My Top Ten Favorite Books

My Top Ten Favorite Books/Novels for your enjoyment!


Good evening everyone!

As an author, it is important to learn about your own likes and dislikes in literature so that you can create a product that you and your readers will enjoy. My own novel (soon to be published!) is actually fairly unique in the ‘world’ of the book category, but I believe that every author was, first, a reader. Here are my top ten favorite books.

10. In the Balance by Harry Turtledove – I love the entire series, but it blends together realistic characters and components of WWII with a distinct sci-fi alien invasion. Sounds unbelievable, but done so magnificently that you wonder if you should root for the nazis or the aliens.

9. Storm Front By Jim Butcher – Another beginning of a series type of book, but Mr. Butcher’s style and cynicism really bring urban fantasy into the forefront. It’s gritty, down to earth, not your teenage daughter’s type of zombie, vampire, and wizard novel. Mr. Butcher’s style of writing is one I admire and enjoy.

8. Conquerors’ Pride by Timothy Zahn – is an older novel that threw humanity against an alien force. An entire war breaks out because of a simple misunderstanding. Great read, realistic characters and plausible situations mean that you wonder if it could happen when/if we are faced with a first contact occurrence.

7. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin – You know it, you’ve seen it, if you haven’t, I highly recommend checking the book out before the series. The series is awesome, but the book has way too many subplots to be included in the television show. He definitely rocked my world with his willingness to kill every single character I started to like!

6. Guns, Germs, and SteelBy Jared Diamond – It was required reading for me in my high school AP World History class, and became one of my favorite reference and support books. A great background book that describes why the world developed as it did, and why the Aztecs weren’t running around wielding muskets when the Spaniards landed.

5. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling – Iconic, lovable, our childhood in a neat little box. What more can be said?

4. Off Armageddon Reef By David Weber – An excellent series that melds 17th century technology with futuristic human-know how. Nearly made the top three, but the other one edged it out because of a week book number 3.

3. The Lost Fleet: Dauntless By Jack Campbell – Yes, another sci-fi space opera – bear with me here, it’s the last one I swear! And definitely one of the best.

2. Wheel of Time Saga by Robert Jordan – This was my first epic fantasy novel, and boy did I have to persevere. But the story has stuck with me, and I’ve reread all (now 12) books of the series again… and again.

1. Percy Jackson By Rick Riordan – Young adult totally claims the top spot against the field. Mixing mythology, growing up, and lots of action, this series and the Lost Hero ‘secondary’ series are truly my favorite books (at this time in my life, who knows where I’ll be in a year!)

There you have it folks. What are your top ten books?

Turning Points


As a writer (And avid reader) of alternate history novels, I’ve often been asked why I read this ‘what if’ genre. I think the best way to answer it is to simply say ‘Have you ever wondered ‘what if?’
What if I was a police officer, or a medic, or a doctor, instead of a teacher? What would be changed? Who would have my job? Whose world would be turned upside down, for better or worse? Who would I have met/not met? How many of us ever wonder how the world would be different if one little thing happened? This is a ‘turning point’ or life change, or ‘point of divergence’ as some people say.

So what makes a good turning point?

I put forward three rules for good turning points.

1. It must be believable (makes sense in the story context).

2. It must be reasonable (COULD actually happen based on technology, characters, etc)

3. The results must be possible based on the outcome of the event.

Let me give you a good example. In my story, Brass Legionnaire, I have two main points of divergence. The first is the rescue of Julius Caesar by Brutus. The change is that Brutus loved Caesar (True in real life) so much that he was willing to forgive the general’s ambitions to save his life, rather than kill him for the sake of the republic.

Believable? Yes, I think so (so do several professors I’ve talked to over the years, remember, it was a big surprise to Caesar at seeing Brutus among his assassins)

Reasonable? Yes, hasn’t love for friends, family, or significant other driven you to do something a tad bit crazy? This is just asking Brutus to put his friend above the needs of the republic, a stretched, but still reasonable, idea.

Outcomes: Well, the assassins get turned in, Caesar gets his Emperorship, and the Empire gets off to a roaring start, rather than suffering through a few years of civil war at the hands of Augustus (Octavian) and the rebels. With security and stability, plus respected and talented military and economic leadership, the foundation for our world has been set.

So what is my point? Great authors create realistic and possible worlds by making their turning points believable and possible. Some of my favorites are Harry Turtledove and S.M. Stirling. Mr. Turtledove, in particular, creates beautiful portrayals of worlds that have undergone one major change, but it throws off the entire course of history. See ‘Opening Atlantis’ for a great example.
Let me know what you think!

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