Behind every writer is a collection of books they enjoy reading. I joked recently with another author that I need to quit reading so much because it was cutting into my writing time. “No!” she exclaimed. “Don’t stop!” If you stop reading your imagination could stop too. Not only that it is a great way to support your favorite authors as well. So this page will consist of books (in no particular order!) that I would like to share with you that you might enjoy as well.
“The Castle in the Attic” and “The Battle for the Castle”
by Elizabeth Winthrop
“William’s head was whirling. Maybe he should have thought harder about this plan. But there was no time. She was leaving tomorrow. At last, he had what he had wanted all along, the power to keep her with him. he must not let anything change that. “I’ll convince her,” William said firmly. “But I want you to come too. I have a special belt pack I use for long bicycle trips. I can carry you downstairs in that. Be ready for me tomorrow afternoon. She’s planning to take the four-thirty bus.” ~The Castle in the Attic, chapter 7
I firmly believe that this small series is what got me into historical novels as a kid. The Castle in the Attic is not quite a “coming of age” story but follow a boy named William as he discovers a magical world in his own attic. He doesn’t have much confidence and as his life changes he finds a dollhouse-like castle that transports him to another time. In no time at all he is thrust into a medieval way of life and the magic that comes with it. The Battle for the Castle is a continuation of the original but with a different problem to be solved.
The THORNBECK/A Medieval Fairy Tale series
by Melanie Dickerson
“A chill passed over Gabe’s shoulders and he shuddered. What if it were true? A beautiful girl, born to be a duchess but being used as a scullery maid, tormented by her own stepmother. How would he feel if such a thing happened to one of his sisters? His chest tightened at the cruel injustice. He couldn’t stop staring at the old woman’s body, trying to divine truth from her features. But what reason did she have to lie? Someone had to at least investigate the old woman’s claims and attempt to help this Sophie.” ~The Fairest Beauty, chapter 2
You could say that I am slightly obsessed with Melanie Dickerson and you would be right. I have always loved fairy tale retellings and her series is no exception. She intertwines German history, language and names into each one of her novels in this series. When I was eight years old my family spent several weeks in Germany while Dad was stationed there with the United States Air Force. So when I read German in the first book it made my inner child happy. It was one of her latest books that made me realize just how much I wanted to write my own historical novel. Of course mine is closer to home in Pennsylvania than rooted in the German borders, but the inspiration is there nonetheless.
The City of Ember series
by Jeanne DuPrau
“In the city of Ember, the sky was always dark. The only light came from great flood lamps mounted on the buildings and at the tops of poles in the middle of the larger squares. when the lights were on, they cast a yellowish glow over the streets; people walking by threw long shadows that shortened and then stretched out again. When the lights were off, as they were between nine at night and six in the morning, the city was so dark that people might as well have been wearing blindfolds.” ~The City of Ember, paragraph 1
I can honestly say that I cannot remember when I first began enjoying these books but you can tell they are well loved by the crinkles in their bindings. The series begins with The City of Ember and, though represented incorrectly in my above picture, ends with The Diamond of Darkhold. While reviews are mixed about this series I thoroughly enjoyed them. The story follows Lina and Doon who have to solve a riddle left 200 years earlier to save their people. Something drastic happened back then, and something drastic has to happen once again. These stories are centered around the theme of human survival ~ of perseverance, friendship and mystery. If you are looking for a great post-apocalyptic series to introduce to a young adult just getting into the love of reading, I would include these on their bookshelf!
To learn more about Jeanne DuPrau, visit the links below!
Inkheart, Inkspell and Inkdeath
by Cornelia Funke
“At first, all seemed still outside except for the rain falling, murmuring as if the night had found its voice. but then footsteps approached the house, and the man emerged from the darkness of the yard, his long coat so wet with rain that it clung to his legs. For a split second, as the stranger stepped into the light spilling out of the house, Meggie thought she saw a small furry head over his shoulder, sniffling as it looked out of his backpack and then quickly disappeared back into it.”
~Inkheart, chapter 1
I wore out my first copy of Inkheart in college, then I told a classmate about the series and so did she. If my memory serves me correctly, this is another novel find that my Uncle Bob brought over from after one of his many Europe trips. He had drawn my name for our Hartman Family Christmas Grab Bag and picked it up for me. Years later, after college, I introduced the series to my ten-year-old (now 13ish) cousin and she fell in love with it as well. Ms Funke was even kind enough to sign a copy of Inkdeath for Maddie’s birthday! She is a super sweet author who is quite interactive on social media. This series crosses reality with “storyland” in a new way that immediately had me hooked. The first book, Inkheart, was even made into a film in 2008 with Brendan Fraser!
The Princess of the Midnight Ball series
by Jessica Day George
“It was all too uncomfortable for words, and Christian counted himself lucky to have found so many friends so quickly in Breton. He was always welcome at the Thwaites or Seadowns, and other invitations came often. Of course, the latter came from the households with eligible young ladies, but anything was better than the palace. It was quite easy to ply Roger for information about the Westfalian princesses over tea. Although not someone who enjoyed gossiping, Roger clearly believed this to be more a matter of sharing possibly vital knowledge. Most of what he knew was hardly a secret, however. The princesses had worn out their dancing shoes in some mysterious fashion nearly every night, and the princes who tried to uncover their secret died afterward, but never on Westfalian soil. ~Princess of Glass
Should it surprise you at all by now that this is yet another magical series? I don’t even remember how I came across this series – by way of a late night Amazon splurge or second-hand bookstore – but I loved the first book and wondered if there was more. Unfortunately there are only three books, but there ARE many sisters, so hopefully Ms. George will explore all their stories! Many princes have tried – and failed – to break the spell. But then Rose meets Galen, a young soldier-turned-gardener with an eye for adventure. Together they begin to unravel the mystery. To banish the curse, they’ll need an invisibility cloak, enchanted silver knitting needles and, of course, true love. See what I mean? No surprise in my attachment to ballgowns and magic, and this series has it in spades. I cannot wait to find more from Jessica Day George…but not until after I read the twenty other books I haven’t had time to open yet!