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My all-time top book recommendations(with ratings, short reviews, etc.)

I've been looking forward to this post for a long time! Here are my all time favorite books. Now, whenever someone asks me for recommendations, I'll redirect them to this list. My taste in books is developed from a lot of reading, so if you have a similar taste, you should enjoy this post! I've probably mentioned these books over and over again, so hopefully you aren't sick of them XD.

These are in rough recommended order(from best-not best). I've also included some quotes from the books which I think characterize the books pretty well.

I know most of these books are already ridiculously popular. But there are some lesser-known ones down the line so hang in there. 

Artemis Fowl (Books #1-7 )
Eoin Colfer
“I hope you’re as clever as you keep telling everybody you are.”
“I never tell anyone exactly how clever I am. They would be too scared.”
Family Friendly: 9/10(minor cussing and gruesome violence)
Dark: 1/10 
Synopsis(Artemis Fowl #1): With his father missing and mother driven insane, Artemis Fowl, a 12-year-old genius billionaire criminal mastermind, decides to secure the family fortune by kidnapping a fairy and holding her for ransom. But these aren't the fairies you grew up with-they're high tech armed and dangerous, and willing to do anything to hold on to their gold.  You can't help rooting for both Artemis and the smart and sarcastic fairies he antagonizes as the resulting hostage drama unfolds. The other six books tell more stories about Artemis's further run-ins with the fairy race.

What makes it fantastic: Humor(Colfer's a beast). The values of the story(value of life,family, loyalty) shine even though both Artemis and the fairies are somewhat corrupt and  sacrifice morals to achieve their own ends. Plus, it's a really unique blend of sci-fi and fantasy. You'll never read another book like the first Artemis Fowl(although the others fall into a more recognizable pattern).

Spotlight: Artemis Fowl boasts a full range of the most developed, loveable, best characters I have ever had the privilege to read about. Artemis is a whole category all by himself. (even though he does nothing but sit in front of the computer for the whole first book. My kind of hero.) Jackson and the Olympians (books #1-5)
Rick Riordan
 Family friendly: 9.5/10
Dark: 1/10

“Love conquers all," Aphrodite promised. "Look at Helen and Paris. Did they let anything come between them?"
"Didn't they start the Trojan War and get thousands of people killed?"
"Pfft. That's not the point. Follow your heart.”

 Synopsis(of series): Percy Jackson thought he was just another 12 year old loser(who's never gotten a grade above a C in his life.) A really weird encounter on a school field trip opens up a whole new world. It turns out the gods, monsters, and stories of the old Greek myths are true, and Percy discovers a new destiny as he and his demigod camp combat a rising mysterious threat.(

What makes it fantastic: The premise of the series is already intriguing. And it doesn't disappoint. It's a treat to meet Riordan's tongue-in-cheek-yet-historically-accurate take on every Greek myth from Artemis to Zeus. And I learned a whole lot about Greek mythology I never knew before, and it was a lot of fun to watch Riordan weave Greek myths into modern world. Characters are also really fun and developed. Even though the series is a lot of fun, it has a suspenseful and serious plot as well, with lots of twists and turns.

Hey-This series is pretty popular, and it deserves it. However,it was written for middle schoolers, so look out for some "immature" humor and the phrase "shut up."

This series is intriguing and a whole heck of a lot of fun. Jump on the bandwagon already. Potter (books #1-7)
JK Rowling
  "As much money and life as you could want!  The two things most human beings would choose above all - the trouble is, humans do have a knack of choosing precisely those things that are worst for them. "
"It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities. " 
“You're dead, Potter.”
 “Funny, you'd think I'd have stopped walking around…"
Family friendly-8/10 for minor cussing, some bothering elements, and themes difficult for young children to grasp
Dark: 4/10 
Synopsis: Harry Potter discovers he is a wizard and goes to Hogwarts Magic School  and has to defeat Voldemort.(but seriously, if you don't know what this series is about, that's sort of sad.)

What makes it fantastic: Want to know the secret to Rowling's success and selling millions of books? As a reviewer said: "The reason the Potter books are so popular is simply because they're so good." They are. I don't feel the need to gush any more than what other people already say about them.  Her writing is very detailed and beautiful, rounding out characters, the world of Harry Potter, the plot points, the magic in full. There are so many plot threads that connect beautifully, and hundreds of little plot arcs used to their fullest potential. The world is charming, the characters are beautiful, and her narration is smooth, flawless, and humor filled.

Hey-And I don't think they are that dark or anti-Christian. They are way more virtuous and wholesome than most books on the market. There are many themes which I have NEVER seen explored outside these books, themes like anger management, patience, yielding, and trust in authority. The protagonists are actually admirable. The authority figures are, according to a Christian reviewer: "some of the finest ever in children's literature".

I hope everybody reads them. If your parents don't let you, it should be one of the first things you'll do once you leave home. ;)
Ender's Game
Orson Scott Card
 Family friendly: 2/10
Dark level: 6/10

“I don't care if I pass your test, I don't care if I follow your rules. If you can cheat, so can I. I won't let you beat me unfairly-I'll beat you unfairly first.”

“I’ll tell.”
"Then you're dead, too, sweet little sister."
"Oh, yes," said Valentine. "They'll believe that. 'I didn't know it would kill Ender. And when he was dead, I didn't know it would kill Valentine too.' "

Synopsis: In this affecting cult classic, six year old gifted Ender Wiggins is taken away from his family and sent to the hostile Battle School, where he is trained and manipulated, both physically and mentally, to become the next genius commander to help humanity wipe out the alien invaders.

What makes it fantastic: This novel takes itself extremely seriously. Ender's Game is about children, but it is an adult novel, hence crudity, violence, and profanity. The novel has a pervading sense of grimness, sparkling with dark humor.  Ender is an engaging, conflicted, disturbed heck of a six year old.  Card's writing is flawless and the novel accomplishes what it's set out to do.  Ender's Game is about gifted children and their role in society, the gray areas of morality during wartime, and the struggle to keep humanity when everyone around is losing theirs. Ride (books 1-8)
James Patterson<3

“Some kids get called 'bundles of joy' or 'slices of heaven' or 'dreams come true.' We got 'the fifty-fourth generation of DNA experiments.' Doesn't have the same warm and fuzzy feel. But maybe I'm oversensitive.”

"I feel like pudding. Pudding with nerve endings. Pudding in great pain!"

“Is dere anysing special about you? Anysing vorth saving?” 
"Besides my fashion sense? I play a mean harmonica.”

Family Friendly 8/10
Dark level: 2/10
Synopsis: This random, fun, thriller/suspense series chronicles the lives of Maximum Ride and her six winged"siblings":  as they fight and fly to find their real parents, escape the Erasers, thwart evil scientists, and save the world, of course! From snarky 14 year old Max to sweet 'n' scary 6 year old Angel, these genetically engineered, superhuman Boxcar Children take your breath away through these irreverent, suspenseful, and hilarious books.

What's fantastic: The concept of Maximum Ride could have turned out to be a deep, intense,theme-filled novel about vengeful escaped genetic experiments and their mixed up feelings and life. Maximum Ride does that to an extent, but in a way farthest from serious. More like a video game or action movie, Maximum Ride is pure, exhilarating, sarcastic fun. As long as you don't take the series too seriously, you'll love it. 

But: Maximum Ride is a pure-entertainment series and  the lack of planning in the series is evident. Questions go unanswered, plot threads are left never picked up again,and the Flock repeatedly just goes through encounter, experience, and fight scene without really building up to any climax or making any point.  In a review of Max, a sage reviewer says "Nothing really happens in this book. And it's like James Patterson doesn't want anything to happen, because then he would actually have to put some thought into where the plot would go."But I could never get enough of this series, and I wish it would go on forever. So there.

This series also has the joy of being the funniest series I have ever read. I crack up every other page. James Patterson is genius.

 The Hunger Games (#1 ONLY)
Suzanne Collins

“ 'I know we promised Haymitch, we'd do exactly what they said, but I don't think he considered this angle.'
'Where is Haymitch, anyway? Isn't he supposed to protect us from this sort of thing?' says Peeta.
'With all that alcohol in him, it's probably not advisable to have him around an open flame,' I say.”

“You don’t forget the face of the person who was your last hope.”

 Family Friendly: 2/10
Dark: 8.5/10

Synopsis: Twelve districts of totalitarian Panem, each district sends two tributes to fight to the death on live TV, Katniss volunteers,blah blah blah.

What's fantastic: This is one of the best written, most suspenseful books I have ever read. Seriously. It's like magic. "you...must...keep...reading..." Major, major themes of sacrifice, courage, strength, perseverance.  A very fascinating and unique premise, with much cleverness throughout.(particularly in the way the games and Arena are arranged). I already wrote many blog posts on it, so go read those. Also, I neglected to mention: parts of the books are actually quite funny. I'll admit I cracked up a bit. (Effie makes me laugh)

And: Don't forget dark&disturbing. They aren't actually violent. Not a lot of violence is in the book, surprisingly. It's just that SC The Brilliant is very good at her job, and when her job involves you getting freaked out, you do. The books are intense and do a good job of making you feel like you're in that world. And it can have repercussions on your psyche and mental health. The reason I don't endorse Catching Fire  is because it's a 400 page buildup for Mockingjay, which is where the poodoo starts to hit the fan. And I don't endorse HungerGamesMania. Go read the book. Watch the movie. Learn from it and enjoy it. Don't go out and wallpaper your room in posters.  Don't say I didn't warn you. of Olympus (Books 1-2)
 Rick Riordan
“Two hundred Romans, and no one’s got a pen? Never mind!"
He slung his M16 onto his back and pulled out a hand grenade. There were many screaming Romans. Then the hand grenade morphed into a ballpoint pen, and Mars began to write.
Frank looked at Percy with wide eyes. He mouthed: Can your sword do grenade form?
Percy mouthed back, No. Shut up.”
Family Friendly: 8.5/10
Dark: 1/10

Synopsis: The demigods are back! In this continuation of the Camp Half Blood series, Percy and co attempt to defeat the rising giant Gaea. This time, they'll have to partner with their rival Roman Camp Jupiter to fulfill the Prophecy of Seven and prevail.

What's fantastic: As long as you don't go into the series expecting Percy Jackson, you'll be fine. The series gets major epic points from me. I didn't like the first one as much, but the second was great. The same things that made you love Percy Jackson-wit, cleverness, and breathtaking plotting. The books are longer and more sophisticated than the Percy Jackson books.

Hey: Like I said, this is not Percy Jackson. The charming chapter titles are gone, and Percy's snappy first person is replaced by a baffling six-point-of-view narration. Translation: There are six people narrating this story. ???? You don't have to read Percy Jackson first, but it's highly recommended. There are many throwbacks and references to the old series.
The Chronicles of Narnia(books 1-7)
CS Lewis
This should probably be higher up on the list. Oh well.

In our world," said Eustace, "a star is a huge ball of flaming gas." "Even in your world, my son, that is not what a star is, but only what it is made of."

 “All worlds draw to an end and that noble death is a treasure which no one is too poor to buy.” 
Family friendly: 10/10
Dark: 0/10 

Synopsis: The chronicles of the creation and fall of the magical land of Narnia, and some of Narnia's most troubled times, in which its residents must call upon children from our world to help.

What's fantastic: Long hailed as a classic of literature, the series, edifying, entertaining, and instructive should be read by everybody.Narnia is magical and charming and has a sense of lasting till infinity. Most people have only read some of the books and seen the movies, but you truly get the full effect from reading all of them. They're easy to find and short, so no excuses. :) The Mysterious Benedict Society(books 1-3)
Trenton Lee Stewart
 “Rules and school are tools for fools! I don't give two mules for rules.” 
“Mr. Benedict replied, "You must remember family is often born of blood, but it doesn't depend on blood. Nor is it exclusive of friendship. Family members can be your best friends, you know. And best friends, whether or not they are related to you, can be your family."
Family friendly: 10/10
Dark: 1/10

Synopsis(book #1): Four gifted children are sent to be spies at a mysterious school, where rules are backward and truth is twisted. The other two books detail the children's continued attempt to stop a megalomaniac in his plans for mind-control world domination.

What's fantastic: Even though the children are spies, the story is more fantasy/adventure than action/thriller. Readers are kept in suspense as the children peel away the layers and discover the truth and solve the mysteries at the school. The main characters are unwaveringly loyal, righteous, kind, and old-fashioned in the best way, really refreshing for such a modern book.

Also: Those who will enjoy the book are those similar to the Society in mental composition ;). Woven throughout the books are riddles that they and the reader solve simultaneously. Read this book, you'll really enjoy it. Kane Chronicles
Rick Riordan

Family Friendly: 8.5/10
Dark: 1/10

Synopsis: Demigods are so 2011! Meet the Kanes, magician siblings in crime, as they and the unleashed forces of Egyptian mythology battle to combat the rising forces of Chaos.

What's fantastic: Kane may seem like Percy Jackson on the surface, but the series' become increasingly different as the story goes on. The same things are true as with all Riordan books: snarky one-liners, witty chapter titles, irreverent gods, and amusing situations abound. Also, I learned a lot about Egyptian mythology, which is somewhat less publicized than Greek mythology these days. The two main characters, a a brother/sister duo, are relatable and fun  company on the ride.

Hey-Like Heroes of Olympus, the Kane Chronicles are snazzier, longer, and more sophisticated than Percy Jackson. Also, there's much more romance than usual in Riordan books, I guess owing to the older protagonists. I found the love-triangle bits sort of annoying. I would also read Percy Jackson first, since there are all sorts of treats and references for those who'll get em.'s Moving Castle(along with sequels Castle in the Air and House of Many Ways)
Diana Wynne Jones
“Really, these wizards! You'd think no one had ever had a cold before! Well, what is it?" she asked, hobbling through the bedroom door onto the filthy carpet.
"I'm dying of boredom," Howl said pathetically. "Or maybe just dying.”

Family friendly: 9.9/10
Dark: 1/10

Synopsis: Sophie Hatter lives in the magical fairytale land of Ingary. When the Witch of The Waste casts a spell on Sophie to turn her old, she seeks out the infamous Wizard Howl and his moving castle. Even though the Wizard and his odd companions aren't quite what she expected, she must help Howl solve his own problems and defeat the Witch of the Waste if she ever hopes to be young again.

What's fantastic: I have no idea how this series ended up on here. It's way different from the others. There is some action in the novel, but the majority of it focuses on Howl's womanizing bachelor habits and Sophie's interaction with him as she attempts to seek her fortune under his roof. It's a airy, pleasant novel.

Loving: My favorite part of this series has got to be the characters.Sophie seems to be a quiet, meek,self conscious and shy girl, but when she's transformed, she discovers she doesn't care what other people think of her and shows her true strengths and toughness. She embodies wisdom, hardworkingness, and responsibility as she mentors the young-by-comparison Howl, teenage apprentice Michael, and slippery fire demon Calcifer. Howl is a masterpiece, a vain, talented, spendthrift, fickle, but compassionate wizard who you can't help but want to wrap in a blanket and hug.(Sorry, that was random. I'm writing this all in one day and it's starting to reflect on my sanity.)

So there you have it. It's taken forever to write this and I'm exhausted. :) Hope you read the books! Love ya. <3

Books that I also recommend but didn't write reviews for one reason or other:

Septimus Heap by Angie Sage
The Hobbit
Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes
Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare
The Phantom Tollbooth by somebody.



  1. Your hard work has paid off, Amaranthine. This is probably one of my favorite blog posts by you-- or anyone for that matter :) I've read almost everything on there, but the ones I haven't you REALLY make me want to read. And you summed everything up PERFECTLY. :)

    I am sensing I will be doing more linkage again :) :) :)

    Thank you for such an awesome post! <3

    (Oh hey, you should read The Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme. You'd love em.)

    1. heehee. Well, thanks!

      I'll check them out! I got The Floating Island by Elizabeth something or other the other day. :D

      Thank you for being such an awesome friend XD.

    2. Yup! The Floating Island is the first one :D

      Thank YOU for being an awesome friend.... heehe..... love you! <3

  2. I'm so going to check a lot of these out! I've been hunting all over for Howls Moving Castle, but just can't find it. To my dismay.

    1. Good luck on your search! I'm surprised it's so hard to find-Diana Wynne Jones wrote a lot of books and HMC was one of her most famous works. While you're waiting, check out some of the other books on the list! You'd love em!


  3. awsome post. yay harry potter i agree its definitly one of the best books i read. I haven't read the others but i will definitly be checking at least a few of them out. again great post :)

  4. Great post! I have read almost all of the books on your list and loved them(the only ones I have yet to read are "Howl's Moving Castle" and "The Phantom Tollbooth").

    1. Really, Shena? Good for you! I'm still interested in some of the books you've recommended for me :D

    2. Great! :) Hope you enjoy the ones you read.

  5. I LOVE the Maximum Ride series!! I was so happy to see it on your list :) Although I have to disagree with you when you say that nothing happens. I think a lot happens. There is a lot of things that go on within the flock, and relationships arise and some die. I think there are some plot holes, but I think James Patterson did put some thought into it, otherwise he wouldn't have bothered finishing the series.

    1. Yay Julie!

      Nothing consequential happens. Come on XD. The relationships do change between the characters, but that's pretty much it.

      I would say it's reversed. Instead of being a story with plot holes, it's a big plot hole with a bit of story. XD And he bothered finishing the series because he makes another million dollars every time one is released.

      But in all seriousness, yay! I can't wait for Nevermore XD

  6. Yes, I am going to read The Hunger Games. Everyone has convinced me. Now, to find time.....

    1. Good luck with that. :P Be sure to pick an afternoon where you don't have anything else to do.

  7. GREAT post!!! I am going to TRY Hunger Games....but I don't know if I'll continue or not. I love your book review posts...I always end up with more books on my list marked as to read. ;) reviews for Sep and Johnny? D:
    I love Sep and Johnny. <3333 You were the reason I read Johnny Tremain you know. I read on your blog like two years ago that you liked the book, and when I had to read it for school, I had an open mind with "OMG AMARANTHINE LIKES THIS BOOK I WILL PROBABLY LIKE IT TOO!!!" now it's one of my all time favorite books. ;)

    Love you,
    JC <3

  8. aaaah! Hunger Games!

    Nice post. because of your recommendations, you encourage more people to read! :)♥


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