My Top Five Books of All Time

My Top Five Books of All Time

While at work the other day I was asked to answer a boatload of questions that described my hobbies for the monthly “About This Employee” newsletter. One of the first things that came to mind was how much I love to read, even if I don’t always have as much time to as I’d like. This, of course, sent me down memory lane and had me reminiscing on all the incredible books I’ve read over the years. This list is nowhere near comprehensive, and there are so many books that truly pain me to leave off, but the top five books below are the ones that I feel stand out the most in my 20+ years of reading.

#5 – A Land Remembered by Patrick D. Smith

Rounding out the bottom of my list is A Land Remembered. This was a book I would’ve probably never read if it hadn’t been a mandatory read when I was in high school. As I made my deeper and deeper into the book, it slowly snuck its way up into my list of favorite books. It’s also a pretty neat little history lesson of sorts for me as the book takes place within the state of Florida, which is where I was born and still live to this day. One of the other things I absolutely loved about this book was its split into three substantially different perspectives. Each detailed a different generation of the MacIveys, and it was a very fun way to tell the story of a family who was trying to make a name for themselves during the 19th and 20th centuries.

#4 – The Redwall Series by Brian Jacques

For those of you who do know this series, I’m sure you will recall that there are about 30 books within or related to the series. I didn’t read all of them, but my elementary years were littered with most of these stories. Redwall, Salamandastron, Martin the Warrior, and Marlfox were just a few of Brian Jacques mesmerizing novels. Each had their similarities, but were also ridiculously unique in their own way. They all completely submerged me into a realm I had never even dreamt of. The fantasy novels all enlist some form of anthropomorphic animal that is undertaking a massive task to save the people of Redwall and its surrounding areas. It is one of few book series of its kind and it is a must-read for anyone who enjoys fantasy based novels. The books were aimed at children, specifically older children, so be weary of this is you decide to indulge yourself within Brain Jacques realm!

#3 – The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

It’s very hard for me to rank this book at #3, but unfortunately it has to be done. Lord of the Rings itself was incredible, but The Hobbit is one of those books that is basically absolute perfection. I can still remember when I picked this book up in fifth grade and didn’t set it down until I was finished with it. I was glued to that book for over a week and enjoyed every single second of it. Since then, I’ve probably only re-read this book twice. But knowing that I have a child on the way I am already anticipating reading it to them countless times once they can understand the story behind this incredible book.

#2 – The Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling

Now, I won’t waste too much of your time here since I just recently posted a complete breakdown and ranking of the Harry Potter series, but it goes without saying that these books were essentially my entire childhood. From the second I opened my first HP book until my freshman year when The Deathly Hallows was released I always dreamt of the wizarding world. J.K. Rowling’s series was atop my list of favorites for years, but just recently it was toppled by ASOIAF. These books have the most read throughs for me and I know quite a disgusting amount about these books. I actually corrected the librarians answer key when I was in fourth grade too. Super nerd alert haha. Harry Potter and his crew taught me so many things over the years, and if you haven’t read this series yet you’re doing an immense disservice to yourself!

#1 – The A Song of Ice and Fire Series by George R. R. Martin

Finally, the moment we’ve all been waiting for. And the #1 book/series of all time goes to… A Song of Ice and Fire! I know I know, this series isn’t even done yet (and it honestly might never be), but there is something about the way GRRM writes that I can’t get enough of. I’ve even bought his children’s book, The Ice Dragon, for when my child is born haha. His writing style was something I was very unfamiliar with but grew to love almost immediately. He actually inspired me to begin my own novel in a similar POV fashion as his ASOIAF books. The first five books of this series are all amazing, however, they’re not all the same caliber to me for one specific reason: I watched the show before I read the books. With that being said, the third, fourth, and fifth books are much more intriguing to read, but that in no way takes anything away from the first two!

The Lord of The Rings Series, The Great Gatsby, To Kill A Mockingbird, these are just a few others that had every right to make this list. Reading just has a way of making us lose track of time while we immerse ourselves in the fantasy worlds of these spectacular authors. I hope one day my books can influence someone the way that some of these have influenced my life. When all is said and done, these books just hit on a different level, and they will forever hold a special place in my heart.

Thanks again for reading the list of my top five books. As always, please leave some feedback and give my page a follow so you can experience all of my content. I’d love to hear from all of my wonderful readers, so be sure to rate and comment often!

Norse Mythology for the Win

Norse Mythology for the Win

Norse Mythology has always been something that’s interested me. My dad always had movies or shows on with bits and pieces of Nordic flare throughout my childhood. I think the first true taste of the Nordic culture that had me all-in was back in 2007. Pathfinder had just come out and my father and I went to watch it in theaters. Looking back at it now, it’s not that great of a movie (5.4 on IMDB and a 10% Rotten Tomato), but it truly was the first movie that drew me into that Nordic realm. From there, my passion has been fueled by Vikings, The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, and even vaguely by the loose Nordic aesthetic within Game of Thrones. But the most influential Norse thing throughout my years was actually the PS4 exclusive God of War. This realm will almost always be a part of my life and it has inspired many ideas for my book. So grab your sword and braid your beard because Norse Mythology is here to seduce you!

The Lore & Stories

Ymir the Frost Giant

The intricate stories within Norse Mythology are one of the main things that draw me in. I love how detailed and farfetched these tales of ancient gods, creatures, and peoples are. Not to mention, most of the stories have tons of holes within them, which leaves plenty of room for my imagination to add its own spin. This actually brings us to how some of this lore inspired ideas within my first book, Brightblood. When I began writing, I started with the usual “Hero takes on evil to save his world” idea, and I was drawing a lot of inspiration from Game of Thrones. But when I really sat down and wondered how the character I had developed would look, I was clueless. After roughly an hour of pondering, I knew I was going to go Norse, and that theme quickly spread throughout my chapters.

Then I really started doing research on Norse Mythology. I stumbled across the tale of Ymir the frost giant and the general basis for my world was born. A dying good whose body turns into a planet, how could I not use that! From there I went down an even deeper rabbit hole into the lore of Ymir. His story has so many areas for me to delve into to make my own. Like how he was created or what actually led to his demise (potential spinoff, watch out!). This led to a shoot-off down the path of Norse Gods, which funneled into a slip and slide of Nordic mythological creatures, which ended in the general study of more lands, peoples, and cultures. Granted, my entire book is not solely based on this culture. Buttttt it is the essential driving force behind its birth.

The Language & Symbols

Nordic Runes

Some of the cooler, yet more challenging pieces of Norse Mythology are the language and symbols. This is where a lot of my research has been lately as I’ve started developing artwork for the story. Obviously, with such a heavy Nordic flare in the book, I wanted to accurately portray ancient runes and language everywhere. Yet, as a native English speaker, it is very challenging attempting to figure out such an old, intriguing language. Even with the help of the all mighty google machine I still struggle! However, over the last few weeks, I’ve been tackling a good amount of translations and have also come to the conclusion that this is another area that is open to tons of interpretation.

Take Odin’s Illusion Rune for example. If you do a quick google search, you cannot really find any definitive explanation for what this rune means. Many say it’s related to basic trickery and deception among the Nordic people. Many believe it could simply tie into Odin’s powerful godly magic. And some even think it’s a made-up rune that a random person who loved Norse Mythology created. That rune has just slowly been making its way across the internet for years, but I personally couldn’t care less. So even if it is a made-up rune that means absolutely nothing, I’ve taken this idea and branched it out onto its own unique path that I believe fits perfectly with my story.

The Look & Aesthetic of its People

Vikings Ragnar Lothbrook

Finally, what may be my favorite thing about the Nordic Culture, their aesthetic. There’s just something about long, unkempt, dreaded hair and bald guys with intense, waste-long beards, am I right? Tattoos covering the body of a warrior who hasn’t lost a battle in years. These are the things that really get me amped up! The fur-lining on everything is just so pleasing too. And don’t even get me started on the animal head cloaks our Nordic heroes wear so often! There is something extremely menacing about a character who puts on one of these cloaks. The ferocity one exudes once put on is just unmatchable. This whole culture’s aesthetic is just spot on at all times and it truly makes me wish I experienced that day and age.

Thanks again for reading Norse Mythology for the Win. As always, please leave some feedback and give my page a follow so you can experience all of my content. I’d love to hear from all of my wonderful readers, so be sure to rate and comment often!

Harry Potter Rankings

My Official Harry Potter Rankings

One of my favorite lines from the Harry Potter series was bellowed by none other than Rubeus Hagrid himself. “I am what I am an’ I’m not ashamed.” I love this quote because it encourages us to be who we truly are at all times, and I’m proud to admit that I am a huge stan of this series and have been since I was in the second grade. My introduction to J.K. Rowling’s masterpiece was a strange one as my mother started me on the third book. I was eight or nine at the time and this was my first “big” book that I can remember reading. I was always reading way above my grade level (humble brag, I know) but hadn’t ventured too far into novels at that age. The Prisoner of Azkaban changed the game for me though, and that was when I knew I would love every book that ever came out in this series. With that being said, not all of the books are equals, so I had to sit down and make my Harry Potter rankings for all of my fellow Potter heads.

#7 – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Just because The Sorcerer’s Stone ranks in at the bottom of this list does not mean I didn’t like it. That actually couldn’t be any further from the truth as it is the beginning of my second favorite novel series of all time. I mean, what’s not to love about J.K. Rowling’s first installment within the wizarding world? We have three of the greatest main characters and friends ever introduced, a mysterious villain that will grow to be one of the most hated (but in a good sense) wizards we’ve ever met, and countless moments where we found ourselves smiling ear to ear from the story J.K. told. The only reason this book isn’t ranked higher for me is solely due to the exponential leaps and bounds that occurred among the plots of the books as Rowling delved deeper into her world.

#6 – The Chamber of Secrets

For Similar reasons as #7, The Chamber of Secrets falls low on this list for me. It was slightly better than Sorcerer’s Stone in the fact that we learn a little more about Harry, Hermione, Ron, Hogwarts, and the wizarding world in general, but still doesn’t topple the details we get later on in the series. Plus, we are introduced to Dobby in J.K.’s second book and he has to be one of the top five greatest HP characters of all time, am I right? On top of that we get the beginnings of a new language, parseltongue, and the origination of Harry and Ginny’s love story. Even though that last bit doesn’t really come back into play any time soon, it’s very intriguing to think how differently I may have perceived those two’s interactions if I would have known that a little sooner. All in all, an excellent second book, but still we haven’t even come close to the pinnacle of the series.

#5 – Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix

Finally deviating from the series order, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix comes in at #5 on my rankings list. This was the first book I ever stayed up to go buy at midnight way back when it released in 2007. I tore through this book and consumed the entirety of it in 72 hours. I couldn’t believe the twists and turns J.K took within this novel. I even had to re-read the chapter where Sirius’ died because I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me! She also tugged on my heartstrings with everything that mean ol’ Dolores Umbridge did to Harry. We also finally learn how important Voldemort actually is when Dumbledore give Harry more detail on the prophecy between the two of them. One will die at the hands of the other, and that was a perfect segue into the penultimate book of the series.

#4 – The Half Blood Prince

Ranking The Half Blood Prince at #4 is very hard for me because it was more than just an incredible book. We were finally taken into the mind of young Tom Riddle and his obsession with horcruxes after Harry retrieves the memory from Slughorn. And then we get our own little off campus adventure with Dumbledore and Harry, which was one part scary, one part exciting, and one part holy crap what did I just read. The loss of Dumbledore was also one of the biggest shocks in the series and just as I did when Sirius died, I re-read this chapter a number of times until I finally came to the conclusion J.K. actually killed off one of the most important characters of all time. The Half Blood Prince was also, in my opinion, the darkest book of the series, which I absolutely loved.

#3 – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

As the second longest book in the series, this book’s immense amount of detail did not disappoint. J.K. Rowling started this book very different in comparison to its predecessors and it was easily my favorite beginning out of the entire series. This is also the first book we get Death Eaters attacking civilians and no longer remaining hidden within the shadows. Plus, how could I forget that we finally get Voldemort back in a body! Granted, its an absolutely, hideously, grotesque body, but it’s still nice to no longer have him simply being a voice within someones head or a strange looking baby creature. The Triwizard tournament was also fantastic to read through and this book brought us so many great characters: Cedric Diggory (RIP, still too soon), Fleur Delacour, and Mad-Eye Moody just to name a few. This book had just the right amount of fear, intrigue, and pure joy that helped it land at the bronze tier of my rankings list.

#2 – The Deathly Hallows

If i’m being completely honest, this book probably should be #1. But, since The Prisoner of Azkaban holds such a near and dear spot in my heart, the seventh and final installment of this series falls in at #2 on my list. This book had legitimately everything I could have ever wanted and needed within. We finally got to enjoy the horcrux hunting that we knew was in store for Harry. Voldemort was finally vulnerable again and we were able to witness the demise, and death, he deserved. All of our favorite characters romances finally played out, even though they may have not ell ended up with who wanted them to end up with. We also got to read about so many characters confronting their fears, which in turn helped us as readers confront and tackle some of our fears as well (or at least it did for ninth grade me). J.K. worked magic with this final piece to her series and I will forever owe her a debt for the magnificence that was The Deathly Hallows.

#1 – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

This book will always hold a special place in my heart. If you have read any of my previous HP articles, or remember me mentioning this above, you know that this was the first book I read in the series. To this day I am still not sure why, but that’s just how my mom bought them for me. This was also the first book that I ever truly loved and could very well be the sole reason behind my general love for reading. This book had literally everything that younger me wanted. I wished that I would one day be able to sit atop a hippogryph as I flew over the enchanted forest. I hoped that Professor Lupin would teach me how to cast my own patronus (which would be a sick leopardess LOL). The Prisoner of Azkaban will probably go down as my favorite single literary work of all time and I am so happy that J.K Rowling had these crazy ideas all those years ago.

Whether flying to Hogwarts in that beaten down Weasely jalopy, delving into the catacombs of the castle to fight off basilisks and possessed teachers, or scouring the countryside for Voldemort’s horcruxes, the memories I’ve created and lessons I’ve learned from reading Harry Potter will always remain atop the others.

Thanks again for reading my Harry Potter rankings. As always, please leave some feedback and give my page a follow so you can experience all of my content. I’d love to hear from all of my wonderful readers, so be sure to rate/comment often!

A Song of Ice and Fire Review

A Song of Ice and Fire Review

Welcome back! It’s so crazy to think were already halfway through our first YEAR of weekly reviews. We’ve covered some awesome subjects over the last 23 weeks, but this week we will dive into one of my favorite authors, George R. R. Martin (AKA G.R.R.M.) and his fantasy series, ASOIAF.

G.R.R.M., as I’ve already mentioned, is one of my favorite authors. His A Song of Ice and Fire series may just end up being my favorite series of all time too. Granted, only five of the seven books have been released, but G.R.R.M. would really need to screw up to taint the series for me. And in all honesty, the way the TV series ended I cant imagine its anywhere but up from there.

Game of Thrones (2012) Episode Title: Blackwater Season 2, Episode 9 Air Date: May 27, 2012 Jerome Flynn as Bronn

These first two books were masterfully crafted yet they didn’t really do much for me. I had already watched the first few seasons of Game of Thrones so everything was already pretty redundant. That is in no way G.R.R.M.’s fault though, as I just didn’t know the books were there until it was too late. Plus HBO essentially copied the books word for word. Book three was where this series really began standing out for me. As little details that had been left out of the show began surfacing in the book, my mind immediately started thinking of all the potential theories arising (ahem, reddit). Little did I know, these books had been out for ages by the time I got to them in 2018, and there was an unimaginable amount of theories for me to sift through.

Books four and five of ASOIAF then began to drastically change. New characters, new places traveled, and new story lines that are so much more interesting than the ones HBO went with (no shade at HBO, just think the mastermind’s story was better lol). These books are also extremely interesting because they were originally one book. G.R.R.M. actually had these two books as one but had to split it due to size. This pushed his six book series to seven, and led to another six years of waiting for his beloved fans. He really descends into the other areas of his realm in these two books as well.

These books will easily go down as some of the greatest fantasy books of all time. They’re even a pretty big piece of the reason I began writing my own book. I wanted to immerse myself in my own Seven Kingdoms, and G.R.R.M. 100% opened that door for me. I don’t think I, or the countless others, could ever thank him enough.

A Land Remembered Review

A Land Remembered Review

Welcome back to another DustyPosts weekly rec! This week I’d like to recommend one of my all time favorite books, A Land Remembered. Also, I know I typically don’t talk about books all that often, but prepare yourselves to start seeing a lot more about my must read books.

So I read this book for the first time my senior year of high school. The way my English teacher premised the book at the time made me think I was going to hate it. Not to mention, the book looked like an absolute monster page wise, especially for a high school kid who (at the time) only read when required. Looking back at it and its 403 pages, it’s really nothing compared to the ASOIAF books. But any who, it ended up being shockingly amazing and I will always be thankful that my teacher made us read it at the time.

Without giving too much away, this story is about a family who is trying to survive after they make a move into Florida in the mid-to-late 19th century. The thing that I liked the most about this though is that there was three parts, all a different generation of this family. It begins with a father and his son, who turns into a father and has a son, thus spanning three generations over the course of about 100 years if I’m not mistaken. It is such an interesting read and an even more interesting way to break up a book! A Land Remembered is an all time classic novel, and you be a fool if you didn’t give it a read soon.

Thanks again for reading this week’s weekly recommendation. As always, please leave some feedback and give my page a follow so you can experience all of my content. I’d love to hear from all of my wonderful readers, so be sure to rate/comment often!