Five Fantasy Series You Should Read While Staying Home

Hopefully you’re staying home, staying healthy and safe while we figure this pandemic mess out – my library closed yesterday until further notice, so I’m home with some free time and plan to get caught up on my Goodreads reading goal. I’m several books behind (oops) so I believe I can get caught up in the next couple of weeks or however long the quarantine is going to last.

You may be looking to catch up on reading too – I hear so often that people don’t have time because life is so busy. Now is your chance! I’m sharing five fantasy series I love and since we’ll be in for a while, I thought series were the perfect choice because you can binge the whole set at once!

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Shelved in young adult, this steamy faerie action/romance series is definitely NOT for the younger crowd. The first book starts off as a retelling of “Beauty and the Beast” and the action only ramps up from there.  After ninteen-year-old Feyre kills a wolf in the forest that turns out to be fae, she’s kidnapped and taken to the faerie land of Prythian to pay the price.

In the subsequent books in the series, “A Court of Mist and Fury” and “A Court of Wings and Ruin”, Feyre struggles with the decision to become fae herself, a set of trials set forth by the Queen Amarantha and her own family being put in danger. Of course there’s also a love triangle and if you are looking for something steamy, this trilogy delivers. 

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The Magicians by Lev Grossman

Billed as Harry Potter for grownups, this three book series turned television show follows Quentin Coldwater, a young man who discovers a secret college of magic located in New York City called Brakebills.

While attempting an old spell, Quentin unleashes an ancient evil called “The Beast” on the school. Quentin and his friends attempt to defeat the “The Beast” and discover along the way that Fillory, a fictitious land much like Narnia, is actually real. 

This is a fantastic series for adults with a lot of literary elements that make it a joy to read. Some of the characters are downright unlikeable, but it’s still one of the best fantasy series I’ve ever read for adults. 

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Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

If the cover doesn’t draw you in, the story definitely will. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi is inspired by West African mythology and revolves around Zélie Adebola who is discovering that magic has not completely left the world even though all the maji have supposedly been killed. In a race against time, Zélie set outs with a rogue princess to bring magic back and launch a revolution against a tyrannical regime hell bent on wiping people like her out for good. Don’t let the size intimidate you – at 544 pages, this is an intense book to dive into, but well worth it for the supreme storytelling and lush world building.

Described as Black Panther but with more magic, this inventive new series is the next big thing in young adult fantasy. Only the first two books are out, so if you don’t mind waiting for book three, this is the perfect series to keep you entertained while hanging out at home for the next couple weeks.

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The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

Cinderella as a cyborg? These reimagined fairy tales follow Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Snow White through a futuristic world where people of earth, cyborgs and people from a lunar colony are experiencing extreme tension. 

An evil queen is trying to wipe out earth’s population with a plague, so Cinder, along with several other classic fairy tale characters team up to try to defeat her and save both Luna and Earth. There are four books in the series (along with a few short novellas) and the entire series is a fun, sci-fi take on the classic stories you know and love. 

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The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

I had to throw a classic in here! After Harry Potter, “The Chronicles of Narnia” is my next favorite fantasy series. C.S. Lewis opened my eyes to a whole other level of storytelling as a child and re-reading it as an adult is a unique experience as well because you see the allegories that you missed as a kid.

Narnia is a fictional fantasy land that various children find over the course of the seven books. Most notably are the Pevensie children who first find Narnia by a secret door in the wardrobe. Talking animals, witches and fantasy creatures play important roles in the stories, as does the great lion Aslan, who helps the children overthrow the White Witch’s control over Narnia in the first book.

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Those are just a few of my favorite fantasy series! Got any recommendations for me? Be sure to comment and tell me what you think I should read during all my newly found free time! Happy reading – stay well, safe and practice good social distancing and cleanliness. We’ll all get through this together.

Book Review: An Unkindness of Magicians

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An Unkindness of Magicians
by Kat Howard

Every so often a book comes along that makes you want to hide away in your room and read it long into the night until you reach the final page. An Unkindness of Magicians had that special feeling right from the first few pages, drawing the reader in to the complicated magical world author Kat Howard created.

Deep in the heart of New York City, families of wealthy, powerful magicians live in their Houses, unknown to the human world. Only one House at a time serves as the head of their community and the time has come for the Turning – an intense battle of magic that one by one pits the different Houses against each other until a champion prevails.

Sydney comes from the House of Shadows, a terrible place that controls all the magic in the unseen world and thrives on cruel sacrifices from the Houses. Fueled by revenge and a desire to take down the dark magic that courses through her world, she signs a contract to fight for House Prospero. Twists and turns abound as the conflicts between the Houses builds to an unpredictable end.

Not only is the story completely engrossing, but it’s also beautifully written. There are several plot lines going and it takes a few pages to learn who goes with which House, but the complexity of the characters really adds to the overall story. These magicians are incredibly flawed and gritty; had this been a grown up Harry Potter story, most of them probably would have been sorted into Slytherin.

Sadly, An Unkindness of Magicians is a stand alone novel and while it’s a real treat to find such an entertaining book that’s not part of a series, a part of you is left wanting more. Hopefully, someday the story will continue.

Five out of Five stars. Best book of 2017 (so far).

For fans of: The Magicians, darker Harry Potter and secret magical worlds.

What’s the Next Big Thing in Young Adult literature?

Since the Divergent and Hunger Games series have wrapped up their sagas, teens may be looking for the next big thing. There aren’t a lot of series getting much buzz right now and it seems like dystopian is dead. Vampires certainly are and zombies may be on their way out too. What does seem to be emerging is a trend are stories featuring characters with special abilities – maybe YA authors are cashing in on the popularity of superheroes?

Here are a few titles that I’ve recently read that I think could be the next big thing at the library, bookstores and eventually the box office.

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The Red Queen
by Victoria Aveyard

Mare Barrow lives in a world that’s divided by blood – those who bleed red are the poor commoners, destined to a life of poverty. The silver bloods are the elites in society who also possess super-human powers and strengths.

After a series of unfortunate events and a chance encounter with a prince, Mare discovers she has special abilities of her own. In the wake of a Red rebellion, the royal family forces her to hide her true identity, claiming she’s of Silver lineage and betrothing her to their son. The rebels can’t be silenced though and Mare’s abilities play a crucial role in the impending revolution.

The Red Queen is a mix of The Hunger Games, X-Men and Game of Thrones. Sounds like a weird combination but it surprisingly works. While the book isn’t especially original and some of the plot twist are predictable, it’s still an entertaining and action packed story.

 

The 5th Wave
by Rick Yancy

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Sixteen year old Cassie Sullivan is trying to survive on her own after a series of alien invasions, called waves, that have begun wiping the planet of human life. She’s already lost both parents and she last saw her little brother waving from the back of a school bus on his way to safety at a nearby military base…or so she thought.

The aliens know she’s out there though and they’ve sent a “Silencer”to track her down and kill her. What they didn’t plan on is a very real, very human connection that forms between Cassie and her would be assailant.

Part War of the Worlds and part Falling Skies, The 5th Wave is a high octane survival story that will appeal to both guys, gals and their parents. Cassie is the main protagonist, but the chapters alternate between her point of view and other main characters in the novel until all their stories meet at the end. The movie version didn’t do so well at the box office, but the book is a well written, engaging story that will leave teens eager for the next installment, The Infinite Sea.

 

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Miss Perigrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
by Ransom Riggs

Don’t let the cover fool you – this book is not a horror story! Instead, brace yourself for a time traveling adventure as Jacob Portman, who sets out to find out who his recently deceased grandfather really is, stumbles upon a portal that takes him back to Wales during WWII.

There he discovers the orphanage his grandfather grew up in, a bunch of mysterious children with super powers and a dangerous monster that’s out to kill them all.

Part one in a trilogy, Miss Perigrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a fascinating story that uses photographs to enhance the plot and reader’s experience. Characters are extremely well developed and the story unlike any you will ever read. The books have been wildly popular for a few years now, but with the movie version set to hit theaters in August, expect a rush of new fans to the series.