Rewarding Reads

Rewarding Reads

Postby Nymine » August 22nd, 2012, 8:04 am

In the spirit of counter threads, this is the optimistic doppelganger of the Disappointing Reads thread. Have you ever read a book with a rather cliche premise that somehow the author, by some miracle, has made into an interesting and engaging read? Or a book that you've picked up to read, not expecting much and got probably one of the better experiences in reading?

I've had a few. I read Dealing with Dragons after a near fantasy burn out reading all of my older brother's Dragonlance books. I wasn't expecting much, and I got a quirky fantasy spoof that also pulled of being a rather humorous societal critique. It was really refreshing. The plot is that a maiden gets abducted by a dragon, and instead of being eaten, the dragon is more over attempting to save her from the fact that village life for a girl honestly sucks. It deals quite a bit with social roles and preconceptions, and does so without being overly preachy. If I remember correctly, it's the first part in a three book series. I can't remember the other two books clearly, but the first one is a very good read.

Another was Pawn of Prophecy. My friend gave me this book for my birthday. I read the back of the book, and I honestly groaned a little inside. The plot is so tired. Tell me if you've heard this one before; a scullery boy is destined to be the Ruler of All and defeat the Oldest Evil. The series has an entire trope page on TV Tropes, but I don't regret reading it at all. In fact, when I stopped being a snob and read a few pages, I was completely hooked. It was one of the first series I hunted down and bought every single book. After doing a lot of research, I found out that David Eddings pretty much designed these books to be fantasy reader catnip, and I'll tell you what, it works.

The Outcast of Redwall was actually a pretty big one for me. Honestly, I wasn't expecting much. I had extra Bookit points and I was like, "Oh hey, that book has a weasel on the front and it's just the right amount of points. I wonder if this will be anything like Watership down?" Best decision I've ever made.

Anyone had a similar experience?
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Re: Rewarding Reads

Postby Nikkinoodles » August 22nd, 2012, 8:34 am

I've recently discovered The Knights of Camelot, a series by Sarah Luddington and I love them. I've almost finished the part of the series she has out so far, just one book left, and I've found it really interesting. As the title suggests it's based within Arthurian legend which I adore, having studied it for three years at uni and considered a Masters in it as well.

It's well written and plays around with the conventions of the Arthur genre as a whole. It's told through Lancelot's perspective which I find really interesting as I've not seen that anywhere else. There's appearences from the fey, Merlin, Morgan le Fey, Nimue and a bunch of other characters as well as Excalibur and most of the characters you associate with the legend of Arthur and Camelot but it's unique as well. It begins to deviate from the actual legends of Arthur right at the start, by having Lancelot exiled in France and Guinevere still at the castle rather than them both running off into the sunset together. There's romance in it but this next bit's spoilered as I don't wanna ruin it for anyone.

Spoiler! :
I also like how it plays with the idea of Arthur and Lancelot being lovers and close close friends as well as putting it in the social context of the time. It's got that theme running all the way through as Lancelot tries to deal with the fact he loves his King as a man and lover, not just his ruler. And Luddington looks at the reality of the world they lived in that just would not accept two men together. The whole of Camelot seems to act on a 'Don't ask don't tell' policy though with more men than it first seems finding it cute or actually being interested in other men themselves. It's not a happy happy romance though, there's lots of dillydallying, will they won't they. At one point Lancelot actively hates Arthur and loves another man. There's basically enough trouble with the love to allow it to span the entire series so far. Although it can be a little tiresome at times.


And it's not totally focused on the romance either, although it plays a vital role. The books play around with the ideas of social pressure and the threat of civil war, as well as the notion that a war in the realm of the fey could spill over into the mortal world. There's a lot of politics mixed in there, not party based but focused more on the ideals of the king serving his people and the people serving their king that tends to make a big appearence in a lot of the later Arthurian stuff. It looks at what life was like at the time and is actually fairly authentic, exploring the mindset of the knights and the king, not just the whole chivalry and equality shebang.

Spoiler! :
There's also sex. Lots and lots of sex; straight sex, gay sex, threesomes. Lancelot seems to get laid... a lot!


tl;dr - I read a series of books, I liked them because they seemed well-researched but a unique take on a possible overdone genre.
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Re: Rewarding Reads

Postby Seven Rain » August 22nd, 2012, 8:50 am

Wait, can this just be a general "Books that surprised you by being super awesome" thread or does it have to be limited to cliches turned into good books?
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Re: Rewarding Reads

Postby Nymine » August 22nd, 2012, 9:11 am

Nah, it doesn't have to be cliches. I just used that as an example. Honestly, I can't think of a bigger deterrent, at least for me, than flipping over a book and reading almost the same premise at 100 other books that I've read before. I just wanted this to be a little bit more than just a 'good books' thread. So yes, if it's a book that surprised you by being unprecedentedly awesome, that totally works too!
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Re: Rewarding Reads

Postby Seven Rain » August 22nd, 2012, 9:32 am

In that case... There's a reason that despite not having the time to work novels in between all my other nerdy, time-consuming interests I still found time to read, (and occasionally try to find time to continue reading,) the Redwall books, and that reason is Martin the Warrior. Every Redwall book I've read has been a rewarding read, but that one will always be a favorite of mine, though The Legend of Luke and Mattimeo both came surprisingly close. Now I wouldn't say I expected it to be bad, really, just... Not to instantly become my favorite novel series ever.

I was also surprised by Harry Potter as a kid. In Elementary School I refused to try reading it for one reason or another and even made fun of it, possibly because of the cover art, (I know, I know, shut up, I was a kid,) but after seeing trailers for the movie I was all like "Holy shit is that what I've been missing out on?" and proceeded to read, love and finish 90% the first book before the movie even came out, (back when reading a book was akin to schoolwork to me, mind you,) and then rapidfire read 2 and 3, and read 4 as my "Silent Reading" choice, (or whatever that was called back then, can't really remember,) in school.

And then there's the novel version of Blaster Master.
Seems like a silly book to have a lasting positive effect on me, and it was one that the Teacher actually selected for us in like, 3rd Grade, so I was expecting to be largely bored by it but it was probably the first book I ever read to actually wow me with atmosphere, something pure writing still has trouble doing to me to this day. I guess I wasn't surprised later on when I found out after falling in love with it that it was actually based on a video game.

And in a similar situation in school but much later, like... Back when I was 16? I think? It was while I was in OP, and the teacher of the class I went to there was going to have us read Of Mice and Men.
Now, I was expecting this to be dull simply due to how strict OP tended to be about content, or so I thought. It turned out to simply be my particular house there that was really strict on anything above a G rating. Before I realized that it wasn't the same way in the classroom I didn't have high hopes for an interesting read.
Anywho I ended up loving the book and finished it well before the deadline and everyone else in the class.

*EDIT*
Spoiler! :
Speaking of Redwall I just found out that Brian Jacques passed away last year and had a sad. RIP, Brian.
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Re: Rewarding Reads

Postby Charil » August 22nd, 2012, 2:02 pm

Yay more book threads!

Hello Kitty Must Die is the first one that comes to mind. I bought it solely because of the title (and because the very first line is "It all started with my missing hymen"). The synopsis on the back made it sound like some pompous, overly-symbolic thing and I figured it'd just be a funny addition to my bookshelf. It actually ended up being extremely funny (for those with dry, sarcastic senses of humour), the story was actually completely unexpected, and the ending even brought a tear to my eye. I've never had an impulse buy turn out to be so good wtf.

Peter Straub's Ghost Story is another one, and probably not coincidentally it's another one I bought because of the title. "Oh it's got ghosts in it, I love ghosts." Once I finished it, it quickly skyrocketed to being one of my favourite books. Every little nuance that gets mentioned in the book, however minor and inconsequential it seems, comes together in the climax. It's one of those books I wish I could forget reading, so I could read it again and still be surprised by the ending.

Last one I can think of is Sophie Kinsella's Remember Me. It's a really generic plot: girl wakes up with amnesia, discovers she's married to a handsome rich man, but she really has feelings for another man, so on, so forth. Kinsella doesn't really do anything to make this kind of plotline unique, but being Kinsella (I may or may not be biased), it's her characters and the way she writes them that make the book special, particularly the protagonist. I went from going "oh, is this what it's about?" at the beginning, to being a sobbing wreck at the end.

... I also may or may not judge things I like based on how much I cry at them.
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Re: Rewarding Reads

Postby Vitotamito » August 22nd, 2012, 7:40 pm

Nymine wrote:The Outcast of Redwall was actually a pretty big one for me. Honestly, I wasn't expecting much. I had extra Bookit points and I was like, "Oh hey, that book has a weasel on the front and it's just the right amount of points. I wonder if this will be anything like Watership down?" Best decision I've ever made.

LITERALLY THE BEST EFFING REDWALL BOOK. I remember that being my favorite as a kid. I haven't read it since I was in probably 5th Grade, but it's SO GOOD.
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Re: Rewarding Reads

Postby The_Hankerchief » August 22nd, 2012, 8:36 pm

Cannery Row, by John Steinbeck. Set in the Great Depression, the book revolves around the lives of the many eccentric residents of the Cannery Row neighborhood in Monterrey, California. The main characters (if you could call them that) are a group of hobos led by a man named Mack and a marine biologist named Doc. Though there are many short stories included in the novella, the plot loosely centers around Mack and "the boys" pursuit to "do somethin' nice for Doc" (and by "somethin' nice", they meant a party). Very comical, yet realistic, and an all star lineup of characters make this an incredibly fun read. I recommend it.

*EDIT*: Seven, Of Mice and Men is one of my all time favorites. You and your beard just became 20% cooler.
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Re: Rewarding Reads

Postby orchid » August 27th, 2012, 4:36 am

Any Terry Pratchet book is a good read.
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Re: Rewarding Reads

Postby mitchellbravo » August 27th, 2012, 9:35 am

The_Hankerchief wrote:Cannery Row, by John Steinbeck. Set in the Great Depression, the book revolves around the lives of the many eccentric residents of the Cannery Row neighborhood in Monterrey, California. The main characters (if you could call them that) are a group of hobos led by a man named Mack and a marine biologist named Doc. Though there are many short stories included in the novella, the plot loosely centers around Mack and "the boys" pursuit to "do somethin' nice for Doc" (and by "somethin' nice", they meant a party). Very comical, yet realistic, and an all star lineup of characters make this an incredibly fun read. I recommend it.

*EDIT*: Seven, Of Mice and Men is one of my all time favorites. You and your beard just became 20% cooler.


I recommend his "Travels with Charley," where he drives around the country in an RV for a couple of months with his dog. Parts of it are really funny, and the whole thing just gives you an itch to go places.
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Re: Rewarding Reads

Postby The_Hankerchief » August 27th, 2012, 9:12 pm

mitchellbravo wrote:
The_Hankerchief wrote:Cannery Row, by John Steinbeck. Set in the Great Depression, the book revolves around the lives of the many eccentric residents of the Cannery Row neighborhood in Monterrey, California. The main characters (if you could call them that) are a group of hobos led by a man named Mack and a marine biologist named Doc. Though there are many short stories included in the novella, the plot loosely centers around Mack and "the boys" pursuit to "do somethin' nice for Doc" (and by "somethin' nice", they meant a party). Very comical, yet realistic, and an all star lineup of characters make this an incredibly fun read. I recommend it.

*EDIT*: Seven, Of Mice and Men is one of my all time favorites. You and your beard just became 20% cooler.


I recommend his "Travels with Charley," where he drives around the country in an RV for a couple of months with his dog. Parts of it are really funny, and the whole thing just gives you an itch to go places.

I've heard of it, but I haven't been able to track down a copy. Perhaps I should start downloading books on my Android.
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Re: Rewarding Reads

Postby Ddraigeneth » August 27th, 2012, 9:26 pm

Picked up a book that I thought my mom would be interested in (unfortunately, both of the books I got her that time were the second in series...way to pay attention <.<) and ended up reading it myself and getting hooked.

Dhampir by Barb and JC Hendee.

Technically high fantasy, with vampires and elves and fey, sorcery and thaumaturgy. I really like how they incorporated the elements, though. The world has a nice, rich feel to it.
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Re: Rewarding Reads

Postby mitchellbravo » August 27th, 2012, 10:24 pm

The_Hankerchief wrote:
mitchellbravo wrote:
The_Hankerchief wrote:Cannery Row, by John Steinbeck. Set in the Great Depression, the book revolves around the lives of the many eccentric residents of the Cannery Row neighborhood in Monterrey, California. The main characters (if you could call them that) are a group of hobos led by a man named Mack and a marine biologist named Doc. Though there are many short stories included in the novella, the plot loosely centers around Mack and "the boys" pursuit to "do somethin' nice for Doc" (and by "somethin' nice", they meant a party). Very comical, yet realistic, and an all star lineup of characters make this an incredibly fun read. I recommend it.

*EDIT*: Seven, Of Mice and Men is one of my all time favorites. You and your beard just became 20% cooler.


I recommend his "Travels with Charley," where he drives around the country in an RV for a couple of months with his dog. Parts of it are really funny, and the whole thing just gives you an itch to go places.

I've heard of it, but I haven't been able to track down a copy. Perhaps I should start downloading books on my Android.

My logic isn't working, and I was going to respond "Oh just borrow mine next time you come to visit!" uhhhhhhhhhh i think it's time to go to sleep now.
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Re: Rewarding Reads

Postby The_Hankerchief » August 27th, 2012, 10:28 pm

Well, that just gives me all the more reason to grace the Eastern United States with my presence once more. Look out New England, here I come!
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Re: Rewarding Reads

Postby mitchellbravo » August 27th, 2012, 10:30 pm

YESSSSS.

Lmao "Why are you going up to the east coast Hank" "This girl that posts on an internet forum I'm on has a book she wants to lend me" "Ohhh... kay..."
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