Hello friends, Vera here. After the fantastic reaction my previous post on underrated books garnered, I decided to come back with another recommendation post like it. As a book blogger, I think it’s important to talk about lesser known titles, even if my reach isn’t particularly big. Something I didn’t love about my last post was how much it concentrated on one genre – contemporary YA – so I made it my mission to bring you a better mixture of age categories and genres this time around.
Similarly to last time, instead of writing paragraph upon paragraph about each book I decided to talk about each book only briefly. When applicable, I also included the tropes these books make use of, as I know I can become 1000x more interested in a title if it uses my favorite trope. If that’s the case for you too, you’re in luck.
I Wann Be Where You Are
by Kristina Forest
When Chloe Pierce’s mom forbids her to apply for a spot at the dance conservatory of her dreams, she devises a secret plan to drive two hundred miles to the nearest audition. But Chloe hits her first speed bump when her annoying neighbor Eli insists upon hitching a ride, threatening to tell Chloe’s mom if she leaves him and his smelly dog, Geezer, behind. So now Chloe’s chasing her ballet dreams down the east coast—two unwanted (but kinda cute) passengers in her car, butterflies in her stomach, and a really dope playlist on repeat.
Filled with roadside hijinks, heart-stirring romance, and a few broken rules, Kristina Forest’s I Wanna Be Where You Are is a YA debut perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Sandhya Menon.
💙 age / genre: YA Contemporary Romance
💙 tropes / themes: road trip romance, boy next door, enemies to lovers, there’s only one bed
💙 content warning: car accident
💙 why you should read: It’s a light, lovely contemporary about a Black ballerina who is adamant about following her dreams, even if she has to break the rules to do so. There’s also a dog in this so.. what’s not to love?
Odd & True
by Cat Winters
Trudchen grew up hearing Odette’s stories of their monster-slaying mother and a magician’s curse. But now that Tru’s older, she’s starting to wonder if her older sister’s tales were just comforting lies, especially because there’s nothing fantastic about her own life—permanently disabled and in constant pain from childhood polio.
In 1909, after a two-year absence, Od reappears with a suitcase supposedly full of weapons and a promise to rescue Tru from the monsters on their way to attack her. But it’s Od who seems haunted by something. And when the sisters’ search for their mother leads them to a face-off with the Leeds Devil, a nightmarish beast that’s wreaking havoc in the Mid-Atlantic states, Tru discovers the peculiar possibility that she and her sister—despite their dark pasts and ordinary appearances—might, indeed, have magic after all.
❤️ age / genre: YA Historical Fiction, Mystery
❤️ tropes / themes: two sisters trying to prove that monsters are real
❤️ content warning: a baby is forcefully taken away from her mother
❤️ why you should read: This is an atmospheric historical novel that has a disabled protagonist and that is all about sisterhood. The pacing of Odd & True is certainly on the slower side, so it’s perfect for those that enjoy slower paced novels.
The Bookshop Book
by Jen Campbell
Every bookshop has a story.
We’re not talking about rooms that are just full of books. We’re talking about bookshops in barns, disused factories, converted churches and underground car parks. Bookshops on boats, on buses, and in old run-down train stations. Fold-out bookshops, undercover bookshops, this-is-the-best-place-I’ve-ever-been-to-bookshops.
Meet Sarah and her Book Barge sailing across the sea to France; meet Sebastien, in Mongolia, who sells books to herders of the Altai mountains; meet the bookshop in Canada that’s invented the world’s first antiquarian book vending machine.
And that’s just the beginning.
From the oldest bookshop in the world, to the smallest you could imagine, The Bookshop Book examines the history of books, talks to authors about their favourite places, and looks at over three hundred weirdly wonderful bookshops across six continents (sadly, we’ve yet to build a bookshop down in the South Pole).
💚 age / genre: nonfiction
💚 why you should read: If you like visiting bookshops at all, The Bookshop Book is a must-read. Campbell takes her readers on a journey around the world, transferring them to countless unique, lovely bookshops.
The Summer of Jordi Perez
by Amy Spalding
Seventeen, fashion-obsessed, and gay, Abby Ives has always been content playing the sidekick in other people’s lives. While her friends and sister have plunged headfirst into the world of dating and romances, Abby has stayed focused on her plus-size style blog and her dreams of taking the fashion industry by storm. When she lands a prized internship at her favorite local boutique, she’s thrilled to take her first step into her dream career. She doesn’t expect to fall for her fellow intern, Jordi Pérez. Abby knows it’s a big no-no to fall for a colleague. She also knows that Jordi documents her whole life in photographs, while Abby would prefer to stay behind the scenes
Then again, nothing is going as expected this summer. She’s competing against the girl she’s kissing to win a paid job at the boutique. She’s somehow managed to befriend Jax, a lacrosse-playing bro type who needs help in a project that involves eating burgers across L.A.’s eastside. Suddenly, she doesn’t feel like a sidekick. Is it possible Abby’s finally in her own story?
But when Jordi’s photography puts Abby in the spotlight, it feels like a betrayal, rather than a starring role. Can Abby find a way to reconcile her positive yet private sense of self with the image that other people have of her?
🌸 age / genre: YA Contemporary
🌸 tropes / themes: F/F workplace romance, fat fashion icon heroine
🌸 content warning: fatphobia (challenged)
🌸 why you should read: This is such a wholesome, sunny romance. One of my favorite things about it is that both characters are really passionate about their interests; Abby about her style blog, Jordi about photography. That’s something I love seeing in books.
Technically, You Started It
by Lana Wood Johnson
When a guy named Martin Nathaniel Munroe II texts you, it should be obvious who you’re talking to. Except there’s two of them (it’s a long story), and Haley thinks she’s talking to the one she doesn’t hate.
A question about a class project rapidly evolves into an all-consuming conversation. Haley finds that Martin is actually willing to listen to her weird facts and unusual obsessions, and Martin feels like Haley is the first person to really see who he is. Haley and Martin might be too awkward to hang out in real life, but over text, they’re becoming addicted to each other.
There’s just one problem: Haley doesn’t know who Martin is. And Martin doesn’t know that Haley doesn’t know. But they better figure it out fast before their meet-cute becomes an epic meet-disaster . . .
💧 age / genre: YA Contemporary
💧 tropes / themes: mistaken identity, demisexual and bi rep
💧 why you should read: The best thing about this novel is what a fast, enjoyable, and unique read it is. I’ve never read a book entirely told in text messages, and I was in wonder by how well this story was told despite that. I recommend the audiobook as it has a full cast and they do a wonderful job of presenting this story.
The Princess Trap
by Talia Hibbert
Cherry Neita is thirty, flirty, and done with men. As far as she can tell, they’re overrated, overpaid, and underperforming – in every area of life. But a girl has needs, and the smoking-hot stranger she just met at the office seems like the perfect one-night stand…
Prince Ruben of Helgmøre is reckless, dominant, and famously filthy. The outcast royal is rebuilding his reputation – all for a good cause – but he can’t resist a pretty face. And bossy whirlwind Cherry’s got the face, the body, and the attitude to make Ruben’s convictions crumble. Even better, when she propositions him, she has no idea who he really is.
But when paparazzi catch the pair, erm, kissing in an alleyway, Ruben’s anonymity disappears faster than Cherry’s knickers. Now the press is in uproar, the palace is outraged, and Ruben’s reputation is back in the gutter. There’s only one way to turn this disaster around – and it involves Cherry, some big fat lies, and a flashy diamond ring. On her left hand.
Unfortunately, Cherry isn’t pleased with Ruben’s ‘fake engagement’ scheme… and neither is the king.
💜 age / genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
💜 content warning: physical and emotional abuse
💜 tropes / themes: fake relationship, royal romance
💜 why you should read: I’m fairly certain this is the first novel I read by Talia Hibbert, and clearly it impressed me a great deal because I keep going back for more books by her. As per usual with her books, the romance made me feel all the feels and I also loved the supporting cast.
by Jonathan Sims
You’re cordially invited to dinner. Penthouse access is available via the broken freight elevator. Black tie optional.
A dinner party is held in the penthouse of a multimillion-pound development. All the guests are strangers – even to their host, the billionaire owner of the building. None of them know why they were selected to receive his invitation. Whether privileged or deprived, besides a postcode, they share only one thing in common – they’ve all experienced a shocking disturbance within the building’s walls.
By the end of the night, their host is dead, and none of the guests ever said what happened. His death remains one of the biggest unsolved mysteries – until now.
But are you ready for their stories?
🩸 age / genre: Adult Horror
🩸 content warning: violence, cannibalism
🩸 tropes / themes: interconnected horror short stories with supernatural elements
🩸 why you should read: Most, if not all, of the short stories were really fascinating and enjoyable to read. The same can be said about the characters, many of whom I can still clearly recall even though none of them had a lot of page-time.
Kind of Sort of Fine
by Spencer Hall
Senior year of high school is full of changes.
For Hayley Mills, these changes aren’t exactly welcome. All she wants is for everyone to forget about her very public breakdown and remember her as the overachiever she once was—and who she’s determined to be again. But it’s difficult to be seen as a go-getter when she’s forced into TV Production class with all the slackers like Lewis Holbrook.
For Lewis, though, this is going to be his year. After a summer spent binging 80s movies, he’s ready to upgrade from the role of self-described fat, funny sidekick to leading man of his own life—including getting the girl. The only thing standing in his way is, well, himself.
When the two are partnered up in class, neither is particularly thrilled. But then they start making mini documentaries about their classmates’ hidden talents, and suddenly Hayley is getting attention for something other than her breakdown, and Lewis isn’t just a background character anymore. It seems like they’re both finally getting what they want—except what happens when who you’ve become isn’t who you really are?
🧡 age / genre: YA Contemporary
🧡 content warning: mental breakdown, anxiety, body shaming
🧡 tropes / themes: friends to lovers, strong focus on friendship
🧡 why you should read: It’s a lighthearted contemporary YA about friendship, stress, and how it’s okay to change your plans for the future. While I wouldn’t call this a weight loss story, the male lead does lose weight after he starts working out. That said, it is very clearly pointed out that his weight doesn’t determine his chances of romance or how confident he is; early into the novel, he realizes that he won’t find either of these things by losing weight.