Valentine’s Day: Book Recommendations to Make You Swoon

Wishing everyone a Happy Valentine’s Day. I know many people either hate or love this holiday, but either way, I want to wish you a wonderful day regardless. I’m bringing back a Valentine’s Day themed post as last year I seemed to have forgotten to put one together. I have a very truncated list of book recommendations to share with you today. In the past, most of the romances I consumed came from fantasy books, but I’ve rather recently renewed my love for contemporary books. This year I’m sharing with you some of my favorite contemporary novels with love stories that are just so hard to resist. Covers are linked to Goodreads.

1. The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Ask me any day of the week and I will tell you that I am not a fan of insta-love. The whole idea of being able to fall in love with someone so quickly gets my cynical side all worked up. That being said, I fell head first in love with Nicola Yoon’s The Sun Is Also a Star. She found a way to make the trope work and although I still scoff at the idea of insta-love, this book will always be an exception for me.

2. Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

If there is ever a trope that I am powerless to resist, it’s the You’ve Got Mail one. I don’t even know what this trope is properly called, but I associate it with the movie where Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks meet online and build a relationship without knowing the other one’s identity. Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum follows a similar sequence, though the protagonist’s anonymous pen pal (email pal?) knows who she is. We, along with the protagonist, get to play the guessing game. Be warned, this trope will appear multiple times on this list.

3. I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

Sometimes finding love can be really clumsy and no one exemplifies this more than Desi Lee from Maurene Goo’s I Believe in a Thing Called Love. I loved that we got to see a protagonist who was completely lost when it came to love, but made a plan to get it anyway. This book had me smiling so much. If you ever need a pick me up, this book will surely have you laughing by the time you finish. Be aware though, you’ll probably experience a ton of second-hand embarrassment.

4. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

I told you the You’ve Got Mail trope was going to make another appearance. Have you ever finished a book and it just left you smiling for a week? Becky Albertalli’s Simon vs. the Homo Sapien’s Agenda was like this for me. Simon is probably one of the sweetest protagonists you’ll ever meet and his online relationship with Blue had me begging for a reveal. It’s a good time to read this one if you haven’t yet as the movie is set to be released in March.

5. The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You by Lily Anderson

Another trope that I have a hard time resisting is hate to love. I am always at the ready to watch two stubborn characters bicker chapter after chapter until finally facing the truth that they like each other. And no one does witty banter better than Lily Anderson. It is an utter delight seeing the progression of Trixie and Ben’s relationship in this one. I should also mention that The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You is a retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, if that sweetens the deal. It is an utter delight seeing the progression of Trixie and Ben’s relationship in this one.

6. P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

Kasie West has been my go-to contemporary author for some years now. Her books are always light and fun and can be finished in one sitting if that’s your thing. Of all her books I’ve read, P.S. I Like You is my favorite. It contains not one, but two of my favorite tropes: You’ve Got Mail and hate-to-love. I actually think of all her novels, this is the one that actually gives readers an equally complete characterization of the love interest as well as the protagonist. I’m still hoping that one day Kasie West will write a novel with dual perspectives.

7. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

This list couldn’t possibly be complete without me mentioning another of my favorite romance tropes and that’s the fake relationship. It might be one of the most predictable tropes, but I eat it up. Also, Lara Jean from Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is one of my favorite contemporary protagonists. She reminds me a little of myself in high school and I can’t help but feel really protective of her.

8. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

This is actually a last minute addition to this list. I just finished When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon earlier this month and fell in love with both leads. If you’re looking for a fun rom-com that manages to also be multi-layered when it comes to its characters, this is the book you ought to be reaching for.

Bonus: The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Because I need to cheat just a little I’m giving you a bonus recommendation that isn’t contemporary. Silvia Moreno-Garcia made me absolutely swoon with her latest novel, The Beautiful Ones, which combines historical fantasy and romance. I was absolutely taken with this novel from the very first page and hope you will be too.

What contemporary (or otherwise) novel would you recommend to those looking for a good romance? Have you had the pleasure of reading any of these novels? Happy Valentine’s Day!


Kernels of Nonsense: A Bookish (and not-so bookish) Valentine’s

valentine's (2)Kernel of Nonsense is a bimonthly discussion feature where I talk about various book and blogging related topics. This week’s discussion post falls rather conveniently on Valentine’s Day giving me an opportunity to discuss all things shippy.

Ah, Valentine’s Day. Some people love the holiday and others would love to see it crash and burn. For me I suppose it depends on my mood as I can go one way or the other. Last year I made a list of unconventional Valentine’s Day recommendations. You can take a look here if you are curious. This year I thought I’d embrace the love and share with you a few of my favorite bookish (and not-so bookish) ships.

Shipping is one of those words that really had no meaning for me unto I fell into the world of Tumblr. I don’t know how it happened exactly but I started watching the show Arrow and became obsessed with two of the characters. I wanted, no needed, to see them end up together and when I discovered my obsession with this noncouple was shared by so many others on Tumblr, I was a goner. There was this whole world of people who “shipped” characters together. Terms I had never heard of kept cropping up. OTP. NOTP. BROTP. Canon. Non-canon. Headcanon. Metas. Soon I wasn’t just reading about a fandom, I was part of one.

For those unfamiliar with the term, shipping is the term used to describe when one desires to see two characters together romantically. For example, I ship Elizabeth and Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. OTP means “one true pairing” in which you cannot imagine two characters being with anybody else. While some of my ships have successfully become canon (the writer[s] of the work has finally had mercy on me and has put these characters together), there are also the ones I’m desperately hoping will still develop and still some that have crashed and burned. In this post I’m going to sharing with you some of my ships (bookish and nonbookish) that meet these criteria and since I know not everyone may want to know about where these couples stand because of spoilers, I’ll be including lots of warnings so you can skip ahead. Let’s get started.

1. Oliver Queen and Felicity Smoak from Arrow

WARNING: If you are not up-to-date with Arrow (currently in the fourth season) and would like to remain ignorant of what happens with this ship, scroll past the next paragraph.

Since I mentioned Arrow being the gateway to which I stumbled upon all things fandom, I thought it only appropriate that I start with it. If you’re familiar with the show, you know that the pilot (and maybe the entire first season) set up Oliver Queen to end up with his childhood sweetheart Laurel Lance. I remember watching these two and feeling pretty much nothing for them as a couple, but I sort of just accepted it and moved on. I liked the show apart from their storyline, so stuck with it. Then Felicity Smoak showed up, cute awkward tech girl who always seemed to make me laugh and Oliver smile. Suddenly, I was glued to the television watching these two, hoping for something more. I got my wish and though it may be too early to call these two endgame, I’m plenty confident

2. Bellamy Blake and Clarke Griffin from The 100

WARNING: This next paragraph pertains to the show The 100. Please scroll past the next paragraph if you are not caught up with the third season and don’t want to know more.

I don’t know exactly when I started shipping these two together. For anyone who has seen The 100, you know what a jerk Bellamy was at the beginning of the first season, so I didn’t ship them then. But Bellamy is one of those characters that has such great character development, you kind of find yourself in awe of the transformation. I went from hating the guy to rooting for him, he’s become one of my favorite characters on television. The relationship between Bellamy and Clarke has grown from intense dislike to tentative collaboration to unyielding loyalty. No, they haven’t shared a clear and cut romantic moment on the show, but there is such a great foundation for their relationship to evolve into one, I find myself wishing and hoping (oh my gosh, please let it happen!) for more.

3. Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

WARNING: If you haven’t finished the HP series or movies and don’t want to know what happens, skip the paragraph below.

I’m not sure if there is anyone who doesn’t know these two ultimately end up together, but just in case, I had to include the warning. I’ve read some strange HP pairings in my life. Some people ship Harry and Hermione while others imagine Hermione ending up with Malfoy (what?). I have always, from the very beginning, seen Ron and Hermione together. They balance each other out so well and have both have had a positive impact on each other as people. Can you imagine Hermione bending the rules without Ron or Ron caring about house elves without Hermione? They are my OTP of the HP series and I will forever support them.

4. Chaol Westfall and Celaena Sardothien from the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas.

WARNING: If you have not read TOG through Queen of the Shadows, do not read the next paragraph, I beg you do not read it!!!

These two were my OTP from the very beginning of the series. In Throne of Glass, you saw how their relationship altered. Chaol was wary of Celaena, her being an assassin and all, and Celaena found it oh-so-easy to get under his skin. But then something beautiful happened, they began to rely on each other more and in the end, it was Chaol’s encouragement that gave Celaena the strength to get back up. I’m emotional just thinking about it. Then the second book happened and I was so happy until Sarah J. Mass decided to kill me emotionally. I’ve always believed that these two could work out their issues, but Queen of Shadows was a real nail in the coffin and I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to recover.

5. Stiles Stilinski and Lydia Martin from Teen Wolf

WARNING: If you haven’t watch Teen Wolf through the current season, please skip this paragraph.

Tumblr is wholly and completely to blame for me binge-watching Teen Wolf last year. For those skeptical of the show, it’s surprisingly good. I was aware of the large following of those who shipped “Stydia” (the ship name for these characters), but didn’t know much about their relationship until I watched the show. Sometime during season two I began to see the potential for these two. Stiles is by far my favorite character on the show and Lydia has undergone such character development, I can’t help but love her. Then season three happened and that kiss nearly did me in. What I can’t seem to figure out is why the writers have refused to explore this relationship. What gives? Do you get a sick kind of pleasure teasing this fandom? I can’t imagine what it’s been like for those who have watched this show from the beginning and who have been hoping for these two to be a couple, but as someone who has shipped them for the last year, it’s been driving me crazy and I don’t know how to let go.

6. Blue Sargent and Richard Campbell Gansey III from the Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater

WARNING: If you haven’t read The Raven Cycle through Blue Lily, Lily Blue, look away now! Actually, you ought to go visit your local book store or library and pick these up asap.

I shipped these two before they even met. Is it that I believe in kismet or that I enjoy ships that are destined to end in tragedy? I’ve spent the last three books watching their relationship grow. Like Blue, I’ve known from the beginning that Gansey’s fate isn’t pleasant, but I’ve fallen in love with the idea of the two of them anyways. The final book in the Raven Cycle series is being released at the end of April and though I want to imagine a happy ending for these two, it’s not something that Maggie Stiefvater has promised. In fact, she’s made it abundantly clear what’s going to happen next. I want to look away, but I can’t!

Are you a fellow shipper of any of these pairings? Tell me in the comments, so we can fangirl together! Who are some of your bookish (and not-so bookish) OTPs? How do you deal with ships that don’t come to fruition? Share your thoughts in the comments!