Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Everyone is welcome to join in the fun.
This week is a freebie, so I thought I’d revisit one of my (surprisingly?) most popular Top Ten Tuesdays: “[Blank] of [Blank] and [Blank]” Titles. Given how many books follow this title, I thought it would be an oh-so-easy follow up. However, once I limited myself to not including sequels and only books that I had read or were very, very much planning to read (rather than books vaguely on my radar), things got tricky quickly! Not to mention this naming style craze has ebbed in recent years.
1. THE BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS AND SNAKES, By Suzanne Collins
The prequel to the hit HUNGER GAMES series, I remember the less than enthusiastic response when the title, THE BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS AND SNAKES, was announced – because the naming craze for this style had died down by then. Not to mention the premise had a few eyebrows raising for trying to humanise the series’ villain.
If the fall arc had been pulled off properly, I think this book could have worked, but that didn’t happen. The cold cunning that made Snow such a dangerous, brilliant villain was utterly lacking – and he never really reached villain point by the end of the book.
2. THE EMPRESS OF SALT AND FORTUNE, by Nghi Vo
From an unwanted (and generally not well recieved) YA dystopia prequel to the start of an adult novella series, the next entry, THE EMPRESS OF SALT AND FORTUNE, has won critical acclaim, including a Hugo.
Unfortunately this female and queer-centric story about a non-binary cleric and an empress just wasn’t for me. The structure was interesting but ultimately didn’t click as I kept getting lost as it jumped between past and present stories. Not to mention I found the very different tenses and persons the two parts of the story were told in rather jarring.
3. THE FOREST OF GHOSTS AND BONES, by Lisa Lueddecke
THE FOREST OF GHOSTS AND BONES takes us back to YA for a standalone fantasy inspired by Hungarian folklore about a mysterious, deadly rain that calls out to people, drawing them away from their families.
This is Lisa Lueddecke’s third book, but it’s the first one that looked obviously fantasy – I thought the first two were contemporary, so didn’t pick them. I’ve since read two of her books and really enjoyed them, so it’s time to rectify that oversight about her debut… at some point.
4. GIRLS OF PAPER AND FIRE, by Natasha Ngan
This powerful YA trilogy, all of which follow the naming pattern, is about surviving abuse and fighting back, all while finding love. GIRLS OF PAPER AND FIRE is set in a world where animal demons rule a caste system that ranks you based on how much demon is in you because the more you have, the stronger you are. But human Lei is going to take them all on.
I still need to finish the series. My goal at this point is to finally read the the finale, GIRLS OF FATE AND FURY, before it reaches one year “old.” That doesn’t give me too many months to read it!
5. GIRLS (MADE) OF SNOW AND GLASS, by Melissa Bashardoust
GIRLS MADE OF SNOW AND GLASS doesn’t quite fit the pattern of the list, thanks to the addition of that “made”, but this YA fantasy is too well-written not to include.
Inspired by Snow White, though in many ways the book is not a retelling, just a story full of nods to the original, this story is about a girl who schemes to be queen and a princess who wants to be just like her stepmother – until her stepmother becomes jealous. Fierce and sharp, this is a book I don’t hear much about, but highly recommend!
6. GODS OF JADE AND SHADOW, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
GODS OF JADE AND SHADOW was the first book written by Silvia Moreno-Garcia that I read. Though this is not my favourite of hers, it certainly hooked me enough to gradually work my way through her backlist, which is getting slowly re-released after the smash hit of MEXICAN GOTHIC.
This is a book where the Mayan gods are real and dwell alongside humans, though in secret. Being adult, it has a very different feel to the MG books so typical of this premise, like PERCY JACKSON or ARU SHAH. The world of the gods mirrors the glamour-and-dark-underside feel of the Jazz Age setting.
7. ISLE OF BLOOD AND STONE, by Makiia Lucier
Another underhyped YA fantasy, ISLE OF BLOOD AND STONE is not the author’s first book, but it was the first I read, and I instantly fell in love with Lucier’s calm, stately, somewhat removed writing style. After struggling to get my hands on the companion, SONG OF THE ABYSS, due to a US-only publication, I was so happy to discover her fourth book, YEAR OF THE REAPER, was getting a UK-publication.
ISLE OF BLOOD AND STONE is about explorers and mysteries that unite with tragedy over time – the urge to discover the truth, even if it might not be what you want to hear.
8. KING OF BATTLE AND BLOOD, by Scarlett St. Clair
Not being a big reader of fantasy romance, I wasn’t aware of Scarlett St. Clair until KING OF BATTLE AND BLOOD was taken on by a pretty large UK book publicity company. If you like vampires, steamy books, and characters attracted to one another while not entirely trusting them, you might enjoy this book.
Adrian is a vampire king who’s taken over vast swathes of land. Isolde is a princess of a land barely holding out. So when he proposes marriage, she sees a chance to end him – except that doesn’t go the way she expects.
9. A SECRET OF BIRDS AND BONE, by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
After two books with a different naming pattern, Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s fourth MG, A SECRET OF BIRDS AND BONE, mirrors the returns to the naming pattern used in her debut, THE GIRL OF INK AND STARS.
This book is a mystery set in an Italian city struck by plague that balances between historical and fantasy in feel. Sofia sets out to discover why her bone-carver mother hasn’t returned, placing her and her brother in an orphanage. Together, they discover a world underneath the city, where secrets abound.
10. THE UNDERTAKING OF HART AND MERCY, by Megan Bannen
The only book on this list I haven’t read, THE UNDERTAKING OF HART AND MERCY is Megan Bannen’s adult debut. I read her YA debut, THE BIRD AND THE BLADE, several years back and while it didn’t stun me enough to search for her US-only second book, this adult fantasy rom-com looks like it could be a lot of fun.
An undertaker and a marshal who cannot stand each other accidentally find themselves as pen pals, and attraction blooms through the anonymous letters. Enemies to lovers through letters I think says it all about this book!
What “[Blank] of [Blank] and [Blank]” titles would you add to the two lists? Want more titles in this style? Check out the first list!