Pamela is a professor of communication, traveler, artist, and avid book reader. She loves books that are fantasy and dystopian based and geared towards adult audiences- especially series with good character development, relationship development, and world-building. YA books can fall into this category, but she avoids ones that are contemporary/modern/urban, based in high-school, contain insta-love, marriage, children/pregnancy, and/or feature cheesy vampire clichés (old school Anne Rice only). Strong female protagonist are preferred. Ideal books and series are action packed with suspense, intrigue, and just a subtle undercurrent of romance.

Pamela’s Recommendations:

  • Grisha (trilogy) – Liegh Bardugo
  • 6 of Crows (trilogy)- Liegh Bardugo
  • Air Awakens (series)- Elise Kova
  • Legend (trilogy) Marie Lu
  • Young Elites (trilogy)- Marlie Lu
  • Throne of Glass (series) – Sarah J. Maas (Note: didn’t truly love this till book 3: Heir of Fire, worth sticking with)
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses (trilogy)- Sarah J. Maas (Also Note: I felt the 1st one was okay- but the 2nd was absolutely one of the best books I’ve read in my entire life)
  • The Falconer (trilogy)- Elizabeth May
  • Divergent (triloy)- Veronica Roth
  • Mistborn (series)- Brandon Sanderson


Leia is an avid and lifelong reader. She started reading fantasy early on thanks to a teacher recommending Tolkien, and has never looked back. Some of her favorite authors are Terry Brooks, Tad Williams, Stephen King, and Diana Gabaldon. Although not married to any particular genre, Leia does enjoy fantasy the most because it allows for more robust and engaging characters, particularly female characters.

In her day-to-day life Leia works as a case manager serving chronically homeless adults with severe mental illness. She is married with children and so you will often find her reading in 5-10 minute snatches throughout the day.

Leia’s Recommendations:

  • The Mists of Avalon- Marion Zimmer Bradley: This is a great standalone book that takes a look at the Arthur legend through the eyes of the women. It’s told from the perspective (mostly) of Morgaine, or Morgan le Fey as many of us know her. It’s a compelling read with lots of historical and fantasy elements thrown in.
  • The Sword of Shannara, The Elfstones of Shannara, and The Wishsong of Shannara- Terry Brooks: These are the first fantasy novels I read outside of The Lord of the Rings series. They are very Tolkien-esque and have all the usual fantasy tropes: elves and such, magic, good vs. evil, etc. They are well done, however this first set is my favorite. There are a number of other series that all take place in the same world, but these were his first novels and, in my opinion, remain his best.
  • Tailchaser’s Song- Tad Williams: So I love Tad Williams, but his series take some work to read. This is one of his few standalone books and it is a fun little novel. It’s set in our world, but is told entirely from the perspective of cats. He creates a fascinating culture and society for his felines and it makes for a genuinely interesting and well-told story.
  • A Brave New World- Aldous Huxley:This is the first dystopian novel that I remember reading and it has left a lasting imprint. I vividly remember reading this and realizing the elements of society that he drew on to create such a realistic future. It taught me a lot about questioning what is going on in the world and the decisions that we make as a society. It is not challenging to read but it is challenging to really consider the themes and ideas that are presented.
  • The Giver- Lois Lowrey: This is a book that I did not fully understand the first time I read it; I was too young. Reading it again as an older teen (and an adult) the themes become more apparent. It emphasizes the importance of accepting our faults, free will, and love. It’s a beautiful and heartbreaking story and one that I still read.
  • The Stand- Stephen King: Stephen King isn’t often associated with fantasy, or YA, or dystopian fiction, but this is an excellent dystopian novel, in my opinion. Most of the world’s population is wiped out by a virus. The cataclysm and the aftermath are one of the most fascinating explorations of human nature, of good and evil, and community, society, and culture that I’ve ever read. I actually read this book about once a year and I always find something new in it.