Good morning bookworms!
Yes, I know, it’s supposed to be a Top 5, but this week had 6 letters (U-Z) AND I’m playing catch up with last week’s letters (P-T) because the blog was doing its 72 hour transfer to self-hosting thing, so I missed it!!
As I mentioned before, I’m also going to try and not do the obvious choices for letters (there won’t be any Jay Kristoff’s or Holly Black’s on my list) so long as I can find someone else!
Top 5 Tuesday is hosted by the super lovely Shanah over at the Bionic Bookworm. You can visit her here, and join in for Top 5 Tuesday by checking out all the amazing topics that are coming up!
I was introduced to the Discworld and its master, Sir Pratchett, when I was a smol teenager trying to figure out who I was in this strange world. To me, the Disc represents all the differences we have as a society, melded into one big existential question of ‘what are we even doing here?’ Because the Discworld is two things at its core:
- an incredibly well thought out fantasy world with loveable characters
- a pithy and hilarious commentary on social constructs and society’s ridiculous reaction to everything
Suffice to say, this amazing series of over 40 books is DAUNTING to get into. But for all my YA fantasy lovers out there, I recommend you start with the Tiffany Aching mini series, and try The Wee Free Men. Just promise me that you’ll read The Shepherd’s Crown after you finish all the other witch books!!
Pratchett has also written other books outside the Discworld, most notably his co-authored work with Stephen Baxter, The Long Earth series, and Neil Gaiman, Good Omens: the Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch.
Quick has managed to be the ONLY author on my whole list who actually sits on my TBR instead of my read pile. And there are a multitude of books on this list, not just one. His most notable work, of course, is The Silver Linings Playbook, which was adapted into the movie starring Bradley Cooper and Katniss Everdeen / Mystique (it’s after 1 am and I cannot remember her name for the life of me…)
Other books of Quick’s that I want to read are: The Good Luck of Right Now, The Reason You’re Alive, and Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock.
OK. I know I said no super obvious authors, but I really do love Rainbow Rowell like, far above all the other R authors I have read… so, too bad. I have LOVED every single story that Rowell has published. All of them. Forever. Even the short stories. Especially the short stories. They all have that element of capturing exactly what it feels like to be unsure, to be indecisive, to make the wrong decision, to be a teenager.
If you’ve ever been tempted to try a Rowell book, but you don’t want to commit, I can recommend Almost Midnight, which has both of her short stories, Midnights and Kindred Spirits in it. In case you’re looking for something longer and a bit nerdier, Fangirl is the book for you. If you want a contemporary that will crush your soul slightly, Eleanor and Park is the one for you. And if you want the best spoof fanfiction turned actual fantasy series, then you can’t go wrong with my favourite, Carry On. (Also, I do recommend that you read Fangirl before Carry On – it makes so much more sense…)
cue internal screaming for me, and probably some eye-rolling from you Yes, OBVIOUS CHOICE HERE. For me anyway. Yup, if you hadn’t guessed by now, let me assure you, Maggie Stiefvater is my favourite author. In fact, please allow me to scream at you all about my all-time favourite book, The Scorpio Races. If you only ever read ONE Maggie Stiefvater book, let it be this one, for the following reasons:
- It’s a stand-alone, which is unusual for Maggie because she only has one other standalone book (out of all her YA books).
- You will get a taste of her amazing writing, which is poetic and lyrical, but also this amazing mix of calmly chaotic action scenes, and deep and torturous quiet scenes.
- It’s full of dark, murderous whimsy (the best kind of whimsy, which is promptly followed by bright, hysterical whimsy).
- THE CHARACTERS. (Seriously, if I could adopt Puck, Finn and Sean, I would 1000 times over.)
- The story itself is crafted using elements of Welsh mythology (the Capall Uisce), but it’s twisted in its own unique way so that it’s 100% Maggie’s thing.
- The best urban fantasy setting ever.
- November cakes.
If you would like to consider other books Maggie has written (because you’ve already read The Scorpio Races and you need more), I can also highly recommend The Wolves of Mercy Falls series (such an interesting take on the werewolf mythology), and of course, The Raven Cycle.
Now I know I just screamed all through the last author, but … can I scream through this one too?? Sally Thorne is not only an Aussie author, but a CANBERRA author, who wrote one of my absolute favourite enemies to lovers romances ever. EVER. That’s a big call, by the way. If you haven’t had a chance to read The Hating Game, I would super recommend it before it becomes a movie (it’s actually going to be a movie – starring Lucy Hale and Robbie Amell).
Set in the office of a publishing house, Lucy and Joshua are coworkers competing for everything. There’s a game for every day of the week. The Mirror Game, the HR Game, the Staring Game. Lucy and Josh are so intently competing with each other, it’s a surprise that they haven’t forgotten why they started it all to begin with.
If you loved this (like I did), then you should also check out 99 Percent Mine, which is also amazing!!
OMG. If you are looking for the sweetest graphic book around (YES THIS RIVALS HEARTSTOPPER) then look no further than Check Please! by Ngozi Ukazu. Former figure skater and pie baker extraordinaire, Eric Bittle, aka Bitty, wins a scholarship to Samwell University to play in the ice hockey team. Bitty’s only problem? He’s never played ice hockey before.
Well, not his only problem… second on the list is that he’s gay and hasn’t come out yet, and the coach has paired him up with Jack, Bitty’s dream man, to work on checking. (For those like me and actually have no idea what this is, it’s basically when someone has the puck and someone else skates up and flings themselves at the player… it’s the “there’s only one bed” trope for ice hockey!!)
And just like Heartstopper, this is a free webcomic, and has been released in a physical book too – Freshman and Sophomore year in Vol 1, and Junior and Senior year in Vol 2.
M. E. Vaughan
Ahhh… it’s been so long since I have screamed about this series I actually feel kind of bad… YOU NEED TO READ THIS!! ALL OF YOU!! IMMEDIATELY!!
The Sons of Thestian and Blood of the Delphi are two wonderfully amazing fantasy books, the first two books in The Harmatia Cycle by author M. E. Vaughan – and I am so excited because book 3 is due out in 2020!! ?
Where was I? Oh yes, The Harmatia Cycle is a magical fantasy series with the sweetest queer characters and a kingdom in disarray, with best friends on the run to try and stop a prophecy from happening. And Zachary Arlen. sigh
Aussie author, Jen Wilde, has written some of the best queer contemporary books that I have ever read. Not only are the characters realistic – they make stupid, teenagery decisions – but they’re not just about the happy ending, it’s about the journey to get there, and the lessons they learn along the way. Wilde is not just a great storyteller, she’s fantastic at weaving actual current issues into her storylines, with really strong moral messages of gender, sexuality, feminism and equality for all.
With three books under her belt, with cross-over characters in them, Wilde has developed this teeny little queer friendship support group that I just cannot get enough of. Seriously, I need about 18 more books. At least.
I would recommend reading in publication order so you can see the cuteness unfold: Queens of Geek, The Brightsiders (my fave), and Going Off Script.
Why, oh why, did I not leave Garth Nix for this section?? Pre-planning is really not my forte… I actually have a couple of other authors with an X in their surnames, but none that I’ve actually read the books of… (Caryn Lix, Django Wexler) So I’m breaking my own rule for this, and I’m going to (minorly) feature:
Long story short: Christo wrote one of my fave mermaid stories to date: To Kill a Kingdom. It’s a bit gruesome, very back-stabby, and just enough of a Little Mermaid retelling to soothe those of you after a fairytale. (Although, this is very much NOT a fairytale!!) Christo has also written Into the Crooked Place, which is book 1 in a new duology, but alas, I haven’t read it yet.
Gene Luen Yang
Honestly, I would just continue watching Avatar: The Last Airbender for all of eternity if I could. There are a million reasons why this is my favourite TV show ever, and I was so thrilled when I discovered that it was being extended in graphic novel form (with multiple storylines, but start with Smoke and Shadow).
With a LOT of graphic novels to his name, there are more than 20 ATLA books to extend the universe past Aang’s final battle, there’s also some DC / Superman, and own stories as well. But I mean, I’m secretly (or not so secretly) here for more Zuko…
I’ve heard mixed reviews for American Born Chinese, which tackles racism, multicultural society and bullying if you’re interested in something a bit heavier.
Surprisingly, I had a couple of choices for this one, and I was so close to putting Francesca Zappia, but instead I went with Ibi Zoboi. I’ve only read one Zoboi book – Pride – but it was such a brilliant retelling of Pride and Prejudice that I really couldn’t skip raving about it one more time.
This book has all the perfectly intense drama and misunderstandings of the original, but set against a background of modern day Brooklyn, NY. There’s still the same socio-economic and class differences, the same haughty arguments between the characters, and all the angst that a teenage drama deserves.
If you’re looking for more works by Zoboi, then you should probably check out American Street, My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich, or children’s book A is for Ayiti which celebrates Haitian culture.