Top 5 Tuesday | Character Driven Stories

Top Five

Happy Top 5 Tuesday! 

I feel like my picks for Top 5 Tuesday are usually pretty predictable, and this weeks topic was just going to be one more that I filled up with books I’ve already talked about.  I really really tried hard to come up with books I’ve written about less often.
It wasn’t easy, and I had to include Melina Marchetta.  Her character/relationship driven writing style is why she’s my favorite.  I did leave off TJ Klune, since I always talk about him, even though he is also another character/relationship driven author.  Just know I held back for you.  😀

Top 5 Tuesday was started by Shanah at Bionic Book Worm!


Lonely Hearts by Heidi Cullinan

Lonely HeartsWith the quiet help of his wealthy family, Sebastian “Baz” Acker has successfully kept his painful past at bay. But as the end of college draws near, his friends—his buffer zone—are preparing to move on, while his own life is at a crippling standstill.With loneliness bearing down on him, Baz hooks up—then opens up—with Elijah Prince, the guy Baz took a bullet for last year. The aftershocks of their one-night stand leave giant cracks in Baz’s carefully constructed armor. For the first time, the prospect isn’t terrifying.

Accustomed to escaping his demons by withdrawing into his imagination, Elijah isn’t used to having a happy herd of friends. He’s even less comfortable as the object of a notorious playboy’s affections. Yet all signs seem to indicate this time happiness might be within his grasp. When Baz’s mother runs for a highly sought-after public office, the media hounds drag Baz’s and Elijah’s pasts into the light. In the blinding glare, Baz and Elijah face the ultimate test: discovering if they’re stronger together…or apart.

I fell in love with Baz when I were introduced to him in book two.  Reading his love story with Elijah was perfection, because Heidi knows how to write a really amazing character.  (I actually had to decide between Love Lessons and Carry the Ocean, and it was tough, but I love Baz Acker.)


Beard in Mind by Penny Reid

Beard in MindAll is fair in love and auto maintenance.

Beau Winston is the nicest, most accommodating guy in the world. Usually.

Handsome as the devil and twice as charismatic, Beau lives a charmed life as everyone’s favorite Winston Brother. But since his twin decided to leave town, and his other brother hired a stunning human-porcupine hybrid as a replacement mechanic for their auto shop, Beau Winston’s charmed life has gone to hell in a handbasket.

Shelly Sullivan is not nice and is never accommodating. Ever.
She mumbles to herself, but won’t respond when asked a question. She glares at everyone, especially babies. She won’t shake hands with or touch another person, but has no problems cuddling with a dog. And her damn parrot speaks only in curse words. Beau wants her gone. He wants her out of his auto shop, out of Tennessee, and out of his life.

The only problem is, learning why this porcupine wears her coat of spikes opens a Pandora’s box of complexity—exquisite, tempting, heartbreaking complexity—and Beau Winston soon discovers being nice and accommodating might mean losing what matters most.

The Winston Brothers is so full of amazing characters.  There’s a cute romance novel in each one, but I think most of the series fans would agree it’s the brothers that keep pulling us back.  We all especially love Cletus.  While I could have chosen Beard Science (Cletus’s book), I instead chose Beard in Mind because of Shelly Sullivan.  She tops my list of favorite female characters, and as much as I love Cletus, it was Shelly who made this story so unforgettable.


The Foxhole Court by Nora Sakavic

The Foxhole CourtNeil Josten is the newest addition to the Palmetto State University Exy team. He’s short, he’s fast, he’s got a ton of potential—and he’s the runaway son of the murderous crime lord known as The Butcher.

Signing a contract with the PSU Foxes is the last thing a guy like Neil should do. The team is high profile and he doesn’t need sports crews broadcasting pictures of his face around the nation. His lies will hold up only so long under this kind of scrutiny and the truth will get him killed.

But Neil’s not the only one with secrets on the team. One of Neil’s new teammates is a friend from his old life, and Neil can’t walk away from him a second time. Neil has survived the last eight years by running. Maybe he’s finally found someone and something worth fighting for.

Oh my god, do I love this trilogy.  It’s one of my all time favorites.  Yet, I’d be the first to admit the plot is kinda crazy.  I refuse to label this as contemporary because everything about it is so incredibly fictional, from the sport they play to the mafioso plot.  It’s so over the top, if the characters hadn’t been some of the best I’ve ever read, I probably would have ripped this trilogy apart.  I can’t.  I fell in love with each and every one of them.  Yes, Neil and Andrew are my favorite, but every Exy player is special to me.  I have to consider this trilogy ‘character driven’ because that’s what I fell in love with.


Mosquitoland by David Arnold

mosquitolandI am a collection of oddities, a circus of neurons and electrons: my heart is the ringmaster, my soul is the trapeze artist, and the world is my audience. It sounds strange because it is, and it is, because I am strange.

After the sudden collapse of her family, Mim Malone is dragged from her home in northern Ohio to the “wastelands” of Mississippi, where she lives in a medicated milieu with her dad and new stepmom. Before the dust has a chance to settle, she learns her mother is sick back in Cleveland.

So she ditches her new life and hops aboard a northbound Greyhound bus to her real home and her real mother, meeting a quirky cast of fellow travelers along the way. But when her thousand-mile journey takes a few turns she could never see coming, Mim must confront her own demons, redefining her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane.

Told in an unforgettable, kaleidoscopic voice, Mosquitoland is a modern American odyssey, as hilarious as it is heartbreaking.

Mim Malone!  This read was all about Mim Malone.  She was the quirkiest character and so quotable.  The story could have easily fallen flat, but Mim as the main character really pulled it all together.  She’s another female character I love.  I mean, “I am a collection of oddities, a circus of neurons and electrons: my heart is the ringmaster, my soul is the trapeze artist, and the world is my audience. It sounds strange because it is, and it is, because I am strange.” How can you not?!


Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

jellicoeIn this lyrical, absorbing, award-winning novel, nothing is as it seems, and every clue leads to more questions.

At age eleven, Taylor Markham was abandoned by her mother. At fourteen, she ran away from boarding school, only to be tracked down and brought back by a mysterious stranger. Now seventeen, Taylor’s the reluctant leader of her school’s underground community, whose annual territory war with the Townies and visiting Cadets has just begun. This year, though, the Cadets are led by Jonah Griggs, and Taylor can’t avoid his intense gaze for long. To make matters worse, Hannah, the one adult Taylor trusts, has disappeared. But if Taylor can piece together the clues Hannah left behind, the truth she uncovers might not just settle her past, but also change her future.

have to include Jellicoe Road.  When I think ‘Character Driven Stories’, Jellicoe Road is the first book to comes to mind.  Not only is it my favorite book of all time, but the strength of it is inarguably the depth of the characters.  All of them.  There’s a present day story, and a story from the past, both being told in a back and forth way.  It doesn’t matter if your reading present day, with Taylor, Jonah, Chaz, Raffy and Ben, or if you’re jumping to the past with Narnie, Fitz, Webb, Tate and Jude.  Either story is full of amazing characters you fall in love with.


About Birdie

Don’t look for her in any bar, club, crazy raging party, or anywhere there may be a large gathering of strangers. She’s more likely to be found tucked into the corner of the couch watching one of her favorite shows, or preferably under a comforter with her current novel.

30 Responses

      1. Sahi

        Baz and Elijah are too good together… I loved Walter more in books 2&3… and the whole friend group is wonderful…


      2. Sahi

        No just these three… and I think the book about Ed and Laurie who appear in Book 3… I still have to read Carry the Ocean…


  1. I sadly haven’t read any of these books but they’ve made your list quite a few times so I added them to my TBR wishlist! Especially Jellicoe Road (which I actually went to order last month but they were sold out! GASP!)
    Thanks for participating – added you to the list 🙂


  2. I recently finished up the Foxhole Court series and OHMIGOD I loved it SOOO much! Yes, it is beyond over the top but the characters are just too easy to love. Andrew and Neil are perfection. The way their relationship developed was pure gold. And both of them separately make for some of the best characters I’ve read in a while. The crew reminded me a lot of The Raven Boys actually! All about the characters, but an interesting plot and great writing don’t hurt either 😀


      1. Andrew was the star of the books. The most complex and the most endearing. I’d love to read a novella or a series from his POV actually!


  3. The Other Weasley

    So nice to see the Winston boys on this list. That series has some of the most interesting characters I’ve read in a long time. I adore Cleetus but I’m thinking that I may end up adoring Billy before the series is complete.


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