Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Thursday Thirteen, Edition 17

Good Bye, 2009

A few weeks ago, the Weekly Geeks asked for our 2009 Top Ten. And I meant to participate, I really did. But, you know. Life is busy this time of year. You can still vote for the top books of 2009 at the official voting booth. The sad thing is, some of my favorite books didn't make it, and I have only myself to blame.

For whatever reason, I seem to be more successful at posting to the Thursday Thirteen meme than Weekly Geeks (I think it's because it's easier to make a list than to actually THINK about stuff, like the WG often seem to want -- the NERVE....) so I'm going to post 13 of my favorite 2009 reads. I won't presume to call them 2009's best, and I certainly can't claim to have read all the great 2009 books that came out. So these are just 13 2009 publications that I really, really liked.

  1. Meljean Brook's Demon Forged - I love this series so much, but I think I love Irena most of all. She's such an appealing character, tough and vulnerable and so very unusual. Her Olek is a wonderful foil, able to match her toughness but with a delightfully contrasty civilized polish. Brook's world is so imaginative, and she's not afraid to throw the curve balls that will leave you gasping. (Really. I gasped.)
  2. Nalini Singh's Branded by Fire - Fire is right. You might need to roll around in the snow for awhile after reading this one. Phew. Singh actually had THREE books out in 2009, but this was my favorite by far.
  3. Patricia Briggs' Bone Crossed - why did I wait so long to read this? I bought it when it came out (I even got it signed!) but for whatever reason I let it sit until this week. I devoured it in less than 24 hours - so good. Instead of fizzling out as so many series do after a few books, this one electrified me with the hints about where Mercy's character is going.
  4. Jenna Black's Speak of the Devil - I really like this series. The emotional aspects of Jenna's relationships are so fresh and complicated. The cross-currents are dizzying - you really never know what's going to happen next, or with whom.
  5. Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey - I also enjoyed Namaah's Kiss, but this one kind of blew me away. More UF than romance, but there are romantic elements.
  6. Alyssa Day's Atlantis Unleashed - I've been following this series, and it's been fun and it's been pretty good, but Unleashed was fantastic. Strides above the predecessors.
  7. Ilona Andrews' On The Edge - the strangest mash-up of fairy tale, UF, medieval romance, and redneck sensibility that ever worked like big huge working thing that totally works really well.
  8. Mary Jo Putney's Loving a Lost Lord - MJP returns to non-paranormal historicals with a wonderful twist on the tired amnesia trope. I just flat-out loved this book.
  9. Anna Campbell's Captive of Sin - I'm totally an Anna Campbell fan, although I know her style doesn't appeal to everyone. In order to write her damaged heroes, Campbell dives ever deeper into the human capacity for creative and horrible torture, and this story is no different. Generally this kind of thing makes me squeamish, but she pulls it off. I felt like this story took a step away from her almost-cartoonish over-the-top setups of past books and showed a bit more maturity in the plotting.
  10. Jennifer Haymore's Hint of Wicked - my favorite debut this year. The woman writes sexual tension like nobody's business.
  11. Though Carrie Lofty's What a Scoundrel Wants is certainly a contender for that title, too. Technically, this was a 2008 release, but it was very late in the year and it was a 2009 read for me. Really interesting heroine and spot-on action scenes make this book a standout.
  12. Victoria Dahl makes a double-splash into the contemporary pool with Start Me Up and Talk Me Down. While they had some weaknesses -- I didn't think the suspense element worked that well in either book -- I did love the main characters, especially the women. You haven't seen BFF dialog like this since Jenny Crusie's pre-collaboration days.
  13. Oh, what to choose for the final book! I can't decide between Carolyn Jewel's Scandal, The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie (Jennifer Ashley), and Not Quite a Husband (Sherry Thomas). What these books have in common is that I probably wouldn't have read them if it weren't for Romancelandia, and I'm having some trouble separating my liking them from my suggestibility. I liked them all, a lot, but I didn't review any of them. I had trouble finding anything original to say. I think in the case of both Thomas and Jewel, they're a little slower than my usual favorites, which might have been a disadvantage. However, I read them already thinking about complexities that were discussed by JessicaRRR and others, and I think it made me more appreciative of the texture of the books. Really hard to choose a favorite among those three.
Now, there are a number of 2009 books that might've made this list if I had gotten them read. A few of those are:

Darkness Calls - Marjorie Liu
Queen of Song and Souls - CL Wilson
Lord of Pleasure - Delilah Marvelle
Smooth-talking Stranger - Lisa Kleypas (waiting for paperback!)
Echo in the Bone - Diana Gabaldon

And I'm working on the backlist for a bunch of authors, so maybe next year their 2010 offerings will make an appearance.


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Mandi said...

I also have Briggs, Singh and Andrews on my list.

I just read my first Victoria Dahl and I am now a fan girl of hers :)

My goal for 2010 is to read a Lisa Kleypas contemporary!

Anonymous said...

I bought the Andrews, on your rec, and plan to read it over break. I guess I should add the Putney, since I have really enjoyed some of her other books.

I love the way you put this: "books I really liked". Less pressure that way.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Nicola!

Nicola O. said...

Mandi, I predict you'll like it, whichever one you choose. It's hard to beat Kleypas, whatever period she's writing.

Jessica, I'm all about the low-pressure. (Which might explain the lack of December posts, who knows...)

And season's greetings to you and yours.

I am Harriet said...

I was wondering about a few of those.

Have a wonderful Holiday!

Irishcoda said...

I love reading other people's book lists! I usually find some good titles I want to read too! :)

jillconyers said...

I added a few of these to my B&N list. A;ways looking for good reads.

Happy holidays!

Chris said...

Oh, yeah, that was a great Psy-Changeling book! I still have Demon Forged sitting unread on my couch...

Shelley Munro said...

Ilona Andrews is one of my favorite authors. I really enjoyed the new series. I also discovered Jenna Black's series this year and read them one after the other. I vote for The Madness of Ian McKenzie. I really liked that book. Merry Christmas!

sanjeet said...

I should add the Putney, since I have really enjoyed some of her other books.

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