My Favorite Reads of 2020

2020 is finally over (thank goodness), so you know what that means… It’s time for my annual Best Books of the Year list!

The thing is, I was in a really bad reading slump for the first few months of 2020. I honestly don’t think I picked up a book until the beginning of April! But thankfully, I still managed to bounce back and read tons of fantastic books in 2020! I devoured over 100 novels last year, so it’s difficult to narrow them down to a select few favorites, but I’m going to try! I’m not going to be including rereads, because that would defeat the whole purpose of this list, don’t you think? The following books are ones that I discovered this year and fell absolutely IN LOVE with. If you follow me on Bookstagram, you’ve probably seen me gush about them endlessly on my stories and posts! I’ve probably mentioned some of them here on my blog as well! But there are quite a few that I haven’t talked much about, which is why I’m so excited to be sharing this list with you all!

I’ll be listing these books in no particular order. As we all know, I’m an extremely indecisive person, and being forced to rank my favorite books is basically the worst form of torture I can think of. These books were all so good, and while I enjoyed some more than others, ranking them would be wayyyy too stressful. So let’s just… not???

Oh, and just to be clear, these are all books that I READ in 2020, not books that CAME OUT in 2020 (though some of them did)!

Now, with that out of the way… LET’S DIVE RIGHT IN!

Ladies, gents, and gentlefolk, allow me to introduce you to THE BEST BOOKS I READ IN 2020!!!!! Starting with…

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

The Unhoneymooners: Lauren, Christina: 9781501128035: Amazon.com: Books

I picked this book up on a whim with literally no expectations at all, since I’ve read hardly any rom-com novels. But I ended up absolutely LOVING it. Maui is probably my favorite place on the entire planet, so getting to visit the island alongside our main characters, Olive and Ethan, resurfaced so many happy, pre-pandemic memories. Olive and Ethan have such sizzling chemistry, and I’m pretty sure I shipped them from their very first interaction. Their witty banter was charming and hilarious, but Christina Lauren also did a fantastic job of showing us what a healthy relationship looks like through their romance. Olive and Ethan challenge each other in the best ways possible, and throughout the book, they have so many important yet difficult conversations with one another that you don’t often see in the rom-com genre. This meant SO much to me, because I love how we get to see the light hearted, playful side of their romance as well as the serious side. I’m not sure if I’ll ever find another rom-com novel as good as The Unhoneymooners, but it has definitely left me wanting to explore the genre more! As someone who mainly reads fantasy, I’m really happy that I took a leap outside of my comfort zone and decided to read this book! It was absolutely fantastic, and reading it was utter bliss!

Defy Me by Tahereh Mafi

Amazon.com: Defy Me (Shatter Me Book 5) (9780062676405): Mafi, Tahereh:  Books

It’s impossible to put my love for this book into words… It took me completely by surprise! I was quite scared to pick up Defy Me, because I had heard from other fans of the Shatter Me series that it was a very disappointing installment in the series. But I ended up LOVING IT. The tone of Defy Me was far more emotional than the tone of the previous Shatter Me novels, and I think that’s why I loved it so much. There were so many scenes that had me tearing up, and I think that it’s truly incredible when a book is capable of drawing that much emotion out of a reader! Juliette, Warner, and Kenji continue to go through so much wonderful character development in this novel, and getting to read through all of their perspectives was a dream come true. They each have something valuable to contribute to the story, and I know that without a doubt, this book wouldn’t have been the same if it was only told through Juliette’s perspective (I love her, of course, but Warner and Kenji are amazing too)! These characters have my whole heart, and I can’t express how much I love and connect with them. I finished this book weeks ago, but Juliette, Warner, and Kenji are still constantly on my mind, and carry them in my heart everywhere I go. I’m not sure if I’ll ever read another series as beautiful and addictive as this one, and while I understand that it has it’s flaws, it will always be very special to me. I’ll definitely be reading it again in 2021… it’s left me with the WORST book hangover EVER!

One Way or Another by Kara McDowell

Amazon.com: One Way or Another eBook: McDowell, Kara: Kindle Store

I was lucky enough to receive this book as an ARC earlier in the year, and it ended up being one of my favorite books of 2020! With a relatable main character, a swoonworthy love interest, an adorable romance, and phenomenal mental health rep, One Way or Another was the YA contemporary novel of my DREAMS! And guess what? It’s also a Christmas book! What could be better than that? Pretty much nothing, if you ask me! I flew through One Way or Another in just one sitting, the endless fun, hilarity, and charm of the story giving it a sort of addictive quality. Paige, our protagonist, was someone I could really relate to, and it felt so good to see some of my own inner struggles mirrored through her. Overall, this book is simply fantastic, and I would recommend it to anyone and everyone, regardless of whether it’s the holiday season or not! Even though it’s a Christmas novel, One Way or Another is a book that can be enjoyed any time of year (I should know, I read it in August)!  Its heartwarming themes, fabulous mental health rep, and wholesome romance all make it an absolutely spectacular story. I truly cannot recommend it enough!

Everything I Thought I Knew by Shannon Takaoaka

Everything I Thought I Knew by Shannon Takaoka

Everything I Thought I Knew by Shannon Takaoaka is yet another 2020 release that I received as an ARC last year! And guess what? It was BREATHTAKING! I have only just begun to dip my toe into YA contemporary these past few months, but Everything I Thought I Knew showed me just how beautiful and heartbreaking the genre can be. It is a powerful and beguiling story of love, loss, hope, reality, and heartache, and every single second of it was wonderful. It captivated my imagination from the very first page, and before I knew it, I was done with it! I rarely read books in a single sitting, but this one easily made an exception! Shannon Takaoka’s writing is classically stunning, and her words just flow so smoothly across the pages. Not only that, but her characters were so easy to love and relate to, and it was a delight to see them develop throughout the novel. All in all, this book was simply fantastic, and whether you’re a contemporary reader or not, I HIGHLY encourage giving it a read!

The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Kiss (The Winner's Trilogy, #3) by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner’s trilogy really snuck up on me in 2020! I’d known about it for quite awhile, but for some reason, I never felt strongly about picking it up. What a fool I was, because this trilogy was FANTASTIC! It’s one of those series that just gets better and better every book, and that’s why the third book, The Winner’s Kiss, made it on this list! It was the perfect finale to this wonderful trilogy, though I will confess, there were times where I was FURIOUS at Marie Rutkoski for messing with my emotions so much! I didn’t realize how attached I’d become to our main characters, Kestrel and Arin, until they were forced to go through so much devastation in this novel. They’re easily two of my all time favorite characters, as they are both so thoughtfully written! I love them AND the Winner’s trilogy endlessly… I can definitely see myself rereading it in the future!

Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Amazon.com: Aurora Rising (The Aurora Cycle) (9781524720964): Kaufman,  Amie, Kristoff, Jay: Books

Wow! Just wow. Reading Aurora Rising reminded me how much I LOVE science fiction! It was my first Kaufman-Kristoff novel, and I couldn’t be more impressed by it! It’s one of those rare books that is equally plot-driven AND character-driven. The plot is fueled by constant action, suspense, and wild spaceship chases, making it nearly impossible to put the book down! And the characters??? Oh boy, where do I even start?! They were all so complex and interesting! I think my favorites have to be Kal and Scarlett, but I truly do love all of them. Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff are both incredibly talented authors, and I’m beyond excited to dive into more of their work in 2021. It’s only a matter of time before I start Aurora Rising’s sequel, Aurora Burning!

The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

The Queen of Nothing was a sensational conclusion to the Folk of the Air trilogy! Jude and Cardan are some of my all-time favorite characters, and I love how even in this final installment, Holly Black never shied away from writing them out to be extremely morally grey. Characters that have a little (or a lot) of wickedness in them are always the ones I find most interesting, and that’s why I adore Jude and Cardan so much! This series has been quite a wild ride, and while I’m terribly said that it’s over, I know that I’ll definitely be re-reading it in the future! If you haven’t read it yet, you MUST! It’s such an enchanting, magical series that will leave you with the WORST book hangover once you finish it. Holly Black is a truly amazing author, and I can’t wait to see what she writes next!

The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller

The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller

The Shadows Between Us was such an entertaining read! It had a fast-moving plot, addictive romance, and fascinating characters. The protagonist, Alessandra, was downright EVIL, and I absolutely loved that. Like I mentioned before, I always find myself most drawn to characters who are morally grey, and that’s exactly was Alessandra was! She was calculating, selfish, and violent, but all the same, I was so intrigued by her character. Would I want to be friends with someone like Alessandra in real life? Well, probably not. But I LOVED getting to read through her perspective, as she was such a fun character to get to know! I highly recommend The Shadows Between Us if you’re looking for a short, captivating story that will have you hooked until the very last page!

All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace

Amazon.com: All the Stars and Teeth (All the Stars and Teeth Duology, 1)  (9781250307781): Grace, Adalyn: Books

All the Stars and Teeth is the fantasy novel I never knew I needed, for it contains ALL of my favorite fantastical elements. Princesses, mermaids, pirates, magic, sea monsters, curses… What’s not to love?! Nothing, if you ask me! I loved every single second of this book, and by the time I finished it, I felt so close with the four main characters: Amora, Vataea, Bastian, and Ferrick. They were all so different and complex, I couldn’t help but fall in love with them. I swear, if anything bad happens to them in the upcoming sequel, All the Tides of Fate, I WILL SCREAM!!

Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen

Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen

Danielle L. Jensen is one of the new authors I discovered in 2021, and I am simply in awe of her work! So far, my favorite book by her is Stolen Songbird. It took my breath away with its vivid world building, sizzling romance, and complex characters. Cecile and Tristan, our main characters, were both very easy to root for, and the chemistry they had with one another was so addictive! The magic system in this novel is spectacularly developed as well, as it completely debunks everything you think you know about certain mythical creatures. This was such a thoughtful and unique approach for Danielle L. Jensen to take, and it’s especially impressive since Stolen Songbird is her debut novel. In short, if you’re searching for a delightful fantasy novel that will allow you to escape reality for a few hours, Stolen Songbird is definitely the book for you!

What a wonderful reading year!

I know that as a whole, 2020 was an absolutely horrendous year, but I feel extremely lucky that I managed to find solace in so many wonderful books amidst all the confusion and chaos. It is my sincerest hope that you all were able to enjoy some fantastic reads last year too!

Cheers to a better 2021!

Halloween Book Recommendations: Witches & Vampires & Ghosts, Oh My!

It’s no surprise that this year, Halloween season won’t be as fun as it usually is… for obvious reasons. Damn you, COVID! But that doesn’t mean we can’t embrace the holiday anyways by snuggling up with blankets, a piping hot fall beverage, and, of course, a book!

If you’re struggling to find the perfect Halloween read, don’t worry! I got you.

I’ve read many books that feature creatures that are popular during Halloween season… witches, ghosts, demons, vampires, you name it! And I’m thrilled to be sharing them with you all! These Halloween reads are sure to lift your spirits (get it… spirits? I know, I know, I’m hilarious). This is gonna be a long list, so buckle up, everyone!

Vampire Books:

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden Series #1) by Julie Kagawa, Paperback |  Barnes & Noble®

The Immortal Rules is a mash-up of dystopian and paranormal, making it quite different from other popular works of vampire fiction. It follows a morally grey heroine who will do anything to survive, even if it means becoming the thing she hates the most: a vampire. Suspenseful and eerie, The Immortal Rules is a book that will have you on the edge of your seat until the very last page!

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Vampire Academy: Richelle Mead: 9781595141743: Amazon.com: Books

Vampire Academy is easily my favorite vampire book on this list! It’s fast-paced, entertaining, and just so much fun to read. The characters are great, and so is the setting! If you’re into books set at boarding schools, you’ll love Vampire Academy. It’s simply fang-tastic! (I’m sorry you guys. All of my vampire puns SUCK. *wink wink* Get it?).

The Coldest Girl in Cold Town by Holly Black

Amazon.com: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown (9780316213103): Black, Holly:  Books

Fae Queen Holly Black is most well known for her Folk of the Air series (which is incredible btw, go read it now if you haven’t), but very few people have read her vampire novel, The Coldest Girl in Cold Town. This book was so fantastic, and it sucks that no one talks about it. The atmosphere of the story was downright creepy, which I absolutely loved, and if you’re looking for a spooky Halloween read, this is the book for you!

Witch Books:

The Graces by Laure Eve

The Graces may be a lesser known book, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good one! This book is dark, mysterious, and downright disturbing at times… perfect for Halloween! The atmosphere is very eerie, and there is a very suspenseful air surrounding many of the characters in the story. If that sounds like something you’d enjoy, I encourage you to read this book!

Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

Serpent & Dove by [Shelby Mahurin]

Possibly my favorite witch book of all time, Serpent & Dove is a wild ride from start to finish! I’m sure you’ll see this book on literally every single Halloween book recommendations list, but trust me, the hype is well deserved! Full of charming characters, dark magic, and addictive romance, Serpent & Dove is a book that you simply MUST read this October!

Sea Witch by Sarah Henning

Sea Witch is an incredible Little Mermaid retelling told in the perspective of… you guessed it! The Sea Witch! I’m not exaggerating when I say that Sea Witch is one of the eeriest books I’ve ever read. The setting is deliciously creepy… A small, coastal town full of dark secrets? Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? Well, I can tell you from personal experience that intriguing doesn’t even begin to describe this gem of a book! It’ll suck you in with its mystery and suspense, and I can promise that you’ll be captivated until the very end!

Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco

This book had me under a spell (yup, another shameless Halloween pun)! Not only does this book have witches, but it all contains demons! Very hot ones, might I add (bonus points for that 😏). If you liked Kerri Maniscalco’s Jack the Ripper series, you’ll love Kingdom of the Wicked, the first book in her newest series! It’s an enthralling murder mystery full of deadly romance, heart-stopping plot twists, and stunning world-building. The story is wired with Maniscalco’s Italian culture, so expect many HEAVENLY descriptions of Italian food in between all of the suspense, tension, and magical intrigue!

Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen

Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen

The witchy element of the Stolen Songbird trilogy doesn’t really come until the later books, but book one sets up all of the witchiness so well! It also contains trolls and fae… how awesome is that? Stolen Songbird is one of my all time favorite books, and its uniquely magical setting makes it perfect for Halloween. It’s actually set in an underground city… What could be more appropriate for the spookiest day of the year?

Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith

Bloodleaf is a dark and enchanting book that will have you hooked from the first page! It has a very captivating storyline that is full of magic, betrayal, action, and romance. There’s never a dull moment in this luscious tale, and it’ll keep you reading long into the night! I highly recommend this book, especially for Halloween!

Circe by Madeline Miller

This book is a gripping take on the myth of Circe, daughter of the god Helios. If you love Greek mythology like I do, you simply must pick up this beautiful novel. It is lush, enchanting, and magical, and it will make you feel every emotion, whether you want to or not. Grab your tissues, my friends, because this book will have you SOBBING by the time you finish it!

Ghost Books:

Storm and Fury by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Storm and Fury (The Harbinger Series Book 1) by [Jennifer L. Armentrout]

While Storm and Fury is fantastic, it should be noted that it is a spin-off book to JLA’s Dark Elements trilogy! I suggest you read that before starting this book. But getting back to the point, Storm & Fury is absolutely amazing, just like all of Jennifer L. Armentrout’s books are! The main character, Trinity, can see ghosts, so that’s were the Halloween-ish element of the story comes into play. Trinity narrates this book with so much wit, and because of that, it’s tons of fun to read!

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Amazon.com: Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna, Book 1) (Anna Dressed in Blood  Series, 1) (9780765328670): Blake, Kendare: Books

All you need to do is look at the cover and title of this book to know that it is spooky as hell! It simply SCREAMS Halloween (that qualifies as a Halloween pun, right?)! One of the main characters is a GHOST, for crying out loud! If you’re searching for something dark, scary, and atmospheric to read this Halloween, look no further! Anna Dressed in Blood is the book for you.

Bone Crier’s Moon by Kathryn Purdie

Bone Crier's Moon by Kathryn Purdie, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble®

Bone Crier’s Moon is a very spooky YA fantasy novel that’s wonderful for Halloween! The undead beings in this book are never outright referred to as ghosts, but that’s basically what they are! The sequel to Bone Crier’s Moon comes out in March, and I’m already DYING to read it (I really crack myself up, you guys)!

Demon Books:

The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller

The Shadows Between Us by [Tricia Levenseller]

This book features a mysterious shadow king… I’m not exactly sure if he’s an actual demon, but close enough, right? Anyways, this book is simply amazing! It was plotted out so brilliantly, and it was filled with constant twists and turns that I never saw coming. The characters in this book are selfish, evil, and downright wicked… in the best way possible! Nothing says Halloween like a morally grey character! I highly recommend this one if you are looking for a quick read that will captivate you with its dark characters and dangerous romance.

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Legendborn by [Tracy Deonn]

Legendborn is an amazing fantasy novel that brings so much diversity to the genre! This book is full of demons, witchcraft, and, of course, tons of Black girl magic. The plot is so fascinating, and the magic system is simply incredible. This book is PERFECT for Halloween, so if you haven’t read it yet… what are you doing with your life???

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Cruel Beauty (Cruel Beauty Universe Book 1) by [Rosamund Hodge]

I’m a huge fan of fairy tale retellings, and this reimagining of Beauty and the Beast is PEFECTION! Not only that, but it’s also a great book to read during spooky season. Cruel Beauty is dark, lush, and sexy, and I especially recommend it to fans of ACOTAR (imagine a darker, more sinister version of ACOTAR… that’s Cruel Beauty for ya!)

Others:

Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power

Burn Our Bodies Down by [Rory Power]

Burn Our Bodies Down was a wonderfully mysterious book that I was unable to put down! It’s not your typical “jump scare” horror novel… Its subtle creepiness is really what made my skin crawl while reading it. Something about the atmosphere had me unsettled and intrigued at the same time. Disturbing, heart-stopping, and mesmerizing, Burn Our Bodies Down is a book that you definitely won’t want to miss.

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by [Kiersten White]

If you LOVE Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein like I do, you simply must pick up this book. It tells the story of Elizabeth Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein’s childhood best friend and eventual wife. Elizabeth was such a compelling character to read about, and Kiersten White’s storytelling was refreshing, well paced, and original. I can’t recommend this book enough!

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Amazon.com: Heartless (9781250044655): Meyer, Marissa: Books

Like any good villain origin story, this book is DARK. Like, really dark. And I loved every second of it! Marissa Meyer is one of my all-time favorite authors, making it hard to decide which book of hers is my favorite, but Heartless is definitely one of my top three. It’s such an incredibly crafted story, and its ending will literally rip your heart right out of your chest! If you’re planning on reading this book soon, GRAB YOUR TISSUES. You’ll need them!

Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge

Amazon.com: Crimson Bound (9780062224774): Hodge, Rosamund: Books

Yup, another Rosamund Hodge book! That woman is the QUEEN of deliciously dark fairy tale retellings that are super fun to read during spooky season. Like Cruel Beauty, Crimson Bound is an eerie, mysterious story full of dangerous magic and complicated characters. It’s one of my favorite fairy tale retellings of all time, and I highly recommend it!

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

House of Salt and Sorrows by [Erin A. Craig]

I’m concluding this list with one of the spookiest books I’ve ever read… that book is House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig! It’s yet another retelling, but it’s an especially unique one, as it is a reimagining of the story of the Twelve Dancing Princesses! That’s a fairy tale that you don’t see retold too often! This book has such a somber and eerie atmosphere that will literally send chills down your spine… I absolutely loved it!

And… There you have it!

All of my Halloween book recommendations!

Guys, I don’t think I’ve ever spent this much time on a post. I expected this list to be somewhat short, but now I’m realizing just how many spooky books I’ve read!

Have you read any of the books on this list? Or are any of them on your TBR? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to chat with you about all things spooky!

Even though it’ll be a little different this year, I hope you all still have a fabulous Halloween!

Until next time,

“Like that? Read this!” Book Recommendations

Hi everyone! I hope you’ve all enjoyed the first few days of the month! I’ve been meaning to do a “Like that? Read this!” book recommendations post for quite some time, and I’m FINALLY getting around to it! Better late than never, eh?

Anyways, get ready for what I think are some pretty great recommendations! The books matched together in this post are ones that I think share enough similarities that you’ll enjoy the one you HAVEN’T read if you loved the other. I always find these posts super helpful, as it’s such a pain trying to find books similar to your faves! Or even if you haven’t read any of the following books, I still recommend them regardless! I hope you guys enjoy this list, and if you do, let me know if you’d be interested in a Part 2!

Now, without further ado, let’s begin!

While A Court of Thorns and Roses and Cruel Beauty are completely different stories, they have several similarities that make them both very enjoyable reads! They are both Beauty and the Beast retellings, but where ACOTAR follows the fairy tale very loosely, Cruel Beauty doesn’t stray too far from the original plot elements. Cruel Beauty is a great alternative to ACOTAR if you don’t want to worry about committing to a series, or if you’re an ACOTAR fan craving something similar! Cruel Beauty is a far more dark, mysterious version of ACOTAR, so if you’re into that, this book is right up your alley!

The similarities between these two books are impossible to ignore. They’re both set in dystopian societies ruled with iron fists, the only difference being that female oppression and patriarchy are more prominent themes in The Grace Year. Not only that, but both books tell the story of girls who are forced into deadly competitions where only the fittest will survive. But where The Hunger Games is more action driven and violent, The Grace Year compels readers with its dark and eerie atmosphere. These books are unique in different ways, but they share the same elements of dystopian suspense and addictiveness, making them both impossible to put down!

Both of these books are breathtaking sci-fi love stories that also contain elements of dystopia, mystery, and suspense. These Broken Stars is definitely my favorite of the two, as I prefer its writing style and characters, but Across the Universe is still a great YA read that will satisfy your cravings for sci-fi action and mystery! What I find funny is that both of these books have covers that suggest they are simply romance novels, and romance novels alone. But that’s not the case at all! Sure, they both have a romantic element, but the majority of each story focuses on a greater plot. I love both of these covers, but they don’t capture all the suspense and creepiness that make these stories so great! Regardless of the covers, though, I highly recommend picking up either of these wonderful science fiction adventures! They’re both the first books in trilogies, so they’re perfect for binge reading!

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To Kill a Kingdom and All the Stars and Teeth are probably my two all-time favorite mermaid books… And I’ve read A LOT of mermaid books! These books are very different plot-wise, but they contain many of the same fantasy elements, for instance… mermaids! And pirates! And badass princesses who will do anything for their kingdoms! If you’re a mermaid worshipper like me, you literally need to stop whatever you’re doing right now and pick up either of these books. Trust me, you won’t regret it!

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This is gonna sound mean, but Girls of Paper and Fire is basically the less trashy version of The Selection. There, I said it. Plus, it takes inspiration from East Asian culture, and that’s pretty epic too. The atmospheres of these stories are very different, but they both have the whole “A bunch of attractive girls are sent to the palace to impress the prince/king” thing going for them. Except in Girls of Paper and Fire, it’s seen as a much more oppressive/demeaning thing. Another book I could match with these two is Grace & Fury by Tracy Banghart. It has the same basic plot as The Selection, but it contains themes of female strength and empowerment, much like Girls of Paper and Fire. And y’all, I don’t mean to hate on The Selection. I love that book with all my heart. But if you’re looking for something more empowering, Girls of Paper and Fire or Grace & Fury are definitely the way to go.

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That’s it for now, friends! Did you see any books on this list that you might be interested in reading? I hope you did! I had such a blast creating this post, and I’m probably going to be making a Part 2 that literally no one asked for… LOL.

I hope you’re all having a fantastic August, and stay tuned for more fun book recommendations post from me in the future!

Bye for now,

Standalone Fantasy Book Recommendations

It’s clear to see that I’m a HUGE fantasy lover. I absolutely adore the genre, and most of the bookish content I post is related to fantasy in one way or another. So, I know for certain that a fantasy recommendation post is long overdue! I thought I’d make two separate posts, one for standalones, and one for series. Obviously, this post is for the former!

I really enjoy standalones. Series are great, of course, but they can be difficult to commit to. They’re super long, and it’s awful when you have to wait up to a year for the next installment to come out if the series has not yet been finished. Let’s be real: sometimes we don’t have the time to dedicate to finishing an entire series. And that’s okay! Because we have standalones! I don’t know about you, but I think it’s amazing when an author creates and completes a whole story within a single book… Come on, like, how cool is that? It’s also great that I don’t feel any pressure to have to continue on with the story after book one… no commitment whatsoever!

In this post, I’ll be sharing with you some of my favorite fantasy standalones to read when you just don’t feel like tackling a series. I definitely recommend adding some of these to your TBR if you haven’t read them yet!

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To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

To Kill a Kingdom by [Alexandra Christo]

Synopsis:

Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most–a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen and or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby–it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good–But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

Why I Recommend it:

To Kill a Kingdom might just be one of my favorite books ever. Of course, since I’m a huge mermaid lover, my opinion might be a *bit* biased, but who doesn’t love an action-packed siren adventure that has a thrilling hint of romance? 😉 This book is dark, seductive, and simply devourable. I remember flying through it in just one day, never stopping to check the page numbers, which is something I tend to do very often when reading books. This book is so close to my heart, and it’s actually the inspiration behind my blog name, Mermaid Reads! I definitely recommend giving this book a try if you’re looking for a fun Little Mermaid retelling that is full of thrills!

The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller

The Shadows Between Us by [Tricia Levenseller]

Synopsis:

Alessandra is tired of being overlooked, but she has a plan to gain power:
1) Woo the Shadow King.
2) Marry him.
3) Kill him and take his kingdom for herself.

No one knows the extent of the freshly crowned Shadow King’s power. Some say he can command the shadows that swirl around him to do his bidding. Others say they speak to him, whispering the thoughts of his enemies. Regardless, Alessandra knows what she deserves, and she’s going to do everything within her power to get it.

But Alessandra’s not the only one trying to kill the king. As attempts on his life are made, she finds herself trying to keep him alive long enough for him to make her his queen—all while struggling not to lose her heart. After all, who better for a Shadow King than a cunning, villainous queen?

Why I Recommend it:

If you’re into dark, sinister fantasies with morally grey characters, this is the book for you. I actually just read The Shadows Between Us a few weeks ago, but I’m already dying to reread it. It’s a quick read (about 300 pages), and it’s so fast-paced that you can basically read it in one sitting. The romance in this book is dark and steamy, and I couldn’t get enough of it! Tricia Levenseller’s books are all really amazing, and I highly encourage picking up any of them.

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

Synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old Mina is motherless, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone―has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother.

Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do―and who to be―to win back the only mother she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all.

Entwining the stories of both Lynet and Mina in the past and present, Girls Made of Snow and Glass traces the relationship of two young women doomed to be rivals from the start. Only one can win all, while the other must lose everything―unless both can find a way to reshape themselves and their story.

Why I Recommend it:

I read this book quite a while ago, but I remember really loving it. It’s an interesting retelling of Snow White and the Evil Queen’s tale, and I love how it further explores the complex relationship between the two women. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has never been my favorite fairy tale, as the plot relies on women being pitted against each other over vanity, and it doesn’t exactly push the boundaries of what female characters can achieve. Girls Made of Snow and Glass does exactly the opposite, and that’s why I enjoyed it so much. It still sticks to the elements of the original fairy tale, but it does so in a far more deep and empowering way.

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Cruel Beauty (Cruel Beauty Universe Book 1) by [Rosamund Hodge]

Synopsis:

Betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom, Nyx has always known that her fate was to marry him, kill him, and free her people from his tyranny. But on her seventeenth birthday when she moves into his castle high on the kingdom’s mountaintop, nothing is what she expected—particularly her charming and beguiling new husband. Nyx knows she must save her homeland at all costs, yet she can’t resist the pull of her sworn enemy—who’s gotten in her way by stealing her heart.

Why I Recommend it:

There are so many Beauty and the Beast retellings out there, but Cruel Beauty might just be my favorite. The story it utterly transportive. Just flip the book open to any page, and you’ll instantly be swept away into a dark and mysterious fantasy realm. The writing is lush and enchanting, so trust me when I say that you’ll be entranced from start to finish!

The Siren by Kiera Cass

The Siren by [Kiera Cass]

Synopsis:

Kahlen is a Siren—bound to serve the Ocean by luring humans to their watery graves with her voice, which is deadly to any human who hears it. Akinli is human—a kind, handsome boy who’s everything Kahlen ever dreamed of. Falling in love puts them both in danger… but will Kahlen risk everything to follow her heart?

Why I Recommend it:  

I initially picked The Siren up because it’s written by Kiera Cass, author of The Selection, but honestly, the two books couldn’t be more different. I absolutely loved The Selection, but I found that The Siren was a much more atmospherical read, with stunning imagery and wonderful little hints of mermaid magic. Because of this, it could sometimes be rather slow, but if you’re in the right mood for that kind of story, I think you’ll love it!

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Synopsis:

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland, she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.

Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

Why I Recommend it:

I LOVE LOVE LOVE Marissa Meyer. She’s literally the queen of fairy tale retellings, and you can’t tell me otherwise. Heartless is one of my favorite books of hers, and it’s easily my all-time favorite Alice retelling out there! It’s dark, eerie, and foreboding, as it tells the tale of Cath, the girl who eventually becomes the infamous Queen of Hearts. If you enjoyed the Lunar Chronicles, particularly the spooky aspect of it, you’ll love Heartless. Queen Levana, the main villain of the Lunar Chronicles, and Cath are actually quite similar, and I think if you’re a LC fan, you’ll be interested to see the two characters compared!

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Have you read any of these wonderful books?

Or better yet, have you read any amazing fantasy standalones that you’re just dying to share with other readers? If you have, drop those recommendations down below! I loveeeeee fantasy, and I love receiving fantasy book recommendations even more!

Thanks for reading!

Mermaid and Siren Book Recommendations

Hey everyone!

As the month nears its end, I thought a great way to finish off #MerMay would be by recommending some of my favorite mermaid and siren books to you all! Mermaids are very near and dear to my heart (hence the blog name), for I’ve been obsessed with them since I was a little girl!

I’m really excited to share all of these amazing books with you! Let’s dive into these fin-tastic tails (three puns in one sentence… that must be some kind of record)!

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1. All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace

All the Stars and Teeth (All the Stars and Teeth Duology Book 1) by [Adalyn Grace]

Synopsis:

As princess of the island kingdom Visidia, Amora Montara has spent her entire life training to be High Animancer—the master of souls. The rest of the realm can choose their magic, but for Amora, it’s never been a choice. To secure her place as heir to the throne, she must prove her mastery of the monarchy’s dangerous soul magic.

When her demonstration goes awry, Amora is forced to flee. She strikes a deal with Bastian, a mysterious pirate: he’ll help her prove she’s fit to rule, if she’ll help him reclaim his stolen magic.

But sailing the kingdom holds more wonder—and more peril—than Amora anticipated. A destructive new magic is on the rise, and if Amora is to conquer it, she’ll need to face legendary monsters, cross paths with vengeful mermaids, and deal with a stow-away she never expected… or risk the fate of Visidia and lose the crown forever.

Why You Should Read It:

If you like mermaids, but you’re not really obsessed with them, this is the book for you. It has a hint of mermaid magic, but the overall storyline focuses on something entirely different. One of the four main characters is a mermaid, but we also have a princess, a pirate, and a stowaway! How fun does that sound? All the Stars and Teeth was one of the books I read for #MerMay this year, and it was an easy five-star read! I’m dying to get my hands on the sequel that comes out next February!

2. To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

To Kill a Kingdom by [Alexandra Christo]

Synopsis:

Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most–a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen and or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby–it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good–But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

Why You Should Read It:

This book is dark, bloody, and full of siren lure! To Kill a Kingdom is easily one of my favorite books EVER, and I can’t gush enough about it. Fun fact: it’s actually the inspiration behind my blog name, Mermaid Reads (though in TKAK, mermaids and sirens are actually two incredibly different species 😂). If you haven’t read this book yet, I highly encourage you to pick it up! Even if mermaids and sirens aren’t really your forte, I think there’s a good chance you’ll still love it!

3. The Siren by Kiera Cass

The Siren by [Kiera Cass]

Synopsis:

Kahlen is a Siren—bound to serve the Ocean by luring humans to their watery graves with her voice, which is deadly to any human who hears it. Akinli is human—a kind, handsome boy who’s everything Kahlen ever dreamed of. Falling in love puts them both in danger… but will Kahlen risk everything to follow her heart?

Why You Should Read It:

I picked this book up because it’s by Kiera Cass, the author of the Selection series, and I ended up enjoying it a lot! I read it years ago, so my recollection of it is a bit foggy, but I remember thinking it was a lovely siren romance! Definitely give this one a read if you’re looking for a sweet, lighthearted mermaid love story.

4. The Wild Mermaid by Mel Braxton

The Wild Mermaid by Mel Braxton

Synopsis:

Cora was thrilled. Today she would reach Atlantis, and after a long migration she was eager to finish the journey.

But when the Queen appoints Cora as the next soloist, she must take an unusual medication, physic. As the drug reshapes her mind, Cora discovers Atlantis to be far more sinister than her daydreams.

To escape, Cora must navigate the Queen’s palace. Along the way, she is befriended and betrayed. She learns that myths can be lies and tragedies often leave scars.

It’s an adventure that’ll ultimately transform her into The Wild Mermaid.

Why You Should Read It:

The Wild Mermaid is a quick little “tail” that had me hooked from start to finish. The idea behind the story is so refreshing, original, and unlike anything I’v ever read before. This book is set in the mythical underwater city of Atlantis, which we discover may be far for sinister than the legends lead us to believe… The story was fast-paced, thrilling, and filled with endless twists and turns that kept me reading long into the night. I had such a blast reading this one, and I highly recommend picking it up!

5. The Daughter of the Pirate King Duology by Tricia Levenseller

Daughter of the Pirate King by [Tricia Levenseller]

Synopsis:

Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map—the key to a legendary treasure trove—seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship.

More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.

Why You Should Read It:

Tricia Levenseller has quickly become one of my favorite authors. I’ve read all of her books that have been published so far, and each one makes me fall in love with her writing even more! The Daughter of the Pirate King duology is a fast-paced, swashbuckling adventure that has sirens AND pirates! This series was so much fun to read, and the books are pretty short, so you can read them quite quickly! My only complaint is that the story is incredibly predictable… the title of the second book, The Daughter of the Siren Queen, basically gives away the big “plot twist” in Book 1. But if you’re okay with it being predictable, I highly recommend this wonderful duology!

6. Sea Witch by Sarah Henning

Sea Witch by [Sarah Henning]

Synopsis:

Ever since her best friend Anna died, Evie has been an outcast in her small fishing town. Hiding her talents, mourning her loss, drowning in her guilt.

Then a girl with an uncanny resemblance to Anna appears on the shore, and the two girls catch the eyes of two charming princes. Suddenly Evie feels like she might finally have a chance at her own happily ever after.

But magic isn’t kind, and her new friend harbors secrets of her own. She can’t stay in Havnestad—or on two legs—without Evie’s help. And when Evie reaches deep into the power of her magic to save her friend’s humanity—and her prince’s heart—she discovers, too late, what she’s bargained away.

Why You Should Read It:

This was a really interesting interpretation of the Sea Witch’s story. I really loved how the author layered this retelling with hundreds of years of Danish history. It was an interesting touch! Though the story is somewhat slow-paced at times, the writing is beautiful and mesmerizing, which completely makes up for it. This is a very unique take on the classic story of The Little Mermaid that you should definitely go read!

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And… there you have it!

A list of all of my favorite mermaid and siren “tails” to wrap up #MerMay (and yes… I’m well aware that I’ve probably used that pun a billion times in this post. 😂 Can you blame me though?)! I definitely encourage picking up some of these wonderfully swashbuckling reads!

What are your favorite mermaid/siren reads? I’m always looking for recommendations!

Thanks for reading, and happy MerMay!

Until next time,

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