The best books with strong characters and unpredictable plots

Why am I passionate about this?

I get bored easily when I read a book where I can predict the plot. The two things that really set apart the original stories are world development and character complexity. You need a strong character, filled with their own eccentricities, flaws, and virtues. And you need an interesting, well-developed world in which your character can live. If you do these two things well, the story easily writes itself. If you can discover how the character thinks, acts and interacts in their world, how they seek to solve their problems and fix their flaws—that’s what makes a story worth telling…and for me, that’s the story I want to write.


I wrote...

House of Vultures

By Maggie Claire,

Book cover of House of Vultures

What is my book about?

After the land of Cassé was destroyed, the survivors banded together to create the House alliances. Only the strongest, most cunning, and useful are accepted. For the Houses, there are only three laws: 1) Never remove your mask. 2) Never share your true name. 3) Survive. Anyone denied membership into the Houses is considered a Nameless Unchosen and is to be killed on sight. No exceptions.

Yet when Mynah, a tortured soul who has lived in the House of Vultures since she was seven years old, finds an unmasked boy in the forest, she is faced with a terrible choice: follow the law and kill the child, or show him mercy and risk war? A boy's life hangs in the balance. And Mynah's decision will forever change her world.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Ship of Magic

Maggie Claire Why did I love this book?

I love books with complex, interesting characters. It lets me view the world through a different lens, to see things from a new perspective. It’s more than just getting to know a new character—it’s about growing with him/her as they navigate the world in which they are set. There are characters in this book that you admire, that you root for, and that you love to hate—until you better understand their motives. That’s what really excites me, and this book delivers!

By Robin Hobb,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Ship of Magic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'As addictive as morphine' THE TIMES

From the author of the classic Farseer trilogy, SHIP OF MAGIC is the first part of the Liveship Traders. Set in a land bordering the Six Duchies, Robin Hobb begins her epic tale of pirates, talking ships, magic, sea serpents, slave revolts, dashing heroes and bloody battles.

Wizardwood, the most precious commodity in the world, comes only from the Rain Wilds. But only a liveship can negotiate the perilous waters of the Rain Wild River, and liveships are hard to come by. They quicken only when three family members from successive generations have died…


Book cover of Daughter of the Forest

Maggie Claire Why did I love this book?

This book absorbs you into its world! It’s the type of book that you pick up to read, and when you set it down, you have to take a minute to re-adjust back to reality. You say to yourself, “Just one more chapter…” Then it’s three in the morning, and you have to force yourself to turn out the light. You rejoice, grieve, and hope for the main character to achieve her goals. You long for a happy ending and admire the main character’s courage as she endures for the sake of her family. Through the trials she faces, you see love win out against all odds. 

By Juliet Marillier,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Daughter of the Forest as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sorcha, the seventh child and only daughter of Lord Colum, faces the difficult task of having to save her family from its enemies, who have bewitched her father and six older brothers while forcing her to choose between the life she has always known and a special love.


Book cover of Poison Study

Maggie Claire Why did I love this book?

This book draws you into its own, unique world right from the first page. You immediately meet the main character in unusual circumstances—not where you might expect a protagonist to be found. Yet the author does a wonderful job of slowly showing you past events that brought the character to this place, and you find yourself hoping she will find a happy ending. I love the way the author draws you into the story so that you feel like you are experiencing what the main character feels.

By Maria V. Snyder,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Poison Study as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How much is your life worth?

In the territory of Ixia the government maintains control through the Code of Behaviour, forbidding the practice of magic, but danger lurks in mysterious places...

Imprisoned for murder Yelena Zaltana's punishment is death, until she is reprieved - for a price.

As the Commander of Ixia's food taster she will risk assassination from poison daily, a position she would be a fool to refuse... In a world where magic equals death and freedom is for the lucky few, survival is all Yelena has and the battle for her life has just begun.

A CHRONICLES…


Book cover of Throne of Glass

Maggie Claire Why did I love this book?

I love the unpredictability of this author’s works! Every time I read her books, I’m never able to guess what will happen next. The main character of this story is so interesting; flawed, complex, strong, and vulnerable. I always get excited when I read books that let me escape into a new world or feel something toward the characters, and this book does the job beautifully. I read the first three books in the series in about five days, and couldn’t wait to get my hands on the next ones.

By Sarah J. Maas,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked Throne of Glass as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

#1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas started a worldwide phenomenon when she published her debut novel, Throne of Glass. To date, Sarah's books have spent more than 92 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and she has hit #1 on charts around the world. Her books have sold more than seven million copies and have been translated into 36 languages. Throne of Glass alone has sold over one million copies. Now you can own this epic fantasy classic in a deluxe hardcover collector's edition. Throne of Glass begins the sweeping saga of assassin Celaena Sardothien,…


Book cover of Redwall

Maggie Claire Why did I love this book?

These books will always be on my list of favorites. The main characters are all animals, but the author does such a fantastic job describing them that you’d have to remind yourself they aren’t human. They are personified so well, yet there are also wonderful descriptions and details that remind you they are animals. I always found myself rooting for these characters in the same ways that I do when I’m reading a well-written book with human characters. You get sucked into their world, so much so that you almost feel like you are one of them.

By Brian Jacques, Gary Chalk (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Redwall as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

The first book in the beloved, bestselling Redwall saga - soon to be a major Netflix movie!

Redwall Abbey, tranquil home to a community of peace-loving mice, is threatened by the evil, one-eyed rat warlord Cluny the Scourge and his battle-hardened horde of predators.

Cluny is certain that Redwall will fall easily to his fearsome army but he hasn't bargained for the courage and strength of the Redwall mice and their loyal woodland friends . . .

One of TIME magazine's 100 Best Fantasy Books of All Time

'Not since Roald Dahl have children filled their shelves so compulsively' -…


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Down a Bad Road

By Regina Buttner,

Book cover of Down a Bad Road

Regina Buttner Author Of Down a Bad Road

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I have a close girlfriend who was once involved with a man she wanted to marry. The trouble was, the guy was always hanging out with this other woman who he’d known since childhood. Just friends, he said. Nothing going on. Ha! The shenanigans they got up to were unbelievable, and extremely upsetting to my girlfriend, who eventually broke up with the cad. Her unlucky experience got me interested in the psychology of the love triangle, and why some people remain mired in these dead-end relationships. My reading jam is anything twisty and suspenseful, and what’s more fraught than a three-way competition for someone’s affections.

Regina's book list on love triangles that turn deadly

What is my book about?

Jealousy can be deadly.

Ron Burley has a rule against messing around with married women, but lovely Lavender has convinced him to break it. Their steamy affair sets someone off, but it isn’t Lavender’s clueless husband—it’s Marta, Burley’s clingy childhood friend and ex-lover. 

Hoping to win Burley back, Marta dangles a lucrative job offer. Though he’s sorely tempted, Burley’s afraid to trust her due to the sketchy circumstances surrounding their bitter breakup years ago; but this might be his only chance to get back at her for what she did. Meanwhile, Lavender has become suspicious of Burley’s romantic history, and…

Down a Bad Road

By Regina Buttner,

What is this book about?

"Gripping and unforgettable suspense-think North Country, New York noir laced with dark humor. Don't plan on setting this fast-paced thriller down until you read the last page!" –Cam Torrens, author of Stable

Jealousy can be deadly.

Longtime bachelor Ron Burley has a rule against messing around with married women in his rural upstate New York town, but sassy, lovely Lavender has convinced him to break it. Their steamy affair sets someone off, but it isn't Lavender's clueless husband-it's Marta, Burley's clingy childhood friend and ex-lover.

Marta knows Burley is on the verge of going broke, so she secretly tries to…


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