Literary Quote of the Month

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Sunday Salon... Great Books for the Book lovers on Your Christmas List

Hey, it's Sunday! Pull up a chair, grab a cup of joe and let's talk about books! With less than 2 weeks left before Christmas, have you gotten all your book shopping done? Do you usually buy books for your friends and relatives? Giving a book that you loved to someone is usually a sure thing (unless of course you're shopping for someone who might not enjoy Knight of Passion as much as you did!) A few sundays ago The Sunday Salon was about the "Best Books" of 2010 lists, which usually are filled with great suggestions. But what about some of the books that weren't on "a list" that you really enjoyed? Here are some of my favorite books from this year that I think would make great gifts, and a few books that are favorites from years past that also would be welcome in someone's stocking...

Great Fiction...

The Help by Kathryn Stockett... "Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step." The story takes place in the deep south, it's 1962 and a few brave women are about to cross the clearly divided racial line of the times. I read this and loved it! You will laugh and cry. (I still have to "officially" review it!) The popularity of this book took off with very little publicity, but I think you have to almost be living under a rock not to have heard about it. A great book for any girl on your Christmas list! If you haven't heard about The Help, go to Kathryn Stockett's Website and learn more!

The Artof Devotion by Samantha Bruce-Benjamin... "the dark side of human nature as four women share the poignant tale of love, obsession, and ultimate betrayal that binds them forever. Filled with secrets, love, betrayal, obsession, and deceit." Loved this book! Great book show casing complex relationships between women. Great characters, intriguing story (with a surprise twist) and uniquely told by all 4 women, as the chapters alternate between them. Here's my review from last June.

Dismantled by Jennifer McMahon... A thriller, a murder mystery and a ghost story all wrapped up in one! I am never disappointed in Jennifer McMahon. Her stories are always so well written & compelling and Dismantled is no different. I really enjoyed this and the twist at the end was great! Here's my review from last June.

The Fa
y M
ary Yukari Waters... "
o 1978. Fourteen-year-old Sar
Rexford feels like an ou
er when she retu
rns to Japan for the first time in f
to sta
h h
er mother's fam
It's about mothers & daughters and the three generations of women i
n 14 yr. old Sarah's family; There are family secrets; It's about the struggle to fit in. I love books that take place in Japan. There is always the background of traditions and the surrou
nding beauty. In this case there the time frame is such that there is a struggle between tradition and new Western wa
ys. This book drew me in immediately. The writing is wonderful, and Mary Yukari Waters really was
able to capture the complex relationship between the women of the novel perfectly. Here's m
y o
l review in March. A great book for your BFF, but also a great reading group choice!

r by
ce McF
a young prostitute comes to
gelow, Arkansas, to start over, far
from her haunting past. Su
moves next door to Pearl, who is s
till grie
ving for the daughter who was m
urdered fifteen years before. Ov
er s
weet-potato pie, an unlikely friendship begins, transforming both wom
s live
an entire town..
This boo
k has wo
nderful strong female characters! And the plot centers around them and small town life wit
h a
murder and
a good dose of secrets that when they are finally revealed will leave you in awe. Loved this book! Bernice McFadden's prose is wonderful. Here's my original review of Sugar.

st Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival by Ken Wheaton... Welcome to the sleepy little backwoods town of Grand Prairie, Louisiana... Father
Steve Sibille has taken over the parish in Grand
Prairie where the most excitement comes f
rom lis
ening to confessions involving little old ladies taking nips out of their husbands Wild Turkey and trying not to get caught. But things are stirring a little in Grand Prairie..
This book was so much
The characters were quirky and the story itself was just perfect. This was a book club read for my readi
ng group this year and everyone loved it! Here's myoriginal review back in April.

Great Thrillers with Spies...

The Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith... "Soviet Union, 1956. Stalin is dead, and a violent regime is
beginning to fracture-leaving behind a society where the police are the criminals, and the criminals are innocent. A secret speech composed by Stalin's successor Khrushchev is distributed to the entire nation. Its message: Stalin was a tyrant. Its promise: The Soviet Union will change." Gripping, intense and a heck of a good read. Perfect choice for reader who loves historical thrillers set in WWII. This was a great read! Here's my review from last May.

The Rembrandt Affair by Daniel Silva... "
Determined to sever his ties with the Office, Gabriel Allon has retreated to the windswept cliffs of Cornwall with his beautiful Venetian-born wife Chiara. But once again his seclusion is interrupted by a visitor from his tangled past: the endearingly eccentric London art dealer, Julian Isherwood. As usual, Isherwood has a problem. And it is one only Gabriel can solve." Daniel Silva writes great spy novels, and Gabriel Allon is his man. Exciting, gripping, and always a great maze of intrigue. If your book lover craves secret alleyways, this is the book for them! I loved it! Here's my review from last August.

Favorite Memoirs...

The Sound of Wild Snails Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey... suffering from a debilitating unknown illness that left her with severe neurological symptoms and virtually bedridden all the time, Elisabeth Tova Bailey passes the time with a snail she was given by chance by a visiting friend in a pot of flowers. This is a wonderful book about nature. A slim book that is the perfect size for a stocking! Here's my review from November.

The Small-Town Li
brary Cat Who Touched the
World by Vicki Myr
This is the sweetest book, and will touch any
heart. Dewey is the kitten that
was thrown away one very cold night in the library book deposit, and found the next morning by Vicki Myron. It's the story of saving Dewey and his life as the most po
ar l
y c
t known nation wide. Here's
ew from last Sept.

Life by
Kelly Corrigan... "Written as a letter to her chil
dren, Kelly rel
ays her deepe
st fears, frus
ns and fierce love thr
ough the weaving of th
relevant stories from her life. "
A beautiful heartfelt memoir that would make a wonderful gif
t t
o any daughter. It's a slim book wi
th a beautiful cover. Her
e's m
eview from last March.

For the Book Lover on your list...

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett..."this novella sends Queen Elizabeth II into a mobile library van in pursuit of her runaway corgis and into the reflective, observant life of an avid reader." I loved this book! Queen Elizabeth II becomes an obsessed reader! Sound like anyone you know! It's a slim 120 pages, great writing and so much fun! Any reader would love this book!

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak... It's WWII Germany, a 9 yr. old little girl named Liesel loves books. Her father lulls her to sleep by reading the only books available - the ones she's stolen. The story takes you to the horrors of the war as seen through both Liesels young eyes and Death, who is actually telling the story. Loved this book! Originally promoted as a YA book, many adult book clubs loved reading this! Mine did!

Great YA Dystopian fiction...

The Maze Runner by James Dashner ... "When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls." The Glade is terrifying, surreal and an adventure! The world is believable and the way the kids work together to survive their world without adults is well developed. It's a bit of sci-fi for grades 4-10. I enjoyed it, read it the end of last year, and just picked up the 2nd book in this trilogy called The Scorch Trials. If you've read the Hunger Games already, give this a try. Not quite as good as the Hunger Games, but should be enjoyable for any YA dystopian lover! Here's my review from last November of 2009.

The Uglies by Scott Westerfield... A world where at age 16 you are turned into the perfect and beautiful person you were always meant to be. What if you don't want to be beautiful? What if you like yourself just the way you are? If you haven't read this series or the first book in the series, I would highly recommend it to YA (and adults) who love this genre. Scott Westerfield gives us a wonderful strong female protagonist, Tally Youngblood, who could be any teenage girl. A wonderful story and adventure. Meant for YA's Grade 6 up. Here's my review from last December.

Great Dystopian Adult Fiction...

The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist... "The Unit is a gripping exploration of a society in the throes of an experiment, in which the “dispensable” ones are convinced under gentle coercion of the importance of sacrificing for the “necessary” ones." This is another one of my all time favorite reads, and hails from last year. I still remember this story like yesterday. It was haunting. Entering your twilight years in "The Unit" is when you turn 50 for a woman, 60 for a man. If you're childless, you'll be living like a queen until they need something from you (and we aren't talking about money here!) A great read for any sci-fi lover or anyone who loves the genre of dystopian fiction. Here's my review from November '09.

Great Romances...

Dracula in Love by Karen Essex... It's the story of the woman behind the man. Mina was the woman Dracula coveted and tried to seduce in the original Bram Stoker story. In the hands of author Karen Essex we learn the love story that transcended time between Mina and Count Dracula. A Victorian love story with a big dose of SPICE! Erotic and sexy, you'll never view Dracula the same. I loved the writing and the story swept me away. Here's my review from last July.

Knight of Passion by Margaret Mallory... A hunky knight, a feisty heroine, and a great love story. Margaret Mallory never dissappoints me when it comes to historical romance. This is the third book in her All The Kings Men series. All three books in this series are worth a read when you want to escape. A perfect gift for the historical romance reader on your list! Here's my review from last June.

Now maybe your list includes someone who loves audiobooks!? Here are my favorites from this year...

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Graham-Smith... Great Historical Fiction with Vampires. This story is just great! If you love the "real" kind of vampires, the not so sweet and hunky kind, and love history this is for you! I loved it! The story blends everything together so beautifully you'll wonder yourself whether it's fiction or not. The unabridged audiobook was read by Scott Holst who has a great voice and did a great job. A gre
at choicefor the history loving guy on your list. Here's my review from last April.

Backyard Saints by Joshilyn Jackson... I loved this audiobook! I haven't reviewed it yet, but trust me it's a great story, and the audiobook was wonderful. "Rose is living under the thumb of her abusive husband and his domineering father. A Gypsy in an airport who reads her tarot cards turns Rose’s life upside down when she tells Rose that if she doesn’t kill her husband, he will surely kill her." Rose's mother left her with her alcoholic abusive father when Rose was very young. Her story starts there and as the story grows, so does Rose. A story of abuse, of redemption, and the complicated relationships we sometimes have. You will be rooting for Rose all the way through the book. Very memorable characters and a story that will haunt you. For the southern fiction lover.

The Swan Thieves by Elisabeth Kostova... It's a love story that spans time, it's a mystery, it's about art, and ultimately about betrayal. It was wonderful! The unabridged audiobook of The Swan Thieves has five readers, which really makes it come alive. This audiobook is perfect for anyone who loves the impressionists, and who loves romance. It swept me away! Here's my review from May.

These books are only some of the great titles I've read earlier this year, but I've tried to highlight some of the titles you may not have seen on "The Best of" lists, that are definitely worth a read. What have you read this year that you would give as a gift? Books aren't the only gift for a book lover, but that's for next Sundays post...

Happy reading... Suzanne


Bernice L. McFadden said...

Thanks for including Sugar! Happy Holidays!

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi Bernice!
You are so welcome! I just loved Sugar! You have a wonderful Holiday too!

Esme said...

Good choice of books.

Suzanne Yester said...

Thanks Esme!
Last year I didn't really go back to see what my favorites of the year were, but doing it this year reminds me of some great reading I had forgotten about.

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