What makes a great Christmas gift? Well, what am I going to say, except: A book! The year brought me fewer great reads than I wished for, but I am grateful for the ones in this post.
Since I know you’ve been waiting to hit the bookstores until this blog post, here’s my list of great books I read this year:
Jamrach’s Menagerie by Carol Birch.
Some of the most beautiful writing I’ve ever read, and the most meaningful. Some have found this Man Booker Prize nominated book too disturbing, but I was enthralled. A nineteenth century sailing adventure/coming of age story. Mainstream.
Still Life with Shape-Shifter by Sharon Shinn.
An elegant and moving account of what it would be like to live with a shape shifter. I was so glad to finally see a story like this in which the plot was not thrashed to death but done with depth and subtlety. You don’t have to read the first book (Shape of Desire) to love this one, but I recommend them both. Fantasy.
11/22/63 by Stephen King.
The story of what might happen if an ordinary guy had a time travel trick and tried to stop the Kennedy assassination. A compulsive read. It went on a bit long as King stuffed in an awful lot of research, but the characters, as always, keep you reading. It was time for my Stephen King fix, and I wasn’t disappointed. Thriller.
Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay.
An alternative ancient China with ghosts if not magic. An enthralling tale, full of exotic locales and historical detail. A door stopper, and one to sink into and let yourself go. My only quibble: Didn’t see much of the horses! Alternate history.
The Glass Butterfly by Louise Marley.
What if you had to disappear and start a new identity? Who hasn’t wondered how it all could work? Read this lovely tale of a woman faking her own death and giving up her family to save them. The plot is interwoven with a tale of Puccini, jealousy and madness. Women’s fiction.
Where’d you go, Bernadette by Maria Semple.
A funny and touching account of the various takes people have on a woman trying to make her way in a cliquish and PC Seattle. The mystery of the protagonist is unfolded through letters/texts/emails ripe with gossip: vicious, noble and hilarious. Mainstream.
The Half-Made World by Felix Gilman.
This steam punkish fantasy reinvents the old west with some of the most imaginative world building you’ve seen in this genre. It brings breathless original twists to steam punk and creates a half-crazed anti-hero to remember.