Prepare to be shocked: at fourteen I was a weird loser, #truth.
Some might be hesitant to describe themselves as such, but I’m fully aware I was a weird loser; or at least, that’s how others perceived me, and I lacked the self-esteem to reject that label (a post for another day).
Besides having an awkward blend of depression and anxiety, I really didn’t fit in anywhere. I wasn’t popular, or goth. I wasn’t a nerd or a jock.
I didn’t shower regularly (feel free to cringe), or brush my hair every day, and I didn’t wear makeup. I only wore clothes several sizes too big, usually from the Wal-Mart discount pile. I only had one or two friends who spoke to me semi-regularly.
No one ever called me to do something on Saturdays, my peers avoided me at church, and I was pretty much always alone (besides my friendly stuff animals…love you, Pepe!).
The last evidence I was weird: I spent my lunch hour holed up in a classroom, because it was the only place I felt comfortable.
Wanna see a cute pic of me as an awkward teenager? I do.
Well, now that you have a solid picture of how weird I was, it’s about to get that much weirder. Tom Clancy.
Yes, the military author. You’re probably thinking, “Reading Tom Clancy isn’t that weird”. But do most fourteen-year-old girls read him? Probably not, so I rest my case.
You need proof of this crazy claim? I got it.
I remember it well (okay, not so well, it’s more of a vague recollection). The sun was shining, birds were singing, and I was bored beyond belief. To alleviate that boredom, I stopped off at my mother’s bookshelf right outside my door.
Colorful spines lined the dark-stained wood, white lines snaked through the color obscuring the titles, and the air smelled faintly of old paper. Desperate for relief, I eagerly scanned the offerings.
That’s when I spied a book by Tom Clancy.
I picked up Clear and Present Danger and flopped back onto my bed. Within moments I’d fallen in love, and devoured the book with an eagerness I still remember. After I finished it, I returned to the bookshelf, and proceeded to read the entire series (released up to that point).
I’d always read on the bus to and from school, and all the kids teased me. One boy even ripped the over off my copy of Patriot Games ☹. Bullies suck.
But I never stopped.
I took months to read them all, and I loved each moment. I continued to pilfer my mother’s bookshelf every time I needed a new book. Orson Scott Card, Jean M. Auel, and James A Michener kept me company when I was lonely.
Because of those books, I fell in love with reading.
As you can guess, this post is about my favorite authors and books.
I’m sure you’ve seen his name a few times on my blog. He’s my spirit animal. I want to be him.
Now, this little section doesn’t have specific titles, because I’ve read nothing of his I haven’t liked. He’s an amazing author, with creative magic systems, practical limitations, and his characters, swoon!
I’ve even met him a few times at signings and cons, and granted he probably doesn’t remember me, at all, but I’ve got signed books as any good fan girl should. Lol!
That said, this is where my preferences as a storyteller comes in — Stormlight Archives. Great books, and while I love the story, world, and characters (I’d totally bang Kaladin, and then make him cinnamon roll waffles the next morning), I find it REALLY hard to become engrossed in books with a bunch of protagonists and jumping around POVs.
I want to read and escape into the life of the hero, to try on a new persona. Switching protagonists so often prevents me from becoming fully engrossed into the hero. Like…having multiple personality disorder.
That being said, I still love Sanderson, and if I had one wish (besides being picked up by my dream agent), it would be for him to mentor me. Oh man, I’d die.
So if it has Brandon Sanderson listed as an author, I pretty much love it. It’s like a law of nature.
Michael J. Sullivan
He has a plethora of books, and my most favorite feature the (mostly) honorable thieves Royce and Hadrian. These dudes are the exact opposite of each other, but like a good couple should they complement each other in all the right places.
Together they get into trouble, save damsels, steal things, and fight people.
Riyria Revelations was released first (and initially self-published, which is amazing), but Riyria Chronicles are the prequels to the series. I wish I’d read Chronicles first because there is a big reveal in Revelations. It sorta ruined the other books because I knew the reveal.
So if you like stories in chronological order, read Riyria Chronicles first, then Riyria Revelations.
But the series is incredible beyond words. Sullivan’s descriptions are excellent, and I’d change nothing. His characters are complex and compelling. I’d give up my supply of Twix to meet Royce and Hadrian IRL.
Honestly, I’d give up much more to be emotionally and physically involved with either one, though I’m a little more Team Royce, I love his gloomy bad ass personality.
Sullivan’s prose is engaging, and I haven’t encountered a boring bit in any of the books I’ve read. Whenever I start one of his books I’m done in a day or two at most, because I can’t put them down.
I’m debating asking Sullivan to be my mentor…I’d be one lucky girl if he’d take me. In my dreams, I’d like to write like a combination of Sanderson and Sullivan.
All the Birds in the Sky: Charlie Jane Anders
This book. I don’t even know where to start.
Patricia and Lawrence are both weird (just like me!) and are bullied. Long story short, they become besties, but because life sucks, they become separated.
Around them, the world is crumbling because of superstorms, earthquakes, and the apocalypse ruining the world. As adults, they find each other again and reunite. It’s adorable.
I only have one complaint about this book; I wanted to know why the world was crumbling. I admit, the reason isn’t necessary, and I think the disasters are just a catalyst detail to drive the story forward and provide a “ticking clock”. But, as they say, curiosity killed the author.
But the characters! Oh man, I loved Patricia. She was an incredibly well rounded and sympathetic character. It was easy to imagine her as a real person and emphasize with her, and she’s probably one of my most favorite characters that I’ve seen in a while.
Another great bonus is that this book is a stand-alone. You don’t have to wait for years and years (or forever, cough, GRRM, Rothfuss, cough) to know how it ends — a big bonus.
Rangers Apprentice Series: John Flannagan
This series comprises twelve books and takes us on the mighty adventures of an orphan boy named Will Treaty.
At the beginning of the series, we see him as a young ward of the castle because his parents are dead. He wants to be a knight with all of his soul! But alas, that doesn’t work out for him.
But something better happens when he’s accepted to be a Ranger’s Apprentice.
Poor Will has to endure rigorous training from the hardcore Halt, but the kid excels and becomes one of the best Rangers. By the end of the series, we’ve grown up with Will and experienced all his struggles.
The world that Flannagan developed and describes is vivid and complete. When VR develops enough, I will pay some big bucks to see this world come to life.
And oh, these characters, I’d love to get my hands on Halt. He seems like such a dish!
So if you haven’t read his books, go out right now and read them. Seriously.
Night Circus: Erin Morgenstern
I need a moment.
I needed that because this book is one of the best books I’ve ever read. This book is a phantasmagorical (say that ten times fast!) fairy tale set near an a historical Victorian London. The setting takes place (mostly) in a magical traveling circus that is only open from sunset to sunrise.
There is no way to summarize the wonders found within the circus properly, but I’ll give you a few words. Ice, cloud maze, clock, and bonfire. There, you’re appropriately teased.
It’s captivating, intriguing, unusual, and I can go on. The magic system is so breathtaking that sometimes I had to stop reading I was so amazed. I don’t have words to describe the grand nature of the storytelling.
All the characters are so real it hurts, and this is especially true for the two main characters, Celia and Marco.
Celia is one of the most steadfast and reliable character’s I’ve ever consumed. Everything about her makes me want to ask her out for an orange juice and beg to be her best friend.
One day I hope virtual reality becomes so complete that I can pay someone to program her. I’d take her horseback riding, because I love her.
Oh, and I’d invite Marco along too 😉
Another great plug for this book is it’s another standalone. So you can read it and be fully committed to a complete story.
All Souls Trilogy: Deborah Harkness
I’m a big fan of witches and vampires and demons, a BIG fan. I’m not sure why, probably because I wish I was immortal and could practice some type of magic. But, who knows? Maybe my talent for sleeping is my magic, lol.
These books, A Discovery of Witches, Shadow of Night, and Book of Life followed a witch and vampire.
Diana, the witch, refuses to embrace her magical powers until she accidentally discovers a long-lost book. Matthew, the vampire, has to struggle and protect her once this discovery gets out. Many beings gather around them to help, while some try to get the book for themselves. The drama only increases as the story gets better and better.
Diana makes me jealous; I wish I were athletic as she was. I’ve always wanted to row, it seems like such a peaceful zen activity. I’d row with her any day!
Matthew, while he is appealing, he wasn’t my favorite character ever. I thought he was a little… over the top? I love a good romantic male lead, and I wanted to like him. But, his nickname for Diana made me want to puke.
Even with the muchness that Matthew offers to the books, I still love them. The magic system is convincing, and the historical setting makes my insides go squishy.
I love the world that Harkness created and nurtured.
Ready Player One: Ernest Cline
I’ve never been big into most video games. Sure, give me any version of the Sims, and I’ll play for hours. Most recently Stardew Valley has been a pleasure, but I’m not an avid gamer by any stretch of anyone’s imagination.
Even without the appreciation of a true gamer, Ready Player One is remarkable. It’s one big walking 80s/90s/00s revisit. As a movie-obsessed child of the 80s/90s myself, it pleased me that I actually got many of his references.
The book follows Wade Watts as he tries to beat the evil IOI to find James Halliday’s keys and ownership of the OASIS (an enormous virtual world).
Wade dominates the game with the extensive knowledge he has of Halliday and the pop culture Halliday loved. That final battle, oh man, I’ve read nothing so amazing in my life. I went back to read that scene many times.
I can’t even describe how this book made me feel. It was like stepping into another world, which is exactly why I read.
Cline made it even more real with all the references that created a fully explained picture. Combined with the descriptive powers of Cline, this book deserves a place on this list.
The fantastic world of the OASIS makes me want virtual reality so bad my bones hurt, because then this book (and so many others!) can come to life even more!
This book was even turned into a movie! Yep, and while it deviated from the book, as a storyteller I know why they did. It’s still a decent representation, and I enjoyed it.
Twilight Series: Stephenie Meyer
Don’t roll your eyes at me. While I have complaints about this series, which I’ll explain, Meyer does an excellent job at a few things, which makes this series (the first book especially), my favorite.
This series follows Bella and her adventures with moving to a new city, and meeting a vampire!
I’ll start with the good because I’m a positive person.
One challenge a writer faces is to use all five senses. When a reader feels fully immersed within a book, it becomes more than just text.
Meyer does just this. She has an excellent eye for description, senses, and emotion. Within all these books Meyer takes us on an emotional journey of love, loss, and discovery. I’ll always enjoy reading these books because Meyer has a talent for emotion and description.
While I may enjoy the emotion and description, there are downfalls with these books. I don’t like Bella’s character, she’s like a cardboard cutout and lacks anything stimulating to connect me to her.
Bella is one-dimensional and does nothing. I really can’t stand New Moon, Bella/Edward’s relationships is bordering on abusive, and probably would cause concern to most psychologists.
I’ve got a soft spot for an excellent squishy romance, so I prefer Twilight over the later books.
That is probably more than enough for now.
These books listed are just a few of the worlds and characters I adore. I’ve got hundreds of stories I love. Honestly, I can go on and on about Orson Scott Card, Mark Lawrence, Michael/ Jeff Shaara, and more.
I’ll quote a deliciously romantic movie, Ever After, “I could no sooner choose a favorite star in the heavens.” Reading is one of the truest pleasures to be found in our world.
Now, go forth and write! Or in this case read 😉!