Thursday, February 6, 2014

Emily Recommends Books

So I went through my reading list from 2013 and picked out my favorites to share with you. All of these are quite highly recommended, some quick and easy reads, some more heady and though-provoking. Hope you'll take some of my suggestions. :)

  1. The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielson
The second book in the Ascendance Trilogy, Jennifer Nielson's sequel reads just as well without previous knowledge of its predecessor (which I have not read). Though relatively unknown and more of a juvenile fantasy, it is engaging and entertaining, with lots of laughs and some fun mystery. In it, a young king named Jaron is surrounded by war and schemes and is threatened by ruffian pirates and the neighbouring country of Avenia, he disguises himself to enter the pirate's stronghold. Jaron is an interesting main character and one that will surely make you smile with his quick wit and pessimist attitude. Moving along at a quick pace, the book begins in the middle of the action and doesn't let up much throughout the whole read. It is relatively small, about 330 pages, and I read most of it in one sitting. I recommend it for younger lovers of fantasy or those of you who are older but love a fun story anyway.
  1. The Royal Diaries: Nzingha
I have loved The Royal Diaries books since I was eight or nine years old, historical fiction has always appealed to me. The Royal Diaries are quick, simple reads that bring you right into the heart of a princess, queen or duchess of times past. I always enjoy learning about such people and Nzingha was no different. Although much too short for my taste, it is to be expected, since much of this amazing women's story is unknown or legend, she is difficult to write about. Hers was a good story, and for anyone who likes learning about people of the past, Nzingha: Warrior Queen of Matamba, would be a quick and fun choice.
  1. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
I watched the movie soon after its DVD release and loved it. The story was genuine and warm and funny but there was also something heartbreaking about it that had me in tears more than once. The book is absolutely the same. The movie is a very faithful and well done adaption but, as always, the book is better. By the final pages, I was drowning in tears. All the POV characters (Skeeter, Abileen and Minnie) are likeable and readable and the book, while thick, is simple and smooth. There were two parts that were not exactly wholesome, both taking place with Minnie and Celia Foote. There is some language and sexual content but overall, it is a hard-hitting and impulsively readable story. I recommend it for absolutely everyone, at least fourteen years old.
  1. The Mark of the Lion trilogy by Francine Rivers
I love Francine Rivers, she is amazing at capturing the historical aura of her stories and she always chooses such great settings and characters. The Mark of the Lion was no different. One of her best literary acheivements by far, it is a trilogy of epic scope, the story of a Jewish slave girl in ancient Rome who touched the lives of all around her and started chain reactions spawning generations. I could go on and on about this book, such as Marcus and Julia and their brother/sister bond, Hadassah's loyalty to her mistress, Hadassah/Marcus (I hate being the only shipper in the fandom, the fandom that, to the best of my knowledge, has only me and my mom), Atretes/Rizpah. Everything about it speaks with a raw truth and power. It has earned a high place on my shelf. Recommended for Christians, historical fiction buffs.
  1. The Book Thief
Easily one of the most life-changing books I read this year. It was truly classic even though it wasn't a very old story. It is a young adult novel, but has a mature yet child-like feel to it. It centers on the life of a girl called Liesel and is set in Nazi Germany. It is narrated through the eyes of Death, who was at his busiest during the War. The unique perspective intrigued me at first and then I started to enjoy the dry sense of humor the personified character has. There was a lot of heavy, completely un-vague foreshadowing, especially about the deaths of certain characters, but that never took away from the heaviness of the losses when the time came. I still bawled like a big baby when the book reached its final chapter. Minor complaints include the extraordinary amount of curse words that spout from the mouth of Liesel's adopted mother and both Liesel and her best friend Rudy Steiner's. A fantastic read and I recommend this book for absolutely everyone and anyone. GO READ IT NOW AND DON'T STOP TIL YOUR DONE!
  1. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King by JRR Tolkien
It's hard to be objective when discussing my favorite book of my favorite trilogy, but honestly, if you haven't read these books yet, then stop everything, get yourself a copy and DO IT! Once again, I cried at the end, and once again, my heart broke and soared and strained along with the characters. I recommend this book to any and everyone, even if fantasy isn't your thing, even if you don't like reading, even if you have a small vocabulary, this is the one book (besides the Bible) that everyone needs to read.
  1. Atonement Child by Francine River
Another great story by Francine Rivers, the struggle of a young woman, Dinah, who is becomes pregnant from rape and loses everything as she decides whether to terminate the pregnancy, or carry her child to the end. Definitely worth a read, it has a strong pro-life message and makes you think twice about abortion. No matter if you're pro-life or pro-choice, everyone should read and be challenged.
  1. Maid Marian by Elsa Watson
A nice, easy-paced book focusing on the trials of Maid Marian Fitzwater, an orphan and heiress who has her estate taken away from her and must fight to get it back with the help of everyone's favorite outlaw, Robin Hood. Other people have not liked this book, finding the long dialogue and slow-pace boring. But I found the story quite interesting, and I do loved reading historical fictions, especially that which is based on my favorite characters. The romance between Marian and Robin is sweet, yet peppered with arguments and the typical behavior of a young boy and girl trying to prove themselves to the other. I found it funny, and intriguing and a decent read. I recommend to those who are interested in Robin Hood's tales, or historical fiction in general.
  1. Allegiant by Veronica Roth
I waited quite a while for this book and found myself less than fulfilled by the end. To me, it echoed the sorrow and hopelessness of the final Hunger Games book, Mockingjay, and the dreariness of the dystopian world definitely got into me as well. However, I think it was a fitting and powerful ending to a great series and I look forward to more stories from Veronica Roth in the future. I wish I could say more, but if I talk too much, I will spoil it all for you.
  1. Fuse of Armageddon by Sigmund Brouwer
Sigmund Brouwer is one of my favorite authors and this book is just as thrilling as his others. It is, at it's core, a clash between three of the world's biggest religions (Christianity, Islam and Judaism) and how religion can so easily become something dangerous and dark, when it is not war we need, but peace and solutions. A good book that makes you think, recommended for all.
  1. Walking with Bilbo by Sarah Arthur
I love Sarah Arthur's devotionals, and Walking with Bilbo provided some powerful insight into the spiritual core of The Hobbit. Much like her other titles 'Walking with Frodo' and 'Walking through the Wardrobe', 'Walking with Bilbo' is inspiring and informative. I learned alot and I'm sure you will too. Check it out, and check out her others.
  1. The Last Sin Eater by Francine Rivers
This has to be one of my favorite Francine Rivers novels, I loved the historical setting and the main character, the story and plot were great. It was very thought-provoking and inspiring. Francine Rivers has once again spun a magnificent tale and it is worth a read. Good for those who like historical fiction or Christian fiction.
  1. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
Another one of Francine River's best, and one of the very, very few romance novels I've read and loved. The characters are frustratingly compelling and very strong and cleverly written. It is a parody of the book of Hosea in Scripture, where the prophet Hosea is told to marry the harlot Gomer by God, to parellel the unfaithfulness of Israel at that time. Very beautiful book, highly recommended.
  1. Blink by Ted Dekker

Ted Dekker is another great author, his novels are full of suspense and thrills, and he keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole ride. Blink was just such a book, and one of my favorites from him. Free of his often creepy and horror filled plots, it is the story of a Saudi Arabian princess escaping an arranged marriage and the young American man who helps her and is suddenly gifted with the ability to see the future as they are chased across America by the authorities, and the hunters after the princess. A good, fast-paced thriller with lots of action and lots of thought. Recommended for those who like alot of action and a quick pace.

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