Top Ten Favorite Romances

Last week, I participated in my very first Top Ten Tuesday. This week, I’m shaking things up by doing the Top Ten Tuesday on a WEDNESDAY FRIDAY. I’m a loner, Dottie! A rebel!

In all actuality, I had my list put together yesterday Tuesday, but I didn’t plan ahead and wound up having to grade (and then grade some more. And then do some other stuff). The professor life is the opposite of the glamorous life. It ain’t much, it ain’t much.

This week’s topic? Favorite romances!

Should I bore you with my process? Basically, I’m going with couples except for my top number one pick (all of the rest are in no particular order). Drumroll please!

1. Sharing Sam by Katherine Applegate: Every love triangle of all time pales in comparison to what Applegate does in Sharing Sam. I mean, this is a true love story on all sides.  Sam wants to be with Alison, and Alison wants to be with Sam. But guess what? Her dying best friend likes Sam, too! So what does Alison do? Tells Sam to date Izzy.  And it’s just LOVE on all sides. Because Alison loves Izzy who loves Sam who loves her but also loves Alison! Everybody loves everybody! And friendship trumps all. So, basically, everything about this book is great and everybody should read it, the end.

2. Mia Thermopolis and Michael Moscovitz from The Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot: I love them together and separately. I also love how Cabot deals with Mia’s immaturity throughout the series, especially when it comes to being in a relationship with a slightly older boy/man.

3. Ben and Nina from the Boyfriends/Girlfriends series by Katherine Applegate: From unrequited love to first love. What could be more perfect? What I really like about them, though, is that they get each other. He gets her humor; she understands how he wants to be treated. They don’t pity each other. And best of all, his ex-girlfriend is her sister, and it doesn’t even matter because everyone knows Ben & Nina are the better match.

4. Sophie and Howl from Howl’s Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones: She’s a young woman stuck in an old lady’s body. He’s an arrogant, self-centered wizard. The best thing is that the book is a romance wrapped in a fantasy-mystery…thing. So I didn’t even realize I was reading a romance until I started rooting for those two crazy kids to work it out. And then I was all, “Sophie + Howl = 4EVAH!!!”

5. Ella and Prince Charmont from Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine: Don’t let the movie fool you. Book Ella and Char have one of the best romances ever. They’re friends first, and while he is clearly digging her, their relationship doesn’t truly grow until she goes away and they become pen pals. Through the exchanging of letters, they come to truly know and love each other.

6. Mary Anne and Logan from The Baby-Sitters Club series by Ann M. Martin: He’s a boy babysitter who noticed shy Mary Anne. Plus, he loved her haircut when everyone else treated her like a pariah (best word I ever learned from a book? Probably). Possibly my first ship before I even knew what that meant.

7. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley from The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling: I love them both, separately and together. Also, I want to be adopted by the Weasleys, and that’s mostly because the parents are so great.

8. Nat & Edan from The Girl Friends series by Nicole Grey: These two, oh my word. So Nat is crazy because she’s been hurt a lot in the past. And Edan is crazy about her. The two are immediately drawn to each other when they first meet. I’m talking sparks flying, insta-attraction, super blazing hot chemistry. But it takes them forever to get together because everything is pain with her, and all he can do is try to show her he’s serious and not just After One Thing. Also, he’s white and she’s mixed and this is post L.A. riots and she is eschewing all things white in order to embrace her blackness. Plus the town skinheads are harassing her family. He doesn’t let her push him around, but at the same time he’s patient with her and willing to give her space. So when they finally do get together, officially, it’s a delicious payoff. Plus? He’s a horticulturist, and he names a flower he creates after her.

9. Lizzie & Chaz from The Queen of Babble series by Meg Cabot: My favorite, favorite thing about their relationship (and the book series) is that they both start off with other people, they both think those other people are The One, but when those relationships fall apart, the love they have for each other as friends turns into something more romantic. Especially because Lizzie is truly herself with Chaz. She’s not trying to impress him. He knows exactly who she is and how she is, so their relationship, though unexpected, is genuine and honest and helps Lizzie figure out that her expectations about what love should be and how it should look are not realistic. Some readers have an issue with how the series end, but I think they miss the point. Love is not about image or spectacle. It’s about what’s true and what really matters. I think Lizzie and Chaz’s relationship embodies that throughout.

10. Friends and Lovers by Eric Jerome Dickey: This novel is the story of two pairs of friends who fall in love with different results. This is one of my favorite EJD novels. Both couples’ stories are heartbreaking and hopeful in their own ways. Also, I have a lot of nostalgia around this book because me and two of my friends all passed it around and loved it and it gave us something to talk about and share.

Please share your favorite romances in the comments!

Book Review: Looking for Alibrandi

In my quest to consume all things Melina Marchetta (well, at least all contemporary realistic lit things), I sought out Looking for Alibrandi, the one book of hers I hadn’t read.

This review wilLooking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchettal be brief as I don’t have that much to say about the book. The language, as always, is beautiful, and the relationships are well-drawn. But I feel like most of this operates as a sort of blueprint for Saving Francesca in that some of the same elements are there (foursome of female friends, hyper-intelligent and privileged guy, working class and quietly brilliant guy, etc) though they’re not as well drawn in Looking for Alibrandi.

The novel follows Josephine (Josie) through her senior year of high school and is largely told in episodic vignettes. She learns about her past, connects with some people, loses some people, and finds herself. Standard coming of age novel. The one element that’s different, really, is Marchetta’s exploration of how an ethnic population in Australia (the Italians) constantly bumps up against the “native” or “true” Australians (not Aboriginals, of course, but white Australians who have no real ties to a specific European ancestry).

Anyway, I found this book a lot slower moving and less engaging than Saving Francesca or The Piper’s Son, but I did enjoy Josie’s relationships with her grandmother, mother, and Michael Andretti.

I also think it’s pretty obvious that this is Marchetta’s first book–especially having read her later work. Definitely good for completists, but I’m not entirely sure I would have sought out more of her work with as much fervor if I had read this first.

Source: Library

Oh, so my new thing I’m trying out is tracking books mentioned in other books. So at the end of each post, I’m going to note the books/authors mentioned in a book.

Books Mentioned in This Book: Mr. Galliano’s Circus by Enid Blyton

Top Ten Best Bookish Memories

Mama’s first Top Ten Tuesday! I’m so excited to participate in this one because bookish memories are some of my favorite kinds.

1. Jimmy’s Boa Bounces Back – My first grade teacher gave me this book with a sweet note insideTop Ten Tuesday. I still have it.

2. My dad builds me a bookshelf. – When I was in elementary school, my dad brought home a bunch of wood and made me a huge bookshelf. I had it for years and years–until I left home for grad school, in fact. My parents and I share a place, and I asked him if he could build another one. This one would be for my daughter.

3. Royal Reader – When my daughter was in first grade, her class had a Royal Reader program. An invited grown-up (usually a parent or other family member) would come to the class, walk down a red carpet to the throne, get a crown, and then read a story to the class. Then, the teacher would lead a discussion about the book, and the Royal Reader got escorted out. IT WAS AWESOME. I don’t remember what book I read, but it was so fun.

4. My daughter dresses up as Nyara from Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters – First grade again! The kids dressed up as characters from their favorite books. My daughter chose Nyara (the kind daughter). We had to work together to fashion something appropriate since we didn’t have any traditional garb. But it worked. Her classmates got it, and she was thrilled so I was, too.

Bonus! I just discovered you can read/listen to the book here. Such a great book.

5. McNair Fellow Research Project – In undergrad I got accepted into my school’s McNair Scholars Program. During the summer of my junior year, I participated in the Fellow program, which meant I got to complete a research project. My topic? Series teen fiction. Specifically, investigating why the main characters were always blond. I’m not a big research person, but re-reading some of my favorite series and doing research on teen/romance lit was a lot of fun.

6. Introducing my daughter to picture books I loved as child: Frog and Toad Are Friends, Danny and the Dinosaur, and The Great Big Elephant and the Very Small Elephant just to name a few. These make the list because she actually enjoyed them as much as I did–even if she was initially resistant.

7. Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows release – I left a party to go pick up my book. My friend (who hadn’t read the books yet) went with me. I regret nothing.

8. Friday evenings at Borders  – Almost every weekend, my daughter and I would go to Borders. I miss Borders so much, guys.

9. Friends of the Library Book Sale – Twice a year, the Friends of the Library host an awesome five-day book sale. IT IS AWESOME. Typically, my daughter and I go every year. When my friend (the Deathly Hallows one) was in town, we would go together with our bags and our srs bzns shopping faces. So many great used books/movies/games. So much money spent with all the proceeds going to library programs. Everybody wins.

10. Meeting Walter Dean Myers – I met Walter Dean Myers  when he came to town to participate in a presentation with a bunch of other authors. He signed my copy of Monster. Best day ever.