Tuesday Top Ten-Best YA High Fantasy Series

I was browsing around Tumblr this morning, medical like I do (because how do you start a day without spending some time on Tumblr) and I saw a post talking about YA high fantasy and it had SO many of my favorites. I was trying to think of something to write for the Tuesday Top Ten today and it just presented itself to me so easily.

I must admit, thumb as I wrote this list, I discovered TWO things: One, I really need to read more high fantasy (recommend some, please!) and two, I am majorly biased on one particular author…but that’s okay.

10. The Beka Cooper Trilogy 

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Books: Terrier, Bloodhound, Mastiff

Beka Cooper is the ancestor of George Cooper (who is massively important in Pierce’s first series, which, duh, is on the list), and she joins the Provost Dogs, which is basically like a police force. As the books go on, she becomes one of the most prominent and well trusted of the Dogs, solving crimes and taking down criminals. The story is told in diary form, which was a new thing for Tamora Pierce.

Its awesome. Anything Tammy does is basically magic, but what I love about this is you know how history plays out after this already. Her first four Tortall series all take place years after this so you know the direction its going in, but its still so fun. I think that Tamora Pierce has a wonderful way of writing fantastically strong characters but sometimes we convince ourselves that Daine and Kel and Aly are only able to have their stories because of all the things Alanna accomplished in the first series. But telling Beka’s story really tells us that women had a lot more power, and possibility in the past until obviously something went wrong. Plus these stories are so different than the others. Beka has to prove herself, not really as a capable woman, like the others, but just a capable person in general. And the crimes she solves, the mysteries that unravel are all so fun.

9. The Immortals Quartet 

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Books: Wild Magic, Wolf Speaker, Emperor Mage, The Realms of the Gods

Daine is trying to escape her home country of Galla, where she was treated as a pariah, an abomination for the “sickness” she believes is inside her. When she is brought on as an assistant horse handler on the way to Tortall, she discovers that she’s not crazy, but she has a rare bit of magic in here called wild magic, which gives her the ability to communicate with animals, heal them and even shape shift. Under the tutelage of the realms most powerful mage, Numair, she learns to control her magic and when her new home in Tortall is threatened by immortal creatures, she must learn to use her powers to help save her home and her friends.

I mean, can you really go wrong with this book? There’s magic and animals and cute boys and kissing and battles and its a GREAT series. Tammy blew my MIND with this one. I love Daine because before Daine, we had Alanna, who was great but didn’t get to be a girl as often because she was pretending to be a boy, so Daine was awesome. I loved when she was able to give up her dresses for breeches, and when she discovered she could heal animals. I love that we see old characters from Alanna’s series and I love the whole idea of these immortal creatures like spidrens and centaurs and stormwings. Daine’s story is absolutely fantastic.

8. The Protector of the Small Quartet 

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Books: First Test, Page, Squire, Lady Knight

In Kel’s book, the law has been changed and girls can go out for their knighthood, instead of hiding their sex the way Alanna does in her series. This is the moment that Kel has been waiting for but its tainted when the king grants her permission to come to the palace to try, under the condition that she have a probationary year, something no boy has. Not only does Kel have to prove herself as a knight, but that she belongs there amongst the boys.

What I love about Kel’s story is that it seems like it could be a repeat of Alanna’s story but it most definitely is not. Kel has a whole new adventure to go through. Alanna had to prove herself, yes, but everyone thought she was a boy. Kel is a girl, and on probation and has to work even harder than all the boys do. On top of that, her page master treats her differently and her fellow pages tease her, and play jokes on her, all to try and get her kicked out. I think Kel’s story is sometimes easier to relate to than Alanna’s. I like how it starts off with Kel being bullied and being angry that she and others are getting bullied and turns into a larger story when Scanra comes chopping at the Tortall borders. Kel always wants to take down the bullies, no matter how big or small, and I love her story.

7. The Girl of Fire and Thorns Trilogy 

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Books: The Girl of Fire and Thorns, The Crown of Embers, The Bitter Kingdom

Elisa was born with a godstone in her belly button, marking her as a chosen one, to do amazing things in the world. However, Elisa feels so much less than a chosen one. She’s massively overweight, not pretty, and constantly in the shadow of her older sister. When she is married off to a neighboring kingdom’s king, who is devastatingly handsome, she doubts she’ll ever reach her supposed amazing potential. Then she is kidnapped, by revolutionaries, and she suddenly sees how much more she is capable of and what she really could accomplish.

The first thing that caught me about this book is that Elisa is fat. Straight up, Elisa is fat. I love that. Do you know how often we get YA heroines who are fat, especially in novels like this? We just don’t. Even though Elisa loses weight through out the series, she remains a bigger girl and I think that’s important. Elisa is a strong, strong, incredible female character but its more than a physical strength. She’s incredibly smart, clever and she figures out exactly what she needs to do, with bumps all the way. Its all about coming into yourself, and coming into what people expect of you, and just doing the best that you can with what you are given and its just incredible. I dragged my dad, boyfriend and brother four hours to Las Vegas just so I could meet Rae Carson.

6. The Throne of Glass Series 

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Books (so far): Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight, Heir of Fire 

Celaena is a former deadly assassin, sent into the dark work prisons. She is caught trying to escape and is chosen by a stranger to be a contestant, part of a tournament to choose the next King’s Champion. If she succeeds in winning, she will have to work for the King, whom she hates, for a period of time and then she can earn her freedom. She agrees and comes to the palace to compete but then people start disappearing, dying, being sabotaged in the contest and Celaena fears that she could be next. Add in the handsome and charming prince Dorian and the equally handsome and strong captain of the guard, Chaol, and you have a recipe for trouble.

 Sarah J. Maas blew my mind with this series. I had seen it all over the place for so long and I finally purchased it and was so incredibly glad when I did. The one thing that really jumps out at me of this series is the incredible world building of it. It is deep and complex and has a whole history to it, which is beautiful. A really good high fantasy novel will have that, and this book definitely accomplishes that. Add in the fact that there’s Dorian and Chaol and its so hard to figure out which one you like more, because they’re both so different…and you’re just so addicted to the story. But the kicker of the series is Celaena, who is a fantastic main character. I love that she can kill a person easily, almost in her sleep, but also loves to curl up with a good book and is so incredibly loving and caring.

5. The Song of the Lioness Quartet 

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Books: Alanna: The First Adventure, In the Hands of the Goddess, The Woman Who Rides Like a Man, Lioness Rampant

Alanna and her twin brother, Thom, are unhappy with their futures. Thom is all set to go to the palace to train as a knight, when he wants to go and learn to hone his magical Gift and become a powerful sorcerer. Alanna is to be sent to the convent, to be trained as a lady, to return home and find a husband, when she wants to become a knight. They switch places, and Alanna heads to the palace as Alan, disguised as a boy in order to earn her shield. Alanna has to work hard, doing all that she can to earn her shield, while trying to hide the fact that she is a girl.

This book series is incredible and what truly blows my mind about it is that it was written back in the 1980s. People think that the idea of a strong female character is a new phenomenon because of Hermione and Katniss and Tris but the original strong YA female character is definitely Alanna. She disguises herself as a boy for YEARS. Do you know how hard that would be? Not only does she have to work hard to become a knight, which is a trial all in itself, but she has to do it pretending to be a boy. She has to pretend that she doesn’t get her period, or breasts, and that she doesn’t having feelings for boys. She can’t undress herself in front of them. Its all so hard. But she fights hard and earns everything that she gains and its just SUCH a great series. Its a must, an absolute must for any lover of YA.

4. The Grisha Trilogy 

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Books: Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, Ruin and Rising

Alina Starkov is an orphan, earning her way through life, and struggling to find where she fits in. She’s working as a mapmaker, getting by and trying to ignore that her best friend, Mal, is handsome, popular with the ladies, and an incredibly good tracker. One day, as their crossing the Fold, a desolate bit of land, she saves Mal’s life, by using a power that she never knew she had. She has been labeled the Sun Summoner, a rare Grisha classification, able to produce light from within her. Suddenly, she is whisked away by The Darkling, the most powerful of the Grisha, and her power becomes the center of her existence.

The first I met Leigh Bardugo was at the Ontario Teen Book Fest. She was on a panel and the moderator said something about strong female characters not existing when the authors were younger and Leigh immediately says “Uh, duh, Alanna?” and I knew immediately that I needed to read her book. I bought Shadow and Bone that day and I’ve been massively in love with the Grisha trilogy since then. I just read the last one a few weeks ago when it was released and I’m just so in love. Leigh is an incredible writer and a beautiful storyteller. She has magic, and power, and politics and romance and humor and so much all in one series and its just brilliant. I really haven’t read a series like this before and I doubt I will ever read one like it again.

3. The Seven Realms Series

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Books: The Demon King, The Exiled Queen, The Grey Wolf Throne, The Crimson Crown

Raisa is the princess of her queendom, being bred every day to be the queen. She is royal by blood on her mother’s side, and has tribal blood from her father’s side and after spending time with her father and his people, she returns to the castle, restless and ready to do more. Her mother, on the other hand, has been taken in by the High Wizard, in a world where wizards are not to be trusted, and Raisa begins to fear what her mother will do. She starts sneaking out of the palace, getting to know her queendom, hoping to become the best queen that she can be. Han is a former thief, turning away from his criminal ways, in order to support his mother and younger sister. When he steals a wizard’s amulet one day, trouble begins to follow him and leads him into finding the truth about where he came from and what sort of powers he holds in himself.

THIS SERIES. I picked it up on a whim, really, just out of nowhere, and coincidentally, a few days before the final book was released. I literally read the four of them in a period of about five or six days and I have no regrets. Cinda Chima is absolutely brilliant. She reminds of Tamora Pierce a bit, and she just builds a great world. The Seven Realms is just so incredibly real and I love both the main characters so much and I couldn’t wait until the two of them met up together. Raisa is fun, and brave, and sassy, and strong and Han is sarcastic and fearless and reckless and caring and I just love the both of them so much. There’s mystery and intrigue and magic and you can never really figure out who the bad guy is and the books are full of surprises until the very end. There’s action one moment and then steamy makeout scenes the next and I seriously canNOT get enough of these books.

2. The Daughter of the Lioness Duology 

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Books: Trickster’s Choice, Trickster’s Queen

Aly has lived in the shadow of her parents for her entire life. Her father is the King’s spymaster and her mother is King’s champion, and the first female knight in over a century. Her godparents are the king and queen, the wildmage and the realm’s most powerful mage, the captain of the King’s Guard and more. Her brother is studying to be a sorcerer and her twin has gone for his knighthood. What Aly wants more than anything is to be a spy,  but her parents do not approve. She is kidnapped by pirates and sold into slavery at the nearby Copper Isles, to the Balitang family. There she discovers a rebellion brewing, the dark skinned raka wanting to take their country back from the light skinned luarin. Before she knows it, she’s wrapped up in it, doing everything she can to protect the Balitang girls, who could become the countries’ future rulers.

I’m rare in liking this series by Tammy the most but I must admit that I am quite biased. This is the first series that I actually read by Tammy. I picked it up when I was about 15 years old because it mentioned pirates and I was obsessed with pirates at the time. Obviously pirates were NOT essential to the story but I legitimately found one of my favorite books of all time. Aly is incredible and so different than Alanna, Daine and Kel. She doesn’t have magical powers like Daine, though she has the Sight. She isn’t a fighter like Alanna and Kel, though she can fight. Instead she’s absolutely clever. She knows the way of politics and the underground spy world. She knows the minds of people and how to trick them and how to get them to do the things she wants them to. Plus I loved the rebellion of it, of the people rising up. Its…easily my favorite book (tied with Goblet of Fire).

1. The Harry Potter Series 

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Books: You know

I’m not going to do a summary for this one because, duh. I’m pretty sure most people know what this is about and if you don’t…have you been living under a rock for all these years? Seriously?

I know this one is weird on this list because its kind of…is it full fantasy? Its kind of contemporary at the same time? I consider it high fantasy though. Also, is it YA? I’ve always sort of considered it YA but a lot of people say it’s children. SO that’s weird. But either way, its my favorite of all time. I do not have five HP tattoos, a personalized HP license plate and much more for nothing. This series is one of the most incredible series to ever be written and there is literally no other book that can make me feel the way these do. They have everything I could possibly need. They provide escape. They have taught me so many lessons of life. They make me laugh and cry. They make me question everything. They have brought me friends. They have an incredible world built and the story is beautiful and complex and exciting from the first page to the last.

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Cinda Williams Chima and Marlene Perez at Mysterious Galaxy!

You guys all KNOW that I’m obsessed with the author, information pills Cinda Williams Chima, drug and I basically spend some time each week trying to convince you all to read her books.

One, that will literally not stopping happening. Cinda Chima is an absolutely wonderful author, and I won’t stop until every single one of you have read at least one of her books, because I swear, that’s all it will take to be addicted.

Two, I was finally able to meet her yesterday, and hopefully discover a new author, Marlene Perez!

They both did a presentation/signing at Mysterious Galaxy in Redondo Beach. If you live in the Southern California area, you definitely want to go either locations (Redondo and San Dieg0). They have some of the BEST signings, their stores are awesome, and the bring the best authors to their stores and to events like WonderCon and Comic Con. I wish they were closer to me, because I would shop there ALL the time.

But to the authors!

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When they walked in, Cinda immediately came up to me, and gave me a huge hug, and introduced me to Marlene Perez. I had to admit, I had mini fireworks in my stomach while this was going on because I was SO excited that she knew me from online!

Both of these authors were super fun to meet, and super enthusiastic. The turnout was…less than ideal (which is why I’m STILL pushing) but their enthusiasm was there, and it was super personal, being able to talk and meet with them.

They both really had a lot to say about writing and that was really fantastic for me, as an aspiring writer, especially since I’ve been thinking of taking that dip into science fiction or fantasy, and stepping away from always, always contemporary.

They also talked about balancing writing, and life, since they both have kids, and getting out of those abysses where your writing gets so bad that you think you’re the worst writer ever. They both were really adamant about setting goals, and setting aside time to write, and to make sure you write, because even if its awful, its something that you can fix. Marlene Perez quoted Nora Roberts’, “You can fix anything but a blank page.” That was awesome.

Cinda and Marlene talked a bit about the whole book to movies option thing, which was super enlightening, especially since it seems like everyone’s book nowadays has been optioned by somebody.

Lastly, they really are starting to convince me of using Scrivener. I got to get on board with this thing…

I got a HUGE kick out of the fact that Cinda is a Cassandra Clare fan, and both enjoyed the books and liked the movies. I felt like saying, SEE! Older, educated women liked the movie too! And I just love the Mortal Instruments so much, but you guys all knew that already!

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Myself with author, Marlene Perez. I picked up her first two books of her YA series, Dead is the New Black and Dead is a State of Mind. I can’t wait to dive in and read them, especially since I’ll be seeing Marlene again next week at the Los Angeles Teen Book Fest (more on that later!)

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Me and the wonderful, amazing, hilarious, inspiring, addicting author Cinda Williams Chima, who was gracious enough to sign all the books I brought, and talk to me and just be awesome. I feel SO lucky that I was able to meet her, and under awesome circumstances.

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They also signed by Writing Advice poster. I had this idea a few months ago to have authors signed this poster with writing advice. Once its all filled up, I’m going to frame it and hopefully hang it over where I write so I can feel a little better during the not-so-good writing days :)

YALL Fest Interview: Cinda Williams Chima

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In a little less than two months, approved an amazing event is taking place in Charleston, South Carolina called YALL Fest. A ton of wonderful young adult authors are descending upon Charleston for this one day, FREE event, and I am envious of any and all people who are attending the event. There are going to be some seriously amazing authors going to be there like:

Leigh Bardugo, Libba Bray, Rae Carson, Cinda Chima, Rachel Cohn, Ally Condie, Melissa de la Cruz, Gayle Forman, Kami Garcia, Lev Grossman, Shannon Hale, Michelle Hodkin, Ellen Hopkins, David Levithan, Marie Lu, Tahereh Mafi, Lisa McMann, Alyson Noel, Lauren Oliver, Stephanie Perkins, Ransom Riggs, Veronica Rossi, Veronica Roth, and so many more.

This is sure to be an absolutely incredible event.

I am lucky enough to be part of the blog team to promote this as much as possible. Over the next few weeks, there will be a couple dozen of us posting interviews with some of these authors, and telling you more about this seriously awesome event.

Just a note: these interviews are all the same, and they will be on several websites. These are NOT exclusive interviews, and I did not copy this from other sites. We are all working together to promote this!

Now, I am excited about this first interview because the author is someone that I admire greatly, greatly, greatly…Cinda Williams Chima.

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She is a young adult fantasy writer, with two series under her belt. Her completed Seven Realms series is an epic fantasy, taking place in a beautifully built world and following the story of a headstrong princess Raisa and her efforts to keep her queendom together and the quick and clever Han, who discovers a secret about himself and has to conquer it. Her Heir Chronicles series contains, so far, three novels that are contemporary fantasy, following various characters like Jack and Ellen, Seph, Madison, and more on their adventures to discover their different powers and to take down the tyrannical leaders that rule over them all. Her fourth installment in the series, The Enchanter Heir, will hit bookstores on October 1st, 2013, and she’ll embark on a tour for this book (and she’s coming to California!). The Enchanter Heir can be read as the fourth book or it can be read as the first book.

You can find her at her website here.

Enjoy this short interview!

Q: What one thing do you need to have when you write?

Cinda: A computer

Q: Describe your book in 5 words

Cinda: Wizards misbehave, magic goes mutant.

Q: What is the hardest line to write- the first or the last?

Cinda: Usually the lines in between.

 Q: Best writing tip you ever received?

Cinda: Give yourself permission to write badly.

 Q: Tell us 5 random facts about yourself.

Cinda: 1.       I am a twin.

2.       I am named after a character in a novel.

3.       I didn’t really start driving until I was 27.

4.       I am descended from Puritans and scoundrels.

5.       I used to be in a folk music band.

Q: Where’s your favorite place to write?

Cinda: On a balcony overlooking the ocean.

Q: What are you working on now?

Cinda: I’m writing The Sorcerer Heir, the fifth book in a trilogy.

Q: At what point in the development of an idea do you know that it will become a full-length novel?

Cinda: When I’m finished with a full-length novel.

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I hope you enjoyed that short and sweet interview and come back for more coming soon!

Don’t forget to check out my interview with Cinda Williams Chima, from back in June, and also don’t forget to enter my current giveaway, where you can win a SIGNED Advanced Readers Copy of The Enchanter Heir!

Happy Reading!

Book of the Week-The Enchanter Heir ARC Review

I absolutely adore Cinda Williams Chima. In the year that I have been reading her books, thumb she has easily become one of my favorite authors. Her Seven Realms series literally blew me out of the water, and her Heir Chronicles proved that it had the contemporary fantasy genre in the palm of its hands. She is a brilliant writer, and she has great world building and fantasy stories and fantastic characters. She is an author that I have fell in love with, and I am addicted to the world that she created.

I am constantly trying to recommend her books to people. Because I run a book blog, because people know me as a person who loves to read, I am constantly asked for recommendations on books and in the past year, both the Seven Realms and the Heir Chronicles have been some of the first books to come out of my mouth. I’ve told Cinda herself a million times that I absolutely love her books, and the awesome, awesome lady send me an advanced copy of the book, signed personally to me.

What is even BETTER is that she sent me an extra signed copy for YOU guys :)

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Now before you run away because this is the fourth book of the Heir Chronicles, let me stress this! While this is the fourth book of the series, it is NOT necessary to read the first three to read this. So if you enjoy this review, please definitely check it out and keep an eye out for the giveaway coming VERY soon!

The Enchanter Heir ARC by Cinda Williams Chima 

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GoodReads / Amazon Barnes and Noble

This book will hit bookstores on October 1st, 2013. 

Genre:

young adult, fantasy

Part of a Series?

Yes. This is the fourth installment of the Heir Chronicles.

HOWEVER, this book can be read without reading the previous three books. There are familiar faces from the first three, but this is an entirely new story.

You May Like if You Liked:

Books by OR Melling, Joseph Delaney, Tamora Pierce, Sarah J Maas, Michael Scott, etc.

Plot Summary:

Now, normally I do plot summaries on my own because I really love doing that. But I started doing it and realized I was not giving this book and story the credit it deserved and I really like the summary that is on GoodReads and therefore that is what I decided to put here!

Direct from GoodReads, and word-for-word from the back cover:

They called it the Thorn Hill Massacre—the brutal attack on a once-thriving Weir community. Though Jonah Kinlock lived through it, he did not emerge unscathed: like the other survivors, Jonah possesses unique magical gifts that set him apart from members of the mainline guilds. At seventeen, Jonah has become the deadliest assassin in Nightshade, a global network that hunts the undead. He is being groomed to succeed Gabriel Mandrake, the sorcerer, philanthropist, and ruthless music promoter who established the Thorn Hill Foundation, the public face of Nightshade. More and more, Jonah’s at odds with Gabriel’s tactics and choice of targets. Desperate to help his dying brother Kenzie, Jonah opens doors that Gabriel prefers to keep closed.

Emma Claire Greenwood grew up worlds away, raised by a grandfather who taught her music rather than magic. An unschooled wild child, she runs the streets until the night she finds her grandfather dying, gripping a note warning Emma that she might be in danger. The clue he leaves behind leads Emma into Jonah’s life—and a shared legacy of secrets and lingering questions.

Was Thorn Hill really a peaceful commune? Or was it, as the Wizard Guild claims, a hotbed of underguild terrorists? The Wizards’ suspicions grow when members of the mainline guilds start turning up dead. They blame Madison Moss and the Interguild Council, threatening the fragile peace brokered at Trinity.

Racing against time, Jonah and Emma work to uncover the truth about Thorn Hill, amid growing suspicion that whoever planned the Thorn Hill Massacre might strike again.

The Bad:

That it ended? Seriously, when it ended, I almost felt my heart break into two pieces because I realized that it would be such a long wait until I get to read the next one. I already got this book about a month early as it is, and I’m not sure when the sequel is going to come out, or even what the title is. Its been rumored that The Sorcerer Heir is the possible title but there is NOTHING confirmed, at least according to her website. I hope that we hear something soon because this book was GOOD, and I can’t wait to read more about Jonah and Emma.

The Good:

I love all the characters of the Heir Chronicles. I love Jack and Ellen and Seph and Linda and Madison and all of them, and I’ve enjoyed the three previous books. However, there is something about both Jonah and Emma that had me hooked almost immediately. These characters felt so real and so likable right away. I didn’t stop for a second to give them more thought than just “I need to know what happens to these two characters”. Emma and Jonah are two very different characters. Jonah wants to care so much but its hard for him to get close to people because of his dangerous power. He is also aware of what he is, and where he came from. Emma, on the other hand, is unaware of her own background at first, and when she does realize it, she has a much easier time letting people in, even though she has every right to have grudges against. They both have the same sort of mysteries on their hands, they both have such similar backgrounds and yet they tend to push each other away and not trust each other, even when everything is screaming at them to be together, to work together, to figure things out together.

The story is so beautiful, too. Its not what I expected at all. With everything that had happened in the previous three books, it was almost difficult to see how the story could continue and yet not at the same time. This book takes place in the same universe as the first three books but its a new story, new characters, new situation. This made me incredibly wary. I have a sort of caution when it comes to series that go longer than a trilogy. I feel like there are very few authors that can accomplish this, and accomplish this well. I was immensely disappointed in Cassandra Clare’s City of Fallen Angels, and so I’ve been very wary of continuing stories, when the series has technically been wrapped up.

However, I was proven very wrong, and my fears dissipated very quickly. I should have known that the woman who could write the absolutely brilliant four book Seven Realms series would have no problem writing a fourth story in this realm. This was a fresh, fun, adventurous and addicting story. From the very beginning, when we first meet young Jonah amidst the chaos of Thorn Hill, I was invested. I was attracted to the characters, and their different stories and I was curious to see how they would eventually collide. I liked that they started off so differently but that their worlds eventually connected, their stories started to intertwine. It takes a lot of talent to create a story in two different perspectives that seemingly are on two different paths and make them come together, and in a way that you don’t see until its suddenly in your face. I love that. I love that I’m hanging on the edge of my seat, wondering at the mysteries of both of their lives and wondering how they’re going to meet and what is going to happen between them. She is an addicting storyteller than is able to weave a picture of adventure, mystery, action, drama, humor and romance. She is able to accomplish all of that in one book.

I also think that Cinda is an incredible world builder. It is the one skill of writers that I admire more than anything else, and I think a lot of that comes from the fact that I am really incapable of that kind of writing. Cinda has a great example of world building in her full fantasy, the Seven Realms, but I think an even better example of this is in these novels, and even more so in this novel. You would think maybe its easier to create a new world inside of a world that we already recognize but I think its harder. You have to create this entirely new world, a full world with all of its past, present, future, its laws and rules, its people while trying to keep consistent with the actual world that we know. I think that’s incredibly difficult and yet she does it with finesse, without flaw. There isn’t a moment while reading when you think, “this doesn’t seem real to me”. It is believable from page one to the very last page.

Speaking of the last page, without spoiling anything for those of you who haven’t read it (which is a lot, considering it hasn’t been released yet), HOW DARE YOU CINDA WILLIAMS CHIMA? How dare you? I’ve had my fair share of cliffhangers. I read a lot, more than an average person does in a year, and so I’m used to the concept of a cliffhanger. However, this was still a cliffhanger that smacked me in the face and left me wanting to throw the book across the room. Of course I didn’t because it is precious to me and its signed to me! But I was frustrated, in that wonderful way that you can be frustrated. Cinda has created these characters that I absolutely love and that I want to keep on reading about, and then she leaves off the story like that and it was almost painful to not be able to continue reading, to find out what happens next. These characters will be living in my mind for a very long time, as I wait incredibly impatiently for the next book. Emma and Jonah. I am forever in love with these characters and these books.

Rating:

5 out of 5 Stars

Recommended or Not?

Yes! Please, please, please! Someone needs to read these books. Read the Seven Realms series (The Demon King, The Exiled Queen, The Gray Wolf Throne, The Crimson Crown), and read the Heir Chronicles (The Warrior Heir, The Wizard Heir, The Dragon Heir), and read this book! Cinda Williams Chima is an underrated author who deserves all your praise and your support. She is one of the best authors that I’ve read in this genre, in this reading level of young adult literature and just books in general and I will push her books on you until the end of time!

If you are a fan of Cinda’s already, you won’t be disappointed in this book. Cinda takes what she’s already proven that she can do and she makes it that much better. This is a book worth waiting for and I can’t wait til it releases so I can talk about it with all of you!

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I hope you enjoyed this edition of this week’s Book of the Week, because it is a special one! Look out in the next couple days to try your chance at winning a SIGNED advanced copy of this book! It also comes with some swag too, which is always nice, so keep your eye out!

Happy Reading everyone!

Things to Look Forward to in 2013

The year is halfway over. Its July and its full on summer mode here in Southern California. The 4th of July is that turning point of the year; its half way over.

And I’m sitting here, viagra approved enjoying my summer vacation before I start my last two years of college, thinking about all the awesome things that have already come out and happened this year. Clockwork Princess. WonderCon. Meeting SO many authors. Star Trek premiere. So many cool things.

But then I was thinking about it, and I was like, there is still SO MUCH MORE to look forward to with the rest of the year. So much more.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

Premiere Date: August 12, 2013

Release Date: August 21, 2013

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I am SOOOO insanely excited for this. The Mortal Instruments series is one of my absolute favorite book series and I cannot wait to see it on the big screen. When they first started making it, I admit I was extremely wary. I was afraid of them making another Twilight, and while this series keeps getting compared to Twilight, its nothing like it and it looks amazing! I was also super wary of some of the casting, especially the casting of Jamie Campbell Bower as Jace Wayland but I ended up being proven so wrong, at least of what I’ve seen so far. So far, the directors, producers and movie studio have gone out of there to stay connected to the fans, to see what we’d like to see and what we like about we’ve seen so far and they’ve responded in kind. And the trailer shows me a seriously badass movie. I am looking forward to this movie adaptation because its looking like the best that I’ve seen in awhile.

Doctor Who 50th Anniversary and 12th Doctor Announcement

Release Date: November 23, 2013

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I LOVE DOCTOR WHO, and my love for Doctor Who only increased when I went to Gallifrey One, the Doctor Who convention in February. I enjoyed Series 7, though it wasn’t my favorite, and I have been eagerly anticipating the GREAT 50th anniversary special that is sure to come this year. That is when they announced that David Tennant (the 10th Doctor) and Billie Piper (Rose Tyler) would be joining Matt Smith (the 11th Doctor) and Jenna-Louise Coleman (Clara Oswin Oswald) for the 50th. I literally squealed with fangirl excitement. David Tennant is amazing, and his rendition of the Doctor is just…its the best and I ADORE Rose and I can’t wait to see the shenanigans that these four get up to. Then Matt Smith announced that he would be retiring as the 11th Doctor and all eyes and ears in the DW fandom are anxiously awaiting the announcement of the 12th Doctor. So much amazing DW coming our way :)

Tammara Webber’s Here With You

Ebook Release: August 6, 2013

Paperback Release: August 27, 2013

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I wasn’t even aware that there would be a fourth book in this series but I am so excited that there will be, especially since Reid Alexander is a main player in this book again. If Reid Alexander were a real celebrity, I’d: A, want him to play Jace Wayland in City of Bones and B, I’d be WAY obsessed with him that way girls are obsessed with Justin Bieber. I have a feeling a lot is going to be going on with this book, and I think the past that Reid has with his ex, Brooke, is going to come up big time with this book. I think we’re finally going to see more of that then we’ve ever seen before.

Sarah J. Maas’ Crown of Midnight

Release August 27, 2013

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The first of these books, Throne of Glass, is an absolute masterpiece and its no wonder, as it took Sarah nearly 10 years to write. Its an epic fantasy, with a badass character in Celaena, who is literally a legendary, almost mythical assassin. She can fight, and kill and she has a wicked sense of humor and she likes to curl up with a book. And she has two very different men falling in love with her, and she’s too busy trying to get her freedom. And…even though I absolutely loathe love triangles, I can’t decide which man I like better: Dorian or Chaol. But what a wonderful world that Sarah has created and I can’t wait to see this story continue and to see what other wicked adventures Celaena gets herself into.

Jennifer L Armentrout’s Origin 

Release Date: August 27, 2013

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I can’t WAIT for this book (did I mention that this book and the previous two mentioned ALL COME OUT THE SAME DAY!). If you’ve read the end of Opal, the third book in the Lux series, you’ll understand. MAJOR cliffhanger, and you just know that Daemon is PISSED and he’s ready to take on the world to get Katy back and its going to be amazing. Just the differences in covers alone shows that this is going to be a VERY different novel from the previous. I hope it’ll be more action packed and it’ll take the story in completely new directions. I am SO excited for this book; I’m counting down the days.

Veronica Roth’s Allegiant

Release Date: October 22, 2013

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I read Divergent TWO days before the release of Insurgent and stayed up til 3 a.m. reading Insurgent on its release day. It was released on May 1st, 2012 and I’ve already been waiting for over a year for this book. I know plenty of other Divergent fans who haven’t waited nearly as long as I have, so trust me haha, I’m dying for this book to come out, especially with the damn cliffhanger this book leaves you with! I remember reading this SO late at night and thinking, “No…no way. No, Veronica Roth, you don’t do this to me.” This is one of the most anticipated releases of the year in the YA genre, and with the movie wrapping up filming this month, its sure to be a best-seller within minutes. I canNOT wait to see the conclusion of this epic dystopian series.

Rick Riordan’s The House of Hades

Release Date: October 8, 2013

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Again with the cliffhangers. The Mark of Athena, the book right before this one, leaves off with an EPIC cliffhanger. Sorry I’m about to spoil it so if you haven’t read the previous books, I would move on to the next time on the list. I’m warning you. Okay, we leave off with Percy and Annabeth (one of my OTP!) literally FALLING INTO TARTARUS, the deep depths of the Underworld and the Romans of Camp Jupiter charging toward Camp Half Blood, with attack the only objective on their minds. What a way to leave off. Only a year in between books but it is SO hard to wait. And this cover, with an extremely beat up Percy and Annabeth, running from…something, just gets me wriggling with anticipation. Rick Riordan has never failed to disappoint me so this is definitely a book to count down on.

Catching Fire Release

Release Date: November 22, 2013

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I can’t wait for this movie for three reasons. One, I loved the first one but I wasn’t incredibly impressed with it. I’m hoping CF is better :) Two, Finnick Odair. Do I need to say anything else? And three, my friends all went to the Hunger Games premiere last year and had an awesome time and now we are going to the CF premiere and its sure to be a FANTASTIC time. This is a great book series, and the movie is chock full of great actors like Jennifer Lawrence, Woody Haralson, Donald Sutherland, Jenna Malone and so much more. I am excited to see how they accomplish the build up that Catching Fire is. I also am really curious to see how well they pull of the Quarter Quell and the ridiculous arena that is the 75th Hunger Games. I remember reading it and thinking it was crazy, and its going to be epic on the big screen.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Release

Release Date: December 13, 2013

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Okay, I don’t care what any of those so-called fancy Hollywood movie “critics” say. They aren’t fans of the Tolkien universe and they just don’t know. This movie wasn’t made for the critics; it was made for the fans and all the fans that I know…LOVED the first movie. I know I did. I was incredibly impressed and I wanted it to go on forever and I loved the extra stories they added from The Silmarillion and the appendices. This movie is bound to be epic because we get to see more elves (including Thandruil and Legolas) and Benedict Cumberbatch’s sexy dragon voice and so much more. I just know that the movie will continue to be as epic as the first one was. My super cool friend, Kathleen, from New Zealand got me some epic Hobbit shirts and I can’t wait to wear them when seeing this movie for the first time.

Cinda Williams Chima’s The Enchanter Heir 

Release Date: October 1, 2013

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I am so incredibly…okay I’ve said it like a hundred times now…excited for this book because Cinda Williams Chima is a fantasy GENIUS. Seriously. I will push her on you until the day I die because she is an absolutely brilliant and talented writer and I don’t think its fair that she doesn’t get the credit that she deserves when there are extremely popular YA authors out there, with huge fandoms, that aren’t even good. Okay, moving on, this is the 4th book in the Heir Chronicles, though it can be read without reading the first three. Its an urban fantasy, a brilliantly crafted fantasy world wrapped up in modern day worlds. I read all seven of Cinda’s previously released books in a matter of about a month and so now I am dying to have my socks knocked off again by this amazing writer.

Anniversary Edition Harry Potter Books

Release Date: August 27, 2013

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I hate change. I really do. I would rather things just be left alone and kept the way they originally were meant to be. Like the original Star Wars trilogy. Why George Lucas, why, did you add all that unnecessary CRAP  to that movie? Ugh. So when they announced that each book in the Harry Potter series would be getting updated covers for the 15th anniversary of the Sorcerer’s Stone’s publication in the US, I wasn’t really thrilled. Until the covers started to be revealed and I was thoroughly impressed. As much as I believe that Mary Grandpre’s covers are the best and will always remain my favorite, these covers (so far, five have been released) are just so beautiful done and are so incredibly impressive and full of artistic talent. I went from shaking my head, to looking at these with eyes wide and immediately rushing to Amazon to place my pre-order. And of course, this box set comes out the EXACT SAME DAY as Origin and Crown of Midnight and Here Without You…

Marie Lu’s Champion 

Release Date: November 5, 2013 

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This is going to be the most epic finale to the BEST dystopian series that I have ever read. Yes, better than The Hunger Games, and yes, better than Divergent. Marie Lu creates a one of a kind dystopian universe (she actually talks about countries besides the US!) and she creates two conflicting, yet in love characters, and her back and forth point of views just leave us with a breath taking, addicting story. I adore both June and Day and the cliffhanger she leaves us with (SPOILER: Day is dying…and he didn’t tell June) is just too much for me to handle. Luckily, after reading Prodigy on its release day in January, I didn’t have to wait long for Champion’s release, which is in November! Not even a year. That, my friends, is possibly the best news a reader can get.

Percy Jackson: The Sea of Monsters

Release Date: August 7, 2013

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I was incredibly disappointed in the first movie. I don’t think its as TERRIBLE as everyone makes it out to be but it definitely isn’t a good movie. Its kind of one of those guilty pleasure movies; plus, Logan Lerman is so adorable, I just want to eat him up. But it wasn’t great, and it failed in the box office, so it surprised me immensely when they announced that the second book, Sea of Monsters, was being filmed. Pleasantly surprised but also wary. Now, I’ve seen stills and trailers and I’m not completely sold yet but I do like this book a lot and I am hoping that they are able to revamp this movie series and we can get to Titan’s Curse, which is my FAVE of the Olympians series. I hope, I hope!

Meg Cabot’s The Bride Wore Size 12

Release Date: September 24, 2013

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Heather Wells is one of my idol characters to look up to because she makes me feel better about myself, both inside and out. Heather is a bigger girl, and she used to be a smaller, famous pop star who basically lost everything but as the books go on, she gains more and more confidence, and becomes so happy in the skin that she’s in and I love that. I love that the more I gain confidence in the size that I wear (which is, a size 12), the more I feel like this badass heroine. Now, after all these books, I am so happy that she is finally getting married and to the person that she’s always wanted to be married to, and I can’t wait to see what adventures she is bound to get into because its Heather and someone is bound to die and Heather is bound to catch them.

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I am also looking forward to the return of Once Upon a Time in the fall for season 3, the new series, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, as well. I am excited for Vampire Diaries and the new series, The Originals. I am also anticipating the return of Sherlock, season 3, though I believe that may be in 2014. So much is coming!

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So that was a really long, epic post but I hope you all enjoyed it! There are just SO many cool things left to look forward to in 2013!

What are you most looking forward to in the next six months of 2013? Book releases, movie releases, TV shows returning? As always, share in the comments!

Tuesday Top Ten-Favorite YA Female Characters

So I’ve totally already done this Tuesday Top Ten before, information pills but it was kind of my favorite one to do (besides maybe my favorite fictional boy crushes) because there’s SUCH an outpouring of strong, amazing, kickass, well developed awesome female characters out there and I want to be able to share the ones that I like so much with all of you.

I also did this list way back in November and I had probably, hmmm, like five followers back then, which included my dad and my boyfriend and maybe a few friends. Now I have nearly 1000 followers and so I want to write it again, so all my new followers can now see this :)

So here we go! My top ten (err…eleven) favorite female characters in young adult literature!

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11. Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games 

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Katniss is a badass, and she’s one of the first characters that comes to mind when you have strong female characters of YA, especially with the immense success of the Hunger Games movie and Catching FIre hitting theaters this fall. I like Katniss a lot, but mostly from the first book, not so much the next two. My personal opinion is that she gets a little whiny toward the end. Again, thats my personal opinion. But I do think she’s a great character. She’s a girl that doesn’t give up, even though most 12 year olds probably would. Instead of crawling into a hole, and letting her family starve or letting her and Prim be taken away, she figures out a way to survive and hunts, and trades and does whatever she can to help her family survive. And these skills that she learns for survival are the KEY to her survival in the Hunger Games. She’s extremely clever and she’s very caring as well, for her family, and for the people that come into her life like Peeta and Haymitch and Cinna and even Effie. She’s a GREAT character and Jennifer Lawrence is a great actress to play her.

10. Tessa Gray from The Infernal Devices 

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I love Tessa Gray because of her bravery, her resilience, her cleverness and the fact that she loves books so much. I love that Tessa Gray only wants to do the best that she can and that she cares SO much. The thing about Tessa is that she is unique, in so many different ways. First off, she’s an American in London. Then she’s amongst a bunch of Shadowhunters, which she is not. Then she’s not even sure what she is: possible a warlock, but without a warlock’s mark and no explanation of what she is. The Infernal Devices trilogy is not only the story of the London Institute and the Shadowhunters attempting to defeat Mortmain and his revenge plan but its also about the journey that Tessa takes in discovering herself and who she is and what she is and what her purpose is. I love that she loves with all of her heart and she loves her brother, even though he isn’t what she thought he was, and she loves the people she meets through the London Institute. I love that she loves both Will and Jem, and not in a whiny Bella Swan kind of way but in such a real, genuine way, the way people love in real life.

9. Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter series

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J.K. Rowling once said about Luna Lovegood that she has an unbelievably rare quality of a person who just doesn’t give a damn about what people think about her and for that, she’s on my list. Because let’s face it, no matter what we say, no matter how much we profess it, we all care at least a little bit what people think of us. That or, we care what CERTAIN people think of us. Luna has the quality of being an absolute badass because she’s so sure of herself. She is teased and bullied, and people mess with her and think she’s weird but she doesn’t even notice. She’s so happy in her own world and I, for one, envy her for that. But she’s also a seriously loving and caring and brave person. When she finally makes friends, she is so good to them, and she is a pivotal character in my opinion. I don’t think the Harry Potter series would have been right without her in it, and there’s a reason why everyone calls me Luna <3

8. June Iparis from the Legend trilogy 

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Okay, June is an absolute badass, and honestly, I think she’s one of the strongest female characters I have read in a novel, especially in the overflow of young adult lit that is going on right now. I was amazed at June’s…tenacity and her fire and her strength. I was discussing June with someone online once and they said she was cold, she didn’t have a personality, that she wasn’t as easy to like as some of the other heroines that are out there, and that’s exactly why I like her. She’s different. She’s trained as a soldier and thinks like a soldier and has a hard time breaking that habit, even when things start stacking up against everything she ever knew. Its hard for her to be as trusting of people, especially someone like Day, who she is told over and over again is a criminal. I think she’s very human, and I love how her feelings for Day are always in question, always a work in progress. I like that there’s a love story in this novel, but not the kind that takes over the story. I love June because she has a head on her shoulders, and she uses it before she falls in love. I love how smart she is, and how reluctant she is to accept the truth…because she wants to know its the real truth before she believes it. She’s such a great character.

7. Tris Prior from the Divergent trilogy 

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I think one of the biggest reasons that I love Tris is because she’s so little, and people don’t really believe in her because of that, and she proves them all wrong. She’s the tiny, little, divergent (read: normal) girl, who takes a chance, leaves her parents behind for a different faction, a faction so vastly different than the one she was raised in and just…just rocks it. I mean, sure, not at first. She’s weak, scared, shy. But she does all the work she needs to do to not only become part of the Dauntless faction, but to be number one in the initiates. I love that. I love that she’s been taught so much about the act of being silent, being selfless, lacking of affectionate and all of that sort of thing, but when she comes to Dauntless, everything she does is so real, and so genuine. She makes friends because she is so genuine. And Four falls in love with her because of that, and that’s just too darn cute for life. I am jealous for Tris and her relationship with Four, because…well he’s Four, and do you see the picture above? Theo James is QUITE the looker. But in all seriousness, I admire Tris for her bravery, her cleverness, her selfishness and selflessness, and her never ending drive.

6. Clary Fray from The Mortal Instruments

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I know that most of you know how addicted I am to the  Mortal Instruments series, and I’m sure you’re wondering why on earth the main character would not even be in the top 5, and there are reasons for that, and I totally have a TMI character in the Top 5. So hush. I love Clary, I super adore her. I enjoy watching as she takes the journey from normal teenager girl, to a budding Shadowhunter. I love that she’s brave and fearless, and she wants to save everyone: her mom, Simon, Jace, everyone. I love that the Shadowhunter world is SO confusing to her, but she goes with it, and she adapts quickly and that, I don’t know, she sort of grows into what is her natural heritage. She was born to be a Shadowhunter, even though her mom held that away from her for so long. I think the biggest reason why I love Clary is because of her loyalty. She is SO incredibly loyal and loving to the people she cares about: her mom, Luke, Simon. And when she meets the Lightwoods and Jace and Maia and Magnus, she cares for all of them as well. She just can’t help but care, and her caring is what makes her so brave.

5. Alina Starkov from The Grisha Trilogy 

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Alina is one of the most interesting characters that I have read in awhile. One, because she’s incredibly powerful…more powerful than pretty much every single person that she knows. And at first, she strays away from that power and is reluctant to use, reluctant to get any stronger. But as the story goes on, she almost begins to crave that power. She begins to grow addicted to it, and she feeds off of it. I think so many times we see characters that are so inherently good all the time, so good even when they make mistakes or make wrong decisions but Alina kind of represents a different sort of heroine. I think that we see Alina struggle more than any other character, because power is a dangerous thing. I don’t think that Alina is evil or a bad person, but that all depends on what happens in the final book of the series. We leave off, with all these people believing she’s a saint, a savior, and with her on a crazy, impossible quest to track down ways to make herself more powerful. This is incredibly dangerous and makes Alina a very complex, and addicting character. I just keep wanting to read and find out what happens next.

4. Alianne Cooper from The Tricksters Series

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One of the strongest female characters that I’ve seen in the young adult genre, and just one of many that Tamora Pierce has created in her Tortall world: Alanna, Thayet, Buri, Daine, Maura, Keladry, and so so so many more. But when it comes down to it, Aly is easily my favorite and I think a lot of that comes down to that she was the first Tortall woman that I met, and she ushered me into a book series, and a book saga, that would seriously change my life. Aly is a sixteen year old girl with the kind of skills I could only dream of having at twenty-five years old. She’s incredibly clever, and has the knowledge and abilities to become a spymaster for a massive rebellion and be incredibly good at it. She knows about spying, and codes, and the sneakiness that comes with it. She knows about war and the way it goes, the way its run. She knows politics and crops and government and trade, social and culture, she’s just so incredibly smart. She can wield daggers and has wicked hand-to-hand combat skills. She’s quick on the spot, and can turn a lie in an instant. She’s charming and funny and relatable. She’s amazing, and one of the characters I always, ALWAYS bring up when talking about young adult literature.  

3. Isabelle Lightwood from The Mortal Instruments series 

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Can I say that if this was favorite female CRUSHES, it would be Isabelle at number one, easily? One, Jemima West is absolutely gorgeous and I can’t wait to see her as Isabelle in the movie this summer. But I like Isabelle because she’s the badass of the books. She is one of the best Shadowhunters there is, gender aside. She has her awesome gold whip, and she takes down demons and fights with Jace and Alec. I also love her humor, her personality. She always has a smile on her face; she’s always finding a way to joke through things, and laugh her way around, even when everyone else is so down. She’s a fierce, strong character and I think sometimes is overlooked but she’s one of my absolute favorites. Alec and Jace both say, that though the Shadowhunter world has changed, that it is still hard for girls to become true warriors, and yet Isabelle works her ass off for it. And she’s another fiercely loyal, and caring person as well. The amount of love that she feels for her family: for her parents and Alec and Max and Jace is unparalleled. She is willing to do anything for them. Plus I just want to be HER: sexy, strong, brave, fearless, charming, a fighter…a fierce, fierce fighter.

2. Raisa ana’Marianna from The Seven Realms series 

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Raisa is seriously….I can’t even…she’s just so awesome. I knew from page one that I was addicted to this character. She’s everything realistic about being a teenage girl plus SO much more. She is young, and pretty and wants to enjoy both of those. She wants to flirt with boys and have fun, and not worry about taking the throne just yet. But then drama goes down (as it is wont to do) and Raisa is forced to run away from her kingdom, hide herself from her own mother, and eventually come back to take her rightful throne. She is so much stronger than a lot of the characters we’ve seen in YA in that…even though she falls madly in love with someone she can’t be with, she doesn’t really cave to that. Her duty comes first and foremost through it all, and she follows the rules, to keep a hold of her unsteady claim on the throne. Spoiler: I honestly didn’t think she was going to end up with Han, for a VERY long time. We really don’t figure out that Raisa is willing to push buttons until she has fought for her throne and she feels the strength to do so. But she has fire and passion and a good head on her shoulders, even as she makes the same mistakes that any human would do. She is a character that I would LOVE to see her on the big screen.

1. Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series

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I don’t think its any surprise that she is the best YA female character, at least according to myself. She is the first female character that I really read that I connected to, and that I still continue to connect to. Before I discovered Harry Potter, I was reading formula books like Sweet Valley High, Baby-Sitter’s Club, Pony Pals and the Boxcar Children. In other words, books that weren’t challenging me in the slightest. I first read Harry Potter when I was 10 years old, just one year younger than the characters themselves and Hermione immediately jumped out to me. One, she really was the only female character that we got to know in that book, besides, like McGonagall and Mrs. Norris haha. But I loved how smart she was, especially since she wasn’t born into that world. I loved how, even though she was teased and bullied, and had no friends, she didn’t stop being smart just for that. I love that she was always proud of her brain and her intelligence and she never, ever dumbed herself down for a boy, ever. I loved that she was brave, and loyal and kind and selfless and quick thinking and all of that. She is AWESOME and Emma Watson did a wonderful job portraying her :)

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I hope you enjoyed this week’s edition of the Tuesday Top Ten.

Don’t forget to check out last week’s Top Ten, on my favorite fictional dads, and other lists here.

Who are some of YOUR favorite young adult fictional female characters? As always, share in the comments!