The best books for readers who wish Hermione had her own series

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m qualified to talk about Hermione Granger because she’s a bold rip-off of my own experience at boarding school. My family didn’t have a lot of money. However, I was always the smartest, most original, hardest-working kid at school. Then I got a fat scholarship to an exclusive and fabulously wealthy boarding school 3,000 miles from home. I arrived as a poor, immigrant, POC, gay, transfer student into the eleventh grade. I was the muggle-born kid plopped into a world of privilege and power with something to prove, just like Hermione. But because the author did such a good job of capturing my life, I won’t sue.


I wrote...

Future Legend of Skate and Sword

By Henry Lien,

Book cover of Future Legend of Skate and Sword

What is my book about?

A fourteen-year-old girl and her little brother leave their homeland to study at an academy that teaches a sport combining figure skating with kung fu. “It’s Hermione Granger meets Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon meets the Ice Capades meets Mean Girls.” — The New York Times

Nebula Award finalist, Parents’ Choice Foundation Silver Medal, multiple starred reviews, Amazon Top 500 Books bestseller

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Akata Witch

Henry Lien Why did I love this book?

This book gets called “the Nigerian Harry Potter” a lot. It’s about a magical school sorta and the worldbuilding is delightful and includes things like pouty blue wasps that are diva artists, perimeter bushes that confiscate weapons, and other fantastical inventions that are unlike anything I’ve ever read. However, what I loved most was the unexpected spirit of the main character Sunny Nwazue. She’s not your typical middle grade heroine who is defined by self-doubt and who follows the expected rising self-esteem arc. Instead, she’s incredibly no-nonsense and is very focused on doing the work she needs to do, whether it’s mastering her magical heritage, or solving a serial killer mystery. This focus on work is something that I love about both Hermione and Sunny.

By Nnedi Okorafor,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Akata Witch as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Affectionately dubbed "the Nigerian Harry Potter," Akata Witch weaves together a heart-pounding tale of magic, mystery, and finding one's place in the world.

Twelve-year-old Sunny lives in Nigeria, but she was born American. Her features are African, but she's albino. She's a terrific athlete, but can't go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits in. And then she discovers something amazing-she is a "free agent" with latent magical power. Soon she's part of a quartet of magic students, studying the visible and invisible, learning to change reality. But will it be…


Book cover of The True Meaning of Smekday

Henry Lien Why did I love this book?

Gratuity Tucci, the main character of The True Meaning of Smekday, isn’t like Hermione Granger on the surface. She’s a biracial, twelve-year-old girl who doesn’t respond to Earth being invaded by aliens by diving into books and solving everything like Hermione would. However, what she does share with Hermione is the ability to make me spray soy milk out of my nose all over the book. I’ve never laughed so hard reading any book. And I have zero sense of humor so that’s saying something. Bonus points for the audiobook version read by Bahni Turpin whose characterizations are so hilarious and plain different, that I challenge you not to imitate some of the lines she delivers.

By Adam Rex,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The True Meaning of Smekday as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

The glorious leader of the Boovs, Captain Smek, has called for the invasion of Earth. But the plan goes very wrong when a cute and cuddly - and utterly hopeless - Boov makes a huge mistake. Now something much more dangerous is heading their way . . . Will human girl, Tip, be able to save her home?

The original and hilarious comic sci-fi adventure that inspired the major Dreamworks film, HOME.


Book cover of Molly Moon's Incredible Book of Hypnotism

Henry Lien Why did I love this book?

Like many of the Potter books, this book is sort of a puzzle box built around an object that is governed by clear rules. The main character, Molly Moon, discovers a book that teaches her to control animals and people around her with the power of hypnotism. The book drops Molly's character into a clear set of rules and then has fun watching what she does with it, in a way that reminds me a bit of Hermione’s use of that special object in Prisoner of Azkaban. It also is a fantasy about unlimited power. Seriously, what if you could make anyone anywhere do anything you wanted them to?

By Georgia Byng,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Molly Moon's Incredible Book of Hypnotism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

Orphan Molly Moon was found as a baby in a box marked 'Moon's Marshmallows'.

For ten miserable years she's lived under the cruel rule of Miss Adderstone in grim Hardwick House. But her life changes overnight when she finds a mysterious book on hypnotism and discovers an amazing talent - the power to make people do anything she want them to. Escaping from the orphange, Molly flies to New York in search of fame and fortune. But her adventures in hypnotism lead her into the clutches of a dangerous enemy . . .

The bestselling Molly Moon's Incredible Book of…


Book cover of True Grit

Henry Lien Why did I love this book?

I did a Facebook post asking people for the best book starring a female main character by a male author. The number one response was True Grit. It’s a Western set in the 1860s about 14-year-old Mattie Ross, who seeks justice for the murder of her father by an outlaw. She’s incredibly capable and steely-willed, like Hermione. The world she inhabits is a bleaker one than the Wizarding World and the book isn’t marketed as a middle grade book. However, the character of Mattie carries the reader through the harsh world she inhabits. Mattie’s not a friendly person but there’s something that warms me up reading a story where the smartest, bravest, and most resourceful person is a determined young woman seizing her fate by the throat.

By Charles Portis,

Why should I read it?

15 authors picked True Grit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

There is no knowing what lies in a man's heart. On a trip to buy ponies, Frank Ross is killed by one of his own workers. Tom Chaney shoots him down in the street for a horse, $150 cash, and two Californian gold pieces. Ross's unusually mature and single-minded fourteen-year-old daughter Mattie travels to claim his body, and finds that the authorities are doing nothing to find Chaney. Then she hears of Rooster - a man, she's told, who has grit - and convinces him to join her in a quest into dark, dangerous Indian territory to hunt Chaney down…


Book cover of Courtney Crumrin Vol. 1: The Night Things

Henry Lien Why did I love this book?

Like Hermione, Courtney comes from a non-magical background and discovers her own magical heritage. Her stubborn curiosity propels her into a fantastical world operating under our own. She also has a sense of justice and would deffo have allied with Hermione in S.P.E.W. Unlike Hermione, Courtney isn’t studious or diligent. She’s a bit of a slacker and a grump. What I love about this series is the prickly heroine and the treatment of the fantastical world. Like the Wizarding World, the fantastical worldbuilding in this series is built on familiar Western fantasy creatures and tropes. What’s special about it is the stylish Goth-chic interpretation through the author/artist’s artwork and the examination of the ethical conundrums latent in fantasy since fantasy is often about power.

By Ted Naifeh, Warren Wucinich (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Courtney Crumrin Vol. 1 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

Get the first volume of this critically acclaimed series for only $10 as part of Oni's Square One program!

Courtney Crumrin grumbles about everything, but now she's really got something to grumble over. Having run out of credit cards, her parents are moving to the wealthy suburb of Hillsborough, to live rent-free with their creepy old uncle Aloysius. Courtney is now an outcast among her rich, snobby classmates. And if that weren't bad enough, the musty, decrepit old mansion that she now calls home is occupied by stranger creatures than just her parents or Uncle Aloysius.

They crawl about the…


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Empire in the Sand

By Shane Joseph,

Book cover of Empire in the Sand

Shane Joseph Author Of Empire in the Sand

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been a writer for more than twenty years and have favored pursuing “truth in fiction” rather than “money in formula.” I also spent over thirty years in the corporate world and was exposed to many situations reminiscent of those described in my fiction and in these recommended books. While I support enterprise, “enlightened capitalism” is preferable to the bare-knuckle type we have today, and which seems to resurface whenever regulation weakens. I also find writing novels closer to my lived experience connects me intimately with readers who are looking for socio-political, realist literature.

Shane's book list on exposing corporate, political, and personal corruption

What is my book about?

Avery Mann, a retired pharmaceuticals executive, is in crisis.

His wife dies of cancer, his son’s marriage is on the rocks, his grandson is having a meltdown, and his good friend is a victim of the robocalls scandal that invades the Canadian federal election. Throw in a reckless fling with a former colleague, a fire that destroys his retirement property, and a rumour emerging that the drug he helped bring to market years ago may have been responsible for the death of his wife, and Avery’s life goes into freefall.

Does an octogenarian beekeeper living on Vancouver Island hold the key to Avery’s recovery, a man holding secrets that put lives in jeopardy? Avery races across the country to find out, with crooked bosses, politicians, and assassins on his tail. Joseph spins a cautionary tale of corporate and political greed that is endemic to our times.

Empire in the Sand

By Shane Joseph,

What is this book about?

Avery Mann, a retired pharmaceuticals executive, is in crisis. His wife dies of cancer, his son’s marriage is on the rocks, his grandson is having a meltdown, and his good friend is a victim of the robocalls scandal that invades the Canadian federal election.

Throw in a reckless fling with a former colleague, a fire that destroys his retirement property, and a rumour emerging that the drug he helped bring to market years ago may have been responsible for the death of his wife, and Avery’s life goes into freefall.

Does an octogenarian bee keeper living on Vancouver Island hold…


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