Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. This week’s topic is Books I Love That Were Written Over Ten Years Ago.
The Demon King by. Inca Williams Chima
The Outstretched Shadow by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory
Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each week we talk about our top ten with a different topic provided by Jana. This week’s topic is ten books that I love that are over ten years old.
Summary: Caiden’s planet is destroyed. His family gone. And, his only hope for survival is a crew of misfit aliens and a mysterious ship that seems to have a soul and a universe of its own. Together they will show him that the universe is much bigger, much more advanced, and much more mysterious than Caiden had ever imagined. But the universe hides dangers as well, and soon Caiden has his own plans. He vows to do anything it takes to get revenge on the slavers who murdered his people and took away his home. To destroy their regime, he must infiltrate and dismantle them from the inside, or die trying.
Review: I have to be honest. I’d never heard of this book until I accidentally requested its sequel in NetGalley. I didn’t read the synopsis very carefully when requesting and once I was approved, I found Nophek Gloss from my library and borrowed it so that I could read Azura Ghost. Nophek Gloss follows Caiden (also called Winn, which yes, was absolutely confusing now and again), as he manages to be the only survivor of the genocide of his people. He’s raised as a slave to the “overseers” and when his people no longer serve their purpose, they’re fed to the creatures named nophek which grow gems in their heads that are very valuable. Caiden manages to survive this slaughter and finds a ship, and also a crew searching for a ship, to escape the planet the nophek live on. Caiden makes a deal with the crew, they will get him to safety and he will give them the gem he pulled from the head of a dead nophek. But Caiden is set on vengeance, he won’t be dissuaded from his newly decided mission. And the story sprawls out from there. Caiden was a tough main character to follow. He’s 14 years old when the story starts, but because of science capabilities in this world, he’s accelerated six years. He is physically 20 years old and has all the knowledge that he needs to survive implanted in his brain. He changes pretty drastically. But there are side effects and as the story continues, he essentially tortures himself to relieve those side effects and once again, he’s changed pretty drastically. It made sense with the plot and what was going on with the story, but his growth as a character never really felt organic or natural. He was forcing change upon himself and not always for the better. He also just wasn’t super nice. We’re supposed to believe that the crew who rescued him have become his found family, but I wasn’t really invested in those relationships. And even less so when we learn about Caiden’s genetic history and the abilities that come with that history. By the end of the story, I was a little bit more convinced, but I just didn’t feel convinced by the relationships as much as I think was supposed to be. The world-building was top-notch. It was a little confusing because once Caiden accelerated his age and knowledge, we didn’t get everything explained to us as much as we did before then. But it’s clear that the author really build a detailed and intricate world for this series. There were just a lot of different species and people to learn and remember. I was pretty engaged by the politics of the world though. The concept of endless universes and the ability to travel through them was interesting. But the politics of the different leaders and governments were pretty compelling. I think we will be getting a lot more of that in the sequel and I’m excited to see it. Overall, I liked this book. It’s not a new favorite or anything, but the world-building was interesting and the journey that the characters went on was engaging. Even though I wasn’t fully invested in the characters themselves, I still was interested to see what they did and what would happen next. I absolutely predicted the ending and set up for book two, so I’m looking forward to seeing how that all plays out.
Summary: It’s New Year’s Eve 1982, and Oona Lockhart has her whole life before her. At the stroke of midnight she will turn nineteen, and the year ahead promises to be one of consequence. Should she go to London to study economics, or remain at home in Brooklyn to pursue her passion for music and be with her boyfriend? As the countdown to the New Year begins, Oona faints and awakens thirty-two years in the future in her fifty-one-year-old body. Greeted by a friendly stranger in a beautiful house she’s told is her own, Oona learns that with each passing year she will leap to another age at random. And so begins Oona Out of Order… Hopping through decades, pop culture fads, and much-needed stock tips, Oona is still a young woman on the inside but ever-changing on the outside. Who will she be next year? Philanthropist? Club Kid? World traveler? Wife to a man she’s never met? Surprising, magical, and heart-wrenching, Margarita Montimore has crafted an unforgettable story about the burdens of time, the endurance of love, and the power of family.
Review: I picked up this book because Soleil from The Little Readers Corner recommended it in a video she made about time travel books (watch that video here). The premise of this story is that it’s almost Oona’s birthday (which is New Year’s Day) and every year, at midnight, as her birthday starts, she time travels to a different age. She starts as she is celebrating her 19th birthday, except when the clock strikes midnight, she’s suddenly 30 years older and her body has just turned 51 years old. By her side is her good friend, Kenzie, trying to explain things but Oona is pretty much freaking out. The story follows from there as we get to see several years of Oona’s life, out of chronological order that most people live. She never knows what age she will be next and most times there is a letter waiting for her from the previous year’s Oona. I really loved this book. The concept was an absolutely fascinating one and I think it was executed brilliantly. We obviously don’t get to live every year of Oona’s life, but the ones that the author did show us were beautiful, fun, heart-wrenching, and meaningful. Each year that we follow Oona in is a year filled with life lessons and mistakes, attempts to change her future (or her past?), and they were all enjoyable, even the hard ones. I absolutely loved the way this book was written. Living “out of order” alongside Oona was such an engaging way of telling this story and I really enjoyed every minute that I spent reading this book. Oona grows so much in this story. I have to commend this author on some truly excellent character development. She’s flawed. She makes the wrong choices, sometimes in spite of the advice from the past year’s Oona, sometimes because she’s following that advice. She doesn’t always do the right thing and sometimes that ends up hurting the people that she loves (those few that do know she’s living her life out of order especially). I really liked following her as she traveled at random through the years of her life trying to find and make amends for mistakes that haven’t happened yet or have happened 20+ years in the past for the people in her life. Overall, I will absolutely be recommending this book to everyone I know that likes science fiction. I had such a good time reading this story (and the way my jaw dropped when we find out the twist about her tattoo. I wish I’d taken a picture). This book made me smile and laugh, but also occasionally a little mad and sad. There was such a range of emotions to feel throughout this story and the author did a great job of making me feel them all. I also really loved the fact that this story left me feeling filled with hope. That sounds sort of weird considering that Oona will continue living her life in random years, turning random ages, jumping through time, but the story that is told is filled with hope and lessons about living your life and making the best out of the time you have and the people you have that time with. I just really liked this book.
Summary: When Andra wakes up, she’s drowning. Not only that, but she’s in a hot, dirty cave, it’s the year 3102, and everyone keeps calling her Goddess. When Andra went into a cryonic sleep for a trip across the galaxy, she expected to wake up in a hundred years, not a thousand. Worst of all, the rest of the colonists–including her family and friends–are dead. They died centuries ago, and for some reason, their descendants think Andra’s a deity. She knows she’s nothing special, but she’ll play along if it means she can figure out why she was left in stasis and how to get back to Earth. Zhade, the exiled bastard prince of Eerensed, has other plans. Four years ago, the sleeping Goddess’s glass coffin disappeared from the palace, and Zhade devoted himself to finding it. Now he’s hoping the Goddess will be the key to taking his rightful place on the throne–if he can get her to play her part, that is. Because if his people realize she doesn’t actually have the power to save their dying planet, they’ll kill her. With a vicious monarch on the throne and a city tearing apart at the seams, Zhade and Andra might never be able to unlock the mystery of her fate, let alone find a way to unseat the king, especially since Zhade hasn’t exactly been forthcoming with Andra. And a thousand years from home, is there any way of knowing that Earth is better than the planet she’s woken to?
Review: Oh man, I’m so glad I impulsively bought this book. Goddess in the Machine follows main characters Andra and Zhade. Zhade is a prince of the world that Andra has awoken on. Andra is the third goddess. She’s been frozen in a cryogenic pod for 1,000 years. Except, it was supposed to only be 100 years. So, while Zhade is trying to use the goddess for his own ends, Andra is trying to figure out what the hell went wrong and what to do next. This book was a wild ride. The story goes all over, but not in a way that made it seem like there was too much going on. There absolutely was a lot going on, but it was balanced really well and made sense for the story. I think the pacing of the story was well done as well. The author lets us get our bearings as we get to know the world and the characters and then incrementally turns things up with a well-placed twist here and there. I think the story was incredibly well written. The characters were really what made the book though. Andra is the daughter that never made the cut. She was always the disappointment of her family. And she’s still dealing with these feelings. So, she’s not the most confident of main characters, but honestly, she’s doing the best she can and that’s actually pretty damn good. I loved following her growth and progression and the way the story ended! Oh, my goodness, I am going to start the second book immediately after finishing this review. Zhade was not hard to love. He was funny and charming. But also, the guy that you know you can’t trust for anything, but you can’t help but trust him anyway eventually being completely unsurprised when he betrays you. I think his plan was so dumb, but I am incredibly excited to see where it leads. Overall, I loved this book. There were twists and turns that I didn’t see coming at all. A few that had my jaw-dropping. The story was well-paced, engaging, and kept me interested the entire time. The characters were, mostly, easy to root for and I can’t wait to see how they develop further in the sequel.
Summary: England, 1865 : As one of England’s most notorious newspaper columnists, Lady Katherine Bascomb believes knowledge is power. And she’s determined to inform and educate the ladies of London on the nefarious-and deadly-criminals who are preying on the fairer sex. When her reporting leads to the arrest of a notorious killer, however, Katherine flees to a country house party to escape her newfound notoriety-only to witness a murder on her very first night. And when the lead detective accuses Katherine of inflaming-rather than informing-the public with her column, she vows to prove him wrong. Detective Inspector Andrew Eversham’s refusal to compromise his investigations nearly cost him his own career, and he blames Katherine. To avoid bad publicity, his superiors are pressuring him to solve cases quickly rather than correctly. When he discovers she’s the key witness in a new crime, he’s determined to prevent the beautiful widow from once again wreaking havoc on his case. Yet as Katherine proves surprisingly insightful and Andrew impresses Katherine with his lethal competency, both are forced to admit the fire between them is more flirtatious than furious. But to explore the passion between them, they’ll need to catch a killer.
Review: A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Mayhem follows Lady Katherine Bascomb, also known as Kate, who is a widow that owns and writes for a newspaper. When she and her new friend Caro, get involved in a murder investigation that’s been plaguing London by writing about a witness that wasn’t interviewed by the police, suddenly the police have found the killer. But what if they’ve found the wrong man? I really liked Kate as our heroine. Often in historical romance, we’re reading about girls that are just debuting for their season in London and the whirlwind romance that follows. But Kate is a widow, so she has more freedoms than the typical heroine of the genre. She’s also headstrong and refuses to be controlled by any man again. Enter our love interest, Detective Inspector Andrew Eversham. He’s just been demoted after Kate’s article proves that he’s not followed up on all the parts of the investigation that he’s delegated to others. But when another murder occurs that is similar to the ones that have supposedly been committed by someone that’s been arrested, Eversham’s given another chance and sent to investigate further. So, there were a few things I liked about this book and a few that I didn’t. I liked what the author was trying to do with combining a mystery/thriller with historical romance. I really loved the murder mystery feel of the story. It set a really good pace for the story and wanting to know who the murderer was really kept me engaged in the story. But, at the same time, I think because of the murder investigation aspects of the story, I wasn’t able to find myself fully invested in the romance. There was so much build-up and detail about the investigation and backstory about Kate that the romance felt like it was sort of jammed into the story. Even though it was obvious that Kate and Eversham were going to be the romantic focus of the story, when things finally started happening between them it felt sudden and almost out of place. I really wanted to like them together, and I did, but not as much as I think I could have. I think they complimented each other as a couple and they had great chemistry. But the mystery and the murder investigation took up so much of the story that the romance aspect almost felt like it didn’t belong. Overall, this was a fast-paced story. I liked all of the characters and I did enjoy the bits and pieces that were very obviously left to hint about the next book (and couple) in the series. I think the murder mystery aspect of the story was really well done. I didn’t guess who the killer was, and I was very interested in the twists and reveals. I just wish that I had liked the romance more. I liked it, but I don’t feel strongly about it one way or the other. It almost felt like the romance was an afterthought in the story. I think I’ll continue the series, but I’ll probably borrow the next one from my library instead of buying it.
Summary: The Alexandrian Society, caretakers of lost knowledge from the greatest civilizations of antiquity, are the foremost secret society of magical academicians in the world. Those who earn a place among the Alexandrians will secure a life of wealth, power, and prestige beyond their wildest dreams, and each decade, only the six most uniquely talented magicians are selected to be considered for initiation. Enter the latest round of six: Libby Rhodes and Nico de Varona, unwilling halves of an unfathomable whole, who exert uncanny control over every element of physicality. Reina Mori, a naturalist, who can intuit the language of life itself. Parisa Kamali, a telepath who can traverse the depths of the subconscious, navigating worlds inside the human mind. Callum Nova, an empath easily mistaken for a manipulative illusionist, who can influence the intimate workings of a person’s inner self. Finally, there is Tristan Caine, who can see through illusions to a new structure of reality—an ability so rare that neither he nor his peers can fully grasp its implications. When the candidates are recruited by the mysterious Atlas Blakely, they are told they will have one year to qualify for initiation, during which time they will be permitted preliminary access to the Society’s archives and judged based on their contributions to various subjects of impossibility: time and space, luck and thought, life and death. Five, they are told, will be initiated. One will be eliminated. The six potential initiates will fight to survive the next year of their lives, and if they can prove themselves to be the best among their rivals, most of them will. Most of them.
Review: Huge thanks to my friend Avhlee (find her blog here.) for gifting me this book for my birthday. We follow a cast of six characters. These six are collected by Atlas, the caretaker of the library of Alexandria. The story takes place in a world where magic exists. But it seems that there are levels of magic. There are ordinary people. Then there are magicians. And then there are those that are a part of the secret societies, one of which being the Alexandrians. We learn a little bit about the lives of magicians from what we see of the six before they’re recruited to the library of Alexandria. I think the general world of magicians was incredibly interesting. The way that magicians move in a world that is familiar to our own was interesting. But then, the six are taken into the library for a year of study. All six are powerful and unique in their abilities. I think the magic was my favorite part of the story. I loved learning the limits of what the character could do with their abilities. I loved following them as they test and stretch those abilities to see if they can achieve more than what’s thought to be possible. They learn so much about themselves and their powers. It was fascinating. But the overall plot of the story was what really made this book shine. There were twists and turns. The secrets that slowly came out and the drama that unfolded from these secrets. I absolutely didn’t see so many things coming. I loved being surprised as the truths were revealed. I cannot wait to see what’s going to happen next in this series. Once all the pieces started falling together, I couldn’t put the book down. I devoured the story, needing to know what happened next. Overall, I loved this book. It was filled with characters that were flawed and yet still so easy to become invested in. The world and plot were engaging and set a really good pace for the story. I can see why this book has taken the book community by storm. I cannot wait to continue the series.
Summary: In the city of Eldra, people are ruled by ancient prophecies. For centuries, the high council has stayed in power by virtue of the prophecies of the elder seers. After the last infallible prophecy came to pass, growing unrest led to murders and an eventual rebellion that raged for more than a decade. In the present day, Cassa, the orphaned daughter of rebels, is determined to fight back against the high council, which governs Eldra from behind the walls of the citadel. Her only allies are no-nonsense Alys, easygoing Evander, and perpetually underestimated Newt, and Cassa struggles to come to terms with the legacy of rebellion her dead parents have left her — and the fear that she may be inadequate to shoulder the burden. But by the time Cassa and her friends uncover the mystery of the final infallible prophecy, it may be too late to save the city — or themselves.
Review: Beneath the Citadel follows a cast of six characters: Alys, Cassa, Vesper, Evander, Newt, and occasionally the Chancellor. The story takes place in a fantasy world where the city is ruled by a group of incredibly corrupt councilors. They do what suits themselves and the high class, leaving the lower class to fend for themselves. Obviously, this leads to a rebellion. But what was interesting about this story is that the rebellion was in the past. It failed and we are following the next generation, children of well know rebel leaders and other interesting characters, as they try to solve the smaller mystery of why people are getting sick and losing their memories within the citadel. I devoured this book. Once I started reading, I just couldn’t stop. I loved the cast of characters. They all had well-developed and interesting backstories. Their motivations were clear and easy to sympathize with. They were all really easy to become invested in. They were also diverse as hell. There was BIPOC representation, asexual representation, and bisexual representation. I can’t speak to all of these, but I was absolutely living for the bisexual representation that we got. Even though most of this story was action-packed and plot-focused, I absolutely loved the smaller bits of romance that we got. The story itself was so engaging. It was unique and creative. There were little mysteries that pulled me in. It was compelling because I genuinely didn’t know which of the “bad guys” were the actual bad guys. I think the writing was also absolutely beautiful. There were so many lines I wanted to highlight and save. Also, a small thing that I noticed, but the story was paced really well and I really loved that the author obviously made a point to include the characters figuring out what time it was in the story. This gave us a guideline of what events happened in a certain time span. I think this was such a great way to show the pacing of the story. Overall, I will absolutely be recommending this book in the future and reading more by this author. Soria managed to write a compelling fantasy filled with characters that were diverse and so easy to love. I’ve had a hard time getting invested in YA fantasy lately, but that didn’t happen at all with this story.
Summary: A hilarious and vulnerable coming-of-age story about the thrilling new experience–and missteps–of a girl’s freshman year of college Some students enter their freshman year of college knowing exactly what they want to do with their lives. Elliot McHugh is not one of those people. But picking a major is the last thing on Elliot’s mind when she’s too busy experiencing all that college has to offer–from dancing all night at off-campus parties, to testing her RA Rose’s patience, to making new friends, to having the best sex one can have on a twin-sized dorm room bed. But she may not be ready for the fallout when reality hits. When the sex she’s having isn’t that great. When finals creep up and smack her right in the face. Or when her roommate’s boyfriend turns out to be the biggest a-hole. Elliot may make epic mistakes, but if she’s honest with herself (and with you, dear reader), she may just find the person she wants to be. And maybe even fall in love in the process . . . Well, maybe.
Review: I picked this one up at the Barnes and Noble 50% off hardcovers book sale under the influence of my friend Kelly. She recommended this for the 12 challenge that was going around Instagramand Twitter at the start of the year. All she said was it’s about a bisexual girl in her first year of college and I was immediately sold. Plus, when I saw it in the bookstore that book cover really just shines. It’s so simple and yet so stunning at the same time. I already can’t wait to take pictures of it. Fresh follows Elliot, who is starting her first year of college. She’s from Ohio, but she’s going to Emerson College in Boston. As someone that grew up Boston adjacent, there are so many excellent Boston and Massachusetts references that had me laughing out loud. The thing about this book is that it doesn’t take itself seriously. It’s told in first-person perspective and Elliot “talks” directly to the reader at times. I loved the way this story was told. I think it was incredibly engaging to be following Elliot as if she was sitting next to me, telling me about her experiences. Now, Elliot doesn’t always make the best choices. She’s incredibly flawed and I absolutely loved that about her. She’s bisexual and confident in her sexuality. The first half of the book is mostly (to use Elliot’s phrasing) Elliot being “horny on main.” The second half is Elliot taking the lessons she learned from her first semester of college and making better choices. She learns from her mistakes and doesn’t repeat them. I think that’s a big reason that she was a character I felt I could be invested in. She doesn’t just do stupid things over and over. She learns and makes a point to do better. I absolutely loved all of the side characters, too. Lucy and Micah were excellent friends. I also loved Elliot’s RA, Rose. I think they made this story even better. Elliot really had amazing friends to support her and to tell her to pull her head out of her ass when she needed it. Overall, I loved this book. I said earlier that it doesn’t take itself seriously. I think the author did a wonderful job of balancing that feeling while also covering some serious topics. There are conversations of sexual assault and slut-shaming. But it’s also a really sex-positive book. I feel like any words that I write cannot do this story justice. I will be recommending this book in the future very often.
Summary: The Unwilling is the story of Judah, a foundling born with a special gift and raised inside Highfall castle along with Gavin, the son and heir to Lord Elban’s vast empire. Judah and Gavin share an unnatural bond that is both the key to her survival… and possibly her undoing. As Gavin is groomed for his future role, Judah comes to realize that she has no real position within the kingdom, in fact, no hope at all of ever traveling beyond its castle walls. Elban – a lord as mighty as he is cruel – has his own plans for her, for all of them. She is a mere pawn to him, and he will stop at nothing to get what he wants. But outside the walls, in the starving, desperate city, a magus, a healer with his own secret power unlike anything Highfall has seen in years, is newly arrived from the provinces. He, too, has plans for the empire, and at the heart of those plans lies Judah… The girl who started life with no name and no history will soon uncover more to her story than she ever imagined. An epic tale of greed and ambition, cruelty and love, this deeply immersive novel is about bowing to traditions and burning them down.
Review: I picked up The Unwilling because I requested the second book in NetGalley, not knowing that it was a sequel. So, I had to read this first book once I was approved for its sequel. I listened to the audiobook and I think the narrator did an excellent job telling the story. The story follows Judah, Gavin, Elly, and Theron. Judah is an orphan that has a magical connection to Gavin, the heir of Highfall castle. Whatever happens to Gavin also happens to Judah and the same is reversed. This is basically what Judah’s life is all about. Her life is determined by Gavin. The two are friends, but they’re often used against one another. While I liked these four friends, I felt like little to nothing actually happened in the story. We learn so much about the world, the daily lives of these four, and all that’s wrong within and outside of Highfall castle. Things pick up a bit toward the end of the story, but we’re left wanting much more. I’m excited to read the second book to see if it had this same issue or if this book was just mostly build up and set up for the second book. Overall, I think this book was interesting. But it was very character-focused with minimal plot. There wasn’t much that actually happened until the final third of the book. We spend so much time getting to know the characters and the world that the story felt incredibly slow. I don’t know that I would have gotten through it had I not been listening to the audiobook. I’m glad that I read it so that I can read the NetGalley arc of the sequel.
Summary: Ana Dakkar is a freshman at Harding-Pencroft Academy, a five-year high school that graduates the best marine scientists, naval warriors, navigators, and underwater explorers in the world. Ana’s parents died while on a scientific expedition two years ago, and the only family’s she’s got left is her older brother, Dev, also a student at HP. Ana’s freshman year culminates with the class’s weekend trial at sea, the details of which have been kept secret. She only hopes she has what it’ll take to succeed. All her worries are blown out of the water when, on the bus ride to the ship, Ana and her schoolmates witness a terrible tragedy that will change the trajectory of their lives. But wait, there’s more. The professor accompanying them informs Ana that their rival school, Land Institute, and Harding-Pencroft have been fighting a cold war for a hundred and fifty years. Now that cold war has been turned up to a full broil, and the freshman are in danger of becoming fish food. In a race against deadly enemies, Ana will make amazing friends and astounding discoveries about her heritage as she puts her leadership skills to the test for the first time.
Review: Daughter of the Deep follows Ana Dakkar who one of the last living descendants of Captain Nemo (not the animated fish, as is pointed out 100 times in this story), one of the characters from Jules Berne’s novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. She’s a freshman at the Harding-Pencroft Academy and she’s about to go on her first weekend away for the freshman trials. But tragedy strikes and her school sinks into the ocean. As she and her classmates witness this devastation, she’s also made aware of her linage and many other secrets that involve her school and her family. The stakes are raised even higher when she learns that their rival high school is after her and they are willing to go to lengths that Ana has a hard time imagining. To say that I loved this book is an understatement. Ana was an amazing main character. I loved her so much. She’s thrown into a situation where she’s way over her head and she handles it incredibly well, but also really realistically. She’s level-headed but still takes time to feel and process her emotions. She takes into consideration the ideas and opinions of those around her. She’s just a genuinely good leader and I really hope that we get more than just this one book because I would love to see Ana grow more into her role as a leader. I also really loved all the supporting characters. They’re an incredibly diverse cast of characters and I think they were all very easy to get emotionally invested in. The story itself was so much fun. It’s fast-paced but it wasn’t jarring in the sense of going from one action-filled part of the story to the next. So many things happen, but it was paced so well and I couldn’t help but devour the story to see how things turned out. I loved the science fiction bits of the story with all of Captain Nemo’s technology but I especially loved the Nautilus. I think the submarine was one of my favorite characters. I would love another book set in this world to see what else the Nautilus can do and what the characters decide to do with it. Overall, Riordan has provided us with another hit novel. It’s fast-paced and action-packed. The stakes are high and things are absolutely dire, but it was still so much fun to read. The characters were easy to love and I hope that we get to see more of them.
Hello, lovelies! I’m here today to share with you a wonderful and fun reading challenge that my friend Ari over at Bookish Valhalla is hosting (her announcement post is linked for anyone that wants to read it). For the last few months, I’ve really been trying to focus on moving away from YA fantasy and science fiction and exploring more adult SFF stories. I just haven’t been connecting with YA stories as much and I’ve really loved the adult SFF that I have read recently.
So! To say that I was excited when Ari shared this reading challenge is an understatement. This challenge focuses on reading backlist adult books that are fantasy and science fiction. Each month has a loose theme, so I’ve picked some books that I think will work for each month. I’m going to share all the options that I have on my TBR for each of these because I’m not sure which book I’ll end up reading for the months that have more than one option to choose from. Also, this TBR will only be the books that I own, I may end up reading books I don’t own for this challenge but as of now my goal is to focus on the adult SFF series that I already own.
January // Winter
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
February // Time
The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson
March // Oaths
The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
April // Hidden Places
The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djèlí Clark
May // Starlight
The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal
Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky
June // To Sea
July // To Sky
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
August // Sacrifice
Ariadne by Jennifer Saint
The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter
September // Fire
The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter
The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson
October // Ritual
The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons
November // Forest
Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh
December // Omens
I have some ideas about recommendations for this reading challenge, too. So, you can expect to see a post about that eventually. Share some recommendations for the themes that I didn’t list anything for please! What adult science fiction and fantasy books are you hoping to read in 2022?
Summary: What if you knew how and when you will die? Csorwe does — she will climb the mountain, enter the Shrine of the Unspoken, and gain the most honored title: sacrifice. But on the day of her foretold death, a powerful mage offers her a new fate. Leave with him, and live. Turn away from her destiny and her god to become a thief, a spy, an assassin—the wizard’s loyal sword. Topple an empire, and help him reclaim his seat of power. But Csorwe will soon learn – gods remember, and if you live long enough, all debts come due.
Review: Shout out to whoever recommended that I buy this over on Twitter. I picked up The Unspoken Name for the Clear Your Shit Readathon because I bought this book sometime last year only knowing that it was a queer, adult fantasy. I’m so glad I finally picked it up because I think it’s going to be making my 2021 favorites list. The story is a winding path down which we follow our main character, Csorwe (pronounced like doorway but with a ks sound like in the word books). Csorwe is meant to be the next bride for the Unspoken God. But what if she wasn’t? She runs away from the path her life has been on with Sethennai, a wizard that visits where she lives. We see them go from place to place and work toward completing Sethennai’s goals. But we don’t really get to know Csorwe until she realizes that she hasn’t been living for herself. I loved all of the characters. The three most important are Csorwe, who really grows and develops. She realizes that she’s just replaced the Unspoken God with Sethennai and what he wants. She’s made his goals her whole life. So, getting to see her fall into that trap and then get herself out of it was really a ride. Then there’s Tal. Csorwe and Tal are the frenemies that I didn’t know I needed in my life. I laughed out loud so many times at the way they talk to and behave toward each other. I’m very interested to see how or if we will get more of them in the second book. Even though I understood why Csorwe hated Tal, I really liked him. He and Csorwe had more in common than they would ever admit. I liked seeing how differently he handled come out of making his whole life about Sethennai. Finally, there’s Shuthmili (our love interest). Like Csorwe, Shuthmili has a path planned for her because of her culture and her connection with a god. But she doesn’t have to choose that path and with Csorwe’s influence, she runs. I mostly loved Shuthmili because of how absolutely brainless Csorwe gets around her. Their interactions gave me so much joy. It took me a lot longer to actually care about Shuthmili because she was a little boring having accepted and seemed excited about the path that had been planned for her. But she definitely grew on me. The world building was absolutely fascinating. We get to see Csorwe travel through these gates that take her all over for her travels, but I’m still not really sure if they’re going to other planets, or what the specifics are with that. But the places that we do see are wonderfully described from the settings to the culture. Each new place has a unique and interesting way of living (usually based on what god their people serve). I can’t wait to learn more about the gods outside of the three that this book sort of focused on. Overall, I cannot say enough good things about this book. The world was compelling and kept my interest. I never really felt confused or overwhelmed with information. The characters were likable. The romance was swoon worthy. The yearning was absolutely top tier. The plot sort of meandered about, but I found that I didn’t really mind that. I am incredibly excited to read the second book (which I have an eARC of, so I’m going to go do that now!)
Summary: Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient, rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield–her brother, fighting with the enemy–the brother she watched die five years ago. Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family. She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.
Review: I have finally managed to pick up Sky in the Deep. I can see why so many people love this book. It has all the popular tropes but most specifically, it’s enemies to lovers. We follow Eelyn during fighting season. She thinks she’s just seen her brother, except that he’s been dead for five years. But then she sees him again the next day and this time she follows him. That choice leads to her being taken by the Riki, the enemy clan. But once she’s been brought to a Riki village in the mountains, she learns that her brother didn’t die five years ago. She plans to escape and make her way home while grappling with the emotions of her brother’s betrayal. But then Riki villages are being attacked, and not by the Aska. The only chance for survival might be for the two clans to finally put aside their feud and defeat this new enemy together. I really enjoyed this book. It starts off really exciting and right in the thick of things. Eelyn is in the middle of fighting in the opening pages and she’s taken by her brother and Fiske only a few chapters into the story. I think this made it a little harder to connect with Eelyn and to empathize with her when she’s feeling the betrayal of her brother. But she’s a fierce and fiery main character so it was hard not to like her. I could totally see where things were going between her and Fiske right from the start but I did enjoy the journey of their romance. I think the world was just as compelling as the characters. We really only learn about the Aska and the Riki as well as a very small bit about the third clan. I thought their gods were interesting and I would have liked to learn more about all of the gods. It’s a story that totally has Viking feels to it, so I wanted to know if the clans believed in all the gods but only served one? How did it all work between the different clans? I also wanted to know more about the history between the Riki and the Aska. Why had they been feuding for so long? Was it just because the two clans served different gods? Overall, I had a good time reading this one. I think the world was interesting and definitely left me wanting to know more. I really grew to love the characters and their complex relationships. I ended the story being very invested in Fiske and Eelyn’s romance, for sure. Overall, I’m glad I finally picked up this story.
Hi, lovelies! I’m back for the final installment of my genre-specific recommendations to gift to your fellow book lovers. I’ve chosen contemporary for today’s genre, but that’s sort of in a broad sense because it’s going to be both mystery/thrillers and realistic fiction. I had plenty of realistic fiction to recommend, but I read a lot of popular mystery/thrillers so I don’t have many underrated recommendations for that genre. Let’s start with the few mystery/thrillers that I do have for this list.
Surrender Your Sons by Adam Sass “Connor Major’s summer break is turning into a nightmare. His SAT scores bombed, the old man he delivers meals to died, and when he came out to his religious zealot mother, she had him kidnapped and shipped off to a secluded island. His final destination: Nightlight Ministries, a conversion therapy camp that will be his new home until he “changes.” But Connor’s troubles are only beginning. At Nightlight, everyone has something to hide from the campers to the “converted” staff and cagey camp director, and it quickly becomes clear that no one is safe. Connor plans to escape and bring the other kidnapped teens with him. But first, he’s exposing the camp’s horrible truths for what they are—and taking this place down.”
I Hope You’re Listening by Tom Ryan “In her small town, seventeen year-old Delia “Dee” Skinner is known as the girl who wasn’t taken. Ten years ago, she witnessed the abduction of her best friend, Sibby. And though she told the police everything she remembered, it wasn’t enough. Sibby was never seen again.At night, Dee deals with her guilt by becoming someone else: the Seeker, the voice behind the popular true crime podcast Radio Silent, which features missing persons cases and works with online sleuths to solve them. Nobody knows Dee’s the Seeker, and she plans to keep it that way.When another little girl goes missing, and the case is linked to Sibby’s disappearance, Dee has a chance to get answers, with the help of her virtual detectives and the intriguing new girl at school. But how much is she willing to reveal about herself in order to uncover the truth? Dee’s about to find out what’s really at stake in unraveling the mystery of the little girls who vanished.”
All The Bad Apples by Moira Fowley-Doyle “The day after the funeral all our mourning clothes hung out on the line like sleeping bats. ‘This will be really embarrassing,’ I kept saying to my family, ‘when she shows up at the door in a week or two.’ When Deena’s wild and mysterious sister Mandy disappears – presumed dead – her family are heartbroken. But Mandy has always been troubled. It’s just another bad thing to happen to Deena’s family. Only Deena refuses to believe it’s true. And then the letters start arriving. Letters from Mandy, claiming that their family’s blighted history is not just bad luck or bad decisions – but a curse, handed down through the generations. Mandy has gone in search of the curse’s roots, and now Deena must find her. What they find will heal their family’s rotten past – or rip it apart forever.”
YA Realistic Fiction
The Year They Fell by David Kreizman “Josie, Jack, Archie, Harrison, and Dayana were inseparable as preschoolers. But that was before high school, before parties and football and getting into the right college. Now, as senior year approaches, they’re basically strangers to each other. Until they’re pulled back together when their parents die in a plane crash. These former friends are suddenly on their own. And they’re the only people who can really understand how that feels. To survive, the group must face the issues that drove them apart, reveal secrets they’ve kept since childhood, and discover who they’re meant to be. And in the face of public scrutiny, they’ll confront mysteries their parents left behind—betrayals that threaten to break the friendships apart again. A new family is forged in this heartbreaking, funny, and surprising book from award-winning storyteller David Kreizman. It’s a deeply felt, complex journey into adulthood, exploring issues of grief, sexual assault, racism, and trauma.”
The How and the Why by Cynthia Hand “Today Melly had us writing letters to our babies… Cassandra McMurtrey has the best parents a girl could ask for. They’ve given Cass a life she wouldn’t trade for the world. She has everything she needs—except maybe the one thing she wants. Like, to know who she is. Where she came from. Questions her adoptive parents can’t answer, no matter how much they love her. But eighteen years ago, someone wrote Cass a series of letters. And they may just hold the answers Cass has been searching for. Alternating between Cass’s search for answers and letters from the pregnant teen who gave her up for adoption, this voice-driven narrative is the perfect read for fans of Nina LaCour and Jandy Nelson.”
Golden Boys Beware by Hannah Capin “Jade and her friends Jenny, Mads, and Summer rule their glittering LA circle. Untouchable, they have the kind of power other girls only dream of. Every party is theirs and the world is at their feet. Until the night of Jade’s sweet sixteen, when they crash a St. Andrew’s Prep party. The night the golden boys choose Jade as their next target. They picked the wrong girl. Sworn to vengeance, Jade transfers to St. Andrew’s. She plots to destroy each boy, one by one. She’ll take their power, their lives, and their control of the prep school’s hierarchy. And she and her coven have the perfect way in: a boy named Mack, whose ambition could turn deadly.”
Hope and Other Punchlines by Julie Buxbaum “Abbi Hope Goldstein is like every other teenager, with a few smallish exceptions: her famous alter ego, Baby Hope, is the subject of internet memes, she has asthma, and sometimes people spontaneously burst into tears when they recognize her. Abbi has lived almost her entire life in the shadow of the terrorist attacks of September 11. On that fateful day, she was captured in what became an iconic photograph: in the picture, Abbi (aka “Baby Hope”) wears a birthday crown and grasps a red balloon; just behind her, the South Tower of the World Trade Center is collapsing. Now, fifteen years later, Abbi is desperate for anonymity and decides to spend the summer before her seventeenth birthday incognito as a counselor at Knights Day Camp two towns away. She’s psyched for eight weeks in the company of four-year-olds, none of whom have ever heard of Baby Hope. Too bad Noah Stern, whose own world was irrevocably shattered on that terrible day, has a similar summer plan. Noah believes his meeting Baby Hope is fate. Abbi is sure it’s a disaster. Soon, though, the two team up to ask difficult questions about the history behind the Baby Hope photo. But is either of them ready to hear the answers?”
Echoes Between Us by Katie McGarry “Veronica sees ghosts. More specifically, her mother’s ghost. The afterimages of blinding migraines caused by the brain tumor that keeps her on the fringes and consumes her whole life haunt her, even as she wonders if it’s something more…Golden boy Sawyer is handsome and popular, a state champion swimmer, but his adrenaline addiction draws him to Veronica. A girl with nothing to live for and a boy with everything to lose–can they conquer their demons together?”
How the Light Gets In by Katy Upperman “Since her sister’s tragic death, seventeen-year-old Callie Ryan has basically given up. Her grades have plummeted, she’s quit her swim team, and she barely recognizes the people her parents have become. When she returns to her aunt’s run-down coastal Victorian one year after Chloe’s death, Callie resigns herself to a summer of guilt and home renovations. She doesn’t expect to be charmed by the tiny coastal town or by Tucker Morgan, a local boy brimming with sunshine. But even as her days begin to brighten, Callie’s nights are crowded with chilling dreams, unanswered questions, and eerie phenomenon that have her convinced she’s being haunted. Will Callie be able to figure out what her sister is trying to communicate before it’s too late?”
Deposing Nathan by Zack Smedley “Nate never imagined that he would be attacked by his best friend, Cam. Now, Nate is being called to deliver a sworn statement that will get Cam convicted. The problem is, the real story isn’t that easy or convenient—just like Nate and Cam’s friendship. Cam challenged Nate on every level from the day the boys met. He pushed him to break the rules, to dream, and to accept himself. But Nate—armed with a fierce moral code and conflicted by his own beliefs—started to push back. With each push, Nate and Cam moved closer to each other—but also spiraled closer to their breaking points.”
No Place Like Here by Christina June “Ashlyn Zanotti has big plans for the summer. She’s just spent a year at boarding school and can’t wait to get home. But when Ashlyn’s father is arrested for tax evasion and her mother enters a rehab facility for “exhaustion,” a.k.a. depression, her life is turned upside down. The cherry on top? Ashlyn’s father sends her to work with a cousin she doesn’t even know at a rustic team-building retreat center in the middle of nowhere. A self-proclaimed “indoor girl,” not even Ash’s habit of leaving breadcrumb quotes—inspirational sayings she scribbles everywhere—can help her cope. With a dangerously careless camp manager doling out grunt work, an overbearing father trying to control her even from prison, and more than a little boy drama to struggle with, the summer is full of challenges. And Ashlyn must make the toughest decision of her life: keep quiet and follow her dad’s marching orders, or find the courage to finally stand up to her father to have any hope of finding her way back home.”
The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake “The Larkin family isn’t just lucky—they persevere. At least that’s what Violet and her younger brother, Sam, were always told. When the Lyric sank off the coast of Maine, their great-great-great-grandmother didn’t drown like the rest of the passengers. No, Fidelia swam to shore, fell in love, and founded Lyric, Maine, the town Violet and Sam returned to every summer. But wrecks seem to run in the family. Tall, funny, musical Violet can’t stop partying with the wrong people. And, one beautiful summer day, brilliant, sensitive Sam attempts to take his own life. Shipped back to Lyric while Sam is in treatment, Violet is haunted by her family’s missing piece—the lost shipwreck she and Sam dreamed of discovering when they were children. Desperate to make amends, Violet embarks on a wildly ambitious mission: locate the Lyric, lying hidden in a watery grave for over a century. She finds a fellow wreck hunter in Liv Stone, an amateur local historian whose sparkling intelligence and guarded gray eyes make Violet ache in an exhilarating new way. Whether or not they find the Lyric, the journey Violet takes—and the bridges she builds along the way—may be the start of something like survival.”
We Speak in Storms by Natalie Lund “It’s been more than 50 years since a tornado tore through a drive-in movie theater in tiny Mercer, Illinois, leaving dozens of teens — a whole generation of Mercerites — dead in its wake. So when another tornado touches down in the exact same spot on the anniversary of this small-town tragedy, the town is shaken. For Brenna Ortiz, Joshua Calloway, and Callie Keller, the apprehension is more than just a feeling. Though they seem to share nothing more than a struggle to belong, the teens’ paths continue to intersect, bringing them together when they least expect it, and perhaps, when they need it most. Both the living and the dead have secrets and unresolved problems, but they may be able to find peace and move forward–if only they work together. A beautifully told, haunting yet hopeful novel about pushing past the pain, facing the world, and finding yourself.”
The Art of Losing by Lizzy Mason “On one terrible night, 17-year-old Harley Langston’s life changes forever. At a party she discovers her younger sister, Audrey, hooking up with her boyfriend, Mike—and she abandons them both in a rage. When Mike drunkenly attempts to drive Audrey home, he crashes and Audrey ends up in a coma. Now Harley is left with guilt, grief, pain and the undeniable truth that her ex-boyfriend (who is relatively unscathed) has a drinking problem. So it’s a surprise that she finds herself reconnecting with Raf, a neighbor and childhood friend who’s recently out of rehab and still wrestling with his own demons. At first Harley doesn’t want to get too close to him. But as Audrey awakens and slowly recovers, Raf starts to show Harley a path forward that she never would have believed possible—one guided by honesty, forgiveness, and redemption.”
All Our Broken Pieces by L.D. Crichton “Lennon Davis doesn’t believe in much, but she does believe in the security of the number five. If she flicks the bedroom light switch five times, maybe her new L.A. school won’t suck. But that doesn’t feel right, so she flicks the switch again. And again. Ten more flicks of the switch and maybe her new stepfamily will accept her. Twenty-five more flicks and maybe she won’t cause any more of her loved ones to die. Fifty times more and then she can finally go to sleep. Kyler Benton witnesses this pattern of lights from the safety of his treehouse in the yard next door. It is only there, hidden from the unwanted stares of his peers, that Kyler can fill his notebooks with lyrics that reveal the true scars of the boy behind the oversized hoodies and caustic humor. But Kyler finds that descriptions of blonde hair, sad eyes, and tapping fingers are beginning to fill the pages of his notebooks. Lennon, the lonely girl next door his father has warned him about, infiltrates his mind. Even though he has enough to deal with without Lennon’s rumored tragic past in his life, Kyler can’t help but want to know the truth about his new muse.”
These are my recommendations for those readers in your life that love realistic or hard-hitting fiction, or mystery/thrillers. I added these to this list because these are all books that I absolutely loved. I also never see anyone talk about them, so please buy them for your loved ones and spread the word of these wonderful stories.