When you tell someone that you are a reader, one of the first things they usually ask you is ‘what is your favourite book?’ (Straight after they say “What, really? Books are boring.”)
At that point, my brain usually goes blank and I can’t recall a single book or author to save my life. Maybe that’s because I hate being put on the spot or maybe its because my favourite now might not be my favourite in a weeks time.
Our likes and dislikes change as we age and even sometimes depending on our mood. There are books that I loved and adored a few years ago that now make me cringe.
That said, these are books that I have read over and over and still manage to make me smile. These will stand the test of time.
These are not in order of favourite because, like I said, the order changes depending on my mood.
- Pride and Prejudice/ The Illustrated Darcy’s Story Jane Austen/ Janet Aylmer
Right away I’ve cheated by adding a second one in. Pride and Prejudice is truly a favourite and I have quite a few prequels, sequels and alternate tellings of this. The Illustrated Darcy’s Story by Janet Aylmer is basically Pride and Prejudice from Mr Darcy’s point of view. It mirrors the Austen text exactly and has large sections word for word. But it also has Darcy’s feelings and observations. We see how recent the drama with Georgiana is and how that shapes his expectations and behaviour at Hertfordshire.
It puts him in a new light and really helps to show his personality change.
- Guards Guards Terry Pratchett
Terry Pratchett’s first Night Watch book has been a favourite since I was a child. It takes place in a fantasy world where Vampires, Werewolves etc are all real. An adopted Dwarf called Carrot decides to go to Ankh Morpork to earn his fortune as a member of the Night Watch. Innocent, naive, honest and towering at over 6 foot, Carrot finds the Night Watch in disarray.
The Captain is a drunk, one watchman is a coward and the other is barely human. But there is evil afoot in the City. Someone has been summoning Dragons and its up to the Watch to protect the town.
Hilarious, witty, full of puns and one of my first forays into grown-up fantasy. I love this book and this world.
- Bitten by Kelley Armstrong
Elena Michaels is the only female werewolf. Turned against her will and knowledge by her ex-boyfriend, Elena has decided she wants out of the werewolf life. Moving far away Elena tries to forge some sort of identity for herself but gets dragged back into the life when some of her pack start to go missing.
This is the start of the Otherworld series which starts with werewolves and ends up with shapeshifters, vampires and all sorts.
After Buffy ended this was a fantastic way of dealing with my supernatural fix. I may have had a big crush of Clayton, even though he was the definition of a toxic boyfriend.
- Soulless by Gail Carriger
Combining my love of Regency romances with my love of the supernatural and steampunk we have Soulless.
Alexia Tarrabotti (who, for some reason, I continually refer to as Alexandria although this is not her name!) is a woman without a soul. Literally. She was born without one and this makes her preternatural rather than supernatural. Whenever she touches one of the supernatural she makes them mortal for the length of her touch. As you can imagine this is somewhat awkward when that cute wolf you were petting turns into a naked man at your feet.
Alexia believes that she could be useful to the Bureau of Unnatural Registry (Supernatural police) but, as an unmarried woman, she is forced to remain idle. Lord Maccon wishes she’d stay out of his way as he investigates the strange happenings in London. When lone wolves and vampires start to go missing, however, Alexia and Lord Maccon must join forces to uncover the truth before the whole Empire is at stake.
Alexia is wonderful. Obsessed with tea, food and being nosy she is the perfect heroine. She also has an amazing use of sarcasm and self-deprecating humour. This is the first in a long series of multiple quartets. I love everything about these books.
- Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Children fight to the death in an arena for the gratification of the upper classes. I’m pretty sure everyone knows the story here.
I love this because, to me, Katniss is the definition of a reluctant heroine. The only thing she wants in the whole series is to protect her sister. She doesn’t care about the war effort, doesn’t care about the plight of others. She has her own issues and believes everyone should deal with their own crap.
Someone said that the reason they don’t like her is exactly because she doesn’t care about the war. They said that she should have been the Mockingjay to help fight the Capitol. But Katniss never sees herself as the heroine, she doesn’t want to be a saviour. She has spent her whole life since her father died being responsible for the welfare of her sister and she forwent being a child in order to do so. No one helped her when she needed it (except for Peeta) so why should she risk her life for them.
It also deals with her PTSD in a wonderful way. It shows her being broken down and unable to deal with her traumatic experiences without becoming depressingly voyeuristic. Katniss will always be one of my all-time favourite heroines.
- Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy
I have a thing for sarcastic heroes and heroines. Give me some sass, some mean quotes and a whole lot of supernatural and I am a happy girl.
In this word the supernatural lies alongside the ‘real world’, hidden from view. When Stephanie Edgley’s uncle dies and leaves her his house and his money, she is astonished, after all she is only 13.
But nothing can prepare her for the walking, talking skeleton with attitude who comes waltzing into her life as the Detective Skulduggery Pleasant. He claims that her uncle was wrapped up in something sinister and he brings her into the world of the supernatural.
I opened up the book, took one look at the acknowledgements page and had to buy it. From the sassy ‘thanks’ to the blurb this is one fantastic ride of world ending apocalypses, sorcerers, Death and parallel worlds.
Although the first few books start out teen I think the last few are definitely YA.
- The Court of Mist and Fury by S. J. Maas
Ok, so I only read this for the first time in 2019. But since then I have read the series 3 times.
Book one is a sort of Beauty and the Beast retelling with Hunger Games thrown in. Feyre’s family are plunged into poverty when her father’s ships go missing along with their wealth.
So, from the age of 14 Feyre has to go hunting in the woods in order to keep her family from starvation, despite being the youngest. I saw Feyre as very much Katniss in this, desperately trying to keep her family safe and alive.
Feyre finds a wolf in the forest and kills it. Unfortunately, this was no ordinary wolf and soon after a Fae from across the border comes to enact revenge.
He takes Feyre hostage in exchange for the life she took.
It turns out this Fae, Tamlin, and his entire court are under a curse which can only be broken by… guess what?
Feyre undergoes horrific trials in order to win her life and the life of her love.
In book two Feyre is obviously broken and tormented by what she did in book one. She has intense PTSD and Tamlin is too busy dealing with the fallout of the curse to help her. Enter Rhysand, the dark, broody villain who wants to steal Feyre away.
Again, like Katniss, I love way that Feyre’s PTSD is dealt with and how her needs and desires change from book one. In this we see how our experiences change us and how, what we previously needed, may not be what we need now.
I love the slow burn, the gentle revitalisation of Feyre and the family she makes for herself.
- The fall of Shane Mackade by Nora Roberts
And now for something completely different. A modern day romance.
I was about 8 when I was fed up of kid’s books and wanted to read something more grown up. After my father traumatised me with Virginia Andrews (I’m going to do a whole post of books that have scarred me), I started reading my mum’s books. I hurtled through Georgette Heyer (the start of my regency obsession) and Agatha Christie and started in on her Mills and Boon books.
The Mackade Brothers series were the very first Nora Roberts books I ever read. I have not looked back. I think I’ve read almost every book she’s published under both Nora Roberts and J. D. Robb (Her futuristic crime series).
In this series four brothers find wives for themselves. Rafe is a builder, Devin is a Sheriff, Jared is a lawyer but Shane just wants to be a farmer. He is also a massive lover of women. He loves them all and flirts with anything that moves. Into his life comes shy wallflower Dr. Rebecca Knight who is too busy hunting ghosts to pay attention to her neighbour. This doesn’t sit well with our resident lothario who finds himself in the unenviable position of falling for someone for the first time in his life.
While the boys are undoubtedly heavy handed Alpha males, there is a tenderness and fierce love that sweeps you away. Makes me come over all girly.
- The Realm of the Gods by Tamora Pierce
Back to our regularly scheduled supernatural stories. The Wild Magic series is one I have lost count of the number of times I’ve read. It is the second set of Tortall books (which began with the Alanna series where a girl dresses up as a boy in order to become a knight). In this series, a girl who is frightened of her own magic becomes the ultimate shapeshifter to save the world.
Veralidaine (Daine) Sarrasri is a young girl who signs on to help Onua to take her horses from market back to the capital city. Daine says she just has a way with animals but Onua is sure that the girl has magic. With her ability to talk to and control animals Daine is terrified of losing herself to madness.
After making friends and proving herself indispensable Daine finds herself just in time for the walls between realities to break and the monsters to come swarming in.
In book 4 Daine and Numair travel to the Realms of the Gods to find help to save Tortall and stop the flood of monsters from taking over Earth.
A fantasy series where the heroine is strong but not invincible, where she cares deeply for animals and thinks of herself as just a girl. This is a book that has shaped me as a person and has never left my shelves or my heart.
Also, two years ago Tamora Pierce published Tempests and Slaughter which goes back in time and tells the story of Arram Draper/ Numair Salmalin as a kid. I was so excited that I offered my soul to a girl who had won an ARC. Thankfully she accepted other forms of payment and I had a whole new section of my favourite world to feast on. The new book should be out later on this year and, again, I offer my soul in exchange for an ARC.
- HIVE Telepath by Janet Edwards
Amber is one of over a million eighteen-year-olds in one of the great hive cities of twenty-sixth century Earth. She’s about to enter the Lottery of 2532, which will assess her abilities and decide her hive level, her profession, her whole future life.
Terrified that she will end up a level 100 sewage technician, Amber is shocked to discover that she is a true Telepath and essential to the hive.
Given her own security team, Amber’s job is to protect the hive from threats within by discovering those with criminal intent.
What she doesn’t know is that there are people who want nothing more than to hunt her for what she is.
I think I saw this book on Kindle for free when it came out in 2016. I downloaded it and loved it so much that I now have a hard copy of it too. I’ve read it more than half a dozen times and am eager whenever there is a new book in the series.
I love the idea of the world being contained in one dome-like building. I love Amber and her abilities and just everything.
It’s easy-going, well-paced and is my comfort read. Whenever I’m in a slump I pull this book out and just fall back in love with sci-fi and fantasy. It’s currently only 1.99 on Kindle and I highly recommend it.
So, there we have it. My top ten.
Let me know what your fave books are. Have you read any of mine?