A LIST OF SOME THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOKS I’VE EVER READ

Absolutely beautifully written books appear once in a blue moon, and when they do, they tend to give the worst book hangovers. Every single book (or series) on this list seemed to hang around me in a fog for several days after I finished it. Most of these are fantasy or sci-fi, so if you’re looking for an absolutely gorgeous book to dive into, I recommend any of these. Mind the content warnings, though, there are some serious ones that might cause you trouble!

SONG OF ACHILLES BY MADELINE MILLER

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

The book cover for Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

The legend begins…

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia to be raised in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles. “The best of all the Greeks”—strong, beautiful, and the child of a goddess—Achilles is everything the shamed Patroclus is not. Yet despite their differences, the boys become steadfast companions. Their bond deepens as they grow into young men and become skilled in the arts of war and medicine—much to the displeasure and the fury of Achilles’ mother, Thetis, a cruel sea goddess with a hatred of mortals.

When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men of Greece, bound by blood and oath, must lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, and torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows. Little do they know that the Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice.

Built on the groundwork of the Iliad, Madeline Miller’s page-turning, profoundly moving, and blisteringly paced retelling of the epic Trojan War marks the launch of a dazzling career.

SOME QUOTES FROM SONG OF ACHILLES

“I could recognize him by touch alone, by smell; I would know him blind, by the way his breaths came and his feet struck the earth. I would know him in death, at the end of the world.”

“We were like gods at the dawning of the world, & our joy was so bright we could see nothing else but the other.”

“And perhaps it is the greater grief, after all, to be left on earth when another is gone.”

  • CW: War, sexual content, slavery

THE STARLESS SEA BY ERIN MORGENSTERN

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

the book cover for The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Far beneath the surface of the earth, upon the shores of the Starless Sea, there is a labyrinthine collection of tunnels and rooms filled with stories. The entryways that lead to this sanctuary are often hidden, sometimes on forest floors, sometimes in private homes, sometimes in plain sight. But those who seek will find. Their doors have been waiting for them.

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is searching for his door, though he does not know it. He follows a silent siren song, an inexplicable knowledge that he is meant for another place. When he discovers a mysterious book in the stacks of his campus library he begins to read, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, lost cities, and nameless acolytes. Suddenly a turn of the page brings Zachary to a story from his own childhood impossibly written in this book that is older than he is.

A bee, a key, and a sword emblazoned on the book lead Zachary to two people who will change the course of his life: Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired painter, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances. These strangers guide Zachary through masquerade party dances and whispered back room stories to the headquarters of a secret society where doorknobs hang from ribbons, and finally through a door conjured from paint to the place he has always yearned for. Amid twisting tunnels filled with books, gilded ballrooms, and wine-dark shores Zachary falls into an intoxicating world soaked in romance and mystery. But a battle is raging over the fate of this place and though there are those who would willingly sacrifice everything to protect it, there are just as many intent on its destruction. As Zachary, Mirabel, and Dorian venture deeper into the space and its histories and myths, searching for answers and each other, a timeless love story unspools, casting a spell of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a Starless Sea.

SOME QUOTES FROM THE STARLESS SEA

“Strange, isn’t it? To love a book. When the words on the pages become so precious that they feel like part of your own history because they are. It’s nice to finally have someone read stories I know so intimately.”

“Everyone wants the stars. Everyone wishes to grasp that which exists out of reach. To hold the extraordinary in their hands and keep the remarkable in their pockets.”

“Far beneath the surface of the earth, hidden from the sun and the moon, upon the shores of the Starless Sea, there is a labyrinthine collection of tunnels and rooms filled with stories. Stories written in books and sealed in jars and painted on walls. Odes inscribed onto skin and pressed into rose petals. Tales laid in tiles upon the floors, bits of plot worn away by passing feet. Legends carved in crystal and hung from chandeliers. Stories catalogued and cared for and revered. Old stories preserved while new stories spring up around them.”

  • CW: Death, stalking

STATION ELEVEN BY EMILY ST. JOHN MANDEL

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

The book cover for Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Set in the days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time—from the actor’s early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theater troupe known as the Traveling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains—this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor’s first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet.

SOME QUOTES FROM STATION ELEVEN

“Hell is the absence of the people you long for.”

“Survival is insufficient.”

She had never entirely let go of the notion that if she reached far enough with her thoughts she might find someone waiting, that if two people were to cast their thoughts outward at the same moment they might somehow meet in the middle.”

  • CW: Death, grief, suicide

THE RAVEN CYCLE BY MAGGIE STIEFVATER

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

The book cover for The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

SOME QUOTES FROM THE RAVEN CYCLE

“She recognized the strange happiness that came from loving something without knowing why you did, that strange happiness that was sometimes so big that it felt like sadness.”

“Blue was a fanciful, but sensible thing. Like a platypus, or one of those sandwiches that had been cut into circles for a fancy tea party.”

“His feelings for Adam were an oil spill; he’d let them overflow and now there wasn’t a damn place in the ocean that wouldn’t catch fire if he dropped a match.”

  • CW: Child abuse, domestic abuse, murder

A MARVELLOUS LIGHT BY FREYA MARSKE

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

the book cover for A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske

Robin Blyth has more than enough bother in his life. He’s struggling to be a good older brother, a responsible employer, and the harried baronet of a seat gutted by his late parents’ excesses. When an administrative mistake sees him named the civil service liaison to a hidden magical society, he discovers what’s been operating beneath the unextraordinary reality he’s always known.

Now Robin must contend with the beauty and danger of magic, an excruciating deadly curse, and the alarming visions of the future that come with it—not to mention Edwin Courcey, his cold and prickly counterpart in the magical bureaucracy, who clearly wishes Robin were anyone and anywhere else.

Robin’s predecessor has disappeared, and the mystery of what happened to him reveals unsettling truths about the very oldest stories they’ve been told about the land they live on and what binds it. Thrown together and facing unexpected dangers, Robin and Edwin discover a plot that threatens every magician in the British Isles—and a secret that more than one person has already died to keep.

SOME QUOTES FROM A MARVELLOUS LIGHT

“You look like a Turner painting and I want to learn your textures with my fingertips. You are the most fascinating thing in this beautiful house. I’d like to introduce my fists to whoever taught you to stop talking about the things that interest you.”

“It didn’t take long to become so accustomed to something that you could describe the exact shape of its absence.”

“It wasn’t the physical act alone. It was the way he felt watching Edwin read; it was the feeling he had every time his eyes sought Edwin in a room and landed on an angle of the man’s face, any movement of those delicate fingers: There you are. I’ve been waiting for you.

CW: Sexual content, bullying, murder

THE CAPTIVE PRINCE SERIES BY CS PACAT

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

the book cover for Captive Prince by CS Pacat

From global phenomenon C. S. Pacat comes the first in her critically acclaimed trilogy—with a bonus story.

Damen is a warrior hero to his people, and the rightful heir to the throne of Akielos. But when his half brother seizes power, Damen is captured, stripped of his identity, and sent to serve the prince of an enemy nation as a pleasure slave.

Beautiful, manipulative, and deadly, his new master, Prince Laurent, epitomizes the worst of the court at Vere. But in the lethal political web of the Veretian court, nothing is as it seems, and when Damen finds himself caught up in a play for the throne, he must work together with Laurent to survive and save his country.

For Damen, there is just one rule: never, ever reveal his true identity. Because the one man Damen needs is the one man who has more reason to hate him than anyone else…

SOME QUOTES FROM THE CAPTIVE PRINCE SERIES

“To get what you want, you have to know exactly how much you are willing to give up.”

“When laced into his clothing, Laurent’s dangerous grace lent him an almost androgynous quality. Or perhaps it was more accurate to say that it was rare to associate Laurent with a physical body at all: you were always dealing with a mind.”

“Laurent entered, an edge to his grace, like a leopard with a headache.”

CW: Slavery, rape, sexual assault, pedophilia

I hope this helped you find a gorgeous book to devour! If you have any recommendations that fit this list, please mention them in the comments below! I’m always looking for another book to add to my quotes list on Goodreads!

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: T. KINGFISHER

So, it’s been a hot minute since I’ve done one of these. I thought I’d fall right back into it with one of my favorite authors: T. Kingfisher. I just adore how she writes — sarcastic, self-aware, and hilarious. She’s mostly in the fantasy genre, though she does write horror (that I do not read, because I like sleeping at night without any lights on, thank you.) If you’re ever looking for short books (most of hers fall into the under 300 pages category) that will make you laugh and lighten your heart a little, I highly recommend her fantasy work. Her heroines are usually around 30 years of age, and they’re all hilarious in their own ways. Plus there’s usually some form of animal as a companion, which is always one of my favorite tropes.

By the way, if you aren’t following Ursula on Twitter, you’re really missing out.

T. KINGFISHER aka URSULA VERNON

  • WHAT’S SHE KNOWN FOR? Sarcastic heroines, fantastical worlds with a bit of scare in them, and wildly hilarious banter
  • HOW MANY BOOKS HAVE I READ BY HER? Eight, but she’s written way more than that
  • WHAT GENRES DOES SHE WRITE? Fantasy, mostly, but she also dips her toes quite frequently into the horror genre.
  • WHERE CAN WE FIND HER? Twitter | Her website

“I fear that I am not the best possible person for this, but I am the best possible person available at this time, which is much the same thing.”
― T. Kingfisher, Paladin’s Grace

The book cover for Swordheart by T. Kingfisher

SWORDHEART

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

Halla is a housekeeper who has suddenly inherited her great-uncle’s estate… and, unfortunately, his relatives. Sarkis is an immortal swordsman trapped in a prison of enchanted steel. When Halla draws the sword that imprisons him, Sarkis finds himself attempting to defend his new wielder against everything from bandits and roving inquisitors to her own in-laws… and the sword itself may prove to be the greatest threat of all. 

WHY DID I LOVE SWORDHEART?

Swordheart was my first foray into T. Kingfisher’s writing. Someone on /r/fantasy had suggested her work to me as a refreshing take on the fantasy genre. How right they were. None of Kingfisher’s work (that I’ve read, anyway) takes itself too seriously, and that is one of the reasons I love it so much. Swordheart is a prime example of this — a man is stuck a sword, and the heroine needs to figure out how to get him unstuck and how to save herself from awful family members. There’s a scene in which everyone discusses what happens to Sarkis’s pee once he goes back into the sword that made me laugh so hard I was crying.

  • CW: Death, suicide attempt, sexual content, confinement
the cover for a compilation of The Mistborn Series by Brandon Sanderson

THE SAINT OF STEEL SERIES

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

Stephen’s god died on the longest day of the year…

Three years later, Stephen is a broken paladin, living only for the chance to be useful before he dies. But all that changes when he encounters a fugitive named Grace in an alley and witnesses an assassination attempt gone wrong. Now the pair must navigate a web of treachery, beset on all sides by spies and poisoners, while a cryptic killer stalks one step behind…

From the Hugo and Nebula Award winning author of Swordheart and The Twisted Ones comes a saga of murder, magic, and love on the far side of despair.

WHY DID I LOVE THE SAINT OF STEEL SERIES?

The Saint of Steel Series is another entry into Kingfisher’s fantasy romance books. These books are both hilarious, and slightly terrifying. It’s the overarching plot that makes them terrifying, in case you were wondering. You’ll see if you dive into them. ANYWAY — all three books feature different paladins as the main character, but these aren’t standalone novels. You’ll need to read all three to get the conclusion to the overarching plot I mentioned before. They’re 100% worth the slight scares bc the romance and banter in these books is top notch. My absolute favorite book of the bunch is Paladin’s Strength, which just like Swordheart, has scenes that make me laugh so hard I cry a little.

  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? At the moment, there are three: Paladin’s Grace, Paladin’s Strength, Paladin’s Hope, but I believe she has at least two more planned.
  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? Paladin’s Grace
  • CW: Confinement, murder, domestic abuse, emotional abuse, panic attacks, body horror
the book cover for The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson

THE CLOCKTAUR WAR SERIES

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

A paladin, an assassin, a forger, and a scholar ride out of town. It’s not the start of a joke, but rather an espionage mission with deadly serious stakes. T. Kingfisher’s new novel begins the tale of a murderous band of criminals (and a scholar), thrown together in an attempt to unravel the secret of the Clockwork Boys, mechanical soldiers from a neighboring kingdom that promise ruin to the Dowager’s city.

If they succeed, rewards and pardons await, but that requires a long journey through enemy territory, directly into the capital. It also requires them to refrain from killing each other along the way! At turns darkly comic and touching, Clockwork Boys puts together a broken group of people trying to make the most of the rest of their lives as they drive forward on their suicide mission.

WHY DID I LOVE THE CLOCKTAUR WAR SERIES?

I have no idea how to describe this book other than it is entirely fantastical, fun, totally hilarious ride. There’s extremely dark moments, but this is a wildly unique fantasy duology that I can’t recommend enough. The villains of the piece are a clockwork army, if that tells you anything. This was released as two parts, so they’re not really individual novels rather than one big one that got split into two. Either way, you gotta give this one a go.

  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? Two: Clockwork Boys and The Wonder Engine.
  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? Clockwork Boys
  • CW: Violence, animal death, death, sexism, body horror
the book cover for Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher

NETTLE & BONE

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

After years of seeing her sisters suffer at the hands of an abusive prince, Marra—the shy, convent-raised, third-born daughter—has finally realized that no one is coming to their rescue. No one, except for Marra herself.

Seeking help from a powerful gravewitch, Marra is offered the tools to kill a prince—if she can complete three impossible tasks. But, as is the way in tales of princes, witches, and daughters, the impossible is only the beginning.

On her quest, Marra is joined by the gravewitch, a reluctant fairy godmother, a strapping former knight, and a chicken possessed by a demon. Together, the five of them intend to be the hand that closes around the throat of the prince and frees Marra’s family and their kingdom from its tyrannous ruler at last.

WHY DID I LOVE NETTLE & BONE?

This is the first traditionally published work of Kingfisher’s that I’ve read, and honestly, it’s just as good as her self-published stuff. Nettle & Bone is a questing novel — Marra, the main character — sets off on a journey to save her sister from a terribly abusive husband. The only problem is — her sister’s husband is the Prince. You can read my full review of this book right here. Long story short — this is a wild ride, with laughs, amazing characters, and the feel of a classic fairy tale.

  • CW: Domestic abuse, pregnancy, miscarriage, child death, death, physical abuse
the book cover for What Moves the Dead by T Kingfisher

WHAT MOVES THE DEAD

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

From the award-winning author of The Twisted Ones comes a gripping and atmospheric retelling of Edgar Allan Poe’s classic “The Fall of the House of Usher.”

When Alex Easton, a retired soldier, receives word that their childhood friend Madeline Usher is dying, they race to the ancestral home of the Ushers in the remote countryside of Ruritania.

What they find there is a nightmare of fungal growths and possessed wildlife, surrounding a dark, pulsing lake. Madeline sleepwalks and speaks in strange voices at night, and her brother Roderick is consumed with a mysterious malady of the nerves.

Aided by a redoubtable British mycologist and a baffled American doctor, Alex must unravel the secret of the House of Usher before it consumes them all.

WHY DID I LOVE WHAT MOVES THE DEAD?

Soooo, What Moves the Dead was my first adventure into Kingfisher’s horror work. I’m a big whimp, but I really enjoyed this book. You can read my full review for this one here. The characters, just like always, are what made this book work for me. That, and the slowly creeping dread running through the entire book. You can guess what’s happening, you can see it go right before your eyes, but once you get to the reveal, its just UGH. Ugh ugh ugh. So good. And gross.

  • CW:  Body horror, animal death, death, off-page suicide

I know you all are tired of me singing T. Kingfisher’s praises, but I really do hope that you’ll pick up one of her books because of this post. I can’t recommend them enough, especially if you’re looking for something brief between other reads that will make you laugh. Have you read any of these? Are you adding any to your TBR? Let me know!

IS IT TIME TO UPGRADE YOUR KINDLE?

If you’ve been following me for even a little bit, then you’ll know I read pretty much exclusively on my Kindle. I was a late adopter of the e-reader technology, but since I got my original Paperwhite back in early 2019, I’ve definitely converted. The past few months, however, my Kindle had been a pain, though. It wouldn’t turn on when I wanted it to, I had to restart it multiple times a day, and it even completely wiped itself a couple months ago. (That was such a hassle.) Still, I wasn’t going to give up on the technology, as I loved my Kindle when it did deign to work. So on Prime Day this year, I upgraded to a new Kindle Paperwhite. With the Prime Day deals, I got my new Kindle for $95. It’s normally about $140 — but Amazon does have pay monthly options available!

This post is not an ad. I did not get paid for this. I just really love my new Kindle.

Because I’m loving my upgrade, let’s look at the differences between the 2018 model of the Paperwhite, and the 2021 Paperwhite. Maybe you’ll want to upgrade too!

Paperwhite 2018 vs Paperwhite 2021

The newer model is 0.8th of an inch bigger than the old version. You wouldn’t think that small of an increase would make a difference, but to me, the size increase makes the reading experience feel even more similar to holding an actual book. You can also see in my picture how much more text is displayed with the newer screen. (I read at size 5 font. The Kindle does have font sizes that are much smaller and larger, too.) This means you’re turning pages just a little bit less!

Another view of the size increase

The new Paperwhite has been upgraded to a USB-C charging port. This makes a huge difference as it now takes much less time for the device to reach a full charge. It also means I don’t have to use a dinky ancient USB-mini charging cable anymore. Woo! Sadly, they kept the power button on the bottom. I still think this is the stupidest possible place for it, but whatever. I don’t actually hit it all that often.

The newer version is so much quicker, too. I thought the original was fast enough — a slight miniscule delay in switching pages never really bothered me! With the new Paperwhite, though, there is no delay at all. It’s just instantaneous. Bam, new page!

Look at the difference between the brightest light options!

However the best part of this upgrade, in my opinion, is the inclusion of a warm light feature. This means I can read at night without completely destroying my sleep. The warm light is definitely easier on the eyes, and so, so much nicer than the harsh white of the original version. This warm light feature is available on a slider, so you can choose just how warm you want the screen to be.

The picture above showcases both Kindles on 100% brightness, with the new version on 100% warm light, as well.

Dark mode options!

Dark mode is usually how I read at night — but now with the warm light, it’s just so much nicer on my eyes. The picture above shows the old Kindle on dark mode, with 100% brightness, and the newer version on 100% brightness with some warm light turned on. I forgot to turn the warm light on all the way for this picture, and just left it to what I found comfortable when I read. Sorry!

Some other things about the Kindle Paperwhite in general, in case you aren’t aware:

  • It weighs less than a pound.
  • It can hold literally thousands of books — I have over 250 on mine right now, and I still have over 5 gigs free.
  • It is waterproof to a certain depth, and to a certain length of time. I think it’s something like an hour in water, but I’m not sure how deep it can go. This means you can read in the bath without worrying!
  • It has a built-in dictionary, so if you don’t know a word, you just tap it, and it’ll give you a definition right there on screen.
  • The battery life will literally last you weeks.

There you have it — everything you need to know on the new Paperwhite!

Do you think you’ll upgrade soon?

5 BOOKS FEATURING THE FAE

One of my favorite things about fantasy books is the inclusion of the Fae. Especially if they are the classic, try-to-trick-you Fae. The cruel Fae, the fae who you have to be increasingly careful around. I also am extremely into fantasy romance books that feature the Fae. I am nothing if not predictable. HOWEVER, when it comes to this list, I do want to say this: I did not love all of these books. I am including them on this list, because I was requested to do a recommendation list on Fae books. Just because I didn’t enjoy them does not mean that you won’t! Give them a try before you count them out, alright?

A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES BY SARAH J. MAAS

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

the book cover for A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

WHY DID I LOVE A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES?

Now I know, this series is extremely divisive. You either love it, or you can’t stand it. It’s been everywhere in the past couple years, and in my opinion, it’s entirely worth the hype. HOWEVER, I totally get it if it’s not for you. I adore this series, I adore the world, I adore the characters, and when I finished reading it the first time, I actually picked the first book right back up and read it through again. If that’s not a ringing endorsement, I don’t know what is.

The first book in the series feels really YA, in the writing sense, but the series is definitely not YA and should never have been classified as such. There are several explicit sex scenes sprinkled throughout. Also — if you don’t like the first book, keep going — the second book feels entirely different in the best way. Feysand forever.

  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? There are currently four books published, but there are at least two more coming, I believe. The first three – A Court of Thorns and Roses, A Court of Mist and Fury, and A Court of Wings and Ruin – are a complete story.
  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? A Court of Thorns and Roses
  • CW: Violence, death, sexual content, torture, blood

AN ENCHANTMENT OF RAVENS BY MARGARET ROGERSON

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

the book cover for An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

A skilled painter must stand up to the ancient power of the faerie courts—even as she falls in love with a faerie prince—in this gorgeous debut novel.

Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes—a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love—and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.

WHY DID I LOVE AN ENCHANTMENT OF RAVENS?

This book is the sweetest version of insta-love I have ever read in my entire life. The relationship between Isobel, and Rook is just the sweetest. It all starts when Isobel, a master painter, is commissioned by the Autumn Prince, Rook, to do a portrait for him. Everything builds from there. Love and peril, questions about faeries, everything. The world in this book is exquisitely done. It’s also really short, so if you’re looking for a primer on faerie fantasy-romance, try this one on for size!

  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? This is a standalone.
  • CW: Violence, body horror, death of parent, gore, sexual content, kidnapping

THE LORD OF STARIEL BY AJ LANCASTER

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

The Lord of Stariel is dead. Long live the Lord of Stariel. Whoever that is.

Everyone knows who the magical estate will choose for its next ruler. Or do they? Will it be the lord’s eldest son, who he despised? His favourite nephew, with the strongest magical land-sense? His scandalous daughter, who ran away from home years ago to study illusion?

Hetta knows it won’t be her, and she’s glad of it. Returning home for her father’s funeral, all Hetta has to do is survive the family drama and avoid entanglements with irritatingly attractive local men until the Choosing. Then she can leave.

But whoever Stariel chooses will have bigger problems than eccentric relatives to deal with. Winged, beautifully deadly problems. For the first time in centuries, the fae are returning to the Mortal Realm, and only the Lord of Stariel can keep the estate safe.

In theory.

WHY DID I LOVE THE LORD OF STARIEL?

I enjoyed this book, but wanted so, so much more from it. It’s clearly the start of a series — there’s not a lot of room here in this short book — but the romance between Hattie and the fae prince was really cute. Not there’s a lot of it in this book (it grows in the others), but it’s still enjoyable. Hattie herself is the reason why I really liked this book — she is a phenomenal main character. I love a good lead character that doesn’t make you want to shake her. She makes reasonable decisions, nothing that makes you second guess her intelligence or anything — which is surprisingly rare these days!

  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? Four
  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? The Lord of Stariel
  • CW: Sexism, homophobia, violence, death of parent

OF BEAST AND BURDEN BY KELSEY KICKLIGHTER

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

The book cover for Of Beast and Burden by Kelsey Kicklighter

A fae girl with a human heart. A Seelie Queen with a penchant for stealing mortals. And an Unseelie King who will have to give up his throne.

On the coast of Georgia rests a small southern town where faeries still take changelings. Faye lost her mother to the Folk, but has she spent her whole life longing for a glimpse—however brief—behind the veil.

When Faye finds her way in, she also finds the truth of why the dark and alluring world of the Folk has always called to her: She’s half-faerie, and heiress to the Dark Court’s throne.

When the rival court steals her best friend, she’ll have to claim her crown to get her back. But that means learning how to use her glamour so she can face three deadly trials—and not falling for the dark and brooding king she’s meant to be replacing, or the nymph-turned-knight teaching her to fight.

WHY DID I LOVE OF BEAST AND BURDEN?

Now this one, I’ve reviewed on the blog, so you can see my full thoughts there. HOWEVER, a short quick version of it is this: This book had so much potential that just fell flat for me. The world that was set up sounds fascinating, but it is not explored to the extent that it should have been. The characters are not one dimensional, they feel real, but they don’t really do much. This is the start of a series, so I hope that the next books improve!

  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? This is a standalone!
  • CW: Incest

THE CRUEL PRINCE BY HOLLY BLACK

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

the book cover for The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself. 

WHY DID I LOVE THE CRUEL PRINCE?

I’m going to be real with you — I did not enjoy this series. BUT a lot of people do, so I felt like I should include it on this list. Jude, the main character, was infuriating for me. She’s cool and calculating, and some of the time, almost cruel. Her love interest, Cardan, is fae. He spends the majority of the first book basically attempting to murder Jude as a ‘joke’, or straight up bullying her. I didn’t buy their romance, so the series didn’t work entirely for me.

  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? Three
  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? The Cruel Prince
  • CW: Bullying, Murder, Death of parent

I hope my list helped you find at least one book or series featuring the Fae that you love! If not, I sincerely apologize. ALSO — if you have a recommendation for a Fae book that did not make this list, PLEASE share it with me in the comments. Odds are, I haven’t heard of it and I want to read it!

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: BRANDON SANDERSON

Hi everyone — I hope your Friday is going well! My next spotlight is one of my absolute favorite authors, Brandon Sanderson. I’ve read almost all his adult work that he’s published. I will auto-buy just about anything from him. Don’t need to read the synopsis, it’s a Sanderson. PUT IT IN THE CART, I say.

There’s only one series by him that I just was not into, and I’m fairly certain it was because he wrote it in first person POV, and because I just wasn’t into the topic. (It’s his Reckoners series. I read the first one, but did not go back for more.) And yes — Sanderson primarily writes series — usually at least three books long. Regardless, if you haven’t read a Brandon Sanderson book, you are missing out on one of the best modern fantasy authors out there.

BRANDON SANDERSON

  • WHAT’S HE KNOWN FOR? Wildly original complex magic systems, vast gorgeous worlds, and characters that will stand the test of time
  • HOW MANY BOOKS HAVE I READ BY HIM? Fourteen, but he’s written…a lot more than that. He seriously does not stop writing. Sanderson recently came out with a Kickstarter so he could self-publish the four books he’d written in the last two years.
  • WHAT GENRES DOES HE WRITE? Fantasy, usually, but he’s got a few sci-fi series as well.
  • WHERE CAN WE FIND HIM? Twitter | His website

“The purpose of a storyteller is not to tell you how to think, but to give you questions to think upon.”
― Brandon Sanderson, The Way of Kings

WHAT IS THE COSMERE?

“The cosmere is a fictional shared universe where several of Sanderson’s books take place. As a result, books set in the cosmere share a single cosmology and underlying rules of magic, and some characters from one world will make appearances on other worlds. Despite the connections, Sanderson has remained clear that one does not need any knowledge of the broader cosmere to read, understand, or enjoy books that take place in the cosmere.”

Credit for the explanation goes to The Coppermind Sanderson wiki..

THE STORMLIGHT ARCHIVE

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

The book cover for The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.

It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them.

One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear to protect his little brother, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.

Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Like his brother, the late king, he is fascinated by an ancient text called The Way of Kings. Troubled by over-powering visions of ancient times and the Knights Radiant, he has begun to doubt his own sanity.

Across the ocean, an untried young woman named Shallan seeks to train under an eminent scholar and notorious heretic, Dalinar’s niece, Jasnah. Though she genuinely loves learning, Shallan’s motives are less than pure. As she plans a daring theft, her research for Jasnah hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.

WHY DID I LOVE THE STORMLIGHT ARCHIVE?

The Stormlight Archive is one of the most wildly original epic fantasy series out there right now. Not to mention each book is super chunky, so I know have the ability to really sink my teeth into each volume and know I’m going to be here for awhile. I love Sanderson’s characters in these books — each one has their own vast storyline, with fascinating backstories. Kaladin Stormblessed, one of the main characters, has an amazing arc that I cannot wait to continue reading about. Not to mention, I love seeing the familiar characters from across the cosmere in Roshar.

  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? There are currently four books published, but there are ten books planned for the entire series. Books 1 – 5 will be a complete story, and books 6 – 10 will also be a complete story.
  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? The Way of Kings
  • CW: Slavery, violence, suicidal thoughts, child death, death

THE MISTBORN SAGA — PART 1

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

the cover for a compilation of The Mistborn Series by Brandon Sanderson

For a thousand years the ash fell and no flowers bloomed. For a thousand years the Skaa slaved in misery and lived in fear. For a thousand years the Lord Ruler, the “Sliver of Infinity,” reigned with absolute power and ultimate terror, divinely invincible. Then, when hope was so long lost that not even its memory remained, a terribly scarred, heart-broken half-Skaa rediscovered it in the depths of the Lord Ruler’s most hellish prison. Kelsier “snapped” and found in himself the powers of a Mistborn. A brilliant thief and natural leader, he turned his talents to the ultimate caper, with the Lord Ruler himself as the mark.

Kelsier recruited the underworld’s elite, the smartest and most trustworthy allomancers, each of whom shares one of his many powers, and all of whom relish a high-stakes challenge. Then Kelsier reveals his ultimate dream, not just the greatest heist in history, but the downfall of the divine despot.

But even with the best criminal crew ever assembled, Kel’s plan looks more like the ultimate long shot, until luck brings a ragged girl named Vin into his life. Like him, she’s a half-Skaa orphan, but she’s lived a much harsher life. Vin has learned to expect betrayal from everyone she meets. She will have to learn trust if Kel is to help her master powers of which she never dreamed.

WHY DID I LOVE THE MISTBORN SAGA PART ONE?

The first part of the Mistborn saga is one of the best complete stories I have ever read in my entire life. The story wraps up so neatly, so wonderfully satisfying that this is a series you will see me shout about forever. There is a fantastic female lead, Vin, who is amazingly written. The magic system — allomancy — is so unique that I’m still excited about it. This is another cosmere series, so if you look closely, you’ll see familiar characters from other Sanderson books, too! If you’ve never read a Sanderson book before, I’d start with this series right here.

  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? In part one, there are three books: The Final Empire, The Well of Ascension, and The Hero of Ages
  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? The Final Empire
  • CW: Violence, death, slavery, child abuse, physical abuse

THE MISTBORN SAGA — PART 2

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

the book cover for The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson

Three hundred years after the events of the Mistborn trilogy, Scadrial is now on the verge of modernity, with railroads to supplement the canals, electric lighting in the streets and the homes of the wealthy, and the first steel-framed skyscrapers racing for the clouds.

Kelsier, Vin, Elend, Sazed, Spook, and the rest are now part of history—or religion. Yet even as science and technology are reaching new heights, the old magics of Allomancy and Feruchemy continue to play a role in this reborn world. Out in the frontier lands known as the Roughs, they are crucial tools for the brave men and women attempting to establish order and justice.

One such is Waxillium Ladrian, a rare Twinborn who can Push on metals with his Allomancy and use Feruchemy to become lighter or heavier at will.

After twenty years in the Roughs, Wax has been forced by family tragedy to return to the metropolis of Elendel. Now he must reluctantly put away his guns and assume the duties and dignity incumbent upon the head of a noble house. Or so he thinks, until he learns the hard way that the mansions and elegant tree-lined streets of the city can be even more dangerous than the dusty plains of the Roughs.

WHY DID I LOVE THE MISTBORN SAGA PART TWO?

I don’t know that I’ve ever read a series like this one before — where one part is set in one time, and the next much later? (Yes, I know prequels are a thing, but that’s not what this is…) The closest thing I can think of is how Avatar: The Last Airbender went from Aang to Korra — the technology changed, society changed, etc. Such is the case between Part 1 and Part 2 of the Mistborn Saga. ANYWAY — Wax and Wayne are hilarious together. This series is definitely one of Sanderson’s funniest, though the overall themes of these books aren’t humorous. Again, this is a cosmere entry, so look closely!

  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? Four: The Alloy of Law, Shadows of Self, The Bands of Mourning, and The Lost Metal. The Lost Metal comes out this fall.
  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? The Alloy of Law
  • CW: Gun violence, death, violence, kidnapping, fire, body horror

WARBREAKER

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

Warbreaker is the story of two sisters, who happen to be princesses, the God King one of them has to marry, the lesser god who doesn’t like his job, and the immortal who’s still trying to undo the mistakes he made hundreds of years ago.

Their world is one in which those who die in glory return as gods to live confined to a pantheon in Hallandren’s capital city and where a power known as BioChromatic magic is based on an essence known as breath that can only be collected one unit at a time from individual people.

By using breath and drawing upon the color in everyday objects, all manner of miracles and mischief can be accomplished. It will take considerable quantities of each to resolve all the challenges facing Vivenna and Siri, princesses of Idris; Susebron the God King; Lightsong, reluctant god of bravery, and mysterious Vasher, the Warbreaker.

WHY DID I LOVE WARBREAKER?

Not going to lie to you, I put off reading this book for a long time before I finally picked it up. (Why? I have no idea.) I am so sorry I took so long to read Warbreaker because I absolutely love the magic system. Not to mention that Lightsong is a fantastic character. Plus there’s a talking sword, and I’m a sucker for talking inanimate objects. I actually have a review of Warbreaker up here. This is yet another entry into the cosemere universe — a couple of big characters from this book end up in Rhythm of War, the latest entry into the Stormlight Archive.

  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? One — this is a standalone at the moment. Sanderson plans to write more in this series eventually.
  • CW: Violence, death, murder, war, religious bigotry, body horror

ELANTRIS

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

the book cover for The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson

Elantris was the capital of Arelon: gigantic, beautiful, literally radiant, filled with benevolent beings who used their powerful magical abilities for the benefit of all. Yet each of these demigods was once an ordinary person until touched by the mysterious transforming power of the Shaod. Ten years ago, without warning, the magic failed. Elantrians became wizened, leper-like, powerless creatures, and Elantris itself dark, filthy, and crumbling.

Arelon’s new capital, Kae, crouches in the shadow of Elantris. Princess Sarene of Teod arrives for a marriage of state with Crown Prince Raoden, hoping—based on their correspondence—to also find love. She finds instead that Raoden has died and she is considered his widow. Both Teod and Arelon are under threat as the last remaining holdouts against the imperial ambitions of the ruthless religious fanatics of Fjordell. So Sarene decides to use her new status to counter the machinations of Hrathen, a Fjordell high priest who has come to Kae to convert Arelon and claim it for his emperor and his god.

But neither Sarene nor Hrathen suspect the truth about Prince Raoden. Stricken by the same curse that ruined Elantris, Raoden was secretly exiled by his father to the dark city. His struggle to help the wretches trapped there begins a series of events that will bring hope to Arelon, and perhaps reveal the secret of Elantris itself.

WHY DID I LOVE ELANTRIS?

It’s been more than a few years since I picked Elantris up, but I do remember really enjoying this book. I do have to warn you that this is Sanderson’s debut novel, so it feels a little rougher around the edges compared to his more recent work. That doesn’t, however, detract from the story at all. It’s another amazingly unique world, with a creative magic system at the heart of it. And just like all the other books I’ve mentioned, this is a cosmere entry.

  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? One — just like Warbreaker, this is a standalone at the moment. Sanderson does plan to write more in this series.
  • CW: Death, body horror, murder, genocide, violence, confinement

ARCANUM UNBOUNDED: THE COSMERE COLLECTION

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

Brandon Sanderson creates worlds, and those worlds are linked. His universe spans the Stormlight Archive, the Mistborn series the tales of Elantris, and others, comprising a unique constellation of vividly imagined realms known as the Cosmere.

Now for the first time anywhere, stories representing each of these planets, and their fully realized and distinct magic systems, have been collected in a single spectacular volume. Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection brings together tales spanning the known limits of Sanderson’s universe–including the never-before-published Edgedancer, a thrilling new novella of the Stormlight Archive–along with charts, illustrations, notes…and secrets.

The Cosmere Collection encompasses six worlds in all, explored across nine astonishing works of short fiction: Sel (“The Hope of Elantris” and The Emperor’s Soul); Scadrial (“The Eleventh Metal,” “Allomancer Jak and the Pits of Eltania, Episodes Twenty-eight Through Thirty,” and Mistborn: Secret History); Taldain (“White Sand”); Threnody (“Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell”); First of the Sun (“Sixth of the Dusk”); and Roshar (Edgedancer).

These exciting tales will catapult you onto an unprecedented journey across a cosmos only Brandon Sanderson could have envisioned. Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection is an indispensible volume no Sanderson fan can do without. 

WHY DID I LOVE THE ARCANUM UNBOUNDED?

There isn’t a main storyline within Arcanum Unbounded — it’s all short stories set within the cosmere. What is cool, though, is that you get a deeper understanding of how everything works, almost “behind the scenes,” if you will. Of the short stories featured within this collection, I really enjoyed the stories set on Scadrial — the Mistborn world. Any glimpse of that world will have my interest, really. I should also mention that this is not a good place to start with Sanderson, as you will understand basically nothing.

  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? One, but as this is a collection of all his short stories set in the Cosmere, I imagine there will probably be a part two eventually.
  • CW: Death, violence, gore

Now that I’m done blabbering on about how much I love Sanderson’s work, what’s your favorite Sanderson book? (If you can’t tell, mine is all three of the Mistborn Saga, part 1). Who’s your favorite Sanderson character? (Personally, I’m torn between Kaladin and Wit/Hoid.) Let me know in the comments below!

MY TOP 5 TIME-TRAVEL BOOKS

Time-travel is one of those tropes that you either love or absolutely despise. Me, well, I can’t resist a time-travel plot. Seriously, it’s like catnip to me. I love learning about history. I majored in Art History in college, because 1. I love art, and 2. learning about why art was specifically made the way it was, where it was, and by who it was just fascinated me endlessly. So much history can be learned just by looking at the art of the time period. ANYWAY, seeing history through a character’s eyes firsthand just scratches many, many itches for me. Especially when the characters travel really far back in time.

Now this trope can be done awfully, so don’t get me wrong — there are definitely time-travel books out there that I cannot stand. However, I thought I’d put together a little list to show you the ones that I can’t get enough of! These are books where at least one character travels BACK in time, or is pulled FORWARD in time.

TO SAY NOTHING OF THE DOG by CONNIE WILLIS

GOODREADS | BOOKSHOP.ORG | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

the book cover for To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis

Connie Willis’ Hugo and Nebula Award-winning Doomsday Book uses time travel for a serious look at how people connect with each other. In this Hugo-winning companion to that novel, she offers a completely different kind of time travel adventure: a delightful romantic comedy that pays hilarious homage to Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat.

When too many jumps back to 1940 leave 21st century Oxford history student Ned Henry exhausted, a relaxing trip to Victorian England seems the perfect solution. But complexities like recalcitrant rowboats, missing cats, and love at first sight make Ned’s holiday anything but restful – to say nothing of the way hideous pieces of Victorian art can jeopardize the entire course of history. 

WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH?  The Doomsday Book
HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? 4, technically, but two of them can be read as standalones. (Blackout and All Clear, however, are a duology and you must read them together!)
CW: Fire, war, animal cruelty, misogyny, classism
WHY DO I LOVE THIS BOOK? Many of Connie Willis’s books feel like they were written specifically for me. The world she sets up in the Oxford Time Travel series is huge, and every time she writes another entry into it, I hurry up and devour the book. I’ve never been disappointed by her time travel books. To Say Nothing of the Dog is the funniest entry into the bunch, and never takes itself seriously. If you like to laugh while you read, well, pick this one up as soon as you can!

JUST ONE DAMNED THING AFTER ANOTHER by JODI TAYLOR

GOODREADS | BOOKSHOP.ORG | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

the book cover for Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor

“History is just one damned thing after another.”

Behind the seemingly innocuous façade of St Mary’s, a different kind of historical research is taking place. They don’t do ‘time-travel’ – they ‘investigate major historical events in contemporary time’. Maintaining the appearance of harmless eccentrics is not always within their power – especially given their propensity for causing loud explosions when things get too quiet.

Meet the disaster-magnets of St Mary’s Institute of Historical Research as they ricochet around History. Their aim is to observe and document – to try and find the answers to many of History’s unanswered questions…and not to die in the process. But one wrong move and History will fight back – to the death. And, as they soon discover – it’s not just History they’re fighting.

Follow the catastrophe curve from 11th-century London to World War I, and from the Cretaceous Period to the destruction of the Great Library at Alexandria. For wherever Historians go, chaos is sure to follow in their wake…. 

WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH?  Just One Damned Thing After Another
HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? 13, plus numerous novellas and short stories set in the same world
CW: Sexual assault, death, miscarriage, animal cruelty
WHY DO I LOVE THIS BOOK? Jodi Taylor’s massive St. Mary’s series is a phenomenal piece of work. The world-building is insane, and the research that goes into the time-travel side of things must be ridiculous. The characters in these books go back to SO many different time-periods, and see SO many famous times in history, and every single time it feels like you’re right there next to them. Not to mention the characters themselves are fantastic. I do want to note that the first two books in this series are kind of rough (they’re also not that long), but once you hit the third book, it all starts to be smooth sailing!

THE SHADOW OF WHAT WAS LOST by JAMES ISLINGTON

GOODREADS | BOOKSHOP.ORG | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

the book cover for Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor

It has been twenty years since the god-like Augurs were overthrown and killed. Now, those who once served them – the Gifted – are spared only because they have accepted the rebellion’s Four Tenets, vastly limiting their own powers.

As a young Gifted, Davian suffers the consequences of a war lost before he was even born. He and his friends are despised beyond their school walls for the magical power they wield: a power that Davian, despite his best efforts, cannot seem to control. Worse, with his final test approaching and the consequences of failure severe, time to overcome his struggles is fast running out.

But when Davian discovers he wields the forbidden power of the Augurs, he unwittingly sets in motion a chain of events that will change his life – and shake the entire world. 

WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH?  The Shadow of What Was Lost
HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? 3
CW: Death, blood, misogyny, sexism, suicidal thoughts
WHY DO I LOVE THIS BOOK? How do I sum up this series without giving anything away? It’s pretty much impossible, so let me just say this — if you like Wheel of Time, you’ll like this series. If you like series that go full-circle, you’ll like this series. If you like tightly-plotted, fantastic worlds, well, again, you’ll like this series. Basically, I need more people to read this one, okay?

11/22/63 by STEPHEN KING

GOODREADS | BOOKSHOP.ORG | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

the book cover for Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor

On November 22, 1963, three shots rang out in Dallas, President Kennedy died, and the world changed. What if you could change it back? Stephen King’s heart-stoppingly dramatic new novel is about a man who travels back in time to prevent the JFK assassination—a thousand page tour de force. Following his massively successful novel Under the Dome, King sweeps readers back in time to another moment—a real life moment—when everything went wrong: the JFK assassination. And he introduces readers to a character who has the power to change the course of history.

Jake Epping is a thirty-five-year-old high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching adults in the GED program. He receives an essay from one of the students—a gruesome, harrowing first person story about the night 50 years ago when Harry Dunning’s father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a hammer. Harry escaped with a smashed leg, as evidenced by his crooked walk. Not much later, Jake’s friend Al, who runs the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to 1958. He enlists Jake on an insane—and insanely possible—mission to try to prevent the Kennedy assassination.

So begins Jake’s new life as George Amberson and his new world of Elvis and JFK, of big American cars and sock hops, of a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and a beautiful high school librarian named Sadie Dunhill, who becomes the love of Jake’s life—a life that transgresses all the normal rules of time.

WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH?  11/22/63
HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? 1
CW: Murder, death, domestic abuse, sexual content, alcoholism, racism
WHY DO I LOVE THIS BOOK? This is my first (and only) Stephen King novel that I’ve ever read, and damn is it a chonky boi. This story is an insane one — a man discovers a wormhole back to the 60s, and does his best to prevent JFK from getting shot. I won’t spoil anything else, because you need to experience this one for yourself. It really explores the ramifications of time travel, and what it means to change history at all.

SHADOW OF NIGHT by DEBORAH HARKNESS

GOODREADS | BOOKSHOP.ORG | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

the book cover for Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor

Picking up from A Discovery of Witches’ cliffhanger ending, Shadow of Night takes Diana and Matthew on a trip through time to Elizabethan London, where they are plunged into a world of spies, magic, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the School of Night. As the search for Ashmole 782 deepens and Diana seeks out a witch to tutor her in magic, the net of Matthew’s past tightens around them, and they embark on a very different—and vastly more dangerous—journey.

WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH?  A Discovery of Witches
HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? 3, and another novel set in the same universe
CW: Miscarriage, sexual content, blood, pregnancy, torture, antisemitism
WHY DO I LOVE THIS BOOK? This is one of my favorite series ever, so I had to include it in my list. It’s got a BUNCH of my favorite tropes: vampires, witches, mates, time-travel, etc. Eeeeeven if the time-travel really only happens in one book. Harkness is a historian in real life, and she uses her knowledge to write a fantastically detailed Elizabethan England. The romance is something else, too.

Those are my favorite books with one of my favorite tropes — time-travel! And as much as I hate to give her any more attention, I do have to shout out the OG reason why I love the trope so much, and that’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. It’s always been my favorite HP book — the plot is a lot tighter than all the other books, and well, Voldemort isn’t in it! Do you have any recommendations for me for books that have time travel in them?

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: VE SCHWAB

Today, I’m trying a new type of post out for you guys. — a spotlight on one of my favorite authors! I plan to give a quick little run down of the author and their work, and then I’ll list my favorite books by them that I’ve read!

To start us off, I’m going with VE SCHWAB. She is an auto-buy author for me, and has been since I first read the Shades of Magic series. I’ve read most of her work, and honestly? I’ve loved all but one of her books that I’ve read! (Gallant was slightly disappointing.) What books by her I haven’t read, I already own. I just need to sit down and get into them! Onto the post, then!

V.E. SCHWAB aka VICTORIA SCHWAB

  • WHAT’S SHE KNOWN FOR? Dark, incredibly lush stories that tend to feel like old-school fairy tales
  • HOW MANY BOOKS HAVE I READ BY HER? Eight, but she’s written over 20 books for all different ages.
  • WHAT GENRES DOES SHE WRITE? Typically fantasy, but has dipped her toes into sci-fi as well.
  • WHERE CAN WE FIND HER? Twitter | Instagram | Her website

“I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.”
― V.E. Schwab, A Darker Shade of Magic

A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

the book cover for A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.

Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

WHY DID I LOVE THE SHADES OF MAGIC SERIES? 

This is one of the first modern fantasy series that I picked up back when I first started getting back into reading a whole lot. It’s an incredibly unique take on the genre — there are multiple different worlds layered on top of one another and only certain magicians can travel between them. Kell is a fantastic protagonist, but my heart belongs to Lila Bard and her absolute need to discover more about magic and the world Kell comes from. There is a satisfying ending to the series, but Schwab left it open enough that she could dip right back into this world. And, as far as I know, she is planning to do so!

  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? 3
  • CW: Blood, violence, death, sexual assault

VICIOUS

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.

Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

In Vicious, V. E. Schwab brings to life a gritty comic-book-style world in vivid prose: a world where gaining superpowers doesn’t automatically lead to heroism, and a time when allegiances are called into question.

WHY DID I LOVE VICIOUS? 

You know how superheroes have been literally everywhere since Iron Man came out in 2008? (A quick aside here — I adore the Marvel universe.) This is Schwab’s take on superheroes. This is a dark, modern story bent on revenge, on being the most powerful, and what happens when you give a terrible person the ability to do amazing things. There are some extremely memorable characters in this series, but I don’t want to spoil who or what they are!

  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? 3 in the main series, but only 2 are out right now. There is a graphic novel series set in the same universe, however.
  • CW: Death, violence, gun violence, animal death

THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF ADDIE LARUE

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

the book cover for The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.

But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name. 

WHY DID I LOVE THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF ADDIE LARUE? 

 This is really the first book I waited for anxiously since the last Harry Potter book came out. I think it might even be the first book I preordered since then, too. Hmm. ANYWAY — I longed for Addie the second Schwab announced it. It was everything I wanted, but I was still left wanting more at the end. This is a haunting tale about a girl who can never be remembered. Schwab’s writing is so good you can taste Addie’s loneliness.

  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? This is a standalone book.
  • CW: Suicidal thoughts, suicide attempt, death, sexual content, mental illness

THE NEAR WITCH

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children.

If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company.

And there are no strangers in the town of Near.

These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life.

But when an actual stranger-a boy who seems to fade like smoke-appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.

The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him.

As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know-about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.

WHY DID I LOVE THE NEAR WITCH? 

I picked this one up while on maternity leave, because it was shorter, a standalone, and because I hadn’t read it yet. Kinda not-great reasons, but who cares. This book is a fairy tale. You know the old-school, don’t-do-this type of stories? Yeah. That’s The Near Witch. This is Schwab’s debut so it might feel slightly rougher than her newer works, but it’s absolutely worth the read. The romance in this one is melt-in-your-mouth sweet, with the innocence of childhood.

  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? This is a standalone book.
  • CW: Kidnapping, self harm, confinement, death, child abuse, death of parent, blood, animal death, fire

What’s your favorite VE Schwab book that you’ve ever read? Are any of these on your TBR? And, finally, do you have any suggestions for other authors you would like to see me spotlight? Keep in mind I’d like to stick to authors who have more than a couple of books out.

TOP 6 CONTEMPORARY ROMANCES FOR BEGINNERS

Now, unlike my Beginner Fantasy Recommendation list, I can’t claim to be someone who knows the ins and outs of contemporary romance. I’ve read a fair few, mind, but nowhere near the amount of fantasy books that I’ve read! But despite that, I thought I’d put together a little list of some contemporary romances that I recommend!

Please note — these are all cis/het romances. There is queer rep in most of them, but none of the main relationships fall under the LGBTQ+ banner. In the future, I do plan to do a queer romance recommendation list!

THE FLAT SHARE by BETH O’LEARY

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

Tiffy and Leon share an apartment. Tiffy and Leon have never met.

After a bad breakup, Tiffy Moore needs a place to live. Fast. And cheap. But the apartments in her budget have her wondering if astonishingly colored mold on the walls counts as art.

Desperation makes her open minded, so she answers an ad for a flatshare. Leon, a night shift worker, will take the apartment during the day, and Tiffy can have it nights and weekends. He’ll only ever be there when she’s at the office. In fact, they’ll never even have to meet.

Tiffy and Leon start writing each other notes – first about what day is garbage day, and politely establishing what leftovers are up for grabs, and the evergreen question of whether the toilet seat should stay up or down. Even though they are opposites, they soon become friends. And then maybe more.

But falling in love with your roommate is probably a terrible idea…especially if you’ve never met.

What if your roommate is your soul mate? A joyful, quirky romantic comedy, Beth O’Leary’s The Flatshare is a feel-good novel about finding love in the most unexpected of ways.

WHY THIS BOOK? I picked this book up on a whim, and ended up absolutely loving it. My favorite bit was that Leon is not your typical male lead in a romance novel. He’s a bit awkward, and his POV is written quite differently than that of Tiffy’s! If you’re looking for the feeling a there’s-only-one-bed fanfic gives you, start no further than The Flat Share!

  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? The Flat Share
  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? 1
  • CW: Emotional abuse, toxic relationship, gaslighting
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: 500 Miles From You by Jenny Colgan 

WELL MET by JEN DELUCA

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

the book cover for Well Met by Jen DeLuca

Emily knew there would be strings attached when she relocated to the small town of Willow Creek, Maryland, for the summer to help her sister recover from an accident, but who could anticipate getting roped into volunteering for the local Renaissance Faire alongside her teenaged niece? Or that the irritating and inscrutable schoolteacher in charge of the volunteers would be so annoying that she finds it impossible to stop thinking about him?

The faire is Simon’s family legacy and from the start he makes clear he doesn’t have time for Emily’s lighthearted approach to life, her oddball Shakespeare conspiracy theories, or her endless suggestions for new acts to shake things up. Yet on the faire grounds he becomes a different person, flirting freely with Emily when she’s in her revealing wench’s costume. But is this attraction real, or just part of the characters they’re portraying?

This summer was only ever supposed to be a pit stop on the way to somewhere else for Emily, but soon she can’t seem to shake the fantasy of establishing something more with Simon, or a permanent home of her own in Willow Creek. 

WHY THIS BOOK? I adore the town of Willow Creek that Jen DeLuca has come up with. Every character has their own personality, their own history, and well, it gives the books in this series a very homey feeling. I also just flat out love the setting of a Renaissance Faire! Simon is semi-based on Once Upon A Time’s Hook, too, so you can picture Colin O’Donaghue while you read…

  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? Well Met
  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? 5
  • CW: Sexual content, death, grief, mentions of cancer
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade, The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren, The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

JOSH AND HAZEL’S GUIDE TO NOT DATING by CHRISTINA LAUREN

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.

Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.

Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them…right? 

WHY THIS BOOK? This is one of the first contemporary romances that I ever picked up ever, and well, it’s got a huge forever spot on my list. I just absolutely adore Hazel’s entire personality. It’s not for everyone though, (surprise baby) and I realize that.

  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating
  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? 1
  • CW: Sexual content, pregnancy
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey, 99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne

THE BROMANCE BOOK CLUB by LYSSA KAY ADAMS

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

The first rule of book club: You don’t talk about book club.

Nashville Legends second baseman Gavin Scott’s marriage is in major league trouble. He’s recently discovered a humiliating secret: his wife Thea has always faked the Big O. When he loses his cool at the revelation, it’s the final straw on their already strained relationship. Thea asks for a divorce, and Gavin realizes he’s let his pride and fear get the better of him.

Welcome to the Bromance Book Club.

Distraught and desperate, Gavin finds help from an unlikely source: a secret romance book club made up of Nashville’s top alpha men. With the help of their current read, a steamy Regency titled Courting the Countess, the guys coach Gavin on saving his marriage. But it’ll take a lot more than flowery words and grand gestures for this hapless Romeo to find his inner hero and win back the trust of his wife.

WHY THIS BOOK? A difference perspective on the whole ‘romance’ genre! A group of men desperate to either seduce their wives, or gain love turn to romance novels to understand the ‘female’ mind. These books are hilarious, but also a little heart-breaking.

  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? The Bromance Book Club
  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? 5
  • CW: Sexual content, pregnancy, miscarriage
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey, You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle

SECOND FIRST IMPRESSIONS by SALLY THORNE

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

Dazzle (n): Brightness that blinds someone temporarily.

Position Vacant: Two ancient old women residing at Providence Retirement Villa seek male assistant for casual exploitation and good-natured humiliation. Duties include boutique shopping, fast-food fetching, and sincerely rendered flattery. Good looks a bonus—but we aren’t picky.

An advertisement has been placed (again!) by the wealthy and eccentric Parloni Sisters. The salary is generous and the employers are 90 years old, so how hard could the job be? Well, none have lasted longer than a week. Most boys leave in tears.

Ruthie Midona will work in Providence’s front office, and be at the Parloni’s beck and call, forever. That’s sort of her life plan. If Ruthie can run the place in her almost-retired bosses’ absence, with no hijinks/hiccups, she has a shot at becoming the new manager. She might also be able to defend her safe little world from Prescott Development, the new buyer of the prime site. Maybe after all that, she can find a cute guy to date. All she needs to do is stay serious—and that’s what she does best.

Until, one day, someone dazzling blows into town.

Teddy Prescott devotes his life to sleeping, tattooing, and avoiding seriousness. When Teddy needs a place to crash, he makes a deal with his developer dad. Teddy can stay in one of Providence’s on-site maintenance cottages—right next door to an unimpressed Ruthie—but only if he works there and starts to grow up.

Ruthie knows how this sweetly selfish rich boy can earn his keep—and be out of her hair in under a week. After all, there is a position vacant… 

WHY THIS BOOK? Teddy Prescott is a precious cinnamon roll and I will hear no further arguments. And also the supporting cast in this novel are just all *chef’s kiss*. The Parloni Sisters in particular are just…ah they’re amazing.

  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? Second First Impressions
  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? 1
  • CW: Sexual content, death, panic attacks
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: THIS BOOK IS HARD TO COMP…but I’ve been reliably informed The Tourist Attraction by Sarah Morgenthaler is at least similar. If you squint.

SPOILER ALERT by OLIVIA DADE

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

Marcus Caster-Rupp has a secret. The world may know him as Aeneas, star of the biggest show on television, but fanfiction readers call him something else: Book!AeneasWouldNever. Marcus gets out his frustrations with the show through anonymous stories about the internet’s favorite couple, Aeneas and Lavinia. But if anyone discovered his online persona, he’d be finished in Hollywood.

April Whittier has secrets of her own. A hardcore Lavinia fan, she’s long hidden her fanfic and cosplay hobbies from her “real life”—but not anymore. When she dares to post her latest costume creation on Twitter, her plus-size take goes viral. And when Marcus asks her out to spite her internet critics, truth officially becomes stranger than fanfiction.

On their date, Marcus quickly realizes he wants more from April than a one-time publicity stunt. But when he discovers she’s Unapologetic Lavinia Stan, his closest fandom friend, he has one more huge secret to keep from her.

With love and Marcus’s career on the line, can the two of them stop hiding once and for all, or will a match made in fandom end up prematurely cancelled?

WHY THIS BOOK? Okay first off, if you’ve ever written/read fanfiction, than you will absolutely 100% without a doubt love this book. The fan representation in here is just…you can tell Olivia Dade has been a member of a fandom at some point! Secondly — holy crap does Marcus appreciate and love the hell out of April.

  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? Spoiler Alert
  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? 3
  • CW: Fatphobia, body shaming, sexual content, ableism
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: Meet Cute by Helena Hunting, Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren

What’s your favorite contemporary romance out there? My favorite didn’t even make this list because it’s the second in a series! So honorary mention to Melt For You by JT Geissinger!

TOP 5 FANTASY BOOKS FOR BEGINNERS

Since fantasy is my absolute favorite genre out there, I thought I would write a recommendation post for people who want to dive into the genre, but have no idea where to start. Before we really get into the meat of the post, I do want to say this: fantasy is known for having series, and not really singular standalone books. This makes fantasy intimidating to a lot of people because you have to commit to reading a 3+ book long series in order to get a complete story. I’m here to tell you that no, you really don’t. If you read the first book in a series, and aren’t feeling it? Stop. Stop reading it. Move on. Life is too short to keep reading books you don’t like, especially when those books are in a series.

So, with that being said, this list is primarily books that I believe are relatively easy to get into, relatively easy to read, and complete series. Meaning — you don’t need to read anything but the book itself to understand it, the language used isn’t overly ridiculous, and all the books are out. Oh as a side note — most of these books are written for adults, but there might be one or two that wiggle on the YA/Adult border.

Now that I’ve rambled on for forever, let’s get into the recommendations.

THE MISTBORN TRILOGY by BRANDON SANDERSON

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

the cover for a compilation of The Mistborn Series by Brandon Sanderson

For a thousand years the ash fell and no flowers bloomed. For a thousand years the Skaa slaved in misery and lived in fear. For a thousand years the Lord Ruler, the “Sliver of Infinity,” reigned with absolute power and ultimate terror, divinely invincible. Then, when hope was so long lost that not even its memory remained, a terribly scarred, heart-broken half-Skaa rediscovered it in the depths of the Lord Ruler’s most hellish prison. Kelsier “snapped” and found in himself the powers of a Mistborn. A brilliant thief and natural leader, he turned his talents to the ultimate caper, with the Lord Ruler himself as the mark.

Kelsier recruited the underworld’s elite, the smartest and most trustworthy allomancers, each of whom shares one of his many powers, and all of whom relish a high-stakes challenge. Then Kelsier reveals his ultimate dream, not just the greatest heist in history, but the downfall of the divine despot.

But even with the best criminal crew ever assembled, Kel’s plan looks more like the ultimate long shot, until luck brings a ragged girl named Vin into his life. Like him, she’s a half-Skaa orphan, but she’s lived a much harsher life. Vin has learned to expect betrayal from everyone she meets. She will have to learn trust if Kel is to help her master powers of which she never dreamed.

WHY THIS SERIES? The Mistborn Series (The Final Empire, The Well of Ascension, and The Hero of Ages) is a complete story done in three books. The ending of the story is 100% satisfying, with almost all questions answered. Brandon Sanderson is a master at world-building, and at creating extensive, amazingly-unique magic systems. If you want an entry point into modern fantasy — here is the best place to start.

  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? The Final Empire
  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? 3
  • CW: abuse by a sibling, death, gore, murder, rape (mentioned), slavery, violence
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch, or The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

THE OLD KINGDOM SERIES by GARTH NIX

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

The book cover for Sabriel by Garth Nix

Sent to a boarding school in Ancelstierre as a young child, Sabriel has had little experience with the random power of Free Magic or the Dead who refuse to stay dead in the Old Kingdom. But during her final semester, her father, the Abhorsen, goes missing, and Sabriel knows she must enter the Old Kingdom to find him. She soon finds companions in Mogget, a cat whose aloof manner barely conceals its malevolent spirit, and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage long imprisoned by magic, now free in body but still trapped by painful memories.

As the three travel deep into the Old Kingdom, threats mount on all sides. And every step brings them closer to a battle that will pit them against the true forces of life and death—and bring Sabriel face-to-face with her own destiny.

WHY THIS SERIES? I grew up with this series, so I’m a little biased when I include this one in this list. Despite that, I still think it’s a great example of what fantasy can be, and it’s incredibly easy to read. There are talking animals, beings of enormous power, and just enough world-building to keep you curious. Nothing is shoved down your throat, but nothing is hand-waved away, either. A note – there are actually six books in this series, but the first three (Sabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen) are the ones that I’m talking about in this recommendation. I haven’t actually read the others, because I’m afraid they’ll ruin my enjoyment of the first three.

  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? Sabriel
  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? 3
  • CW: blood, death, death of a parent, gore, murder
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson, or The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

THE RIYIRA REVELATIONS by MICHAEL J. SULLIVAN

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

The book cover for Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan

Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater, make a profitable living carrying out dangerous assignments for conspiring nobles-until they are hired to pilfer a famed sword. What appears to be just a simple job finds them framed for the murder of the king and trapped in a conspiracy that uncovers a plot far greater than the mere overthrow of a tiny kingdom.

Can a self-serving thief and an idealistic swordsman survive long enough to unravel the first part of an ancient mystery that has toppled kings and destroyed empires?

And so begins the first tale of treachery and adventure, sword fighting and magic, myth and legend.

WHY THIS SERIES? If you’re looking for a classic fantasy feel with wizards, and swords, but with a modern feel to the language, then you want The Riyira Revelations. This series is straight-up like popcorn. It’s so good! You will fly through these books, and by the end, you’ll want more and more of Hadrian and Royce! Good news is Sullivan wrote some prequel books! These are not necessary to understand what happens in Revelations, though!

  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? Theft of Swords
  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? 3
  • CW: death, blood, murder, ableism, sexism, sexual assault
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: The Shadow of What Was Lost by James Islington, or Shadow of the Gods by John Gwynne

THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA by TJ KLUNE

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

the book cover for The House in the Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune

A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.

Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.

When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.

But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.

WHY THIS BOOK? Good news! This one is a standalone, and it’s relatively short. If you’re looking for a warm hug wrapped in magic, then you want The House in the Cerulean Sea. This sweet book is about finding family, and what you’d do to protect them once you have them. There’s unique children, some even what most people would consider ‘monsters’. This is a great place to start if you’re looking for a lighter entry into fantasy.

  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? The House in the Cerulean Sea
  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? 1
  • CW: child abuse, xenophobia, fatphobia, confinement, body shaming
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: The Princess Bride by William Goldman, or Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE by DIANA WYNNE JONES

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

the book cover for Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl’s castle. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there’s far more to Howl—and herself—than first meets the eye. 

WHY THIS BOOK? This is another sweet story that’s very easy to read! There are technically three books in this series, but I have only read this one. It’s a complete story, too, so there is no reason to venture out into the other books unless you really, really want to. This is about Sophie, and her adventures with the great wizard Howl, and the three different worlds he can travel to. And yes, there is a movie, and yes, it’s just as adorable as the book, though there are some changes. I recommend the book! Obviously.

  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? Howl’s Moving Castle
  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? 3
  • CW: body horror, confinement, death, murder, death of parent
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: Stardust by Neil Gaiman, or Swordheart by T. Kingfisher

Those are my recommendations for an entry point into the fantasy genre. I’ve read every book listed here — I will never recommend a book I haven’t read! I know people won’t agree with every book that I’ve mentioned, but maybe they should write their own recommendation posts, then, huh?

But before we go, I do want to say one last thing — I did not include The Hobbit on this list, because a lot of people find the language hard to get through. Not to mention, there are great swaths of that book that are boring. I wanted to include books that won’t bore someone out of reading more fantasy novels! However, if you’re absolutely looking to start with a classic, I’d start there, with The Hobbit. You’ll notice I also didn’t include extremely long winded series (The Dresden Files, A Song of Ice and Fire, the Iron Druid Series, the Mercy Thompson Series, etc.), because those are intimidating just due to sheer length!

Do you have any other suggestions for a good starting place to try out the fantasy genre? Leave what you’d recommend in the comments below!

LGBTQ+ FANTASY BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

As I’ve read quite a few recently, I thought I’d make a little recommendation post of LGBTQ+ fantasy novels! (This is adapted from a twitter thread that I posted here.) If a novel is in this post, it means the core characters fall under the LGBTQ+ spectrum. If you have suggestions that you’d like to add, go ahead and leave a comment! This is by no means an exhaustive list!

WE ALL FALL DOWN by Rose Szabo — There’s not a single straight person in this book. The whole book is about fate, and how the ‘wheel’ will continue to turn regardless of what people try to do to influence it. This comes out in June! Read my review of an ARC copy here.

A MARVELLOUS LIGHT by Freya Marske — This takes place at the tail end of the 1800’s, in an England where magic exists, but is unknown to most. A magical conspiracy is taking place, and its up to our heroes to find out what’s going on! Read my review here.

A TASTE OF GOLD AND IRON by Alexandra Rowland — Conspiracy, romance, and fealty all take center stage here. The prince of Arasht is a cinnamon roll desperate to prove his loyalty to his sister, the sultan. It’s a bodyguard romance, folks. This comes out in August! Read my review of an ARC copy here.

THE PRIORY OF THE ORANGE TREE by Samantha Shannon — Your typical chunky (800+ pages) fantasy book with all the old tropes, but with a gay queen and her lady-in-waiting that’s secretly a spy. There’s dragons, magic, and old prophecies that come to light.

FOUNDRYSIDE by Robert Jackson Bennett — This is a tightly plotted fantasy book that takes place in the city-state that is based off of Venice. There’s talking keys, and well, the coolest damn magic system I’ve seen in a long time. Read my review here.

THE MAGPIE LORD by KJ Charles — Set in Victorian England where magic is a thing — this is a mystery trilogy where a man inherits his title and all that comes with it. He hires someone to come help with a magical problem, & well…[waves hands] magic happens. This is a three book series!

WITCHMARK by CL Polk — Set in an alternate/unique version of Edwardian England where magic is both a curse and a boon. There’s gay romance, betrayal, and fantastic world-building. This is on the shorter side at 318 pages, but there are two sequels!

MALICE by Heather Walter — What if Maleficent had fallen in love with Sleeping Beauty? That’s all you need to know, friends. Read my review here. There’s a sequel coming out this year!

PALADIN’S HOPE by T. Kingfisher — This is the third book in Kingfisher’s Paladin series, so keep that in mind, but it’s gay, darlings! There’s a lich-doctor who works to find out who or what killed the dead, and a paladin who’s god is dead. Murder mystery! If you haven’t read the first books in this series, I cannot recommend them enough!

WOLFSONG by TJ Klune — Do you like werewolf pack dynamics? Do you like the idea of mates? then you’ll like Wolfsong. You get huge werewolf family who gather in a lost kid, and welcome him as one of their own. This is a 4 book series.

Have you read any of these? What LGBTQ+ books are your favorite?