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ZAKKY’S FAVORITE STORIES OF ALL TIME


Below is a list of my favorite fictional reads. They’re a bit of an odd collection as none of them really fall into the same category or genre but they’re all super original! As they’re my favorites, I obviously highly recommend them.


1. THE VALENTINE SERIES – Jodi McAlister

Valentine is the first in a smart, witty and page-turning YA series with a paranormal twist, for fans of Holly Black and Sarah J. Maas.

Four teenagers – all born on the same Valentine’s Day – begin to disappear. As the bodies mount up, Pearl Linford has to work out what in the supernatural hell is going on, before it happens to her.

Finn Blacklin is the boy with whom Pearl shares a birthday, the boy she has known all her life and disliked every second of it, the boy her subconscious has a totally annoying crush on. Finn is also the Valentine: a Seelie fairy changeling swapped for a human boy at birth. The Unseelie have come to kill the Valentine – except they don’t know who it is. And now both the Seelie and the Unseelie think Pearl is the Valentine, and if they find out she isn’t, she’ll disappear too.

Pearl must use all her wits to protect herself. Finn must come to terms with his newfound heritage. And then there’s the explosive chemistry between them that neither of them know quite what to do about . . .


2. THE FOUNTAINHEAD – Ayn Rand

Architect Howard Roark is as unyielding as the granite he blasts to build with. Defying the conventions of the world around him, he embraces a battle over two decades against a double-dealing crew of rivals who will stop at nothing to bring him down. These include, perhaps most troublesome of all, the ambitious Dominique Francon, who may just prove to be Roarke’s equal.

This epic story of money, power and a man’s struggle to succeed on his own terms is a paean to individualism and humanity’s creative potential. First published in 1943, The Fountainhead introduced millions to Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism: an uncompromising defence of self-interest as the engine of progress, and a jubilant celebration of man’s creative potential.


3. ATLAS SHRUGGED – Ayn Rand

Opening with the enigmatic question ‘Who is John Galt?’, Atlas Shrugged envisions a world where the ‘men of talent’ – the great innovators, producers and creators – have mysteriously disappeared. With the US economy now faltering, businesswoman Dagny Taggart is struggling to get the transcontinental railroad up and running. For her John Galt is the enemy, but as she will learn, nothing in this situation is quite as it seems.

Hugely influential and grand in scope, this story of a man who stopped the motor of the world expounds Rand’s controversial philosophy of Objectivism, which champions competition, creativity and human greatness.


4. A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE – George R.R Martin

Winter is coming. Such is the stern motto of House Stark, the northernmost of the fiefdoms that owe allegiance to King Robert Baratheon in far-off King’s Landing.

There Eddard Stark of Winterfell rules in Robert’s name. There his family dwells in peace and comfort: his proud wife, Catelyn; his sons Robb, Brandon, and Rickon; his daughters Sansa and Arya; and his bastard son, Jon Snow.

Far to the north, behind the towering Wall, lie savage Wildings and worse–unnatural things relegated to myth during the centuries-long summer, but proving all too real and all too deadly in the turning of the season.

Yet a more immediate threat lurks to the south, where Jon Arryn, the Hand of the King, has died under mysterious circumstances. Now Robert is riding north to Winterfell, bringing his queen, the lovely but cold Cersei, his son, the cruel, vainglorious Prince Joffrey, and the queen’s brothers Jaime and Tyrion of the powerful and wealthy House Lannister–the first a swordsman without equal, the second a dwarf whose stunted stature belies a brilliant mind. All are heading for Winterfell and a fateful encounter that will change the course of kingdoms.

Meanwhile, across the Narrow Sea, Prince Viserys, heir of the fallen House Targaryen, which once ruled all of Westeros, schemes to reclaim the throne with an army of barbarian Dothraki–whose loyalty he will purchase in the only coin left to him: his beautiful yet innocent sister, Daenerys.


5. The Timmy Failure Series – Stephan Pastis

“MY NAME IS FAILURE. TIMMY FAILURE. I AM THE FOUNDER, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF THE BEST DETECTIVE AGENCY IN TOWN, PROBABLY IN THE WORLD. TIMMY FAILURE: MISTAKES WERE MADE IS A HISTORICAL RECORD OF MY LIFE AS A DETECTIVE. IT HAS BEEN RIGOROUSLY FACT-CHECKED. ALL THE DRAWINGS IN HERE ARE BY ME. I TRIED TO GET MY BUSINESS PARTNER TO DO THE ILLUSTRATIONS, BUT THEY WERE NOT GOOD.”

Take Timmy Failure—the clueless, comically self-confident CEO of a budding investigative empire. Add his impressively lazy business partner, a very large polar bear named Total. Of course, his plan does not include the four-foot-tall female whose name shall not be uttered. And it doesn’t include Rollo Tookus, who is so obsessed with getting into “Stanfurd” that he can’t carry out a no-brain spy mission. Or Molly Moskins, who smells like a tangerine and is crazy about Timmy, making her his obvious (and only) prime suspect.


6. THE ROWLAND SINCLAIR MYSTERY SERIES – Sulari Gentill

The Award-Winning Rowland Sinclair Mystery Series by Sulari Gentill is a charming historical crime series, set in the 1930s in Australia and overseas. Each novel can be read as a stand alone story, or as part of the series.

Rowland, the youngest of the respectable and influential Sinclair family, has a talent for scandal.  His family consider him the blacksheep, because he is an artist and associates with the ‘riff raff’ of society – Milton, Clyde and of course Edna, the beautiful bohemian sculptress (and his love interest).

These four companions continue to find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time – playing amateur detectives while stumbling across murder and mayhem, all set to the glamourous and darkening backdrop of the 1930s.


7. I HAD SUCH FRIENDS – Meg Gatland-Venese

When Charlie Parker dies, it affects everyone who knew him. Everyone, that is, except for seventeen-year-old Hamish Day, the boy who lives on a cabbage farm and only has one friend. But Hamish soon finds himself pulled into the complicated lives of the people left behind. Among them is Annie Bower, the prettiest girl in school. As he uncovers startling truths about his peers, his perspectives on friendship, love, grief and the tragic power of silence are forever altered.

Meg’s own teaching experience has enabled her to delve deeper into the true nature of a universal high school experience. I Had Such Friends will speak to high school students/teenagers on a personal level, and foster important conversations among Australian youth, school and family culture on issues including abuse, failure and neglect.

With hard-hitting themes including unrequited love, abuse, neglect, sexuality, bullying, prejudice, death and suicide, I Had Such Friends is a poignant journey of self-discovery, grief and the tragic power of silence.

A gripping look at adolescent pain with a narrative maturity that accurately reflects its YA milieu, I Had Such Friends resonates with young adult audiences and pushes them to reflect on their own ‘sliding doors’ moment.


8. SIX OF CROWS DUOLOGY – Leigh Bardugo

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone. . . .

A convict with a thirst for revenge

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager

A runaway with a privileged past

A spy known as the Wraith

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes

Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.


9. THE ILLUMINAE FILES – Jay Kristof and Amie Kaufman

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

BRIEFING NOTE: Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.


THE SEVEN HUSBANDS OF EVELYN HUGO – Taylor Jenkins Reid

Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ’80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

Written with Reid’s signature talent for creating “complex, likable characters” (Real Simple), this is a mesmerizing journey through the splendor of old Hollywood into the harsh realities of the present day as two women struggle with what it means—and what it costs—to face the truth. 


Let me know what your favourite stories/books are in the comments below!

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