My Top Ten Favorite Reads of 2021

Hey guys! It’s that time of year where we take a look back on what happened over the past 12 months. It feels like it’s been an incredibly long year–and also a short one at the same time. And over this past year, I may not have read as much as I used to, but I have also rediscovered my love of reading, in a way. (I used to try to get through books so fast that it killed some of the enjoyment.) But I feel less cynical about them and I think that shows in some of my choices for best books as well as the fact that I rated more as 5 stars than I have in years past.

So without further ado, let’s see what I liked best, yes? In order.

My Top Ten Favorite Reads of 2021

10. Withering Hope by Layla Hagen

This was one of those free romance novels I found at some point on Amazon and thought, “Eh, that might be interesting.” It starts out super cheesy: Aimee’s in a private plane on her way to Brazil for her destination wedding when the plane goes down in the Amazon rainforest. It’s now up to her and the pilot, Tristan, to try to survive long enough for someone to find them. While I initially rolled my eyes at a lot of it, I was soon sucked into the survival story where Aimee and Tristan are literally fighting for their lives and discovering what–and who–they actually need. It was surprisingly cute and moving.

9. Cascade (River of Time, #2) by Lisa Tawn Bergen

I know this is the 2nd book in the series and I hate to do that to you guys, but this really was just that good. This series is about two teenage girls, Gabi and Lia, who are in Italy with their archaeologist mother looking at old medieval Italian ruins when they find themselves transported to the 1400s. There’s a ton of action, some romance (it’s clean–this is considered Christian lit, though I don’t really get that), and the writing is just phenomenal. It kept me on the edge of my seat. Knights in shining armor, sword fights, political schemes…what more could you want?

8. The Box in the Woods (Truly Devious, #4) by Maureen Johnson

This was my most recent read on this list. I love the mystery, the characters, the writing. I can get into anything Maureen Johnson writes, honestly, but I think Stevie Bell and Truly Devious is some of her best writing yet. And I’m so excited to see that the mysteries are going to continue. (I’m having trouble finding anything officially talking about it, but I know Johnson has hinted on Twitter that she’s working on another.)

7. The Viscount Who Loved Me (Bridgertons, #2) by Julia Quinn

Like many of you, I watched Bridgerton last winter and fell in love with Daphne and Simon and the Bridgerton crew. I had to read the books. Imagine my surprise when Anthony, who drove me nuts in the first book, ended up being my favorite in the entire series, along with Kate. They’re so sarcastic and funny that that definitely added to the story–but there’s also a lot of vulnerability between Kate and Anthony, a vulnerability I just never saw to this extent anywhere else in the series and I loved it. I really hope the Netflix series does this book justice because I can’t wait.

6. Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse

I teach a Holocaust unit at school and one thing we do is let kids pick from over a dozen Holocaust books that they want to read. A new one we added to the list this year was this one. I’d heard about it for a while but hadn’t read it. But oh my God, was it heartbreaking. The story’s told by Hanneke, a Dutch girl working on the black market to bring people what they can’t purchase with the Nazi takeover of their country. And then she’s asked by a client to find the Jewish girl who had been hiding in her home–before the police find the girl. In this way, Hanneke is slowly brought into the world of Nazi resistance and sees what’s actually happening to the Jews around her. It’s a mystery wrapped in a historical fiction. And it’s so good.

5. Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon

Of all the books on this list, this is the only one where I feel like putting it at #5 is kind of unfair and that it should be higher, but there’s just stiff competition this year. This standalone contemporary romance with a touch of supernatural is just amazing–and the only contemporary romance that made my top 10. Evie has given up on love, especially now that every time she sees a couple kiss, she can suddenly see how their relationship began–and how it will end in heartbreak. While trying to understand what’s happening to her, she meets X and finds herself roped into doing competitive ballroom dancing with him. It’s such a cute story, but there’s a lot of heartbreak in it as well. It’s so moving. I mean, this could be a yearly reread for me, because it’s just full of life lessons and it’s so easy to read.

4. Lore by Alexandra Bracken

I’m a big fan of Greek mythology and last year I really discovered Alexandra Bracken’s writing for myself. Combining the two was sure to be a win. And it was. This standalone urban fantasy is really unique and interesting. It’s like Hunger Games meets Greek mythology, where every 7 years the Greek gods lose their immortality and these families can attack them. If they kill them, the killer gains the god’s powers. Lore wants out of this whole thing, until at the beginning of this Agon, she runs into Castor, her best friend that she thought was dead. Now she’s suddenly sucked back into the world that killed her entire family and she’s out for vengeance. It’s really good and the fact that it’s standalone makes it even more unique.

3. A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder (A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, #1) by Holly Jackson

This really must have been the year for murder mysteries, huh? I just found this book to be so incredible. Five years ago, Andie Bell was murdered. The police closed the case when Sal Singh also turned up dead with a note saying he did it. But Pip doesn’t buy it. She knew Sal, knew him to be kind and caring…this just didn’t fit. She decides to make solving the mystery her senior project and begins uncovering the mystery the town doesn’t want to reexamine. I really loved the way the story was written and how Pip pretty much literally just knocked on doors and read through interview transcripts to find the information she was looking for. It was fun to actually work this case with her.

2. House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City, #1) by Sarah J. Maas

Some of you may be surprised this is only at #2. It was a phenomenal read–and if you’re a fan of Maas and haven’t read this yet, I highly recommend that you do. Yes, it is adult rather than YA, but let’s be real, ACOTAR was on its way there too, so it’s not much of a jump except these characters have jobs and own their own apartments. But. As much as I loved the second half of this book and was glued to it, the first half was a bit slow and I found Maas’s writing to start to have a certain pattern to it. I pretty much figured out how the story would go and how the characters would be written early on. She’s got a formula now–that works–but it eliminates a lot of the surprise I used to love. Maybe the next book will be better.

1. Bring Me Their Hearts (Bring Me Their Hearts, #1) by Sara Wolf

Far and away, this was clearly my #1 pick for the year since I read it. It was so much fun! A fantasy that combined all my favorite elements of court intrigue, stubborn princes, a fake socialite trying to outsmart the nobility, and magical abilities. Zera is so much fun in her irreverence as she takes on the palace in an attempt to literally steal Prince Lucien’s heart and regain her own humanity. The world building is great and the characters are just as good. I absolutely loved how tight the writing is, how everything seamlessly fit together. It was so fun and this book deserves so much more recognition than its currently getting.

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.