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Whether it is fiction, fantasy, romance, non-fiction, mystery, thriller, or any other genre of books, and whether you read it today, yesterday, days ago, months ago, or even years ago, everyone has books they will always remember. For me, I have five favorite reads of all time. They span from fiction to fantasy to romance, and I’ve read some 10 years while others just a few months ago. Either way, they will remain in my heart (and on my bookshelf) forever. Read below to see if any of them might pique your interest as they did with me.

City of Bones

(The Mortal Instruments #1)
by Cassandra Clare

Fifteen-year-old Clary Fray once lived a normal life. But all that changed after one night. Now she finds herself falling into a world of magic, demons, and Shadowhunters (and one’s even pretty cute) … but why her? and why only now?

My thoughts: This was the book that got me into reading in the first place, all the way back in fifth grade, and it was definitely an adventure. It’s a low-fantasy book, with human Clary entering a fantasy world. While its focus is more on this new world and the history and complications within it, it is still filled with friendship and romance. If you are looking for a high-fantasy, moderate-romance book, where you are taken into a world full of things you thought were not real, this one is for you.

Hush, Hush  

(Hush, Hush #1)
by Becca Fitzpatrick

High-school student Nora Grey does not think love is something she will experience, at least not for now. Enter Patch: the new kid with an easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her. The problem? There’s something off about Patch, and she is going to find out what.

My thoughts: I LOVE this book and the others that follow. It is low fantasy, with it taking place in the human world while adding some fantasy flare. Its focus is 100% on romance, but the fantasy aspect adds dimension and conflict to their relationship to keep the read interesting. If you are looking for a low-fantasy, high-romance book, where you might find yourself falling in love along with Nora. All I have to say is: read this.

Don’t Look Back

by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Samantha was missing … but now she’s back … and she does not remember anything. The last time she was seen: the night she disappeared with her best friend Cassie. But Cassie still has not turned up, only Samantha. With no recollection of her past or who she was, Samantha sets out to make a new life for herself, while trying to find answers about what really happened to her the night she went missing and where Cassie might be.

My thoughts: Since I read a lot of heavy romance, this book was a nice change. This book would be perfect to get out of a reading slump. While there are romantic elements in it – which are really good – the whole ‘what happened to me? Who can I trust? Where is my best friend?’ made the book beyond interesting, as I was trying to piece it together before Samantha even did. If you’re looking for a non-fantasy, moderate-romance book with a mysterious plot and a character you cannot help but root for, check this out.

Crash into You

(Pushing the Limits #3)
by Katie McGarry

Rachel Young: the girl with straight A’s and a perfect life … or so everyone thinks. What don’t they know? She likes racing, it is the only thing that makes her feel alive. Better yet? She likes a tattoo-covered, buff racer named Isiah even more.

My thoughts: If you’re needing a break from fantasy reads (but, of course, not one from romance), this is a perfect pick. Rachel and Isaiah both have so much going on in their own heads and lives, that their romantic story never gets boring. And its dual narration helps with that. If you’re looking for a non-fantasy, high-romance book with relatable characters and experiences, this is for you.

From Blood and Ash

(Blood and Ash #1)
by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Poppy’s life has never been her own. As the maiden of her era, Poppy has a duty to her kingdom. But what happens when Poppy starts to want to live for herself, especially when her bodyguard, Hawke, makes her feel things she shouldn’t be feeling.

My thoughts: This book is HIGH fantasy. While I loved Poppy’s reluctance but the desire for her own life and for Hawke, the world-building is so complex and detailed, it can get quite confusing at times. But don’t let that scare you away from escaping an entirely different world than your own. If you’re looking for a high-fantasy, high-romance book with complex characters, relationships, and settings, read this.  

Now that you’re hopefully interested in some—or all—of these books, it is time to head over to your closest bookstore and get comfy, it is going to be a long and wild ride.

Alexa Fricilone

Illinois State '23

I’m a senior at Illinois State University majoring in journalism with an English minor. I’m a books over movies, iced coffee-loving, let's stay in and binge Netflix kind of girl, who also loves to write. Follow me on insta! @alexafricilone