Top Ten Books to Try If You Like Sarah J. Maas

Hey guys!  I know there’s not an official Top Ten Tuesday today (it’s on hiatus), so that inspired me to try a topic myself!  I love recommending books based on what other people like.  (For example, a student of mine loves Kasie West and so I keep introducing her to other contemporary YA romance writers like Sarah Dessen.)  I know a lot of us are HUGE Sarah J. Maas fans, so I thought I’d try finding a few other books/series that you may also like!  (You may see authors come up more than once.)


Top Ten Books to Try If You Like Sarah J. Maas

1. The Gold Seer Trilogy by Rae Carson

This may seem like a weird choice, but I promise it works.  The series starts with Walk on Earth a Stranger, a tale about a girl who can sense gold in the era of the American Gold Rush.  Like many of Maas’s heroines, Lee has a horrible backstory and relies on her own wits and instincts to stay alive.  The series is historical with a hint of fantasy and romance of the slow-moving kind.  The story is about so much more than love and I found it delightful.

2. Ruined by Amy Tintera

The fantasy novel knocked me off my feet last year.  In Ruined, Em has watched her parents’ brutal murder and infiltrates the enemy kingdom under the guise of the prince’s betrothed.  Basically, Em is Celaena Sardothien (Throne of Glass) in a different form.  This fantasy promises bold action sequences, alliances between unlikely forces, and characters you will not forget.

3. The Remnant Chronicles series by Mary E. Pearson

One staple of Maas books is their detail and length.  The Remnant Chronicles can rival any Maas book in length.  The first book, Kiss of Deception, is nearly 500 pages and it just goes up from there.  This series involves rival kingdoms, assassins, princes and princesses, and major battles.  It’s also incredibly well-written, the kind where you feel like the characters are real people that you know in your daily life.  They are so vivid.

4. The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon

I feel like most people know about Outlander either because of its rise to fame in the last few years or because of me constantly talking about it, but I’m going to talk about it again.  Outlander is the story of a World War II army nurse who accidentally goes back in time to 1743 and has to rely on her wits to survive in a brutal and political world where a single misstep could get her killed.  The books are incredibly long, well-written, and delightful.  Claire and Jamie, at the point, are real people to me.  And even the minor characters are family.

5. The Splintered series by A.G. Howard

If you’re looking for a kooky, out-of-the-box fantasy, this is it.  A modern retelling of Alice in Wonderland, Splintered is the story of Alyssa, a girl whose ancestors have always been lured to Wonderland or to madness (sometimes both).  And the real Wonderland is much darker and dangerous than Lewis Carroll’s version.

6. The Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa

One of the staples of Maas’s books is the fey, so I thought I’d include a fey story on the list.  The Iron King, the first book in the series, is about a normal girl who becomes a pawn in a fey fight for power.  While she may not be a strong fighter like Maas’s characters, there are still plenty of battle scenes, humor, plots, and brilliant characters.

7. The Fire and Thorns series by Rae Carson

This is like, the crowning series that I think is remarkably like Maas’s writing.  The Girl of Fire and Thorns begins with Princess Elisa, a girl who doesn’t feel fit to rule the country she is now queen of thanks to an arranged marriage.  There are daring twists in this series, bold and dangerous enemies, magic, character development that goes through the roof, and shocking twists.  If you haven’t read this series yet, you totally should.

8. Penryn & the End of Days series by Susan Ee

I went in a slightly different direction with this pick.  Most of Maas’s books have to do with a dangerous and seemingly invincible enemy.  If powerful angels who literally destroyed the world doesn’t fit that bill, I don’t know what does.  Angelfall begins by introducing us to Penryn, a teenage girl determined to do whatever it is to recover her disabled sister from the angels who kidnapped her, even if that means befriending the enemy to do so.  Well-written and insightful, it takes a look at human nature as humanity falls apart, but it also creates a scarily realistic dystopian world.

9. The Pledge series by Kimberly Derting

Again, I went in a different direction here.  In The Pledge, we are introduced to a world of distinct class structures and oppressive rulers who kill for fun.  We see underground resistance groups, fights, magic, and a heroine who needs to outsmart some very dangerous foes.

10. Defy series by Sara B. Larson

This series is basically a more romantic version of the Throne of Glass series.  Defy is a tale where Alexa disguises herself as a boy (Alex) in order to flee the terror of being a woman in a man’s world.  An able fighter, she becomes an integral part of the King’s Guard and her secrets start to come unraveled.  Alexa is very similar to Celaena in many respects, but this book definitely has more of an emphasis on the romance than Maas books usually do.


Top Ten Tuesday: Characters I’d Name a Child After

Hey guys!  It’s Tuesday, so that means a new list!  I thought this one was really interesting because of how drawn I am to character names.  And really, there are always characters that we admire and look up to.  I’d love to name someone (at least a dog or a fish) after these characters, but I like these enough to consider naming a child one of these as well.  I always play fair, so I split it down the middle between boy and girl names.  Enjoy!

toptentuesdayTop Ten Characters I’d Name a Child After

1. Henry – The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

I have been in love with this name–and this character–for years.  When I saw this topic, this was the first name I thought of.  Henry is a classic name, and this character is the silent-but-strong type.  I love it.

2. Tobias – Divergent by Veronica Roth

I’m going to bet this name shows up on a lot of lists this week.  It’s strong and comes paired with a very sexy namesake.

3. Rhys – A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

This is probably the weirdest name of the bunch, but I’ve always been drawn to the name Rhys/Reese/Reece.  Rhys’s character is very similar to that of Henry above, so it’s no wonder I fell in love with him too.

4. Owen – Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

One of my earliest book crushes.  Owen stole my heart and helped me fall in love with this name.

5. Jem – Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

I think I prefer this with the given name of Jeremiah (which is Jem’s given name, right?  It’s been a while since I’ve read this), but the nickname of Jem is cute.

6. Lily – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

As much as I want to name someone after Hermione, I can’t do it.  It’s too odd of a name for me.  So I’m going with the more classic Lily after Harry’s mother.  She’s a great role model as well, smart and kind.

7. Pippa – A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

I remember being in 7th grade and wanting to name a girl Pippa because of this series.  Not that I don’t also like the name Gemma–because I do–but Pippa was my first love when it came to names.

8. Aurora “Rory” – The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

I love how strong the name Rory sounds, but with the beauty of Aurora to be its base.  And this character is so strong and funny.  (While I know this is all fun and games here, this is one I’m legitimately considering for a child.)

9. Juliette – Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

I love the name Juliet (thank you Shakespeare!), but Mafi’s character takes it to a new level…and not just with the French ending.  Juliette is strength and beauty.  (Are you noticing a trend yet with my strong-but-pretty names that have a classic edge to them?)

10. Liesel – The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

100%, this is going to be a middle name for a girl that I have.  Whether it’s Liesel from this, perhaps my favorite book, or from The Sound of Music, in which I starred as Liesl in high school, this name means the world to me.  And it harkens back to my family’s German roots.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books Read Because of Recommendations

Hey guys!  So this week’s Top Ten is actually kind of a tricky one.  I tend to be a loner when it comes to books because, frankly, I know what I like and someone recommending books will have to convince me that they are truly giving me something I would like.  (I’m quite stubborn about it, really.  I drag my feet if I have the chance.)  So picking books that have been recommended to me?  A bit challenging.  But I rose to it.  Sort of.  These may not actually be my “top ten” books, but they are 10 books that have been recommended to me.

toptentuesdayTop Ten Books I’ve Read Based on Recommendations

1. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

I’ve sold my heart and soul to this series since I first read it last summer on the recommendation of my hairdresser.  (Didn’t see that one coming, did you?)  She’d gotten hooked on the show and was working her way through the first book when she told me I absolutely had to read it.  Being history and a love story, I was in.  …And then I never left.  (I’m currently rereading Dragonfly in Amber, which is why I haven’t posted any new reviews lately.  Sorry, not sorry.)

2. The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

This recommendation came from readers like you!  (Now I sound like a PBS commercial.)  But truly, it did.  When I read A Thousand Nights and didn’t really like it, a lot of people sent me comments telling me to try this book.  And boy, were you guys right!

3. This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

Is it a recommendation if Uppercase sent it to me?  I’m going to say yes.  Because hey, now that I owned the book, I had to read it, right?  And it was pretty good.  It definitely helped my faith in these book boxes.

4. And I Darken by Kiersten White

Ok, again, does it count if like, the author keeps recommending it?  I follow Kiersten on Twitter and she kept going on and on and on about this book because she was so excited about it.  And then she started posting all the positive reviews and I had to check it out, you know?

5. The Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane Yolen

This was recommended by a teacher at school because we do a Holocaust unit and this was one of her favorites.  So I decided to read it to give my students the chance to read a wider variety of books and I ended up really liking this one.

6. Story Thieves by James Riley

A student of mine loaned me this book about 5 days before the end of the school year, telling me I had to read it.  He was a super sweet kid and I couldn’t disappoint him.  So I read it.  And it was ok.

7. Code Orange by Caroline B. Cooney

When you teach, you frequently have a certain number of books to choose from, basically the ones the school already owns.  We have tons of this book and a few teachers had said it was really good.  So I read it to see if it would be interesting for my students.  And I really liked it.

8. Partials by Dan Wells

My college bestie had been trying for years to get me to read this.  I mean it.  If there’s anyone who should know what I would like, it’s her.  But when it came to trusting her judgment on this one?  I kept putting it off.  And then she proved me wrong when I read it and really enjoyed it.

9. The Light in the Forest by Conrad Richter

Another book recommendation from a teacher at school because we had to teach something.  Not the greatest, but it had its moments.

10. Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

Honestly, I can’t even remember who recommended this to me except that one of my students read it around the same time I did and another teacher at school had read it shortly before me.  Whoever recommended it, I totally didn’t like it.  You cannot mess with my favorite characters like that.  Nope, nope, nope.

Top Ten Tuesday – Favorite/Most Compelling Villains

Hey guys!  When I saw this topic, I knew I had to do it.  How often do we really look at our favorite villains?  This is the perfect topic to kick off October.  I’ll just warn you, though, you’re going to quickly notice a trend with my picks.  (I tend to like epic villains with black souls.)

toptentuesdayTop Ten Favorite/Most Compelling Villains

1. Voldemort from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

A list of villains would not be complete without Lord Voldemort, so I thought I would start with him and just get it over with.  Seriously, this man haunted my nightmares as a kid and I found bravery within myself whenever I wanted to face against him.  He committed horrible atrocities and yet it was still possible to defeat him.  (But don’t even get me started on Dolores Umbridge.)

2. The Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

In whatever incarnation she comes in (The Wicked Witch, Elphaba, etc.), she remains one of my all-time favorites.  I mean, she has also haunted my nightmares before (when I was a kid, at least) so she’s totally got the scary thing going on.  But you also have to admire her tenacity a bit.

3. Warner from Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi

If you’ve finished the series, it goes without saying why Warner is on this list.  But if you haven’t yet, Warner is one of the most compelling villains on this list.  He’s magnetic.  Even when you hate him, there’s still something about him that draws you in.

4. The King of Adarlan from the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas

One of the most despicable characters I have ever had the…pleasure?…of reading about.  He has absolutely no qualms about murdering innocents in order to gain more power.  None.  In fact, it’s actually more fun when they’re innocent.  Every single scene he’s in leaves you, as the reader, just twitching to take him down yourself.

5. Rhysand from the A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas

Again, if you’ve read both books in this series so far, you know why Rhysand is on this list.  He’s as compelling as Warner is, but in a different way.  Rhysand is ruthless but in a clever way.  He tends to be one step ahead of everyone else and knows the implications of every move.  I really like books that do that because they keep me guessing and actively participating in the reading process.

6. Prince John/Guy of Gisbourne/Sheriff of Nottingham from the Scarlet series by A.C. Gaughen

Anything to do with Robin Hood is a favorite story of mine.  These three characters (I couldn’t choose between them) are heartless, ambitious, and ruthless.  Which makes their downfall all the more satisfying.

7. Anima Industries from the Alice in Zombieland series by Gena Showalter

There really isn’t a set character here so much as it is an organization, and I’m cool with that.  But these guys at Anima have no scruples whatsoever about the ethics of really anything.  It’s fascinating.  And throwing zombies into the mix only makes them that much scarier.

8. Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall from the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon

This guy…where do I even start?  He’s a horrible excuse for a human being.  He’s vicious, cold-blooded, and sadistic.  (Seriously, his stuff is not for the faint of heart.  It is gory and disturbing.)  But even when you hate his guts, he still somehow manages to give you moments where you think that maybe, just maybe, he’s really not all that bad after all.

9. The demons from the Angelfire series by Courtney Moulton

I went a little off the beaten path for this one, but I had to get an angel story into the mix.  Angels vs. demons is pretty much the ultimate story of heroes and villains.  These demons are definitely monsters of your nightmares.  They are deadly, fierce, and disturbing.  But the clever ones are the ones you really have to watch out for.

10. The Queen of Hearts from the Splintered series by A.G. Howard/Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

I couldn’t decide which Queen of Hearts was actually my favorite, so I just decided that it was simply the same character and went with it.  She is another character that has transcended time to remain as compelling now as she was 150 years ago.  She’s nonsensical and irrational, which makes her incredibly unpredictable and dangerous.  And that’s always so much fun to read about.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on my Fall TBR Pile

Hey guys!  Ok, this week I can totally get into.  We’re going to look at books that I totally (hopefully) plan on reading this fall.  I tried to narrow it down to ones that I actually physically have on my shelves or on my Kindle.  So let’s start looking!

toptentuesdayTop Ten Books on my Fall TBR Pile

1. All We Have Left by Wendy Mills

It’s supposed to be a really interesting look at 9/11 from the perspectives of two different girls.  And this book keeps showing up everywhere I look lately.  I have to check it out.

2. A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody

It looks like a combination of Groundhog Day and Before I Fall.  I dig it.

3. The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron

This came in my Uppercase box this month.  Never was really on my radar before, but now that I own it?  Yeah, I’m going to read it.

4. Like a River Glorious by Rae Carson

I have this as an ARC, even though I think this is supposed to come out soon.  Like I wouldn’t read this anyway.  The first book in the series was brilliant.

5. The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro

That’s right, friends.  I snagged this ARC too.  More Sherlock and Watson coming my way!

6. Rook by Sharon Cameron

It wasn’t until I typed this out that I realized this was the second Sharon Cameron book on this list.  I’ve never read anything by her!  But I guess since I’ve been interested in two of her books, she must be ok.

7. Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

I will get around to this eventually.  You know it, I know it.  Now that I’ve started reading Maas, I don’t think it’s physically possible to pass up her new books.

8. Asylum by Madeleine Roux

My students have been talking about this book for about a year now and a couple of girls are trying to get me to read it.  I’m thinking it’s the perfect creepy read right before Halloween.  (They warn me not to read it at night because it gave them nightmares.  Now I’m scared.)

9. The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough

Bought this at a sale over the summer.  Sounds like an interesting premise, so I wanted to try it.  Have given up on complete sentences for this one.

10. Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Given the amount of racial tension in the news, I feel like this book is timely, even if it’s set during the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s.  I bought this last year and it just got mixed in with all my other impulse buys.

Top Ten Tuesday – ALL TIME Favorites

Hey guys!  This week’s Top Ten is All Time Favorites in a particular genre.  I have a feeling I’m going to regret this next month because this is sure to be a topic, but I want to talk about ghost stories this week.  Because truly, who doesn’t love a good ghost story?  And besides, once October starts, you really want to have these things decided.  I like to know early what creepy story looks good.

toptentuesdayTop Ten ALL TIME Favorite Ghost Stories

1. The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

A return from last week!  This ghost story is creepy, unsettling, and highly entertaining as we get to see ghosts that are more than just an annoyance–they’re deadly.

2. Hereafter by Tara Hudson

This is a cute human-ghost romance.  And not the only one of those on this list.  But, as you’d come to expect from a ghost story, it also goes dark at times.  It’s not all fluff.

3. Shade by Jeri Ready-Smith

Just thinking about this series weirdly puts me in a good mood.  Set in a world where kids can see ghosts, it’s totally normal for people to get messages from beyond the grave.  But how is a girl supposed to move on from her dead boyfriend when he won’t stop haunting her?

4. Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

And we’re back to the creepy.  I totally adore this book, partly because it’s one of two on this list with a male protagonist.  Also, it builds like an episode of Supernatural.  Anna, a ghost with the ability to kill, takes out everyone that enters her home.  Everyone…except for Cas.

5. Wake Unto Me by Lisa Cach

Alright, we’re back to the human-ghost romances.  This one was always super cute because it’s set in France and it has a ton of history in it.  I really liked that.

6. My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent

Ok, so this series is really about banshees (or bean sidhes, as they say in Gaelic).  But you can’t haven banshees without death, and Kaylee does see their spirits, so that counts as a ghost story, right?  Yes.

7. Project 17 by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Aaaand…creepy.  This is one of those books that is going to give you the willies.  A bunch of teenagers decide to spend the night in an abandoned asylum, videotaping the whole thing for a movie competition.  But the asylum isn’t what it seems to be…(is it ever though?)

8. Shadow Kissed by Richelle Mead

I’m going to say very little about this one, the 3rd book in the Vampire Academy series.  Suffice it to say that this book pulls at my heartstrings and makes me emotional every time I read it.  And yes, even though it’s a vampire book, there are definitely ghosts in this one.

9. Intrinsical by Lani Woodland

This is kind of like a Ghost Whisperer story, where our main character sees ghosts.  However, these ghosts are not benevolent.  There’s a curse, and they’re going to carry it out.

10. The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade

This is simply one of those stories that is just funny to read.  The stereotypes alone of a cheerleader (our ghost) and a goth getting along make it funny.  I just think it’s cute and humorous, a nice lighthearted ghost story after all these other ones filled with deadly and malevolent ghosts.

Top Ten Tuesday: Fall TV Freebie

Hey guys!  I know I haven’t posted much lately, but there’s more coming, I promise.  🙂  So this week’s Top Ten is a freebie, as long as it’s related to TV shows.  So rather than focusing on some of my favorite TV shows or something, I thought I’d do books that I wish were TV shows.  I tried to pick series or books that I thought were super dramatic and would translate well onto the screen in a serialized form.  Unfortunately, now I REALLY want to see these as TV shows.

toptentuesdayTop Ten Books I Wish Would Be TV Shows

1. The Morganville Vampires by Rachel Caine

This series is nearly a serialized TV show anyway.  With like 14 books to its name and tons of drama, it would be super easy to make a TV show out of it.  Sure, vampires are kind of out now.  We’re sick of them after Twilight and Vampire Diaries, but how can you turn down Myrrnin and his vampire bunny slippers?

2. A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas

These books are so loaded with action that I think you could get nearly a series out of one book, the way they do with Outlander.  I’d love to see what kind of trouble Feyre could get into on the screen.  (Given the way A Court of Mist and Fury goes, though, it’d probably have to be a show picked up by a cable channel.)

3. Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas

Noticing a trend yet?  Maas writes these super dramatic and action-packed books that I just think would translate well to the small screen.  Especially with this series, when you factor in that we don’t always follow Celaena.  The narration jumps to other characters as well, which would work well.  And with all the political backstabbing and everything, plot twists would be super easy to pull off.

4. Scarlet series by A.C. Gaughen

Robin Hood will always sell.  But throw in the twist of Will Scarlet being a girl and I think this could be a hugely empowering show.  There’s action, serious bad guys, and a hint of romance without it ever being the main point of the story.  I just think it’s fabulous.

5. Partials series by Dan Wells

In television, it always seems like sci-fi (especially dystopians) do well.  This dystopian about the last surviving humans against half-human half-robot Partials would be a hit.  It has science, paranoia, a heavy-handed government, and everything else I usually find my dad watching in his SyFy shows.

6. These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

Hear me out: this historical mystery, though a standalone novel, would be perfect on TV.  Set around the turn of the century, it follows a young rich girl who wants to be a journalist in New York.  When she begins investigating the suspicious death of her father, she realizes there’s more beneath the surface than she’s supposed to know.  It deals with socio-economics, murder, mystery, madness, and women’s rights in a time before women even had the right to vote.  I loved the drama of this book and I think a TV show could do so much with it, even continuing the story past the end of the book.

7. The Diviners series by Libba Bray

Another historical story, this one focuses on the 1920s.  I think it’s perfect for TV because A) the books are all like 700-800 pages, B) they follow something like 8 different characters, and C) the characters are trying to make their big break on radio and as socialites.  Oh, and did I mention the paranormal?  Each of them has a slightly different ability, from healing powers to being able to read the history of objects.  Not quite X-Men level powers, but enough to bring out some nasty baddies.

8. Alice in Zombieland series by Gena Showalter

With the popularity of shows like The Walking Dead, I don’t see why this series wouldn’t do well.  Ali Bell, haunted by tragedy, befriends the scariest looking group of kids at her school and begins fighting zombies.  Granted, these zombies feed on something akin to psychic energy, but they are just as nasty as the zombies we know.  I think this twist on zombies could be something unique to make the story feel new instead of rehashing others in the genre.

9. Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

This one might be better as a mini-series, but I think this would be great.  A focused look at schizophrenia, you never really know if the narrator is reliable or not.  I think that alone would make for fascinating television because you want to believe her, but there are things that are slightly off all the time.  And with the way mental illness is constantly in the news, this might be a great way to bring more awareness to how people deal.

10. The Name of the Star series by Maureen Johnson

First of all, can you just imagine Maureen Johnson on the set of a show based on her work?  Oh my gosh, I can just picture her Twitter feed now.  But this series is super creepy since we’re dealing with supernatural baddies that are basically the soul of evil.  They’re legit scary.  But that’s balanced by Rory’s incredible humor and the way she’s the outcast American in a British boarding school.  That fish-out-of-water moment would be awesome on TV.