Top Ten Books That Give Me All The Romantic Feels

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s theme is All About Romance Tropes/Types, but when I started to make those lists, I realized that I haven’t read any one trope enough to make a good Top Ten list. In place of that, here are ten books whose romances made me laugh, cry, and smile.  

1. Fire by Kristin Cashore

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This book is so much more than its romance, but damn, its romance breaks my heart every time. I have reread certain scenes over and over, just to suck all of the romantic feels into my soul.

2. The King of Attolia (Queen’s Thief #3) by Megan Whalen Turner

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This series is not about romance. At all. But no relationship makes my heart feel as much as this book’s romance (and I’m being purposefully vague, by the way).

3. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

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God, I love Puck and Sean together so much. This was one of the first slow burn romances I read, and it remains one of my favorites ever.

4. A Company of Swans by Eva Ibboston

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All of Eva Ibboston’s books broke (and then healed) my heart, but A Company of Swans was by far my favorite. I haven’t read it in years, but its bittersweet romance has stuck with me.

5. Love and Other Unknown Variables by Shannon Lee Alexander

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This book made me sob. I don’t usually read “cancer books,” but the mathematical motifs in this book convinced me to give it a shot. And wow, it was worth it. I loved this book for its humor and for its heartbreak.

6. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

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This is one of the only books that I have read that pulls off instalove. Khalid and Shazi’s relationship is inherently instalove, but it is also one of my favorite relationships ever.

7. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

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Another book that is about so much more than romance, but is still painfully romantic. It has been way too long since I read this incredible novel, but even thinking about these star-crossed lovers makes my heart hurt.

8. Uprooted by Naomi Novik

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I was not prepared for the romance in this book. The first time I read it, it took over my life for forty-eight hours, I shipped the couple so hard. They definitely are not your average, or your perfect, couple, but I still love them to pieces.

9. Going Underground by Susan Vaught

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This is one of those books that I can truthfully say changed the way I see the world. It tackles the issue of sexting and “Romeo and Juliet” laws with a stark honesty that ensured it will forever be a favorite. Yet it still has a subtle, gorgeous romance that compliments the societal commentary without overpowering it.

10. The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

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I gave this book to my friend to read, and about halfway through, she texted me, “So they really meant the unexpected EVERYTHING.” I don’t know a better way to sum up how surprising and refreshing this book was. On one hand, it is your basic YA contemporary romance, but it was a lot more than that for me.


Have you read any of these books? Which books would you recommend for their heart-wrenching romances?

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Top Ten Books I Wanted More From

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s topic is Top Ten Books I Wish Had (More/Less) X In Them. I chose to just highlight a collection of books that I wanted more from. Some of them needed better characters, some needed better world building, others just fell flat.

1. Every Day by David Levithan

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I loved the premise of this book, and for the most part, it was executed well. And yet, I just wasn’t swept off my feet by this book the way I feel like I could have been.

2. Some Quiet Place by Kelsey Sutton

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This book was set up to be an all-time favorite. A girl that sees emotions as people? I wanted to love it—but it ended up lacking that special spark that would have made it memorable.

3. The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

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This book was a complete hype buy for me, and like many hype buys, it didn’t work out. It had a cool plot twist, but the story overall annoyed me, because it felt like the story existed for the plot twist only. (my review)

4. Angelfall by Susan Ee

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Another hype buy that drew me in with rave reviews and an interesting premise, but I felt cheated. I was promised a captivating romance and a kick-ass protagonist, but I didn’t feel like I got either. I read the whole trilogy, but continued to feel like it wasn’t living up to its potential. (my review)

5. Indelible by Dawn Metcalf

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To be honest, I don’t know why I keep coming back to this series. It should be cliche and forgettable, but somehow, it isn’t. It is the dictionary definition of a book that I constantly want more from, but I’ve stuck with the series so far, so I clearly believe it can (and will) improve. (my review)

6. The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

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This was the first Kasie West book I read, and while it was adorable, it was mostly fluff. The Fill-In Boyfriend was a much more compelling (and cute) romance for me.

7. The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore

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I liked this book, I really did. But when I finished it, I felt unsatisfied. The premise, the characters, and the world building were wonderful, but I wanted the story to develop more, I guess. I can’t wait to read her next book, though. (my review)

8. Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson

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This was supposed to be a really haunting fairy tale retelling. While I enjoyed the story, it wasn’t creepy at all, leaving me feeling cheated. (my review)

9. The Ghost Bride by Yangzee Choo

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I just finished this book. I loved the way Choo wove the Malaya culture into the story, and the last half of the book captivated me. The first half of the book dragged on and on, however, keeping me from completely falling for the book.

10. Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst

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I read this book years ago, and I don’t remember much. I was sucked in by the premise and the characters, but the ending felt incomplete and sudden. But look at that cover!


Honestly, I enjoyed parts of all of these books. They aren’t on this list because I hated them, they are just on this list because I wanted more from them.

Have you read any of these books? What books did you want more from?

Top Ten Characters I Would Want With Me In A Haunted House

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s topic is a Halloween-themed freebie. I thought about featuring horror/thriller novels…and then I remembered I am a total scaredy cat and that I don’t read horror/thriller novels.

Instead, I am imagining that some of my favorite characters and I have been dropped in a haunted house. I’m not talking about a touristy, fun haunted house; I mean a literal, oh-my-gosh-I’m-in-the-middle-of-a-paranormal-novel haunted house. (Not that I believe in hauntings, but they’re fictional characters, so anything is possible.)

So that they would protect me

1. Lysandra from the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas

Okay, so I’d want the entire cast of TOG by my side. But if I can’t have all of them, I want Lysandra. I think her particular skill set would be really freaking useful.

2. Vin from the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, I’m not going anywhere near something unpredictable and scary without a Mistborn by my side.

3. Katsa from Graceling by Kristen Cashore

And as long as I’m surrounding myself with fantastical warriors, I might as well bring Katsa with me. She would 110% make sure that I survived.

So that someone could talk to the ghosts/monsters

4. Suze from The Mediator series by Meg Cabot

It just seems pragmatic to make sure that I have a person who can talk to ghosts with me in a haunted house. Plus, Suze has dealt with a lot of crazy stuff, so she’d be able to keep her cool.

5. Gemma from the Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray

Gemma doesn’t talk to ghosts, per se, but she has dealt with a TON of paranormal craziness, so I think she’d be helpful for dealing with the haunted stuff.

 So that someone would figure out how to get us out

6. Gansey from The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

Am I the only person who would want Gansey’s obsessive research brain with me in a haunted house? Because it sounds like a solid plan to me.

7. Lilac from the Starbound Trilogy by Meagan Spooner and Amie Kaufman

Lilac took a while to grow on me, but now I appreciate her for what she is: a total badass. She has been through it all and she’s brilliant, so I would definitely trust her to get me out of there.

To counter my fear with intense sarcasm

8. Shazi from The Wrath and the Dawn by Rene Ahdieh

So, yes, Shazi’s archery skills would also be nice, but honestly, I just want her their to keep making jokes to distract me from everything else. Also the idea of Shazi sassing a ghost is funny enough that I would endure a haunted house to see it.

9. Adina from Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Adina’s deadpan, take-no-shit personality would totally calm me down.

So that I would not be the only one screaming

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10. Carmen from The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares

I can’t be the only person freaking out, looking like an idiot among a ton of battle-hardened fighters, right? I just read this book, and I am 110% sure that all of the characters would do just as badly in this situation as I would. I’d take Carmen because I liked her personality the most.


So what do you think? If you were in this situation, who would you want with you?

Book Review: Rebel Angels (Gemma Doyle #2) by Libba Bray

An amazing continuation of the Gemma Doyle series with creepy paranormal elements and even stronger characters.

4/5 stars

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synopsis for reviews 2

Ah, Christmas! Gemma Doyle is looking forward to a holiday from Spence Academy, spending time with her friends in the city, attending ritzy balls, and on a somber note, tending to her ailing father. As she prepares to ring in the New Year, 1896, a handsome young man, Lord Denby, has set his sights on Gemma, or so it seems. Yet amidst the distractions of London, Gemma’s visions intensify–visions of three girls dressed in white, to whom something horrific has happened, something only the realms can explain…

The lure is strong, and before long, Gemma, Felicity, and Ann are turning flowers into butterflies in the enchanted world of the realms that Gemma alone can bring them to. To the girls’ great joy, their beloved Pippa is there as well, eager to complete their circle of friendship.

But all is not well in the realms–or out. The mysterious Kartik has reappeared, telling Gemma she must find the Temple and bind the magic, else great disaster will befall her. Gemma’s willing to do his intrusive bidding, despite the dangers it brings, for it means she will meet up with her mother’s greatest friend–and now her foe, Circe. Until Circe is destroyed, Gemma cannot live out her destiny. But finding Circe proves a most perilous task.

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my thoughts for reviews 1

Rereading this series was honestly so much fun. I love knowing that the books that blew me away when I was younger are still impressive, even after I’ve read hundreds more books.

The defining characteristic of these books is the idea of imperfection. If you like stories where the characters make the right decisions and everything fits together nicely…this isn’t your book. But honestly, imperfection is so much more interesting.

Gemma and her friends are as imperfect as always in this book. They have the power to bring magic into the real world and they use it to make their lives better, even if it’s an illusion. It’s somewhat frustrating to read, because as the reader you know that magic won’t solve their problems, but I have to admit, I would do exactly the same thing in their place.

We get to see Gemma’s character grow more. She is trying to be a better person, taking on responsibilities in the realm and being a nicer daughter in the real world, but she cannot get over her jealousies and fears completely. She has magic, and she’s a teenage girl, and she’d rather have everything seem perfect than have to deal with life’s imperfections. I don’t blame her for her weaknesses, though, because her character is written so vividly that I could feel exactly what emotions drove her to make her choices.

Ann’s character becomes a larger part of the story in Rebel Angels. Her dreams of being accepted into rich society come true—with magic, of course—and it reveals fascinating parts of her character. As with Gemma, Ann has her pettiness and her fears, but they are portrayed so well that I understand her instead of hating her.

The realms become more sinister in this book, no longer the flowering garden that Gemma discovered. Pippa returns to the story, giving the plot creepy, uncertain undertones. Dead but alive, Pippa brings both joy and fear to the plot, and Gemma’s distrust of her threatens the group dynamic.

Gemma’s new task in the realms is to find the Temple, where she can bind the magic and restore order to the realms. New visions and a friendship with an insane girl named Nell help Gemma on her search while keeping the reader on their toes, uncertain of who they can trust. The search for the Temple is a good mystery that adds suspense and terror to the plot.

As with the first book, however, Rebel Angels is about more than the realms. Gemma’s life in the real world is just as important a part of the story as her quest in the realms. I loved that Gemma leaves Spence for the winter holiday; this changed the focus of the story from her education to her place in polite society and showed a different side of Gemma. She is simultaneously desperate to be accepted and disgusted with the society.

Her courtship of Simon Middleton was one of my favorite parts of the book. More than just a love interest, Simon represents a crossroads for Gemma, forcing her to choose between being the Good Girl and being herself. Simon’s own imperfections are an interesting commentary on rape culture—something I missed the first time I read this series but that I appreciate now.

Gemma’s father’s addiction is a major part of this book. The plot line is unforgiving and painful, showing Gemma the worst side of her family right when she wants nothing more than for everything to be perfect. These scenes were some of the most emotional ones of the whole book.

My only complaint about this book would be that it is a little long. It is paced well, but that pacing is a long walk to the climax. I love that the length of the story allows every character to develop and every subplot to be complex, but it also makes the book a little slow at times.

I would recommend Rebel Angels to anyone who read A Great and Terrible Beauty. The story gets creepier and realer, destroying the few remaining niceties that existed in Gemma’s life. The combination of paranormal and historical plot lines makes this series unique and a must-read.

Top Ten Books With Incredible Villains

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

 

I love the idea of starting October with a villain-themed topic. It sets the Halloween mood. I’m not listing the villain’s name, just the book they appear in, so as to avoid spoilers.

Pure Evil Villains

The character that is so sickening evil that you can taste how much you hate them

1. The Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness

2. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

3. Bitterblue (and the rest of the series) by Kristen Cashore

Fascinating Villains

The villain you never saw coming

4. Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

5. The Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray

6. A Court of Mist and Fury (ACOTAR #2) by Sarah J. Maas

7. Blood Promise (Vampire Academy #3) by Richelle Mead

8. Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

Awesome Villainous Forces

The villainous presence that is more than a specific character

9. The Angel Fire trilogy by LA Weatherly

10. Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Book Review: A Great and Terrible Beauty (Gemma Doyle #1) by Libba Bray

This book was one of the first YA books that I ever fell in love with, and rereading it made me remember why I love this series, this author, and this genre so much.

4/5 stars

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synopsis for reviews 2

Gemma Doyle, sixteen and proud, must leave the warmth of her childhood home in India for the rigid Spence Academy, a cold finishing school outside of London, followed by a stranger who bears puzzling warnings. Using her sharp tongue and agile mind, she navigates the stormy seas of friendship with high-born daughters and her roommate, a plain scholarship case. As Gemma discovers that her mother’s death may have an otherworldly cause, and that she herself may have innate powers, Gemma is forced to face her own frightening, yet exciting destiny . . . if only she can believe in it.

*I took this synopsis from the Random House website because I did not like the Goodreads one.*

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my thoughts for reviews 1

This was my fourth time reading A Great and Terrible Beauty. Even so, I hadn’t read the story since I started high school, so it was strange experience because I simultaneously remembered nothing and everything.

I absolutely loved Gemma as our protagonist. She was a perfectly imperfect main character. She tried to be a good person, but she also had jealousies and insecurities; she could be charitable and spiteful in equal measure. However, even when she did something ridiculously stupid, I always understood why she was making that choice, which for me is the most important part of writing a protagonist. She is trapped between wanting to be the perfect daughter society wants and wanting to figure out who she really is.

I also adore the setting of this book. After watching her mother be murdered inexplicably, Gemma leaves her home in India and is sent to a British finishing school to be transformed into a proper British lady. Bray’s depiction of turn-of-the-century England is gorgeous and unforgiving, capturing both it’s charms and its faults. Spence, the school Gemma is sent to, has an unmistakable atmosphere, equal parts strict discipline and eerily supernatural.

And then there are the characters Gemma meets at Spence: Ann, the shy scholarship student; Pippa, the spiteful and jealous beauty; and Felicity, the harsh and power-hungry queen bee. Each of them begins the story with a simple persona, but as Gemma gets to know each girl better, their hidden layers are revealed.

Truly, these girls are some of the most “alive” characters I have ever read. The way that their moods shift depending on small events or subtext, the way that each character has a different dynamic with each other character—they feel real in a way that other characters just don’t.

It is not a perfect friendship, or even a particularly healthy one at at times. The four girls are bound together by secrets and jealousies as much as they are by genuine affection. However, they are also intensely close with each other, craving each other’s company. This creates a group dynamic that is nothing like the cheery, all-for-one-and-one-for-all friendships I typically see in YA.

Warning time: this book totally has girl-girl hate, spitefulness, and bitchiness. If that is not your thing, I respect that…but I would ask that you do not write off this book immediately because of it. Unlike a lot of Mean Girl-type characters, every bitchy girl in this book has a reason for their actions, whether that be society’s prejudices or their own secret fears. Because of this, their hatefulness makes sense and helps develop the story and their characters instead of existing just to have an evil clique for the protagonist to conflict with. In all honesty, I 100% did not mind the girl-girl hate in this book (but if you did, I understand where you are coming from).

Finally, the supernatural side of this book. From the moment Gemma’s mother is murdered, Gemma knows that something is not right with her. She starts having over-powering and terrifying visions and ends up discovering a magical and dangerous place called the Realms.

I LOVE the paranormal side of A Great and Terrible Beauty. As the title suggests, the magic Gemma discovers is both wonderful and horrible. This book has some incredibly creepy scenes, but it also has girls turning leaves into butterflies. From this, the book—and the entire series—explores the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, in a really interesting and creative way.

There is a little bit of romance, but it does not dominate the plot at all. Most of the “romantic” parts of the book are really just Gemma discovering herself and breaking away from her society. I really appreciate that the author chose to have Gemma go through a sexual awakening without falling in love. It’s different from the standard YA mold and it makes more sense with Gemma’s character.

A Great and Terrible Beauty has at its heart the themes of rebellion and self discovery. Even though the girls were raised in an extremely conservative society, they rebel and dare to wish for forbidden things. Still, every character has a reason for their rebellion, something that makes their rebellions so much more poignant.

I would recommend A Great and Terrible Beauty to fans of historical settings and paranormal stories who also want to read about the day-to-day discoveries of Gemma and her friends as they suffer through finishing school. It is an emotional, well written story that asks the reader questions that it does not always have the answer for.

Top Ten Books I Feel Differently About Now That Time Has Passed

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

There are a lot of books that I loved while I was reading them, but when I think back to them, I realize they weren’t actually that good, or that I will probably never reread them.

Books that Don’t appeal to Me anymore

I started reading YA really early, and it took me a while to develop my current taste in books. In middle school I was really into paranormal and dystopian books, and it kind of killed the genre for me. But even if I look back and realize that I would hate the book if I reread it today, that doesn’t change the fact that I loved it when I was younger.

1. The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan

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I LOVED these books when I was in elementary school, but all of the hype concerning the later books has scared me off the series. Also, when I think of rereading the series, I feel like the parts I found hilarious previously probably wouldn’t amuse me anymore. My sense of humor has changed a bit.

2. The Selection series by Kiera Cass 

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I loved the first book, but the second book didn’t really work for me. By the time The Elite came out, I’d gotten over my “I love overly dramatic YA romances” phase (I really did have one for a while there), and the series started to annoy me. I haven’t read past book two, and I can’t imagine I will.

3. Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead

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I still enjoy these books (I haven’t gotten rid of them), but I don’t know if I’ll ever reread them. The drama that drew me to the series originally now makes me not want to read it. It’s not that the books are in any way bad—what I remember of the series was awesome—but they aren’t the style of book I reach for anymore.

4. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

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Nope. This book was actually bad the second time I read it. When I read it the first time, I got caught up in the story and ignored the lingering feeling that the writing wasn’t good. The second time I read it, the story didn’t grab me, and I honestly wondered what I’d loved so much originally.

5. Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black

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Again, this book had all the drama and consuming romance that younger me would die for. But nowadays, this kind of plot puts me off, and though I considered rereading it, I knew that it would kill my positive memories of the book.

Books that I Like in a Different Way Now

These are the books that I read when I was really young and had a certain impression, and when I reread them a few years later, my impression of them changed. I still love them (often even more) but I can’t deny that my first impression was not my second impression.

6. The Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter

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I’ve loved this series for years. I reread all six books at least once a year (but sometimes twice, or three times). They are my comfort-reads, my feel good books. But as I get older, I find that I have to suspend my disbelief more and more each time. I still love them, but I’m more aware of just how ridiculous they are each time I reread them.

7. The Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray

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The first time I read these books, 50% of the plot went over my head. By the third time I read them, though, I was old enough to really appreciate the difficult subjects that Bray tackled in her book, and the depth of the story she created. These books get more impressive every time I read them.

8. The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

Okay, so my mom bought this book for me in elementary school, and it sat on my bookshelf unread for years. I’d pick it up, read the first sentence, and set it right back down. It was just plain boring for me.

Thankfully, I finally decided to push past that first page and read the whole book…and I fell in love. Now, that first sentence makes me fangirl uncontrollably, and the series is my favorite series of all time. Every time I read the series, I find something new to love.

9. Going Underground by Susan Vaught

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This book destroys me every time I read it, but the subject matter has gotten more meaningful to me as I get older. When I first read it, I understood that the story was powerful and important, but the full breadth of the story Vaught was telling didn’t hit me until I was older.

10. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

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This book had become more meaningful to me as time passes and as I realize how impressive it is that Bray was able to weave so many social discussions into one book. As the push for diversity in YA books grows, I come to appreciate this book even more. (And the humor gets funnier as I get older.)


What books did you see differently when you reread them? Do we have any similar opinions?

Happy Tuesday!