Let’s talk about: Romantic novels!

Happy Valentine’s Day! Whether you’re celebrating or not, here are thirty books that will give you serious 😍.

romantic comedy:

💞 The Foxe & the Hound by R.S. Grey
💞 The Virgin Romance Novelist by Meghan Quinn
💞 Imperfect Chemistry by Mary Frame
💞 Slightly Stalky by Amy Vansant

lgbt:

💞 Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
💞 If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
💞 Damaged Like Us by Krista & Becca Ritchie
💞 Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
💞 The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
💞 Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

young adult:

💞 Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
💞 Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
💞 Operation Prom Date by Cindi Madsen
💞 The Big F by Maggie Ann Martin
💞 The Summer Before Forever by Melissa Chambers
💞 The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

new adult:

💞 The Deal by Elle Kennedy
💞 Infini by Krista & Becca Ritchie
💞 Remember When by T. Torrest
💞 Sincerely, Carter by Whitney G.

on the steamier side + some erotica:

💞 Lust is the Thorn by Jen McLaughlin
💞 Frenched by Melanie Harlow
💞 Personal Escort by Ainsley Booth

enemies to lovers:

💞 Anything You Can Do by R.S. Grey
💞 Walk of Shame by Lauren Layne
💞 The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

contemporary romance:

💞 Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
💞 Arm Candy by Jessica Lemmon
💞 Break of Day by Andie J. Christopher
💞 Roomies by Christina Lauren

What are your favorite romantic reads? Do you have any Valentine’s plans? (I don’t since it’s a Wednesday and I work.)

Top Ten Tuesday: Recommendations for people who want to get into YA

Happy Top Ten Tuesday!  The topics are officially back, and this week is all about book recommendations.  The actual theme is ten book recommendations for _____, and I decided to go with ten book recommendations for people who want to get into YA.

Sometimes it’s hard to understand why adults read YA.  For me, it’s an escape from the everyday realities of my adult life – work, bills, conflict – but the genre has also evolved from when I was within the target demographic.  For the most part, the genre has grown out of its former boy drama stereotype and branched out into much more varied stories.

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If you follow YA at all, you’ve probably seen a lot of hype surrounding Benjamin Alire Saenz’s Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.  It’s a poetically written, character-driven story about two polar opposites who become friends and grow into better people.

Similarly, Morgan Matson’s books always get a fair bit of hype, and with good reason.  She crafts realistic characters who face real-world problems in an age-appropriate way – something that used to be almost unheard of in YA.  In Since You’ve Been Gone, Emily’s best friend has disappeared without a trace, leaving her only a list of thirteen tasks to complete before summer ends.

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An author that (almost) always does the genre justice is Libba Bray.  I’ve been a huge fan of hers for over a decade now, and I continue to read everything that she publishes.

In Beauty Queens, Bray delivers a story focused on a group of teenage beauty pageant contestants that have been stranded on a deserted island after a plane crash.  The diverse cast uses their combined talents to survive while simultaneously dismantling the patriarchy.

Changing styles completely, Bray’s Lair of Dreams follows a psychic flapper and her oddball group of friends through 1920′s New York City as they solve mysteries and fight stereotypes.  This spooky series is ongoing, with the third book publishing later this year.

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The Hate U Give tells the story of Starr, a young girl who witnesses police shooting (and killing) her unarmed friend, and the fallout from friends, family, and the media.  In addition to police brutality, it discusses the demonization of victims and the realities of being a young POC in the United States.  Somehow, Thomas does this without ever once sounding preachy.

By now, Red Rising is a few years old, and you’ve probably either read it or decided that you’re over the hype.  On the off chance that you haven’t, let me tell you about this wonderful story.  This intricately built world features a number of castes and a protagonist who attempts to dismantle the system from within. It’s rare for dystopian YA to feel new, but Pierce Brown has created an incredible world.

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David Levithan is a pretty ubiquitous YA author, and his books rarely disappoint.  The best in recent memory is his collaboration with Nina LaCour, You Know Me Well. Stepping aside from the typical romance plot, Levithan and LaCour build a beautiful friendship between two strangers struggling with their own problems.

With a host of taboo topics, The Death of Bees easily steps away from what you might expect from YA.  This is a dark, twisted, creepy story about the powerful relationship between two sisters, and everything that the older sister would do to keep the younger one safe.  Tackling topics such as drug abuse, dead parents, and prostitution, it’s not for the squeamish, but it’s so worth it if you’re willing to take a chance.

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Rainbow Rowell’s Carry On is unlike anything I’ve ever read.  It’s based on the world of Simon Snow, a Harry Potter-esque character from Rowell’s Fangirl, and Simon’s rival-slash-love interest, Baz.  Simon and Baz put their differences aside to fight some evil monsters, and somehow, at the same time, fall in love.

My Lady Jane is based on the true story of Lady Jane Grey.  The authors take a lot of creative liberties with Jane’s life, involving shapeshifters and a bunch of Monty Python-style references, to create a hilarious retelling of the events that led to England’s Nine Day Queen.

Book review: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Series: Simon Snow #1
Rating: ★★★★★
Links: AmazonGoodreads
Publication Date: May 9, 2017
Source: Purchased

Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here — it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Fangirl was my first Rainbow Rowell book. I read it, I loved it, I’ve never looked back. Since finishing it, I’ve obsessively read everything that Rowell has ever written. I’ve recommended her books to my friends, to my co-workers, to my boyfriend (but he won’t read them). I love her writing style. I love her characters. I love everything about her books. So, in short: This book is by Rainbow Rowell, so of course I loved it.

And of course this book is connected to Fangirl. In that book, Cath writes Simon Snow fanfiction. But if you haven’t read that book, don’t worry about it. Prior knowledge of Fangirl is not necessary to read, understand, or enjoy this book. They are separate worlds. They are separate entities. So let me first start by saying this: put Fangirl out of your mind. Enjoy Carry On for what it is.

This book is, by far, one of my favorites in recent memory. I read the majority in one sitting, stopping only for my weekly phone call with my mom and a quick lunch break. I’m having trouble finding words to describe it. It’s everything I’d hoped for, and maybe a little more. It’s funny, it’s clever, it’s whimsical, and it’s enthralling. It made me happy to be reading it, even when the plot got sad. I wish I could live in Simon Snow’s universe, because I could be friends with any of these characters.

Simon, the “worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen.” A kid who’s jumped from foster home to foster home, who absolutely loves coming to school because it’s the one place he feels like he belongs.
Baz, maybe-probably-definitely a vampire. A kid from one of the Old Families (who used to rule the magical world). The biggest jerk with the biggest heart.
Penny, the smartest girl you’ll ever meet. Heart of gold. So clever. And she cares about Simon so much in a 100% platonic way.
Agatha, who’s actually kind of awful, but you can’t help but sympathize with her, at least a little bit. (I take it back, I couldn’t be her friend.)

And all the secondary characters, from the school staff to the family members to the villains. As you would expect from Rainbow Rowell, they’re all developed. They all have histories and motives and feelings.

As the story begins, Simon is entering his eighth (and final) year at Watford. His roommate Baz is missing, and although Baz annoys the living daylights out of him (and has actually tried to kill Simon a few times), Simon knows something must be wrong when he still hasn’t showed up several weeks into the term. He spends his days (and nights) prowling around the Watford campus, asking around about Baz, searching any and everywhere he thinks Baz could be hiding. His need to find Baz borders on obsession.

Eventually, Baz comes back, and the story kicks up a notch (or several). Simon and Baz aren’t at each other’s throats as much as they used to be. In fact, they team up (temporary truce) to achieve a mutual goal. Simon has never been able to control his magic, but amazing things happen when he works with Baz. The two of them are like a dream team. I was completely absorbed by their story.

And, oh… the romance. I wasn’t sure how Rowell was going to pull it off, but she did. She always does. It felt natural, and it wasn’t over-the-top. It was perfect. Much like this whole book.

I can see myself re-reading this one. That’s how much I loved it.

for my 2015 reading challenge, I’m crossing off #2: a romance