On Trilogies

Three is the best number of books to read in a series (or movies to watch.)

Controversial thought. Yay or nay?

Many of my favorite book series (and movie series) are trilogies. There is just something about the set-up in the first book. The real drama of the second book. The cliff hanger that brings you into book three. The neatly wrapped-up plot of the three books in the third. On a reread of the series, there is only three books to read.

I know that sometimes a series is good if there are more than three books (but name one…I’ll wait.) Often a series becomes more complex and unbelievable, moving away from the story told in the first few books. Of course, a well plotted series can support more than three books. As a reader, I just find trilogies to be the sweet spot. For me.

Now that I am on summer break, I am re-reading Claudia Gray’s Firebird trilogy. It is a fabulous YA series that follows the daughter of two brilliant scientists through parallel dimensions to avenge her father’s killer. Of course, there is futuristic London, a version of imperial St. Petersburg, and swoon-worthy heroes. I am not always a sci-fi fan, but this trilogy does not really feel like sci-fi.

Some other favorite trilogies include:
1. The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare (do or don’t judge me. Your choice.)
2. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
3. The Summer I Turned Pretty series by Jenny Han
4. The Caraval Series by Stephanie Garber
5. The Little Lady Agency series by Hester Browne
6. The Dark Days Club series by Alison Goodman
Of course there are others. I also have favorite series that have four books or 22 books. Some, I even thought were trilogies and was confused when plot points were not wrapping up at the end of book three (looking at you The Raven Boys.)

You know that there is no shame on this blog. You know that I believe people should read what they like and love. So, get out there and read some of your favorite trilogies. Or don’t. Read a stand alone. Read a book of short stories. Read a series that won’t end. It’s your reading life. So live it.

Leave a comment below with your favorite trilogies or your ideal number of books in a series.

YA Book Review: Mirage

I am allowed to read Young Adult books.

We are all allowed to read this genre. Some of the most moving and interesting stories that I have encountered in my adult life have been about teenagers. There seems to be this freedom in the genre for the authors. Perhaps they don’t feel that they have the limitations of adult literary fiction and they have a less critical audience. Whatever the reason, us benefit from their ability to indulgence in their own imaginations.

I pretend that I read YA for my job. I mean, I DO read YA for my job, but often read it for me. Last week, I read Mirage by Somaiya Daud. Here are my thoughts about it.

 

Mirage

BEYOND THREE STARS RATING: 3.5 Stars.

In Mirage, the main character Amani, is kidnapped by an evil regime due to her resemblance to its princess. Amani must try to impersonate this princess or risk the lives of her family and herself. While she does does enjoy the benefits of living in a palace, rather than her poor village, she is always in danger of being discovered and losing everything.

I did not do enough research on this one before I read it and did not realize that it was scifi/fantasy. That one is on me. I am never good with world building and trying to picture a new world always makes the reading experience a bit challenging.

Setting/genre aside, I really like the main character and her gradual development of confidence and sense of identity, even as she was trying to learn to become someone else. The mythology and poetry were gorgeous, as was our main love interest Idris.

I am not great with books that take place on a variety of planets, with new technology, but I enjoyed everything else about this one. I probably would have loved it, if I was more of a sci-fi/fantasy fan.

 

“Guilty Pleasure” Book Review: The Happy Ever After Playlist

Using the term in quotations makes it not real, right? Remember, no shame allowed on this blog!

After Buzzfeed published its list of romance novels to read over the summer (you know, beach reads, mainly targeted at women..which I love,) I immediately put holds on most of them. Buzzfeed does do a great list of books. This particular list was diverse and intriguing to a teacher about to have a lot more time for reading. I have gotten through a few on the list and wanted to spotlight one that many people loved and I found to be just okay.

The Happy Ever AFter Playlist

The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez

BEYOND THREE STARS RATING: 3 STARS

Trying not to give books three stars, but honestly, I found this one to be just okay. The Happy Ever After Playlist starts out with a dog jumping into to the car of Sloan Monroe; a character who lost her fiance in an accident and is having trouble finding herself and moving on. Luckily for her, the dog’s owner, handsome rockstar Jason, is away and she has found herself a new friend in the dog and a flirty penpal in the man.

The plot was fun and predictable. The characters were quirky and mostly well rounded. I really liked the main character’s best friend who was fierce and protective of Sloan, but also hilarious. I really enjoyed the villainizing of the media and music industry. The story does dig into grief, loss, and the toll fame can take on a person’s mental health fairly well. Sometimes it all seemed a little overly dramatic to me and I worried that it made the otherwise strong Sloan seem like she needed saving, but this drama certainly added to the evolution of the characters and their relationships.

Otherwise, I mostly finished it to finish it. Cute, but nothing super special…to be fair, I am very hard to surprise or impress when it comes to this type of novels.

If you are looking for something fun, you can find it here!

On Recommendations: Continued and Why I Use Databases for Mine

When people find out I “read,” they also want to know my favorite book or what I recommend they read.

This is always a bit of a delicate situation to find myself in. As readers of previous posts know, I am not great at expressing extreme opinions (Libra problems,) I am always loathe to divulge “guilty pleasure” reads that I enjoyed, and I do not want to recommend something that the asker will not like.

So, I tend flip the question back around, “What do you enjoy reading? What is the last book you finished and liked?” Why just recommend a book, when I could recommend something that I know they will enjoy, that suits their tastes, and that might make them think?

The act of recommending books should be a deeply personalized experience. That is why I try to approach book reviews with caution. I want to explain what I liked or did not like, not what everyone will like and dislike. There are many types of readers, just as there are many types of books. What works for one reader, will not necessarily work for every reader. I have been caught up in this pervasive general consensus mentality in 2020 too many times. Everyone has to like the same shows, movies, and books, disliking all the same in those categories. It seems like the only time people are allowed a real opinion is when it comes to food. Our taste buds are allowed to be critical, but our brains are not.

That changes now.

With all of this in mind, I have been attempting to create a database of adult books that I recommend, similar to my book database for students. That way, when I am approached for a recommendation, I can send a link, show them some favorites, and some genres. Thus empowered, they can choose for themselves. They can read what they WANT to, not what they think that they HAVE to.

For now, my database is a Google Doc. Over my summer break, I intend to turn it into a Google Sheet. Check it out here: Kelly Recommends. It is a WIP, with a lot of mystery novels set in England. Oh well, I like what I like.

Also, check out my book database for middle school and high school students. There are some great books for 11-18 year olds and beyond.

What are some books that you always recommend?