5 Fantasy Series I Want to Start

This list started as 5 general book series that I wanted to read, but when I finished putting it all together, I realized that they’re all the same genre – fantasy. This genre really lends itself beautifully to multiple books. There’s always a large amount of world building going on, so there’s always somewhere for the story to go and it needs pages to spread out. These series are ones that I’ve heard about from other readers and have been recommended to me, so I’m really interested in giving them a go…you know, in my infinite free time. Ha! For each series, I include the synopsis of the first book from its Goodreads page.

Seven Realms by Cinda Williams Chima

Books in series – 4

Times are hard in the mountain city of Fellsmarch. Reformed thief Han Alister will do almost anything to eke out a living for his family. The only thing of value he has is something he can’t sell—the thick silver cuffs he’s worn since birth. They’re clearly magicked—as he grows, they grow, and he’s never been able to get them off. One day, Han and his clan friend, Dancer, confront three young wizards setting fire to the sacred mountain of Hanalea. Han takes an amulet from Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard, to keep him from using it against them. Soon Han learns that the amulet has an evil history—it once belonged to the Demon King, the wizard who nearly destroyed the world a millennium ago. With a magical piece that powerful at stake, Han knows that the Bayars will stop at nothing to get it back. Meanwhile, Raisa ana‘Marianna, princess heir of the Fells, has her own battles to fight. She’s just returned to court after three years of freedom in the mountains—riding, hunting, and working the famous clan markets. Raisa wants to be more than an ornament in a glittering cage. She aspires to be like Hanalea—the legendary warrior queen who killed the Demon King and saved the world. But her mother has other plans for her… The Seven Realms tremble when the lives of Hans and Raisa collide, fanning the flames of the smoldering war between clans and wizards.

Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

Books in series – 3 (plus short stories)

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness. Elisa is the chosen one. But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will. Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess. And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake. Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young. Most of the chosen do.

Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

Books in series – 3

Helen Hamilton has spent her entire sixteen years trying to hide how different she is – no easy task on an island as small and sheltered as Nantucket. And it’s getting harder. Nightmares of a desperate desert journey have Helen waking parched, only to find her sheets damaged by dirt and dust. At school she’s haunted by hallucinations of three women weeping tears of blood… and when Helen first crosses paths with Lucas Delos, she has no way of knowing they’re destined to play the leading roles in a tragedy the Fates insist on repeating throughout history. As Helen unlocks the secrets of her ancestry, she realizes that some myths are more than just legend. But even demigod powers might not be enough to defy the forces that are both drawing her and Lucas together – and trying to tear them apart.

Serpentine by Cindy Pon

Books in series – 2

SERPENTINE is a sweeping fantasy set in the ancient Kingdom of Xia and inspired by the rich history of Chinese mythology. Lush with details from Chinese folklore, SERPENTINE tells the coming of age story of Skybright, a young girl who worries about her growing otherness. As she turns sixteen, Skybright notices troubling changes. By day, she is a companion and handmaid to the youngest daughter of a very wealthy family. But nighttime brings with it a darkness that not even daybreak can quell.  When her plight can no longer be denied, Skybright learns that despite a dark destiny, she must struggle to retain her sense of self – even as she falls in love for the first time.

The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker

Books in series – 3

Elizabeth Grey is one of the king’s best witch hunters, devoted to rooting out witchcraft and doling out justice. But when she’s accused of being a witch herself, Elizabeth is arrested and sentenced to burn at the stake. Salvation comes from a man she thought was her enemy. Nicholas Perevil, the most powerful and dangerous wizard in the kingdom, offers her a deal: he will save her from execution if she can break the deadly curse that’s been laid upon him. But Nicholas and his followers know nothing of Elizabeth’s witch hunting past–if they find out, the stake will be the least of her worries. And as she’s thrust into the magical world of witches, ghosts, pirates, and one all-too-handsome healer, Elizabeth is forced to redefine her ideas of right and wrong, of friends and enemies, and of love and hate.

Have you read any of these series? Do you have any recommendations on where to start? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

Knocked Out by My Nunga-Nungas by Louise Rennison

“[Angus] is really sad without Naomi. I know how he feels, every minute without the Sex God seems about sixty seconds long.”

Synopsis from GoodreadsGeorgia Nicolson is now the girlfriend of the Sex God (aka Robbie), and things are wonderful. Except her loony parents are dragging her off to Och Aye land (aka Scotland), and the Sex God’s band’s chance at a record contract has left her something of a “pop widow.” Then up rears temptation in the form of old flame Dave the Laugh. Is Georgia about to become a shameless vixen?

Feelings: One thing I continue to enjoy about this series is how easy the books are to read. This particular book was about 150 pages and I read it in one quick sitting. The plot picks up right where we left off in book 2 and thankfully, it doesn’t end the same way as the two previous books. The conflict in this series got multiplied quite a bit here, too! We went from one boy or the other to OMG ONE OR THE OTHER. And Georgia is starting to have to really think about what kind of guy she wants, so that’s fun to read.

Issues: I can’t decide if this is an actual “issue” I have or just something that catches me off guard…but Georgia’s parents are both very…open. And in-Georgias-face about their love and attraction towards each other. Georgia’s dad is pretty hands on and Georgia witnessed it a few times in this book. That may be normal for some people, but it was kind of different for me.

Why is it not totally awful that Georgia’s cousin is coming on to her again. And not just like flirting with her…but touching her in unwanted ways. Is this not an issue that Georgia’s going to deal with? Or are we just sweeping it under the rug? Then when Georgia mentions it to Jas, her best friend blames it on HER. Like it’s HER fault. Like she’s sending out a signal to guys for them to touch her inappropriately.

Characters: Why is Georgia so mean to everyone? This is book three and it hasn’t gotten any better and I’ve stopped making excuses for her. I mean, her voice is so hilarious to read and her POV is spot on, in terms of life as a teenage girl. But dang. Girl is rude. Jas annoyed me when I first started this series, but now the tables are turning for me. She’s trying to be a good friend to Georgia, but Gee is straight up shutting her down. I hope she gets herself together, because I don’t want to keep reading if she’s going to just get worse.

DAVE THE LAUGH RETURNS. Now, the way he returns is alarming and I hope he and Georgia can get their stuff figured out, but still…I love that guy. He’s the most realistic character in this series so far to me and I want more. Little less Robbie and a little more Dave, in my opinion. I’ll take the Laugh over the Sex God any day.

Final thoughts: I think what Georgia experiences is relatable to a lot of girls, whether they’re teenagers or 55, so I enjoy that aspect of this series so far. If you’re looking for a super quick and easy read that’ll most definitely make you laugh out loud, this series is a good pick. I do have some hopes for very real development in the next book or two, though!

Goodreads rating: 3.97/5

Amazon.com rating: 4.1/5

My rating: 3.75/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

5 Tips for Attending a Book Signing

This week, I was able to drive over to Frisco, Texas, to listen to Sarah Dessen talk about her latest book, which I reviewed HERE. I hadn’t ever been to a book signing before, so I really had no idea what to expect. I wasn’t sure how early to show up or if I could bring a book from home for her to sign. How long would it last? (This one was about an hour, from when she started talking to the point where my book had been signed.)

After attending the event, I’ve made a list of a few tips for anyone going to a book signing for the first time!

  1. Bring a book, buy a book — I wasn’t sure if I was going to be allowed to bring a book from home for Sarah Dessen to sign or if I needed to plan on making a purchase. My suggestion is that unless the place you’re going to has a strict policy, plan on bringing a book from home and purchasing a book once you get there. That way, you have two books for the author to sign, but more importantly, you’re immediately supporting their book tour. I know that in some cases (like mine), you already own all the books that the author has written, however you should consider that the reason they’re out on a book tour in the first place is to promote their work, so the best thing you can do is show them support in that way. Make their trip worth it.
  2. Show up early — There may be a small seating area available at a first come first serve basis. After that, it’s standing room only. The author may speak for up to half an hour, so you’ll want to be comfortable. Otherwise, you’ll be thinking about how you can’t see or hear or it’s getting. In order to get the most out of the experience, plan to arrive 30-45 minutes early in the hopes of getting to sit down in a chair.
  3. Write your name on a post-it note — This seems random to some of you, I’m sure. But there’s a reason it’s on my list! It can get tedious for the author to ask what your name is and how to spell it, so throw them a bone. If you’ll write out your name clearly and stick it on the page you want them to sign, it makes it a lot easier on them and ensures they spell your name correctly! Some places may have a system like this already in place.
  4. Talk to the other event attendees — Chances are high that if they’re at the same signing event as you, they’re also fans of the author. Ask them what books they’ve read, what their favorite is, etc. See what else you have in common – you might make some friends. Plus, it’s a shared experience, so it’s much more enjoyable if you have people around you that you can bond with.
  5. Come with questions for the author in mind — I think authors typically take time for questions but have a limited amount of time to do so. I’m sure they get a lot of the same questions, so try to come with one prepared that could be a little bit different. Once good one that I heard at this event was: What would the Spotify playlist for this book sound like?

Do you have any other tips for book signings? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

Once and for All by Sarah Dessen

*Last summer I made it my mission to read all 12 of Sarah Dessen’s books in a series I called Summer Sundays with Sarah. You can click HERE to see my full wrap up. I’m happy to say Dessen has released her 13th book this month, which I review below!

“But really, in a perfect wedding–or world– you wanted the best possible beginning. Start on a high note and, no matter what song follows, chances are just better that it will be music to your ears.”

Synopsis from GoodreadsLouna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that’s why she’s cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm’s length. But Ambrose isn’t about to be discouraged, now that he’s met the one girl he really wants.

Feelings: I think that Dessen made a lot of smart choices in this storyline. The way the story was structured was the best way to let us slowly understand Louna as her understanding of herself grew as well. Events in Louna’s past shaped her and impacted her at multiple points in the story, so it was great to go  back to those moments and see how it all came together. I also really appreciated that we saw multiple love stories going on and that they all came together in different ways. No couple had the same experience, so it was really refreshing.

Also refreshing? The wedding planning. This was so fun to read about and to see all the different kinds of brides and weddings.

Issues: Something I think all of Dessen’s books have in common is that they’re slow to get started. It always takes me a few chapters to really get hooked in and invested and that was true with this book. However, Dessen goes back and forth in time every other chapter, making it even trickier for me to catch on. It just took a little while, but I was into the rhythm before I made it to the halfway point.

Even though we had a lot of love stories all woven into one, the main storyline got jipped. I wish we’d gotten to see these two characters actually together for a lot longer than the last chapter.

Jilly felt like a useless character. She adds to the conflict at the end, but that’s seriously her only purpose. It just seemed like she was there because Louna needed a best friend.

Finally, I wish we’d gone a little deeper into the school shooting conflict. It seemed like she never got any kind of help. The only side of it that we got was what related to Ethan. I wonder how the story would have been if we’d chosen ONE major conflict for Louna to navigate through, rather than her juggling one in the past and one in the present, mostly unrelated.

Characters: Louna reminds me of a few other Dessen heroines, but she still has her own unique experiences. As the reader, I could totally understand why Louna was so guarded. I was able to empathize with her and root for her to heal. We were set up at the end to guess how her healing could continue, but I maybe would have loved a smidge more resolution for her.

I didn’t like Ambrose at first. I think it’s because I was limited to Louna’s point of view, so because she was annoyed by him in the beginning, I was, too. It really didn’t take long for my opinion of him to change, though. I think he really matured over the course of the summer that we spend with him. He not only starts to see Louna differently, but himself and his abilities, too. I like that this book wasn’t just about growth for Louna.

Louna’s mom and William were a really great set of parental figures. We haven’t seen a pair quite like these two in Dessen’s other books, so it was kind of a breath of fresh air. We didn’t see failure parents or rocky relationships between daughter and adults, which I liked. This was a modern family experience and I thought it was fresh and enjoyable to read.  These two parental characters kind of took the place of a big friend group, in my opinion. I’m glad Louna had a couple of friends and these parents, rather than a big group. That would have just been too much.

Connections: If you’ve read Dessen’s books before, then you know that they all exist in the same “world”. It’s our world, but we sometimes see characters from other books interact or go to the same places. These are some of the connections I made. I’m not listing out which books these references are from, though. If you’ve read Dessen’s books before, you’ll recognize them! Otherwise, they’ll mean nothing and you can skip them. Ha!

  • In this book, our characters talk about going to Bendo.
  • The wedding crew plans a wedding that takes place in Colby.
  • Louna sees a sign in Colby that reads, “WHO NEEDS TRAFFIC? RENT A BIKE FROM ABE’S!”
  • Bee says that she attended Defriese.
  • Louna and Ethan go for pie in the middle of the night at see a “dark-haired boy and his girlfriend, clearly regulars” and the girl was wearing a Clementine’s t-shirt (Eli and Auden). They recommend World of Waffles to Louna and Ethan.
  • Louna tells Ethan that when he goes to Lakeview, she’ll take him to Luna Blu for friend pickles. She also mentions an Angel statue made with bottle caps that spin when the wind blows.
  • Ben linked Louna to his Ume.com page.

Final thoughts: It’s Sarah Dessen, so I’m going to read it and I’m going to like it. In terms of Dessen’s other books, this one was kind of on the same level as Saint Anything. I liked it, but there was a lot going on. I don’t know that all conflicts were justified in the end. If you like Sarah Dessen’s other books, then definitely pick this one up. If you’ve never read Dessen before, I wouldn’t suggest starting here. I always recommend reading her books in publication order.

Goodreads rating: 3.97/5

Amazon.com rating: 4.2/5

My rating: 4/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

On the Bright Side, I’m Now the Girlfriend of a Sex God by Louise Rennison

First of all, can I just point out that if you’re new here, this book isn’t what you’re probably imagining it to be. Hear me out!

“Honestly, what planet do these people live on? And why isn’t it farther away?”

Synopsis from GoodreadsGeorgia Nicolson has started dating the Sex God (aka Robbie). So life should be perfect . . . except in Georgia’s life, nothing is ever perfect. Her cat, Angus (the size of a small Labrador), is terrorizing the neighborhood. Her sister, Libby (who is slightly mad), hides her pooey knickers at the bottom of Georgia’s bed. Then the Sex God breaks it off because she’s too young. It’s time for a plan. It’s time for a Red Herring. It’s time for Georgia to become a “heartless boy magnet!”

Feelings: Just like the first book in this series, I found the writing and Georgia’s voice to be the best part. It’s such an easy story to read; partly because it’s in diary format, but partly becauseI just want to stay with Georgia and find out more.

Issues: I started to actually dislike Georgia sometimes. She became more entitled in this story and started looking down her nose at and talking down to almost everyone. She’s not a very good friend to Jas, especially, always telling her to stop talking and complaining when she’s just being herself. That got old really quickly.

I felt like this book ended the same way as the first. We think Georgia’s finally getting her way and then BOOM…door slammed in her face. It just felt like same-old-same-old.

Characters: Georgia definitely shows her heartless side in this book. Not only does she string Dave the Laugh along (unfairly…he seems great), but poor Jas can’t catch a break from her “best friend”. I think Dave the Laugh is part of why I liked this book more than the first one. He’s a much better “love interest” character for Georgia than Robbie ever was. I’m rooting for you, Dave!

As immature as Georgia is (most of the time), she IS starting to grow up juuust a little bit. One of my favorite parts in this book is when she’s trying to decide between these two boys. Is it more important for a guy to make you laugh or for him to make you feel “jelloid”? One of life’s biggest questions, as we all know. Ha! I also like that we’re still going along for the journey that is Tennager-hood with Georgia. Like wearing knickers on your head. And trying ways to shrink body parts you wish were smaller.

 

Final thoughts: I’m hoping that the third book in this series is different from the first two. We’re just getting started, getting used to these characters and their everyday problems. So I hope that moving forward, it gets a little more unpredictable. I’ll definitely keep reading and again would recommend this book to anyway looking for a light-hearted easy read.

 

Other reviews for this series:

Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging

Goodreads rating: 3.96/5

Amazon.com rating: 4.3/5

My rating: 4/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

Reading Challenge Update #2

It’s time for another reading challenge update! I posted my first update in March and at that time, I’d only “traveled” to 8 places in my reading. At this halfway point of the year, I’ve read about 16 places. I included London, England twice because those two books showed me very different experiences. I’ve done most of my book traveling in North America, so I’d like to branch out a little more soon. If you have any recommendations, let me know in the comments!

Travels Completed: 16/80

My reading has taken me to:

Africa

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah (South Africa)

Asia

– Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai (Vietnam)

The Secret of the India Orchid by Nancy Campbell Allen (Bombay, India; Modern Day Mumbai)

Europe

London Belongs to Me by Jacquelyn Middleton (London, England)

– May I Have Your Attention, Please? by James Corden (London, England)

– Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison (Easbourne, England)

– The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho (Andalusia, Spain)

North America

– March: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell (Washington, D.C.; Troy, Alabama)

– The Inconceivable Life of Quinn by Marianna Baer (Brooklyn, New York)

It Started With Goodbye by Christina June (Alexandria, Virginia)

The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan (Boston, Massachusetts)

Summerlost by Ally Condie (Utah)

– Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon (Los Angeles, California)

– Geekerella by Ashley Poston (Charleston, South Carolina)

Jack & Louisa: Act 1 by Andrew Keenan-Bolger and Kate Wetherhead (Shaker Heights, Ohio)

– Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (Prince Edward Island, Canada)

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

My Fairy Godmother is a Drag Queen by David Clawson

Synopsis from GoodreadsChris Bellows is just trying to get through high school and survive being the only stepchild in the social-climbing Fontaine family, whose recently diminished fortune hasn’t dimmed their desire to mingle with Upper East Side society. Chris sometimes feels more like a maid than part of the family. But when Chris’s stepsister Kimberly begins dating golden boy J. J. Kennerly, heir to a political dynasty, everything changes. Because Chris and J. J. fall in love . . . with each other.

With the help of a new friend, Coco Chanel Jones, Chris learns to be comfortable in his own skin, let himself fall in love and be loved, and discovers that maybe he was wrong about his step-family all along. All it takes is one fairy godmother dressed as Diana Ross to change the course of his life.

Feelings: I had to make myself finish this book more than any other book I’ve read before. I really wanted a different ending and decided to keep pushing through in the hopes that my picture would come true, but it really didn’t. I think this book had so much potential and I’m glad that it’s out there; a lot of people can see themselves represented in this story, which I’m all about. However, it could have been handled in a better way.

Issues: I felt like the narrator (or author) was talking down to me at different points. He’d say phrases like, “I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced this,” or “I don’t know if it’ll make sense to anyone else.” I get it that the narrator is speaking to the reader and that works sometimes, but in this book if just felt like the narrator was experiencing things that no one else could possibly relate to and he had to spell everything out.

There was one point where it was as though the author was brainstorming possible outcomes. It was like a laundry list of how things could play out. He also began and ended nearly every chapter by taking away all anticipation. He’d tell us something major was about to happen, so I knew to expect something, well…major. It made it hard for me to want to keep reading because there were zero surprises.

There were quite a few pity party information dumps. The narrator had to remind us how hard his life had been, try to make us feel sorry for him, then we’d move on. Multiple times.

There was so much tension between the two love interest characters and then literally in a matter of one sentence, it was over. Build up, build up, build up….and we didn’t even get details. It felt really anti-climatic.

Finally, there were a lot of moments that just bothered me. The characters talked about homosexuals, drag queens, and even mentally challenged people in really negative ways. Lots of awkward moments and things that just made me shake my head or roll my eyes from annoyance.

Characters: The way that Chris went back and forth between lying to his step-sister and being in love with JJ was something I hoped would get resolved. I see that the author hinted to us how she felt in the end, but it wasn’t enough for me. Chris had a hard back story, sure, but I felt like he used it as an excuse to make poor choices, then would remind the reader that he’d had it bad. As for JJ, I can see how he felt caught between two worlds, and I like that we got to read about that experience. He made a solid choice in the end and I think his character was the strongest throughout. There was a lot of character development there for him. In fact, I probably would have preferred this book if it was from JJ’s perspective.

There was so much selfishness going on up until the last 4 or 5 sentences, which made it hard to get through. Honestly, one more chapter could have made all the difference there. I felt like these characters were up in the air all the way through.

Kimberly deserved more. Was she this great and wonderful person? No. But nobody deserves what she got. Between her and Buck, we had some strong character development. Although with Buck, it probably wasn’t so much about development as it was about Chris finally understanding him.

Duane and Coco really added life to this book. I was worried that we’d meet Coco and then never really see her again, but I was really happy that she and Duane kept coming back. I think this character really brought out the best in everyone else.

Final thoughts: I didn’t love this story, obviously. I just felt like it needed another round or two of revising. I ended still needing some clarity and resolution. I know a lot of people will enjoy this story, again because they’ll see a bit of themselves. I’d love to hear what people who can relate think about this story!

Goodreads rating: 3.55/5

Amazon.com rating: 3.6/5

My rating: 2/5

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review. All opinions are my own

Happy reading! – Caitlyn