Squads: those sorts of relationships and bonds in fiction that make our real life drab and lonely by comparison, and leave us desolate and nursing a giant bookish hangover.

(Thanks a lot, squads.)

A few weeks back, we picked our favorite bookish tropes - one of which were just such squads. And the response, as you might be able to tell, has mostly been !%!)^!& YEEEES SQUAAAAAADS. Everyone is either writing about them, reading them, daydreaming about them, or some multi-headed, many-limbed combination thereof. (If the latter, congratulations, and please teach us your magic.)

Because we're only human, we are currently stuck reminiscing about them and unfavorably comparing our lives to them. The usual. So to follow up, this week we have picked our 10 favorite bookish squads, and sent ourselves further down the rabbit hole of why-is-this-not-my-life... and now we're taking you along for the ride. Prepare for a hangover.

You're welcome.

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Badass though reading might make us, it's time to face facts: most of the time, it doesn't leave too much room for rulebreaking. Sure, we carry twice the recommended amount of books at once and we rant about characters left and right, but ultimately - the author's word is law.

Except when it isn't.

Which is where non-canon comes in. Most of the time, here at The Honest Bookclub, we err on the side of canon. Whatever the author's choices, we side with them and approve of them.

Except when we don't.

These are the foremost of those times. Don't hate us.

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Happy first-day-of-an-impending-literal-meltdown-otherwise-known-as-summer, lovelies!

Australia & co... think of us when we disintegrate.

As has become a routine here on the first day of each season, we are sharing our most anticipated bookish releases of said season. (And yes, summer does, in fact, include a large part of September. Don't take September away from us. Summer is a slow-enough season in publishing as it is - take September away and we don't even have enough for one sensible post.)

2015 seems to have been a year of endings and standalones. And, we won't lie, those are the scariest years to have. 2015 essentially snatched our comfort blanket away and left us here in the land of Scary New Things to try. So far, however, it's done a spectacular job of alleviating our concerns. And summer, slow though it may be, is no different: LOOK AT ALL THESE SHINY NEW TOYS WE'LL HAVE TO KEEP US COMPANY AS WE MELT IN THE SCORCHING HEAT OF OH-SO-IT-WAS-GLOBAL-WARMING-AFTER-ALL!

It'll be a glorious way to go.

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Letting go of a beloved book is no meager task. So, more often than not, I advocate foregoing the experience altogether. (Cling to that book! Cling to it!)

In late spring of this year, we were bombarded with a slew of anticipated releases in the YA community: Cassandra Clare's Lady Midnight, Morgan Matson's The Unexpected Everything, Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven King, and Sarah J. Maas's A Court of Mist and Fury.

Casual readers would have been mildly excited, read each as they came out, and moved on.

But we are no casual readers in these bookish circles, so... the clinging continues.

A Court of Mist and Fury was, simply put, a book I never knew I needed until I got it. Which isn't to say it wasn't highly anticipated - both Natalie and I speculated about it (on the blog and off) incessantly, the whole year long. But whatever our expectations might have been, and however high - ACOMAF demolished them in record time. I've raved about the characters, the setting, the plot and the world in my review here on the blog already. But when it comes to its themes - its addressal of freedom and consent, of the many forms abuse can take, of a loss of identity, of trauma and recovery... I will never, ever get tired of that praise. And in that name - I chose to cling to it some more through endless re-reads, an avowal to obtain the book in every medium available, and - naturally - fan art.

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At times, our bookish Top 10 themes coincide with a particular event, or a particular season. We time it so we give as much prominence/deference/choose-your-ence to a prominent bookish holiday, theme or whatever is currently making the ripples in the literary community.

Other times, our bookish Top 10 themes are chosen like this: AREN'T BABY OWL GIFS THE CUTEST?

This, naturally, is the latter. This week for our top 10, we have chosen the 10 bookish pets, familiars and/or animal companions who have marked our beloved series, or whose unforgettable nature actually exceeded the rather forgettable plot of the book at large. 

Our love of these magnificent beasts has at times eclipsed our love for their owners/handlers/masters/less-intelligent-halves. Let's just leave it at that.

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Workaholic attorney Samantha Sweeting has just done the unthinkable. She’s made a mistake so huge, it’ll wreck any chance of a partnership. 

Going into utter meltdown, she walks out of her London office, gets on a train, and ends up in the middle of nowhere. Asking for directions at a big, beautiful house, she’s mistaken for an interviewee and finds herself being offered a job as housekeeper. Her employers have no idea they’ve hired a lawyer–and Samantha has no idea how to work the oven. She can’t sew on a button, bake a potato, or get the #@%# ironing board to open. How she takes a deep breath and begins to cope–and finds love–is a story as delicious as the bread she learns to bake. 

But will her old life ever catch up with her? And if it does…will she want it back?

Spoilers ahead!

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Seventeen-year-old Cassie is a natural at reading people. Piecing together the tiniest details, she can tell you who you are and what you want. But it’s not a skill that she’s ever taken seriously. That is, until the FBI come knocking: they’ve begun a classified program that uses exceptional teenagers to crack infamous cold cases, and they need Cassie.

What Cassie doesn’t realize is that there’s more at risk than a few unsolved homicides—especially when she’s sent to live with a group of teens whose gifts are as unusual as her own. Sarcastic, privileged Michael has a knack for reading emotions, which he uses to get inside Cassie’s head—and under her skin. Brooding Dean shares Cassie’s gift for profiling, but keeps her at arm’s length.

Soon, it becomes clear that no one in the Naturals program is what they seem. And when a new killer strikes, danger looms closer than Cassie could ever have imagined. Caught in a lethal game of cat and mouse with a killer, the Naturals are going to have to use all of their gifts just to survive.

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