Susan’s Book Talk: Best Women-Penned of ’09


When challenged by the anonymous (but oh, so smart) editor Moonrat to come up with my list of 2009 Best Books by Women, I realized quickly I had a small problem.

That problem is how few books published in 2009 that I’ve read. Period. Doesn’t matter the gender of the writer; I don’t read nearly as many current releases as I’d like to.

That’s partly because I have books that have been on the TBR Mountain Range since (this is embarrassing) September of 2005. I’m trying to read those first. Many of them were published well before 2005, even. In today’s publishing climate, these are dinosaurs — without the scientific value and the cool factor. Maybe these are corpses best left buried. I don’t know.

Regardless, this list will feature the women authors whose books I’ve read so far this year. Sad to say, the list wasn’t as robust as I’d expected, mostly because this was a big year of multiples for me. I caught up on Charlaine Harris‘ Sookie books, for example. (And I have to say that I found Dead & Gone to be disappointing, so don’t be surprised when it’s not on the list). I read all three of Hank Phillippi Ryan‘s books. Two by Lisa Marie Wilkinson. Two by Kathy Reichs (beware; her website has auto-noise!).

Here’s the list of books by women authors I’d suggest you read.

1. ShapeShifter: The Demo Tapes: Year 2. No author name needed; you ought to know this is my book. Of *course* I’m going to include it in my list! (And a resounding Fuck You from Trevor if you don’t like seeing it here.) And if you’re holding back ’cause you haven’t read Year 1 first, get over that. They stand alone.

2. Song of the Seals — Christy Yorke. I loved this tale of a small fishing town. Loved the thick, foggy atmosphere. Loved the way these characters interacted. And I loved the ending.

3. Hank Phillippi Ryan — Okay, so Hank’s not a book. That’s good thing. But her books were reissued this year by Mira, and I didn’t want to hog three spots on this list for them. Not that they don’t deserve to be listed separately. They do. To be brief, I am loving this series about investigative news reporter Charlotte McNally. I can’t wait for the fourth, Drive Time, to come out. Call me fangirl.

4. Possibly hogging two more spots is author Lisa Marie Wilkinson. DEBUT author Lisa Marie Wilkinson, for a few more months yet. I loved her Fire at Midnight because whenever it could have veered off into cliche, it went in another direction entirely. I’ve read her second book, Stolen Promise, and it’s darker, but there are similar themes — and even more non-cliche fun. I hope it’s huge for her; she deserves it to be.

5. I already did a whole blog about how much I loved Laura Fitzgerald‘s Veil of Roses. Go read it and save me the need to repeat myself.

6. Colleen GleasonThe Bleeding Dusk. I’m behind in the brilliant Gardella series, I know (in fact, Colleen’s ended it). I don’t just love this because Colleen gives me a thanks in the credits. (Yep, another author I’m a fangirl of.) I love it because she doesn’t let her characters off easily. She makes them do reprehensible things. She makes them face the dark side of life — and the dark side often has nothing to do with vampires so much as it does choices of right and wrong. I adore this world Colleen’s created. I may cry when I read the final book.

7. Sara GruenWater for Elephants. Yeah, I know. I’m the last person on the planet to have read this book. I’m an idiot, too, because I simply adored it. What struck me most was the plotting, although the characters were stong and the setting and world-building vibrant.

8. Lorelei JamesLong Hard Ride. After knowing Lorelei for years online, I finally was in a spot where I could justify buying one of her books. Good choice on my end; I often get tired of the erotic romance that turns out to be sex, sex, and more sex. Oh, and total dominance by the man. Yawn. Lorelei gives us real, fleshed-out characters with worries and desires and ambitions. And really good sex.

9. Donna Lea SimpsonLady Anne and the Howl in the Dark. Okay, this book was totally NOT what I was expecting, which was a humorous romance. What I got was a mystery with a romance. And a cliffhanger ending! Beyond that, while I didn’t love this book the way I loved some of the others on this list, I’ve found myself thinking about it, months after I finished reading it. I’ll be picking up the next in the series, most definitely.

10. Geraldine BrooksPeople of the Book. Yet another one that people raved about, only this time, I didn’t reject it out of hand. Instead, I brought it to my book club, only to discover they were as excited about reading it as I was. This wasn’t nearly as good as Year of Wonders, but Year of Wonders might be among the best books I’ve ever read. Members of my book club felt that in parts, it tended toward cliche and okay, maybe it did. But it was a fun imagining, nonetheless, and given the subject matter — a Haggadah, the book we Jews use at our Passover seders — it’s a book I’ll think of for a long time to come.

And now for the stupid disclaimer shit: I bought very few of these. Traded for a bunch online. Was sent more from the authors. No one expected me to do anything but read ’em. The raving’s, as always, my own creation.

If you use any of those links to, I’ll get a few pennies. Once those pennies add up (by the time I’m 120, it *might* happen), I’ll buy you guys, my readers, something you want.

If you buy the Demo Tapes, I get a royalty. But I bet you figured that part on your own. If not, don’t tell me. I hate being scared so early in the morning.



  1. Nessa

    November 18, 2009 6:59 am

    My reading list is getting so long.

    Wordless Wednesday – Pirates’ Strumpet

    it’s possible google reader dropped my feed again
    .-= Nessa´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday – Pirates’ Strumpet =-.

  2. Ann

    November 19, 2009 7:40 pm

    I’ll have to do my own list (adding 4,7, 9, & 10 to the TBR list).
    .-= Ann´s last blog ..Weather Update and Pictures =-.

  3. Alice Audrey

    November 20, 2009 12:20 am

    So sad to think of a book as being a corpse when it is merely four years old.
    .-= Alice Audrey´s last blog ..Me in 55 =-.

  4. Jane Doe

    November 21, 2009 1:14 pm

    Thanks for the list of books, I’m always looking for something new to read. Sorry I haven’t been around for a while, it’s been crazy in my life.

    Have a great weekend.

  5. West of Mars' Rocks 'n Reads » Blog Archive » WOW: Hank Phillippi Ryan
  6. West of Mars » Blog Archive » BTT/T13: Best of 2009

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