1. Catherynne M. Valente
“But the thought arrived inside her like a train: Marya Morevna, all in black, here and now, was a point at which all the women she had been met—the Yaichkan and the Leningrader and the chyerti maiden; the girl who saw the birds, and the girl who never did—the woman she was and the woman she might have been and the woman she would always be, forever intersecting and colliding, a thousand birds falling from a thousand oaks, over and over.”
I haven’t made a secret of how much I love Catherynne Valente’s work, and how Deathless is probably my favourite book of the last five years. Valente’s prose is unpredictable in its beauty, weighed just right against the various plots that it relates to readers. I love the surprise of discovering each of her books. Six-Gun Snow White (out November 10 from Saga Press) is the latest Valente I’ve had the pleasure of reading, and it was everything I never knew I wanted in a retelling.
2. Laini Taylor
It’s like all my life I’ve been this tower standing at the edge of the ocean for some obscure purpose, and only now, almost eighteen years in, has someone thought to flip the switch that reveals that I’m not a tower at all. I’m a lighthouse. It’s like waking up. I am incandescent.
Laini Taylor’s books feed the wild soul in me, the girl who thinks about monsters and mayhem and maybes. The Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy is one of the few series that has not disappointed me in its full run, and I have yet to be disappointed by any of Taylor’s backlist.
3. Libba Bray
I’m a wild girl from a cursed line of women. I paw at the ground and run under the moon. I like the feel of my own body. I’m not a slut or a nympho or someone who’s just asking for it. And if I talk too loud it’s just that I’m trying to be heard.
One day, I would like to be able to say things and do things with as much passion and confidence as Libba Bray’s characters. My issues with the Gemma Doyle trilogy aside, Gemma was also one of the first heroines that defined YA for me, along with her friends. I began to understand feminism through the lens of Bray’s books, and I’ll always appreciate that.
4. Marissa Meyer
Her mind emptied of everything but the gusting wind and how fragile Wolf looked in that heartbeat, like one movement could break him open.
If you know me at all, you already knew Marissa would be on this list. I’ve so enjoyed reading her work and seeing the amazing reception her books have gotten. Plus I’d be lying if I said Winter (out November 10, from Macmillan) wasn’t one of my most anticipated books of 2015. I look forward to Marissa’s next wonderland in Heartless (2016).
5. Kim Thuy
I moved forward in the trace of their footsteps as in a waking dream where the scent of a newly blown poppy is no longer a perfume but a blossoming: where the deep red of a maple leaf in autumn is no longer a colour but a grace; where a country is no longer a place but a lullaby.
I only read Ru last year, but it was a revelation. Finding diverse fiction that reflects experiences I’ve had has been a challenge, but Kim Thuy’s work speaks to me in ways I still struggle to express in words. There’s a kinship there that I don’t think I can fully explain, and a very deep admiration that has followed through each book of hers that I’ve read.
Love is about the good moments, but it’s about holding on to each other during the difficult ones, too. Coming out on the other side, weathered but still holding hands, isn’t easy. It’s the most difficult thing there can possibly be, but I know now it’s the truest test of love there is.
Written in the Stars was a book that I stumbled upon on Goodreads last fall, and I’ll admit that I was nervous about liking it. I don’t know a lot about Pakistan or its people, though it is a work in progress, and I hoped to continue learning from books like this. Aisha Saeed’s writing is paced so well, and ties to her characters with confidence. The reading experience was amazing and enlightening.
7. Maggie Stiefvater
And here was what I was most afraid of: that Cole St. Clair would fall in love with me, and I’d fall in love with him, both of us human weapons, and we’d both end up with broken hearts.
Real talk: if I know you, I have probably talked your ear off about Sinner at least once. I enjoyed Maggie Stiefvater’s books before I read Sinner last summer, but in hindsight, it was a pretty shallow enjoyment. Sinner was the turning point, the pinnacle of OH-MY-GOD-MAGGIE-STIEFVATER-WHAT-DID-YOU-JUST-DO-TO-MY-HEART. Really though, by that point, I was already buying every Stiefvater book as they came out, so it was probably inevitable. You should read the The Raven Cycle so we can cry over Gansey together and then fix ourselves with Sinner again.
She was a dangerous, dangerous girl. A plague. A Mountain of Adamant who tore the iron from ships, sinking them to their watery graves without a second thought. With a mere smile and a wrinkle of her nose.
Shahrzad is pretty much who I want to be when I grow up, and she’s younger than I am now. She’s the kind of girl who is loyal to the death, and who knows herself and trusts herself. I love that Renee Ahdieh was able to tell her story, and that it’s a book that can rest on my shelves today.
9. Hannah Moskowitz
I wish we would all just fall apart so I wouldn’t have to listen to the downfall happen, so slowly, so painfully.
All of Hannah Moskowitz’s books are adventures. They’re never quite what I expect them to be, so I’ve stopped expecting and now I just trust her to give me a story that no one else could ever tell. Moskowitz has a way of finding exactly the right character to inhabit her books, and letting them run free in the story.
10. V.E. Schwab
Plenty of humans were monstrous, and plenty of monsters knew how to play at being human.
V.E. Schwab is an author who took a while to land on my purchase list–I read her early books through the library. Until Vicious. I think I might have passed out at some point while reading Vicious, from sheer awe at what she created. A Darker Shade of Magic takes that awe a couple universes further. It’s hard to describe exactly what qualities Schwab’s work has that makes it so irresistible, but maybe it’s just not something I need to describe. Maybe it’s something you just need to experience for yourself.
Who’s on your auto-buy list? Do we share any of the same authors?
Categories: Top Ten Tuesday