The Best Trash Romance for When You Feel Like a Trash Person*

Novels, YA Fantasy, YA Fiction, YA Romance

If anyone ever finds my Kindle, they are going to be horrified by the amount of embarrassingly non-age appropriate fiction on there. I’m serious. I live and die for books that sound like they’re written for thirteen year old girls. I also have a frightening amount of romance novels that I downloaded because A. they were free or less than two dollars and B. they were about college students and I thought I could relate to that but then they ended up actually being erotica. I should have figured considering they all had shirtless men on the covers. Either way, if you’re into books that have little to no plot outside of girls trying to tame their men, boy do I have some suggestions for you.

First up: The Selection series by Kiera Cassthe_selection
The Selection is essentially the same as The Bachelor except it takes place in a dystopian future in which the United States has been replaced by a monarchy called Illea. Also, to make things more exciting, there’s a caste system now. Adding more fuel to the fire is the fact that Prince Maxon is ready to get serious about being a ruler, which means it’s time for the Selection to take place, which is how America Singer ends up competing on national television to win the heart of Prince Maxon and become a part of the Royal Family. Of course, the story wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention that there’s also a love triangle and political revolution. Lots happening here. I highly recommend it.

Secondly, we have the Significance series by Shelly Crane.
If 18176917you think that I’m making fun of these books, think again. Think about the fact that I am a 23 year old woman whose career path has literally nothing to do with writing or literature at all and I still spent two consecutive days reading all four books in this series instead of working on my thesis. Significance has a plot so ridiculous that I hate that I loved it so much. It’s like when Jacob from Twilight imprints on Bella’s freak vampire baby, except less original because it’s literally the exact same thing but with a teen human instead of a baby. Maggie is a normal teen girl living her normal teen life, until one day she accidentally touches Caleb and is physically and emotionally bound to him for the rest of her life. This is rough for everyone involved because Caleb’s cousin Kyle has a big ol’ crush on her. This continues on to be the plot of the next three books. Also, they have super powers.

Third: Various Collegiate Hockey-Themed Romance Novels 51zhvoes2bfl-_sy346_
I understand that this is a very specific category. However, I have six individual books on my Kindle all falling under this umbrella. First, there is The Year We Fell Down by Sabrina Bowen. All Corey wanted her freshman year of college was to play varsity ice hockey, except she can’t anymore, because now she’s paralyzed. She’s in the handicapped suite of her dorm, directly across the hall from BMOC Adam who happens to be a varsity ice hockey player that is in the other handicapped dorm due to an injury he’s recovering from. I don’t feel like I have to explain the rest. (Spoiler alert: they obviously fall in love, it’s practically not even a spoiler because why would you even read a romance novel if it didn’t end perfectly). Next, there is Roommates by Tara Brown (under pen name Erin Leigh). Brady is a soon-to-be professional hockey player and notorious playboy in need of a roommate. Aspiring graphic designer and recent grad Natalie aka Nat needs a place to live. Although they’ve never 27276645met each other, the two have mutual friends and decide to live together. Since they’ve never met, Brady thinks Nat is a dude, Nat thinks Brady is a girl, and despite the mix-up they end up living together anyway. Much like The Year We Fell Down, I don’t feel like I have to explain the rest to you. Except for the fact that this was surprisingly sexually explicit, so don’t read it next to your mom. Finally, there is the Off Campus series by Elle Kennedy. There are four books in the series, each one focusing on a different hockey player at a small private university and how they each inevitably find themselves head over heels with a headstrong girl who somehow mana24920901ges to tame their inner bad boy. This is in Amazon’s “College and New Adult” section of the Kindle Store, which I never knew existed until I looked it up just now, but assume that these books have adult themes considering the cover of each book is just some dude’s abs. That being said, I love a good love story and these are fast, easy reads if you have some time to kill. Also of note, these books don’t have to be read as a series. Since they each focus on a different male and female couple, they can be read independently. Although, there is a tiny bit more character development if you read them in order. Because that’s why you’re reading these. For the character development.

So there you have it. Books for when reading something intelligent is too much to handle and you just want to read something easy, cute, and quick. Don’t get me wrong. These books aren’t lesser than any of the other books on this blog. I’ve read every single one of them, some of them twice, and I’m writing about them now so I obviously don’t hate them. Take a break from reading whatever the annoying know it all girl in your book club picked to make her seem more thoughtful and intelligent and read some fun trash romance. I hope you love it as much as I did.

*These books are not trash. They just won’t impress people when they inevitably ask what you’re reading, so keep that in mind so you can think of a good alternate answer to tell them.

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“December Park” by Ronald Malfi

Horror, Thriller

december-park-malfi-250x330December Park by Ronald Malfi was far better than I was expecting it to be. Mostly because I definitely judge a book by its cover, and it has one of the uglier covers I’ve seen. Design aside, December Park  was a pretty solid read. But reader beware: this one was lengthy. I didn’t mind it much because I enjoyed the story and the character details, but for those looking for a quick scare this 756 page thriller might not be for you.

The whole book had a very Stranger Things vibe to it, so if you’re a fan of the show, you’d probably enjoy the book. It focuses on teenager Angelo Mazzone (Angie for short) and his four friends in a usually peaceful, small seaside (bayside? cape-side? I don’t know the difference) town in Maryland. The town, Harting Farms, has recently seen a number of disappearances and nobody knows why. The police say they’re runaways, but the town believes they have a serial killer on the loose: The Piper, who lures the children away. When Angie and his friends see the cops recover the body of one of the missing kids, they decide to insert themselves into the investigation and catch the Piper themselves. Set in the early 90’s, the gang of boys patrols Harting Farms by bike. Again, very Stranger Things, just a different decade. The difference with December Park is that there’s nothing supernatural going on here. It’s all just straight up human psychopaths.

I really liked this book. I thought it had a bit of a slow start, but I’m glad I stuck with it. Even though I was reading about a group of teenage boys, it didn’t seem like I was. Told from Angie’s perspective, it’s written elegantly and the story flows together really well. I loved all of the characters, except for the ones I was supposed to hate. My only complaint is the ending. While the suspense built for the entire book and the end definitely creeped me out, I still can’t decide how I feel about it. It threw me for a bit of a loop and I had to reread the chapter just to make sure I had interpreted everything right, and I’ve got some mixed opinions. Read it for yourself and you decide.

Rating: 4.5/5

“The Ocean at the End of the Lane” by Neil Gaiman

fantasy, Novels

I adore Neil Gaiman. I hadn’t read any of his books until early last year, and still haven’t rocean_at_the_end_of_the_lane_us_coveread many of them, but every one I have read has been everything I’d hoped it would be. I won’t go into a lot of detail about the plot of this one. Some of the reviews I read prior to diving in to this book revealed a big part of the story that I wish I had been able to discover myself, so I am going to be careful not to give anything away.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a beautiful story about a man who returns to his childhood home (or where it used to be) and is drawn to the old farmhouse at the end of the lane where he remembers playing as a boy. He finds the house still inhabited by the Hempstock women and begins to recall the strange events that took place when he was seven years old, many years ago. The man’s memories come flooding back to him when he makes his way to the pond near the farmhouse, or what his childhood friend Lettie Hempstock referred to as “her ocean.”

The thing I liked best about this book is how imaginative it was. It was written beautifully and I could picture every event that took place without it seeming too much like a fantasy. While this book is definitely categorized as fantasy, nothing seemed over the top or ridiculous. If I had described the entire plot to you, you would say, “that sounds completely ridiculous,” but The Ocean at the End of the Lane is written in such a way that you are seeing the world through the eyes of a seven year old boy. Even things that don’t seem real can still make complete sense, and sometimes it’s the not making sense that makes them more real. Things just are. A major theme that stood out to me in this book was the mind of a child and how different it is from the mind of an adult. One quote in particular was my absolute favorite:

Adults follow paths. Children explore. Adults are content to walk the same way, hundreds of times, or thousands; perhaps it never occurs to adults to step off the paths, to creep beneath rhododendrons, to find the spaces between fences.”

I’m not sure what else to say about this book, but I think that quote really sums it up. It’s a quick read, only 180 pages. I easily could have read it in one sitting had I not had to go to work. If you like fantasy, or if you aren’t sure you like fantasy but are a little intrigued, give it a try.

Rating: 5/5

“Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits” by David Wong

Humor and Satire, Novels, Sci-fi

fvafs-cover-10012015“In the near future, somewhere in rural Colorado…

If Zoey Ashe had known she was being stalked by a man who intended to kill her and then slowly eat her bones, she would have worried more about that and less about getting her cat off the roof.” 

That is the first sentence of Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits by David Wong. It pretty much sums up the vibe of the entire book. Zoey Ashe is a 22 year old barista living in a trailer park in Colorado. When her estranged billionaire father dies and leaves her his fortune, she has no idea what to think and even less of an idea of what to do when she ends up in the lawless city of Tabula Ra$a, a futuristic Las Vegas where there is no government, everything is legal, and everyone is trying to kill Zoey in order to steal her inheritance. While all this is happening, Zoey and her late father’s closest colleagues find themselves in the middle of a battle between good versus evil.

This book has a lot going on.

I think it probably would make a great movie. Tabula Ra$a is like an even more futuristic version of Dubai, filled with skyscrapers covered in video skins, drones that deliver tacos to wherever you’re standing, and bridges that you can swim across. The world that David Wong builds is really, really cool and a lot of the more action-packed scenes played out in my head like I was watching the movie Transformers if Transformers didn’t suck. That being said, I also felt like this book really dragged on and repeated itself. Thing happens. Thing leads to bigger, more dramatic thing with a twist. Thing is resolved. Slightly different but mostly the same thing repeats. There were several moments when I thought for sure I was almost done with the book and then when I checked where I was on my Kindle I was only at 30% or 50% done.

I would recommend this book for people who aren’t so much into science fiction but rather are into the whole superhero/Marvel Comics type thing. Sure, there’s some futuristic tech that basically drives the entire plot of the book, but the main focus is definitely on the idea of being a hero or a villain and what that means. It’s funny and crude and not the most reverent story, and Zoey’s character reads a little more like a 15 year old boy than a 22 year old girl, but all in all it was pretty solid. It might have felt like a long read, but it definitely wasn’t a boring one.

Also, I feel like I should mention that Zoey’s cat is named Stench Machine.

Rating: 3/5

 

“A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman

Books I Hated, Novels

A Man Called Ove is about a curmudgeon of an old man who hates everyone and everything that does a-man-called-ove-9781476738024_hrnot act or work the way he wants them to. He sees the world in black and white, right and wrong, useful or useless. He spends his days running through routines that have been set for years and finds interacting with his neighbors to be completely intolerable. Ove has suffered a great loss and is dealing with the passing of his wife. And by “dealing with the passing of his wife” I mean planning his own death so he can be with her. Pretty bleak, right? Enter Ove’s new neighbors, a young couple and their two children who seem to interrupt every attempt Ove makes at finding peace. I would assume the rest of the book is about them weaseling their way into his crusty little heart.

I did not finish this book. I couldn’t do it. I hated it. It pains me to say I hated it because it came highly recommended to me by multiple people and is a New York Times Bestseller with fantastic reviews, but I hated it. Perhaps I didn’t give it enough of a chance, but after sitting down with it every day for days on end and only being able to read a few pages at a time without growing bored or literally falling asleep, I gave up.

A Man Called Ove seems like it could be a very heartwarming story about a man who lost the light of his life only to find it again in a friendship with his new neighbors. I understand that people like reading about that kind of thing. I am not one of those people. I officially gave up at page 129 of 357. Ove was not a likable character and I did not empathize with him. Sure, his backstory was interesting but I felt like it didn’t justify his behavior. I was also shocked to discover he is only 59 yet spends the entire first third of the book acting like he is 95.  This book had a slow start and characters that did nothing to catch my attention or make me want to keep reading. The neighbor family was annoying and almost seemed like a caricature or exaggeration of themselves. I also wasn’t crazy about the writing style, as it seemed repetitive and a little over the top to me.

This book has 4.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon, so the majority of readers enjoyed it. This type of fiction is not my cup of tea and I was very hesitant to read it in the first place, but clearly A Man Called Ove is doing something right. Maybe between books in the future I’ll try to keep pushing through it and provide another review if I ever finish, but for now I think I’ll put it back on the shelf.

Rating: 2/5, Did Not Finish

 

“Eleanor and Park” by Rainbow Rowell

YA Fiction, YA Romance

Those who pass up this book because it looks like it was written for fourteen-year-olds are really missing out. I first heard about Eleanor and Park from my mother, who told me I absolutely h15745753ad to read it. My mom typically reads books about women struggling to survive in East Asia or queens getting their heads cut off, so it was a strange recommendation coming from her. I went for it.

Eleanor and Park is the story of two teens in Omaha, Nebraska in 1986. Park is 5’4″, half-Korean, into punk music and black t-shirts, and doing his best to maintain just enough popularity in order to avoid being the weird kid. Eleanor is a big (she says fat) redheaded girl who dresses in eccentric clothes and is impossible not to notice, despite the fact that all she wants is to be invisible. When Eleanor sits next to Park on the bus on the way to school, Park is sure she’s ruined his stint of popularity for him. Over the course of a school year, Park and Eleanor slowly fall in love despite all the things holding them back. Eleanor and Park is a fantastic story of first love, how awkward it can be, and how it takes every last breath out of you.

Eleanor and Park is not a particularly fast read. I read it slowly and carefully, not wanting to miss a single detail. I’m a sucker for love stories, and this one captured me immediately. I felt like the characters were genuine and ridiculous – what most teenagers in love typically are. It was witty and cheesy and fun. It was awkward. It was everything you would expect a novel about two in-love teenagers in Nebraska would be. I also think it’s the best of Rainbow Rowell’s books, because there’s also a level of seriousness to the entire thing. People tend to dismiss high school romances, but Rowell does a fantastic job of presenting it as the most important thing that has ever happened to Eleanor and Park. It wasn’t something fleeting, it was forever.

Overall, I’d definitely recommend this book before any of Rainbow Rowell’s others. Fangirl and Attachments are both good in their own right, but in my opinion are fast reads and make no lasting impressions. Eleanor and Park is good for those who want to branch out into reading YA Fiction but don’t want to feel like they’re reading a book written for kids. It’s good for someone who wants to read a book about love and romance with an added layer of innocence.

Rating: 5/5!

 

“Dark Matter” by David Crouch

Sci-fi, Thriller

This book seriously messed with my head. Maybe it’s just been a little too long since I took dark-mattera science class, but if you ask the people on Amazon.com, it messed with their heads too, so I know it’s not just me.

“Dark Matter” tells the story of Jason, once aspiring physicist, current mediocre physics professor, living with his family in Chicago. I have no idea why but I imagined him as Kiefer Sutherland. We’ll roll with it. Anyway, Jason is more or less satisfied with his average life. He always imagines what it would have been like if he put his career before his family, but in general is happy with where he ended up. Until he gets kidnapped and shoved in a box and wakes up in a world where he did put his career first and his entire life has changed.

Jason wakes up in a world that is the same, yet not his own, with people he has never met. His wife is not his wife, his son was never born, and everything is familiar yet vastly different. He is determined to get back to the world that he knew, where his wife is his wife and his son exists, yet has no idea how to get there or what has happened to him. He spends the rest of the book trying to get back to them, encountering road blocks at every turn. It’s difficult to give an accurate description without giving the entire plot away, but there’s the gist of it.

“Dark Matter” was a quick read. While some of the sciencey parts required a couple of re-reads before I really figured it out, I got through the whole thing in one sitting. Crouch creates a tale that sucks you in far enough that you need to know what happens, and spend the whole book trying to figure it out. It was filled with twists I didn’t see coming, and I couldn’t put it down. If you’re a fan of science fiction and thrillers, this is definitely the book for you.

5/5

“The Road” by Cormac McCarthy

Post-Apocalyptic/Dystopian

gbmm6lnThe Road by Cormac McCarthy has some seriously mixed reviews on Goodreads. This surprises me, considering it’s won several awards and was made into a movie in 2009. You’re probably like, “why are you reviewing a book that was published 10 years ago? Who even cares?” Whatever, dude. I’ve never read it, it always pops up on different book recommendation websites and threads on reddit and on my “Recommended for You” in the Kindle Store, so why not. Here’s what I thought of The Road:

I definitely should not have finished this book in the middle of class. This book is, in my opinion, more horror than post-apocalyptic fiction. It tells the story of a nameless man and his nameless son traveling south in a version of our world completely devoid of life. Some horrifying event has left the Earth scorched, lifeless, and covered in ash so thick the days blend into the nights. Animals and plants are no longer able to survive. Few humans are left, and the ones who are aren’t the kind you want to be friends with. There you have the basic plot. The story is simple but the events that took place left me both horrified yet hoping that somehow the man and the boy would find a way to persevere. To continue “carrying the fire,” so the man would say.

I’m typically the kind of person that likes more prose-y writing, so this book really did it for me. I know a lot of people aren’t into the whole poetic, minimalist writing style. If that’s not your thing, you might have a hard time with this book. The dialogue can sometimes be difficult to follow due to the lack of punctuation, often apostrophes are left out and quotations are gone entirely. I’m totally cool with that. I think it makes me pay more attention, figure out what’s happening, which character is feeling what. It did get confusing at times. The Road redeems itself in this aspect with the descriptions McCarthy provides. Even though the world he’s describing is completely horrifying, it’s beautifully written.

“He walked out in the gray light and stood and he saw for a brief moment the absolute truth of the world. The cold relentless circling of the intestate earth. Darkness implacable. The blind dogs of the sun in their running. The crushing black vacuum of the universe. And somewhere two hunted animals trembling like ground-foxes in their cover. Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it”

I loved The Road and I hated The Road. I loved the prose-like feel of it and I thought while the story was relatively simple it kept me engaged the whole time, and I hated it because it made me want to cry. Like I said, I shouldn’t have finished this book in the middle class. It left me depressed and horrified, which is exactly what I wanted it to do.

Rating: 5/5

 

“Poison Study” by Maria V. Snyder

YA Fantasy

My initpoison studyial thought when beginning Poison Study was that it was definitely going to be a hit or miss. Luckily, it was closer to a hit for me.

Although Poison Study may not be the most sophisticated book, for YA fantasy it was surprisingly good. Yelena is a teenage girl in jail for murder, something she openly admits to. Unapologetic for her actions, she has been rotting in the dungeons of Ixia for months when she’s offered the position of Food Taster for the Commander, which essentially means if anyone attempts to poison Ixia’s leader, she’ll be the one getting poisoned first. Trained by her handler Valek, Yelena must learn to defend herself and her Commander and hopes to plan an escape. However, Yelena quickly finds it will be much more difficult to survive outside the castle walls than she thought (mostly because she’s a murderer, even if she had a good reason for it). All in all, Poison Study is a book about a girl who for the first time in her life must learn not to run away, but instead to confront her past while attempting to stay alive in her present.

I personally tend to feel that YA fiction can be pretty predictable. While some of Snyder’s storyline was typical for the genre, the world-building in Poison Study provided an awesome backdrop for Yelena’s story. The kingdom of Ixia was believable and interesting, and the culture she created made Yelena’s character seem a lot more real. The characters were great. I could see Yelena change and grow throughout the book as she shed the girl she was in the dungeon and tried to figure out who she was supposed to be. Snyder threw in quite a few twists that I hadn’t seen coming and had me changing my opinion on one specific character time and time again, and didn’t leave any of the characters one-sided or forgotten.

My one and only complaint about Poison Study is the Yelena and Valek storyline, which probably makes me cynical and annoying. While the emotions felt real, that YA romance has been told time and time before.

All in all, Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder was a pleasant surprise. While I’m not sure I’m in it for the long haul through the entire series, it was a great start. (Followed by: Magic Study)

Rating: 4/5