Books We Love is a regular feature here at Book Chick City. It’s where we discuss our favourite books; the books we absolutely adore, would recommend over and over again, and will keep forever on our bookshelves. I hope you enjoy and find some new-to-you authors and books to read.
I haven’t read ‘Anne of Green Gables’ but I loved the TV show as a young girl, but The Exorcist is one of my favourite books too – I liked it even more than the film and that’s saying something as I *love* the film, such a classic. Obviously Pride & Prejudice is also on my list of favourite books and Agatha Christie is one of my all time favourite authors.
When Book Chick City asked Paperback Dolls to be a part of her “Books We Love” feature I was flattered and agreed without a second thought. Once I began to ponder the task at hand I realized how difficult it would be for me. See, I am a lover of creativity . . . I am capable of loving almost anything and that goes for books too, I love them all. How ever would I choose? Hunger Games, Charlaine Harris…there are SO many fantastic new books I’ve read in recent years…what’s a girl to do?
I won’t bore you all by also saying that Wuthering Heights is one of my favorites (Since Laura already highlighted the book so wonderfully). So, I’m going to mention a few that I have held a special place for me since I was much younger and that still move me when I read them as a (much older) adult…but just for the record, Wuthering Heights would have been one of these book too 😉
Anne of Green Gables is a bestselling novel by Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery published in 1908. It was written as fiction for readers of all ages, but in recent decades has been considered a children’s book. Montgomery found her inspiration for the book on an old piece of paper that she had written at a young age, describing a couple that were mistakenly sent an orphan girl instead of a boy, yet decided to keep her. Montgomery also drew upon her own childhood experiences in rural Prince Edward Island.
The story begins when Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, brother and sister who live together at Green Gables, a farm in the village of Avonlea, on Prince Edward Island in Canada, decide to adopt a boy from an orphan asylum in Nova Scotia as a helper on their farm. Through a series of mishaps, the person who ends up under their roof is a precocious girl of eleven named Anne Shirley. Anne is bright and quick, eager to please and talkative, but dissatisfied with her name, her pale countenance dotted with freckles, and with her long braids of red hair.
Although wishing she was named Cordelia, she insists that if you are to call her Anne, it must be spelt with an ‘E’, as it is “so much more distinguished.” Being a child of imagination, however, Anne takes much joy in life, and adapts quickly, thriving in the environment of Prince Edward Island. She is something of a chatterbox, and drives the prim, duty-driven Marilla to distraction, although shy Matthew falls for her immediately…but not everyone is sold on the orphan child.
“I hate you! I hate you – I hate you! How dare you call me skinny and ugly? How dare you say I’m freckled and red-headed? You are a rude, impolite, unfeeling woman!” . . .
Those are the words that the dramatic, impulsive character , Anne Shirley declares to her critical neighbor Mrs. Lynde after the woman states the obvious. How true the words resonated for me…I had wanted to tell off several people who had put me down. I think anyone who ever grew up feeling unattractive and awkward can relate to Anne and her temper. I definitely did. No, I wasn’t an orphan, but I definitely felt out of the mix in my family.
I was overly dramatic, sensitive, imaginative, outspoken and I had a knack for getting myself into trouble (usually because I was talking back to an adult or just talking) much like Anne Shirley. Lucy Maude Montgomery’s characters are so well defined and scripted that when I open the book I feel like I’m visiting old friends, and that is why I simply adore the Anne of Green Gables series.
I recently wrote a bit about my love for this book on Paperback Dolls for our Passport to Texas feature, but it is definitely one of my all time favorites so I simply must include it here. Yes, it is considered a western novel and when most of us hear the term “western”, we picture Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, or maybe all those Louis Lamar books that take up so much space in the book section at the local supermarket.
They’re all fine, but they just can’t compare to the real deal: native-Texan Larry McMurtry’s vivid storytelling. McMurtry had written other westerns previously, but it wasn’t until his 1986 Pulitzer Prize-winning LONESOME DOVE that he received worldwide recognition. I don’t think any other author has so thoroughly refuted the stereotypes of the American West. McMurtry slices through all the cowboy myths and legends with such skilled grace that we never feel the first cut.
My two favorite male characters of all time come from LONESOME DOVE—Augustus McCrae and Woodrow Call (my heroes have always been cowboys). I love that these total opposites are inseparable. Call is the cool Texan—tough as nails, short worded, and rarely showing any emotions other than anger or impatience. He’s a real workaholic, and dismisses anything that isn’t work as silly and unnecessary.
Gus is his opposite… a real fun-loving guy (a jokester, philosopher, womanizer, and drinker) who somehow manages to get the job done, too. Though very different, the two are united by the common goal of doing their job well and are fiercely loyal to the task at hand and to their friendship. Reading the two cowboy’s exchanges—which mostly consist of Call trying to get McCrae to work harder, and McCrae trying to get Call to lighten up and enjoy life more—makes me feel like I’m working right along side them, part of the team.
The story begins in the small town of Lonesome Dove, as Jake Spoon, a former comrade of Call’s and McCrae’s, shows up after an absence of more than ten years. He is a man on the run, having accidentally shot the dentist of Fort Smith in Arkansas. The dentist’s brother happens to be the sheriff, July Johnson. Reunited with Gus and Call, Jake’s breath-taking description of Montana inspires Call to gather a herd of cattle and drive them there, to begin the first cattle ranch in the frontier territory. Call is attracted to the romantic notion of settling pristine country.
Gus is less enthusiastic, pointing out that they are getting old and that they are Rangers and traders, not cowboys. But he changes his mind when Jake reminds him that Gus’ old sweetheart, Clara, lives on the Platte, 20 miles from Ogallala, Nebraska, which is on their route to Montana. Captain Call prevails. They make preparations for their adventure north, including stealing horses in Mexico and recruiting almost all the male citizens of Lonesome Dove.
This is an absolutely beautiful story.
The phenomenal bestseller of 1971, that inspired the classic motion picture. I read it when I was too young to read anything so scary and graphic and it scared the bejeezus out of me…and I LOVED IT! I discovered that being frightened in a thought provoking way was exhilarating and terrifying at the same time, I was hooked. Soon after I read this book I became obsessed with true paranormal accounts I even stayed the night in the infamous “Villisca Axe Murder House” in Villisca, Iowa and immersed myself in other tales like The Amityville Horror, but nothing really compared to my first taste of fright like The Exorcist.
The book opens to elderly Jesuit priest named Father Lankester Merrin who is leading an archaeological dig in northern Iraq and studying ancient relics. Following the discovery of a small statue of the demon Pazuzu (an actual ancient Sumerian demigod) and a modern-day St. Joseph medal curiously juxtaposed together at the site, a series of omens alerts him to a pending confrontation with a powerful evil, which unknown to the reader at this point, he has battled before in an exorcism in Africa.
Meanwhile, in Georgetown, a young girl named Regan MacNeil living with her famous actress mother, Chris, becomes inexplicably ill. After a gradual series of poltergeist-like disturbances, she undergoes disturbing psychological and physical changes, appearing to become “possessed” by a demonic spirit. After several unsuccessful psychiatric and medical treatments, Regan’s mother turns to a local Jesuit priest. Father Damien Karras, who is currently going through a crisis of faith coupled with the loss of his mother, agrees to see Regan as a psychiatrist, but initially resists the notion that it is an actual demonic possession.
After a few meetings with the child, now completely inhabited by a diabolical personality, he turns to the local bishop for permission to perform an exorcism on the child. After consultation with the Jesuit president of Georgetown, the bishop appoints the experienced Merrin, recently returned to the States, to perform the exorcism and allows the doubt-ridden Karras to assist him. The lengthy exorcism tests the priests, both physically and spiritually. After the death of Merrin, the task ultimately restores Karras’ faith, leading him to give his own life to save Regan’s.
When Carolyn asked us to do this feature, my first reaction was “uh uh, no way” because truthfully I don’t have those books that are my all time favorite that I’ve read so many times I’ve lost count. I’m not sure if I’m the only one or not, but I always find something new to read, always. I do have my favorite classic, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice or the series that will always be close to my heart for the doors it opened and friendships I’ve made from it, Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse. I’m going to be difficult (sorry Carolyn!) and tell of my two favorite series. Books I’ve actually read more than once through, with plans to read again and again.
My first series is Karen Marie Monings Fever series. They’re Urban Fantasy 1st person pov that just grabs you by the throat. The first one isn’t romance, but all five together will be. The series has five books only and needs all five to figure out the mystery.
In Darkfever, Macs what the rest of the world calls a typical Southern Belle. All she cares about is laying by the pool, makeup, and her designer clothes. Even though I’m from the south, I couldn’t relate to her. I’m not that girl. She gets a phone call that her sister Alina was murdered where she’s studing abroad in Dublin. Mac thinks her and Alina tell each other everything. Until she finds a cryptic message on her cell phone from Alina saying Mac doesn’t know what she is, that Alina should have told her, and that she needs to find the “Dark Book” After the Grauda closes the case only a mere two weeks later, Mac is cased with fury and flies over to find out for herself what happened. Now after a short time in Dublin, she starts seeing strange things, and meets a man named Barrons who’s also searching for the book. Barrons is only out for one person, Barrons, but after learning what Mac is, he keeps her around for his personal gain. Mac stays because Barrons knows everything she doesn’t about what’s going on. Plus he has a knack for keeping her alive. Nobody knows who/what Barrons is, but he isn’t human.
I call these books “grab you by the throat” because they just down right piss me off, yet I couldn’t put them down. Mac is too green and makes plenty of mistakes, but in her deffense she has no one who to trust. Everyone is out for themselves. Barrons is a vicious tyrant. He tells Mac close to nothing, but expects her to tell him everything. You get little answers, plenty of clues, and more mystery with each new book.
My second series is Magic/Kate Daniels by Ilona Andrews. The first one is Magic Bites and they’re about a pseudo-post apocalypse Atlanta (year around 2040) which has been ravaged and mutated by the war, literally, between science and magic. As magic gains in power, buildings, machines and the trappings of science are falling apart. Likewise, creatures of magic, such as shape shifters, fae and vampires, are taking control, edging out mere humans with every magic wave.
Kate is an operative of the Knights of Merciful Aid, and a member of the Guild of Mercenaries. Which means when something magical pops up and needs killing, thwarting or rescuing she’s front and center. Kate’s a bad mofo from the beginning. So there isn’t a lot of time honing in on her buried talents and skills. She prefers a sword and is a Sword Master. She’s intelligent and has a mouth on her with plenty of witty wry humor throughout.
Her world takes some getting used to, though. Like the post-Shift resonance. Or the fact that vampires are mindless beast used by the People (necromancers). There’s a lot of use of old myths(from Greek to Hindu) and nothing is impossible, either (from rakshasas to gods).
Like my fellow Paperback Dolls, I was truly honored and excited when Book Chick City asked us to participate in the “Books We Love” project. Honored, excited and terrified. To choose a favorite book? Or even three? As a daughter of two book lovers, who raised five girls on the principle of “if you don’t know, go find it in a book”, I am spoiled for choice. Biographies, history, philosophy, mysteries, romances, children’s books, religion, and my own additions to the library – sci-fi, paranormal, urban fiction….
After much thought, nail biting, and a close call with a panic attack while standing next to the “Collected Works of Oscar Wilde”, I decided that the best way to approach the mission was by choosing, not my favorites (impossible!) but by choosing books that represent what I love about reading. So, here it goes….
Pride and Prejudice (Oxford World’s Classics)Pride and Prejudice has delighted generations of readers with its unforgettable cast of characters, carefully choreographed plot, and a hugely entertaining view of the world and its absurdities. With the arrival of eligible young men in their neighborhood, the lives of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet and their five daughters are turned inside out and upside down. Pride encounters prejudice, upward-mobility confronts social disdain, and quick-wittiness challenges sagacity, as misconceptions and hasty judgments lead to heartache and scandal, but eventually to true understanding, self-knowledge, and love. In this supremely satisfying story, Jane Austen balances comedy with seriousness, and witty observation with profound insight.
I know, I know – how obvious….but this book opened my eyes to a whole new world. The world of witty historical romances. Escapism at its best, but more than that. If you read Pride and Prejudice with a modern perspective, you might think that Jane Austen has a very traditional approach to life and a woman’s place in it – marriage as the highest goal; is this really what we want young women to strive for today? In reality, Jane Austen’s books were considered very outre when they were first published.
A young woman of no financial means throwing away the possibility of a match with a man with ten thousand a year???? Because she doesn’t love him? Unheard of! Yet Lizzie Bennet did choose to follow her heart, and in her story Jane Austen has, for over two hundred years told young women to follow their own hearts. And if you love Jane Austen – a must read for you is Georgette Heyer – the queen of witty regency romances. These books are pure bliss and are guaranteed to leave you with a smile on your face.
Murder on the Orient Express: A Hercule Poirot Mystery (Agatha Christie Collection)Agatha Christie’s most famous murder mystery – just after midnight, a snowdrift stops the Orient Express in its tracks. The luxurious train is surprisingly full for the time of the year, but by the morning it is one passenger fewer. An American tycoon lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. Isolated and with a killer in their midst, detective Hercule Poirot must identify the murderer — in case he or she decides to strike again.
Agatha Christie is known as the “Queen of Crime” and really, its no wonder. In books like Murder on the Orient Express, And Then There Were None, and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Christie created masterpieces in the mystery genre. I always try to outdo Poirot, Miss Marple, Tommy and Tuppence and all her other sleuths…sometimes I even succeed!
Christie’s Whodunits are among the only mysteries I can read and re-read because its not just about solving the crime, its the story itself. Today my bookshelves are filled with mysteries, both present-day and historical, by so many wonderful authors – Dorothy Seyers, David Roberts, Deanna Raybourn, C.S. Harris, Tasha Alexander, Dick Francis, Steven Saylor, Jacqueline Winspear…the list just keeps growing! So, on a dark stormy night, with a warm cup of tea and in those fuzzy slippers – I get settled with a mystery fix and I’m set!
The Dark RoseFrom the Wars of the Roses to World War One, England’s history is the rich background to the Morland Dynasty. Morland Place in Yorkshire is the cradle of the dynasty, but war and famine, peace and plenty, love and loyalty, greed and envy spread the lines of the family throughout the country – into the courts of kings and the salons of the Regency, onto the battlefields of Culloden and the Crimea, into the slums surrounding the cotton mills and along the raw permanent ways. Through the centuries the Morlands feud and reconcile themselves, they bloom in times of fortune and shoulder the privations of poverty with stoicism, and their story brings the vivid history of their times to life with extraordinary brilliance.
This series is responsible for my passion for all things historical. On a flight home from London many years ago, my mother got me the second book in the series (not knowing it was a series), “The Dark Rose” focused on the reign of Henry the Eighth, telling the tale of his unexpected rise to power, his marriages, divorces and…well, you know, all through the eyes of an up-and-coming Yorkshire family. Harrod-Eagles focus in on Anne Boleyn, and while you can see in her writing what she feels for this character, unlike many authors, she sticks to historical facts. how do I know this? Because when I finished reading The Dark Rose, i started researching every aspect of Tudor England. Biographies, fiction, anything I could get my hands on. Then, I decided I needed to learn more about what came before Tudor England, what was happening in the rest of Europe and elsewhere…
To this day, if I finish a book of historical fiction that I love, I will immediately search out a biography that will fill me in on other details. Thanks to Harrod-Eagles, I have added Sharon Kay Penman, Alison Weir, Antonia Fraser, Katie Hickman, Simon Montefiore, Dorothy Dunnett, Amanda Foreman and Margaret Mitchell to my shelves (to name a few).
When We Were Very Young Deluxe EditionWhen it comes to books I love, I could go on forever if you let me, but since I can’t, I’ll just add – without A.A. Milne you’ve never really had a childhood, without Alexandre Dumas, you’ve never really had an adventure, and without Charlaine Harris, Ilona Andrews, Patricia Briggs and Karen Marie Moning, I would have never met the Dolls and some of my very best friends – that’s books for you, you really never know just how far they will take you.