15 Underrated Books You Should Read
I'm as big of a fan girl for popular books as anyone. It's great to talk to people about something you've all ready and fail about like Kermit over how awesome it is!
But, I also love talking about books that don't get as much hype - because so many times they deserve just as much hype if not more! I was really excited that Underrated Books was the topic for Monthly Recs this month, and I hope you pick up some of the books I mention.
Depending on what circles you run in, the books I mention may or may not be talking about as much. I tend to read a lot of fantasy and young adult novels. So, there could be a good that's contemporary literary fiction that EVERYONE is talking about, but I've never heard of it. Therefore, take all of these recommendations with a grain of salt.
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His Fair Assassins Trilogy* by Robin LaFevers
- Genre: YA Fantasy/Historical
- Quick Summary: Three young women serve as death's handmaidens.
When this trilogy first came out a few years ago, I'm sure it was hyped up. However, no one talks about it anymore and they totally should! It's about nun assassins who serve the god of death.
NUN ASSASSINS MY FRIENDS.
That's not enough to make you want to read this trilogy? Fine.
It's also historical fantasy that relies much more on the historical side of things than fantasy. So, if you're not into magic and fae and witches and all of that, you'll still enjoy this book because the fantasy side is very light. There's romance in all three books. There's political intrigue based on real historical events. It has interesting insights on religion and faith - but it's not an "inspirational/religious/Christian" book either. Each book focuses on a different young woman, but they still all tie in together. I've seen on Goodreads that the author might be making a fourth book or a spin-off series, so that's super exciting!
So... you're going to go read them now, right? The first one is Grave Mercy. Go read them. Right now. After you finish this blog. Then go read them.
If I Fix You* by Abigail Johnson
- Genre: YA Contemporary
- Quick Summary: Jill is the only one who knows the real reason her mother left and deals with the aftermath.
This book was so fantastic! If you like more gritty/realistic/serious young adult contemporary novels, you'll love Abigail Johnson! Mindy McGinnis interviewed her on her podcast, Writer Writer Pants on Fire, a month or so ago and I put her book on hold at the library right away!
I loved the character Jill and how she was a mechanic, her relationships, and how sucked into her life I became!
The Calculating Stars* by Mary Robinette Kowal
- Genre: Science-Fiction/Historical
- Quick Summary: A meteorite hits the USA east coast post-WWII and scientists look to colonize space.
Depending on what bookish circles you run in, this book might be hyped up. I'm not sure. In the circles I run in, they don't talk about this book AT ALL and each time I've tried to find it at a bookstore lately it is no where to be found - and it was just released this summer.
EVERYONE NEEDS TO BE TALKING ABOUT THIS BOOK.
Kowal's research about the space program is incredible. The romance between our main character and her husband are the ultimate relationship goals. The girl power in STEM is amazing. I mean... a freaking astronaut has a blurb on the cover to talk about how good it is. I loved this book and the second one comes out this month and I NEED IT.
Song of Blood and Stone* by L. Penelope
- Genre: Fantasy Romance
- Quick Summary: Jasminda teams with a soldier named Jack to save her country and her home.
This book was fantastic! It's another new release this year, but originally was released as a self-published book. A traditional publisher picked it up, the book went through revisions, and voila! Here is this amazing and beautiful fantasy romance! Why more people haven't been talking about it? I'm not sure.
Love, adventure, magic, black lives matter, rescuing refugees, African culture... SO GOOD. And they don't have a release date for the second book and I NEED IT.
The Queen's Rising* by Rebecca Ross
- Genre: YA Fantasy
- Quick Summary: Brienna has been training in the passion of Knowledge, but fails to gain a patron and much forge her own path.
I might have kind of been flailing about this book all year. It came out in May and I'm obsessed. First, look at that cover. Isn't it gorgeous? I need this book in my possession just because it's SO PRETTY.
The book itself is wonderful too though. It has a lot of your "typical" YA fantasy elements: magic school, a princess regaining her throne, epic battles, found family, etc. But it still manages to be unique and interesting and completely compelling.
The Paper Magician* Series by Charlie N Holmberg
- Genre: Historical Fantasy
- Quick Summary: Ceony is unhappy when she is assigned to apprentice under a paper magician instead of metal. However, she finds more than she ever dreamed with her new instructor.
The reason these books aren't hyped as much I think is because it is through Amazon's traditional publishing branch. Therefore, a lot of book stores won't carry these books. But, Holmberg has made an awesome career for herself and I believe Disney has picked up the rights for these books. (SO EXCITED!)
The premise for this series appears simple, but as you read Holmberg has a unique twist and is surprisingly dark. I adore Ceony and Emery, and I want more adventures with them!
Sunshine* by Robin McKinley
- Genre: Vampire/Post Apocolyptic
- Quick Summary: Baker "Sunshine" is kidnapped by vampires and deals with the aftermath.
My summary of this book does not do it justice at all. Most people know McKinley for her retellings of Beauty and the Beast. However, this book deserves just as much praise! It has a unique stream of consciousness narrative, it's dark, the world building is amazing, and I'm completely fascinated with the vampire Constantine. I wish there was a sequel!
The Girl at Midnight *Trilogy by Melissa Grey
- Genre: YA Contemporary Fantasy
- Quick Summary: Echo searches for the firebird which could bring peace and end a war between two worlds.
When you first pick up this book, you think it's going to be just like Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone. But as it goes you, you realize it's A COMPLETELY different story! It's an own voices contemporary fantasy, there's a M/M relatioship I'm obsessed with, the group of friends are total #squadgoals, and you'll be "shipping" characters left and right! It's everything you look for in a fun YA fantasy and I have no idea why more people aren't gushing about it!
The Red Hood Chronicles* by Kendari Meeks
- Genre: Urban Fantasy/Fairy Tale Retelling
- Quick Summary: Geri turns her back on her family line of Red Hoods and goes to college in Chicago where she meets vampire scientists and an on the run werewolf.
Urban fantasy fairy tale re-imagining? YES PLEASE! This is such a great spin on Red Riding Hood. She's a werewolf hunter who has turned her back on her family and recovering from a broken heart. There's vampire scientists, girls in STEM, conpiracys, and while there is some "Tension" it's not necessarily a romance which is refreshing from time to time. Especially in urban fantasy.
Kindred* by Octavia E Butler
- Genre: Time Travel
- Quick Summary: Dana and her husband time travel back to pre-civil war American on a southern plantation.
Those who are really familiar with older science ficiton and fantasy are probably familiar with Octavia E Butler's work. However, in the groups I tend to talk to, NO ONE talks about this book and totally should!
Butler was the first black woman to publish a SFF book. So... that alone is amazing. It's this interesting look at slavery and racism in the eyes of a modern inter-racial couple and it still leaves me thinking to this day. It's beautiful and poignant and brutal and everyone needs to read it.
A Madness So Discreet* by Mindy McGinnis
- Genre: YA Historical
- Quick Summary: Grace Mae is found pregnant and put into an asylum by her family, and then teams up with a doctor to solve crimes.
Mindy McGinnis has a steady readership, but apparently this is one of her least read books and I have no idea why! It completely blows my mind because this is my favorite of hers!
I read this book around the time of the 2016 election and it was exactly what I needed at the time. Grace is such an awesome and strong character, I loved the friendships she made at the asylum, and the tie-ins of murder mysteries kept things exciting. I love this book so much and I want everyone else to love it too.
The Hollows* Series by Kim Harrison
- Genre: Urban Fantasy
- Quick Summary: Rachel Morgan is a witch bounty hunter who opens her own business inside an abandoned church along with a vampire and a pixie.
If you're a fan of urban fantasy, you're probably familiar with The Hollows. If you aren't, then these books will make you an urban fantasy fan! Rachel is fun, Jenks the pixie is the actual best, I love Ivy the vampire and her friendship with Rachel (I ship the two of them SO HARD btw), and there's so many outstanding characters.
All We Have Left* by Wendy Mills
- Genre: YA Contemporary/Historical
- Quick Summary: In 2016, Jesse and her family are still dealing with the aftermath of 9-11. In 2001, Alia, a proud Muslim, is trapped in the twin towers.
Oh this book. It is so emotional and heart-wrenching, but so good. It made me think about 9-11 in ways I hadn't before and brought out emotions about it I didn't realize I had. It's wonderful for those of us who remember that day well and makes you think about how we handle anger and our response to it. Then it's wonderful for those who are too young to remember and teach them about it.
The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences* Series by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris
- Genre: Steampunk
- Quick Summary: An unlikely duo are paired up to solve unusual crimes in Victorian London.
I still have two books to read in this series and there are a ton of short stories I haven't gotten to yet, but this steampunk series is so fun! Braun and Books are one of my favorite opposites attract pairing. I especially love Wellington Books, he's adorable! It is more on the sci-fi end of things, but it's not so "scicency" where if you don't like sci-fi you'll still enjoy it.
Once Upon a Time *Series by Various Authors
- Genre: YA Fantasy/Fairy Tale Retellings
- Quick Summary: Authors retell classic fairy tales
I was OBSESSED with these books when I was in high school. They were what got me interested in retellings and they're short fun reads. I own most of them, and I still haven't gotten through them all! Each one stands completely alone, so you can pick and choose which books you read. They also have different authors so if you didn't enjoy one book, that doesn't mean you won't enjoy a different one. The series has a variety of different fairy tales to choose from, and they all have such unique takes on them! The book I have featured is the first one, but can you read them in any order.
What are some books you love that you feel don't get enough hype?
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