Hey there, it’s Sabrina! I want to quickly start by thanking everyone that has welcomed me to the blog – it is much appreciated! And, since I’m new around here, I thought I would start with a simple post – so today I am talking about 10 reasons why I love my favourite books of all time. I think it’ll be a good way to get you to read them! 😛
For a long time, I had only one book on this list, but a couple of years ago another came along and its sequel also made it here. But without further ado, let me introduce to you my top three favourite books in the world:
As you can see, they are:
- Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
- Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor and
- Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor
Both are whimsical books filled with magic and beauty and if you keep reading, you’ll find some more reasons why I adore them along with some images from the Howl’s Moving Castle Movie (which, by the way, is very different!). Also, don’t worry – there’s no plot spoilers in this post.
RELATABLE MAIN CHARACTERS THAT SPEAK TO MY HEART
Sophie is the main character in Howl’s Moving Castle and I felt an instant connection to her when I picked up this book. Sophie is the eldest of three (as am I), feels she’s destined to be mediocre at best, and typically makes choices that I would see myself making. She loves her sisters, even when she is exasperated by them, and likes things to be perfectly clean. She’s guarded when it comes to her true feelings, but most people see right through her anyway. Even when she makes questionable decisions, it is easy to understand why she makes them. So basically, I love her.
The main character in Strange the Dreamer (a little less so in Muse of Nightmares) is Lazlo Strange and he is impossible not to love. A librarian with a vivid imagination and a great appreciation for fairytales, Lazlo always does everything he can to help everyone else. He has one of the biggest hearts and a crooked nose – because a heavy book fell on it. I mean, I’ve never broken my nose from a book, but I have sustained several book-induced injuries – such as a bruise on my foot, and dropping my phone on my face while enjoying an ebook – and I’m sure many of us can relate to that.
From fields of flowers to demon graveyards, moving castles to citadels in the sky, there are many different settings in both Howl’s Moving Castle and the Strange the Dreamer duology, but they are all as wonderfully realised and beautifully described as each other.
SCENES THAT MAKE ME SMILE
This is a bit of a difficult thing to explain, but I love any media that gives me a homely, cozy kind of vibe. And Howl’s moving castle – as in, literally the castle itself – is the homeliest of all. I love all the scenes that take place there, especially when the castle’s occupants are simply going about their days, or eating bacon and eggs with the fire demon. There’s some homely scenes in Strange the Dreamer too – one in particular that comes to mind is when Lazlo shares a meal with an elderly woman (a metaphorical angel!) in her home. I love that scene to pieces and it always leaves me feeling warm inside.
Both books have plenty of other scenes that leave me smiling – especially emotional moments shared between characters. Sometimes you’ll even find me laughing while reading them – drunken Howl gets me every time.
PACING THAT KEEPS ME INTERESTED
I think one of the biggest complaints I’ve seen about Strange the Dreamer is that it is slow, and honestly – I don’t find that to be an issue! Every sentence served a purpose in my eyes. The plot kept moving forward, but there was also space to breathe in more relaxing moments. And as you may have surmised from my previous point, these relaxing moments ended up being some of my favourite scenes in the book.
Howl’s Moving Castle moves at a similar pace to Strange the Dreamer, in my opinion, though it is a lot harder to see where the plot is going a lot of the time. I’d say that makes it all the more impressive that I am able to just read and enjoy it, without worrying about what’s going to come next.
WONDERFUL SIDE CHARACTERS
In Howl’s Moving Castle you’ll find Calcifer the fire demon, a snarky bundle of flames that lives in the castle’s fireplace and Michael, the wizard’s young, likeable apprentice. They are my two favourite side characters from the book, but there are plenty more, each with their own distinct personalities and purposes.
Strange the Dreamer is chock-full of side characters, some a lot more likeable than others. I was fully invested in the subplots revolving around these surprisingly complex characters and even loved some of them almost as much as Lazlo himself.
Yes, both Howl’s Moving Castle and Strange the Dreamer have a romance plot to them. They are both very different, and though I like the tropes found in the former’s most (hate-to-love, anyone?) and it is a lot milder, I still love them both. Another complaint I see about Strange the Dreamer is that there is insta-love, and while to an extent, I agree, I also adored both characters involved so much by the time they got together that it didn’t bother me in the slightest.
MAGIC AND MYTHOLOGY
Of course, no fantasy story is complete without some form of magic. Howl, of the moving castle, is a wizard, so naturally he has some control over magic. There are also witches and enchantments and cursed objects – and as previously mentioned, a fire demon. There isn’t any obvious or developed mythology in this book, but there are clearly widespread beliefs that your destiny is shaped by your situation in life, much in the way of fairytales – such as the belief that being the eldest of three means that you will fail.
In Strange the Dreamer, however, there is a deep and rich mythology that is further explored in Muse of Nightmares, and magic works in less traditional ways. It’s all very captivating.
I have yet to read a book with writing that gets to me like Laini Taylor’s does. Everything she describes becomes vivid in my mind and I can feel exactly how her characters are feeling. Particularly in Muse of Nightmares, I found that even the most brutal scenes become beautiful through the lens of her prose.
On the other hand, Diana Wynne Jones’ writing always keeps me interested and entertained. It’s fun, whimsical and light, which suits me perfectly.
There are some pretty complex themes in the Strange the Dreamer duology, and a lot of them revolves around the sacrifices and the atrocities of war, how no one side can be completely “the good guys”. I found it to be highly nuanced – nothing was neat. I also like the way it is shown that you should get to know someone before you judge them, and this is a major theme in Howl’s Moving Castle as well.
ENDINGS THAT PERFECTLY PIECE EVERYTHING TOGETHER
As mentioned, there are no spoilers in this post, so I will keep this little section brief. I absolutely love when small details throughout a story all tie into the conclusion, and both Howl’s Moving Castle and Muse of Nightmares do this masterfully.
And that is everything I have to say today! In case it wasn’t clear, I could ramble about these books all day.
What do you think?
What are the books at the top of your favourites list? What makes them so special to you? Also, have you read any of my favourites?