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Reviewer Faves 2005
By Hilary Williamson, November 2005

Last year, I started polling other BookLoons reviewers on personal favorites across the genres they read. The column was popular, so here's the 2005 version. Since my own tastes are well represented in our annual Recommended Reads, they're not covered here. These are the books that everyone else at BookLoons found most memorable this year.

Little Chapel on the RiverMary Ann loves to read, to travel, and to cook. All these interests were well satiated by Cooking at Home on Rue Tatin, a cookbook by Susan Herrmann Loomis that gets the taste buds tingling. Closer to home, Mary Ann enjoyed Little Chapel on the River: A Pub, a Town and the Search for What Matters Most by Gwendolyn Bounds. And in mysteries, she picked Lisa Scottoline's Devil's Corner, which introduces a gutsy new character to the streets of Philadelphia.

VanishMartina's choices reflect her tastes for paranormal romance, horror, and thrillers. The Companion and The Hunger are the first two episodes in a riveting new Regency vampire series by Susan Squires, while Susan Carroll's The Courtesan reveals dark magic in Renaissance France. Martina calls Douglas Clegg's The Priest of Blood a superb marriage of medieval history and myth. Her favorite thrillers were Tess Gerritsen's shockingly timely Vanish, and Kevin Guilfoile's chilling look at cloning technology in Cast of Shadows.

Sky BurialJosephine, our resident book hugger, reads widely - young adult books to thrillers, literary fiction, and non-fiction. Her top picks for adults are Sky Burial: An Epic Love Story of Tibet by Xinran Xue who, Josephine tells us, touched her heart, mind, and spirit, and Gen LaGreca's Noble Vision, which features a neurosurgeon with a strong conscience. For teen readers, Josephine recommends Grace Tiffany's Ariel (a lyrical Tempest retelling), David Stahler, Jr.'s poignant A Gathering of Shades, and Juan Felipe Herrera's shot of adrenaline in Cinnamon Girl.

A Wedding in DecemberTheresa's tastes run mainly to fantasy & SF, and cozy mysteries (go figure). She's a longstanding David Weber fan, and particularly recommends his March and War-God, as well as his military SF, series. Amongst other genres, Shannon reads contemporaries, and picked Carter Coleman's southern epic Cage's Bend, Miranda Beverly-Whittemore's profoundly moving The Effects of Light, Anita Shreve's powerful A Wedding in December, and a startling collection of short stories by Joyce Carol Oates, I Am No One You Know.

The Hungry TideBarbara enjoys historicals and recommends Luis Alberto Urrea's biographical tale, The Hummingbird's Daughter, the unusual Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh, and Tash Aw's mysterious Harmony Silk Factory. Anise, who likes mysteries and historicals best, gives her nod this year to Elizabeth George's very satisfying With No One As Witness. Her other favored read is J. K. Rowling's hugely popular Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Snow Flower and the Secret FanHilary (Daninhirsch)'s tastes range from contemporary to travel literature. She enjoyed Lisa See's deeply moving Snow Flower and the Secret Fan above all others this year, but also appreciated Amy Tan's fascinating Saving Fish from Drowning, Karen Quinn's hilarious Ivy Chronicles and Elizabeth Flock's heartbreaking Me & Emma. Ricki, who enjoys contemporaries, fantasies and teen novels, liked Nanci Kincaid's nostalgic coming of age story, As Hot as It Was You Ought to Thank Me. And in teen reads - William Sleator's The Last Universe (which explains baffling quantum theory), and Brent Hartinger's The Order of the Poison Oak, about looking beyond what someone looks like to who someone is.

She's Got IssuesKim sticks mainly to romance and chick lit. She recommends Rocki St. Claire's spellbinding Hit Reply and Eileen Rendahl's Balancing in High Heels (whose heroine is in anger management). She's also a big fan of Emilie Richards' Shenandoah Album series, the latest of which is Endless Chain. Marie's choices vary widely from Stephanie Lessing's intelligently funny She's Got Issues to Lisa Selin Davis's darkly humorous Belly (Marie likes the modern day Archie Bunker character). She was also taken with the uniqueness of Bitter Milk by John McManus, and the futuristic satire in Kris Saknussemm's Zanesville.

Trust Your Vibes at WorkFinally, Ayesha has picked out her favorite inspirational reads. She especially liked Malika Chopra's loving 100 Promises to My Baby. She found Who Are You? by Stedman Graham motivating, and Cynthia Kersey's Unstoppable Women empowering. And she considers Sonia Choquette's intuitive Trust your Vibes at Work a true gem. We all enjoy different books for varying reasons. I hope you'll find a match for your own tastes somewhere in this eclectic list of BookLoons reviewers' favorites, selected from the large set of excellent books that we reviewed in 2005.

Happy Holidays & Happy Reading to you and yours from all of us!!

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.