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June 3, 2012 / milesandhisfavorites

MAHF Top 15: Books

In my life, I have read a great many books, many of them good.  But honestly, some I love more than others.  And this is a giant list of those books!  Fifteen!  Grab a can of Red Bull and a large meal, because we’re going to be here a while.  This is MAHF Top 15: Books!

#15. Absolutely Normal Chaos, by Sharon Creech.  I’ve read two Sharon Creech books.  One is Absolutely Normal Chaos, and the other is the festering pile of elephant flesh that is Walk Two Moons.  You can hate me all you want, but very little about that book is good!  This one, however, is the journal of Mary Lou Finney, a character from Walk Two Moons (in case anyone wants to nitpick, Chaos was written before Moons).  In continuity terms, the book isn’t much like Moons, but in my opinion, it’s a huge improvement.  While the book does have a few stupid plot twists (one of the main reasons I hated Walk Two Moons), it doesn’t have nearly as many, and the story is better.  All in all, I think that it’s the better Sharon Creech book.

#14. The Pendragon books, by D.J. McHale.  This is one of the book series that didn’t age too well, in my humble opinion.  It’s a series about a boy named Bobby Pendragon, who gets pulled away from his practically perfect life in New Jersey to live the life of a Traveler, a person who can travel between dimensions.  He has to stop an evil guy named Saint Dane from taking over all of reality.  The series started out well.  So what went wrong?  Well, not much, but it made a difference.  The first six or seven books were really good, but the final three got kind of weird and confused.  Do the three Earth dimensions merge, or not?  If so, how do they rebuild?  And Bobby is an energy being?  Still, they were great books, with tons of creativity and effort.

#13. The Animorphs series, by K.A. Applegate.  What if, thanks to alien technology, a group of kids had the ability to transform into animals and fight alien brain parasites who want to take over Earth?  This is Animorphs, and by golly were they fun to read!  The five characters are distinct, and there’s a fair amount of development over the huge number of books (over 50).  Of course, they were written in the late ’90s, so I don’t always get the pop culture references (Anyone care to tell me who the Ice Capades are?).  But they were funny, dramatic, and overall a very fleshed-out series.  Scholastic is re-releasing them, so if you get the chance, buy one.  They’re well worth the read.  (Seriously.  Who are the Ice Capades?)

#12. The Inquisitor’s Apprentice by Chris Moriarty  If you like alternate history, the late 1800s, New York, and magic, then you will love this book.  It takes place in New York City, only there’s magic.  Magical ethnic groups, magical latkes, and inevitably, magical police.  The book centers around a boy named Sacha, who’s the only Jewish protagonist I’ve ever seen.

Ha-ha.  Anyway, it turns out that Sacha can see magic, which means that he’s enlisted into the NYPD Inquisitors, who solve magical crimes.  Things go crazy, and we get to see Harry Houdini, Thomas Edison, and other strange things.  The book, while not particularly funny, is memorable, and of course, IT’S A MAGICAL NEW YORK CITY!  What more do you need?

#11. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Price of Freedom, by A.C. Crispin  For a movie-licensed book, and a prequel one at that, I really love this giga-huge (somewhere in the neighborhood of six hundred and fifty pages) Jack Sparrow adventure.  In the book, Jack, a newly made captain of an East India Trading Company ship, is sent by Cutler Beckett to find the lost island nation of Zerzura, which holds countless treasures and, in Cutler’s mind, a profitable slave trade.  It’s also intertwined with a story farther back, which eventually ties into the main plot itself.  Regardless of how complicated that sounds, it’s still a mighty fine book, worth a read if you’re a Disney fan.

#10. Dinotopia: The Journey To Chandara, by Dave Gurney.  Stop me if this sounds crazy: a civilization built on an island where dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures exist peacefully, and can even speak!  Okay, this is Dinotopia, and it is the number-one fictional place that I would want to go!  (Other than Pandora, Discworld, and Camp Half-Blood)  The story is great-a professor named Arthur Denison embarks on an epic journey to the far-off city-state of Chandara, having all sorts of adventures, from tracking down thieves to surviving a swamp full of predators.  It’s scientifically accurate, the artwork is phenomenal, and it’s just a great story to read.

#9. Carrie, by Stephen King  This is probably the most disturbing book I’ve ever read, and not because the main character eventually destroys an entire town and kills hundreds of people.  The mother is the most psychotic person I’ve ever read about.  I know religion isn’t really that bad, but wow, she is terrifying to read about.  Stephen King is an excellent author, for better or for worse.  I’ve also read The Stand and The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, but this one probably stands out the most in my mind, if only because it’s so chilling.

#8. Dave Barry Is From Mars and Venus, by Dave Barry.  If I were to compile a list of the funniest books I’ve ever read, this book would be number one.  I’m a fan of hilarious author Dave Barry, and this book shows why.  By the first couple of pages I was literally laughing out loud, and some of the pieces in there are so absurd you can’t help but do the same.  With titles like “I Am Now A Trained Eggbeater”, and covering subjects like how hard it is to open a bottle of aspirin these days, this book is absolutely guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

#7. Jurassic Park, by Michael Crichton.  This book is hands-down one of the greatest science fiction books to ever come out of the ’80s.  The story is original and logical.  The characters are fairly well done, and of course, the dinosaurs are awesome.  While I think the reactions to the fact that dinosaurs have been brought back to life are a little underplayed, but for the most part, the book works really well.  It spawned a sequel that I didn’t think was that good (Michael described a Mussarus as looking like a lizard.  Shame on him.), but even if he didn’t, the book is one for the ages.

#6. Goliath, by Scott Westerfeld.  If you read my review of Scott Westerfeld’s works back in an issue of MAHF Magazine, then you should know that I absolutely love this one.  Why?  Well, the concept (steam-powered machines versus genetically altered animals), the amazing art by Keith Thompson, and the fact that we see so much that was only touched upon in the first two books of the trilogy.  Russia, Japan, the U.S., Mexico, the U.S. again…  The settings are unique and diverse, the story and characters are great, and yes, there’s even a loris wearing a mustache.

#5. The Artemis Fowl books, by Eoin Colfer.  Why is it that some of the best books always take place in the UK?  In these books, a kid genius and criminal mastermind named Artemis Fowl embarks on adventures with technologically advanced fairies.  No, seriously.  You heard that right.  Despite the ludicrous premise, the books are well-written, it’s fun to see what fairy life is like, and of course, Artemis is intelligent and witty.  He’s actually more of an antihero, since he technically has broken a ton of laws, but it doesn’t matter.  I still really love this series.

#4. The Kingdom Keepers books, by Ridley Pearson.  Speaking of weird concepts, how about kids who go to sleep and wake up in the Disney parks as holograms and have to fight Disney villains?  Welcome, my friends, to the Kingdom Keepers books.  They are just awesome.  I mean, what if all your favorite Disney characters were real?  Ariel, Maleficent, even the brooms from Fantasia make appearances!  Just the idea of fighting classic villains in the world’s greatest theme parks is awesome.  Ridley has outdone himself this time.

#3. The Hungry City Chronicles, by Phillip Reeve.  This is an odd pick.  For all of Goliath‘s awesomeness, I honestly think that these four books are the better steampunk novels.  The books are set thousands of years into the future, where, after a devastating war has destroyed most of civilization as we know it, giant mobile city-states wander around the world, occasionally “eating” each other to obtain supplies and slaves.  There are also permanent cities, generally ones that hate the moving ones.  And there are airships, floating cities, and tons of other cool stuff.  If that wasn’t enough, the story is also told really, really well.  It’s a little cliched, especially with the dialogue, but these are steampunk novels, so that’s completely forgivable.  What can I say, except: awesome.

#2. Schooled, by Gordon Korman.  Along with the Dave Barry books, this book is also really hilarious.  It’s about a kid named Capricorn Anderson.  He’s a modern-day hippie who lives on a farm with his… I don’t know, grandmother, guardian?  Anyway, when she gets injured, Cap (as he’s referred to) has to live in the modern world for about a month or two.  During the time, he goes from the new dork in town to class president (which was in fact just a setup) and sort of idiot savant.  It’s really funny, especially during the scenes were Cap tries to describe the real world, which is full of new experiences.  It’s funny, wacky, and has a lot of heart.  I just really love this one.

All right, by now you’ve probably guessed what’s going to be my favorite book of all time.  Well, get ready.  My favorite book of all time is:

#1. Anything by Rick Riordan.  Is it unfair to put the entire works of Rick Riordan at the top of this list?  Maybe, but I couldn’t pick just one!  The Percy Jackson series, the Kane Chronicles, and most recently, the Heroes of Olympus books.  All of them are funny, descriptive, and just absolutely perfect.  If I had to pick my favorite, it would probably either be The Last Olympian or The Throne of Fire.  But all of his books are very good!  Now granted, I haven’t actually read his adult detective novel series, but I’ve got a feeling that I couldn’t get away with checking those out of the library.  But for what it’s worth, Rick Riordan is just too perfect an author to nail down any one of his books.

And those are my top FIFTEEN favorite books!  Remember: this is just my opinion, so don’t take it too seriously!  Besides, I already have a large angry mob of Up-lovers outside my house!

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