Anti-hero fantasy books to read before Witcher season 2

Toss a coin to your witcher because Season 2 of The Witcher is fast approaching. And we’re all ready for the new adventures of our anti-hero, Geralt. But just before we get into the new season, here’s a few anti-hero fantasy stories to keep your blood pumping before the premiere:

Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski: For over a century, humans, dwarves, gnomes, and elves have lived together in relative peace. But times have changed, the uneasy peace is over, and now the races are fighting once again. The only good elf, it seems, is a dead elf. Geralt of Rivia, the cunning hunter known as the Witcher, has been waiting for the birth of a prophesied child. This child has the power to change the world for good–or for evil. As the threat of war hangs over the land and the child is hunted for her extraordinary powers, it will become Geralt’s responsibility to protect them all. And the Witcher never accepts defeat.

The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter: The Omehi people have been fighting an unwinnable war for almost two hundred years. The lucky ones are born gifted. One in every two thousand women has the power to call down dragons. One in every hundred men is able to magically transform himself into a bigger, stronger, faster killing machine. Everyone else is fodder, destined to fight and die in the endless war. Young, gift-less Tau knows all this, but he has a plan of escape. He’s going to get himself injured, get out early, and settle down to marriage, children, and land. Only, he doesn’t get the chance. Those closest to him are brutally murdered, and his grief swiftly turns to anger. Fixated on revenge, Tau dedicates himself to an unthinkable path. He’ll become the greatest swordsman to ever live, a man willing to die a hundred thousand times for the chance to kill the three who betrayed him.

The Mask of Mirrors by MA Carrick: Arenza Lenskaya is a liar and a thief, a pattern-reader and a daughter of no clan. Raised in the slums of Nadezra, she fled that world to save her sister. Renata Viraudax is a con artist recently arrived in Nadezra. She has one goal: to trick her way into a noble house and secure her fortune. But the deeper she is drawn into the aristocratic world of House Traementis, the more she realizes her masquerade is just one of many. And as corrupt magic begins to weave its way through the city’s streets, the poisonous feuds of its aristocrats and the shadowy dangers of its impoverished underbelly become tangled–with Ren at their heart.

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie: Logen Ninefingers, infamous barbarian, has finally run out of luck. Caught in one feud too many, he’s on the verge of becoming a dead barbarian — leaving nothing behind him but bad songs, dead friends, and a lot of happy enemies. Nobleman, dashing officer, and paragon of selfishness, Captain Jezal dan Luthar has nothing more dangerous in mind than fleecing his friends at cards and dreaming of glory in the fencing circle. But war is brewing, and on the battlefields of the frozen North they fight by altogether bloodier rules. Inquisitor Glokta, cripple turned torturer, would like nothing better than to see Jezal come home in a box. But then Glokta hates everyone: cutting treason out of the Union one confession at a time leaves little room for friendship. His latest trail of corpses may lead him right to the rotten heart of government, if he can stay alive long enough to follow it. Enter the wizard, Bayaz. A bald old man with a terrible temper and a pathetic assistant, he could be the First of the Magi, he could be a spectacular fraud, but whatever he is, he’s about to make the lives of Logen, Jezal, and Glokta a whole lot more difficult. Murderous conspiracies rise to the surface, old scores are ready to be settled, and the line between hero and villain is sharp enough to draw blood.

Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb: Young Fitz is the bastard son of the noble Prince Chivalry, raised in the shadow of the royal court by his father’s gruff stableman. He is treated as an outcast by all the royalty except the devious King Shrewd, who has him secretly tutored in the arts of the assassin. For in Fitz’s blood runs the magic Skill–and the darker knowledge of a child raised with the stable hounds and rejected by his family. As barbarous raiders ravage the coasts, Fitz is growing to manhood. Soon he will face his first dangerous, soul-shattering mission. And though some regard him as a threat to the throne, he may just be the key to the survival of the kingdom.

The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht: The city of Elendhaven sulks on the edge of the ocean. Wracked by plague, abandoned by the South, stripped of industry and left to die. But not everything dies so easily. A thing without a name stalks the city, a thing shaped like a man, with a dark heart and long pale fingers yearning to wrap around throats. A monster who cannot die. His frail master sends him out on errands, twisting him with magic, crafting a plan too cruel to name, while the monster’s heart grows fonder and colder and more cunning. These monsters of Elendhaven will have their revenge on everyone who wronged the city, even if they have to burn the world to do it.

The Unbroken by CL Clark: Stolen as a child and raised to kill and die for the empire, her only loyalty is to her fellow conscripts. But now, her company has been sent back to her homeland to stop a rebellion, and the ties of blood may be stronger than she thought. Luca needs a turncoat. Someone desperate enough to tiptoe the bayonet’s edge between treason and orders. Someone who can sway the rebels toward peace, while Luca focuses on what really matters: getting her uncle off her throne. Through assassinations and massacres, in bedrooms and war rooms, Touraine and Luca will haggle over the price of a nation. But some things aren’t for sale.

A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab: Kell is one of the last Antari–magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black. Kell was raised in Arnes–Red London–and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand. After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure. Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

Second Chance Romances to Read While Listening to RED (Taylor’s Version)

Taylor Swift’s RED was the first album I ever listened to in full by the artist. Mostly, it’s because I’m an older millennial and the years prior to my discovery of Taylor Swift were spent listening to angsty metal and punk rock.

But something happened when I listened to RED. Perhaps it was the nasty breakup I was dealing with or that time period in my life where I felt like I had nothing together, but this album helped me get through the rough patch.

With RED (Taylor’s version) about to release, I couldn’t help waxing nostalgic and looking back at the album. When I think of this album, I think of a lot of second chance romances. Perhaps it’s the theme of this record; looking back at old times, wondering how that person’s been doing, trying not to fall back into old habits, and possibly letting them in once again.

Twice in a Lifetime by Clare Lydon
When her first love walks back into her life, Harriet Locke is thrown – because Sally McCall still looks as gorgeous as ever. The trouble is, Sally doesn’t trust Harriet, and with good reason: she hasn’t forgotten the past. Sally loved her once, but 17 years later, is that still the case? And if it is, there’s just the small matter of living in different states, as well as convincing Sally she’s worth taking a chance on again. Will Harriet and Sally be lucky enough to find love twice in a lifetime?

Once Ghosted, Twice Shy by Alyssa Cole
While her boss the prince was busy wooing his betrothed, Likotsi had her own love affair after swiping right on a dating app. But her romance had ended in heartbreak, and now, back in NYC again, she’s determined to rediscover her joy–so of course she runs into the woman who broke her heart. When Likotsi and Fabiola meet again on a stalled subway train months later, Fab asks for just one cup of tea. Likotsi, hoping to know why she was unceremoniously dumped, agrees. Tea and food soon leads to them exploring the city together, and their past, with Fab slowly revealing why she let Likotsi go, and both of them wondering if they can turn this second chance into a happily ever after.

Beard Necessities by Penny Reid
Billy Winston’s family is going to see him happy and in love if it’s the last thing they do.
No one deserves a happily-ever-after quite as much as the second oldest Winston brother and his lady love, Claire McClure (aka Scarlet St. Claire). Cruelty and circumstance tore them apart almost twenty years ago. Secrecy and bitterness kept them separated. But you know who’s tired of their separation and stubbornness? Everyone. Especially Billy Winston’s family. And now they’re going to do something about it. Well-meaning interference means the star-crossed lovers can’t stop tripping over each other in the hills of Tuscany, the catacombs of Rome, and the waterways of Venice. Billy and Claire find themselves thrown together and at the mercy of the Winston siblings‘ shenanigans.

Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai
One night. No one will know. That was the deal. Every year, Livvy Kane and Nicholas Chandler would share one perfect night of illicit pleasure. The forbidden hours let them forget the tragedy that haunted their pasts–and the last names that made them enemies.
Until the night she didn’t show up. Now Nicholas has an empire to run. He doesn’t have time for distractions and Livvy’s sudden reappearance in town is a major distraction. She’s the one woman he shouldn’t want . . . so why can’t he forget how right she feels in his bed?
Livvy didn’t come home for Nicholas, but fate seems determined to remind her of his presence–and their past. Although the passion between them might have once run hot and deep, not even love can overcome the scandal that divided their families.
Being together might be against all the rules . . . but being apart is impossible.

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid
In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure. On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever. Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness. That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves. Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly? Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying.

Fumbled by Alexa Martin
A second chance doesn’t guarantee a touchdown in this new contemporary romance from the author of Intercepted. Single-mother Poppy Patterson moved across the country when she was sixteen and pregnant to find a new normal. After years of hard work, she’s built a life she loves. It may include a job at a nightclub, weekend soccer games, and more stretch marks than she anticipated, but it’s all hers, and nobody can take that away. Well, except for one person.
T.K. Moore, the starting wide receiver for the Denver Mustangs, dreamt his entire life about being in the NFL. His world is football, parties, and women. Maybe at one point he thought his future would play out with his high school sweetheart by his side, but Poppy is long gone and he’s moved on. When Poppy and TK cross paths in the most unlikely of places, emotions they’ve suppressed for years come rushing back. But with all the secrets they never told each other lying between them, they’ll need more than a dating playbook to help them navigate their relationship.

Recipe for Persuasion by Sonali Dev
Chef Ashna Raje desperately needs a new strategy. How else can she save her beloved restaurant and prove to her estranged, overachieving mother that she isn’t a complete screw up? When she’s asked to join the cast of Cooking with the Stars, the latest hit reality show teaming chefs with celebrities, it seems like just the leap of faith she needs to put her restaurant back on the map. She’s a chef, what’s the worst that could happen? Rico Silva, that’s what. Being paired with a celebrity who was her first love, the man who ghosted her at the worst possible time in her life, only proves what Ashna has always believed: leaps of faith are a recipe for disaster. FIFA winning soccer star Rico Silva isn’t too happy to be paired up with Ashna either. Losing Ashna years ago almost destroyed him. The only silver lining to this bizarre situation is that he can finally prove to Ashna that he’s definitely over her.
But when their catastrophic first meeting goes viral, social media becomes obsessed with their chemistry. The competition on the show is fierce…and so is the simmering desire between Ashna and Rico. Every minute they spend together rekindles feelings that pull them toward their disastrous past. Will letting go again be another recipe for heartbreak–or a recipe for persuasion…?

 

Eight bookish podcasts to check out on International Podcast Day!

Happy International Podcast Day! As readers, we don’t just read books — we also participate in tons of extracurricular activities involving books. We talk about books, join book clubs, look for great reviews, and writte as well.

One of the biggest ways we discuss books is through podcasts, and not only are there shows about specific books, but there are podcasts on books for your radar, book club podcasts, and even writing podcasts for authors. There’s a little bit for every reader and author on this list, so I hope you give one a listen.

All the Books at Book Riot

If you want to keep up with what’s new and cool in the bookish world, then All the Books from Book Riot is your go-to. With new episodes every week, the hosts share what’s new and trendy that’s being published. With expert recommendations, you’ll definitely keep abreast of what’s publishing at all times.

The Stacks Podcast

If you’re looking to join a book club without the stress of going to meetings, hearing expert author interviews, or discovering books you may not have heard before, then The Stacks Podcast may be the one for you. Offering everything you’d need to be as prolific a reader as you can be, the Stacks Podcast hosted by Traci Thomas has it all.

The Maris Review

If you’re a fan of listening to author interviews, then this is the podcast for you. Hosted by Maris Kreizman, the podcast features some incredible authors of today, includes exciting topics to discuss, and learning a little bit about the authors we all so love and adore.

Minorities in Publishing

Unlike the other podcasts on this list, Minorities in Publishing discusses the deeper and wider expanse of publishing. Specifically, it discusses the diversity (or lack thereof) in publishing, sharing interviews with publishing experts and authors and their experiences within the publishing industry.

Deadline City

Hosted by YA authors Zoraida Cordova and Dhonielle Clayton, get a look into the process of creating a book, expert author interviews, and learning what it’s like to be a popular writer! If you’re an author trying to get your book going, this podcast may give you the encouragement you need.

Beyond the Trope

If you’re a fan of SFF books, then this is the podcast for you. With interviews from today’s greatest SFF authors, you’ll not only find new books to read but completely unraptured by why these authors wrote these books. It’s a great way to dive deeper into the writing process, especially for those massive SFF worlds.

Black Chick Lit

If you’re looking for more diversity in your reading life, check out Black Chick Lit. This bi-monthly podcast covers not only books written by Black women, but also about Black women. Discussing some of the latest novels from BIPOC authors, these two intrepid hosts dive deep into the themes and stories that shape Black women’s narrative in modern literature.

Books and Boba

If you’re looking for a book club that focuses on the Asian American community and experience, look no further than to Books and Boba. With monthly book picks, author chats, and more, the hosts of Books and Boba covers all things coming out from Asian and Asian American authors. Find some great new reads, listen to some interesting author conversations and immerse yourself in the world of Asian American writing.

SFF books that grab you instantly to try for National Read A Book Day

There’s this belief that reading science fiction and fantasy books is super long and super boring. Too much information and too many characters and it all jumbles in your brain with no reprieve.

However, I beg to differ and this National Read a Book day, I encourage you to try and read a science fiction or fantasy book. There have been numerous SFF stories I’ve read over the years that grabbed my attention from page one and didn’t let go until it was done. They were immediate five-star reads for me and some of the books I recommend to this day. Don’t sleep on these SFF books because they’ll maybe change your mind about the genre.

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko: This is the story of Tarisai, a young girl who’s been told she must head to the palace and become one of the Crown Prince’s elite council of eleven. However, there’s a caveat as her mother, The Lady, wishes her to kill the prince once she’s chosen by him. Filled with an intricate world, inclusive characters, and the will to forge your own path.

All Systems Red by Martha Wells: Never had I read a funnier science fiction novel than when I read All Systems Red. It’s the story of Murderbot, or that’s what it likes to be called. It’s a systems bot that’s main focus is to protect the people it is hired to protect. The only thing is, this bot is a little bit glitched, giving it a personality that loves to take the easy route and watch silly space dramas. You’ll definitely belly laugh at this book, but also get a taste of some hard sci-fi.

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn: If you like retellings, then you’ll love the retelling of King Arthur in Legendborn. Tracy Deonn takes the legend and puts her own spin as young Bree attends one of the most prestigious colleges in the Southeast: UNC-Chapel Hill. Filled with underground societies, mythical swords, and a destiny that only Tracy Deonn could have written!

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir: This is a book that will grab hold from the very first page and doesn’t really let go until you’ve read the entire series. An Ember in the Ashes is the first book in a four-book series about Laia, a young girl who wants to find her brother that’s been kidnapped by the Empire. She finds herself mixed up in a situation that she has no training for, scared and alone, when she comes across Elias, one of the best soldiers training in the Empirical army. He alongside some others help Laia find her brother, but also help to unearth the secrets of her family’s past.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor: This beautifully written story will not only capture you with its gorgeous writing, but also the story of a young librarian, Lazlo, who dreams of a place called Weep. He dedicates his life to the discovery of this place and eventually finds the opportunity to go. What he finds is a city that’s shadowed by a massive angel statue that blocks out the sun and the stars. Within the statue are five beings left over from the days when gods and goddesses lived in the city. That’s where Lazlo, meets Sarai, a goddess with the ability to enter people’s dreams. It’s a sweeping tale filled with magic, love, and beauty. You’ll definitely be sucked into this one.

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir: If you wanted to read a hard science fiction novel that’s full of heart, then this might be the one for you. The story follows a middle school science teacher who goes off into the great unknown that is space to save the world from a microbe that’s slowly eating the sun. Along the way, he makes some unlikely discoveries as well as make some unlikely friends. Also, it gives you a taste of some real world physics theories including the theory of relativity.

Warcross by Marie Lu: If you’ve ever imagined a world where you basically live your life on your phone, then this is the book for you. It follows teen hacker and bounty hunter, Emika, as she accidentally enters the opening games of the international Warcross Championship. Worried that she would be arrested, she instead meets the creator of the Warcross games who propositions her to be a spy to dig up hackers against the game’s security. However, the truth is much different than Emika imagines as betrayal becomes a much more sinister game.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer: If you like a mix of fantasy and science fiction, this YA series is probably the one for you. Combining science fiction themes and fairy tale retellings, Cinder is the beginning of The Lunar Chronicles. As you can probably guess, the first book is based off of Cinderella as a cyborg who’s second-class life is completely turned around when she meets Prince Kai.

The City We Became by NK Jemisin: What if one of the most famous cities in the world came to life? That’s what NK Jemisin explores in The City We Became. It’s the story of New York City, a vibrant place that’s being invaded by a mysterious species. Once the monsters start showing up, it starts to awaken something in five inhabitants of the city; each representing a different borough. Their mission is to awaken the only thing that can save New York from the monsters and that’s New York City itself. What’s most impressive is that despite the city being a diverse and inclusive place, there’s still darkness that hides in the shadows of some of the people who live there and as their nefarious plan comes to fruition, so does the darkness that lurks within them.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber: Imagine a carnival that comes into town filled with tons of mystery and magic behind it. Now imagine yourself as a young person heading into this carnival to play the ultimate game of illusion, mystery, and magic. That’s what happens to Scarlett in Caraval.