Another Damn “Best of” List

Yeah, I know.  Another damn list of favorite books from 2010.  But it is fun to look back at what I read this year, and think about what books really caught my attention and why.  So here’s my list of the books that knocked my socks.  One caveat – they weren’t all written in 2010, but that’s when I read them so they’re going on the list.  I still have a huge pile of books that were published this year teetering at the top of my TBR pile.  I have no doubt that some of them will make the list of my favorite books for 2011.

And since it’s still officially the holiday season and I’m still flush with the Christmas spirit, I’ll be giving away a copy of the e-book, Lying Eyes, by my good friend and fellow Carina Press author, Amy Atwell.

Drum roll please…

Love In The Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas.  A wonderful end to the Hathaway series, and one of LK’s best books, IMHO.  The story of an emotionally wounded soldier and the very unusual young woman who helps him to heal is sexy, heartfelt, and funny.  I adored this book.

The Mad Earl’s Bride by Loretta Chase.  An early novella rather than a novel, this story is a showcase for LC’s trademark wit, deep emotion, and stellar writing.  Worth the time and effort to track it down.

Last Night’s Scandal by Loretta Chase.  A sequel to the much-loved Lord Perfect, LNS finally gives us the story of those wayward children, Olivia and Peregrine, all grown up.  I laughed out loud several times reading this book, and it’s one of the most emotionally satisfying love stories I’ve read in a long time.

Rebels and Lovers By Linnea Sinclair.  I love Sci Fi Romance, and I’m glad to see it making a comeback, with some e-book publishers, at least.  Sinclair writes the best – strong, character-driven stories with believable worlds and sympathetic heroes and heroines with very big problems to solve.

Defiant by Kris Kennedy.  You won’t have seen a copy of Defiant on bookshelves, because it won’t be released until April 2011.  But I was lucky enough to read it in manuscript, and I’m here to tell you that it’s an awesome read.  Kennedy is a hugely talented author who writes very sexy, very adventurous Medieval romances.   I think everyone is going to love this book.

Scream For Me/Kill For Me by Karen Rose.  I was a little late coming to Karen Rose but, man!  The wait was worth it.  These two books from the Vartanian series are incredibly suspenseful, emotional, and downright scary.  Nobody writes villains like Karen Rose!

Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Lover by Jennifer Ashley.  I wondered how JA would top The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie, but she did it in spades with this book.  Very emotional and beautifully written.

And last but not least…

The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook.  Probably my favorite book this year, TID is a masterpiece of world-building, story, and craft.  The writing is stellar, but it never overshadows an exciting and ultimately very thought-provoking story told in the world of Steampunk.  I can’t wait for the next book in the series.

So there they are.  A pretty impressive line-up, eh?  Tell me what were your favorite reads of the year.  One commenter will win a copy of Amy Atwell’s Lying Eyes.

 


A Blizzard of Books

The handsome fellow posing with Santa is Yukon, the book-loving Norwegian Elkhound.  As you can see, he’s got quite the pile of presents there, and I can guarantee that some of them will be books.

My family loves giving and receiving books for Christmas.  I’ve already checked out everybody’s haul, and there are a few that I’m going to be “borrowing” for myself.   My step-mother has one particularly interesting book in her pile: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.  Henrietta Lacks was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who, without her consent, made medical history.  The book has been getting great reviews, and it sounds both important and fascinating.

I also got a few swell books under the tree, ones I had been hoping Santa would bring me to help with my research.  The first is the revised edition of The London Encyclopaedia. This tome – and I do mean tome – can tell you anything you ever wanted to know about London, seemingly from the dawn of time.  It’s lucid and beautifully written, and full of cool stuff.  Want to know about the Kensal Green Cemetary?  It’s in there.  About the history of electricity in London?  That’s in there too.  An invaluable research tool, and it’s also just plain fun to read.

The other book I got was Georgian and Regency Houses Explained.  It’s not a very big book, but it’s meaty.  Not only does it give details on things like the kinds of building materials used during the period, it explains the socio-economic factors that influenced the development of style and function.  Another very cool book.

What books did you get this holiday season?  Tell me what you got, and one commenter will win an e-book copy of my VK Sykes contemporary romance, CaddyGirls.


Merry Christmas to us all!

Tree Elf

 

Now that the tree is decorated and the presents are wrapped, it’s time to relax a bit and enjoy the holiday.  One of the things I love to do during the holidays is watch movies, and I intend to spend a good part of the next few days doing just that.  When I’m not eating and making merry with my family, that is.

What are my favorite Christmas movies, especially from the classics?  There are, of course, many versions of Scrooge and A Christmas Carol to choose from.  But for my money, no Scrooge takes a longer or harder path from sheer hatred to redemptive joy than Albert Finney in the musical version of the tale, simply entitled SCROOGE.

A musical, you say?  Sacrilege!  Okay, some of the music is corny, but some of it is actually very good.  The gritty, poverty-ridden depiction of London’s poor also contrasts beautifully with the opulent scenes featuring the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the old-fashioned, extravagant musical numbers.  The sets and costumes are wonderful and portray surprisingly faithful renditions of both the Regency and Victorian periods.

But the strength of this version of the tale rests with Albert Finney’s stupendous portrayal of the iconic character of Scrooge.  He’s not just mean; he’s so full of hatred and guilt that he’s almost Shakespearean.  His body is as shriveled as his soul, and his personal hygiene ain’t so good, either.  He looks like he hasn’t taken a bath in weeks—even his nails are dirty—and his house is filthy, empty, and cold.  Clearly, this Scrooge won’t even take refuge from despair in the physical trappings of wealth.

But when Finney’s Scrooge finally breaks free of the bonds of hatred and discovers the spiritual and physical beauties of the Season, his joy is boundless.  Scrooge didn’t just get scared straight; his former hatred of Christmas and all its abundance gives him monumental insight into what really matters at this time of year:  family, generosity, love.

There’s a second movie I watch to get in the holiday spirit, and it deals with another kind of curmudgeon—the average joe.  The movie is A CHRISTMAS STORY, and it stars the wonderfully grouchy Darren McGavin as a put-upon father who battles a broken-down furnace, the neighbor’s marauding dogs, and demands for inappropriate Christmas gifts from his son, Ralphie.

Ralphie from A Christmas Story

As the dad, Darren McGavin is everyman, trying to keep food on the table and keep the furnace working.  He’s more than a little put-out by all the fuss of the holidays.  The only thing he really wants is his Christmas turkey, and when the neighbor’s hound dogs invade the house and carry off the bird, Dad’s modest dream for a Merry Christmas is crushed.  But how does he handle it?  He doesn’t take his anger out on his wife and kids, as you might expect.  Instead, he takes them out to dinner at a Chinese restaurant.  The scene where the family is confronted with a whole roasted duck—with head intact—is hilariously funny and very sweet.  Like any good man, Dad rises above the stresses of the Season to give his family exactly what they need:  love and joy, and a few laughs besides.

I wish you all a wonderful holiday, full of joy, love, peace, and maybe even a Christmas duck!   


SIGN UP AND RECEIVE A FREE SHORT STORY!