Let’s have a quick spring fling… fluffy fun books!

 

orangutan list

It’s been a hot minute since I talked about purely cutesy reads- in fact, the last time I talked about fluff and nothing but fluff was 2015! So I think it’s safe to say that list could do with a little updating. I know I’ve definitely read more sappy reads since then.

the hating game

The Hating Game– let’s start with something that has hate in the title, shall we? 😉 If by chance you haven’t heard of this book, don’t be deceived by the title, this is one helluva of the sappy, rewarding, funny read AND I LOVED IT.

night of cake and puppets

Night of Cake and Puppets– it’s no secret I am a MAJOR fan of Laini Taylor’s- but I don’t feel like I go on about this book enough, because it is less in the fantasy category and more in the OH MY GOODNESS THIS DELICIOUSLY SWEET BOOK JUST MADE MY HEART MELT! So yeah, I think it’s a good contender for this list 😉

love and gelato

Love and Gelato– speaking of sugary things- this has all the ingredients of a fun contemporary! Ice cream- check! Romantic Italian location- check! Love- double check!

180 seconds

180 Seconds– I don’t feel like I mention this book enough, but it takes the MEET CUTE/love at first sight trope to a whole different level. Unexpected and surprisingly emotional, this is one romance that will capture your heart in record time.

simon vs the homosapien agenda

Simon Vs the Homosapien Agenda– everyone that’s read Albertalli’s modern romance must surely know how perfect it is for this list! It scarcely needs introduction at this point- so if by chance you haven’t checked it out yet, definitely push it up your TBR, cos you won’t be disappointed! And be sure to check out the movie as well if you’re not quite satiated!

carry on

Carry On– while this does have a satirical edge, Rowell is the master of CUTE romance and this has all the best components of a fun read. And with the second book coming out this year I COULDN’T BE MORE THRILLED!

ForbiddenWish_BOM.indd

Forbidden Wish– I really should talk about this book more, cos it’s a perfectly charming Aladdin retelling. Beautifully told and delightfully romantic, this is a lovely YA fantasy.

nimona

Nimona– yes, this may technically be a book about a supervillain BUT I can safely say this delivers on the fun, humorous side enough to qualify for this list! Plus, I defy you to not fall in love with spunky, bonkers, hilarious Nimona!

anne-of-green-gables

Anne of Green Gables– would you believe that 4 years ago I hadn’t read this gem? Naturally I had to rectify that and I’m glad I did! While it does have some dark themes (which the Netflix show decided to run with much to its detriment) Montgomery lends such charm to her writing that all you come away feeling all warm and fuzzy inside (but also a little heartbroken).

secret countess

The Secret Countess– keeping to more classic of cuteness, you can’t go wrong with a good old-fashioned Eva Ibbotson book! Now, I’m often biased and name this one since it’s my favourite- but that shouldn’t mean you rule out any of the others! They’re all perfectly gorgeous, gilded with the same fairy tale feel and worth picking up.

So have you read any of these? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments! 

Advertisements

Blogger Love in Books!

orangutan list

Is it just me, or do any of you get a jolt of recognition when there’s bloggers in books? Either main characters or those starring in more of a side role- it’s so fun to see some blogger rep in books! Here’s a quick list:

obsidian

The Lux Series– Katie is a surprisingly fun and relatable character- and I’ll admit, a large part of that comes down to her being a reader AND a blogger. I mean, that’s so cool, right? (hehe okay, maybe just in our circles, but you know what I mean). What I like even more is how the number of her followers aren’t made a big deal of- but it is a big presence in her life (and Damian, when he starts to get cuter in the second book, recognises how important it is to her aww).

eliza and her monsters

Eliza and Her Monsters– technically Eliza has a webcomic, but I *adored* her character in every sense, because it was so relatable. From her online presence to her creating stories from scratch to her social awkwardness, she was a down to earth heroine and a lot of fun to read about.

serpent king

Serpent King– funnily enough, Lydia in Serpent King had a blogging persona that I took a while to warm to. But once I did, I appreciated her all the more because my conflicted feelings made her feel all the more real. Plus, this is an amazing book- you should go read it!

geekerella

Geekerella– the heroine is a blogger again here- woot woot! Beyond this just being about fandom, which is already a super entertaining premise, this also delved into the world of blogging a little.

cinder and ella

Cinder and Ella– yes, another Cinderella romance, BUT this also involves living on the internet AND I love the idea of blogs bringing people together PLUS it’s also good so why not? (I’m giving away my Cinderella obsession again 😉 ) I don’t know what it is about Cinderella-types, but apparently they’re obsessed with blogging and I’m for it!

So, have you read any of these? Do you have any tips on books that feature bloggers? Let me know in the comments!

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!

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!

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!