What is the best book you read all last year?

I haven’t seen any new releases from my writer friends this week–yes, that’s unusual! So I thought I’d talk about another favorite of mine – actually two.

Many years, I’d be hard-pressed to answer the question, “What’s the best book you’ve read all year?” Sometimes, there are too many good ones to make a choice. Other years, nothing has stood out. 2012 was one of those where I read tons of good stuff, but one book–actually, two– stood out: Hunting the Corrigan’s Blood by Holly Lisle, and its sequel, Warpaint.

HTCB-Ebook-387x600How can I sum up what made these books so great? All I can think of is, they were just more… everything. In one of her blogs, writing workshops, or maybe her email newsletter, Holly stated that one of her goals with this series was to create scarier vampires. And boy did she! Yes, these are vampire books, but not your typical horror fare. Oh yes, they’re that too, but they’re also science fiction – in fact, that’s the primary genre they’re shelved under. But they’re also mystery, thriller, suspense, and there’s even a little romance in Hunting the Corrigan’s Blood, the first of what’s planned to be a ten-book series, I believe.

They are about a kick-ass, independent starship captain, Cadence Drake. And if you think she looks rather comic book-ish with her curvy figure and exotic features, well, there’s a reason for that – she’s genetically engineered to look that way, and she uses it to advantage (and not in the way you’d expect). She has a special talent for locating missing things, and when she’s hired to find a missing starship, how hard could that be? Especially when said starship is one of only 27 made of a new model that would be very conspicuous in any spaceport?

Of course, it turns out not to be so easy, and on the way, Cady and her friend Badger run into all sorts of nasties, as well as unexpected allies. Which is where the more horrific vampires come in. If you want vampires that are sparkly, hot romantic leads then this is not the book for you – they’re definitely the bad guys here.

WARPAINT-FLAT-387x600But again, there’s more. More worlds to explore, each with unique cultures derived from recognizable, Earth subcultures. (I totally want to live on the planet called Up Yours!). And yes, there’s a bit of humor – just enough! And while these books are classified as space opera, they’re not buried in tech, and what’s there is believable and understandable. We see it through Cady’s eyes and learn more about her in the process. There were some epic space battles, again, just enough to satisfy the expectations of space opera while not boring other readers along for the ride.

And these aren’t mere entertainment either, although they can certainly be read and enjoyed solely on that level. There’s plenty of thought, theme, and ideas that make the reader think, and this is, I think, what makes these books so special. They are not pedantic or a soap box for the author, although for those of us who’ve taken writing workshops from Holly, they’re probably more visible.

So it’s probably all these things combined that made Hunting and Warpaint a couple of those books that you read until the e-reader conks you on the head because you’ve fallen asleep, and then you think about it the whole next day while at work, and can’t wait to get on the treadmill so you can read again (or maybe that last part is just me LOL). According to her blog, Holly plans to release the third installment in the series later this year, and I for one can’t wait.

This is the bar I reach for in writing my own books. I’m getting closer, but I’ve still a long way to go.

Both of these books are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble.com, Apple’s iTunes, and on Holly’s site, along with a bunch of other good stuff.

ROW80Logo175Quick ROW80 update: I’ve pretty much finished the print formatting for Hangar 18: Legacy, which is the form I do my final proofread in. I’m also about 1/3 of the way through on the proofread, so on track so far this week! I have also done 2 workouts, so that is also on track.

What about you – what was the best book you read all last year? (Or books, if you can’t narrow it down to one?) Or maybe you’d like to share one you read years ago, that still sticks with you? If you’re doing ROW80, how is your week going so far? Please share – I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

13 Responses to \

  1. Can’t name one book, but I can name one series. My daughter gave me the six books of the Vampire Academy (by Richelle Mead) to read (mainly because a movie is going to be made and she wanted me familiar with it, or so she says…). Damn things hooked me! I think my daughter knew they would, too. I still can’t get Rose and Dimitri out of my head. That’s why I think these were the best books I read in 2012.

  2. Stacy, you might have noticed I wasn’t able to pin it down to one book either LOL! I’ve heard Vampire Academy is good – I’ll have to check it out!

  3. I generally don’t have favorite books, but favorite authors or a favorite series. I really like Linda Castillo’s character Kate Burkholder in her “Sworn to . . .” series. The first book, Sworn to Silence, was just make into a made of television movie on the Lifetime Channel called “An Amish Murder.” Last year her recent book in that series (#4 I think) was released and it was just as awesome as the first 3.

    I also like Lori Anderson’s characer Mercy Gunderson and her “Mercy . . .” series. Her newest book in that series was just released in January and I can’t wait to dive into it.

    I also like Brenda Novak’s books and Linda Lael Miller’s contemporary westerns. I’m not so much into the Urban Fantasy, Science Fiction or paranormal although i will read them once in a while.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  4. Does a work-in-progress count? I’ve had the privilege of reading some of Jen Sokoloski’s drafts for THE WINTER KING and man, is it wonderful! It’s about a man facing a mid-life crisis, only to discover that (gasp) he’s not going gray–those are icicles because he’s part fae! I can’t wait till she’s finished with it : )

  5. Patricia, I probably should have called this post the best series we’ve read, because my picks are the start of a series too. Sounds like you like a big variety!

    SJ – Holly’s amazing, isn’t she? That was something else that made me love these so much – you thought you knew what would happen, then she’s toss you another twist!

    Diane, sure why not? From what I’ve heard about this book, it sounds awesome! I’m looking forward to it, too!

  6. This year that is an easy question. Hands down, the best book I real all year and in a long time is BIRDS OF PARADISE by Diana Abu-Jaber. Oh wow did I love that book! I even bought it for a few people as gifts. Oh, wait, maybe that was 2011? I get all mixed up because I think in school years. And it was last fall. Which may be 2011. In that case, the best book of 2012 is a tie between GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn (I wasn’t so happy with the ending, though) and THE MARRIAGE PLOT by Jeffrey Eugenides. Those were both also “couldn’t put down” books. What a fun topic! Great post.

  7. It was actually a novella, Jennette.

    I purchased an anthology titled Guns and Roses (Murder She Writes Presents). One of the stories included was “Dead Flowers” by Lori Armstrong. I was totally pulled in by the bad-a$$ heroine, Julie Collins, and her sexy outlaw biker boyfriend, Tony Martinez. I couldn’t quit thinking about this story for the life of me. I ended up buying Lori Armstrong’s entire Julie Collins PI series.

    The anthology is no longer available, but Lori Armstrong has released Dead Flowers as a Kindle Single. Here is the link:


    If you get addicted to Julie Collins (like I did), consider buying the bundle, which is all four books of the series. You save something like $6. Here is the link:


    As for Holly Lisle’s books, my favorites were her Paranormal Suspense/Romance. Probably because they are closest to what I write.

  8. I read a lot of awesome books last year, and a few I couldn’t finish (one of them one of the most overrated historicals of recent years). My favorites I read included A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Watch That Ends the Night (a novel in verse about the Titanic), Paul Dowswell’s The Ausländer, and Anne C. Voorhoeve’s My Family for the War.

  9. Emma, vote #2 for Gone Girl! (The other person mentioned it on Twitter). I need to check that one out. Thanks!

    Catie, I’ve been meaning to check out Holly’s other books – I love her epic fantasy, too. I’ve read several by the Murder She Writes ladies, and they are all good authors!

    Carrie-Anne, good to see some classics! Thanks for stopping by!

  10. I read and write women’s fiction and was pulled in by Alyson Richman’s THE LOST WIFE. (Just checked the copyright page; it’s a 2011 book. Wah! I am always late to pick up on things.)I’ve got GONE GIRL in the TBR pile and am going to check out BIRDS OF PARADISE based on Emma’s recommendation. Thanks, Jennette!

  11. Pat, it didn’t have to be published in 2012! Just read by you last year. 🙂 Glad you got some good ideas here!

  12. Hi Jennette, it sounds like you’re powering along nicely and through some heavy slog too. Proof reading and formatting is a chore I hate.

    As for the best book I’ve read, it would be the only one I have ever written a review or blog post about. It was “The Real Katie Lavender” by Erica James, a favourite author of mine. It was about a search for identity and journeying back into the past to confront traumas. Absolutely excellent and very well researched and thought through.

    I hope this week is equally as productive for you.