Top Ten Tuesday (16): Top Ten Under the Radar Reads

July 5, 2016 2016, Kim, Top Ten Tuesday 25

Top Ten Tuesday banner

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. This week, the theme is “Ten Books We Enjoyed That Have Under 2000 Ratings On Goodreads” and we’re happy to be participating!


divider vine cropped



Wonders of the Invisible World by Christopher Barzak

This one is a beautiful mashup of contemporary and paranormal, with a dash of fairy tale thrown in for good measure. Aidan can’t remember swaths of his life. And he didn’t even realize it until an old friend reappears and lost memories begin to resurface. What happened to Aidan’s memories? Magic is woven into every line in the story. Its contemporary yet fairy tale feel reminded me a lot of the stunning Bone Gap. Bonus: this is an LGBT read. It’s also a 2016 Stonewall Honor Book!

Taming the Forest King by Claudia J. Edwards

I’m not at all surprised to see that this one has very few Goodreads ratings considering it was published in 1986. But it so definitely deserves many more! This is old school adventure fantasy, yet it’s so much more progressive than many works published in recent times. Tevra is an experienced warrior sent by her king to restore order in a rebellious province.    It perfectly balances all of the things I love best in fantasy: magic, politics, world building, a focus on character development, and romance. If you like romantic adventure fantasy then you need this book in your life. Wendy gifted this book to me and it’s one of her all time favorites. Trust Wendy.

And All the Stars by Andrea K. Host

This one is an indie, Aussie, survival-against-aliens gem. Madeleine has to navigate a newly apocalyptic Sydney with the help of a fellow band of teen survivors. I love survival stories. I love alien stories. And this one is truly done better than most. There isn’t just the adrenaline associated with this sort of read, but an awesome examination of what it means to be human. There’s also, yes, a tremendously touching and well executed romance that is just the right amount of bittersweet. This is a thrilling and deep alien apocalypse story. A standout in the genre.

The Lost Planet by Rachel Searles

I just adore this middle grade sci-fi series about a boy who wakes up in a strange place with no memory of who he is or what happened to him. He has just one phrase haunting his memory: “Guide the star.” What does it mean? What follows is a fun, action-packed, fast paced romp through space to uncover the mystery. This is one of my go-to series to recommend at the library for reluctant middle grade readers.

Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule

Oh, this is just the loveliest little gothic, musical gem. Sing (don’t judge the name-she hates it too) is a student at a prestigious musical conservatory that is shrouded in myth and mystical rumor. She’s never paid much attention to these, though. Sing’s much more preoccupied with what seems to be…something missing from her voice. Is this missing part of her related to the mystery and magic of the forest adjacent to the school, and how so?  Also, this book has a wish granting feral space cat. That should be all you need to know.


A Matter of Souls by Denise Lewis Patrick

This is a book that should be in every middle school or high school library, and heavily included in curriculums. It’s a beautifully written and heart aching collection of short stories detailing the black experience in America. Each story takes place in a different period of time and place in American history (from a slave ship to the present day). It’s a soul crushing read, but a devastatingly important one.

Willful Machines by Tim Floreen

Another LGBT read on this list. What can possibly go wrong when an AI goes rogue, transfers her consciousness to the internet, and begins terrorizing the public? Quite a lot, probably. And especially so if you’re the President’s son and the AI’s determined next target. Now Lee is in a race to solve the mystery, save his life, and possibly also the life of the adorable new boy at his school. Smartly told in its action and intrigue, and sweetly told in its romance.

The Carnival at Bray by Jessie Ann Foley

How strange that a Printz Honor book should be on this list! This book is the tale of 16 year old Maggie who, in 1993, finds her life completely uprooted and transplanted to a small town in Ireland.  The magic is in Foley’s deft and capable writing as she navigates Maggie through isolation, grief, and first love. This book is a special treat for those who love a strong current of music in their reads, especially 90’s music.

The Awesome by Eva Darrows

Another book about another awesome Maggie! This Maggie’s concerns fall largely under the domain of the paranormal as she’s in training to be a monster hunter. One problem: in order to become fully licensed Maggie has to lose her virginity (yes, the story establishes a “logical” reason for this). So ensues Maggie’s attempts to shed herself of this pesky distinction. But that’s just the premise. Plenty of hilarious (and this book is laugh out loud funny) monster hijinks ensue. This is just plain old good paranormal fun with a very touching and sweet romance to boot.

Archivist Wasp by Nicole Kornher-Stace

One of the most beautiful and unique books I’ve ever read. Wasp is an archivist, a girl designated by a priestly cohort to capture the ghosts who roam the world in the centuries after an apparent apocalyptic event. The archivist hopes to glean information from the ghost about what they can tell us about what happened to the world. None ever do. Until one day, one does. Wasp captures a ghost who manifests fully and can clearly communicate with her. What follows is a sort of descent into the underworld of humanity to uncover the mystery of this apocalypse. It’s also a rescue mission and also one of the most affecting love stories I’ve ever read (but not in the way you think). The entire book passes as if in a dream. How can there be a rescue mission for someone 400 years in the past? It’s apocalyptic and paranormal, but it’s also sci-fi/dystopian. It’s also incredibly hard to describe this book adequately ever. You just have to read it. Everyone add this to your TBR now and eliminate it from all such future lists. That’s an order from your commander!


divider vine cropped


Have you read any of the books on this list? Have I succeeded in adding to your ever burgeoning TBR? Do you have any recommendations for me? Let me know!


kim teal











25 Responses to “Top Ten Tuesday (16): Top Ten Under the Radar Reads”

  1. roro

    I loved Wonders of the Invisible World by Christopher Barzak . I finished it this summer. Bone gap was an audio booksync free audiobook. I know what i’m listening to in the last remaining months. Thanks for the reminder that strange sweet song exists

  2. mel@thedailyprophecy

    I have heard of Strange sweet song & The lost planet, but I’ve never been that interested in them. This post makes me rethink that choice! Taming the forest king is now on my list on Goodreads, it sounds like something I would really enjoy.

  3. Carina Olsen

    Such a lovely list Kim :D Thank you so much for sharing about these books that you have loved. <3 Hugs. I have only read one of these.. The Lost Planet. But I adore that book so much :D YAY! Curious about the other books :) They look awesome.
    Carina Olsen recently posted…Review: The Shadow Hour by Melissa Grey

  4. Bonnie @ For the Love of Words

    Oh my gosh, you’re now the second person I’ve seen list The Awesome (Three if we’re counting me!) I sure hope we can get Hillary some new fans because she deserves it. :) I need to add a few to my TBR apparently! I’ve had Taming the Forest King on my wishlist for ages… bit of a hard one to find! Lovely list. :)
    Bonnie @ For the Love of Words recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday – Underrated Gems Pt. 2

  5. Leah

    I have had my eye on Wonders of the Invisible World since a copy found a home at the library I work at. It’s now going in my never-ending TBR pile.

    There are a lot of books on your list that I have not seen in a long time. :) Thank you for the great list!