Top 5 (Not)Tuesday: Books Under 300 Pages

Apologies for my accidental almost-two-week-long hiatus–it’s been a scramble of unpacking from one vacation and prepping for another, not to mention half a dozen social affairs crammed into just a few short days. Technically, this past week was Bionic Bookworm’s hiatus (click here for the August topics!) so there was no Top 5 Tuesday but since I missed the last one I figured I’d post it this round. I’d planned to have this ready for the Tuesday past and be all “hey, at least I got the day right this time!” but, ah, no. Alas.

Shut Out by Kody Keplinger

As far as contemporary romances go, Shut Out was a fun change. Inspired by the Classical Greek comedy Lysistrata, as the wives in the original play, the gals of Keplinger’s novel vow to abstain from any kind of sexual activity with their boyfriends until they put a silly feud to rest. This one’s on the list not only because it was funny and different and because the Greek inspo automatically gives it points in my book (which it does) but because the sexual foundation gives way to some frank and important discussions about virginity and consent and knowing what feels right. All the girls come from different levels of experience, different opinions about what they’re doing, and different stances on why they’re doing/not doing it; the realizations they come to by the end of the book were important for me to hear in high school and definitely useful to other girls too. So yeah – top points for impact!

Two Lies and a Spy by Kat Carlton

I am a sucker for a good spy novel. Two Lies and a Spy was one I expected to be little more than contemporary romantic fluff with some action suspense thrown in; fast forward to crazy family drama, Russian conspiracies, a decent love triangle, a relatively complex espionage adventure, and a main character that grows on you backed by supporting ones you love from the start and it turned into a book I rather enjoyed! It’s not my favourite spy novel ever but it was a really great read and definitely one of my favourite short books.

The Almost Truth by Eileen Cook

Another contemporary romance here! Stocking to the ‘espionage’ and secrecy theme of the previous pick, The Almost Truth centres on a family of con artists and a daughter ready to walk away from it all. Though cliché in ways at the outset, it’s the best friend–a boy also taken under the MC’s father’s conman wing–that really made the book for me. Sadie is likeable enough but I found myself attached to Brendan, the flirtatious boy with a broken past and strong loyalties. The con plot is intriguing and surprising, but the family dynamic and the Brendan-Sadie thing make it a top pick for me!

Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

Okay, by now most associate Schwab (Victoria for YA, V.E. for adult) with wildly unique and completely amazing fantasy writing. I may (still…) not have read any of the A Darker Shade of Magic books but years ago I read her debut and was just as blown away by it as the rest of the world has been by her more recent work. I actually had an unfinished review for it saved from when I read it in 2015 that spent a single paragraph saying how surprising it was–it was never finished because I couldn’t figure out how to put my thoughts into words. It’s that good.

Crash by Lisa McMann (Visions #1)

This was one of my first reviews on this site (click here to read) so hurray for throwbacks! I was so caught off guard by how much I enjoyed McMann’s whole Visions trilogy – all of which are under 300 pages and each of which could be picked for this top (the second is my fave). Gonna be honest here: I bought it because the eye on the cover was stunning and the blurb’s feuding Italian restaurant families gave off some Romeo and Juliet vibes, from which I am utterly incapable of turning away. But the crazy murder visions and fast-paced prevention chase kept me chasing Jules until I flipped the last page.

Top 5 Tuesday: PQRST

“Wow, I did not expect these letters to be so difficult!” has pretty much become my motto for every Top 5 Tuesday (click here for Bionic Bookworm’s original launch post) and I don’t know why I’m still surprised by it. Actually, I’m kind of terrified for next week’s U-Z… But anyway, here’s my complication-laden list of fun and favourite books for the next 5 letters!

P:

Perfect You by Elizabeth Scott

My P pick (and also one of the only 3 P books I own) is this cute high school semi-hate-to-love secret relationship romance. The MC, Kate, is at times the most frustrating character alive and the novel itself is full of cliches, and yet it is still relatable, real, and enjoyable all at once. Despite the naivety at times, Perfect You is honest, which, beyond all the swoony stuff I love, is probably what made me like it so much. I can almost guarantee you’ll want to reach into the pages, grab Kate by the shoulders, and scream ARGGHH while shaking some sense into her, but the end will leave you satisfied and proud and smiling.

Q:

(The) Queen of Zombie Hearts by Gena Showalter

Aside from one school book that I very much did not enjoy, this is both the best and the only Q book I’ve read, making it an easy choice for this top letter. Barring my utter lack of decision in this matter, though, The Queen of Zombie Hearts (a decently satisfying end to the highly enjoyable Alice in Zombieland trilogy) is a great read! I’m a sucker for zombies but not so much in the post-apocalyptic quarantine illness way, so Showalter’s conception of zombies as spiritual manifestations of evil that feed off of the good was the best thing I could have hoped for! Plus, she is the champion of sexy paranormal romances and though less racy than her adult books, the whole team of tattooed zombie-killing warrior bad boys was more than enough for my sixteen year old heart to take.

R:

Royally Jacked by Nikki Burnham

Cheesy cover, cheesy rom-com novel. Royally Jacked was one of my absolute favourite books back in high school and I will give it 5-star ratings until I die for all the swooning and smiling it brought to me. This book, a prince-‘peasant’ story set in the imagined kingdom of Schwerinborg in Germany a) reignited my love for Heath Ledger b) confirmed my complete weakness for princes with accents and c) instigated many failed attempts to learn German (I’m still trying but mostly all I’ve got is bröt). The best way to read Royally Jacked is in the trilogy omnibus, Royally Crushed, since I’ll admit the story is better as a cohesive whole, but sweet and fun and cute and giggly and swoony all the same. Seriously. I don’t know how it’s taken me 5 years of this blog to talk about it…

S:

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

I can almost guarantee that if the blurb had not all on its own made me want to read this, I would have read it just because of the quirky cute title. For all my interest though and the implicit promise of a good, lighthearted, smile-on-your-face romance, I still had not expected the book to be as enjoyable as it was! An airport meet-cute is obviously the dream for a travel-lover like me, but more than that it was the genuine feel of the characters and the tinge of seriousness within the story that complemented rather than detracted from the sweet lovey goodness I adore.

T:

Taste Test by Kelly Fiore

Well, it looks like rom-coms are largely the flavour of the day since we’ve got yet another swoonful of young love in Taste Test by Kelly Fiore. The hate to love story with the charming, cocky competitor alone was enough to make me love this book, but since I seem to have a weird soft spot for cooking show novels (very niche, very odd, and very surprising since I a) hate to cook and b) dislike actual cooking shows), the kitchen sabotage mystery and cutthroat chef-ery makes it all the better.

Top 5 Tuesday: KLMNO

Aaaaaand we’re back again with another Top 5 Tuesday (click here for Bionic Bookworm’s theme breakdown)! I think N was DEFINITELY the most difficult letter so far, quite to my surprise, since I’d only read about two books starting with N and neither of them were favourites, but otherwise I’m happy with my choices. Mostly I’m just happy to be droning on about other favourites I don’t get to talk about enough!

So, without further ado…

K:

(The) King Slayer by Virginia Boecker

I love love LOVED The Witch Hunter duology (The King Slayer is #2). It has magic, alchemy, dark creatures, conspiracy, corruption, murder, witches, hunters, romance. The Tudor-inspired YA historical fantasy with a dose of maturity is the biggest 5-star surprise I’ve had in a while. I’m not entirely certain which of the two I enjoyed better since I loved so many bits of both, so the duology as a whole is a must read.

L:

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

This one is the second to Stiefvater werewolf series, The Wolves of Mercy Falls. I absolutely love Stiefvater’s writing and storytelling and these wolf-y novels are the first ones of hers I read. Now, I’m not usually into the werewolf fantasy stuff but I am into the romantic fantasy stuff and Sam and Grace’s sweet story was just enough to hook me. Linger is my pick here because it brings in a new character, Cole, who is my FAVOURITE in the series and starts a couple that is one of my all-time faves.

M:

Maid of Secrets by Jennifer McGowan

Maid of Secrets surprised me by how much I enjoyed it. Following former pickpocket-tuned-spy for the Tudor English queen Elizabeth I, the story is exactly my thing, and exactly similar to other historical fiction books I’ve read (it’s always Tudor spies!). I was surprised by how much I loved Meg as a heroine, I loved the fact that the spy girls weren’t just blindly loyal to the queen but push and question where necessary, and I love that the story and the romance were inseparable from the other and perfectly balanced. Plus, a rougish Spanish courtier love interest? The book is a buffet of all the things I enjoy.

N:

Of Neptune by Anna Banks

Okay, technically this is an O, but I’m not insanely into most N books I’ve finished reading (if anyone has any N recs, I am OPEN) so I’m calling the “Neptune” bit close enough. Anyway, I’ve always had a fondness for ocean-y watery tales and mermaid stories, so Anna Banks’ Syrena trilogy was a ton of fun to read! Of Neptune is the second and the first, Of Posiedon, was definitely my favourite but the series is most certainly a to-read as a whole!

O:

Once Every Never by Lesley Livingston

Give me Celtic time travel romances or give me nothing! Real Celtic history I find is so underdone–if we get Irish or Scottish history, we get druidic priestesses in fantasy or a Jamie Fraser from the 1700s. I find that the later stuff, the crazy cool human sacrifices and animal gods and body paint are hard to find, so this time travelling gem that sends our dear MC back to Boudicca and a hot warrior definitely gets the top O title. The series is quirky and not always serious but it’s fun and the characters are endearing and keeps you laughing throughout the misadventures through time.

Top 5 Tuesday: FGHIJ

Well, it’s a Top 5 Tuesday on a Wednesday because I forgot to launch it yesterday (stupid, I know). But anyway! These are my top books for the next 5 letters, as outlined in Bionic BookWorm’s post (click here to check that out and join in!) The letters are definitely getting more difficult and the titles a little more obscure but I’m mostly happy with the books here.

Onwards, my bookish beloveds!

F:

Firelight by Sophie Jordan

I may not have read the Inheritance Cycle that everyone in my grade six class was raving about but I too had a dragon phase, one that began with Jordan’s Firelight trilogy. In the first, shape-shifting draki Jacinda is taken away to a human school where she must hide her powers and unwittingly falls deep into insta-love with a dragon hunter. It’s a classic fantastical case of forbidden love, but the world and story behind the draki is well-woven and intriguing. While I will admit that it follows a plethora of the classic YA tropes, the concept itself feels unique and it’s quick, easy, and interesting enough that I still enjoy it.

G:

Goddess by Josephine Angelini

Goddess is the finale of the Starcrossed trilgy, which is an absolute FAVOURITE. I love the Greek mythology behind it, the twist on the Trojan War, the reincarnation of Iliad characters, the hate-love AND forbidden love story, the major players and the endearing side characters–all of it! I will admit that the first book, Starcrossed, is definitely, favourite of the three but the series was too good not to include it and I already have my S book in mind. In terms of Goddess itself, while there were a few different things I would have hoped for (I say this through tears at the memory), I was overall mostly satisfied with how the ending turned out. So seriously, if you like romance and classical mythology, PLEASE get these books!

H:

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Heartless was one of those surprising cases where the book actually met the hype surrounding it. A twisted take on the Alice in Wonderland story and world, Heartless tells the story of how the sweet pastry-loving Cath turned into the cold and callous Queen of Hearts. This was an easy choice for my top H book, and not because I lacked books starting with H (though I’ll admit, I kind of do…). Meyer did an incredible job with recreating a Wonderland as fanciful and whimsical and curious as Carrol’s original, and the story of Cath and Jest, though tragic, retains enough romance and meaning to rise above a simple tale of tragedy. Click here for my full review!

I:

Immortal Beloved by Cate Tiernan

Tiernan’s Immortal Beloved trilogy doesn’t get talked about enough; in fact, I hardly hear it talked about at all, which is a shame because I loved the books so much! Nastasya’s been practicing some dark immortal magic for too long and checks herself into a sort of immortal rehab farm to learn to walk the light side where she has a run-in with an on-the-mend villain from her past. Tiernan’s conception of immortality is rooted largely in Wicca-style witchcraft, being based more in crystals and cleansing than the sorcery powers that a lot of books have, making it interesting in how it’s different. Plus, all the characters are seriously well-developed and, frankly, kind of awesome, especially über sarcastic Nastasya and her surprisingly sweet love interest Reyn.

J:

Jinx by Meg Cabot

Okay, I’ll be honest, this is the only decent book I have on my shelf that starts with a J. Jinx is another witchy novel with Wicca-esque elements, but this one is grounded more in a traditional view of witchcraft, with potions and hexes and moon phases galore. It’s a rather simple, easy read with enough substance to keep it interesting and a good mix of the fantastical in real life to make the witchy magic feel believable and appropriate in the contemporary world. I love Meg Cabot for when I want a light read with a little dose of something extra, so Jinx is perfect for J.

Spring Recap (April-June)

Since summer’s here, kids are finally out of school, and July has officially arrived, I figured it was time for a Spring reading wrap-up. Considering how little reading I got done in the earlier months of the year, I’d say my Spring was pretty successful but I’m still hoping that my Summer will be better!

Many of these you’ll find I already talked about in my Mid-Year Freak-Out (click here to read that) which is because, as I’ve mentioned, I was a Bad Reader in the earlier part of 2019 and only really started fun reading again when I finished University. Alas! Here we go:

READ

April:

The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

This is the sequel poetry book to Kaur’s wildly popular Milk and Honey. I’ve discovered that this text-line style of poetry isn’t exactly my favourite in general, but the more life-focused meanings of the poems in this one made The Sun and Her Flowers my definite favourite of the two.

Fierce Fairytales: Poems and Stories to Stir Your Soul by Nikita Gill

I keep buying Nikita Gill’s poetry books because of their concepts, like space-based and fairytale-based and upcoming mythology-based. The twist on using fairytale characters and villains to reconfigure traditional conception into a message about life and self and struggle was very well done, though I found I connected less with some of the meanings since they were so based in characters whom I often did not connect with. All in all it was a nice read, definitely the poetry section.

Dark Wild Night by Christina Lauren

This was the third in Christina Lauren’s Wild Seasons romance series and unfortunately one of my least favourites. Following the resident geek best friends of the group on their tripping into love, Lola and Oliver’s story lacked some of the depth of the others and at times felt like it didn’t much match who the characters were.

Wicked Sexy Liar by Christina Lauren

My favourite sequel of 2019 so far, according to my Mid-Year Freak-Out! Luke and London are both so set on avoiding love that it makes their relationship that much more endearing, and their struggles that much more real. Definitely the best of the series, though #1 came as a close second.

On Dublin Street by Samantha Young

This romance turned out to be way deeper than I was anticipating, with the MC Jocelyn working through her parents’ death, PTSD, and a whole lot of guilt trying to make the person she was reconcile with the person she turned herself into to move on. The romance was at times a little too alpha-male for my liking but their relationship is at the same time based in genuine support. Overall would recommend, especially if you’re also into a dose of sexy Scotland in the Outlander off-season!

May:

Don’t Tell Me Not to Ask Why: Poetry Prose by Samantha King Holmes

Lots of poetry this Spring! Despite the hype surrounding R.H. Sin and Samantha King Holmes, I found Don’t Tell Me Not to Ask Why personally unrelatable and though the writing is skillful and the messages profound, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I’d hoped.

Lingerie Wars by Janet Elizabeth Henderson

This one was a hidden gem! I happened upon it via Goodreads a few years ago and downloaded the ebook just now for vacation. Take the secret love affair between two rival small town lingerie shops plus a cache of hilariously quirky supporting characters and you get this charming laugh of a read!

Listen to Me by Kristen Proby

The best part about this book is the best friends and the aphrodisiac-based restaurant they opened together and though romance is mostly lovely, the characters themselves are even better. While I wouldn’t say it’s my favourite romance, Listen to Me was a pleasant surprise and I’ll definitely be following the rest of the series for the other girls’ stories.

My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century by Rachel Harris

SUCH a cute read! I’m finding trouble relating to the fifteen-sixteen-year-old characters of YA and will admit, much of it is a tad juvenile for some of my taste now, but it’s sweet, which I haven’t gotten in a while putting that sweet story in Renaissance Florence made it all the more fun to read.

UnEnchanted by Chanda Hahn

This is a reread of a series so I could finish a series I’d forgotten about. As remembered, it’s a cute take on the Grimm fairytales where Mina has to defeat the villain of each tale as it plays out using her friends as the characters. It’s not particularly complex and you can tell it’s an early work, but the story is fun and neat nonetheless.

Fairest by Chanda Hahn

The sequel to UnEnchanted, this one definitely seems to put the series on an upwards bend. Though the second suffers some of the same juvenile-ness as the first, the simplicity of the book is better developed. It seems the author and the character both become more confident here.

June:

Summer on the Italian Lakes by Lucy Coleman

This was…not my style, to say the least. The characters bugged me, I didn’t find the romance all that romantic, and the writing had a lot more ‘tell’ than I typically enjoy.

Fable by Chanda Hahn

This is the third in Hahn’s UnEnchanted series. The story is still cute and the writing is steadily better, the book itself felt kind of out of place since it centres on a fantasy element that was less apparently significant in the others. All in all decent, though, and hopefully the rest of the series ties it all in together better.

TOTAL READ: 13

PURCHASED

…and a bunch of free ebooks.

TOTAL PURCHASED: 17 (excluding those I read)

SPRING FAVOURITES

Wicked Sexy Liar takes first place because of how much I loved London and Luke and their story! Gill’s Fierce Fairytales was my favourite of the poetry books I read this summer so it definitely deserved a space on this ranking, and Lingerie Wars laughed its way into my heart and this list.


That’s all for now, folks! Hopefully my summer reading gets off to a better start than my year has and I can come back with an even grander wrap-up at the end of August. Stay cool out there, bookworms!

xoxo, Brittney

Top 5 Tuesday: ABCDE

Hello again, my book-obsessed beloveds! Today I thought I’d jump in on Bionic Book Worm’s Top 5 Tuesdays, especially since the theme for July is so fun: best books by letter. The alphabet-matching is significantly more difficult than I had expected it would be, with some letters being impossible to choose a single top book and others being impossible to find a book I enjoyed enough to count it as a top. All indecision aside, here’s my list of top reads from letters A-E.

So y’all know: Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme where Shanah @ Bionic Book Worm explores different topics. If you are interested in participating she would love to have you! Just ping back your post to a specific post of hers so she can add you to the participants list!

A:

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

If you’ve read my earlier posts, this one definitely doesn’t come as a surprise! Maas’ ACOTAR series quickly became a favourite of mine, with this sequel spearheading it. A Court of Mist and Fury just did such a great job at developing Feyre’s character from the ‘weak’ human trapped in the Fae lands to the independent warrior she becomes. The novel tackles the effects and manifestations of depression and PTSD, takes a good look at a toxic relationship, and demonstrates the value of a relationship–platonic and romantic–based on equality and mutual acknowledgement of worth. Not to mention the complex fantasy plot and steamy romance to wrap everything together! Click here for my full review.

B:

(The) Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler

I was torn between this book and C.C. Hunter’s Born at Midnight for the longest time, but eventually I settled on The Book of Broken Hearts because it has stuck with me the most. A fluffy, cute contemporary romance at first glance, Ockler’s novel also deals with the complexities of family, the difficulty with conflicting loyalties, and finding confidence in one’s own decisions. Emilio is a sweetheart trying to bounce back from a difficult past while Jude is too wrapped up in her sisters’ pasts to let herself see the good in him. The book is sweet and wholesome and genuine and romantic in the best kinds of ways.

C:

Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter

Apparently many of my top books start with Cs! After debating with Colleen Gleason’s patchwork of The Clockwork Scarab (review here), Cassandra Clare’s City of Glass–an all-time favourite–Kevin Kwan’s perfectly ridiculous Crazy Rich Asians, and the pleasant surprise of Lisa McMann’s Crash (review here), I settled on the second of Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girl series. These teen spy action-romance books are in major part the novels that turned me into a reader. Callie in this one is a sophomore in her all-girls spy school thrown for a loop when a bunch of teenage spy guys enrol in her academy. This second book is not only my favourite of the series (and therefore one of my absolute favourites ever) but also the one that introduces Zach Goode, a major early fictional crush (I love sarcastic “bad-boy” sweethearts) and begins the conflict that carries the rest of the series.

D:

Devoured by Amanda Marrone

So on the opposite end of the too-good C books, turns out D books don’t tend to be my favourites. More specifically, the D books I’ve read often happen to suffer second-book-syndrome and lose the excitement of the rest of the series, such as with Dreamless by Josephine Angelini (Starcrossed trilogy) and Darkness Falls by Cate Tiernan (Immortal Beloved trilogy)–both series are absolute favourites but neither D book is. Devoured stood out to me for this because the concept is rather unique. Though the GR blurb waxes on about a love triangle, the real excitement here is a fairytale-based murder mystery with some ghosts thrown in–and yes, of course, that dash of romance. I originally borrowed it from my public library but liked it so much I went out and bought a copy myself! Definitely recommend if you’re feeling for something mysterious and different but easy to read.

E:

Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik

This fluffy romantic retelling of Pride and Prejudice is an all-time feel-good fave. LaZebnik specializes in modern Jane Austen and Epic Fail most certainly did not disappoint! Elise is a perfectly sarcastic and protective Elizabeth, sure of herself and her contentment without Derek, who is withdrawn and irritating enough for you to resent like Darcy but not so much to be irredeemable or unforgivable. The Bingley and Jane are positively heartwarming-ly adorable and the Wickham is charming enough to delude until you learn why he’s trash. It’s also still a great read if you haven’t read Pride and Prejudice–I read this before I read Austen’s original and loved it just the same! One caution is that this is not for those iffy on the romance genre since this one here is pure love story, but if you also have a sweet tooth specially for saccharine romances then definitely give it a shot!