Nothing says New Year's Eve like a list! Here are my favorite reads from 2009 in alphabetical order. It was hard enough to pick only ten, much less rank them. This is why I don't do book reviews.
1. Blue Heart Blessed by Susan Meissner
A lovely story of a woman jilted at the altar, who opens a secondhand wedding dress boutique. Susan Meissner writes beautifully, and the story has both humor and depth.
2. The Familiar Stranger by Christina Berry
All I can say is, "Wow!" This debut novel is about a troubled marriage shaken up by a horrible accident. I was pulled in by realistic characters, original writing, and plenty of unexpected twists.
3. The Frontiersman's Daughter by Laura Frantz
On the Kentucky frontier, a girl comes to age in a dangerous land. In her debut novel, Laura Frantz sets the right balance between a beautifully crafted story with interesting characters and plenty of fascinating historical detail.
4. Home Another Way by Christa Parrish
A young woman comes home to a small mountain town to claim her inheritance and comes to grips with her past. This heroine may be the prickliest I ever met, but Christa Parrish is such a gifted writer, you care about this heroine deeply.
5. Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana by Melanie Dobson
A young Quaker woman helps runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad, and tries to keep her distance from an attractive, outspoken abolitionist who could threaten her work. Melanie Dobson drew me in with a compelling heroine living in secrecy. Her writing conveys historical detail that enhances and never distracts from the story.
6. Michal by Jill Eileen Smith
The first wife of King David has always fascinated me, so I loved seeing her come to life in Jill Eileen Smith's gifted hands. Full of detail about life in biblical times and a good read about a conflicted woman.
7. The Queen of Sleepy Eye by Patti Hill
A teenage girl is trying to get to California to go to college, but her colorful mother waylays her plans at every turn. With her blend of quirky characters and laugh-outloud humor, Patti Hill is one of my favorite authors. See if you don't both hate and love the mother - and feel for the daughter.
8. Talking to the Dead by Bonnie Grove
A young widow begins to hear her dead husband's voice - is she losing her mind or is there some deep secret she's hiding from herself? Bonnie Grove's debut novel is a well-written page-turner.
9. The Unfinished Gift by Dan Walsh
I hesitate to pick up novels set during World War II because I often find historical inaccuracy. However, this novel was both well-researched and delightfully written. This is a poignant story of a little boy who loses his mother and the crotchety grandfather forced to take him in.
10. Yesterday's Embers by Deborah Raney
A whirlwind romance leads to a troubled blended home, and Deborah Raney portrays both parts of the story with realism and talent. Deborah Raney is another of my favorite authors with her heartfelt stories in beautiful prose.
And for 2010? I can't wait!