The first book in a series is always important. After all, it needs to be at least good enough to hook the reader in for book two! Here are six of my favourites, in no particular order…
‘The Lightning Thief’ by Rick Riordan
Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can’t seem to focus on his homework or control his temper. School is only getting worse – Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy’s mom finds out, she knows it’s time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he’ll be safe.
She sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods, where he learns that his absent father is actually the sea god Poseidon. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends – a satyr and a demigod daughter of Athena – Percy sets out on a quest across the USA to the gates of the Underworld and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods.
Funny, touching, chock-full of fascinating mythology and charismatic characters, this was a brilliant start to quite possibly my favourite series.
‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ by J.K. Rowling
When a letter arrives for the unhappy but ordinary Harry Potter, a decade-old secret is finally revealed to him. Harry’s parents were wizards, killed by a Dark Lord’s curse when Harry was just a baby, and which he mysteriously survived.
At Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry stumbles upon a sinister mystery when he finds a three-headed dog guarding a room on the third floor. Then he hears of a missing stone with astonishing powers, which could be valuable, dangerous…or both. An incredible adventure is about to begin!
Ah, the nostalgia. Every time I reread this book, it’s like a magical hug where I feel warm, contented and safe.
‘Railhead’ by Philip Reeve
The Great Network is a place of drones and androids, of a thousand gates where sentient trains criss-cross the galaxy, ruled by the Network Empire.
Zen Starling is a petty thief, a street urchin from Thunder City. When the mysterious Raven sends Zen and his friend Nova to infiltrate the Emperor’s train, Zen jumps at the chance to ride the Network, cross the galaxy, to meet interesting people – and to steal their stuff.
But the Great Network is a dangerous place, and Zen has no idea where his journey will take him…
This was one of those books that creeps up on you and quick as a flash, clobbers you over the head with how much you love it. I five-starred all three books in this series, and ‘Railhead’ is where our interstellar journey begins.
‘The School for Good and Evil’ by Soman Chainani
With her good looks and ‘good’ deeds, Sophie knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and join the ranks of past students-turned-princesses like Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Snow White. Meanwhile, Agatha in her shapeless black frocks and grumpy cat seems a natural fit for the School for Evil.
The two girls soon find their fortunes reversed, however…
Because sometimes, the princess and the witch don’t look like they do in fairytales.
A subversive and refreshingly original magic-filled school tale, brimming with iconic characters, fairytale retellings, thought-provoking questions and buckets of
‘Princess Academy’ by Shannon Hale
Miri lives on a mountain where, for generations, her small village has quarried stone and lived a simple life. Then word comes that the king’s priests have divined her village to be the home of the future princess. Next year, the prince himself will come and choose his bride – so the king’s ministers set up an academy on the mountain, and every teenage girl must attend and learn how to become a princess.
Miri soon finds herself confronted with a harsh academy mistress, bitter competition among the girls, and her own conflicting desires to be chosen and win the heart of her childhood best friend. But when bandits seek out the academy to kidnap the future princess, the girls must rally together and use a power unique to the mountain dwellers to save each other.
Yet another book I never expected to love so much. Though why am I surprised, I’ve enjoyed all of Hale’s books so far!
‘Confessions of a Shopaholic’ by Sophie Kinsella
Meet Becky Bloomwood.
She’s a journalist. She spends her working life telling others how to manage their money. She spends her leisure time … shopping.
Retail therapy is the answer to all her problems. Becky knows she should stop, but she can’t. She tries Cutting Back, she tries Making More Money. But neither seems to work. The stories she concocts become more and more fantastic as she tries to untangle her increasingly dire financial difficulties. Her only comfort is to buy herself something – just a little something…
Can Becky ever escape from this dream world, find true love, and regain the use of her Switch card?
Oh how I loved this series! I binged these books as a teen, and this one is where we meet Becky Bloomwood, a character unlike any other I’ve ever read.