Booktube has quickly become a great source of entertainment and book recommendations for me. I watch lots of creators and read lots of their book recommendations but it’s hard to know who’s recs I should be listening to. To help with this, I took inspiration from a few videos and decided to start a ‘taste test’ series.
Today, we’re starting with the wonderful Chelsea from chelseadolling reads. I’ve watched her for years and love her unapologetic passion for reading. I’m also in awe of just how much she reads every year and how much she DNFs – a total savage!
To do this taste test, I re-watched her Best Books of 2019 video and read all ten of her favourite books to see if our tastes match up. Let’s go.
10 – Permanent Record by Mary H.K. Choi
I read this on a warm summer afternoon in May just a few months into lockdown. It’s a YA slice of life contemporary that follows college-age Pablo who has dropped out of college and is struggling to figure out what to do with his life. One night, during his shift at a bodega, he bumps into the most famous pop singer of his generation, what follows is a ridiculously cheesy romance story.
However, what I liked most about this was that it was quite self-aware, realistic, and included an ending that won’t work for everyone but worked for me. It’s a solid YA contemporary recommendation and also A+ own voices rep too – a good start!
9 – Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James by Ashley Herring Blake
Next up is an adorable, queer middle grade by one of my favourite authors so as you can imagine I went into this with incredibly high expectations… and I loved it! Sunny St. James is a fast-paced middle-grade that tackles big topics such as illness as a child and the discovery of queerness. Honestly, it just really worked for me and I can’t say that about many middle-grades. I would also recommend this one, especially before the end of summer!
8 – With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
Elizabeth Acevedo is quickly becoming a staple in any YA readers bookshelf but at the time I hadn’t read any of her books and wasn’t sure what to expect. With the Fire on High follows Emoni, a teen mum trying to get through her last year of high school whilst figuring out what she wants to do with her life – doesn’t sound so fun, right?
Well, this is a heart-warming story about a young mum who loves her daughter so much that she is willing to give up her dream of becoming a chef just so she can create a more stable life for them both. The love just comes pouring out of this book – in the family relationships, the friendships, and the cooking and it all came together wonderfully. I liked this and would recommend it if you love YA contemporaries.
7 – Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey
Whoa-kay. Now this one was one of my favourite books of 2019 so spoiler alert – I absolutely loved it! Last year I fell in love with adult romance books in a big way. I always thought that they would be too awkward to read but Fix Her Up blew all of those expectations out of the water. This book is equal parts cheesy love story and smutty sex scenes… I wouldn’t recommend reading this whilst on a train or a bus… but overall I loved how much the author made me care about this relationship and I can’t wait to read more from her!
6 – Finding Yvonne by Brandy Colbert
Eek. This was NOT for me. I listened to this on audiobook back in April amidst the head spin that was early lockdown and it just didn’t stick with me. I had to re-read the synopsis to remember what it was about and that is not a good sign. It’s another YA contemporary but this one is about a young woman, Yvonne, who wants to be a professional violin player but after her mother walks out she is forced to face up to the reality that she might not be good enough. I want to note that musical books don’t work for me anyway so it’s definitely a me-problem.
5 – Girls on the Verge by Sharon Biggs Waller
Ding ding ding we have another favourite. I can’t even tell you how important this story is or how powerful the narrative is, so I’ll just leave you with my Goodreads review:
4 – Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
Chelsea hyped this up at the end of last year so when I finally got to it, I was excited! Unfortunately, this was super-duper average to me. It’s a traditional rom-com story, he said she said, then a big misunderstanding and then a happy ending. This will make a brilliant summer movie but for me, it just felt predictable and bland. *shrug*
3 – The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary
Hello, another favourite author of mine! It was Chelsea that made me want to read The Flatshare last year and I have since read The Switch and discovered that this author can do no wrong in my eyes. O’Leary writes honest and realistic romances that just work for me. This is also probably one of the books I’ve recommended to the most to people because I really do think it’s my idea of a near-perfect adult-romance book. (Also, read The Switch, it’s brilliant!)
2 – Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake
Apart from being number two on Chelsea’s list and having one of the most beautiful covers I’ve ever seen in my life the synopsis really did reel me in. It’s a difficult one to explain, so I would urge you to go to Goodreads and read the synopsis in full as I’m sure it will push you to read it. This story was real, atmospheric, dark but entirely hopeful which is a combination that really works for me in YA literature. It’s also queer, which is always a good thing! Another solid recommendation from Chelsea.
1 – Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Here we are. Number 1. The top recommendation from Chelsea. Funnily enough, this was also my favourite book of last year… If you’ve been hiding under a rock and haven’t already heart the synopsis of this one the let me explain; this story follows the Prince of England and the son of the first female president of the United States as they embark on a hate-to-love romance in a very difficult set of circumstances.
RW&RB is queer, representative, political, hilarious, and full of love. I cried multiple times whilst reading this and would 100% recommend it, even if you don’t read YA. And it’s a debut?! Watch this space for sure.
There we have it, I read all ten of Chelsea’s top recommendations. As you can see, I loved 8/10 books and would absolutely recommend them myself! I’ve learned that Chelsea is definitely a booktuber that I can listen to for recs, especially for queer YA books. But going forward I need to take the time to check the synopsis and steer away from topics I know I’m not interested in as no matter what happens I’m not going to rate them highly. All in all, a great result!
I have a few other booktubers that I’m currently working on but do you have any favourites that I should check out?