This book tag was created by Ariel over on Youtube. It sounded fun, so we decided to do it!
Are there any books you started this year that you need to finish?
This book tag was created by Ariel over on Youtube. It sounded fun, so we decided to do it!
Are there any books you started this year that you need to finish?
There are some summaries you read, and you know instantly that you have to check the book out. These are ours.
On the other hand, there are some summaries that make us go ehh I don’t know about this. These are ours.
Isis: I have a ton of books on my nightstand, but the one on top is In the Country We Love by Diane Guerrero. It’s the book we’re currently reading for book club.
Nicole: Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen because I read a little before bed about a month ago, and left it there. I haven’t picked it up again since.
Isis: The last truly great, nearly flawless book I read was At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson. I adored that book and raved about it a lot. It’s one of my all-time favorites.
Nicole: The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story by Hyeonseo Lee was a really great book, but if I had to pick something fiction it would have to be The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight. It probably isn’t even that great of a book if you criticized it on a basic writing level, but it was the last book I read that truly grabbed me and forced me into the story. Which is sad since I read it last October.
Isis: I’ve already met my favorite author, Benjamin Alire Saenz, twice before. So other than him, I’d love to have met Jane Austen. Her life was fascinating and I admire the way she crafted her stories. She was so ahead of her time. I just love her.
Nicole: I really like Victoria Schwab so meeting her would be cool. Talking about writing with Rick Riordan or J.K. Rowling would be nice too. Realistically, whenever I meet authors I’m usually too nervous to barely say hi to them, so it doesn’t really mean anything to me.
Isis: I do have a book on my shelf called The Threesome Handbook by Victoria Vantoch. The only reason I bought it is because I went through a Misha Collins-Vicki Vantoch obsession and I felt it was necessary to have. No shame, though, right?
Nicole: It might be surprising that I have a whole shelf of romance books since that’s a genre I don’t gravitate toward ever really. I don’t think I have a particular book that would be surprising though.
Isis: No real organization to it. Other than Benjamin Alire Saenz and Stephen King shelves, everything else is just scattered. I guess I group them by size mostly.
Nicole: I tried to set it up by genres, but I don’t have enough shelf space so I have random stacks of books everywhere.
Isis: Right now I’m pretty disappointed in myself for not yet reading The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Saenz. It just recently came out and I got him to sign it for me before it was even released. But I have it tucked away with no plans to read it yet. I will, though! I’m just reading so many books at the time. I’m not embarrassed over not reading anything, though I wish I could get to Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo ’cause everyone praises that book and I have it, but again, not sure when I’ll get to it.
Nicole: I always mean to finish the Percy Jackson series but I never pick up the next one. I’ve been meaning to pick up The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin too. I usually feel a little embarrassed if a book is really popular and I haven’t read it. Only when it’s being hyped up though.
Isis: I’m drawn to contemporary, realistic stories. Lately I’ve been trying to read more angel books for research, but other than that, I just love a good realistic world with realistic characters. With a happy ending, preferably. I do stay clear of high fantasy books. I find it difficult getting into those type of books. Also, probably any sci-fi. I’m picky sometimes.
Nicole: I’m usually drawn to any story with magic. So fantasy I like just not the ones with old kingdoms that are really political and that’s it. I’ve also really been into nonfiction lately. I stay clear of stories that just depressing nothing happy goes on at all. I like contemporary, but I’m also really picky about which ones. Anything too tropey or straight romantic I stay clear of.
Isis: The current president? Jeez, can he even read?
Nicole: Maybe Wonder by R.J. Palacio or something like The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.
Isis: I plan to read Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera. I have the ebook and I started it a few weeks ago, but I just stopped reading it. It was great and I can’t wait to focus on it again!
Nicole: I’m in the middle of five books right now so I should probably finish those, but honestly that’s not gonna happen. I feel like reading The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino right now, but I might leave that half finished too.
There are a lot of tropes that make up fiction. Some we love, and others, not so much. So we decided to make a list of some of the tropes that we hate.
1. Stalker Boy With a Heart of Gold – I mean, I think we can all agree that Edward Cullen got this trope started. You know, the brooding guy who obsesses over a girl and stalks her to the point where it’s truly concerning, but the guy is totally sexy so it’s okay. Yeah, I hate this trope. I recently found it again in The 5th Wave and I was cringing so hard. It was overall unpleasant. Let’s get rid of this trope forever.
2. Pining Over Dead Lover – I’m not sure if this is specific to David Shaun Hutchinson novels, but I’ve seen it in two of his novels. Although, there are probably other stories with this particular trope. This is the one where a character was in love, but that loved one died and now they are forever pining for their loss. This is usually used as a plot device to keep the current couple apart until the one pining realizes it’s time to move on. The reason I don’t like this one is just because I don’t like getting to know a character that died, usually before the story even started. It makes me terribly sad. I’ve lost so many close family members and I don’t like getting attached to the fading memories of a character that won’t ever live within the fictional world I’m reading.
3. Friendship Ends When Rejected – This one is a little too close to home, but I’m adding it anyway. You know that trope where there are two close friends, one falls for the other, but the other friend rejects that friend, so the one who was rejected decides they must end their friendship once and for all, giving no alternative. I get it. When there are feelings and you put yourself out there, it’s hard to stay friends with someone. But it’s also unfair to give the other person a sort of ultimatum: romantic love or nothing. It just seems cruel. And usually, the end result of this is eventually the couple getting together, so it starts to feel like it’s a forced relationship meant only to keep the rejected friend close.
4. Miscommunication to Keep Couple Apart – A lot of these tropes have to do with relationships, but can you blame me? I really hate this one. There’s always that one couple you love to see together but they don’t know how to talk to each other and it’s their own fault they either won’t get together or won’t make up. And it’s frustrating as hell. I experienced this while reading Ignite Me. It was one thing for Warner to come clean at the beginning of the book, but then the entire book was spent with the main characters not talking to each other about the important things, not even about the actual plot of the story (outside the romance, there was actually a plot). So yeah, hate this one.
5. Sad Endings – I’m not sure if this is a trope, but let’s go with it. Look, I hate sad endings. I really do. I love realistic books with realistic life events. Yes, give me all the sad stories in the world. But come on. Don’t make me read a bleak book with a sad endings. What’s the point in that? I’m supposed to stick around to see a set of characters suffer only to see them end worse than they started? I hate that. I’ve read some real sad books with hopeful endings and it works so well. I’m not asking for happy ever after endings wrapped up with a bow. Not at all. I’m talking stories that end on a hopeful note. Something that shows I wasn’t just wasting my time with all the sadness I had to put up with. I just really really hate sad endings. There should be a warning in books for those.
6. Children Who Mess Everything Up – I think kids get a bad rap in general, but this trope makes me really dislike kids in fiction. There are amazing children in books, like Danny in The Shining and kickass Matilda. But then there are the worst type of kids, like the ones in Fablehaven. These kids do the complete opposite of what they’re told to do, even when they’re clearly warned of the consequences. And I get that sometimes characters need to stumble into the plot, but there’s a line between curiosity and stupidity, and these children surpass the stupidity mark. I’ve encountered children plenty of times in fiction that are just there to make things worse, and I hate that.
7. Love Triangles – From The 5th wave to Shatter Me to Twilight to The Hunger Games series, love triangles are everywhere, and they never fail to drive me crazy. In my opinion all it is is padding to keep the true couple apart, and to create some drama to add to the word count. I know people say that its realistic, and that people usually have crushes on different people at once. Which is true, but it’s too bad that that’s not what happens in these books. The love interests are never equal to each other. Most of the time it is painfully obvious who will end up with who, but as the reader you have to suffer along with their angst and their jealousy until the characters figure it out. A lot of times the world is ending around them, and they completely ignore it in favor of their romance. It’s so annoying.
8. One True Love – Semi related to the previous one, but it’s the idea that a character is only able to fall in love once. If a character moves onto a different relationship then they have to discover that they thought they were in love before, but now they realize how mistaken they were. Or if the couple breaks up for some contrived reason than the character’s whole world falls apart because they will never be able to move on, and romance is the only thing good in life.
9. Useless Adults – This encompasses a large array of examples. From Harry Potter where every single adult lets him down at some point to The Series of Unfortunate Events where the adults just don’t listen or are actively out to get them. In Twilight Bella’s dad is simply oblivious as is the parents in Fablehaven. The other adults in Fablehaven are put out of the way for one reason or another so that the kids have to figure out everything for themselves. In The Outliers all the adults either can’t be contacted because it’s dangerous or because they turn out to be out to get them. In any of John Green’s books the parents are mentioned maybe once or twice at the beginning, and then nothing. They don’t care what their kids get up to. If their parents are even alive, because holy orphans Batman there are a lot of those running around fiction, they are negligent or useless. And the other adults around are hardly better. After so many books with such flimsy excuses for not having adults around, it’s simply irritating to read.
10. Girl on girl hate – Girls always have to hate other girls. The main character can maybe have one other friend that’s a girl, but only if she’s not a rival for the love interest. Any other girls? Have to hate them. Love interest’s ex? Evil. The girl who loves to wear makeup and might show a little more skin? Evil. The Cheerleader? Evil. The main girl is never like those other evil girls. She thinks she’s ugly, never puts thought into her outfits, has never had a boyfriend, and loves to read books (but only classics okay those other books like the one you are reading? Evil). Pitting girls against other girls is getting tired, and I wish books didn’t do it so much. If the actual character isn’t making a baseless judgement then the actual book demonizes the pretty girl who loves herself and has ambition because they can never be good people if they are like that. It’s stupid and pointless.
11. The insecure/bland girl gets fixed by the boy – This can come about in two ways. We’ve already talked about how a female character can’t think she’s beautiful or she’s evil, but no one wants an ugly character either. So to get around that a lot of fiction makes her insecure until the love interest can show her how beautiful she is. So then she can be pretty, good, and have the guy, and everything is okay. The other way is that she’s boring. She has no life, no hobbies, no goals until this boy comes in and shakes up her world. My main example for this is in Twilight. Before Bella moves to Forks, she has no friends or hobbies. Once there she mainly thinks about how she hates the friends she made there and the weather, before she gets tangled up with Edward. After that, he’s her life. Edward is all Bella thinks about.
12. The outsider is the savior – I’m not sure if technically this is a trope outside of the white savior trope which I also hate, but I’m still going to talk about it. So many times, mainly in fantasy, it’s the outsider who comes in and has to save their world. Harry Potter and Percy Jackson do this. I do get that it’s easier to set up a world this way so that the reader learns about the world alongside the main character. That way the author doesn’t fall into the trap of the main character growing up in the world, but it feels like their home was under a rock with how out of touch they are. A lot of times it forces the people in the world to be oblivious to their problems in order to put the burden of saving them on the main character. I would like to read more about a person growing up with the world’s problems training up to do something about it. Because it’s their world they are living in, so they should have an invested interest in helping it.
This list is not perfect. We combined all of the books we’ve read with diverse themes before this year, separately and together. If something was mislabeled, we apologize. Unfortunately, plenty of these books are not Own Voices, especially many M/M Romances, but we’ll definitely work on that. We hope to add a lot more to this list!
Cherry by Lindsey Rosin
In this honest, frank, and funny debut novel, four best friends make a pact during their senior year of high school to lose their virginities—and end up finding friendship, love, and self-discovery along the way.
To be honest, the sex pact wasn’t always part of the plan.
Layla started it. She announced it super casually to the rest of the girls between bites of frozen yogurt, as if it was just simply another addition to her massive, ever-evolving To Do List. She is determined to have sex for the first time before the end of high school. Initially, the rest of the crew is scandalized, but, once they all admit to wanting to lose their v-cards too, they embark on a quest to do the deed together… separately.
Layla’s got it in the bag. Her serious boyfriend, Logan, has been asking for months.
Alex has already done it. Or so she says.
Emma doesn’t know what the fuss is all about, but sure, she’ll give it a shot.
And Zoe, well, Zoe can’t even say the o word without bursting into giggles.
Will everything go according to plan? Probably not. But at least the girls have each other every hilarious, heart-warming, cringe-inducing step of the way.
(F/F romance, Sex positive)
Walk With Me by Cardeno C.
When Eli Block steps into his parents’ living room and sees his childhood crush sitting on the couch, he starts a shameless campaign to seduce the young rabbi. Unfortunately, Seth Cohen barely remembers Eli and he resolutely shuts down all his advances. As a tenuous and then binding friendship forms between the two men, Eli must find a way to move past his unrequited love while still keeping his best friend in his life. Not an easy feat when the same person occupies both roles.
Professional, proper Seth is shocked by Eli’s brashness, overt sexuality, and easy defiance of societal norms. But he’s also drawn to the happy, funny, light-filled man. As their friendship deepens over the years, Seth watches Eli mature into a man he admires and respects. When Seth finds himself longing for what Eli had so easily offered, he has to decide whether he’s willing to veer from his safe life-plan to build a future with Eli.
(M/M romance, Jewish MC, Bisexual MC)
In Perfect Light by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
In Perfect Light is the story of two strong-willed people who are forever altered by a single tragedy. After Andés Segovia’s parents are killed in a car accident when he is still a young boy, his older brother decides to steal the family away to Juárez, Mexico. That decision, made with the best intentions, sets into motion the unraveling of an American family.
Years later, his family destroyed, Andés is left to make sense of the chaos — but he is ill-equipped to make sense of his life. He begins a dark journey toward self-destruction, his talent and brilliance brought down by the weight of a burden too frightening and maddening to bear alone. The manifestation of this frustration is a singular rage that finds an outlet in a dark and seedy El Paso bar — leading him improbably to Grace Delgado.
Recently confronted with her own sense of isolation and mortality, Grace is an unlikely angel, a therapist who agrees to treat Andés after he is arrested in the United States. The two are suspicious of each other, yet they slowly arrive at a tentative working relationship that allows each of them to examine his and her own fragile and damaged past. Andés begins to confront what lies behind his own violence, and Grace begins to understand how she has contributed to her own self-exile and isolation. What begins as an intriguing favor to a friend becomes Grace’s lifeline — even as secrets surrounding the death of Andés’ parents threaten to strain the connection irreparably.
(Own voices, M/M romance, POC main characters)
Point Pleasant by Jen Archer
Ben Wisehart grew up in the idyllic town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. An early encounter with the supernatural shaped his worldview and served as the catalyst for his career as a bestselling horror writer.
Ben left Point Pleasant at the age of twenty. Thirteen years after abandoning his home, he returns to the town to investigate the apparent reemergence of the terrifying creature responsible for his childhood nightmares.
In Point Pleasant, Ben is confronted not only by the town’s resident monster, the Mothman, but also by Nicholas Nolan, Ben’s former best friend. Together, with Bill Tucker—the old recluse who lives on the edge of town—Ben and Nicholas uncover the mystery of the monster in the woods and discover that the ghosts that haunt us are sometimes made of flesh and blood. And sometimes, they lead us home.
(M/M romance, POC characters)
Gives Light Series by Rose Christo
“Skylar is my name, tragically.”
Sixteen-year-old Skylar is witty, empathetic, sensitive–and mute. Skylar hasn’t uttered a single word since his mother died eleven years ago, a senseless tragedy he’s grateful he doesn’t have to talk about.
When Skylar’s father mysteriously vanishes one summer afternoon, Skylar is placed in the temporary custody of his only remaining relative, an estranged grandmother living on an Indian reservation in the middle of arid Arizona.
Adapting to a brand new culture is the least of Skylar’s qualms. Because Skylar’s mother did not die a peaceful death. Skylar’s mother was murdered eleven years ago on the Nettlebush Reserve. And her murderer left behind a son.
And he is like nothing Skylar has ever known.
(Own voices, POC main characters, M/M romance, Disability)
Zom-B by Darren Shan is the first book of a twelve book series revolving around a zombie outbreak. It follows B Smith, a high school student int the U.K. They are all extremely short, under two hundred pages, so the book is a fast read.
I rated this book two stars. It did not feel like a complete book. The zombies came into the story around the last third of the story. It’s basically just the part of where they realize that the news stories are real, pretty much too late, and that they need to aim for the head to kill the zombies.
Most of the book revolves around B’s life before then. B’s father is abusive and racist, and B struggles with if they are the same. Because B acts racist for their father’s approval, but claims not the agree really. However, continues to act racist when not around their father. It all leads to this dramatic moment at the end that I felt rather meh about.
Zom-B wasn’t what I was expecting when I read it, and I don’t think I will continue the series. I can tell it’s not really a zombie book with a disease or anything like that. It’s more of a conspiracy type of thing. I don’t know if the rest of the series has most of the action packed at the end of the book with cheap little cliff hangers so the reader will want to pick up the next book, but I’m going to guess that they will.
The Opening Ceremony: What book did you think had an incredible opening?
Isis: The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. It opens up right when this otherwise ordinary man has turned into a “monstrous vermin” and if that doesn’t sound like an incredible opening, I don’t know what does.
Nicole: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan. I recently started this book and find it hard to put down since the opening is so interesting.
The Games: What is your favorite fictional competition?
Isis: Can I say Quidditch? Because Quidditch.
Nicole: Quidditch. I don’t even know another option.
The Original: The modern games are based on the original Greek competition. What is your favorite book based on a classic?
Isis: I haven’t read the book version of it, but I adore the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. This webseries is based off of Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen and it is brilliant. I have the book as well, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and I’ll be reading it soon, hopefully!
Nicole: I don’t think I have one. I own some, but I haven’t read them yet.
The Eternal Flame: What is one ship that you won’t let die, even after the books made it clear it was never going to happen?
Isis: SIMON AND NICK from Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. I realize that Nick was super duper straight and crushing on a girl the entire time okay? I get it. But no one can convince me that Simon and Nick were not perfect soulmates who would have been wonderful together. Learning that Nick was not Blue shattered my heart and I think part of me eternally died because of it. If you couldn’t tell, I’m pretty bitter about it. Still.
Nicole: I can usually spot the endgame couple easily, and typically don’t attach myself to any couple that much. But I really shipped Rose and Lissa from Vampire Academy together even though they were both straight. They had a great friendship that could have easily been made into a great romantic relationship.
Gymnastics: What’s a book that had so any twists and turns it left your head spinning (in a good way)?
Isis: Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. I have never read such an action packed story full of endless twists that made my head spin. It was fun, nonetheless.
Nicole: I think I’ll have to agree with Isis here.
The Controversial Judge: What’s a book that you have a totally different opinion about than most other people?
Isis: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. Everyone and their mother seems to adore this book. I simply don’t get it. The book was okay. Pretty ordinary. I didn’t like the romance, but that’s probably because I didn’t like any of the characters either. The story just didn’t pull me in.
Nicole: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. I hated this book, and most people seem to love it even if they acknowledge its flaws. I couldn’t love any part of it. It made me so mad.
Beach Volleyball: What is your favorite fictional duo?
Isis: I’m trying so hard not to mention Aristotle and Dante (only because I always mention them, in everything). So instead of them I’m going to say Penryn and Raffe from the Angelfall trilogy by Susan Ee. Those two made quite the badass duo and I couldn’t get enough of them.
Nicole: I really liked the relationship Victor and Sydney had in Vicious by V.E. Schwab.
Weightlifting: What is the most massive book on your shelf?
Isis: Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. I have absolutely no idea when I’ll ever get to it.
Nicole: The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and preface by Christopher Morley.
What is a book that you just tore through with world record speed?
Isis: Oh man, I recently read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in one day. I realize it’s a short play, but for me, reading an entire book in one day is a huge achievement. It also helps how good it was.
Nicole: The Dragonbreath books I recently read were all done in one sitting. I never do that.
Synchronized Swimming: What is a book series that you kept reading, even though you didn’t even have any idea why?
Isis: A couple of years ago I was pretty head over heels with the Cut & Run series by Abigail Roux and Madeleine Urban. I read through the first eight books like it was nothing. I mean I spent so much money, time, and emotions on that entire series. And I didn’t know why. I mean, I loved the characters and I was so invested in their lives but the books started getting so bad so fast and I knew I should stop, but I couldn’t. The ninth book I read most recently and I knew I had hit rock bottom. It wasn’t even good.
Nicole: I don’t have one. I haven’t read that many series, but if I don’t like the first book I usually don’t pick up the second one. Even if other people say the series just gets better.
The Tortured Fan: What fictional family, group, nation, organization do you irrationally root for no matter how many times they break your heart?
Isis: I’ll always, always root for Prince Robot IV from the Saga comics. He doesn’t really have a group, unless you count him as part of the “villain” group. But whatever group he’s in, I’m rooting for him.
Nicole: I don’t know if this means villains, but I have to go with the Potter family. Harry, James, Lily. I will defend them all, but I don’t know if that really answers the question right.
Closing Ceremony: What book had an ending that just blew your mind?
Isis: Stranger on the Shore by Josh Lanyon had a pretty fantastic ending. I guess by the time everything was revealed I already knew the mystery, but I wasn’t expecting so many things. It was just a really memorable ending.
Nicole: Angelfall by Susan Ee.