Tomorrow is Valentine's Day and I debated if I should do a related blog or not. I considered doing a tag or talking about my favorite book romances or simply romance novels. None of those ideas really appealed to me, though. I ended up finally settling on doing a blog about things (tropes, writing styles, character types, etc.) that I love to read in books. I figured it fits the Valentine's theme since it's things I love and Valentine's Day is all about love. It also allows me to give specific recommendations based on what I love so that if our tastes align you'll have some books to potentially add to your TBR. This was inspired by one of my favorite booktubers (book Youtubers) BooksandLala. You can find a link to the video that inspired this blog at the bottom of it! Enjoy!
1. THE FRIENDS-TO-LOVERS TROPE
Since this is my Valentine's Day blog I had to talk about my favorite trope from the romance genre. I think it's true in both real life and fiction that people who start off as friends have the strongest foundation for a solid romance. There's just something so sweet about stories featuring friends who develop a deeper connection. I think book couples in this trope have the best chemistry. My favorite examples of this trope include: January and Gus from Beach Read by Emily Henry (adult romance), Zorie and Lennon from Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett (YA contemporary romance), Jude and Reese from The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett (adult historical fiction), and Monty and Percy from The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (YA historical fiction).
2. STRONG FRIENDSHIPS (Just like BooksandLala, but with different recommendations!)
This goes along with number one, but friendships don't always have to transform into more in order to be impactful and meaningful. I think books so often focus on romance that they forget to write solid friendships and/or make friendships a focal point of the story. My favorite fictional friends/friend groups are: Sirscha and Saengo from Forest of Souls by Lori M. Lee (YA fantasy), Tarisai, Kirah, Sanjeet, and Dayo from Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko (YA fantasy), and Lucy and the other children from the orphanage in The House in the Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune (adult contemporary fantasy).
3. FLOWERY/LYRICAL WRITING
I know this is a bit of a divisive opinion as there are plenty of people who abhor flowery writing. However, I am a poet and so I'm naturally drawn to writers who are capable of painting a pretty picture with their words. It helps me to feel drenched in the world. I think this writing style lends itself extremely well to fantasy in particular and especially fairy tale like stories which happen to be my favorites. A novel that does this well which I just recently read is Among the Beasts and Briars by Ashley Poston (YA fantasy). Another lyrical book (that's an all time favorite of mine) is The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X. R. Pan (YA contemporary/magical realism).
4. MORALLY GREY CHARACTERS
I have always valued good character development both in my own writing and in books I read. You can craft an exceptional plot line and build a fantastical world, but I believe that the characters are a novel's heart. They are what drives the story forward. Morally grey/ambiguous characters are my favorite type because they are so complex and open the door to more convoluted backstories. They're fun and unpredictable and your feelings about them are complicated. My favorite examples of this include: the main cast from the Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo (YA fantasy), the characters of the Folk of Air trilogy by Holly Black (YA fantasy), and Victor and Eli from Vicious (they're more morally corrupt than grey) by V. E. Schwab (adult sci-fi).
5. OWN VOICES FANTASY
I love fairy tales and mythology and am so fascinated by the various mythos from around the world. I am not a big nonfiction reader (though I'm making an effort to read some this year) as I find it can come across as dry and boring. However, I find learning about various cultures' mythology through own voices (authors who trace their heritage back to the place the mythology comes from) novels to be so much more engaging. Some of my favorite own voices YA fantasy novels are: Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan (Malaysia), Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim (China), Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust (Persia/Iran), Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez (Bolivia), and A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown (West Africa).
BooksandLala's Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5GB_Ovs3gjs