Bookbanter Holiday Gift Book Guide


Bookbanter Holiday Gift Guide 2012


We have reached the month of December once again, and the ravenous holiday season is now upon us. Books continue to be churned out each week, whether through print or e-edition. And this year, like any other, had another full run of great titles released, making that decision of what to get that family member, special someone, or the dog so that way you’re basically getting yourself the book harder than ever.

And here is the Bookbanter Holiday 2012 Gift Book Guide. This year I focused just on some of the amazing books I’ve read in 2012. I reached my 100-book mark, and below you will be find my 30 book choices for the year, divided into the categories of fiction, nonfiction and graphic novels. At the very bottom you will find my three works that I released this year, two of which a free ebook downloads, making them the cheapest gift possible!

Anyway, like I said, my focus was on books I read this year, whether they were brand new releases for the year, or older titles I’d been meaning to read for some time, and they ended up making a great impression on me. Where possible, my book reviews are linked when you click on the title.

And if you’re already set on what you want to get from this gift guide, simply click on the cover of the book and you’ll be magically whisked away to Amazon where you can purchase the book in the format of your choosing. Plus I get a little commission out of it to help support Bookbanter. Even if you’re not getting any of these titles, you could still click on one of the covers, as Bookbanter still gets the commission whatever you choose to buy through Amazon.

You can also get the full Bookbanter Holiday Gift Book Guide on my official site, as well as plenty more book recommendations if you’re still undecided.

But enough talk, you’ve got some important holiday shopping to do. So for now, enjoy the Bookbanter Holiday 2012 Gift Book Guide . . .


The Death of King Arthur translated by Simon Armitage (Norton, 2011)

Armitage does a fantastic job of creating a translation of this tale that is both entertaining and addictive to read, but still maintains its alliterative originality.  Published in a bilingual edition, readers can enjoy glancing over at the original Middle English text and see the original lines and stanzas, and also see how Armitage has masterfully crafted this text to be alliterative as well as encompass the modern English language.  Both King Arthur fans and fans of Armitage’s work will not be disappointed.

Lucky Bastard by S. G. Browne (Gallery Books, 2012)

Lucky Bastard is over the top and fast-paced, taking you all over the wonderful city of San Francisco, but Browne does a great job of suspending the reader’s disbelief, creating a character that isn’t perfect by any means – in fact he gets quite annoying – but remains true to the writing and the character, keeping readers hooked to the very last page.

Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed (DAW, 2012)

Throne of the Crescent Moons is a delightful fresh fantasy story, featuring a new host of gods and magic that don’t fall under the common western paradigm, set in a fun world that will have readers quickly tearing through the 270-page book and anxious for more.

Triggers by Robert J. Sawyer (Ace, 2012)

In Triggers, Robert J. Sawyer should first be applauded for a wonderfully diverse cast, as readers are immediately introduced to a powerful female secret service agent, an impressive African-American female doctor who is the president’s primary physician, and the interesting Dr. Singh, who is actually Canadian, which is Sawyer’s own nationality.  The book juggles an impressive cast of characters, which Sawyer does excellent job of keeping both straight and complex.

Blackout by Mira Grant (Orbit, 2012)

The conclusion to the action-packed and riveting Newflesh trilogy, Blackout, does what Feed did in exploding out of the gate with great writing, strong characters, and a story you couldn’t stop reading; as well as what Deadline continued with in ratcheting up the tension and delving out shocking plot twists to keep readers demanding more.  The most important thing about this book is that it remains true to its characters in every way so that if the reader has been paying attention from the first line of the first book, they shouldn’t be too surprised, and yet it’s still satisfying and rewarding to see the events you hoped might happen on the page before you, as well as some great shockers you might not have seen coming.

Kill Decision by Daniel Suarez (Dutton, 2012)

Daniel Suarez has once again managed to take hold of a subject that is featured in today’s headlines and spin it into a bunch of what ifs that serve to educate as well as terrify.  Told with skill, tension and drama, Kill Decision is a book that won’t leave you sleeping easy at night as you imagine those unmanned drones flying overhead.

Redshirts by John Scalzi (Tor, 2012)

Most scifi fans are familiar with the curse of the “redshirts.”  For those who are not, it applies to the original Star Trek show where any minor character in an episode wearing a red shirt ultimately ended up getting killed on an away mission before the end of the episode.  Bestselling author John Scalzi takes this humorous concept to a whole new level in his appropriately titled novel Redshirts.

Bloodline by James Rollins (William Morror, 2012)

Rollins continues to do what he does best in Bloodline, weaving unusual storylines together with links the reader never saw coming.  A strong cast featuring some impressive female characters makes this a thrilling read; though it is contrasted with the shocking procedures some other female characters have to endure.  Bloodline is not for those with a weak stomach.  But for those wishing to get some answers about the clandestine group known as the Guild, this is the book for you.

Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines (DAW, 2012)

Libriomancer is simply a fun book, featuring a great story and some fantastic characters.  Hines has plenty of fun throwing in many nerdy book references, as well as the books libriomancers choose to use to gain special objects.  With a diverse cast of interesting people, Libriomancer is a fun, addicting read that will leave readers impatiently wanting more.

2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit, 2012)

Robinson has outdone himself with 2312, blending a story of gripping science fiction, a captivating plot, and unique characters that exist a future world of acceptance and normalcy to them that seems advanced and developed when compared to our.  A delight to read, 2312 will be keeping you up late, reading.

Red Rain by R. L. Stine (Touchstone, 2012)

Bestselling author R. L. Stine has terrified children for decades with his Goosebumps and Fear Street series, and now for the first time (and long overdue, in my opinion) he seeks to create fear in the minds of grownups with his first adult horror novel, Red Rain.  But fans of Stine need not worry that the book will feature too many “old people,” for the devils at the heart of this story are identical twin boys.

Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire (DAW, 2012)

Just another ordinary day of mayhem and adventure for Toby, though this time the stakes seem higher than ever.  And she can easily identify with a half-changeling not knowing what is really going on and how to control her powers, and if this were to get out about Etienne, it would ruin him.  Plus there’s Tybalt who keeps lending a helping hand and is always there when she needs him, and Toby really needs to work out what her feelings are about him.  Just another ordinary day.

Little Star by John Ajvide Lindqvist (Thomas Dunne, 2012)

Lindqvist’s novel is another addictive read, like his others, with a seemingly simple story that turns into something dark and sinister, combined with the harsh geology of Sweden, and his own unusual characters.  Little Star will keep you up late, and by then you’ll be too scared to go to bed.

Bad Glass by Richard E. Gropp (Ballantine, 2012)

A gripping kind of horror, Bad Glass uses an interesting device of describing photographs and video footage that are shocking and unbelievable, as well as drawing the reader deeper and deeper into the story.  While the ending feels a little rushed, as the answers finally start to come, the story is well worth the wait.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2012)

Robin Sloan’s debut novel plays well on the enjoyment of the reader, as well as slowly unraveling the mystery, in addition to taking the reader around San Francisco and into the heart of the Googleplex, and then across the country and back in time through a hidden history, all on the subject of books and their meaning.  Readers will be hooked with Sloan’s easy reading style, and curious tale, until the very end.

The Twelve by Justin Cronin (HarperCollins, 2013)

Justin Cronin’s long-awaited sequel to the bestselling The Passage brings readers back to the incredible post-apoclyptic world of killer vampires and those remaining humans trying to eke out their survival. Cronin also returns to the time before the end of the world and continues some unfinished storylines.

The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson (HarperCollins, 2013)

From the bestselling author of The Way of Kings and the Mistborn trilogy comes a new fantasy novella involving a forger who has magical powers to forge anything whether it be a work of art, an inanimate object, an entire wall or building, and even when necessary, someone’s soul.

Revenge by Yoko Ogawa (HarperCollins, 2013)

In the style of Haruki Murakami, comes this popular Japanese author’s short story collection of tales that will terrify and enthrall. Revenge has an element of its title in most of these original tales that are linked together through small details.

Cold Days by Jim Butcher (HarperCollins, 2013)

Harry Dresden is finally back after his visit with the afterlife in Ghost Story, and now has to begint he next chapter of his life. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon (HarperCollins, 2013)

From the bestselling author of The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and The Yiddish Policemen’s Union comes a new novel about two close friends owning and running Brokeland Records on the borderlands between Berkeley and Oakland.

The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling (HarperCollins, 2013)

In J. K. Rowling’s first adult novel, she presents an idyllic English town where everything seems perfect and well, until the death of a popular person in town starts to reveal skeleton after skeleton that has remained hidden in this town’s closet for a long time.

This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz (HarperCollins, 2013)

From the award-winning author of The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao comes his new novel about the power of love and everything associated with it, pain, pleasure, lost, heart-break, and joy through the lens of the incredible Dominican Republic.


The Poisoner’s Handbook by Deborah Blum (HarperCollins, 2013)

In this well-titled book, Blum presents a fascinating history of poisons and when they were created and discovered, but coupled with this is also the amazing work of detectives and coroners who furthered science and medicine to discover how to identity and fight these poisons.

1491 by Charles C. Mann (Knopf, 2005)

Much as Guns, Germs and Steel was revolutionary in changing our outlook on the way the world is, 1491 has the same affect on how the world views the Americas, what its true history was, the immense effect it had on the world after Columbus, and how the idea that these people were simple and primitive is just ridiculous.  The book is by no means an easy read, but once the reader makes it through, the fulfillment is well worthwhile and enlightening to say the least.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (HarperCollins, 2013)

This moving tale covers the sad passing of Henrietta Lack to ovarian cancer, and how her unique cells that continue to live on to this day have become a part of the world of science and have played a part in most science laboratories across the globe, and yet the family of Henriette Lacks still remains poor and without health insurace, after her cells have gone on to be crucial in so many cures and the further of medicine.

The World Without Us by Alan Weisman (Thomas Dunne, 2007)

Alan Weisman’s introspective book, The World Without Us, which became a bestseller, seems clear when one sees and reads what’s on the front cover.  Yes, it’s a book about the concept of what the world would be like if humanity suddenly disappeared, and how long it would take to recover from the severe imprint we’ve made upon it.  But the book is also much more, as Weisman analyzes why we have had this effect on the planet, and to what extent it has reached.

Prague Winter by Madaleine Albright (HarperCollins, 2012)

Albright has clearly done a lot of research for this book, not just on her own family, but on the history and sources of the period, along with many photos from that time, it presents a thorough picture of this part of Europe during World War II and the rise of the Fuhrer.  It is also an insight into the culture of the Czechs, a people who do not bow down lightly and whose patriotism and culture is everything to them.  In some ways, Prague Winter reads like a powerful history book that would make great reading for any high school or college student wanting to learn more about the period; and at the same time it is a poignant biography of these people and of this child that was shaped into the incredible woman that she was to become.

Rabid by Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy (Viking, 2012)

Few know that when someone is suffering from rabies, they have an innate aversion to water; just seeing a glass of it will make them turn violent as they try to get away from it.  Rabid: A Cultural History of the World’s Most Diabolical Virus is the story of the hows and whys of rabies.


A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel, Volume 1 by Daniel Abraham and George R. R. Martin (Bantam, 2012)

For anyone familiar with George R. R. Martin, his work, and the books and authors he likes, it should come as no surprise that his good friend, Daniel Abraham of The Dragon’s Path, was the one chosen to adapt his bestselling first novel of his Song of Ice and Fire series, A Game of Thrones.  In the introduction, Martin gives a brief history of how the epic fantasy series came to be and the various adaptations that have been done, including the now popular and successful HBO series.  He also talks about their long search for the right artist to illustrate this graphic novel and how once they found Tommy Patterson; he was the right guy for the job.

Penny Arcade, Volume 8: Magical Kids in Danger by Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik (HarperCollins, 2013)

The Penny Arcade duo are back with their next hilarious and addicting collection of comic strips, collection the year of 2007. Presented again with Jerry Holkins commentary on each strip, it’s a necessary addition to anyone’s collection.


Kyra: The First Book of Enchantus by Alex C. Telander (CreateSpace, 2012)

Kyra is a teenage girl who has problems fitting in with school and friends and just her whole life in general; even her family seems odd. But when she closes her eyes at night, she is transported to another world, a place of wonder and joy, where she finds her real friends, and everything she’s ever wanted. And then the day arrives when she is finally transported to this world, and it is just as incredible as she ever imagined.

Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers: Stories by Alex C. Telander (Smashwords, 2012)

In this debut collection, readers get to see into the dark and twisted mind of Alex C. Telander. “Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers” features ten original short stories that run the gamut of genres, from dark and bloody horror to futuristic science fiction; from a captivating thriller to an epic tale of historical fiction. And then there are those stories that simply can’t be classified, but once you read them, you won’t be able to get them out of your mind . . .

In That Quiet Earth: Stories by Alex C. Telander (Smashwords, 2012)

Much like his first collection, “Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers,” Alex C. Telander’s new short story collection, “In That Quiet Earth,” runs the gamut of genres, showing his extensive breadth and range as writer. Readers will not be disappointed and will find a number compelling storylines and complex characters to become engaged in reading about.

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