Here I am again filling out a book tag. With how busy I am lately, they are a good way for me to finish writing fast and have fun. Todays Tag I found from Suzy’s Cozy World. Since I love Lord of the Rings, this seemed like the perfect Tag prompt.
I learned so much about automatons, mechanics, medicines, old Southern folktales, and the culture during the early 20th century. It was simply fascinating to read this book. Her other book Greenglass House is just like that as well. Milford really paints history in beautiful, fascinating colors.
I knew about the German holocaust, the billion people killed in China, and Russia’s internment camps. I did not know about the Slavic people’s from Lithuania and other neighboring countries mistreated, killed off, and imprisoned in Russia. This book opened my eyes to parts of history I did not know. It is one of my favorite books from these past few years. I highly recommend it to anyone who has not read it.
For this question, I immediately thought about the sweet friendship between Jena and her frog Gogu, who she could understand and talk to. Their relationship is the heart of this beautiful fairytale book.
I honestly didn’t expect Furthermore to be as interesting a read. The cover is beautiful, but the premise seemed too predictable. However, when I sat down and started reading, this book had its hooks in me. The story and writing style are just as colorful as the cover.
A House Called Awful End is the funnier version of A Series of Unfortunate Events. I laughed so hard reading this story. the stuffed weasel, the house and people who smelled like old hot water bottles, and even the silly old man with his fake gun stole my little heart as a teenager.
Boromir – A book/series that you think ended too soon
This book unfolds like a dream. It’s beautiful artwork, writing, and conclusion stole my heart the first moment I read it. My one grievance against it was it ended so fast. Because it is so beautiful I wanted more.
Sam – A book with memorable side characters who stole the show
I am not sure who constitutes as a main character in this story, but I love all the quirky side characters scattered throughout the book. Ibbotson always has such amusing side characters and this book is no exception.
My friend Erica really likes this book and gave it to me to read. I didn’t want to because its cover wasn’t very appealing to me. In fact, I think it is kind of ugly. But as I read it, I actually enjoyed it. It’s a good story, and a fun look into Revolutionary History in the United States.
Gollum – A book that had great potential but disappointed you in the end
I read this book fairly often because I love the IDEA of it. I have a soft spot for Halloween-esque stories in forested towns. I love who the characters are, especially Jack with his Pumpkin who carries his soul. But, Houck’s execution just fell so flat. This felt more like a third or fourth draft rather than a well-polished finished novel. In fact, if she took her story and fixed it up I think it would do it a lot of good. I still love reading despite these flaws because it sparks my imagination.
Last December, I started listening to David Copperfield‘s audiobook on Kindle. Though I found the story really interesting, I realized anew I can’t listen to Charles Dickens novels. He adds so much detail and redirects his story so much I get lost in it. I prefer to read the book the old fashioned way.
Cleaning out the closet: a book and/or book series you want to unhaul.
No words can describe the torment and confusing tug of war I went through when reading Clare The Mortal Instruments series. I loved certain parts of her writing and story and hated other parts of it. I kept going through her books wondering if this dissatisfied feeling would go away but . . . it didn’t. I am not her biggest fan but I like seeing her book covers in the the store.
Opening windows and letting fresh air in: a book that was refreshing.
So many male figures in books are domineering and aggressive. The main character Corbin was shy and struggled to express himself, the exact opposite of many abusive male leads I’ve come across. It’s always refreshing finding stories whose characters don’t have disturbing or questionable behaviors.
Washing out sheet stains: a book you wish you could rewrite a certain scene in.
Throwing out unnecessary knick-knacks: a book in a series that you didn’t feel was necessary.
I would still have this book today if not for the off-putting sex scene and rape vision Marillier wrote into the story. the writing and premise is gorgeous and I like the romance up to that point. Taking the sex scene out in particular would not detract from the story or character development whatsoever.
Polishing the doorknobs: a book that had a clean finish.
If the theme song for The Lego Movie (2014) is “Everything is Awesome” than the theme for Bellman and Black is “Everything is Hopeless.” The main character’s life is devoid of any semblance of love and hope because of an obscure choice he made as a child. Lesson he learns. . . there is no redemption for anyone who kills a rook.
The tiring yet satisfying finish of spring cleaning: a book series that was tiring yet satisfying to get through.
Here is another fun deviation! Aside from loving to read, one of my favorite hobbies is going through Pinterest and finding beautiful artworks. Today I can combine two of my hobbies into one post by focusing on beautiful book covers! After seeing so many wonderful book blogs with beautiful new book covers, I wanted to showcase a few beautiful book covers from my Goodreads account.
Sometimes I just like to go to book stores and look at all the new book covers. It’s like going to an art gallery with a bonus story hidden inside eat piece!
So without further ado, here are 10 beautiful book covers and their artists. (Some don’t have artist names because I couldn’t find them.)
It turns out I love making lists! It is a welcome invitation for me to sit down and sort out what I value. Plus, I like the variety. Sadly, today is a list of books I didn’t care enough to finish. It was difficult to find these! I rarely do not finish books. Sometimes though, I can’t force myself to read the whole thing.
I left links for all these books. I’ll post the book details but won’t give too much info. I mean, I didn’t like them. Usually, they either bored me out of mind or had content I found questionable.
Rosie Thorne is feeling stuck—on her college application essays, in her small town, and on that mysterious General Sond cosplayer she met at ExcelsiCon. Most of all, she’s stuck in her grief over her mother’s death. Her only solace was her late mother’s library of rare Starfield novels, but even that disappeared when they sold it to pay off hospital bills.
On the other hand, Vance Reigns has been Hollywood royalty for as long as he can remember—with all the privilege and scrutiny that entails. When a tabloid scandal catches up to him, he’s forced to hide out somewhere the paparazzi would never expect to find him: Small Town USA. At least there’s a library in the house. Too bad he doesn’t read.
When Rosie and Vance’s paths collide and a rare book is accidentally destroyed, Rosie finds herself working to repay the debt. And while most Starfield superfans would jump at the chance to work in close proximity to the Vance Reigns, Rosie has discovered something about Vance: he’s a jerk, and she can’t stand him. The feeling is mutual.
But as Vance and Rosie begrudgingly get to know each other, their careful masks come off—and they may just find that there’s more risk in shutting each other out than in opening their hearts.
Why I read it: I saw several people online give it a good review so I wanted to give it a try.
Why I didn’t Finish: Bookish and the Beast is my latest rejection. I got five chapters into it and couldn’t finish. I didn’t like the characters. Some of them made me uncomfortable, and the writing was all tell and no show. I got sick of hearing the whining. Anyway, this was not my type of fairytale retelling.
Science fiction and fantasy stories about Japan by the multiple-award winning author and New York Times best seller Catherynne M. Valente. A collection of some of Catherynne Valente’s most admired stories, including the Hugo Award-nominated novella “Silently and Very Fast” and the Locus Award finalist “13 Ways of Looking at Space/Time,” with a brand-new long story to anchor the collection.
Why I Read it: I love Valente’s Fairyland Series and her Orphan’s Tales books. I saw she had this collection of short stories online and bought the book.
Why I Didn’t Finish: The first poem was too sad and had swearing. Then the subsequent stories featured sexual abuse. After a few of the short stories I couldn’t finish. Honestly, it was not a bad book. Just too much for me. It has a lot of sensitive topics and language.
Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.
But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.
Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.
Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.
Why I Read it: I loved the cover and read a lot of good reviews on Goodreads.
Why I Didn’t Finish: I get tired of dystopian, rise up against the oppressive King/State books. So, I started reading it and I grew bored within a few chapters. I started guessing important plot points too easy. There it is. Adeyemi is an amazing writer but unfortunately I’ve read too many stories like this before.
Gipsy’s Acre was a truly beautiful upland site with views out to sea – and in Michael Rogers it stirred a child-like fantasy. There, amongst the dark fir trees, he planned to build a house, find a girl and live happily ever after. Yet, as he left the village, a shadow of menace hung over the land. For this was the place where accidents happened. Perhaps Michael should have heeded the locals’ warnings: ‘There’s no luck for them as meddles with Gipsy’s Acre.’ Michael Rogers is a man who is about to learn the true meaning of the old saying ‘In my end is my beginning.
Why I Read it: Easy. I love Agatha Christie. I read Endless Night on my Christie reading spree two years ago.
Why I Didn’t Finish: Halfway through the book, I had a horrible feeling something terrible was going to happen. For the first time, I looked up the ending for the book after I returned it. I was right. The story was too disturbing for me. On the flip side, this might be someone else’s favorite because, as always, Christie is one of the best writers to have ever lived.
Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.
So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.
Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?
Why I read it: I love Beauty and the Beast retellings. Plus, the cover is pretty.
Why I didn’t Finish: The characters. I didn’t like any of them ESPECIALLY the Beast. He was so abusive. I got half way through the book and couldn’t continue.
Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mythical beasts still roam the wild and remote areas, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinn still perform their magic. For humans, it’s an unforgiving place, especially if you’re poor, orphaned, or female.
Amani Al’Hiza is all three. She’s a gifted gunslinger with perfect aim, but she can’t shoot her way out of Dustwalk, the back-country town where she’s destined to wind up wed or dead.
Then she meets Jin, a rakish foreigner, in a shooting contest, and sees him as the perfect escape route. But though she’s spent years dreaming of leaving Dustwalk, she never imagined she’d gallop away on mythical horse—or that it would take a foreign fugitive to show her the heart of the desert she thought she knew.
Rebel of the Sands reveals what happens when a dream deferred explodes—in the fires of rebellion, of romantic passion, and the all-consuming inferno of a girl finally, at long last, embracing her power.
Why I Read it: I like the cover and the magic system seemed unique.
Why I Didn’t Finish: Hmm, it was as much dislike as it was ambivalence. The story wasn’t engaging enough even while reading and walking to work. In fact, I forgot I started it, and a year later I found it under a pile of other books I bought. I don’t remember too much beyond that.
Sandy and Dennys have always been the normal, run-of-the-mill ones in the extraodinary Murry family. They garden, make an occasional A in school, and play baseball. Nothing especially interesting has happened to the twins until they accidentally interrupt their father’s experiment.
Then the two boys are thrown across time and space. They find themselves alone in the desert, where, if they believe in unicorns, they can find unicorns, and whether they believe or not, mammoths and manticores will find them.
The twins are rescued by Japheth, a man from the nearby oasis, but before he can bring them to safety, Dennys gets lost. Each boy is quickly embroiled in the conflicts of this time and place, whose populations includes winged seraphim, a few stray mythic beasts, perilous and beautiful nephilim, and small, long lived humans who consider Sandy and Dennys giants. The boys find they have more to do in the oasis than simply getting themselves home–they have to reunite an estranged father and son, but it won’t be easy, especially when the son is named Noah and he’s about to start building a boat in the desert.
Why I Read it: I love The Wrinkle in Time Trilogy L’Engle previously wrote, so I was excited to read a book finally about the twins in the Murry family.
Why I Didn’t Finish: The setting and story was too strange. I have never in my life thought Noah and his family were small humans living on a paradise island.
Ten-year-old Jack Foster has stepped through a doorway and into quite a different London.
Londinium is a smoky, dark, and dangerous place, home to mischievous metal fairies and fearsome clockwork dragons that breathe scalding steam. The people wear goggles to protect their eyes, brass grill insets in their nostrils to filter air, or mechanical limbs to replace missing ones.
Over it all rules the Lady, and the Lady has demanded a new son—a perfect flesh-and-blood child. She has chosen Jack.
Jack’s wonder at the magic and steam-powered marvels in Londinium lasts until he learns he is the pawn in a very dangerous game. The consequences are deadly, and his only hope of escape, of returning home, lies with a legendary clockwork bird.
The Gearwing grants wishes—or it did, before it was broken—before it was killed. But some things don’t stay dead forever
Why I Read it: I love steampunk based books! I saw this cover in Hastings and thought. Yep, this is my type of book.
Why I Didn’t Finish: Trevayne hardly ever talked about machinery or history. So sad. I barely remember starting it and I might have fallen asleep reading it.
Melanie Tamaki is human—but her parents aren’t. They are from Half World, a Limbo between our world and the afterlife, and her father is still there. When her mother disappears, Melanie must follow her to Half World—and neither of them may return alive.
Why I Read it: It was a book recommendation on Amazon. Because I like manga and anime, I bought it.
Why I Didn’t Finish: I hated Goto’s view of the afterlife. I kept having nightmares about it and decided mid-book I couldn’t finish. Though I didn’t like it, I do think it was a matter of taste rather than of quality. I could tell Goto is a good writer.
Whistling Tor is a place of secrets, a mysterious, wooded hill housing the crumbling fortress of a chieftain whose name is spoken throughout the district in tones of revulsion and bitterness. A curse lies over Anluan’s family and his people; those woods hold a perilous force whose every whisper threatens doom.
For young scribe Caitrin it is a safe haven. This place where nobody else is prepared to go seems exactly what she needs, for Caitrin is fleeing her own demons. As Caitrin comes to know Anluan and his home in more depth she realizes that it is only through her love and determination that the curse can be broken and Anluan and his people set free.
Why I Read it: I love Juliet Marillier’s book Wildwood Dancing so I bought this book the week it came out.
Why I Didn’t Finish: The sex scene near end of the book threw me off. Plus the rape in one of the flashbacks was really disturbing.
Heart of Darkness, a novel by Joseph Conrad, was originally a three-part series in Blackwood’s Magazine in 1899. It is a story within a story, following a character named Charlie Marlow, who recounts his adventure to a group of men onboard an anchored ship. The story told is of his early life as a ferry boat captain. Although his job was to transport ivory downriver, Charlie develops an interest in investing an ivory procurement agent, Kurtz, who is employed by the government. Preceded by his reputation as a brilliant emissary of progress, Kurtz has now established himself as a god among the natives in “one of the darkest places on earth.” Marlow suspects something else of Kurtz: he has gone mad.
A reflection on corruptive European colonialism and a journey into the nightmare psyche of one of the corrupted, Heart of Darkness is considered one of the most influential works ever written.
Why I Read it: I had no choice. It was for school.
Why I Didn’t Finish: It was boring as dirt. I cheated and used Spark Notes to pass the quiz for school.
Sadima lives in a world where magic has been banned, leaving poor villagers prey to fakes and charlatans. A magician stole her family’s few valuables and left Sadima’s mother to die on the day Sadima was born. But vestiges of magic are hidden in old rhymes and hearth tales and in people like Sadima, who conceals her silent communication with animals for fear of rejection and ridicule. When rumors of her gift reach Somiss, a young nobleman obsessed with restoring magic, he sends Franklin, his lifelong servant, to find her. Sadima’s joy at sharing her secret becomes love for the man she shares it with. But Franklin’s irrevocable bond to the brilliant and dangerous Somiss traps her, too, and she faces a heartbreaking decision. Centuries later magic has been restored, but it is available only to the wealthy and is strictly controlled by wizards within a sequestered academy of magic. Hahp, the expendable second son of a rich merchant, is forced into the academy and finds himself paired with Gerrard, a peasant boy inexplicably admitted with nine sons of privilege and wealth. Only one of the ten students will graduate — and the first academic requirement is survival. Sadima’s and Hahp’s worlds are separated by generations, but their lives are connected in surprising and powerful ways in this brilliant first book of Kathleen Duey’s dark, complex, and completely compelling trilogy.
Why I Read it: The cover and premise seemed interesting.
Why I Didn’t Finish: This book was disturbing. I felt my stomach churn several times within a few chapters. I gave it to my sister and several years later she told me about reading it and having the same experience. I felt bad about that.
The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies.
A sweeping story of family, love, and friendship told against the devastating backdrop of the history of Afghanistan over the last thirty years, The Kite Runner is an unusual and powerful novel that has become a beloved, one-of-a-kind classic.
Why I Read it: My History Professor recommended it to me in Islamic History class.
Why I Didn’t Finish: So. I think this story is culturally important. However, child abuse and rape are subjects I can’t stomach. Plus, I didn’t feel the main character changed. I never grew to respect him.
The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child “unwound,” whereby all of the child’s organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn’t technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state, is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.
Why I Read it: The premise stood out to me on Amazon.
Why I Didn’t Finish: The story was slow. I didn’t attach to any of the characters or their problems.
Twelve-year-old Eon has been in training for years. His intensive study of Dragon Magic, based on East Asian astrology, involves two kinds of skills: sword-work and magical aptitude. He and his master hope that he will be chosen as a Dragoneye–an apprentice to one of the twelve energy dragons of good fortune.
But Eon has a dangerous secret. He is actually Eona, a sixteen-year-old girl who has been masquerading as a boy for the chance to become a Dragoneye. Females are forbidden to use Dragon Magic; if anyone discovers she has been hiding in plain sight, her death is assured.
When Eon’s secret threatens to come to light, she and her allies are plunged into grave danger and a deadly struggle for the Imperial throne. Eon must find the strength and inner power to battle those who want to take her magic…and her life.
Why I Read it: My sister recommended it to me.
Why I Didn’t Finish: Attempted rape, masochism, and a series of other things. I did like Eona and cared about her future. But I didn’t care about the love triangle or political problems.
A natural disaster leaves the young girl wandering alone in an unfamiliar and dangerous land until she is found by a woman of the Clan, people very different from her own kind. To them, blond, blue-eyed Ayla looks peculiar and ugly–she is one of the Others, those who have moved into their ancient homeland; but Iza cannot leave the girl to die and takes her with them. Iza and Creb, the old Mog-ur, grow to love her, and as Ayla learns the ways of the Clan and Iza’s way of healing, most come to accept her. But the brutal and proud youth who is destined to become their next leader sees her differences as a threat to his authority. He develops a deep and abiding hatred for the strange girl of the Others who lives in their midst, and is determined to get his revenge.
Why I Read it: My mom bought it for me because I like Historical Fiction.
Why I Didn’t Finish: Near the beginning of the book there was an explicit sex scene. That and the writing was too stiff for me. If you are interested in Primeval History, this is a fascinating book to pick up. There is a reason it is so popular.
In one of the most important and beloved Latin American works of the twentieth century, Isabel Allende weaves a luminous tapestry of three generations of the Trueba family, revealing both triumphs and tragedies. Here is patriarch Esteban, whose wild desires and political machinations are tempered only by his love for his ethereal wife, Clara, a woman touched by an otherworldly hand. Their daughter, Blanca, whose forbidden love for a man Esteban has deemed unworthy infuriates her father, yet will produce his greatest joy: his granddaughter Alba, a beautiful, ambitious girl who will lead the family and their country into a revolutionary future.
Why I Read it: My High School English teacher had it on her shelf and I liked the cover.
Why I Didn’t Finish: I made it through Blanca’s death and autopsy. I made it through her fiancé’s grief. But I drew the line after I read his continuous accounts of raping woman in the village area he took over. By then I had enough.
So Melville wrote of his masterpiece, one of the greatest works of imagination in literary history. In part, Moby-Dick is the story of an eerily compelling madman pursuing an unholy war against a creature as vast and dangerous and unknowable as the sea itself. But more than just a novel of adventure, more than an encyclopaedia of whaling lore and legend, the book can be seen as part of its author’s lifelong meditation on America. Written with wonderfully redemptive humour, Moby-Dick is also a profound inquiry into character, faith, and the nature of perception.
Why I Read it: I wanted to prove my sister wrong when she said it was boring and useless.
Why I Didn’t Finish: . . . It was really boring. I could barely make it through two chapters. Sorry Melville! I tried to stand up for you.
When Tess Durbeyfield is driven by family poverty to claim kinship with the wealthy D’Urbervilles and seek a portion of their family fortune, meeting her ‘cousin’ Alec proves to be her downfall. A very different man, Angel Clare, seems to offer her love and salvation, but Tess must choose whether to reveal her past or remain silent in the hope of a peaceful future.
Why I Read it: I like Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge. It’s one of my favorite classic novels.
Why I Didn’t Finish: Tess being raped and used sexually by the men in the book.
With language that is both lyrical and distinctly her own, Francesca Lia Block turns nine fairy tales inside out.
Escaping the poisoned apple, Snow frees herself from possession to find the truth of love in an unexpected place.
A club girl from L.A., awakening from a long sleep to the memories of her past, finally finds release from its curse.
And Beauty learns that Beasts can understand more than men.
Within these singular, timeless landscapes, the brutal and the magical collide, and the heroine triumphs because of the strength she finds in a pen, a paintbrush, a lover, a friend, a mother, and finally, in herself.
Why I Read it: It had multiple fairytale retellings! How could I not.
Why I Didn’t Finish: Bestiality, sexual assault on a really tiny person, and homoeroticism were scattered throughout the few stories I could get through.
There are places in the world where darkness rules, where it’s unwise to walk. But there hadn’t been any trouble out at the lake for years, and Sunshine just needed a spot where she could be alone with her thoughts. Vampires never entered her mind.
Until they found her…
Why I Read it: I like Robin McKinley. Her books for Beauty and the Beast and Sleeping Beauty were fun to read.
Why I Didn’t Finish: This has to be one of the slowest moving, dullest, anticlimactic vampire novels I have ever read. Nothing remotely interesting happened until 60 pages into the book. Then that was over within 20 pages and the main character went back to her boring life as if nothing happened.
This will be a fun post for me! Though I listed these books in an order, I actually don’t know what my absolute favorite book is. My mood and tastes shift like the wind! What I do know is these are the consistent novels I’ve loved throughout my reading life.
For this post I’ll being doing something a little different.
I’ll list book details for the curious onlooker
For series, I’ll list my favorite book
How old I was when I read them
Why I read them
My first impression
My favorite character
The last time I read them
Let the list commence! Warning! I probably will change my mind within a few months. My tastes change all the time. These books are the most common ones I list when people ask me. Also, I did not include manga because they deserve their own list.
A boy and dog trapped aboard the Flying Dutchman, are sent off on an eternal journey by an avenging angel, roaming the earth throughout the centuries in search of those in need. Their travels lead them to Chapelvale, a sleepy nineteenth century village whose existence is at stake. Only by discovering the buried secrets and solving the dust-laden riddles of the ancient village can it be saved.
Goodreads Overview, Castaways of the Flying Dutchman
When did I first read them? I read the first book when I was 12 and finished the last book in the trilogy when I was 17.
Why Did I Read Them? I actually loved Jacques other Redwall series and wanted to give his then new series a try.
What was my first impression? I found this series fascinating. The idea of a boy and his dog escaping the infamous pirate The Flying Dutchman captured my imagination. Ben and his dog Ned’s purpose, to follow God’s voice to help people, really touched me. It made me wonder about guardian angels and what I would do if God asked me to do the same thing.
Who is my favorite character? Definitely Ben. He is such a sweet young man.
When was the last time I read it? I last read this series in 2010.
First, there were ten—a curious assortment of strangers summoned as weekend guests to a little private island off the coast of Devon. Their host, an eccentric millionaire unknown to all of them, is nowhere to be found. All that the guests have in common is a wicked past they’re unwilling to reveal—and a secret that will seal their fate. For each has been marked for murder. A famous nursery rhyme is framed and hung in every room of the mansion:
“Ten little boys went out to dine; One choked his little self and then there were nine. Nine little boys sat up very late; One overslept himself and then there were eight. Eight little boys traveling in Devon; One said he’d stay there then there were seven. Seven little boys chopping up sticks; One chopped himself in half and then there were six. Six little boys playing with a hive; A bumblebee stung one and then there were five. Five little boys going in for law; One got in Chancery and then there were four. Four little boys going out to sea; A red herring swallowed one and then there were three. Three little boys walking in the zoo; A big bear hugged one and then there were two. Two little boys sitting in the sun; One got frizzled up and then there was one. One little boy left all alone; He went out and hanged himself and then there were none.”
When they realize that murders are occurring as described in the rhyme, terror mounts. One by one they fall prey. Before the weekend is out, there will be none. Who has choreographed this dastardly scheme? And who will be left to tell the tale? Only the dead are above suspicion.
When did I first read it? I was 24, a teacher at a middle school.
Why Did I Read it? I randomly thought about the 1946 movie and couldn’t remember how it ended. So, I went to the library and checked the book out.
What was my first impression? So chilling. I had watched the move from 1945 but nothing prepared me for the book. Agatha Christie is a true genius. She is the only mystery writer I can’t guess the full mystery for.
Who is my favorite character? Does the author count? Just kidding. I don’t have one. All the characters are fascinating to study because of the overhanging mystery.
When was the last time you read it? I’ve only read it once. So, it was in 2014.
In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king’s long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner’s motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword’s point—he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage’s rivals have their own agendas as well.
As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner’s sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.
When Did I First Read It? I was 22, a college student at BYU Idaho.
Why Did I Read it? I found the first book in my college library and decided to give it a try.
What Was My First Impression? I know I love a book series when I can picture the time and place I read it. I fell in love with Sage and his skills, as well as how he faced oncoming trials in his country. I can’t say too much because I’ll ruin the mystery.
Who is My Favorite Character? Sage. Mystery solved! I have a thing for intelligent and snarky characters.
When was the Last Time I Read it? In 2015 while I read the books aloud to my Dad.
Conor has the same dream every night, ever since his mother first fell ill, ever since she started the treatments that don’t quite seem to be working. But tonight is different. Tonight, when he wakes, there’s a visitor at his window. It’s ancient, elemental, a force of nature. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth.
Patrick Ness takes the final idea of the late, award-winning writer Siobhan Dowd and weaves an extraordinary and heartbreaking tale of mischief, healing and above all, the courage it takes to survive.
When Did I First Read it? I was 21. I read it on Halloween Day.
Why Did I Read it? I found it on Amazon and decided to read it because of the amazing art and cover.
What Was My First Impression? This book meant a lot to me. My cousin had died several years before. My two aunts also had cancer at the time. I did not expect to connect so well to Ness’s poetic take on facing personal monsters.
Who is My Favorite Character? The Monster made from the old yew tree.
When Was the Last Time I Read it? 2018 after I got back from my mission.
This was the boy’s mantra as he plodded through the desert alone, left to die by his vengeful grandfather. Johannes Verne was soon to be rescued by outlaws, but no one could save him from the lasting memory of his grandfather’s eyes, full of impenetrable hatred. Raised in part by Indians, then befriended by a mysterious woman, Johannes grew up to become a rugged adventurer and an educated man. But even now, strengthened by the love of a golden-haired girl and well on his way to making a fortune in bustling early-day Los Angeles, the past may rise up to threaten his future once more. And this time only the ancient gods of the desert can save him.
When Did I First Read it? I was 23, on a car trip somewhere in New Mexico.
Why Did I Read it? My Dad was listening to the audio book in the car and I had no choice but to listen because I couldn’t read my own book.
What Was My First Impression? The audio book held me spellbound. For the first time since I listened to the Harry Potter audiobooks by Jim Dale, I wanted to do nothing more than sit in the car and listen to Johannes’s story in California. This was especially surprising because I don’t like Westerns.
Who is My Favorite Character? Johannes Verne or his father Zachery Verne.
When Was the Last Time I Read it? I read it a second time when I was 23 to help my sister with her book report.
Victoria hates nonsense. There is no need for it when your life is perfect. The only smudge on her pristine life is her best friend Lawrence. He is a disaster, lazy and dreamy, shirt always untucked, obsessed with his silly piano. Victoria often wonders why she ever bothered being his friend. (Lawrence does, too.)
But then Lawrence goes missing. And he is not the only one. Victoria soon discovers that The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls is not what it appears to be. Kids go in but come out different. Or they don’t come out at all.
If anyone can sort this out, it’s Victoria, even if it means getting a little messy.
The day after they moved in, Coraline went exploring….
In Coraline’s family’s new flat are twenty-one windows and fourteen doors. Thirteen of the doors open and close.
The fourteenth is locked, and on the other side is only a brick wall, until the day Coraline unlocks the door to find a passage to another flat in another house just like her own.
Only it’s different.
At first, things seem marvelous in the other flat. The food is better. The toy box is filled with wind-up angels that flutter around the bedroom, books whose pictures writhe and crawl and shimmer, little dinosaur skulls that chatter their teeth. But there’s another mother, and another father, and they want Coraline to stay with them and be their little girl. They want to change her and never let her go.
Other children are trapped there as well, lost souls behind the mirrors. Coraline is their only hope of rescue. She will have to fight with all her wits and all the tools she can find if she is to save the lost children, her ordinary life, and herself.
Critically acclaimed and award-winning author Neil Gaiman will delight readers with his first novel for all ages.
All children mythologize their birth…So begins the prologue of reclusive author Vida Winter’s collection of stories, which are as famous for the mystery of the missing thirteenth tale as they are for the delight and enchantment of the twelve that do exist.
The enigmatic Winter has spent six decades creating various outlandish life histories for herself — all of them inventions that have brought her fame and fortune but have kept her violent and tragic past a secret. Now old and ailing, she at last wants to tell the truth about her extraordinary life. She summons biographer Margaret Lea, a young woman for whom the secret of her own birth, hidden by those who loved her most, remains an ever-present pain. Struck by a curious parallel between Miss Winter’s story and her own, Margaret takes on the commission.
As Vida disinters the life she meant to bury for good, Margaret is mesmerized. It is a tale of gothic strangeness featuring the Angelfield family, including the beautiful and willful Isabelle, the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline, a ghost, a governess, a topiary garden and a devastating fire.
Margaret succumbs to the power of Vida’s storytelling but remains suspicious of the author’s sincerity. She demands the truth from Vida, and together they confront the ghosts that have haunted them while becoming, finally, transformed by the truth themselves.
When Did I First Read it? I was 19, working at a College Theater.
Why Did I Read it? I bought it because the cover, and overview on the back cover kept intriguing me every time I went to Hastings.
What Was My First Impression? This book held me spellbound. It’s one of the few books I couldn’t put down, even while working at my job. It’s message and warning are haunting.
Who is My Favorite Character? . . . Oh gosh I don’t know. I don’t think it applies for a story like this. Margaret perhaps? Or the Doctor who visits her and Vida?
When Was the Last Time I Read it? Back in 2014 I reread it.
13. The Pianist, Władysław Szpilman (1946) (This is not a misprint. I forgot to add this book to my list and I couldn’t decide if I liked it more than The Thirteenth Tale.)
The last live broadcast on Polish Radio, on September 23, 1939, was Chopin’s Nocturne in C# Minor, played by a young pianist named Wladyslaw Szpilman, until his playing was interrupted by German shelling. It was the same piece and the same pianist, when broadcasting was resumed six years later. The Pianist is Szpilman’s account of the years inbetween, of the death and cruelty inflicted on the Jews of Warsaw and on Warsaw itself, related with a dispassionate restraint borne of shock. Szpilman, now 88, has not looked at his description since he wrote it in 1946 (the same time as Primo Levi’s If This Is A Man?; it is too personally painful. The rest of us have no such excuse.
Szpilman’s family were deported to Treblinka, where they were exterminated; he survived only because a music-loving policeman recognised him. This was only the first in a series of fatefully lucky escapes that littered his life as he hid among the rubble and corpses of the Warsaw Ghetto, growing thinner and hungrier, yet condemned to live. Ironically it was a German officer, Wilm Hosenfeld, who saved Szpilman’s life by bringing food and an eiderdown to the derelict ruin where he discovered him. Hosenfeld died seven years later in a Stalingrad labour camp, but portions of his diary, reprinted here, tell of his outraged incomprehension of the madness and evil he witnessed, thereby establishing an effective counterpoint to ground the nightmarish vision of the pianist in a desperate reality. Szpilman originally published his account in Poland in 1946, but it was almost immediately withdrawn by Stalin’s Polish minions as it unashamedly described collaborations by Lithuanians, Ukrainians, Poles and Jews with the Nazis. In 1997 it was published in Germany after Szpilman’s son found it on his father’s bookcase. This admirably robust translation by Anthea Bell is the first in the English language. There were 3,500,000 Jews in Poland before the Nazi occupation; after it there were 240,000. Wladyslaw Szpilman’s extraordinary account of his own miraculous survival offers a voice across the years for the faceless millions who lost their lives. –David Vincent
Why Did I Read it? I wanted to read the book because the author was a musician and I learned about the movie.
What was My First Impression? This first hand account about the horrors and crimes made against the Polish was chilling. I think it is one of the most important autobiographies ever written.
Who is My Favorite Character? Since it is an autobiography, there really can’t be. Wilm Hosenfeld, the German Officer who saved Szpilman’s life, has become one of my heroes both for those he saved and for what he wrote.
When was the Last Time I Read it? I have read it only once when I was 22.
The king’s scholar, the magus, believes he knows the site of an ancient treasure. To attain it for his king, he needs a skillful thief, and he selects Gen from the king’s prison. The magus is interested only in the thief’s abilities.
What Gen is interested in is anyone’s guess. Their journey toward the treasure is both dangerous and difficult, lightened only imperceptibly by the tales they tell of the old gods and goddesses.
When Did I First Read it? I was probably 19 when I read the first book. However, it wasn’t until I was 29 I finally read the sequels. Not because I didn’t want to, but because my brother and father commandeered my books.
Why Did I Read it? I found the first book at the book store and liked its historical background.
What was My First Impression? I devoured The Thief when I was a teenager. When I finally read the next books I couldn’t stop reading until I finished sometime near 4 in the morning. I actually read The King of Attolia twice in a row because I loved it so much.
Who is My Favorite Character? Eugenides. I love his wit and willingness to change. He is also incredibly intelligent and well read.
When was the Last Time I Read it? Last year in 2020.
Once, in a house on Egypt Street, there lived a china rabbit named Edward Tulane. The rabbit was very pleased with himself, and for good reason: he was owned by a girl named Abilene, who treated him with the utmost care and adored him completely.
And then, one day, he was lost.
Kate DiCamillo takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the depths of the ocean to the net of a fisherman, from the top of a garbage heap to the fireside of a hoboes’ camp, from the bedside of an ailing child to the bustling streets of Memphis. And along the way, we are shown a true miracle — that even a heart of the most breakable kind can learn to love, to lose, and to love again.
After suffering a tragic loss, eleven-year-old Ollie only finds solace in books. So when she happens upon a crazed woman at the river threatening to throw a book into the water, Ollie doesn’t think–she just acts, stealing the book and running away. As she begins to read the slender volume, Ollie discovers a chilling story about a girl named Beth, the two brothers who both loved her, and a peculiar deal made with “the smiling man,” a sinister specter who grants your most tightly held wish, but only for the ultimate price.
Ollie is captivated by the tale until her school trip the next day to Smoke Hollow, a local farm with a haunting history all its own. There she stumbles upon the graves of the very people she’s been reading about. Could it be the story about the smiling man is true? Ollie doesn’t have too long to think about the answer to that. On the way home, the school bus breaks down, sending their teacher back to the farm for help. But the strange bus driver has some advice for the kids left behind in his care: “Best get moving. At nightfall they’ll come for the rest of you.” Nightfall is, indeed, fast descending when Ollie’s previously broken digital wristwatch, a keepsake reminder of better times, begins a startling countdown and delivers a terrifying message: RUN.
Only Ollie and two of her classmates heed the bus driver’s warning. As the trio head out into the woods–bordered by a field of scarecrows that seem to be watching them–the bus driver has just one final piece of advice for Ollie and her friends: “Avoid large places. Keep to small.”
And with that, a deliciously creepy and hair-raising adventure begins.
Thirteen year-old Natalie Minks loves machines, particularly automata — self operating mechanical devices, usually powered by clockwork. When Jake Limberleg and his travelling medicine show arrive in her small Missouri town with a mysterious vehicle under a tarp, and an uncanny ability to make Natalie’s half-built automaton move, she feels in her gut that something about this caravan of healers is a bit off. Her uneasiness leads her to investigate the intricate maze of the medicine show, where she discovers a horrible truth, and realizes that only she has the power to set things right.
Set in 1914, The Boneshaker is a gripping, richly textured novel about family, community, courage, and looking evil directly in the face in order to conquer it.
Why Did I Read it? The cover caught me. I passed by it several times at Hastings and finally gave in and bought it because I couldn’t find anything else.
What was My First Impression? I totally geeked out. I love steampunk books and anything that mentions old machinery from the early 20th century. Plus, it had a similar Halloweeny feel like the miniseries Over the GardenWall(2014). I also love blues music and old stories about the devil in the South.
Who is My Favorite Character? Probably Tom. He is old but wise.
When was the Last Time I read it? October 2020. If you noticed a connection between my Halloween favorites and my favorite books you are not going crazy. October and Autumn are my favorite times of the year.
Echo Alkaev’s safe and carefully structured world falls apart when her father leaves for the city and mysteriously disappears. Believing he is lost forever, Echo is shocked to find him half-frozen in the winter forest six months later, guarded by a strange talking wolf—the same creature who attacked her as a child. The wolf presents Echo with an ultimatum: If she lives with him for one year, he will ensure her father makes it home safely. But there is more to the wolf than Echo realizes.
In his enchanted house beneath a mountain, each room must be sewn together to keep the home from unraveling, and something new and dark and strange lies behind every door. When centuries-old secrets unfold, Echo discovers a magical library full of books-turned-mirrors, and a young man named Hal who is trapped inside of them. As the year ticks by, the rooms begin to disappear, and Echo must solve the mystery of the wolf’s enchantment before her time is up, otherwise Echo, the wolf, and Hal will be lost forever.
When Did I First Read it? When I was 28 while living in Utah.
Why Did I Read it? When I read the synopsis and introduction pages, I saw Meyer loved Edith Patou’s book East. I love Edith’s book and the fairytale East of the Sun West of the Moon so I bought it and read it.
What was My First Impression? I thought it was magical. I loved every moment of it.
Who is My Favorite Character? Echo. She is an inspiring hero. I admire her love and loyalty.
At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.
After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.
And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.
As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.
Goodreads Overview, The Bear and the Nightengale
My Favorite Book? Don’t have one. I love them all.
When Did I First Read it? I was 26, freshly returned from Russia.
Why Did I Read it? Because I had just returned from Russia, I saw the cover for the first book, read the premise, and bought it on the spot to read.
What was my First Impression? Arden’s depiction of Russian folk tales and history was so beautiful to me. I had not fallen in love with a book so fast in a long time.
Who is My Favorite Character? Vasya or the Winter King Morozko. I love how much each of them grow. I loved Vasya so much because she was so real.
When was the Last Time I Read it? I finally read the last book The Winter of the Witch in 2020. I have only ever read the books once each.
High in the Transylvanian woods, at the castle Piscul Draculi, live five daughters and their doting father. It’s an idyllic life for Jena, the second eldest, who spends her time exploring the mysterious forest with her constant companion, a most unusual frog. But best by far is the castle’s hidden portal, known only to the sisters. Every Full Moon, they alone can pass through it into the enchanted world of the Other Kingdom. There they dance through the night with the fey creatures of this magical realm.
But their peace is shattered when Father falls ill and must go to the southern parts to recover, for that is when cousin Cezar arrives. Though he’s there to help the girls survive the brutal winter, Jena suspects he has darker motives in store. Meanwhile, Jena’s sister has fallen in love with a dangerous creature of the Other Kingdom–an impossible union it’s up to Jena to stop.
When Cezar’s grip of power begins to tighten, at stake is everything Jena loves: her home, her family, and the Other Kingdom she has come to cherish. To save her world, Jena will be tested in ways she can’t imagine–tests of trust, strength, and true love.
A magical fantasy that is fast-paced and easy-to-read. Charlie Bone has a special gift- he can hear people in photographs talking!
The fabulous powers of the Red King were passed down through his descendants, after turning up quite unexpectedly, in someone who had no idea where they came from. This is what happened to Charlie Bone, and to some of the children he met behind the grim, gray walls of Bloor’s Academy.
His scheming aunts decide to send him to Bloor Academy, a school for geniuses where he uses his gifts to discover the truth despite all the dangers that lie ahead.
My Favorite Book: Charlie Bone and the Castle of Mirrors, Book 4
When Did I First Read Them? I read the first book when 13. I followed the books all the way till I was 19.
Why Did I Read Them? I wanted to know why my cousin Jenny liked them. I was somewhat of a Harry Potter snob and told her it was a rip off of Rowling’s series. However, I changed my mind after reading the first few chapters.
What was My First Impression? I realized within the first few chapters this was the perfect book series for me. I love all the arts, especially music so Bloor’s academy would be a wonderful school for me. I also have always dreamed of hearing and traveling into photographs.
Who is My Favorite Character? Probably Uncle Paton. He really does deserve the happy ending he got.
When was the Last Time I read Them? 2019 I read most of the books in the series again before my attention shifted.
Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life, until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket), who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland. The new Marquess is unpredictable and fickle, and also not much older than September. Only September can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn’t . . . then the Marquess will make life impossible for the inhabitants of Fairyland. September is already making new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday. With exquisite illustrations by acclaimed artist Ana Juan, Fairyland lives up to the sensation it created when the author first posted it online. For readers of all ages who love the charm of Alice in Wonderland and the soul of The Golden Compass, here is a reading experience unto itself: unforgettable, and so very beautiful.
Since the day she was born, it was clear she had a special fate. Her superstitious mother keeps the unusual circumstances of Rose’s birth a secret, hoping to prevent her adventurous daughter from leaving home… but she can’t suppress Rose’s true nature forever.
So when an enormous white bear shows up one cold autumn evening and asks teenage Rose to come away with it–in exchange for health and prosperity for her ailing family–she readily agrees.
Rose travels on the bear’s broad back to a distant and empty castle, where she is nightly joined by a mysterious stranger. In discovering his identity, she loses her heart– and finds her purpose–and realizes her journey has only just begun.
When Did I First Read Them? I read the first book when I was 14 years old. The second I read at 28.
Why Did I Read Them? I found the first book in my middle school library and read it on a whim. I read the second because of how much I love the first.
What was My First Impression? I didn’t like the first book when I was 14. I even remember telling my dad in his office how boring it was. However, I re-read the book a year later and realized I was wrong.
Who is My Favorite Character? The Bear or Rose. They are the perfect team!
When was the Last Time I Read Them? In summer 2019.
Harry Potter’s life is miserable. His parents are dead and he’s stuck with his heartless relatives, who force him to live in a tiny closet under the stairs. But his fortune changes when he receives a letter that tells him the truth about himself: he’s a wizard. A mysterious visitor rescues him from his relatives and takes him to his new home, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
After a lifetime of bottling up his magical powers, Harry finally feels like a normal kid. But even within the Wizarding community, he is special. He is the boy who lived: the only person to have ever survived a killing curse inflicted by the evil Lord Voldemort, who launched a brutal takeover of the Wizarding world, only to vanish after failing to kill Harry.
Though Harry’s first year at Hogwarts is the best of his life, not everything is perfect. There is a dangerous secret object hidden within the castle walls, and Harry believes it’s his responsibility to prevent it from falling into evil hands. But doing so will bring him into contact with forces more terrifying than he ever could have imagined.
Candy lives in Chickentown USA: the most boring place in the world, her heart bursting for some clue as to what her future may hold. She is soon to find out: swept out of our world by a giant wave, she finds herself in another place entirely…
The Abarat: a vast archipelago where every island is a different hour of the day, from the sunlit wonders of Three in the Afternoon, where dragons roam, to the dark terrors of the island of Midnight, ruled by Christopher Carrion.
Candy has a place in this extraordinary world: she has been brought here to help save the Abarat from the dark forces that are stirring at its heart. Forces older than time itself, and more evil than anything Candy has ever encountered.
When Did I First Read Them? I was 14, still lamenting I couldn’t read the 5th Harry Potter book yet.
Why Did I Read Them? My mother insisted I would like the first book. The first time she borrowed it from the library I ignored it. When I went to the library again, I checked it out because I felt guilty.
What was My First Impression? I thought Abarat’s world and characters were enchanting. I wanted to step into the book and go there with Candy.
Who is My Favorite Character? I think Christopher Carrion the most interesting. Candy and Malingo are probably my favorites.