Page-Turner Picks

Page-Turner Picks

Whether you’re here to finally start your New Year’s Resolution, or looking for more books to add to your towering list of To-Be-Reads, below are five books I personally recommend. My reviews are spoiler-free and solely my opinion. If you disagree, feel free to let me know what you think!

Normal People, published in 2018, won the British Book Award for Book of the Year in 2019. The novel was adapted into a miniseries by Elemental Pictures for BBC Three and Hulu in 2020.

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Genre: Romance

Summary: Normal People follows Connell and Marianne, two teens from vastly different social circles. Connell is popular and well-liked, while Marianne is lonely and conceited. This novel explores their individual problems, their irregular personal growth, and the complexities of what they feel for each other. Connell and Marianne exemplify that sometimes, soulmates don’t mean forever.

Review: I didn’t expect to, but I absolutely loved this book. The writing style is very unique; Sally Rooney writes without quotation marks, meaning there is no visual separation between thought and spoken word. While initially confusing, Rooney amazingly establishes the difference between the characters inner thoughts and voice. Additionally, the story does not progress with a definite plot. Instead, it follows the lives of two opposing magnets, two people who can’t seem to let each other go, tied by an inexplicable connection. Both characters are flawed – they do bad things and hurt each other, but it makes them feel real. Their bond, while sometimes frustrating, is something to envy. They found a soulmate in each other, someone who knows them for who they really are, without judgment. The ending, I will say, regresses Marianne’s character growth. She makes a decision for Connell and doesn’t explain nor allude to how her individual growth influenced this. Contrary to other people, I like the book’s open-ending. It felt like real life. This book doesn’t have a “happily ever after”, it just has an after.

Favorite Quotes: 

“But part of the feeling was knowing the terrible hold he’d had over her, and still had and could not foresee ever losing.”
“I don’t know what’s wrong with me, says Marianne. I don’t know why I can’t be like normal people…I don’t know why I can’t make people love me. I think there was something wrong with me when I was born.”

My Rating: ★★★★☆

Six of Crows, the sequel duology to Shadow and Bone, published in 2015. The duology, however, can be read as a standalone series. Shadow and Bone was adapted into a Netflix show which included characters from the Six of Crows series. The 2021 Netflix show was cancelled after 2 seasons on November 15, 2023.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo


Summary Six of Crows follows a criminal team of six, whose directive is to break into a heavily-fortified prison and smuggle a prisoner out for a large cash prize. All six of the characters, “a convict with a thirst for revenge, a sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager, a runaway with a privileged past, a spy known as the Wraith, a Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums, and a thief with a gift for unlikely escapes” (Bardugo) are weary of each other. However, to receive their money, they are forced to work together. This book reveals the danger of alliances, and the truth about what people will do for revenge.

ReviewLet me start by saying fantasy books are hard to get into for me, and this book was no different. I remember reading parts of the heist and feeling completely lost. If there was no direct dialogue, it all blurred together. If you love delving into the specifics of worlds and how the magic system works, it is recommended you read the Shadow and Bone trilogy instead. It takes place in the same magical world, before Six of Crows, but describes it all in detail. Six of Crows, however, focuses mostly on its characters and less on the heist plot. Leigh Bardugo’s character development in this book is one of the best I’ve ever read. They’re all morally gray (my favorite color) and kind of psychotic. I couldn’t tell you why they work together, but they do. My favorite moments were scenes where all six characters were together. Their banter was my absolute favorite, and some “out of character” moments felt like their chance to be the teenagers they hardly ever indulged in being. The characters are the sole reason I highly recommend this book. 

Favorite Quotes: 

 “A gambler, a convict, a wayward son, a lost Grisha, a Suli girl who had become a killer, a boy from the Barrel who had become something worse.”
 “No mourners. No funerals. Among them, it passed for ‘good luck.” 

My Rating★★★★☆

All the Light We Cannot See is a 2014 war novel with awards ranging from the Goodreads Choice Award for Historical Fiction (2014), to the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (2015). The book was adapted into a Netflix series directed by Shawn Levy in 2023.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Genre: Fiction

Summary: This book is set during World War II as Nazis begin taking over surrounding countries. It follows the life of two teenagers: a blind French girl named Marie-Laure, and a German orphan named Werner Pfennig as they navigate their respective lives. All the Light We Cannot See discusses the blurred lines between good and bad when survival is the ultimate goal.

Review: This book was my first read of 2024, and it was a very memorable one. The way Doerr masterfully intertwines the lives of these two characters who could not be on further sides of a war, was incredible. Little hints of how he does so is peppered into the intense plot. This book represents the gray area between good guys and bad guys. Little sparks of humanity are seen in the younger Nazis and evil is seen in the subservient. Not to mention the incredible amount of detail and historic accuracy throughout its pages. This book flips through different time periods of the two characters’ lives, giving insight into key moments that prove to be extremely necessary and indispensable as you read on. Additionally, amidst all of the historic veracity, Doerr intertwines the plot of a cursed object, a diamond named The Sea of Flames. It adds an aspect of mystery and fallacy which intrigues the reader to question everything. The complexity of the book and its characters are reflectant on humanity itself. It’s an amazing read, a heartbreaking story, and I absolutely recommend it.

Favorite Quotes:

“The greatest lesson of history? It’s that history is whatever the victors say it is.”
“But it is not bravery; I have no choice. I wake up and live my life. Don’t you do the same?”

My Rating: ★★★★☆

Highly Illogical Behavior was published May 10, 2016. The 256-page novel is John Corey Whaley’s most recent work. From 2016-2018, it consistently won multiple nominations for literary book awards.

Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley

GenreYoung Adult

Summary In John Corey Whaley’s Highly Illogical Behavior, Solomon, an agoraphobic 16-year-old that fears going outside, meets Lisa, an ambitious 17-year-old. With questionable motives, Lisa befriends Solomon, forming an unexpected trio that includes her boyfriend, Clark. As their bonds deepen, Lisa grapples with the potential consequences her actions might have on their friendship. This novel is a coming of age story that explores the difficulties of anxiety disorders and accepting who we are. 

Review: I read this book a really long time ago and the fact that I remember this book vividly speaks volumes. John Corey Whaley masterfully educates his readers on the difficulties of having an anxiety disorder. He offers two perspectives, one struggling through agoraphobia, and another that sees it as something to fix. Solomon is aware of how restricting it is, but remains completely defeated. Lisa, on the other hand, bends her morals for her ambition and forces others, namely her boyfriend Clark, to do the same. I think it is worth mentioning how detailed Solomon’s thoughts were. You can tell Whaley heavily researched agoraphobia and executed it amazingly. I, obviously, loved all the characters. Solomon, Lisa, and Clark create a really wholesome bond. They’re super geeky and hilarious together. The book leaves readers with the message that your life isn’t built off your mental disorders but the friendships you have. My only complaint is that the book was too short, do with that what you will.

Favorite Quotes: 

 “What he feared the most was that all this hiding had made it impossible for him to ever be found again.” 

 “We’re just floating in space trying to figure out what it means to be human.”

My Rating: ★★★★☆

GenreYoung Adult

SummaryThis is an epistolary novel where 15-year-old Charlie writes to an anonymous friend. These letters take readers on a journey with Charlie as he navigates his freshman year of high school. Charlie makes some new friends, deals with his family, and tries to come to terms with two traumatic events from his past. 

Review: I love this book so much. I don’t have a single favorite book, but this honestly might be in the top 5. Just because something happened to you, doesn’t mean it defines you. This book taught me that. It’s evident in Charlie. He’s had all these severely traumatic experiences, and yet he’s still willing to try and put himself out there. Let’s start with his character (I know, shocking). Charlie can act very childish: he cries a lot, is very bad with social cues, and is super naive. He’s a freshman in high school, but he acts way younger than a 15-year-old student. At a first glance, you’d think it’s the author’s error. However, as you learn more about him and see him interact with others, it makes perfect sense. Up until meeting Sam and Patrick, he had no friends, a weird relationship with his siblings, and was kind of sheltered. He is also very naive in his way of thinking. He sees the facts and the obvious answer, and is ultimately confused when people make bad decisions, all of which was really interesting to read. I really enjoyed the way the book was written. It’s a welcomed change from the repetitive standard form of writing. Each chapter is a letter written by Charlie to his “friend”. It’s so well done, I frequently forgot it was a letter. This book is a coming of age story that highlights the high school experience for wallflowers just trying to figure out who they are and where they fit in.

Favorite Quotes: 

 “We accept the love we think we deserve.”
 “He’s a wallflower. You see things. You keep quiet about them. And you understand.”

My Rating★★★★★

Works Cited:

  • Bardugo, Leigh. Six of Crows. Henry Holt and Company, September 29, 2015.
  • Chbosky, Stephen. The Perks of Being a Wallflower. MTV Books/Pocket Books, February 1, 1999.
  • Doerr, Anthony. All the Light We Cannot See. Scribner, January 1, 2014.
  • Rooney, Sally. Normal People. Faber & Faber, August 28, 2018.
  • Whaley, John Corey. Highly Illogical Behavior. Dial Books, May 10, 2016.
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