I thought I’d do something fun today! I was thinking about books that have inspired me as a reader, and then, as a writer over the years. Picking out my favourite top ten – in no particular order – was rather difficult, because there are so many great books out there. So in making this decision, I went with the ones that I have a particular soft spot for!
1. The Obernewtyn Chronicles, by Isobelle Carmody.
Book 1 of the Series, Obernewtyn, was a class reader I received in secondary college, chosen by my favourite teacher. Obernewtyn was the first fantasy book that started my love affair with this genre! The series is set in a post-apocalyptic world - cruel to people with obvious physical defects as well as people labelled with mind-defects. The series focuses on this group of people, in particular the narrator of the story, Elspeth Gordie, who has special mental abilities and is called a Misfit. The Misfits range of abilities are vast and amazing, with gifts like telepathy (called farseeking), communicating with animals, healers, future-tellers and people with the ability to sense the emotions of others. Full of intrigue and adventure, I’ve been waiting nearly 20 years for the 7th and final book in the series to come out. The Red Queen should be released late 2013.
2. The Sevenwaters Series, by Juliet Marillier.
Perhaps one of my favourite series of all time, Juliet Marillier is a master story-teller with a gift for writing in the first person. Her Sevenwaters Series is set in Ancient Ireland and the first book, Daughter of the Forest, sets the scene for mythology, adventure and romance. Her books are generational and written from the view of different women in the family. Each book reveals the trials and strengths the focus character must rely on to overcome dilemmas for their loved ones and themselves. The narrative is beautifully wrought and told.
3. The Immortals Series, by Tamora Pierce.
This is another Series from my teen years, but I still love to read over them as an adult - from time to time. Tamora Pierce’s books are always full of fun and are fast paced, as well as having enough romance in them to keep a teen girl interested! Her main character, Daine, is headstrong, brave and has a great knack to shape shift and call on Wild Magic, which is sometimes a little unpredictable. Her mentor Numair, would no doubt still be a favourite of the girls! Always great fun to read.
4. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
What can I say about a classic? Unlike a lot of people who might have loved Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, I preferred the characters of Jane Eyre and Mr Rochester (sigh…) I suppose in many ways it had all the right ingredients for a soapie – a man who locks his mad wife in the attack, falls for his young ward’s governess, who in turn discovers the truth at the wedding altar and flees! (phew!) Most people probably know the ending, but I’ll leave it open! Brilliant stuff!
5. The Green Mile, by Stephen King.
It was my granddad who gave me this book to read only a couple of years ago and not before his death, so maybe that’s why this has some significance for me! I had of course watched the movie and loved it, but had never read a Stephen King book, so when I sat down to read it, I was hooked. The narrative is strong and the story so intriguing I could not put it down. Must say, I think they did the book justice with the movie and you can’t always say that!
6. The Quickening Trilogy, by Fiona McIntosh
This series has a rather unique idea in the story, which really appealed to me when I first read it. (And which I don’t want to give away!) It has everything a good fantasy book should have - politics, intrigue, adventure, romance and of course, magic! Her ability to weave all these elements into her work, make her books very difficult to put down, especially when you have other things to do!
7. The Tamir Triad, by Lynn Flewelling
It wasn’t me, but my mum who first picked up The Bone Dolls Twin and suggested I read it. I wasn’t overly bothered, but when I read the first page, I never put it down until I finished it, which was the next morning! Of all the gender-bending and mind boggling ways to keep a future ruler safe - The Bone Dolls Twin and its subsequent books, The Hidden Warrior and Oracle’s Queen - have it in spades! It also has a lot of traditional fantasy aspects, magic and political intrigue, but at its heart, it is about one very confused child attempting to discover who they really are…
8. The Dovekeepers, by Alice Hoffman.
Alice Hoffman’s, The Dovekeepers, is a fairly recent book on the market. It came out last year, or if I’m wrong, I read it last year. It is set during the Jewish-Roman wars in Ancient Israel, and follows the lives and points-of-view of four very different women, brought together in Masada during these difficulties. It’s a story that I’ve thought about several times since I’ve read it. It is potent and engaging stuff.
The Black Magician Trilogy, by Trudi Canavan
Trudi Canavan introduces us to her character, Sonea, whose world is turned upside-down after the Magician’s Guild attend their yearly purge of the city’s ‘miscreants and homeless’. It’s during this she discovers powers of her own and a game of cat and mouse ensues as the Magicians pursue her (of course catching her so they can train her – but that in itself poses its own problems!) A great debut back in 2001, the series had anti-hero’s, tonnes of magic, adventure and bad guys. Oh and a sprinkling of romance for the girls…
The Devil’s Diadem, by Sara Douglass.
I must admit that I am a Sara Douglass fan and was sad to hear she passed away in September 2011. The Devil’s Diadem was her final book and I think one of her best. She had a way of using the medieval time period and made her own world out of it. There’s plenty in this book – a devil-spawned plague, a lot of twists and intrigues (not only in the court, but in her MC’s love life as well). And the Devil is looking for his stolen crown… I read this in one sitting, but then, I pretty much read all of her books in one or two sittings!