Recommended Reads

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I am a book addict. There, I said it.

I got in the habit of reading on a daily basis two decades ago. My parents forbade me from watching TV except when I was sick, so books were my refuge. Twenty years later, I live on my own so I can watch TV (woohoo!), but I still read daily. I usually read a book every day. Sleep is sacrificed in the name of getting to the end of a particularly enthralling novel.

So I figure I’ve probably read somewhere around 7,000 books by this point, and of course I don’t remember each and every single one of them. But there are some books that have made me laugh, made me cry, and touched me in ways that have stuck with me beyond a single reading.

I’ll probably do more of these posts as I find new loves, but here are a few of my favorites:

Tamora Pierce’s “Song of the Lioness” series (and also her Immortals series) is an all-time favorite, and obviously a huge influence on my own writing. Both “Song of the Lioness” and “Immortals” are set in the medieval-esque world of Tortall and feature strong, believable female heroines with unique gifts. In “Song of the Lioness”, we get to know Alanna, a pert redhead who trades places with her twin brother for a chance at becoming a knight. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, the series introduced me to my first love triangle, featuring George, the King of Thieves, and Prince Jonathan of Tortall. It’s funny — when I first read the books, Jonathan was my favorite, but now I find George the far more compelling character.


Dealing with Dragons, and the entire Enchanted Forest chronicles, is an oldie but a goodie. In most fairy tales, the dragon steals away the princess, and then it’s up to some bumbling knight or prince to rescue her. Not so in Dealing with Dragons – Princess Cerise, our heroine, runs away from home and offers herself up to the dragon. Much hilarity and adventures ensue, as well as some romance once you get to the second book in the series. Princess Cerise is a pretty cool princess, and her dragon, Kazul, is even cooler.










Love, love, love this book. Too bad the movie was awful. Ella Enchanted is the best Cinderella retelling out there. At birth, Ella is given the gift of obedience at birth from the fairy Lucille — except the gift turns out to be more of a curse. She has to obey everything — if someone told her to jump off the bridge, she would.

But for the ultimate obedient girl, Ella is pretty feisty, and finds loopholes in her curse. Of course, her life gets complicated when her father remarries, and she’s stuck with an evil stepmama and eviler stepsisters.

And then there’s Char…one of my first literary crushes. Obviously Char is short for Prince Charming, and he is that, but in a totally appealing, non-slimy way. But Ella is really the hero of this tale, and it’s she who always saves the day.


We’re into the world of adult fantasy now. Ilona Andrews — who is actually the duo team of Ilona and her husband — is my current favorite author. It’s very hard for me to talk about Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series without squeeing like a fangirl. 

The story is set in a sort of post-apocalyptic Atlanta. The world alternates between waves of magic and tech – when tech is up, electricity and cars function, and magic loses its potency. When magic is up, anything that requires technology fails, and crazy monsters rise up from out of nowhere. 

There are vampires – but not like any vampires you’ve ever seen before. They don’t sparkle; they’re vile, mindless creatures that are piloted by necromancers known as The People. And there are shapeshifters, too – were animals who can shift between animal and man and somewhere in between.

Kate is a bad ass mercenary fighter who is a lot more bad ass than she lets on — but she has her reasons for hiding the extent of her abilities. She is a funny, sarcastic, and incredibly strong woman who is also somehow vulnerable. I have a total girl crush on her. But my crush on Curran, the Beast Lord (basically the head honcho of the shapeshifters in Atlanta), is much bigger. He’s my #1 book boyfriend.

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers is a relatively recent discovery. I just had to look at the amazing cover to know that I’d love it.

Ismae is a sister in the convent of St. Mortain, serving the god of Death. She must carry out the will of her god, killing those who bear his mark. In other words, she’s a holy assassin. 

One of her missions takes her to the high court of Brittany, and she finds herself embroiled in court politics that are pretty deadly. Of course, romance unfolds, or I wouldn’t like this book :) 







The ultimate! No recommended reads list would be complete without a mention of Harry Potter. I worship the ground J.K. Rowling walks on (let’s just pretend that adult book she wrote where she described a condom as a gossamer cocoon never happened).

I actually saw her once, right around the time that the fifth book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, came out. I was in Edinburgh Castle, in Scotland (which looks a great deal like Hogwarts), looking at all the cool weapons in the armory, when children appeared dressed in wizard’s robes. Yes, wizard’s robes. So I asked the kids, “Where are you going?”
They laughed and replied, “To Hogwarts, of course!”

Yeah. That actually happened. Anyway, turns out they were a group of specially selected kids who got to hang out with J.K. and listen to her read her new book. Super jealous. But I did catch a glimpse of her coming into the castle. 

So that’s all for now! I’ll likely post individual book reviews as I stumble across new goodies (although it’s been a while since I’ve read anything great).

What books stick out in your mind? Got any great recommendations that I absolutely have to check out?

*Here are some other favorites:

  • The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley
  • The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan
  • Firelight by Kristen Callihan
  • The Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye
  • Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind
  • Polgara the Sorceress by David & Leigh Eddings
  • Cassandra Palmer series by Karen Chance
  • The Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward (guilty pleasure!)
  • Unraveled by Courtney Milan (historical romance)

12 Comments

  1. OMG!!! I read Grave Mercy as an ARC (advanced reading copy) and I suffered because there was no one to discuss this amazing book with since it hadn’t been released yet!

    Tamora Pierce’s writing is amazing in general. She came to my school when I was in 7th grade and I waited in line for 1.5 hours to get my books signed by her but by the time I got up there they were rushing everybody along and since I wanted her to sign every book in the Song of the Lioness quartet she only signed 1 but still, I have a book signed by Tamora Pierce!!! And I agree George is cooler just because of his seemingly endless supply if knives… You should also read the Beka Cooper books that she recently wrote. They’re pretty good. It’s about a girl named Beka who’s an ancestor of George’s family and a legend.

    Dealing With Dragons was better when I was younger but it’s still an enjoyable read. I prefer the Pit Dragon Chronicles (I think that’s the series name… When I read them they were just known by their individual titles) by Jane Yolen which starts with Dragon’s Blood.

    And then there’s Maximum Ride. I got hooked on Maximum Ride by my 6th grade English teacher who had the first book, Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment, and the ARC of the second book which hadn’t been named yet. Since then the series has concluded after 7 more books. The story is about several children who were born in a lab with 98% human DNA and 2% avian DNA; resulting them having wings. The books are about the “flock” finding their way in a world where a plethora of organizations and governments want to grab them and either take them apart and study them or use them for a hidden agenda. The leader of the flock is a strong-willed young woman (self) named Maximum Ride. She leads with the help of Fang, the next oldest in the group. While they grapple to understand their feelings for each other they have to be an example for the rest. Iggy, who is blind as a result of testing done on him. Despite his blindness, Iggy is the best chef and lock picker in the group as well as an adept bomb maker along with his sidekick “the Gasman” or just Gazzy, for short. I can’t remember his real name because they all call him Gazzy a nickname resulting from his putrid smelling… you know… His sister, Angel, is the youngest in the group and Max’s indubitable favorite. The last in the group is Nudge, the peppiest and most high spirited, happy-go-lucky kid you’ll ever know. The series follows them on their adventures around the world. Discovering themselves, their fates, all while trying to save the world. If you can’t tell, these books are, like, my all-time favorites. Despite how long that is if I hadn’t reined myself in it might have been twice that length. As it is, I probably gave way more info than any online review you’d find.

    P.S. Look up the Teen Book Festival. That’s where I met Tamora Pierce and so many more authors. I volunteered and was a personal helper for Daniel Kirk when he visited. I think the website is tbflive.org

    1. Dude, how did you score an ARC copy of Grave Mercy? How does one get an ARC of anything?

      I feel you on Tamora Pierce! I wrote her a letter in fifth grade, and she wrote me back a handwritten note that was very obviously not a generic form letter! I still have her letter lying about somewhere. I’m jealous you got to meet her in person.

      I’m not sure I’ve read Jane Yolen and I definitely haven’t read Maximum Ride. I didn’t know James Patterson wrote YA! I’ll have to check that one out for sure.

    2. Well, I made sure to get in nice with the librarians at the schools I went to and I guess librarians and libraries in general get ARCs of pretty much anything. They’re uncorrected proof of the book and from what I understand it’s pretty much the publisher saying, “Here, this book is going to be released soon. Read it, tell us if there are any errors, then buy it when it comes out.” My high school librarian adored me and she had a huge bookshelf of ARCs behind her desk and she would let me take them home and read them. Needless to say, I had a problem with completing assignments that year. My senior year I had a study hall in the library and I would use it reading instead of doing work and my librarian was happy to provide me with ARCs to read. In fact, if my librarian saw that there was an ARC available for a book I might like she would ask me if I wanted it before she got it. She was pretty awesome. Though, unfortunately, ARCs aren’t available for some books :'( I’ll give an example but to preface it, the best time to get ARCs are 4-5+ months before the book is scheduled to be released. Anyway, I asked her if there was an ARC available for Inheritance, the last book in the Inheritance Saga (Eragon series). We searched high and low on every site known to librarians but to no avail. Some books are just too popular and the publishers rely on the notoriety of a series to get libraries to buy them. Basically, suck up to librarians and, for me anyway, the YA librarians especially!

  2. I’ve only read three of the books you mentioned, but I agree with every word you said. Tamora Pierce is one of my all-time favorite authors, and I’ve read everything she’s written, from “Protector of the Small” (another Tortallian quartet) to “The Circle” books (two separate quarters, with a spin-off). Right up beside Pierce, next to Funke and Riordan, is Gail Carson Levine. Just like you, I love, love, LOVE “Ella Enchanted”; I’ve currently read it about fifteen times, give or take. Its movie did it no justice, and turned a thrilling book into a horrible film (not unlike “The Lightning Thief” – I can NOT abide movies based on books where they spoil the plot). And, of course, Rowling is much beloved, and placed on a pedestal above all others. I can’t believe you caught an actual glimpse of her! Awesome. 😀
    But anyways, I guess the purpose of this comment is to point out that our tastes in novels is very similar. I’ll definitely be checking out the other books you mentioned that I’ve had yet to read!
    -Nikkisha16

    1. I actually just read “Fairest” by Gail Carson Levine and was really disappointed. :( I’ll be doing more recommended read posts (probably just one book at a time from now on), but feel free to suggest good ones you come across.

    2. I know what you mean; it paled in comparison to “Ella Enchanted”, even though both were set in the same world. I’ve read two of her other books, “The Two Princesses of Bamarre” and “Ever”, and though neither is as good as EE, both are still nice enough reads. I see that “The Rangers Apprentice” and “Maximum Ride” series have both been recommended to you; Flanagan has totally won me as a devoted reader with that series, while Patterson’s novels are intriguing but do wander from the main plot line quite a bit.

      But a series you must, MUST read is the “Chronicles of the Necromancer”. It has everything you’d want in a fantasy book. Great characters? Check. Sweet romance? Check. Amazing adventures? Double check. And the author’s name: “Gail” Z. Martin. Guaranteed awesomeness wrapped between covers.

  3. Anything by John Green is fantastic! Especially The Fault in Our Stars and Looking for Alaska. I don’t have a heart and both of these books made me have all the feels. And Augustus Waters is my fictional boyfriend haha

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