Home sick with some kind of flu and thinking about my comfort reads…then realized that a lot of my favorite books aren’t exactly comforting. LOL I read a lot of dark and depressing stories. And when I was narrowing it down to 15 (I tried to do it with 10 but couldn’t take some of them away), I had an even tougher time with the books that were part of a series, narrowing it down. For those I went with the book that resonated with me the most, even if it wasn’t necessarily the strongest in the series. Forgive me for typos while I am sick.
What are some of your favorite books? Tell me in the comments 🙂
THE FORBIDDEN GAME by L.J. Smith – Technically this is three books in one volume. I always considered it one though, since I first read it in the omnibus edition. L.J. Smith is more well known for her Vampire Diaries and Secret Circle books, both of which were adapted for television on the CW. I first read this book in eleventh grade and it was the first book to ever make me cry. It also contains one of my favorite “bad-boy” characters, Julian, who is a Shadow Man from the Shadow World (which is understood to be some version of Niflheim from Norse mythology). It’s a YA series about a girl who is throwing a birthday party for her boyfriend, and due to the weather, the pool party plans were out of the question. She goes out to buy a board game and ends up with a mysterious blank box with an even more mysterious game inside. Each of the three books involves a different game, but as far as what to expect going in, Julian says it best: “Mystery. Danger. Seduction. Fear. Secrets revealed. Desires unveiled. Temptation.”
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA by Gaston Leroux – I hadn’t really been exposed to this story until the 2005 film came out and I instantly fell in love. Love triangles where the man you root for is a bit murderous and definitely not a hero? *points to The Forbidden Game* This book was so outlandish but tragic despite the creepy age gap. If anyone calls Erik a monster or PotO a monster story, I’ll fight you. lol
PHANTOM by Susan Kay – Without Leroux’s version, this one wouldn’t exist. This book is a retelling of The Phantom of the Opera, merging Leroux’s novel with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical. It tells the story of Erik from birth to death, and if you do not cry multiple times reading this book YOU DO NOT HAVE A SOUL. It’s true.
ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND by Lewis Carroll – of the stories that defined my childhood. Though Through the Looking Glass goes hand in hand with this one, the first story is the one most well known and enjoyed. Film versions tend to combine the two. At some point in high school I started collecting Cheshire Cats and other Wonderland inspired items. Still do. 😉
LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding – Easily one of the more shocking books I read in high school as part of the curriculum. It was also one of the ones that stuck with me and resonates as a reader and as a writer.
HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN by J.K. Rowling – My favorite entry into the Harry Potter series, Prison of Azkaban has a mystery surrounding the grimm, the tension of an escaped felon, and interesting backstory and foreshadowing given through both the Marauder’s Map and the four students who created it, the shrieking shack, and even the whomping willow. The film version didn’t quite live up to the book, but it did give us Gary Oldman as Sirus Black. ❤
FAEFEVER by Karen Marie Moning – Though this was the middle entry of the original 5 Fever series books, and thus is more of a transition than a stand alone novel that wasn’t read as part of a set, this book had so much in way of answering questions foreshadowed from the first 2 in the series. We saw the Sinsar Dubh for the first time, the creation of the Mac Halo, and the walls dropping between our world and the Fae world. The ending had a horrific sequence, but it also saw the last of happy, pink Mac that the series provided for a good while. This series also brings me a lot of joy in that, through the author’s former web forum (in a time before facebook was so popular) I met a lot of friends that I talk to more often than people I’ve known all my life.
THE ODYSSEY by Homer – This probably isn’t too shocking since I have a series rooted in Greek mythology. I’d always been fascinated by mythology, having been a kid in the 90s during the run Hercules and Xena television shows. When we were first assigned The Odyssey in high school, everyone moaned and groaned. But I actually loved it. (Same thing happened with Beowulf. I’m such a nerd).
LOVER AWAKENED by J.R. Ward – Arguably the best book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, this one follows a vampire named Zsadist who was rescued from blood slavery by his twin brother, who lost part of his leg during the rescue. They both fall in love with the same woman, one feeling unworthy of love and the other guilty for having the feelings at all. Bella is probably one of the strongest written females in this series, which has a slight issue with having stronger male characterization throughout, but in the end this book definitely shines the brightest in a gritty series about Vampires in a war with the Lessening Society.
THE VAMPIRE LESTAT by Anne Rice – Say what you will about Tom Cruise. His portrayal of Lestat remains his strongest performance, and the driving force behind my picking up an Anne Rice book. This book is best enjoyed when read with The Queen of the Damned directly afterward, as The Vampire Lestat is telling his history leading into the present which spills over into the next book.
NIGHT PLEASURES by Sherrilyn Kenyon – It’s so hard to pick a favorite Dark Hunter book. If going by character, Acheron would have been the book I chose, but in the end, Night Pleasures starts off the series with a bang and is a lot more fun to read. Acheron’s a bit depressing for the first half, but is still a fantastic book. This is one of the first Paranormal Romance series I ever read, and while I am a few books behind, I am still enjoying it to this day.
DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon – This continues to be my favorite book in the Outlander series. Don’t get me wrong, the first book is wonderful, and I preferred the Scottish setting, but Jamie and Claire finally settle on a home here. It also brings Bree and Roger into the past and brings their family together. I always get side eye when I admit it, but Stephen Bonnet was my favorite Outlander villain. He’s despicable, I won’t argue about that, but there’s a bit more character depth and he comes out more three dimensional than Jack Randall. If you want a study in author growth, Diana Gabaldon’s handling of these two villains is a good place to start. I’m looking forward to season 4 of the show in the fall.
JURASSIC PARK by Michael Crichton – The film was a staple of my childhood, and I didn’t read the book until High School. I think I might have hated the movie if I read the book first because it’s soooo good, but has quite a few changes.
RANSOM by Julie Garwood – When it comes to historical romance, Julie Garwood is often quoted as a favorite. Ransom stood out to me for having 2 HEAs, and not just side characters as the additional one which is common, but 2 actual H/h pairings. It was a bit predictable, but I loved the characters and it’s a comfort read I never get tired of.
POISON PRINCESS by Kresley Cole – Lord knows, I love some Kresley Cole. This is one of the few authors I read immediately upon new release since I don’t get a lot of time to read anymore. It was an interesting concept: the major arcana cards of a tarot deck represent people. Every so often there is an event to make the world into a playing field and the last one standing wins. It’s like Hunger Games meets X-Men with a dash of Walking Dead. You see the main character before the world ends, as she’s coming into her powers, and then you see the aftermath. One of the things I loved about this book is that it shows the before, during, and then after rather than immediately beginning in the after and either not being told what happened to the world or only vague hints or flashbacks. Like most YA series, this one features a love triangle, but unlike most…I actually like both the guys and don’t want her to have to choose! lol