Editor’s Note: We were pleased to host Chelsea Mueller to our Dallas Flagship store on Saturday, May 13 to sign and discuss her debut novel, Borrowed Souls. We asked her to share some of her favorite reads with you as part of our Books Authors Read series – please enjoy!
If I had written this list a couple years ago, every title would have been urban fantasy or paranormal romance. I like ‘em gritty, but I’ve found a new love in fantasy and sci-fi this last year that has rather dominated my recommendations list. Regardless of genre, I tend to favor books with a speedy plot and immersive worldbuilding and #kissingbooks are 100 percent welcome.
I’m cheating a little by including two books as a single pick here, but once you finish the first you’ll dive headlong into the second. The Fifth Season was my most recommended book in the last year.
Love fantasy? Read The Fifth Season.
Love sci-fi? Read The Fifth Season.
Love twisted plots? Read The Fifth Season.
Basically, if you like to read, pick up this book.
Then immediately devour the sequel The Obelisk Gate, which is even more unputdownable (if that’s a thing). The prose and craft in these novels is top-notch, and the plot continued to fascinate me further with each page.
Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places by Colin Dickey
I write gritty fantasy grounded in the real world. Ghostland is not fiction, at least not in the same sense of the teeming magic found in the Southwest that I write. This non-fiction title explores how ghost stories evolve over time and what those tales say about our shifting fears as a society. Ghostland doesn’t posit whether ghosts are real, but instead it focuses on what our perceptions of such phenomena say about who we are and what we believe. The ghost stories are pretty excellent, too.
A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
I devoured read A Thousand Pieces of You in a single sitting. As someone who usually likes her sci-fi on the lighter side, I wasn’t sure about what I perceived as a portal fantasy going in. Several hours later, I’d already bought the next two books in the series. That’s because Gray has crafted a YA gateway to portal and time-travel fantasy. Her characters use a device to move between alternate dimensions. They meld into the bodies of their alternate selves. These other realities can be anywhere in the timeline—my personal favorite is an extended stay in old Russia. All of this while on a mission to find a killer. It’s mystery and science and fantasy and unexpected romance.
The Leopard King by Ann Aguirre
One of the hardest things to make work about friends-to-lovers romance tropes is backstory. The main characters in The Leopard King have backstory and then some. We’re talking heroine is the hero’s late wife’s best friend. That’s a lot to unpack, but Ann Aguirre makes it look effortless. She fills the novel with tension and action and some mega-angst as a marriage of convenience becomes something legit. If you like to see tropes get a new flavor, or if you like your paranormal romance sexy and complicated, bump this one up the to-be-read list.
Night Shift by Charlaine Harris
I will probably read just about anything Charlaine Harris writes, but I have to admit the final book in her Midnight, Texas series has a dear place in my heart. Harris crafts small-town dynamics better than most anyone, and the culmination of so much character development in the previous books was seriously satisfying in Night Shift following a perfect mystery slow burn.
Breath of Fire by Amanda Bouchet
Amanda Bouchet brings a fresh plot, a fresh voice and a heroine you’d want to be friends with to Breath of Fire. The protagonist, Cat, hooked me, and the magic, mythology and banter kept me flying through the pages. I recommend this one often, especially to those who either love Sarah J. Maas novels but want something sexier or are in a rut with paranormal romance. Fantasy romance with a kickass heroine and some traditional romance conventions? Yes, please.
Blade Bound by Chloe Neill
I’ve stuck with Merit and Ethan in the Chicagoland Vampires series since day one. Chloe Neill’s final book in the series delivers the ending they deserve. Plus, the ending gives actual details on the spinoff series. Chloe Neill = urban fantasy done right.