Top Ten Books I’d Quickly Save If My House Was Going To Be Abducted By Aliens (Or Any Other Natural Disaster)18
October 8, 2012 by Alice in Readerland
Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
1. Watership Down by Richard Adams
“One of the most beloved novels of our time, Richard Adams’s Watership Down takes us to a world we have never truly seen: to the remarkable life that teems in the fields, forests and riverbanks far beyond our cities and towns. It is a powerful saga of courage, leadership and survival; an epic tale of a hardy band of adventurers forced to flee the destruction of their fragile community…and their trials and triumphs in the face of extraordinary adversity as they pursue a glorious dream called “home.” Watership Down is a remarkable tale of exile and survival, of heroism and leadership…the epic novel of a group of adventurers who desert their doomed city, and venture forth against all odds on a quest for a new home and a sturdier future.”
My Thoughts: Yes, my blog reviews Young Adult and Middle Grade books but my Absolutely Favorite Fiction Book of All Time is Watership Down. I first read Watership Down when I was ten and have reread it only about, oh, a million times since then. Each time I open this book, I’m still captivated from the very first page, still laughing at the clever antics of El-ahrairah, still holding my breath during the journey, still loving the dialogue and dynamics between the characters, and still smiling as I read the last sentence in the last chapter.
2. Don’t Expect Magic by Kathy McCullough
“Delaney Collins doesn’t believe in fairy tales. And why should she? Her mom is dead, her best friend is across the country, and she’s stuck in California with “Dr. Hank,” her famous life-coach father—a man she barely knows. Happily ever after? Yeah, right.
Then Dr. Hank tells her an outrageous secret: he’s a fairy godmother—an f.g.—and he can prove it. And by the way? The f.g. gene is hereditary. Meaning there’s a good chance that New Jersey tough girl Delaney is someone’s fairy godmother.
But what happens when a fairy godmother needs a wish of her own?”
My Thoughts: I fell in love with Don’t Expect Magic in the very first chapter. Delany, who listens to heavy metal music and designs boots featuring designs like dragons, doesn’t seem a likely candidate for being a fairy godmother and that’s exactly what makes her perfect. Delany’s voice is believable, full of sarcasm, and is absolutely hilarious. She’s sad, she’s angry, she’s learning, and she’s got quite a few laugh-out-loud opinions. There are so many scenes and lines from Don’t Expect Magic I love that I was practically bookmarking every other page when I first read it!
3. 52 Reasons to Hate my Father by Jessica Brody
Lexington Larrabee has never to work a day in her life. After all, she’s the heiress to the multi-billion-dollar Larrabee Media empire. And heiresses are not supposed to work. But then again, they’re not supposed to crash brand new Mercedes convertibles into convenience stores on Sunset Blvd either.
Which is why, on Lexi’s eighteen birthday, her ever-absent, tycoon father decides to take a more proactive approach to her wayward life. Every week for the next year, she will have to take on a different low-wage job if she ever wants to receive her beloved trust fund. But if there’s anything worse than working as a maid, a dishwasher, and a fast-food restaurant employee, it’s dealing with Luke, the arrogant, albeit moderately attractive, college intern her father has assigned to keep tabs on her.
In a hilarious “comedy of heiress” about family, forgiveness, good intentions, and best of all, second chances, Lexi learns that love can be unconditional, money can be immaterial, and, regardless of age, everyone needs a little saving. And although she might have 52 reasons to hate her father, she only needs one reason to love him.”
My Thoughts: There are just so many things I loved about 52 Reasons to Hate My Father! Jessica makes her characters so likeable. Yes, Lexi just crashed her Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren convertible, valued at over $500,000, into a convenience store. Yes, Lexi’s remorse on this matter involves her not grabbing some aspirin from the store she crashed into. But she’s likeable. She’s funny and smart, she’s sassy and strong, she perseveres and she grows. I enjoyed Lexi’s unique voice so much. There were so many lines in here that were so powerful, funny, and perfectly described how I’ve felt at times. This book made me want to laugh and cry; it perfectly added humor while addressing other problems such as a tattered father-daughter relationship.
4. The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King
“In 1915, long since retired from his observations of criminal humanity, Sherlock Holmes is engaged in a reclusive study of honeybee behavior on the Sussex Downs. Never did he think to meet an intellect to match his own—until his acquaintance with Miss Mary Russell, a very modern fifteen-year-old whose mental acuity is equaled only by her audacity, tenacity, and penchant for trousers and cloth caps, unthinkable in any young lady of Holmes’s own generation.
Under Holmes’s sardonic tutelage, Russell hones her talent for deduction, disguises, and danger: in the chilling case of a landowner’s mysterious fever, and in the kidnapping of an American senator’s daughter in the wilds of Wales. But her ultimate challenge is yet to come. A near-fatal bomb on her doorstep—and another on Holmes’s—sends the two sleuths on the trail of a murderer whose machinations scatter meaningless clues and seem utterly without motive. The villain’s objective, however, is quite unequivocal: to end Russell and Holmes’s partnership—and their lives.”
My Thoughts: I was intrigued just from reading the editor’s (author Laurie R. King’s) prologue about how a mysterious trunk was delivered to her, containing a collection that had no rhyme nor reason, including an emerald necklace, a cracked magnifying lens, and handwritten manuscripts stamped R. Ms. King goes on to say how she sent these manuscripts into her editor, reminding the reader that she had nothing to do with this book, saying “I mean, really: If Conan Doyle hungered to shove Holmes off a tall cliff, surely a young female of obvious intelligence would have brained the detective on first sight.” She ends her prologue with a plea “If anyone out there knows who Mary Russell was, could you let me know? My curiosity is killing me.”
If the editor’s prologue didn’t hook me, than the first line of the first chapter did: “I was fifteen when I first met Sherlock Holmes, fifteen years old with my nose in a book as I walked the Sussex Downs, and nearly stepped on him. In my defense I must say it was an engrossing book…” Mary goes on to tell how she didn’t even recognize Holmes when she practically stepped on him, she thought he was a “tramp” or “eccentric” (that’s all right, though, as Holmes thought she was a boy from the way she’s dressed). It’s only after a battle of wits that she finally stops to realize that the man she’s talking to is the legendary Sherlock Holmes. Definitely one of my favorite reads.
5. Scarlet by A. C. Gaughen
Posing as one of Robin Hood’s thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only the Hood and his band know the truth: the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. Helping the people of Nottingham outwit the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life as Gisbourne closes in.
It’s only her fierce loyalty to Robin—whose quick smiles and sharp temper have the rare power to unsettle her—that keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for.”
My Thoughts: (You can see my full review of Scarlet and my interview with author A. C. Gaughen here.) What if Robin Hood’s Will Scarlet was a girl? A girl who’s fiercely strong and independent, a brilliant thief, has a secret past, and is an expert at knife throwing? Yes, please! Packed with action, a strong female lead, wit, and romance, I loved Scarlet!
6. Hoot by Carl Hiaasen
“Roy Eberhardt is the new kid–again. This time around it’s Trace Middle School in humid Coconut Grove, Florida. But it’s still the same old routine: table by himself at lunch, no real friends, and thick-headed bullies like Dana Matherson pushing him around. But if it wasn’t for Dana Matherson mashing his face against the school bus window that one day, he might never have seen the tow-headed running boy. And if he had never seen the running boy, he might never have met tall, tough, bully-beating Beatrice. And if he had never met Beatrice, he might never have discovered the burrowing owls living in the lot on the corner of East Oriole Avenue. And if he had never discovered the owls, he probably would have missed out on the adventure of a lifetime. Apparently, bullies do serve a greater purpose in the scope of the universe. Because if it wasn’t for Dana Matherson…”
My Thoughts: I love Carl Hiaasen’s books! I recommend Hoot, Flush, Scat, and Chomp (see my review of Chomp here) as some of the best Children’s/Middle Grade books ever and have all four of them sitting proudly on my bookshelf. They are full of hilarity, cover environmental issues, and are an all over fun read!
7. Just One Wish by Janette Rallison
“Seventeen-year-old Annika Truman knows about the power of positive thinking. With a little brother who has cancer, it’s all she ever hears about. And in order to help Jeremy, she will go to the ends of the earth (or at least as far as Hollywood) to help him believe he can survive his upcoming surgery.
But Annika’s plan to convince Jeremy that a magic genie will grant him any wish throws her a curveball when he unexpectedly wishes that his television idol would visit him. Annika suddenly finds herself in the desperate predicament of getting access to a hunky star actor and convincing him to come home with her. Piece of cake, right?
Janette Rallison’s proven talent for laugh-out-loud humor, teen romance, and deep-hearted storytelling shines in a novel that will have readers laughing and crying at the same time.”
My Thoughts: I love Janette Rallison’s books (you can see my review of Janette’s My Unfair Godmother here) and this is my favorite one of hers. She always has such hilarious and original stories and Just One Wish was no exception! Family. Cancer. Teen Robin Hood. One little brother. One wish. One determined big sister with problems of her own. A highly enjoyable read.
8. Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
“It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live.
A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend.
In her signature pitch-perfect style, Sarah Dessen explores the hearts of two lonely people learning to connect.”
My Thoughts: Who doesn’t love Sarah Dessen? Who can’t identify with at least one of her main characters? Along for the Ride is one of my favorite Sarah Dessen books along with The Truth About Forever and This Lullaby.
9. Dragonsinger by Anne McCaffery
“In the world of Pern, Harpers are regarded to be more powerful than the music they play can literally control the minds of others. For young Menolly, her dreams of becoming a Harper have nothing to do with power, but rather her love of music. Now she is finally living out her musical dreams as an apprentice Harper, but it’s turning out to be more challenging than she thought.
Formerly forbidden to study music because of her gender, Menolly quickly encounters hostility from a number of her male peers and masters. But she is not alone in her struggles. With the help of new friends, teachers, and her nine fire lizards, Menolly finds that her musical talents may prove more powerful than anyone could imagine.”
My Thoughts: I love Anne McCaffery’s books! The Harper Hall Trilogy (Dragonsong, Dragonsinger, and Dragondrums) were books that my mother loved and passed down to me. Each time I finish these books, I want a fire lizard of my own!
10. The Diamond of Drury Lane by Julia Golding
“Capturing superbly the hustle and bustle, flair and extravagance of late Eighteenth Century times in England’s renowned capital, The Diamond of Drury Lane introduces its feisty heroine with an undeniably exciting first adventure. This is historical fiction for young readers at its best–authentic, exciting and fast-moving.
Cat Royal is a veritable institution at Mr Sheridan’s famous Drury Lane theatre of ye olde London Town, circa 1790. Adopted by the owner after being mysteriously abandoned as a baby on the steps of his infamous establishment, Cat has grown up backstage amidst the glamour of the bright lights, the exotic artistes, hammy actors, melodious musicians and riotous viewing public. The performers are her family, the stagehands her closest friends.
However, Cat is growing up and she is beginning to think about what she wants to do with her life. Those thoughts take an unexpected turn when she overhears a conversation about a diamond hidden somewhere in the theatre. Her adventures begin when she tries to find the treasure. Pedro, a gifted musician who is new to the company orchestra, ably assists her. Ever present too are the political ramifications of a mischievous satirical cartoonist called Captain Sparkler, who some suspect is a very important person nearby in disguise.
The narrative traverses London and takes in the rival street gangs of Covent Garden, boxing matches, theatre riots, spectacular stage productions and several moments of drama and intrigue. Cat is so likeable as a central character, that readers will soon be caught up in her journey. That journey may only be short geographically, but she learns lots about who she is and who her real friends are. It’s great stuff. Look out for the sequel, Cat Among the Pigeons.”
My Thoughts: 1790’s London? Adventure? A feisty heroine? Theatre? Mystery? Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes! I love the Cat Royal series!