[Top Ten Tuesday] Top Ten Books When You Need Something Light & Fun

top ten tuesday “Top Ten Tuesday” is a meme started by The Broke and the Bookish. Each Tuesday a new list is posted, highlighting a variety of topics.

This week’s topic is:

Top Ten Eleven Books When You Need
Something Light & Fun

(in no particular order)

I love reading books that make me think, especially books that deal with tough subjects and make me feel all the feels. But sometimes you just need to settle down with a light, fun book and take your mind off of things. For me, these books usually end up being romance novels or fluffy, contemporary Young Adult fiction.

1. Scribbler of Dreams, Mary E. Pearson

scribbler of dreams - may e. pearson

Kaitlin Malone knows what it’s like to date the enemy. She was raised to hate the Crutchfields, and absolutely does — until she meets Bram Crutchfield. It turns out he’s a great guy — one she could talk to, share things with… even love. But when Kaitlin gives her heart to Bram, her world spins out of control. Soon the Crutchfields are her friends and she’s a traitor to her own family.

To make things worse, Bram was raised to hate the Malones, especially Kaitlin’s father, who murdered Bram’s dad. Bram doesn’t know Kaitlin is a Malone. If he did he would hate her, too.

What’s a star-crossed lover to do?

Though it isn’t the best Mary E. Pearson novel, Scribbler of Dreams will always have a special place in my heart because it made me fall in love with Young Adult fiction again at a time when I was the pickiest reader imaginable (I used to attend book fairs and buy absolutely nothing because nothing would interest me at all). I’m not the biggest fan of “forbidden romances” anymore, since that plot has been done to death in young adult literature, but there’s something about Bram and Kaitlin’s story that I absolutely adore. I love the way they connected, I loved all of Kaitlin’s gorgeous, lyrical journal entries and Bram’s beautiful artwork (well, the descriptions of that artwork, since there are no images in this book), and the general theme of getting to know a person beyond their reputation or rumors or even their background. The book is also quite short, so it makes the perfect “light read”.

2. This Lullaby, Sarah Dessen

this lullaby - sarah dessen

When it comes to relationships, Remy doesn’t mess around. After all, she’s learned all there is to know from her mother, who’s currently working on husband number five. But there’s something about Dexter that seems to defy all of Remy’s rules. He certainly doesn’t seem like Mr. Right. For some reason, however, Remy just can’t seem to shake him. Could it be that Remy’s starting to understand what those love songs are all about?

All of Sarah Dessen’s books would probably fall into this category, though some of them pull at my emotions more than others. The one book of hers that I always grab when I need something fun and cute is This Lullaby. When you have adorkable goofy boys singing songs about potatoes (of all things), and some very cute antics and all the flirtation, it isn’t difficult coming up with a book that will make you laugh and swoon all at once. (Confession: I sometimes randomly start ‘singing’ (even though I have no idea what the melody would sound like) some variation of The Potato Opus — yeah, I still know all the words.)

3. The Mediator Series, Meg Cabot

shadowland - meg cabot

Suze is a mediator — a liaison between the living and the dead. In other words, she sees dead people. And they won’t leave her alone until she helps them resolve their unfinished business with the living. But Jesse, the hot ghost haunting her bedroom, doesn’t seem to need her help. Which is a relief, because Suze has just moved to sunny California and plans to start fresh, with trips to the mall instead of the cemetery, and surfing instead of spectral visitations.

But the very first day at her new school, Suze realizes it’s not that easy. There’s a ghost with revenge on her mind… and Suze happens to be in the way.

Every book by Meg Cabot tends to fall into this category for me because they’re usually cute, hilarious, and very quick reads. My personal favorite to revisit is the entire Mediator series. Jesse De Silva’s gentlemanly ways, Suze’s kickass-ness, and the light humor always come to mind when I think “light” and “fun”.

4. Audrey, Wait!, Robin Benway

audrey, wait! - robin benway

California high school student Audrey Cuttler dumps self-involved Evan, the lead singer of a little band called The Do-Gooders. Evan writes, “Audrey, Wait!” a break-up song that’s so good it rockets up the billboard charts. And Audrey is suddenly famous!
Now rabid fans are invading her school. People is running articles about her arm-warmers. The lead singer of the Lolitas wants her as his muse. (And the Internet is documenting her every move!) Audrey can’t hang out with her best friend or get with her new crush without being mobbed by fans and paparazzi.

Take a wild ride with Audrey as she makes headlines, has outrageous amounts of fun, confronts her ex on MTV, and gets the chance to show the world who she really is.

The antics of the main characters, the dialogue, and the fictional song the novel is titled after made me laugh hard.

5. The Bridgerton Series, Julia Quinn

omancing mister bridgerton - julia quinn

Penelope Featherington has secretly adored her best friend’s brother for… well, it feels like forever. After half a lifetime of watching Colin Bridgerton from afar, she thinks she knows everything about him, until she stumbles across his deepest secret… and fears she doesn’t know him at all.
Colin Bridgerton is tired of being thought nothing but an empty-headed charmer, tired of everyone’s preoccupation with the notorious gossip columnist Lady Whistledown, who can’t seem to publish an edition without mentioning him in the first paragraph. But when Colin returns to London from a trip aboard he discovers nothing in his life is quite the same — especially Penelope Featherington! The girl haunting his dreams. But when he discovers that Penelope has secrets of her own, this elusive bachelor must decide… is she his biggest threat—or his promise of a happy ending?

Regency romance novels are my ultimate go-to books whenever I just want to read something that will distract me from real life, or take my mind off of things. Julia Quinn was my introduction to this genre, and I can’t resist the lovely world of the Bridgertons. (The Viscount Who Loved Me, and Romancing Mister Bridgerton are my favorites, mostly because I loved Anthony and Kate’s battle of the wits and their… unconventional courtship, and I fall for the unrequited-love-that-eventually-becomes-requited every time. My favorite Bridgerton will always be Colin. I think it’s because he’s so amiable and handsome and funny, and fits into my “James Potter Syndrome” quite nicely. (Yes, I am aware I have a problem. Shhh.)

6. Past Perfect, Leila Sales

past perfect, leila sales

All Chelsea wants to do this summer is hang out with her best friend, hone her talents as an ice cream connoisseur, and finally get over Ezra, the boy who broke her heart. But when Chelsea shows up for her summer job at Essex Historical Colonial Village (yes, really), it turns out Ezra’s working there too. Which makes moving on and forgetting Ezra a lot more complicated… even when Chelsea starts falling for someone new.

Maybe Chelsea should have known better than to think that a historical reenactment village could help her escape her past. But with Ezra all too present, and her new crush seeming all too off-limits, all Chelsea knows is that she’s got a lot to figure out about love. Because those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it…

Past Perfect was adorable prank wars, trampoline jumping, period costumes, and ice cream — is it any wonder that I’d look to it when I need a fun read?

7. U.S. Attorney/FBI Series, Julie James

about that night - julie james

Though Rylann Pierce tried to fight the sparks she felt for billionaire heir Kyle Rhodes the night they met, their sizzling chemistry was undeniable. But after being stood up on their first date, Rylann never expected to see him again. So when she finds herself face-to-face with Kyle in a courthouse nine years later, she’s stunned. More troubling to the beautiful assistant U.S. attorney is that she’s still wildly attracted to him.
Just released from prison, Kyle Rhodes isn’t thrilled to be the star witness in a high-profile criminal case — but when Rylann comes knocking at his door, he finds she may be the one lawyer he can’t say no to. Still as gorgeous and sharp-tongued as ever, she lays down the law: she doesn’t mix business with pleasure. But Kyle won’t give up on something he wants — and what he wants is the one woman he’s never forgotten.

This entire series helped me out when I was going insane from stress. I love court dramas and FBI thrillers, so throwing them in a romance novel with all the sexual tension was enough for me to finish this entire series as quickly as possible. About That Night is my favorite because Kyle Rhodes, like Colin Bridgerton, is a hilarious, adorable, ridiculously pretty (he has “shampoo commercial hair”, according to Rylann) dork. I couldn’t resist. (“James Potter Syndrome” — it’s a real thing, I swear!)

8. Heist Society, Ally Carter

heist society - ally carter

For as long as she can remember, Katarina has been a part of the family business—thieving. When Kat tries to leave “the life” for a normal life, her old friend Hale conspires to bring her back into the fold. Why? A mobster’s art collection has been stolen, and Kat’s father is the only suspect. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat’s dad needs her help.

The only solution is to find the paintings and steal them back. Kat’s got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in her family’s history — and, with any luck, steal her life back along the way.

I actually reread Ally Carter’s books all the time (which is probably why they seem to find their way to all of my Top Ten Tuesday posts), but when I need a light book, I specifically grab the Heist Society series. (The Gallagher Girls books make me think too much, and freak out, and wonder what will happen next.) Kat and Hale’s hijinks, plotting, and romantic interludes never cease to carry me away and make me wonder what it would be like to do any of the things they do (not that I’d ever try).

9. Books by Stephanie Perkins

lola and the boy next door - stephanie perkins

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion… she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit — more sparkly, more fun, more wild — the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket — a gifted inventor — steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

Although both of Stephanie Perkins’ novels have some romantic tension and angst, the overall cuteness of the stories, the gorgeous settings, and the fact that I’d automatically get transported into Lola and Anna’s lives, make me have to reread them all the time. I have no doubt Isla and the Happily Ever After will end up on my “fun, light, always reread” list as well.

10. Ella Enchanted, Gail Carson Levine

ella enchanted - gail carson levine

At birth, Ella is inadvertently cursed by an imprudent fairy named Lucinda, who bestows on her the “gift” of obedience. Anything anyone tells her to do, Ella must obey. Another girl might have been cowed by this affliction, but not feisty Ella: “Instead of making me docile, Lucinda’s curse made a rebel of me. Or perhaps I was that way naturally.”
When her beloved mother dies, leaving her in the care of a mostly absent and avaricious father, and later, a loathsome stepmother and two treacherous stepsisters, Ella’s life and well-being seem in grave peril. But her intelligence and saucy nature keep her in good stead as she sets out on a quest for freedom and self-discovery, trying to track down Lucinda to undo the curse, fending off ogres, befriending elves, and falling in love with a prince along the way.

Ella Enchanted was one of the first fairy tale retellings I had ever read, and is my favorite novel written by Gail Carson Levine. I’ve never really liked Cinderella, but I ended up adoring Ella and Char and the way their paths reunited countless times throughout the novel. Its fantasy elements and the romance are what make it the perfect book for this list.

11. Hana Kimi, Hisaya Nakajo

hana kimi (for you in full blossom) - hisaya nakajo

Mizuki Ashiya is no slouch when it comes to a challenge. She’s a star of track and field at her high school, after all. So when she falls for fellow athlete Izumi Sano, she figures out an ingenious plan to get close to him.

Now she’s moved to Japan, enrolled in the all-male high school Sano goes to, and become his roommate! How? She’s disguised herself as a boy! Whatever happens next, things are about to get seriously complicated!

I wanted to put Sailor Moon and Skip Beat! on this list because I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve reread those manga (Sailor Moon especially), but I would never call either of them ‘light’ reads (fun, definitely, but they also drag you into the pits of emotional hell, so I don’t think they can be listed regardless). Hana Kimi, however, is the one manga that has made me laugh all the way through, even when one of the characters was questioning his sexuality because he was attracted to a girl-masquerading-as-a-guy. It’s just a lot of hilarity, insanity, and awkward randomness, and it’s one of the best completed manga I have ever read.

Which books do you turn to when you need something light and fun?



[Anime] Series Review: Kimi ni Todoke

kimi ni todoke

Kuronuma Sawako is completely misunderstood by her classmates. Her timid and sweet demeanor is often mistaken for malicious behavior. This is due to her resemblance to the ghost girl from “The Ring”, which has led her peers to give her the nickname “Sadako”. Longing to make friends and live a normal life, she is naturally drawn to Kazehaya Shouta, the most popular guy in class, whose “100% refreshing” personality earns him great admiration from Sawako. So when Kazehaya starts talking to her, maybe there is hope for the friendships Sawako has always longed for. Maybe… there is even a little hope for some romance in her future.

(Because the second season was only 12 episodes long, I’m including it in this series review. And, as usual, this anime review contains spoilers.)

I watched Kimi ni Todoke during a “shoujo anime binge” (I’m now confused about which romantic shoujo anime to watch next, so feel free to recommend all the things), which is why this is a review of the entire series, both season one and season two. I actually stumbled on it by accident, browsing for a different anime before my sister noticed this one and assured me that she had heard only good things about it. It looked cute enough, so I gave it a shot… and it ended up being the most adorable, kind-of-frustrating thing I have ever seen. (Spoilers ahead.)

Story: Kimi ni Todoke is the story of a boy and a girl who secretly love each other, and really just want their feelings to “reach” the other (hence the title, “reaching you” or “from me to you” or some other variation). Season one of the anime is mostly told through the perspective of Kuronuma Sawako, a girl who acts a little strange and looks a bit creepy, so her peers spend their time spreading rumors about her and avoiding her like the plague.

kimi ni todoke 1 kimi ni todoke 2

The only person in her school who treats her with any kindness, who smiles at her and appears to be equally friendly with everyone, Sawako included, is Kazehaya Shouta, the most popular boy in the school. Because of the way he treats her, the fact that he aims to be genuine and gives everyone a chance and actually smiles at her when she says, “Good morning!” makes Sawako want to learn how to be as friendly and liked by everyone as he is. He helps her by including her in as many class activities as possible, allowing other people to get to know her as she actually is, as he himself has recently been discovering.

“Without my even realizing it, I’d fallen in love…”

Somewhere along the way, both fall in love with each other, though Kazehaya recognizes it first. But because of Sawako’s innocent nature, he isn’t sure how to get his feelings across. When she realizes her feelings for him are deeper than respect, she holds back because she doesn’t know how to say the words, and she doesn’t think he, as such a popular and well-liked boy, could ever feel that way about her. Through a series of misunderstandings and misconstrued conversations, the two struggle to convey their feelings, afraid of the outcome and afraid to clearly expose their emotions, but (still) desperately wishing for their affection to (somehow) reach the other.

Characters: The highlight of Kimi ni Todoke, and why I fell head over heels for it, are the characters. During the first episode, I didn’t think I’d be able to get through this anime because the entire premise seemed really strange, Sawako’s voice was either too small or too creepy (it changed when she got into one of her internal monologues), and her character design was just… not what I was used to in shoujo anime. I was intrigued, however, because I had heard only fantastic things about Kimi ni Todoke, and I’m always curious why certain shoujo anime are so popular. But then, I watched the final scene in Episode 1, and one of the characters, Kazehaya Shouta, completely captured my heart with a single smile and a kind of awkward conversation, and I knew I was going to end up marathon-ing the rest of the anime as fast as I possibly could.

kimi ni todoke 3 kimi ni todoke 4

The main character is Kuronuma Sawako, the innocent, naive, kind and trusting (to a fault) heroine who is constantly misunderstood and misjudged. Though ultimately Kimi ni Todoke is a romance, most of the first season (and therefore most of the series) was about Sawako forging friendships, learning from her friends and unknowingly teaching them things about relationships, trust, and kindness in turn. I’ll admit that Sawako was a little extreme — I know people who are that shy (me, for example) and who trust too easily or are that gullible. But Sawako’s unwavering belief in everyone and everything sometimes seemed too exaggerated, to the point where I felt like no one could possibly be that oblivious. I found it adorable in this character (when it might have driven me mad in another). (It was, however, a little frustrating that Sawako would give people gifts simply for being even remotely considerate towards her. My sister wanted to shake her for her naivety. I was okay with it, for the most part, because I know people who are almost exactly like Sawako, so it didn’t seem as strange to me.

Because Sawako is such an innocent, cute, quiet character, the moments I found truly enjoyable were when she finally speaks her mind, not only about her feelings for people, but her opinions and personal beliefs. I could also really relate to her whenever she’d encounter social situations that she didn’t know what to do with because I’ve been there — not to the same extent, but I understood her. I really felt for her when people ostracize her for ridiculous rumors, even people who somewhat got to know her, and I was surprised that, while she didn’t fight them, she held herself together when faced with a huge peer group that mostly was spreading lies about her. The gossip and the rumor mill in her school was the worst, and Sawako rarely reacted to it with tears. (Though she did, when asked cruelly or curiously if she could summon ghosts, start to apologize for not having that power, which I thought was kind of strange… But also a little adorable? But strange.)

kuronuma sawako kazehaya shouta

Kazehaya Shouta is nothing like my past usual taste in anime boys, but everything like my current taste (if that makes any sense). I usually fall hard for the tortured characters, either the jerks with the heart of gold or the heroes with some complicated back story (read: Tsuruga Ren (in the Skip Beat! manga)). But lately, I’ve been falling in love with some perfectly nice, perfectly sweet, I COULD DATE YOU IN REAL LIFE anime boys, like Mashima Taichi of Chihayafuru, and now Kimi ni Todoke‘s Kazehaya Shouta. He’s this friendly, lively, kind boy, only popular because of his athletic skills and probably his looks, but he really attempts to go out of his way to make everyone feel included, especially when he’s a class leader. Because we saw him mostly from Sawako’s perspective until the second season, Kazehaya didn’t seem particularly three-dimensional (he might have been a little TOO perfect), but there was something about his easy-going nature and his bright smile that pulled me in anyway.

“No matter what others say or what they think, they don’t matter to me. There might be only a few people whom I can speak my mind to. That might be why I have always kept a distance from those around me. But keeping a distance from you. I can’t do it. There’s nothing about you that doesn’t matter to me.”

He would awkwardly, adorably (despite the fact that this boy is the king of the social scene in his school), innocently muck up most of his interactions with Sawako, even in the final episode when the two finally started dating, and it would be so cute that he’d capture your heart anyway. He’s also so honest and sincere that it’s quite refreshing.

The second season allowed us a peek inside his head, into his own insecurities (he’s still not a tortured character in any way though, which I found refreshing), making him seem a little less “perfect shoujo pretty boy”, but the character was still so kind to Sawako and so cute and flustered that even if you wanted to dislike him on principle alone (or because his fanclub really sucks, though I couldn’t even hate Yuki of Fruits Basket for the ridiculousness of his fanclub), it was difficult. If you can’t tell, he was my favorite (or… one of my favorites, since all the characters in this anime are brilliant).

Yano and Chizuru become two of Sawako’s closest friends. What I love about this group is how dynamic it is. Yano’s maturity, not only in relationships, but also in the levelheaded way she handles certain situations, complements Sawako’s extreme sincerity and Chizuru’s headstrong attitude. I also love the fact that once Yano and Chizuru realize that Sawako is not at all like the person people say she is, they automatically want to remedy their initial reaction (caution) to her. They specifically try to know her, fall in love with the way she is actually so kind and enthusiastic, and become Sawako’s unofficial guardians, standing up for her whenever anyone treats her wrongly. I love the way their friendship evolves, blossoming from a kindness into something stronger gradually, to the point where Yano would tease Sawako about her crush on Kazehaya and she and Chizu would spend their time shopping and hanging out at ramen shops with Sawako. I loved whenever they played with her hair and make up, especially because Sawako never had any close girlfriends and it would still surprise her that two people would want to hang out with her, that doing this kind of thing would fill them up with joy.

yano ryuu and chizuru

Other characters — Kazehaya’s best friend Ryuu, their student teacher (who constantly teased and picked on Kazehaya) Pin, and Sawako’s “love rival” Kurumi — also added personality to the ensemble cast. I loved how Ryuu, for the most part, could be calmly eating in any tense scene. His love for Chizu was adorable, and Chizu’s love for his (engaged and soon to be married) older brother was both cute and heartbreaking. Pin was both annoying and entertaining, so I never really knew how to feel about him. I had mixed feelings about Kurumi as well. She eventually became a complex villain, instead of just a manipulative girl who wanted Kazehaya for herself, but some of the things she did created so many misunderstandings and so much drama that I’d really dislike her. I did like her by the end of the second season, but not enough to forgive some of the ridiculous things she had said to Sawako since she’d first met her.

Romance: What I adore about Kimi ni Todoke is that, for the most part, the things that happen are incredibly realistic. Though the pace of the show drove me insane for a while (especially in the second season), I loved that Sawako and Kazehaya had legitimate moments that made them fall in love with each other. We watch these two people, especially Kazehaya (since he knows he likes her first) fall for each other, “slowly and then all at once”*. Kazehaya fell for her smile and her cheerfulness, seeing a side to her no one else ever did because they didn’t look past her resemblance to Sadako or the rumors about her. The way she put 200% into everything she did, even if it were something she was awful at, really amazed him.

“Everyone was affected by you trying your best. You didn’t notice it? You affect me as well.”

Sawako loved how fair and kind he was. Her feelings grew from respect and admiration, sneaking up on her because she hadn’t even imagined anything beyond friendship. (She was too innocent for that.) Their awkwardness, the way they danced around each other, the way their confessions went wrong and Kazehaya stumbled over his words when he even asked her to be his girlfriend — everything about this ship is endearing.

kazehaya and sawako 1 kazehaya and sawako 2

kazehaya and sawako 3 kazehaya and sawako 4

I also loved that the first season didn’t rely on huge misunderstandings that create unnecessary drama and prolong the tension, so the couple never gets together until the last possible second.

[*If you can’t recognize it, that quote is from The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.]

The second season, on the other hand, relies upon such cliché situations to the point of ridiculousness, just to create drama that did not need to be there. I can understand why Sawako and Kazehaya can misunderstand each other’s feelings, but with Kurumi and Kento’s involvement, and the repetition of such misconstrued conversations, I was beyond frustrated, especially when a simple honest discussion could have quickly cleared up all the unneeded angst. This made me sad, since I really adored how the first season shied away from this. It was slow in a cute adorkable way, but the pacing and the trail of misunderstandings made several episodes of the second season almost unbearable. I think it that twelve episode season had been shorter and everything had happened a little more naturally, this anime would have been one of my favorite romantic shoujo ever.

Theme Songs: I loved the opening theme, “Kimi ni Todoke” by Tomofumi Tanizawa. It’s both upbeat and peaceful, reflected in the pastel colors and gorgeous images that accompany the music. Considering it shares a title with the anime, it also fits the series quite well. I actually really love the vocalist. His voice fits the same quiet, tranquil, yet energetic atmosphere, which is exactly how the show basically is in season one, and it reminds me a lot of Kazehaya himself. And I am a little too fascinated with the way he says “chime” (I don’t really understand why, though listen to the song and you might know what I mean). Bottom line? This theme is my favorite. I still listen to it all the time. (I really love the cast version because you can tell which cast is singing, and it’s adorable when Sawako and Kazehaya’s seiyuu sing the pretty, romantic parts of the song together. And Kazehaya nails that mesmerizing “chime” part of the song too.)

The art that accompanies the ending theme is gorgeous. Light, calming, warm pastel colors, and adorable chibi characters set the mood for the song. And in this setting, nothing fits better than the equally gorgeous ending theme, “Kataomoi” by Chara. It’s such a melodic song, but it starts off with this one slightly high-pitched beautiful line that really echoes the emotions in Kimi ni Todoke, especially the intensity of the emotions at the end of certain episodes (though actually, there’s always some intensity, even when things are ending well enough for the characters, because there are these immensely sweet moments that break your heart because of all the unrequited love and complex feelings these characters hold).

While I loved the style and colors for the opening theme for the second season, “Swakaze” by Tomofumi Tanizawa, it didn’t get stuck in my head in the same way that the first season’s opening theme did. I did, however, love the chorus and immediately following an episode, I had to hum it. (However, I watched Kimi ni Todoke months ago, and I was unable to remember this song, whereas I still know the melody and half the words to the first one, so it wasn’t a particularly memorable theme.)

Like the first ending theme, the art in the second, “Kimi ni Todoke” by MAY’S, included airy, pastel colors. I thought this theme was really pretty, but like the second season’s opening, I barely remembered it an hour or so after finishing an episode.

Art: For the most part, Kimi ni Todoke is filled with vivid, pastel colors from the scenery around them to the bright blue of their high school uniforms. Though all the environmental scenery was gorgeous (I especially loved anything with the sky — it made me want to paint landscapes), what stood out to me in this anime’s art is how realistic the character design was. Nearly all the anime I watch (and probably most anime in general) have characters with colored hair, sometimes unnatural, and eyes that take up more space on the face than they should (as any good portrait artist will tell you). The eyes were still larger than normal in Kimi ni Todoke, but they were much smaller than normal anime eyes, and they were actually almond-shaped, like a real eye. The characters’ hair was brown or black, realistically designed, once again making it seem like this story could happen in real life. I also loved the detail in this anime. Some of the frames included close ups of characters in emotional scenes and the emotion would be expressed in the art so perfectly. Sometimes pastel-colored bubbles and geometric shapes appeared during incredibly happy scenes, adding to the dream-like emotions the characters would be feeling in those scenes. Basically, I was incredibly impressed with the art, and I’d recommend Kimi ni Todoke on that basis alone.

Ending: I’m a fan of both the season one and the season two ending for this series. I liked that season one focused more on Sawako’s growth as a character and her friendships. Her birthday episode was adorable, and I love that her friends attempted to match-make her with Kazehaya (who, again, clearly had feelings for her). It was a cute episode, and though it didn’t “resolve” much, it also didn’t have to (the series got a second season after all). Sawako and Kazehaya made enormous strides in their relationship regardless, and the cuteness at the end made me super excited for the next season.

I like that season two ended with Sawako and Kazehaya finally becoming a couple. We only get to see one of their dates (it was the cutest thing I had ever had the pleasure of seeing), but before that, we were able to witness Kazehaya and Sawako think thoroughly about their feelings, the risks any confession would bring, and why they even liked (what they even liked about) the other. I applauded when Sawako ended up being the one to state her feelings clearly, essentially being the reason why they were both able to rise above the misunderstandings and become a couple anyway. Her finding her voice and the courage to do such a thing when everything — in her head — made the situation seem hopeless was one of my favorite things about Kimi ni Todoke.

“I don’t know the first thing about being a good girlfriend, but—”
“—Kuronuma, it’s not a job! It’s not a job. Just be yourself.”

I loved the way Kazehaya awkwardly, adorkably asked her out, and I’ll never forget how he threw caution to the wind and shouted his feelings to her from across the courtyard (“KURONUMA, SUKI DAYO!”). Even though the second season drove me mad, the last few episodes were so perfect that I forgive it. It was exactly what I was waiting for since the first episode, and like Lovely Complex, it’s a perfect resolution to a very cute shoujo romance anime.

“It’s like a dream… I’ve finally reached you.”

(Kimi ni Todoke is currently an ongoing manga, and does not stop once Kazehaya and Sawako become a couple (which is a good thing because at that point, the story’s just begun in a manga!), but the anime is still very conclusive, and fans of Kimi ni Todoke will be pleased by the way it ends.)


[Top Ten Tuesday] Top Ten Words/Topics That Instantly Make Me Pick Up A Book

top ten tuesday “Top Ten Tuesday” is a meme started by The Broke and the Bookish. Each Tuesday a new list is posted, highlighting a variety of topics.

This week’s topic is:

Top Ten Words/Topics That Instantly Make Me Buy/Pick Up A Book
(in no particular order)

Though I try my best to give books a chance beyond the surface of their cover art or their titles, there are some key or “trigger” words in summaries and titles (or overheard through the grapevine) that make me instantly need to read a book. Sometimes it’s an entire genre, sometimes it’s a setting, sometimes it’s a particular type of character or relationship. Either way, the second I see these things, the more I want to find out about the book. Of course, the mention of such subjects is not enough for me to like a book, but pursuing some of these interests has led me to discovering some of my favorite young adult novels today. I don’t think I could stop reacting to these words or topics even if I tried…

1. England, France, Japan, Australia — Any Place I’ve Ever Wanted to Travel

the statistical probability of love at first sight - jennifer e. smith I have a bucket list of places in the world I’d like to visit someday, when the finances and time are on my side. These locations are all over the world, from Europe to Australia to Japan, so whenever I see a book based in any country that intrigues me, I have to give it a chance… as if I can absorb the culture, language, and all the sights through the pages until I can experience them myself. (Bonus points if the book has characters (read: cute boys) with foreign accents, especially if they’re British.) This is how I ended up reading Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins and The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith.

2. Strong Female Characters

the disreputable history of frankie landau banks - e. lockhart Nothing makes me want to read a book more than strong female characters. I love seeing women kick ass, and if they’re in a leading role, doing all the things ridiculous people think they’re too weak to handle, I love them even more. (Actually, if a book has weak female characters, I most likely will have trouble getting through it.) The Gallagher Girls novels, the Heist Society novels, the Gemma Doyle trilogy, Cinder, The Hunger Games, and a HUGE list of novels that would take me ages to name all interested me for their fantastic female characters. One of my favorite books in this category is E. Lockhart’s The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks.

3. Fairy Tale Retellings

cinder - marissa meyer I love everything about fairy tales, the actual ones and their Disney counterparts, so fairy tale retellings, especially if they’re in a different setting or modernized, automatically grab my attention. I have a thing for castles, kingdoms, princes and princesses, and who can resist a romantic tale of Good VS. Evil? Considering Marissa Meyer’s Cinder has all of these things and an epic quest and an amazing cast of characters, is it any wonder I had to pick it up?

4. Regency, Victorian, All Period Stuff

the viscount who loved me - julia quinn I love period books – everything Regency and Victorian and elegant and lovely. There is something about that era that fascinates me (and the gorgeous gowns, the corsets, and the gentlemen dancing in ballrooms don’t hurt). Regency romance novels (I automatically think of Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series) particularly enchant me, but the book I automatically bought from this keyword, no further questions asked, was A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray. With such a gorgeous cover, completely indicative of its period, what else was there to know? (It’s actually one of my favorite fantasy-ish trilogies of all time, though that isn’t why I picked it up initially.)

5. Strong Platonic Friendships, Strong Female Friendships

bishoujo senshi sailor moon - naoko takeuchi I fall for romantic relationships all the time (hell, I have more fictional ships than I know what to do with), but what really pulls me to a novel are strong platonic friendships that survive over time, especially when these platonic friendships are between women. More often than not, female relationships in fiction are petty and superficial, even when they start off strong. For some reason, these books seem to think that something ridiculous, like a boy, can easily pull apart the strongest of friendships because women can’t react to other women, even those whom they hold dear, without some kind of jealousy or rivalry. This is why I adore Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls series so much. Cammie, Bex, Macey, and Liz are a team, and they truly care about each other. In a life crisis, whether it’s life threatening or just something of a more personal nature, they have each other’s back. (This is also why Sailor Moon by Naoko Takeuchi is one of my favorite manga. The senshi’s strong friendship is beautiful.)

6. Mythology, Lore, or Legend-Based (including Retellings)

avalon high - meg cabot I majored in Classics in university, so I’m a huge fan of anything mythological, whether it’s mythology-based, mythology-inspired, or an actual retelling. The novel doesn’t even have to be centered on mythology to pique my interest, as long as the elements are present. One of the biggest series I’ve fallen in love with for this reason is the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, though of course, when I started reading the books at the age of eleven/twelve, I had no idea how rooted in mythology the novels actually were. I also love the Arthurian legends (I’m actually making my way through BBC’s Merlin, Series 5 right now), which is why I was intrigued by Meg Cabot’s Avalon High when I first heard about it.

7. Diverse Ensemble Cast of Characters

heist society - ally carter If I’m not a fan of the characters in a novel, the chances are that I won’t enjoy it much. At all. So when I hear that a book has an extraordinary range of characters, diverse culturally and personality-wise, that will make me fall in love with each of them, I have to check it out. This was the case with all of the Ally Carter novels (Gallagher Girls and Heist Society) I currently adore.

8. Road Trips

two way street - lauren barnholdt I like road trips. Mostly because I would like to one day go on a road trip (or backpack across Europe, whichever seems more feasible at the time). The locations, the cooperation and relationship needed to be able to travel with another person for an extended period of time, and the issues these characters usually need to resolve along the way are what make these books for me. The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour and Two Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt are two of my favorites.

9. Ancient Latin

two way street - lauren barnholdt As a huge Classics nerd, any use of the Latin language (correctly) makes me automatically want to read a book. The Harry Potter series, of course, uses Latin everywhere, from its spells to some of its names, but the book that I had to read the second I discovered how significant a role this beautiful semi-dead language played in the story was Robin Wasserman’s The Book of Blood and Shadow. A Latin mystery in which the protagonist must translate documents for hints? Instant buy. (This book also featured Prague, which is one of the most beautiful places in the world and a city I’ve actually visited and fallen in love with, so this book really was a must-buy for me.)

10. Magic

once a witch - carolyn maccullough The fantasy genre is a hit or miss for me. It was once easy for me to find so many YA books in this genre that interested me, but now it’s become so… “diluted” that it’s difficult for me to find any that don’t disappoint me. Supernatural/paranormal things tend to make me wary, especially after how popular the genre has become in recent years, and I rarely find dystopian series that are well done beginning to end. But the word ‘magic’ — maybe it’s because I’m a Harry Potter fan — rarely fails me and continues to grab my attention. I couldn’t tell you what it is about “witches and wizards and magical beasts”* that I love, or why books rooted in magic make me want to read them so much. They just… enchant me. Maybe it’s the way magic comes with a new series of problems, that they’re an aspect of the characters but these characters continue to face adversity as we do in the real world. I love adventurous novels, I love novels of mystery, and novels with magical elements tend to include both. They also usually have romance, but unlike the supernatural genre, most of the novels I’ve encountered (or maybe I’ve just been lucky) dealing with magic don’t let the romance overpower the task at hand… (Basically, the actual plot.) Harry Potter and the Gemma Doyle trilogy both fit this category, but this keyword is actually the reason why I read Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough.

*“Witches, wizards, and magical beasts” is taken from A Very Potter Musical‘s “Get Back to Hogwarts”.

Which words or topics make you instantly pick up a book?


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