Top 10 Tuesday: Books on my 2021 Autumn TBR

Once again, it’s time for another installment of Top 10 Tuesday (hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl). This week’s topic is ‘Books on my 2021 Spring TBR’. But, as you know, I’m Australian so Autumn TBR it is! Here are some reads I’m really looking forward to starting this season.

Our Year of Maybe – Rachel Lynn Solomon

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Over the last few months, I find that I’ve been gravitating towards more adult reads than I ever used to. However, lately there have been a few YA reads that have caught my eye, one of which is Our Year of Maybe. It’s about two best friends, Peter and Sophie. Peter is a pianist and in need of a kidney transplant, while Sophie, a dancer who has had a crush on him for years, turns out to be a match. Hoping the transplant will elevate their relationship to the next level, Sophie decides to donate. Things don’t exactly turn out as planned when post-operation, Peter finds himself drawn to Chase, a guitarist in his new band. I’ve heard that Solmon’s books read on the older side for YA and that she talks about a lot of topics which aren’t frequently represented in young adult books. I have high hopes for this one so fingers crossed.

She Who Became the Sun – Shelley Parker-Chan

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After finishing the last book in The Poppy War series by R F Kuang earlier this year, I am so ready for some more Asian inspired fantasy x historical fiction, and from an Australian author, too! What I’ve heard of this book so far has been fantastic (pleeasssee don’t be a disappointment). It’s pitched as Mulan meets The Song of Achilles and I’m just like…two of my favourite things? Yes, please! The story is about a brother and sister whose futures are predicted – the boy, greatness, but the girl, nothingness. After their family is attacked by bandits and her brother dies, Zhu takes on his identity to enter a monastery as a male novice and achieve his fated destiny. I was super lucky to receive an ARC of this book and I’ll definitely be getting stuck into it very soon.

Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier

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It’s time to tick off another classic! I’ve been wanting to read Rebecca for years but always seem to talk myself out of it. I think I’m just worried it won’t be my kind of book because it’s more about the atmosphere and writing than it is about plot but I should really stop underestimating my ability to enjoy different kinds of novels. I was originally hoping to read it before I saw an adaptation but well, that failed…so here we are. As I’m sure everyone is aware, the book follows a young woman who meets and marries a wealthy widower named Maxim de Winter and moves into his large estate called Manderley. There she has to deal with the shadow Maxim’s former wife Rebecca casts over their lives. It’s all very gothic and creepy.

Norwegian Wood – Haruki Murakami

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The only Murakami book I have ever read (or attempted to read) is 1Q84 and it was…weird. Very weird. So, I’m hoping for a different result with my second attempt at his work. Norwegian Wood, on the other hand, is supposedly one of Murakami’s more straightforward books (no sci fi or magical realism) and funnily enough, it’s also probably his most popular. Even the author himself is confused as to why. It deals with a 37-year old man looking back on his life 20 years ago and his first love. It’s supposed to be a pretty dark read at times and heavily deals with things like suicide and mental illness. I get the feeling this one is going to hurt but then again, that’s not always a bad thing.

Take a Hint, Dani Brown – Talia Hibbert

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I definitely feel like I’ll be in the mood for some contemporary romance very soon because I’ve yet to read any in 2021. The bright yellow cover for Take a Hint, Dani Brown is definitely calling my name. As is the fact that it’s another faking dating story. I read the prequel, Get a Life, Chloe Brown, in 2020 and had fun so I thought, why not give the second installment a try? This book is about Dani who’s not really looking for a committed relationship right now. However, after she gets photographed being rescued by security guard Zaf during a fire drill, the internet starts shipping them together. Zaf asks Dani to play along to help with publicity for his children’s charity and Dani agrees. As you’d expect, cue sparks. This sounds like a sweet and sexy read so I hope it’s enjoyable!

Layla – Colleen Hoover

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Here I am again, reading another Colleen Hoover book, although one that’s a bit different from her usual novels. This one is about a couple named Leeds and Layla who try to get their relationship back on track after an almost fatal attack by staying at the bed-and-breakfast where they met. But then weird things start happening that can’t be explained and Leeds turns to another guest for comfort. I’m not really sure what to expect with this one other than that it’s a paranormal romance of sorts. Confession though, I’m already about a quarter of the way through and still really on the fence about what to think. Here’s hoping it ends up being a Verity sort of scenario, which I really liked.

This is How you Lose the Time War – Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone

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I’ve never been much of a novella or short story reader. Usually I like books to have more room to breathe in terms of their narratives and characters. However, after enjoying Becky Chambers To be Taught, If Fortunate, I thought I’d give this one a go as I’ve heard so much about it. The novella deals with two time-travelling spies from different worlds, Red and Blue, on opposites sides of a conflict who fall in love via letters. I’ve seen two general reactions to this, 1) it was really confusing and weird and I was not a fan, and 2) This book was so amazing and I will need multiple re-reads to fully appreciate its beauty. My thoughts right now: intimidated. I really hope I like this and it certainly sounds really unique, but at least if it’s not my cup of tea it’s only around 200 pages long.

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars – Christopher Paolini

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I’m starting to realise that the books I’m tending to let sit on my TBR for extended periods are the doorstoppers. I’m afraid if I don’t start reading some of them, they’re going to launch a protest, rise up and bury me somehow. So, we’re going to try and tackle To Sleep in a Sea of Stars because it’s the scariest looking one and would probably be the ring leader in such an assault. This is a Sci-fi first contact story which follows a xenobiologist named Kira who comes across an alien artifact on a moon. This has big consequences for her and her crew, and triggers the start of an intergalactic war against humanity. It sounds really intriguing but I’m definitely worried about the amount of world building and whether the book will drag. Guess I’ll have to find out.

The Soulmate Equation – Christina Lauren

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So, this book doesn’t actually come out until May but hey, it’s still Autumn. I’m also including it because I know it’s unlikely I’ll resist reading it for very long after it comes out. As you guys probably already know if you’re regular visitors to my blog, I love a good CLo Romance and this one sounds really good! It’s about a single mum named Jess who signs up for a DNA based match-making service which claims to be able to find your soulmate. She ends up matched with the company’s founder, Dr River Pena, with an unheard of 98% compatibility. The company offers to pay her to give the match a chance as a form of promotion for its stock. It’s an opposites attract type story and I can already partially predict how the plot will play out but I’m still really keen.

Little Women – Louisa May Alcott

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Little Women is another one of those aforementioned large books threatening to hurt me if I don’t read it soon. I’ve found myself glancing at this one on my shelves a lot lately (probably because of the pretty nature patterned, olive green spine) so I’m sure I’ll probably crack soon and just sit down to read it. The text is quite large in this edition so I’ll take comfort in the fact that it looks a lot bigger than it probably is. As almost everyone knows by now, this is a coming of age story about four sisters, Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy, in 1860s Massachusetts. This novel is on my classics TBR so I’m looking forward to being able to finally check it off.


I’m feeling good about the next couple of months and hopefully I discover some more books to add to my annual favourites list. If everything could just be a five star read from here on out, that would be great. Thank you.

What books are you most looking forward to reading over the next few months of Spring/Autumn?

And That’s a Wrap 2020: Top 10 Favourite Reads

Here we are, both the last day of 2020 and my final wrap up post of the year! Today is the day that I get to gush about the amazing books I read this year *happy dance*.

According to my reading tracker, my most frequent ratings for books this year were 3 and 3.5 stars. I also did quite a few re-reads in 2020 (which I exclude from these types of lists). With these two things in mind, picking my top 10 this time around wasn’t as difficult as it has been previously. However, it also means that this list only includes a couple of books that I actually rated 5 stars. For those who saw my mid-year favourites post, you’ll notice some familiar faces here.

Like in 2019, I’ll be ordering this list from the bottom to my top read of the year. Now, let’s start the count down!

10. To Be Taught, If Fortunate – Becky Chambers

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This fantastic, little novella swept in at the last moment to score a position on this list. For something so short (only 135 pages, in fact), it crafts such a wonderfully immersive journey. The story follows a four astronaut research team sent to explore far off planets and study their local lifeforms. It’s a quiet, gradual story, more focused on scientific discoveries, the joy of exploration, and the bonds between the characters than action or high speed adventure. The writing can be quiet science heavy at points but it really does add to the believability of it all. I loved how diverse the cast was, both ethnicity and LGBTI wise, and how hopeful the story felt. However, I do wish that the mental health of the astronauts had been dealt with in more depth, especially during one troubling part of their mission. As a whole though, beautifully done.


9. The Secret History – Donna Tartt

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Classics usually aren’t my thing, even the modern ones. In the interest of trying new things I decided to give The Secret History a go hoping to find some murderous, dark academia magic. Shockingly, I really enjoyed it. I’m still kind of mystified as to how it happened really – slow pacing, unreliable narrator, characters who are all shitty people, general sense of pretentiousness, and YET it’s so good! The best way I can summarise it is: a group of university classics students who try a Bacchian rite end up killing someone and have to cover it up. Dark, immersive, mysterious, over the top, tension-filled…insert a multitude of other adjectives here. The only reasons I couldn’t rate it higher on this list are my complicated feelings about the ending and a slight lull in the middle. Still, I can definitely see myself re-reading it in a few years time to see what I missed.


8. Boyfriend Material – Alexis Hall

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I confess, I picked this book up because it gave me serious Red, White and Royal Blue vibes. In the end, it was different but wonderfully enjoyable all the same. It’s about the son of a rock legend named Luc who, in an effort to clean up his public image, makes a deal with a barrister called Oliver to fake a relationship for the press. Although it was super sweet, Boyfriend Material was also so much funnier than I expected it to be. The banter and chemistry between Luc & Oliver was fantastic but the supporting cast was hilarious as well. While a plotline involving Luc’s dad didn’t really end in a satisfying way, I didn’t mind so much because of how much I loved the way the opposites attract relationship developed. Easily one of my favourite romances of the year.


7. Know My Name – Chanel Miller

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Many of you will be aware of the Stanford Rape Case in which swimmer Brock Turner was found guilty of sexually assaulting a woman behind a dumpster during a frat party. For years, this woman was known only to the world as Emily Doe but, in fact, her name is Chanel Miller. In this memoir, Chanel tells her story in her own words. It’s so difficult to rate and review memoirs, especially one as difficult to put to paper as this would have been. However, this is honestly one of the most beautifully written, raw and powerful things I’ve read. I was expecting this to be a hard book to read, what I wasn’t expecting was how fantastic a writer Chanel would be. Everyone should read this and I cannot recommend it highly enough.


6. Wolf by Wolf – Ryan Graudin

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I’ve been raving about this book all year (to the point where I think you guys are glad it’s almost 2021 just so I’ll finally stop). As if it wasn’t going to make an appearance on this list. Wolf by Wolf is an alt-history story set in a world where the Axis won WWII and now hold an annual, deadly motorcycle race across the world. Yael, a shapeshifter, survivor of Auschwitz and member of the resistance enters the race as part of a plan to assassinate Hitler. I’m not usually big on journey narratives but I love a good competition plot and this one was handled fantastically. The pacing is good, the MC is strong yet vulnerable and well developed, the story itself is engaging, the romance is subtle and there’s a great cliffhanger ending. If only the second book had been this good but hey, it was a high bar to overcome.


5. Becoming – Michelle Obama

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By the looks of my top 10, I should be reading more biographies/memoirs. Becoming is a fantastic autobiography and I’m so glad I decided to go with the audiobook. What could be better than Michelle herself telling you her story? I really enjoyed learning about Michelle’s life, all the way from her childhood on the second floor of her great-aunt’s house in Chicago to her time as FLOTUS in The White House. In retelling her journey, Michelle touches on so many important topics such as politics, parenting, relationships, the experiences of Black Americans, and the difficulties of the working class. This is the kind of book I believe anyone could take something away from. I know I certainly learnt a lot. Even if you’re not a Michelle Obama fan, it’s a thumbs up from me.


4. Conversations with Friends – Sally Rooney

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As I mentioned in my surprises and disappointments wrap up, I did not expect to love Conversations with Friends as much as I did. This little book came out of nowhere, stole my heart and I’m still shocked. The characters are largely unlikeable people and yet they’re complex and just feel so real and human. The book deals with love, intimacy, monogamy, loneliness, and youth, and I honestly couldn’t stop thinking about it for days afterwards. It’s about a college student named Francis and her ex-girlfriend Bobby who are drawn into the world of a journalist named Melissa and her husband, Nick. Francis soon begins an affair with Nick which changes her outlook on life and herself. 


3. Starsight (Skyward 2#) – Brandon Sanderson

Another entry from my mid-year favourites list which managed to make its way onto my end of year list. As soon as I finished Starsight, I knew it would be sitting on this top ten somewhere. Skyward was my number one pick of 2019 so I was incredibly relieved that the sequel was so darn good. While it certainly wasn’t what I was expecting and very different from the first book in terms of narrative, pacing and characters, it was still a really engaging and entertaining read. I loved the expanded world building and additional character development, and I am crazy excited for the next book in 2021.


2. A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara

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This is another book that I haven’t shut up about this year so no one should be surprised to see A Little Life in the number 2 slot. With its very difficult content and 700+ page count, this definitely isn’t a book for everyone. But despite the fact that it completely wrecked me emotionally, I adored it (clearly I’m a masochist). The book follows a group of four university friends who move to NYC together and showcases the highs and lows of their lives over several decades. I loved the writing and have a special place in my heart for the characters. I don’t know if this is a book I can recommend exactly but I can say that I thought it was beautiful, memorable and worth all the tears.


Okay, time for the big one, my favourite book of everything I read in 2020…

1. The Dragon Republic (The Poppy War 2#) – R. F. Kuang

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Yes, that’s right. While The Poppy War may have cracked the number three spot in my top reads of 2019, it’s The Dragon Republic which takes out the number one for 2020. When the first book in a series is amazing, I always get super nervous about the sequel but this one blew me away. I loved every minute of its 650-ish pages. The world is amazing, characters fantastic, battles engrossing, and the plot is the chef’s kiss, it’s so, so good. There’s so much action but Kuang manages to balance it out perfectly with emotional content and character development. I easily consider this series among my favourites now and I cannot wait to read the final entry. Perhaps it’ll take out the crown in 2021?


And that’s it for 2020! For those who’ve been following my blog for a while now, thank you for your continued support, it means the world to me. To those who discovered me this year, welcome! I hope my little blog has, at the very least, helped take your mind off what’s been a troubling year for many people. I’d like to wish you all and your families a very happy new year and plenty of five star reads for 2021.

My other wrap ups for 2020:

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Covers that Make me Happy

Let’s be real – 2020 has been a dumpster fire of a year. Every time I watch the news, I’m hit with a constant stream of misery and awfulness occurring somewhere in the world. Considering the mental health stats at the moment, everyone is having a rough time. So, with that in mind, I’ve decided to use this week’s TTT cover themed freebie (hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl) to showcase some book covers that bring me joy and elevate my mood. Sometimes it’s the colour and others it’s the imagery. Ten seems pretty short for this post (especially since I’m literally just copying book covers like the lazy person that I am) so I’ll do 12 this week.

I hope that this post lifts your spirits just the tiniest bit (and yes, there are quite a few YA contemporaries here).

What book covers give you a burst of joy just by looking at them? Spread the happiness around.

My Favourite Reads of 2020 (So Far)

Those of you who’ve been following my blog for a few years now (you poor souls) will know that I like to do a mid year check-in of sorts with regards to my favourite reads. The main reason being that it’s always fun to compare the halfway year list to the final top ten books at the end of the year – what’s come out on top, what’s been bumped off by something I enjoyed more, and so on. To keep things fair, re-reads are excluded because how boring would that be?

Now, by this time last year I’d read 39 books which was a decent number to pick a top 10 from. In 2020, so far, I’ve read…err..well…27 books. Yes, I know. But hey, I did say at the beginning of the year I was going to take things at my own pace. So no complaints. However, with a lower number of books to select from, instead of doing a top 10 this year I’ll be doing a top 6 for my mid-year post.

Here they are, in no particular order:

A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara | Review

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If you’ve read my review for this book, you won’t be surprised to see A Little Life on this list. I loved this novel, which is such a strange word to use considering how difficult the content is and the fact that it broke my heart into a million pieces then drove a steamroller over them. The book follows a group of four university friends who move to NYC together and showcases the highs and lows of their lives over several decades. The writing is stunning and the characters are beautifully crafted. Although it’s a long book and has a couple of issues, it’s definitely worth the time investment and boxes of tissues you’ll go through in the last hundred or so pages.


Starsight – Brandon Sanderson | Review

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Skyward was my favourite read of 2019 so the fact that I enjoyed Starsight as much as I did was an enormous relief. It’s quite a different story from the first book in terms of the narrative direction, pacing and characters but still super engaging. Sanderson massively expanded his universe in this book which would ordinarily be a bit of a worry for me, but here it was done in such an interesting and logical way. I also really appreciated the growth and development of Spensa, the MC, in this book and I’m really excited to see how this continues. These books are quickly becoming one of my favourite series. I’m just ridiculously mad that I have to wait over a year for book 3, especially after THAT ending.


Wolf by Wolf – Ryan Graudin | Review

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I’ve praised Wolf by Wolf repeatedly since I read it back in March (only because it’s so good!), so the fact that it’s showing up on this list isn’t a shock to anyone. I love competition narratives, historical fiction, fantasy, strong heroines, romance that doesn’t completely take over, and tragic backstories, so this book has pretty much everything I could possibly want. Set in a world in which the Axis won WWII, the book deals with an epic motorcycle race which our shapeshifting lead, Yael, enters in the hope of getting close enough to Adolf Hitler to assassinate him. The pacing is good, the story engaging, the characters likeable, and it ends on a twist that definitely makes me keen for book 2.


The Dutch House – Ann Patchett

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I would never have expected to enjoy this book as much as I did. Like A Little Life, The Dutch House is set over a period of several years and more about characters than plot. It’s a slower, quieter read which unfolds very much like a modern fairytale (wicked stepmother included). The book revolves around the relationship between a brother and sister and their connection with their childhood home, the titled Dutch House. It’s very well-written, with some of my favourite scenes consisting of Maeve and Danny simply sitting and talking with one another. Also, having listened to the audiobook, I can definitely vouch for the narration of the wonderful Tom Hanks.


The Diviners – Libba Bray

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I’m really mad that I put off reading this for so long because it was such an enjoyable read! The Diviners is so different from a lot of the other young adult books I’ve read which was super refreshing. The 1920s setting is wonderfully vivid, full of life and easily one of my favourite parts of the book. However, it also has a dark and engaging story and a diverse group of characters that are layered, rich and likeable. Also, my magic/special ability loving little heart was very much in her element with this one. I definitely see why this is such a popular series and I predict I’ll be giving the sequel a go some time in the next few months.


Becoming – Michelle Obama

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This is another book I read early in 2020 and have mentioned my love for several times since. Becoming is a fantastic autobiography (I say with my very limited experience of biography reads). I really enjoyed learning about Michelle’s life all the way from her childhood on the second floor of her great-aunt’s house in Chicago to her time as FLOTUS in The White House. In retelling her journey, Michelle touches on so many valuable topics and she does it with such grace and engagement. This is a book I honestly think everyone would take something away from. Even if you’re not a massive fan of Michelle Obama, I would have no hesitation in recommending it.


What are some of your favourite reads of 2020 so far? I hope that while the events of the year have been downright awful, your reading has been the complete opposite. Here’s to many more amazing books in the next six months!

Top 10 Tuesday: Fantasy/Sci Fi Sequels I Enjoyed More Than the Original *Gasp*

This week’s TTT topic is a genre based freebie so I’m looking at books which managed the impossible – they impressed me more than the original book in their series. Shocking! I know. Here are 10 sequels that made the cut.

Morning Star (Red Rising Saga 3#) – Pierce Brown

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I could have comfortably listed either Golden Son or Morning Star on this list but I’ve decided to go with entry 3 because it’s my favourite book of the original trilogy (before Pierce expanded the series). I’ve mentioned my love of these books quite a few times on this blog, recently even. So, why not mention it again for the zillionth time? I really like Red Rising, it’s fantastic, but it’s always those pages at the beginning which let it down. A 4.5 instead of the full 5 stars. Morning Star is just amazing from start to finish. Action, humour, friendship, THE EMOTION… There isn’t a dodgy sequel in sight with this book. Basically, if the series had ended here, I would have had no complaints.


A Court of Mist and Fury (ACOTAR 2#) – Sarah J. Maas

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This entry will be a shock to absolutely no one. As I’ve said before, when I first read A Court of Thorns and Roses, I liked it, it was fine, but it wasn’t exactly my new obsession. I only continued with the series a good while later (after a re-read of book 1) because of how popular the sequel was. I ended up being so glad I did because I really loved it. The characters are so loveable and the dynamics between them are great. Also, the expansion of the world beyond the Spring Court was a lot of fun. And need I mention the romance? It’s awesome. Fictional ship gold right there. Mutual respect, passion, banter – I’m in love.


Siege & Storm (The Grisha Series 2#) – Leigh Bardugo

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Like ACOTAR, this is another series where I didn’t mind book one but I wasn’t blown away. In the end I decided to keep going with the series because (a) I liked the villain, (b) I loved the Six of Crows duology and, (c) I was determined to meet the famous Nikolai Lantsov. I ended up having a great time with Siege & Storm. There was a good amount of action and the book kicked into gear quickly. I appreciated certain characters a lot more and Nikolai was, well, everything people said he was. This book is easily my favourite of the three.


Legendary (Caraval 2#) – Stephanie Garber

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If you’ve read my re-read review of Caraval, you’ll know that despite liking the setting & atmosphere, and progressing through the book quickly, I had a few issues with the story, characters and world building. I never saw myself continuing the series but after seeing book 3 pop up everywhere on release and hearing that people with the same Caraval problems as me had enjoyed Legendary, I decided, stuff it, I’ll try it out. As it turned out, people were right. I liked Tella as a protagonist much more than Scarlet and the world building in this book was miles ahead of Caraval. Plus the introduction of Jacks was a lovely surprise. I’m almost tempted to read Finale. Almost.


Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter 4#) – J. K. Rowling

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Everyone who follows my blog will know by now that I’m a major Harry Potter fan. But in a series of seven books there’s, of course, going to be some you like better than others. While I love The Philosopher’s Stone, it’s the book that made me fall in love with the characters and world after all, Goblet of Fire has always been my favourite of the series in all it’s beautiful, chunky glory. A magical competition, dragons & merpeople, more wizard schools, and a Big Bang ending that completely changes the direction and mood of the series going forward. I’ve read it a hundred times and could probably stand to read it a hundred more.


The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air 2#) – Holly Black

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I really enjoyed The Cruel Prince when I first read it and I was certainly one of those people who eagerly awaited the release of The Wicked King before quickly going out and buying it on release day. Book two is definitely my favourite book in this series. I love the sense of momentum, plot twists, romance, and more morally grey characters doing questionable things. This book made me appreciate Jude as a protagonist a lot more which then translated over to my re-read of book one later on. Also, as a writer, if you’re looking for a way to end your novel that basically guarantees your audience will be desperate for the next one – this book is a prime teaching material.


The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle 2#) – Maggie Stiefvater

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After reading three books in The Raven Cycle, my response to this series is still somewhat apathetic but I’ll willingly admit that The Dream Thieves was the entry I enjoyed the most. I feel like I got to know the characters much better in this one which was nice. My favourite element of the novel, however, was Maggie’s inclusion and development of Ronan’s dream based abilities which made for some interesting plotlines and an exciting climax in seeing those powers tested against that of someone else’s. Overall, I liked the book enough to want to continue to book three and was a little sad I didn’t have the same level of engagement going forward.


A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes 2#) – Sabaa Tahir

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In all fairness, this is only the tiniest bit higher than book one but we’ll take it because I love it when a sequel does well. Book two is fairly different to book one. It really feels like a proper adventure and I enjoyed the cat and mouse dynamic between Elias and Helene. As Helene is probably my favourite character, I loved getting to see her given more presence & independence with her own challenges and plotlines. There’s a great level of political drama with the new emperor in charge and the Commandant pushing for power. Also in its favour is an exciting prison break sequence and a few major things happen with big consequences in book 3.


City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments 3#) – Cassandra Clare

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I was obsessed with this series in high school. I wanted all of my friends to read them and almost jumped out of my skin when I finally got to hold City of Glass on release. Back in the day, this book was my favourite of the bunch mostly because of the high stakes of it all and the fact that some of the other characters got more of a chance to shine. After re-reading the first four books in recent years, while books 1 & 2 have slightly diminished with time (we don’t talk about City of Fallen Angels…), City of Glass hasn’t and it’s still my favourite of the series (later additions included, even though I still haven’t read book 6. But let’s face it, there’s no way it’d be better than City of Glass).


The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson & The Olympians 5#) – Rick Riordan

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Percy Jackson is another one of those super popular series. It’s also happens to have quite a few books, ergo there’s always a favourite among the bunch. As a whole, I liked PJ&O – they were fun, creative novels full of adventure, mythology and likeable characters. Yet, being intended for a middle grade audience, they did feel on the young side for me in my mid-twenties. However, I really, really liked The Last Olympian. In fact, many of my reasons for this are similar to City of Glass – action packed & dramatic battles, real stakes, and more characters in the spotlight. With the characters around 16 at this point, the book also read much older, which I appreciated. Major points to an author who can grow with their audience.

Top 10 Tuesday: Books on my TBR I Predict will be 5 Star Reads

I’ve never done a post like this before. Why? It’s simple, I don’t give out many 5 star ratings. Check my Goodreads ‘read’ shelf and you’ll see that books with those five shiny things after them are in short supply. Remove all 7 Harry Potter books, and the list gets even shorter. The reason for this is that I don’t often read books that I absolutely crazy adore and have very few negative things to say about. I know I sound like a snob, and perhaps I have too higher standards, but unfortunately, it’s just the way I am. Because of this, posts like these have always seemed unrealistic for me. However, today we’re making an exception and attempting to be optimistic! Okay, not over the top optimistic which is why there are only 8 books on this list instead of 10. As far as final ratings are concerned, I’ll still consider it a win if any of these books manage to get a 4.5 star rating.

The Dragon Republic (The Poppy War 2#) – R. F. Kuang

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The Poppy War was one of my favourite reads of 2019. I even gave it one of my rarely awarded 5 star ratings. With sequels is always hard to know whether they’ll live up to the original and before TDR was released, I was very nervous. After the ending of book 1, I wasn’t sure where the story could go but I now have a good feeling about this one! The average Goodreads rating is high, reviewers I trust have said super positive things and the blurb sounds great. So I’m pegging this for another 5 star read and I think the odds are high.


A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara

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I’ve only just started this book but I’m willing to make a bet that A Little Life will crack the big five stars. Now, this is in no way a short read – it’s over 700 pages long, and I’m fully aware of the fact that the story is supposed to be emotionally grueling (majorly so). Yet, I’ve heard so many wonderful things about it – the writing, the realistic and wonderfully crafted characters, the fact that it doesn’t leave you until long after you’ve finished it. I’m looking for something that’ll worm its way into me and stay there. I really hope this is it.


Educated – Tara Westover

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As I’ve mentioned a few times over the last couple of months, non-fiction reads have started to grow on me and Educated is a book I’ve had on my TBR for a few months now. I actually started it a little while back and got distracted but I’m determined to go back. A story about a young woman from a survivalist family, who with little education at all, managed to teach herself enough to be admitted to university and eventually earned a doctrate sounds like the kind of story I need in my life. I’ve seen some rave reviews of this book so I’m hoping it lands 5 stars with me also.


The Toll (Arc of a Scythe 3#) – Neal Shusterman

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This is another book where I’m basing a five star prediction on the fact that I rated previous books in the series highly. Scythe was a 5 star read and Thunderhead a 4.5 star read so the chance of another high rating seems likely here. I really love this series so it would be heartbreaking for it to stumble at the final hurdle. Book two ended in a major cliffhanger and I’m super excited to find out what happens next (well, after I re-read books one and two to refresh my bad memory). I’ve seen some amazing reviews and some disappointed reviews. I’m desperately crossing my fingers hoping I’ll be in the former camp.


The Priory of the Orange Tree – Samantha Shannon

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Another enormous book and another one I’ve started and will have to return to at some point. While the few pages that I’ve already read of Priory weren’t exactly grabbing me in a choke-hold of engagement, with a book this big I’m willing to put the time in to reach a point where I’m sure things will pick up in a major way. I still have a good feeling about this one being an amazing read. I’m trusting the hype train to be right here. It has everything I need – dragons, a badass female ruler and warrior, magic, a good verses evil battle. Don’t let me down Samantha Shannon!


The Wise man’s Fear – Patrick Rothfuss

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Time for another sequel. In 2019 I finally, FINALLY read The Name of the Wind and to my immense relief, I thought it was fantastic. It ended up being a 5 star read and got a place on my top 10 list of the year. Now, it’s pretty much guaranteed that I’ll enjoy the sequel. I’m guessing another 5 star rating is likely but the problem is, the third book is still nowhere in sight and it’s already been YEARS. Who knows if it’s ever coming??? As a result, I think I’ll be putting TWMF on hold for a while even though I know it’ll be good. Don’t worry Kvothe, I’ll come back for you eventually.


Mexican Gothic – Silvia Moreno-Garcia

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Now, Mexican Gothic hasn’t even been released yet so with this one I’m going entirely off a great blurb, good feeling in my gut and gorgeous cover. It’s a little scary though because these days I’m such a Goodreads rating snob. I’m really hoping that this book is what the movie Crimson Peak could have been if it had actually lived up to its potential and not gone…well, off the rails. A haunted house, creepy family, debutante heroine, suspense, mystery, and all in 1950s Mexico. I’m super excited. Please be gooooooooodddd.


Empire of the Vampire – Jay Kristoff

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Jay’s Nevernight series is one of my favourites and I’m hoping that lightning strikes again with EotV. Teenage Ashley was majorly obsessed with vampires and I’ll admit, I still have a guilty pleasure love of them so I’m super keen on the idea of a darker, more adult fantasy approach. If anyone can pull it off, Jay can. As with Nevernight, this seems like another historical based world which is also really exciting. Basically bring on the violence, blood, romance, witty dialogue and emotional trauma. And GIVE ME A 5 STAR READ, PLEASE.


What do you think of my 5-star predictions? Way off base or likely to hit the mark. I’m crossing all my fingers and toes.

Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top 10 Tuesday: Books I Hope to Find Under my Christmas Tree (Or Will Just Buy Anyway)

It’s pretty much a guarantee that any time I’m ever asked to write a Christmas list, it’ll include books. A bunch of books. Let’s face it, I definitely won’t get everything on this list but that won’t stop me going out to buy a stack for myself on Boxing day.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Illustrated Edition – J. K. Rowling & Jim Kay

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Goblet of Fire is my favourite book in the Harry Potter series so I am beyond excited that the illustrated edition releases have finally reached this point. Normally I race out and buy these editions myself but this time around I’ve exercised some self control and added it to my Christmas list instead. Hopefully come x-mas I’ll be happily flicking through and looking at all of Jim Kay’s gorgeous illustrations and seriously considering a Harry Potter re-read.


The Toll (Arc of a Scythe 3#) – Neal Shusterman

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I’ve been eagerly awaiting the final book in the Arc of a Scythe series for a little while now, especially after the cliffhanger that was the ending to Thunderhead. Ordinarily I would have gone out and bought this on release week (I almost did, in fact!) but I thought holding off and requesting it as a Christmas present might give me enough time to do a re-read of books 1 & 2. As you can probably guess, it hasn’t exactly worked out that way but fingers crossed I still find a copy under the tree come December 25th. If so, 2020 will 100% feature a full series read.


Starsight (Skyward 2#) – Brandon Sanderson

Skyward was one of my favourite reads of this year, so you can bet I had this sequel added to my to-read shelf before you could blink. I actually planned to buy this on the last day of November and even added it to my purchased books in the wrap up for that month. However, schedules changed and I didn’t have time. So, what’s a girl to do? Well, add it to her Christmas list, of course! This is a book I’ll be guaranteed to go out & buy right away if it doesn’t show up under my tree. Then I’ll have to deal with the agony of waiting until 2022 for book three! Ugh!


A Court of Thorns & Roses Collector’s Edition – Sarah J. Maas

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I have no idea what it is about special editions, but whenever they’re released I’m suddenly overcome with the desperate need to own them. The first book in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series wasn’t my favourite, but there’s no way I can resist that beautiful, gold embossed hardback designed by Charlie Bowater. Clearly I was a magpie in another life – I’m just hopelessly attracted to shiny things. At least it’s a good excuse to re-read the series.


Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng

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I’ve been thinking about reading Little Fires for a while now and have yet to get around to buying and reading it. Knowing that the adaptation will be coming out next year has certainly given me a push to get my butt in gear. I’ve heard amazing things about this novel, it even took home the 2017 Goodreads choice award for fiction. Here’s hoping for something dramatic and enjoyable (and also that it’s currently wrapped up in paper with a bow somewhere!)


Know My Name – Chanel Miller

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This year I’ve read several books both fiction and non-fiction which have dealt with sexual assault. It’s an issue I’m very passionate about and one that breaks my heart. I remember following the Brock Turner case back in 2016 and I also remember being disgusted by how it played out. The fact that Chanel Miller was willing to not only sit down and write a memoir about her experiences but put it out into the world under her own name is incredibly brave. I know it’s likely to be a tough read but it’s one that I want to do to support her.


The Whisper Man – Alex North

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Keeping with my ‘try to read more widely’ vibe in the wake of my book burn out woes, I’m really interested in giving The Whisper Man a go. This is a crime/thriller read, something I’ve started to take more of an interest in of late. The book has a heap of great reviews and the word on the street is that it’s gripping and a teensy bit scary. I’m really craving something creepy that’ll keep me hooked until the end. It’s been a while since I read something unputdownable. Pretty please, with a cherry on top.


10 Blind Dates – Ashley Elston

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It’s summer time, so I couldn’t write out a Christmas book list without asking for at least one YA contemporary! This book looks both super cute and fun, and the reviews I’ve seen so far have been really positive. I even love the cover with the title done up in gold balloons. The fact that it’s set at Christmas time also makes it a perfect read for this time of the year. It’s only a bit over 300 pages long so if I do happen to find it under my tree come Christmas day, maybe I’ll be able to squeeze it in before new years?


Sword of Destiny – Andrzej Sapkowski

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Adaptations. They always get me scurrying for the book/s. I read the first collection of The Witcher short stories, The Last Wish, back in 2018. I’ve always planned to continue with the series but haven’t gotten around to it. At the time I wrote my x-mas list, the Netflix series was only a few weeks away from release and my keenness to read Sword of Destiny was in full force. Now that I’ve watched all 8 episodes, it’s even more so. I’ve heard some of the stories in this collection aren’t as good as others but as it features Ciri’s introduction and her meeting with Geralt, it’s pretty important. Plus, one of my favourite episodes in the series is drawn from a short story in this collection.


Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour – Morgan Matson

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Okay, so I haven’t read the last Morgan Matson book I bought yet (The Unexpected Everything) but that hasn’t stopped me from adding Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour to my Christmas list anyway. A road trip story with diners, cheap motels, meeting interesting people, Graceland, and two characters getting to know one another. From the sounds of it, it’s a solid summer read with some emotional baggage involved as well. I really loved Since You’ve Been Gone so I hope that Morgan’s debut is just as enjoyable.


Christmas is just one sleep away! I’m definitely looking forward to stuffing my face with amazing food, playing board games, and seeing my family open their gifts. Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season and that a couple of great books end up coming your in your direction.

**Top 10 Tuesday originated at The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top 10 Tuesday: Books I Enjoyed That Were Outside My Comfort Zone

Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is a freebie! So I’m using it to do a topic from a few months back that I missed during my blogging hiatus – books I enjoyed that were outside my comfort zone.

Saga Vol. 1 – Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples

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This one may be a comic rather than a book but it’s too perfect for this list not to include it. I never read comic issues – the art is gorgeous but they go by so quickly! However, after seeing the Saga series pop up around Goodreads and on bloggers’ reading challenges repeatedly, I decided to give it a go for myself. It ended up being so much fun and has pretty much everything I need in a good series – action, humour, adventure and romance.


Eggshell Skull – Bri Lee

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Up until late 2018, non-fiction had never really been something I was particularly interested in reading. I’d always seen reading as a way of escaping reality. Nowadays I’ve started picking up the occasional one that interests me and been pleasantly surprised. Eggshell Skull is an example of that. Reading about how the state of Queensland (AUS) handles sexual assault cases as well as the author’s own experiences in bringing her case through the system was heartbreaking but absolutely fascinating. It was informative and the perfect example of why so many women don’t bother to press charges against their rapists.


Call Me By Your Name – André Aciman

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I’m not usually one for poetic, artsy books riddled with deep prose that people tend to label literature and spend long periods of time lovingly highlighting. They usually bore me to tears. Still, I gave this book a go after falling in love with the film. To my complete shock, I really enjoyed it. Better yet, I thought the writing was so beautiful at points that I even highlighted a couple of passages myself! There’s just something about this book that I can’t put my finger on – it’s emotionally a lot, but gosh if it isn’t a good reminder for me to try things outside my usual types of reads more often.

IT – Stephen King

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This book was a little out of my comfort zone for a few reasons. While I love a good fantasy novel, I don’t usually read horror books. Also, in recent years I’ve started to move away from larger sized novels and yet, here this was, in all its over 1000 page glory. Still, something about it made me take it off my parents bookshelves that day. Despite a not so great ending, I had a great time reading the rest of it, even though it successfully managed to make me a little anxious for a while. The characters were great and the writing was enjoyable as well.


The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet – Becky Chambers

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Another genre I don’t usually read much of – sci fi! While fantasy and science fiction are usually shelved together, I pretty consistently stick to books in the former rather than the latter. Yet, after hearing some good things about this novel, and in search of some lovable, diverse characters, I decided to try TLWTASAP (what an acronym!). While I can see it not being for everyone, I thought it was a nice change of pace to read something that was more about the people and the journey rather than the destination. It’s definitely encouraged me to think about trying out some other sci-fi books in future.


Red Sparrow – Jason Matthews

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My decision to pick up Red Sparrow can very easily be attributed to me watching the film shortly beforehand and wanting to see how the book differed. This was a very out of field choice for me reading wise as I don’t think I remember ever reading another spy/espionage type book before in my life. I’ll repeat, I should really read more books outside my usual genres because I found this super engaging and illuminating at the same time. It’s kind of odd at points (there’s recipes randomly included) but at the time it was a refreshing change of pace.


The Lightning Thief ( Percy Jackson & the Olympians) – Rick Riordan

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The majority of the books I read during the year fall within the young adult classification. Middle grade, however, is something I generally stay away from (it’s a little hard connecting with characters that young as a 26 year old woman). But as Percy Jackson is generally put up on a pedestal as the Harry Potter of the generation below me, I thought it was important that I give the series a try. In the end, while it did read a little young (as I’d been expecting), the story and characters were so charming and fun that I ended up having a great time and continued through all five books in the series.


The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern

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Looking at it, The Night Circus seems like a book that would fall very squarely within my comfort zone – a fantasy novel with magic and a bit of romance. At the same time though, it’s not something particularly known for its plot or characters, two things that are usually extremely important to me. It’s more about setting and gorgeous writing. This is actually why I put off reading it for so many years because I was worried I’d find it tedious. While I’m not obsessed or completely in love with it like some other readers, I did like it and really appreciated its beauty.


It Ends with Us – Colleen Hoover

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I’m not typically a big romance reader (although that has changed a little recently) and when I do read it, it’s usually the fun, fluffy type of romance rather than the series and dramatic kind. Colleen Hoover was an author I’d been interested in trying out for a while and after hearing such positive things about this particular book, I decided to start with It Ends with Us. It was quite different from what I’d been expecting but ended up being a great read because of it. Colleen handled some super difficult issues in a really fantastic way and it’s because of this book that I ended up reading and loving one of her other works, Verity.


Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

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As I’ve mentioned repeatedly on my blog, I’m not a classics reader. At all. Either they bore me (I’m somewhat of an impatient person) or frustrate me. Despite being very much aware of this, for some reason, in high school I was curious about Jane Austen and wanted to give her books a go. I’d seen the mini-series Lost in Austen (it’s fabulous, by the way) and loved it so I thought Pride & Prejudice would be the right choice. Going in, I was fully prepared not to enjoy it but like other books on this list, it surprised me. The characters were engaging, some of the dialogue witty, and who doesn’t like a good slow burn romance?


Over the last year I’ve come to realise how important it is to try different types of books once in while in order to stop yourself ending up in a reading rut or a slump. After all, you never know when something will end up being fantastic and open you up to a whole new range of stories. I definitely think I’ll aim to add to this list in the future.

What are some reads that were outside of your comfort zone which you really enjoyed?

Top 10 Tuesday: Favourite Literary Names

This week’s TTT topic is actually a freebie to do with being thankful but because (a) we don’t do Thanksgiving here in Australia and (b) I’m weirdly coming up blank on potential topics, I’m going to do something different. Back in early 2018 I did a TTT post on literary names that I thought best suited their characters. It’s been a little while since then so I thought it might be fun to try my hand at another names based top ten, this time on character names in books that I just generally love (and would name many The Sims babies after). Just to state up front, this isn’t a comment on any of the characters these names belong to, only their names.


The Ember Quartet (Sabaa Tahir)


Aurora Rising (Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman)


The Bone Season (Samantha Shannon)


Ash Princess (Laura Sebastian)


A Curse so Dark and Lonely (Brigid Kemmerer)


Call Me By Your Name (Andre Aciman)


Arc of a Scythe (Neal Shusterman)


Percy Jackson & The Olympians (Rick Riordan), The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice & Virtue (Mackenzie Lee)


Throne of Glass Series (Sarah J. Maas)


Sorcery of Thorns (Margaret Rogerson)


Do any of these also float your boat? What are some of your favourite literary names?

Top 10 Tuesday: Tropes I Secretly Can’t Get Enough Of

Most of the time, when you hear the word ‘trope’ uttered, it’s generally followed by a lot of moans, groans and other unhappy sounds. By their very definition, tropes are ideas, plots, elements or themes that pop up a lot and for that reason, they’re likely to feel boring, annoying and, from a writing standpoint, lazy. However, the reality is, the reason some tropes won’t die no matter how much we complain about them is because there are always groups of people out there who just can’t get enough of them. Even when we’ve seen them a million times before in every way possible, there are some tropes we can’t help taking a bit of guilty pleasure in. Here are 10 of my favourite bookish tropes:

Training Academies

I’ve mentioned this trope quite a few times on my blog, almost to the point where my talking about it has become a trope for my blog. So many of my favourite books involve some kind of school or training academy in which our hero/s learn to harness magic, special abilities, the ability to kick ass, etc. to ready themselves for the road ahead. I love the sense of competition and watching the characters develop, harden, and excel.


Enemies to Lovers or Friends

Another trope I can’t help but love. There’s just something attractive about reading as two characters who don’t like each other learn to overcome their differences and understand one another better to eventually form a good relationship. It’s the kind of trope that provides a perfect ground for character development and conflict, and, when handled correctly, it also creates a basis for some beautifully complex character interactions. Basically, fight and now KISS (or high five).


Game/Competition Plots

I know, I know, this one comes up ALL THE TIME but I really, really like it, okay? There’s conflict, momentum, high stakes, opportunity for drama, the formation of friendships and nemeses, betrayals, ahhhh…so good. You find yourself unable to stop reading because you need to know who wins and how it plays out. An oldie but a goodie.


Complex or Close Sibling Relationships

This is kind of two tropes in one but they’re both great. One provides the opportunity for big ‘AWWWW’s of cuteness and the other for drama with a great sense of catharsis. Siblings can have such different relationships with so many layers. They may be very similar and have a fantastic connection or perhaps they don’t understand each other and have treated one another badly. Either way, I want to read about it. Well, when it’s done right, that is.


Mentorship

Like training academies, this is another fantasy staple and sometimes you might even find a book with a double whammy and get BOTH AT THE SAME TIME. For me, I really like seeing the bond between student and mentor form and finding out how that relationship impacts the story, especially as the student is usually the MC. Will they have to get justice for their mentor’s death, will they achieve the skill their mentor believed they could, or will they disappoint them completely and end up on opposite sides of a conflict? You never know!


Opposites Attract Friendships

This is another relationship based trope that I love. It’s always fun to have two characters who are close friends and yet, somehow also polar opposites. It’s interesting seeing them play off each other in different ways, fill the gaps in one another’s personalities, and often work together toward whatever goal the plot has set up for them. Sometimes the story’s conflict strengthens their bond and others, it sends it all crashing down.


Here Comes the Cavalry

This trope verges onto deus ex machina but there’s something about back up arriving at the last possible moment, when the reader thinks that everything is lost, only to completely knock the enemy on their asses and save the day. It’s ridiculous but always gives me the warm fuzzies.


Hero/Villain Acts Like the Opposite

Character development and plot twists all rolled up into one magical trope. I get very excited when something like this happens because, despite it being a trope, it’s still very much unexpected. With a villain, it could pave the way to a fabulous redemption arc and with a hero, a potential downward spiral towards being an anti-hero or full on villain.


Found Families

It’s impossible not to love this trope because it’s so sweet and heart warming. There’s nothing more wonderful than a bunch of characters, some of which may not have supportive or living real families, coming together and developing connections so strong that they form one themselves. Usually these found families involve a mishmash of different personalities which I enjoy even more and I especially love it when they have to work together to overcome plot obstacles. You may not be able to choose your blood relatives but you can definitely choose the friends you want to face the apocalypse with.


Gender Bending

With the whole gender inequality thing, the majority of the time this trope is about girls pretending to be boys. For this reason it usually comes off as very feminist and female empowering. I can’t help but love seeing talented, brave and strong girls going up against boys and totally killing it after everybody said they couldn’t. They eventually reveal who they really are and the boys are all left with a slice of humble pie to eat up.


What are some of your favourite tropes? Would any of these make your list?

** TTT is hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl