Books

My Three Favorite Book Series

I absolutely LOVE getting lost in a good series. The worst part of finishing an enjoyable book for me is no longer being able to get lost in the world of characters I love and places I want to visit, but with a series, I get to revisit the characters and settings over and over again!

The Mark of the Lion Series by Francine Rivers

Summary

This series takes place in Roman-occupied Jerusalem in the year 70 AD. The story begins with a young Jewess named Hadassah who falls in love with Marcus, a Roman aristocrat. Simultaneously you read of Atretes, a captive soldier taken from Germania who is forced into training to be a gladiator. The trilogy follows various characters through their journeys of faith.

Best Book in the Series

I just adored the first book, A Voice in the Wind. Francine Rivers does an exceptional job of introducing you to the characters by sharing their inner thoughts and motivations in a way that helps you understand them like you understand your best friend. I enjoyed getting to know the characters, their families, and their pasts in the first book. The subsequent books are definitely worth the read (I don’t think you’ll be able to stop yourself from picking up them up after you finish the first).

What makes this book different from all others?

I’m fairly picky about the Christian Historical Fiction that I read, as the characters in these books are often unrealistic and cheesy. While the main character in the Mark of the Lion series could be considered “too perfect”, I loved Hadassah because she was so humble. She didn’t take anything for granted and was very real with God and others about the what was on her heart and the things she was struggling with.

I also loved the historical aspect of these books. A lot of Christian Fiction takes place during the 1800’s, and I loved experiencing what the world would have been like for those who were living in the days of the early church. It was amazing to see how a lot of what was going on in Ancient Rome is similar to what we deal with in society today. Things were obviously much worse for Christians in that time period and these books give a new perspective on the context of the letters of Paul in the New Testament.

Why should anyone care?

This is a series you can turn to when you’re into Christian historical fiction, but you’ve read enough pioneer-era and Amish fiction books.

Just to put in perspective how much I love these books, my cat is named Hadassah after the main character.

 

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

Summary

I doubt much explanation is needed, but here goes – the Harry Potter books begin with an 11-year-old boy learning that he is not just an ordinary kid – he is a wizard. The story follows him through his years of schooling at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and his efforts to overcome the most terrible wizard of all time, Lord Voldemort.

The first three books are in the fun and lighthearted realm of Young Adult literature, but the series takes a turn in book four, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, into something much more intense and captivating for an adult audience.

Best Book in the Series

If I had to choose a favorite book out of the series, I would choose book six, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. By this book, we’re past the point of reading about the happy-go-lucky children eager to get the trading cards out of their chocolate frogs on the Hogwarts Express. The main characters are maturing mentally and emotionally, and it’s fascinating to observe them processing the arduous circumstances of the story. I loved the strong bonds of love and friendship represented in this book, as well as the snappy humor, which off-set the darker moments.

What makes this series different from all others?

This series encompasses the ideal blend of what every child is and what every child hopes to be. There are the real-life aspects of dreaded exams, the excitement of summer vacation, the one toy (or broomstick in Harry Potter’s case) every kid is hoping for, and the ups and downs of friendships. Then there are the aspirational pieces that every child wants to be a part of his or her own story – every child wants to be a hero, to have and to be a great friend, to go on adventures, to be loved and sacrificed for, to be the good that overcomes evil in this world.

Why should anyone care?

Love, sacrifice, death and the strong bonds of friendship are heavy topics for children, and even adults, to fully grasp and contemplate. As humans, we learn best through storytelling and J.K. Rowling’s tangible examples of these themes through Harry’s story makes them accessible and understandable, even to those who haven’t experienced these situations and emotions personally.

Also, the community you enter after you have reads these books is immense and wonderful. You instantly become friends with the person next to you on the bus when you notice she’s wearing a deathly hallows necklace. You have something to bond over with your cousin when you hear him whisper “lumos” as he turns on the light switch. You become cyber friends with someone you’ve never met after months of reading their gripping fan fiction.

Some of my best hyggeing has been thanks to Harry Potter – curling up with the books for hours on end, both laughing and crying. The familiarity of the characters with each new book was like being reunited with old friends. And of course, the long conversations with fellow Potter-lovers were equally as enjoyable as the reading.

 

The Giver Quartet by Lois Lowry

Didn’t know it was a series? I didn’t either but I was overjoyed when I found out Jonas’s story did not end after The Giver!

Summary

The Quartet is set in a futuristic, dystopian era. The first book, The Giver, is about a young boy living in a society where color, memories of the past, and diversity have been ousted in an effort to eliminate pain and conflict. The subsequent books are set in the same time period, but each follows the story of a different protagonist.

Best Book of the Series

I loved how the last book of the Quartet, Son, tied the Quartet together. Each of the books in the series touches on the longing we all have for relationship and the inherent value of human life, but Son really drove the whole thing home.

What makes this series different from all others?

Two things make these books unique: 1) Each book in the series shares the unique perspective of a different protagonist, and 2) The books do not pick up where the last one left off (sometimes you don’t even really understand how the stories are connected). This is why I would recommend to committing to reading the whole series when you start. I did not LOVE each of the books individually as I was reading them, but at the end, I could really see how the stories were beautifully intertwined.

Why should anyone care?

These books are thought-provoking and deep, but short and easy-to-read.

That being said, it seems like people either love these books or hate them. There are definitely lingering questions after the series ends, but I think that’s what makes for fun and imaginative conversation afterwards. These are great books to read with a friend, spouse, or kids!

 

If you’ve read any of these series, what did you think? What are your favorite book series?

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