It’s been a rough week. On top of a difficult year. Never in recent memory have I felt the need to escape so strongly. However, the nature of these difficult times (high-risk pregnancy, baby in the NICU, car smashed) means that I have limited blocks of time that I can actually set aside for such escape. Blocks of time that are perfectly filled with books. Audio books, ebooks, analog books. Drives (or now train rides) to and from the hospital are filled with audio books. Moments in the NICU, when FirstBorn needs to sleep, when I need to pump – or evenings in the bath – I turn to ebooks. All the times at home when life stops for me to pump, particularly at 3 AM, analog books.

So, I thought I would share some of the books that have been aiding and abetting my escape. Below are three series that have provided that bit of refuge for me. Full of smart characters, twisting plots, and humor, these books have transported me out of myself and reminded me that there is beauty and fun out there awaiting my return.

(All covers and links lead to Goodreads)

Artemis Fowl Series by Eoin Colfer

Artemis Fowl is not just an evil genius, he is an evil child genius. With his faithful bodyguard Butler, absent parents, and a family fortune, Artemis begins his adventures with a plot to steal fairy gold. It starts with an abduction, of the perky and persistent fairy Holly Short, first female officer of the LEP Recon team. I am about to start the fifth book in the series, The Lost Colony. I have listened to this one on audio. Narrated by the amazing Nathaniel Parker (I once saw him, live, accepting his Odyssey Honor Award in 2013 for The Last Guardian), these audio productions are above and beyond! Nathaniel gives life to Eoin’s words and characters in the most spectacular way. Check out a sample of his Odyssey Award winning performance below.

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Finishing School by Gail Carriger

Too much of a tom-boy for her family’s taste, Sophronia runs about getting herself into scrapes and messes that are most decidedly unladylike. Her mother is fed up, and has decided to send her to finishing school. Little does her mother know, Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality has quite a different idea of “finishing.” Sophronia will of course learn all the skills needed to be a Lady of Quality; she will also learn to become a world class intelligencer.  Executing the perfect curtsy proves just as difficult as executing an adversary, but Sophronia soon masters both. This series combines steampunk elements (the school is a floating dirigible) with supernatural ones (both a werewolf and a vampire serve as instructors for the girls) with great aplomb. I have been listening to this one on audio as well. I was going to look for a sample, but then I found this book trailer, swooned a bit, and decided to share it instead. (But go check out the audio, read by Moira Quirk, who does an outstanding job setting just the right mood.)

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Confessions of Georgia Nicholson by Louise Rennison

I started this series years ago, but never finished, and now I am remedying that situation. After seeing the first title, I couldn’t not read it. After reading the first book, I couldn’t not read the next. And so on, and so on. I am currently on the sixth in the series. This one I am reading as ebooks (though I originally read the first four in analog fashion). Georgia Nicholson is just like any other teenage girl keeping a diary. She has a family that is vrais embarrassing. She goes to a school that exists only to ruin her life. She has an “ace gang” of friends, who make the former two items bearable. And she is in love with a Sex God. The lead singer of a local band, Sex God (or SG for short) is older, wiser, and turns Georgia into a rambling, stuttering fool. This series is the definition of Laugh out Loud Funny.

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What books or other activities do you turn to when you need to escape the world?

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