book recs for the new year?

I had resolved to read more books this year. By which I mean things-already-published-not-in-manuscript-form. My clients had other ideas. I sure do love reading their stories (even if I take absolutely no joy from taunting my friends that happen to also be fans…) In any case, I didn’t read as much as I would have liked (with the exception of my two-week vacation this summer.) So, I am going to re-resolve for next year and see if I do better. But there’s currently over 600 books in my TBR pile (because I keep acquiring them whether I have time to read them or not). So, without knowing exactly what is in that pile, I am asking for book recommendations to see what everyone else has been reading and if there’s a cross-section between that and what I already own. Or if there’s something I really should have and don’t.

In case, you were wondering, the pile has science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, mysteries, romance, YA, historicals…. well, pretty much a wide variety of fiction (there’s some nonfiction titles too, but we’ll leave those aside for now). A sample of non-client books I enjoyed this year included:

*Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies
*Graffiti Girl by Kelley Parra
*The Bone Key by Sarah Monette
*The Thieves of Faith by Richard Doetsch
*No One Heard Her Scream by Jordan Dane
*Alphabet of Thorn by Patricia McKillip

So…. tell me – what were the top 3 books that you read this year* (they don’t necessarily need to have been published in 2008)? If you have time to tell me _why_ those are your choices that will help me build a reading list, too.

*And if your top 3 books include one of my client’s books, I’d love to hear it! But they won’t count towards the list I’m building.

69 responses to “book recs for the new year?

  1. Also loved “Alphabet of Thorn”, though I read it 2-3 years ago. One of my favourite McKillip books.
    This year, I loved
    The Carpet-Makers by Andreas Eschbach, a very strange story about planets where craftsmen live from the weaving of hair carpets–and the mystery of what happens to the carpets
    Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra, an awesome book about the life of an Indian criminal overlord and the policemen who chase him–very strong sense of atmosphere and a nicely-twisting plot
    Angelica, by Sharon Shinn, a strong entry in the Samaria series (wasn’t such a big fan of the two previous books).

    • I would have loved to have read _Alphabet of Thorn_ when it came out, but it languished unloved in that TBR pile for too long. I know there’s at least one more of hers in the pile, but a reader I introduced to her work is now ahead of me in reading her work. This is one of the great perils of working in publishing because I read a lot of great books for “work” but fall behind on reading for “leisure.”

      • My McKillip chronology is a bit hazy, but I can think of at least 3 books she published since then (Od Magic, Solstice Wood, and The Bell at Sealey Head). They’re all very good, though Alphabet of Thorn still stands above them as far as I’m concerned. It’s among my top two, right there with The Book of Atrix Wolfe (though as a very loose sequel to Winter Rose, Solstice Wood was an entrancing read).
        This is one of the great perils of working in publishing because I read a lot of great books for “work” but fall behind on reading for “leisure.”
        I guess after a while, even reading for leisure would start feeling like work–or can you keep both apart?

  2. Fair Peril, by Nancy Springer. Old but, but tons of fun. Good read when you need to lighten your cerebral load with something that’s NOT crap.
    The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing (The Pox Party) by MT Anderson. Heartbreaking. Beautiful. It is hard to believe that the same person who wrote Feed (also a fabulous book) wrote Octavian. (Though he is quite clever to insert an allusion to Feed in Octavian.)
    Lamb (The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal), by Christopher Moore. Hilarious. Irreverent. Beautiful. If you’re a straightlaced sort of Christian lady, maybe not for you. This agnostic-bordering-on-atheist found it breathtaking in too many ways to count.
    There’s also Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel but I’ve a feeling you might have read that one already.

  3. I sort of assume that because of the genres you represent, you’ve read Holly Black already. But if you haven’t, Ironside was her best work yet, in my opinion.
    Other things I have enjoyed recently include A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (I know, I know, I’m so very late to that party) and I’ve only just started Jeff Marrionette’s Witch Season but so far it’s great fun.

  4. Finally got around to reading ‘s Feast for Crows. I think I liked the preceding book better. I had held off for a while to give more time for Dance With Dragons to get finished, but I had waited long enough. Personally, I like seeing Cersei cold and naked in a dark cell. Serves her right.
    Steven Erikson’s The Deadhouse Gates, as the second in his series, was an interesting departure from the first volume. I always love how dense his worlds are, and how he’s just so good at bringing disparate elements together at the end.
    Just finished Kay Kenyon’s Bright of the Sky, and am into vol.2 A World Too Near. I believe she’s a Maas client as well. What I love about the first book is that near the end the main character is immersed in this world, and it appears he’s going to get away clean with his plan. But as he tries to do something nice he’s suddenly, impulsively, and irrevocably forced into an act of such horror, I as a reader am almost repulsed by the fact that I felt it had to be done. Then it’s a roller coaster until the end, which is something I love about her, as well as George Martin.

  5. I read pretty much exclusively romance and SF romance. I just this year discovered Mary Balogh and what a find her early books are!
    Mary Balogh, The Secret Pearl
    Mary Balogh, A Precious Jewel
    and a brand new title (published in Nov)
    Judith James, Broken Wing
    The Balogh titles because they have unconventional heroines (both end up prostituting themselves because the alternative is starvation) and because the books are full of angst but with an uplifting and, to me at least, believable ending. A Precious Jewel also has a hero who has real issues that fit the time but are entirely relatable (sp?).
    The James title has an unconventional hero (catamite) who has to overcome serious self-esteem issues and ‘Broken Wing’ reminds me of the more epic style romance of my early reading career 25 years ago (in a good way, obviously). There’s a in-depth review and discussion at Dear Author
    if you want to check it out. I had to be dragged screaming and kicking to buy this book but I’m so glad I did!
    Looks like there’s a pattern there I hadn’t even noticed. I also read a couple good contemporary titles (series), but you only wanted three, so I’ll stop here. 🙂

  6. The Love We Share Without Knowing by Chris Barzak is really a beautiful (and very short!) book.
    And actually, one of your client’s books was in my top three: The Secret History of Moscow. 🙂
    Happy New Year!

  7. “The Sparrow” and its sequel “Children of God” by Mary Doria Russell are a profound mix of scifi and literary fiction that explore the very definitions of humanity and God after a Jesuit expedition to another planet goes awry. These are beautiful and haunting.
    “Life As We Knew It” by Susan Beth Pfeffer is a YA work. The moon is knocked closer to Earth in orbit, causing a global cataclysm. The struggle for survival is told in diary form by a teenage girl in Pennsylvania. It’s an intense book, one that inspired me to stockpile more food “just in case.” I haven’t read the sequel yet.

  8. Jim Butcher- Small Favor: each book in the series keeps getting better- I don’t know how he does it!
    Brandon Sanderson- The Hero of Ages: the finale to an amazing fantasy series.
    Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons- Watchmen: I’m not usually into graphic novels but this one is a must read!

  9. Top Three Recs for this year?
    Lamplighter by D.M. Cornish (might want to ready Foundling first)
    Lament by Maggie Stiefvater
    Goldfish Dreams by Jim Hines

  10. Robert Charles Wilson’s Spin – because I like a sense of wonder and mystery in my SF sometimes, and that one nicely provided.
    A. Lee Martinez’s The Automatic Detective – fantastic sense of Marlowe-esque humor and a really fun retrofuture setting.
    Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula – creepy Victorian England with vampire cops trying to catch Jack the Ripper. What’s not to love?

  11. Apparently books appeal to me based on their characters:
    The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss: What really grabbed me at the beginning was the main character–someone who’s lost the life he thought he would have, who’s become something bigger than maybe he really is (the man as myth vs. man in reality thing), a man who’s waiting to die. A hero, yet not. A man with good, if not noble intentions. And a man who is both lauded as a hero and defamed as a villain. I really like the main character and want to know how he got that way.
    Empress by Karen Miller: Despite some minor editing flaws, I liked this book because the characters were very vivid and the setting was interesting.
    And by one of your clients, in part: A Companion to Wolves by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear. Again, it was largely the characters, especially their relationships. I also liked the pacing.

  12. I’m going to cheat slightly and give you a list of authors. I read almost exclusively fantasy these days, and the stories aren’t usually done in one book. So, by author…
    Russell Kirkpatrick: Fire of Heaven and The Broken Man. The first series gets better as it goes, but RK managed to really get me going on the second series. It’s where the characters and the world finally come to life, where he manages to merge the epic nature of his worldview with characters that are more than the standard epic stock. I’ve even caught myself thinking like one of his characters, and during an intense conversation, almost told someone, “Aha! I’ve got your numbers now.” That, to me, is a writer who makes an impact.
    Steven Erikson: Malazan Book of the Fallen. I almost didn’t stick with this series, but I’m glad I didn’t drop it. His series of so far eight books has shown his growth as a writer. The first few books were serious slogs in terms of prose; the man had wall of text syndrome. Fortunately, by book five, he’d conquered his more serious problems, and now by book eight, he’s smooth reading. What kept me reading were the amazing characters, the realistic world, intense battles, and so much more.
    Brent Weeks: The Night Angel Trilogy. I wouldn’t call this one of the best things I’ve ever read, but certainly a nice new star that I enjoy. He makes assassins look more like forces of justice than anything else. Good reading.
    Jane Lindskold: everything out by her. Her characters are a just fun to read.
    Michelle Sagara/West: Her books, any of her books, are on my *pounce* list. The woman has me in awe of her abilities to go from epic fantasy to a kind of anti-heroic character series and back again. *is envious and will be studying those books like crazy to figure out how to do the same thing*
    Barry Hughart: Bridge of the Birds Yeah, I know. It’s an oldie, but it still resonates as one of the best asian-style fantasy stories that I’ve ever read. I managed to find a brand-new copy in my Borders, and I snatched that thing up and ran. I do wish he would deal with whatever issues there are and write more. Li Kao and Number Ten Ox are two of the best characters ever, and I’m very sad that there’s no more.
    That’s enough for now. 🙂

    • There is a sequel to Barry Hughart’s Bridge of Birds called the Story of the Stone, and a third book called Eight Skilled Gentleman. They are somewhat difficult to get your hands on (I have the 2nd but not the 3rd), but Subterranean came out with an omnibus edition in October.

  13. Bear’s Ink & Steel and Hell & Earth would be near the top of my list, but I’m assuming you’ve read those. 😉
    Thanks to Jo Walton’s recent posts on, I’m finishing up Regency mysteries by Kate Ross and Madeleine Robins. Great stuff! Robins’s heroine is easier to love than Ross’s hero; Julian Kestrel has that Peter Wimsey trick of holding himself aloof from the reader as well as the other characters.
    It seems to be my year for collecting historical mysteries; I also ran through Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series and am looking for more set in the ’20s or ’30s.
    My TBR pile is nearly the size of yours, but I finally got around to reading the Miles Vorkosigan series a couple of months ago. Been meaning to for years — the Liaden Universe books are favorites, and I’d heard these were similar. I fell in love with Miles more or less instantly (which I’m told is a common reaction), inhaled the books as fast as possible, and promptly started my re-read. Eventually I had to step back, take a deep breath, and make myself read something else. I really did not want to leave that world.
    Have you read Joanna Bourne’s historical romances? I think she’s my favorite discovery of the year after Bujold.

    • … I’d no sooner hit “post” than I remembered Sherwood Smith. I devoured Inda and its sequels over the summer. I had trouble with Inda at first, what with the cast of thousands and the child protagonist, but halfway through everything gets flipped on its head and from there it’s one long whoosh! to the end of the third book.

  14. The House of Night series by P.C. and Kristin Cast
    The Boleyn Inheritance by Phillipa Gregory
    The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong
    Peeps by Scott Westerfeld

  15. My 3 favorites I read this year:
    The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie. One of the most honest, provocative, and empowering books I’ve ever read. Made me laugh, made me cry.
    Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow. From the first sentence, impossible to put down.
    Master and Commander, by Patrick O’Brian. I can’t believe I only just now got around to reading this treasure of a series. O’Brian breaks one writing rule after another and gets away with it because he’s just that good.

    • I second Absolutely True Diary. Alexie has always written great stuff. I’m glad he’s finally come over to the dark side … and his second YA book is coming out in February!

  16. I recommend Spook Country by William Gibson because it reminded me of the John le Carré novels that I liked best. His Milgram character was especially fascinating.

  17. ’08 Recommendations
    Clockers – Richard Price
    Pitch-perfect dialogue, incredible atmosphere, a cops-and-dealers novel that is anything but. Easily my favorite for the year.
    The Last Goodbye – Raymond Chandler
    A classic P.I. book. I actually got to read it for a class.
    Gun, With Occasional Music – Jonathan Lethem
    Chandler-inspired, it’s a wonderful mix of mystery and specfic. Read for the same class as Goodbye. I love my school.

  18. Aside from books by your clients (Jim Butcher, Elizabeth bear, Anne Bishop) my favorite was “The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss. And I bought it because YOU blogged about it (I think you said Jim Butcher told you to read it). So, if it’s still in your TBR pile, fish it out already!
    Elissa M

  19. Ysabel, Guy Gavriel Kay. It does some very interesting things with myth and story while having really great characters and prose: I can see why it won WFA.
    The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins. YA. Takes a very old idea – gladiatorial games/reality television – and approaches it with a very fresh voice. And, again, great characters.
    The Poison Throne, Celine Kiernan. YA. It does interesting things. And has great characters.
    Half A Crown, Jo Walton. It’s brutal and hopeful and hits the right tone for oppressive dictatorship/life-goes-on right on the nose. And characters.
    Saturn’s Children, Charles Stross. Weird. But also so much fun.
    And ‘s stuff from this year, of course.

  20. This year…
    Murder on a Midsummer Night by Kerry Greenwood. The latest of the Phryne Fisher series, set in Australia in 1929. I ordered it from Australia because I don’t want to wait until it comes out in the US next summer. I highly recommend the whole series, beginning with Cocaine Blues.
    Don’t Hex With Texas by Shanna Swendson. A light, fun, modern world fantasy, where the heroine is not magical. At all. This is the fourth (and so far last) of the series, but I’m torn between this one and the first one as my favorite.
    My other favorite reads were beta reads of books that are not in print, and so I won’t mention them here.

  21. I read a lot of books this year that I didn’t love, mostly because I was trying to branch out.
    Two I did love:
    The Book of Negroes, by Lawrence Hill. (US title: Someone Knows My Name) Historical fiction. It’s a wonderful book, beautifully written, with an endearing, realistic female main character. As a bonus, it deals with an aspect of the lives of freed slaves that I knew little about — how many went to live in Nova Scotia with the promise of getting back to Africa.
    Ysabel, by Guy Gavriel Kay. YA fantasy of the “historical events had supernatural influence and oh look, they’re back” type, full of rich description and natural characters with bonus offbeat romance.

  22. May 2008
    You’ll want Shannon Butcher’s paranormal romance BURNING ALIVE. It’s excellent. Oh, I guess I read that one in MS form 🙂

  23. Skipping the obvious (like Ink & Steel, which I know you’ve read):
    The Fencing Master by Arturo Perez-Reverte — terrific and literate period swashbuckling.
    The Jennifer Morgue by Charles Stross — James Bond + Cthulhu + Advanced Math + Dilbert — what’s not to like?
    Airhead by Meg Cabot — fluffy YA novel which tackles a well-tackled area of science fiction — and comes up with a chilling variation on it I’ve never seen before.

  24. The Book Thief A narrative by a guy named Death, or, more properly identified, one of Death’s Collectors. If you haven’t read it, you’re missing something wonderful and unique. If you have, read it again. There’s something in there that you missed the first or second time.

    • The Book Thief is an extraordinary book.

      • I agree — THE BOOK THIEF is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time — if not forever. 🙂 I can’t recomment it enough, and if you’ve read it already, try the audio version — the narrator is excellent.
        –Jen Hendren

  25. Narrowing down my large pile of books I read this year to just three is difficult. I read all CE Murphy’s book this year, and while I can’t choose between the Walker Papers and The Negotiator Trilogy, I’ll just put her on this list as a whole.
    I also loved Melissa Marr’s Ink Exchange. Wicked Lovely was good, but imo Ink Exchange blew it out of the water with its deft handling of a difficult but poignant subject that was handled with such grace.
    Lastly, anything my Richelle Mead. Particularly Storm Born and Shadow Kiss (though Shadow is the third book in a series). She continually blows me out of the water as one of the best urban fantasy authors our there.
    Though, I will say Jeaniene Frost was a close second for third.

  26. My top books for the year:
    • Sandra McDonald’s Outback series (The Outback Stars and The Stars Down Under—so far) – SF/F – These books are sprawling, yet intimate: a vast story set in the Australian “space navy,” a touching love story and mystery, mystical, and just darned good storytelling.
    Heartsick by Chelsea Cain – A well-written, unique take on serial killers. Literary without being self-conscious, good suspense, real human dimensions.
    The Passion of Mary Magdalen by Elizabeth Cunningham – The title of this is kind of misleading, I think. This is not a Da Vinci Code rip off. It’s a bawdy, tender, funny, moving, spiritual, earthy, reverent, and irreverent book about Maeve, a Celtic girl who winds up a slave and prostitute in Rome, then a devotee of Isis in Magdala. Somehow Ms. Cunningham manages to honor both the pagan and Christian traditions, though I’m fairly certain a Christian traditionalist might not agree. Big emotions, a big canvas, a freaking huge book, and it moved me more than I can say.
    If you’ll permit me one more:
    • The Devil series by Lilith Saintcrow – A limited five book series. Yeah, it has a tough urban-fantasy-like woman kicking a*s, but it’s also futuristic, emotionally complex, thematic, and an original and unique entry into the UF genre.

  27. Dashing through, so no in-depth reasons here but for 2008 I’d say some of my top reads were:
    THE GHOST IN LOVE – Jonathan Carroll
    INK EXCHANGE – Melissa Marr
    GENERATION DEAD – Daniel Waters
    I also read an ARC of Carrie Ryan’s THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH, which was just incredibly good. One to look out for in 2009. Apart from the Jonathan Carroll book, all of these are YA contemporary fantasy (which I also write).
    Of your clients, I’d have to give major kudos to Elizabeth Bear for WHISKEY AND WATER which I know is a 2007 book, but I read it for the second time in 2008. One of my favourite books of all time. 🙂

  28. Well, Small Favor is definitely up there, but I’ll do my other 3 favorites.
    1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – Fantastic and real female protagonist, tension built in every line, and one of the few futuristic dystopias I actually like. Am even giving it to my teenage brother for Christmas.
    2. The Big Splash by Jack Ferraiolo – I’m a sucker for books that put an interesting twist on the classic hard boiled detective. Setting it in middle school and managing to pull it off? Kinda genius.
    3. Nation by Terry Pratchett – If books were food, Pratchett would be my comfort muffin.

  29. top three
    Well, first let me state that at least one of my top three would be someone you represent, but I’m leaving her off, since I am certain you have already read her. 🙂 I don’t think you represent any of the following. Please correct me if I am wrong.
    Ok, top three books/series I’ve read this year.
    1. Gabriel’s Ghost/Shades of Dark – Linnea Sinclair – science fiction/romance. A wonderful blending of genres, perfect for fans of either or both.
    2. The Merrimack series by R.M. Meluch. Military science fiction/space opera. Fast-paced action, endearing characters, fantastic plot twists. Lots of “Oh, wow, I never would have thought of that,” moments.
    3. The Valor series by Tanya Huff – Military science fiction/space opera – strong female main character, great action, and a good knowledge of how the military works. Ms. Huff served in the Canadian military.
    Lisa Iriarte

  30. Implied Spaces, Walter Jon Williams: “Sword and Singularity novel”!
    Tooth and Claw, Jo Walton: A pastiche of a Victorian novel of manners–with dragons as the protagonists. It’s an awesome conceit and Walton makes it work.
    In the Courts of the Crimson Kings, SM Stirling: Burroughs and Brackett recapitulated by a changed solar system where their Mars and Venus are reality. Space Adventure with a Princess. Who could say no to that?
    If I had to go to #4, I think Bear’s Whiskey and Water would grab that slot.

  31. There’s never enough time to read
    I was really excited to see my debut book on your list. Especially since you read so much during the year and I’m not a client. I wish I had more time to read too. But some of my favorite book discoveries this year were:
    Stalking Susan by Julie Kramer (debut suspense author)
    The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
    The Keeper by Sarah Langan (debut paranormal author)
    I know. I’m an eclectic reader. My comfort read is crime fiction. Go figure. Happy Holidays!

  32. The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
    Life As We Knew It – Susan Beth Pfeffer
    Book of a Thousand Days – Shannon Hale
    (I’d rec the Hale more than the other two. Medieval Mongolia meets fairy tales. Loved it and nobody else seems to have read it but me, sniff.)

  33. I discovered two new (to me) authors this year, actually and read their entire backlists.
    Faking It by Jennifer Crusie, I actually just reread it too. It’s hilarious. The characters are great and wonderful and Crusie is to me, a master at writing.
    The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold. Cazaril is a GREAT character, and Bujold’s world building is second to none, except Tolkien maybe. This book is briliant and intircate and moving and I love it.
    And my favorite new author I found this year was Joanne Bourne. I loved Spymaster’s Lady. Historical romance. Spies. Romance. Intrigue. And Bourne is a master wordsmith.
    So, there’s my list of recs. 😀

  34. Monsters of Templeton by Lauren DeGroff
    Black Ships by Jo Graham
    The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
    Why were these my favorites? The writing is wonderfully clear, which really matters to me. There was also something really fresh about each of them, even as they all had traditional elements. (Guernsey is a novel written in letters; Black Ships made me think of Judith Tarr; Monsters was a lovely pastiche of history.)

  35. I am a book recommendation columnist for the Colorado Springs Gazette. I read a TON of books, and these are a few I keep recommending to friends:
    STARGIRL and LOVE, STARGIRL—fab books for 12-year-olds on up…my teenybopper daughter and I both read these and looooved them…won’t tell you which of us cried when we were done.
    I also love AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES for 15-year-olds on up. It’s fun, different. Made me LOL. Truly.
    THE HIGHER POWER OF LUCKY for 9-year-olds on up. I read this aloud to my 7-year-old. We were totally hooked. The book felt real. I cried a couple times.
    I started reading WHEN THE ELEPHANTS DANCE and stopped for awhile, because I thought the brother was going to die and I love my brothers and can’t handle it when brothers die in books (silly, I know), but then I read an author interview and started reading the book again. It was awesome. Cannot get characters out of my head weeks (and about 15 other novels) later.
    Honorable mention: Lisa Lutz’s mysteries, because they are funny, unique, smart.

  36. Ok three… I hope series are ok.
    1. Enchanted Forest Chronicles Patricia C. Wrede
    2. A great and terrible beauty by Libba Bray
    3. Tracy Ann Warren, mistress and trap series
    Enchanted Forest was an easy, light read that had a bit of everything on the right portion. I enjoyed the Gemma Doyle novel from Libba Bray because I love historical novels. Her world and the mystery in it has me absolutely hooked! I’m currently on Rebel Angels and I’m enjoying it a lot. Finally, I picked Tracy Ann Warren books because I love her characters, I totally lost myself reading those books.
    Wow, 600 books on the TBR pile, and here I thought that my small shelf and small box under my bed was too much. I guess not.

  37. Here are my 3. I don’t know if they’re the top, because I don’t remember everything I read this year, but they’re way up there. I’d read them again.
    Children of Hurin, J.R.R. Tolkien. Sad, powerful, and so much easier to read than Tolkien’s other posthumous works (i.e. good narrative). It started a little slow, but before the first chapter ended, I didn’t want to put it down.
    Watchmen, Alan Moore. Also powerful. An amazing graphic novel, so different from most of what’s out there, with crazy attention to detail both in the art and the writing. I could read it a few times in a row and see something new each time.
    Neverwhere, Neil Gaiman. This was a really fun story with an interesting world and witty, well-written characters. It wasn’t powerful, like the other two I mentioned, but I haven’t had this much fun reading a book in a while.

  38. I second a lot of the recommendations upthread (esp Spook Country and Heartsick) but my favourite criminally underrated author these days is Alex Carr.
    She previously wrote great thrillers as Jenny Siler (Flashback, published under that name, is The Bourne Identity only with a female lead & more plausible plot) but her last two books as Carr have been knotty, morally complex spy novels: An Accidental American and The Prince of Bagram Prison. If you like taut, plotty books with well-shaded characters, they should be right up your alley.

  39. Wild Seed by Octavia E. Butler
    Chindi by Jack McDevitt
    The Electric Church by Jeff Somers
    I narrowed it down to the three that I thought were the best written, with strong characters and a solid story that kept me turning pages into the wee hours of the morning. I treasure books with beautiful writing AND a captivating story, they are rare jewels.

  40. Oooh, well.
    My top 3 I read this year:
    *Rogue by Rachel Vincent
    *Uglies Series by Scott Westerfeld
    *Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray

  41. The three best books I read this year were:
    The Last Report At Little No Horse, by Louise Erdrich. As far as I’m concerned anything by Ms. Erdrich is worth reading, but this story was particulalrly interesting.
    Schindler’s List by Thomas Keneally. It was hard to get through, but was incredibly moving.
    Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman. I think I liked it better than American Gods.

  42. A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce. A retelling of Rumplestiltskin in a late 1700’s woolen mill. Excellent detail, and the last 100 pages goes at a gallop.
    Paper Towns by John Green, though I’d take any of his books.
    The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean. Slightly flawed, but at the same time, a survival story in Antarctica, you can’t beat that!

  43. Well I’ve read and enjoyed 3 of your client’s books in 2008.
    CE Murphy – Coyote Dreams; Jim Butcher – Storm Front; Laura Anne Gilman – Staying Dead.
    But top 3 very difficult.
    1. Keri Arthur – Books 5 and 6 of the Riley Jensen Guardian series (yes I know that’s cheating but I love the series)
    2. JR Ward’s – Black Dagger Brotherhood series (read books 2-6)
    3. Stephenie Meyer – Twilight; and The Host (both I found intriguing)
    honourable mentions: Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series (books 1-3) and Gift of the Goddess by Denise Rossetti.
    I’m currently reading and really enjoying Anna Campbell’s ‘Claiming the Courtesan’ – historical romance.

  44. Just finished and loved so much I’m rereading:
    — Stratford Man duology
    — Blood & Iron; Whiskey & Water duology (sorry to not add to your reading list with these, but I adored them mightily, have bought several copies to give as gifts and continue to pimp Bear to friends & family)
    Not Bear:
    — Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman – twisty, dark and fascinating; a plus if you listen to the audiobook with NG reading
    — Jenna Black’s Demon series – just read the 1st 3 and am enchanted by the world she’s created. The characters are brilliantly detailed, even the secondary ones. I’ve already pimped this series out several times, too.
    Cheers & happy reading!
    Maria Lima

  45. Pity most of the interesting books I’ve read this year were by out local (Polish) authors; and from them most worth recommendation. Maybe one day they will be translated.
    But I can always recommend “Thief of Time” by Terry Pratchett; I cannot say why it is but I deeply love this book, read it over and over and now I’m going to write my Master’s Thesis with this book as an example on translation difficulties 🙂

  46. looking for a quote from you
    Hi – I’m doing an article for the Children’s Writer newsletter on publishing in the recession. For a sidebar I’m gathering tips/quotes from agents. Do you have any advice you’d be willing to share? Just a sentence or two?
    Thanks in advance. You can email to me at susantaylorbrown AT

  47. I would have to say Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlen, Dune by Frank Herbert, and Children of Huron by Tolkien. They are amazing examples of truely great speculative fiction books, but anyone should read them.

  48. I’m late (as usual), but 2 books come immediately to mind.
    1. Anathem by Neal Stephenson. I was so impressed by this that I wrote a blog recommendation. It’s a wonderful book that makes you think while telling a really interesting story.
    2. The Hidden City by Michelle West. Her Sun Sword series is one of my great favorites. This continues the story, but is meant to be something that new readers can also start with. She is mainly remarkable for her many richly-developed characters–even small roles are fully-developed people. And the story is nicely complex.
    I also second The Name of the Wind, though I believe I read it last year, not this. Anyway, it was lovely and I’m eagerly awaiting the next volume in April.

  49. 1. Anathem by Neal Stephenson- Not for everybody, no, but I really loved it.
    2. Nation by Terry Pratchett- I can’t stand Discworld, but this book, an alternate history coming-of-age story, I thought marvelous.
    3. All the Windwracked Stars by Elizabeth Bear-She gets better by leaps and bounds. I know you’ve read it, but still had to mention it.

  50. I’m late!
    Sorry I’m late (computer problems), but I have my top three from this year:
    BLOOD COLONY by Tananarive Due
    FLEDGLING by Octavia Butler
    HELL HOUSE by Richard Matheson

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