Saturday, December 19, 2009

Last Minute Shopping - My Favorite Books of 2009

I thought I'd  do a list of some of my favorite books in 2009 as a suggestion to anyone looking for Christmas presents or a New Years resolution to read more.  
2009 is the year I discovered the author or series in question, so just because it is on this list does not mean that it is a recent publication .
Genre One: Fantasy
Book One of a series which imagines the Napoleonic Wars with dragons.  Told from the perspectives of a former Naval Captain and the dragon that fate thrusts into his lap, the author creates likeable, believable characters, even her background characters who show up for less than a chapter per book.   There are enough plot twists in the five published novels that they don’t get predictable – the author is good a creating problems that as a reader I didn’t see coming and then don’t immediately see an obvious solution to. 
Genre Two: Chick Paranormal.  Chick Paranormal is distinguished by the use of a strong female protagonist with paranormal powers (whether in a fantasy or reality setting) and some degree of romantic subplot.

Cry Wolf is a spin-off series from Patricia Brigg's Mercy Thompson series, which begins with Moon Called .  Charles, an ancient and powerful werewolf and the enforcer across all of America and Anna, a woman made werewolf against her will, have their wolf-selves declare themselves mated before they've known each other 24 hours.  Their human sides must deal with the emotional confusion this creastes, while thwarting enimies willing to exploit any weaknesses in their union between themselves or with their pack.  The loveable charecters that Briggs brings to life at your fingertips more than compensates for a slightly prosaic plot line (see also her Dragon Bones / Dragon Blood Hurog Duology for this kind of literary magic)
  In a world where magic and science move across reality in waves, Kate Daniels works as a mercenary in the remains of Atlanta, keeping to herself lest she endanger anyone else for she has taken an impossible mission upon herself, which is sure to end in pain and death for those and all she holds dear.  Unfortunately, she finds herself tangled up with the local were pack, where uneasy alliance soon turn to friendships and even possibly more.   Not perhaps a ground-breaking series, but a well written one; you might even read it again if you run out of unread books on a lazy weekend afternoon.

Another Spin-off series, this time from the Cassandra Palmer Series that begins with Touch the Dark    Dorina is dhampir, and her father is Dracula's brother.  Dracula, long since insane, but still very powerful, has broken out of his prison and needs to be stopped.  Dorina is talked into it by her father who leads her to believe that Dracula has a friend of hers.  Dorina is the straight man for a whole slew of fantastic characters who lead her around in circles while she tries to kick their asses until they give up useful information and several try to get into her pants.

Genre Three: Chick Paranormal Pornographic.  This subgenre of the chick paranormal genre maintains the tradition of the ass-kicking heroine with paranormal abilities, but brings a ton of X-rated sex scenes to the table (figure 15-25% of copy will be kinky sex scenes).

Riley Jenson is a werewolf who works in a government organization that protects people from those with supernatural powers.   Werewolves are oversexed paranormal creatures; during the full moon, a werewolf denied all other company will breed even with her worst enemy, or risk going mad.  This series allows you to enjoy the author's complete and graphic sexual imagination, a slight amount of emotional angst by the protagonist at her inability to find her true mate, and a great many bloody ass kickings handed out indiscriminately.   There's also a reasonable plot to give you a bit of a breather between all the sex.
Genre Four: Chick Mystery.  Also sometimes referred to as cozies, especially if the protagonist is into knitting, baking, or other womanly things.  The most cozy will feature recipes or craft designs mentioned in the book at the backof the book.

The least "cozy" of these mysteries, this book revolves around Izzy Duncan, who grew up in a family of private investigators and is pathologically unable to leave any mystery unturned.  Hilarious hijinks ensue as she attempts to follow her "suspects" around and figure out what is going on.  The first person narrative style is a nice change from the third person limited that mysteries usually foist on us.

Once  respectable accountant, Helen's divorce has left her on the lam in Florida, looking for places that will pay her off the books.  In her first two weeks at Juliana's, an exclusive woman's boutique, she discovers that her manager may be running drugs, hiring murders, and blackmailing most of the regular clientele.  When  her manager turns up dead, it i up to Helen to unravel the craziness that was her managers life and get to the bottom of her murder, before the local police decide that she's too intimately involved to be innocent.  A great strength of this book and the series is the way that life is breathed into even the smallest background characters, leaving you with a cast and crew of zany Floridians to enjoy again on a re-read.

Ivy Malone has noticed that women her age (she calls herself a LOL) are invisible to everyone around them.  She decides to use her new found superpower to investigate all the suspicious things that are going on in her small town.   Unfortunately for her, she stumbles on something a little bigger than vandalism, and the perpetrators are after her head.  Can she figure out what's going on in time?  Not recommended for non-Christians, as it is a bit Bible-heavy, which I enjoyed, but would not push on a friend lest she think that it was a backward attempt at conversion.

Genre Five: Christian Inspirational

I am not generally a fan of Debbie Macomber's fiction books, but I thought that she had some great perspectives here.  She offered a good mix of personal anecdotes, stories, and advice for those of us who are trying to figure out how to give back to the world the way God created us to.  If you are feeling overwhelmed by all that you would like to give, or if you are feeling that the giving well is running dry within you, I would recommend this book.

Genre Six: Cookbooks 

Intended for those of use who like to eat, rather than to cook, this book is full of inexpensive, healthier versions of your favorite take-out dishes.  It features Chinese, Mexican, Thai, Indian, and Deli foods, and several recipes have become my favorite.   I especially recommend the chili with mushrooms and the nachos made with baked tortillas.  I'm making myself hungry just thinking about this ...

The Gold Standard of basic cooking.  Your mother used Joy the way you will use this.  If don't have it, you want it.  And if you have a friend who is trying to learn how to cook, this is the perfect gift. 

 If you’re looking for that last minute present for a bookworm, I hope my list helps.  Keep in mind that Sunday  is the last day to get guaranteed Christmas delivery using Amazonstandard shipping rates, which run $3 a shipment and $0.99 a book.  Chose 4 books in the 4 for 3 paperback promotion, though and you’re still coming out on discounts and tax (or lack thereof)

For a big splurge present for yourself or anyone else, I recommend that you break down and get:

Amazon is offering it with free two day shipping, thus guaranteeing its arrival before Christmas.  I love my Kindle, and I'd have been delighted to get it as a present.  Even though I paid the old price for it, I've just about made up the cost in the lowered prices of almost all books (especially hardback bestsellers) and the free content (free e-books!) that Amazon hands out on occasion.  Plus I don't have to find storage space for the hundred book titles I have kicking around in it, which in a 900 square foot house is significant.

No comments:

Post a Comment