Not every book has the sort of character that sticks with you, but in this book, Errol Stone absolutely grabbed onto me and pulled me into his world and his story. Honestly, I can’t even pinpoint what exactly makes this character so special to me, but he is the main reason I loved this book. Errol is a wildly imperfect character, set on a life full of pain and loss and struggle, but he is also equipped with stubbornness and perseverance beyond what anyone expects. When Errol pulls himself away from his usual pattern of life to deliver a message to a priest, he becomes entangled in a dangerous quest. Pursued by assassins, as well as other things that he can’t even begin to understand, Errol becomes a part of the intrigue and peril of finding the next king. Through it all, he has to find a way past the pain and failures of his past to become a new man. Errol is truly an incredibly inspiring and strong character, made even better by the fact that he is presented in the midst of a complicated and gripping story. He is surrounded by friends and enemies just as complex throughout his journey, and each new turn or character introduced just pulls you deeper into the story. I was so enchanted by this book, and I know that I won’t be letting go of the story for a very long time.
I’m beginning to think my love of fairy tale retellings may be merging into an obsession at this point, but that’s fine. This Cinderella story was such an interesting take on the classic Disney version (and since I’m currently writing a Cinderella retelling, I can count this as research, right?). In this version, the ball is only the beginning, and there is so much more to Cinderella’s story, as well as her as a character. Cinderella doesn’t even have a chance to prove she is the missing princess in this story, but sets out on her own anyway, determined to carve out a new life for herself as a seamstress in the palace. However, she soon finds herself entangled in a complicated plot to manipulate the king and remove the prince from power. As if that wasn’t enough, she discovers that the kingdom also holds a longstanding and dangerous grudge against all fairies (and seeing as Cinderella has a lovely fairy godmother, that is kind of an issue). Intrigue, romance, and some really great characters are all woven together into a story that is just so fascinating. I really liked that the main antagonist wasn’t who it traditionally is, but I won’t say anything more about that. My favorite part of this book by far, though, is the depth of Cinderella’s character. This whole story, including the character of Cinderella, is brimming with those feel-good Disney fairy tale feelings, but underneath that is strength and groundedness that you don’t always get in a Cinderella story. So if that’s something you’re looking for, I would definitely suggest picking up this take on the classic Cinderella story.
I’ve already talked about how much I love John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice series, and I feel the same about this companion series. In this first book, we are introduced to a group of Skandians, rough and tumble viking-like characters that were first introduced in the Ranger’s Apprentice series. However, the main characters of this story are not exactly like the other Skandians. They’re outcasts, grouped together as a crew to pit themselves against other groups in an exciting competition. This story is full of adventure and friendship. Honestly, John Flanagan’s characters are one of the main reasons I love his books, and these characters have so much depth. They’re interesting, relatable, and so likeable. Not to mention that the book is filled to the brim with swashbuckling action. This book is such an immersive and fun read, and you won’t want to leave the world when it’s finished. But don’t worry… there are a whole bunch of other books to carry on the adventure!
This book, and this entire series, are so incredible. Designed to parallel the story of the Bible, they take the reader on an adventure full of brave knights, daring quests, and overwhelming love. This first book follows the story of Leinad, a farmer’s son who was trained in the sword for reasons he has yet to understand. But soon, whether he understands his place in a greater plan or not, Leinad is thrust into a great adventure. The kingdom of Arrethtrae is broken, but the King and His Son have a plan to save it- a plan that involves Leinad’s full trust and commitment. This story is full of inspiring characters, exciting action, and an adventure that will keep readers captivated. And most importantly, the entire story paints a picture of the true King and how He has worked in our own world to further His Kingdom. Honestly, I haven’t read it in ages, but just writing this makes me want to read it again!
I can’t resist a good fractured fairy tale… and this story fractured a whole bunch and then stuck them back together in creative and exciting ways. This book, and others by Alethea Kontis, was about the Woodcutter family, whose seven daughters are named after the days of the week. The first story is about Sunday Woodcutter, the youngest daughter who desperately wants a special kind of magic of her own so she can feel like a more important part of her extraordinary family. As in most fairy tales, wishes do come true… but Sunday’s wish goes far beyond what she expected or was prepared for. If you’re a fan of fairy tales, you’ll love finding bits and pieces of the classics throughout the story. Even if you’re not as familiar with fairy tales, Enchanted is still a fantastic adventure with plenty of magic, romance, and self-discovery to keep you turning the pages.
I read this book years ago and still remember it being amazing! The adventure takes place in the city of Jewel, a city governed by strict control and blind obedience. Each child is chained to their guardian, unable to really grow up or do anything on their own until Separation Day. When Separation Day is canceled, Goldie decides she can’t wait any longer to live her own life. Unfortunately, her boldness is despised by the Blessed Guardians. Their hatred and the danger of living on the streets drives Goldie to the Museum of Dunt, a place full of mystery and peculiarities. Along with Toadspit, a boy who lives in the museum, Goldie must unlock the secrets lying inside to protect herself and everyone she loves. Everything about this book is brilliant and original, from the relationships, to the character development, to the immersive setting. I loved getting lost inside the museum with Goldie, and the mysteries discovered throughout the story kept me intrigued. Every twist and turn of this book, and the other two books in the series, was so much fun to read.
There’s something so incredibly fun and rewarding about reading a book by someone you know, and this book was definitely not an exception to that. I’ve read Kaitlyn’s Dark Irregular trilogy, which was amazing, but this was just a whole other level! Kaitlyn’s characters are just so real and present and driving to the story. Neela is such a tough cookie and really the ideal protagonist. She’s driven, compassionate, and has a strong sense of right and wrong. All the other characters make a great cast, as well. The world-building is incredibly immersive, and the whole idea behind it is so unique. Between the characters and world-building, I was so engaged in this story from the moment I met Neela all the way through to the thrilling conclusion. This is a fantastic book for anyone looking for adventure, magic, and well-developed characters all brought together in a beautiful story.
I’ve seen the movie about a million times, and I love it so much, it seemed wrong to not read the book. Now, I’m going to be completely honest, even at the risk of being sacreligious in the book-loving community, and say that I like the movie better than the book. Still, I found the book charming, whimsical, and just really enjoyable. It definitely is a little less lighthearted than the movie, but there are still all the same elements of adventure, romance, and the little quirks that make it such a classic. The version I read was the abbreviated version of S. Morgenstern’s original story, so throughout the narrative, there were interjections of what was included in the original version along with some of the author’s thoughts. This is something I haven’t seen in any other book I’ve read, and it added an interesting element to the story. I’m still not sure how I feel about it. But overall, I enjoyed this book. It really is a classic, with so many interesting elements to it, and my favorite part was how it fleshed out the characters and their backstories more. It’s definitely a unique read, but there’s a certain sort of magic to it that makes it really special.
I’ve never read a Beauty and the Beast retelling that I didn’t enjoy, and this was definitely not an exception to that. But this one was certainly different. There were so many new and surprising elements that kept the story fresh. In this version, Beauty meets the Beast not as his prey, but as his hunter. She’s looking for revenge and isn’t going to let anything stand in her way. Of course, nothing is exactly how it seems. There’s more to the Beast’s story than she knows, and she found him for a reason beyond what she intended. Beauty finds herself digging deeper into the magic of the forest and who exactly the Beast is, despite her best efforts to convince herself she doesn’t care. This story has all the romance, magic, and adventure you’ll find in most fairy tales, along with much more mystery. Meagan Spooner weaves together intrigue and emotion into a beautiful story. I was hooked from almost the very beginning.
Alright… so this is technically three books and not just one, but it’s worthy of making an exception. For anyone who has seen the Lord of the Rings movies, I would highly suggest reading the books. And then find the extended version of the movies. In all honesty, the books can be a bit dense and slightly difficult to read at times because it is an older style of writing. However, the story is fantastic! This is a classic: forces of good and evil collide in an epic, multidimensional war to determine the fate of the world. Frodo Baggins, along with a fellowship of men, elves, dwarves, hobbits, and a wizard, must journey through the dangers of Middle Earth on a quest to destroy the One Ring of Power and stop the rise of the Dark Lord Sauron. It’s an incredible and inspiring story that will leave you craving an adventure of your own. And through all the twists and turns, ups and downs, victories and defeats… you just might discover the truth that “even the smallest person can change the course of the future.”
This book (and the entire series, really) is one of my favorite examples of excellent storytelling and adventure. The Rangers are an elusive and mysterious group of men. Will, now 15 years old, has been at least somewhat afraid of them his whole life… except he’s just been apprenticed to one. Will is about to learn that being a Ranger isn’t just about lurking mysteriously in the shadows, though. The Rangers are an elite group of fighters and scouts charged with protecting the kingdom. And now, more than ever, the kingdom is in need of the Rangers’ protection. Lord Morgarath, previously exiled to the Mountains of Rain and Night, is preparing for a massive account. Will soon finds himself plunged into a dangerous, high stakes adventure. Not only does his own life depend on mastering the skills of a Ranger, but the fate of the kingdom lies in the balance as well.
This book is a classic… and one of my absolute favorites! Narnia is a world that you will want to disappear into. The story follows four adventurous children as they step through a wardrobe and into a magical land that needs their help. Narnia has been trapped in never-ending winter by the White Witch, but the arrival of the children marks a change for the better. As the children fight to free Narnia, they meet many magical and lovable creatures. The most wondrous of these is the Great Lion, Aslan- a character too wonderful to describe. You’ll just have to meet him yourself. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is actually the second book in the Narnia series, but the first book isn’t needed to enjoy this story. However, while this book is a beautiful story in and of itself, you would be missing out if you didn’t read the rest of the books in the series. So I would encourage you to dive in and experience the magic of Narnia!
This story brings fairy tale characters into the modern world in a fun, charming, and, well, magical way! Sabrina and Daphne are two young girls who have been tossed around in the foster system since their parents mysteriously disappeared. But when they are sent to live with the grandmother they thought were dead, everything changes. Granny Relda shows the girls their family history- a history of fairy tale detectives that traces all the way back to the famous Grimm brothers. Sabrina and Daphne are quickly immersed in the family trade when a giant is set loose in the town. The two sisters have to work together to come to terms with their newfound family legacy and solve the mystery behind the giant before it’s too late. This book is an entertaining and heartwarming coming-of-age story, filled with adventure, mystery, and plenty of humor. And the best part is, it’s only the beginning of the story…
Sometimes finding a great story means digging through the books and finding one that might not be the prettiest. The copy of The Hobbit that I have on my shelf is old and worn and, if I’m being completely honest, kind of musty. But, as far as adventures go, this is one that will never get old. The story follows Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit who loves the comfort of his home. When the wizard Gandalf and a troop of dwarves show up at his door, he has little choice but to leave his comforts behind and join them in their quest. Together they journey to the Lonely Mountain, the ancient home of the dwarves, to reclaim their treasure from Smaug the Dragon. Their journey is perilous, exciting, and will stay with you long after you close the book. Just be careful… Middle Earth is a world you might not want to leave.
This book was one that I discovered from an incredibly talented, kind, and helpful person on Instagram. Kaitlyn Legaspi wrote this trilogy when she was in middle school, which is a huge accomplishment in and of itself, and only made more impressive since this book is so good. The story follows Kanna, an orphan who is much more than meets the eye, as she embarks on her journey to being a knight’s apprentice. But there is much more going on in the Kingdom of Sylenia. Dangerous shadows are plaguing the kingdom, and Kanna, along with her newfound friends, soon finds herself deeply involved in this fight. This book was such an enjoyable read, both because of the intriguing plot and the lovable characters. Kaitlyn makes the characters so real and relatable, and their conversations make you feel as if you are a part of the book. The book has a rich setting with a compelling backstory that pulls you in and makes you want to find out where the story is going next. Overall, this book was wonderful, and I’m looking forward to reading the next two in the series
Another creative take on fairy tales! And how could I resist a book called Frogkisser? I believe this was the first book I’ve read from Garth Nix, but I will have to find many more to read because this was brilliant. The story follow the adventures of Princess Anya, who sets out on a quest to change a frog back into a prince for her sister, but gets much more than she bargained for. Along the way, she meets a host of unforgettable characters- each with a valuable lesson to pass on. Princess Anya’s wit, determination, and courage make her an instantly likable character. Throughout her journey, she encounters characters and objects from classic fairy tales, but of course, they are far from the traditional versions. With memorable characters, plenty of twists and turns, and a delightfully unique plot, Frogkisser was a wonderful adventure from start to finish.
Although this is not a new book by any means, it’s still one of my favorites. Not only that, but it opens the door to multiple series worth of fantastic adventures! Rick Riordan reimagines Greek mythology and brings it to life in modern-day United States. The story follows Percy Jackson, a twelve-year-old demigod, and his two companions, a satyr and a demigod daughter of Athena. Together, they must embark on a quest to find and return Zeus’ master bolt before a war breaks out among the gods. Their quest is filled with danger and excitement, along with many characters and creatures from the Ancient Greek myths. Throughout the story, Rick Riordan provides a healthy dose of humor and many moments that make his story and characters unforgettable.
I decided to switch things up a little for this month’s pick. This book, while it does mention hobbits in the title, is not a fiction book. Instead, it takes the fantastic world of The Hobbit and pulls out all the valuable life lessons to be found in it. Through the adventure of Bilbo Baggins, the reader can learn a whole lot about selfishness, loyalty, and dedication. This book is, of course, not my usual escapist fantasy. But, it’s still an enjoyable read. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings were both meant to impart lessons to the reader, so it’s great to have some of those lessons explained and elaborated on in their own book. And, although nonfiction books usually bore me, there’s a certain charm about this one that kept me interested (perhaps it takes on some of the natural charm of hobbits). If you enjoy the world of Middle-earth or are a fan of Tolkien, this is great book for you to dive a little deeper into that.
I have to admit, this is not the kind of book I would ever pick up. It’s certainly a far way away from my usual fantasy genre. But, the author of the book, B.E. Ruffino, has become a good friend and a wonderful supporter of my writing and life in general. So, I read it. And let me tell you, it was good. When you read this book, you will feel every emotion and pain that the characters go through. The author makes the story so real that there’s really no other choice to be fully engaged. The story follows Adeline Gray, a 17 year old girl trying to make sense of her life. Soon after she begins attending group therapy sessions, she meets a host of intriguing characters, the most mysterious of which being the boy who killed his mother. As time goes on, Adeline’s life seems to become more and more complicated, until the answers she’s been searching for culminate in a realization that will leave the reader shocked. This book was written to hit straight to the heart. The author doesn’t shy away from topics like suicide and depression, which are so often avoided. It’s a beautiful book that you should probably read with a box of tissues, but I think the best part about it is that it represents another young author following her dreams and sharing her gift with the world.
I received this book as a present from a classmate way back in middle school. At first, I was hesitant because it wasn’t exactly in my usual genre. However, this book charmed me in the first few pages. The Penderwick sisters are four fun, unique, and lovable characters made for adventure. Each of their distinct personalities bring a special flair to the story, and their family bonds are especially touching. The story follows their summer adventures at the whimsical Arundel estate. Arundel is full of treasures, like the most delicious gingerbread, rabbits, and, best of all, Jeffrey Tifton. While Jeffrey is a wonderful addition to the girls’ adventures, his mother is another story entirely. Still, the new friends do their best to enjoy their summer fun while staying out of trouble, which is rather difficult for the bubbly quartet of sisters. This story is a refreshing, witty, and charming tale of adventure, growth, and love.
As I’ve mentioned before, I love a good fractured fairy tale. The Frog Princess is one of my favorites. I first discovered this book, and the rest of the series, in middle school and have read it many times since then. This story is a fresh take on the classic Frog Prince fairy tale. It centers around Princess Emma, who is far from being your classic graceful and dainty princess. She’s adventurous, determined, and curious… three traits that often get her into trouble. In this particular adventure, trouble comes in a new form when kissing an enchanted frog does not turn him back into a prince, but instead turns Emma into a frog! Together, the two humans-turned-frogs have to embark on a quest to return to their human forms and the life they left behind. This story is full of fun new takes on fairy tale tropes, as well as lovable characters and memorable adventures. The excitement doesn’t stop at just one book, but continues through the rest of the series as well!
It’s hard to go wrong with a book that has intrigue, suspense, and adventure all wrapped up in a spellbinding romance. The good news is, The Regency Spies of London by Melanie Dickerson doesn’t just stop at one book filled with that… there’s three! This first book starts the adventure by introducing Nicholas Langdon, a wealthy English officer, and Julia Grey, an intelligent and all-around remarkable young woman. Initially, the two attempt to keep their distance for propriety’s sake, but that becomes more and more difficult as the plot thickens. Langdon’s one mission on returning home was to deliver a journal at the request of a dying soldier. But then that journal is stolen… and all evidence points to Julia’s guardian. Julia can no longer avoid Langdon as she realizes their safety, as well as all of England, is jeopardized. This story takes you deep into a world of incredible characters, immersed in a tangled web of treason and deception.
Okay… so this book is about mice and other woodland creatures, but bear with me here. Redwall was one of my favorite books (and series) when I was younger. My mom would read it out loud to me and my brother before bed, and our dad would usually have to come in and tell us to go to bed because we could always push just one more chapter. And it has the best vocabulary! The descriptions and words used are so perfect and immersive. So yes, it’s about mice, but boy is it a good story. The inhabitants of Redwall Abbey must find a way to fortify themselves against Cluny the Scourge’s army of rats. Although the abbey-dwellers have always been peaceful, they can’t risk the forest being taken over by such a battle-seasoned, bloodthirsty group. With the sword of the legendary Martin the Warrior, they might have a chance, but the weapon hasn’t been seen in ages. But not everyone has given up on finding the sword, especially not the clumsy apprentice Matthias. This quest to save Redwall Abbey is filled with lovable characters, incredible adventures, and wonderful riddles. Let yourself get swept away by Redwall’s fantastic atmosphere!
I have to admit, I was a little skeptical about this book at first. Although I love almost all kinds of fairy tale retellings, I wasn’t sure how I would feel about a futuristic setting. Also, the cover had a robotic foot on it, and honestly that was kind of freaking me out. But once I started reading it, I was hooked. The plot is significantly more complex than your typical Cinderella story, but still with enough references to the original story to please any fairy tale lovers. The characters are the kind you can’t help but root for- strong, smart, sassy, and delightfully human. Cinder is a renowned cyborg mechanic, although the cyborg part is something she prefers to not talk about. She’s so renowned, in fact, that Prince Kai comes to her to fix his royal android. But there seems to be more to the situation than the prince is telling her. Little does she know, the prince’s visit is the first step in a perilous adventure that will plunge Cinder into a deadly dance between Earth and the mysterious and cold Lunar race watching them. Mystery, deception, a deadly illness, and the threat of war swirl around Cinder. Now she has to figure out why she matters in all of it… and who she really is.