Many moons ago, the last time I did the tumblr equivalent of a drive-by, I swore I’d share some recs of books that rocked my world in 2015, so that hopefully they could continue to rock even more worlds for even more people. I got distracted from that lofty goal for a bit, but now I’m back with one of those aforepromised recs, with hopefully more to come.
Starting with these absolute gems: Captive Prince (Book 1) and Prince’s Gambit (Book 2), which are soon to culminate in King’s Rising (Book 3) due out in February 2016. So now’s basically the perfect time to get the first two books and read them and scream at a million decibels and run out naked into the night and lie face down on the floor laugh-crying in hysterical mania. You’ll have a few months to recover before the end.
TRUE GRIT BY CHARLES PORTIS: This is YA. I will fight you tooth and nail if you say otherwise. 14 year old Mattie Ross leaves home to bury her father and get revenge for his death. Both equally funny and intelligent and a coming of age story in a strange, adventurous way. I love this book and Mattie fiercely.
When we reached the top I said, “Wait, stop a minute.” He said, “What is it?” I said, “There is something wrong with my hat.” He stopped and turned around. “Your hat?” said he. I took it off and slapped him in the face with it two or three times and made him drop the reins.
UNWIND BY NEAL SHUSTERMAN: Dystopians were a huge thing after The Hunger Games (think Divergent and The Maze Runner). Unwind was published a year prior to THG. But it really, it’s like…there is no other YA dystopian that can top this. Nothing (sometimes I think it can be seen on the same level as other classic dystopians—sometimes). It’s one of the most politically driven dystopians I’ve come across. It’s also one of the few YA books that actually tackles how society views and treats teenagers. I want to gush more, but I’ll stop and let you decide. But fair warning, this book hurts in so many ways. It’s hard to read. But then it’s hard not to read either.
In a perfect world everything would be either black or white, right or wrong, and everyone would know the difference. But this isn’t a perfect world. The problem is people who think it is.
“I’d rather be partly great than entirely useless.”
WHITE CAT BY HOLLY BLACK: One of the reasons why I love White Cat is that it’s a mash up of different genres—magic realism, crime, mystery—and it does it EXCELLENTLY. There is this sort of twisted grittiness that makes Cassel and his (fucked up) family so appealing. They manipulate and lie to each other’s faces and then say I love you. Also, Cassel is such a great, fun narrator. And unreliable. You desperately want him to forgive and love himself, it’s insane.
Once someone’s hurt you, it’s harder to relax around them, harder to think of them as safe to love. But it doesn’t stop you from wanting them.
RED RISING BY PIERCE BROWN: By the end of this book you will be screaming BLOODYDAMN, GOOD MAN. This series is intense on numerous levels. It’s a science fiction mashed with historical context (heavy heavy Roman culture. Greek myth themes are incorporated as well). It’s incredibly smart, and fast paced. Even if you’re expecting a twist or turn, something else will shock you. Some crazy shit happens, man. The characters suck you in and refuse to let you go even when you beg and cry. Darrow is a great lead, even if he is a bit Gary Stue. He gets the shit beat out of him plenty of times to make up for it. I wonder if Brown intended Darrow’s journey to resemble a Greek hero’s. Fair warning: this book has major issues (its sexist, there’s rape). I’m trash for suggesting it.
Funny thing, watching gods realize they’ve been mortal all along.
THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO BY PATRICK NESS: Chaos Walking (the series name) is the only series that’s had me sobbing. Unwind is emotional by the themes presented. Chaos Walking is emotional thanks to the damn narrative. Todd is your modern Huck Finn on some distant, strange planet where he lives in a town full of men, where thoughts are heard loud and clear, whether you want them to or not. This book is about a boy and his dog who find a girl who crash landed on this strange planet. They make a run for it from this town of crazy men into the unknown. Basically this is a coming of age story. Todd and Viola goes through some pretty twisted stuff. I don’t even wanna talk about it because it’s messed up man.
And the pain is too much it’s too much it’s too much and my hands are on my head and I’m rearing back and my mouth is open in a never-ending wordless wail of all the blackness that’s inside me. And I fall back into it.
THE WINNER’S CURSE BY MARIE RUTKOSKI: Oh yes. This is a romance and fantasy. But don’t fret! Something amazing occurs. Intelligent. Characters. The romance isn’t a forbidden one—it’s an impractical one. The fantasy elements are soft, but they’re unique enough (and in further books they develop and grow—it’s great). Rutkuski’s prose is almost poetic at times. This is what you get from an experienced author. More importantly, Kestrel is one of the most intelligent flawed female characters out there. If you get sucked in quick enough, you can finish this in one sitting.
He knew the law of such things: people in brightly lit places cannot see into the dark.
THE RAVEN BOYS BY MAGGIE STIEFVATER: I almost didn’t put this on here, but then I thought better. You’re living under a rock if you haven’t heard of or seen this book on tumblr. There is a whole searching for a dead king to grant one wish plot going on, but really it’s about the four boys and one girl and their relationships with one another. Complex relationships. That makes you laugh and cry and swoon. Seriously some great stuff here. It helps that Stiefvater is such a talented writer. God, I hate her seriously what did you do? Swallow a dictionary???
Gansey had once told Adam that he was afraid most people didn’t know how to handle Ronan. What he meant by this was that he was worried that one day someone would fall on Ronan and cut themselves.
We proudly present you with our spring anthology release
They say love is for better or for worse, but what about when the worst has already occurred?
No Place for Us is a collection of eight love stories set in the least romantic place—a dystopia. Meet characters who can cope with viruses, zombies, overthrowing the bourgeoisie, and more, all while falling in love.
These tales tackle a wide spectrum of couplings and characters that are sure to capture readers’ hearts.
Featuring stories by Rachel Christensen, Adam Clark, Neil Davies, Nadia Hutton, Eugenie Mora, Lyn Thorne-Alder, Daryna Yakusha, Ashleigh Zavarelli
YEAH THAT’S RIGHT IT’S ME THE GEN REX PERSON WHO USES TOO MUCH CAPS AND TOO LITTLE PUNCTUATION BECAUSE MY PERIOD AND COMMA KEYS ARE BROKE
I’VE GOT A BOOK SERIES FOR YOU THIS TIME ONE THAT'S
YEAH I’M TALKING ABOUT THE SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT SERIES AND YEAH THAT’S A FUCKING WELL-DRESSED SKELETON WHO CAN SHOOT FIRE FROM HIS HANDS
THIS BOOK SERIES IS PROBABLY ONE OF THE BEST THINGS I’VE READ AND IS DEFINITELY NOT FOR THE 6-12 YEAR OLDS THE COVER SAYS IT’S FOR THE PEOPLE IN THIS BOOK GO HARD AS FUCK AND IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR A BOOK WITH
A SUPER DIVERSE CAST OF CHARACTERS
A HELLA RAD FEMALE MAIN CHARACTER WHO IS BEAUTIFULLY PORTRAYED AND NOT ONE OF THOSE FLAT STRONG/UNEMOTIONAL FEMALE CHARACTERS ALONG WITH A CRAZY COOL CAST OF PEOPLE
A WILD CRAZY MODERN FANTASY SETTING THAT WOULD MAKE ANYONE WHO READS THIS SHIT THEMSELVES IN SHOCK OF HOW FUCKING FANTASTICALLY IT’S PORTRAYED
REALLY PAINFUL EMOTIONAL SCENES THAT WILL RIP YOUR HEART OUT OF YOUR CHEST AND FEED IT TO A HUNGRY DOG
AND THE BEST PART? FANTASTIC WRITING SKILL WITH HILARIOUS AND WITTY DIALOGUE THAT DOESN’T OVERDO IT WITH THE WORDS WHILE GIVING YOU BOOKS THAT ARE HELLA LONG BUT HELLA RAD
AND MORE THINGS THAT YOU WOULD FIND OUT IF YOU READ THIS FUCKING SERIES I HOPE THIS PIQUED YOUR NERDY ASS BOOK INTEREST BECAUSE IF YOU EVER READ ANYTHING IN YOUR LIFE YOU SHOULD READ THIS
❋ limitless list of loved literature ❋ ➥ready player one by ernest cline
“I created the OASIS because I never felt at home in the real world. I didn’t know how to connect with the people there. I was afraid, for all of my life, right up until I knew it was ending. That was when I realized, as terrifying and painful as reality can be, it’s also the only place where you can find true happiness. Because reality is real.”
ok so if any of u history buffs want a cool series of academic texts on the middle ages which are interdisciplinary, cover issues of race/gender/sexuality as well as traditional topics (and disney) and are very well written and interesting, check out the palgrave new middle ages books!!
I've just recently started to find out that poetry is better than air, but my knowledge on poets is limited. Who are your favorites? I'm talking online or ones with published works. A long list would be absolutely perfect.
And I’d recommend any and all books by Richard Siken, Leonard Nimoy, Allen Ginsberg, Silvia Plath, Pablo Neruda, Andrea Gibson, Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz, Dylan Thomas, Anna Akhmatova, Rudy Francisco, Jeanann Verlee, Margaret Atwood, and Walt Whitman.
I’m SO TIRED of high fantasy books that are about mysterious, tortured straight dudes that are mysteriously good at everything, with whom the female character has a student/mentor relationship but will invariably end up sleeping with
And as much as I appreciate how good dystopian fiction can be for kick ass female characters, I just want some kick ass high fantasy female characters
Why you should read the All for the Game series by Nora Sakavic
If I had to put Ao3 tags on these books they would be the following: M/M; slowest slowburn to ever burn slow; broken boys; enemies to family; protective assholes; violence; blood; swearing; alcohol & drug use; tw for sexual abuse; sports fiction; aggression problem; attitude problem;
Yeah, yeah, I know. Sports fiction?, you think. But believe me when I say it does not matter if you’re into sports or not. It’s also a fictional sport, mixing lacross, hockey and whatever else and it’s so freaking fast and aggressive, point is the writer invented a sport just for this story.
The ship may not be actually canon until the third book but the slow burn is heart wrenching and so well developed it blows my mind. Seriously you don’t even know it’s happening at first, you might even have problems figuring out who the ship even is, but when you do suddenly everything in your life makes sense
The women are awesome. I have seriously never read women in fiction this well and realistically depicted. You could literally swap every gender in this book and it wouldn’t change a thing.
more reasons to read these books:
Neil: problematic and so not innocent, but still a cinnamon roll too good for this world, too pure, must be protected at all costs, has lived trough so much and continues to live through so much
Andrew: literally a small ball of self-distructive psycho with a huge overprotective streak, you will hate him and then you will love him; just imagine a mixture between Ronan Lynch and Mickey Milkovich and add a little more aggression, unpredictability and pain and you got it (thanks to coldsaturn i can now not picture him as anyone else but Noel Fisher), sometimes he makes literature references
Matt: the true cinnamon roll of this story, still a little aggressive, but good to the core
Dan, Renee, Allison, Nicky, literaLLY EVERY SINGLE OTHER CHAracter
THE SECOND BOOK IS CALLED THE RAVEN KING THIS IS A SIGN GUYS A SIGN
THE FIRST BOOK IS FUCKING FREE AND THE OTHER TWO BARELY COST ANYTHING WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE (except your heart)
So this is probably something that you have answered many times but the French Revolution is a period of history that I am really interested in but unfortunately know next to nothing about. Where and with which authors do you suggest I start? Thank you so much and I'm sorry for bothering you!
It’s not a bother at all! Here’s my list of recommendations:
SHORT BASICS (books to start with):
-Jeremy Popkin’sA Short History of the French Revolution. Popkin does a brief overview of the French Revolution,and it’s all very concise and straight-forward. The book is only 150 pages, too. It’s the book I wish I’d read BEFORE I read some of the books more specific to Robespierre and Saint-Just. This is a good book for beginners. It isn’t TOO expensive on Amazon BUT it’s a very well known textbook so it’s on approximately one million websites. You could probably even find it for free.
-Another useful slim volume is The French Revolution and Human Rights: A Brief Documentary History. It’s 146 pages including 38 primary source documents on citizenship and human rights during the French Revolution. You’ve got documents in there on slavery, on the poor, on religion, everything. Authors range from Lafayette to Voltaire, and Olympe de Gouge to Robespierre. Plus they’re all brief and easy to read excerpts. In order to learn about the French Revolution it’s important to hear the voices of ~the people of the times~. If you’d rather not buy it, I suggest looking up the table of contents and locating the documents online! Most of them are available online. Although the book does include a useful paragraph of context before every document!
NOW THE THOROUGH STUFF (listed in chronological order, which happens to be my recommended reading order):
-Alexis de Tocqueville’s The Ancien Régime and the Revolution(1856). This is a real interesting read since it was published in 1856, so not too long after the French Revolution happened. It’s got lots of archival research as well as a sharp critique of democratic governments.
-R.R. Palmer’s The Twelve Who Ruled (1941). His characterization of Saint-Just at certain points makes me roll my eyes, but what’s new? Hahaha. That aside this is a rather engaging book. Palmer focuses on the members of the Committee of Public Safety and paints a rather detailed picture of them and the conflicts between them…it’s like reading a soap opera, but with historical fact and analysis.
-Lynn Hunt’s Politics, Culture, and Class in the French Revolution(1984). You’ve gotta get up on that cultural history! I found Hunt’s vision of Revolutionary political culture fascinating. Basically, her argument is that the most significant result of the Revolution is the birth of a political culture that transforms society by means of culture and social relations. It definitely expanded my perspective on the Revolution and had me thinking in ways I hadn’t of considered before. I highly recommend this book. It’s a must-read. When it was published it really shifted discussions. Beginner or not, read this book!
-P.M. Jones’ The Peasantry in the French Revolution(1988). I think sometimes us French Revolution enthusiasts either get too focused on the royalty or the Parisians. Jones’ book fills in a necessary gap concerning peasant participation in the French Revolution! They were anti-capitalist, and they had purpose, and they weren’t just mindless pitchfork-wielders as peasants are often stereotyped! Jones also looks at daily village life in addition to analyzing peasant activism and political participation
Dominique Godineau’s The Women of Paris and Their French Revolution(1998). This book is compelling and admirably well-researched. Godineau examines the public and private lives of female revolutionaries. She describes their activism and struggles in a manner that illuminates both gendered-contentions taking place at the time as well as (the thoroughly related) broader politics. It’s another important read, I think. It’s just damn good history.
-The French Revolution in Global Perspective(2013), edited by Suzanne Desan, Lynn Hunt, and William Max Nelson. So this is a collection of essays by several historians. The essays vary in topic, delving into subjects such as colonization, financial origins of the Revolution, imperialism, cosmopolitanism, and abolition/reenslavement. What ties all these essays together is the volume’s broader goal to place the French Revolution in context with early modern globalization, and to demonstrate the global market and imperialism as key factors in the Revolution’s emergence. If you don’t feel like getting this whole book, just look up the table of contents and take note of the authors of these essays! I’m sure you could find some of them online.
**Okay and a bonus book just because it’s important to me personally: Marisa Linton’s Choosing Terror: Virtue, Friendship, and Authenticity in the French Revolution (2013). It’s an intriguing book even though I don’t agree with everything in it. It takes the soap opera of Palmer’s The Twelve Who Ruled, adds in a dash of Lynn Hunt’s perspective on the Revolution’s political culture, and well-done consideration toward the history of emotions…and viola! Choosing Terror examines the complex interaction between emotion, personal loyalties, political identity and the Terror. Also has awesome anecdotes and so many fun footnotes to explore.
-Don’t be scared of reading the ‘wrong’ book. It’s okay to explore and read random books, shitty books, ancient books that are scarily outdated. It’s okay not to understand things— don’t get hung up on things you don’t understand! BECAUSE IF I DID THAT I WOULD NEVER LEARN ANYTHING. I always keep my phone handy when I read, that way I can look up words/events I come across. Just anything I don’t understand.
-I think some Googling around on how to read secondary texts by historians is a good thing to do. It’s something I did, since I’m coming from a GWS background and not necessarily a history one. Here’s a nice link for that: http://wcm1.web.rice.edu/howtoread.html
Okay, nuggets, sit down and shut up because I am about to take you on a fucking voyage of discovery.
You see these books? These are the Alex Verus novels by Benedict Jacka and they are absolutely 100% what are missing from your life. “Why?” I hear you ask. Well gather close, children and I will tell you.
You want a modern day magical fantasy set in London? These books. Reluctant hero that just wants to run his shop and be left the fuck alone? These books. A mixture of the light hearted and the down right disturbing? These muthafucking books, my friends.
We’ve got POC, we’ve got well rounded female characters, we’ve got giant, sassy, talking spiders. The only thing we got missing is queer characters and the reason for that is *leans close and whispers* there is hardly any fucking romance in these books. “What’s that? A book where the two primary characters are a female and a male and there’s no massive romantic sub plot all the way through?” That’s right! Any romance is pretty brief and underlying and not at all the drive of the story.
If you do one thing in 2015 I strongly suggest you read these books because they filled the void that Harry Potter left in my soul and there’s still more to come.
So the Captive Prince trilogy turns out to be kind of excellent why was I not informed about these books?
For real, though, the premise sounds like that smutty fanfic trope that I have *occasionally* seen done well (A prince! becomes a slave! of an enemy prince!). And even then only in that way where you kind of turn off your understanding of real life human psychology and just go with it. And for the first couple pages I thought that was where these were going.
That is not these books.
For starters I like these people as human beings. I like how POV captive-prince is optimistic and competent and tactically brilliant at fighting and battles and immediately sets about making smart plans and choices. I like how he is set up not as the naive innocent (despite getting betrayed by indavisably-trusted loved ones), but rather as straightforward and loyal with a strong sense of personal integrity. I also like how, rather than be mired in his own issues he is instinctively empathetic to the circumstances and problems of the people around him–other prisoners, servants, guards, people fucking him over because they’re stuck in their own no-win situations.
Without saying too much about non-POV captor-prince, I like that he is younger and appears to have been raised in a much more dangerous and politically complicated court. I like the intrigue of how he clearly masks his feelings, skillfully manipulates people, and does things for ambiguous and complex enough reasons that it makes it very hard to get a handle on his motives–and all of this aligns perfectly with his implied background and isn’t treated like a Flaw to Be Healed By Love.
I like how both princes have something to learn from each other and the story isn’t “fix your personality/values/weaknesses” it’s: “learn to also respect and value other types of strength.”
I like how the books set up two contrasting cultures with different value structures and complicated strengths and flaws that don’t slot into The Good Culture and The Bad Culture.
If I had to compare them to another series, it would be Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief series which happens to be one of my favorite series of all time. The Captive Prince trilogy only has 2 of 3 books out right now but I’m pretty sure it is going to get added to that list.
Hi! So I was reading all your bad lit reviews (which are awesome by the way) and I stumbled on your book recommendation for The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. I just finished reading it and my god, that book was fan-fuckin-tasic! Could you spare some time to give me some more good book recs? Thank you so much!
if you’re looking for good, rich books that stay with you even after you’ve finished reading them:
the night circus - magical realism/vaguely historical. on the romance side of things and possibly the best thing i’ve read so far this year.
phèdre’s trilogy (kushiel’s dart being the first instalment) - this was recced to me by a friend and i am deeply grateful she did because this book was a wild ride from start to finish. kushiel’s dart has everything; rich and innovative worldbuilding, action, plot twists, intrigues, and a dash of very well-written romance.
wild- nonfiction/memoir. i’m pretty sure everyone’s read this already what with the oscars and all that, but just in case. i really enjoyed the movie but i feel it failed to convey the true spirit of the book. it’s a really interesting read for a variety of reasons, kind of bittersweet but also very raw.
immersive reads that make you think, and feel, and sometimes fuck you up real nice:
gone girl - fiction/thriller/mystery. i mean, everyone knows what this is about, but again - just in case. again, the movie was good but lacked that je ne sais quoi that the book had in spades. this is my review of it on goodreads.
house of leaves- fiction/horror/mystery. this book is fifteen years old and still able to tap into our most primal fears and insecurities, making it a very uncomfortable (and at times creepy as hell) read. you either love this book to bits or you hate it with a fiery passion, there’s no in-between.
the book thief - historical fiction (WWII). i’m quite sure everyone’s read this already but i’m sitting here in 35° raking my brain, looking at my kindle and shelves, trying to think of very good books, and this is one of the first i thought of.
american gods - urban fantasy/mythology. now, i don’t particularly like neil gaiman as a person but he’s an exquisite writer. putting down american gods is pretty fucking hard, so i usually recommend it for summer when one generally has more time to spend lazing about with a good book. possibly a margarita. this work has pretty much everything: action, sarcasm, mythology. manu bennett as shadow.
world war z - sci-fi/horror/post-apocalyptic. do yourself a favour and read this instead of watching the movie.
summer reads (not necessarily light or short and easy, but perfect to put you in a good summer mood):
fangirl - contemporary. i keep reccing books everyone’s read already lmfao. at least this time i don’t have to explain what a fangirl is, which is always a plus. also by rainbow rowell i recommendattachments (i have a weird relationship with this book but it was also rowell’s first novel and no one’s perfect). both are funny and sweet, on the romance side of things.
all creatures great and small series (all creatures great and small being the first instalment) - non fiction/animals everywhere. james herriot was a british veterinary who, after uni, moved to a picturesque yorkshire town to work in a rural practice. hilarity ensues. these books literally taste like summer. they’re light, sometimes nostalgic, undeniably entertaining.
vampire academy series (vampire academy being the first instalment) - literally what it says on the tin. at first i was kind of disappointed in the series but by book three i was completely hooked. i’m very fond of the characters and worldbuilding, and it’s a series that stayed with me.
the lunar chronicles (cinder being the first instalment) - sci-fi/dystopian/fairy tales remix. i have a very complicated relationship with this series but by now i’ve read every book in it (the last instalment comes out in… december? who knows) and it’s basically like reading a sci-fi episode of once upon a time with less manpain and marginally less drama. really entertaining (i just checked goodreads and i didn’t write a review for scarlet since i read it for dewey’s 24 hour readathon but i did jot something down forcress andfairest. mild spoilers ahoy).
this year i’m not in a ya mood so i’ve mostly left the genre be. for ya recs try some booktubers (the ones i like best are peruseproject and padfootandprongs07, which actually have opinions that go past “oh my god i loved it”)