Author(s): Scott Westerfeld
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: Fantasy, Dystopian, Science fiction
If I had a dollar for every dystopian book out there I’d be able to buy a lifetime’s worth of lattes. Despite the plethora of books in this genre, Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies, Pretties, and Specials series still made it to the top of my list. I love the world Westerfeld creates, but more than anything, I love the plot.
Lover becomes enemy, enemy becomes friend, friend becomes lover and on it goes. Because of this, war takes on a new dynamic. When the people you’re fighting with are people you knew and once cared for you can predict their moves and counter act them. Then again, they can anticipate your next move as well. The game becomes a psychological one and much more strategic.
I’m still waiting for this to get picked up and turned into a major motion picture. In the meantime. . . I’ll keep rereading this book.
Title: Pride and Prejudice
Author(s): Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice will always be one of my favorites. It’s one of those timeless masterpieces. What blows me away about this book are the characters.
Jane Austin is able to develop characters so unique she doesn’t need to identify the speakers in her book. You know exactly who’s speaking by his or her distinctive tone of voice, speech pattern, or personality. Few books have achieved that level of character development and I love Pride and Prejudice for of it.
Tamora Pierce, Sherwood Smith, Robin McKinely–What do these three authors have in common? World-building, strong (but flawed!) heroines, and compelling plots.
Title: Crown Duel
Author(s): Sherwood Smith
Crown Duel used to be two separate books (Crown Duel and Court Duel), which I read and fell in love with in my teens. Sherwood Smith is a master at world-building (though arguably almost all of her books are set in the same world) and I would recommend nearly any of her books, but for the beginner, Crown Duel and A Posse of Princesses are my suggestions.
Title: Song of the Lioness
Author(s): Tamora Pierce
Publisher: Simon and Schuster/Atheneum
If you’ve never read Tamora Pierce, get yourself to a library! All of her series are worth picking up, though I started with Song of the Lioness (Alanna). Circle of Magic, (first is Sandry’s Book), is another series with four main protagonists; it’s one of my favorite worlds to go back and visit.
Author(s): Robin McKinley
Finally, my childhood favorite: Robin McKinley. I started with Beauty and I’m still waiting on the rest of the Pegasus trilogy. For re-told fairy tales, in my opinion there is none better, though that’s definitely childhood prejudice speaking. Other favorites include: Sunshine and Chalice.
Author: Megan Whalen Turner
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
All I will say is that if you haven’t read this series, do so immediately! Turner is a plotting-genius. There is nothing predictable about her stories. Her characters have long stuck with me: the adventure, the love, the twists. After finishing them on Kindle, I went straight to amazon and bought them in paperback.
Title: Aimless Love
Author(s): Billy Collins
Publisher: Penguin Random House
This is poetry for real life. I’ll confess that I was an English major, but that doesn’t mean that I had a natural affinity for the stuff. I went into my three required poetry classes with all the sweetness of a bear awakened mid-winter, but in one of them, I discovered this gem.
It’s clever and entirely based on everyday life so it feels accessible and–gasp– applicable. This is an excellent introduction to poetry and an entertaining companion for travels.
Author(s): Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Macmillan/Square Fish
And now for an apology…
Dear Cinder, I admit that when you first started haunting me from every bookshelf, I thought the premise of a cyborg cinderella was rather…uninspired. Oh, how I was wrong.
Marissa Meyer, you have managed to bring fairy tales into an addicting new world that engages timely, hard questions while still thrilling me with your distinct characters and brilliant dance of politics (which don’t interest me in the real world, so double points).
I did curse your name when I realized (on page 378) that your third book was not actually the last one in the series and that I would have to wait until Winter came out, but I have forgiven you now that it’s been released.