Recommended Reads


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)