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In Which I Require Your Best

I've been coasting lately. Reading steadily to be sure, but not falling very hard. I've got a host of options at my fingertips, but . . . well, you know. None of them calling my name as of yet. The urge to reread is strong, but I really would like to find something new. Something I'll fall for so hard I'll want to take it home with me and make it breakfast in the morning.

So I'm asking for your very best. These recommendations, they need to be amazing. As in you needed to own them amazing. You know without a doubt you'll be rereading them amazing. The writing and the characters had you at their MERCY amazing. So on this late Sunday afternoon, could you possibly trouble yourselves to sift through your beloved bookshelves and throw me a rope?

I'd be ever so grateful.


  1. Hmm...Tana French has this effect on me. As did The Passage and the sequel that I'm reading now, The Twelve (out on 10/16, but it seems like there's been quite a few copies up for grabs). Good luck!

    By the way, I sent you an email. I hope it doesn't go to spam!

  2. Have you ever read The King Must Die, by Mary Renault? If not, DO!

  3. *cracks knuckles* I love making recs! Not sure what you're in the mood for, so I'll go for a variety...

    The Name of the Wind by Patrick haven't read that, have you? Doesn't get any better than this if you're in a fantasy mood. My favorite book of all time.

    Have you read Jennifer Donnelly? She does historicals...a really lovely YA - A Northern Light, and an awesome adult trilogy, starting with Tea Rose, that is much more epic in scope. Her writing is absolutely GORGEOUS.

    I recently discovered a new UF series that I am really loving - the Arcadia Bell books by Jenn Bennett, starting with Kindling the Moon.

    And, if you're in a contemporary romance mood, the Bride Quartet, starting with Vision in White, by Nora Roberts has fabulous characterization.

  4. Oh! I thoroughly second Allison's suggestion of The Name of the Wind--also one of my all-time favorites. Another favorite if you're in the mood for slightly quirky is Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. And then there's my beloved sci-fi/time travel/historical fiction duology Black Out/All Clear by Connie Willis.

    Good luck, Angie!

  5. I'd recommend The Naming (or The Gift outside the US) by Alison Croggon. I loved this book to bits. It's a young adult fantasy with a very strong female lead. I believe it was originally published in Australia as adult fantasy, so it straddles both worlds well.

  6. Did you see my post this past week about The Forsyte Saga? I think you just might like that one a lot. I second (third?)The Name of the Wind and sequel... have you not read these yet? You will LOVE Kvothe. I also felt an amazing connection (as you describe above) with Brandon Sanderson's The Way of Kings. Hmmm....if I think of more I'll let you know! Good luck. I'll be interested to see what you choose. :)

    1. LOVED Way of Kings too! What world building! Is there no stopping this guy?

  7. I read The Name of the Wind on both Allison and Heidi's recs, along with a few other GENIUSES, and it really, truly was OUTSTANDING. I listened to the audiobook, and it was incredible. One of my own recent favorite favorites is Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson. So beautiful and sad, if you're in the mood for a little emo business. I hope you break your slump with something wonderful!!

  8. Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. I have no idea if you've read this middle grade novel, but I pretty much have 100% overlap with your book opinions and likes and dislikes, and this was one of my fav novels of last year.

  9. Lizzy9:43 PM

    Angie, I'm so nervous to give recommendations to you! I would be crushed if it turned out you didn't love one of my favorite books. On the other hand, I just can't resist...

    I've mentioned Ella Enchanted here before. It's a childhood favorite. I've read it so many times that I don't even read it anymore--it's more like inhaling it now. The writing is not the beautiful, lyrical prose that you love so much, like Robin McKinley or Juliet Marillier. It's a bit more sparse compared to those authors, but I still find it wonderful and excellent, and it works well with Ella's personality and sense of humor. A very special book.

    Green Rider by Kristen Britain is a high fantasy with a YAish feel to it. I'm really picky about my high fantasy. Either it's really great, or just plain ghastly, and I'm happy to say Green Rider falls into the former category. I loved it so much I forced four of my friends and two of my sisters to read it, and everyone fell in love, save one sister. Not too bad. The sequel, First Rider's Call, is also something special. These books do contain a few classic cliches, but the cast of characters makes up for it. I know you love strong, fully realized characters, and I think you'll definitely find them here. I know I did, and the characters are the best part of the book.

    I was going to finish with The Sherwood Ring by Marie Elizabeth Pope, but I searched your blog and saw you had already read it. Curses! So I'll end here.

  10. You should go through the Pimp This Book link for BBAW.

  11. Whoa, this is a hard one. I have to say that I recently finished Harriet Evans novel The Love of Her Life. Now, I could reread Hopeless Romantic over and over again, but ended up not liking her first novel, Going Home, very much. However, I couldn't put The Love of Her Life down. It's not what you think at all, and the slow start is answered by some shocking events midway through the novel that had me flipping back to the beginning to read again. I really think you would like it. It's not exactly chick lit (more serious than that, in my opinion), but not exactly romance (maybe more realistic that one would expect). I give The Love of Her Life a high thumbs up. It is one that will have you thinking about it for quite some time and running to find someone else who has read it so you can chat. I actually pushed it on a coworker so we could chat about it. Besides, the cover is so pretty and the characters so easy to attach to!

  12. Tanuja Desai Hidier's BORN CONFUSED is an old favorite of mine and not one I'v seen reviewed by many bloggers. It's YA, a stand-alone and well-written. I think you'd enjoy it! The only issue some people have with it is that the dialogue isn't written with quotation marks, it uses dashes. But you get used to that pretty fast.

  13. Wool Omnibus by Hugh Howey. 5 books in one. Hands down, the best sci-fi series since Ender's Game. (I also loved the first book in his YA Molly Fyde series).
    The Raging Quiet by Sherryl Jordan. Tender and poignant.
    The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery is a treasure.
    Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt rises to the top of the pile of unusual and purchase-worthy reads.
    But, my 2 favorite books this year were The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey and Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta.
    (and you can't go wrong with Name of the Wind...awesome story-telling).

  14. I don't have any recs for you, but I hope you find something soon! I completely relate.

  15. Hmmm well I just got really into the Spiritwalker series by Kate Elliott. Cold Magic and Cold Fire. It took me a little while to get into them because the worldbuilding was quite rich and complex and I couldn't take it all in but once I was hooked, I was hooked. I finished the first book and went to my bookstore the next day to buy the second one - I didn't even want to wait to order it cheaper online. I needed it lol. So if you like Historical Fantasy you could give those a try :)

  16. Anonymous6:15 AM

    Have you read Tinker by Wen Spencer? I did a quick search of your reviews and couldn't find it. I adore this fantasy series. It's so much fun. I was going to recommend the Cast novels by Michelle Sagara, another of my beloved series but I see you've read the first book. And here's another recommendation for The Name of The Wind. Brilliant :)

  17. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell - I absolutely fell in love with it, could not put it down and have already re-read it. I'm not sure if it is for everyone, but it just got me and is lodged in my soul now, along with my other favourites I'm not sure if it is out in the US yet, but it's definitely worth a try.

    I also just read Code Name Verity which was amazingly good.

    Hope you find something.

  18. Anonymous10:37 AM

    You should try The Chaos Walking Series by Patrick Ness. One of the most compelling pieces of dystopia I have read in awhile. I love the main characters Todd and Viola.

  19. Have you ever read Ronia, the Robber's Daughter by Astrid Lindgren? It's a children's book, and I've loved it ever since I read it as a child. There is something magical about the forest Ronia grows up in and I think it has a fantastic message about love and friendship.

  20. Have you read Gone Girl? If not, snap that up. It was very twisted. Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple was hilarious and unputdownable.

  21. I just came to echo the recs for THE NAME OF THE WIND. I've read it twice and loved it hardcore each time. It's great in print or audio.


    And to push for The Aviary by Katherine O'Dell. That book is utterly gorgeous.

  22. If you liked The Secret Garden as a kid, Ellen Potter's The Humming Room is great. For something lighter, I loved The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty. And it's weird, but The Rook by Daniel O'Malley is a read from this year that keeps coming back to me. I wish he would write something else.

  23. Anonymous3:35 PM

    I wish I could help you, Angie, but I've had a really tough time focusing on anything. I haven't even read Endgame or Gunmetal Magic. Distracted by the new apartment, etc. But someone above recommended Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt and I'd definitely second that. I remember loving it when I read it. And I know I've recommended Immortal Beloved by Cate Tiernan to you more than once (and I hope you haven't tried it and hated it!), but I loved it when I read it. Have you read Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey? I'd recommend that beauty, too.


  24. The book I read and pimp to all my friends is Small Damages by Beth Kephart, it released back in July and was the first I had read by the author. What I loved about it is the writing is gorgeous, and even though the story is a quiet one, it packs a powerful punch. There are two love stories woven into the book (not a love triangle, two separate romances) and they are subtle and breathtaking. They remind me of the love story between Sean and Puck in The Scorpio Races. And the author is one of the kindest most approachable people I've had the pleasure to chat with. It's a quick read but absorbing, give it a try:)

  25. *taking notes*

    I feel as though I've been in book-pushing mode all week - so what's one more?

    Andrea K Höst's Touchstone trilogy if you're in the mood for YA science fiction/fantasy (slightly debatable genre classification) or maybe her Medair trilogy if you're going for straight fantasy (it was nominated for the Australian Aurealis award, IIRC).

  26. I agree with SO. MANY. of the other recs!

    The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker is one of my favorite 2012 releases. It's absolutely GORGEOUS and it's something I push on everyone. I've had multiple people read my copy and they've all loved it.

    The House of Velvet and Glass by Katherine Howe is another top 2012 pick. Again, beautiful writing, fantastic characters, and an awesome plot (it takes place shortly after the sinking of the Titanic and the main character lost her mother and sister. She seeks out a medium in the hopes of communicating with them again)

    Last year I randomly picked up a book at work and it was such a fantastic book (& perfect for this time of year!): Raising Stony Mayhall by Daryl Gregory. It's a zombie story, but it's so much more than that! Stony isn't a typical zombie - his 'family' found him as a baby and took him in.

    I'm probably the last person on earth to have read it, but The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly is incredible and wonderful and made me feel ALL THE FEELINGS.

    My last rec is YA: The Hunchback Assignments by Arthur Slade. That's the first in the series and it's great. A young Quasimodo, Victorian London, and a secret network of spies. Need I say more?

  27. I feel your pain Angie! I've been done a bit of rereading myself cause I just can't find THAT book either. That said, I do 2nd, 3rd and 4th the recommendations to read THE NAME OF THE WIND and at least the first book in the chaos walking series, THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO. Both killed it for me.

    Also CODE NAME VERITY. British Spies during WWII, friendship, truth, lies. It's got it all. Just grab some tissues first. Seriously one of my top pics from this year already. Oooh! And ELANTRIS by Brandon Sanderson. I just picked up some of his stuff and this one is my favorite of the series so far. Lots of politics and underhanded dealings, villains, and one very lovely romance. Hope this helps a bit.

    And btw -- if you do find THAT book, please remember to share it's loveliness with the rest of us :) What am I saying, of course you will!

  28. My gut reaction is to recommend Gary Schmidt's THE WEDNESDAY WARS and OKAY FOR NOW. I wouldn't be surprised if you'd already read them. I know that you really liked Elizabeth Bunce's A CURSE AS DARK AS GOLD, so if you are in the mood for some really good fantasy, I'd recommend STAR CROSSED and its sequel LIAR'S MOON. I think they are even better than her first book. Want something lighter? I love Jasper Fforde and his THURSDAY NEXT books.

  29. Finding those special, memorable books can be so difficult! Here's a few of mine:

    Transformation by Carol Berg - LOVED the characters and couldn't put it down. It is the first book in a fantasy trilogy but it stands alone really well.

    Cold Fire by Kate Elliott - This is actually the second book after Cold Magic, but I liked it a lot better than the first one (which I liked but didn't get that "special book" feeling from). Both the characters and dialogue in this one MADE this book for me.

    Primary Inversion by Catherine Asaro - Space opera with a great female lead (and some romance) that I couldn't put down. I seem to remember it could be a bit exposition heavy at times, but I raced through it anyway. It has been a few years since I read that one so I don't remember the degree of it, but I do remember I finished it in only 2 days which is pretty unusual for me.

    House of Shadows by Rachel Neumeier - The latest book I read that gave me that "happy book feeling" that wasn't several volumes into a series. Beautiful writing, likable characters, and another book I couldn't put down. (And found myself sucked back into and rereading lots of again when writing a review of it.)

  30. I mostly stopped by to see what others have recommended :) I am reluctant to recommend stuff too, since I am comfortable with you doing all the great book recommending to me. However, I am a huge fan of Precious Bane by Mary Webb. Not an easy read, but well worth it, I think.

  31. Can I suggest Me Before You by Jojo Moyes - it is a love story, but a very different love story. It is emotional and uplifting and so many other superlatives.

  32. In the last couple of years, I've read three books that qualify for the knocked-my-socks-off category: The Book Thief (already on your favorites list), Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, and Chime by Franny Billingsley.

  33. Anonymous4:55 PM

    Angie, like some of these others, I'm a little nervous to recommend a book to you. BUT, I loved this one enough that I'ma gonna do it. It's EDENBROOKE by Julianne Donaldson. She's a local debut author, and she managed to write a magnificent Regency-period novel. The heroine is strong; the hero is dreamy (but rough and strong too). And you'll just fly through their world. This is the first time ever that I finished and then immediately reread it again. It is good. Really good. Awesome in fact. And light enough that it could probably penetrate even the bleakest reading blase.

  34. I'm seeing this a few days late, but I can never resist a chance to recommend books to someone! :-D

    A Rather Lovely Inheritance (and the three sequels) by C.A. Belmond is not as well known as it should be, and I think you would love it! The books are all mysteries but they're fun and lighthearted - "find my family's stolen antique", not murder - and the witty dialogue is like something out of a classic movie. As each book comes out I'm torn between reading as fast as possible and going slowly to savor every moment.

  35. Ahhhh, the PRESSURE.

    I'd say Libba Bray's A Great & Terrible Beauty trilogy. So many people I know didn't care for it, but this series ENVELOPED me and didn't let me go. I could not function properly until I finished these books. They're that magical to me.

    I take no responsibility if you hate them ;)

  36. Anonymous9:17 AM

    Have you read the Unwind trilogy? Amazing. Amazing. Amazing. I cannot wait to read them again, and for the third book to be released next year. If you have not read this series, I beg you to check it out!


  37. I'm going to be shocking and recommend some adult stuff. (Mostly b/c my favorites in YA you've probably already read.) Karen Russell's short story collection St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves is absolutely engrossing. Justin Cronin's The Passage is also incredible. And I think you'd enjoy Richard Russo's Straight Man--very funny!

    I want to read Cloud Atlas, Gone Girl, and the Chaos Walking trilogy, because everyone speaks so highly of them. So if you want a read-along partner...

  38. Anonymous3:20 PM

    I'm a little late to the party...would agree that both "Chaos Walking" Trilogy and "Name of the Wind/Wise Man's Fear" are both amazing series and I recently really enjoyed "The Night Circus". But Angie, PLEASE! give "Finikin of the Rock" another chance! I know you didn't love it when you read it (probably the only time I've ever disagreed with one of your reviews, but I think you will love "Froi of the Exiles"! Froi has earned a place in my heart and I. Can. Not. Wait. for Quintana. In fact, I just ordered it from Book Depository to be delivered next week when it comes out in Australia cuz I could not stand to wait until it is released in the states next March. Oh, and here's an old one that is so sweet and still a favorite from Kaye Gibbons, "Charms for the Easy Life".

  39. Easy, I would recommend Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon. If you haven't yet read it I urge you to do so, it's a wonderful adventure story.

  40. My favorites to recommend include The Book Thief, To Kill a Mocking Bird, The Count of Monte Cristo (unabridged), The Only Alien on the Planet, and The Outsiders.
    Great books I've read recently: Warped (ya-debut), Secondhand Charm, Arranged (Catherine McKenzie), The Girl of Fire and Thorns.

  41. Illusion by Paula Volsky was one of my favorites growing up- it's an alternate history telling of the French Revolution. A newer favorite is Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay. I bought it shortly after it came out on my Kindle, and it's the only e-book I've spent 12.99 on and haven't regretted.

  42. Anonymous3:35 PM

    Have you read The India Fan by Victoria Holt? I think that you will absolutely fall in love if you do read it. It has a touch of Pride and Prejudice and a touch of Jane Eyre, but it is also wonderfully unique with great characters and a love story that takes a lifetime to shape.

  43. Anonymous3:36 PM

    I reread it at least once a year.

  44. So glad you asked this, Angie. Because I'M STEALING EVERYONE'S RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ME Bwahahahahaha! ;)

  45. Would you believe I've tried on thee separate occasions to post something here, and every time I've been foiled. The fates are against me. ;) Anyway, I'm always vaguely glad when I see that others share the dilemma of searching for the "just right" book, since I get in those moods myself. And I love recommendations (or trusted blogs) to give me the titles that will pull me out of my slump.

    Unfortunately, I know you've read most of my go-to book recommendations. However, here are a few that may spark interest:

    I know I've mentioned When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. If you haven't read that, do. It's nearly perfect, the way all the pieces fit so nicely, and nostalgic to boot. Her newest book, Liar and Spy, was also good, and I think my son will like it more, but I didn't completely fall in love.

    I recently finished 11/22/63 by Stephen King, and it was an excellent read. Intriguing, vaguely disturbing, and character driven. I haven't read a lot of King, just a few, but I thought it did him credit. And I love a good time travel book.

    Also recently read The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen on my sister's recommendation. It was thoroughly enjoyable. A good "thief" historical fantasy, and the start of a trilogy.

    And I just finished Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan, whom I started reading because of you. You likely have read that one already, but if it slid under your radar, grab it.

    I'm about a third of the way through The Raven Boys, and was relieved to read your good review. I'm already enjoying it, but its nice to know it stays strong!


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