This week’s Top 5 Tuesday, which I’m making into a Top 10, is about books we don’t talk about enough, and boy oh boy is that a topic near and dear to my heart, so thank you, Shanah! August’s list of topics and participants can be found here, and the September topics were just released. They look like so much fun, and I’m definitely going to have to jump in for a few rounds.
I think all of these books were read pre-2019, but they’re all books that I only mini-reviewed and didn’t really say much else about. They’re in alphabetical order by author, as well.
The Wood by Chelsea Bobulski is not what you think it is. It looks like a horror, and it definitely has some of those elements in it, but it’s also got faeries and time travel, and I was 100% not expecting that at all. That’s not really a spoiler, but the summary also doesn’t let you know either of those things at all, and I think it’s much more fun (and less confusing because y’all it gave me whiplash) to know those two things going in. This is so well written, so creepy, and so full of so much lore that I wasn’t expecting.
If you like: faeries, horror, light time travel, totally predictable romance
Whenever I think of this book, I wish I’d had it during high school. Secrets for the Mad by Dodie Clark is a memoir written by a YouTuber, and it’s just so poignant. I wish I’d been able to read that someone else was going through the exact same things as me in high school. I might have felt less alone. This is a hard-hitting book, but it’s so important, and I’ve found myself gifting it to a lot of young girls going off to college.
If you like: off the beaten track nonfiction, empowerment, rising above adolescent struggles
I have such a weird relationship with Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman. If you take a gander at my Goodreads, you’ll probably be confused, too, because I only gave this 3 stars. But I think about it all the time. I’m fairly certain I would have given it 4 stars if I’d read the Seraphina books previously (they say you don’t have to, I disagree wholeheartedly), but even while sitting with a heck ton of confusion, I kept feeling myself drawn back to this. I DNF’d it for a few months originally before finally coming back to it because I literally could not stop thinking of it. And when I finally did read it, I couldn’t put it down. I definitely want to read the Seraphina books now, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be preordering the sequel to this whenever it comes around.
If you like: long journeys, slow plot, finding oneself, redemption arcs
Oh man, Spinning Starlight by RC Lewis is SO GOOD. I remember not being all that sure going into it, and then absolutely devouring it. It’s another story that kind of smashes your expectations of what’s going to happen. It’s set in the future, and it’s got a lot of tech, so I was ready for that scifi element of it, but then there was planet-hopping? Through wormholes basically? It was freaking awesome? It left me guessing, and though it’s just a standalone, I’d 100% read another book set in this world.
If you like: Star Wars, space, tech-heavy scifi, family dynamics, BROTHERS
Unbroken is one of those collections I’m never not going to be thinking about. Told through the lens of 13 different #ownvoices authors, it spans genres from scifi to contemporary to horror to dystopian. It’s full of unexpected heroes, incredible moments of bravery, and superb writing.
If you like: realistic portrayals of humankind
Along the same vein, The Call by Peadar Ó Guilín is one of my favorite disabled stories. First of all, I can count on one hand the amount of disabled characters I’ve read about in popular YA fantasy, and Nessa is one of them. She is easily one of the most badass characters I’ve ever read about, and she’s set in a dystopian world overrun by evil murder-happy faeries. Plus, the covers are freaking gorgeous.
If you like: dystopian, faeries, horror
Oh, Frankie. Shivaun Plozza’s debut novel is just so good. I admit, I bought it because I wanted to read about a main female character named Frankie because I’d been bingeing Grace & Frankie, and the summary caught my attention enough that I picked up a copy. I was expecting contemporary romance with some light theft, and what I got was difficult family dynamics, finding oneself through hardship and uncertainty, and more than light theft. It was heart-wrenching and so, so good.
If you like: Australia but not overdone, complicated families, rough edges
I definitely don’t talk about The Shadow Queen, or the following three books in the series, by CJ Redwine enough for how much I love them. You might be scratching your head a little because I’ve definitely talked about these books before, and this first one might even be in a readathon wrap-up somewhere with me absolutely screaming about dragons, but this book (and series) deserve more love. Retellings are all well and good, sure, but this takes Snow White’s seven dwarves and turns them into dragons. Have I sold it for you yet?
If you like: retellings with a twist, diverse rep, so much fantasy
Everyone should be taking about Pacifica by Kristen Simmons because of one very specific thing: it’s our future. If you don’t think climate change is real, read this and get back to me. If you’re definitely freaking out about climate change, read this and weep with me. This is our future. This book is eye-opening because it is very clearly where we’re headed, and it does an incredible job of showing just how devastating that is. Plus, it’s well written and has got fantastic characters with a small beacon of hope at the end.
If you like: realistic dystopian, environmental stories
And rounding out this post is one of my favorite middle grade novels, Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk. I don’t know that I’ve ever talked about this? It’s a heartfelt story about found families, and it’s got such lyrical writing that I was completely distracted by the fact that my heart was being torn in two until it had already happened.
If you like: orphans with questions, stories set on islands, found families, grumpy old men who never wanted kids but loves his anyway