Book Boyfriends for Valentine’s Day

Because boys in books are just better.

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Victoria and the Rogue by Meg Cabot

Lady Victoria Arbuthnot is not amused. She’s been shipped from India to England to live with her less-than-ideal relatives, the Gardiners and their zoo of children. If that weren’t bad enough, she’s also being forced to keep her engagement to the charming Lord Malfrey a secret.

It’s all very tedious. As if the family circumstances weren’t enough, Victoria can’t seem to shake the infuriating Captain Carstairs, whose primary hobbies consist of vexing Victoria and spreading rumours about her new fiancé.

For Lady Victoria Arbuthnot, it’s a long road to happily-ever-after.

Captain Carstairs: The, he’s-mean-to-you-because-he-likes-you type. As much as I loved this book it sent me barking up a lot of the wrong trees throughout high school. Totally worth it.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Since Cath started university and her identical twin, Wren ditched her, she doesn’t know what to do with herself. After spending her teens immersed in the world of her Simon Snow fanfiction, Cath honestly doesn’t know how to operate in the real world.

One thing she absolutely does not feel ready for is falling in love. With anything. So the sudden appearance of new friends, new passions and potentially a new boy in her life have her beyond freaked out.

Will Cath figure out how to open her heart before it’s too late?

Levi: Your best friend who you can’t help but fall in love with.

First and Then by Emma Mills

Devon has been crushing on her best friend Cas since forever. He either doesn’t know or doesn’t care. Devon doesn’t even mind any more. She’s pretty much given up on it ever happening.

The butterflies in her stomach haven’t, however.

The drama begins when Devon’s weird cousin Foster comes to live with her family. Foster immediately bonds with Ezra, captain of the football team and prized jackass.

A prized jackass who also happens to be super-hot.

Devon’s life is about to get complicated…

Ezra: The broody one with the tragic history.

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

From the outside it seems like Annabel has everything.

On the inside, she’s crumbling. The girl she thought was her best friend is trying to destroy her. Her family is coming apart at the seams. Her sister is trying to starve herself to death. All Annabel wants is to disappear.

Then she meets Owen. Owen is obsessed with weird music and his radio show, Anger Management. He doesn’t take any bullshit.

He sees the cracks in Annabel’s façade. And he doesn’t leave

Owen: The guy who’s working through some stuff. The one who’s life you can’t help but fall into.

Emmy and Oliver by Robin Benway

Emmy and Oliver planned to be best friends forever. Then Oliver’s parents split up and his father kidnapped him.

Ten years later, he’s back and Emmy has no idea what to do. He’s her best friend and a stranger and the defining disaster of her life to date. Oliver barely remembers her… until he does.

As they grow closer, Emmy has to ask herself, is it possible for them to get back to the people they were supposed to be?

Oliver: The cute guy who got kidnapped by his dad. You know the one. The guy who disappeared for ten years then made you feel like he was never gone.

 

 

 

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Books I Read As An Actual Teen

In slightly under a month, I will be 23 years old. Despite this, I still pretty much exclusively read young adult fiction. The tumultuousness of it all appeals to me, I guess. My obsession with YA, however, began when I was still an actual teenager. I felt like it was time to celebrate some of the books that made me into the obsessive reader I am today.

In slightly under a month, I will be 23 years old. Despite this, I still pretty much exclusively read young adult fiction. The tumultuousness of it all appeals to me, I guess. My obsession with YA, however, began when I was still an actual teenager. I felt like it was time to celebrate some of the books that made me into the obsessive reader I am today.

The Princess Diaries – Meg Cabot

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I have been celebrating my love of this book series with my Rereading the Princess Diaries segment. Mia is an anxious nerd who’s bad at maths. She’s also very tall. She has to deal with the awkwardness of her mum’s dating life. This pretty much described my experience as a teenager. I latched on to Mia, and to this day I haven’t let her go.

Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal-Snogging – Louise Rennison

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These books are about as ridiculous as they sound. The whole series made me laugh harder than any others ever have. Georgia Nicholson does just about every embarrassing thing you can think of. She shaves off her eyebrows (this was pre Delevinge days, you have to understand. Big eyebrows used to be something we worried about) and fights a continuous battle with her fringe while attempting to make out with pretty much any hot guy she can get her hands on. When I read through my teenage diaries, (a hilarious exercise. I recommend it) it’s 90% about boys. The crucial difference between Georgia and I however, is that she actually managed to date, a feat I did not accomplish in high school. (anxious nerd, remember?)

Forever – Judy Bloom

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Surely everybody read this book as a teenager?  Forever is about a girl who meets a boy, falls in love, has sex, breaks up and nothing terrible happens. It’s just life. But in a market saturated (at the time) with books in which sex resulted in swift and brutal punishment (pregnancy/death/having to walk around with a big red A on your chest for the rest of your life), this was a pretty revolutionary book.

Looking For Alaska – John Green

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Also known as Blowjobs: The Complete Guide. I kid. That’s just one scene.

I became aware of John Green when I was about 15, and I can honestly say his books have changed the way that I read, write and operate as a person. I had never read a book like Looking for Alaska. It’s about love and growing up and grief. It’s about famous last words and the absence of last words. It’s about friendship.

I hope they find a girl as good at being Alaska as Cara Delevinge was at being Margo for the movie.

(Why do I keep talking about Cara Delevinge?)

(Why are you even asking me that?)

I wonder who Nat Wolff will play…

Digression: I resent Nat Wolff. I liked him in TFIOS, and during Paper Towns I decided that he was actually pretty cute. When I got home, I googled him, only to discover he is younger than me. That has never happened to me before. My own relative adulthood was suddenly thrust in my face. I don’t know whether I will ever be able to forgive him. Unfortunately the only person around at the time was my mother, who was not at all sympathetic.

Journey to the River Sea – Eva Ibbotson

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It was difficult for me to pick an Iva Ibbotson novel, but I knew I had to include her in this list. I spent a lot of time at our local library as a kid. We did not have much money and it was a place my mum could take my brother and I to hang out for free. They did not have the best children’s section in the world, but what they did have was an almost endless supply of Iva Ibbotson. So many of her novels shaped my reading life from when I was a kid to my teenage years. Journey to the River Sea however, has to be my favourite. Everybody loves a story about a plucky orphan who travels down the amazon. It also had a hint of romance in it. It never went anywhere because everybody was too young, but it used to make me crazy in a good way.

Rereading The Princess Diaries #5

Everything has worked out perfectly for Princess Mia. She’s realised what her talent is: writing. Michael, the man of her dreams is her boyfriend. She isn’t failing algebra anymore. Fifteen, she’s decided, is going to be a great year.

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That is until Grandmere’s dog Rommel escapes from her purse during Mia’s birthday dinner and runs riot around the restaurant, inadvertently causing one of the bus boys, Jangbu Pinasa, to lose his job. Grandmere could easily clean up the whole mess, but of course she chooses not to, leaving Lilly Moscovitz, Mia’s genius bestie to take up his cause and start a city wide hospitality strike that takes down most of the restaurants and hotels in New York.

Mia can’t help but notice had she never been born – and therefore not had a birthday celebration – none of this would have happened.

As if the whole Jangbu disaster weren’t enough to worry about, Michael has decided not to attend his senior prom, therefore depriving Mia of a night she has been dreaming of since forever!

Maybe fifteen isn’t looking so great after all…

Mia’s Best Moments

– Her ‘Movies That Feature The Prom As A Prominent Plot Device’ list (inc. Pretty in Pink, Ten Things I Hate About You, Never Been Kissed and Back to the Future)

– Her job on the Albert Einstein High’s newspaper: cafeteria beat. She says she’s paying her dues.

– Her amazing Nurse Mia moment when she presses her school sweater against Boris Pelkowski’s wound after he drops that globe onto his head because he’s so heartbroken over Lilly.

– When Grandmere tells her she should use sex to get Michael to take her to the prom and she misinterprets and thinks she means get Michael’s band a gig at the prom.

(note:  I wish I could remember whether I got that first time through reading these, but sadly I cannot. Oh, Grandmere).

The Drams

RIP Lilly and Boris, who’s sweater tucking self just did not measure up in the face of Jangbu’s hotness. However Lilly should have known better than to break up with her boyfriend by dragging a different boy into the cupboard during Seven Minutes in Heaven. So cold!

Welcome, Tina and Boris. Tina (screenname: iluvromance), saw Boris’ whole I will drop a globe onto my head if you don’t get back together with me thing as an act of epic romance, rather than just plain crazy.

Michael’s Best Moment

There are so many. But in this instance, I think nerdy boy’s discovery of the merits of Seven Minutes in Heaven has to be my favourite.

“’So we really have to stay in here for seven minutes?’ Michael wanted to know.

‘I guess,’ I said.

‘What if Mr G comes back and finds us in here?’

‘He’ll probably kill you,’ I said.

‘Well,’ Michael said. ‘Then I’d better give you something to remember me by.’

Then he took me in his arms and started kissing me.

I have to admit, after that, I kind of started thinking Seven Minutes in Heaven wasn’t such a bad game after all.”

Noughties Kid Nostalgia

Instant messaging! Oh, the hours I wasted as a tween IMing my friends. IM was where the serious shit went down. If you thought a boy liked you this was the place to talk about it with him.

Rereading The Princess Diaries #4

Mia is finally dating Michael! … sort of. The day after they got together Mia had to go to Genovia for a month to be introduced to the populace. And, little does Michael know, now that she’s finally back in New York she can’t actually go out with him Friday night for their first date, on account of Grandmere forcing her to go to the Contessa Trevanni’s Black and White Ball. Apparently if she doesn’t it’ll cause some kind of international incident. She’s sure that Michael will break up with her when she tells him the truth. What kind of girlfriend cancels on the first date?

Mia is finally dating Michael! … sort of. The day after they got together Mia had to go to Genovia for a month to be introduced to the populace. And, little does Michael know, now that she’s finally back in New York she can’t actually go out with him Friday night for their first date, on account of Grandmere forcing her to go to the Contessa Trevanni’s Black and White Ball. Apparently if she doesn’t it’ll cause some kind of international incident. She’s sure that Michael will break up with her when she tells him the truth. What kind of girlfriend cancels on the first date?

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Mia learns:

– Always stick to the script when giving speeches to the populace. It turns out when introducing yourself as their heir to the throne of their country, people aren’t too interested in hearing your opinions on environmental issues. Even though the safety of the dolphins and turtles in Genovia is obviously way more important than yachting tourists.

– If you steal something from the Genovian museum, Grandmere will definitely notice.

Jane Eyre might not be such a great model for how to behave in your own romantic relationships (note: not all boys are like Mr Rochester (sadly)).

– It can be really difficult to tell whether your boyfriend loves you, like, romantically, or just as a friend. At least until you make out, that is.

– Sometimes it’s difficult to identify what your talents are. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have them. Your talent is probably staring you in the face, but you’re so busy doing it you haven’t even realised.

What Lillly’s Up To:

Despite being having her place in Mia’s heart usurped by the other Moscovitz, Lilly remains prominent. Her latest cause is to sue the production company that made the movie of Mia’s life for their unfair misrepresentation of her. She gets a meeting with them to discuss her potentially suing them, in which they instead offer to option her public access TV show, Lilly Tells It Like It Is. Whether she still plans to sue is unclear.

Michael’s best moment:

‘No, I don’t want to break up,’ Michael said, starting to look mad now – probably the way Mr Rochester looked when he heard Jane had been hanging out with that St John guy. ‘Mia, I love you, remember? Why would I want to break up with you? Now come and sit down and eat before it gets cold.’

Oh, Michael.

Grandmere’s Latest Crime:

Telling everyone at the Contessa’s Black and White ball that Mia is dating her cousin, Prince Rene. Seriously.

Rereading The Princess Diaries #3

Everything seems to be looking up for Mia. She’s raised her F in algebra to a D, she finally has a boyfriend and… well, she’s a princess. Her life should be perfect right?

Right.

Unfortunately the boyfriend is the wrong one. She’s dating Kenny, her sweet but ultimately unattractive lab partner, meanwhile, Michael Moscovitz – her best friend’s brother she has loved in secret for years – has started dating fellow computer club member Judith Gershner. Judith can clone fruit flies. As far as Mia is concerned – despite the D, algebra is a continual issue – she doesn’t stand a chance against a girl like that.

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The princess thing is also a problem. She has to spend the coming Christmas in Genovia, the country she will one day rule. Preparation for this involves daily princess lessons with her evil Grandmere, the dowager princess of Genovia.

What Mia Learns

– Having a best friend who also happens to be a genius is hard work, and sometimes, when said best friend is planning a school-wide walkout (inspired by a teacher turning down her term paper proposal: How to Survive High School by Lilly Moscovitz (‘Students of the future will learn that the way to  settle their differences is not through violence, but through the sale of a really scathing screenplay – featuring characters based on individuals who tormented them all those years – to a major Hollywood movie studio. That, not a Molotov cocktail, is the path to true glory.’)) that will likely seriously hurt your algebra teacher, step-father and soon to be father of your half sibling’s feelings, it’s sometimes just best to pull the fire bell.

– Don’t allow boys who can’t ice skate backwards to ice skate backwards, they will pull the both of you over and the whole thing will be highly embarrassing.

– Your cousin might not be plotting your murder to steal your claim to the throne, but he probably is using your image without your permission to advertise his clothing designs.

– Advice from the empress of Japan: Always make sure your kimono is securely fastened before you raise your arm to wave to the populace.

Grandmere’s Best Moment

Grandmere is basically evil. She scares everybody she comes into contact with. At one point she tells Mia to keep dating Kenny until she finds someone better – for practice. That said, the lady has her moments.

‘You are not a loser, Amelia,’ Gradmere said. ‘You are a princess. And princesses do not run away when things become difficult. They throw their shoulders back and they face what disaster awaits them head on. Bravely, and without complaint.’

Lars

Lars is Mia’s bodyguard. He is present for basically everything that happens during the series. In general, I have no interest in reading existing books from alternative perspectives (I think it is a money grabbing move by lazy authors), but I would totally read this series narrated by Lars.

Rereading The Princess Diaries #2

Mia Thermopolis recently found out she’s the heir to the throne of a small principality in Europe called Genovia. And this isn’t her only problem.

Mia Thermopolis recently found out she’s the heir to the throne of a small principality in Europe called Genovia. And this isn’t her only problem.

She has to take princess lessons with her Grandmere, who’s primary hobby seems to be the torture of young princesses. Her mother is having her algebra teacher’s baby. And she’s in love her best friend, Lilly Moscovitz’s brother, Michael.

In this book, Mia has to deal with her Grandmere planning her mother’s wedding to her algebra teacher, Mr Gianini, without her mother’s permission. Helen Thermopolis doesn’t do anything that she doesn’t want to. Mia is convinced the whole thing is going to be a disaster. Her dad claims he has the situation under control, but she isn’t so sure.

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In addition to all this, Mia has started to receive anonymous love letters. She dares to hope that they might be from Michael, Lilly’s brother who she has been in love with since forever. But her admirer – to Mia’s extreme frustration – will not reveal their identity!

All Mia really wants is her relative anonymity back, but after her first ever TV interview she is dealing with more attention than ever. She’s uncomfortable and she often says stupid things – which down to her newfound princess status, are heard by more people than ever. She has to get through the awkward process of growing up under the scrutiny of New York celebrity culture.

Mia’s Best Moments

– When she freaks out and throws away all of the food in their apartment that could potentially be unhealthy to her mother’s developing foetus. Also when she tells her mother not to have ice cubes in her drinks – they potentially contain harmful parasites – for the same reason.

– When the Duchess of York and Catherine Zeta Jones help her adapt her bridesmaid outfit into a Halloween costume so she can go to The Rocky Horror Picture Show with her friends.

– When she accidentally tells the world her mum is pregnant with her algebra teacher’s baby on television.

– Anything involving Mia, Lilly and Lilly’s foot fetishist stalker, Norman.

Michael’s Best Moment

‘… Michael, who ended up standing beside me, waiting for his turn to get into the car, went, ‘What I meant to say before, Mia, was that you look… you look really…’

I blinked up at him in the pink and blue light from the neon Round the Clock sign in the window behind us. It’s amazing, even bathed in pink and blue neon, with fake intestines hanging out of his shirt, Michael still looked totally –

‘You look really nice in that dress,’ he said, all in a rush.’

Michael, you slay me.

Nineties Kid Nostalgia

Lilly’s public access TV show, Lilly Tells It Like It Is.

Obviously it wasn’t normal for any of us to have our own television shows, but there is still something nostalgic about a time before Youtube.

Rereading The Princess Diaries #1

The Princess Diaries were the books of my teens. Mia was my fictional best friend. She was a tall, nerdy worrier fighting a continual battle with her hair. When I was fourteen this was exactly like me. Even now I’m 22, me and Mia are still on the same page*.

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The Princess Diaries #1 sees us introduced to Mia through the journal her mother has given her to work out her anxieties in. Her anxieties are as follows:

  • She’s flat chested.
  • She’s failing algebra.
  • Her mom has just started dating the algebra teacher who’s class she’s failing.
  • Josh Richter doesn’t even know she exists.

And that’s before she even finds out about the whole princess thing. Then on top of that there are princess lessons with her heinous Grandmere, who’s determined to make her life a total misery under the guise of teaching her how not to cause an international incident. And there’s keeping the whole princess thing a secret from her best friend Lilly Moscovitz, who is a pretty passionate anti-royalist and teenaged genius. Lilly and her brother, Michael are both teenaged geniuses, actually.

This book came out in 2000. I remember my mum picking it up and reading the part where Lilly talks about how she would only have sex with a guy if he was wearing at least two condoms (younger readers: don’t do this!!) and being slightly horrified that her nine year old was reading them (though in my defence they were in the bookshelf at my primary school).

I was probably thirteen or fourteen when these books became the great comfort and influence they have been in my life.

One of the biggest takeaways from this book (and the whole series, actually) is the sense that ultimately, a person can deal with most of what is thrown at them. Mia deals with learning that when she grows up she will have to rule over the country of Genovia. She deals with her terrifying Grandmere. She deals with everyone finding out that she’s a princess, and the bodyguard and press scrutiny that come with that.

Don’t get me wrong – the girl is freaking out plenty – but there is never a moment where something happens that she can’t cope with. Even when she feels like she isn’t, she is.

Nostalgia for the Nineties kids

– Dial-up internet is a big presence in this book. Mia is always having to go online and ask Lilly’s brother Michael to go offline so that she can call her. Remember when you couldn’t have the phone and the internet at the same time?

– Britney Spears comes up a few times.  I’d forgotten what a looming presence she was in my childhood. It makes me think of the days before we had Taylor and realise how much better things are now.

*Yes, that is a book pun thank you.