Friday, December 14, 2012

In which I ask several fellow bloggers, "Which book would you give for the holidays?"

I asked several of my blogger friends to name one book that they would give for the holidays. There were no limits on genre, year of publication, etc.  Here is how they answered my question (in order by book title). You should absolutely check out their blogs too!

Mihir from Fantasy Book Critic and Bastard Books

Qwill had put out a call among reviewers for books that would make lovely holiday gifts. Now that is a very dicey topic as there are so many great books out there that it’s almost impossible to decide upon one. I decided to focus on books that I read this year and among them my choice was easy as I decided to go with the one that I enjoyed the most. Blood Song by Anthony Ryan was simply the best book I’ve read in this year and as far as debuts go, it stands proudly among those by Scott Lynch and Patrick Rothfuss. The book has a narrative structure that is similar to The Name Of The Wind and also a protagonist whose talents propel him in his military school setting. However that’s not the only shining point, there are several mysteries that are present in the story and the world settings and not to mention there’s also the devious narrative voice that makes it hard for the reader to decide on the veracity of the tale being narrated. Lastly here’s what I wrote in my review, which I believe encompasses all its salient features and gives the readers the reason why they might want to gift this marvelous debut:

“It has a fast paced, action packed and character driven story. Qualities to admire in any genre story and most of all in an epic fantasy one. Give this book a read, if you have ever felt that Indie books have no quality to them, give this book a read if you are tired of the same morass of stories in the epic fantasy genre, give this book a read if you want a well written story by a newbie author and lastly give this book a read if you want to read a story that’s closest to those written by David Gemmell.”

Blood Song
Raven's Shadow 1
Ace, November 20, 2012

From “a new master storyteller” comes the beginning of an epic fantasy saga of blood, honor, and destiny… “The Sixth Order wields the sword of justice and smites the enemies of the Faith and the Realm.” Vaelin Al Sorna was only a child of ten when his father left him at the iron gate of the Sixth Order. The Brothers of the Sixth Order are devoted to battle, and Vaelin will be trained and hardened to the austere, celibate, and dangerous life of a Warrior of the Faith. He has no family now save the Order.

Vaelin’s father was Battle Lord of the Empire of King Janus. Vaelin’s rage at being deprived of his birthright and dropped at the doorstep of the Sixth Order like a foundling knows no bounds. He has little memory of his mother, and what he will come to learn of her at the Order will confound him. His father, too, has motives that Vaelin will come to understand. But one truth overpowers all the rest: Vaelin Al Sorna is destined for a future he has yet to comprehend. A future that will alter not only the Empire, but the world.
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Books-A-Million (hardcover) : IndieBound (hardcover)

Blood Song is being published in Hardcover by Ace in July 2013.

About Mihir:  Mihir Wanchoo is a physician and also a longtime reader of speculation fiction in all its forms. He is an avid book collector and contends that while e-books are fascinatingly easy to keep, he will not ever want to give up his physical collection.

Mihir was born and brought up in Bombay (now Mumbai), India. As a child his favorite pastime was to be lost in books, comics and historical stories, since he was born into a culture rich in mythology and history therefore he contends his love with those is a thing of fate. His reading interests range from mystery/thrillers to epic fantasy to historical fiction and lastly to urban fantasy. His favorite mystery writers are Jeffrey Deaver, John Connolly and Douglas Preston, amongst fantasy he is fascinated by David Gemmell, J. K. Rowling and George R.R. Martin, lastly he also loves the works of James Clemens/Rollins, Jim Butcher, Ilona Andrews, Tad Williams among others.

Mihir is also an avid fan of the Indian Cricket team and Chelsea Football Club, it would be safe to say Blue is his favorite color. He currently lives in Minnesota with his patient and loving wife, and is ever looking forward to discovering new authors and old books.

Mihir is a member of the Fantasy Book Critic team and Bastard Books blog. On both blogs he helps out with Reviews, Interviews and managing FBC’s Facebook page as well as its Twitter page.


Justin from Staffer's Book Review

I'm writing a review for the second book in this series as I type this, but there is not a better piece of fiction published in genre over the last two years than Howard Andrew Jones' The Desert of Souls. Told in the tradition of Arabian folk tales One Thousand and One Nights, Desert of Souls and its sequel, Bones of the Old Ones, are perfect examples of modern sword and sorcery. Part Harold Lamb, part Robert E. Howard, and mostly just himself, Jones has crafted two quick, interesting, and entertaining novels that have far more to say in them than many novels three time their length. If you want to give someone a book they never expected to love for the holidays, start with Desert of Souls. I'm confident a purchase of Bones of the Old Ones will be right behind it.

The Desert of Souls
St. Martin's Press, January 17, 2012
Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages

The glittering tradition of sword-and-sorcery sweeps into the sands of ancient Arabia with the heart-stopping speed of a whirling dervish in this thrilling debut

In 8th century Baghdad, the scholar Dabir realizes that a jeweled tablet may unlock secrets hidden within the lost city of Ubar, the Atlantis of the sands. But when the tablet is stolen by a cunning Greek spy and a fire wizard of the Magi, Dabir and Captain Asim go after it on the life-or-death adventure of a lifetime...

About Justin:  Justin Landon is the man behind Staffer's Book Review. He also contributes regularly at SF Signal and his reviews are syndicated at A Dribble Ink. Follow him on Twitter @jdiddyesquire.


Paul Weimer contributor at The Functional Nerds and SF Signal

The ideal gift to someone, in my mind, is to give a gift that the recipient desperately would want and crave, but would not necessarily buy for themselves. And it’s even better if that present ties into the zeitgeist.

A small, modest, fantasy movie based on a book is coming out at the beginning of December that some genre fans might be interested in seeing. In keeping with that, my pick for a gift for the 2012 Holiday Season is Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit". Written by Corey Olsen, who is well known for doing a longrunning series of podcasts and lectures under the aegis of The Tolkien Professor, the book goes into a deep and thoughtful analysis of the book, illuminating the writing, characters and themes that make the story timeless. His style is engaging, illuminating, extremely readable, and the book is essential to anyone who loves Tolkien story and work.

Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, September 18, 2012
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages

The Hobbit is one of the most widely read and best-loved books of the twentieth century. Now Corey Olsen takes readers deep within the text to uncover its secrets and delights.

Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” is a fun, thoughtful, and insightful companion volume, designed to bring a thorough and original new reading of this great work to a general audience. Professor Corey Olsen takes readers on an in-depth journey through The Hobbit chapter by chapter, revealing the stories within the story: the dark desires of dwarves and the sublime laughter of elves, the nature of evil and its hopelessness, the mystery of divine providence and human choice, and, most of all, the transformation within the life of Bilbo Baggins. Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” is a book that will make The Hobbit come alive for readers as never before.

Paul Weimer is a contributor at both The Functional Nerds and SF Signal and works with the Skiffy and Fanty show as well. You can also follow him on Twitter.


Melissa from My words and pages

One book I'd recommend to gift this year....that's a tough one as there are so many, but I've pondered over this for over a week now and came up with one. (and a few mentions.) Hey, I'm a book lover! What can I say. lol.

The one book I'd highly recommend this year is Full Blooded by Amanda Carlson. Whether you enjoy werewolf reads or not, this one is for everyone. There is a great blend of humor, lots of action, and surprise to the story. There is a blooming love/romance as well. Jessica is one strong character and woman in this supernatural world. So there is the right blend of everything in one place.

Mentions I have to add, as I loved them as well:
Urban Fantasy ~ Bloodlines by Skyla Dawn Cameron (I'm a long time fan of this series)
Fantasy ~ Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan (Again a long time fan of this series)
Science Fiction ~ with Romance, Start with the Novella The High Priestess by Katee Robert in Sanctify series

Full Blooded
Jessica McClain 1
Orbit, September 11, 2012
Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

After living in hiding for the last twenty-six years, Jessica wakes up to find she's become a full-blooded werewolf -- claws, fangs, fur, everything. It was never supposed to happen: female werewolves don't exist.

When a mercenary killer comes looking for her, her Pack finds themselves caught in the middle of a war. They must rise up to protect her, but no one knows if she's means the end of their race-or just a new beginning.

About Melissa:  A bookkeeper by day and fantasy reader by night (and when can slip into books on lunch hour) with a family who shakes their heads at me, as I always have my nose buried in a book, and two German Shepard's that relax with me. I enjoy visiting my own version of the world, no matter how weird and distorted it may be -- there is always magic there to explore -- hence the blog name My words and pages.


Bastard from Bastard Books

I already know what books I'm getting for myself this Christmas, but what novel should you gift to someone else you ask? The first book that came to mind, and the more I thought on it the better the choice became, was the omnibus of The Legend of Eli Monpress by Rachel Aaron which collects the first three novels in the series. I really feel you can't go wrong with this choice, without knowing the particulars of the individuals who'll be receiving the gifts, this series has a very broad audience. It's fun, it's dynamic, and a strong (and did I mention fun) group of characters you won't mind spending your time with. Plus it has a lot of adventure and action. It starts light-hearted, but it becomes darker as the series goes along, but it never lets go of its fun nature that should appeal to just about anyone. The last book of the series was published last month, so it's the perfect time to begin the series. It has very good price, and they'll be getting three novels in one. Seems like a great deal to me.

The Legend of Eli Monpress
Eli Monpress Omnibus
Orbit, February 24, 2012
Trade Paperback and eBook, 1040 pages

Eli Monpress is talented. He's charming. And he's a thief.

But not just any thief. He's the greatest thief of the age - and he's also a wizard. And with the help of his partners - a swordsman with the most powerful magic sword in the world but no magical ability of his own, and a demonseed who can step through shadows and punch through walls - he's going to put his plan into effect.

The first step is to increase the size of the bounty on his head, so he'll need to steal some big things. But he'll start small for now. He'll just steal something that no one will miss - at least for a while.

Like a king.

The Legend of Eli Monpress includes the novels: The Spirit Thief, The Sprit Rebellion, and The Spirit Eater.

About Bastard:  Bastard from Bastard Books (and other crap) blog swears he has psychic powers. Hated reading through all his life, but laziness forced him to become an avid reader. Now he can't get enough. Die hard Boston sports fan, except the Patriots (they suck). Currently counting the days until Jack Bauer's return. If you talk to him, chances are he's doing so naked.

You can find him on his website which he shares with Mihir Wanchoo, his Twitter @BastardBooks, Facebook Page, Goodreads, and Google+.


Natasha from Wicked Little Pixie

I would gift Libriomancer by Jim Hines. it's the start of a new series and is totally original, his sidekick is a fire spider! I had never read Hines before and had only heard about his hilarious self through his cover model exploits. So glad I picked up Libriomancer and would totally gift it to the book readers in my life.

Magic Ex Libris 1
DAW, August 7, 2012
Hardcover and eBook, 400 pages

Isaac Vainio is a Libriomancer, a member of the secret organization founded five centuries ago by Johannes Gutenberg. Libriomancers are gifted with the ability to magically reach into books and draw forth objects. When Isaac is attacked by vampires that leaked from the pages of books into our world, he barely manages to escape. To his horror he discovers that vampires have been attacking other magic-users as well, and Gutenberg has been kidnapped.

With the help of a motorcycle-riding dryad who packs a pair of oak cudgels, Isaac finds himself hunting the unknown dark power that has been manipulating humans and vampires alike. And his search will uncover dangerous secrets about Libriomancy, Gutenberg, and the history of magic. . . .

About Natasha:  Natasha Carty reviews Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy on her website Wicked Little Pixie and lives in Toronto, Canada, with her cat, Seamus. Find Natasha on Facebook and Twitter.


Kristin from My Bookish Ways

When Sally asked me to pick a book (from any year) that I’d give as a gift, I hemmed and hawed a bit. This was a hard one. There are sooooo many good ones, especially from the last year, and if I add all the wonderful books from all the years before, ALL the years I’ve been reading (we’re talking, say, from 1986 on-yes, now you know about how old I am), my brain feels like it’s going to explode. So, I’m going to cheat a bit here, and before I get to the main event, I’m going to ask that you make sure to take a look at releases from Robert Jackson Bennett, John Hornor Jacobs, Stephen M. Irwin, and James Renner-and that’s just the tip of this year’s awesome. Can you tell that this was agonizing for me?

So, without further ado, my gift book pick is…Salsa Nocturna by Daniel José Older.

Salsa Nocturna is the author’s first collection of 13 intertwining stories that take place in the city he loves so much, New York. Carlos, a half-dead soul collector (resurrection-gone-wrong) who works for the Council of the Dead, and is disgruntled at how his bosses are running things, is one of his most prominent characters, and Tenderfoot, the first story in the book, introduces him in a wonderful way. Then you’ll meet Gordo, the portly musician and protector of the city’s children. Those are only two of the wonderful cast of characters, but you’ll immediately fall in love with each story, and each inhabitant of the magical, and ghostly, world that Older has created. The stories are by turns terrifying and tender and the writing is flawless. The prose is a sparkling display of light and sound in words, which is no surprise, since the author is a musician himself. Themes of love, loss and yearning are explored and the radiance of the human spirit is always at the forefront.

Salsa Nocturna has much to love for fans of urban fantasy, horror, and even noir. There’s a reason this novel is called “ghost noir”, after all. It works perfectly as a gift because at 137 pages, it takes no time to read, and you certainly don’t have to read the stories all together (though you may not be able to resist doing so). In my review, I called it “flawless.” That tells you pretty much everything right there!

Salsa Nocturna
Crossed Genres, July 13, 2012
Trade Paperback and eBook, 144 pages

A 300 year-old story collector enlists the help of the computer hacker next door to save her dying sister. A half-resurrected cleanup man for Death’s sprawling bureaucracy faces a phantom pachyderm, doll-collecting sorceresses and his own ghoulish bosses. Gordo, the old Cubano that watches over the graveyards and sleeping children of Brooklyn, stirs and lights another Malagueña. Down the midnight streets of New York, a whole invisible universe churns to life in Daniel José Older’s debut collection of ghost noir.

About Kristin: Kristin is a mom of 3 whose superpower is useless movie trivia. The inmates run the asylum, but in moments of quiet, she reviews speculative fiction for her own review blog, My Bookish Ways, and contributes to a few other sites where she indulges her other love of crime fiction. She’s known for her massive library which has already taken over the house, and threatens the entire block. Eventually she will finish her English degree and begin raking in the big bucks, but until then, reviewing books makes her deliriously happy, as does boxed wine, Supernatural, and traveling the world as a secret agent. One of those things isn’t true.


Chelsea from Vampire Book Club

The book I gift the most often is Stacia Kane's Unholy Ghosts. This is one of those books that you can give an avid reader and they'll fall for it every time. Why? It is completely original. The writing is fresh to the point that there is a unique dialect used within the book by characters other than the narrator (as in, it won't grate on you, but adds so much depth to the reading experience). The plot is twisty, which I always appreciate. There are vibrant characters with real problems—no Mary Sue's here!—and rich world that feels real. If you think your reader friend is stuck in a book rut, I highly suggest gifting them a copy of Unholy Ghosts. It's the first in the series, and they'll thank you when they get hooked.

Unholy Ghosts
Chess Putnam 1
Del Rey, May 25, 2010
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 352 pages


The world is not the way it was. The dead have risen, and the living are under attack. The powerful Church of Real Truth, in charge since the government fell, has sworn to reimburse citizens being harassed by the deceased. Enter Chess Putnam, a fully tattooed witch and freewheeling ghost hunter. She’s got a real talent for banishing the wicked dead. But Chess is keeping a dark secret: She owes a lot of money to a murderous drug lord named Bump, who wants immediate payback in the form of a dangerous job that involves black magic, human sacrifice, a nefarious demonic creature, and enough wicked energy to wipe out a city of souls. Toss in lust for a rival gang leader and a dangerous attraction to Bump’s ruthless enforcer, and Chess begins to wonder if the rush is really worth it. Hell, yeah.

About Chelsea:  When not crafting tales full of ass-kicking and kissing, Chelsea Mueller runs the totally fun blog Vampire Book Club, dishes on the latest book and TV hotties for Heroes & Heartbreakers and *gasp* hangs out with her incredibly awesome husband and two giant dogs. She loves bad cover songs, dramatic movies and TV vampires. She lives in Texas and has been known to say y’all.


Which book or books would you give as gifts?


  1. Thanks for having me, some great choices above, some unexpected yet interesting ones.

  2. Very good choices. I haven't read some of those books, I'll have to look into them now.

  3. Thanks for the post and for having me Qwill. Such eclectic choices presented over here and I think I myself will get a few new books based on the above recommendations.


  4. Brilliant post!

    and that sound you hear? it's my wish list exploding.

  5. Thank you GREATLY! Qwill for having me by. And I've got a few of these other books on my want list, and some new ones as well. :D Thank you everyone.

  6. Such great recommendations! I either have them on my wishlist or tbr!! A few I may have to check out. I especially want Full Blooded, Libromancer, and the rest of the Eli Monpress series. Oh and I do have Unholy Ghosts on the tbr... need to get to that one.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Melissa (B&T) There are many great books here, and a few I need to get! LOL!

  7. Replies
    1. Oh Cherry I do hope you enjoy the books when you get them! There are some great sounding fantasies here too. :) Thank you!