Top Ten Books When You Need Something Light and Fun

Top Ten Tuesday2

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is such a good one. I love light and fun reads because I feel like they come in handy whenever I feel like a book slump is about to occur. Or when I want to cleanse my reading palate after reading a dense fantasy novel or an emotionally heavy book. I don’t have to be in a certain mood to read books like the ones I’ve included here, I can just pick them up whenever I want to read something that’s easy to get into. In no particular order, here are my top ten light reads:

I Do and At First Sight by Elizabeth Chandler – Bantam’s Love Stories series was the YA series to follow back when I was a teen. These two by Elizabeth Chandler are my favorites. I can’t even remember the number of times I’ve reread these.

Fairy Tale Fail by Mina V. Esguerra – I feel like I’m a broken record because I keep saying this but Mina is my favorite Filipino chick lit author. I could relate to her novels because they’re about young Filipino women and her books are set in the Philippines.

Something About You by Julie James – All of Julie James’ romances are filled with a healthy dose of humor, which is why I enjoy reading them. Something About You is the first in her FBI/US Attorney series and my favorite so far. There’s just something about main characters who keep bickering to hide their attraction.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins – Such a swoon-worthy novel set in one of the most romantic cities in the world. Really enjoyed the tension between Anna and Etienne.

The Chocolate Thief by Laura Florand – Another novel set in Paris! But adult contemporary romance instead of YA. Couldn’t help but feel good whenever I read Laura Florand’s novels – I’m a fan of how she combines romance with delicious food.

Laduree macarons

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen – This one might not be considered light because the main characters have to deal with some pretty serious issues but there’s something magical about the writing that makes it so much fun to read.

A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson – The first Eva Ibbotson novel that I ever read and it’s still one of my favorites. I love the fairy tale feel of this historical fiction novel.

Silent Blade by Ilona Andrews – I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed reading this since I’m not a sci-fi girl. I didn’t get confused by the details of the sci-fi setting and I really liked the romance

The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley – I could relate to Harry’s thirst for adventure and I loved living vicariously through her (and all other strong female characters I admire).

The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner – I know, I know. A book riddled with political intrigue isn’t usually considered light fare but I’ve reread this book so many times that it has just become a comfort read. Plus, Gen is always good for some laughs.

I’ve noticed that most of my picks for light reads are contemporary novels and that ALL of them have some kind of romance in them. It sure looks like I enjoy a well-written love story in my feel good reads. Do you agree with some of my choices? What are some of your own favorite light reads?

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books I Read Before I Was A Blogger

Top Ten Tuesday2

I’ve been wanting to participate in Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) for a while now but I keep forgetting about it. I only remember when I see tweets from other bloggers and by that time, it’s already Wednesday in my side of the world. Fortunately, I looked up the topic ahead of this week so now I get to put up my first ever Top Ten Tuesday post! Most of the books that I read nowadays are recommendations from trusted book bloggers and friends. Because there are so many reading choices out there, I rarely read books just based on the cover and synopsis. Back before I started blogging, that’s how I found out about books though. In no particular order, here are some of my favorites before I started my blog in 2010:

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale – I can still remember seeing the pretty cover, illustrated by Alison Jay, and thinking that the book looks like something that I’d enjoy reading even if I wasn’t that familiar with the original Goose Girl story. My instincts were right, I fell in love with The Goose Girl and it’s still one of my favorite fairy tale retellings. It was an added bonus that I discovered other favorite titles through Shannon Hale’s recommendations in her blog.

Goose Girl_Alison Jay

The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner – My love for MWT’s books knows no bounds, I even organized a Queen’s Thief Week to celebrate her work. I’m always curious whenever a review mentions writing or characters similar to MWT’s (although more often than not, I get disappointed because my expectations are so high). I’m so glad Shannon Hale featured MWT on her blog because that’s how I discovered this amazing series. Before my blog, I usually got ideas of what to read from Sounis, the LiveJournal community for MWT fans. I was pretty active there back when I was still using LiveJournal.

Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith – Another title that I discovered through Shannon Hale’s blog! During the time I discovered Crown Duel, I was starting to realize that I have a thing for fantasy novels and it definitely fit the bill. I also loved how nice and friendly Sherwood is to her fans, she’s quite active in the Athanarel LiveJournal community (another source of excellent recommendations before I started my blog). I was lucky enough to meet her in person when we had a Sounis/Athanarel meet up back in 2009:

Sounis Athanarel Meet Up

I Do and At First Sight by Elizabeth Chandler – I’ve talked about the Love Stories series several times here on the blog. That was the series that I closely followed as a teenage girl and Elizabeth Chandler’s I Do and At First Sight are my favorites. I can even remember the number of times I’ve reread these books. They’re out of print titles, otherwise I’d probably get duplicates because my copies are so battered.

Stardust by Neil Gaiman – I remember borrowing a copy of this from a college friend and I knew after finishing that I had to get my own copy. I got a paperback that I let my friends borrow and also a graphic novel edition because the artwork by Charles Vess is just lovely.

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman – I read this trilogy back in college, based on the recommendation of a classmate. It was during finals week and I was supposed to be studying instead of reading for pleasure but I couldn’t help it, the series was just too good to put down.

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling – I found out about this series in high school. It was my mom who got me started on Harry Potter, she got me copies of the first four books that were out then. After that, I eagerly waited for the release date of books five to seven. I had to watch the movies in cinemas as soon as they were shown too. I followed this series from high school to college up until I started working. I really am part of the Harry Potter generation, it was a part of my life for so many years.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis – This series is one of my childhood favorites. I discovered it because some of the titles were available in my grade school library. Unfortunately, they didn’t have all of the books in the series. I only got to read the entire series when I ordered copies online when I was in high school (bookstores in Manila didn’t have such great stocks back then). I get the feeling that I can read the Narnia books as an adult and I would love them just as much as I did when I was a kid.

A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson – Here’s another title that I found interesting because of the cover and title. I checked the premise at the back and thought that the book looked like something I’d enjoy reading. I was right. This was my first taste of Eva Ibbotson’s writing and she quickly became a favorite author after I finished reading this.

A Countess Below Stairs

The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley – I love kick ass heroines in fantasy novels and Harry is one of my favorites. I’m a fan of girls who take matters into their own hands, instead of waiting to be saved or rescued by someone else. Each of Robin McKinley’s novels has a heroine like that, which is why she’s an auto-read author for me.

I guess I cheated because I included trilogies and series in my list but I couldn’t really help it, there are just way too many good books out there. I had a hard enough time narrowing down my list. What about you, what are some of your favorite books that you read before you started your blog? How did you discover them?

Hot Summer Nights by Elizabeth Chandler

I don’t know how I missed reading Hot Summer Nights by Elizabeth Chandler back when I was in high school because her other two books in the Love Stories series, I Do and At First Sight are my favorites. It’s an out of print book but I’m thankful that Celina was able to get one for me. Thanks again, Celina!

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

Carly McFarlane needs to find a guy… for someone else! Her plan is guaranteed to stop flirty Heather from going after every boy Carly dates: She’ll snare the perfect match for Heather, and then find her own true love.

Carly thinks funny, athletic Jack Ryder is the ideal guy for Heather. But as soon as she sees them together, Carly knows she’s made a big mistake. Will she help her friend hang on to this major hunk… or will she steal him for herself?

Look at that old school cover! I find the outfits hilarious. But then again, that was the fashion in the 90s, when this book was published. Sometimes, it’s refreshing to read an oldie but goodie like this one, where teens don’t have to deal with the cyber age. Based on the title, it’s obvious that the book occurs during summertime. Athletic Carly is working as a counselor for a bunch of first, second and third graders. This summer, she’s determined to set up her best friend Heather with the perfect guy because she’s fed up with Heather stealing the guys that she dates. Carly doesn’t really blame the guys for falling for pretty and delicate Heather, who’s also a ballerina. She finds the perfect guy to match with her best friend in her artistic co-counselor, Jack. He’s good-looking, funny and available. Unfortunately, things backfire when Carly realizes that Jack is indeed perfect but maybe not for Heather.

As always, Elizabeth Chandler has a spunky, sporty female for a main character. They’re not girly in the sense that they don’t bother with pretty outfits or make-up and instead focus on being active and doing sports all day long. I like laid-back girls like that because I feel like we’d get along well (even if I’m not the least bit sporty – I’d probably be athletic if I wasn’t so lazy). One thing I noticed about all of Elizabeth Chandler’s novels in the Love Stories series is that the family of the main character plays a significant role in the story. In this case, what was highlighted was Carly’s relationship with her pregnant older sister, Joelle. I liked the development of Carly and Joelle’s relationship. What bothered me though was how Carly can be best friends with Heather when it seems like Heather is a superficial kind of girl and she’s only interested in guys already attached to Carly. Anyway, I liked the book as a whole because it’s another light and fun read from a favorite author. I hope she writes more of these kinds of stories because I enjoy reading them. I recommend this for fans of Elizabeth Chandler or those who like the Love Stories series.

Retro Friday: At First Sight by Elizabeth Chandler

Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Angie over at Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc.

What better book to post about this Christmas Eve than a favorite holiday read? At First Sight and I Do by Elizabeth Chandler are my favorites in the Love Stories series published by Bantam Books. I loved them when I was a teenager and I’ve reread them so many times that I know the story by heart. My copies of both books are already yellowed with age. If only these books were readily available, I’d get new copies.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

Allie Parker is dreading Christmas break. She’s leaving boarding school to go home to watch her twin sisters and their superficial friends. So when Allie meets Ben Harrington on the way there, things are looking up – until she discovers that he’s a basketball star and one of her sisters’ crowd. Allie writes him off. How could he be interested in a serious girl like her. But the more she sees of Ben, the less he seems like the jock type. Is there more to Ben than meets the eye?

I love rereading this book during the holidays because it’s a fun read and it’s set at Christmastime. Allie has spent most of her school years at Fields School, a boarding school exclusively for girls in Maryland. Her parents travel all over the world for her dad’s job so the kids were sent to boarding school for some stability. Once Allie’s parents decided to settle in one place for good, her twin sisters, blond and beautiful Sandra and Julia opt to leave Fields to study at a regular high school. Allie isn’t looking forward to going to their new home for Christmas. All her friends are in Fields and she always feels self-conscious around her sisters. She knows she looks nothing like them, she’s not popular and she doesn’t spend hours fixing her hair or choosing her outfits.

At 208 pages, this book is a lightweight but I really like how well-developed Allie and Ben were as characters. As Allie learns more about Ben, she realizes that he isn’t like the rest of the popular crowd, he’s not superficial and is actually very sweet, especially when it comes to his younger brother, Tim. I loved all of their scenes together because you can really feel the tension between them. All throughout the holiday break, they keep dancing around each other, unsure of the other’s feelings and not willing to risk their new-found friendship. And it all leads to a satisfying New Year’s Eve conclusion. The entire Love Stories series is already out of print. Most of my copies have already been passed on to a younger cousin (and I hope she enjoyed reading them as much as I did) but I kept a couple because I just couldn’t let go of them. At First Sight made an impression when I was young so it will always have a special place in my heart. If you get a chance to read this, I’d love to know what you think.

That’s it for today, I hope you’re all enjoying the holidays. 🙂 Merry Christmas, everyone!

I Do by Elizabeth Chandler

Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Angie over at Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc.

I’m going old school this week by featuring one of my absolute favorites back when I was in high school – I Do by Elizabeth Chandler. Teens are so lucky nowadays because they have so many YA books to read. When I was a teenager, there weren’t a lot of choices in terms of reading material. I remember collecting as many books as I could in the Love Stories series published by Bantam Books because those were the only YA romance books that I knew about. My favorite books out of that series were the ones written by Elizabeth Chandler. It’s funny because Angie was just talking about “make me feel better books” and this book is a comfort read for me.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

Weddings are the perfect place to fall in love…

Jane is not looking forward to being the maid of honor in her cousin Stacy’s wedding. To make matters worse, Adam, the biggest jerk at Tilson High, is going to be the best man! The last thing Jane wants to do is walk down the aisle with him. But the more Jane gets to know Adam, the more she realizes that he’s actually a very cool guy. And now she finds herself wishing that the wedding would last forever…

Based on the summary, you can totally tell that it’s a love-hate relationship, right? I’m such a sucker for those when it’s done well. Jane is a sports writer in the school newspaper and her snark is in full force when she writes about the male varsity lacrosse team. She’s frustrated that the team isn’t maximizing its full potential and she doesn’t understand why. Enter the team captain, Adam. He proves that he isn’t a dumb jock by writing a letter to the editor in response to Jane’s articles. Needless to say, these two don’t get along. The fun starts when Jane suddenly gets drafted to become her cousin’s maid of honor and it turns out that Adam the is best man. Sparks fly, swoon-worthy scenes turn up and there’s even a one-on-one lacrosse match between these two. I also liked the secondary characters in this book, which is saying something considering that it’s such a slim book and there’s not a lot of room for development. Here’s a conversation between Jane and her grandpa that I really liked:

“Things change when someone special comes into your life. Both sides have to give up things. The one thing you don’t give up in a good relationship is you – whatever makes you most you.”

“It’s been my experience,” he continued, “that when you’re with the right people, you feel more like yourself than ever. There’s a happiness, and a feeling of coming alive to yourself and the other person, that’s like nothing else.”

I don’t know if I’m biased because I read this when I was younger and it’s been a favorite ever since but I really love this book. While reading this, I didn’t even know what lacrosse was. Well, I know it’s a sport played in the States but I’ve never seen a game. I’ve reread my copy so many times that it’s not just yellowed with age, it has become battered. I want to get a better copy but sadly, the book is out of print and it’s not that easy to find copies. I tried to look for reviews from other book blogs but it looks like no one else has reviewed this. If any of you get a chance to read this, please let me know because I’d love to know what other people think of this book. Oh and if you’ve read this, did you like it as much as I did? 🙂

Love at First Click by Elizabeth Chandler

I Do and At First Sight by Elizabeth Chandler are my favorite books in the Love Stories series so it’s only natural that I gobbled up Love at First Click when I got the chance to read it.

Here’s the summary from the Harper Collins website:

I could no longer deny what the heat in my cheeks meant when I was around Flynn. I was falling for my sister’s boyfriend.

There’s just something about Flynn. Yes, he’s a tall, unbelievably gorgeous, dark-haired football player, but… he’s also sweet and nice and super easy to talk to. It’s lucky I’m the photographer for the school paper, because my camera likes Flynn almost as much as I do. Unfortunately for me, so does my sister, and there’s no way I can nab Flynn with her in the picture.

But could this be the real thing?

Hayley is the school newspaper’s photographer. She’s only a sophomore but she’s really good at what she does. She’s the only photographer allowed to cover football games because Coach says the team has to focus and not be distracted by other people. Hayley knows she’s no distraction. She’s not like her older sister Breeze, blond, green-eyed and a bombshell. Breeze suits her name because she flits from one guy to another. Everyone is surprised when Breeze gets dumped by her quarterback boyfriend. Although no one was surprised when Breeze starting going out with Flynn, the football star who also got dumped because he broke his arm in a game.

Suddenly, Hayley’s not so comfortable with her role as the not-so-popular sister. Hayley has a camera crush on Flynn, her camera hones in on him whenever she covers games. Now that he’s dating her sister, he’s too close for comfort. Is Hayley willing to admit that she has more than a camera crush?

This is a pretty thin book that’s perfect for a summer read, you can bring it to the beach and finish reading it in one sitting. Most of Elizabeth Chandler’s YA romances have similar plots – they usually have characters who love sports and the same is true in this one although Hayley is not an athlete. Hayley’s pretty easy to like, she’s a down to earth, easygoing type of person. Even though she doesn’t have much in common with Breeze, she tries to get along with her sister because their dad is spacey and their mom passed away when they were young. This is a fun book to read if you’re looking for something light but I still prefer I Do and At First Sight. The ending of this one was a little abrupt for me. I was hoping for an epilogue or something.

Some Light Reading

I picked up both Summer in the City by Elizabeth Chandler and Major Crush by Jennifer Echols from Fully Booked the other day. I bought Summer in City because I loved At First Sight and I Do, both books written by Elizabeth Chandler for the Love Stories series. I collected that series back when I was in high school and I still have several copies of the books but my favorites are the ones by Elizabeth Chandler. I bought Major Crush because I’ve become a fan of Jennifer Echols ever since I read Going Too Far. I’m more than willing to read any of her books and I can’t wait to get my hands on Endless Summer.

Here’s the summary of Summer in the City from the Harper Collins website:

Athletic Jamie isn’t sure about spending the summer in the city with her romance–novel–writing mum. But when she meets irresistible Josh, Jamie realizes she could probably use all the romance advice she can get!

Lacrosse camp 9 a.m.–noon (can’t be late! “Coach” Josh will freak out)

Basketball camp 1:00–4:00 (so many screaming kids. . . )

Shopping with Mona 4:30 (finally a break)

Date with Andrew 7:30 (he’s so perfect. . . isn’t he?)

Elizabeth Chandler’s love stories are always fun to read because they revolve around two characters who are athletic and very good at their chosen sport. In Summer in the City, Jamie is a basketball player who got a scholarship to play in college but she decided to give lacrosse a try while spending summer vacation in Baltimore. Josh, an incoming sophomore and lacrosse team player in one of the colleges in the city, is the coach for her lacrosse summer camp. There was a lot of tension between these two. Even though they’re attracted to each other, they were both trying so hard not to fall in love. I loved the summer tone of the whole book. You can actually feel the heat and humidity as the characters down bottles of water after sports or drink iced tea while hanging out.

Because I re-read I Do and At First Sight countless times, I noticed a lot of similar scenes from those books and even a couple of identical lines in this one. Nonetheless, it’s still a really enjoyable read.

Here’s the summary of Major Crush from Jennifer Echols’ website:

Tired of the beauty-pageant circuit, Virginia Sauter tosses her tiara, pierces her nose, and auditions for the most unlikely of roles – drum major of the high school marching band.

Virginia wins, but is forced to share the title with Drew, whose family has held the position for generations. Sure, Drew is hot, but because of his superior attitude, he and Virginia are constantly arguing. That is, until they share more than just their half-time salute…

But as the drum majors’ heated competition turns to sizzling romance, explosive rumors threaten everything – including the band’s success. Love seemed to be a sure hit, but Virginia and Drew may be marching straight into disaster.

In Jennifer Echols’ website, Going Too Far falls under the label of “romantic drama” while Major Crush falls under “romantic comedy”. I would definitely agree with the comedy part because this book made me laugh out loud a couple of times. I haven’t read a lot of teen romance books with band members in them and it was interesting to know that there’s a lot going on in a school band. In a small town where the school band is a big thing, the most popular guy in school is the drum major (the leader of the band) and not a jock.

Virginia was previously a queen of beauty pageants but she decided to pierce her nose, run around barefoot all the time and pursue her passion for drums. She decided to run for drum major because a girl has never gotten that position. She didn’t expect to win or to share the glory with last year’s drum major, Drew. Even though Virginia has a huge crush on Drew, she doesn’t want to work with him and she knows Drew doesn’t want to share the role of drum major either. Forced to play nice with each other, sparks fly and they discover that there’s more to the other person than meets the eye.

There you have it, folks. Two light reads from teen romance veterans, which are perfect for the summer. Although technically, summer is already over here in the Philippines, I’d have to say we still qualify because we only have two seasons anyway: hot and hotter. There’s nothing like a bit of romance to make your summer sizzle. 🙂