Summer's pretty much here, and with it comes the joy of sitting in the park, sinking into the sunshine and losing yourself in a great book.
Or perhaps your style is more waking up early for a lazy morning, where you pile the pillows behind your head and ease into reading page after page before you have to actually get up and go about your business.
Either way, I've got a list that's sure to please your summer reading palate.
Here are my top 6 books for summer, and they're all unusual fantasy reads. Why would I want to throw some unusual reads at you? Well, by now it's time to break the traditional mold and push your boundaries...after all, getting outside your usual "zone" is what helps you grow.
And since I've always believed that books have the power to teach us about how to be human (or elf, vampire, noble, and ogre, to name a few), these are some of those books that really offer a new way of thinking about those mundane things we take advantage of in life, be it structures, rules, or relationships.
I truly hope you enjoy!
If you have a book to recommend, or if you'd like to leave a review for one of these luscious summer reads, please drop a note in the comments!
Top 6 Unusual Fantasy Reads
1) Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce
Billed as YA this book is a delight for teens and adults alike. Pierce takes you into a world infused by magic, some of it sorcery, some of it "wild magic" which is borne of the earth. Daine is a young girl with a special gift, a wild dose of wild magic, which she must learn to control in order to protect the kingdom that's come under attack by violent gods. As she teams up with a motley crew, she learns about how to be herself as a girl growing into grief, love, and power.
This is quite a page turner. Expect to be finished in just a few hours!
2) The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie
The Blade Itself is an usual dark fantasy book because the heroes aren't exactly gung-ho about being heroes. Chock full of humor, Abercrombie has written a book (several, actually -- you should check out his others...) that spins traditional fantasy on its head. A barbarian who hates to kill; a charismatic hero who's afraid of battle; a crippled torturer who would like nothing more than to have everyone around him dead; an angry, frustrated wizard...these are the darkly humorous characters that make up the cast of The Blade Itself. It's a relief to find characters that aren't modeled after tradition, and this book does not disappoint.
For a wildly fantastic (and funny) summer read, check out The Blade Itself!
3) The Axe and the Throne by M.D. Ireman
Do you ever read books solely for the sake of transporting you away from your "real" life so that you can inhabit, for however brief a time, another world? (If you say no, ho boy, you better read more (and better) books!) Not only is the setting entirely engrossing (I struggled HARD after I put the book down to leave the lush world Ireman created in favor of the one I found myself in after the last page was turned) the characters are equally compelling.
Chris over at BestEpicFantasy.com (y'all know Chris, don't you?!) bills it as the best fantasy of the century: "This book will offend, frustrate, sadden, and shock you, and then it will reward you. ...An absolute killer that everyone needs in their collection." Still want to hear more?
"The violence and brutality is vivid. The characters are skillfully developed and each one is flawed in some way that makes them more real and believable. The plot line develops slowly and unpredictability, which I appreciate. I have no idea what lays in store in future chapters. There were instances where I didn't want to continue reading for fear of what my be happening to favored characters...
I really enjoyed this book and can't wait for the next one to be published!"
-Amazon Reviewer, Craig Ramage
4) The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
I appreciate fantasy books that take a darker look at the human condition. Oh yeah, and focus on how to exploit the hell of out human weakness. Scott Lynch is a brilliant writer, and knows how to stroke mystery and suspense and weave a truly engrossing tale. The Lies of Locke Lamora follows a band of con artists from their lowly beginnings to making cons on entire empires.
If you like intricate and smart fantasies, you'll love this. With several twists to keep you guessing this book, though quite long, will keep you turning pages by the pool until you're red as a lobster.
5) Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey
The first book in an incredible series, Kushiel's Dart is about a girl sold into slavery and bought by a mysterious noble. She receives lessons in many arts, as well as history, politics, and above all, seduction. She is the perfect spy...until she unveils a secret that threatens her homeland. Now her role shifts and she must fight to protect her home using whatever tools at her disposal. Because she is desirable, intelligent, and cunning, her journey to her homeland is fraught with danger, subterfuge, and hard-won battles. This book has a bit of everything: sex, violence, sacrifice. It's one hell of a sexy read too -- perfect for summer.
Again, don't the length of this book fool you. It's so good you'll be finished and wanting more! Luckily, there are 2 more after this to keep you satisfied.
6) Ella Bandita and the Wanderer by Montgomery Mahaffey
Yes, I'm plugging Ella Bandita and the Wanderer. And why not? It's one great unusual fantasy that's perfect for beating off summer blues. Summer blues?! Yup. You know those days when the sun is shining so bright, the sun so hot, that you just want to curl up in an oversized chair by the a/c unit and get lost in a well woven tale? Them's the summer blues....those days when you'd rather not be sweating out your life-force through the pores in your skin. So grab a book, preferably this book, and say hello to the cool breeze of a whole new world. Ella Bandita and the Wanderer takes place in a land that feels historic yet thoroughly alien as it's infused with a slippery sort of magic. The kind that a Sorcerer uses to seduce a desperate young woman and bind her life to a dark and destructive power. The woman, once nameless and on the brink of suicide, is given a chance at a second life, one in which she no longer feels invisible but becomes the infamous legend -- Ella Bandita, Thief of Hearts. As she searches the world for the most licentious men to seduce and kill with her strange power, she becomes tied up in a non-fatal relationship with a Wanderer, struck by grief but ignited by desire for this unusual woman.
Definitely at the top of the list for a different fantasy read!