Top Ten Tuesday: Hidden Gems in Fantasy

Top Ten Tuesday(9)

Hello fellow book lovers!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s theme is Hidden Gems in whichever genre you’d like to pick! Of course I adore hidden gem recommendations and I have more than a few to give but fantasy is my most read genre so that’s the genre I went with. Some of these may be a little more iffy as far as having them be considered fantasy but there are fantasy elements none the less and most of them are 100% pure fantasy. Some of my choices also might be a little more popular than others and some of you may not consider them a “hidden” gem but they still aren’t super popular so I’d like to recommend them!

I will link up each title to my full review as well if you’d like to be convinced some more to add these to your TBR! Also these aren’t in any particular order!

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10.) Alice (The Chronicles of Alice #1) by Christina Henry

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This is more of a horror book than anything but it still counts as fantasy in my mind especially since it’s a dark retelling of “Alice in Wonderland”. This book isn’t for the faint of heart, it’s truly terrifying, graphic, brutal, and violent and yet it’s still an addictive story. I highly recommend reading it if you’re looking for a unique retelling!

You can read my full review of “Alice” here.


9.) Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor

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A collection of three short fairy tale-esque stories all revolving around a kiss but trust me when I say it’s not the gushy romance fest you think it would be! Laini Taylor’s writing is gorgeous and she weaves together such creative tales with mythology of her own making, these stories are fantastic. Plus the illustrations are gorgeous as well!

You can read my full review of “Lips Touch: Three Times” here.


8.) The Impostor Queen (The Impostor Queen #1) by Sarah Fine

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This is such an underrated fantasy novel it isn’t even fair! The magic system is one of the best I’ve come across with both fire and ice users but the magic doesn’t come without it’s costs. The Valtia is the queen of the land who is the only wielder of both ice and fire magic and when she dies it passes on to the next but when the magic doesn’t enter Elli she is forced to flee. Great characters and great world building, go give this book some more love!

You can read my full review of “The Impostor Queen” here.


7.) The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury

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This book is a little more well known but still not enough in my eyes! It’s an Aladdin retelling where the genie is female and they have a relationship, it’s got some great world building, badass female characters, and gorgeous writing! What more could you want?

You can read my full review of “The Forbidden Wish” here.


6.) Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas #1) by Zoraida Cordova

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Not only does this book have a gorgeous cover and diverse characters but it’s also filled with magic and a very Wonderland-esque adventure. Alex is a bruja (a witch) and wants to rid herself of her powers but when she tries her whole family vanishes into thin air.

You can read my full review of “Labyrinth Lost” here.


5.) Kingdom of Ash and Briars by Hannah West

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I recommend this book ALL the time and it’s probably the book on here I feel is the most underrated. It has a great story, world building, and characters plus on top of all of that it has four retellings weaved into the plot which include: Sleep Beauty, Cinderella, Hua Mulan, and Jane Austen’s Emma. It’s a fantastic story!

You can read my full review of “Kingdom of Ash and Briars” here.


4.) The Bone Witch (The Bone Witch #1) by Rin Chupeco

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This is a dark fantasy featuring a witch with the gift of necromancy who goes to train under another bone witch. She must control her powers if she is going to aid her fellow witches with the war that is brewing in the kingdoms. I really loved how dark and sometimes creepy this book got especially with the necromancy, great world building too!

You can read my full review of “The Bone Witch” here.


3.) Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

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Once again this one is a little more popular so it may not be considered a true hidden gem but it’s not a book I see tons of people talking about all of the time either. This is a Peter Pan retelling revolving around the character Tiger Lily, her backstory, and her relationship with Peter. It’s a darker version of Neverland and you’ll definitely be heart broken by the end.

You can read my full review of “Tiger Lily” here.


2.) The Hundredth Queen (The Hundredth Queen #1) by Emily R. King

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A girl raised by the Sisterhood is chosen to be the Rajah’s 100th wife and she must fight in gladiator style battles against his other 99 wives in order to secure her place. This book is full of magic and some badass females, it may not be the best written book ever but it was highly addictive and entertaining!

You can read my full review of “The Hundredth Queen” here.


1.) Mask of Shadows (Untitled #1) by Linsey Miller

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This book is pretty hyped up at the moment but still isn’t receiving as much hype as it should. This is everything I wanted and expected “Throne of Glass” to be with the brutal competition to be the Queen’s assassin, plus we get a genderfluid main character!

You can read my full review of “Mask of Shadows” here.

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Have you read any of these books? What did you think?

What are some of your hidden gems in YA fantasy?

Let me know in the comments!

The Sassy

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Book Recommendations: Retellings

Top Ten Tuesday(76)

Hello fellow book lovers!

Time for a couple more book recommendations! Woohoo! I absolutely love giving out book recommendations but unfortunately I don’t have a ton to ever recommend usually since I read so many different genres and sometimes I don’t like the book! However, I have a decent amount of retellings that I adored so I wanted to share a couple of them with all of you!

I will provide links to my full reviews of each book if you want some more details!

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Alice (The Chronicles of Alice #1) by Christina Henry

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This is one of my most favorite books of all time and definitely one of the top retellings! This is a very, very dark, horrific, and graphic version of “Alice in Wonderland” where the characters we all know and love are twisted versions of themselves. I have to say it’s one of the most unique retellings I’ve ever come across since it takes elements of the original story and does so many different things with them including making them absolutely horrifying.

So if you’re a fan of Alice retellings and aren’t afraid to see the darkest side of it then definitely check this one out!

You can read my full review of “Alice” here.


Heartless by Marissa Meyer

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Another wonderful “Alice in Wonderland” retelling that is also an origin story for the Queen of Hearts character. While the beginning half of the book was pretty slow and filled with descriptions of food and moony eyes, the end half was full of action and plot twists! It was really fun getting to see all of the different characters come into play as well!

You can read my full review of “Heartless” here.


The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury

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This is an AMAZING “Aladdin” retelling where the genie is a female and falls in love with Aladdin. However, there is plenty of action and great world building so this isn’t just a romance focused story! On top of the unique plot there is Khoury’s beautiful writing, seriously it’s just so gorgeous and made reading this book such a breeze! There is also some kickass feminist themes as well since Princess Caspida and her Watchmaidens are basically Robin Hood and are super badass.

You can read my full review of “The Forbidden Wish” here.


Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

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A “Peter Pan” retelling that centeralizes around the character of Tiger Lily, it’s narrated by Tinkerbell as she watches Tiger Lily grow and eventually watches the romance the develops between her and Peter Pan. It’s a very warped version of Neverland that we see in this story it’s dark and very saddening. Overall I highly recommend reading this one just for the unique take on Neverland as well as the story of Tiger Lily but be warned you’re probably going to cry!

You can read my full review of “Tiger Lily” here.


Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook by Christina Henry

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Another “Peter Pan” retelling but, as the title states, it’s the origin story of Captain Hook. Like with “Alice” Christina Henry takes the Neverland we all know and love and flips it upside down, this is a dark and very gritty version filled with many horrors both monstrous and more realistic. Trust me when I say you probably won’t be the biggest fan of Peter anymore……

You can read my full review of “Lost Boy” here.


Kingdom of Ash and Briars by Hannah West

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This is it’s own unique story but it also weaves in four other retellings throughout as well. That’s right, four! We get to see Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Hua Mulan, and Jane Austen’s Emma and while I can’t really speak for the Emma retelling I can tell you the other three are well represented within the main story line. I recommend checking this book out for the great story and world building alongside the retellings too!

You can read my full review of “Kingdom of Ash and Briars” here.


The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember

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This is a “Little Mermaid” retelling with a F/F romance and quite a bit of Norse mythology weaved in as well. While I did have a couple problems with this book I generally did really enjoy it and thought it was a really unique take on the “Little Mermaid” story as well as adding in a bunch of original elements as well.

You can read my full review of “The Seafarer’s Kiss” here.

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Have you read any of these books yet? What did you think?

What are some of your favorite retellings?

Let me know in the comments!

The Sassy

Book Recs: YA Standalones

Top Ten Tuesday(53)

I like to read a lot of standalones since I don’t have a lot of patience for series, I’m better at starting a series than finishing it. So standalones are better for me and they might be for you too! So I just threw together a little list of some of my favorite YA standalones, hopefully you can find some new and interesting books to add to your TBR!

Keep in mind these aren’t ALL of my favorites and some of these are short story anthologies, but they still count in my book! I will link up each title to their Goodreads pages and also link up any reviews I have too.

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Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

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You can read my full review here.

This is an absolutely fantastic Peter Pan retelling about the relationship between Tiger Lily and Peter. Although I will warn you up ahead of time, you will cry so many tears! It’s a dark, sad story with many flawed and broken characters but it still manages to be beautiful (thanks to the gorgeous writing!).


The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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You can read my full review here.

I don’t think I need to hype this book up anymore but I will 100% support all of the hype it has already recieved since it’s worth every bit of it! This is an absolutely amazing book telling the story of a girl named Starr who witnesses the shooting of her friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer, Khalil was also unarmed. We then watch as Starr struggles between voicing what really happened and endangering her life, or not saying anything at all.

It’s not only a diverse read but also a very important and powerful one as well. I highly recommend reading it if you haven’t already!


The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes

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You can read my full review here.

This is the story of a girl who lived 12 years in a cult before it finally burned down and the Prophet was killed. Now she’s part of the questioning on what REALLY happened that night.

Another very quietly powerful book on learning to believe things for ourselves and not what others would have us believe. It’s also very interesting if you have some curiousity about cults and their inner workings.


Heartless by Marissa Meyer

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You can read my full review here.

This is a retelling and origin story for the Queen of Hearts from “Alice in Wonderland”, is that not enough to make you wanna read it? We get to see some interesting twists on all of our favorite Wonderland characters as well as some crazy plot twists. It’s kind of slow to start but the ending is 100% worth it!


Kingdom of Ash and Briars by Hannah West

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You can read my full review here.

I don’t think I can ever mention this book enough! It’s a unique fantasy book that also weaves together little retellings of Mulan, Jane Austen’s Emma, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella. It has great world building and fantastic characters as well, plus the plot itself is very original and has all of the retellings interwoven throughout!


With Malice by Eileen Cook

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You can read my full review here.

A very fast-paced YA thriller that’s about a girl who wakes up in the hospital with anmesia and finds out her best friend is dead and she’s the prime suspect! I don’t want to say too much more because there are TONS of crazy twists that will ensure you zip right through this book.


The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas

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You can read my full review here.

Another psychological thriller that actually gets pretty dang dark and twisted for a YA book. I mean it this book will mess with your mind and you definitely won’t be able to guess what will happen next. The main character, Tessa, goes back to her childhood home to try and dig up the truth of her friend’s cousin’s death that occured when they were little girls. The thing is they lied about what they saw that night and now Tessa must find out what really happened.


A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

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You can read my full review here.

If you haven’t read this book just….go read it now! It’s the most beautiful, touching story of a boy whose mother is dying of cancer and a monster comes and takes him on an adventure that will change the way he has been viewing things.

Also just a heads up…you will most definitely cry!


Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor

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You can read my full review here.

This is actually a small collection of three stories all by Laini Taylor, so of course it’s gorgeously written and all have unique twists and very original mythology/world building. It’s truly amazing how much awesomeness she squeezed into such short stories!

The stories themselves are all Fantasy and revolve around, you guessed it, kisses but the kisses all have consequences that can be…deadly.


Slasher Girls & Monster Boys stories selected by April Genevieve Tucholke

Slasher Girls & Monster Boys

You can read my full review here.

This is a YA horror anthology that is actually full of VERY good stories with the exception of one or two duds. Although this isn’t for the faint hearted some of the stories get really scary, gory, and disturbing! But if you’re a big YA horror fan like me you’ll definitely love this anthology.

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Did any of these books interest you? Which ones and why?

Do you already have some of these on your TBR?

Have you read any of these before?

What are some of your recommendations for standalone YA books?

Let me know in the comments!

The Sassy

Book Review: Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

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Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair…

Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn’t believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.

Peter is unlike anyone she’s ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland’s inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she’s always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.

With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it’s the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who’s everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.

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Let me just say that YOU WILL CRY! This story isn’t the happy, fun Neverland that we all know it’s a dark, dispiriting one but all at once the best word to describe this book is beautiful.

PLOT

This story is about Tiger Lily and Peter Pan’s relationship but mostly it’s about Tiger Lily as a person and there’s also a lot more to it than just that. This book has a very unique narrative style as it’s told from the perspective of Tinkerbell as she follows different characters around and can read their thoughts. I found that having Tink narrate added a LOT more insight into each character than we would have gotten with a different point of view.

We start the story with Tiger Lily at a younger age and watch as she grows and Tink notices that Tiger Lily is a lot different from the people of her tribe and therefore doesn’t quite fit in. There are many different events that come into play (I don’t want to spoil anything!) but ultimately everything pushes Tiger Lily towards Peter and from there we watch how things play out with the different characters on the island. There are quite a few twists in the story that I hate to say are pretty heart-wrenching but overall add so much complexity, all the little threads weaving together.

Like I mentioned right away this isn’t a happy story and Neverland isn’t the care-free place we have seen before, it’s a very dark and sad place full of flawed and broken people. Many things that occur in the plot are deeply saddening, once again I’ll tell you YOU WILL CRY!

The pacing is very slow in this book but it isn’t out of place here and I didn’t mind it at all. “Tiger Lily” is very much a character driven story and is not action packed by any means but I feel a faster pacing would tell a completely different story than the wonderful one we already got.

And that writing! It’s absolutely gorgeous! Jodi Lynn Anderson managed to write something that’s just so beautiful, heart-wrenching, and magical all at the same time. The writing is wonderfully descriptive and just fit the story perfectly.

I also just have to add for any Peter Pan fan (like myself) there are a bunch of very fun twists on things from the original story!

characters

I think it’s easy to say the characters are the best part of this story, everyone is very complex and has so much personality. Everyone is flawed in their own ways but they all also have their own strengths.

Tiger Lily is such a wonderful protagonist she’s strong, brave, and fearless but she’s also incredibly lonely. She has the complete acceptance of only a few people in her tribe such as Tik Tok, her foster father, and her friends Pine Sap and Moon Eye yet she still feels very alone. Tiger Lily is also more capable of doing things the men of her tribe do versus the things the women do and I loved that she could care less in this matter what people think. Girl power!

Peter himself is as lonely as Tiger Lily in some ways but he’s still a bit of the mischievous boy we all know and love.

We also get to see some different spins on the Lost Boys, Wendy Darling, Captain Hook, and even Smee.

romance

I’m extremely torn about the romance! On one hand a big part of the story is Tiger Lily and Peter’s relationship and I loved it but on the other hand I’ll always be a lover of Peter and Wendy…..

To be fair though I loved how Tiger Lily and Peter’s brokeness drew them together and their interactions were heart-warming at times but also they did have a lot of problems. They weren’t meant for long-term, they’re too unstable and dispirited for each other. They both needed people more encouraging and stable for themselves.

I did like how their romance ended up but also at the same time it DESTROYED ME!

in conclusion

I loved the story and don’t really have to much to complain about but at the same time it just seems to be more of a four star read for me than a five star read.

What I Loved:

  • The complexity of the characters
  • Tinkerbell’s narrative style
  • The relationships/romances
  • The plot twists and events (even though the wrecked me)
  • The references to the original Peter Pan tale
  • The writing is beautiful

What I Didn’t Like:

  • A certain thing that occurs at the very end…it ruined me
  • I wish it had been longer
  • I would have liked more insight and story time with Captain Hook, Wendy, and The Lost Boys

RECOMMEND

I highly recommend reading this book, period. If you love retellings, read this book. If you love Peter Pan, read this book. If you’re looking for a story that is both parts beautiful and heart-wrenching, read this book.

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

The Sassy