This year we fell in love with several new authors, found new series and even decided we could really get into steampunk. We’ve narrowed the list down to these gems. All the books on this list are ones we’ve told friends, family and random people at the bookstore about. These are the books we tell you are musts for your to-read piles. As a matter of fact, print it out and make it a checklist.
We were floored by the creativity, world building and, often, the romance in the paranormal titles below. Read on to discover why each is on our Best Books of 2010.
DOWNSIDE GHOSTS SERIES – Unholy Ghosts/Unholy Magic/City of Ghosts (rapid release)
Author: Stacia Kane (website)
Why we love it: Unholy Ghosts wraps its bony fingers around readers from the first chapter and pulls us along with an ever quickening pace. It’s gritty, it’s intense and it’s utterly amazing.
Honestly, we’ve never read anything like this – urban fantasy or otherwise. The books get progressively better and more vivid. Scenes from City of Ghosts still reverberate with us months after finishing the book.
Get more: Reviews of Unholy Ghosts, Unholy Magic and City of Ghosts. Our Q&A with Stacia. Conditions of Terrible Fever.
Purchase: Unholy Ghosts at The Book Depository or Amazon
Gift option? Totally, but just for adults. Subject matter isn’t for the young ones.
THE IRON DAUGHTER (Iron Fey #2)
Author: Julie Kagawa (website)
Why we love it: Julie Kagawa ramps up the emotional complexities and intensifies love troubles in The Iron Daughter, while keeping her characters focused on the task at hand: saving the world from the iron faeries, of course.
The ice of the Unseelie Court threatens to break Meghan’s love for Ash. Can she ever trust him again? Was she right to in the first place? Allegiances are forged, evil is dispatched and the story just gets better and better.
Get more: Read our reviews of The Iron King and The Iron Daughter.
Purchase: The Iron Daughter at eHarlequin, The Book Depository or Amazon
Gift option? Epic fantasy that will work for teens and adults. Book one is The Iron King.
THE IRON DUKE (Iron Seas #1)
Author: Meljean Brook (website)
Why we love it: If we were to merge the alpha overtones of Gone With the Wind, the swagger of Sherlock Holmes, the post-catastrophic world of Downside and a bunch of microscopic machines, we would get The Iron Duke. (And, yes, it really is that awesome.)
Between the flutter-worthy love story, high seas adventure and murder mystery, The Iron Duke will have you consistently rushing to the next chapter for answers.
Get more: Our review of The Iron Duke and a Q&A with Meljean.
Purchase: The Iron Duke at Book Depository or Amazon
Gift option? Not a light read. But if you have a friend who loves a strong romance and is willing to read something a bit more cerebral, then gift away!
NIGHTSHADE (Nightshade #1)
Author: Andrea Cremer (website)
Why we love it: Nightshade isn’t just another werewolf book. It isn’t just another teen love story. Nightshade is about women controlling their own lives, about being free to love, about investigating truth for one’s self… and it is utterly sexy without any sex.
We read the 450-page book in nearly one sitting, and have no hesitation in saying it’s the best YA novel we’ve read this year.
Get more: Read our Nightshade review.
Purchase: Nightshade at Book Depository or Amazon
Gift option? Perfect gift book — it’ll ensnare the mind, but leave you thinking about its themes after the fact.
SPIRIT BOUND (Vampire Academy #5)
Author: Richelle Mead (website)
Why we love it: We’ve seen Rose struggle with the “them first” dhampir motto. Her promise to Dimitri came first when she went to Russia in Blood Promise, but now its harder. Rose is back in the royal Moroi world in Spirit Bound, wanting to make Lissa her top priority while forcing herself to forsake her own hopes.
Spirit Bound is full of danger — including a prison break! — and a love triangle to make your heart ache. Add to that mystery, a taboo relationship and bringing people back to life — can you really tell us you wouldn’t have added Spirit Bound to your best of list?
Get more: View all our Vampire Academy-related posts here. Also, there’s still time to join our re-read challenge.
Purchase: Spirit Bound at The Book Depository or Amazon
Gift option? Of course, provided they’ve already read Blood Promise. But, really, most Vampire Academy fans are going to be all about Last Sacrifice in December.
MIND GAMES (Disillusionist Trilogy #1)
Author: Carolyn Crane (website)
Why we love it: Carolyn Crane has designed a creative urban fantasy landscape and the surprisingly purposeful supernatural talent of disillusionment. The disillusionists are overwhelmed by fears — social collapse, self-esteem and disease. With guidance from a highcap, one of many humans with extra mental skills, these people are able to channel their crippling, irrational fears into others. Targeting murderers and the like, the disillusionist team turns the bad guys into hollow shells to be rebuilt as remorseful souls.
Mind Games is a compelling urban fantasy with fresh ideas we adore. It’s an excellent series opener.
CRIMSON MOON (Crimson Moon #1)
Author: J.A. Saare (website)
Why we love it: Crimson Moon offers the No. 1 thing paranormal romance readers need: a couple whose interaction leave you with butterflies in your stomach. J.A. Saare has provided us with an irresistible example of deep, overwhelming first love.
Crimson Moon also gives us the best of both worlds: vampires and werewolves. And, mostly, we get them separately. We spend half the novel with the wolves and half with the vampires. Our protagonist Emma is stuck in the middle, but there are characters to love on both sides.
Short version: Crimson Moon is a beautifully wrought paranormal romance, which is sure to make your heart swell.
Get more: Our Crimson Moon review, excerpt from the sequel and our Q&A with J.A. Saare.
Purchase: Crimson Moon at Wild Rose Press or Amazon
Gift option? We gave this book to our best friend. It was her No. 1 book of the year. (Just remember it’s an adult paranormal romance.)
HOURGLASS (Evernight #3)
Author: Claudia Gray (website)
Why we love it: You often hear authors talk about how they like to abuse their protagonist. One has to throw all the horrible things at them, so they can overcome and grow. Claudia Gray doesn’t make things easy for anyone in her Evernight series. Bianca is torn between love for her parents and her need to be with Lucas. He wants to protect her, constantly shocked by her views on vampires that conflict with everything he’s been taught. Once their families and friends get involved trying to save one from the other, it becomes a real mess. And Hourglass, the third book, is where things become phenomenal in this series. Lucas and Bianca go on the run. They hide with their enemies. People turn on them, others surprise them.
Hourglass is all action, love and surprises. I kept thinking “no, she wouldn’t do that,” “OK, Lucas will fix it” and I was left reeling wondering how things would work. Could things end well for these two?
Get more: Our Waiting on Wednesday for Afterlife (Evernight #4)
Purchase: Hourglass at the Book Depository or Amazon
Gift option? To appreciate Hourglass, readers will need to have picked up Evernight and Stargazer first.
SINS OF THE SOUL (Otherkin #2)
Author: Eve Silver (website)
Why we love it: Eve Silver doesn’t just paint a pretty picture with her prose. Her descriptions will bring you in to the Otherkin world, will evoke strong emotions. Her words can cut, can overwhelm and can bring butterflies to your stomach. In other words, I love reading her books because during the time from cover-to-cover I feel like I’m in another world. An impressive skill, and a damn good reason for readers to pick up her novels.
After finishing her Otherkin books, we added Eve Silver to auto-buy list. Vivid love stories with overflowing action and dark forces.
Get more: Our reviews of Sins of the Soul and Sins of the Flesh.
Purchase: Sins of the Soul at The Book Depository, eHarlequin or Amazon
Gift option? Even though this is the second in a rapid-release trilogy, you could pick Sins of the Soul up without reading the others and not feel left behind.
CRAVE (Crave #1)
Authors: Melinda Metz & Laura J. Burns
Why we love it: Crave flips the vampire scenario around. The human is the one taking blood. The heroine is weak, kind and literally dying to feel alive. We fall in love with Gabriel through his memories. We want to meet him, be with him. Metz and Burns let us see the vulnerable side of an alpha male before we see the strength. It works.
Finally, we’re including a tentative placeholder for LAST SACRIFICE. The final book in Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series will be released on Dec. 7. All of our experience with her writing tells us this will be epic, gut-wrenching and totally amazing. We’ll review the book after the release. Our guts say we’ll love it or hate it, because that’s how final books often go. We pre-ordered it. You should, too.