Hello everyone, and welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday! This week, I’m linking up with this meme again to talk to you about ten books I’d be happy to meet over the holidays (and review for you in the new year). I went with a YA theme for this list, because although I am hoping to slip in more other stuff next year (adult sci-fi/fantasy, non-fiction, etc.), I will never abandon my endless quest to find The Best YA of All Time.
So anyway: to be totally accurate with you, my mom and I usually decorate a branch for the holidays. Not a pine branch, but a branch from a birch tree that she sticks in a big pot. So it’s books I wouldn’t mind seeing under the branch, actually.
And dang, I’m very ready to go home and deck the halls (and branches) and make cookies and drink nog, but I have a few more hectic workdays to go as I write this! So I’m wishing you (especially those of you who work retail during this time of year; I’ve been there) a swift, easy few days before any time with your family/friends/partners/pets commences.
And on to our list!
As I Descended by Robin Talley
So gorgeous cover aside, this is a modern-day retelling of Macbeth featuring a power couple of queer girls. Um? I don’t know if I have to continue explaning this book’s appeal to me? But okay: given my extended term as an English major, I have read and learned to appreciate a lot of Shakespeare. I actually wrote a term paper in grad school about teen film adaptations of Shakespeare plays (was this an excuse to watch a lot of 10 Things I Hate About You? YES), so this totally gets me in my former-academic feels and my I-don’t-even-care-that-retellings-are-trendy-I-LOVE-them feels.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth
Another easy reason that I want this one: it will be a movie in the near-future. And I prefer to have read the book before the movie, or else I might really like a movie and then read the book and feel like I retroactively ruined my movie experience, instead of…pre-ruining it, I guess. (The book isn’t always better, but overall? It’s almost always better.) Also, this book is about the coming out/coming-of-age of a queer girl, and despite this deceptive back-to-back of queer girls on my wishlist, there really aren’t that many books about them.
The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid
So in my reading of 100 or so YA books this year, I encountered sci-fi books…not that much? There’s your contemporary YA (in which I usually read LGBTQIA+ books), fantasy YA, dystopian YA (often including a dash of sci-fi), but not a lot of actual sci-fi. Which is one of the reasons why I want to pick up Diabolic (and the next book in this list) and see what’s what. Sci-fi, space politics, living in disguise, highly trained killers, female friendship—it sounds like fun, right?
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
I have to admit, I really don’t know much about this book, but I’ve been excited to pick it up for a long time because a) sci-fi (see above), b) great reviews, c) storytelling through means other than usual prose. I don’t think the latter always works, but I’m always interested to see how people will use different types of forms in a book to tell the story and how they might really suit the narrative or…not. Also, I’ve heard it’s one of those books where it’s good not to know much going in, so I’ve kind of avoided learning about it? The future! Spaceships! Yay?
Scythe by Neal Shusterman
So this book is set in a dystopian future where humans have conquered death, but need reapers of some kind to keep the population down. And two teens are chosen by one of these reapers (a Scythe) to act as his apprentices. This kind of premise totally gets me. It’s been a few seasons since I really caught up with Supernatural, but one of the most fascinating parts of its lore, I found, were the episodes that included Death and his reapers (and this book brings to mind the episode where Dean has to stand in for Death in exchange for a favour). This book has also had some really positive early reviews, so I am excited for it.
Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
I promised y’all (and myself) that I would give some of this year’s authors second chances after I wasn’t super into my first reads by them, and Kendare Blake is one of those authors. (Speaking of Supernatural, Anna Dressed in Blood disappointed me by acting as a mediocre cover song version of that show.) I’ve heard mixed reviews of this book, but it’s her newest release and I like the premise: fantasy, three sisters (and perspectives) backed by competing guilds vying for the same crown and expected to kill each other to get it. Here’s hoping it’s murderous fun!
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Speaking of second chances, here’s another author I want to try again. I honestly loved the premise of the Grisha trilogy, but I was pretty disappointed by the actual books and I feel like I’m alone on Earth? Anyway, this book reviews incredibly well and it’s about a ragtag group of morally grey characters, which I think probably suits the author better. (The Darkling and Pirate Guy were much more interesting than Alina and Mal, and I’m not even particularly inclined to dislike protagonists or like villains or anti-hero types.) Also, people talking about it give me a whacky D&D party vibe and I am an avid (nerd) tabletop roleplayer, so I’m here for this.
And I Darken by Kiersten White
Speaking of morally grey characters, how about a retelling of the legend of Vlad the Impaler, only Vlad is a princess named Lada and she’s bloodthirsty AF? I know basically nothing else about this book, but based on that, I was sold. Apparently it’s largely historical fiction and very full of politics and those things aren’t always my cup of tea (I really love them as heavy contexts in genre fiction, but this isn’t really fantasy, according to reviewers) but, I mean, nothing has managed to kill my interest in people who were rumoured to be vampires. Also, I liked White’s contribution to My True Love Gave to Me, which makes me feel pretty positive about trying more of her writing.
The Starlit Wood, edited by Dominik Parisien & Navah Wolfe
Speaking of retellings, how about a whole anthology of fairy tales retellings across a variety of genres? Bonus points: this is a gorgeous-looking book. This is also a collection I want to pick up to grab a sample of work by a bunch of authors I haven’t had the opportunity to read yet; My True Love Gave to Me was a good sampler that pushed a couple of names up on my list, and I’m hoping some standout stories in this anthology will point the way in a similar fashion.
Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
Fantasy, witches, cool magical powers, female friendship. (It’s kind of weird how seldom best friends, particularly female best friends, are the leads in a YA book.) This and the hype (this is on a few best of 2016 lists) sold this book to me, although truth be told (ha), I’ve seen some mixed reviews for this. I’m okay with that, though, because I often find the most well-reviewed books disappointing, so I know one day a mixed-reviews book is going to come along and blow me out of the water and make me into its strongest advocate. Here’s hoping it’s you, Truthwitch. (It could’ve been you, Magonia, but your sequel was just too messy.)
And that’s it for ten books I wouldn’t mind seeing under my festive branch this year! Wishing you all a fine set of holidays if they’ve already begun, and peaceful survival if they haven’t yet. (Or if they have and they are a Hard Time.) Talk to you again soon!