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14 of My Favorite Books

Books are a writer’s (or just a person’s) best friend. They provide inspiration, expand your vocabulary, introduce you to new characters and worlds that don’t exist outside of the imagination… So here’s a list of some of my favorite books. (All of the below book links are affiliate links.) Please note that while I would recommend the majority of these, they are simply my personal favorites and there are a couple that I can’t comfortably recommend.

#1 The Shannara series by Terry Brooks

This is an epic (in multiple uses of the word) fantasy series. There are around thirty books so far, and Brooks is still writing. I’ve read almost all of them, and they’re mostly clean. There is romance in them, but the only one I would be inclined to warn again is in Bearers of the Black Staff and The Measure of the Magic, and even that one doesn’t go far enough that I was particularly uncomfortable with it, though some people might be.

The series goes all the way from a post-apocalyptic world to at least a dozen generations down a line in a fantasy world. It’s really cool, and you get to see almost all of those generations. There’s a bit of a gap between the end of the post-apocalyptic world and the fantasy world, but after that the line is nearly unbroken. It’s really interesting seeing the world and the line develop as time goes on. If you’re looking for something to keep you busy for a while, definitely check out the Shannara series.

#2 The Door Within by Wayne Thomas Batson

This is only the first of four trilogies I’m going to mention by Wayne Thomas Batson, because his books are awesome.

The Door Within is the first trilogy of his I read, and it’s really good. He’s a Christian author, and all of the books of his I’ve read are clean and have positive messages. The Door Within is an MG/YA portal-fantasy trilogy following a young man named Aidan as he finds a land he didn’t know existed and becomes a hero in a war between good and evil.

I love the characters in this trilogy, because they’re really real. They felt to me like family as soon as I read it, and coming back to reread it was like a family reunion, except without the awkwardness of having those relatives over that you see, like, once a year and don’t really know. It’s comfortable being with the characters, and the whole thing is just a really great read.

#3 Dreamtreaders by Wayne Thomas Batson

This is obviously the second trilogy I’m sharing by Wayne Thomas Batson. This one is my declared favorite series (though really, who can pick a favorite?), and the second trilogy of his that I read. It’s sort of a portal fantasy, but not exactly. The main character, Archer Keaton, is a Dreamtreader, meaning that he can explore the world of dreams and keeps it safely separate from the waking world. It’s super cool, and the characters are amazing. Kaylie… Dude, I love Kaylie. You’ll have to read it to see what I mean, but she’s the most precocious, amazing child character I think I’ve ever read.

#4 The Isle Chronicles by Wayne Thomas Batson

This one is a pirate trilogy (though it’s planned to be more than three books, I believe), but it’s nearly as good as the others. I need to reread it, ’cause it’s been a while and my memory of it is growing a bit hazy, but I do know I loved the two main characters and if you ever mention iguana soup I will immediately imagine a one-armed man running after iguanas on a beach.

#5 The Berinfell Prophecies by Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper

Characters. Guys, I love the characters in all of Batson’s books, and this collaboration series is no different. I’ve only been able to read the first of these so far, because my library is lacking the second book, but I read the first one and it’s amazing. There are a myriad of characters, and yet I only ever mixed up two of them. They’re all distinct enough to tell apart, whether that distinction is in their voice, their appearance, or their personality. And I liked nearly all of them. One of them actually seemed like he could totally be the kid of my character Braedyn and my best friend’s character Jess, which was really cool, lol.

#6 The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

If you like seeing fairytales twisted into new shapes, you’ll like my short story series the Mirror-Hunter Chronicles- Hey wait a minute… We’re talking about other people’s books here. I meant you’ll like The Lunar Chronicles. Sheesh. The Lunar Chronicles is actually way better than the Mirror-Hunter Chronicles (and more than a thousand pages longer), and it’s a set of sci-fi fairytale retellings. All of the stories weave together, some of them aren’t really what they seem like at face value, and all of them are excellently written with incredible characters. This is another series that expertly balances a large cast of characters, all with distinct voices and personalities. Thorne and Cress are the greatest, with Iko next and everyone else behind them, but they’re all amazing and I love reading about them and what they get themselves into (and then out of). Plus the plot is really interesting, with twists and turns that most people probably wouldn’t see coming. (I’ve inherited my dad’s knack for seeing plot twists a mile away, which is both a blessing and a curse.)

#7 Graceling by Kristin Cashore

This is one that I can admire for the plot as well as the characters (not because any of the other plots are bad, just because I don’t tend to notice plot as much and this one caught my attention more than the others did), and which I can appreciate for having a deep, complex, personal villain. The characters all have their own struggles and strengths (as do the characters of all the past mentioned books), and the relationships between them are really interesting. (Ooh, I should have mentioned that specifically for The Lunar Chronicles, too. Character relationships are the best.)

The villain was possibly my favorite thing about this book, just from a writer’s perspective. He was terrifying (as much as I’m terrified by any villain in a book that’s not my own. If it’s your own there’s a whole different dynamic with that…), and best of all he was personal to the characters. He impacted them all personally in different ways, and so he seemed like more of a threat, even though he had very little “screen time.” You didn’t get the impression that he was just some faceless evil that had to be defeated. He needed to be defeated because he was hurting the main characters even when he wasn’t there. He was ever-present even if he wasn’t really there.

The worldbuilding was also really interesting, and I wished I could see more of it.

I’ve written a full review here.

(Warning: there are a couple of vague mature scenes, which may need to be glossed over depending on your sensitivity to that sort of thing.)

#8 Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Another that I can appreciate in all aspects (except, unfortunately, mature content). The plot is intriguing and mysterious, the characters are distinct and have fascinating relationships with one another, and the world seems – from what I’ve read so far – incredible.

I’ve only read the first two books of this series, and they do grow more mature as they go on. The first had a few crude comments in it, as well as some semi-graphic gore; the second one had a mature scene. I think there may be mild occasional language. I’ve heard that the maturity level goes up the further into the series you go, so use discretion when deciding whether or not to read these.

#9 Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

This is an old book, but a good one. The artistry of the fire motif had me hooked from the first paragraph. (No, literally, in just a paragraph I could tell that the fire motif was going to be amazing.) While the characters weren’t very deeply developed by current standards, they were still intriguing, and the message of the book was incredible. And I got through it pretty fast, too. I definitely recommend it.

#10 Echoes by Miranda Marie

Okay, so maybe I’m a tiny bit biased since I know the author and she’s an amazing person, but this book was just downright good on its own, no bias required. The characters are deep and complex; the relationships between them are dynamic; and the writing style, though not for everyone, is stunningly gorgeous. I mean wow. Like, take the description of Adrae’s otherworldly, stunning beauty and you have the description for this book. It’s gorgeously amazing.

#11 The Wilderking Trilogy by Jonathan Rogers

All right, so picture this: The biblical David in a fantasy world. That’s what this book is, and it’s awesome. I’ve read it two or three times (three, I think) and I enjoy it every single time. It never disappoints or misses the high expectations that memory gives it. The world is fascinating, particularly when you understand the story that he puts into it, and the new take on David is really interesting.

#12 The Truth series by Dawn Cook

(I apologize for the blurry pictures on some of these things.)

I’ve read this quartet (is that the right word if it’s books?) two or three times. It’s a fantasy series in a really interesting world that you only really see one corner of, and I love the majority of the characters. There was only one that I really disliked and found annoying, and that was the villain of Lost Truth. Otherwise, they were all really cool, and the plot is interesting.

#13 Chasing Jupiter by Rachel Coker

This one is historical fiction that felt to me like contemporary. It’s a great book by a homeschooled Christian author (in other words, similar to me), and this book was the most relatable that I’ve ever read. Like, even down to some of the minor details. I’m not entirely convinced it wasn’t written on psychic paper. (Kidding, obviously.)

I wrote a full review here.

#14 The Fault In Our Stars

To even things out (and obviously because it’s a good book), The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. This is a beautifully written book in an entirely different way from anything else I’ve read. Hazel’s voice comes across more thoroughly than I would have thought possible, and the philosophy is really deep, even if I don’t necessarily agree with all of it.

Some of the writing techniques that Green employed I found really interesting, and the end of The Imperial Affliction was an excellent use of a plot device within the confines of fiction, lol.

(Content warning: There’s one mature scene, as well as occasional language.)

Character Interview: Fiona Wildman

Fiona is the main character of my short story Silence, which will be published in the short story collection I’m publishing on January 15th, and then on its own later in the year. She’s a runaway from a tech company that wants to use her DNA to make a race of superhumans, which is why she’ll come across as borderline rude in this interview. She doesn’t trust easily. I hope you enjoy her interview. :)

Fiona: *heads into the interview room and sits down, looking rather tense* Hello.

Interviewer: Hello. How are you today?

Fiona: Fine.

Interviewer: Shall we get started?

Fiona: Please.

Interviewer: What is your name?

Fiona: Fiona Wildman

Interviewer: How old are you?

Fiona: Twenty.

Interviewer: Do you have any siblings?

Fiona: No.

Interviewer: Do you have a job?

Fiona: I worked at a junk shop, but that job is gone now.

Interviewer: What happened?

Fiona: Nothing important.

Interviewer: Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

Fiona: I’m naturally an extrovert, I think, but I act more introverted.

Interviewer: What is your favorite food?

Fiona: Black licorice.

Interviewer: Favorite color?

Fiona: Grey.

Interviewer: Do you prefer movies or books?

Fiona: Books.

Interviewer: What is your favorite book?

Fiona: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

Interviewer: What is your favorite animal?

Fiona: Dogs.

Interviewer: What are your hobbies?

Fiona: Reading and sketching.

Interviewer: Which of these is most important to you: Kindness, intelligence, or bravery?

Fiona: Intelligence.

Interviewer: And honesty or selflessness?

Fiona: Honesty.

Interviewer: What is something you can never leave the house without?

Fiona: A well-stocked backpack.

Interviewer: What constitutes “well-stocked”?

Fiona: So long as it has anything I need to survive for a few days away from home, it’s well-stocked.

Interviewer: *nods* That was the last question. Thank you for your time.

Fiona: *nods and leaves*

Tick, Tock

Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock…

The steady rhythm was maddening. It never sped up, just stayed at the same, consistent, regulated beat. Penelope felt quite ready to scream, having lain in bed for so long just listening to the ticking, ticking, ticking clock. Tick tock. Tick tock.

Finally, with a quiet growl, she threw off the covers and stepped out of bed, pulling on her robe to shield from the cold and padding down the stairs. Her feet sank into the plush carpet as she reached the living room and took a seat on the couch. This way at least she’d be away from the clock as she tried to sleep and she’d be the first one to the Christmas tree. It was set up in the corner near the electric fireplace, all lit up. It sparkled and glittered in its own lights, which reflected off the ornaments to send colors splaying all over the room.

As Penelope pulled a throw over her and settled into place, she heard a snick, snick, snick sound and glared at the clock on the mantle. “I thought you didn’t make noise,” she muttered. She tried to ignore it, but the harder she tried the louder it seemed. She tossed the throw back onto the back of the couch with another fierce glare at the clock and headed down into her father’s den. There was an couch down there that smelled like old leather and his aftershave, and it would do all right for a bed. It’s Christmas Eve, she thought. Why am I so irritable?

She laid on the couch and sighed, trying to relax. After a while of the silence, she was finally able to fall asleep.

***********************

Penelope was woken by someone shaking her, and she looked up to see her father standing over her. “Hey, Pen. Why are you all the way down here?”

“The clocks were annoying,” she answered, getting up. Realization hit her. “It’s Christmas!”

Her father nodded with a grin and Penelope dashed up the stairs. No more waiting, no more maddening clocks, just family and light and presents and… She glanced out the window. Snow! She jumped and ran into the living room, almost right into her mom. “It’s snowing!”

Her parents laughed and the three of them sat around the tree, passing out presents and enjoying the peace and joy that flooded the house.

My Goals for the New Year

With a new year comes new goals, and mine are probably overly ambitious. But hey, “if you shoot for the moon you may land among the stars.” At least I’ll be farther along than I was. So, without further ado, here are my many goals for 2018.

1. Prepare The Dark War Trilogy for publishing

This was originally “Publish The Dark War Trilogy,” but after scheduling everything out I found that wasn’t doable, so instead I’ll be aiming to have them all finished and edited so they’re ready by the end of the year and I’ll aim to publish them in early 2019.

2. Publish House of Mages

I’ll wait to tell you the release date of this until we’re at least into 2018, but it’s toward the middle of the year. I’d like to have the editing finished by February, but I’ve given myself a buffer there because I’m not sure how well my parents’ schedules will accommodate that, and they’re helping me with it.

3. Read a novel per week

This is self-explanatory. I’ve also updated my blog schedule, so the second and fourth Thursdays of the month will be book review days, instead of the last day of the month.

4. Study the bible/pray for half an hour each day

Self-explanatory. I’m terrible at remembering to take time for this because I tend to get caught up in doing other things. Hopefully scheduling out my days since I have so much to do will help, instead of all the things to do distracting from it.

5. Publish The Heart of the Baenor

Part of this will be finding a new title, because the current title is pretty lame. Again, I won’t give away the launch date just yet, but it’s late in the year.

6. Get started on The Historian

This is a novella I’m planning that’s the backstory of Terlon Screll, Detren’s mentor in The Shadow Raven. This is scheduled to be started in October, and I’ll probably finish it during NaNoWriMo.

7. Win all three NaNoWriMo events

This one’s self-explanatory. I’d like to win April Camp NaNoWriMo, July Camp NaNoWriMo, and November NaNoWriMo. And I already know what I’ll be working on for each one.

8. Write 2k every day

Self-explanatory.

9. Do some Kersir worldbuilding every day

This is a fantasy world I’ve been developing that draws its inspiration from the Middle East. It’s a lot of fun to work on. You can read a little bit more about it on my “My Books” page.

10. Focus on one drawing technique each month

I’m not much of a visual artist, but it’s kind of a side-hobby for me that I use to aid in my writing. I’d like to get better, however, so next year I’d like to work on different drawing techniques.

11. Start making an income

I plan on starting toward this goal with short stories. My plan is set to publish three anthologies and three standalone short stories next year, in addition to the two novels mentioned before. The first anthology will be seven of the stories I’ve written as Christmas presents, and it’ll be published on January 15th. The next goes up on February 21st, and it’ll be a nine-story anthology called The Mirror-Hunter Chronicles, which is nine other short stories I’ve written as Christmas presents that all tie together. I’ll also be publishing This Is His Story on February 14th. Watch out for further news on all of those, and consider following my Facebook page for more frequent updates. There are others, obviously, but they’re later in the year and their release dates will be announced once they get closer.

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