Monday, May 13, 2019

OWS CyCon 2019 Blog Hop: My Top 5 Reading Recommendations!

Welcome to the 2019 CyberCon, hosted by Our Write Side! You can find my booth >HERE< in the Fantasy category... stop by and leave a comment if you like what you see! I'll also be taking over an hour on Facebook, in the Fantasy and Sci-Fi Reader's Lounge on Saturday, May 18th--hope to see you there, at least!

Now, on to business!

I love reading. If I could make a career out of it, I totally would! In the almost-seven years since starting this blog, I've read more and more books that I've fallen head-over-heels in love with--much more than five, I can tell you that much! Ergo, I've narrowed down the list to a countdown of my favorite series (of four or more books), trilogies, anthologies, and authors that I can definitely recommend all the time--you'll really want to check them out!

5 Binge-Worthy Series

I am notoriously slow at reading a series... Mostly because there are so many good books out there, I tell myself that spacing out books in a series and reading other books between will be more delightful and make the series last longer... but honestly, when you go to read these series--you're going to want to get the whole thing and binge them all at once!
First up is my all-around favorite, The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer: it consists of Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Winter, and a follow-up book of tie-in short stories called Stars Above. (There's also a novella she released while we were all waiting for Winter called "Fairest" but I wasn't as impressed with that one...) It may look like a cheesy teen novel series that is ALL ABOUT THE ROMANTIC TENSION and "looking cool" and any actual plot plays second-fiddle to a game of "Will They/Won't They"... but it's not! I would say that this series is hands-down the BEST collection of fairy tale adaptations, "disguised" to read like genuinely fantastic cyberpunk novels!

The next series I'd recommend also came as a surprise: The LorienLegacies, by "Pittacus Lore." Obviously, that's a pen name; it's actually the name of a character within the series--and the thing about this series is that I kept picking up each successive book (the series is about seven novels long.... and they've started a second series and they're already three books in... but I haven't read that one yet) wondering when it was going to fall all to pieces--and it NEVER DID. The characters were fantastic, the peril kept me flipping pages with bated breath--and yet they never seemed to "recycle" the challenges, the way one might expect with a series that carried for so long! So many cliffhangers! You'll definitely binge this one!

The other three series that came to mind immediately happen to be indie-published--but for sure as good as any other series out there! The first (and longest) is The Chronicles of Lorrek by Kelly Blanchard--I'm just barely starting Book 5 right now, and she's gearing up to release book 7 already! The series is a blend of magic and tech--true "fantasypunk" at it's finest! The characters, the intrigue, the fascinating realms--you'll want to read all of them! You can find reviews of the first four books, and the collection of tie-in short stories here on my blog: Someday I'll Be Redeemed, I Still Have A Soul, I'm Still Alive, Do You Trust Me? and The Truth Behind.

Also coming to mind is The PSS Chronicles by Ripley Patton: Ghost Hand, Ghost Hold, Ghost Heart, and Ghost Hope. I happened to meet her through another author, and she was local at the time (she has since moved), and getting my hands on this series just about blew me away! I loved every moment of it, from the whole original concept of the premise, to the delightful characters I grew to care about over the course of the series--it's a bit of sci-fi, a bit "superhero" as this group of people end up with this superhuman condition and they're being hunted for it by a notoriously resilient villain (the worst kind!) and this is definitely a series you shouldn't miss!

Last but definitely not least, the series to binge this summer would have to be The Grave Reports by R. R. Virdi! A superb series if you enjoy paranormal stuff like ghosts, vampires, Fae, goblins, and whatnot--I have definitely enjoyed all these characters, it's just the perfect entertaining level of snark, the female characters aren't just eye candy when it counts--it's a lively romp, not for the faint of heart, but definitely you'll want to binge the series once you start! I've reviewed all the books in the series so far on my blog: Grave Beginnings, Grave Measures, and Grave Dealings. Can't wait for more!

4 Tantalizing Trilogies

Next up, trilogies! I've encountered several wonderful, can't-miss trilogies that you definitely need in your life!
First of all... Do you like superheroes? Do you want another take besides the typical "comic book" tropes? Brandon Sanderson's Reckoner novels (Steelheart, Firefight, and Calamity) are glorious and wonderful and quaint all at once! David is a young man who witnessed a superpowered "hero" murder his father, so he plots revenge: he begins researching all the "Epics" (as they are called) and learning their weaknesses and limitations, in search of revenge. He meets a shadowy group intent on taking down the power-hungry Epics, and they embark on a mission of legendary proportions.

Next up, an indie trilogy: The Volumes of the Vemreaux by Mary E.Twomey (The Way, The Truth, and The Lie). Holy CROW, that series completely tumbled my emotions! The premise is shocking and wonderfully unique: kind of alt-history, it assumes that Ponce de Leon did discover the Fountain of Youth--but it only "worked" for those of a certain blood type, sustaining their youthful appearances, and giving them other physical advantages. Note: I noticed the other day that it is now billed as a "vampire" series... but I never got the "vampire" vibe at all, and I don't even think that "vampire" is even mentioned at all in the series... it's just pure, emotional roller-coaster ride all the way through!

The other two trilogies I chose, I have read 2 out of the 3 books--but I am 100% confident that Book 3 in both trilogies is going to be just as amazing as the ones I've read!

The first is an indie series, the Firebird Fairytale Trilogy by Amy Kuivalainen. It pulls from Finnish and East European mythology--so Baba Yaga, werewolves, witches, phoenix, and vampires, to name a few--and the characters are fantastic and the imagery is so vivid, I love it! I've read Cry of the Firebird and Ashes of theFirebird--and I'm totally excited for Rise of The Firebird! I want to know what's in store for these characters that I've gotten to know and enjoy so much!

The final one I'll mention comes from a mainstream British author that I've read just about all of his books (except the most recent one) and I own another one of his trilogies, I enjoyed it so much. 
The trilogy I'm mentioning for this list, though, is called The Book of the Ancestor Trilogy by Mark Lawrence. It's fantastic and wonderful, following a young girl as she joins an order of assassin nuns--it's grimdark fantasy, so there's plenty of violence, some language... but the author's style is irresistible and if you love sweeping, epic fantasy with tinges of sci-fi woven skillfully into the details, then you'll definitely want to look this one up at your earliest convenience!

3 Astonishing Authors

Next up for our "Reading Recommendations" countdown--some authors you simply MUST discover, if you haven't already!

The first is actually a group of authors who produce a slew of amazing anthologies--some names are pretty consistent with each one, forming kind of a "core group" but every time there are some new names whose submissions end up being my absolute favorite selections... But that would be The Writerpunk Press Group. The theme is "all kinds of -punk genres" and the skill level is beyond legendary. They started with adapting Shakespeare plays in various ways: Othello as the leader of a biker gang, Macbeth as the owner of a nanotech company, "The Tempest" reimagined with Tesla-era machines... Absolutely glorious! From there they moved on to other classics, such as Edgar Allen Poe, Classic Literature (Mark Twain, Jane Austen, even Beowulf!) and Classic Horror. Everything they do is GOLDEN and if you love steampunk, clockpunk, cyberpunk, or any kind of punk at all--do not hesitate to follow the hyperlink!

The second is still in the realm of steampunk--a relatively new-to-me author, but one who has yet to disappoint: Patricia Loofbourrow. I am really enjoying her neo-Victorian series, The Red DogConspiracy. First of all, the world-building is stellar: the city is called Bridges and everything is a card-game reference! From the fact that the four Mafia-style "ruling families" are the Clubbs, the Harts, the Diamonds, and the Spadros family, to the titles of the books themselves: The Alcatraz Coup, Jacq of Spades, Queen of Diamonds, Ace of Clubs, King of Hearts, and so on! Not only that, but she is planning on having 13 books in this series--and I am here for them all! Her characters are wonderful, the emotion and the pace will absolutely carry you away--once you start, you will not be able to stop!

And finally--I can most definitely recommend anything by Cornelia Funke. If I see her name on the spine, I don't even hesitate anymore. Her take on fantasy is wonderful and I love the different twists she puts on things, from the Inkheart Trilogy and the magic she brings out in storytelling, to Dragon Rider, told for the most part from the perspective of the Dragon, actually! Even her YA series, Mirrorworld, takes on the darker, more mature side of fantasy with spellbinding grace. Definitely, definitely start reading Cornelia Funke if you haven't!

2 Practically Perfect Paranormal Publications

I admit, I know it's cheesy, but I couldn't really resist the urge to alliterate! I know I've made a few paranormal series recommendations already--but there's more!

First, you absolutely HAVE to hear about J. E. Mueller, the author of the incredible Shaudrey Universe series. It's a bit of a strange name, I know--but the storytelling is solid, and I really love the story she's built. It centers on Key--a girl cursed from birth because of a deal her father made with a demon before she was even born... and now that demon is set on collecting her soul as payment after her father dies. Key is intent on breaking the curse before that can happen--but what chance does a mere mortal have?
Book 3 is on its way, and I have the first 2 already, even though I've only read the first one, Fire's Song. I love her style, her character choices, the quippy dialogue that clips along and creates a distinct voice for each character... She's got other books out, more like fairy tale twists, and I absolutely want them too!

The second is another one that I've only read the first two books, Angel in Training, and Angel Eclipsed, (in the middle of the third, Angel Tormented, as we speak!) but I love it so much that I wanted to include it on this big list of recommendations! A demon curse is one thing--but how about an atheist becoming a guardian angel? Such is the case for the LouisiAngel series by C. L. Coffey. Angelina gets murdered in an alleyway one fateful night, and just before death, she is solicited by an archangel and offered a "job" as a guardian angel to a trainee detective--and in the process, the girl who never really paid much attention to anything spiritual finds herself thrust into a war between Heaven and Hell, and both sides seem to have pretty compelling reasons to fight! How can she keep things from falling apart while preserving the life of her charge and not exposing the convent of angels right there in New Orleans? The angels are great--there's Cupid (also called Kurt), archangel Michael, the cherubim (more like goth teens that are the "staff" of the convent than the chubby dolls we usually think of), and a whole host of unique figures, both the heroes and the villains. It's a ripping adventure and if you're looking for a unique paranormal "Heaven Vs. Hell" kind of series with just a touch of romance (not the sort that's plastered all over every other page) added to a very well-paced thrill ride--you'll want to get a piece of this action, for sure!

1 Drop-Dead DELECTABLE Duology

And now, we come to the last couple of books I will mention for this posts: the duology Storybound and Story's End by Marissa Burt. I discovered them quite by accident, browsing the library shelves in the children's section for another author--and when I read the blurb on the back cover, I just had to find out what this book was! Just listen:

"In the land of Story, children go to school to learn to be characters: a perfect Hero, a trusty Sidekick, even the most dastardly Villain. They take classes on Outdoor Experiential Questing and Backstory, while adults search for full-time character work in stories written just for them.

In our world, twelve-year-old Una Fairchild has always felt invisible. But all that changes when she stumbles upon a mysterious book buried deep in the basement of her school library, opens the cover, and suddenly finds herself transported to the magical land of Story.

But Story is not a perfect fairy tale. Una’s new friend Peter warns her about the grave danger she could face if anyone discovers her true identity. The devious Tale Keeper watches her every move. And there are whispers of a deadly secret that seems to revolve around Una herself...."

I just... I'm... YEAH. A bibliophile's dream, am I right? So I picked it up, read it, and immediately needed the second book right away--who knew two short books would be so immensely satisfying? By now, I've gone and bought my own personal copies, so now I own it and I can go back and read it and relive the whole astonishing adventure over and over again--all that to say, everybody should know that these books exist, and definitely if you love fantasy, books, and bookish fantasies--this adventure is a dream come true!

So there you have it... A whole COUNTDOWN of reading recommendations to keep you entertained for many years to come! I could recommend so many more... If you're interested to see what I would recommend for a particular genre, or maybe there's a book that you really loved that you want to know more like them--just comment and ask me! I'm always down to recommend books that I love! And I read so much--chances are I'll have just the one for you!


  1. Wow! These books look amazing and I have hardly read any of them yet. Looking forward to it :)

  2. The PSS Chronicles look amazing! Definitely adding to my TBR! So many awesome recommendations!

  3. The PSS Chronicles look amazing! Definitely adding to my TBR! So many awesome recommendations!