Thursday, December 8, 2011

Best of the Best Part Deux

So I return to give you all another heaping helping of my recommendations for super great gifts for the holiday season.

These are my recommendations, based on what I have read and also my desire to support other authors. I read a wide range of items, so I like to create a broad spectrum.

Here we go!

5. "I'm the Vampire, That's Why" by Michele Bardsley
It is, in fact, a series called "Broken Heart." Real world style moms and dads are turned into vampires, and how the heck are they supposed to get their kids to listen to them now that everybody gets to stay up all night? It's a fantastic, funny, sexy series, and not to be missed.

Check out Michele Bardsley here:

Pick up her books here:

6. "Death's Daughter" by Amber Benson

I freaking LOVE this series. It's the stories of Calliope Reaper-Jones who just happens to be Death's Daughter trying to live in real world New York without all that macabre stuff. But due to her heritage she is repeatedly sucked back in and must balance her duties with her desire to move up in the real world. So snarky, so similar to people I know, and Amber B. is a total sweetie.

Check out Amber Benson here:

Buy her books here:

7. The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett
If you don't know who Terry Pratchett is, then you are either A) dead or B) missing out on some of the best British humor since Douglas Adams. Discworld is fantasy gone awry, with wizzards who are in constant peril, Luggage that is so dangerous you can't go near it, and a world that rides on the back of a giant turtle. Seriously. Pick up one of these books, and be prepared for a big investment in the rest of the series.

Check out Terry Pratchett here:

Go buy the books here:

8. The Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series books 1-10 by Laurell K. Hamilton
Okay, so there are more than 10 in the series; in fact, I think it's closer to 20 at this point. I recommend the first 10 because they are the best: the characters have unique personalities, there are multiple plot lines, the sex is good, and they read very fast. After book 10, I lost interest. BUT, that's not to say you won't. Her heroine, Anita Blake, is (in the beginning) as sassy, bad-ass, and stubborn as you want, she raises zombies for a living, and after much debate begins dating the undead. She's a hell of a character and one you want to revisit over and over again. So check it out.

Check out Laurell K. Hamilton here:

Buy the Anita Blake series here:

9. The Domain Trilogy by Steve Alten
Steve Alten is a recent fave of mine: I grabbed "Domain" at a discount store, and got totally hooked. It's a Mayan prophecy book, and it's nothing like you'd expect in a seriously good way. This deals with the Mayan world as more of an alien civilization, the connection between modern people and mythical ones, and the ultimate battle that is coming. Books 1 and 2 are astounding, getting grittier with each story, and I'm waiting on Book 3. Steve A. also writes a "Meg" series, regarding the Megaladon shark, and I can't wait to, er, sink my teeth into it. Har, har. And Mr. Alten is a very genuine, encouraging person. Just FYI.

Check out more about Steve Alten here:

Buy the books here:

10. Anything by Eloisa James, but I will recommend "A Kiss at Midnight."
I may be the last person you'd expect to really go for a tried-and-true romance novel, but I Admit it: there are times when even I like a good old-fashioned bodice-ripping, melt you at the knees book. Eloisa James has a plethora of books to choose from, and they vary so widely in how they go about that it's easy to pick up one and want to sample them all. "A Kiss at Midnight", for example, is a Cinderella story, and it's fantasmic! Loads of good stuff. Don't be afraid to give the romance novel a shot: I promise it's worth the effort.

Check out Eloisa James here:

Buy the books here:

11. "Circle of Isis" by Ellen Cannon Reed
I would be remiss to not include a good starter for my personal choice, Egyptian paganism. I really enjoy this book because it gives simple methods for how to use the gods in your own life, and how to look back on past traditions (as best we can) to use them today. Personal advocation here :)

Check out more of Ellen Cannon Reed here:

Buy the book here:

12. And finally, the obligatory and thoroughly fabulous: "1001 Great Ideas for Teaching and Raising Children with Autism or Asperger's" by Ellen Notbohm, Veronica Zysk and Temple Grandin

I think everyone knows that I have a child who is on the spectrum, so Autism is my cause. Having a child on the spectrum can be more difficult than you would imagine, and I am even one of the lucky ones as my child does not have as many challenges as so many others do. It's impossible to know where you're going when you first get the diagnosis, and how do you know where to turn?

This is a great place to go to. Temple Grandin, one of the authors, is a real world hero: having taught herself to live with autism and how to function in the real world, she is a legend. Most people don't know how to interact with a child on the spectrum, and the fact is, you never stop learning. I will be learning for the rest of my life. This book is a great map to help you on your way. It's also a wonderful guide for those who just want to learn.

Check out more here:
And here:

Buy the book here:

Now to my favorite bit: advocacy. This holiday season, if you're not into buying gifts, don't know what to get, or just want to do something different, may I suggest donations? There are so many places that need funding, so many people who need help. I have several that I am always championing for:

1. Autism, re: Arizona Autism United, Autism Speaks, SAARC, S.E.E.K.

2. March of Dimes

3. St. Jude's Children's Hospital/Phoenix Children's Hospital

4. Child Crisis Center

I am huge into helping out children. They are the ones who need help the most on so many levels, and it is they who suffer because of budget cuts, program cuts, bad decisions, bad environments, etc. So if you don't feel books are on the list this year, consider donating to one of my favorite places. Or find one of your own. I don't think anything fits the holiday season better than giving.

So that wraps it up for now! I hope every single person is enjoying the season no matter what you celebrate, even if it's nothing at all. Love those around you. Be kind and patient. Give something back to the world and smile. Remember that there is always a reason worth living, and even the smallest person can change the course of the future.

Wait. I've heard that somewhere before...

10 points and a cookie to the person who can tell me where that came from!

Happy holidays in advance, and many blessings forthwith!