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My Top 5 Most Out of this World Urban Fantasy Young Adult and Middle Grade Books

 

 

In my early days of reading for pleasure regularly, I was mostly relying on one genre. This genre is, and will probably always be, my safe place. It is urban fantasy. For Top 5 Wednesday this week, the topic is to share our top 5 urban fantasy novels. I am very excited to talk about these books.

5. City of Bones by Cassandra clare

I had read some of Clare’s fan fiction in my early college days. She makes me laugh. Many people do this thing where they list every rumor about an author, every damning coincidence, or every mistake they ever made. When it comes to Cassie Clare, there’s a lot of stigma. Her work is somehow belittled because, oh, it has things in common with other work. It deterred me from reading her stuff for a long time.

However, when I did start reading her books, I was inspired and comforted. It still doesn’t sound like anything I’d ever read. It’s funny, because when I was working on my thesis, it became very clear how derivative literature can be. That’s the fun part. Anyway, this book brings me so much joy.

4. Percy Jackson and the Lightning thief by rick riordan

When I read this book, I was early in my graduate school days. I remember getting it from the library, and simply not knowing how awesome it was going to be. This series is often mocked, too, as you’ll notice a common thread within my post. It got so bad with people calling it “childish” and “unoriginal.”

To me, this series created such a fun and humorous series of adventures, cool characters, wonderful relationships. All of these things were established with the backdrop of rich mythology incorporated into the average daily life.

3. The Spiderwick Chronicles: The Field Guide by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizi

Another quite rich world presented with a balance between adventure and normalcy. Three siblings go on a quest that is so breathtaking in its richness. I find myself thinking of this series often, particularly how it flows into another trilogy afterwards. With that said, I think the cool feature of this series is how it is accessible to younger readers while not being patronizing to older ones at the same time.

2. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

This novel flirts with magical realism, and it makes me happy. To me, one of the features of urban fantasy involves younger characters going on quests despite their age and stature in society. We have Adam Parrish in these books, a poor boy from an abusive family, and he is given so much power and agency. It really is empowering to readers, I find. Same with Ronan Lynch.

But, even more beautiful is the commentary on strength in its varying forms. Sometimes, you don’t really do much to be powerful. Look at Blue Sargent’s abilities, her lineage, personality. Perfection.

 1. Soulless by gail carriger

Steampunk is hit or miss for me so far. In this story, the main character is witty, with a seemingly normal appearance. Many side characters claim that she is not a conventional beauty due to heritage. And, she is soulless-all powers of the supernatural do not work on her. Romance, intrigue, mystery are all rolled into one delightful candy-like novel.

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Top 5 Women-Who-Love-Women Books

Happy Valentine’s Day, peeps! This week, we will continue with the love theme on our Top 5 Wednesday. I am going to be listing my top 5 women who love women books that I have read. My big warning here is that a) there may be spoilers ahead.

Let’s go.

5. A Great and Terrible Beauty by libba bray

I read this book ages ago, and so I don’t recall the details or character names, which is good. This means I cannot spoil the story. All I will say is that there’s a queer couple in the story. Unfortunately, it was revealed as a spoiler, but I’d say the author respected the characters and wrote them beautifully still.

4. Dreadnought by april daniels

I just wanted to include my favorite trans girl (so far. I am working on including more diversity in my reads). This book angered me quite a bit, because I connected with the main character on an emotional level. We may be quite differently placed on the LGBT+ spectrum, however, I empathized with her struggles to be taken seriously.*

*I read the first book from the library and did not get to the next one yet.

3. Born wicked by jessica spotswood

I have not read the final book in this trilogy yet, so I remain unaware of what will happen to the queer couple in the story. However, reading about them broke my heart. Yet, I remain passionate about them and my hope for their happy ending continues to live on. Furthermore, I enjoy this character’s family acceptance of her feelings towards this person. (Goodness, being spoiler-free is so hard). This is particularly a fresh image to be portrayed within the rather stifling setting.

2. The Upside of Unrequited by becky albertali

There are two queer couples in this story, and they are both wlw. I love the familial love in the main character’s life. It warms my heart to see happy families depicted in novels, particularly novels featuring queen characters.

And finally…

 1. Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

Featuring queer Latina girls attracted to the one and only Bay Bryar, this book is magic. McLemore is one of my absolute favorites. She writes with sensitivity and doting love toward her characters, her imagery, her themes, her plot. She honors her characters by offering a complex presentation of their lives. She writes so beautifully. This novel, being her latest, is my favorite one yet.

 

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Top 5 Books I am Grateful that I Read This Year

 

 

Welcome to Top 5 Wednesday, a meme based on a Goodreads group. In this group, there are topics generated for the book community to list their top 5. This week, I will be listing the top 5 books I am grateful that I read this year.

5. the sun is also a star by nicola yoon

It was not a perfect book, but it highlighted things that I worried about as an immigrant coming to the states. Concerns about identity, stereotypes, and belonging all sprang up in this book in a sensitive and yet honest way.

4. Not a drop to drink by mindy mcginnis

This book posits really difficult moral questions in an intense yet simple way. I am grateful for Lynn and her mother, Lucy, and Mr. Stebbs. They brought forth a tough discussion on compassion in trying times. In no way was this story idealistic in its approach to these choices we have to make. And, yes, we aren’t in a post-apocalyptic world (debatable honestly). But, I will say that we still have to make a choice about the kind of people we want to be in the face of adversity and difficulty.

3. A Monster calls by patrick ness

Call me entirely too romantic, but I find myself thinking of this story often. It’s about letting go of people, releasing connections we once thought were necessary. It’s about the loss of innocence in the face of death. Most importantly, it about speaking your truth and facing yourself. Being honest with yourself in terms of troubles, pain, and frustrations. I love this book. So grateful that I have read it this year.

2. more happy than not by adam silvera

This book made me see my complicated relationship with my past. Like, I sometimes assume that things were much better before I sought help. Erasure of the past, if it ever is an option, is something I wish for often as well. And, this book showed me that time and events have a complicated relationship with the development of a person. Also: consequences of radical actions (like erasing a past) are beyond the scheme of what one assumes to be possible and predictable.

 

 1.  turtles all the way down by john green 

Ah, jeez. I am so in love with this story. It really spoke to me about relationships (friendships) and mental illness, particularly anxiety and depersonalization (both of which I have officially been diagnosed with). The story is moving and funny, sad and hopeful all at once. There are references to spirals, which is something my mom always points out to me in my behaviors.

And, I just keep thinking of this quote from this book, a book written by my favorite author:

“The thing about a spiral is, if you follow it inward, it never actually ends. It just keeps tightening, infinitely.”

This is an accurate description of these spirals I get into. I’m thankful for finding representation in this book, and for feeling understood.

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Top 5 Wednesday: Top 5 Classes to Take with YA Characters

Hello! It is time for another Top 5 Wednesday. This is a group in Goodreads, where we get weekly topics for us to list books in relation to the prompt. This week, we are talking about the Top 5 Classes To Take with YA Characters. I’m so excited about this one. Let’s begin.

5. Tactical Maneuvers with (Queen) Elisa (Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson)

The more I think of the first book in this trilogy, the more impressed of Elisa I become. This young girl knows her people’s history, faith, and politics so well. Being in her head can be frustrating because I tend to feel overwhelmed by her her process. However, the more I put myself in her shoes, the more I understand why she takes her time in deciding what needs to be done next on her journey to the throne.

4. Tricks and Thievery with the Dregs (Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo)

An intensive course with multiple instructors, this experience will change your life. I’m not sure if you’ll function the same ever again once you witness Inej explain acrobats and shadowing in relation to thievery. She can teach a whole history seminar on her origins and culture. Likewise, Nina can do an exploration of the Ravkan culture and history.

Meanwhile, Matthias can offer an alternate point of view on Ravkan culture in relation to his own background. I mean, he can also talk about physical strength, but I feel like he can do an extremely impressive class on the wrongness of his training and the injustices toward Ravkan culture.
Kaz Brekker will try to teach a few tips on how to scheme. Jasper discusses basic pistol fighting tips. Wylan demonstrates demolition tips with high notes of musical genius.

3. Rune Drawing with Clary Fairchild (The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare)

Clary’s still as a rune-creator can translate beautifully to a mundane (or downworlder) audience. Even better, she can introduce her techniques for using steeles to create such perfect runes.

Also: I want a whole class where Clary and Simon introduce basics of band-naming.

2. Piracy and (Dirty) Fighting/Dueling with Alucard Emery and Delilah Bard (A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab)

Um, it’d be hard to follow along, I admit, but it is still worth attending! Alucard and Lila have a lot of banter while fighting/practicing magic. They can discuss tips for magic use in duels. In addition, a nice long list of tips for new pirates (and thieves) would be really lovely.

 1. Story-telling and Stalling with Shahrazad (Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh)

Well…she’d be really good at it. If you’ve read my post from yesterday, you’d have gathered that I am frustrated with this duology (Have yet to read the second part of the series). Shahrazad is a good story-teller. Long-winded, but sometimes, that’s necessary.

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Top 5 Wednesday: Top 5 Bromances

After a week of disappearing, I am hoping to be back into the swing of things. Welcome to another Top 5 Wednesday. This week, we are discussing our top 5 bromances. A bromance is a friendly relationship between two people who identify as male! Let’s begin.

5.A darker shade of magic by v.e.schwab

Listen, Rhy and Kel are brothers and I love them so much. They are willing to risk their lives to help each other. And, they give each other’s partners a hard time, which is perfect. Poor Alucard.

But, really, he kind of asked for it.

4. Demon’s lexicon by sarah rees brennan

Ah, my favorite demon dude Nick and his brother Alan are fantastic. There’s a lot of lying, I admit, but it is mostly to protect the other person. So much sacrifice going on, too. I love these two boys. They have a lot of issues to process throughout the series. That is why I like them so much.

3. the mortal instruments and the infernal devices by cassandra clare

Alec and Jace are fantastic parabati. I think it’s nice to see them figure out what it really means to be this close without any romance in the equation. How about the legendary Will Herondale and Jem Carstairs? Perfection. I just love how friendship is portrayed in Clare’s work.

2. the raven boys by maggie stiefvater

Come on, how can I not talk about the Raven Boys? This group of awesome, bad-ass dorks who basically geek out over dead Welsh king is endearing. Think of Gansey, and his protectiveness of Ronan. The clashing between Gansey and Adam. Noah and his sacrifice.

 1. Harry potter series by jk rowling

The Marauders are the ultimate bromance. I mean, even though I ship Sirius with Remus, I think the rest of the group was just friends. They’ve been through a lot.

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Top 5 Wednesday: Top 5 Best Middle Books

 

 

 

 

Hello! Welcome to another Top 5 Wednesday. This a Goodreads group where we have discussion posts each week. For today, we are going to be listing the top 5 best second books/sequels in a series! Let’s begin.

5. the vanishing throne by elizabeth may

I was genuinely surprised by how drastically different this sequel was. While I have not read the final book, I do think this second one gave more dimension to the story, particularly Kiaran and Aeliana. The history of Falconers and their function in the world was just perfect. I love this book.

4. Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie stiefvater

Listen, this book is amazing. It is a wonderful exploration of Blue’s backstory, and the most epic build up to the end of the story. In fact, I love this book way more than the ending of the series. We start to see the characters mold into a super group of awesomeness. Plus, Maura’s story-line is executed beautifully.

3. Catching Fire by suzanne collins

The exploration of the Hunger Games world, and the complicated role Katniss and Peeta play in it, are driving forces of this story. In further developing this world, Collins explores the role of these games, and their effects on those who survive. Introducing District 13 and the symbolic Mockingjay gave the story even more depth.

2. A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

While I do feel that Rhy did not get as much detail in the first book as he should’ve, I loved this second book because we got to see a more well-rounded view of these Londons. Also important: Alucard and Lila bonding and their discussions of magic were fantastic. I didn’t ever think I’d like a pirate. Then this book happened.

 

  1.Harry Potter and the order of the phoenix by jk rowling

This book and the one before, the one after it, they were so crucial to me. PTSD, loss, grief, hope, rebellion, all were crafted with such care in the middle books of this series. The epilogue of the final book made me cringe, but I do love this series, particularly the books in the middle, because they involve the uncertainty of war, the rising pressure of an impending burst in this conflict that was so embedded in the wizarding community. These middle books are A+.

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Top Five Wednesday: Top Five Series That Got Better

 

Ah, another Top Five Wednesday. This week, the topic is the Top Five Series That Got Better within the first few books and so on. Before I begin, let me link the Goodreads group for Top Five Wednesday, so you can join in on the fun next week!

5. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

It takes some getting used to, the writing in this series. Juliette has a scared and uncertain voice. While I don’t quite remember everything that happened (I read these books ages ago), I do recall Juliette becoming quite the fierce woman. I love her. These books get better because the narrator (Juliette) gets more certain about herself and the power she has.

 

4. A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab

You shouldn’t be surprised to see this series on here. At first, I really hesitated to read the books for some reason. Like, Kel and Lila didn’t know each other, and Rhy wasn’t in the story that much. We had no Alucard either. So, it improved so much once the characters got to interact, and Kel hated Alucard. Lila challenged Kel.

I could weep from the beauty of the second and third books of this series. Just perfection. To me, I didn’t know that pirates were that awesome. Or, the battling between Kel and Lila? Epic.

Also: this is your weekly reminder that I love Holland.

3. The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

Look, I know many of my friends are not fans of this series. To me, though, the deeper you go into Cassandra Clare’s writing, the more you see inclusion of diverse marginalized groups. That in itself is a triumph and a victory. I love her stories in this Shadowhunter world thus far. Have you even considered the genius that is Lord of Shadows? 

2. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I am specifically thinking of Catching Fire and how shocking it was. You could say that I was not a fan of the first book upon my initial read-through. But, when I read it again, and picked up the second one, I was so surprised by how the story intensified. It was not a love story anymore. It was more than that. It’ll always stay with me as a powerful tale. For sure it got better with each book. Not all good stories are pleasant.

 1. Harry Potter by J K Rowling

Words cannot begin to describe just how powerful the latter books in this series were to me. I am due for a reread, but I recall being moved and increasingly more invested as the story developed some more in the later books. I am in awe of how intricate the inner workings of the tale were, especially now that I am trying to write stories. This much detail is a feat. Now, granted, I wish there was more diversity in these books, but I still value the development of the characters and the plot.

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Top Five Wednesday: Top Five Children’s Stories

It’s another Wednesday, which means it is time for Top Five Wednesday. As always, I will be linking the Goodreads Group here for information and topics. For this post, I will be focusing on the top five children’s stories that resonated with me.

I did not read children’s books when I was a child; however, I did read more of them as an adult in college.

5. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

What a strange and charming story this is! I remember it being a rival to Alice in Wonderland in terms of its bizarre plotline. Still, it is such a sweet story. Hands down, it has the coolest puns and companionships ever.

4. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

This book is always so fascinating to me. I think the story has a wonderful timelessness and yet it has a sense of urgency in regards to acting kindly and lovingly. My French is practically non-existent, so I have to admit that I read this as a child in English. Still good though.

3.The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

When I came to the US, I remember reading this book for the first time. It sticks with me, even now, the story of Huck Finn and his adventures. The beautiful friendship in this book is touching, particularly as I grow up. This book brings back memories of learning about American history and culture for the first time.

 

2. To Kill a MockingBird by Harper Lee

Scout is one of my favorite female leads in a story. She was so cool and whip-lash clever. My young brain was trying, with difficulty, trying to place this girl in a box. No matter how hard I tried, she slipped away from my grasp. No, I didn’t read the sequel. I refuse!

 

1. The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

My sister was starting to read when I found this book. She was an itty bitty kid, and we bonded over this story of a brave mouse. Now, I think of Reepicheep and Despereaux a lot, especially when faced with difficult decisions. Their bravery is inspiring.

 

 

Your Turn:

In comments, please share some of your favorite children’s stories. Have you read any of the ones I discussed in this post? What do you think of them?

 

 

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Top Five Wednesday: Top Five Stories Sans Romance

Today’s Top Five Wednesday is focused on the top five novels I have read that have no romance. Top Five Wednesday is a Goodreads Group, which I’ll link here for topics and more.

5. Lord of the Flies by William Golding 

This book was required reading in high school, and perhaps that is why I have mixed feelings about it. It does cover some serious topics in regards to civilizations and human nature. While it is not a favorite, this book definitely left a lasting impression. I think of it often.

4. The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

This story about brave mouse’s adventures is one of the dearest things I have ever read. My sister was little when I first heard the story, and I even stole the book from her when she didn’t want it anymore. If you want sweetness, try this story. I think it’s a touching story regardless of the readers’ ages.

 

3. The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien 

No romance here for sure. I love the movies and everything, but that subplot involving a dwarf and an elf did not exist in the story. They’re cute, but their love is not presented in canon. Bilbo is more concerned with this adventure he’s on, and he cares about his dwarf friends in a platonic way. It’s such a wonderful story. And, it’s a nice way to transition into the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

 

2. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol

Alice’s story used to make very uncomfortable, because (well) I too have moments with an unclear reality vs. illusion relationship. After diagnosis, though, this story became a lifeline.

1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak 

This book is more focused on Lisel’s journey with death during the Holocaust. It is not so much centered on romance, and instead explores platonic love.

 

Others Relevant Books: 

Holes by Louis Sachar
Chronicles of Narnia 
by C.S. Lewis (all of them!)
The Giver by Lois Lowry

 

 Your Turn:

What are some of your favorite novels that have little to no romance? Share in the comments!

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Top 5 Wednesday: Top 5 Hate to Love Relationships

Ah, it’s Wednesday! This means two things: a) we’re halfway through the week, and b) we are due for another Top 5 Wednesday. This week’s topic is our Top 5 Hate to Love Relationships. Before I begin, let me link the Goodreads group for Top 5 Wednesday so you can join us next week.

5. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

Shahrzad and Khalid have a difficult start in their relationship. Look, he executed a lot of women. While there is a “reason” for his behavior, Shahrzad’s intentions for agreeing to marry him are rather dark. She wants to kill him and avenge her friend’s death.

The funny thing is that I haven’t finished this duology. I will, I promise. It’s just that they fell in love kind of quickly. I like their connection. But, I just wish there was more angst (I like angst).

 

4. The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkowski

At the beginning of this story, Arin dislikes Kestrel with a fiery passion. Not to take sides or anything, but he has a right to be this angry (I think so, anyway). Kestrel’s family is influential in her society. As a society, they are responsible for the demise of the Herrani society and their enslavement.

Political intrigue, miscommunication, separation are all causing a rift between these two people. For a long time, I thought they were not going to get their happy ending. Even when they do, there’s a lot of loss. Just like life. I love their story.

 

3. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Listen, Matthias and Nina are the BEST. I cannot get over their relationship, the deception, the politics, the violence, the love! It’s just a very complex relationship. They are so different and they come from drastically different societies.

I admire Nina a lot, and I appreciate Matthias and his strengths.

However, I do hope his ghost can beat up Kaz’s ghost at some point.

2. Harry Potter

Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger are the epitome of hate-to-love relationships. I understand that some people feel that Ron is undeserving of Hermione, but, listen, on this blog The Cursed Child doesn’t exist. Ron was always at odds with Hermione. They bicker all the time.

But, I love them together.

 

 1. Pride and Prejudice

Mr. Darcy, the grumpiest and most anti-social man Lizzie has ever seen, is harsh to her. “Barely tolerable.” Their love story is so beautiful and sweet. Again, there’s a lot of miscommunication and dislike (very passionate dislike on Lizzie’s part). It’s a slow burn. And, it is perfect.

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