Let’s Talk: What’s so Good about Fanfiction?

fan fiction definition

Image result for fangirl rainbow rowellAs you may or may not have been aware of from either Goodreads or a sneaky glance at my blog home page, I recently (finally) got my butt into gear and read Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. For those like me that are still massively behind on the YA contemporary trends, Fangirl’s central character, Cath, is a very popular fanfiction writer. She has thousands of readers and has even won awards for her stories. Basically, Cath lives and breathes fanfic. Her fandom of choice is a Rowell created series about a teen named Simon Snow which has some big similarities to something that rhymes with Gary Trotter. Just as you’d expect, reading this book got me thinking about fanfiction.

These days I feel like fanfiction gets a bit of a bad rap from the reading and broader community. People don’t seem to understand it and have a tendency to brush it off as being simplistic, weird, trashy, obsessive, even creepy. I’m in no way naïve enough to not be aware of the…darker and dodgier areas of the fanfiction webverse (come on, it is the internet), but at the same time, I also believe people discount the value of fanfic and the amount of work that goes into it. I’ll even willingly admit that during NaNoWriMo, I caught myself making a face at the idea that some people were spending their challenge working on fanfiction rather than original work (which is stupid considering I used to write it myself in my teen years – Twilight fics *shivers* dark days, guys, very dark days). Yet, now that I’ve sat down and thought about it (as well as chastised myself for being an idiot), while it may have it’s issues, fanfiction actually holds a lot of really great benefits.

Express Fandom Love & Meet Likeminded People

Pick any book, television show or movie in the world and I guarantee you that somewhere out there is a devoted group of fans who absolutely worship it beyond imagination. And the thing about fans is, once they get a taste of something, they just can’t get enough. Fanfiction is a fantastic way for people to not only constructively express their love of a particular fandom (okay, sometimes constructively), but also help them to connect with like-minded people. For the commonly found introvert (much like Cath in Fangirl), this is a good opportunity for socialisation and the ability to bond over a common interest. For people who have trouble socialising or difficulty finding others in the real world who share their interests, it’s a fantastic solution.

Writing Training Wheels

Writing is hard. Like, seriously hard. Plotting without epic holes, creating layered and interesting characters, world building that makes sense, and then there’s writing style (or in my case, trying to avoid saying ‘he said’, ‘she said’ fifty million times in one conversation. I panic, okay!). Fanfiction can be a great way for newbie writers to develop their skills. By already having a deep understanding of the characters, setting and rules, fanfic writers are able to focus on plot and the actual writing itself. I look back on my fanfiction entries from a decade ago (the horror) and can definitely see a big improvement in the way I write as I go along. It’s like writing with a support system in place until that person decides to try their hand at something original. They have the freedom to experiment and try new things in a safe space. The fact that people are then able to comment on their posts can also be a good way (well, not always) for those writers to get a sense of what they’re doing well and where they could improve.

Enjoyment & Entertainment

I don’t think it’s wrong to say that there are many people out there who enjoy certain fanfictions just as much, or perhaps even more, than some published books. Some fics build up enormous followings of people, thousands and thousands, who sit around excitedly waiting for a new chapter update and drop everything upon publication. In some instances this popularity factor is so big that it even drives fics toward publication as their own works, complete with a full set of name changes. I mean, just look at (I can’t believe I’m actually using this as an example) Fifty Shades of Grey. If you want to understand the power of people’s love for fanfiction, look no further than the money making force that is that trilogy. Sure, there are large percentages of fanfic that fall into the “trashy” category but hey, if it’s not damaging people with toxic ideas, what’s the harm in bringing people a bit of fun and enjoyment?

Continuations, Gap Filling & Spin Offs

One of the really fun parts of fanfiction is its ability to build on and expand canon stories in interesting ways. I can’t even count how many times I’ve come across a loose end I needed explained or a character that I wish I could have gotten to know better. Perhaps a sequence of events was mentioned during the narrative that would be cool to read about more directly or maybe the world has such a rich history ala A Song of Ice and Fire that’s it’s just bursting with stories? Well, fanfiction is the answer. There is a wealth of fics for every whim, interest, history, plot gap, romance, and side character. Fanfics can also be a great way to continue on with a beloved series or story even after it’s finished. While the published books may be over, the characters and their adventures can continue on through the writing of others.

Niches & Representation

I think it’s an understatement to say that there are some severe representation issues within mainstream books. We’ve made some great steps forward recently but there’s still a long way to go. A great characteristic of fanfiction is it’s diversity and inclusivity. No matter your interest, there’s fanfiction out there somwhere to float your particular boat (even if it happens to be…Drarry). Unlike published stories, online fanfiction isn’t bound by the rules of what publishers believe is “mainstream”/popular or will sell. Fanfiction can be written by absolutely anyone and its writers have the amazing freedom to take existing narratives & characters, and rework them to place a spotlight on the more marginalised and minority based groups. By giving these types of characters starring roles and more prominent stories within an already popular setting, they help those who enjoy, but often have difficulty seeing themselves in, the original works to find common ground and relatability.  Divider 3

Let’s Talk!

Are you someone who enjoys reading fan fiction? If so, from what kinds of fandoms? What’s your favourite website? Do you have a favourite fic?

Are you a fan fiction writer? If so, what about it appeals to you? What are your favourite types of fics to write?


Top 10 Tuesday: Books I Meant to Read in 2018 but Didn’t (Because I Suck)

There are so many books on a bookworm’s TBR in a given year. So. Many. And as the months progress, we add a whole bunch of new releases and discover books we should have read FOREVER ago. Before you know it, it’s towering over you and you’re facing the question of which book do you read next over and over and over again until you either die or the year ends. As you’d expect, this means that a lot of them are bound to get left out by the time you hit December. There’s only so much time!!! Once again, I ask, WHERE IS MY TIMETURNER?

Anyway, here are 10 books that didn’t make it onto my 2018 reading challenge (some may not have even made it onto my 2017 challenge…awkward…) but let’s cross our fingers and hope they have better luck this year. I mean, it’s a 50%-50% chance – unless of course it’s over 500 pages, then it’s more like a 20% chance of getting read.

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The Poppy War – R. F. Kuang


REASON: It’s a pretty decent size meaning transporting it will be difficult. It’s also an expansive, new fantasy world with a whole lot of new world building details so I really need to be in the mood for it.

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Muse of Nightmares – Laini Taylor


REASON: I need to re-read Strange the Dreamer first because my memory sucks and I’m worried I’ll start it and then go, ‘what is this’, ‘who is that’, ‘when did that happen’ over and over until it’s over.

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What If It’s Us – Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera


REASON: No idea. I just kept picking other YA contemporaries to start instead. I think maybe I might also have lost a bit of momentum after I read some mixed reviews.

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Saga, Vol. 2 – Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples


REASON: I really need to sit down and read through this in the space of an afternoon. It’s not something you bring on the train (blood & boobs might make for some awkward morning trips). So my lame excuse is that I never made the time for it when I should have. Too busy doing gosh knows what.

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Winter (The Lunar Chronicles 4#) – Marissa Meyer


REASON: I really want to buy this in hardback to match my copies of Scarlet and Cress (we’re just ignoring the fact that Cinder is a paperback). Unfortunately, that means I have to order it online on Book Depository and IT NEVER SEEMS TO COME DOWN IN PRICE. Basically I’m waiting until my wallet won’t hurt getting it.

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The Song Rising – Samantha Shannon


REASON: I managed to do my reread of The Bone Season but didn’t make it to The Mime Order. This means, once again, I didn’t make it to The Song Rising. Once I reread book two I can go into this one with all the facts fresh. Damn, memory. Then again, at this point the time between rereads for books one and two is probably getting so long that I’ll be lost anyway. *sigh*

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The Darkest Minds – Alexandra Bracken


REASON: I didn’t buy this one until the last few months of 2018 so I think maybe I just had other priorities? Not sure. I’ll get there.

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City of Glass – Cassandra Clare

Image result for city of glass

REASON: Okay, I’m very, very slowly working my way through Cassie Clare’s books again. One day far, far into the future (as it’s looking now) I’ll be able to read Lady Midnight and actually have a clue what’s happening. CoG & CoFA will be rereads but the rest will be new (I gave up on the series previously). I did reread books 1 & 2 in 2017 but progress has stagnated since then. Still, I’m expecting a resurgence in 2019. Here I come The Dark Artifices!!

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The House of Hades (The Heroes of Olympus 4#) – Rick Riordan


REASON: In my defence, I did read like 5 Riordan books in 2018 so it’s not such a big deal that I didn’t get to this one. I read books 2 & 3 in The Heroes of Olympus series back to back so I needed a teensy break before moving forward. I also need to buy it and because I like the US covers better, once again I need to order it.

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Sleeping Beauties – Stephen King


REASON: Have you seen this book? It’s so big it makes paperweights cry. I have other enormous books on my bedside table that I need to finish first before I can even think about dealing with this brick. I want to but it’s going to take some time.

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Which books missed out on being added to your 2018 reading challenge? 

For Top 10 Tuesday topics, see Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.

Upcoming Releases to Get Excited About | Part 3

As you can tell from the title of this post, I’m back with three more upcoming 2019 releases for you to potentially look forward to. Let’s cut right to it.

Enchantee – Gita Trelease | Feb 5th


Paris in 1789 is a labyrinth of twisted streets, filled with beggars, thieves, revolutionaries—and magicians…

When smallpox kills her parents, Camille Durbonne must find a way to provide for her frail, naive sister while managing her volatile brother. Relying on petty magic—la magie ordinaire—Camille painstakingly transforms scraps of metal into money to buy the food and medicine they need. But when the coins won’t hold their shape and her brother disappears with the family’s savings, Camille must pursue a richer, more dangerous mark: the glittering court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

With dark magic forbidden by her mother, Camille transforms herself into the ‘Baroness de la Fontaine’ and is swept up into life at the Palace of Versailles, where aristocrats both fear and hunger for la magie. There, she gambles at cards, desperate to have enough to keep herself and her sister safe. Yet the longer she stays at court, the more difficult it becomes to reconcile her resentment of the nobles with the enchantments of Versailles. And when she returns to Paris, Camille meets a handsome young balloonist—who dares her to hope that love and liberty may both be possible.

But la magie has its costs. And when Camille loses control of her secrets, the game she’s playing turns deadly. Then revolution erupts, and she must choose—love or loyalty, democracy or aristocracy, freedom or magic—before Paris burns…

I love historical settings, especially France around the time of the revolution. It’s always been one of my favourite periods to study. It’s just such an interesting time with so much happening, so I’m super excited! Plus, the fact that Trelease has introduced magic into that setting, I’m like YES. Additionally, I never can resist a good, scrappy heroine stuck in a tight place. The early reviews for Enchantee seem to be good and the writing is reportedly beautiful. I should also point out there’s apparently a sweet love interest and he’s a balloonist. Sign me up.

Add on Goodreads

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Priory of the Orange Tree – Samantha Shannon | Feb 26th

29774026A world divided.
A queendom without an heir.
An ancient enemy awakens.

The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction—but assassins are getting closer to her door.

Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.

Across the dark sea, Tané has trained all her life to be a dragonrider, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.

Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.

I’m super keen for this one. It’s an absolute monster and the size of an enormous brick but still. I really enjoy Samantha Shannon’s The Bone Season series so I’m looking forward to seeing her try her hand at some epic fantasy. She sounds very passionate about this book and has been working on it for years. The cover is stunning and there’s dragons. Need I say more?

Add on Goodreads

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Lady Smoke (Ash Princess 2#) – Laura Sebastian | Feb 5th

40702154The Kaiser murdered Theodosia’s mother, the Fire Queen, when Theo was only six. He took Theo’s country and kept her prisoner, crowning her Ash Princess–a pet to toy with and humiliate for ten long years. That era has ended. The Kaiser thought his prisoner weak and defenseless. He didn’t realize that a sharp mind is the deadliest weapon.

Theo no longer wears a crown of ashes. She has taken back her rightful title, and a hostage–Prinz Soren. But her people remain enslaved under the Kaiser’s rule, and now she is thousands of miles away from them and her throne.

To get them back, she will need an army. Only, securing an army means she must trust her aunt, the dreaded pirate Dragonsbane. And according to Dragonsbane, an army can only be produced if Theo takes a husband. Something an Astrean Queen has never done.

Theo knows that freedom comes at a price, but she is determined to find a way to save her country without losing herself.

Ash Princess was a predictable, trope filled story which I went into with low expectations and ended up having a pretty enjoyable time reading. I’m looking forward to seeing Theo come into her own a bit more in the sequel (even though I’m a little worried about this whole take a husband thing), exploring the interesting magic system introduced in book one, and perhaps getting closer to seeing the Kaiser get his just desserts. I get the feeling we’ll see more of Cress in this book based on the title which I’m unsure about, but I guess I’ll just have to find out.

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Let the Backstabbing Recommence: The Wicked King by Holly Black

Spends a year waiting for it, finishes it in less than 24 hours. I only have myself to blame here. Well, myself and Holly Black. Basically, if the book hangover from this one doesn’t kill me, it’ll be the wait for The Queen of Nothing cause, good lord. How do I even review this book? My brain is mush. MUSH I TELL YOU.

Who, What, Where?

The Wicked King takes up five months after the end of The Cruel Prince. Cardan is High King and Jude is running things behind the scenes as his second in command with the help of the rest of the Court of Shadows. However, just as before, everyone in faerie is playing their own game in their quest for power. Jude’s just got to worry about keeping it. But with the sea queen plotting against them, a vengeful prince keen on finding his way out of prison, a dangerous high general to watch, and Cardan himself to manage, it’s easier said than done.

More Momentum & Just as Many Twists

“Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold on to.

When I first read The Cruel Prince, I found it took a little while for it to reach the main gist of the story (and hit peak political warfare and stabby-ness). TWK is a little similar in the fact that not a lot happens for the first part of the book but at the same time, because the base tension level is so much higher than in book one it never gets boring. Now that Jude holds so much power, and is desperate to keep it until she can safely pass it on to Oak, she has to be on her game constantly or risk losing everything. For this reason, she’s got a lot on her plate – controlling Cardan, Madoc’s future plans, the council, Balekin, the Sea Queen, handling Locke… Even though there isn’t major progress on a lot of these things for a while, because there’s so many of them it always feels like the story is chugging along and it’s entertaining enough to keep you engaged. You’re just waiting for the other shoe to drop. And, of course, in spectacularly, twisty, Holly Black fashion, drop it does.

I don’t want to spoil any of the big moments, of which there are several (gotta love a good betrayal, or two, or three), but I will say, that ending. My god. You’d think that after the climax of The Cruel Prince anything else would fall short but noooooppe. This stands right up there with it. I did not see it coming and I have no idea where things are headed going into book three, but it’s NOT GOOD.

However, if there were two things that bugged me about TWK’s plot they would be: first, Locke’s role feels unnecessarily distracting and pointless (hopefully there’s a reason in book 3), and second, the drama queen within wishes there had been a more dramatic pay off to a misapprehension Balekin & the Sea Queen have about Jude late in the book.

A Better, Bigger Picture

Something I felt was lacking and difficult to visualise in book one was the world building. TWK improves on this a fair amount and having read it, I feel I have a much better idea of how many of the pieces of Faerieland fit together. I’m still lost on some of the geography and court hierarchies/relationships but as they aren’t necessary for the story, it’s not a big deal. The minor courts play a greater role this time around and we learn about how the world is generally governed. We’re also given more info about the King’s role and powers. What’s also very interesting is the addition of immensely powerful magical objects, aside from the crown, which will surely play a big role in The Queen of Nothing.

Jude x Cardan

“I hate you,” I breathed into his mouth. “I hate you so much that sometimes I can’t think of anything else.”

Why, hello there, enemies-to-lovers trope, and in the best possible way. I love and am crazy addicted to this twisted, tension-filled relationship. Cardan and Jude go through a lot in this book and do make some great progress, even though where they stand with each other is always a confusing mess. Still, whether they’re sniping at each other, working in sync, or being surprisingly tender, I enjoy every minute that they’re together because they’re honestly just so equally matched. I love that over the course of the novel both Cardan and Jude begin to understand and appreciate each other in a way that no one else does, to the point that they’re willing to give up tactical advantages to save the other. It’s not easy or linear, but it’s worth it. If these two were ever able to fully trust one another, and perhaps sort through their complicated romantic feelings, Faerie would tremble at their feet. It’s just going to take a while to get there.

The Shadow Queen

“His mouth curls into a smile. His eyes shine with wicked intent. “Look at them all, your subjects. A shame not a one knows who their true ruler is.”

On my first read of The Cruel Prince, I wasn’t a fan of Jude but on my recent re-read, I gained a new appreciation for her. Stick a sword in her hand and she kicks serious ass despite being physically inferior to her opponents. She’s smart, cunning, able to redirect her fear into productivity, and goes after what she wants. Sure, Jude isn’t a purely, good-hearted character – she’s power hungry and has no qualms about murdering or screwing people over if she has to, but I can’t help but appreciate just how well she’s able to play the game as someone with built-in disadvantages.

In TWK Jude doesn’t undergo much development. She shows her inexperience and has a habit of making silly decisions as well as letting her power go to her head in a way that produces a great deal of arrogance, particularly where it comes to Cardan (so stupid). She also spends a lot of the book scrambling around, trying to do things on her own when she shouldn’t, and this bites her in the ass multiple times. While her lack of foresight disappointed (and frustrated) me in this book, I’m expecting an epic comeback in book 3.

The Not So Wicked King

“Why was I cruel to Folk? Why was I awful to you? Because I could be. Because I liked it. Because, for a moment, when I was at my worst, I felt powerful, and most of the time, I felt powerless, despite being a prince and the son of the High King of Faerie.”

Comparatively, Cardan goes through a great deal more change than Jude. While he’s a cocky party-boy that does little more than lounge around during the first half, as the book goes on he displays some surprising moments of maturity, fairness, affection, and strategic thinking (what are you talking about Cardan, don’t you know that murder is always the answer?). TWK continues to build on the backstory to Cardan’s characterisation begun in TCP and it does make him a more sympathetic character. What also helps is the fact that no longer bound by the need to impress, disappoint, or shame his disdaining family members, he starts to shed the frivolous and “cruel” protective mask he’s crafted, and do some self-reflection. As a result, by the end, he becomes more of an actual player in the game as opposed to the pawn he’s been previously. This does lead him to some shattering actions but somehow I’m still all for it because PLOT DRAMA.

Other Characters

Taryn, Locke, and Nicasia can all just piss right off. That is all.

In summary, this series is addictive and I love it. Bring me more twists, drama and backstabbing. Now to start the countdown to The Queen of Nothing *cries*.

4.5 Stars

New Additions to My Goodreads To-Read Shelf 4#

I’ve been a very lazy book blogger this week. I willingly admit it. In my defence, two of my most anticipated reads have just been released and I’ve been reading like a maniac because THEY’RE SO GOOD. However, that doesn’t mean I’m not still thinking about the gazillion other books out there that I want to read. Here are five recent additions to my ever growing virtual TBR.

Normal People – Sally Rooney | GR

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This book started popping up a lot at the end of last year but only recently have I start to pay attention. I read so much YA and fantasy that sometimes I forget I actually enjoy adult general fiction, too. This book has been getting fantastic reviews and it’s making major waves with regards to some of the big literary awards (Rooney is now the youngest author to ever win the Costa Novel Award). I’ve heard a number of people compare the story to One Day except far better which is a pretty decent endorsement because I quite enjoyed One Day. I like the idea of getting to know characters in really intimate ways and following them over a span of time. These kinds of books always seem to hit the emotions hard though. Still, I’m going to give it a go anyway.

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I Was Born for This – Alice Oseman | GR

34325090My interest in this may or may not be because the cover is a pretty orange. I’m clearly getting more superficial as I get older…oh well. Regardless, I’ve heard lots of good things about this one (it has a 4.26 average GR rating), apparently there’s no romance *shocked face*. I recently binged my way through Oseman’s Heartstopper webcomic (it’s so damn adorable and fluffy) so I’m super keen to see what her novels are like. Also, I’m still trying to up my YA contemporary game and this one seems like a solid pick. Oh and musicians. Musicians are cool, too.

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How to Lead a Life of Crime – Kirsten Miller | GR

15715844So, this book is about a school for training criminal prodigies and it’s supposed to violent and dark. Winner. The story sounds kind of implausible but like it’ll be a hell of a ride anyway. Gosh, I love morally ambigious characters and the lead of this one sounds like a perfect example of this. The rest of the cast of characters is supposed to be pretty good too (yay for solid characterisation). Also, as weird as it sounds, I enjoy a good dark, gritty and sinister read occasionally. They’re a good balance to all the fluffy YA contemporaries that make my heart feel like a puffed marshmallow. Oh, and it’s a standalone so no long term commitment necessary!

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Everything I Never Told You – Celeste Ng | GR

18693763Ng’s book, Little Fires Everywhere was majorly making the rounds in 2018 and while I haven’t read it, it did somehow lead me to this novel which sounds  intriguing. I really enjoy character centric stories and from what I can tell, that’s what this book is in that it follows an American-Chinese family in the 1970s in the lead up to and following the death of one of the daughters. The story supposedly deals with a lot of really big topics- racism, sexism, family, loss, being biracial, but does so with subtlety and grace. I can tell this’ll be an emotional read so I better get my poor little heart ready to be smashed into a million pieces.

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The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet – Becky Chambers | GR

Image result for the long way to a small angry planetLook at me branching out again, this time with a little sci-fi and it’s not even YA. This is another character based story and revolves around the crew of the Wayfarer as they travel through space, tunnelling wormholes. The characters are supposedly diverse (racially and sexually), memorable and unique, as well as form a really great little family to fall in love with. The plot is more about the journey than the destination and seems to focus on the adventures of the crew as they travel. Apparently if you’re a fan of Firefly, which I am, you’ll probably enjoy this one. I have no idea what a space opera is, but I’m excited to find out! Side note: I am so in love with this cover.

What are the newest additions to your to-read pile/shelf (virtual and real)? Tell me all about it!

Mini Reviews | Let’s Get Romantic: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang & The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

Let me set the scene: It was December of 2018. There were four days left in the month and I was but 3 small books short of a beautifully round 90 reads for the year. And so began my chick lit binge. I mean, what’s easier to blitz through in the space of a day than adorable couples having steamy sex whilst also being frustratingly unable to see just how perfect they are for each other? Exactly.

With that in mind, I found myself tackling The Kiss Quotient & The Hating Game – two extremely popular contemporary romance books that seem to have been popping up online in recent months so frequently it feels like an epic game of internet whack-a-mole. Admittedly, it’s been a good long while since I’ve read a book in this genre, but it turns out that getting back on the horse isn’t even close to difficult. Here’s how things went with the guilty-pleasure-a-thon.

The Kiss Quotient – Helen Hoang |GR


The premise of The Kiss Quotient is simple: Our leading lady is Stella, a thirty-year-old, talented econometrician with little romantic experience and Asperger’s. Hoping to improve her skills in the… “love” department, Stella hires Michael, a mixed-race escort in huge debt with a whole lot of emotional baggage. Spoiler: the two fall for each other. 

Let’s get this out of the way first, yes, the storyline is completely unrealistic. It’s Pretty Woman in reverse and would in no way happen in real life, but as I happen to freakin’ love Pretty Woman, no complaints from me.

What does frustrate me is the forced will-they-won’t-they tension in the second half. We all know you will SO STOP BEING SO OBTUSE AND SAY YOU LOVE EACH OTHER! The conflict is mostly boiled down to both parties thinking they’re not good enough for the other or that their baggage is a problem for the other person. It clearly isn’t because if it were, they’d be a complete ass. Gawd, I hate miscommunication.

This frustration aside… I really enjoyed The Kiss Quotient. The leads are so damn likeable and the romance is ridiculously sweet. I’m not autistic but even I could relate to Stella, and because of how well she’s written (Hoang herself is autistic), it’s also very easy to understand her. She’s endearing, successful and I love the fact that she comes to realise she shouldn’t have to change for anyone. Michael, too, is really lovely. He’s creative, protective, makes sacrifices for his family, and accepts Stella exactly as she is. Also, did I mention he looks like a Korean tv star? *swoon* (bonus points for including ethnic diversity too). But honestly, the best part is that they fit together so perfectly. Even just reading about the two eating ice cream makes me go aww. Get married and have babies already.

To answer your question, yes, there are several sex scenes and yes, they’re graphic. BUT, somehow they’re also the perfect combo of sweet and sultry. Hoang builds up to them slowly and oh my god, consent. Consent is dealt with so well in this book. Michael wants Stella to be entirely comfortable with whatever they do and he’s willing to take it very slowly to get there. It’s both hot and romantic. Let’s say it together kids, consent is sexy.

Finally, the book just advocates a really lovely idea – that it’s not just okay to be different, it’s these differences that make you loveable. You are who you are, not something to be fixed.

Can recommend as a super nice way to spend a frantic afternoon reading to meet a ridiculous book goal.

The Hating Game – Sally Thorne | GR


Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman are executive assistants to the two CEOs of the recently merged, Bexley Gamin publishing house. The problem is, they hate each other. Lucy can’t stand Josh’s serious and uptight demeanour, while Lucy’s colourful clothes and bubbly attitude drive Joshua nuts. When both come up for the same promotion, they make a deal – winner gets the dream job, loser resigns. Except, as decision day comes closer it turns out that perhaps Lucy doesn’t hate Joshua after all, and maybe he doesn’t hate her either. But is it real or just another round in their long-running hating game?

If there’s one thing I can say for sure about The Hating Game, it’s that it’s funny. Not just an extra hard exhale kind of funny but actual chuckle funny. The banter between Josh and Lucy, both barbs and flirting, is great but also really shows off their fantastic chemistry. Honestly, having such a smooth back and forth with another person = the dream. Snipping aside, the more personal conversations between the two are really nice as well. Slowly we get to see each character gain a better appreciation for the other and understand their issues such as Josh’s problems with his dad and Lucy’s loneliness.   

If you enjoy the enemies-to-lovers trope, this has got your name on it. I do have to say though, that I wish the enemies section or early part of the transitional period had lasted longer as once that part of the storyline kicks in, it does go a bit full throttle. The tension becomes less about how they feel about each other and more when they’re going to sleep together. Sure, that can be fun, but it does turn Lucy into a bit of sex-crazed nut for a while and result in a whole bunch of scenes that build to nothing.

Again, yes, there’s sex scenes and yes, they’re not airy-fairy either. The more graphic scenes don’t really appear until towards the end of the book apart from one exception, *spoiler* a sex dream of Lucy’s which I still kind of question the necessity of in such heavy detail. Regardless, all are glasses-steam-up level hotness, never fear.  

I quite liked Lucy as a narrator and she cracked me up repeatedly. There was the occasional childish or silly comment/action and, god, I wish her height hadn’t been repeated every two bloody seconds, but still, I appreciated her drive, sense of humour, balls (that ending, you go girl) and confidence. Josh’s at times dominating personality and aggression dragged his character down for me (ugh, alpha male bullshit) but then he’d have a particularly sweet moment with Lucy, do that…smile thing and I’d cave. Damn it.

Not perfect, but certainly a solid contemporary romance and fun way to spend a few hours. Go forth and enjoy.    

And That’s a Wrap: 2018 Edition

And…that’s a wrap on 2018! While the year is going on, there’s always moments where it feels like it’s taking forever and then before you know it, it’s all over folks. So, that means it’s time to wrap everything up, out with the old and in with the new, ready for a whole new year of fatabulous books. Bare with me, this’ll be a loooooong post.



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Best Debut

  • The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller: History, romance, action, and mythology all wrapped up in one wonderfully written package. Oh, Patroclus = cries.
  • The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas: Raw, emotional, and, at times, tough to read, THUG is well written, with great characters and tackles some big social issues fantastically.
  • Red Rising – Pierce Brown (WARNING: do not take a shot for every time Pierce’s name pops up in this post): How is this a debut? HOW. It’s a slow start but the world building, characters, action, oh. my. gawd.
  • Ready Player One – Ernest Cline: Never has it been cooler to be a geek/nerd. Some of the techno speak goes overhead but the pop culture references are so much fun.

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Best Covers

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  • Siege and Storm (The Grisha Trilogy 2#): Leigh Bardugo – Epic sea adventures, a more developed MC, Nikolai, and a dramatic climax, YES please. Thank you, Bookstagram for convincing me to keep going with this series.
  • A Torch Against the Night (Ember Quartet 2#): Sabaa Tahir – Any time spent with my babies Helene and Elias is a good time. I loved the whole cat and mouse thing going on, the political drama picked up a lot, and there’s a prison break. I don’t need much else.
  • Thunderhead (Arc of  Scythe 2#)- Neal Shusterman: It’s a little crazy at times but completely awesome. The world building is still fantastic, the character arcs take interesting directions, and the ending is so good but in an ‘oh-shit-everything’s-gone-to-hell’ kind of way.
  • Golden Son & Morning Star (Red Rising 2# & 3#)- Pierce Brown: I don’t think I’d ever read a series where the sequels are better than the original until these. Great characters, amazeballs world building, action packed storyline with plotting and battles and romance and friendship and ahhh. Love.

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  • Rick Riordan – 5 Books: The last two Percys + the first three in The Heroes of Olympus series. I expect more in 2019.
  • Leigh Bardugo – 4 Books: All three Grisha books + Wonder Woman: Warbringer. I’ll be tackling another this month when King of Scars is released.
  • And on 3 Books – Pierce Brown, Jenny Han, Becky Albertalli & C. S. Pacat

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  • Iron Gold – Pierce Brown: It’s been fixed to my beside table for like 6 months. Hopefully I’ll finish before Dark Age comes out…
  • Red Sister – Mark Lawrence: So, I may not have realised that this was a LONG book when I started reading it on my kindle and as usual, I got distracted. It’s been a slow start with a lot of detail to absorb but I do want to go back.
  • Fingersmith – Sarah Waters: I made it to 58% and threw in the towel. It’s too long, too wordy and spends a third basically just retelling what happened in part one from another perspective. A good twist part way but just too frustrating overall.
  • Dividing Eden – Joelle Charbonneau: 52%. I did give it a real go. I was bored. Really bored. The characters aren’t likeable and the world felt bland as anything. Back to the shelf with you.

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  • Truthwitch – Susan Dennard: I had too higher hopes on this one. Royals, magic, epic adventures on the run, a solid female friendship, and yet I just couldn’t connect with the characters or get hooked on the story. Bummer.
  • We Were Liars – E. Lockhart: I was aware of the mixed reviews but for some reason I was still really disappointed with how this one turned out. The concept is a good one but the execution and writing style is where is where it lost me.
  • The Cheerleaders – Kara Thomas: I was really looking forward to finally satisfying my craving for a good YA mystery but….no. The characters were a mixed bag, some serious topics weren’t handled very well, and a lot of the plot (especially the ending) felt either flat or had me shaking my head.
  • Children of Blood & Bone – Tomi Adeymi: I blame the out of control hype train. It’s not bad by any means, just merely okay. The African inspired world is great, there’s an engaging start, and I liked Zelie & Amari’s friendship. Yet, I was bored through large chunks and grew frustrated with the characters attitudes changing all the time. Also, that ending…I’m still confused.
  • Wildcard – Marie Lu: *sigh* I love Warcross and I was so excited to read the sequel. Is it bad? No, but is it everything I was hoping for? Not really. Wildcard lacked focus in a lot of sections and relegated it’s main character (my gal Emika) to a redundant role.

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Low ratings

  • Darkfever – Karen Marie Mooning: I really didn’t enjoy this book. One of the most annoying and shallow protagonists around coupled with a disinteresting plot and some patchy world building.
  • S.T.A.G.S – M. A. Bennett: A decent idea with lack lustre execution. I was after something a little darker and deeper throughout the majority of book rather than just the climax.
  • Girls of Paper and Fire – Natasha Ngan: A debut with potential but in need of better pacing and world building. I also had difficulty finding characters I really liked and when I did, they were awkwardly killed off. *sigh*
  • The Plastic Magician – Charlie N. Holmberg: While it was short, light and I liked the interesting approach to magic, the story and characters felt very two dimensional and a lot like a kids animated movie with complete predictability.

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  • The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians 5#) – Rick Riordan: I’d had fun with the previous Percy books but they’d always seemed repetitious and clearly middle grade. Then came TLO. I was hooked from the start. All my problems were fixed and this was the book that showed me why people love Percy so much.
  • Prince’s Gambit – C. S. Pacat: The Captive Prince had a lot of issues  but I’m glad I continued with the series because this was so much better! It’s kind of trashy but the world building is really good, there’s a decent plot, and there was a great amount of character development.
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Burrows: I was rearing to go when I bought this but by the time it came to read it I’d lost motivation. After pushing myself to start, it ended up being such a sweet but sad novel with endearing characters and a lovely storyline.
  • Grace & Fury – Tracy Banghart: I had no idea what to expect when I was approved for an ARC. I ended up blazing through it in about a day and really enjoying myself. Strong women kicking ass = my favourite thing ever.

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  • Red Rising Series – Pierce Brown
  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before – Jenny Han
  • Villains Duology – V. E. Schwab
  • Ember Quartet – Sabaa Tahir
  • Grisha Trilogy – Leigh Bardugo
  • Arc of a Scythe – Neal Shusterman

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  • Love, Simon – Cute, sweet and uplifting. Could watch 100x and not get sick of it.
  • Call Me By Your Name – A 2017 release, but I saw it in 2018. Great acting, a stunning Italian setting and a beautiful story with a heartwrenching ending.
  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before – Another cute adaptation. There’s a few changes from the book but the casting is perfect and it makes you feel all happy inside.
  • Crazy Rich Asians – Better than the book! Visually fabulous and YAASSSS to having an all Asian cast. A funny script and just generally a great romcom.
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society –  Quite a few changes from the book but understandable considering it was told as letter exchanges. The emotion of the story is still there and the characters translate well to the screen.
  • A Discovery of Witches – Oh gosh, my guilty pleasure show of November. The romance is far less vom worthy than the book and they manage to flesh out the story a lot more. The acting’s pretty decent, too.

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  • Nikolai Lantsov (The Grisha Trilogy – Leigh Bardugo)
  • Patrolcus (The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller)
  • Carswell Thorne (The Lunar Chronicles – Marissa Meyer)
  • Sevro Au Barca & Ragnar Volarus (Red Rising Series – Pierce Brown)
  • Cricket (Lifel1k3 – Jay Kristoff)
  • Cardan (The Cruel Prince – Holly Black)

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  • Helene Aquilla (Ember Quartet – Sabaa Tahir)
  • Emika Chen (Warcross – Marie Lu)
  • Sadie (Sadie – Courtney Summers)
  • Evelyn Hugo (The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – Taylor Jenkins Reid)
  • Cress (The Lunar Chronicles – Marissa Meyer)
  • Annabeth Chase (The Mark of Athena – Rick Riordan)

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  • Lara Jean and Peter (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han)
  • Emily and Frank (Since You’ve Been Gone – Morgan Matson)
  • Tanner & Sebastian (Autoboyography – Christina Lauren)
  • Stella & Michael (The Kiss Quotient – Helen Hoang)
  • Jude & Cardan (The Cruel Prince – Holly Black)
  • Cress & Thorne (Cress (The Lunar Chronicles 3#) – Marissa Meyer)
  • Percy & Annabeth (The Heroes of Olympus – Rick Riordan)
  • Oliver & Elio (Call Me By Your Name – Andre Aciman)

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2018 ya contemps

  • Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda & Leah on the Offbeat – Becky Albertalli – While I did enjoy Simon more, both are really adorable reads with endings that leave you feeling a little less bad about the world.
  • I’ll Give you the Sun – Jandy Nelson: Love. Such flawed and complex characters with complicated relationships between them. It’s a slightly melodramatic story but enjoyable and really hits you in the feelings.
  • Since You’ve Been Gone – Morgan Matson: The perfect summer read. Such a fun, fluffy book with great romance and a strong friendship at its heart.
  • Autoboyography – Christina Lauren: Not what I expected but well written with another really sweet romance. Also go LBGTI rep!
  • Sadie – Courtney Summers: Addictive. Fantastically written with a wonderfully layered heroine who is both strong and vulnerable. The ending will be bugging me for ages.
  • One of Us is Lying – Karen M. McManus: Predictable in terms of the crime itself but worth reading to see the characters develop and come together to support each other in a really lovely way.

And as they say in show business, THAT’S A WRAP! (On 2018 at least). I wish you all a fantastic reading year in 2019. Let me know how you went with 2018. Did you reach your goal?