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Mostly lists and information about award books and other interesting lists of books, color coded as follows:

RED–Read since ~2000
PINK–Read before that
BLUE–To Be Read and Added to Goodreads

NOTE: Listings may not be complete and sources aren't always quoted but I'm working on that.

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Book Montage

Catherine 's to-read book montage

The Endless Steppe: Growing Up in Siberia
The Vanishing of Katharina Linden
Only You Can Save Mankind
Nice and Mean
Cruisers Book 1
The City of Ember
Crispin: The End of Time
Lost Goat Lane
Amelia Rules! Volume 1: The Whole World's Crazy
How I, Nicky Flynn, Finally Get a Life
As Simple as It Seems
Wolf Brother
The Ogre of Oglefort
The Pickle King

Catherine 's favorite books »

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Genreville Blog/Publishers’ Weekly Top SF, Fantasy, and Horror (2009)

Genreville accessed 121609

Top Books of 2009
November 3, 2009 PW's list of 2009's top 10 books doesn't include any genre titles and has been discussed quite a lot elsewhere, so I'm going to skip down to the SF/F/H and mass market top fives, which were compiled by yours truly. I considered only books that PW had reviewed, which means no tie-ins, no e-books, and no self-published books. Beyond that, these are pretty much the books I enjoyed the most this year, to the best of my recollection and with some caveats I'll mention below.


The Windup Girl
Paolo Bacigalupi (Night Shade)
Bacigalupi's powerful debut warns of dire ecological collapse and the evils of colonialism in an eerily plausible near future Thailand.

Lovecraft Unbound
Edited by Ellen Datlow (Dark Horse)
Editor extraordinaire Datlow assembles a phenomenal anthology of homages to pulp horror great H.P. Lovecraft, penned by an impressive slate of big-name horror authors.

The Devil's Alphabet
Daryl Gregory (Del Rey)
This subtle, eerie present-day horror novel mercilessly dissects and reassembles the classic narrative of a man returning to his smalltown birthplace, where the familiar folks have become strange creatures.

The City & the City
China MiƩville (Del Rey)
Putting a quasi-fantastical twist on a classic police procedural story, MiƩville delves deep into the psyches of city dwellers and the ways people blind themselves to reality.

Cherie Priest (Tor)
The dramatic first novel in Priest's Clockwork Century universe sends a determined 35-year-old single mom into a ruined city full of zombies and poison gas, where she must save her son from a mad inventor.

My longlist includes Catherynne M. Valente's Palimpsest, Peter Straub's American Fantastic Tales set, Robert Charles Wilson's Julian Comstock, and story collections by David Nickle and Lewis Shiner. I didn't consider series books because it's so difficult to judge them as single entities; for example, I quite enjoyed Daniel Abraham's The Price of Spring, but a) it doesn't stand well on its own and b) An Autumn War was better. I'm personally kind of stunned that there aren't more anthologies on that list; that is definitely a reflection of my reading habits this year, and not of the market.

Mass market:

Captive of Sin
Anna Campbell (Avon)
Campbell pulls out all the stops with this heart-wrenching historical romance. A hastily wed heiress must help her husband, a war hero, recover from post-traumatic stress that leaves him unable to bear human touch.

Gail Carriger (Orbit)
Carriger combines Victorian romance, supernatural creatures, steampunk sensibilities and a healthy dose of the bizarre in her hilarious debut.

A Dark Love
Margaret Carroll (Avon)
Carroll develops what could be a stock story of an abusive marriage into a pulse-pounding romantic thriller with a strong, inspiring heroine determined to save herself.

Child of Fire
Harry Connolly (Del Rey)
Connolly's intense first novel heralds the next generation of urban fantasy (city not required) with a nearly powerless hero who must rely on his smarts and threadbare ethics to survive.

Hunt at the Well of Eternity
Gabriel Hunt, as told to James Reasoner (Hard Case Crime)
Reasoner launches the Gabriel Hunt series with a fast-paced tale of purely entertaining Indiana Jones–like adventure, smartly updated for modern sensibilities.

Christian Science Monitor Best Fiction of 2009

Christian Science Monitor accessed 121609
Best books of 2009: fiction

What we here at the Monitor liked best in 2009.

Lark and Termite By Jayne Anne Phillips
Jayne Anne Phillips’s latest – set in the 1950s, split between Korea and West Virignia – is a rich, deeply poetic tale of extraordinary familial love. (Monitor review on 1/13/09)

The Help By Kathryn Stockett
In 1960s Jackson, Miss., a young white woman decides to interview the black maids in her hometown of Jackson, Miss. (Monitor review on 3/4/09)

The Weight of Heaven By Thrity Umrigar
Devastated by the loss of their child, an American couple try to rebuild their lives in India. (Monitor review on 4/10/09)

Woodsburner By John Pipkin
When Henry David Thoreau set the Concord woods on fire. (Monitor review on 5/25/09)

The Thing Around Your Neck By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
A powerful, deftly assembled collection of short stories about Nigerians caught in the pull between Nigeria and the West. (Monitor review on 7/30/09)

Let the Great World Spin By Colum McCann
This gritty but lyrical novel follows the lives of various New Yorkers who watched Philippe Petit walk a tightrope between the World Trade Center towers on Aug. 7, 1974. (Monitor review on 7/24/09)

The Anthologist By Nicholson Baker
A poet’s severe writer’s block becomes the excuse for Nicholson Baker’s daft, brilliant, hilarious novel.(Monitor review on 9/28/09)

Love and Summer By William Trevor
A gentle, masterly tale of love and betrayal in a small Irish farm town. (Monitor review on 9/26/09)

A Gate at the Stairs By Lorrie Moore
Family, race, and religion mingle in this incisive coming-of-age novel about a college girl disillusioned by what she sees of adult life. (Monitor review on 9/18/09)

Mathilda Savitch By Victor Lodato
A sad, sharp, precocious teen struggles for a place in her parents’ hearts – and the world – after losing her older sibling. (Monitor review on 9/12/09)

The Children’s Book By A.S. Byatt
In her best novel since “Possession,” A.S. Byatt spins a tale from details of the life of children’s book author Edith Nesbit. (Monitor review on 10/9/09)

Wolf Hall By Hilary Mantel
The winner of this year’s Booker Prize offers a sympathetic and compelling portrayal of Thomas Cromwell, the power behind Henry VIII’s throne. (Monitor on 10/17/09)

Booklist Best First Novels (2009)

Top 10 First Novels: 2009. from booklistonline.com accessed 12/16/09

Hooper, Brad (author).

FEATURE. First published October 15, 2009 (Booklist).

Readers pick up a first novel with both excitement and trepidation. An untried author is always a reader’s gamble. But pick up the following first novels, all reviewed in Booklist over the past year, with no trepidation, only excitement.

Dream House. By Valerie Laken. HarperCollins, $24.95 (9780060840921).
Laken is masterful at character construction as she explores issues of race and class.

A Fortunate Age. By Joanna Smith Rakoff. Scribner, $26 (9781416590774).
This novel provides a pitch-perfect portrait of the generation that came of age in the 1990s.

Grace Hammer. By Sara Stockbridge. Norton, $23.95 (9780393067187).
Stockbridge deftly captures the mood of Dickensian London in this gripping debut.

The Invisible Mountain. By Carolina De Robertis. Knopf, $24.95 (9780307271631).
Words, so beautifully employed by this author, seem inadequate to convey the essence of this twentieth-century Uruguayan woman-centered family saga.

Lime Tree Can’t Bear Orange. By Amanda Smyth. Crown/Shaye Areheart, $23 (9780307460646). In lithe, lyrical prose, the author evokes the lush language of the West Indies and the modest lives lived at the mercy of fate.

Mathilda Savitch. By Victor Lodato. Farrar, $24 (9780374204006).
Lodato indelibly captures the fragile vulnerability and fearless bravado of adolescence.

Miles from Nowhere. By Anmi Mun. Riverhead, $21.95 (9781594488542).
There is nothing simplistic or sensationalized here as Mun, a writer of gravitas, portrays the dispossessed and the cast out.

The Moon Opera. By Bi Feiyu. Houghton, $18 (9780151012947).
At once a sad and lovely story, this slender novel on a rather narrow topic—the Peking Opera—nevertheless resonates with a clear, crystalline tone.

Precious. By Sandra Novack. Random, $25 (9781400066803).
Trouble simmers beneath the surface of a bucolic Pennsylvania town in Novack’s dramatic, elegantly rendered debut.

Under This Unbroken Sky. By Shandi Mitchell. HarperCollins, $25.99 (9780061774027).
The author’s screenwriting skills serve her well in this remarkable portrait of a Ukrainian farming family in Alberta during the late 1930s.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Midwest Connection Picks 12/09

From the Midwest Booksellers Association: six recent Midwest Connections picks. Under this marketing program, the association and member stores promote booksellers' handselling favorites that have a strong Midwest regional appeal:

The Chain Letter of the Soul: New and Selected Poems by Bill Holm (Milkweed Editions, $18, 9781571314444/157131444X). Hans Weyandt of Micawber's Books in St, Paul, Minn., said, "Bill Holm, one of Minnesota's greatest champions of the arts, passed away not too long ago. The Chain Letter of the Soul is his last book--a new and selected poems (heavy on the new) that is not at all one of those thrown-together collections. It is a great testament to his life and his writing."

Twisted Tree by Kent Meyers (Houghton Mifflin, $24, 9780151013890/0151013896). According to Nancy Simpson of Book Vault in Oskaloosa, Iowa, "Twisted Tree by Kent Meyers is one of those books that really grabs your attention in the first three pages and never lets go! It is actually the story of a human domino chain: the interrelated stories of what happens after one young girl in a very small town is killed. Meyers's character development is superb.... each character speaks by turns in the first person. Highly recommended."

Stray Affections by Charlene Baumbich (WaterBrook Press, $13.99, 9780307444714/0307444716). Nancy Simpson of Book Vault in Oskaloosa, Iowa, said, "What a bundle this book is! A combination of mystery, magic, joy, second chances, quirky characters and the blessings of God... all brought to light by the purchase of a snow globe at a flea market. This is an ideal book to read on a snowy winter day, snuggled up in a blanket, with a cup of hot chocolate beside you."

The Longest Night by Marion Dane Bauer and Ted Lewin (Holiday House, $17.95, 9780823420544/082342054X). Angie Grafstrom of Inspiration Hollow in Roseau, Minn., said, "The Longest Night by Marion Dane Bauer is a charming story about the winter solstice and the return of longer days. Its lyrical style and beautiful illustrations will make this an instant family classic to be shared with generations to come. Children will ask for this one over and over again!!"

Pioneer Girl: A True Story of Growing Up on the Prairie by Andrea Warren (Bison Books, $14.95, 9780803225268/0803225261). Carla Ketner of Chapters Books & Gifts in Seward, Neb., said, "This summer my 11-year-old niece and I visited Homestead National Monument in Beatrice, Nebraska, where we saw first-hand what Grace McCance Snyder, the 'pioneer girl' of Warren's book, would have encountered as a homesteader to this area in 1885. Pioneer Girl is an engaging, well-researched extension of our visit, and I just had to buy it for her for her birthday!"

Moose on the Loose by Kathy-Jo Wargin and John Bendall-Brunello (Sleeping Bear Press, $15.95, 9781585364275/1585364274). According to Bev Denor of LaDeDa Books & Beans in Manitowoc, Wis., "Home invasions are not funny--that is unless the invader is a moose who tries on your socks, scrubs up in your tub, and needs a kiss before snuggling into your bed for the night. Kathy-Jo Wargin's silly story told in rhyme, enhanced by John Bendall-Brunello's whimsical drawings, won't settle on your bookshelf for long... it is sure to be read again and again."