fantastical book recommendations

Elen sila lumenn’ omentielvo!

That’s Quenya (one of Tolkien’s languages), and it’s a traditional Elvish greeting meaning “a star shines on the hour of our meeting.” It was correctly translated by my blogging friend Amelie. In return, she gets free book recommendations, which I’m sharing with her (and you) in this post.

Before I get started, though, I want to remind you that book recommendations (in the form of a post or just via email) are available to everyone through my blog! Click here and scroll down to fill out a form and receive free suggestions of books I think you’d enjoy. This is one of my favorite things to do and I hope more people take advantage of it. Amelie’s the first!

And now…meet Amelie! Amelie blogs at Swordmaiden of the King about writing and following Jesus. I love her blog title! Her posts are amazing too, so I encourage you to check out her site.


Amelie’s answers to my questions ↡

top 3 favorite books
  • The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson
  • Orphan’s Song by Gillian Bronte Adams
3 books you don’t like or couldn’t finish
  • The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  • Detectives in Togas by Henry Winterfeld
  • Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi
currently reading
  • From Darkness Won by Jill Williamson
  • The Chestnut King by N.D. Wilson
favorite genre: fantasy // specific thing you don’t like reading: tons of romance

my book recommendations for Amelie ↡

Image result for the gateway chronicles covers
1. The Gateway Chronicles by K.B. Hoyle

I first heard about this series because the author goes to the same family camp that I’ve been to since I was very young. This Christian fantasy is set at that family camp (the name is changed), and it’s about Darcy Pennington, an introverted, awkward 13-year-old whose parents force her to go to camp. She determines not to enjoy herself but ends up going through a gateway to a magical world with five friends and discovering that she’s prophesied to save the world, get married, and defeat evil.

I recommend this series to Amelie (and anyone who loves fantasy) because it reminds me of the Wingfeather Saga, but aimed at a slightly older age group. It grapples with real-life issues like dating, marriage, free will vs. God’s will, and grief through the medium of storytelling, and it’s very fun to read! I read the whole series in less than a week. The writing is skillful and the worldbuilding is amazing – K.B. even made up a new elf-like race called narks that I love.

Content: fantasy violence, families arguing, dating teens, (in later books) marriage and romance (I’d recommend the last two for ages 14+, but the first four for ages 12+)

Titles: The Six // The Oracle // The White Thread // The Enchanted // The Scroll // The Bone Whistle

True love is born of time and trials, and it is rarely caught up in feelings.

– K.B. Hoyle, The Enchanted

Image result for out of time series nadine brandes

2. The Out of Time trilogy by Nadine Brandes

Nadine Brandes is another of my favorite contemporary Christian fantasy authors. This dystopian series asks the question “What would you do if you knew when you were going to die?” and then follows the life of Parvin, a teenager whose Clock proclaims that she’ll die in less than a year. She hasn’t done anything with her life, and in a desperate attempt to be remembered, she crosses the Wall to the west side of the world – a separate, wild, unknown side – and sends back journal entries to tell her story. What she finds isn’t what she expected: it’s dangerous, surprising, and could change the way everyone in the east lives. If she can return before her Clock runs out.

I picked this series because Brandes’ style and content reminds me of N.D. Wilson, the author of The Chestnut King, and because I think any reader of Christian fantasy should try her books. (She has two others – Fawkes and Romanov – but I think the Out of Time series is the best place to start.) Nadine Brandes tells a beautiful story interwoven with Bible verses and covering difficult topics like relationships (romantic, friends, and family), death, betrayal, good vs. evil, and what it really means to live. This is one of the few trilogies I’ve read where the books keep getting better.

Content: a little bit of romance, lots of violence, family tension, deaths and severe injuries (my recommendation is ages 14+)

Titles: A Time to Die // A Time to Speak // A Time to Rise

God will never instruct me to be afraid, so I might as well get used to reminding myself to fear not.

– Nadine Brandes, A Time to Rise

Image result for peter nimble sophie quire covers
3. Peter Nimble and Sophie Quire books by Jonathan Auxier

This duology by Jonathan Auxier follows two young children on grand adventures. In the first, Peter Nimble the blind thief and his companion Sir Tode, armed with a set of magical stones, set out to save a lost kingdom. In the second, Sophie Quire must become a Storyguard to stop the people of Bustleburgh from destroying stories forever. Both books have overlapping settings and characters and can be read in either order (though I recommend Peter Nimble first).

I love these books because they’re fun, adventurous, quick reads that hold big ideas: the importance of stories. The power of family love. What can happen when you ask a question. The magic in the ordinary.

Content: violence (not a lot, but more than you might expect in a middle-grade book. For that reason, I usually suggest ages 12+ for these books)

Titles: Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes // Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard

You may have observed in your own lives that there is a great power in storytelling. A well-spun tale can transport listeners away from their humdrum lives and return them with an enlarged sense of the world.

– Jonathan Auxier, Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes

Image result for the door before
4. The Door Before by N.D. Wilson

Since Amelie said she’s currently reading The Chestnut King, I decided to suggest The Door Before. It’s the prequel to the 100 Cupboards series: the story of Hyacinth, a girl whose forest magic is prohibited by her parents’ order. When she meets two boys from another world and discovers that she has the power to open gateways to their home – and other unknown realms – she must flee and leave behind her family.

I love N.D. Wilson’s writing because he shares powerful truths through amazing fiction, and The Door Before is a great place to start because it’s also a (sort-of) prequel to his other series Ashtown Burials (The Dragon’s Tooth, The Drowned Vault, Empire of Bones) and it’s fairly short, which gives you a chance to decide if you like his style or not. My sister really doesn’t like Nate’s writing, but he’s my second favorite author (only Tolkien beats him), and I don’t think there’s a middle position: you’ll know, after reading this book, whether NDW is for you or not.

Content: violence, scary scenes, witchcraft (there’s a lot of disturbing stuff in NDW’s books, but it’s always beaten by good and light. Ages 12+ for this one, but Ashtown Burials is more of a 14+)

Sometimes standing against evil is more important than defeating it. The greatest heroes stand because it is right to do so, not because they believe they will walk away with their lives. Such selfless courage is a victory in itself.

– N.D. Wilson, Dandelion Fire

Image result for shiloh trilogy sorensen
5. The Shiloh series by Helena Sorensen

This beautiful, emotional series about the dark and light was written by a friend of Andrew Peterson and S.D. Smith. The first book (which is the only one I’ve read so far) tells the tale of Amos, Simeon, Phebe, and Isolde, four teenagers who live in a world where the sun never shines. Amos is captivated by a mysterious stranger who promises him power, but the others distrust him and chase after Amos when he runs. The second book (which my sister has read) jumps back in time to cover the beginning of the world of Shiloh, and I can’t wait to read it and the third one.

Sorensen’s writing is layered and rich, and her stories show clearly the light shining out through, above, beyond the darkness. I think of this series as a fitting companion to the Wingfeather Saga and the Green Ember books: a bit darker, a bit deeper, a bit more mature. And just as rich and important.

Titles: Shiloh // Seeker // Songbird

So I set my eyes to the sun and walk. One day something may grow so tall its shadow falls across my back. And if I feel its shade, I will not turn, but smile. There are seeds to be planted, and the road is calling.

– Helena Sorensen


↠ metta ↞

(“End” in Quenya)

To Amelie, and everyone who’s reading this, I hope you find some books to make you happy, fill your hours, and change the way you see things. This was a delight for me: I’m so glad I get to share some of my favorite books with you.

have you read any of these books? do my descriptions make you want to read them? do you want personalized recommendations? talk to me in the comments!

Namarie (“farewell” in Quenya),

maya

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23 thoughts on “fantastical book recommendations

  1. Excellent post! Book recommendations are ever welcome. I’ve only just begun the 100 Cupboards series, and I think it is worth continuing. I’ve heard about the Peter Nimble and Sophie Quire books, and wouldn’t mind checking them out. The Shiloh series is new to me, but I’m intrigued.

  2. Thank you so much, Maya!! I love all of these recommendations! (At least, I think I will once I read them 😉 *adds them all to the never-ending TBR*
    Ooh, The Gateway Chronicles sound SO good! I love a good portal fantasy, and I haven’t read a ton of those (the only ones so far being Narnia and Wayne Thomas Batson’s The Door Within trilogy and The Berinfell Prophecies, coauthored with Christopher Hopper 🙂 ).
    I want to read Out of Time SO BADLY! I’ve heard that they’re amazing, and they look like they are!
    I’ve heard great things about Jonathan Auxier’s books. So glad to hear of another person who likes them! 😉
    Yessss, The Door Before looks amazing!! I actually just bought it a couple weeks ago, so I can’t wait to start it! My brother read the whole 100 Cupboards series before me, so he’s reading TDB now. I’m LOVING the series so far!!
    Ooh, I also want to read the Shiloh series SO BADLY! I love the covers. They’re so simple but beautiful. 🙂 I’ve heard great things about them, too.
    Thanks again, mellon! 🙂

  3. Ooh I’ll have to check some of these series out! I really love reading series/connected books like trilogies, but I haven’t heard of most of these. The only one I’ve heard of is the Out of Time series, and I haven’t read it yet.

    Also Detectives in Togas is one of my favorite books!! Sorry to hear Amelie didn’t like it 😦

  4. Whoa, I love this! Your questions remind me of a podcast called What Should I Read Next? Each episode, the host Anne Bogel, asks one (or sometimes two) people to tell her three books they love, one book they don’t, what they’re reading now, and what they want to be different about their reading life, and then she gives them three recommendations! I always think it’s fascinating to listen to other people talk about their thoughts on books.
    Haha, Amelie’s answers to three books you didn’t like or couldn’t finish is made me do a double take because I had to read both Detectives in Togas and Crispin for school!
    OHH, the Peter Nimble and Sophie Quire books are so great. I hope Jonathan Auxier writes more books in the series at one point.
    And yes, I would love personalized recommendations! I’m going to go fill out a form right now.

  5. I’d have to check with you here. Which is not something I usually do! I enjoy reading a post that will make people think. Also, thanks for allowing me to comment!

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