The Silver Metal Lover by Tanith Lee - This is an embarrassing title. I feel a bit silly saying it out loud: "You must read The Silver Metal Lover!!!"
This is about a girl named Jane, who lives in a futuristic society. Jane and her friends are all very rich (and spoiled), and Jane spends her time following others and believing that she's not as talented or as pretty or as interesting as some of her other friends. Jane is just Plain Jane although she lives literally in the clouds above the city with her famous mother, and is surrounded by wealth and privilege. Then one day Jane meets Silver - a robot so lifelike he is almost human, and falls instantly in love. From that point on she becomes irrationally obsessed with Silver. Jane engineers a way to get him and runs away from her privileged life to hide with Silver.
What's so lovely about this book besides how freaking engrossing the story is (I regularly reread it), is how much is going on. There's the world which is so complete (I think Tanith Lee excels at writing in such a way that she shows you a corner of a world and you believe the rest of it is there beyond that page), then there are the people in it. They are so arresting, both the sharp people (you know, the glittery kind that can cut you), and then there are the softer ones, like Jane and Silver. And the things that happen to them? There's growth in the protagonists, there's love, there's betrayal, there's beauty. I cry at the end of this book, but I will still reread it. There's also so many things that this book makes me think about, and it haunts me long after I'm finished.
There's a sequel set many years after the end of The Silver Metal Lover called Metallic Love which has a couple who sort of reflect Jane and Silver but in a different way. I recommend it too. And if you like futuristic societies with rich, idle, entitled kids who change in dramatic ways, I'd also recommend Lee's Biting The Sun (which is one book that holds the duology of Don't Bite the Sun and Drinking Sapphire Wine).
Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire. I'm a fan of urban fantasy and this is one of the series I'm currently obsessed with.
The series follows Toby Daye, who is a half-human, half-fae private investigator in San Francisco. Toby has a dark background - her mom has lost touch with reality, Toby's family (her daughter and the man she loved) wants nothing to do with her, and she has grown up amongst prejudice by the Fae. I love the world building in these books. There's so much variety in the fae creatures (Pixies, Undine, Cait Sidhe, Kitsune) and then we have the halfbreeds and the changelings. The politics, culture, and otherness of these creatures is fascinating. Of course there's a lot of urban fantasy out there and this one has a similar structure where the protagonist investigates a a crime, but there's something in the way the world is slowly built layer upon layer in this one that I love. I'm sure I'm not really conveying here how awesome I find this series, but discovering what happens next fills me with anticipatory need. I recommend this series if you like Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels series and Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson series.
So far this series consists of Rosemary and Rue, and A Local Habitation. An Artificial Night , the third book, comes out in September.
A Clockwork Heart by Dru Pagliossotti - I picked this up last year based on the recommendation of The Book Smugglers. This one is a story that I recommend if you enjoy having a mix of steampunk, fantasy and romance in one book. Again there is a fantastic world. This time the setting is in a fantasy city called Ondinium. This city is divided by caste - "Primus for the exalteds; Secundus for the cardinals; and Tertius, for the plebians". The exalteds run the city and are separated from other castes in the city center, while the other castes live in concentric rings around them. The Icari are people who have the build and agility to fly with metal wings (made out of Ondinium, which is lighter than air), and thus are allowed to fly between the castes, carrying messages. The heroine in this story, Taya, is an Icarus, and she rescues two of the exalted during a wireferry accident. This causes Taya to be entangled in the mystery of who is tampering with the wireferries and in the lives of two exalted brothers Cristof and Alister Forlore. I had a little bit of trouble getting into the terms used in this book (you're just thrown in there), but once I understood them, I was sucked into the complex plot and the sprinkling of romance. This was one of my favorite books that I'd read in 2009 and I reread my favorite bits every so often.
According to the author, a sequel is written and is in her agent's hands. *crosses fingers*.
Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols - This recommendation is different from the others as it's not speculative fiction. I thought I needed a representative recommendation for romance and young adult fiction which are genres I also read. This one is a book I read relatively recently (this year), and I utterly LOVED it. If you are a person like me, you prefer that a story does not have physical attraction and lust as a short hand for falling in love. A believable mental connection and slow build up is paramount in my mind for good romance. Going Too Far has the right build up and mental connection. Hallelujah, people!
This is about Meg, who is a blue haired rebellious teen who hates her small town and spends her time waiting for college and driving her parents to distraction. One day she gets caught trespassing on a railroad bridge (the word is that a couple of teens died there), and she and her friends are arrested. Their punishment is to drive around with the ambulance, fire department and police for a week and miss their spring break. Meg gets the shift with Officer After, the man who caught her and her friends on the bridge in the first place. Turns out that John After is nineteen, and not much older than the teens he just caught. In the week that they spend together, they get closer. The book is told in the first person from Meg's POV, and her voice is perfect - sort of matter-of-fact, self-aware, defiant and yet vulnerable at the same time. The book is incredibly addictive and hard to put down. I haven't read any other books by this author yet, but I will.
What about you guys? Any books you love and pimp to everyone you see?