Top Ten Series That Should Have Been Standalones

Hey guys! So recently I had a ShowerThought about a first book in a series that I loved, but the rest of the books haven’t really matched that level of awesome. And then I immediately thought of another book that did that too. And then I realized there have to be more and that it might be a fun topic to look into.

Here’s my definition of what I’m talking about: 1) these are books that may have initially been meant to just be standalones and the publisher ordered more books but it was never actually meant to be a series or 2) it was always supposed to be a series but the first book would have been fine on its own.

Let’s get started! Also, if you know of any I’ve left off, feel free to leave them in the comments! I definitely want to hear if you agree/disagree with me as well!

Top Ten Series That Should Have Been Standalones

1.Divergent by Veronica Roth

Funny enough, this wasn’t the first book I thought of, but it’s definitely the best example of what I’m talking about. I’m a fan of this book and I was waiting impatiently, like everyone else, for the final book. But after reading all of them, Divergent is far and away the masterpiece in this series and I almost wish that was the end of it. Like, the rest of the books are unnecessary.

2. A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

This is actually the book that set this off because at the time of writing this, I’m reading the third and final book in this series. And it hurts me that I completely adored the first book so much (Rhen, Grey, and Harper are this amazing trio I just can’t get over), but the rest of the books don’t have that same magic. Book 2 focuses more on Grey and less on Rhen and Harper, which kinda sucked but it wasn’t a bad book, and I’m really missing the urban fantasy elements we got in the first book but have never gotten since.

3. The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

I’m actually almost mad at myself for putting this on the list, but I have my reasons. Look, The Goddess Test is one of my favorite books ever. I reread it all the time. And the other books aren’t that bad either. (I sometimes reread the 2nd one too. It has some really good moments too.) But despite that I actually like some of the other ones, I feel like the plot suffered in them. The relationship between Henry and Kate was what kept the stories afloat. But after book 1, the rest get a bit melodramatic and rely on misunderstandings and overreactions to keep the story going.

4. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

I feel like this one’s going to be controversial with some of you. I thought the premise of the first book was awesome. I loved the idea of magic in the blood and the training and the underground movement. All of that. I even really enjoyed the second book. But. That third book. I just could not even finish it. It was too sadistic, too long and drawn out. Ugh. I think I would have been happier if the series had just stopped with book 1.

5. Freya by Matthew Laurence

I’m not sure how many of you have ever read this series (duology, I think?) but the first book was definitely better than the second. This is about ancient gods who are finding ways to survive in our modern world when people don’t worship them anymore. We follow Freya, who is hilarious and so much fun to watch get into trouble, as she tries to bring down a group that’s kidnapping these gods for their own purposes. By the second book, the story just felt stale.

6. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

This one might be controversial too. So like, ok, I liked the first book and maybe the second, but I either aged out of this series or too much time passed between books and I just lost the thread of it. But I think the premise of the first book was strong and I wish it had stopped there. Or that it had at least stopped when the series was supposed to after 3 books, maybe.

7. If I Stay by Gayle Forman

I don’t actually have a problem with Where She Went, except that it does come across as whiney at times. My thing with this one is that when I think of this book, I don’t even think of it as a series. (Some of you might not even have known there was a sequel.) Granted, I liked seeing what Adam and Mia were up to after the first book, but I didn’t need it.

8. Nevermore by Kelly Creagh

The first book in this series is stunner. A weird dark fantasy that ties itself to Edgar Allan Poe and his stories, this is creepy and funny and strange all at the same time and I loved it. But the second book was rough. Again, maybe I aged out or lost the plot by the time I read the second, but it really wasn’t doing it for me. Perhaps I’ll reread it some day and my opinion will change.

9. Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins

I know I’ve read this whole series, but really all I remember for sure is that I loved the idea of the first book and that it felt recycled and stale in the rest of the books. Higgins is a pretty talented writer (I’ve enjoyed some of her more recent books a lot), but I think, if I remember right, her writing was a bit immature at this time. Or maybe that was just 2000s YA. Either way, I’d have been happy stopping the series early.

10. The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Cordova

Ok, I’m not going to lie, by the time I got to this point trying to find more series I hadn’t liked all the books in, I’ve gone back almost a decade. I don’t remember what happened in this book, but I rated this one a 4 and the second one a 2, which I almost never did back at that time unless it was really bad. So that’s what I’m basing this on.

Top Ten Books on My Spring TBR

Hey guys! So we’re knee-deep in the spring semester now and a delayed show choir season, so I’ve been pretty busy lately. But I’m hoping to get some reviews out! Because let’s not kid ourselves, I’ve been reading quite a bit lately. Sometimes even two books at once.

Since I’m reading so much, let’s take a look at some things I’m hoping to get to soon!

Top Ten Books on My Spring TBR

1.Chasing Lucky by Jenn Bennett

I got this one from the library a little while ago. We’ve just been reading Holocaust books at school lately and I’ve spent more time trying to catch up on those than my library books. But it’s coming!

2. Once and For All by Sarah Dessen

Ditto what was said above. I think this is the only recent Dessen book I haven’t read yet.

3. Rose Blood by A.G. Howard

Ok, I know this book didn’t get a lot of love, so I’m not sure if I’m going to love it or hate it, but it’s a twist on Phantom of the Opera, a story I know pretty well. And even if it sucks, I really want to see what it does. Besides, this is the writer of Splintered, so we know it’s gonna be weird. Just how weird is the question.

4. A Vow So Bold and Deadly by Brigid Kemmerer

This is the final book in this series, and I’m a little hesitant about it. I truly loved the first book, but the second was just ok. I’m not sure how this one’s going to shake up.

5. Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco

I’m trying to keep this series moving. I read the first two pretty quickly and found them to be…predictable. I’m sure this will be the same, but there’s just something about a female forensic scientist in the 1880s-90s that draws me in.

6. Waterfall by Lisa Tawn Bergren

This is a time travel story of an American teenager on vacation in Italy when she accidentally travels back to the 14th century and finds herself in the middle of some kind of feud involving some pretty hunky knights, is my understanding. Even if that’s not quite right, it sounds like a lot of fun and something fun to read out on the back patio in the lovely spring weather.

7. The Upside of Falling by Alex Light

This YA romance follows one of my favorite tropes: strangers pretending to be dating for mutual benefit. Becca’s friends keep bothering her about getting a boyfriend, so she makes up a mystery man. Brett, overhearing this, decides to step in as a way to keep his friends off his case. But these two barely know each other, so things should be interesting.

8. Romancing Mr. Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

This is the 4th book in the Bridgerton series. (I read the first three super quickly–reviews coming.) I’m desperate to read this one, which I’m half convinced will either be my favorite or second favorite by the time I finish. I love Colin.

9. Bring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf

This fantasy has to do with witches and warrior and nobles and revenge, everything that sounds absolutely awesome. It’s got great reviews and I think when I’m in the mood for a good fantasy, this one will be at the top of my list.

10. The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey

*pinches the bridge of my nose* Ok, look. It’s been a while since I’ve read The 5th Wave. But I liked it. And I bought the 2nd book, so I feel like now I have to read it. I keep putting it where I have to look at it and I just never get any closer to reading it. Maybe this time??

Top Ten Love Stories in Fantasy/Sci-Fi Series

Hey everybody! We’ve spent so much time lately taking a look at contemporary romances, but I definitely think it’s worth acknowledging and looking at stories that aren’t conventional love stories with still incredibly believable and addicting characters and plots and love stories.

I think you’ll be able to figure out a few of these already, but they’re worth mentioning again and again.

Top Ten Love Stories in Fantasy/Sci-Fi Series

1. A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas (YA Fantasy)

Let’s not pretend we didn’t know this wasn’t going to be on the list.

2. A Curse So Dark and Lonely, the Cursebreakers series by Brigid Kemmerer (YA Fantasy)

Kind of hard to pretend a Beauty and the Beast retelling wasn’t going to make the list. But I truly do adore this story and how everything unfolds. It’s got all the hallmarks of a great fantasy while introducing us to wonderful characters, including a heroine with cerebral palsy who is so strong and fierce. I love her.

3. The Girl of Fire and Thorns series by Rae Carson (YA Fantasy)

I talk about this one a lot too, but this one leave me breathless. It’s not just a story of finding love with another person–it’s also about learning to love yourself. And that’s even more important than any other love story.

4. Some Girls Bite, the Chicagoland Vampires series by Chloe Neill (Urban Fantasy)

This is my one and only nod on this list to a non-YA series. I know it’s old and vampires are so 2012, but this series just grabs me every. single. time. Merit is turned into a vampire against her will (to save her life) and she’s forced to join the Cadogan house of vampires in Chicago. Lots of paranormal hijinks, but also a love story that will make you swoon. It is…it is something else, let me tell you.

5. Splintered series by A.G. Howard (YA Fantasy)

This retelling of Alice in Wonderland definitely gets marks for being high fantasy. It comes at you fast and very confusingly. But there’s a well written love triangle (something I normally try to avoid anymore) that really shows just how people can appeal to different sides of your personality.

6. Passenger series by Alexandra Bracken (YA Sci-Fi/Historical Fiction)

This time travel story is, admittedly, a little lacking in the sci-fi department if you’re looking for all the science jargon. In fact, maybe don’t look too closely at the mechanics of how the time travel works. But if you want a cool time travel story, this definitely has the adventure and a cute love story to boot.

7. The Taking series by Kimberly Derting (YA Sci-Fi)

I think it’s been a little while since I’ve talked about this series. Kyra disappeared five years ago without a trace, only to suddenly reappear–and not a day older than when she left. Everything she left behind has changed, from her parents getting a divorce to her boyfriend moving on. This story ventures into the land of aliens, which I normally find really annoying, but this series pulls it off, in part because of Kyra’s budding relationship with her ex-boyfriend’s kid brother…who is now the same age she is.

8. Under the Never Sky series by Veronica Rossi (YA Sci-Fi)

This is pretty typical of YA sci-fi at the time this came out (2012), in that we’ve got these domed cities that are save, brilliant meccas of technology and discovery–and being exiled from them is a death sentence. Aria has been cast out, only to fall in with an Outsider known as Perry, who is her only chance at survival. I really liked how the two worlds were presented and how Aria and Perry grew as characters as they got to know and understand each other.

9. Delirium series by Lauren Oliver (YA Sci-Fi)

I know this is an oldie, but I’m watching my students rediscover a lot of books I was reading back in the day and I think this one is worth mentioning. This is a society that has found a way to classify love as a dangerous disease and Cure people of it when they turn 18. Obviously, the plot very much focuses around forbidden love, but the society that comes out of a complete and utter lack of love of any form (familial ties, friendship, passions, etc.) means you’re in a complete nightmare scenario.

10. Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay (YA Sci-Fi)

Ok, fine, so this one isn’t a series, but I still think it’s definitely worth mentioning…and only in part because it’s another Beauty and the Beast retelling. Like Under the Never Sky, this is another domed city story. In this one, though, our heroine is a blind princess and our hero is a half-animal creature who lives outside the dome. It’s a wonderfully twisted, sometimes dark read that is just incredible at building not only the two words, but the perspectives of our two characters. Do you understand the challenges involved with creating a blind heroine, who can’t describe the world around her in sights? It’s amazing and fascinating how Jay pulls it off.

Top Ten Most Romantic Book Quotes

Hey guys! So this may be something you don’t know about me, but I’m obsessed with quotes. It started in high school. You know that part in A Walk to Remember where Jamie has Landon read the quotes to her from her mother’s book and it’s from Corinthians? I was a junior in high school at the time. I immediately thought that was an awesome idea and started filling notebooks with quotes. I must have thousands of quotes in them at this point.

Anyway, I thought it would be interesting to dive back through those archives and find ten of the more romantic, cutest quotes I could find.

Someone, get the smelling salts because we are about to swoon!

Top Ten Most Romantic Book Quotes

1.More Than Maybe by Erin Hahn

“Love is…it’s bringing an umbrella when rain is forecasted, but, like not for you. It’s serenading someone off-key in the kitchen while they chop red peppers lengthwise because they know you like them better that way. It’s pulling the car in backward at night because your partner gets edgy when they have to back into morning traffic. It’s buying moisturizer in bulk because one time they mentioned they liked the scent. It’s noticing things. Seeing parts of them even they might not know exist because you’ve been studying them since the moment you first laid eyes on them. It’s memorizing their phone number even if you have it programmed because God forbid you ever lost your contacts. It’s reading their mood by the song blaring through their headphones. It’s experiencing something so extraordinary you can’t tell if it was just that mind-blowing or if it’s only because they were there with you that you were so affected by it.”

2. Speak Easy, Speak Love by McKelle George

“‘I’m penniless, alas. If I win, I want a dance. If you win, I’ll give you a kiss.’

‘I don’t suppose it occurred to you I might not want your kiss.’

‘If you don’t want it, you can give it back.'”

3. The Edge of Never by J.A. Redmerski

“Parents have this twisted belief that anyone under the age of about twenty simply can’t know what love is, like the age of love is assessed in the same way the law assesses the legal age to drink. They think that the ’emotional growth’ of a teenager’s mind is too underdeveloped to understand love, to know if it’s ‘real’ or not. That’s completely asinine. The truth is that adults love in different ways, not the only way.”

4. A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

“I have no regrets in my life, but this. That we did not have time. That I did not have time with you, Nesta. I will find you in the next world–the next life. And we will have that time. I promise.”

5. Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon

“‘I will find you,’ he whispered in my ear. ‘I promise. If I must endure two hundred years of purgatory, two hundred years without you–then that is my punishment, which I have earned for my crimes. For I have lied, and killed, and stolen; betrayed and broken trust. But there is one thing that shall lie in the balance. When I shall stand before God, I shall have one thing to say, to weight against the rest.’ His voice dropped, nearly to a whisper, and his arms tightened around me. ‘Lord, ye gave me a rare woman, and God! I loved her well.'”

6. Take Me On by Katie McGarry

“‘Don’t think of it as falling. Think of it as jumping–with me.’

‘How is jumping better?’

‘Falling happens. Jumping you choose.”

7. The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White

“I didn’t fall in love with you. I walked into love with you, with my eyes wide open, choosing to take every step along the way. I do believe in fate and destiny, but I also believe we are only fated to do the things that we’d choose anyway. And I’d choose you; in a hundred lifetimes, in a hundred worlds, in any version of reality, I’d find you and I’d choose you.”

8. Through the Zombie Glass by Gena Showalter

“My mom once told me a boy would know he’d become a man when he stopped putting himself first. She said a girl would come along and I wouldn’t be able to get her out of my mind. She said this girl would frustrate me, confuse me, and challenge me, but she would also make me do whatever was necessary to be a better man–the man she needed. With you, I want to be better. I want to be what you need. Tell me what you need.”

9. For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

“The old poems said that lovers were made for each other. But that wasn’t true for Kai and Elliot. They hadn’t been made for each other at all–quite the opposite. But they’d grown together, the two of them, until they were like two trees from a single trunk, stronger together than either could have been alone.”

10. Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter

“‘It is supposed to be the truth.’ He stared at me and my breath caught in my throat. ‘If I were a better man, I would be able to show you the love and affection you deserve. As I am not, I can only offer you what I’m capable of giving. But I assure you, just because I do not show it, doesn’t mean I do not feel it.'”

****

Oh my gosh, I easily could have kept going! There are so many great ones out there! Maybe next week I’ll continue my list with more, but we’ll have to see!

Top Ten Romantic Movies I Love to Rewatch

When it comes to movies, I am definitely the person who watches a movie over and over and over again while remaining skeptical of any new movie. So while I don’t always branch out and try new things, I’ve got a solid list of favorites for whatever mood I’m in.

Let’s take a look!

Top Ten Romantic Movies I Love to Rewatch

1. 10 Things I Hate About You

This teen classic will always be on this list for me, partly because it’s based on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, and partly because it’s just a fantastic movie. Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger just do an amazing job, not to mention the supporting cast who are hilariously weird (looking at you Ms. Perky). Definitely good for a laugh.

2. The Prince and Me

Ha, now that I’m writing this, I realize I put two Julia Stiles movies next to each other. But this movie, about a prince who comes to America to see “wild college girls” but quickly gets put in his place and grows up, it so much fun. And it also has a Shakespearean connection… Clearly my English major side is influencing my choices.

3. When Harry Met Sally

This is probably the only movie on this list that feels…mature, I guess? To me, at least. I will admit that as I get older and remain single, this gets harder to watch, as I feel like I have become Sally in a lot of ways. So that’s not great, but this movie is just so so good.

4. The Young Victoria

I had to throw a historical love story onto this list. Beautifully acted by Emily Blunt and Rupert Friend, this movie about Queen Victoria is just adorable. The characters are great, the acting is fantastic, and the costumes are stunning. Just, you know, ignore the fact that Victoria and Albert are cousins and it’s fine.

5. About Time

Time travel is about the only sci-fi thing I can consistently get behind. This time travel movie, where only the men in this specific family can travel back in time, is just so cute. It really shows the consequences of actions on a relationship while still being funny and philosophical. It’s also British, so LOTS of appearances by actors from the Harry Potter franchise.

6. The Proposal

Classic rom-com, but also better because it has Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock. This is just so ridiculously funny and no matter how many times I watch it, it never gets old. Shout out to Betty White for killing it in this movie!

7. Dirty Dancing

Another classic. Patrick Swayze swoon. I love dancing anyway, so this is always just stunning in that respect. It’s a great story with great actors, but what wins me over every time is the soundtrack. It’s boss.

8. Music and Lyrics

Speaking of soundtracks, this might be one of very few movies on this list you’re not familiar with. It’s a Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore movie from the early 2000s where Grant plays a washed-up 80s singer (in a band similar to like, Wham) and Barrymore plays a neurotic girl who is helping him write a song for a new pop star who grew up on his music. It’s quirky and funny while still having a lot of heart.

9. Moulin Rouge

I’ve got a thing for musicals, y’all. And this one, while tragic, has some killer music. It’s Spectacular, Spectacular. Since it’s a Baz Luhrman film, you can always count on so much going on that even with repeated watchings, you’re going to find something new each time you missed before.

10. The Princess Bride

I figured we’d end with another classic. I love me some Cary Elwes and would maybe have put him on this list three times over if it had made sense to do that. What a classic. What a well-told story.

Top Ten of My Favorite YA Love Stories

And we’re off! As the first real post in this special month, I wanted to take a look at what we all love so much: adorable teenage love stories. They’ll warm and break your heart at the same time.

For the sake of spotlighting many authors, I’m going to limit myself to one book per author so we don’t have an entire list of Katie McGarry. But don’t worry. Just because a book doesn’t show up here doesn’t mean we won’t still talk about it soon…

Top Ten Favorite YA Love Stories

1. The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen

Yes, this is my Sarah Dessen pick. I feel like that’s maybe controversial (trust me, I really debated between this and This Lullaby), but there was something about the lake setting in this one and the family issues and the class dynamics that just made this such an interesting read for more than the romance. I think Dessen is at her finest with this one.

2. This is How it Happened by Paula Stokes

This is more of a low-key book that maybe few of you have heard about, but it was so good. Again, I tend to gravitate toward stories that have something else major happening in the story beyond just a love story. In this book, Genevieve was in a car crash that killed her boyfriend, a YouTube star and singer named Dallas, and she’s trying to deal with that on top of the media that won’t leave her alone. To escape, she moves in with her dad and helps volunteer at Zion National Park. So there’s also lush scenery to pay attention to!

3. If I Stay by Gayle Forman

It’s been 12 years since I first read this and this story still guts me Every. Single. Time. It’s so raw and real. Maybe I’m being a little generous calling it a love story, but the connection between Mia and Adam is just masterful.

4. Between the Notes by Sharon Huss Roat

Ok, we’re starting to move toward books that have somewhat lighter themes, I promise. This one deals with class conflict, as a rich girl finds herself moving to “the wrong side of the tracks” and having to redefine who she is. There’s a big emphasis on music in this story as well, which drew me in, but I stayed for the characters and the humor. It’s delightful.

5. Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

This is another oldie but a classic. It’s been years since I’ve picked this one up, but I still vividly remember some scenes between Brittany and Alex. I feel like this is like, OG contemporary romance for my generation? This book was a big deal in my high school back in the day.

6. Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

I love it when a debut just completely exceeds my expectations, as this one did. A fantastic romance coupled with an intimate look at mental illness, this book will not disappoint in any way. I need to find some time to reread this one soon.

7. On the Fence by Kasie West

Kasie West has a lot of strong offerings that I considered for this list, but ultimately I had to go with the one that I related to the most: a story of a girl who grew up around boys and plays sports and doesn’t fit the “girly” stereotype. I love this simple romance of a girl falling for the boy next door (or shall we say on the other side of the fence?).

8. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

This book holds a special place, as many of you probably relate. I felt seen when I read this. Of course, this came out right after the Twilight craze and during the tale end of the Harry Potter movie franchise. Having a character who wrote fan fics and was introverted and was incredibly awkward was such a revelation.

9. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

If Perfect Chemistry is the OG, then Anna is the heir to that crown. Utterly sweet characters, fantastic scenery (as we’re in PARIS!), heartbreaking love that just keeps you on the edge of your seat waiting for that happy ending…classic.

10. Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry

Initially, I’d picked Dare You To for my Katie McGarry pick, but I changed my mind. I feel like this book, which introduces us to the Reign of Terror Motorcycle gang, is just so much fun. It’ll make you laugh and it’ll keep you on the edge of your seat and it will make you swoon. It was so much fun to read. I really struggled putting it down.