The Best Books & Book Series' (that I've read)
As someone who spends way too much time reading books, both the popular ones everyone knows and those that get shoved into the dark corners of libraries and never get touched, I wanted to give a short list of my all-time favorite books and book series' out there. From authors who can do no wrong in my eyes to those one hit wonders that make my heart ache each time I read it, these are the best books ever. (So far.)
The Casteel Family Series by V.C. Andrews
If you're interested in family drama that goes beyond the typical teen novel, then any V.C. Andrews series is probably for you. The Casteel series focuses on a young girl named Heaven Leigh Casteel whose family is barely surviving on scraps and town pity until her father takes drastic measures to lift his wealth. Over the span of the series there are many dark twists and turns, and by the middle of the series the point of view has shifted to a fresh innocent mind, ready to be twisted by the darkness of the Casteel family roots.
Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
Sorry guys, but I had to do it. The Harry Potter series is amazing in all ways. It has strong women, awesome spells, and villians that scare the shit out of you. Each book builds upon the last the continuity in this series is seriously close to flawless - which is so not typical for most book series. I'm gonna keep this one short; nothing else needs to be said.
Carrie by Stephen King
Carrie is one of Stephen King's classics and even if you have never read this book, I'm sure you know the story: Weird teenage girl with an overprotective mother has telekinetic powers. Add in a prank gone wrong and things turn deadly. I'm not telling you anymore than that! Read the book, it's way better than the movie - every version.
Wicked by Gregory Maguire
The Wizard of Oz is an amazing movie and while I would never want to ruin that for anyone, reading Wicked is so worth not being able to view the film in the same way again. Wicked tells the story of the Wicked Witch of the West Elphaba and her journey from birth until her dark fate at the end of the Wizard of Oz. While I would never call Elphaba a sympathetic character, she is the main protagonist and her story really does make you wonder about how every single choice in life can alter your entire future. The story teaches that even the best of intentions and the deepest loves do not always end the way you think you're supposed to. And most importantly, there are always two sides to every story.
The Ballad of the Sad Cafe by Carson McCullers
This story is dark and brings up more questions than it could ever hope to answer in such a short amount of pages. There are several stories in this novella, but the Ballad of the Sad Cafe tells the story of loneliness and how sometimes we cling to things and people that are not good for us. This story really makes you question the people in your life. How much pain can someone give you before it is time to cut ties?
The Landry Family Series by V.C. Andrews
If I could, I would just fill this entire list with V.C. Andrews books. The Lanrdy series focuses on Ruby Landry before later switching to the point of view of her daughter. Like the Casteel series the Landry family is twisted with many secrets and dark affairs of the heart. Andrews knows how to spin a tail as she creates these worlds of darkness while also showing you the truth behind growing up as a teenage girl. These stories are set before the age of cell phones and laptops, so these interact in a way that is just so genuine. The villians are not always the easiest to understand when it comes to motivation, but the stories are so immersing that you never even notice it. The protagonist is a huge pain in the butt sometimes, but somehow that makes her more lovable because you can imagine yourself right there in her shoes.
The Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop
This series includes the books Daughter of the Blood, Heir to the Shadows, and Queen of Darkness. There are many more books and short series connected to the world of the Black Jewels, but none of those books connected to me in the way that these three did. In a world where women rule and men are basically slaves, one young girl has the power to fix things and put them right. There's a really strange but kind of epic love triangle in this series that will both gross you out and fascinate you at the same time. Before your eyes watch the heroine grow from a pre-teen girl into a grown woman who learns what love is and the horrors that come with power.
Nightshade by John Saul
Nightshade is the only novel I have ever read by John Saul, but God does it make me want to read 100 more by him. This story is terrifying. Think murder mystery with some screwed up drug induced confusion, psycho parents, oh, and did I mention MURDER?! This book had me dropping my jaw up until the final page when I was left sitting there in panic - it couldn't really be over already could it! This is a must-read for anyone who is a fan of the genre.
White Oleander by Janet Fitch
This book made me cry. Not just a quick tear falling down my cheek, I mean heavy tears that literally forced me to put the book down for a while before I could pick it back up again. The book is dark and haunting and adds a whole new element to dyfunctional families. (I'm starting to sense a theme with many of the books I'm choosing, woops!) There's child abuse in this one, murder, lies, and a whole lot of drugs. At the end of this book you just feel real honest sadness for the protagonist. She goes through so much throughout the novel and it is just hard to believe she has gotten so far.
PS. The movie based on this book is amazing as well. Check it out!
Holes by Louis Sachar
This is the first book I ever remember actually reading all the way through. It was 4th grade and somehow I had managed to pass my elementary school classes by skimming books and writing half-asses reports on them. Something changed in me after reading Holes though. The story was so gripping and I could see myself in Stanley. I had obviously never been in the position Stanley was in and yet I understood him and his pain - the whole world was against him and he was cursed! And the ending... oh it touched me. This is one book that adults and children both need to read. It touches on emotions that many of us are too afraid to admit we have.
The Casteel Series is my all-time favorite book series in the world so far, but I definitely want to have a final shout-out to all the books on this list. Each book deserves to be on this spot, and I hope that someday someone gives them all a chance and that they are as touched by these stories as I was. For now I just say, keep on reading and maybe soon I'll be choosing a new book to read off of a list YOU come up with.