Synopsis From Book 1: Nathaniel is a boy magician-in-training, sold to the government by his birth parents at the age of five and sent to live as an apprentice to a master. Powerful magicians rule Britain and its empire, and Nathaniel is told his is the "ultimate sacrifice" for a "noble destiny."
If leaving his parents and erasing his past life is not tough enough, Nathaniel's master, Arthur Underwood, is a cold, condescending, and cruel middle-ranking magician in the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The boy's only saving grace is the master's wife, Martha Underwood, who shows him genuine affection that he rewards with fierce devotion. Nathaniel gets along tolerably well over the years in the Underwood household until the summer before his eleventh birthday. Everything changes when he is publicly humiliated by the ruthless magician Simon Lovelace and betrayed by his cowardly master who does not defend him.
Nathaniel vows revenge. In a Faustian fever, he devours magical texts and hones his magic skills, all the while trying to appear subservient to his master. When he musters the strength to summon the 5,000-year-old djinni Bartimaeus to avenge Lovelace by stealing the powerful Amulet of Samarkand, the boy magician plunges into a situation more dangerous and deadly than anything he could ever imagine.
Why This Is A Favorite: This series does not seem to be as well-known as other popular children's books, but it deserves praise! Bartimaeus is sardonically funny, the stories are intense and interesting, and the concept is immensely creative. Overall this trilogy is hilarious, intense, and fun!
Synopsis From Book One: Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, spends the first years of her life under her aunt's guidance learning to communicate with animals. As she grows up Ani develops the skills of animal speech, but is never comfortable speaking with people, so when her silver-tongued lady-in-waiting leads a mutiny during Ani's journey to be married in a foreign land, Ani is helpless and can not persuade anyone to assist her.
Becoming a goose girl for the king, Ani eventually uses her own special, nearly magical powers to find her way to her true destiny. Shannon Hale has woven an incredible, original and magical tale of a girl who must find her own unusual talents before she can become the queen of the people she has made her own.
Why This Is A Favorite: I love this series. The female protagonists are very strong characters without being over the top, and the male protagonists do not aggravate me in any way. The original fairy tale retelling is very impressive, and the subsequent installments are equally intriguing in their creativity. Overall, a fun read that makes me feel all good and smiley!
Synopsis From Book One: HARRY DRESDEN-WIZARD. Lost items found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, Or Other Entertainment.
Harry Dresden is the best at what he does. Well, technically, he's the only at what he does. So when the Chicago PD has a case that transcends mortal creativity or capability, they come to him for answers. For the "everyday" world is actually full of strange and magical things-and most of them do not play well with humans. That's where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a-well, whatever.
There's just one problem. Business, to put it mildly, stinks. So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry's seeing dollar signs. But where there's black magic, there's a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry's name. And that's when things start to get ... interesting.
Magic. It can get a guy killed.
Why This Is A Favorite: I have not read the latest installments in this series yet, but I love this series! It's private eye mysteries, fantasy, and action / thriller all rolled into one! The books are funny, exciting, and full of awesome, bad-ass magic! It's really worth at least one look if you're into quirky paranormal mysteries.
Synopsis From Book One: Harry Potter has never played a sport while flying on a broomstick. He's never worn a cloak of invisibility, befriended a giant, or helped hatch a dragon. All Harry knows is a miserable life with the Dursleys, his horrible aunt and uncle, and their abominable son, Dudley. Harry's room is a tiny closet at the foot of the stairs, and he has not had a birthday party in eleven years.
But all that is about to change when a mysterious letter arrives by owl messenger: a letter with an invitation to a wonderful place he never dreamed existed. There he finds not only friends, aerial sports, and magic around every corner, but a great destiny that's been waiting for him ... if Harry can survive the encounter.
Why This Is A Favorite: I grew up with this series. It has been a significant part of my life ever since I was 11 years old. This magical world of Harry Potter is so original, and feels so complete and real, that practically everyone who enjoys these books wishes it were truly real, both adults and children alike. The stories are so well-written and intricately woven that I never tire of reading (or listening) to it. I love the characters, the plot, the magic .... heck I love everything about it! They have been my most favorite books ever since I picked the first one up, and they will continue to be my favorite books for as long as I live.
Synopsis: Lyra Belacqua is content to run wild among the scholars of Jodan College, with her familiar daemon always by her side. But the arrival of her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, draws her to the heart of a terrible struggle-a struggle born of Gobblers and stolen children, witch clans and armored bears. And as she hurtles toward danger in the cold far North, she never suspects the shocking truth: she alone is destined to win, or to lose, this more-than-mortal battle. Philip Pullman's award-winning The Golden Compass is a masterwork of storytelling and suspense, critically acclaimed and hailed as a modern classic fantasy.
Why This Is A Favorite: I only ever read the main three books, but I love this trilogy. The characters are positively memorable and well done. I also love the different parallel worlds, and how each one is creative. The concepts of childhood innocence and of God and Christianity have developed into a both fascinating and wonderfully-written piece of fantasy literature.
Synopsis From Book One: My name is Kvothe, pronounced nearly the same as 'quothe.' Names are important as they tell you a great deal about a person. I've had more names than anyone has a right to.
The Adem call me Maedre. Which, depending on how it's spoken, can mean The Flame, The Thunder, or The Broken Tree.
'The Flame' is obvious if you've ever seen me. I have red hair, bright. If I had been born a couple of hundred years ago I would probably been burned as a demon. I keep it short but it's unruly. When left to its own devices, it sticks up and makes me look as if I've been set afire.
'The Thunder' I attribute to a strong baritone and a great deal of stage training at an early age.
I've never thought of 'The Broken Tree' as very significant. Although in retrospect, I suppose it could be considered at least partially prophetic.
My first mentor called me E'lir because I was clever and I knew it. My first real lover called me Dulator because she liked the sound of it. I have been called Shadicar, Lightfinger, and Six-String. I have been called Kvothe the Bloodless, Kvothe the Arcane, and Kvothe Kingkiller. I have earned those names. Bought and paid for them.
But I was brought up as Kvothe. My father once told me it meant "to know."
I have, of course, been called many other things. Most of them uncouth, Although very few were unearned.
I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during the day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that the make the minstrels weep.
You may have heard of me.
So begins the tale of Kvothe - from his childhood in a troupe of traveling players to years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-riddled city, to his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a difficult, and dangerous school of magic. In these pages you will come to know Kvothe as a notorious magician, an accomplished thief, a masterful musician, and an infamous assassin. But THE NAME OF THE WIND is so much more - for the story it tells reveals the truth behind Kvothe's legend.
Why This Is A Favorite: Someone else said that the story sneaks up on you with the slow build-up. And that is perfectly true. The story builds on itself slowly and intricately, until about 2/3 of the way in you realize that you are really enjoying the tale.
I love the complexity of both the plot and the characters. The world-building is truly incredible with it's creativity, and the writing style is almost as poetic as JRR Tolkien's Lord Of The Rings.
Synopsis From The Hobbit (written by the author): "If you care for journeys there and back, out of the comfortable Western world, over the edge of the wild, and home again, and can take an interest in a humble hero (blessed with a little wisdom and a little courage and considerable good luck), here is a record of such a journey and such a traveler. The period is the ancient time between the age of Faerie and the dominion of men, when the famous forest of Mirkwood was still standing, and the mountains were full of danger. In following the path of this humble adventurer, you will learn by the way (as he did) - if you do not already know all about these things - much about trolls, goblins, dwarves, and elves, and get some glimpses into the history and politics of a neglected but important period.
"For Mr. Bilbo Baggins visited various notable persons; conversed with the dragon Smaug the Magnificent; and was present, rather unwillingly, at the Battle of the Five Armies. This is all the more remarkable, since he was a hobbit. Hobbits have hitherto been passed over in history and legend, perhaps because they as a rule preferred comfort to excitement. But this account, based on his personal memoirs, of the one exciting year in the otherwise quiet life of Mr. Baggins will give you a fair idea of the estimable people now (it is said) becoming rather rare. They do not like noise. "
Why This Is A Favorite: How could anyone not love these books?! The creativity behind them, the depth and detail, the characters ... I could just go on and on about how amazing these stories are; they are truly pieces of literature. There is absolutely nothing about this beautiful series that I do not like. JRR Tolkien is a master of fantasy literature, and no one who says they love fantasy should go on without reading these books.
Synopsis: A thrilling and original coming-of-age novel about a young man practicing magic in the real world. Quentin Coldwater is brilliant but miserable. A senior in high school, he's still secretly preoccupied with a series of fantasy novels he read as a child, set in a magical land called Fillory. Imagine his surprise when he finds himself unexpectedly admitted to a very secret, very exclusive college of magic in upstate New York, where he receives a thorough and rigorous education in the craft of modern sorcery. Also he discovers all the other things people learn in college: friendship, love, sex, booze, and boredom.
Something is missing, though. Magic does not bring Quentin the happiness and adventure he dreamed it would. After graduation he and his friends make a stunning discovery: Fillory is real. But the land of Quentin's fantasies turns out to be much darker and more dangerous than he could have imagined. His childhood dream becomes a nightmare with a shocking truth at its heart. At once psychologically piercing and magnificently absorbing, The Magicians boldly moves into uncharted literary territory, imagining magic as practiced by real people, with their capricious desires and volatile emotions. Lev Grossman creates an utterly original world in the which good and evil are not black and white, love and sex are not simple or innocent, and power comes at a terrible price.
Why This Is A Favorite: I have not finished the whole trilogy yet, so I can not automatically declare the whole series a favorite, but I've read the first book twice and I find it to be an excellent dark parody of fantasy literature. It's very well-written, with an intriguing new take on the use of magic in the real world.
Synopsis From Book 1: Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight - she's a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but as she is graced with killing, she is forced to work as the king's thug. When she first meets Prince Po, graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change. She never expects to become Po's friend. She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace - or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away. , , a secret that could destroy all seven Kingdoms with words alone. With elegant, evocative prose and a cast of unforgettable characters, debut author Kristin Cashore creates a mesmerizing world, a death-defying adventure, and a heart-racing romance that will consume you, hold you captive, and leave you wanting more.
Why This Is A Favorite: This is one of my favorite YA series. I only read the third book once, but the other two are the absolute favorites of mine!
I love stories with strong female protagonists, par-ticularly if the woman is a fighter and capable of defending herself without any help from anyone. And Katsa is the ultimate independent character! The premise is also extremely creative, with a simple, but good writing style, and excellent flow. This is excellent for anyone who loves YA.