Let’s Talk Bookish: Cliches and Tropes

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, created and hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books and Dani @ Literary Lion, where we discuss certain topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each other’s posts. You can check out more about this meme here!

The topic for this Friday is about cliches and tropes included in books.


Tropes are recurring themes or patterns frequently used in literature. Every book and story has some kind of trope and that’s because they work. Those recurring themes and devices become tropes over time because it’s been shown that they’re popular and well received by readers. For instance, the (dreaded) love triangle trope. Love triangles showed up in YA books everywhere in the late 2000s/early 2010s, sparking many Team A vs. Team B discussions amongst readers. Whether you loved or hated that trope, it kept showing up in books because it was a part of the YA formula at the time that proved popular and generated sales.

Tropes also give books a small degree of predictability that can be helpful to the success of a book. When a synopsis hints at a well-loved trope, readers are given a sense of what to expect from a story and are more likely to pick up that book. Tropes are typically selling points for many readers. One of the best things about reading a book with a popular/well-loved trope is the uncertainty surrounding it. Tropes encompass an overall theme or plot device, but there are so many different ways for authors to incorporate those tropes into their story. The specific way in which tropes are written can lead them to be considered either successful or “overdone” within a book.

On the other hand, I would argue that cliches are “bad” tropes, or tropes that have proven to become unpopular, are overdone, or executed poorly. Cliches could also be certain phrases or characterizations that are used frequently. One of the best examples of a cliche is the phrase, “I let out a breath I didn’t realize I was holding.” This phrase is so over used, that it’s become a bit of a joke in bookish community. Another great example of cliche is the Mary Sue/Gary Stu characterization of a protagonist, in which they lack any flaws, are universally like by all other characters, and can easily and unrealistically overcome any and all obstacles thrown their way.

One important distinction that can be made between tropes and cliches, is that cliches are more subjective. Every reader’s tastes are different, and therefore what I may consider a cliche is not the same as what someone else might consider cliche.


Enemies-to-Lovers Romance – This is the crème de la crème of tropes, in my opinion. Give me two characters that can’t stand each other guts slowly develop feelings over the course of a book (or series) and I will be in heaven.

There’s Only One Bed – My greatest delight is reading a book and the realization dawning on me of where the author is taking the next chapter. I’m not sure where or how this trope originated but I would like to thank each and every author who’s ever utilized it.

Heists – These are always such fun books! I honestly think a lot of my love for these tropes stems from my love of heist movies. Nothing beats a team of well-loved characters working together to pull off an amazing heist.

Morally Grey Characters – I’m a sucker for a good anti-hero/heroine. I love watching them either start out that way and slowly redeem themselves as the story goes on, or begin good and watch their descent as they begin to make questionable choices.

If you want to read about all my favorite romance tropes, you can check out this post!


The Chosen One – I don’t know why, but this trope has always bothered me. A lot of the chosen one characters seem to have a Mary Sue/Gary Stu characterization which may be why I have such an issue with it.

“Not Like Other Girls” – Nothing gets on my nerve more than seeing a character describe herself as ~unlike other girls~ or even worse, when the love interest says he likes the protagonist because she’s ~not like other girls~. Ew.

Love Triangles – Love triangles are the bane of my existence because they are wholly unnecessary to the plot of the book. There have been only a few instances where I think they were executed well, but usually I absolutely hate when I realize a love triangle is developing.

Alpha Male Love Interest – One day I’ll write an entire post on the issues with toxic relationships and romanticizing abuse within the YA genre, but for now I’ll stick with talking about how much I hate the overbearing, possessive love interests.

What are your favorite tropes? What tropes do you think have become cliche? Let’s discuss in the comments!

Let’s Talk Bookish: 3 Star Ratings – Good or Bad?

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, created and hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books and Dani @ Literary Lion, where we discuss certain topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each other’s posts. You can check out more about this meme here!

The topic for this Friday revolves around giving three star ratings to books. I’m really excited about this topic because I think it’s such an interesting dilemma in the bookish community.


Three star reviews for book seem to be very polarizing in the bookish community. I’ve noticed that many people and readers (including some in the publishing industry) consider three stars to be a negative review. I actually don’t see three star reviews that way. I consider a three star review to be more of a positive-neutral review. For instance, if I was interested in reading a book and looked up the reviews online and saw a good number of three stars, that would never deter me from actually picking up the book.

When I rate a book three stars, I always have this feeling in the back of my head that I’m being negative even thought I don’t find those ratings negative. And I honestly believe it’s because there’s such a stigma in the bookish community that three stars are negative, not positive. I wish I could reiterate over and over that a three star rating is still a positive rating and does not mean the book is bad.

This especially comes into play when I’m participating in book tours or reading ARCs. I feel very self-conscious when I rate those books three stars, because I feel like my review is going to be considered negative when it’s not. It took me a long time to feel comfortable giving three star reviews on my blog tour posts–I always make it very clear that three stars are positive and that I found the book both enjoyable and recommendable to other readers.


Everyone has their own rating systems for review books. For me personally, I stick to the simple 1-5 star ratings including half stars. According to the Goodreads system, three stars means “I liked it” and that’s exactly how I feel. In every book that I have rated three stars, it still meant that overall I enjoyed reading the book. There are many, many three star books that I would (and do) whole heartedly recommend to others!

So how do I decide when a book gets a three star instead of rounding up? Typically it’s because I had a few issues with some aspects of the book, be it plot, characters, writing, or tone. Sometimes it was because the book felt like it was simply lacking something, which I just couldn’t put a finger on. Sometimes it was because when compared to other similar books, it didn’t stand up quite as much. But all of the issues I find in three star ratings are issues that never detract from my overall enjoyment and entertainment of the story.

What are your thoughts about three star reviews? Do you find them to be positive or negative? Let’s discuss in the comments!

Let’s Talk Bookish: Content Warnings

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, created and hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books and Dani @ Literary Lion, where we discuss certain topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each other’s posts. You can check out more about this meme here!

This was a freebie week, so I went through the older Let’s Talk Bookish topics and decided to talk about content/trigger warnings in books.


Content warnings (or trigger warnings) are typically brief statements that give an idea of themes present in books that may be potentially harmful to the mental or emotional health of readers.

Every person’s reading experience is subjective and therefore not everyone’s reaction to certain topics and content will be the same. Content warnings exist to allow readers to make an informed decision about difficult subjects before going into the story. When readers are made aware of potentially harmful content in a book, they have the chance to put themselves in the right headspace before reading to mitigate any mental/emotional distress, or to decide not to read the book altogether.

The goal of content warnings is to provide succinct information about themes/content in books that could possibly cause mental or emotional harm to a reader.


Unfortunately, there seems to be a lot of push back when it comes to the use of content/trigger warnings (which I think is a lot better now). The arguments that I see time and time again are that life doesn’t give you warnings and content warnings are spoilers. I adamantly disagree.

First of all, it’s because life doesn’t give us content/trigger warnings that I believe having them in media, such as books, is so important. Readers may not be able to avoid distressing situations in real life, but having the option to avoid them when reading helps preserve people’s mental health. Reading is an escape for many people, including myself. There’s no reason reading cannot be a safe space for those actively trying to avoid harmful, distressing situations.

I’ve never understood the argument that content warnings are spoilers. Every content or trigger warning statement I’ve read–whether from the author or another reviewer–has always been brief mentions of themes/content to expect. And not a single time did those mentions ruin my reading experience. For instance, before reading The Poppy War, I saw the content warnings for graphic violence, rape, and drug abuse. That alone is not enough information to spoil any sort of plot or character information from the book, but rather it provides an idea of what can be expected at some point during the course of the story as a forewarning.


Book bloggers do wonderful things for the reading community, and among that is the many different lists and databases created to list content/trigger warnings in books. I’ve listed a few of the ones I am aware of below, but please comment if you know of any others so I can add them!

✨ Laura @ Green Tea and Paperbacks and Fadwa @ Word Wonders have created a content warning database

Book Trigger Warnings is a website created by Jenny and Rob

✨ Annemieke @ A Dance with Books wrote a post listing content/trigger warnings bloggers and reviewers can use in their book reviews

Let’s Talk Bookish: What Makes a Book YA?

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, created and hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books and Dani @ Literary Lion, where we discuss certain topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each other’s posts. You can check out more about this meme here!

Today’s topic is about the Young Adult genre and what categorizes a book as being “YA”.


Defining what makes a book Young Adult is not an easy task. There are no set boundaries for classifying a book as YA vs. Adult and many times the line between those two genres is blurred. I find that is especially true concerning fantasy books, rather than contemporary or romance which are pretty easy to differentiate between YA and Adult. While there is no hard and fast rule for Young Adult books, for the most part they tend to have the same guidelines:

Intended Audience – This is the most important factor for determining whether or not the book is YA. Who is the author’s intended audience? Most YA books are written for teenage readers aged between 13-19.

Character Age – Here is a big difference between YA and Adult books: the age of the protagonist. In YA books, the main character(s) are always aged somewhere between 13-20. While Adult novels can also feature characters in the age group, they typically also characters older than 20.

Themes – Most YA books have themes that resemble coming of age, such as self-discovery, friendship, sexual exploration, first loves, and family relationships.


There is no doubt in my mind that books are unfairly classified as Young Adult, especially fantasy books. However, there seems to be a pattern among the books that are unfairly classified in YA instead of their intended Adult:

Female Fantasy Authors – Female authors who write SFF are almost always unfairly categorized into Young Adult. I’ve noticed that this happens less often if they have an androgynous name or if they use their initials.

Authors Who Have Previously Written YA – A prime example of this is Jay Kristoff and Victoria Schwab, who both write YA and Adult books. Because they write in both genres their Adult fantasy books frequently get categorized into YA. It doesn’t matter that they announce ad nauseam not to place certain books under YA, those books will still be wrongly classified.

Books with Female Protagonist – Many SFF books that have a female protagonist (or have a female character on the cover) will also get unfairly classified as YA. I’m still unsure what the gender of the protagonist has to do with the book’s themes and intended audience.


The line between Young Adult and Adult has been blurring over the years, especially in the fantasy genre. There are some Adult books that I would feel very comfortable with giving to a teenager to read. On the other hand, there are some Young Adult books that I would seriously reconsider before recommending to a younger reader. I’ve seen people being to refer to Young Adult books as “Upper YA” and “Lower YA,” which is a good way to differentiate between the more mature books, but considering they all get shelved the same at stores it’s hard for parents and teenage readers to know the difference.

There are a lot of books and authors that are now considered “cross-overs.” There’s really no definition, but t seems to encompass books that can easily be read by either an Young Adult or Adult audience. I’ve also seen this description be applied to authors who began writing in YA but have written more mature books over the years as their readers have aged.


There are a lot of books that are classified in the wrong genre. The biggest example I can think of is Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses series, which was intended to be written as New Adult, but was published by Bloomsbury under their Young Adult imprint. I can safely say, even after only reading the first one, that those books are definitely not Young Adult. They never should have been published or marketed as so.

Another couple more examples are V. E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series and Jay Kristoff’s The Nevernight Chronicles. always see these books being labels as Young Adult, and I’ve lost tract of the amount of times I’ve seen Nevernight shelved in the YA section at stores. I can only imagine the shock of some younger readers upon reading those first few chapters thinking the book was appropriately YA.

Let’s Talk Bookish! What do you consider a YA book? Chat with me in the comments below!

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Let’s Talk Bookish: Reading Book Reviews

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, created and hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books and Dani @ Literary Lion, where we discuss certain topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each other’s posts. You can check out more about this meme here!

Today’s topic is about book reviews and what we, as a reader, like to see when reading other reviews.


One of my pet peeves when reading a book review is when it doesn’t actually review the book. I read a lot of reviews on Goodreads which simply restate the synopsis by briefly talking about what happens during the book. And this is probably an unpopular opinion, but I also really dislike when reviews are filled with gifs 🙈 It makes it really hard for me to follow along with the review and what the reader is trying to say when there is a gif every two sentences. It’s way too busy on my eyes; I prefer reading just text.

When I read a book review, I’m more interested in what the made the reader like/dislike the book and their opinions on certain aspects. Some of the things I like to see the reviewer touch on:

Worldbuilding/Setting – how well was the world developed? what kind of setting is the book in?

Characters – who are the characters? are they well-developed? how is their growth throughout the book? what kind of relationship do they have with the other characters

Romance – i’m a sucker for romance so i love knowing whether or not romance is a part of the story and between who

Writing/Pacing – is the book fast paced? slow and hard to get through? how is the writing? what style does the author use to tell their story?


I don’t mind people putting spoilers in their reviews–as long as they are tagged appropriately. I can’t tell you how many times someone’s review has come across my Goodreads feed with a huge spoiler for a much anticipated upcoming release. I really don’t mind people including spoilers (I even go searching for them sometimes) but I just wish everyone would have them tagged appropriately on Goodreads, or a warning in their blog posts.

I usually only include spoilers in my reviews if sometime major happens that causes a lot of feelings, whether they be good or bad. I typically type my reviews in white so they blend into the background of my blog post and someone would only be able to read them if they highlight the phrase/word. On Goodreads, I always make sure the spoilers are hidden appropriately.


Reading other book reviews definitely affect whether or not I’ll pick up a book. I’ve decided not to read books before when I’ve seen nothing but negative reviews. I’ve also added many, many books to my TBR after reading glowing reviews on Goodreads. For example, both The City of Brass and The Poppy War were not books on my radar but I saw a lot of positive reviews following their releases and it persuaded me to give them a try. And as anyone who follows my blog knows, I am obsessed with those two series. My favorite kind of comments on my own book reviews is whenever someone tells me I convinced them to add a book to their TBR!

Let’s Talk Bookish! Chat with me in the comments below!

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