Let’s Talk About Tropes, Baby

I’m gonna come right out and say it: cliches get a bad rap and it’s maybe unwarranted.

Humans are limited. Let’s face it. We’ve been telling the same stories since we’ve had writing. I love me some ancient Lit, and let me tell you that you’ll find the same themes in The Epic of Gilgamesh as in a lot of your current faves. It’s what we do! I think as long as a story is told in a new, fresh way, there’s merit to tropes, cliches, re-tellings.

Here are some of my favorite, and some of my not so favorite, tropes/themes/devices/plots:

Older Character Changed By Young Character

Okay my best example of this is the movie Up. I, sadly, haven’t seen it as well utilized in a novel. But I love it and I seek it out and if you know of a novel that does this well please tell me.

Amnesia

I don’t know why, but I love amnesia plots. I’m such a sucker for it. I think it’s because I adore an unreliable narrator, and watching my protagonist’s internal battle is just the best. My favorite example for contemporary is probably Remember Me by Sophie Kinsella, and for an AMAZING sci-fi one, Archetype.

Scavenger Hunts

Scavenger and/or treasure hunts. Anything in this realm, really. The farther someone has to go, the better. I love it. I like it with magic, I like it with contemporary. I’m just all about it. I see a lot with my kiddo when we read middle grade novels, but I’m SO STOKED because I just got an e-arc of The Summer List, which is an adult novel about a scavenger hunt and I’m SO here for it.

Doomed Love

You’ll notice there has been nothing explicitly romantic on my likes thus far, and it’s because I’m not particularly attached to any (with this one exception). I think most romance tropes are silly. I also think a good romance can overcome a bad trope.

The one I am such a sucker for is doomed love. Going back much further than Romeo and Juliet. I love any story with starcrossed lovers, and honestly if they die, I’m totally cool with it.

Good Girl Loves Bad Boy

No! No no. I hate this. I mean, there are examples where this can be cute and work out, such as in One Of Us Is Lying, but that’s because he’s really a good person in bad circumstances. The ones I hate are like in Hexed, where the guy treats her like garbage and objectifies her and she loves him regardless. We can have nice, decent men who are still fun and sexy. Less packaging abuse as love k thanks.

Super Unusual Names

This is newer? But I’m seeing it a ton. My most recent example being As You Wish, where EVERY name was ridiculous. I accepted that the town had a secret, wish-granting cave. But I can’t abide the names.

Love Triangles

I KNOW THIS IS CONTROVERSIAL. It’s just not for me. I always like one, hate the other, and get mad at our hero/ine for having to make the decision at all when it’s so obvious.

#TeamPeeta

#TeamJacob

Instalove

Sigh. Instalove is unrealistic and obnoxious and very difficult to root for and somehow doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. I just wrote about it in terms of Starswept, a book that I liked otherwise.

Chosen One

I love Harry Potter, and he’s quite literally the chosen one, I know. But come on. It’s too much now and I’m over it.

Girl Who Is In Every Way More Competent Than Boy Becomes A Damsel In Distress In The Third Act

I mean I think that says it all.

What about you?

What are your favorites? Do you like/dislike any on this list?

Amazing Indie Bookstores in Denver

Oh my gosh. So I just want you to know that I set out from my town with a list of ten bookstores I wanted to go visit. And I spent so much time in each one that I only made it through four. But! I will do a part two to this, and maybe start a little earlier in the day.

What I like is that the four stores I went to are very different. Such varied vibes in each one and different things depending on what you’re looking for.

4280 Tennyson St.

303-284-0194

bookbardenver.com

Bookbar is SO. Effing. Cute. It’s also very put together, by far the most so on this list. It’s VERY cutesy and cozy and just so comfortable. They also have wine and their snacks are book themed!

There’s a separate room for children’s books and then this little back room, also! How freaking cute and cozy is this?!

I will also say that Bookbar had by far the most bookish stuff. Everything from Jane Austen socks to Eleanor Roosevelt candles. Yes, Eleanor Roosevelt candles.

Awesome sisterhood stuff, not just in this little section but at the counter and throughout.

I also want to say that the girls I spoke to who worked there were SO NICE. So helpful, so kind. It makes all the difference in the world.

200 S Broadway

(303) 744-2665

http://www.broadwaybookmall.com/

I actually found this one on accident! And I could not be happier.

Can I say I LOVE the small, cluttered bookshop thing? I wanted to look around forever.

Rare and signed books behind glass, naturally.

Broadway Book Mall has a little something for everyone! A lot of fun prints and just random bookish stuff. The man working was also amazing, and spent some time to tell me about events they do there!

ALSO VERY IMPORTANT: several signs said they allow dogs in!

210 S. Broadway

(303) 744-1043

www.fahrenheitsbooks.com

Fahrenheit’s books is smaller than the other shops I made it to, but the stuff in here is great! Their wall of comics/graphic novels is particularly impressive.

The girl working was very, very kind. I found myself talking to her and chatting with her naturally, and that’s not my general energy. They also had a very cool little selection of interesting tarot cards, which I think is awesome.

3434 W 32nd Ave

(303) 480-0220

http://westsidebooks.com/

I have to say that West Side Books is my favorite. Possibly one of my new favorite places, ever, full stop.

The front area is very tidy and organized, but still interesting, with art and cool knick knacks everywhere. But the rest of the bookstore is absolute magic. More of a maze than anything. Beautiful, ordered chaos.

Again, I love the books spilling onto the floor. I love the little handwritten notes all over telling you to ask about different sections. It’s not cluttered due to little space, but due to so many books.

I think it’s great that the staff picks aren’t all new, shiny, “pretty” books!

I saw some amazing things here! Awesome vintage children’s books and something signed by Anthony Burgess (come on)! Just so much amazingness.

And because they’re amazing, here are the things I bought:

At Bookbar, Bad Girls Throughout History. THIS BOOK IS GORGEOUS and the illustrations are beautiful and the info is phenomenal and I just love it.

At Broadway Book Mall, a copy of The Bell Jar (which I collect and buy every time I find it) and an awesome print!

At Fahrenheit’s Books, A book on Klimt for my best friend, whose birthday just passed.

And at West Side Books, Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman which I used to own but lost? (which is so not like me) and never finished, a Carl Sagan finger puppet/magnet, and a signed(!) copy of Burnt Tongues.

Chuck Palahniuk is one of my favorite authors, I’ve done a post on it before, and now I touched something he’s touched!

 

What about you?

Do you make an effort to go to indie bookstores? How are the ones where you live?

Way Hyped Books That I STILL HAVEN’T READ

It’s officially 2018. How does that even happen? The last few years seem to have flown by in a manner that I’m deeming simply unacceptable. And somehow, still, in 2018, there are some REALLY popular books that I still haven’t read. Here’s a list! Please let me know which ones you recommend I move to the top of my list.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Okay this story about not-so-openly-gay Simon has a 4.27 on Goodreads, and MANY bloggers I follow and trust gave it amazing reviews. WHY HAVE I NOT READ THIS YET? (No, seriously, why?)

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

This I know has to be a masterpiece. I love the title, love the cover. Ah. I’m obsessed. About Aristotle and Dante and their relationship. It has a 4.34 on Goodreads! WHY?

Geekerella

Geekerella

FIRST OF ALL THIS IS ABOUT A GEEK GIRL. That’s my everything. Geek girls are my everything. WHY HAVE I NOT READ THIS. With a 4.08 on Goodreads. I need it. I don’t love the cover? Has that deterred me? I don’t know what in the world my problem is.

Cinder

Cinder

THIS WHOLE SERIES THOUGH. It’s fairy tale retellings? I love fairy tale retellings. This has a million jillion reviews, most of them amazing, and has a 4.15 on Goodreads. Is this the year? I did finally buy this.

Legend

Legend

Okay I recently bought this one too! And with this one, I have more of an understanding of why I haven’t read it. I know it’s gonna be good, okay? I get it. I just don’t love dystopians much anymore? It’s not my favorite. This one has a 4,19 on Goodreads and I know I’ll get there when I’m in the right mood for it.

Red Queen

Red Queen

This one sounds so amazing. ANOTHER that I have purchased but have not read? Why. WHY VANI? I’ll get there. 4.08 on Goodreads.

Six of Crows

Six of Crows

Okay I’m gonna tell you the truth on this one, don’t throw rocks at me. I tried. I started this. I got about thirty pages in? Y’all. It’s SO MANY CHARACTERS. And like so much world-building so fast? I was exhausted. I think I need to start again in a better head space. 4.46 on Goodreads! That’s nuts! I gotta make it happen.

Illuminae

Illuminae

SCI-FI! I love YA sci-fi. I don’t know that much about this one? I know from the reviews I’ve seen that I’ll like it. I trust that I will. It’s just… low on my radar? 4.32 on Goodreads!

A Court of Thorns and Roses

A Court of Thorns and Roses

Okay real talk, I recently found out I’m mixing this up with like three other books/series? I don’t even know. I have no excuse for myself. 4.28 on Goodreads!

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

To All the Boys I've Loved Before

This sounds so cute. And right up my alley! I love contemporary YA. I know I will love this. Why haven’t I made it happen?! 4.11 on Goodreads.

 

Alright! This is my list of shame. Let me know which ones are the most dire, please!

13 celebrity memoirs

13 Celebrity Memoirs Worth Reading

Celebrity memoirs are iffy.

I’m always a little hesitant to pick up a memoir anyway, because something about it seems oddly arrogant? “I’m super important. People need to know about me.” Are you? I’m not sure.

But I do read quite a few. I love travel memoirs, I’m really drawn to reading about others coping with mental illness, addiction, etc.

And I think there is a lot to be said for certain celebrity memoirs. So I’ve gathered some of my favorites, of varying topics.

In no particular order:

Tina Fey – Bossy Pants

13 Celebrity Memoirs Worth Reading!

“Some people say, ‘Never let them see you cry.’ I say, if you’re so mad you could just cry, then cry. It terrifies everyone.” 

I absolutely adore Tina Fey. I vote to remove all forms of government world-wide and name Tina Fey and J.K. Rowling co-captains of the universe. This book is absolutely hilarious, in the most honest way. She’s unfiltered about her experience as a woman in her industry, which I think is so welcome and necessary. She speaks honestly and openly about being a mother. The whole thing is beautiful.

Amy Poehler – Yes Please

13 Celebrity Memoirs Worth Reading!

“Saying “yes” doesn’t mean I don’t know how to say no, and saying “please” doesn’t mean I am waiting for permission.” 

Yaaaasss Amy! Amy Poehler is effing hilarious. I’ve loved her since Baby Mama, and I was ecstatic to get my hands on her book. Her voice and her spirit comes right through when you read it. It’s amazing because the goal isn’t humor. She’s so open and honest about her life, her ex-husband, it’s just beautiful.

Lauren Graham – Talking As Fast As I Can

13 Celebrity Memoirs Worth Reading!

“I guess what I’m saying is, let’s keep lifting each other up. It’s not lost on me that two of the biggest opportunities I’ve had to break into the next level were given to me by successful women in positions of power.”

I don’t see how anyone could not like Lauren Graham. I love Gilmore Girls, have watched it through too many times to count, and I think you can see how Lorelai wouldn’t have been what she is without Lauren. I was so excited for this book! She talks about college, auditioning, and her time on Gilmore Girls and Parenthood (among many other things). So worth the read!

Stephen Fry -Moab Is My Washpot

13 Celebrity Memoirs Worth Reading!

“I used many times to touch my own chest and feel, under its asthmatic quiver, the engine of the heart and lungs and blood and feel amazed at what I sensed was the enormity of the power I possessed. Not magical power, but real power. The power simply to go on, the power to endure, that is power enough, but I felt I had also the power to create, to add, to delight, to amaze and to transform.” 

Ugh. Stephen Fry is just… he’s just amazing. I like some celebrities, but I feel a genuine adoration for this man I don’t know. The book has very dark moments, but is filled with such honestly and lightheartedness. He talks about his life as a young gay man. He talks about time spent in prison. I have had zero of the experiences he has, and I felt connected to every word, like I lived it myself. I can’t say enough about this.

Chelsea Handler – Lies Chelsea Handler Told Me

13 Celebrity Memoirs Worth Reading!

“My tendency to make up stories and lie compulsively for the sake of my own amusement takes up a good portion of my day and provides me with a peace of mind not easily attainable in this economic climate.”
I don’t know that I’ve ever laughed aloud so many times during a nonfiction. Most of this doesn’t actually come from Chelsea, though she has written several awesome books. This one is a collection of stories from her friends about the ways in which Chelsea has lied to them. There is one about a dog and her ex-boyfriend that I have probably read thirty times, and laughed endlessly each time.

Russel Brand – My Booky Wook

13 Celebrity Memoirs Worth Reading!

“I regret that I didn’t realize that actually they’ve got no power over you at school — it’s all just a trick to indoctrinate you into being a conditioned, tame, placid citizen. Rebel, children, I urge you, fight the turgid slick of conformity with which they seek to smother your glory.” 

I think there is something to be said for Russell’s particular way of writing. His sentences are gorgeous and it obviously takes brilliance to write them. It is so fun to read beautiful, well put-together sentences about things like sex addiction and heroin use. That juxtaposition kills me. This book is just funny. I enjoyed the hell out of reading it.

Lena Dunham – Not That Kind Of Girl

13 Celebrity Memoirs Worth Reading!

“I can never be who I was. I can simply watch her with sympathy, understanding, and some measure of awe. There she goes, backpack on, headed for the subway or the airport. She did her best with her eyeliner. She learned a new word she wants to try out on you. She is ambling along. She is looking for it.” 

This whole book is just so, unbelievably her. If you’re not a fan, you probably won’t like it. But I love her humor, her brutal honesty. If you like Lena, you’ll like this.

Nikki Sixx – The Heroin Diaries

13 Celebrity Memoirs Worth Reading!

“There is something about spending Christmas alone, naked, sitting by the Christmas tree gripping a shotgun, that lets you know your life is spinning dangerously outta control.” 

Nikki Sixx (known best as co-founder of Motley Crue) talks about a year in his life, when his drug addiction was at its peak. I think it’s horribly depressing while being a very adequate portrayal of addiction (though of course, how a rock star does addiction). Lyrics, pictures, artwork, fun extras also inside!

Amy Sedaris – Simple Times: Crafts For Poor People

13 Celebrity Memoirs Worth Reading!

“Sometimes losing a pet is more painful than losing a human because in the case of the pet, you were not pretending to love it.”

This one’s not a memoir, but Amy Sedaris is hilarious.  They’re not real crafts, which isn’t surprising if you’re familiar with Sedaris. They’re crafts no sane person would ever want to do. But it’s so, horribly entertaining.

Neil Patrick Harris – Choose Your Own Autobiography

13 Celebrity Memoirs Worth Reading!

“If you had known people would be calling you by your character name for the next twenty years, you might have asked for a different one. Thunderbolt Howser, say, or Dr. Feelgood, or Baron von Sexy Ass.”

This one is a little different, and it’s NPH so are we really surprised? It’s written in the form of a choose your own adventure novel, while still going through his life. Doogie Howser, sexuality struggles. It’s fun and wonderful, just like the man.

Rob Lowe – Stories I Only Tell My Friends

13 Celebrity Memoirs Worth Reading!

“I’m thinking of how unexpected and yet oddly preordained life can be. Events are upon you in an instant, unforseen and without warning, and often times marked with disappointment and tragedy, but equally often leading to a better understanding of the bittersweet truth of life.” 

So I haven’t been on the Rob Lowe train for that long, considering his insane career. But I have loved him since Parks and Rec, and this book made me love him even more. He is such a genuine, beautiful, unjaded human.

Mindy Kaling -Why Not Me?

13 Celebrity Memoirs Worth Reading!

“And the scary thing I have noticed is that some people really feel uncomfortable around women who don’t hate themselves. So that’s why you need to be a little bit brave.”

I am obsessed with Mindy Kaling, not gonna lie. She is absolutely hilarious. I love to listen to her stances on feminism, race, body issues, anything. I just adore her. So both of her books have been amazingly wonderful for me. I think she is amazing, and should be required reading for women everywhere.

Anna Kendrick – Scrappy Little Nobody

13 Celebrity Memoirs Worth Reading!

“I think I need to become perfect all at once, so I keep getting overwhelmed and putting it off. I can’t remember the last time that I didn’t have something hanging over my head. There are usually about thirty to eighty things. Is that normal? Don’t tell me. If it’s not, I’m a jerk. If it is, that’s super-depressing, and I know I’ll just use ‘this is normal’ as an excuse to procrastinate even more.” 

Anna Kendrick is just such a phenomenally funny human. Is it even possible to dislike her? So witty, so brilliant, so honest, just fun. Read it!

What about you?

Do you have a favorite celebrity memoir? A favorite non-celebrity memoir?



13 Books With Crazy Awesome Plot Twists

Every book addict loves a good plot twist.

My favorites are the ones that make me yell aloud. I’m big on shout-reading (I also squeal-read when people kiss).

I’ve rounded up thirteen books with my favorite twists, turns, and crazy awesome secrets. Some have been made into movies, so hopefully you’ve been able to avoid spoilers! Some new, some old, all amazing.

In no particular order:

Young Adult

One Of Us Is Lying is a YA mystery about five kids who enter detention, but only four come out after one has been murdered.

It’s a quick, easy read and it’s already on the NY Times bestseller list! This is so trippy! I thought about a million possibilities, but never that one.

The Maze Runner is a YA Dystopian about kids who wake up in a glade, and the only way out is through a huge maze that no one has come out of alive.

I enjoyed it SO thoroughly. Hopefully you haven’t seen the movie without reading the book, because it’s definitely worth the read! The ending alone is just amazing.

Looking For Alaska is a YA Contemporary about a kid who goes to boarding school and meets the girl of his dreams.

It’s told in two sections: before and after. I did not expect The Incident AT ALL. So crazy, so devastating.

The Lost Causes is a YA mystery/thriller about an ensemble of kids who are “gifted” with superpowers.

There’s one big twist and a lot of little ones, and one hell of a cliffhanger! I can’t wait for the next book!

The Fault in Our Stars is a YA Contemporary about two teenagers, one with terminal cancer, and another in remission.

Here’s another one that hopefully hasn’t been ruined for you by the movie. It’s hard to imagine that this could have a twist, since it’s about… you know… cancer, you just kind of assume you know what’s going to happen. I was SURE I had it all figured out, and I was ever so wrong. It’s a beautiful, heartbreaking read!

Consider novel by Kristy Acevedo

Consider is a YA Sci-fi, wherein holograms and portals show up all over the world, telling people that Earth will soon be destroyed, and that people can take the portals to a new planet.

I DEFINITELY shouted out loud with this one. SO good, SO unexpected. I love this book, and the sequel.

Adult

The Girl on the Train is a mystery/thriller about a girl who takes the same train ride every day, and one day witnesses a crime.

This one’s a little rough, the main character is really unlikeable so if that’s not your thing, keep it in mind. But the twist! Oh man! There’s a reason this book is so popular, y’all.

Haunted is a weird one, guys. I mean, it’s Chuck P, so of course it’s weird. But even for him. It’s about a group of writers who think they’re going on some kind of writer’s retreat, but the reality is much worse.

It alternates between the main story line about the people, and each of their individual short stories. All kinds of craziness takes place!

Fight Club is about two men who have never been in a fight starting a fight club.

Here’s another one you’ve probably had ruined for you by the movie, but if you’ve managed to miss it, definitely read this book! Such phenomenal writing, such bizarre amazingness, and the ending is crazy as hell.

I know, yet another Palahniuk. Diary is about a woman whose husband is in a coma, and she writes a diary to him while he’s out.

That probably sounds nice, but it’s terrible. Look how worn my copy is! I have read the hell out of this book. Definitely give it a read!

Gone Girl is a mystery/thriller about a man whose wife has gone missing, and the police are trying to figure out what has happened to her and whether he’s responsible.

Yet another movie! And a damn good movie, at that. If you’ve missed it, absolutely check out Gone Girl! I shouted many a times at this book.

Archetype is a sci-fi about a woman who wakes up in the hospital and can’t remember her life.

I’m a sucker for amnesia! And the twist in this one, holy shit. It’s such good stuff. I stayed up all night reading this one!

Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

Odd Thomas is a paranormal thriller about a guy named Odd who sees/helps dead people.

Now, there’s a movie about this one too, but in my opinion it does the book ZERO justice. Please read the book. The big event the whole book leads up to is a surprise, and there are two or three other little moments that make you yell.

 

What about you?

What’s your favorite plot twist in a novel?