I could list a hundred phenomenal Christmas recommendations for books, music, movies, and more. But I won’t. The interwebs are swamped with endless Best Of lists already.
Nope, my mission here is simple: showcase books that can’t be found in USA Today, the NYTimes, or in any of the Big Name Guides. Not this year, anyway. <cue inspirational music> In years to come, we might see these names on big stack displays and movie posters. They’re good enough, they’re great enough, and gosh darn it, I like them.
These select gems are hand-crafted, artisanal, and sparkling with originality. Two series, two debut novels. I’ve read and reviewed them all in detail or in brief. Are they all right for everyone? Hell, no. That’s where your good judgment comes in. I describe. You decide.
The Devany Miller series by Jen Ponce: Horror/fantasy/romance. Yes, all three. Yes, really. Oogy monsters and kickass women are her specialties. Not recommended for arachnophobes. The author writes across several genres. All polished, snappy reads.
The Saga of Menyoral by M. A. Ray. Foul-mouthed knight and berserker boy, and oh, so much more. Coming-of-Age fantasy. Fast-moving and heart-wrenching. YA friendly if your definition of YA includes PG-13+ sexual content and R-rated language.
The Wild Harmonic by Beth W Patterson (check out her music too! Yes, she’s multi-talented!) Contemporary fantasy/urban fantasy. I would compare it to War for the Oaks, because both have musical roots and a beautifully evoked sense of place, but that’s not fair to either book. The author has short stories in several anthologies and plans more novels. (and an awesome splash ad.)
Website (with music! And MORE!)
The Legacy (The Darkness Within Saga Book 1) by JD Franx. EPIC fantasy. Viking necromancers. Nuff said, right? Also, portal fantasy. Like your fantasy worlds built big, sprawling & complex, your characters three-dimensional and your plotlines fast & tight? Yeah. Me, too. Get it here.
Aaaagh. So many good things. Can’t stop. Witty-gritty Life With a Fire-Breathing Dragon and sequels by Bryan Fields. The whole delicious, steamy erotic-funny Lily Quinn succubus series by Natalie & Eric Severine. Noelle Meade’s exploding birds and changing worlds Crucible of Change series,Mirren Hogan’s wonderful Crimson Fire that I technically shouldn’t include because I haven’t finished it, but mmmm good…no…must…stop…
<takes a little break to recover>
Since you read this far, here’s a little story I call Me And Books At The Holidays: A Story. (Because I am an ego monster and everything on this blog works around to me in the end.)
For about six years after graduating from college, I worked part-time teaching high school science & math and part-time as a pet store manager. Then I jumped off the career train entirely and got a full-time job in retail bookselling with Borders Books & Music.
And ended up teaching again anyway. But that’s a different story.
That first holiday season with Borders, I got teased thusly by family and friends. “Hah, I guess I know what I’m getting for Christmas this year!”
Every single one of them made that same snarky remark, I swear.
Now, let it be known tolerance for teasing is not my strong suit, not even when I’m well-rested, well-fed, and unstressed. I seldom managed any one of those three conditions during the retail holiday season. At its best Christmas with Borders was a rush, a thrill ride, and a grueling endurance test rolled up into one, an adventure shared with boon companions who made the labor a memorable joy. At its worst it was all those things smothered under a pall…but I digress. Long story short, I had no tolerance for being mocked about my gifting abilities.
“What did you get last year?” I snarled. (Every time, I snarled.)
“Did you get BOOKS, maybe? Not a hamster, or a fish bowl, or cat toys? No? Okay, I gave your cats some toys, but I got you books, didn’t I? Of course I did. That’s what I get everyone. Every year. Why the <many expletives deleted> would that change now I’m getting a discount? Are you trying to tell me you don’t like books? Did you not like what you got last year?”
“Errrrm. Ha-ha. No. I loved it. You alway pick good books.”
“Damned right, I do.”
Borders is gone, (RIP) but books are still my go-to gifts of choice. And the ones I’ve shared here are ones I am positive will suit someone you know. Because everyone knows someone who likes something.
What do I want for Christmas? Pssh. The same thing I want every year, Pinky. Reviews! I want DOZENS of reviews for Controlled Descent & Flight Plan. Also a pony.
And if I got THREE author wishes, the third one would be to see my book listings in WorldCat (the biggest online catalog of library collections in the world) for libraries in all fifty states of the Union.
But the second wish would still be for a pony.
Happy gift gathering and giving, everyone!