• March 31, 2021

The ten best books I read in 2009

10. The surrender of Persephone by Selena Kitt (2009; Phaze Books) retells the classical Greek myth of the virgin goddess of spring, Persephone, and her abduction by the god of the underworld, Hades. In the myth, Persephone grows up in her role as queen of the underworld to become a powerful and mysterious goddess. In Kitt’s uncensored version, Persephone is angered by her mother Demeter’s restraint and the dim vision of men, both human and divine.

From the depths of the earth rises Hades, also known as Aidon. He hoists Persephone into his chariot and takes her to the hauntingly enchanting splendor of his underworld realm, the land of the dead. In his opinion, this is a perfectly acceptable arranged marriage, a deal between Aidon and Persephone’s father, Zeus. Persephone feels a mixture of fear and attraction for the beautiful amber-eyed god. A completely modern twist on an ancient fable.

9. From dead to worse by Charlaine Harris. A lot happens in this book (including Alcide’s ascension to Shreveport’s pack leader and the appearance of a new fairy), but the whole effort is pretty disjointed. Sookie is more fickle (she’s suddenly into Calvin Norris and Eric, not so much Alcide and Quinn), and there’s a notable lack of romance. Interesting, but not the best in the Southern Vampire series. On the other hand, Bill seems to want Sookie to come back … could the long-awaited reconciliation be in the works?

8. Dead after dark by Sherrilyn Kenyon, JR Ward, Susan Squires, and Dianne Love. The four stories in this collection are all very entertaining. The best of the best is “The Story of Son” by JR Ward. It’s not part of his Black Dagger Brotherhood story, but it is excellent, with a truly attractive heroine and a darkly romantic, tragic hero, a bit like Z in the Brotherhood. (And he is my favorite). This is my first time reading from the other authors, but I will certainly want more in the future thanks to this introduction. All stories could have the theme “They come from different worlds.” Very spicy stories, very diverse, all very good.

7. Dead is the new black by Marlene Perez when we have the information Since the days of Scoobie Doo, teens have wondered if adults conspired to get them. And you know what? Sometimes they are right. Daisy Giordano is not only a resident of the peculiar city of Nightshade, but also the only “norm” in a family of psychics. When her high school girls start to turn into undead, she and her handsome best friend Ryan must get to the bottom of this mystery. Is a vampire on the loose? Could it be Nurse Phillips, or maybe Miss Foster, the head cheerleading coach? Daisy may not be gifted with the special powers of her mother and sisters, but she is intelligent, curious, and most of all, determined. If anyone can get to the bottom of this, Daisy can.

6. Hell’s Belles by Jackie Kessler. There are many reasons to love Hell’s Belles by Jackie Kessler (Zebra Books, 2007). One is his heroine, Jezebel, who is literally a cleft legged demon spawned in the depths of hell. When Hell undergoes a change of direction, the Succubus Jezebel is forced to abandon her career of seducing the souls of mortal men and become a nightmare. Jezebel does not adapt well to change, fleeing the Lake of Fire to become a mortal. And, since mortals have to pay the rent, she becomes a stripper.

Lacking a soul, Jezebel certainly does not plan to fall in love. Still, when she meets Paul Hamilton, she is more fascinated by him than a former demon should be. Paul is beautiful, to be sure, but with his “poet’s eyes” and boxer’s broken nose, he’s also a sweet and sensitive soul.

Other characters in this book are also well written and interesting. There is Daun, the incubus. Get your own book Hotter than hell, two more volumes in Kessler’s Hell on Earth series. Then there’s Lucifer himself, who has given perhaps the most sympathetic and romantic portrait since Milton’s Paradise Lost. I was pleasantly surprised by Kessler’s reinterpretation of Lucifer.

Another wonderful surprise awaiting Hell’s Belles readers is the music. Kessler livens up Jezebel’s strip club with the classic Melissa Etheridge, the new INXS (“Pretty Vegas,” featuring JD Fortune as lead singer), The Bloodhound Gang and, best of all, a U2 medley of “Desire” and “Mysterious Ways”. He wanted to put a five dollar bill in the pocket book to tip the dj.

A critical colleague of Hell’s Belles I found the ending “a little pat”, but I disagree. The ending made me cry, with its poignant mix of sadness and hope. I highly recommend it Hell’s Belles to all lovers of paranormal and fantasy romance.

5. The unique feats of Wonder Mom and Party Girl by Marc Schuster. First rule of parenting: Don’t do drugs in front of your kids. Especially if you are the only PTA member in charge of running the school’s Just-Say-No program.

Audrey Corcoran is shocked when her husband of ten years leaves her for a much younger and slimmer woman named Chloe. Desperate not to lose her young daughters like she lost Roger, Audrey decides to get in touch with her funny side. Her adventures lead her to try cocaine, against her better judgment. In this tragicomic novel, Audrey faces life on and off drugs.

It always amazes me a bit when a male author paints such a moving and realistic portrait of a woman’s life. Scott Simon did it for 17-year-old Irena Zaric in Pretty birds, and Marc Schuster does it for Audrey Corcoran in her 30s. Thanks to Desperate housewivesThe secret drugged suburban mother may be something of a clich√©, but Schuster never allows Audrey’s life to become a caricature or a work of morality. He simply gives her 292 pages to be his Wonder Mom & Party Girl self, and readers will be grateful for that.

Four. Happy Hour at Casa Dracula by Marta Acosta when we have the information Totally nice. In this witty novel, Acosta creates a wonderful heroine in Milagro de los Santos. Mil, as her friends know her, wants what all girls want: to be taken seriously as a writer, to live in an apartment without rats, and maybe find a fabulous boy she can get serious with. That guy is definitely not her ex Sebastian the hot writer of the day (of the day?) who is sitting on top of a pile of dark secrets. Oswald arrives, who may be a vampire, and whose secrets may or may not be of the dark variety. Wonderfully written, fun, and romantic, this is a real winner.

3. CrowWoman and MudGirl by Victoria Selene Skye Deme. The author is, I believe, the illegitimate son of Sylvia Plath’s love, Barbara G. Walker (who wrote the wonderful Encyclopedia of myths and secrets for women) and the American Indian writer Louise Erdrich. CrowWoman and Mudgirl it is too short a collection of poems steeped in myth and folklore. The theme, in general, is the reconciliation of the ancient dichotomy of female archetypes: is a woman a sweet-faced angel or an angry bitch goddess? In Skye Deme’s poems, she is a daughter, lover, monster, and more. These are great poems for such a small and deeply satisfying book. My personal favorite is “Dreary Summer Day”. What sounds like something perfectly mundane is actually a beautiful vampire story.

two. Christopher Priest’s prestige. First, you have to see the movie, starring Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale as a pair of wizards on stage at war. It’s kind of steampunk-ish, where late 19th century technology meets the late Victorian / Edwardian era. AFTER you’ve seen the movie (and drool over your choice of Jackman, Bale, Scarlett Johannson, or David Bowie), read Chris Priest’s amazing book, which surprised me as even weirder than the movie.

one. GoneAway Into the Land by Jeffrey B. Allen. With its fantastic and edible fairytale scenery, bizarre descriptions, and heartfelt emotion, this is simply an excellent read for older children, teens, and adults who love fantasy novels. Full of magic and adventure.

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