If you’re shopping for Christmas this weekend, try these books

First, before I forget, if you want a chance to win a collection of gourmet salts, go to barbaraoneal.com eclipsecoverand post a favorite food from childhood.

Let’s talk about books one more time before Christmas, shall we? What are you reading and recommending to others this year? What are some of your favorite reads of the year?

This week, I’ve been finishing Eclipse, the third book in the Stephanie Meyers group. I have read the oddest things about this book, feminist rhetoric that makes it plain the readers just didn’t get it. I’m a fan. It’s over-the-top romance, no question, but Meyer gets forbidden love. She gets yearning. She gets the conflicts we all feel at that age. Edward is lovely, but I really, I’m madly in love with Jacob the werewolf. Duh. He’s hot (as in physically) and when he changes, he’s a big furry…dog. Who adores her. Edward is lovely and cool and glittery and also adores her. It doesn’t suck to be Bella.

An adult novel that is lyrical and unique is THE LAST WILL OF MOIRA LEAHY by Therese Walsh. Therese is alastwill friend of mine, and I’ve known from the first time I read a page of her work (in one of my classes, not that I had a single thing to do with her success–the book was long written by the time I met her) that she was going to have a long and successful career as a writer. Last Will is the story of two sisters, separated by a tragic accident as teens. As the novel opens, it is years later and one of the sisters finds a mysterious sword that leads to Rome, to secrets long buried, to healing magic…and to love. It’s a hard book to classify–it is part puzzle, part relationship novel, part romance, part adventure; perhaps I could best describe it as a cross between a hip gothic and literary coming of age tale. Whatever you call it, it’s a fast-paced tale that readers here will enjoy.

Others I have mentioned here and wish to remind you: THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN, Garth Stein (my favorite book of the year); FIREFLY LANE, by Kristin Hannah (she has new books coming soon, too); ORANGE MINT AND HONEY, by Carleen Brice, which has been made into a television movie (she also has a new book out, which I have not yet read: CHILDREN OF THE WATERS). I’m sure there are others, including Midnight (below), but I’ll leave some room for other suggestions.

What else should be be on the lookout for this weekend as we rush into the last minute crowds?

12 thoughts on “If you’re shopping for Christmas this weekend, try these books

  1. I recommend The Book of Unholy Mischief by Elle Newmark, which is now out in trade paperback, although I’d go for the hardcover edition if you can find it. Wonderful novel.

  2. I loved The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – fascinating historical details (Channel Islands in WWII) but most of all, wonderful characters.

    Also loved Mr Golightly’s Holiday by Salley Vickers – not a new book, but a fun and intriguing read.

  3. Ruthie

    Alright, Barbara, I have a confession…I’m also reading the ‘Twilight’ series. Just finished New Moon and loved it. I saw the movies and am hooked. My eldest daughter was wary of the series with all the hoopla. Well, she just finished all 4 books and LOVED IT. It is over-the-top, but who cares.

    My recommendation is a series of 3 books by Paulina Simons. THE BRONZE HORSEMAN is the first, TATIANA AND ALEXANDER, the second and the third, THE SUMMER GARDEN. It is a Saga that takes place during World War II in Leningrad, Russia. It’s a true love story between Alexander and Tatiana that is sweeping. These books are long (up to 700 pages each) and will be a perfect read for the long, cold months ahead.

  4. Ruthie

    PS. Just pre-ordered your new book on my Kindle. Can’t wait.

  5. I’m with you Barbara. I read the Twilight series and I felt that the author ‘got it’. The obsessiveness, the longing, the heart-ache, the breath-taking involvement of being in love (when love is not attainable) when you are a teenager. All of that ‘tunnel vision’. Loved it.

  6. Holly

    Having a different assessment of a book or series doesn’t necessarily mean that someone doesn’t “get” it. I have several teenage girls in my life, so I get the “Twilight” series. I still find the books repugnant.

    I agree with your recommendation of “Orange Mint and Honey.” It’s a great read.

  7. You know what, Barb, and I know you don’t care for this author but, I read “That Old Cape Magic” – Richard Russo. I know he’s not a favorite of yours but, he does tend to capture realism, the realism of how people really are underneath all the rest of it. Other than that, I’m re-reading “Winter Solstice” by Rosamund Pilcher, who never disappoints.

  8. Hey, Yvonne, I’ll give him a try.

    Holly, fair enough. The Twilight books are quite polarizing (and people seem embarrassed to say they’ve read them.) I guess I’m not sure why a series of books that are clearly commercial fiction about teenage lovers have caused so much rhetoric. Stories about forbidden love really do work for me, and I strongly feel that Edward epitomizes the kind of relationship young girls might like to find: very passionate and adoring without the pressure of sex. He will NOT have sex with her. It’s a fantasy, of course. But a powerful one.


  9. Lynn, Unholy Mischief is one that’s been on my list. Thanks for the reminder!

    And yes, Rachel–GUERNSEY is one of my favorites this year, too. It’s very big with British readers, too.

    Ruthie, I’ve never read that series and really must put them on my list.

    Thanks for all these recommendations.

  10. Holly

    Barbara, thanks for your comments. You have good points.

    I know what you mean about being puzzled about all the rhetoric over a series of YA novels. I think you’re exactly right about why the “Twilight” series appeals to girls (and many women): a forbidden love and the promise of a passionate relationship without the pressure of sex.

    While I see the appeal of that fantasy, I have many problems with “Twilight,” including the passive heroine.

    Did you ever read the old categories featuring the trembling, do-nothing heroine? She was usually very young, without family or financial resources, and the hero would fall in love with her for no apparent reason. Bella, to me, is a heroine in that mold. Ugh.

    Thanks again for your comments and for letting me respond.

    Oh, I have a recommendation, too. 7th Son: Descent by J.C. Hutchins. It’s a SF thriller and a really good book.

  11. Ruthie

    Holly, I agree with you in regards to Bella. Other than she ‘smelled’ incredible, I didn’t understand what Edward saw in her. Ever noticed that Stephenie Meyer never really detailed her features? I guess that basically give every teenage girl ‘hope’ that she can be a recipient of everlasting love from a drop dead gorgeous (vampire), guy.

  12. Bella doesn’t strike me as passive, actually. She’s actively trying to make things happen, and often ends up causing the trouble. (It’s one of the things I find myself saying a lot…”No, Bella, not that!”)

    But as Ruthie points out, some of the blankness of the character means the average girl/woman can step into her shoes, becoming what Jane Ann Krentz calls the place holder.

    Glad we can disagree without a big fight. Debate is good.

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