Tag Archives: recommendation

Book Top Recs and Why

Due to me being a pudge this weekend while getting over bronchitis (again), I have a list for this week’s post, one I’ve been wanting to post for a while. My bio has some of my favorite writers listed, but that doesn’t really explain some of my favorite books. I cheat and do a few series, just because sometimes it’s hard to break a single away from the whole (those who remember my Top 10 Favorite Movies will remember this trait of mine). Otherwise, well, welcome to my influences. Not calling this a top 10 list because…well, I had to narrow myself down, and I wasn’t paying attention to count.

Goddess of the Rose by P. C. Cast
As much as I love to flambe The House of Night series (and ohhhh, do I love to use that as bonfire starting fuel), Goddess of the Rose will always hold a special place for me. Not only was it my first adult romance novel, but it combined so many of my own personal quirks that it still has a pride-of-place position on my bookshelf. If you’ve read too much of Cast’s work, the magic system is going to seem painfully familiar, and there are obvious romance tropes that are just going to have to be suffered through, but it still remains a personal favorite for the characters and plot.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
I use a specific book, because I am surprisingly apathetic about a large chunk of the rest of the series at this point in my life, but Half-Blood Prince for some reason hits this perfect balance of the personal problems that are always on Harry’s mind at the same time as trying to save the world from an evil wizard. It helps that Voldemort finally gets some much needed back story and character fleshing out that he becomes a real villain to my mind. The characters are also at a more relate-able age, rather than being pre-teens or very young teens. It isn’t an easy book to just jump into the series with, but if you’ve been in it for the long-haul, it hits you right in all the emotional weak spots.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The first classic to find its way on my list, yes, you are going to have to wade through literature language to get through it. (Give these poor folks a break, they were paid by the word.) But Mary’s and Colin’s character growth will make it totally worth it, as you watch these two children find family in each other and grow beyond what is expected of them. The ending is a tear-jerker, and just brings it all together. At times the spoiled behavior in the beginning and the cold attitudes of the adults can be really wearing, but the moments of goodness makes up for it in my mind.

The Dragon Chronicles by Susan Fletcher
So far a quartet (though I suspect this is a come-back-to-when-I-have-ideas series for Fletcher), there’s a lot to like about this series in my opinion and a lot to be irked about it. It’s sort of a pick-and-chose thing. I wish the romances were better written, since sometimes those plots feel forced. It does this weird jump from medieval, high fantasy to urban fantasy from book three to book four, which takes some twisting of the brain. But at the same time, it’s dragons. I’m easily pleased by dragons.

Green Rider by Kristen Britain
See my review for a more thorough review, but yes, this makes high on my rec list. Just so many moments I love in this book, and the character growth is awesome.

The Unicorn Chronicles: The Last Hunt by Bruce Coville
This series was the one that got me into fantasy and my big unicorn kick. The relationship between Cara and Lightfoot in Song of the Wanderer just struck me for some reason, and The Last Hunt is the conclusion I’ve been waiting for half my life for (literally in two senses: it took him a while to finish, and omg, my eleven year old fanfic idea actually came true, I died when I found out, just died). I feel like there’s a lot more to this world that could be fleshed out, but at the same time it gives a sense of completion to things that I don’t want him to mess with. (Okay, I want Lightfoot/Cara fluff. But I’m a sap, this is a given.)

Protector of the Small by Tamora Pierce
Female power figures are sort of my jam, and Kel is a perfect fit. The first girl to publicly go for her knighthood after the king passed the law allowing it, she faces bullying and sexism while she goes through the physically and mentally exhaustive process of being a noble warrior. She faces the trials of war, and proves her character when everyone sane would have turned back. But don’t let that fool you, there are moments of pure  humor in these books, particularly Squire, that always make me giggle.

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
Classic number two, and if you are surprised to see it here…do you read this blog? Because I think my horse-obsession is pretty clear, and it actually used to be worse before I was a teenager (if you can imagine that). I’ve read multiple versions of this story, seen multiple films, and all of them have at least a touch of the charm that makes the whole thing so enjoyable. There’s some preachy moments and getting used to the narrator being a horse, but I think it is an excellent story with heart.

Rangers Apprentice by John Fletcher
Speaking of heart, ugh, this series. This is the series that I actually ordered a dinky little book from New Zealand for an outrageous amount of money because I couldn’t wait for the American print of the next one in the series. I read the stories in chronological order, so short stories before the last book, and that made the knife to the heart that much harder. I was crying, I was throwing things, Ginny can testify that I did not handle this well…because that’s how hard Fletcher makes you feel. I haven’t read any of his other works (I’m still nursing my broken heart, okay?), but I highly recommend this one, obviously.

White Fang by Jack London
The last technical classic, I don’t know why this book jives with me as much as it does. I’m not a dog person, I’m not a wilderness person…I’m a snow person, but only if I don’t have to drive in it. Maybe it’s because it’s the exact opposite of Black Beauty, and makes no apologies that it’s central protagonist is an animal who doesn’t understand humanity. Maybe it’s watching White Fang grow, and change, and adapt. I don’t know, but I recommend reading it.

The Immortals by Tamora Pierce
…She’s my favorite writer, she’s going to be on this list twice. Deal with it. 😛 Daine was actually the first of her characters that I read, and hooked me on the whole world. It combines this whole magic-and-animals-and-character-growth theme I’ve been having on this list. Emperor Mage has my big moment of heartbreak, Realm of the Gods has my moment of squee, but without Wild Magic and Wolf Speaker, we never would have gotten there, and it’s so important to see the growth and change that happens. Also, Daine is sassy and Numair gives as good as he gets, it’s hysterical.

The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
I loved the movie, I’m gonna love the book. I have the special edition with the short story that serves as a sort of epilogue, which I think helps with my satisfaction level. Everything I love about the movie is still true about this book, though I feel like the plot is a little heavy with the additions that text allowed him (such as all the business with Lir and the prophecy and whatnot). The extra fleshing out is great if you are already familiar with the story, but might be a little hard on those coming in blind.

Brightly Burning by Mercedes Lackey
Another first for me as far as this being the book that introduced me to Valdemar (boy, that was a mistake), I picked it up on clearance and never looked back. Lan really just resonated with me at the time. I hadn’t dealt with the bullying history I had in an emotionally healthy way, and Lan went through such a similar experience that it almost made me cry right from the beginning. Then just when things start to get better…war came, and ruined everything. Just all the feels. All of them. I wouldn’t call the ending happy…but it is satisfying even in the tragedy, which is all I can ask of it.

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Tabletop RP: Warmages can be fun too!

I swear, I’ll have a review next week. The first random book from Ginny’s box turned out to need a movie first to understand it (I’m not thrilled about this stupidity of the writer), so instead, here, have some DnD rambles. This one is going to be pretty technical, but hopefully I’ll be able to explain it all.

The current (or one of the current) campaigns I’m in, I’m playing a gestalt (meaning two classes at the same time with no penalties) warmage/favored soul. The character is actually a reboot of a straight warmage I was playing. We managed to get her really good armor early on in the campaign, and I decided to drop the mounted aspect to her when the story went a different direction than last time, so I got on the Internet to see some options for better equipment for warmages.

Only to discover that most people don’t play straight warmages. Everyone will dabble in them to get their mages the ability to wear armor, but otherwise, everyone seems to pass them off as a useless class, or at least not one of the better ones.

Now that just ain’t fair.

Maybe I don’t play the game right, but I like my characters to not have some gaping hole in their abilities/skill set. Now some things, like stealthy things and swimming and climbing, yes, armor is going to get in the way of that, so if I can keep that a solid +0 with characters in heavier armor, I’m happy. But I don’t want to be constantly missing Spot and Listen checks if they have fairly easy checks to meet. I hate having a poor save that is easily manipulated by the DM. (Will, why is it always WILL?) So those people who min-max, who are capable of great, amazing things but are worse than useless for anything else…confuse the dickens out of me.

Now, I understand at least a little where they are coming from. Warmages don’t have much in the way of skills, they don’t have very many skill points per level, and their spell list is very concentrated. They get some things each level that make their spells more damaging, but overall, at least on the surface, there just isn’t much special about them.

LIES, I say, LIES. (In the most joking tone imaginable.)

You are looking at a specialized tool with a warmage. It is meant to be magical artillery. In my case, I was going to be mounted magical artillery with a warhorse who was effectively a health battery to take some of the damage and protect my hit points. But even without that extra health defense, I have not really had issues on that front (unless I’ve been completely screwed, Confusion is an AWFUL spell, I swear, and I was against an enemy above my paygrade ALONE). The warmage is meant to stay just out of reach of the enemy except from other spells and just bring down hellfire like rain. Trust me, I have been doing this. It has been amazing and painful to watch all at the same time. The class gives you a little wiggle room, letting you add new spells to the set list to help round the mage out of if they are the only spellcaster the party has and there is a specific spell you keep needing, but really, depending on party build, you can just add more variety to your spells. When it comes to taking a hit, they are fairly squishy because all spellcasters kinda are, but the addition of armor up to medium type really helps.

So why do I think my character has been doing well despite being this much-looked-down-upon class? Well, she’s decently balanced. As long as I don’t completely bungle a roll, she could survive on her own (and had to do so, at one point). Her spells vary enough that she can take on multiple attackers at the same time, as she has had to do before, and usually wipes out the idiots that walk straight into swords and lets her help out her allies or pick off others at a distance. I’ve got most of her scores reasonably around 15, give or take a couple points, except her Charisma score (her force of personality) which is at 18, good since it is the main source of her magic power. Her armor score is decent, and now I’m at the point where I can add miss chances for hitting her and such rather than bolstering her armor score.

Now that I’ve defended warmage as a straight class, what are some recs I can make? Well, my armor has Greater Healing properties, which I would definitely recommend. It’s also mithral banded mail, giving me nice bonuses while not making me take a feat for heavier armor. I’ve also got a lesser Iron Ward Diamond, which absorbs some of the damage of each hit. You could splurge and get the more expensive, I just took what I had the money for. A Healing Belt would be a quicker fix until you get your hands on the better armor, though, and a light shield can still be used even if you are casting spells (you just can’t have a weapon in hand too). Eventually, I want to get a shield with +3 Fortification, meaning there will be a 75% chance of critical hits and sneak attacks failing, so I’d only take normal damage from the hit.

I also suggest getting your dexterity as high as you can, fitting to wherever the armor you are planning on getting limits your bonus. For this, I actually bought Gloves of Dexterity, which gave me the extra points without making me waste the bonuses I get every four levels. Don’t worry about wisdom too much, the class actually helps you out with Will saves and you don’t need it for what the class is meant for. But Constitution will be your third big focus on top of Dexterity and Charisma. When it comes to Intelligence, well, the higher it is, the more extra damage your class features give you, but you could just take the feat Extra Edge, which will do about the same level of good if not more so in my opinion. Do any of my readers have any recs for making a warmage better? Or do you have a class that is often looked down on that you think is awesome? Feel free to share in the comments!