the princess diaries

Non-Fantasy/Dystopian YA authors to try!

I’m packing up my books this week as I’ll be leaving university at the end of this year and my schedule leaves about 3 weeks holiday between now and July, so I’m getting a good look at some of those books hidden on my shelves!

A rut I definitely got in when starting out with YA was that I just loved the Genre of the Day – and so my shelves are full of vampire novels and dystopians. However, there are some series I’ve really enjoyed which aren’t your typical YA book, and they’re great to try if you’re getting bored of the same-old YA books which come out year after year.

Meg Cabot

I know Meg Cabot through the Princess Diaries series – which has recently rebooted – but she’s actually written a few bestselling series. The Mediator series has rave reviews – but is also fantasy. The Princess Diaries, Queen of Babble, The Boy series, and the Heather Well series (which starts with Size 12 is Not Fat) should all be fantasy-free, amusing and fun to read. (The Princess Diaries also led to two Disney films, although they do not follow the plot of the books exactly).

Louise Rennison

The Confessions of Georgia Nicholson series is hilarious and brilliantly British. Georgia is a typical British girl on the cusp of becoming a woman, and we follow her as she discovers boys, snogging, and how embarrassing parents can be. There’s 10 books in total but they’re so easy to read and enjoyable (and not too long either) that it’s easy to fly through them. Rennin’s latest series is the Misadventures of Tallulah Casey series, which is very much in the same vein as the first series – in fact, Tallulah is Georgia’s cousin. I’d definitely give this series a go if you’re in a reading slump – and the movie is pretty funny, too.

Morgan Matson

The only Morgan Matson book I’ve read so far is Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, which is a classic American road trip story (which are always fun, right?). Since then, Morgan has published two more stand-alone books, with another, The Unexpected Everything, coming in 2016. Second Chance Summer and Since You’ve Been Gone are on my TBR list.

Ally Carter

I absolutely loved the Gallagher Girls series, which follows a student at a Spy School for Girls, Cammie Morgan, and her emerging love life with a fellow spy. These books are only about 300 pages long, so short enough to devour in a day or two. Heist Society is a book I actually own, but haven’t got round to reading yet, but the series (which currently has three books) is in the same vein as Gallagher Girls. Her new Embassy Row series looks exciting too. These books are a little more Middle Grade than YA, so great starter books for easing into the YA world.

Sarah Dessen

When I first got into YA, Sarah Dessen was reigning queen of love stories. Her books are stand-alone, so easy to pick up just one and know you’re not going to face a devastating cliff-hanger at the end – and all of her books have stellar reviews on GoodReads so definitely well worth a dip into. I’ve read Just Listen, The Truth about Forever and Lock & Key but if you’re looking for her most recent work, Saint Anything was released in May.

Cecily von Ziegesar

The Gossip Girl series is 13 books long, but they’re very short and fun books (although a little expensive – still £7.99 each on Amazon). These are the source material for the CW show of the same name (which I absolutely love) although the show deviates quite heavily from the books. There are two spin-off book series too – Gossip Girl: The Carlyles follows the Carlyle triplets, and The IT Girl follows GG alum Jenny Humphrey at boarding school.

Honorary mentions: John Green (who else) and Rainbow Rowell (of course).

Who are your favourite YA authors? What are your favourite non-fantasy series? Comment below or tweet at @annalisebooks 🙂

Annalise x

Review: Royal Wedding (The Princess Diaries) by Meg Cabot

Royal Wedding
Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

For some people, it’s Harry Potter or Twilight that really gets them into reading. For others, it’s The Princess Diaries. For me, it was a strange combination of all three.

I first started reading The Princess Diaries series back in 2002, at the tender age of 8. I read every book after book four as it came out, following Mia’s adventures as a high school princess and culminating in a little happy ever after (getting back together with her best friend’s brother, Michael). Now Mia is turning 26, hounded by the press, who claim she’s carrying twins sired by ‘the World’s Greatest Lover’ (Michael Moscovitz). The press are speculating about why Michael won’t marry Mia, and as Mia gets more and more stressed about political conflict and her dad’s erratic behaviour, Michael whisks her off to a secluded island, where he proposes (a big surprise in a book called Royal Wedding). What follows is a series of twists and turns leading up to the wedding, especially after Mia finds out she has a secret half-sister, Olivia Grace (the protagonist of the sister series ‘From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess’).

The format of the book is standard TPD fare – it’s written in the form of diary entries by Mia, with press articles and invitations ‘stuck in’, and some conversations taking the form of emails and text messages. This format is so easy to read, and it’s so easy to read ‘just one more chapter’ because the diary entries are often a few pages at most.

Reading this book was like catching up with old friends, but it’s not only Mia and Michael who return. A whole host of characters from the first series of books – Lilly, Grandmere, Rocky, Perin, Ling Su, Lana, Trisha, JP, Boris, Tina, Lars, etc. – are back in some form or another. This is, of course, explained away by the fact that it’s hard to make new friends once you’ve become a Princess of Genovia. Kudos to Meg Cabot for being able to write the same characters at different points in their lives convincingly – these are definitely the same characters we all know and love, just a little older, with new problems. My only problem with this is that it’s a little unrealistic that Mia would have kept in touch with all of her high school friends, and her college experience is mentioned perhaps once or twice. It would have been great to see some new characters and perhaps left some of the original characters to a sentence or two mentioned in passing.

My only issue with the plot is that the whole long-lost half-sister issue overshadowed the wedding (which is what the book really promises to be about) and there’s a few twists which struggle to be believable (then again, this is a book about a girl who discovers she’s a princess). We don’t even see the wedding (there’s a six-week time jump) or really any of the planning going into it, which is a shame.

I really enjoyed this book (I was grinning during the last few pages) and can’t wait for the next installment (which has definitely been teased in the last chapters). Hopefully the next installments will introduce new characters and antagonists, and continue to be on excellent form.

A sidenote: in the UK, this is marketed as a stand-alone novel, with no real mention that it is a continuation of The Princess Diaries (which it undoubtedly is). Considering that Meg Cabot has written other series, I can imagine that a lot of potential readers wouldn’t have realised that this is Book 11, although it could be read as a stand-alone novel/series. I would definitely recommend reading the other books first, to get acquainted with the characters and the story (some of which I had admittedly forgotten).

Annalise x

Have you read Royal Wedding? What did you think? Comment below or tweet me at @annalisebooks 🙂

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