Best of 2008 and New Year’s Resolution for 2009

A lot of people are posting a year end post for 2008. It's nice to see people looking back at the books they read for the year and picking out their favorite reads, and it's interesting to see what they picked. I thought it would be a good thing to try myself because with it recorded, I can look back in later years and see what my tastes were like.

Out of a total of 77 books read this year, very few got into my best list, but book ratings are highly subjective.  I just went with my gut and rated them according to how I felt about the book as soon as I finished reading them. These lists are compiled from ratings I put down in my private notes.

All the links to my reviews here are to my Livejournal.

The Books that Blew Me Away  – These books are those I gave top marks to when I first read them. It's a very hard list to get onto because I have to feel like I'm falling in love and cannot be parted from the book for it to get on this list. Only three got on it this year.

Books that Came Close to Blowing Me Away – These came very close to getting top marks from me. This is a personal thing, but the books above I would put down and then obssessively think about when I could pick them up again. The books below, I didn't feel as consumed by the book, but still felt really impressed by them.

  • Games of Command by Linnea Sinclair (my review)
  • Wicked Game by Jeri Smith-Ready (my review)
  • Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (I need to review this when I have the book in my hands)
  • The Outback Stars by Sandra McDonald (review coming soon)

Books I Really Liked/ Keepers. These each had several moments where I loved the book and overall I think these are books that deserve to be loved and read by others, but for some reason or other these didn't get into the top 7. I still consider these keepers, and all these authors are pretty much autobuys/ must read backlist authors. There are 19 of these books this year (Linnea Sinclair's name comes up a lot here, I was reading her backlist in 2008):

  • The Down Home Zombie Blues by Linnea Sinclair (my review)
  • Exit Strategy (Nadia Stafford, Bk 1) by Kelley Armstrong (my review)
  • Private Arrangements by Sherry Thomas (my review)
  • Grimspace by Ann Aguirre (my review)
  • An Accidental Goddess by Linnea Sinclair (my review)
  • Urban Shaman by C. E. Murphy (my review)
  • Wanderlust by Ann Aguirre (my review)
  • Cry Wolf (Alpha and Omega, Bk 1) by Patricia Briggs (my review)
  • Easy Freedom by Liz Berry (my review)
  • Jinx by Jennifer Estep (my review)
  • Finders Keepers by Linnea Sinclair (my review)
  • Gabriel's Ghost by Linnea Sinclair (my review pt 1, pt 2)
  • The Good Neighbors by Holly Black (my review)
  • The Nanny by Melissa Nathan (my review)
  • Grave Sight (Harper Connelly, Bk 1) by Charlaine Harris (my review)
  • Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler (my review)
  • Burndive by Karin Lowachee (my review)
  • An Ice Cold Grave (Harper Connelly, Bk 3) by Charlaine Harris (my review)
  • The Decoy Princess and Princess at Sea by Dawn Cook (my review)


And for my New Year's Resolution – it's the same resolution as last year , to read 100 books.

  • 2006 – 103 books
  • 2007 - 99 books
  • 2008 – 77 books
  • 2009 – let's get it back up to 100!!

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Keeping It Real by Justina Robson

First of all – this book is a trade paperback and… I HAVE to say this – it smells good! The paper is a nice quality, it does not have that newspaper smell of mass market paperbacks, instead it brings to my mind the smell of a nice new textbook (in a good way). I could get high on the smell. And the book feels heavy, meaning the paper is dense. I was quite pleased with the experience of reading because of this. I would not mind it at all if more publishers paid attention to things like paper if they are going to charge $15+ for a trade paperback.

Anyway, moving on to the actual words on the pages. The book begins with a short summary under the heading of "Common Knowledge" that describes what has been going on in the world. A quantum bomb that exploded in 2015 has changed the world as we know it, opening up five other parallel realities to ours. When I read the first page which described the bomb and altering matter, I was a bit bored. It was pretty late at night and I was sleepy, and I was suspicious that this was a prologue in disguise. Many people skip those things. I never do, but I did put the book down. A while later I read past page 1, and things got interesting.  I recommend that you DO NOT skip the Common Knowledge section, it explains much about the parallel worlds (Alfheim - populated by elves, Zoomenon – world of the Elements, Demonia – filled with demons, Thanatopia – realm of Death, and Otopia – world of Faerie). By the time the story starts the information there will be useful.

The basic premise is that Lila Black, a special agent with a body that is mostly machine, has been tasked to protect the lead singer of The No Shows – an elf named Zal. Zal is unusual amongst his kind and has made a strange choice to be "slumming" down on Earth. Someone from Alfheim, who disapproves of Zal's lifestyle is sending him death threats. Half of the book takes place on Earth and the other on Alfheim, but I don't think I can even begin to start describing it. It was so much fun to read! How do I explain why!? First of all – this was not done in a fluffy silly way – when I tried to explain it to someone: "There were elves, and one of them is a rock star-",  I got a face. It's not like that at all. The characters are compelling. Lila is a woman who has guns popping out of her body and rides a black motorbike, but she's very confused about how she feels about elves – they almost killed her and that's what made her this way. She has difficulties with accepting what she looks like now. And Zal is a bit of a mystery at first, an elf who has chosen to defy his people and "go native" in another world, exiled because of his choices. His character is rather complex and undefinable. There were a couple of other very interesting characters I wish I could get into but I can't without giving away big chunks of plot. Speaking of the the plot, it unlike anything else I've read, unpredicable, full of action and thrills. There are a lot of pop culture references and jokes (other reviews say many funny LoTR references, which totally went past me, I haven't read those books since I was 14), but you don't need to get them to enjoy the story. The only thing I'd complain about is that there were times in the story where, especially dealing with elves, I felt like they understood something about what was going on that I did not (why did they do that now?). Maybe this lends itself to the whole clash of cultures between human and elf, or maybe I just need to reread those parts. I felt like Robson was an intellectual writing something fun instead of something with a serious agenda. And I'm glad, because I loved it.


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