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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

♠ YA Fantasy Recommendations: by the Warrior Fairy

Hey everyone, this is the Warrior Fairy here. I thought I'd make a list of my top YA fantasy favorites. Fantasy is broad and has a lot of subtypes, but I lean more towards the classic or high fantasy, rather than urban and paranormal. It's not everyone's cup of tea (or coffee, if you prefer), but hopefully you guys will check them out and give them a try if you haven't read them yet!

Before that, here is a quote by GRRM that I think captures a lot of the feelings (but not all) I have for fantasy:

"The best fantasy is written in the language of dreams. It is alive as dreams are alive, more real than real … for a moment at least … that long magic moment before we wake.

Fantasy is silver and scarlet, indigo and azure, obsidian veined with gold and lapis lazuli. Reality is plywood and plastic, done up in mud brown and olive drab. Fantasy tastes of habaneros and honey, cinnamon and cloves, rare red meat and wines as sweet as summer. Reality is beans and tofu, and ashes at the end. Reality is the strip malls of Burbank, the smokestacks of Cleveland, a parking garage in Newark. Fantasy is the towers of Minas Tirith, the ancient stones of Gormenghast, the halls of Camelot. Fantasy flies on the wings of Icarus, reality on Southwest Airlines. Why do our dreams become so much smaller when they finally come true?

We read fantasy to find the colors again, I think. To taste strong spices and hear the songs the sirens sang. There is something old and true in fantasy that speaks to something deep within us, to the child who dreamt that one day he would hunt the forests of the night, and feast beneath the hollow hills, and find a love to last forever somewhere south of Oz and north of Shangri-La.

They can keep their heaven. When I die, I’d sooner go to middle Earth."

Without further ado, here they are in no particular order: 

Seven Realms by Cinda Williams Chima
 63424917801229The Gray Wolf Throne (Seven Realms, #3)The Crimson Crown (Seven Realms, #4)

The first thing that drew me to this book was the stunning covers! The cover in itself already promised me a story full of adventure, magic and mystery. More importantly, I discovered this when I was in great need of an awesome high fantasy series to read. 
There was nothing wrong for me at all in this series. The world building was masterfully done, the characterization was amazing and the story was brilliant. The world was just so rich and it came alive inside my mind. There's politics, war, romance, adventure, mystery and more. I'm going to give the romance aspect a special mention because there were no overly done cliches (!!!) and love triangles (no "team -insert name-!!!!!!) which is what I'm pretty sick of in most YA novels. There was only one guy for me (and the girl) in this series. I'm still in love with Han. Seriously. The characters and story will stay with you and you will feel for them.

The story is told in two viewpoints, Han's and Raisa's. They come from two different backgrounds but happen to meet each other in a chance meeting that eventually ends up changing their whole world throughout the series. This series restored my faith in YA fantasy, I'm not kidding. Read my review of the first book here.

Check out the synopses of the books here in Goodreads:

The Queen's Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
 The Thief (The Queen's Thief, #1)The Queen of Attolia (The Queen's Thief, #2)The King of Attolia (The Queen's Thief, #3)A Conspiracy of Kings (The Queen's Thief, #4)

Another one whose covers attracted me when it was on the shelf. When I read the blurb of The Thief, I was intrigued. Why? Because it gave away absolutely nothing, except that they were going on a journey to retrieve something. That's it. It was so vague that it seemed like such a plain story. How wrong I was. This set the bar for me. For months I scoured through the internet looking for books that were like this!

These books were hidden gems that I am so bloody thankful to have picked up! It's very cleverly plotted, nothing is spelled out for the reader (thank you MWT for making me feel like a smart reader), and the protagonist, Eugenides, is such an experience to read about. He's witty, sarcastic, boastful but not arrogant, and cunning. Whenever you reread the books, you will find something you haven't seen before. Even when you've read it for the fifth time or more. The first book has a slower pace than the next three books, but that doesn't mean it's not awesome. My review of The Thief can be found here, and review of The Queen of Attolia is here.

If you've read The Thief and you're not sure whether to continue, PLEASE DO. The Queen of Attolia is faster and packed with much more action without losing characterization. My personal favorite is The King of Attolia. A Conspiracy of Kings paves the way for a new arc. There are supposedly two more books after this but without any publishing date yet. In that regard, it's kind of like A Song of Fire and Ice for YA. Oh, the wait.

If you've read The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen, you can see the striking similarities between Gen and Sage, although something about Sage just rubs me the wrong way. The False Prince was a poor imitation of The Thief for me (and everything was predictable. You gave it away in the title). MWT's writing and storytelling is a thousand times better, in my honest opinion.

Check out the synopses here:
Harry Potter by JK Rowling
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter, #2)Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter, #3)Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter, #4) 
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter, #5)Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter, #6)Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter, #7)

What children/YA fantasy list would be complete without Harry Potter? This is the story that captured the imagination of millions of people all around the world and possibly changed their lives.

While this isn't the books that got me into reading (I was already into Goosebumps, Nancy Drew and etc), I believe this is the one that sparked my love for fantasy, for that other world with magic and endless possibilities - hence, my love for high fantasy. Enough said.

No synopsis links because you've all probably read it already, lol.

Song of the Lioness by Tamora Pierce
Alanna: The First Adventure (Song of the Lioness, #1)In the Hand of the Goddess (Song of the Lioness, #2)The Woman Who Rides Like a Man (Song of the Lioness, #3)Lioness Rampant (Song of the Lioness, #4)

This was recommended to me by a friend. Alanna was my first "badass heroine", and probably one of the reasons why I loathe authors who write female characters who do nothing and are only plot devices (another reason is Hermione). Alanna is brave, headstrong, stubborn and loyal. The story in the first book might be a "typical tomboy" type but it develops with the next books along with the characters. It spoke a lot to me especially when I was younger and I identified with Alanna a lot.

Alanna: The First Adventure has a goodreads average rating of 4.25 with over 50,000 ratings, and all the other books in the series have a rating of higher than 4. Tamora Pierce is one the biggest classic fantasy authors for YA and you must try reading one of her works!

Check out the synopses:
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
Artemis Fowl (Artemis Fowl, #1)The Arctic Incident (Artemis Fowl, #2)The Eternity Code (Artemis Fowl, #3)The Opal Deception  (Artemis Fowl, #4)The Lost Colony (Artemis Fowl, #5)The Time ParadoxThe Atlantis Complex (Artemis Fowl, #7)The Last Guardian (Artemis Fowl, #8)

There's just something about anti-heroes and morally grey characters that really appeal to me. Artemis Fowl is exactly that. He's a criminal mastermind at the tender age of 12. He appealed to me in what almost every child wants to be: filthy rich, intelligent enough to not need school, and he was searching for magic. What else could I ask for? The fairies and sprites in this story aren't like Tinkerbell either, no way. They're pretty badass in their own way. You'll enjoy these series with all the twists and turns as the characters try to outwit one another.

All the books in this series are under my category of "intelligent books" (including The Queen's Thief above) because the plot is so clever and unpredictable that it just blows my mind whenever I read it. Reading it now is still as enjoyable as reading it then. 

Check out the synopses:

The Grisha by Leigh Bardugo 

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1)Siege and Storm (The Grisha, #2)Ruin and Rising (The Grisha, #3) 

Shadow and Bone is about Alina, a young girl who has felt like she's never fit in. She uncovers her secret power that's been there all along but just repressed, and boom. The story starts from there. I loved the world that Bardugo built. It's a bit grim, but I'm into dark, gritty things. I loved the characterization of Alina, Mal and even the Darkling. I was able to relate to Alina in a lot of ways too, and relateable characters are always the best ones, right? There's a lot of court life in the earlier part of the story but the action and pacing gets going when Alina realizes a lot of things. The second book is even better. And Mal, you are flawed but perfect anyway.

This is also one of the best recent YA fantasies out there and I highly recommend you check it out! You won't be disappointed.

Check out the synopses:

Have any more books to recommend? Comment below! 


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