Monday Chitchat: Authors Who Will Always Have a Space in My Heart... and on My Shelves

6:30 AM

First Monday Chitchat of the year! 
 
Last week, and the week before, were moderately slow in terms of posting. So, I'm skipping my usual wrap up of reviews and posts! Instead, we're just going to get our chitchat on. 

I'm thinking about making this an actual tag/challenge/meme (whatever they are called) so if you guys would be interested in this, let me know! I'd basically just give a specific topic on a specific week (like all tags) that would give you the chance to chitchat with your readers.

This week, I was feeling very nostalgic while brainstorming ideas. When I received a copy of 29 Dates by Melissa de la Cruz, for reviewing purposes, that nostalgia was only fueled further.

For context? Melissa de la Cruz was one of the first authors I obsessed over. I found her work during middle-school when I was going through my, "I love/am consumed by Gossip Girl and want to read any and everything similar" phase. It was all over when I discovered her Au Pairs series (now titled Beach Lane, I believe) even now, as an adult, I am guaranteed to purchase and read all of her books.

And let's be real: Melissa de la Cruz is STILL killing it with frequent books. We love her for it.

Then, I got to thinking: what of the OTHER authors I've loved through the years? 

Aside from the more obvious authors of my lifetime (J.K. Rowling, Cassandra Clare, Krista and Becca Ritchie, A.G. Howard, Gillian Flynn, Megan Abbott, Jenny Han, to name a lot a few)--I find myself fond of many writers. There are many voices in literature that have fueled my love of reading from the start.

From the days devouring, and sobbing over, Lurlene McDaniel, to baby's first thriller in Lois Duncan, and that undying desire to read ALL THE SHALLOW BOOKS, I think it's safe to say I've been exploring YA pretty vigorously since the beginning.

So here's a little dive into some of the author's I've always loved, and to a degree, always will. 

LURLENE MCDANIEL
   

 Other notable titles: Telling Christina Goodbye and The Girl Death Left Behind.  

Lurlene McDaniel is one of the authors I own the most of. The obsession was REAL. I think fondly of her books because they really, really portrayed grief in a way that wasn't fully touched at the time. McDaniel was definitely ahead of her time in the way she wrote about loss and illness and other very touchy subjects.

While some of her books haven't aged well, they still hold a big spot in my heart. There are just so many memories involving her! Me, searching eBay pretty frequently in an attempt to buy her out of print books or the old editions solely to own multiple copies of my favourite titles. 

At the time I started reading her, her books were only $4.99 at Barnes and Noble. P.S., my nickname IRL comes from one of her characters. 

 
CECILY VON ZIEGESAR 


Other notable titles: Class/Cum Laude and Gossip Girl: Psycho Killer. 

I'll spare you my typical rantings about the show--and yes, I am FOREVER bitter about it--by focusing on some positives. (1) I grew up with these characters and they literally defined my teenage years. (2) Blair Waldorf is everything. (3) I would likely not be book blogging if not for this series. (4) I've been a fan for so long that I vividly remember when an adaptation was in the works: not the CW series that defined pop culture from 2007 onward for many, but a film. Starring Lindsay Lohan. As Blair Waldorf. 

Yikes!

I also wouldn't be such a sarcastic jerk in my own writing if it weren't for the simple, snide remarks that Gossip Girl makes throughout its narration. It also defined a very specific taste of mine in the years that have passed and helps make series like The Thousandth Floor and Crazy Rich Asians feel so nostalgic and fun for me.

The love for these books is never-ending. While I don't doubt that if I had read them for the first time in my late teens or now in my twenties, I would dislike this series, I will forever hold them near and dear. 

 MELISSA DE LA CRUZ


Other notable titles: Alex & Eliza and 29 Dates.

When I started reading Melissa de la Cruz, I was honestly just looking for something to read while I waited for the next Gossip Girl book. Then, I ended up liking Melissa de la Cruz and her writing far more and suddenly, she became one of my most-owned authors and one of the very few who carried over into my adult life. 



You can definitely find her on my auto-buy list for the rest of my life. I think we're finally at that point where I can say that and mean that. At this point, she isn't going anywhere and I'm definitely good with that. 


Blue Bloods was probably my all-time favourite release of hers back then, but The Au Pairs was my first Melissa de la Cruz. Both are on my TBR pile in terms of rereads. It's been a while and I want to see what my feelings for old favourites are now, well into my twenties. 

ZOEY DEAN


Other notable titles: Talent and How to Teach Filthy Rich Girls  

Fair warning, Zoey Dean, and most of the authors that come next are like Melissa de la Cruz: they were found because they were similar to Gossip Girl, and then I ended up liking them just as much if not more????? Which was a MASSIVE plot-twist for teenage me and absolutely the reason for the teardrops on my guitar. 

The A-List, and its spin-off series, were very much so Gossip Girl set in California. Something like a highly addictive, scandalous 90210-esque series. I am still very shocked that it wasn't more popular (it was still quite popular) and that when Gossip Girl was at its height of success that the CW, or another network, didn't pick up an adaptation of these books. 

Especially since How to Teach Filthy Rich Girls was adapted for/by the CW, titled Privileged. Or Privilege, I can't remember, exactly. I do remember it (like most television adaptations) was VERY different from the book and had (1) a girl from Degrassi in it and (2) Lucy Hale.

I did go on a binge of Zoey Dean's other available works but none of them were especially *great* in my eyes, save The A-List. It's still a go-to summertime read. Alloy Entertainment/Poppy Books basically owned me back in the day and apparently still do.

J. MINTER

Not to be repetitive but J. Minter wrote what was basically the boy counterpart of Gossip Girl with The Insiders. In the early 2000s, obviously publishers were cranking out books that felt similar to Gossip Girl. Hell, they even got Cecily von Ziegesar to do the main blurb advertising the series. 

Admittedly, I don't remember a lot from The Insiders or its spin-off, Inside Girl. I remembered thinking that I loved the characters and the general indulgence in the series, much like, er, all the series that I've listed so far, but other than that? Nada. 

I do, however, remember my friends and I discussing this series in a very fangirl way. And always, we were convinced that J. Minter didn't exist and that, instead, it was Cecily von Ziegesar herself writing these books. #EARLY00SYACONSPIRACYTHEORIES


KATE BRIAN  


Other notable titles: Lucky Tee and Megan Meade's Guide to the McGowan Boys

When the first book in the Private series came out, I remember seeing a display for it at Barnes and Noble and thinking, dang, this looks COOL. At this point, one would think that I'd burned myself out on fashionable YA novels, but, IN MY DEFENSE: this was different. Very different. While the other series I loved were in a similar, stylish vein Private was more of a mystery.

It holds one of my favourite fictional characters of all time, too: Ariana Osgood. Who got her own spin-off in later years and was just chilling and brilliantly fun. I mentioned this before, but part of the reason I like/am so unsettled by Joe Goldberg in Caroline Kepnes' You is very similar to how I feel about Ariana Osgood, so that should give you a little bit of an idea about what kind of character she is. 

While there are some serious elements in Private that I'm not terribly keen on now as an adult, this was definitely a favourite of mine and definitely the reason why I love Kate Brian's work so much. There was, also, a lot of confusion towards the end of the series run when we involved some witchy elements to the mix.

And, it kind of led me straight into the arms of Pretty Little Liars, which is probably one of its only OG counterparts.



SARA SHEPARD


Other notable titles: The Heiresses, The Perfectionists and The Amateurs 

I love Sara Shepard. I go back and forth with myself in which of her series is my favourite and it's obviously a tie between three of them: Pretty Little Liars, The Lying Game and The Perfectionists. I will say that Pretty Little Liars is the original true love, The Lying Game was the most chilling by the series end, and The Perfectionists was the most surprising for me.

While, technically, only about half of the Pretty Little Liars book series is in line with the rest of the books on this list in terms of release dates, it was still a pretty big part of me back in the day and still is even now. It's impossible to not think of these books at the same time as the others on the list.

I think out of all the authors on this list, Sara ties with Melissa in terms of me being starstruck by their mere existence if I ever meet them. If I ever meet them, if I were to ever get an autographed something by them, there's a big possibility I'd faint.

 RACHEL MAUDE

The most underrated author on this list and I'm forever saddened by the fact that we didn't get more of the Poseur series. And that I ended up losing the third book in the series on a train ride in Chicago a few years back, when I'd commute there pretty frequently. While I still have the remaining three in the series, my shelf definitely is missing a big piece of that section by not having the third installment any more.

I also won't hesitate to say that this book composed the best qualities of the genre. It was stylish. It was satirical. It was dishy. It was smart. It was just a blast to read. It even had all kinds of beautiful fashion design sketches that were BEYOND appealing to me, a then-aspiring fashion designer.

Rachel Maude is one of the authors I get most frustrated about because I feel like we did her so dirty by not making Poseur as popular as the other books on this list. I would DEFINITELY sell a kidney for a revival/continuation of Poseur. FACTS ONLY.



LISI HARRISON



Other notable titles: Monster High and Alphas

I almost didn't include Harrison because (1) I never finished The Clique/haven't read the last two or three books and (2) Have only read a few of her other releases in the past. But, The Clique was so fun. It was probably the first series I read that I was the same age as the characters for a hot minute: it came out just around my birthday and for a glorious year or so, I had characters who were my age!

(The release of each book in the series changed that, of course. They were 13 for basically a decade.) 

It was basically Gossip Girl for middle school girls and that was, you know, the ultimate goal for me. I was so into these books, I wrote fanfiction for it--a title that was only held for Harry Potter, Twilight and Gossip Girl.

Side note: when the first season of Gossip Girl came out on DVD, they had an exclusive trailer for The Clique movie somewhere on the discs and it was one of the biggest factors in me purchasing Gossip Girl on DVD. Oops!



AIMEE FRIEDMAN
 
Other notable titles: Sea Change and Two Summers 

I'm always surprised when I don't hear many people talk about her books. Mostly because I thought they were quite fun and fluffy. Her Alexa & Holly series was another one of those book series that inevitably led me into the blogging world. The entire series was delicious and dramatic and just a fun, beach friendly read.

Funnily enough, I picked up the first book at some point during one of my spring breaks. It's been so long, I can't remember how old I was when I first started reading the series, but it was definitely when, I think, only South Beach was published. If not, then it was when my local library only had that specific installment.

Regardless, these books gave me (1) the warm and fuzzies (2) the desire to travel and shop and, of course, (3) long for a little more romance in my life. I really only have fond memories of them!




ROBIN WASSERMAN

 

Other notable titles: Cold Awakening series, co-writing Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy and Ghosts of the Shadow Market, and Girls on Fire 

I think I'll always have a soft spot for the original, less aesthetically pleasing covers just because they were very much so of their time in terms of design, but I really had to use the cover art for the newer editions because they are SO BEAUTIFUL and I reALLY NEED THEM ASAP. Someone get me these dang editions for my birthday, please.

I am actually not kidding. I NEED THESE NEW EDITIONS and to be able to do a reread. Actually, this is my thought process for most of the books on this list: I need to reread you RIGHT NOW. Or soon.

As for Seven Deadly Sins... It was just fun? That's literally all I can say. I was really attached to these characters because they felt so complex, at least to me at the time, and I remember devouring most of them in little to no time. I even had to convince my librarian that, yes, I was old enough to be reading a book called Lust and that, yes, she should put in a request to order the rest of the series for me IMMEDIATELY. 



MAUREEN JOHNSON
 
Other notable titles: co-writing Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy and The Bane Chronicles, Truly Devious and The Shades of London series 

I read a lot of Maureen Johnson growing up. But, I find that I've read a lot more by her now in my adult years than I did in my teens. I think I appreciate her now and simply overlooked a lot of her earlier work for one reason or another?

I don't know, but her work has just grown massively over the years and I adore her more and more with every release! Truly Devious, for example, made my best of 2018 list, and I have a feeling the sequel is going to be just as brilliant. Most of her earlier work was fun and fluffy and pretty straight forward, and I still look back fondly on them.

Like Aimee Friedman, Maureen Johnson just gives me the warm and fuzzies for one reason or another.

LOIS DUNCAN 
 
Other notable titles:  Locked in Time, Down a Dark Hall and Summer of Fear

Lois Duncan was my first experience with thrillers and I'm thankful for it. Killing Mr. Griffin was one of my most reread books in my teens. I remember always feeling so sympathetic towards her in real life due to the murder of her daughter, which was the subject of a non-fiction release by her, and a topic that never got solved while she was still alive.

When she died a few years back, I was completely heartbroken because she really shaped how I viewed the genres she wrote in. She was another author that felt ahead of her time.

I also always felt bad that most of her books never saw an accurate adaptation while she was alive. I enjoyed Killing Mr. Griffin and I Know What You Did Last Summer a lot, but still wish that someone had adapted them more faithfully. I also still think it was in poor taste that they made a simple, subtly creepy thriller like I Know What You Did Last Summer into a slasher film--years after the author's daughter was MURDERED. It's just tacky.

Then, there's the matter of them white-washing Stranger With My Face. But we're not going to go off on any of this right now. And, I can't speak for other adaptations of her work, as I've not seen them.




There are so many authors I didn't include but, looking back on my older selection of reads, these are the authors I find beat the others. Honorable mentions include: Ally Carter, Natalie Stanford and whoever wrote the Gossip Girl spin-offs The Carlyles (Annabelle Vestry?) and The It-Girl. And L.J. Smith.


TALK TO ME: 

Who are some of your ORIGINAL favourite authors, and how does their work hold up, now, as you grow older? Did you go through any phases with your literary preference at any point? I.E., a genre or story-type that you just ended up reaching for most of all?

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