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Today’s post was inspired by awesome author Chrys Fey’s post, which was inspired by a certain recent (recent-ish, at least? Dunno exactly. I started writing this post a while ago and only just recently finished it, so the inspiration behind the post is likely not recent at all anymore) post by the New York Times in which I’m pretty sure they just said, “Hey, how can we make the most people angry about books with the smallest amount of effort possible?”
This will be a very bad and possibly not completely accurate recap, but basically they decided to publish a list of the 25 best books of the past 125 years. Or maybe they just wanted to know what the best book of all-time was, but ended up sharing a list of the top 25? And they asked for reader nominations and then just pulled this list out of their ass or whatever that they then published on all the social media platform things. Controversy ensured because, well, because people were involved, and wherever people go, controversy follows.
Chrys then published a list of her personal top 25 reads of the past 125 years. Her list contained some of my favorite books, and quite a few titles that have been hanging out on my TBR list.
Anyway, all this made me wonder which books I would include on such a list. Then I immediately panicked because I have not read all the books in all the world, which is, obviously, a silly thing over which to worry because of course I haven’t, but anxiety is a bitch that doesn’t often give a shit about that kind of thing.
But I decided to try it anyway.
Here are the parameters/disclaimers/whatevers for my list:
—Inclusion on this list does not mean a particular book is particularly good or has some universal appeal that makes it the best book of all time. It just holds some deep(er) meaning to me.
—I may or may not disclose that meaning to you. Some things are private and will stay that way.
—This will not be the most diverse list of books to ever exist on the face of the earth. I fully admit I have not been the most diverse reader out there. I definitely could—and should—do better.
—Some of these listings include an entire series or two, which may seem like cheating, but I did it anyway. So there.
—This list will not be in any particular order.
—This list contains both fiction and non-fiction titles, but mostly fiction because, as I stated earlier, I have not been the most diverse reader ever.
—This list, as suggested by the title of this post, may, in fact, focus more on the authors themselves rather than individual books. It’s a mixture.
—This list is, and always will be, subject to change. In theory, I will keep reading new books, and some of those new books may warrant a spot on this list. I won’t know until I’ve read them.
Today’s post includes the first half of my list. In theory, I will eventually finish and publish the second half. In theory. I mean, I know how long it took me to write this post, so that second half may never see the light of day. But at any rate, the first half is here now for your reading (and judging) pleasure.
Are we ready?
The President’s Daughter series by Ellen Emerson White
This is certainly not the first time I’ve talked about this four-book series on this blog. These books were HUGELY influential to me. When I was in middle school, I was reading a lot of Sweet Valley High books, so many that both my mother and my teacher begged me to read something else. Anything else. I went to my school library to wander the stacks and I came across The President’s Daughter, a novel about a 16-year-old girl whose mother is elected president of the United States. I quickly fell in love and became totally obsessed with the main character—a love and obsession which continues on to this day. My sisters also love these books, which is, quite possibly, the only thing on earth on which we all agree.
From a writing standpoint, these books showed me how to write better. They really crystallized what a distinct character voice should sound like.
Plus, one time, I totally was privileged enough to have a multi-day conversation with the author herself about Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Battlestar Galactica, thereby fulfilling a life goal I didn’t realize I had until it happened.
It was awesome. She is awesome. And so is her writing.
The Secret of the Unicorn Queen series by Josepha Sherman, Gwen Hansen, Dory Perlman, and Suzanne Weyn
My mother found these MG fantasy novels for me at our local bookstore 100,000 years ago (I look really good for my age). They tell the story of a ordinary American teenage girl who accidentally ends up trapped in a parallel universe filled with unicorn-riding rebels battling an evil tyrant guy. For some reason, my mother thought I might like them.
She was right.
These books inspired me to write my own fantasy novels. Thanks, Mom!
The Tillerman books and the Kingdom novels by Cynthia Voigt
Yep. She gets two series. I just love how she crafts characters and settings and just all the things. The Tillerman books tell the story of four kids who are abandoned by their mother and their journey to find a new home and expands beyond the Tillerman children to tell some of the supporting characters’ tales. The Kingdom novels are fantasy and are all connected but each book focuses on a different character.
Historical fiction. She can write some really lovely, poetic prose that just leaves me breathless. The Boleyn Inheritance is just gorgeous. Also, her novel Wideacre has an ending that has long struck me as a damn perfect ending for its story.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
I wish everyone would read this book.
Again, gorgeous poetic prose. I’m a fan of many of her books, but The Scorpio Races took my breath away.
My sister and I started reading his Spenser series when I was in high school. Love the dialogue. Hate Susan Silverman. I have read his other series as well and most of his standalone titles, but Spenser was always the best, IMHO.
My favorite Spenser novels are probably Early Autumn and Small Vices.
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
She’s written a lot of wonderful novels, but Speak is the one which had the biggest impact on me.
March by John Lewis
A series of three graphic novels I would most definitely have in my classroom if I were still teaching. Another series I wish everyone would read.
The Queen’s Man series by Sharon Kay Penman
Prone to info dumps (Well, random person living in the Middle Ages and therefore already well aware of how the Middle Ages work, here’s how the Middle Ages work…), this series is definitely not the best written, but I made an instant connection with the main character that has me returning to these books time and time again. My mom’s also a big fan of these books and this author. We were devastated when it was announced that Penman had passed away in 2021.
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
A master class in how to write a story with multiple narrators and making their voices sound different. This book inspired one of my long-time unfinished WIPs that I still hope to finish one day.
I love the way he manipulated language and used the page to create poems meant to be experienced and not just read. If that makes sense. He also wrote a autobiographical novel called The Enormous Room as well as four plays. In case you were interested and didn’t already know.
Troilus and Criseyde by Geoffrey Chaucer
So, when I was in college, I took a medieval lit class and we read a 15th-century poem called The Testament of Cresseid, which was a response to Troilus and Criseyde, which I hadn’t read. But the poem made me mad on Cresseid’s behalf and I wrote a paper about how unfairly she was being treated. My professor was all, “Hey, have you ever read Troilus and Criseyde?” And I was all, “No.” And he said, “Well, maybe you should read it.” And I said, “Fine. I will.” So, I did. And when I finished it, I was like, “Damn. That’s a good story.” Which was followed by, “Okay. Maybe I was wrong.”
For the first and only time in my life, of course.
All right, we’re going to stop here for today. Tune in next time (if there should be a next time…) when I unveil the rest of this list (if I should actually get around to making it).
What books/authors have had the greatest impact on you? Why?
Today we’re happy to be helping awesome author Patricia Lynne celebrate not only her birthday (Happy Birthday, Patricia!) but also her 10-year writing anniversary!
She’s celebrating with a free book, a book sale, and a chance to win prizes.
Here’s how it works…Check out the pretty, pretty cover art and look for the secret word in the blurb below (Hint: it’s in red…)
Visit the other participating sites (a complete list can be found HERE) and look for the secret words there. When you have collected enough words (at least five), head back to Patricia’s blog and leave a comment to be entered to win.
Tommy forgot his human life when he became a vampire…but it didn’t forget him.
Like all vampires, Tommy must do one thing: survive. With no memory of his life before death, his only connection to humanity is his twin brother. When Tommy rescues a young girl, he learns not all monsters are undead. After returning her to her family, Tommy struggles to understand why he felt so protective of her when she has no connection to him.
As the years pass, and with his twin’s help, Tommy moves on with his ‘life’ but never forgets the young girl or the monster who hurt her. When she re-enters his life as a teenager, Tommy struggles with his vampire need to survive and his desire to protect her. He will be forced to decide which part of him is stronger: The vampire? Or the human? The answer may destroy him.
Being Human is a coming of age young adult paranormal fantasy about finding one’s humanity, family bonds, and the power of love.
AVAILABLE AT FOR FREE TODAY ONLY AT AMAZON OR READ IN KINDLE UNLIMITED!
Add to Goodreads
Good luck, everyone! Happy hunting!
And congratulations, Patricia! We here at My Pet Blog salute you!
Today on My Pet Blog, we’re turning things over to awesome author Tyrean Martinson who’s here to talk about her new book, Nexus, as well as the role of food and beverage in fiction.
Take it away, Tyrean!
The Role of Food and Beverage can change with every situation in a fictional setting, just as it can in life. Characters may gain comfort from food. Characters may proclaim or take note of other character’s politics, class, and culture through food and beverage. In some novels, food and beverage take center stage as a plot point. This happens in two situations: when food is poisonous, or when food is necessary for survival.
In the case of food poisoning, either purposeful poisoning or accidental poisoning, food or beverage becomes a key ingredient to understanding the mystery or dilemma in a novel. The main character may poison someone else, be poisoned, or solve the mystery of a poisoning. The main character may suffer from a major food allergy which causes them to react as if they’ve been poisoned. One of my writing instructors years ago said that “Characters should only eat in a novel if the food is poisoned, otherwise it’s a waste of time.” While I believe food and beverage can be used to create a deeper understanding character or world-building, she did have a point. Food and beverage can be in a book for a purpose. If you’re reading or writing a mystery, it is possible the food has a nefarious purpose.
In many survival stories, food and beverage or food and water are key factors in the plot because the characters need them. In The Hunger Games, Katniss becomes a hunter to help her family survive and this ability helps her survive the games. In a pure survivalist novel like Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, the main character must hunt and find food so he doesn’t starve. Drinkable water is an issue in the old science fiction film Waterworld, in which the entire Earth is covered by ocean water. In the recent Netflix series, Away, the astronauts on the way to Mars struggle to have enough water to drink and to water their plants in a hydroponics lab.
Food and water (beverages) are key elements for life and health and can be key elements in a plot.
What books have you read with food and beverage as plot points?
Amaya is supposed to bring peace to the galaxy. Which is tough when she’s being held for crimes against the Neutral Zone. Her imprisonment is on her own ship with her own crew. But close quarters create tension.
Honestly, her role as Rayatana is a mess.
She may never get to use her powers for anything good. Not if her teacher continues to keep secrets, and not if her powers keep harming others. Putting her mother in a coma should put her in prison, but she has a mission. She wants to bring peace to her people. She needs to become the Rayatana. Nexus: The Rayatana Book 2 is available all online, retail, and all ebook platforms.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tyrean Martinson is a word hunter. She forages for words both sweet and tart in the South Sound of Washington State. An eclectic writer, she writes speculative fiction, contemporary and historical fiction, short scripts, devotions, writing books, song lyrics, and poetry. She has been a fencer (long ago), a kickboxer (for a short minute), and an action-movie fan. Tyrean is a life-long book lover, a Christ follower, and walker. Once upon a time, she was a Girl Scout who sang too loudly, and now she’s a podcaster and praise team member. Since childhood, her imagination has been swept away by fairy tales, science fiction, tales of overcoming the odds, and redemption arcs.
Find her online at:
Today, we’re celebrating Second Nature‘s book birthday.
Sure, if you want to get all technical about it, its actual birthday was last week, but I was too busy forgetting about it to post then, so I’m doing it today instead.
Second Nature is the second book in my fantasy series, The Coileáin Chronicles. It took a long, long time (because of course it did) to figure out how this particular tale was supposed to come together, but thanks to my village of super supportive people, it did finally make it out into the world.
I am eternally grateful to everyone who helped me make this project into a reality, and everyone who has taken the time and made the effort to read this monster novel. You know who you are (I hope), and I love you all.
Possibly Interesting Fun Facts About This Book
—One of my high school BFFs named it back when we were actually in high school because, apparently, he had a much better idea of what this book/series was supposed to be long before I did. (Why is it the author is always the last to know?)
—I went through four red pens and three blue highlighters during the seemingly never-ending editing process.
—This book contains my favorite (thus far) reference to the greatest song ever written…ABBA’s Dancing Queen (If you didn’t know, I write at least one reference to this song into every book I write). You can find it in Chapter Five.
—An early draft of this book contained one of my all-time favorite typos. See if you can spot it…
To celebrate this momentous occasion, I am offering up a little bit of swag, for anyone interested. Pictured below are the bookmarks/postcards for my three published (Quick question: How do I have three published novels?) novels.
It’s the kind of thing I would hand out at book events, if I had any on my schedule (which I do not, for multiple reasons). And now they can be yours for the low, low price of…absolutely nothing.
If you’re interested in having a set of these hard-to-find items for your very own, send me an email (mjfifield at gmail) or a DM on the social media site of your choice (you know, provided I have an account on that site, of course) and I will mail them out to you. (US and Canada, only, please. I can’t afford any other international shipping.)
Thanks for stopping by today! I promise this will be the very last book birthday post for 2021…
Stay safe & well, all!
Today, we’re celebrating the release of Patricia Josephine’s latest book, The Cure, with a good old-fashioned quiz to determine that age-old question…
WOULD YOU SURVIVE THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE?
(NOTE: Despite my impressive (if I do say so myself) collection of swords and daggers, I would not survive the zombie apocalypse.)
You wake up and find the zombie apocalypse has started. What do you do?
A: Take stock of anything you can use as a weapon, secure your home, and take stock of what food you have and how long it will last.
B: Get a closer to look at a so-called zombie. This can’t be real.
C: Barricade yourself in your home and freak out.
Which of the following weapons would you use to kill zombies?
C: Baseball bat.
You’re making your way downtown in hopes of finding supplies. Along the way, you see a group of 4 zombies. They appear to be eating some unlucky sap. How do you get around them?
A: Backtrack and take a different route.
B: Run in with guns blazing and take them out.
C: Throw something that makes noise and causes the zombies to follow it.
Someone you love is now a zombie. How do you react?
A: Shoot them and put them out of their misery. It’s what you’d want if the roles were reversed.
C: Capture them and put them somewhere secure in hopes of someone finding a cure.
You’ve found a group of survivors, but they don’t trust you’re not infected. How do you gain their trust?
A: Put your hands up and back away to show you are no threat. Leave. It’s not worth trying to reason with them.
B: Strip and show to show that you are not infected, setting all your weapons aside.
C: Insist that you are not infected, motioning to visible skin and lack of blood on your clothing.
If you answered mostly A then you’ll survive. You take survival seriously and don’t take unnecessary risks. You’ll either do it alone or find people you trust. You may even end up the leader of the group.
If you answered mostly B then you are screwed. You don’t take stock of your surroundings, don’t exercises caution, and think you are invincible. And now you’re a zombie.
If you answered mostly C then you have a chance. Sure, the concept of the zombie apocalypse freaked you out, but you’ve calmed down and you’re hoping with enough gumption you’ll make it. If not, you at least plan on taking out as many as you can first.
Every human in the world becomes a zombie when they die. But Erin refuses to accept the world as it is now. She’s heard about a cure locked away in a lab in Upper Michigan, and she plans on retrieving it. To do so, she needs a zombie. Not just any zombie, though.
Zee is Erin’s link to the lab. His connection to the living world is her bargaining chip. But only if she can teach him to control his mindless impulses.
Can a zombie be trained? Or will Erin be Zee’s next meal and become a zombie herself? The fate of humanity rests in her hands.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Patricia never set out to become a writer, and in fact, she never considered it an option during high school and college. She was more of an art and band geek. Some stories are meant to be told, though, and now she can’t stop writing.
Patricia lives with her husband in Michigan, hopes one day to have what will resemble a small petting zoo, and has a fondness for dying her hair the colors of the rainbow.