Friday, December 18, 2009

Favorite Books of 2009 - A Reader's Dozen

Everyone is doing their Best Lists, and I've already sent my Best of the Best Mysteries to Janet Rudolph for use on her blog in the next couple days. So, it's a good time to look back at the last year, and mention the items I reviewed, and gave stars to in my book diary. I'd never presume to say these are the best books of 2009, but they were my favorite books this year.

In looking at these titles, I can see how obvious it is that I read for character, and then plot. All of these books have interesting characters that carry the story. If you don't remember these 2009 titles, I've linked to my original review.

Here are the books I gave stars to this year, in the order in which I read them.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - A teen novel, and what a debut! A young woman competes against other teens in a battle to the death.

The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister - Monday nights in the cooking class at Lillian's restaurant brought the class together, but it was food that brought eight people to life.

Dog On it by Spencer Quinn - Debut mystery that introduces Chet (the dog) who narrates the story of an investigation with his owner, Bernie, as they search for a missing girl.

Prayers for Sale by Sandra Dallas - An elderly mountain woman shares her life story with a young woman, hoping she'll make it through a harsh life.

Turn Coat by Jim Butcher - The latest book in the Harry Dresden series is the best one yet, whether you read the books for humor, suspense, adventure, fantasy, or the character of Harry Dresden, the only wizard in the Chicago phone book.

Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce - Beka Cooper and a fellow dog (think cop) investigate counterfeiting in the long-awaited teen novel.

The Lost Recipe for Happiness by Barbara O'Neal - A chef, badly injured in a car accident, suffers in body and soul, until she finds a soul mate when she's asked to open a restaurant.

A Bad Day for Sorry by Sophie Littlefield - Debut mystery that introduces a feisty woman, a 50-year-old widow named Stella Hardesty, who makes men pay who abuse their wives.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins - The only author to make the list twice, since her second in the series is just as riveting as the first.

13 1/2 by Nevada Barr - Barr's masterpiece is not an Anna Pigeon novel, but the story of a runaway, a murderer, and his brother, who end up in New Orleans.

The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny - A powerful story from Penny, who turns our perceptions of the residents of Three Pines upside down in the latest Armand Gamache mystery.

Faces of the Gone by Brad Parks - Another debut mystery. This one introduces Carter Ross, an investigative reporter with a heart.

I've read 193 books so far this year. These are the dozen that top the list, my favorites. However, there's a 2010 publication that I'm sure will grace next year's list, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman. And, I wanted to mention a series I discovered, that will be ending. Thanks to John J. Lamb for enjoyable hours reading his Bear Collector's Mystery series.

There are still thirteen days left this year. I reserve the right to add a book to this list, if one of them is exceptional. And, every book I read this year was exceptional in some way, or I wouldn't have finished them. So, thank you to all of the authors, for hours of reading pleasure. But, the books mentioned here are my "Reader's Dozen."


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

This is a great group of books!

I'm reading "Brutal Telling" now and really enjoying it.

Need to get the second Suzanne Collins book for my son. He enjoyed "Hunger Games."

Mystery Writing is Murder

Jen Forbus said...

Excellent choices Lesa. I'll be putting my list together soon, and I think you'll see some replication. The books I have left to read this month are all released the beginning of next year, so I'm ready to put my favorites list together. Like you, I won't call it a best of because I didn't read nearly enough of what was published this year to be able to say any such thing, but they will be my favorites of 2009!

Lesa said...

Thank you, Elizabeth. Oh, good, another gift idea! It's nice to see people are getting gifts from my lists.

Lesa said...

Hi Jen!

I think we will have some duplicates. And, the books on your list might have made mine, if I had read them. I just couldn't call it a Best List, because it's only my opinion of the books I liked the most. Can't wait to see your list!

Sophie Littlefield said...

Lesa, I am incredibly honored to appear on this list! Thank you so much for supporting all of us authors!

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Sophie. It's definitely my pleasure to encourage others to read the books, and authors, I enjoy!

bermudaonion said...

The only one I've read is The School of Essential Ingredients and it's sure to be in my top 10 as well.

Lesa said...

Ooooh. You haven't read the others, Bermudaonion! Just think, a possible eleven other ones. Wasn't The School of Essential Ingredients wonderful? It was such a sensual book, and, by that, I mean, filling the senses. Couldn't you just visualize and smell the food? Just a terrific book, with one of the best covers of the year, too. On the other hand, The Lost Recipe for Happiness had a lousy cover in this country. Australia's cover was beautiful. In this country, it made the book look like chick lit, which it is not.

Sheila Beaumont said...

Good list, Lesa! I too loved Hunger Games, Bloodhound and The Brutal Telling. And I have Dog on It and 13 1/2 on hand to read soon. Catching Fire is on my Christmas list. I'm not caught up on Jim Butcher's series yet, but will get to Turn Coat eventually. And I'm pretty sure I want to read Faces of the Gone and A Bad Day for Sorry too.

Lesa said...


It sounds as if we read quite a few of the same books. I like some of those YA books that combine fantasy, suspense and mystery. Pierce and Collins are terrific. And, since you liked most of the other mysteries I mentioned, I hope you like Littlefield and Parks as well!

caite said...

Every one on the list that I read I agree with...The School of Essential Ingredients..The Brutal Telling...The Hunger Games. And I am sure I will love Catching Fire if my turn ever comes at the library!And now that you mention it, I have 13 1/2 around here I think. I must dig it out if it made your Top 12.

I must also check out the others on your list. If you loved them, I think it is a good bet I will like them too.

Lesa said...

Isn't it fun, Caite, when your tastes are similar to someone else's? It's nice to realize you'll probably like a book if they did. I hope you enjoy them!

holdenj said...

What a great list...thanks for the reminder about Saving CeeCee...

I just reserved a couple of these at the library. Dog Gone It needs to move to the top of my list as the second one comes out next year~

And isn't Collins amazing? Can't imagine what's in store for the third volume.

And thanks for the intro to Three Pines this year! It's always fun to find a new author with a few books to dive into.

Lesa said...

holdenj -

It sounds as if we appreciate some of the same books. Isn't it fun to share titles? I'm glad you discovered, and enjoyed Louise Penny's books. Collins is amazing; I agree. Can't wait for that third book! The next book in the Chet and Bernie series is due out in February, I think. So, you do need to move it up.

If I don't hear from you, I hope you have time to relax and read over the holidays!

Clea Simon said...

Can't believe I haven't read "Dog On It," yet, but I will. If you're looking to add ... how about the wonderful Renny Airth;s lastest (title is something with "Winter" - I've loanded it out already)?

Happy holidays!

Lesa said...

I'll have to add Renny Airth's book to my TBR pile, Clea. Can't add it to my favorites of the year, since I haven't read it. Thanks for the suggestion. And, as an animal person, I think you'll like Dog On It.