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To be a writer you need to be a reader, and chances are you read published novels as well as fan fiction or original fiction posted online. Stop by and let us know when you've read a fantastic book, so that we can add it to our reading lists!

 

[b]Title:[/b]
[b]Author:[/b]
[b]Genre:[/b]
[b]Year published:[/b]
[b]Summary:[/b]
[b]Why I would recommend it:[/b]

 

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Title: Uprooted

Author: Naomi Novik

Genre: fantasy

Year published: 2015

Summary: The Dragon, a wizard, takes a girl from the village every 10 years. This year he chose Agnieszka, to the surprise of everyone. She learns magic and more importantly about herself.

Why I would recommend it: This was the best book I've read since 'The Name of the Wind.' At first I thought it was merely going to be a re-telling of Beauty and the Beast, and as that it would have been fine, but it's so much more. It's a brilliantly written 'coming of age' story for Agnieszka and the politics  ring true. It's a tale of how people can want what's right, but still be misled by evil influence.  So well-written.

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Title: The Night Circus

Author: Erin Morgenstern

Genre: Fantasy

Year published: 2012

Summary:The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

 

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance.

Why I would recommend it: If you love beautiful imagery and descriptive prose, this book is for you. I first and foremost found that this was just lovely to read. The wording was perfect.

 

Aside from that, I feel like this was a really cool concept. It was magic and tricks in a circus setting, but without all of the carnival cliches. It was all in all just a really stunningly beautiful story about a group of people and how their interactions affect each other.

 

Hands down my favorite book in at least the last 5 years.

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Title: The House of Night Series (12 books total for the main series plus 4 novellas and 2 stand alone books written in the same universe)

Author: PC Cast & Kristin Cast

Genre: YA, Fantasy

Year published: 2007-2014

Summary: Zoey Redbird is marked as a Fledgling and must give up the life she has always known and move to the House of Night where she will either make the change into a Vampyre, or she dies. Along the way she make a powerful enemy intent on ridding the world of humans. Now not only does she have to deal with the change, she has to save the world too.

Why I would recommend it: I fell in love with the story line. The series takes place mostly in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but also on the Isle of Skye and combines Native American heritage with Wiccan/Pagan rituals. its also LGBTQA+ if that's something you look for in a series.

 

I don't want to give too much away, but Zoey basically has to deal with typical teenage issues, and some issues that no one should go through at 17, on top of trying to save the world and dealing with a change that could kill her.

 

Also the book list in order is Marked, Betrayed, Chosen, Untamed, Hunted, Tempted, Burned, Awakened, Destined, Hidden, Revealed, Redeemed. Must be read in order for the story to make any sense. (The Novellas are Dragon's Oath, Lenobia's Vow, Neferet's Curse, Kalona's Fall and can be read separately)

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Title: Norse Mythology

Author: Neil Gaiman

Genre: Contemporary fiction / Myths and legends

Year published: 2017

Summary: From the dawn of the world to the twilight of the gods, this is a dazzling retelling of the great Norse myths from the award-winning, bestselling Neil Gaiman.

Why I would recommend it: This is seriously the only book on Norse mythology you will ever need. Neil Gaiman has retold the stories of the Norse Gods (including Thor, Odin, Loki, and Freya) in a fictional short story format, and for anyone who knows Neil Gaiman, you know they are written wonderfully and with a bit of humour thrown in. It even includes a glossary of names, places, and objects.

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Title:Celtic Myths and Legends

Author: Peter Berresford Ellis

Genre: Myths and Legends

Year published: 2002

Summary:

This is an enchantingly told collection of the stirring sagas of gods and goddesses, fabulous beasts, strange creatures, and such heroes as Cuchulain, Fingal, and King Arthur from the ancient Celtic world. Included are popular myths and legends from all six Celtic cultures of Western Europe—Irish, Scots, Manx, Welsh, Cornish, and Breton. Here for the modern reader are the rediscovered tales of cattle raids, tribal invasions, druids, duels, and doomed love that have been incorporated into, and sometimes distorted by, European mythology and even Christian figures.

Why I would recommend it:

I think for any Harry Potter fan mythodology is a central issue, since there are so many references to it in the books. This is a really great collection of stories and figures, and I find it very inspiring for fanfiction writing as well. Not to mention that it's fun to read :)

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Title: The Pendragon Cycle (a series of 5 books, in reading order: Taliesin, Merlin, Arthur, Pendragon, Grail)

Author: Stephen Lawhead

Genre: Myths and legends, Fantasy

Year published: 1987 (first book) to 1997

Summary: (of Taliesin, from amazon)

It was a time of legend, when the last shadows of the mighty Roman conqueror faded from the captured Isle of Britain. While across a vast sea, bloody war shattered a peace that had flourished for two thousand years in the doomed kingdom of Atlantis.

 

Taliesin is the remarkable adventure of Charis, the Atlantean princess who escaped the terrible devastation of her homeland, and of the fabled seer and druid prince Taliesin, singer at the dawn of the age. It is the story of an incomparable love that joined two worlds amid the fires of chaos, and spawned the miracles of Merlin...and Arthur the king.

Why you would recommend it: I love this series so much. It's a really interesting take on the Arthurian legends, mixing different elements in with magic and the legend of Atlantis. It's impossible not to fall in love with the characters and the writer's description and style are brilliant, as are his characterisations when we see the different narrators and protagonists of different books. This series really delves into the legends of Arthur and Merlin and Britain in this time period, and they're a fantastic read.

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Title: Station Eleven

Author: Emily St. John Mandel

Genre: literary fiction

Year published: 2014

Summary: One snow night Arthur Leander, a famous Hollywood actor, 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 Arthur's early days as a film star to twenty years in the future, when a theatre troupe known as the Travelling Symphony roam the wasteland of what remains - this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: Arthur, the man who tried to save him, Arthur's first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Travelling Symphony caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet. Sometimes terrifying, sometimes tender, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it. (from back cover)

Why I would recommend it: This book is so good; the prose is amazing, the characterization is excellent, and the pace of the novel is just right. It explores topics like fame and humanity without seeming too heady or philosophical.

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Title: An Ember in the Ashes

Author: Sabaa Tahir

Genre: YA fantasy

Year published: 2015

Summary: from Amazon:

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

 

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

 

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

 

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

 

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

 

Why I would recommend it: I feel silly for not having recommended this already, because it is one of the best books I've read in the past few years. YA fantasy is such a huge and popular genre these days, but honestly I feel like a lot of the stuff out there blurs together. Not this book! Sabaa Tahir has a distinct writing style that is beautiful but also down to earth. The main characters are both SO complex and interesting, and their relationship with each other is super complex, too. Also, this is one of the most unique fantasy worlds I've encountered. It draws from middle eastern lore, which is a lovely breath of fresh air. The second book in the series, A Torch Against the Night, is also good. There are two more books planned.

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Title: The Return of the Elderlings Series (comprising of 5 series: The Farseer Trilogy, Liveship Traders Trilogy, Tawny Man Trilogy, The Rain Wilds Chronicles, The Fitz and The Fool Trilogy) (ps this is the recommended reading order & order of publication, but I got told to swap liveship and tawny man and having done it I would also recommend that)

Author: Robin Hobb

Genre: Fantasy

Year published: The first book in 1995, the last book in 2017 (so it's the perfect time to read them now, they're all out!)

Summary: Just of the first trilogy to avoid spoilers: Fitz is the bastard son of a prince, and bastards can be very useful to the royal family - they're useful, important, and expendable. To make him useful to the family, Fitz is trained in the shadows to be an assassin - all the while navigating those who want him dead, his first love, friendships, magic, and a war.

Why I would recommend it: So, as anyone who follows me on twitter would know, I've been shouting the praises of these books from the rooftop to anyone who so much as looks at me sideways. Robin Hobb is an amazing worldbuilder - the books are a little hard to get into because she refuses to hand-hold the reader, you are plunged into as strange a world as the six year old boy the story begins with and it takes some time to get your bearings. But as the world slowly unfolds, it is truly delightful. The cultures of each of the lands are distinct and beautifully crafted. Almost all of the characters are people of colour, and you'll come across a few lgbt characters in the course of the books as well (I can't say too much here though, because spoilers).

Her true strength though, what will really draw you in, is her characters. The first trilogy, as well as the Tawny Man and Fitz & the Fool are all written in first person, from Fitz's point of view - and he is such a wonderfully complex character. He's so vividly created that by the time you're done, he will feel like an old friend. He's such a good person at heart, but you'll also spend a good deal of time yelling at him for being an oblivious fool. Stuff that is obvious to the reader completely slides him by, showing how his biases shape how he sees the world. All of the other characters are just as wonderful and dynamic, even if the story isn't told from their pov, and the relationships between Fitz and everyone else are as real and wonderfully dynamic as the characters. I've honestly never read characters who are all so vivid and believable and truly stay in your heart.

I cannot recommend these books enough - I only finished them a week ago and I'm still not sure I'll ever be able to read another book again, because nothing can ever top these.

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Title: Eliza and Her Monsters

Author: Francesca Zappia

Genre: Young adult

Year published: 2017

Summary:

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves the online one, and she has no desire to try.

 

Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and as he draws her out of her shell, she begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile.

 

But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.

Why I would recommend it: Dear Lord this book is amazing. I couldn't put it down and finished it within two days. I found it wonderfully relatable. Obviously my work isn't as internationally renowned as Eliza's, but I understood the double life she leads, how different she can be on the internet, and how her parents just have no idea, and even when they do they don't understand. It's a fantastic read that I think everyone on this site will appreciate.

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Posted (edited)
Title: The Woman Warrior: A Girlhood Among Ghosts 

Author: Maxine Hong Kingston 

Genre: Nonfiction/Memoir (I know this isn't necessarily a popular genre, but give it a try!) 

Year published: 1975

Summary: A Chinese American woman tells of the Chinese myths, family stories and events of her California childhood that have shaped her identity. It is a sensitive account of growing up female and Chinese-American in a California laundry.

Why I would recommend it: This book is so powerful. Being an Asian girl myself (Indian, not Chinese, but as I discovered through this book, there isn't really that great of a difference between the two cultures), this book left such a great impact on me. Even more than learning about the Chinese culture and what it means to be a Chinese girl and the burdens placed on you as a result, what I loved most was the emphasis on the power of words. This is a memoir of how the author found her voice in a society that demands that her voice be suppressed and quieted, and that in itself was inspiring. It made me treasure my words as my most powerful tool. Ahh. I really can't verbalize properly how much I loved this book! I had to read it for school, but I am definitely going to reread it--it's the sort of book that reading it over again and again will only lead me to discover more amazing subtleties and gain an even deeper appreciation of this amazing work. Read it, you won't regret it!! :D 
Edited by forever_dreaming

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Title: Pale Fire
Author: Vladimir Nabokov
Genre: Literary fiction
Year published: 1962 (originally - it's been re-printed many times since then :P) 
Summary: The American poet John Shade is dead; murdered. His last poem, Pale Fire, is put into a book, together with a preface, a lengthy commentary and notes by Shade's editor, Charles Kinbote. Known on campus as the 'Great Beaver', Kinbote is haughty, inquisitive, intolerant, but is he also mad, bad - and even dangerous? As his wildly eccentric annotations slide into the personal and the fantastical, Kinbote reveals perhaps more than he should. Nabokov's darkly witty, richly inventive masterwork is a suspenseful whodunit, a story of one-upmanship and dubious penmanship, and a glorious literary conundrum. (From Waterstones bookshop :P) 
Why I would recommend it: It's a masterpiece. Honestly, it really is. The book is presented as the poem, with the preface, commentary, and notes. It goes into such beautiful depth of characterisation, and creates this beautifully rich country of Zembla and such a vivid recounting of the events which unfold there - which link up to the poem and the poem's author. The book hinges on this friendship and affection between the two main characters: John Shade and Charles Kinbote; how Kinbote recounts Zembla to Shade, and how Shade works, all the time, on the unseen, heralded poem, Pale Fire. There's nothing exceptionally stirring or captivating about a lot of the events in the book: it talks about daily life, explorations and tribulations of life, as much as it tells about more exotic and adventurous things, but there's something about it which draws you in and doesn't let you go. It's the kind of book which lingers and you can't explain why, it just does. At the end, you'll sit there and still have a thousand questions about what actually happened, what really went on, what was the point of it all - but you'll feel completely satisfied with it nonetheless. Truthfully, it's been a long time since I loved a book as much as I loved this one. 

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Title: Pendragon Series
Author: D J MacHale
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Year published: 2002
Summary: The series focuses on the chronicles of Bobby Pendragon, an American teenager who discovers that he must travel through time and space to prevent the destruction of the ten "territories": critical locations throughout the universe.   Each book deals with the battle over a particular territory, fought by Bobby's side against the forces of Saint Dane, a shapeshifting demon, who exploits a decisive turning point for the local people of each territory. At this turning point, Saint Dane steps in to guide the territory towards utter chaos, with Bobby and his allies attempting to stop his efforts.*
Why I would recommend it: This series is amazing, it has a bit of history and loads of fantasy, the characters are compelling and the story just pulls you right in.  When I picked up the first book I knew it had to be mine when the story starts out with the main characters, Bobby writing to his friend Mark.  He states how he's been in this huge fight and the world as he knows it is not what he thought it was having now traveled through space and time but that isn't important what is important is their schoolmate Cortney kissed him. That was what he had to tell his friend first, near death experiences could wait first Cortney kissed him.

 

*Summary is taken from Wikipedia

Edited by scooterbug8515

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Title: The Girl of Fire and Thorns

Author: Rae Carson

Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Year Published: 2011

Summary:

Quote

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.

Elisa is the chosen one. 

But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can't see how she ever will. 

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he's not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people's savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.

Why I Would Recommend It:
love this series for so many reasons! This book is the first in a trilogy, and I cannot recommend it enough. Elisa is a badass woman of color who grows so much throughout the series. The cast of characters is fantastic and compelling. The plot of each book is thrilling and delves into political intrigue and how countries are held together even with young leaders. I love watching the characters grow and change and face obstacles and trauma and difficulty. These books are just delightful.

 

P.S. - If you do read them, shoot me a message afterward so that we can talk about them!

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Title: Girl Mans Up

Author: M-E Girard

Genre: YA

Year published: 2016

Summary: All Pen wants is to be the kind of girl she’s always been. So why does everyone have a problem with it? They think the way she looks and acts means she’s trying to be a boy—that she should quit trying to be something she’s not. If she dresses like a girl, and does what her folks want, it will show respect. If she takes orders and does what her friend Colby wants, it will show her loyalty. But respect and loyalty, Pen discovers, are empty words. Old-world parents, disintegrating friendships, and strong feelings for other girls drive Pen to see the truth--that in order to be who she truly wants to be, she’ll have to man up.

Why I would recommend it: While I didn't think this book was completely flawless, I had a lot of fun reading it. It was really touching and had great characters (and some really frustrating ones too, but what would a story be with no conflict?). I found it to be honest and sincere, and didn't shy away from addressing tough situations and emotions. :)

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Title: Rebel of the Sands 

Author: Alwyn Hamilton 

Genre: YA Fantasy/Romance/Magical Realism 

Year published: 2016 

Summary:

Quote

She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there's nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can't wait to escape from. 

Destined to wind up "wed or dead," Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she'd gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan's army, with a fugitive who's wanted for treason. And she'd never have predicted she'd fall in love with him... or that he'd help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.

Why I would recommend it: I read this book a little while ago so I don't quite remember all the plot points, but I remember distinctly that Amani left an impression on me as a strong, but fallible female heroine. YA books generally get one or the other, but the two in one character, so Amani is possibly one of the realest female heroines I've ever read. I also really loved the setting and fantastical world created—Alwyn Hamilton has a fantastic imagination! 

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Title: Ready Player One

Author: Ernest Cline

Genre: Sci-fi/dystopian

Year Published: 2011

Summary: Welcome to the OASIS, a hyper-realistic, 3D, video game paradise. It's 2045, and pretty much everyone logs into the OASIS daily to escape their terrible lives, lives affected by overpopulation, unemployment, and energy shortages. Eighteen-year-old Wade Watts is one of these people, and he has a mission: to find an Easter egg hidden inside the OASIS by its wackadoodle creator, James Halliday.*

Why You're Recommending It: This book is AMAZING, if you are a sci-fi geek you will be sure to recognize something from the book.  If you remember or know anything of the 80's you will recognize a lot in the book.  The easter egg hunt set forth by James Halliday requires one to be familiar with the pop-culture of the 80's. You follow Wade in his hunt for the eggs, his fight for survival, as a corporation is after the eggs as well, to make a profit.  The corporation will stop at nothing, including murder. to get what they want.  The geekery, the 80's, and the action all combine for a really amazing and fun read! That I would recommend to any geek out there!  Also, a movie is soon to come out, and you know the books are 99% of the time better. So, you wanna read the book before seeing the movie!  Oh, and if this adds an incentive to the fact that the book is awesome, the audio version is narrated by Will Wheaton.  

 

*Summary borrowed from shmoop.com

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