A Court of Thorns and Roses

Five Books That Actually Live Up To The Hype (Guest Post)

*This is a guest post written by Darian Duckworth and she runs her own book blog, The Novel Millennial, and a BookTube channel of the same name . If you would like to do a guest post for To Borrow or Buy, please email me at toborroworbuy@gmail.com*

If you’re anything like me, you tend to get turned off by really popular or hyped up books and series. But I’m here to tell you that there are actually some popular books that actually live up to the pedestal they’re put on. Proof: I didn’t read Harry Potter until a friend forced me to read Prisoner of Azkaban in the third grade. (PS: it’s still my favorite book in the series). Recently, I caved and picked up some seriously popular books that I was extremely turned off from because of their popularity. Here are five books that I think actually live up to their hype:

1. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

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ACOTAR is a retelling of the classic Beauty and the Beast fairytale. If you’re looking for a strong female protagonist, don’t let the fantasy genre of this series deter you. Even if you don’t typically like fantasy, ACOTAR has something for literally every reader. There’s adventure, fantasy, romance, and lots of action, especially towards the end.

2. Cinder by Marissa Meyer

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Okay, if you don’t like fantasy then you probably don’t like sci-fi with cyborgs and all that jazz either. Well, here’s the series that’s going to change that. Cinder is a retelling of Cinderella but the similarities between the two stories are few and far between. There’s cyborgs, a different race that lives on the Moon called Lunars, and a plague threatening Earth. It’s pretty intense.

3. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

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You’re probably sitting there like “Who hasn’t read THG?” but I know y’all are out there. If you haven’t read this series, do it now! I can’t say that enough. The political atmosphere alone is enough to make this book live up to the hype. Pro Tip: The rest of the series is pretty good too, and Catching Fire is the best one.

4. It’s Not Okay by Andi Dorfman


I’m not one for self help books and I’m definitely not one for self help books about breakups but I am a fan of all things The Bachelor. Andi Dorfman made waves on both The Bachelor and The Bachelorette and people were legitimately shocked when she and her fiancé called it quits nine months after the finale. It’s Not Okay is Dorfman’s raw and emotional journey at coping with the aftermath of that very public breakup and it is every bit worthy of you clicking “Buy Now” on Amazon.

5. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur


I hate poetry, mostly because it takes too much effort to interpret, usually. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur is the exception to that first statement. The poems are raw and real and powerful and I damn near read the entire thing in the bookstore. I simply could not put it down!

Man Crush Monday: Cinna


I just went to The Hunger Games exhibit and I realized I haven’t talked about Cinna yet which is a crying shame. I love Cinna and if you don’t love Cinna we can’t be friends.

First of all, I always imagined Cinna as a cool, swagged up guy from the Capitol. I was not disappointed when the first movie came out and Lenny Kravitz was cast to play him. That was perfect casting to me.

Cinna was one of, if not the only person in the Capitol that made Katniss feel comfortable. He treated her with respect and acknowledged the fact that the hunger games actually sucked and shouldn’t be praised. When he told Katniss he would bet on her if he could I swooned (although unlike some fans I never actually shipped them).

More than that it was Cinna that first made Katniss into a symbol by turning her into the girl on fire and later an actual mockingjay. His keen eye for fashion wasn’t just a game but was his own personal way of rebelling. Unfortunately it inevitably got him killed.

I loved Cinna and more than anything I wanted a better ending for him but unfortunately it is what it is. This is why fanfiction exists, so Cinna can live forever.

I’ve said this a million times but I’ll say it once more. If you haven’t read The Hunger Games yet please do so as soon as possible.

“Remember, girl on fire,” [Cinna] says, “I’m still betting on you.” – Catching Fire

Woman Crush Wednesday: Effie Trinket


Effie always kills the fashion game, except in Mockingjay but that’s not her fault. She’s got the style of the Capitol but a heart of gold. Of course, not at first.

Living in the Capitol Effie only made her way out to District 12 for the reaping but otherwise lived a sheltered life. What’s wonderful is once she starts to actually care about the people she’s working with (Peeta, Katniss, and even Haymitch) she stops seeing them as just people she has to work with and make civil but actual people.

I would love a book where we learned more about Effie and her background and honestly what happens to her in and after Mockingjay. The movies have been good about including her and I hope this remains true in the next (and final!) film but I wanted to know what happened to Effie in the books. Did she survive? What did she do after President Snow’s reign ended? I’m sure the Capitol wasn’t the same after all the destruction that happened there. Did she have to get a new job? What was it? The list goes on.

The point is at first I was indifferent towards Effie and just saw her as a byproduct of the Capitol’s making but then, especially in Catching Fire, you can see that she’s beginning to realize everything isn’t really perfect and something is wrong with the Capitol. That’s when I started to love Effie.

If you haven’t heard of Effie before, honestly you must’ve been living under a rock for years. Please read these books if you haven’t already. The movies are great but the books are always better. Well, except maybe with Mockingjay. The movie (at least part one) I definitely enjoyed more than the book. Regardless, read the books.

Although lacking in many departments, Effie Trinket has a certain determination I have to admire. The Hunger Games

Man Crush Monday: Peeta Mellark


Oh Peeta. He’s such a sweetie. Until you try to hurt Katniss. Or President Snow makes him crazy and … hurt Katniss. He’s a complicated individual.

Honestly though, Peeta is a cute and sweet guy. He tries his best to do what he believes is right and he loves Katniss so fiercely it’s hard to believe it’s real. I was team Peeta from day one (but let’s face it Gale is hotter) and I think he’s the perfect compliment to Katniss’ fierce personality.

Additionally, Peeta isn’t just a softie though. He turns out to be really strong and more than that he stands up for himself. He may love Katniss but he doesn’t always like or agree with what she does and tells her so. I like that Peeta is kind and caring but not a push over. He’s my fave.

“Peeta, how come I never know when you’re having a nightmare?” I say.
“I don’t know. I don’t think I cry out or thrash around or anything. I just come to, paralyzed with terror,” he says.
“You should wake me,” I say, thinking about how I can interrupt his sleep two or three times on a bad night. About how long it can take to calm me down.
“It’s not necessary. My nightmares are usually about losing you,” he says. “I’m okay once I realize you’re here.” 
– Catching Fire

Man Crush Monday: Thresh


I know all The Hunger Games fans are freaking out right now. “HOW COULD YOU NOT DO PEETA?” Don’t worry Peeta’s chance to shine will come … just not today. Today is Thresh’s day.

Poor Thresh didn’t have a big role in The Hunger Games, however his role was still important. Besides coming from the same district as my homegirl Rue (and let’s be real District 11 was obviously the “black district” but I digress) he also saves Katniss’ life. He only does this because of what Katniss did for Rue but still Thresh is a BAMF for reals.

He pretty much stays scarce during the games and his biggest appearance was saving Katniss’ life. Still in that moment I loved Thresh’s sense of loyalty to Katniss via Rue. In the games a lot of those kids are ruthless (the Careers) or sneaky (Foxface) but Thresh wasn’t a part of that. He stayed above the fray and although it can’t really be confirmed I believe he didn’t kill anyone unless he had to. Besides who could be mad at him for killing Clove after she mocked Rue’s death and tried to kill Katniss.

In conclusion, Thresh was a boss and let’s be real he’s also hella fine which is why he’s this week’s MCM.

I always respected [Thresh]. For his power. For his refusal to play the Games on anyone’s terms but his own.– Catching Fire

Woman Crush Wednesday: Katniss Everdeen


If you don’t know who Katniss Everdeen is you must’ve been living under a rock for years now and to that I say welcome back to civilization.

Katniss is fierce, loyal, protective, and incredibly brave. What she does for her little sister, Prim, is crazy and I think I would be able to do the same for someone I truly cared about but honestly I’m not 100% sure. I mean she volunteered to go into a battle to the death just to make sure her sister didn’t. And she only hesitated for a second before she made this huge decision that inevitably changed her life forever. Who does that? Katniss, that’s who.

Although Katniss definitely has her issues what I love about her is her strength. Once she decides what she wants she goes after it and doesn’t give up until she gets it. She’s stubborn that way. I also like that she’s kind of awkward and sometimes struggles to express herself. She loves so many people but sometimes it’s hard for her to make that evident and that’s something I can totally sympathize with.

Katniss’ love, though, is shown best through her actions, which speak louder than her words.

My spirit. This is a new thought. I’m not sure exactly what it means, but it suggests I’m a fighter. In a sort of brave way. It’s not as if I’m never friendly. Okay, maybe I don’t go around loving everybody I meet, maybe my smiles are hard to come by, but I do care for some people. – The Hunger Games

Man Crush Monday: Gale Hawthorne


I know they’ll probably be a bunch of Hunger Games fans that are upset with me for this (i.e. fans of Peeta) but let me explain. I love both these guys equally and for different reasons and just because I’m doing Gale first doesn’t mean I won’t do Peeta at some point. It’s just, have you seen Gale? Look at him. He’s gorgeous. One could argue it’s just because he’s played by Liam Hemsworth but I thought Gale was hot before the movies were even a thing.

Moving on, I like that Gale is strong and independent. I loved that he wanted a family with Katniss and he really cared about her. He understood her better than almost everyone. I’m happy that (SPOILER ALERT!) she ends up with Peeta but I wish she and Gale could’ve stayed friends. I understand why that wasn’t possible but still. It hurt me that the story ended with them being so far apart.

Overall, I found Gale to be cute, strong, and a great friend. He really loved Katniss and I think he would’ve been great with her if he was given the change. I can’t believe it’s taken this long for him to be one of my man crush Mondays, honestly.

[Gale] tilts his forehead down to rest against mine and pulls me closer. His skin, his whole being radiates heat from being so near the fire, and I close my eyes, soaking in his warmth. I breathe in the smell of snow-dampened leather and smoke and apples, the smell of all those wintry days we shared before the Games. I don’t try to move away. Why should I anyway? His voice drops to a whisper. “I love you. That’s why.” – Catching Fire

POLL: Should books be adapted into movies?


It seems now more than ever books are being turned into movies. From Harry Potter to Paper Towns it’s gotten a little out of control. It’s almost strange now if a best selling novel doesn’t become a movie. But is this a good thing? Yesterday guest poster Shant Istamboulian discussed books that were turned into great movies but that’s not always the case.

How do you feel about books becoming movies? Is it a bad idea or is it cool seeing your favorite books becoming films? Vote in the poll below.

Results of last week’s poll:

Which is the best Harry Potter book?

This was probably the closest poll I’ve ever had on this blog, which isn’t surprising. With a majority of only 30.77% the winner is The Prisoner of Azkaban. Also, Happy Birthday Harry!

Where My POCs At: (The Lack of) Diversity in Books


For my Man Crush Mondays and Woman Crush Wednesdays I try to make them more diverse because I honestly hate the lack of color on my blog, especially since I, myself, am a person of color.

That being said it’s difficult to find characters that are in fact POCs. I’ve recognized this problem in literature before but it becomes abundantly clear when you’re actively look for people of color in your favorite books and can’t find them.

When i first realized this problem my first thought was, “I need to read more diverse books.” Now, this is a fair thought and in the future I will make more of an effort to diversify my reading. But then I had another thought: “Maybe there just needs to be more diverse books.”

I’m not writing this blog post with any stats to back my claims but just on my own general experience the lack of diversity in books, fiction specifically, is sub par at best. And the books that do have a POC they’re almost never the main character. Instead they’re the secondary character. They’re the best friend, the enemy, occasionally the love interest, and sometimes just someone whose name appears once as if to complete some diversity requirement.

As someone who mainly reads young adult fiction I find this lack of color disappointing at best, a serious problem at worst.

Why is it so hard for me to find a teen book that has a person of color as the main character? And why is it when I do it’s not in the “Teen Fiction” section but instead in “African-American Literature,” or “Asian American Novels,” or “Hispanic Books”? Why is it that as soon as it’s written by an author that not’s white it can’t be classified as just a book but as something specialized that needs it’s own section and should be segregated from other books?

If I write a book about a girl dying with cancer who falls with a boy who also has cancer will it be put in a different section than The Fault In Our Stars just because I’m black? And one could argue that it’s good we have our own section. That it makes our books stand out but it shouldn’t be that way because by separating books like that it inherently makes readers think that “those books” are something different. Something foreign. Something not to be read by someone other than of that race.

Therefore when we do have diverse books it’s hard for them to get the same acclaim and sell as many books as books with white protagonists because only people of color are reading books by people of color and that’s just wrong.

This being said I encourage you all to diversify your reading. Read outside of your comfort zone and show your support for more diverse books by tweeting your thoughts on the subject with the hashtag #WeNeedDiverseBooks. There’s also a Tumblr page dedicated to the cause and it’s not only about color/race but also about getting more books that discuss disabilities and the LGBTQ community as well. It’s a great movement and you should be a part of it.


POLL: Who’s The Best Dystopian Heroine?

Dystopian Heroine

Dystopian’s are widely popular right now. Between The Hunger Games and Divergent, dystopias have left book form and moved to the big screen. Of course, a lot of these dystopians start to run together and some could even argue they’re all the same. Even so, that doesn’t stop people from having their favorite characters. So are you more a Katniss or Tris? Choose you’re favorite dystopian heroine and see if yours comes out on top. (Note: This poll only includes the main heroines of these novels. It’d be too big of a list if I included every heroine from every dystopian novel but that’ll be another poll, don’t worry.)