Every year for the past couple of years one of my friends and I have this tradition: I give her a book for Christmas and buy a copy of the same book for myself. We then spend the next couple of months reading through the book and emailing each other about it. It's been a great way for us to connect since we rarely get to see each other due to our different schedules.
I L-O-V-E books! They have the power to not only teach you but to transport you into another world away from your own regular life for just a moment. So I thought I'd share with you all some of my top favorite books of all time. Whenever you are looking for another great read all of these are amazing so give one (or two) a try!
The Tales of Goldstone Woods
Una, smitten instead with a more dashing prince, refuses Aethelbald's offer--and ignores his cautions with dire consequences. Soon the Dragon King himself is in Parumvir and Una, in giving her heart away unwisely, finds herself in his sights. Only those courageous enough to risk everything have a hope of fighting off this advancing evil.
I came across Heartless by complete accident, but OH AM I SO GLAD I DID!!!!!!!!! Heartless is the first book in The Tales of GoldStone Woods series (I actually did a review of the sixth book in this series, Shadow Hand, on this blog). All of the books in the series are really good but Heartless could stand alone by itself. From best I can tell the story line is loosely based on G-D's relationship with the church (and if not, there are several places where it practically SCREAMS IT!). This was also the first book that made me cry. I had never cried in a book before until this one and it was all I could do to keep the tears from falling.
I would recommend this book to anyone above the age of 10 or 11. There are some intense moments and there is blood, but nothing really extreme (younger children might be frightened in certain parts). There is no sexual content except for one kiss and at one point the main girl develops a crush on someone, but these are all very minor and need no cause for concern.
However, there is a large amount of swearing going on in this book and throughout the whole series. They don't use what we would consider "bad words", however they swear and curse by former heroes and villains from their country's past (you can read more about my thoughts on this issue here in my Shadow Hand book review).
There are several reasons to like this book: #1 they are written by my FAVORITE singer/songwriter of all time Andrew Peterson. #2 He wrote them to and for his children (remember that if you ever, correction, I mean WHEN you read them). #3 It's about true and ultimate love and the price we all must pay to fulfill the calling G-D has given us. Heartless may have been the first book I cried in but this series is the first one I've literally curled up in a ball and BAWLED during.
These are just a few of many reasons (I give a few more here) why this series is O-MAZ-ING. The author meant for the series to be read aloud as a family but they work well for personal reading as well. However, parents should be cautioned. While written for children of all ages the series deals with several grown -up aspects such as loss, pain, war, and death. Parents are advised to pre-read the series before reading it aloud or giving it to children to read for the first time to discern what their kids can and cannot handle. I know a family whose mother read this aloud to her 9 and 7 year old and she had to warn them ahead of time before certain chapters were read. I'm not saying that this is a bad book for young children, Andrew Peterson does a good job handling these aspects, but they are eye opening especially to children who have never been exposed to these aspects before.
I had to read The Giver for a school assignment during my 9th grade year of homeschooling. I always said that if I ever have to do an in-depth paper on one book, it will be The Giver. The Giver is about choice and design. Though not written from a Christian perspective (from best I can tell), if one reads it in this mindset you can easily pick out how G-D design the universe to work, even amidst the fall, and how when we try to control and change that design we mess things up.
The Giver is a pretty clean book. There is no cussing or violence but death is a relevant part of the plot. There is some sensuality towards the beginning. During one of the earlier chapters Jonas goes to a retirement home to help with bathing the old which takes place in a large open room. He has a whole conversation with an elderly woman as he bathes her and it is discussed that she is naked. In the chapter preceding the one at the retirement home Jonas has a dream in which he and one of his female friends are alone in the bathing room at the retirement home. Nothing is done but Jonas does talks about how he felt in the dream and he mentions that he has no shirt on. So some things are mentioned but not in great detail.
For this reason, and many others, I would NOT recommend The Giver to anyone under the age of 14 maybe 13. This book is deep and goes in-depth on several subjects that I think only someone who can understand the issues addressed should read it.
**NOTE: This book has recently been made into a movie under the same title. And while the movie is really good and stays close to the book, I recommend you read the BOOK before you watch the MOVIE. The book goes in far more depth and you will appreciate the movie more after reading the book.**
The Chronicles of Narnia
Out of the 7 books in this series The Horse and His Boy is probably my favorite. I mean there's nothing like a good 'ole runaway-orphan story line with a talking horse thrown in for extra measure! I'll assume that everyone has already read The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, the second book in the series, and probably the most popular. The Horse and His Boy takes place during Peter, Susan, Edmond and Lucy's reign as kings and queens of Narnia (known also as the "Golden Age of Narnia"). For those of you who never knew there were any other Narnia books I'm pleased to be the one to tell you that there are six others so enjoy them all!
I recommend The Horse and His Boy, along with the rest of The Chronicles of Narnia to any age group. There is something in there for everyone and all the books are clean and appropriate. The Horse and His Boy is a great story about wanting to belong and the journey we must all take to find our place in this world.
"Big Tim" Creighton, however, is appalled when this mincing fop arrives at Forsaken. He determines he'll turn Fancy Pants Hathwell into a man before the boss returns home. From the get-go, he has "the kid" mucking stalls, clearing and plowing a field, and assisting with a difficult calving. But when Sydney's true identity is uncovered, Tim resents being deceived. Yet in time, he also finds that he doesn't like all the attention Sydney garners now that she's wearing pretty gowns...
Together Sydney and Tim will discover the importance of family and what it means to be a man--and a woman--of God.
I first read Fancy Pants when I was about 11 or 12 and have read it many times since then. Though not part of a "series" per say, Cathy Marie Hake has written several other books after the publication of Fancy Pants that revolve in the same town around the same time period. Several characters pop up throughout the other books from previous books. Fancy Pants is the first in this timeline.
For a historical romance this book is pretty clean which is why my Mom let me read it at age 11. There is a part were the ranch hands get the main girl drunk by accident and because of it she meets one of the "soiled doves" at the saloon. The "soiled doves" of course know that she's a girl and decide to go along with her little plan. Sydney pays them to allow her to come up and use their bath without fear of someone knowing who she really is. So there are some scenes in a bar, but nothing happens like you think would happen in a normal bar and "upstairs" scene. There is a part where a man accidentally walks into a woman taking a bath but he immediately turns away and walks out. Also, there are quite a few scenes where Sydney is having to bind up her... ahem... self to hide her womanish figure but unless you are a man reading these parts, I found no problem with that.
Fancy Pants is a great "beginner romance" book for younger girls (like 12 to 14) but was written for women of all ages. Like I mentioned above, there are some things mentioned and discussed in the book (I mean it's about a girl dressing up as a guy to hide her identity), but the author covers and deals with these subjects very well and within reason. This is by NO MEANS a "gay" or "homosexual" book, such things aren't even mentioned, so there is no need for concern.