Holiday Recommendations 2011: Books

Last but not least on our Lytherus holiday recommendations for this year is the book list. Our staff readers have pulled their favorite books from this past year and pooled them into a list that has a little bit of everything, both old and new. This is definitely the place to look for suggestions for the bibliophile in your life!

Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Laini Taylor)

Published September 27th, 2011

Splendid writing and a unique story come together to create something truly magical in Daughter of Smoke and Bone: a book that makes the imagination sing.

Karou is a wildly talented, interestingly unique teen who is studying art at a school in Prague. Her life is relatively normal, except when Brimstone sends her on missions. Brimstone is her father, for all intents and purposes. But though she is human, he is not. He is a Chimera, a creature with both human and animal parts, and the missions he sends her on is for teeth, without ever telling her why. Having a curious nature and never getting answers gets old for Karou, though, and before she can stop herself she starts looking deeper into the unusual elements of her life, and why things are so secretive. And when she encounters a man unlike any she’s ever known, one who brings her to the brink of death, she has to re-examine what everything really means.

Laini taylor was nominated for a National Book Award with a previous book, so you’re in good hands. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is one of the most exceptional YA books to come out this year. Period. Click here for the Lytherus review!

 

Eon Series (Alison Goodman)

Eon Published August 31st, 2010

Eona Published April 19th, 2011

Is the book lover in your life looking for some awesome fantasy and a bad-ass kick-butt heroine? Eon and Eona are exactly what they need. This series is jam-packed with adventure, mystery, intrigue, romance, and magic – and amazing creativity.

Eon, a crippled twelve-year-old boy is really Eona, a sixteen-year-old girl pretending to be the former for one reason: to be chosen as a Dragoneye apprentice, who studies under one of twelve magical dragons. Only men are allowed, and even though she has a hidden gift (the ability to see the dragons in the spirit world) her sex automatically eliminates her. Even with a severe hip injury, Eon manages to make it all the way to the choosing round. When Eon makes it into the ring the unthinkable happens, which stirs up the world as everyone knows it presently and brings forth the past in a wonderful and unexpected way. However, amazing as this surprise is, the political and magical world is thrown upside down, leaving Eona smack dab in the middle of it all.

The way Eona’s story evolves through the two books is wonderful, and the fantasy elements are truly unique. This is a YA series any fantasy reader should enjoy!

Click here for a review.

 

Night Circus  (Erin Morgenstern)

Published September 13th, 2011

This book was one of those overnight success stories that we suspect to see continue rolling down hill picking up momentum and gathering fans on its way. Already Summit Entertainment (the production company behind the Twilight film franchise) has bought the rights for the motion picture.

The story revolves around Celia and Marco. As children they were drafted for their innate magical talents to be part of a game that will last the course of their lives. They do not know the rules. They do not know how to win. But they are bound by magic to continue pitting themselves against one another in order to survive. But the makers of the game had not counted on Celia and Marco becoming most stubbornly in love with one another. Their magical entries in the game become more like romantic gifts to one another as opposed to demonstrations of their superiority. But as time passes it becomes ever-more clear that only one can win.

You can read the full lytherus review of this book as well as preview the trailer here.

 

Star Wars: The Complete Vader (Ryder Windham and Peter Vilmur)

Published October 18th, 2011

In an extremely unfair twist of fate (and a printing error) Star Wars: The Complete Vader’s release date in the United States has been delayed since 2009. The wait is over (and we can stop being jealous of Canada and the UK, whose book release was not delayed for 2 years) because The Complete Vader is here and ready for some wrapping paper, a bow, and a cozy spot under the Christmas tree.

“This book is the definitive resource on the history, myth, and cultural impact Darth Vader has had, from his earliest development in the original trilogy to the newer stories revealed in comics and novels, all the way to his myriad appearances in every other conceivable medium, from commercials to clothing to bedspreads.” This book sure seems like a must-have for any Star Wars geeks in your life. It includes exclusive interviews and photographs from the Lucasfilm Archives. While originally $60.00, it can now be found on Amazon for about $35.00.

 

The Wolves of Mercy Falls Trilogy (Maggie Stiefvater)

Shiver published August 1st, 2009

Linger published July 13th, 2010

Forever published July 12th, 2011

The Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater is a story of Grace and Sam, as they struggle to stay together. Sam changes into a wolf as winter draws near – but as the trilogy progresses, that might become the least of their worries. This series will surely be a treat for the readers of all ages, with its poetic language and interesting, believable characters. The story starts with Shiver and revolves around seventeen-year-old Grace who was always fascinated with the wolves looming on the edges of her backyard, the yellow-eyed wolf in particular. When she finds a wounded yellow-eyed boy on her back porch, the resemblance is unmistakable. As Grace is drawn into the world of wolves and their secrets, she must face the challenges of trying to stay with Sam. Sam, on the other hand, struggles to stay human, and at the same time, he has to come to terms with his responsibilities to the pack. The final book, Forever, is not your typical happy ending, yet it is extremely satisfying.

This series has a very truthful emotion to it, and every book is impossible to put down. Maggie Stiefvater’s writing style is simple and distinctive, as she creates a beautiful atmosphere and rich characters.

 

Arson (Estevan Vega)

Published May 25th, 2011

Arson is a boy like any other boy, except he has a secret. He can create fire, but his power carries grave consequences. Ever since the tragedy that changed his life, he has controlled this power.  Now, he has met a girl who has secrets of her own; a girl facing this world looking through the eyes of a mask. Arson is haunted by his past and is tortured physically and mentally by his present. This is a coming of age story for a two young misfits in a world that is indifferent, or outright hostile, to the social outcasts among us.

From the beginning of the story where Arson is holding himself underwater to his twisted relationship with his grandmother, this story delves into the darkest parts of love and despair. The added facet of terrifying powers on top of the segregation by other students for being new or different creates protangonists that you can’t help but root for. If any of you has ever felt like you were on of the alone or that you didn’t fit in with the mainstream, this book gives you a worst case with a strange twist of hope at the same time.

Estevan Vega’s writing style creates a world that feels unreal, but at the same time, it feels almost too real. He is definitely an author to keep an eye on. He will be providing the world with more outstanding fiction in the near future.

 

Rot and Ruin (Jonathan Maberry)

Published May 3rd, 2011

Welcome to the town of Mountainside, the only bastion of humanity against the ravening hordes of the undead. Benny Imura has just reached the age where he needs to find a job or face his rations being cut in half. With a distinct lack of enthusiasm, he decides to go to work with his brother as a professional zombie hunter. From facing the memories of the first night of the zombie apocalypse to their travels through the desolate lands teeming with the undead, the brothers must attempt to heal the gap between them and make a life for themselves in this new world. Follow their journey through the zombie infested world, and watch as they come to the realization that the worst thing out there isn’t the undead.

Jonathan Maberry puts together an amazing story of adolescence, adult roles, survival, and human nature. The focus of this zombie novel isn’t the undead; rather, it is a focus on survival and the horrors that members of the human race can visit on themselves. This is a story of how mankind will adapt to a world turned upside down, where not everyone is what they seem to be. Maberry delves into human nature that varies from total self-absorbed psychosis to the desire of most people to bury their heads in the sand rather than face the tough choices. The sequel to this story has been released and continues the journey of Benny and his brother Tom. Look for Dust & Decay in your nearest bookstore.

 

The Joe Ledger Novels (Jonathan Maberry)

Patient Zero published March 3rd, 2009

The Dragon Factory published March 2nd, 2010

The King of Plagues published March 29th, 2011

The first three books of the Joe Ledger Novels are Patient Zero, The Dragon Factory, and The King of Plagues. Joe Ledger is a former Baltimore police officer who is recruited into a government organization that combats the unimaginable threats to the nation. In Patient Zero, Joe and his team of specialists (Echo Team) are faced with a terrorist who is using pharmaceutical research to create a plague of the undead.  In The Dragon Factory, a rogue scientist threatens to continue the work of Hitler by viral and genetic genocide. The scientist creates a race of supersoldiers to spread violence in terror as well as distract the team from the real threats. Finally, in The King of Plagues, Joe must combat a secret organization that epitomizes the Ten Plagues of Egypt and are planning on creating a worldwide state of anarchy for their own profit. Headed up by one of the antagonists in a previous novel, this novel ties up the loose ends from the first two books.

Jonathan Maberry is amazing with his scope of research and detail for key plot points in his novels. From prion diseases to genetic research, from the workings of Nazism to the belief systems of Muslem extremists, Maberry has done his homework. His attention to detail, while not overbearing, provides the perfect counterpoint to his development of this characters. All in all, the Joe Ledger Series is an amazing series and any horror/scifi reader would enjoy these stories.

 

Magic’s Pawn: The Last Herald-Mage Series Book 1 (Mercedes Lackey)

Published June 6th, 1989

In Magic’s Pawn, an ancient age in the history of Valdemar comes to life—before Herald Vanyel Ashkevron was the Legendary Herald-Mage Vanyel, he is the eldest son of a country nobleman, but he is unlike his brothers and not pleasing to his father- handsome in stead of tough, learned instead of strong, and conscious about his looks, and secretly dreaming of being a bard. His life changes abruptly when his father sends him to the capital, Haven, to live with his aunt Savil, a Herald of Valdemar, one of those few people who protect the country with their magic. Life is not as he expects there; falling in love with Savil’s star pupil, discovering the wonders of Heralds and Companions- but this life soon leads to unimaginable loss, terrifying powers, and waking up from a magic induced coma to find his life has flipped upside down forever.

If you’ve ever read anything in Mercedes Lackey’s Herald Compaion series, you might have come across the name ‘Vanyel’ a few times, mentioned in whispers as the last but most powerful Herald-Mage in the history of Valdemar. Itching to know about his past? Wondering how he became the last Mage? You’ll definitely discover a powerful trilogy that tells incredible stories of love, loss, revenge, what it means to find a soulmate, and what it takes to become the ultimate selfless person.

 

Plague of the Dead: The Morningstar Strain (Z. A. Recht)

Published December 29th, 2009

The end begins with a viral outbreak unlike anything mankind has ever encountered before. The infected are subject to delirium, fever, a dramatic increase in violent behavior, and a one-hundred percent mortality rate. But it doesn’t end there. The victims return from death to walk the earth. When a massive military operation fails to contain the living dead it escalates into a global pandemic. In one fell swoop, the necessities of life become much more basic. Gone are petty everyday concerns. Gone are the amenities of civilized life. Yet a single law of nature remains: Live, or die. Kill, or be killed. On one side of the world, a battle-hardened general surveys the remnants of his command: a young medic, a veteran photographer, a brash Private, and dozens of refugees, all are his responsibility—all thousands of miles from home. Back in the United States, an Army colonel discovers the darker side of Morningstar virus and begins to collaborate with a well-known journalist to leak the information to the public…and the Morningstar Saga has begun.

Ever wanted to read a zombie apocalypse novel that tells of the outbreak’s beginning? How the world spins so out of control that it leads to the end of civilization as you know it? The Morningstar Strain starts out with a fast paced battle between the living and the dead, with characters you feel for just as you would feel for anyone else (some you’ll hate, others you’ll cheer for as they escape from danger). It’s smart, funny, insightful into several kinds of worlds- government, Red Cross, military, and civilian minds- and makes you wonder if this is exactly how we’d all react if we woke up to a world covered in flesh-desiring zombies.

 

Rise Again (Ben Tripp)

Published October 26th, 2010

Sheriff Danielle Adelman, a troubled war veteran, thinks she has all the problems she can handle after her kid sister runs away from home. But when disease-stricken refugees from Los Angeles overrun her small mountain community, Danny realizes her problems have only just begun—with the end of the world. When the streets are choked with dead, the living grieve. When the dead begin to move, the living hope. And when the dead begin to feed, the living fight to survive. Because if you die…You rise again.

A book that has yet to rise to the top ten best sellers, it’s truly one of those cool discoveries when you just pick blindly from the shelves of a bookstore. With a definite modern feel and outlook in the written world (the war in the Middle East is mentioned more than a few times), it’s certainly different from reading something that doesn’t have an obvious timeline. Who knows? This could be happening on the other side of the country, and you wouldn’t know it until it’s too late. Rather, that’s how this story is told. A book to curl up with in the dead of night with the curtains closed, and your favorite baseball bat nearby (just in case).

(Don’t like being seen toting around a zombie book? Ben Tripp’s website has hilarious downloads that you can print, cut, and stick over the cover- like Rise Again, the cookbook, featuring bread!)

 

Harry Potter: Page to Screen (Bob McCabe)

Published October 25th, 2011

Ever wanted a fun, in-depth look into the creation of the Harry Potter movies? Ever wondered how they adapted the books for the big screen? Well, the answers to those questions and much more can be found in Harry Potter: Page to Screen by Bob McCabe, the complete story of how the films were made.

Author Bob McCabe takes us on a spellbinding journey, and readers can learn so much about how much work went into making these films the very best they could be. Learning more about the cast and crew also makes this a rewarding read, as well as simply being able to hold the complete history of the Harry Potter films in your hands. For many die-hard fans, it is a dream come true.

This incredibly informative, highly entertaining read is a must have for anyone truly wishing to further immerse themselves in the world of Harry Potter.

 

Throat (R. A. Nelson)

Published January 25th, 2011

Emma has epilepsy. It is basically ruining her teenage years, making her a social pariah and even killing her chances at driving like every other normal teen her age. One night, in a fit of frustration, she takes the family car and escapes only to crash, driving the car off the road into the woods. Scared and lost, she wanders to a nearby cabin, where she asks a dark mysterious stranger for help. Of course he isn’t as he seems, and next thing Emma remembers is waking up in the hospital, having no idea of how she got there. The stranger was a vampire, and she is starting to get his traits. As she realizes what is happening to her, and discovers that the baddie is still after her, she runs to save her family. She ends up on a nearby NASA base, which she uses as her new home while she can figure out exactly what is happening to her and how to stay alive in the process.

Yes, this book has vampires, but don’t run screaming in fear of overkill. This book is incredibly creative and intelligent, making it a truly engaging read. The author works at NASA, so the scientific accuracy adds even more to the story. Definitely worth a look-see.

Click here for a review.

 

Leviathan series (Scott Westerfeld)

Leviathan published October 6th, 2009

Behemoth published October 5th, 2010

Goliath published September 20th, 2011

One of the most engaging and delightful series to come out in recent years concluded this fall, and it was definitely worth the wait. Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan trilogy is filled with innovative world-building and deep, well-developed characters.

The story starts in Leviathan where the Clankers and the Darwinists are at war. The The Clankers are machine-driven people (think hard-core machines, like two-legged walkers stopming across the countryside) And in this world Darwin didn’t just discover evolution; he discovered DNA and the ability to fabricate animals into amazing hybrid creatures that replace machines (hence the Darwinists) The series starts with Alek, the son of Austria-Hungary’s Archduke Ferdinand, running for his life. Then the story jumps to the other main character, a Scottish teen girl by the name of Deryn who is disguising herself as a boy so she can join the British Air Service. She ends up serving on the Leviathan, a giant floating zeppelin-like creature based on a living whale. Alek and Deryn’s worlds eventually collide, and as the series continues the fate of the world in the midst of the Great War is in their hands.

If you’re interested in this at all, check out the review for Leviathan, which goes more in-depth. This series has so many layers it’s hard to put them all in a small blurb. They are some of the most wonderful books to come out in YA fantasy/scifi in the past few years. Click on the titles for the reviews of Leviathan, Behemoth, and Goliath

 

A Song of Ice and Fire (George R. R. Martin)

A Game of Thrones published August 1st, 1996

A Clash of Kings published February 2nd, 1999

A Storm of Swords published October 31st, 2000

A Feast of Crows published November 8th, 2005

A Dance of Dragons published July 12th, 2011

If you haven’t heard the name George R. R. Martin, you need to learn it. He is pretty much the superstar high fantasy author at the moment, and one of the reasons is the first book in his Song of Ice and Fire series, A Game of Thrones, has been turned into a stellar, super-successful series on HBO.

What’s it about? That’s a huge question, and would require an epic answer to describe all the weaving and intrigue in this fantastic series. The best way to start is at the beginning (obviously), so here’s a summary of book one: Robert is King after having usurped another, years prior. He journeys to the north to request that his companion from the war, Eddard (called Ned) be his Hand, his voice to the people. Ned does not want to go, but you can’t exactly refuse the king, so with a heavy heart and doubts in his soul, he travels to the king’s city to take up his position. As usual, things are never as easy as they seem. The king’s wife is as devious as she is beautiful, and Ned suspects her of working to get her son on the throne.

The only surviving heirs to the old throne are over the sea. The brother, Viserys, is marrying his sister Daenerys off to the leader of the rugged, primitive horse lords, to guarantee himself an army to fight with when he goes to reclaim the throne. But this is really Dany’s story, and we travel with her as she adjusts to this alien way of life, and what it means to her future and the future of her bloodline.

And then there is the Wall. A huge man-made wall of ice, not too far north of Winterfell, cutting the northern wild lands off completely from the civilized places below. Something strange is afoot, things stirring that haven’t been seen in ages, and all signs say it can’t be good.

This is just the beginning of this epic series. It’s not finished, but the first five books have come out, and since they are all practically the size of a phone book, it should keep any fantasy lover entertained for a while.

 

Posted on by Lauren Zurchin



  • The Grey Rider

    I’d reccomend Dragonriders of Pern, along with William King’s latest novel, Blood of Aenarion.

  • Elf Knight

    Vampires, Zombies, Mary Sue Heroes, what is the world coming to these days? Sadly, the only decent novel out there seems to be the Song of Fire and Ice series. Unfortunately, I saw the TV Series “Game of Thrones” first so I don’t want to spoil the rest by reading the books. Oh, well. Great update anyways! One or two of them were okay so I might check them out.

    • Anon

      the rest of the books are going to be split into 2, 3, and 4 seasons a piece due to sheer size, so have fun waiting

  • raknor88

    thank you for no twilight.

  • Me

    What’s with all the zombies? :P

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/GreedLin?feature=mhum Stephen Bove

    No Inheritance?

    • http://www.lytherus.com Lauren Zurchin

      Most of our viewers here are from Shurtugal, so it seemed a bit redundant to mention it, since most of the visitors have already read it. 

  • http://twitter.com/ElizaLento Eliza Lento

    Why is there no Son of Neptune here? Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson, Heroes of Olympus and Kane series are great!

    Although, this did remind me that I have to finish A song of Ice and Fire series……

    • http://www.lytherus.com Lauren Zurchin

      If possible we were trying to list books that weren’t glaringly obvious. A lot of us here love Riordan’s stuff! 

      • http://twitter.com/ElizaLento Eliza Lento

        True, which is what I figured happened to Inheritance.

        Riordan’s stuff is amazing.

        • http://www.youtube.com/swordebrithil12 Dravel Eragonsson

          That is so true. Sometimes I don’t think Riordan is as popular as he should be, because his books are truly amazing.

  • Speedsk8

    where is Inheritance?

  • Lcollins7

    I’ve highly recomend The Wolves of Mercy Falls. The story line is wonderful and–in my opinion–very original. I’m in the middle of Linger and loving it.

    But I give the series a PG-13 rating because–while there is nothing graphic–in the first book the main characters do “sleep” together. Also, there is a decent amount of langauge, but I’ve only known very few young adult books that don’t have language.

  • Laurelleaf9

    Another series is Time Riders by Alex Scarrow. Sadly, only 2 are out in the US, but there are 4 books out in this 9 book series. Also, the Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flemel.

    • Adowkes

      I love the nicholas flamel series! I’d also reccomend the discworld series (terry pratchett) and the mistborn trilogy (brandon sanderson)

  • SirCyrenus92

    Are there any new series similar to that of the Inheritance Cycle?

    • http://www.lytherus.com Lauren Zurchin

      Not on this list, but if you’re looking for something amazingly written and fun, check out Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan series. One of my favorites, ever. 

  • Lgklages

    Robert Jordan?

  • http://believeinfaerytales.blogspot.com Laura Hueto Puig

    Thanks so much for the list! I find myself re-reading books I love most of the time, so it’ll be refreshing to dive into something new… :) By the way, I’m hosting an eBook giveaway over at my blog (here: http://believeinfaerytales.blogspot.com/2011/11/faerys-adventures-in-wonderland.html). The 2 first people to comment as specified in the post will receive an e-copy of a re-interpretation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by 4 wonderful contemporary authors, plus the original text. I’ve really really really enjoyed it, and I hope you guys do too! ;)