Showing posts with label Best of 2009. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Best of 2009. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 Top Reads

Going back through my 2009 list of books read, I realized that I've read some excellent books this year. The tough part? Although I've certainly read plenty of new releases, I've also read my share of books released in previous years. My list of top reads doesn't necessarily reflect favorite books released in 2009, instead it's a list of my favorite books read in 2009. I decided to post my Top 10 Reads regardless of release date, as I think this will truly reflect my preferences. There are only a few books on my list released this year and I'll highlight them.

Also, while reviewing my list, I noticed that I read a lot of excellent books during the first half of the year before I began blogging, and realize I did not review quite a few of them. I've linked the titles of the books I've reviewed, but for some you'll not find links. Maybe at some point I'll re-read some of them and post my thoughts. :)

Top 10 reads:

1) Perdido Street Station by China Mieville (Fantasy)
2) Wicked Gentlemen by Ginn Hale (M/M Fantasy) - 2009 Release
3) Gabriel's Ghost by Linnea Sinclair (Science Fiction/Romance)
4) Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews (Urban Fantasy)
5) Branded by Fire by Nalini Singh (Paranormal Romance) - 2009 Release
6) Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase (Historical Romance)
7) This Heart of Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (Contemporary Romance)
8) Silent Blade by Ilona Andrews (Sci-Fi/Romance Short Story) - 2009 Release
9) Almost Like Being in Love by Steve Kluger (M/M Contemporary Romance)
10) The Edge of Impropriety by Pam Rosenthal (Historical Romance)

Honorable Mention: These are books that I loved and truly enjoyed this year as well. As a matter of fact I had a tough time choosing in some cases between my top 10 and these. So, I just had to mention them. They are not in any particular order, I've basically grouped them by genre. I really loved them all. :)

Hope's Folly by Linnea Sinclair (Sci/Fi Romance) - 2009 Release
The Mountains of Mourning by Lois McMaster Bujold (Sci-Fi/Short Story)
Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews (Urban Fantasy) - 2009 Release
Deathwish by Rob Thurman (Urban Fantasy) - 2009 Release
Demon Night by Meljean Brook (Paranormal/Romance)
Virgin River by Robyn Carr (Contemporary Romance)
McKenzie's Mountain by Linda Howard (Contemporary Romance)
Simple Jess by Pamela Morsi (Historical Romance)
All the Windwracked Stars by Elizabeth Bear (Fantasy) - 2009 Release
Percy and the Olympians Series by Rick Riordan -5 books (YA)*-2009 Release
Rough Cut: Vincent Diamond Collected by editor Richard Labonte and Vincent Diamond (M/M)
ePistols at Dawn by Z.A. Maxfield (M/M) - 2009 Release

Top Re-Read: Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale (Historical/Romance) - A book I read such a long time ago it was like reading it for the first time. One of the best historical romances I read this year (again) and for me an A+ read anytime, anywhere.

I noticed this year for the first time I didn't read enough romance/suspense, historical fiction or mysteries to choose at least two top reads -- something I mean to remedy in 2010. I must admit that previous to 2009, I read so much in those categories (specially romance/suspense and mysteries) that I needed to catch up on other genres.

*YA = Only books read in this category this year. But an A recommended 5 book series.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

2009: Favorite New-to-Me Authors

I make a point of searching for new authors every year. I make lists and eventually those authors that attract my interest get read. 2009 has been a great year for me when it comes to new-to-me authors as you'll see by my list below. I didn't get to many I wanted to this year, but then, there's always 2010!

Linnea Sinclair - Sci/Fi Romance

In March of this year, after devouring Gabriel's Ghost, Shades of Dark and Hope's Folly, I undoubtedly became a Linnea Sinclair fan and she moved up to the top of my list as a favorite author in the Sci-Fi Romance genre. I still have a few books from her backlist to read, The Down Home Zombie Blues, Finder's Keepers and Games of Command are all in my TBR pile and I'll be reading them in 2010. As you can imagine the new installment in the Dock Five series, Rebels and Lovers is also one of my most anticipated books of 2010. I cannot wait for this book!

Ilona Andrews - Urban Fantasy

Urban Fantasy was a new-to-me genre this year. My goal was to choose and read at least three urban fantasy series -- to give it a chance, something I had been reluctant to do. After much research and thought, I chose the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews as my starter series. In April 2009, I read Magic Bites, and proceeded to devour Magic Burns and Magic Strikes in a matter of days! I couldn't stop reading. After falling in love with the world and the characters Andrews created in the Kate Daniels series, I went on to read more of their work. With the addition of their quirky installment on a new series On the Edge and their excellent short story Sci/Fi Romance Silent Blade, Ilona Andrews moved to the top of the new-to-me favorite authors list of 2009. Magic Bleeds is also on my 2010 list of most anticipated books.

Meljean Brook - Paranormal Romance

Paranormal romance is a genre I enjoy, but don't necessarily love. After a while there just seem to be too many vampires, werewolves and "other" creatures running around, and uniqueness in a series seems to be tough to find. Maintaining tight worldbuilding in a series and balancing it out with the romances taking place in each book seems to be a definite challenge.

This year my paranormal romance reading had dwindled down to three series, but after reading Must Love Hellhounds Anthology, I decided to give the Guardian series by Meljean Brook a try. Well, I haven't been this excited about a paranormal series since I started reading the Psy/Changeling series by Nalini Singh. I began by reading Demon Angel last month and I've already finished Demon Moon and Demon Night. Demon Bound is next on my list and I'll be catching up with this series soon! Brooks is an excellent addition to my paranormal romance list of authors and her series is one I'll definitely continue to follow.

Pam Rosenthal - Historical Romance

I'm always looking for new or new-to-me historical romance writers to add to my list. As opposed to last year when I read quite a few excellent historical romance books, this year most of them fell in the average to the very good category. Pam Rosenthal's The Edge of Impropriety was a surprisingly fresh read, and one I remember even now in a category that too often feels saturated by sameness and predictability. Her backlist is one I will be exploring and I hope to read her new books in the future.

Margaret Campbell Barnes - Historical Fiction

It has been a while since I've read historical fiction, a genre I truly love. Margaret Campbell Barnes' The Tudor Rose: A Novel of Elizabeth of York reminded me not only of that love, but sparked my interest in reading more by this author. She has an excellent backlist and I'll definitely be exploring her work as well as reacquainting myself with other historical fiction authors I've neglected.

Lisa Dale - Contemporary Romance

I cut my teeth reading contemporary romance and to this day it's my favorite genre. My comfort reads are usually contemporary romances. A good contemporary will do it for me every. single. time. But boy are good, straight contemporary romances tough to find these days! The balance is hardly ever there... they are either plagued with suspense (I call it a plague), or the chick lit wave hits them with such force that the romance is lost and they're hardly recognizable. So, to find a contemporary romance writer, one that balances the romance with a good, meaty plot and great characters (including secondary ones), is not that easy. Dale seems to have the potential for reaching this balance. She didn't quite achieve it with Simple Wishes, but she wrote a book I enjoyed regardless. Her It Happened One Night got even closer to reaching that balance, so yes! I'm definitely keeping my eye on this author who only has two books out and whose writing I've enjoyed enough to look forward to that third one.

Sarah Mayberry - Category Romance

After a few years of not reading category romance, 2009 was my year to give this genre another chance. I enjoyed books by different authors, Jill Shalvis, Raeanne Thayne and Lucy Monroe. However of all the authors, Sarah Mayberry was the one who met the requirements most often, that feeling of having read a meaty romance when in fact it was a Blaze. I love the short, quick format for those occasions when I can't seem to find the time or the energy for a long read. Sarah Mayberry left me satisfied after I finished her books. My favorite one is Anything For You, a friends to lovers, which should not be a surprise to anyone who knows me by now. I still have some of her books in my TBR, but I'm saving those for the holidays. :)

China Mieville - Fantasy

After reading Perdido Street Station, I can't say anything but that China Mieville blew my mind. I haven't read any fantasy like Mieville's and I want to read more. I have The City and The City in my TBR pile, but I won't read it. I want to read The Scar and King Rat first, two of his previous books, THEN I'll read The City and The City... I don't know what else to say, but that at some point I'll have to gather my thoughts and write something about this book. I finished it at a time when I did not have the time to do a write up and I wanted to do it justice, so I opted for not reviewing it because it deserved both the time and the effort.

Ginn Hale - M/M Fantasy

Ginn Hale wrote one of my favorite fantasy books of 2009, not just M/M, but fantasy. Wicked Gentlemen is a book that stayed with me for quite a while after a read it. I truly couldn't put it away, the atmosphere, the world, the characters, they all stayed with me and I couldn't shake them. This book is one of two books that received an A+ from me this year, so you know I loved it. Her follow up book Lord Foster's Devils is another book I can't wait to read in 2010.

Steve Kluger, Vincent Diamond and Z.A. Maxfield - M/M Romance

In the LGBT category, under M/M Romance there are many authors I "discovered" and really liked or loved this year. There are many more whose work stayed in my TBR pile or TBB list, so my choices were not easy to make. I made those choices based on how the books I read by these authors affected me and how or if they stayed with me.

Steve Kluger's "Almost Like Being in Love" is a book I had on my TBB list for a while, but had not made a move to buy until last month. Reading the book moved this author to the top of my list with little effort. I'll definitely be checking out his other work, no question about it.

Vincent Diamond's "Rough Cut: Vincent Diamond Collected" is a collection of short stories that stayed with me long after I finished reading them. I followed that up with the Animal Attraction 2 Anthology and Feathers. I'm hoping Diamond will just keep writing although I know editing keeps her busy, busy.

And, last but not least, Z.A. Maxfield's ePistols at Dawn was my first book by this amazing author. A book that also stayed with me, not only for the relationships in the book, but for her amazing study of the way society uses masks, individual fears and insecurities, choices and how to triumph over the whole mess. I have other books by Maxfield in my TBR pile ready for reading and hope to get to them early next year.

Who were your favorite new authors of 2009?