Books with Tropes I Like

 

orangutan list

So a couple of weeks back, I did a post about tropes that don’t bother me (and some I even like) and Katie @Never Not Reading requested that I do a follow up with recommendations in each of the categories. And since I am nothing if not accommodating, I obliged 😉 Althoughhhhh, I have to be honest, this might not be the most comprehensive list in the world, since a fair amount of the time I pick up books with these tropes, they disappoint. Either way, here are some books I did enjoy:

Forbidden Love

Gotta admit, this was the easiest category to do- there are just so many!!! And I love them all!! (most of the time 😉 )

Fake Dating

Ah this was the toughest. Truth be told, ever since I picked up To All the Boys, I’ve been trying to find more in this category, but a lot of them fall flat. Still, there are some good ones out there if you know where to look 😉

Enemies to Lovers

I had so many for this, but I decided to split them up so that there would be some for my other fave trope…

Secretly a sweetheart

Yeah there’s a lot of overlap with Enemies to Lovers here! These two tropes go hand in hand for a reason!

Descent into darkness

Annnd basically every other Shakespearean tragedy 😉

Redemptive arcs

This was another super popular one in classics- maybe because it is a classic! (oof- that joke was painful- I’ll see myself out)

Rags to riches/Cinderella stories

Is it just me or does this happen more in movies? I could think of a gazillion rom coms with this and for some reason it was a struggle to think of more than a few books! (I also think someone’s going to tell me at least one in the comments that I’ll be kicking myself for not remembering).

Do you like any of my recs? Or do you plan on checking any of these out? And do you have any recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments!

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Books that I thought were one thing… but turned out to be something totally different

We’ve all seen the big claims on book blurbs:

“THE NEXT HARRY POTTER AND HUNGER GAMES COMBINED!”

We’ve all seen the hype online:

“THE BEST THING YOU WILL EVER READ”

I know I’ve complained plenty about hype and books I’ve been disappointed with over the years. And yet, I don’t think I talk enough about the times when I’ve read a book that was just a little miss-marketed. It doesn’t mean the book was bad per se (in fact there are some good books on this list) but that I was sold something *totally different* to what it actually was. So today, I’ll be sharing some of those bad boys:

orangutan list

Caraval-150x225Caraval– oh gosh this book really disappointed me. It’s not a terrible book buuut it was way too overhyped. Basically it never should have been described as the *next Night Circus*- and that thought actually inspired a piece with the lovely Trang@Bookidote eons back about how books are marketed.

 

lonely hearts hotelLonely Hearts Hotel– it often seems to be describing a book as like Night Circus that does it a book in for me (so much so I now often avoid books with that moniker) cos this book was given that label too. And if you want to read/enjoy book, you need to get that notion out of your head RIGHT NOW! This is about as far from Night Circus as Lolita is from Carroll. They’re not even in the same genre. And I also feel like I could have done with the warning that this contains a lot of (not always well handled) abuse.

burn for burnBurn for Burn– I actually enjoyed this book for the most part- but one thing that threw me and was totally left of field is the supernatural element. This series is generally marketed as YA contemporary… and it’s not exactly that.

 

girl on the trainThe Girl on the Train– here’s another time that a book was killed by the hype. Frankly, this isn’t a bad thriller, but the only comparison you can really make with Gone Girl is that it has “girl” in the title and it’s in the same genre. Otherwise, the two never should have been lumped together.

 

Legend_Marie_Lu_Book_coverLegend– I really like this author, however I wasn’t totally blown away by her first book. That’s because it distinctly said on the blurb that it was “inspired by Les Miserables”- and perhaps that’s the case- nonetheless it should have been left off the marketing because the two stories have basically *nothing* in common! (okay, there are some parts if you really, really look for it, but it’s not exactly obvious!)

stagsStags– now this one isn’t so much that the blurb or marketing did anything wrong. Rather, Stags simply didn’t live up to the promise of the opening line. It’s more than a little frustrating to have the narrator confess to murder at the start and then have that not come true in the slightest- it made me feel cheated and like I’d picked up the book under false pretences.

And BONUS…

eleanor oliphant is completely fineEleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine– this is actually the one time on this list that I was pleasantly surprised, cos I picked this book up thinking it had *contemporary romance vibes* (especially given where it was placed in bookshops) and it’s not that AT ALL- but in a good way- cos this book is awesome 😉

 

So have you felt let down by a book blurb before? Have you been promised something that a book hasn’t delivered? Or have you been pleasantly surprised by mismarketing? Let me know in the comments!

Why I Fell in Love with Contemporary YA

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It’s no secret that I didn’t always love contemporary YA. For a huge part of my childhood and teens, it was sort of just there. I was much more of a fantasy gal and while I appreciated a good romance, I didn’t think that “good” and “romance” added up to contemporary YA (I know, I had some real genre snobbishness going on). And then, when I went to uni, right at the age when I was supposed to graduate from YA, I started reading more of it when I needed to chill… and that’s when I really discovered how much the genre had to offer- whoops! 😉 Anyway, now that I’m all grown up, I thought it would be fun to share some of the reasons I love the genre. And if it’s not your jam, no doubt this list will provide all the reasons you don’t like it- so if you think about it, this list is for everybody 😉

isla and the happily ever afterThey’re relatable– this is one of the biggest draws for a lot of readers and I know it was for me. I remember the moment when YA contemporary *clicked* for me: it was reading Isla and the Happily Ever After and realising how much I had in common with the main character. While I’d enjoyed Anna and Lola (the first two books in the series), reading Isla was like finding a bookish bestie. And you know what? Ever since that point I’ve regularly found my kindred spirits in books, I’ve related to their circumstances and I’ve realised there’s a lot more to contemporaries than I first thought.

always-and-forever-lara-jean-9781481430487_hrOf course, I also love the romance. Let’s face it, I’ve always been a romance fan- from classics to fantasies, one of the biggest draws for me in books is anything that will make my mushy heart beat. Particularly if it’s super cutesy and adorable- I can’t help myself!! So naturally, I’m drawn to a genre that is centred around the *feels*.

 

serpent kingThey can be SUPER EMOTIONAL in other ways as well– that’s the biggest reason I keep coming back to these books. They make me laugh, cry and everything in between. I thought that contemporary YA was all about the romance for a really long time- not so! They’re often packing a lot more under the surface.

 

list of cagesEspecially cos they’re grounded in real world issues. As tough as it can be to read sometimes, it’s also powerful and necessary sometimes to dip our toes into murkier topics. And contemporaries are an excellent way to do that- they provide a window into the darker parts of life, whilst not losing sight of the light.

 

ps i like youThat’s why contemporary YA can be incredibly fun at the same time. They often have a lightness of touch that may be missing from other genres. When I was younger, I’ll admit, I resisted the charm of a lot of these books, before realising that a little fluff can go a long way. I guess the heart wants what it wants 😉

 

love and gelatoNaturally, for a lot of the above reasons, they make for relaxing reads! It’s not hard to find an easy-read in the contemporary genre, that’s for sure. I started getting into the genre cos I needed to switch off- they may have ended up giving me so much more than that, but they’ve frequently fulfilled that promise as well. A lot of YA contemporaries have a great summer-feel- even if it’s wintry and bleak outside, I can tell you that a lot of the time reading them, I feel like I’m lounging on a hot beach somewhere living the dream 😉

orangutan on a beach relaxing0003

So do you love contemporary YA? Do you agree or disagree with any of my reasons? Let me know in the comments! 

Some Great Contemporary YA Reads That are More Than Their Romance

 

orangutan list

Let’s face it: romance is a staple of contemporary YA. Even so, that doesn’t mean that the story has to end there. Many wonderful contemporaries also explore other avenues of life, love and relationships. That’s why today I’m sharing some of those YA books!

Sisterhood everlasting

#1 Sisterhood Everlasting– I feel like I can rarely talk about contemporary YA without bringing up one of the books in this series. I adore how Brashares shows love and friendship in all of her books- this finale is special though in that it takes a sadder turn. Annnd I’ll leave it there, cos I don’t want to spoil it for anyone that hasn’t read it!

words in deep blue

#2 Words in Deep Blue– another moving book, this delves into the depths of loss, family and friendship. This exquisite story really takes a lot of the themes of this genre to another level.

second chance summer

#3 Second Chance Summer– this was my first Matson book and definitely not the last! I don’t think I could ever forget reading this for the first time- mostly cos it involved lots of crying in public… oops 😉 Seriously, this does not pull its punches. If you want an excellent read about family and grief, then this is the book for you!

cinder and ella

#4 Cinder and Ella– in fairness, this is the most romance-heavy of the books on this list. That said, this Cinderella retelling does a *brilliant* job of demonstrating complex family dynamics and offers more than your standard YA contemporary fare.

simon vs the homosapien agenda

#5 Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda– this is also fundamentally a romance, but along with a good dose of cuteness and a strong hint of humour, this book also delivers by telling a powerful coming out story.

A thousand perfect notes

#6 A Thousand Perfect Notes– I read this fairly recently and haven’t had the chance to review it yet- but rest assured I will get to it, cos this book deserves a lot of attention! I have a difficult time with books on abuse- however I really do believe that this does an outstanding job.

all the bright places

#7 All the Bright Places– possibly the most controversial book on this list, as like many books on mental health, it’s incredibly polarising. Personally, I connected very strongly with the representation and found the characters realistic.

eliza and her monsters

#8 Eliza and Her Monsters– I have made no secret of how much I liked this book- it’s a colourful, exciting contemporary, which also happens to deal with anxiety, friendship and even living on the internet. Hence for a lot of us online, it’s not to be missed!

stargirl

#9 Stargirl– an ‘un one but a good ‘un! This is aimed at a bit of a younger audience, but I read it in my late teens and still got a lot out of it. This is far less about getting a crush and more about dealing with bullying.

And *Bonus*- cos here’s a contemporary without romance at all:

wonder

#10 Wonder- such a powerful read about friendship and overcoming hardship. Words tend to fail me when it comes to this book, so I’ll simply say: if you haven’t read it, you really should.

So have you read any of these? What did you think of them? And what other contemporary YA books do you think are more than their romance? Let me know in the comments!

Tropes I don’t mind (and some I even like)

orangutan list

Okay, I’ll admit that title is a little misleading- cos most of these I really, really love. I just know some of these are not well liked- so please, don’t throw banana peels at me! (that’s my job 😉 )

daughter of smoke and bone#1 Forbidden Love– starting off with something nice and safe, I love the Romeo-and-Juliet style forbidden romances, especially where everything is at stake because of two characters falling in love… Alright, so not totally safe 😉 This one ties me up in knots, unravels me and makes me super invested in the story. I don’t care how much of a cliché it is- it gets me (nearly) every time!

to all the boys#2 Fake Dating– this is one of those romance themes that is becoming instabuy for me. Ever since I read To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before I have been head over heels for this trope. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen it, I will always go back for more!

 

 

secret countess#3 Misunderstandings– okay getting to the first controversial one. Lots of people hate this one- and believe me, I get why- the thing is… I don’t hate it. I think it’s a staple of romance for a reason, partly cos (unfortunately) it’s realistic, but mostly cos it creates tension and reasons for people not to be together, without resorting to making the love interests terrible people (aka indecisiveness, cheating, and basically most of the ingredients for a typical love triangle). Also, it nearly always gets used in one of my favourite ever tropes…

carry on#4 Enemies to lovers– I’ll admit, I’m complete trash for this one. Think Simon and Baz from Carry On– there’s a reason I keep going on about that book! This one also ties into…

 

 

court of mists and fury#5 Secretly a sweetheart– nothing melts my heart more than seeing the soft side of a supposedly hardened character. And I know it’s not always popular, but I cannot get enough of the misunderstood bad boy (important caveat that they can’t actually be an irredeemable bad guy for this to work).

 

darth vader#6 Redemption Arcs– this one can be unpopular, cos some people think it’s overdone… annnd I don’t care. Darth Vader, Snape, any other controversial redemption arc- I am *there* for it. For me, it’s a basic idea that if someone goes into the dark side, there has to be a way they can find their way back and if it’s done well nothing hits me in the gut more. More than that, I enjoy pontificating about how far a character can be redeemed (one great copout I totally approve of is for the baddie to redeem themselves and promptly die- yes, I’m sneaking in another trope that I am totally a sucker for 😉 )

the young elites#7 Descent into *DARKNESS*– kinda can’t include the redemption arc without talking about how much I love the opposite. Though this is done far less, I am so excited to read when a hero becomes a villain. Perhaps it’s because it’s like a form of *evil wish fulfilment*; maybe it’s because it’s such a fascinating way into the human mind. Either way, give me all the anti-hero story arcs please! 

game of thrones book#8 Moral ambiguity– well, if I like the last two, it stands to reason this would be on the list. Basically, I like the good, the bad and everything in between. Give me all the characters I don’t know whether to root for or simply hate (thanks GRRM)

 

 

Harry_Potter_and_the_Philosopher's_Stone_Book_Cover#9 Dark backstories- including dead parents– yes, you read that right. I’m one of those *MONSTERS* that actually appreciates when the parents are killed off before the story begins or something nasty happens in the protagonist’s past… Really though, this can’t come as so much of a surprise given how often I’ve talked about the need for darkness in books and why bad parents in books can be totally necessary. I won’t go into too much detail, as I’ve spoken at length about this before, but I personally find it can be essential to a lot of storytelling and can be an exercise in empathy for the reader.

geekerella#10 Rags to Riches/Cinderella stories– here’s another one that I cannot stop reading! Every time I see a Cinderella retelling, I pick it up. And whenever a character goes from incredibly sucky circumstances to being raised far above their station- I eat that stuff right up! I’m a glutton for this kind of narrative!

 

red sister#11 Ridiculously overpowered characters or magic systems– this one’s a weird one for me to include, cos it skirts super close to the Chosen One line- and I’ve made it pretty clear I’m not a fan of that. That said, when there’s magic in a story, I want a bit of a show. I find it so entertaining when there is endless possibility when it comes to a magic system. I love when fantasy breaks all the laws of reality. And for this to happen, it means a lot of the characters have to be able to do the impossible. I especially love it if the protagonist in the world has multiple abilities that make them stand out from the crowd- like Fitz in the Farseer Trilogy and Nona in Red Sister. It’s not just that talented characters are interesting to me, I get hyped to see what they’ll do with all that power!

So let me have it- what do you think of all of these tropes? Do you love them or hate them? And which tropes (unpopular or not) do you secretly love? Don’t be shy!

 

My All-Time Favourite Romances

booklove orangutan

Well, now that Valentine’s Day is over, it seems like an appropriate time to talk about my absolute favourite romances. Of course, I love all didn’t genres, so they’ll be a sprinkling of plenty of different types of books- enjoy!

wuthering heights book

Wuthering Heights- starting off with one that people tend to love out hate, I completely understand that this is a dysfunctional romance between terrible people… But I don’t care. Not even a little. I simply adore how utterly atmospheric and emotional this book is!

jane eyre

Jane Eyre– I can’t mention one Bronte sister and not another- especially when I’d be forcing myself to choose between two masterpieces. Again, this isn’t necessarily the healthiest  relationship- though it’s better than Cathy/Heathcliff (which isn’t saying much)- but it still moves me, no matter how many times I read it or how many adaptations I’ve seen.

Emma_Jane_Austen_book_cover

Emma– now if those first two were a little out-there, this will be more your cup of tea. The ultimate friends-to-lovers story, I don’t know anyone in literature more right for each other than Mr Knightley and Emma!

persuasion

Persuasion– ah I couldn’t make this list with just one Austen! And what better choice than beautiful story of love standing the test of time. Described as Austen’s answer to the question “but will they still love each other when the story’s done?” this resonates with the most romantic part of my heart that wants to believe love is eternal.

memoirs of a geisha

Memoirs of a Geisha– another story of constancy, this novel touched me with its poignant promise that love will find a way in the end.

a thousand splendid suns

A Thousand Splendid Suns– I couldn’t make a list like this without thinking the moving and redemptive love story wrapped up in these pages. Hosseini has a magical way with words that will transport you across time, space and emotion.

tess of the d'urbervilles

Tess of the D’Urbervilles– be warned: this one is a heartbreaker. Doomed from the outset, Hardy’ s evocative writing takes you on a journey across the near-mythical land of Wessex and to all the places of heartbreak along the way.

noughts-and-crosses

Noughts and Crosses– a modern star-crossed lover story, with a twist. This powerful, heart-wrenching story will always be favourite. That ending gets me every time.

Trudi_Canavan_The_High_Lord_cover

The High Lord– there aren’t many high fantasy books for me where the romance is the star of the show. This is my exception to that rule. The reason I ended falling for this series was the beautiful (and devastating) romance at its heart.

daughter of smoke and bone

Daughter of Smoke and Bone– more of a romantic fantasy, Taylor is the expert at getting you invested in characters and finding the beauty in there love. Karou and Akiva’ spirited connection transcends anything of this world… And beyond.

strange the dreamer

Strange the Dreamer– I said Taylor was the expert, didn’t I? So there’s no need to be surprised that two of her series ended up on this list! If I had thought there was no way she could top the romance in her last series, Lazlo and Sarai proved me wrong.

midsummer night's dream

A Midsummer Night’s Dream– I had to include Shakespeare, doesn’t I? I mean, he was only the finest writer in the English language 😉 Naturally his contributions to romance stand the test of time- none more so than this romantic comedy, filled with mistaken identity, misunderstandings and more than a few moving speeches.

isla and the happily ever after

Isla and the Happily Ever After– it’s no secret that this is one of my favourite contemporaries- and that’s cos of the love story!! I’m a massive sucker for discovering love that was waiting in the wings all along and this definitely delivered the *feels* in that department. It is just. so. cute.

carry on

Carry On– what is there to say this book that I haven’t already? You guys know I adore Baz and Simon; you know I think it’s the perfect Harry Potter parody. All that’s left to be said about it is there’s soon to be a sequel and I AM LIVING FOR IT.

That was a fun one to do! Naturally my question today is, what are your favourite romances? Let me know the comments!

Books I’m Glad I Gave a Second Chance (and ended up loving)

 

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I will admit, talking about books I no longer like is not always the most fun- nothing hurts as much as falling out of love with a series 😉 Which is why, after yesterday’s post, it seems only fair to talk about some books I very nearly gave up on… yet won me over by the end!

game of thrones book

Game of Thrones– okay, starting with a *shock, horror* confession: when I first picked this up, I wasn’t sold. I know, I know, it’s got a great opening, but I didn’t click with the writing style. What ended up happening was I saw the show and read a spoiler for the second season… which meant I inevitably felt I had to read them all that summer to make sure I wasn’t spoiled again! #bookwormlogic Anyway, I picked it up again and realised what a BIG MISTAKE I’d made- I may never be in love with the writing style- still these books are ridiculously exciting.

the-black-magician-trilogy

The Black Magician Trilogy– I was actually warned that the first book in this series might be a struggle to get through… and it was. That said, the last act convinced me that I *needed* to keep reading- and I’m so glad it did, because by the end of the series I’d done a complete one-eighty on my feelings for the series and fallen irrevocably in love with it. The only problem is I frequently think of this book and series when I’m considering DNFing- cos it’s that one time I cling to as proof that *it can get better*!

prince-of-thorns

Prince of Thorns– I’ve always been drawn to darker fantasy, yet it took me a very long time to take the dive into the more adult grimdark section of the genre. The number of times I considered reading this before I finally picked it up was ridiculous- and it’s ridiculous how much I loved it given my hesitation. I’m so glad I got over my initial trepidation- cos if I hadn’t I wouldn’t have had the pleasure of reading this intense and wild series!

wolf speaker

Wolf Speaker– alright, time for another admission: this was possibly the first book I ever DNF’d. The worst part is my reason SUCKED (I think it had something to do with the list of made up terms at the beginning- is it obvious I was so young I didn’t really understand how world building worked? 😉 ) Fortunately, my sister read it instead and told me I was completely wrong. To prove to her I was right, I read the whole thing… and, yeah, she was right. The book was awesome. Thus begun my lifelong love of Pierce’s books!

percyjacksonseries

Percy Jackson– when it came to this book I simply felt it was good, but I was too old for it. And while that isn’t any less true now than it was a couple of years ago, I did decide to give it another shot- and whaddya know, I had a lot of fun with it!

six of crows duology

Six of Crows– this one is sort of cheating, cos it’s more that I read the previous Grisha series and, while I liked it, wasn’t as blown away as everyone else seemed to be. So when a new Bardugo series came out, I wasn’t rushing to put it on my shelf. Somehow though the hype train caught up to me and I couldn’t help but jump aboard. Turns out I wasn’t a complete sucker- this duology ended up stealing my heart!

court of mists and fury

Court of Mists and Fury– there seems to be a trend for me with Maas’ books- I don’t generally speaking end up sold on the series openers- HOWEVER once the series gets going, I become more than a little enthralled with the characters and relationships that I forget all my misgivings. This was precisely what happened with Court of Mist and Fury– while I wasn’t a fan of Court of Thorns and Roses, I was told book 2 redeems the series and that was one hundred percent the case for me.

pride and prejudice

Pride and Prejudice– to be fair, I never thought this was a bad book, I simply thought it wasn’t for me (oh how wrong I was 😉 ). Like a lot of books on this list, one of the greatest obstacles to enjoying it came down to poor timing. Personally, I think I was too young to properly get the wit and irony. When I got a bit older, I gave Austen another try (well I had to read Emma for school) and you know what? My taste had completely evolved and now I’m complete Austen stan 😉 Turns out our kid-selves don’t know everything- who’d have thunk it? 😉

canterbury tales

Canterbury Tales– this is simply another case of reading it too soon (and not having the faintest idea how to tackle the Middle English). So when I had to study this at uni I was DREADING it. Fortunately I was told a great tip to read it aloud- sure, I sounded like I had a funny accent, but once I got going I realised how easily I was able to make sense of it that way- and more importantly discovered the brilliance of the characterisation and stories for myself.

simarillion

Silmarillion– alright, this is admittedly not the best book ever. Certainly, it’s still not my favourite Tolkien. Nonetheless, even though I came close to DNFing this twice, I’m glad I eventually got past the midway hump- especially since some of the more beautiful stories come after that point! I also really liked the quasi-Biblical style of the prose. So in the end, I thought this was a worthwhile read. Plus, it never hurts to delve further into Tolkien’s wonderfully crafted world 🙂

So are there any books or series you nearly gave up on, yet ended up loving? Let me know in the comments!