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."