Let’s Talk: Favorite Couples, Characters, and Friendships

I figured I don’t talk much about my favorite relationships or characters as much as I do my favorite books on here. So I’ve decided to go through my lists of favorite couples, favorite characters, favorite friendships, and favorite squads and try to identify the trends. What makes characters click for me?

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Favorite Sapphic Couples: Top Five [Ten] Wednesday

If you’ve been on this blog for a while, you know that sapphic girl books are kind of my brand. [And sapphic girl tv shows. Talents Include: listing noncanon ships for 180000 hours.]

And so today I’m going a Top Five Wednesday [Ten, in this case] that a lot of people found difficult because they have apparently never read a book with f/f or seen any show with f/f. If you’re one of those people I hope you use this post as a wake up call.

[I am actually not joking here, if you’ve really never read a sapphic book you should perhaps try to fix that? I have a whole list dispersed through genres and am willing to do specific recs whenever please and thank you]

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The Post You’ve All Been Waiting For: Favorite Books of 2017!!

Guys, this year has been a wild ride. I have grown and changed so much. This was the year I took my first AP class, the year I had my first real girlfriend, the year I got my first leading roles in a show, the year I dropped dance, and maybe most importantly: the year I really became someone who takes care of myself and the people around me. I can honestly say before this year, I would not have been able to be so confident and reach out to so many amazing people on here and in my life. You’re all so amazing and beautiful – there are friend shoutouts at the bottom to a few people I’m super close with, but honestly, there are so many people missing who I LOVE with my entire heart. You’re all amazing.

Before the end of last year, I was reading around two books a week. As some of you may know, I read five books a week this entire year. Though I may eventually reduce it to a goal of four a week for next year — five a week is freaking HARD — this is more than doubling the amount of books I am able to read each year. I have had so much more of an opportunity to read great books.

And what’s more, I have learned what my tastes truly are. In years past, I dabbled around and ended up reading anything I could get my hands, anything I saw at my local library / bookstore, or anything recommended to me. I was not at all critical of the recommendations I got. This year, I’ve realized what a mistake that is. I know what I am most likely to enjoy. There is no reason for me to continuously prioritize books with tropes I dislike when there are so many books out there I know I’ll like.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m never giving other books a chance! And it definitely doesn’t mean genre discrimination. Trying new genres has turned out well for me this year — what has hurt is trying out books I know from reviews will be too tropey for me. I know what things I love in literature. If a book promises absolutely none of those things, reading it rarely turns out well. And in a world with so many promising books, why not focus on those I know I’ll love?

WITH ALL THAT BEING SAID. It has been an amazing reading year, and it is time to recommend some books.

Favorites of the year are at the bottom. Of course. And feel free to check out this post on Goodreads!

🌎 Bingeable Series I’d Die For

🌟 A Darker Shade of Magic and A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab (Shades of Magic #1 and #2) – my first foray into adult fantasy and a series that makes me cry. Continuously.
🌟 The King’s Men by Nora Sakavick (The Foxhole Court #3) – the first new adult of my life, and basically the most entertainment I’ve gained from my reading life ever. but also kind of terrible. but also so good.
🌟 Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Days of Blood and Starlight, Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor (DoSaB #1, #2, #3) – I was so shook by this book and its WRITING and its TONE and its CHARACTERS and EVERYTHING ABOUT IT
🌟 How to Repair a Mechanical Heart, A&B by J.C. Lillis (HTRaMH #1, #2) – these books were so funny and still deep and so much fun oh my god. and book two is the BEST sapphic romance I have ever read
🌟 Saga by Brian K. Vaughn (#2, #3, #5, #6) – my favorite graphic novel series of all time. best characters, best art, best everything.
🌟 The Wicked + the Divine by Various (#1, #2) – a graphic novel series I can’t wait to continue.
🌟 Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray (The Diviners #2) – character-driven historical paranormal horror fiction and freaking awesome.

🌎 2017’s Promising Fantasy Beginnings

🌟 magic and dreams – Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
🌟 the only good romantic sci-fi – Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray
🌟 fairies done right – The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
🌟 paranormal hist-fic and queer girls – Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
🌟 kick-ass plot twists and murder hogwarts – Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

🌎 2017 Series Continuations that Make Me CRY

🌟 Now I Rise by Kiersten White (And I Darken #2) – a masterpiece of plotting and character development and one of my new favorite books. read in 2016, but this has so stayed with me.
🌟 The Edge of the Abyss by Emily Skrutskie (The Abyss Surrounds Us #2) – the sapphic pirate duology we all needed and deserved, and one that absolutely made me cry
🌟 Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire (Every Heart a Doorway #2) – the fabulous and fantastic second book in my new favorite novella series.

🌎 The Standalone List

🌟 horrible people and love triangle subversion – Dangerous Boys by Abigail Haas
🌟 bi girls and art – The Gallery of Unfinished Girls by Lauren Karcz
🌟 beautiful weird – The Strange & Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
🌟 my new fav parody novel – No Good Deed by Goldy Moldavsky
🌟 fast-pacing city – Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart
🌟 underrated book that makes me emo – All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terill
🌟 cathartic hist-fic – The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock
🌟 feminist fantasy – Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust
🌟 the true classic of my heart – Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
🌟 weird suspense that made me emotional – Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick
🌟 abuse and emotional catharsis – Still Life With Tornadoby A.S. King
🌟 a trauma narrative I claim – Made You Up by Francesca Zappia
🌟 ANOTHER trauma narrative I claim – Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
🌟 a huge mindfuck – The Devil You Know by K.J. Parker
🌟 true classic of my heart, p. 2 – Hamlet by William Shakespeare
🌟 the power of women against abuse – Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
🌟 crying for 70 hours – Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
🌟 emotional catharsis and year’s best ending – The Hearts We Sold by Emily-Lloyd Jones
🌟 sapphic witches and magic – Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle
🌟 weirdness and great books – The Wicker King by K. Ancrum
🌟 bi girls and love – How To Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake

🌎 The Short Story Standouts

🌟 Slasher Girls and Monster Boys, including Megan Shephard’s Hide and Seek, Jay Kristoff’s Sleepless, and A.G. Howard’s Stitches
🌟 Three Sides of a Heart, including Justina Ireland’s Dread South, Natalie C. Parker’s Cass, An, and Dra, Veronica Roth’s Vim and Vigor, Brenna Yovanoff’s Vega, Alaya Dawn Johnson’s A Hundred Thousand Threads, and Bethany Hagen’s Unus, Duo, Tres
🌟 Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo, including Ayama and the Thorn Wood, The Witch of Duva, and The Little Knife.
🌟 Summer Days and Summer Nights, including Leigh Bardugo’s Head Scales Tongue Tail, Stephanie Perkins’ In Ninety Minutes Turn North, Veronica Roth’s Inertia, and Lev Grossman’s The Map of Tiny Perfect Things
🌟 Difficult Women by Roxane Gay, including La Negra Blanca, How, and Break All the Way Down
🌟 The New Voices of Fantasy, including Alyssa Wong’s Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers, Ursula Vernon’s Jackalope Wives, Carmen Marie Machado’s The Husband Stitch, and J.Y. Yang’s Tiger Baby.
🌟 Robots vs. Fairies, including Seanan McGuire’s Build Me Wonderland and Alyssa Wong’s All the Time We’ve Left to Spend
🌟 Feral Youth, including Robin Talley’s Look Down and Stephanie Kuehn’s A Cautionary Tale

🌎 The Top ELEVEN of 2017

🌺 #11 – Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios
This is the most deeply, deeply emotionally cathartic book I have read all year. it’s a book I could not look away from, one that left me spellbound and in tears until the end. I connected to this so hard. and I hate that I connected to it so hard. But I think this is a story for people who have survived abuse, on a level I don’t feel for many books about abuse. Everything from the first scene to the final author’s note feel catered for those going through what Grace is going through.

🍀 #10 – Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
just. this entire series deserves top ten, but whatever. This book left me in tears, multiple times. I was so engaged in this book. the WRITING. the TONE. the CHARACTERS. EVERYTHING ABOUT IT.

🌺 #9 – The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed
This is one of the most deeply heartfelt books I have read this year, on so many levels. It is a story about women, and not just a story about one kind of woman – The Nowhere Girlsis a story about all kinds of women, from queer girls to latinx girls to trans girls to girls with Aspergers to fat girls. It is so important and it is so well-written.

🍀 #8 – Radio Silence by Alice Oseman
This is one of the most authentic books I have ever read. It feels so real to my experience growing up as a teen, on a level I don’t think any other book has gotten. With characters I love more than my own life, a mostly-qpoc cast, and a focus on friendship rather than romance between the girl and guy leads, this book hit me on a level not much has.

🌺 #7 – Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant / Seanan McGuire
I keep describing this book as sapphic girls and killer mermaids and honestly, that’s the mood for 2017. This book was such a wild ride. It’s a character-driven story, and it’s written so beautifully I could cry. But honestly, I just found this so supremely engaging. I didn’t want it to end. I still don’t want it to end. It was 500 pages long, but it could’ve been another 500 and I would’ve just kept loving it. Sequel, please?

🍀 #6 – They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
This book is so heartfelt. And as you might be able to guess from the title, it left me a wreck. But what I liked about this is that it was not all sad – it’s blended with a current of hope. A feeling that no matter where we’ve ended up, there is always a last chance. A chance to change.

🌺 #5 – Jane Unlimited by Kristin Cashore
See, I didn’t think this would crack top five, but I really think this is a book that changed my life. it’s a weird gothic murder mystery AND a modern book AND a romance and every genre that’s ever existed, somehow, and I love it. With plot twists that messed with my mind and an odd sense of homage and simultaneous satire around every genre, I couldn’t have enjoyed this more.

🍀 #4 – Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee
this book was something I needed. it’s a fun, hilarious, and sweet book at times, but it’s also a book about trauma. It’s a subversion of the curing-mental-illness narrative so often forced in books, and a book that, at its core, is putting queer people and people of color back into historical fiction. It feels like reclaiming historical fiction. It feels like one of the most heartfelt books I have ever read. I read it in one day and can’t stop thinking about how deeply I love the characters.

🌺 #3 – The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers (Wayfarers #1)
BRILLIANT worldbuilding, amazing characters, and found family come together. this book felt like reading a warm hug, one that acknowledges pain and hatred but also fundamentally believes that the world is good, not bad.

🍀 #2 – Vicious by V.E. Schwab (Vicious #1)
This is a book about the murder of my feelings AND of some actual people. You know, I have always said I like empathizing with villains, but this book really did it for me. At first, this seems like a traditional good vs. evil story from the point of view of the villain, but no character here is good. But do I love them all with all my heart? YES.

🌺 #1 – Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore
You know, it took me a while to decide between this and Vicious as my fave of the year. But you know what? This book is worth my entire life and more. This is one of the only books I have ever started crying at literally just because the writing was so beautiful. I did not know that was possible. I connected to the lead character, Estrella, on such a deep level, and I honestly felt the same about every other part of the book. And the ending. The goddamn, fucking ending. This whole book was as close to perfect as a book can come, and I just want everyone to read it.

More down below!

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BEST OF: 2017 Releases

2017 IS ALMOST OVER. AAAAH.

I don’t know how we got through it.

and so… it’s time for a best-of!

I don’t think I do enough rec posts, considering HOW MANY RECS I HAVE, so I’m wrapping the year off with a quick list of 2017 releases you’ve probably slept on. I have read and adored all of these.

All time faves are marked with a ⭐!

Speculative Fiction, Magical Realism, and What-Genre-Is-This

Historical Fiction and Nonfiction

Suspense and Mystery

Contemporary and Realistic Fiction

Fantasy and Sci-Fi

#SapphicAThon: my favorite queer lady books!!

It is a good day. It is a very, very good day. Why?

Because I… AM… HOSTING… A… READATHON!! And thankfully, it’s about something I am super super passionate about: women loving women. Sapphic girls. The Gays. It’s a good day!!

#SapphicAThon will be taking place from Dec 14 to Dec 28. Check us out on twitter HERE. That twitter account has all the information and challenges, plus chats throughout that week, so make sure to follow us. I’m cohosting this readathon with some of my best friends on here: Jamieson @JamiShelves, Tasha @CatsAndPaperbacks, Amelie @AKinderGalaxy, and Miriam @ToitNups.

We’re focusing on reading books that specifically have a major romance between two girls. Side characters do not count. Queer girl main characters but m/f romance does not count. Queer girl main characters but no romance does not count. Those are all important, but this readathon wants to focus specifically on romance between girls.

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Low-Rated Books I Adore

Hey guys! Today’s post was brought to you by Lala @BooksandLala, who recently did this video. When I looked through my Goodreads ratings, I discovered that I have exactly 15 books rated a three or above on goodreads that have an average rating of 3.5 or lower. So NOW IT’S TIME TO DEFEND MYSELF. Let’s get started.

15.  Where Futures End by Parker Peevyhouse – ★★★★★

And we’re starting off with a bang, aka a super super weird book! This book is such a trip, but it blew my mind on such an exceptional level. And GUYS. I COULD NOT PUT THIS DOWN. And will I ever forget that pitch-perfect ending? No. No, I will not.

14. Suicide Notes for Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarten – ★★★★

Oh look, it’s the fucked up female friendships aesthetic. My favorite. And one that will recur a lot as the ratings descend (and descend, and descend…) Despite a couple of weird twists, I found this book super compelling, with two complex leads and a creepy tone.

13. You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott – ★★★★★

People hate girl antiheroes. People also dislike Megan Abbott’s writing style, for some reason. Result: people hate this. Whatever. It’s one of my favorite books. Screw goodreads ratings.

12. Jane Unlimited by Kristin Cashore – ★★★★★

I have such a strong penchant for weirdass books. This book is basically a masterpiece of creative storytelling and it is so gorgeous.

11. Dear Killer by Katherine Ewell – ★★★.5

Despite a forced romance and some easy plot points, I found this book super compelling, with some interesting thematics and a complex lead. Yes, there are plot holes. And yet I found myself so pulled along I barely noticed.

10. The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow – ★★★★★

Ah, yes, the book everyone hates because it’s slow and ignores because it’s subversive. Anyway, I love my bi dystopia.

9. Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart – ★★★★★

This book has low ratings, apparently, and I genuinely do not get it. Yes, this book is predictable. BUT IT’S SO COMPELLING AND THE LEADS ARE SO COMPLEX AND. WHY IS IT SO LOW.

Also, let’s be real: the low rating probably has a lot to do with the fact that Genuine Fraud is nothing like We Were Liars and people got disappointed.

Oh, and would you look at that. It’s the fucked up female friendships aesthetic.

8. This Darkness Mine by Mindy McGinnis – ★★★★

Oh yes, this book. Which I totally knew would be here. You want to talk female antiheroes everyone hates but I love? Look no further.

7. Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke – ★★★

For some reason, this is the only three star book among the fifteen. Granted, I give out threes quite rarely, but I’m interested in that? This book would definitely fall into my penchant for weird books, though. Weird writing style, weird characters, just… weird.

6. That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E.K. Johnston – ★★★★

THE FIRST 35% IS BORING. I KNOW. I THOUGHT IT WAS BORING TOO. But the rest? SO MUCH BETTER. The worldbuilding and writing are so interesting.

5. Mirror in the Sky by Aditi Khorana – ★★★★

Ah, yes. That one book I genuinely almost permanently DNFed and ended up adoring so much. The reason I occasionally reconsider my DNFs now. The first half is boring as all shit, but the second half of this book is next-level brilliant. Definitely stick with it.

4. Don’t You Trust Me by Patrice Kindl – ★★★.5

Ahhhhhhh, yes. The infamous weirdass antihero book. Don’t really have much to say about this, but it’s super twisted and not good enough to get a ton of five-stars.

3. Lucky Girl by Amanda Maciel – ★★★★

Two things here: one, Amanda Maciel tends to write incredibly unlikeable characters.  And two, this book is all over the place. But it’s all over the place on purpose. This is a slow-burn character development story and it fucking rocks.

2. Dare Me by Megan Abbott – ★★★★.5

The ORIGINAL “fucked up female friendships aesthetic”. Dare Me is a weird and definitely polarizing book, but it’s worth reading for the aesthetic and the strength of the characters if this sounds like your thing.

1. Little Wrecks by Meredith Miller – ★★★.5

I’m sort of surprised this is my lowest-rated book of all. This one is a very slow-burning, oddly written, messed-up-friendships read. THE FOURTH ONE. I guess people just really hate my favorite aesthetic?

Hope you guys enjoyed this random and weird post! CONCLUSIONS: I love all the ladies and lady friendships you hate. As my bio states.

books surrounding trauma, abuse, or mental health – recs

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I’ve talked a lot about my mixed feelings on mental illness rep here. But you know what I haven’t really spent enough time on? My favorite books with characters that have mental health issues. So here’s a post recommending a few of my all-time favorites.

My Favorite Books Focusing on Mental Illness

  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, for a fabulous narrative around two character’s sexual / otherwise trauma, a great narrative around abuse, a major ownvoices disabled character who is an absolute badass but still realistically disabled, a character with dyslexia, and a character with ADHD. None of these characters are cured of any of their issues at any point :’)
  • The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater, for one fantastically portrayed abuse survivor and a suicide attempt survivor with a fantastic arc around depression. Neither of these arcs are tied to relationships.
  • Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore – pretty much every main character has well-handled depression and trauma, but the best treatment is pertaining to the main character. She has a beautiful arc surrounding trauma and depression. This is part of a companion trio, and it’s better with books one and two, but it can definitely be read as a standalone. Definitely does not use love as a cure.
  • Both A Monster Calls and More Than This by Patrick Ness – I’m pretty sure Patrick Ness has depression himself, given his excellent portrayals of the issues with it in his books. Both these books explore depression in a very real and tangible way. Also heard good things about Release, but haven’t read it quite yet. Can’t wait, though!
  • Far From You by Tess Sharpe – the main character is a drug addict and works through it herself. Also, suspense with lgbt rep. Yeah, the mystery isn’t great, but I love Sophie more than my own life. This book deserves more attention.
  • Exit Pursued By A Bear by E.K. Johnston – This book manages to be quite optimistic despite being about the aftermath of rape. There’s no romance, there’s a real focus on friendship… it’s awesome. Definitely worth the read.
  • The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee – The disability rep here is just done perfectly. There’s a real focus on avoiding the cure narrative and loving people with their disabilities, not “despite”.
  • Made You Up by Francesca Zappia – There’s so much I loved about this. The acknowledgement of Alex’s agency as a mentally ill person balances perfectly with the acknowledgement that mental illness is a struggle and not a quirk. I also loved that Alex is not cured. She starts the book with schizophrenia, and she ends the book with schizophrenia.
  • Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia – This book has a great focus on anxiety without becoming a book about anxiety, and it definitely does not become a book about anxiety being cured. I also loved the focus on internet friends and the relevance of teenagers’ feeling.
  • Still Life With Tornado by A.S. King – This book is about how teenagers, and especially abuse survivors, can be dismissed. The discussion on abuse is especially relevant.
  • Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios – This is an ownvoices exploration of abuse, and holy GOD, is it good.
  • The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chobsky – I really connected to this character and his arc. This book is just fucking fabulous.

Not Toxic, Although Not Quite Faves

  • Odd and True by Cat Winters – I loved the casual disability representation here feeling both realistic and healthy. Tru does need a brace, and it does restrain parts of her life, but the narrative emphasizes that she’s not a lesser person because of it. There’s a moment where Tru writes a letter to a younger disabled girl telling the girl how she’ll grow up to succeed. I loved this moment; it’s so small, but it made me so happy.
  • Where She Went by Gayle Forman – This book does a surprisingly good job exploring depression and grief without making it something romantic or beautiful. Adam has suffered from depression. It’s not beautiful.
  • This Is Not A Test by Courtney Summers – This was another book recommended by DisabilityInKidsLit, and I totally agree with their thoughts. This is a zombie apocalypse novel following a girl who is suicidal.
  • Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde – Great representation of both anxiety and autism in a fun contemporary novel. I believe it’s actually ownvoices for both.
  • Run by Kody Keplinger – Character and friendship driven! Follows a bi abuse survivor and a blind character as they run from their old life. No romance!! Ownvoices for blind rep!! Really good!!
  • Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman – A book about schizophrenia with no romance and a focus on recovery and a collaboration with Neal’s son, making the book ownvoices? Sign me up. And yes, it was just as good as expected.
  • Perfect by Natasha Friend – Follows eating disorders. Again, no romance!! And a focus on friendship!! It’s more middle-grade, but whatever. This book is positive and emotionally real and fabulous.

Let me know if any of you have other recs or books that explored the narrative well for you!!