Thursday, December 03, 2009

Books for the Holidays

I've been catching up on my TBR this past week, and have a stack of books I wanted to rec as great reads for the holidays:

Mary Balogh headlines The Heart of Christmas anthology, which has three very decent stories (and you don't see that too often in an antho.) I especially enjoyed the common-man story by Courtney Milan, an author I haven't read before, and I'll now be looking for her single titles. This would also make a great gift for someone who enjoys holiday historical romance.

If you can spring for the hardcover, Ice by Linda Howard is a one-night, curl-up-with-hot-chocolate-by-the-fire read that will leave you shivering in more than one spot (I just wish it had been longer.) I bought some extra copies to hand out to friends because during winter people in the south love to read about how you people in the north get buried in all that ice and snow. Yes, we're mean that way. And it's Linda Howard. If romance were chocolate, she'd be Godiva.

Marjorie M. Liu returns to the shelves and sparkles in the Never After anthology with a fairytale romance that is a lovely fusion of dreamy, dark and delightful. Usually writers are either great novelists or gifted short story tellers; Marjorie is one of those rare authors who is both. This or any of her stories would be terrific to drop in the stocking of a writer or a reader.

For those of you who want something new and different, Jessa Slade's debut Seduced by Shadows offers a cool series premise, a great assortment of unusual, well-developed characters and some pretty sophisticated world-building. Though not something I'd recommend for people who want a simple, mindless read, this is probably the most interesting debut novel I've read in a long time. Definitely an author and a series to watch, and a great starter novel for your series-loving pals.

Also writing on the dark side, Linda Winstead Jones headlines Nocturne's Holiday with a Vampire III anthology with her story Sundown, her very first vampire story (hopefully it's not her last; I thought it rocked.) Your category-reading friends who like paranormals will enjoy this one.

Last but not least, I have a real gem for you, a novel that actually made me burn dinner. Now I've been known to char a chicken now and then while I'm writing, but I know I haven't incinerated a meal while reading since I got a galley copy of Moon Called to read for a quote (and Patricia Briggs, you still owe me a pot roast.)

But now it seems I must invest in more smoke detectors, thanks to Hard to Hold by Stephanie Tyler. This novel is one of those dangerous stories, the kind that is so thrilling, romantic, edgy and absorbing that once you start it you may find it very tough to put down. I know I did because I began it after I put on a pot of our favorite pasta sauce to simmer.

Of course I know better, but this is Jake's book. Those of us who have been blogging since the good old days have also been waiting to read Jake's book for a long time -- five, maybe six years now? And it was worth the wait; I got so lost in the story that I didn't resurface until my guy arrived home -- three hours later -- and asked me what was for dinner. As it turned out that night, not pasta. I did take a shot of the scorched pot for posterity, though, because this book is just the first in what promises to be an amazing trilogy. I'm completely hooked, so I should probably save the fire department a trip and get another extinguisher for the kitchen. Maybe two.

Hard to Hold would be a great gift for any contemporary/military romance reading fan. Just warn them not to cook. And if you read this, Stephanie Tyler, you owe me an Italian dinner. Or at least a pot of pasta sauce.

I'm heading out this week to do more holiday shopping at the brick & mortar stores, and I'd like to know what you guys recommend as stocking-stuffers. In comments to this post, name a book or author you think would make a great holiday read or gift (or if you're coming up empty, just toss your name in the hat) by midnight EST on Friday, December 4, 2009. I'll draw one name at random from everyone who participates and send the winner an early holiday gift: unsigned copies of Mary Balogh's The Heart of Christmas anthology, Ice by Linda Howard, Marjorie M. Liu's Never After anthology, Seduced by Shadows by Jessa Slade, Linda Winstead Jones's Holiday with a Vampire III anthology, and Hard to Hold by Stephanie Tyler. I will also grant the winner a BookWish* so you can have something you've been waiting to read. This giveaway is open to everyone on the planet, even if you've won something here at PBW in the past.

*A BookWish is any book of your choice that is available to order from an online bookseller, with a maximum cost of $30.00 U.S. (I'll throw in whatever shipping costs are involved.)

67 comments:

  1. I just recently discovered Kathleen Gilles Seidel and I think she is an awesome author who deserves a wider readership. I would love to find her books in my stocking.

    Her old single title "Again" is a great read and I highly recommend it for anyone who's a fan of Regency romances because you'll love all the in jokes. It's out of print but there's lot of copies used on amazon.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've just re-read Margaret Maron's The Bootlegger's Daughter, the first of her Deborah Knott series. She really gets the south right in ways I'd almost forgotten from my own childhood. And it's a ripping good read with plenty of twists and turns. Mostly I just love her characters. So I guess that's my stocking stuffer recommendation, even if it's a bit vintage (1992). For a newer one? The Thirteenth Tale. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Stephen King's newest book--"Under the Dome." It's shorter only than "The Stand" and "It" and supposed to be VERY good. I can't wait to read it.

    Not for everyone, of course...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks so much for this - I was just wanting a few more recommendations of good books to get for the holidays. I have really been enjoying the Riley Jenson series by Keri Arthur. She is up to book 9 so it is a good one for those who love a series!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I would put Nigella Lawson's new Christmas cookbook as a stocking stuffer. I know a cookbook isn't the usual reading choice, but Nigella writes so lovingly about the food she prepares and usually adds personal stories.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Amethyst2:37 AM

    Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami is one that I would recommend as a stocking stuffer. Very short and easy to read, yet so full of meaning.

    Good luck with your holiday shopping! :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. I loved Hard to Hold and Never After. Now I want Santa to bring me Too Hot to Hold in December! The advantage of that long wait for Jake is that we get the trilogy back to back, woot.

    Will check out your other recs. Love Linda Howard. Have not read Ice.

    Oh, and there's this great book out now called Crimson, the conclusion to Jordan Summers' Deadworld. All 3 books might be a tight fit in a stocking, but it'd keep somebody busy all through the Christmas break!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I don't know if I'd consider her a "holiday" read, but Ann Aguirre is an awesome read. I love her Jax series... almost as good as the Stardoc novels. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  9. "The Christmas Sweater" by Glenn Beck

    I know, I know, that name is met with mixed responses, but this is NOT a political book. It is a book based on Glenn Beck's early childhood and it is very deep with a very good message at the end. It is also very climatic. I have a super liberal sister-in-law who loved it.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I just finished reading Julia Quinn's book, What Happens in London. I enjoy her books because they always have the ability to make me laugh. For a stocking stuffer though, I would want a gift card because all the books I really want to read don't get released until next year. The waiting is sooo hard.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Most of my Christmas book recommendations are ebooks.
    I think my personal favorites for Christmas are "Tied Up In Tinsel" by Ngaio Marsh. Oh and the Sherlock Holmes story about the stolen diamond in the goose's neck. (Funny. I read it every year, but I've forgotten the title). Neither of those are romances, but I love them just the same.
    They make terrific introductions to classic authors for the uninitiated.
    I know Dear Author has a post going right now where folks are making recommendations too.
    Good luck shopping. Hope you find great deals.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Ack. I've read so many good things this year, I don't know where to start. Recently I picked up the first book in a series by an author I'd never heard of and I loved it: The Accidental Sorcerer by K.E. Mills. I'd also recommend the WingSlayer Hunter series by Jennifer Lyon for anyone who likes paranormal romance. Oh, and Diana Peterfreund's new YA killer unicorn series - only the first one's out, but Rampant has me hooked.

    ReplyDelete
  13. For Christmas I read A Regency Christmas mainly for the short story by Carla Kelly - a wonderful writer. Finished J.B. Robb's Kindred in Death last night and enjoyed visiting her world. I have read Ice and really enjoyed it. I, too, wish it had been longer. I have Robin D. Owens Heart Change in my TBR. Waiting for Silver Bourne - hurry, hurry :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Kristen S.9:47 AM

    December always means a new Kay Hooper book to patiently wait for only to devour in a few hours. Blood Ties can't be in my widdle hands soon enough.

    Another one I'd stuff in a stocking (okay, they're big stockings) is a Lisa Gardner novel. Loved her back list, can't wait to get my paws on The Neighbor only to lose a few more hours and forget to make dinner.

    The Lost Recipe for Happiness by Barabra Samuel might get gifted to a few friends on my list. It, too, was too short, and left me hankering for more stories.

    Thanks for the recommendations. My book reading list grows from all you suggest.

    Good shopping and may the right items find you for a quick trip.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I just read 'Zen and the Art of Vampires' by Katie MacAlister, my kids thought I was crazy laughing out loud at a book. It was an easy, fun read highly suggest it for adult readers.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I have to recommend Soulless by Gail Carriger. This is the funniest book I've read this year and it's got aspunky heroine armed with a parasol, history, romance,werewolves, vampires and scientists...what more could anybody ask? :)

    ReplyDelete
  17. I know one book I'd like to find in my stocking! The Elegance of The Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. I haven't read it yet, but I hear it is fantastic. I did pick it up at Barnes and Noble recently, and I read the first two pages. The writing is superb.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I recommended this over at DA, but I'll do the same here. The Christmas Wedding Gambit by Jo Beverley:

    http://www.jobev.com/xmasnup.html

    It's hard to find on her site, but it's online, free to read and has a non-traditional heroine that I really liked.

    As far as other Christmas stories...I am ashamed to say I don't really remember reading any others! Shame on me!

    ReplyDelete
  19. My recommendation would be Elizabeth Hoyt's To Desire A Devil. It is so good. :)
    Thank you for the great contest.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I always give my nephews gift cards to their local book store, and they get to choose their next read. Some homemade hot cocoa mix is an added treat!

    ReplyDelete
  21. It's not Christmas-y in any regard, but I would give copies of Neil Gaiman's "The Graveyard Book."

    It won the newberry this year and I found it totally enchanting as a grown-up.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Thanks for this great giveaway. I novel that I found captivating and memorable was Sunflowers by Sheramy Bundrick. A book that I would cherish for the holidays would be Bending Toward the Sun.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Nothing comes to mind at the moment (I think I'd have to have a specific person in mind to think of a good gift).

    ReplyDelete
  24. I want a Thoreau's Complete Works (just the pb will do!) and think everyone should read him.

    I finally read the non-fic organization book "It's All Too Much!" by Peter Walsh this summer and it would be a good gift for the friend who's always saying she's going to get her house together and doesn't do it, and you just know it's going to be her new year's resolution AGAIN. :)

    ReplyDelete
  25. Most of the time it doesn't bother me that I don't have anyone in my life that loves books like I do, but for some reason around Christmas it really bums me out. I can't share with anyone the absolute joy you feel, and excitement, when you open a book. I haven't been given a book as a gift in more than 5 years. No matter what titel you choose, book lovers love getting books!

    ReplyDelete
  26. I'm going to stand by my recommendation of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Amazing read.

    ReplyDelete
  27. A book just recommended was An Ungodly Child. It looks very interesting.

    Name That Christmas Song

    ReplyDelete
  28. For a paranormal romance lover, I'd recommend Jeaniene Frost's HALFWAY TO THE GRAVE. :-) Love those books.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I love reading your book recommendations, I am starting a list! I always get new author phobia in the stores and resist trying out someone new. Silly. I love getting my friends hooked on new series, that way we can all wait impatiently together for the next one. It's the gift that keeps on giving. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  30. Nothing comes to mind right now... but I have added most of the titles/authors people recommend (now my wishlist is up to 1200 books, I'll have to win the lotto if I want to buy all of them)

    ReplyDelete
  31. Diana Gabaldon's latest, An Echo in the Bone, is a nice big read, perfect for the holiday break.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Shiloh Walker's new release is a great holiday gift, I think. Makes you all warm and fuzzy at the end.

    ReplyDelete
  33. I'm already giving two close friends their own copies of Graceling for the holidays, and a bunch of other books as well. I've garnered a reputation for giving books as gifts- my brother told me he always hoped I'd get them for him since he can't manage to pick good ones on his own. Nice to be loved!

    ReplyDelete
  34. Hi :)
    I'm going to give The Gathering Storm as a gift because my sister's been following the series along with me.
    :)
    Thank you for the opportunity to win.
    All the best,
    RKCharron
    xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  35. For Christmasy flavour, I suggest Connie Willis' "Miracle and Other Christmas Stories" - fantasy/sci-fi short stories with humour, and a touch of romance; also includes suggested reading and watching lists for more Christmas Spirit.
    I second the recomendation for Gail Carriger's Souless (my review), not a perfect read, but a highly enjoyable debut.
    I just finished Tempest Rising by Nicole Peeler; funny, original urban fantasy, not too dark, not too fluffy.

    ReplyDelete
  36. I think I'll be buying Tessa Dare books for friends. Love her trilogy! For my friends that enjoy contemporary, Kristan Higgins. I find her books hilarious and comforting.

    ReplyDelete
  37. The big book for me this year was Gabaldon's "An Echo in the Bone". Too bad Donati's next book won't release until next year, that's one I'm looking to receive as a Valentine's Day gift.

    ReplyDelete
  38. This year I am asking for cookbooks since I have been trying different kinds of recipes. My favorite so far are The Taste of Home cookbooks, Debbie Macomber Cedar Grove cookbook and The Deen Brothers cookbook.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Rachel Vincent's young adult series "Soul Screamers". I've really enjoyed it.

    Everyone in my family ends up getting at least one book every Christmas - since my sisters are big Jane Austen fans, they're getting Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Just for giggles. :)

    ReplyDelete
  40. I just read Seduce the Darkness by Gena Showalter and it was very good!

    Also, I make bottle cap magnets for small gift/stocking stuffers. Gather up all bottle caps (and bug your friends for any or throw a party and collect) then get a 1 in. hole punch. Punch out photos and/or pics, cover with Modge Podge if you have that kind of time and patience (be sure to get the edges), then put into bottle cap and fill with resin. Attach a good magnet or necklace hook. Because of the resin you have to do big batches and all of the gifts you could need are done in 1 or 2 batches with a few left over for yourself. : )

    ReplyDelete
  41. I'll put in a plug for the other Ice that came out recently. Sarah Beth Durst wrote an awesome update of East of the Sun, West of the Moon. The heroine was raised on an arctic research station studying polar bears....

    ReplyDelete
  42. Happy holidays! I love to give and receive books as gifts. The book currently on the top of my ‘To Buy’ list is the illustrated novel ‘The Watchmen’ by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. Also on my list, but not coming out until, I think, January is ‘The Secret Year’ by Jennifer Hubbard.

    ReplyDelete
  43. I think Peter and the Starcatchers Box Set would make an awesome holiday gift. It is aimed at children, but the stories are entertaining no matter your age. I have enjoyed Dave Barry's writings for years in his newspaper column. Ridley Pearson was a new author to me, but I think the collaboration was a hit in these books.

    ReplyDelete
  44. I just finished reading Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz. It is a YA vampire book and I can't wait to read the next 3 in the series. For straight up romance, I loved Vision in White by Nora Roberts. Love all of Jeaniene Frost's books too.

    If people in your family have ipods, itunes gift cards are great for stocking-stuffers. I also suggest bookstore gift cards if you aren't sure what kind of book someone might like.

    ReplyDelete
  45. I'd recommend Magic Bites By Ilona Andrews or Blue Moon Rising by Simon Green.

    ReplyDelete
  46. I'm taking notes for gifts ( for myself - hehehehe)... Lots of good recommendations!

    ReplyDelete
  47. Lynn, Just to let you know, since they both made your list, that Linda Howard and Linda Winstead Jones are now collaborating on their first vampire novel together. I'm so excited!!!! The first in the series, Blood Born, is supposed to be out in May 2010.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Anonymous6:56 PM

    great giveeawys
    i like giving books as gifts
    please count me in

    have a great hoilday with your family
    kh
    kimehak@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  49. I like giving books as gifts too...unfortunately not everyone in my family reads...especially romance which is what I read almost exclusively. However, I am going to give some YA books as gifts to some younger family members in hopes that they learn the joy of reading for fun...not just for school homework.

    cldivineATyahooDOTcom

    ReplyDelete
  50. Shiloh's Hunter's need is fantastic and the better Part of Darkness by Kelly Gay sounds good.
    Three Days to Dead by Kelly Meding also sounds good.

    ReplyDelete
  51. With the new year coming on and people making resolutions, I'd suggest The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. Small, easy to read, interesting and it pulls at your heart in a unique, inspiring way.

    ReplyDelete
  52. I've already bought three books as Christmas presents......

    for my brother ... Free-Range Kids: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts with Worry by Lenore Skenazy

    for my SIL ....Intervention by Terri Blackstock

    and for one of my DS... The Way of the Wild Heart by John Eldredge.

    BTW thanks for mentioning the Gimbles, they will make a great Christmas gift for my Mom, who has Dupuytren's contracture in both hands and has given up reading because it is so hard to hold a book open.

    ReplyDelete
  53. I've just discovered Georgette Heyer - what a pistol! I'm sad that there's a finite number of her books. I'm now scouring bookstores for her novels. I'd recommend her to anyone, especially those who love Mary Balogh.

    ReplyDelete
  54. Any of Robin Hobb's books: (Farseer Trilogy hint hint). Dan Brown's Lost Symbol. Stephanie Meyer's Twilight books set. S L Viehl Star Doc Series

    ReplyDelete
  55. Janet Evanovich's bounty hunter series never fails to entertain!

    ReplyDelete
  56. Anonymous2:53 AM

    I would recommend "Angel Lane" by Sheila Roberts, "Kindred in Death" by J.D. Robb and "That Holiday Feeling" anthology by Debbie Macomber, Sherryl Woods and Robyn Carr.

    Terri

    ReplyDelete
  57. Crikey! My head is still swirling with Nano, but... Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy will keep you riveted. Starts with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

    ReplyDelete
  58. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

    ReplyDelete
  59. Marcia6:04 AM

    Just throwing my name in the hat - but looks like some great recommendations out there!

    ReplyDelete
  60. Hi Lynn! Happy Holidays! Oh, I would definitely recommend: Devon Monk, Ilona Andrews, Annette Blair, and Lilith Saintcrow! I have a bunch of more recommendations, but the list is waaaay too long. *L*

    BTW, I have Linda Howard's Ice, Mary Balogh's The Heart Of Christmas, and Neverafter with Marjorie M. Liu--all great reads!!

    ReplyDelete
  61. Every year, my mom gets all of us Barnes and Noble Gift Cards - she owns stock so she justifies it to herself. And every year, I have it spent twice over.

    This year I want to get Shiver and some of those you've mentioned.

    As for stocking stuffers, I love colored pens particularly pilot V5 precise rolling ball pens in extra fine.

    ReplyDelete
  62. just got a new kitten9:01 AM

    I second the commenter who mentioned Jeaniene Frost -- killer stuff she writes!

    ReplyDelete
  63. I can't even pretend to be sorry about the burnt dinner :) I will most gladly owe one, however -b/c you made my day with this! And I'm thinking of putting the picture of the burnt dinner on my new bookmarks....

    ReplyDelete
  64. I'd recommend Lisa Shearin's Raine books. They start with Magic Lost, Trouble Found and they're fantasy novels with some fun modern slang about a gal from a pirating family with minor magical gifts who gets soul-bound to an evil stone of mega power. Sounds good, huh? Btw, smexy elves and goblins abound. And lots of humor. And pirates. You gotta love pirates.

    ReplyDelete
  65. Tammy S6:37 PM

    Please consider tossing my name in teh hat as well. I've heard good things about Ice, and like you they seem to agree that the book was to short.

    ReplyDelete
  66. I really enjoyed NEED by Carrie Jones. It is a YA book, but as an adult I can say I thoroughly enjoyed it too. It was dark, had a new spin on the paranormal, and had romantic elements as well.

    Happy shopping! I hope you find some great books!

    ReplyDelete
  67. I've been recommending an anthology which just came out, The Lost -- I really like the JD Robb novella in it. I'm also giving Karen Miller's Prodigal Mage as a gift this year. On my personal list, I'm banging my head waiting for Silver Borne -- but while doing so, I'll check out some of your suggestions!

    ReplyDelete