It was everything I wanted and more, and yes, there is a little romance in it that will make you swoon!