Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My Top 10 - Well Sort Of...

O.k., I've finished all the books I'm going to fit into 2008, so I'm at the point where I can establish my Top 10 List, er Top 11 List. It was hard, very hard. 2008 was a GREAT reading year for me. I ended up with fantastic recommendations from visitors here, other bloggers, authors, DorothyL. I managed to read or listen on audio book to 110 books by 78 different authors. I narrowed down 110 to a list of 20 that contended for these spots. I decided to help make my list easier to establish, it would be my top 10 CRIME FICTION books, so that eliminated The Book Thief and The Great Santini since they don't fit in the genre. Now I'm down to 18 and I loved them all. They all deserve accolades. And, truth be told, I couldn't actually get down to 10 books. So, I'm going to cheat a little bit. First, I threw in the towel at 11. I simply refuse to cut any more. And with two authors I read more than one book from the series and LOVED each of them. So, I'm grouping those. I know, I know...but since it's my list I can do it. Let's get to this list then:

11. The Crime Writer - Gregg Hurwitz. I'm wondering if this would have been higher on the list if I'd read it later in the year. However, I still can recall the thrill I got from reading it. I haven't connected as well with the other book I've been working on by him, but Crime Writer was a book that got your heart pumping!

10. Brother - James Fredericks. This was Fredericks' debut novel and I think there's going to be more really great stuff coming from him. Another heart-pounding action-packed book with great characters.

9. Angel's Tip - Alafair Burke. I'm slowly discovering more and more female crime fiction novelists that I enjoy, but Alafair is the only one who made the list this year. Ariana Franklin had two in the top 20, but Angel's Tip made the top 10. Ellie Hatcher is definitely one of my favorites and this book is so in tune with current events - "Ripped from the Headlines" dun! dun!

8. The Fourth Watcher - Timothy Hallinan. Since I am such a fan of character, I can't help but have The Fourth Watcher on this list. Tim is one of the masters when it comes to developing character. He makes use of every interaction, every conversation, just every opportunity. The richness of his characters make you want to just step into the book and join them...despite the chase that's going on!

7. One Drop of Blood and K.I.A. - Thomas Holland. I fell in love with Kel McKelvey from the first page of One Drop of Blood. And all the way to the end of the year, K.I.A. still is the book with my favorite ending. I adore Tom Holland's humor and the local color. The authenticity of the forensics mixed with the humanity of the characters is top-notch. I'm definitely ready for more Kel!

6. Shutter Island - Dennis Lehane. I don't know if much more needs to be said! ;) Dennis is just a genius in this genre. This psychological thriller had me on the edge of my seat the entire time, and it did not take me long to get through this book.

5. A Carrion Death - Michael Stanley. What a debut by this writing team! The setting, the characters, the complex plot. It is an all-around unique, gripping, challenging read.

4. Chasing Darkness - Robert Crais. Elvis rules. Enough said!

3. Envy the Night - Michael Koryta. He continues to improve with each publication, even though Tonight, I Said Goodbye was outstanding. I don't know where he's going to go to top himself now, but I'm not making any bets against him. Michael's characters are so real, the plots are multi-layered and his wit just tops it all off.

2. The Cold Dish - Craig Johnson. Of my 11 authors on this list, 7 were new to me this year. Craig was one of the new ones. And boy am I glad I discovered his work. Walt, Vic, Henry, and Lucien light up the book. Their depth and dimension jut out from the pages hung against a magnificent setting. This book is poetry in action.

1. Tilt-A-Whirl, Mad Mouse, Whack-A-Mole, and Mind Scrambler - Chris Grabenstein. Chris's John Ceepak series was the only series this year that had me reading one book right after the other. I simply did not want to leave the world of John Ceepak and Danny Boyle. The only book I didn't read in 2008 is Hell Hole, the one that was published in 2008 - however! I have it and I will be getting to it soon. I discovered so many great authors and books this year, but the John Ceepak series (in a very tight race with Walt Longmire) is my find of the year. I have truly LOVED reading these books. The experience I have while in the land of Sea Haven - or where ever the duo may be - is what reading is all about for me. These characters, much like Elvis and Joe or Lincoln Perry, knock around inside my head for a long time after I finish reading a book - they become a part of me. And for me, that's the sign of a masterpiece!

I hope your 2008 was as good a reading year as mine was. Here is a blog where some authors, including RC are talking about their top 3 books read this year. Three? Oh, no way could I have just picked three!

I'll be back later this week with my reviews for my last two books of '08 and some thoughts for '09. If I don't see ya before, have a very Happy New Year!

Happy Reading!


Joy December 30, 2008 at 8:03 PM  

Jen - This was such a fun post! :) There are a few in your list that I just can't wait to read and a few others that are totally new to me. Woo Hoo!

Thanks for including the link to the author's favorite 3 of 2008. That was so interesting and fun to discover. :)

Happy New Year!

Corey Wilde December 30, 2008 at 8:11 PM  

It's a great reading list, Jen. I hope to read Brother soon, and I have one by Timothy Hallinan also, and the third in the Walt Longmire series. Looks like '09 might be as good a reading year as '08.

beauvallet December 31, 2008 at 9:00 AM  

No, I couldn't pick just three books either. And I don't know how Michael Koryta could get any better but it wouldn't surprise me if he did. I think my favorite book this year was Chasing Darkness. It was vintage Elvis Cole, but with more polish and a tighter structure than the early books had.

Tim January 1, 2009 at 3:09 PM  

Jen --

I missed this somehow, but found it when I came to say thanks for linking to the "Creative Living" strand on my blog.

I'm extremely pleased (and also touched) that you liked WATCHER so much. One never knows, after a year or more of hitting one's head on the keyboard, whether a book is very good, so-so, or peeeyuuuu. A pick like yours makes me feel that much better about the book I just finished and the one I just started.

Timothy Hallinan

le0pard13 January 1, 2009 at 9:14 PM  

Great post, Jen. And, thanks for adding the other post that included RC's picks. I've added 'The Culture of Fear' to my list because of this. Thanks.

Stanley January 11, 2009 at 9:32 AM  

Jen: I (we) am (are) honoured that A Carrion Death is on your top 10 list for 2008. We look forward to the release of the second Detective Kubu mystery - The Second Death of Goodluck Tinubu - in June. Cheers Michael Stanley (Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip)

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