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Book Stack: Frequent SFF Book Recommendations

This is a topic I’ve seen some of my fellow bookbloggers post on their sites. I thought it was an interesting topic and it got me thinking about some books, particularly speculative fiction books, I recommend to other individuals to read. And, believe it or not, I wrote down my list of 10 titles I believed I recommended to other readers the most. However, as I started compiling and arranging my selections, I realized that there were a few other books that I’ve recommended more than other ones. So, this list ended up being all speculative fiction books. Yes, I have recommended several books of other genres to other readers constantly; but, for the sake of this post, I’ll keep it to one genre. Maybe in a future post, I will list the 10 books I’ve recommended the most to other readers that are NOT from the speculative fiction genre.

Let’s get the most obvious book out of the way first. It’s no secret that I’m OBSESSED with this book, and I’ve recommended this book to literally everyone! Some readers have thanked me, and a few have questioned my sanity after finishing it.

Due to the increased popularity of dark academia books, more readers have been drawn to reading this book. I have to warn you all, this is metaphysical fiction, so if you haven’t read and/or heard of this genre, then you’re in for a unique and a new reading experience. You won’t forget this book’s setting is at a university, but you are left questioning whether or not you want to undergo the “education” the protagonist and her classmates are forced to do. And, the direct sequel was just released! Be ready for an eye-opening experience!

My reviews of Vita Nostra and Assassin of Reality.

I don’t know whether or not I was lucky to binge read this series because I heard about the hype of the third book in this Hugo Award Winning Series by N.K. Jemisin, which led me to read the first 2 books right as the final book in the trilogy was released. It’s still one of the most mind-blowing reading experiences I’ve ever had; and, it’s because of the blending of all of the speculative fiction genres into what I can present as one of the best examples of genre-bending books ever written.

Yes, this is a dystopian narrative where certain “magic users” are enslaved and forced to “protect” the planet from becoming uninhabitable. But, what if a few of these “magic users” escaped and found a way to blend into human society? Would they want revenge on those who enslaved them, or would they seek a peaceful way of life? Is there a way to avoid the next “Fifith Season”?

My reviews of The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate, and The Stone Sky.

Due to the continued hyped surrounding The Hunger Games, and how Lord of the Flies continues to be required school reading, I’ve been recommending this “upgraded” variant of the former to anyone who is interested. And yes, I’ve managed to convince some readers, including teens (long story), to read this book and/or to watch the film adaptation. The movie used to be on Netflix, but was removed from the list before the pandemic; and, it’s one of Quentin Tarantino’s favorite movies!

The author of the novel is Japanese; and, when he was in school he read Lord of the Flies in his English class. Although he enjoyed the story, he found it “outdated” (and a bit sexist). So, we wrote an “updated” variant of the story where there were both boys and girls, they were all from the same grade and class, and society pitted them against each other. Not to mention, each teen was dealing with personal issues ranging from school drama to family trauma, and you have a book that was not only controversial in Japan, but also was delayed in the United States due to the timing of a then “rare occurrence” (the Columbine School Shooting).

This novel makes both the predecessor and its contemporary come across as child’s play! And yet, I can’t stop recommending this book to anyone who might be interested in reading it!

My review of Battle Royale: The Novel.

Yes, I’m a HUGE fan of Wayward Children; but, I enjoy reading Seanan McGuire’s Alchemical Journeys series, too. The author has written some of each “main genre” within speculative fiction, but I want more readers to read this series, which falls amongst science fiction, urban fantasy, and metaphysical fiction.

A scientist made a discovery on how to “enter” a realm where one could obtain “infinite knowledge.” She trained her son and protege to follow in her footsteps, until she was betrayed by him. Fortunately and unfortunately, the son couldn’t access all of the information the same way his mother did–even with her children’s books which contained “hidden” instructions and how to get there–but, he knew it couldn’t be done by one individual. So, pairs were “created” in which each one pair would be raised separately until their “abilities” manifested. Then, the scientist would “reclaim” the pair and have them “lead” him into the City. It’s too bad that “living” experiments refuse to follow the steps of the lead scientist.

My reviews of Middlegame and Seasonal Fears; and, my review of Over the Woodward Wall and Along the Saltwise Sea. At the time of this post, I haven’t read Into the Windwracked Wilds, and Under the Smokestrewn Sky has been released yet.

I’m slowly getting into horror, and I say that because I’m a bit of a scaredy cat. I need to know that I can handle which media I’m consuming without scaring myself into sleepless nights. That being said, I’ve been recommending this YA horror retelling to anyone that’s interested.

Tiffany D. Jackson wrote a retelling of Stephen King’s Carrie, but altered it enough that it is her own story while paying homage to “The King of Horror.” Since Carrie has been in pop culture long enough–and, we all know what happens at the end of the story, so I knew what to expect when I started reading this book; or, did I? This was a brilliant horror story with enough “scary” elements for it to be believable, while providing a “realistic” ending as well.

My review of The Weight of Blood.

There was A LOT of hype for this book! And, it lived up to all of it! This is the most recent released book on this list; but, ever since I’ve read it, I can’t stop recommending it to other readers. And no, this is NOT a fairy tale retelling! It’s a new fairy tale narrative presented as a work of fantasy.

The protagonist is the third princess of a small kingdom. Nothing is expected of her besides being married off for political reasons, so she is sent to live away from her family as her parents and her older sisters navigate the kingdom’s politics. Her eldest sister is married to a prince in the next kingdom as an alliance, only for her to die a short time later. It is only after the second sister marries the prince that the protagonist learns the true danger her family is in. This is when she takes it upon herself to save her sister without putting her kingdom in danger. It’s a good thing this princess has a fairy godmother.

My review of Nettle & Bone.

This is the only graphic novel series on this list, but it’s because most of the other ones I’ve enjoyed are and/or have been read by other readers. I’m baffled that this graphic novel series hasn’t been by the readers I know. That being said, I still need to catch up reading the last few volumes in this series, but I’m enjoying the world and the illustrations and I’m terrified of the experiences and the mysteries the protagonist explores as she tries to remember what happened to her mother.

This is a dark fantasy series with elements of horror and grimdark. So, if you’re not used to reading these genres in graphic novel format, then I don’t recommend you do. For everyone else, you have no idea what you’re missing out on. This series is a brilliant collaboration between a brilliant storyteller and a talented artist.

And, I strongly recommend reading the duo’s horror graphic novel series, The Night Eaters, too.

There is more love for indie books, but there are still so many of them that it can be difficult to know which ones should be read first. Anyone who is familiar with Mark Lawrence’s SPFBO Competition already knows about this book–the winner of SPFBO 5! This book reads like a traditionally published book. Yes, it’s that excellent of a story! Whenever someone asks me for a “different” fantasy book, I mention this one.

This novel is told from the perspectives of a mother and her teenaged son. The mother was a swordsman who gave up the blade when she married into a respected noble family. She was never happy with her marriage, but she made it work for the sake of her children. Her eldest son is the heir of his clan and he has never known anything but peace in a country where they’ve never lost a battle or a war. His worldview changes with the arrival of a transfer student who warns him about the way the rest of the world works, which makes him question everything he’s been taught by his teachers and by his father. It’s his mother who supports his independent thinking and she given teaches him the sword fighting techniques she was trained in, which leaves the son with even more questions. Unfortunately, before the bond between mother and son can grow even more, an army invades the country and they are forced to fight. The outcome changes the family forever.

This book deserves to be read by more fantasy fans as it presents a darker reality to our expectations of what the genre, especially the subgenre of military fantasy has become. This book was released a few months before The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang, but was able to standout without any unnecessary comparison. That being said, the theme about the “horrors of war” are identified within both books.

My review of The Sword of Kaigen.

This explanation is an interesting one. As some of us, readers, know, there is a “new” appreciation for Tamora Pierce’s books. As I read this series, I couldn’t help but make comparisons to the journey and the growth the protagonist goes through in order to obtain her goal, which she does (hence, the title).

The books in this series was released in consecutive months in 2020. Unfortunately, this means that the pandemic halted both the tour and the publicity of this series. Nevertheless, readers who did start reading the series needed to know what happened next, so we were treated by the publisher with the remainder of the series.

This fantasy series is a bildungsroman where a young princess must go into hiding and remain hidden until it is safe to reclaim her position in her kingdom. As the princess grows up, she becomes aware of the hardship of her subjects under the rule of the cruel Regent; but, she decides she must prove herself to be a capable leader. When she is forced to leave her haven, she turns it into an opportunity to save her kingdom from other hostile forces.

My reviews of A Queen in Hiding, The Queen of Raiders, A Broken Queen, and The Cerulean Queen.

I don’t remember how and why I came across this series, but I read this book and I preordered the upcoming sequel immediately after finishing it. The author is also a fan of the John Wick franchise and certain sequences in the second book in this series. The fascinating element of this book are the two protagonists who are each other’s nemesis, and who project toxic masculinity to dangerous levels. And, they have mutant powers.

That’s right! This urban science fiction series can be compared to the X-Men series. The only difference is that in this universe, ANYONE can obtain a singular power. All they have to do is die, and resurrect. With this in mind, readers are reminded that certain individuals should not have certain abilities and/or power over others; and, certain abilities are more dangerous when performed.

My reviews of Vicious and Vengeful. I hope we get a third book.

My list of most recommended SFF books are a combination of ones I always recommend to other readers, and some I’m shocked, when mentioned, fans haven’t read yet. It’s strange what I’ve recommended the most to readers when asked (without the specifics), but this serves as a reminder of how much I enjoyed reading these books. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I might compile a list of my most recommended books that are not speculative fiction. I don’t know when yet; but, it’ll be sometime after I consider which books of other genres I’ve recommended, before I change that list, too.

Which books have you recommended to other readers the most?

15 thoughts on “Book Stack: Frequent SFF Book Recommendations

  1. Is this the idea my frequent recommendations post inspired?! You’d already put Vita Nostra on my radar, but your description of it including metaphysics makes me want to pick it up more now. It sounds like it might be similar in that respect to THE ATLAS SIX? There’s a lot of metaphysics/philosophy in that book, too.

    1. I haven’t read THE ATLAS SIX yet, so I can’t comment too much on the “philosophy” within both books. However, I’m still waiting for you to read VITA NOSTRA and post your thoughts about it!

      1. Maybe I’ll try to read it in the last quarter of the year. I have too much going on through August and I think afterward I’ll have more down time, relatively speaking. But I’m interested!

      2. A copy of Vita Nostra popped up on PangoBooks today for $5…but the seller had a personalized book stamp inside of the book and I cried inside haha. Passed on it because I’d rather have a few dog-eared pages than someone else’s name in a book.

  2. There are so many great books on here. I believe you were the one that recommended Vita Nostra for my 12 challenge on Twitter. I haven’t read it yet though!!

    1. It was most likely I that recommended “Vita Nostra” (it’s almost always me). But, I haven’t started my 12 Month Challenge yet, either. When you get the chance, read it!

  3. While almost all of these are on my TBR, and I have read some of the authors, I have not yet read any of these. I started The Fifth Season a while back, but I didn’t make it very far before my library loan was up, and I never checked it back out. Hoping to get to all of these at some point, though. Great post!

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