YA Fantasy and Romance Recs From Writing Virtuoso Alena!

Editorial writer Alena is our featured Bookstr Team member this week. Let’s see who she is and what she reads!

Fiction Just For Fun Pop Culture Recommendations
Bookstr Team tuesday orange background with Alena hugging a tree

Welcome back to another week of Bookstr Team Tuesdays, where we feature a Bookstr Team member, and they tell us all about the books they love the most! This week, we’re highlighting editorial writer Alena Baez. This coffee girlie is all about writing articles that resonate deeply in her heart, so she’s sharing a piece of herself with each of her readers!

Alena holds a BS in Psychology and planned on working in the screenwriting and nutrition fields, but she let her heart and life lead her where she belongs, and now she’s an amazing writer here at Bookstr. She loves to break the spines of her paperbacks, and if you don’t like that, she just says, “God Bless Your Soul!”

Let’s dig into her recs!

The Ballad of Never After (Once Upon a Broken Heart Series) by Stephanie Garber

I adore this entire series. But I love this book the most because of the whimsicalness and creativity that is unparalleled by any other book I’ve read. It has a very fairytale visual and almost touchable world. The descriptions are simple, but you can truly taste and feel everything through the page. Moreover, the message of the story is truly driven in this book the most. That a broken heart can hurt, but it does not mean that you are broken. That love is something worth fighting for. And that love is a leap of faith in the unexpected.

The Ballad of Never After (Once Upon a Broken Heart Series) by Stephanie Garber, book cover depicting a night sky and purple embellished staff.

Love, Theoretically by Ali Hazelwood

This book is my favorite Ali Hazelwood book. It is the best one she has written so far. I think the characters were well–fleshed out. It’s cute and funny, as well as has an interesting concept. Instead of a quirky girl getting into a fake relationship, like in The Love Hypothesis, this one is about a manipulative liar whose job is to fake dates, and she meets a guy who sees through her lies. I love it. It was perfect and adorable.

Love, Theoretically by Ali Hazelwood, illustrated book cover depicting a man and woman kissing in front of bookshelves.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

I stepped into this book unaware of what would occur in my brain chemistry. I thought this was a little historical fantasy, but I was pleasantly surprised. I didn’t know that this book had magic… And then I was thrown in, slowly increasingly getting suspicious, asking questions, and wondering what was going on in my own heart. I was hooked. The magic slowly snuck up on me, the sister-bond was chef’s-kiss, and the angsty bicker and banter while reaching toward their goals had me squealing like a bird. I love the twisted spins on plot twists, narrative, and tropes. It’s soft but with a mystical atmosphere.

Love, Theoretically by Ali Hazelwood

The main character has a go-getter attitude and will do anything to fight for her fate. She’s extremely brave and smart, but she also has compassion and love. I love how she’s not like any heroine I’ve read. She doesn’t want to fight or be a hero. But when, after all this time, the person who can change her fate writes back, she takes this chance and doesn’t squander it. She wants to be in charge of her fate and protect the ones that mean the world to her. It’s the ultimate comfort book.

Emma by Jane Austen

An unmatched classic. This one was witty and had me laughing and swooning. Yes, It’s Jane Austen. And Jane Austen knows how to keep me hooked. This one is my favorite of her works. I love how Emma is always helping others with her edgy but also prim and proper attitude. But what I love most is that she can be horrible if she lets herself. She is flawed, makes mistakes, and is pretty nasty at times. She learns from it and falls in love all at once. I love that despite her mistakes or flaws, he loves her. It’s adorable.

Emma by Jane Austen, book cover depicting an illustrated version of the book title on a pink background with flowers and fruit around the letters.

Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody

I use this book for a lot of my plotting. Most of it is for fun, but this book was life-changing once I first discovered it. Learning how to write a story has never been made simpler for me, and I feel like I’m always on the correct path in a story with help. I read this once a week.

Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody, book cover of a cat hang from its paws on a rope

Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo

The found family is perfect. The morally grey characters are giving the best performance. Every character has demons they hide, but the characters still have witty, lovable, and flawed personalities. Yet, somehow, I wanted to protect all of them with my life. There was nothing they wouldn’t do for each other at the end, and I ate every bit up…

Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo, book cover depicting a crow wing over a grey castle

Powerless by Lauren Roberts

I think the premise of this book had me hooked before I read it. The action, magic, and characters are beautiful. I adore the aesthetic and vibe, but this story was everything I didn’t know I needed. I like the idea of a tournament, princes, royals/class divides, thieves, magic, enemies falling in love, and this book had it all. AND KAI… he was made to make me have high, impossible standards and love the color blue more than a reasonable amount… if you know, you know.

Powerless by Lauren Roberts, book cover depicting a gagger amid green vine with tiny purple flowers

Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

Firstly, the book takes place in Paris at the Exposition Universelle World Fair… It had me at hello. This magic system was extremely fun. It’s called Forging, which was something I never heard of before in the way she spun the magic. There’s the talk of Babel and the idea of claiming great magic if they do a certain work. It has the Six of Crows misfit vibes for the found family but also is nothing like Six of Crows… The amount of research for this author is impeccable. There is a power balance and imbalance. Themes about power. There are heists and magic and love and lies. It’s perfect.

Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi, book cover depicting a nigh sky bordered by gilded intricate iron work and plants

Well, there you have it! Alena’s recs hit a few different genres and really give us a well-rounded TBR if you haven’t read these amazing books yet!

Join us again next week when we talk with editorial writer Alexandra Mellott!

Want more recs from the Bookstr team? Click here.

Browse these books and more on our Bookstr Team Recs bookshelf on Bookshop.org!