Top Ten Tuesday: Book Shelves Spring Cleaning

"Tope Ten Tuesday" in a white font mimicking handwriting on navy starry skies

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Everyone is welcome to join in the fun.

Over 2020, I came to the realisation that I was not a big fan of contemporary fantasy. There are some exceptions to this rule (for example, MIDNIGHT’S TWINS, which is UKYA and more portal fantasy than contemporary at times – the reason I think I liked it), but generally, I just don’t enjoy it. I think it’s because there often isn’t enough world building in the “contemporary” part for me to understand the school culture (many seem to be set in high schools) etc.

However, I have ended up with a fair few contemporary fantasies on my shelves, and it’s time for me to read them – and I guess finally make up my mind whether I want to keep trying to read this sub-genre or not. So that has been goal for the year – finally get through the YA contemporary fantasy on my shelves, or decide just to get rid of them. And I am certainly not going to attempt it in one month, as that’s a sure fire way to get fatigued.

There is no particular order to this list, and it didn’t actually get to 10 entries, as I don’t have 10 entries! Some of these I have already read and reviewed, because it is a year-long thing!

1. CHOSEN, by Kiersten White

Book cover for CHOSEN: red head girl holds crossbow in blue wood

Despite having never watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer (and, honestly, having no intention of ever watching it), I read and enjoyed an eARC of SLAYER, the first book in this duology back in 2019. In fact, I enjoyed it enough that I bought the second book when it came out… and never got around to reading it.

I am not that person who read SLAYER two years ago. My tastes have been shifting and my reading has been getting more critical – particularly of YA – but I am hoping that whatever I liked about the first book I will like again on a re-read and in the second book. It is, however, not 100% a contemporary fantasy – it’s set in an AU world where the world has ended or is about to, I think.

2. CALL DOWN THE HAWK, by Maggie Stiefvater

I avidly followed Maggie Stiefvater’s THE RAVEN BOYS series as it came out with my friends in the early 2010s. I am hoping that I will love returning to the world of THE RAVEN BOYS with this new spin-off trilogy. I will probably have to re-read the RAVEN BOYS as I cannot name all the leads.

It’s an atmospheric contemporary fantasy that doesn’t quite feel like our world, set in a more rural location, which I think are the key factors for me enjoying contemporary fantasy these days (I really enjoyed THE DEVOURING GRAY duology, for example, but have never been able to get into more urban/paranormal fantasy like the Shadowhunters world.)

3. A SONG BELOW WATER, by Brittany M. Morris

Book cover for A SONG BELOW WATER; two girls' fair and braids mingle above their heads against a blue background

A SONG BELOW WATER was one of the big summer 2020 releases that got a lot of hype. I tried to read it last year, but ended up DNF’ing at about 100 pages. I nearly always give books 2 attempts before I give up on them entirely, so I will give this another go at some point. Hopefully second time is the charm?

This is a perfect example of the book just not having enough world building for me. I spent the whole time trying to get to grips with the parallel world of sirens (and whatever other creatures were in the world) while having to google a lot of the American references (what’s a Ren Faire?). Thus I could not focus on the story or the characters, so didn’t engage enough with it.

4. INFINITY SON, by Adam Silvera

Book cover for INFINITY SON: title in white on a gold to black gradient background with a gold phoenix in an infinity symbol in the foreground

I haven’t read anything by Adam Silvera before, because I don’t read much contemporary fiction – and what I do read in contemporary is usually UKYA (because the culture and locations are familiar). However this is his first fantasy, and there was a fair bit of hype around its release. So it went onto my “to read” pile when it was discounted at my local bookshop.

Since then, however, I’ve heard pretty mixed reviews. That combined with it being an urban fantasy (a subset/adjacent sub-genre depending on who you talk to, but basically a type of contemporary-esque fantasy I get on with less than your average contemporary fantasy) has meant it’s sat on my shelves for a while.

5. THE RAVENS, by Kass Morgan and Danielle Paige

Book cover for THE RAVENS: title in white on lots of ravens

THE RAVENS is a book I had absolutely no intention of reading, but there was a bit of a mix up and I ended up getting sent a copy. It’s about a sorority of witches, which is two strikes against it (the occult and I often do poorly, and I’m not usually a fan of college stories, as someone currently at a UK university so I really struggle to see myself in these people who are supposed to be my age and living the same life and mine, but whose reality is so different.)

If we’re being absolutely honest, I doubt I will even read this book, but just give it to a charity shop. The chances of me liking this book is incredibly low, so why bother wasting my time on it?

6. LORE, by Alexandra Bracken

Book cover for LORE: title in gold on a marble stature of medusa

My friend ended up with two copies of LORE by accident, so we buddy read this book. I did not get on with Alexandra Bracken’s debut – THE DARKEST MINDS – but as this was a bit more Percy Jackson-ish, I have some hope that I might enjoy this one. I’ve seen a few posts about it, and it looks very promising.

Plus, buddy reads tend to make me more enthusiastic about books I was originally on the fence about (or help me get to the end of ones I don’t like as I have someone to message WHAT IS THIS??? to). Not to mention this book looks like it could be one that I end up with many theories about, so buddy reading it means there’s someone to message with them and see how correct I end up being!

7. LEGENDBORN, by Tracy Deonn

Book cover for LEGENDBORN: title in silver between the magic-encircled hands of a Black teen girl

LEGENDBORN is another book I had no intention of reading, but ended up with a copy unexpectedly so figured I might as well try and read it because it seemed a tad more interesting than THE RAVENS (also set in a US college).

It’s a very, very loose Arthurian retelling, though it’s more of a secret society inspired by Arthurian myth than an actual retelling, which is not my favourite. It was a enormous book and it took me a long time to get into it as the basic premise (girl must infiltrate secret society by passing a bunch of challenges, as she gets pulled into the world and love lives of one of the boys) is not my thing. I can 100% see why others really loved it, and it did get more engaging towards the end, but it simply wasn’t my cup of tea. Will I read the sequel? Knowing how much I hate unfinished series, probably, but it won’t be a priority.

8. A DARK AND HOLLOW STAR, by Ashley Shuttleworth

Book cover for A DARK AND HOLLOW STAR: title in gold beneath a winged girl holding a sword

A DARK AND HOLLOW STAR comes under the category of “why did I request this on NetGalley?” It’s an urban, paranormal fantasy set in Toronto – so not only is it contemporary fantasy, but it’s also paranormal (a genre I get on with less than I do contemporary). AND it’s compared to Shadowhunters, a series I really did not enjoy as a teen.

This book was as I expected – completely not for me. The main thing was that the POVs were unlinked and the chapters long, with two POVs barely mentioned. Therefore, I forgot about them, and so was surprised when they turned up. I didn’t care at all about them, which is never a good sign.

What books or genres are you thinking of stopping reading?

13 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Book Shelves Spring Cleaning

  1. I really wanted to read A Song Below Water but then I saw so many negative reviews for it I decided not to. It has such a good cover though lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ASBW is one of those books that has a very clear market, and that market is not me – which is to be expecting in publishing that not all books are going to aimed at readers like me.


      1. Ahhh I can definitely see Dark and Hollow Star being a kind of marmite book (love it or hate it. It did take me a bit to get into Legendborn but I love Arthurian mythology so ended up loving it. I’m glad it surprised you in the end πŸ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

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