Remarkable Reading Recs with Writing Whiz Abby

In this week’s Team Tuesday article, we’re taking a peek inside the mind of one of our content writers, Abby!

Fantasy Fiction Just For Fun Pop Culture Recommendations
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Hi there! Welcome to another edition of Bookstr Team Tuesday, where we showcase the incredible members of our team. This week, we’re taking a little dive into the mind of one of our Editorial members – me!

I’m Abby, a content writer here at Boostr. Topic-wise, I dabble in a little bit of everything. From pitches to trivia to listicles, I try to do it all! My favorite types of pieces are listicles and recommendations because they guarantee I’ll find some books to add to my ever-growing TBR.

This week, I’m excited to share some of my favorite reads. You’ll see that fantasy is by far my favorite genre, but I will read anything if the synopsis is interesting enough (or the cover is pretty). Without further ado, here are some of my favorite reads in no particular order!

1. The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

The Poppy War is a military fantasy based on 20th-century Chinese history and Chinese mythology. We follow Rin, who aces an Empire-wide test called the Keju and earns a place at Sinegard, Nikan’s most elite military school. As a dark-skinned orphan from one of the Empire’s poorest provinces, Rin sticks out amongst her wealthy and privileged classmates. But her determination to prove all her doubting classmates wrong unlocks an unearthly gift and throws her into the world of shamanism. As she learns more about magic and gods, Rin and her classmates are thrown into a raging war as Nikan’s decades of peace come to an end.

Book cover for "The Poppy War" by R.F. Kuang.

It is so refreshing to read a main character who is led by emotions and not morality. As fun as heroes are, there is something so relatable about a flawed protagonist who doesn’t necessarily want to do the right thing for everyone, just the right thing for them. These reasons are why I adore Rin as the main character, and her friendship with Kitay is incredible.

2. Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Arthurian legend gets a modern, Black twist in this YA fantasy. Our hero is 16-year-old Bree, who hopes that UNC-Chapel Hill’s prestigious residential program will be the distraction she needs from her mother’s sudden death. On her first night, Bree witnesses a strange, unexplainable attack. This incident will throw Bree headfirst into the world of the “Legendborn.” The Legendborn are descendants of the members of King Arthur’s court who possess magical powers that they use to protect the human world from invading creatures. The deeper Bree gets into this world of magic and legend, the more she suspects her mother’s death wasn’t an accident.

Book cover for "Legendborn" by Tracy Deonn

One of the best trends in literature is when classic stories with all-white casts get remixed with Black characters, and Legendborn does so in a way that combines the traditional myth with hard American history. I love the magic system, especially the idea of being linked to someone in battle. Something about a mythical bond that links two people intrinsically is so intriguing to read. Deeper than friendship, deeper than romance, it’s a bond that ties their very beings together.

3. Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

The first in a duology, Raybearer is a novel ripe with magic, love, and deceit in a world based on West African mythology. After years of living in isolation, all Tarisai wants is a family. Her mother, a distant woman known only as the Lady, sends Tarisai to Aritsar’s capital in hopes that Tarisai is picked to be one of the Crown Prince’s Council of 11. If picked, a special bond called the Ray will bind Tarisai to the Crown Prince and the other chosen Council members. The promise of a bond deeper than blood calls to Tarisai, who has always wanted to belong. But the Lady sent Tarisai away for one reason: to kill the Crown Prince. Now Tarisai is caught between two families–the one she’s always known and the one she could make herself.

Book cover for "Raybearer" by Jordan Ifueko

I love a found family dynamic, and Raybearer has it in spades. There’s also amazing worldbuilding and a magic system based on West African mythology. I like how Ifueko draws from multiple cultures to build the Raybearer world and Dayo’s court, calling on the magic of the real world to influence her world.

4. Yellowface by R.F. Kuang

In Yellowface, author June Hayward wants the life Athena Liu has. Athena Liu is the literary darling who has success, acclaim, and money, while June is just…nobody. When June witnesses Athena die in a freak accident, she makes a rash decision and steals Athena’s just-finished manuscript about Chinese laborers during World War I. It’s not stealing if June edits it herself, is it? That’s the story June goes with when she turns the novel in to her editor and lets her agent give her a branding makeover, complete with an ethnically ambiguous pen name and author photo. June finally has the writing career she’s always wanted–as long as no one finds out what she did.

Book cover for "Yellowface" by R.F. Kuang

There’s something really fun reading about an unlikeable character. I don’t normally read first-person POV, but I think it was the best way to deliver the story. I think any writer would relate to June, and although she does some awful things, you also can’t help but root for her sometimes, too.

5. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Set in Bardugo’s Grishaverse, Six of Crows follows six criminals as they attempt to pull off the heist of their lives. In Ketterdam, anything can be yours for the right price, and no one knows that better than Kaz Brekker, the notorious Dirtyhands. Kaz gets the chance to gain unimaginable riches with a deadly heist, but he’s not able to do it alone. He assembles a team: a convict, a sharpshoot, a runaway, a spy, and a Heartrender, all led by Dirtyhands himself. Each of them has their reasons for joining the heist. Pulling it off means achieving everything they’ve ever dreamed of–as long as their misfit crew doesn’t fall apart.

Book cover for "Six of Crows" by Leigh Bardugo

Again, I love a found family dynamic, especially when the found family gets created by the unlikeliest group of people. All of the Crows have their agendas, and despite being self-serving, they really care for each other. Although posed as the bad guys within their universe, they have a sense of justice that the other characters lack.

6. Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Schwab’s Vicious is a dark twist on the world of superheroes and superpowers. During their senior year of college, two roommates, Victor and Eli, develop a shocking theory: under the right circumstances, someone can gain extraordinary abilities. When they move their research from the theoretical realm to the practical one, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, the roommates have turned into enemies. Eli, with the help of his sidekick, is out to eliminate every other person with superpowers, leaving him the only and the best. Meanwhile, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to bring Eli down and get revenge for his imprisonment. It’s a battle of wills between the archnemeses for who will make it out of their war alive.

Book cover for "Vicious" by V.E. Schwab.

Nothing better than two former friends turned enemies trying to destroy each other. So often when characters acquire powers they are held down by issues of morality and existentialism. That is not the case with these two. Instead of wanting to save the world, all they want is to destroy each other, which is almost a romance in its own way. After all, who knows you better than your biggest enemy?

7. The Angel of History by Rabih Alameddine

The Angel of History follows Jacob, a Yemeni-born poet, in the waiting room of a psych clinic, patiently awaiting his admission. Throughout one night, Jacob reminisces on significant events from his life: his childhood in an Egyptian whorehouse, his teenage years under the guardianship of his wealthy father, and his adult life as a gay Arab man living in San Francisco at the height of AIDS. Alongside Jacob is a cast of unearthly characters, like Satan, Death, and 14 saints, all of whom look out for Jacob as he grapples with what to do next.

Book cover for "The Angel of History" by Rabih Alameddine.

This book is an incredible experiment with prose and format. Part traditional narrative, part epistolary segments, this book is 100% my kind of dark humor. The main character is established as unreliable from the start, leaving you to wonder if Satan and the other Angels are figments of his imagination or actual real characters.

8. Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

The death of Jacob’s grandfather sets off a series of events that will change Jacob’s life forever. When Jacob goes to a remote island off the coast of Wales with his father, he doesn’t expect to find the subject of his grandfather’s strange and mysterious photos waiting for him. An old, grand orphanage that was once the setting for his grandfather’s stories is still standing — and the peculiar children it housed are still alive. Jacob’s search for answers about his grandfather’s life will lead him on a great adventure with peculiar people in a peculiar world — a world that just may have been waiting for him

Book cover for "Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children" by Ransom Riggs.

Ever since I was little, I gravitated towards mixed-media books. There’s something about books that incorporate images and drawings that blur the line between fantasy and reality. The fact that the entire series consists of photos Riggs found and assembled into their own story is amazing and adds to the intrigue of the story.

9. Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

In this romantic comedy, international affairs get a queer makeover. After an unfortunate incident between Alex, the First Son Of The United States, and Henry, the Prince of Wales, the United States and England throw them into a fake friendship to smooth over their global images. But what starts as an elaborate PR stunt begins to blossom into a genuine friendship as Alex learns the stiffy, polished Henry has more beneath his surface than Alex first thought. Will their love be able to survive the weight of two nations and all the history bearing down on them?

Book cover for "Red, White & Royal Blue" by Casey McQuiston.

Some people say this book reads like fanfiction as an insult, but I think that sentiment is the exact opposite. As someone who has been in fandom and writing fanfiction for years, one of my favorite things is that fanfiction emulates the cadence of the people writing it. Part of Red, White and Royal Blue’s charm is that it’s accessible, fun, and as endearing as any other adult romance.

10. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

In a family of psychics and witches, Blue Sargent’s only power is to make her family’s abilities stronger. While she’s attended the annual walk of the soon-to-be dead in Henrietta, she never sees them herself. Until this year, when one emerges and speaks with her. This boy, Gansey, is embarking on a quest with three other boys from the local private school: Adam, Ronan, and Noah. Although Gansey draws her in, getting involved with them breaks Blue’s biggest self-imposed rule: Stay away from Aglionby boys.

Book cover for "The Raven Boys" by Maggie Stiefvater.

This series is the first one I remember intentionally rereading because I needed to be inside it again. I loved how the core four characters worked as a unit, I liked that Blue lived in a family of witches, and the magical, mystical prose felt like it was made just for me. It’s also the book that got me into tarot reading, a skill I unfortunately haven’t mastered yet.

Thanks for checking out my recommendations! I hope you enjoyed this little peek into my mind and found some titles to add to your TBR. Tune in again next week for more recommendations from our team!

Check out some of Abby’s favorite articles here and here!

Browse our Bookstr Team Recommendations bookshelf on Bookshop!