Mood Reads

When the idea of hanging out with your friends makes you want to puke from anxiety…

Fan Girl – Rainbow Rowell

When is feels like EVERYBODY has somebody but you and you’re going to die alone…

The Upside of Unrequited – Becky Albertalli

When you want to set fire to things…

Play it as it Lays – Joan Didion

When you want to start a political movement…

The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas

When you want to celebrate adult life, in all its weirdnesses…

Yes Please – Amy Poehler

When you want some serious sexy times…

The Hating Game – Sally Thorne

When you’ve had one of those nights with friends where you feel like you’ve found your place in the universe….

The Raven Boys – Maggie Stiefvater

When you need to feel like you exist…

Tiny Beautiful Things – Cheryl Strayed

When you need to disappear…

The Name of the Star – Maureen Johnson

When you want to have learned EVERYTHING…

My Life on the Road – Gloria Steinem

When you need to hear that it’s okay to be insecure…

The Rest of Us Just Live Here – Patrick Ness

When you need reminding that the world can be beautiful….

No Matter the Wreckage – Sarah Kay

A Reading List (Hastily compiled, somewhat diverse)

I see many posts on Twitter asking for diverse reads. Nobody asked me, but I thought I would make a list of a few of my favourite books from and about marginalised voices and experiences. Mostly fiction, a little non-fiction thrown in. I’ll link either to goodreads or my own reviews.

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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian – Sherman Alexie

Americanah – Chimanada Ngozi Adichie

How To Say I Love You Out Loud – Karole Cozzo

She Is Not Invisible – Marcus Sedgewick

The Sun is Also a Star – Nicola Yoon

Lies We Tell Ourselves – Robin Talley

Swing Time – Zadie Smith

The Wangs VS The World – Jade Chang

I am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban – Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb

Angry White People: Coming Face to Face with the British Far Right – Hsiao-Hung Pai

After Alice – Gregory Maguire

The Colour Purple – Alice Walker

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou

Why Not Me? – Mindy Kaling

 

Zodiac Book Recommendations

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AQUARIUS (January 20 – February 18)

The Aquarius-born are super intelligent deep thinkers. Without mental stimulation, they quickly become bored and irritable. As a result, they are often perceived by others to be cold or even insensitive people. But the truth is, they’re just really smart, and while they are seemingly ignoring you talking about that annoying thing that happened when you went out to buy groceries, the truth is you interrupted them as they were attempting to untangle a problem so complex your brain would never stand a chance. They weren’t just sitting on the sofa staring into space, as you had assumed.

An Aquarius thrives when there are problems to be solved, so to satisfy that itch in their reading, they really need a good old fashioned murder mystery. Enter Garvie Smith, the teenage Sherlock-a-like protagonist of Running Girl by Simon Mason. Garvie is pretty uninterested in life until the body of his onetime girlfriend is dragged from a nearby pond. After that? Everything is about finding her murderer.

PISCES (February 19 – March 20)

These are the emotional types. The artists. They are friendly and empathetic, and as a result, always seem to be surrounded by a group of interesting and diverse friends. You know the types – they aren’t interested in small talk, but instead want to get right to the heart of the human experience.

Book-wise, a Pisces doesn’t shy away from the more intense stories. They are looking for emotion, romance and lessons learned. I’ll Give You the Sun, by Jandy Nelson, would be perfect. The need to create art is this story’s spine. It props up a narrative of grief, love and forgiveness, all those things that appeal to the intuitive personality of a Pisces.

ARIES (March 21 – April 19)

Energy is the word that comes to mind to describe those born under Aries. They are forever in motion – multitaskers with organisational skills that are second to none. They are driven by a need to take action.

You know what I’m thinking, right? There is no book more perfect than Six of Crows, by Leigh Bardugo and of course it’s sequel, Crooked Kingdom. If there is one word to describe Kaz Brekker it is: action. His world is buzzing with schemes, heists and other adventures. But it’s not only about pulling off a plan to perfection. An Aries is all about the personal journey, as well as the literal one. They are searching for the answers to life’s big questions: Who do I want to be? What do I consider to be right and wrong? …etc. Well, so are the crows. In terms of action, both literal and metaphysical, this series has it all.

TAURUS (April 20 – May 20)

These are the dependable types. In good times this can manifest itself as being a devoted friend, partner or artist. In bad ones, it can feel as if they are uncompromising and stubborn. Ultimately though, they are the hardest workers in the world. They will not give up until the task is complete.

A Taurus might enjoy The Lunar Chronicles series, by Marissa Meyer. Cinder, protagonist and namesake of the first book, and central player throughout is completely dedicated to seeing her people set free from the tyrannous rule of the evil Queen Levana. The price for that dedication is high, but Cinder refuses to give up, despite the loss of her family, her personal safety, and maybe even the love of her life.

GEMINI (May 21 – June 20)

Geminis are an expressive people. What they are expressing however, can vary. At times they are sociable, communicative and generally the life of the party, while other times appearing restless and indecisive. A Gemini is often driven by a desire to grab to world by the lapels – to experience all things and all people.

This divided personality really speaks to the main characters in The Diviners, by Libba Bray. Evie and her friends are party animals living under the shadow left by the First World War. They use hedonism as a mechanism for coping with tragedy. Why mourn when you can dance?

While appearing to be normal teenagers expressing themselves the only ways they know how, Evie and her friends are actually anything but. They have powers no human should have. Evie can tell fortunes from objects, Theta can light fires using only her mind and Henry can walk through dreams.

CANCER (June 21 – July 22)

Those born under Cancer are known above all else for their dedication to the people they love. They are driven to create family, whether that be at work or home. This need for community can lead them to be manipulative, particularly when it comes to avoiding conflict. But, mostly, they are a really determined people, whether that’s in career or personal relationships.

Reading about Cancer brought to mind Andie from The Unexpected Everything, by Morgan Matson. It is, more than anything else, a book about love. After the loss of her mother and her father’s emotional retreat from her, Andie built a new family out of her school friends. They spend all their time together, and know all of each other’s secrets. As the book progresses, Andie begins to rebuild the relationship with her father she had all but given up on. And there’s that romance… The Unexpected Everything is a light hearted read about the communities we build for ourselves.

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LEO (July 23 – August 22)

The sign for Leo is a rather grand looking lion, which really tells us all we need to know about this sign. They are the born leaders: dominant, dramatic and totally attractive. I think the majority of men in YA might be Leos.

Leos are out to have some fun, and they are usually dragging a pretty large ego with them. This can be great, as it gives them a sense of clarity about what they want in life. On the other hand, they can pursue their desires without much thought for the feelings of others.

All these macho Leo vibes bring to mind Winger, by Andrew Smith. Winger is a book about masculinity and it’s interactions with sexuality and violence. It also manages to be heart breaking, funny and a little bit romantic all at the same time.

VIRGO (August 23 – September 22)

Virgos are defined by their careful nature. Their approach to their life is methodical and organised. They are goal orientated, and usually have a pretty solid plan about the direction their lives are going to take.

While such personality traits could be applied to a few of her protagonists, the Virgo reminds me of Auden from Along for the Ride, by Sarah Dessen. For pretty much her whole life, Auden’s mother has pressured her to be perfect. She wants her academic record to be spotless and her future one with a high powered career. Auden has been so busy trying to keep up with her mother’s standards, she’s never really had much time to think for herself. Then the summer comes, and she goes to stay with her father. Auden is a total insomniac, and over the summer she makes friends with Eli, and with him explores the night time world the rigid life she lives at home never gave her the chance to.

LIBRA (September 23 – October 22)

A Libra is a person fuelled by beauty. They surround themselves with items carefully curated with aesthetics in mind. A Libra is inspired by art and music and often choose to spend their time in nature, where they can be, as Cheryl Strayed once wrote ‘in the way of beauty’.

Few Libras would be able to pass a copy of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton without picking it up. The cover is a work of art in itself, and the writing more than lives up to its outer shell. It is a masterpiece of magical realism, with lyrical writing that transports the reader into a different plane of existence.

SCORPIO (October 23 – November 21)

Scorpios are characterised by their zest for life and assertive, resourceful characters. Like those born under Leo, they are the natural born leaders of the world. They are expressive and emotional, which can lead them to success, but can also cause problems when they give themselves over to their more negative emotions. The Scorpios can be very suspicious people.

For Scorpios, I can think of no better series than Rick Yancey’s 5th Wave trilogy. Cassie, Ben and co. are the only group of free humans left on a planet decimated by alien invasion. They are committed to the defeat of the aliens – no matter the cost. This series will set the adrenaline pumping in a way perfect for any Scorpios looking to experience the full spectrum of human emotion.

SAGITTARIUS (November 22 – December 21)

If you were born under Sagittarius, chances are, you’re a traveller. Driven by intense curiosity, a Sagittarius prizes her freedom above all else. When they are constrained, they don’t feel like they are really living. Because of this, sometimes a Sagittarius can appear impatient, but the truth is they are just looking for the next adventure.

13 Little Blue Envelopes, by Maureen Johnson, would suit a Sagittarius down to the ground. When Ginny’s aunt dies, she leaves her only 2 things: $1000 for a plane ticket, and a stack of blue envelopes with strict instructions to only open them one at a time. Thus begins Ginny’s adventure across Europe. In true Sagittarius style, Ginny embraces the change and embarks on a summer that’ll change her life forever.

CAPRICORN (December 22 – January 19)

Capricorns prize themselves on their professionalism. They are practical, responsible and tend to be a little stubborn. Capricorns have been known to struggle when asked to work with others as they have difficulty accepting views different to their own. However, they are some of the most disciplined among us and likely to get far more achieved than most do on an average day.

Capricorn readers might enjoy Becoming Bindy Mackenzie, by Jaclyn Moriarty. Bindy is a middle aged barrister living in the body of a seventeen year old girl. She is super smart and finds her peers lack of interest in school perplexing. Mostly she just avoids other kids her age. But when she gets caught in the middle of a dangerous situation and has no one to turn to for help, she realises it might be good to have friends after all…

 

Dumb Things Bookworms Do

Make piles of books that will surely one day fall and kill us.

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There is no way this WON’T end badly for me, but I refuse to do anything about it.

Buy the more expensive copy because US covers are so much nicer than UK ones.

Hold onto copies of hated classics in case one day we reread them and get what everybody else is talking about.

Yell at each other on Twitter.

Fall in love with very unsuitable people because they read.

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Hoard stationary we never use (you know you do this).

Own six months’ worth of Book Depository bookmarks because one day we will colour them in.

Pretend certain YA relationship dynamics aren’t making us feel super awkward.

Feel a weird bond with celebrities who #bookstagram.

Summer reading list continues … ☀️📚 #YoullGrowOutOfIt #FirstComesLove #RWBookClub

A post shared by Reese Witherspoon (@reesewitherspoon) on

Hoard books like trophies.

Read too many series at once until you can’t remember which villain did what injustice. (do we hate him or want to sleep with him? We don’t rememeber! The struggle is real).

Suffer severe disconnection with reality.

Spend hours on Pinterest looking at ‘reading nooks’.

Try to choose a library book with a limited time frame. Panic. Leave with nothing.

Experience a strong desire to threaten family members with physical violence when they interrupt your reading time.

Spend the day following finishing a series finale crying in bed like somebody died.

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Read books we know will leave us heartbroken … *whispers* A Monster Calls …

Care about stories more than almost anything else.

 

 

 

Books To Escape Into

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When I am going through a period of stress, sometimes I need something specific to take my mind off it. As much as I love a contemporary romance, if I am obsessing about an event over which I have no control, sometimes I need a work of fiction I can channel my stress into. That means I want to read some adventure, rather than flirtatious banter, okay?

With that in mind, I present you with a list of books to escape into. They are almost as stressful as following live news updates.

The Fifth Wave series – Rick Yancey

This series is so traumatic you’ll forget about real world disasters for a while as you read about blood thirsty aliens who may or may not look like us. It’s hard to worry about who the next prime minister is going to be when you’re trying to figure out whether this stranger is a hot guy about to make out with you or an alien sent to murder you.

Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo

I don’t know about you, but during the long days working at each of the six jobs I have had in the year since I graduated (#killingit), I can’t help but be distracted by all the more interesting things I could be doing. During each mundane moment I can’t help but imagine being suddenly thrust into a dangerous adventure, YA style. So it makes sense that the story of an unfolding heist, told from multiple points of view (I can pretend to be like 5 different people!) would suit me down to the ground.

The Darkest Powers series – Kelley Armstrong

I imagine that waking up to the news that your country has made an insane and irreversible mistake is pretty similar to suddenly being able to see the dead, as happens to Chloe in this classic example of a YA paranormal. You walk around in a fog of disbelief, constantly trying to persuade yourself that what you’re seeing isn’t real. You must have gone crazy or something.

Yep. Exactly like being able to see the dead. Don’t question me on this. Just read the books. They are very distracting and feature one of my all-time favourite book boyfriends, Derek the werewolf.

Do you have go-to escape books? I’d love some recommendations.

Summer REreads

Sometimes I start to feel overwhelmed by the amount I consume. Music, podcasts, books, television, movies. All the things I have running twenty four-seven to ensure I don’t actually have to, you know, think about stuff too much.

This lifestyle poses multiple issues, and right now the one I’m concerned with is mental space. What I mean is the amount of me I actually give to the stories I’m reading. I want to really take them in.

Pre-blogging, I used to reread books all the time. This was partly a money thing, yeah, but it was also a healthy activity, I think. To relive the joy a certain story produced or rewrite your relationship with it altogether.

I like the way that different mes read in different ways.

So with that in mind, I present a few of the YAs that were regular companions of my teens. I think it might be time to introduce them to 23-year-old me.

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Becoming Bindy Mackenzie – Jaclyn Moriarty

Bindy Mackenzie is the smartest – and kindest – girl at Ashbury High. She likes to share her knowledge of common teen anxieties and offers lunchtime advisory sessions in a relaxed setting (the locker room). But then Bindy discovers that, despite all her hard work, NOBODY LIKES HER! It’s time to banish benevolent Bindy – and release ruthless Bindy instead.

Bindy records every moment of her new rebellious project – from The Philosophical Musings of Bindy Mackenzie to extracts from her essays. But her scrapbook is also the key to a bizarre myserty – with Bindy herself at the centre. Only her friends can help her now. If only she had some.

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist – Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Nick’s just seen the girl who dumped him walk in… with a new guy. What else can he do but ask the strange girl next to him to be his new girlfriend for the next five minutes?

Norah would do anything to avoid conversation with the not not-friend girl who dumped Nick… and to get over the Evil Ex whom Norah never really totally dumped. What else can she do but answer Nick’s question by making out with him?

With one electric, unexpected kiss, the five-minute couple of Nick and Norah set off on an unchartered adventure called the “first date” that will turn into an infinite night of falling in and out (and in and out, and maybe in and maybe out) or love. Theirs is a first date of music, laughter, heartache, confusion, passion, taxi driver wisdom, and a jacket named Salvatore. And of course a killer soundtrack.

As Nick and Norah wander through the middle-of-the-night mystic maze of Manhattan, they share the kind of night you want to never end, where every minute counts and every moment flickers between love and disaster.

13 Little Blue Envelopes – Maureen Johnson

If your free-spirited aunt left you 13 little blue envelopes:

Would you follow the directions? Would you travel around the world? Would you open the envelopes one by one?

Inside envelope 1 is money and instructions to buy a plane ticket.

Inside envelope 2 are directions to a specific London flat.

Inside envelope 3 tells Ginny: Find a starving artist.

Because of envelope 4 Ginny and  a playwright/theif/man-about-town called Keith go to Scotland together, with disastrous – though really romantic – results. But will she ever see him again?

Everything about Ginny will change this summer, and it’s all because of the 13 little blue envelopes…

This Lullaby – Sarah Dessen

Remy always know when to give a guy “the speech” – right after the initial romantic rush, but before anything gets too serious. She’s had her fair share of boyfriends, and she’s learned all there is to learn from her mother, who’s currently working on husband number five. So why is it that Remy can’t seem to dump Dexter? It can’t be his name. It can’t be that he’s messy and disorganised. And it certainly isn’t that he’s a musician – just like Remy’s father, a man she never knew because he left before she was born. Could it be that Remy’s romantic rules to live by don’t apply anymore?

The Truth About Forever – Sarah Dessen

A long dull summer stretches ahead of Macy while her boyfriend Jason is away at Brain Camp. Days will be spent at a boring job in the library, evenings will be filled with vocabulary drills for the SATs, and spare time will be passed with her mother, the two of them sharing a silent grief at the traumatic loss of her father.

But sometimes unexpected things can happen – things like the catering job at Wish, with its fun-loving, chaotic crew. Or her sister’s project of renovating the neglected beach house, awakening long-buried memories. Things like meeting Wes, a boy with a past, a taste for Truth-telling, and an amazing artistic talent, the kind of boy who could turn any girl’s life upside down. As Macy ventures out of her shell, she begins to wonder if it really is better to be safe than sorry.

My OTPs

Last week, I wrote about OTPs that I hate. I was in that sort of mood.

This week, I am going to write about the romantic pairings that have played a big part in making me the TV obsessive that I am.

 

Leslie and Ben – Parks and Recreation

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When I started watching Parks and Rec (during the unfortunate Mark Brendanawicz phase), I was pretty sure it was impossible that they would ever produce a boyfriend for Leslie who could match her awesomeness in any way.

Then Ben showed up.

Leslie and Ben are such wonderful partners for each other. They respect each other’s talents and missions and even when they argue they still manage to be adorable.

TV is so full of fraught relationships, it’s rare and surprising to watch a couple who are simply best friends.

I love every moment of it.

Matt and Karen – Daredevil

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Throughout season 1, no matter how much I liked them individually, I really struggled to get into this ship. Karen’s crush was entirely built on some notion of hero worship, and that’s a dynamic I’m just not into. Then she murdered someone and went all undercover journalist, and everything shifted.

Matt and Karen are basically the same person. They would realise this if they didn’t spend all of their time lying to each other. They both have seen the horrifying underbelly of the world, and no matter what they do to distract themselves (make out, usually), they can’t look away.

The sooner they start working together (and making out again, now the whole Elektra fiasco is (at least temporarily, by the looks of things) over and done with) the better.

Caroline and Klaus – The Vampire Diaries

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They are my guilty pleasure ship.

But whatever. Klaroline were a beautiful moment in TVD history.

So, to get one thing straight, the whole good girl/bad boy thing is one that often makes me uncomfortable. It can become co-dependent and weird, and if you want an example, I need only point to Damon and Elena (love me or I’ll start murdering random strangers isn’t half as attractive as you might think, Damon).

What I loved about Klaus and Caroline is that they are both total alphas. At no point in time did Caroline’s life become consumed by Klaus. Rather than obsessing about him ( like Cami does, freaking constantly) she actually kept him at arms length most of the time.

They challenged each other’s world views through their differing stances on what it takes to feel powerful.

Plus Klaus saw Tyler off, a move that came as a huge relief to everyone.

Ultimately, I don’t know that I actually think that these two should be together. Caroline is a highly functioning lady with plans for her life, and I would hate for those to be derailed by Klaus’ never ending daddy issues. But hey, vampires lives a long time.

So I guess you never know.