These are a few of my favorite things....
‘The Piper’s Son’ by Melina Marchetta
This book was always going to have a special significance for me. It’s a sequel to Ms. Marchetta’s ‘Saving Francesca’ (2003), a revisit to all those old characters who I first read about when I was in high school and grew an affinity for. It seemed befitting then, that in the sequel those character’s have grown with me – we’re all older young adults now, some of us still at University or getting ready to leave, some motivated, other’s aimless. This is a story of grief and fragmentation, but it’s still very much a Marchetta YA-read and therefore goes to the heart of young Australia. Sublime.
‘Beautiful Malice’ by Rebecca James
This was a twisted YA psychological thriller... and I know, that doesn’t seem like something befitting the Young Adult readership. Rebecca James has written a ‘Basic Instinct’ for her young audience, and it is disturbingly wonderful. Not for everyone, but this is one YA read that breaks boundaries and pushes the ‘edgy’ envelope. Impressive debut, to say the least.
‘White Cat’ Curse Workers #1 by Holly Black
This became one of my all-time favourite YA reads – ever. It was *that* good. I've read ‘White Cat’ described as a ‘Memento’ YA paranormal thriller – and that is actually quite an apt description. This was a complete page-turner, and I cannot wait for the next book in the ‘Curseworkers’ series.
‘The Other Countess’ by Eve Edwards
The first book in a YA ‘Tudors Historical Romance’ series, explores young lovers in the Elizabethan era. Don’t be fooled by the quaint yea old-time setting though; the romance is sizzling and unrequited and plays out amidst religious persecution. A superb YA read – one of the best I've read in years!
‘Linger’ by Maggie Stiefvater
I had my doubts about this follow-up... but ‘Linger’ was the perfect complement to ‘Shiver’. I loved the introduction of new bad-boy narrator Cole St. Clair, and his tenuous romance with bad-girl Isobel. Their new narration is a wonderful complement to Sam and Grace’s intense young love. I cannot wait for the third and final instalment, ‘Forever’.
‘Matched’ by Ally Condie
A stunning novel set in a perfect prison. ‘The Society’ decides everything, from when people die to where they work and who they are matched with. Amidst her sterile existence Cassia finds herself torn between the boy Society has assigned her, and the one she is forbidden to love. This novel is GLORIOUS! An absolute must-read.
‘Saltwater Vampires’ by Kirsty Eagar
This book has to be on my list, for a number of reasons. To start with, the cover is drool-worthy and goosebump-inducing. Plus the novel is set in Australia! Eagar turned sun, sand and surf into gothic horror magnificence that left me pining for more Aussie vamp books. ‘Saltwater Vampires’ also deserves a mention for having my all-time favourite one-liner of 2010; “Yippee-ki-yay, bloodsucker!”
‘Flygirl’ by Sherri L. Smith
Oh wow. This novel, right here, had me soaring and crying. It tells the true story of WWII WASP’s (Women Airforce Service Pilots) through the fictional character of Ida Mae Jones. Ida wants nothing more than to fly for her country – but she’s a woman. . . more than that, she’s a black woman. This book was exquisite. Seriously, one of the best YA novels I have ever read. Don’t miss it, read it and weep (literally!).
‘Mockingjay’ Hunger Games #3 by Suzanne Collins
I've got to hand it to Suzanne Collins – she offered up a take-no-prisoners, balls-to-the-wall, cutthroat finale that fans are not likely to forget. I absolutely inhaled ‘The Hunger Games’ when I finally got around to reading the trilogy. I was relieved to dive straight into the final instalment, but that doesn’t mean ‘Mockinghay’ didn’t still kick my fangirl ass. I cried. I cursed Suzanne Collins. I cheered. . . overall, I freakin loved this goodbye! It sucked that *so* many beloved characters died – but ‘Mockingjay’ is no ‘Breaking Dawn’ and this trilogy will make for one fantastic film adaptation!
‘Hold me Closer, Necromancer’ by Lish McBride
This book is like a cross between ‘Clerks’ and ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’, complete with Josh Whedon-esque witticisms. It’s all about a fry-cook called Sam who discovers he is actually a necromancer. . . with a fellow death practitioner hot on his trail and gunning for his head (literally). Hilarious and deliciously gothic. . . this book rocks, plain and simple.
‘Anna and the French Kiss’ by Stephanie Perkins.
This was a swoon-worthy young adult contemporary romance. Stephanie Perkins’ debut novel blew me away – the Paris setting, the neurotically relatable protagonist, the crush-worthy boy! Everything comes together beautifully. . . thank God Perkins has two more ‘companions’ to this novel coming out in 2011 and 2012. I’m willing to wait that long for something I know will be spectacular!
I LOVE this series. It’s a helter-skleter, pedal-to-the-metal full-throttle action ride right from page one. I bought ‘Touched’ on a whim when I saw the cover-art on Daniel Dos Santos’s website – and I am so glad I took a chance because now the ‘Kitty Katt’ series is a favourite and I have discovered one very fabulous author in Gini Koch. If you haven’t already read ‘Touched’ then you have got to take the phone off the hook, disconnect the doorbell, hide the TV remote and READ THIS BOOK! Seriously, I dare you not to love it (and crave a tall drink of Martini after reading... he he he)
‘Succubus Shadows’ by Richelle Mead
This series has put me through the emotional ringer – but I felt like Mead made up for my tears with this, the 5th book. Fans were given a very satisfying lead into the 6th and final ‘Georgina Kincaid’ book and some fan theorizing was all but confirmed by Ms. Mead. But best of all was that, for once, Georgie got a bit of happiness instead of her regular heartache.
‘Silver Borne’ by Patricia Briggs
This is my favourite Urban Fantasy series – Ms. Briggs can do no wrong in my eyes. This book had plenty of Mercy/Adam goodness – more romance between them than we’ve ever seen before, and a definite transition for Mercy from ‘loner’ to ‘pack’. I didn’t love Samuel’s love interest, I actually felt a little bit cheated. But ultimately I loved this book, and I cannot wait for ‘River Marked’ (the cover makes me drool, just a little bit).
‘Magic Bleeds’ by Ilona Andrews
This was fantastic! Kate & Curran have come leaps and bounds since their initial tension of book #1 (“here kitty, kitty”). I loved every moment of their ‘will they or won’t they?’ saga, but I've got to say I am glad they cemented their mateship in this, book #4. Any longer and I may have gone crazy reading all that pent-up sexual tension. Now I’m looking forward to them being loved-up in ‘Magic Slays’. . . with maybe a little bit of fighting on the side. . .but I want LOVED-UP, gosh darnit!
Fantastic! Phenomenal! A very different superhero fantasy – this series is about a neurotic psychological hit-squad. Need I say more? Okay, how about a sexy love triangle between a sweet hypochondriac, a highcap ex-con and a neurotic city mayor? Damn, this is one smokin’ new series! Be warned though, there is a Grand-Canyon-sized cliff-hanger at the end of ‘Double Cross’ that will have you banging your head in frustration (thereby triggering vein star syndrome. . .)
‘Spider’s Bite’ Elemental Assassin #1 by Jennifer Estep
This is one new Urban Fantasy series that has serious balls. It’s a mad-cap thrill-ride with bloody fights, messy corpses and a kick-ass heroine assassin at the centre of it all. Gin Blanco is one seriously cool protagonist – cool, with a little psychotic thrown in for good measure – you wouldn’t want to meet this girl in a dark alley. I love this hard-edged Urban Fantasy from the cool and twisted mind of Ms. Estep. Blew me away.
Oh. My. God.
Zombie cheerleaders. Vampire turnings. Shane’s Alpha/Beta intensity. My favourite instalment in the WVMP series thus far... and did I mention Zombie cheerleaders? Jeri Smith-Ready is one of my favourite UF authors, and ‘Bring on the Night’ just reminded me why she is one of the best in the biz. Hands-down incredible.
‘Chess Putnam / Downside’ series by Stacia Kane
I held-off reading this series, even when internet hype reached fever-pitch. And when I did finally succumb and got around to ‘Unholy Ghosts’ I wanted to KICK myself for being such a procrastinating moron! This series is goooooood, dig? The dialogue, the anti-heroine, the Downside setting, the Terribly good love interest and a ‘will they or won’t they?’ to set you on edge. I love this series so much I want to eat it! I am beyond thrilled that Ms. Kane is contracted for at least 2 more books; it just sucks that there’s going to be a LONG wait for books #4 and #5, aye?
‘Haunted Honeymoon’ Casa Dracula #4 by Marta Acosta
This is another series that I happily stumbled across in 2010. Marta Acosta’s ‘Casa Dracula’ is a rambunctious comedy-of-manners that follows Latina writer, Milagro de Los Santos as she is accidentally bitten into vampire high-society. I was sad for Milagro’s story to end with ‘Haunted Honeymoon’. . . but Marta Acosta certainly knows how to go out with a BANG! This was an ending befitting our buxom Latina heroine-extraordinaire. . . I’m sad to see her go, but I loved reading her walk away.
‘Revamped’ Void City #2 by J.F. Lewis
I love this series so, so hard! J.F. Lewis writes urban fantasy like no other – screw romance and alpha male heroes! Lewis has written vampires as traditional, blood-thirsty monsters and a protagonist who is as wickedly funny as he is wickedly awful. This won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but I’m treating the ‘Void City’ series as my own personal book-crack. . . so wrong it’s right!
‘Total Eclipse’ Weather Warden #9 by Rachel Caine
So long, farewell.
The final instalment to one of my all-time favourite Urban Fantasy series was a little hard to read. I’m going to miss Jo Baldwin and her feisty ‘down, but never out’ attitude. I will miss David Prince; sexy, sexy dijn David. And Lewis, for all his complications and love triangle goodness. But damn!, did Ms. Caine give these characters a noble send-off. I cried, I laughed, I cheered.... I will miss this series, but I can’t fault the finale (and caps off to Ms Caine for showing us how epilogues are meant to be done!... Pay attention Rachel Vincent!).
‘Bayou Moon’ The Edge #2 by Ilona Andrews
I was a little sceptical going into this book. . . I loved first book ‘On the Edge’, but wasn’t sure how I’d like the second book when Declan wasn’t going to be a main protagonist again. My fears were soon put to rest when William stepped on the scene – WOAH! Ilona Andrews writes yet another drool-worthy UF hero. . . William and Cerise are a couple to rival even Kate and Curran!
‘Love in the Afternoon’ Hathaways #5 by Lisa Kleypas
I am a total Lisa Kleypas fan-girl, it’s true. And I have loved every page of her Hathaway’s series. Regardless, I was a little sceptical going into this, the final book for the Hathaways clan. I wasn’t sure how youngest sibling, Beatrix, would go on the romantic front. She was, after all, always just a bit of light comic relief in previous books. But I was absolutely BLOWN away with ‘Afternoon’. Beatrix and her pen-pal amour, Captain Christopher Phelan, are one of the most sincere and sizzling pairings I have ever read. Their coupling is a slow-burn; unrequited and mired in secrecy to make their eventual HEA all the sweeter. Absolutely stunning... I’d go so far as to say this is Kleypas’s best historical romance (and that’s a big call, if I do say so myself).
‘Ruthless’ House of Rohan #1 by Anne Stuart
This is a deliciously dark historical romance, bordering on gothic erotica. Comte de Giverney Francis Rohan is one seriously mean bad-boy rake, and I loved him. He is so ruthless and despicable that his romance with poor, penniless Elinor Harriman is made all the sweeter for their impossibility. I didn’t love the follow-up ‘Reckless’, but this first book in the House of Rohan series set me to sizzle. Impressive.
'The Dark Tide' Adrien English #5 by Josh Lanyon
Technically, a 2009 Kindle release. . . but I loved this finale so much that I’m including the 2010 paperback.
Josh Lanyon’s ‘Adrien English’ series has been an M/M revelation for me! Lanyon combines the best of tender romance with the brittle edge of noir in this sublime five-book series. I went into this final book with a heavy heart, knowing it would be the last time I’d read Adrien English and Jake Riordan. I love these two so much! But I can’t fault Lanyon’s sayonara – it had romance, mystery, suspense and an altogether perfect wrap-up for my beloved Adrien and his darling Jake. *sigh*
‘Broken’ Grant Country #7 by Karin Slaughter
I love this series... but it’s a love/hate masochistic kind of affection. Karin Slaughter writes crime fiction like no other – but as good and deliciously dark as her ‘whodunits’ always are, it’s her screwed up characters that keep bringing me back for more. The residents of Grant County infuriate and frustrate me. They are imperfect people who make HUGE mistakes and then have to live in the aftermath.
Then there’s the fact that Karin Slaughter doesn’t pull punches. In recent books she has killed off a main (beloved!) protagonist and left fans to wallow in the wake of death. Well, ‘Broken’ is the first follow-up to that dramatic character assassination and I loved reading the fall-out.
I cried. I cursed Ms. Slaughter. I wanted more! She is the queen of crime fiction, and ‘Broken’ just proved why she deserves the crown.
‘No Such Thing as a Free Ride’ Brandy Alexander #4 by Shelly Fredman
I discovered this little, unassuming cozy mystery series this year, and bulldozed through all four books in a matter of days! Brandy is kick-ass, but ordinary and relatable. Her love life is a criss-cross between the childhood sweetheart who broke her heart, and the town bad-boy with a shady past. I love it! Everything came to a head in this fourth instalment. . . and now I’m chomping at the bit to see where Ms Fredman (and Brandy!) go from here.
Ahem. Fangirl squeal – *SQUEEEEEEEE*. Thank you.
I loved this book so freakin much. Protagonist Grace Sheridan says things like ‘breasticles’ and is obsessed with The Golden Girls. Her love interest is twenty-four year old up and coming ‘it’ actor, Jack Hamilton (who likes spending time down south. . . WAY down south). The Redhead books are deliciously sweet and funny contemporary romance reads. Honestly, to read is to love – so hurry up and read em’ already!
‘And One Last Thing. . .’ by Molly Harper
Is it really that surprising that Molly Harper is an author of cross-genre genius? No, it’s really not – her ‘Jane Jameson’ series is phenomenal, and her first foray into contemporary romance is equally incredible. . . a novel of revenge, self-discovery and Hugh Jackman lookalikes. Hilarious and feminist, perfect summer reading! I also loved this book because I was able to pass it on to all my female family members and friends (those who were less keen on the idea of reading a paranormal romance) and I managed to convert them to my way of thinking. . . Yes, I am slowly introducing everyone I know to the Molly Harper reading cult. . . world domination, here we come!
‘Backstage Pass’ Sinners on Tour #1 by Olivia Cunning
Ms. Cunning lived up to her surname with her debut novel ‘Backstage Pass’. How bizarre that the erotica genre is all but devoid of books with rock-star love interests. . . until the ‘Sinners on Tour’ series, that is. This book is not only smutty and steamy, it’s also heartbreakingly romantic – the golden moment comes when rock-god Brian Sinclair writes musical notes all over Myrna’s body. . . while they’re getting hot n’ heavy. Yeah, it's pretty darn smokin'!
‘The Lovers’ by Eden Bradley
This is the thinking woman’s erotica. Bradley weaves a tangled web of introspection, threesome’s and sexual exploration in her tale of writers retreat sexcapades. Bradley writes a love triangle, that is equally steamy and complicated. Brilliant.