Old favorites I read in 2010…have you read them?

So I read 278 books in 2010. Is that still an impressive number when I add that 70 of them were books I’d read at least once before? But I don’t re-read a book unless I love it, and some of these I’ve read literally dozens of times. So here are some of my favorite books, as evidenced by my re-read of them in 2010:

Naked in Death by JD Robb. I re-read this every year. What’s funny about that is this book wasn’t on my Goodreads at all. Yet I read it yearly, at least. I’ve remedied that situation and it now appears there. Sheesh! This is probably my favorite re-read ever. I wonder how many copies of this book I’ve gifted over the years.

Nalini Singh‘s Psy-Changeling series: Slave to Sensation, which is book one, remains my favorite of these, but I enjoy them all

Nalini Singh‘s Archangel series: not really that great of feat since there were only 2 to re-read

Ilona Andrews‘ Kate Daniels series: I think the latest, Magic Bleeds, is my favorite.

The Belgariad by David Eddings My favorite fantasy series ever. I think now it’s time to re-read the Mallorean again for the ten hundredth time.

Julie Garwood historicals. For someone who doesn’t love historicals, these are some of my favorite re-reads. I am so happy to start seeing some of these in digital release. A few of my favorites available in digital are Honor’s Splendour, The Lion’s Lady and Ransom. Many of my other favorites of hers are still not available digitally by legal means, unfortunately, including The Secret, The Wedding and The Bride.

Warrior’s Woman by Johanna Lindsey. I don’t care how many people hate this book. I love it. LOVE IT. And was so glad to see a digital release in 2010.

There were more random re-reads I did, but the list above shows the re-reads that I know I’ll read again in the coming years. Below are some that I re-read for various reasons but wouldn’t count them as books I read and re-read year after year.

CL Wilson’s Tairen Soul series, books 1 & 2. I wish there was more fantasy romance like this.

Sharing Knife series by Lois McMaster Bujold Fantasy romance. I think I may have liked the later books a little less on re-read this time (I felt impatience with Dag) but the world building fascinates me and book one is wonderful.

Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. Yes, I did re-read them all, and let me tell you what I discovered when you read them all back to back. 1) Janet Evanovich does great sexual tension 2) Stephanie Plum actually grows as a character in book one. And then regresses back further in book 2 and never grows again. So you have a female protagonist who actually gets more inept and emotionally immature through 16 books. That takes some strange author talent!

In 2011 I’ve said I’m going to re-read the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan (and now Brandon Sanderson), 1 book a month. I stopped reading around book 10 or so, so if I read one a month for the next year, I won’t have to wait for the last book in the series (it releases in November 2011).

So, anyone else love any of these books? What did you re-read in 2010?

2011 books I read in 2010 that I think YOU should read

*I edited this post to add a book I read and loved and forgot to add (Blood Challenge)

There were a few 2011 books I read in 2010 that I think you should check out. They don’t appear on my personal 2010 top ten list because that’s against *my* rules for my own top ten–books there have to have released in 2010 or earlier. But these books that I got advance peaks at are fantastic books so I think you should keep an eye out for them.

Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison (May 3, 2011) — I’m starting out with this one because it’s from a debut author and this book totally knocked my socks off. Jane from Dear Author told me I had to read it and, well, I’m glad she did because it’s a fun, fun book with great characters, a well-told story and world building that makes me want to revisit. If you like dragons at all, or have even a smidgen of interest in paranormals–and even if you think you’re burnt out–put this one on your 2011 wish list. There’s no cover copy on Amazon yet and the author’s website appears to be under construction, so here you go: Passion heats up as dangers and desires clash in a brand-new series. Half-human and half-wyr, Pia Giovanni spent her life keeping a low profile among the wyrkind and avoiding the continuing conflict between them and their Dark Fae enemies. But after being blackmailed into stealing a coin from the hoard of a dragon, Pia finds herself targeted by one of the most powerful—and passionate—of the Elder races.

Blood Challenge by Eileen Wilks– this is a series that I don’t think nearly enough people read. And that I don’t think Ms. Wilks writes nearly fast enough in. One of the things I appreciate about this series is that, with the exception of a few installments, it follows the same hero/heroine. I’m a sucker for a good series that has the same ongoing protagonists, rather than rotating hero/heroine. This installment doesn’t disappoint and it moves both the overall plot and the central relationships forward in a satisfying way.

India Black by Carol K. Carr (January 4th) — This is historical fiction, which isn’t my normal genre, but I popped it open and wow, the narrative voice just drew me right in. This book wasn’t perfect for me (the end lingered a bit too long) but I found it an easy, enjoyable read.

Treachery in Death by J.D. Robb (February 22nd) — I love this series. I said in an earlier post that JD Robb can string me along in this series forever, if she’d like, because frankly I’d miss these books if there were no more new installments. But I particularly enjoyed this installment. I liked the difference in the crime and mystery, and I liked feeling as though we were seeing a turning point into Eve’s emotional and psychological growth. It’s nice not to feel as if a character is stagnant (like I feel about Stephanie Plum) in a series but actually grows and matures in both personal and work relationships and matters. If you’ve never read this series, I highly recommend Naked in Death (quite possibly my favorite book of all time)

Perfect Play by Jaci Burton (February 1st) — Um…yum. Super yum. Not just the cover but what’s inside. I first started reading Jaci when she was writing erotic romance, but I’ve always enjoyed her non-erotic books as well. This one is a solid, well-written contemporary romance with some super steaminess inside. Plus, I adore football like whoa and damn, so I loved having a football hero. But never fear, even if you don’t like sports you won’t feel overhwhelmed by the sports. You’ll still enjoy what lies at the heart of this book: a classic love story between two people!

Archangel’s Consort by Nalini Singh (January 25th) — I think I said most of what I need to about Nalini’s books in my post about my top ten faves, but about this one I’ll say it’s a welcome installment to this series. We learn more about the world, have the introduction of a new (potentially important) character and get more romance (and more sex, reeowr) and more character background development. But none of that at the expense of the story and plot. This is only book 3, so there’s time to read books one and two before it releases if you go now, quick, hurry!

2011 books I have waiting to be read that you might want to check out:

Mercy Blade by Faith Hunter (January 4th) — I’m actually reading this at the time of the writing of this post (the weekend)

The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa (January 25th)

A Lot Like Love by Julie James (March 1st)

Con & Conjure by Lisa Shearin

And books I don’t have but am highly anticipating for 2011:

Yours by Design by Shannon Stacey

River Marked by Patricia Briggs

Heart of a Killer by Jaci Burton

Hidden Away by Maya Banks

The Unbearable Lightness of Dragons by Katie MacAlister

Late Eclipses by Seanan McGuire

Eternal Rider (Lords of Deliverance) by Larissa Ione

Children of Scarabaeus by Sara Creasy

Hard Bitten by Chloe Neill

Enclave by Ann Aguirre

Hunt the Moon by Karen Chance

Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews

Kiss of Snow by Nalini Singh

Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris

Heart of Steel by Meljean Brook

A look back at my personal 2010 faves

A few stats to start us off.

Books read in 2009: 222

Books read in 2010: 277 (55 more books than 2009, go me!)

First book read in 2010: Bound by Cin by Jenna Maclaine

Last book read in 2010: Perfect Play by Jaci Burton (an ARC, not due to release until February 1, 2011. This book is also known as the book with the hottest cover ever. I had it as my laptop wallpaper for months. Go ahead, click thru)

Thanks to Goodreads, it’s easy for me to take a look back at all of 2010 and show the above info, and also remember my favorites. So in the spirit of similar blog posts across the land, here are my top ten favorite 2010 reads, in no particular order (asterisks indicate these are new-to-me authors):

* Queen of Shadows by Dianne Sylvan (urban fantasy/paranormal romance) I had this book on my wishlist before it released, because the cover copy was intriguing. Then it released, and since I’m a little gunshy about new urban fantasy/paranormal authors and books, I didn’t buy it right away. I hesitated, kept going back to read reviews, and finally was convinced by several reviews I read, in combination with the sample chapter. And I was hooked. The story drew me in after the first few chapters, the love story between hero and heroine felt well-played and what I especially appreciated was that this book was a book in itself. No cliffhanger ending, no major dangling plot threads. Just a story within one book. Awesome and refreshing in a paranormal world of series.

Truth of Valor by Tanya Huff (space opera) I was so excited to get a new installment in this series from Tanya Huff. I actually like space opera quite a bit, but have a hard time jumping into new authors and new series, because I’m often afraid the technical side of the space opera will overwhelm the characters, plots and story. I don’t even need romantic elements in my space opera (though it doesn’t hurt) but I need it to be accessible. And that’s what Tanya Huff does. She writes character-driven space opera with fun, entertaining storylines and a kick-ass female protaganist who’s hard as nails. Goodreads review here

Twice Bitten by Chloe Neill (urban fantasy) This is book 3 and I think this was my favorite book to date. The romance moved forward (then back, then forward, then…well, you’ll have to read it to find out) and the worldbuilding has been interesting to me. Not that it’s anything so out of the ordinary, but it’s also not nonsensical and the secondary characters make things intriguing. I’m glad to keep reading this series, though I kind of wish the author wrote faster than 1 book in the series/year! Goodreads review here.

Something About You by Julie James (contemporary romance) Julie James is one of the few contemporary romance authors who has a nearly 100% “hit” ratio with me (there’s one book only of hers that wasn’t a hit for me at all) and I adored everything about this book. This is what good contemporary romance should be! Something else that I like about Julie is that she writes stand-alone books. So if you’ve never read a Julie James book before (and you should) then you can easily jump into her backlist at any point. Though I do recommend this one!

Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews (urban fantasy) So I’d probably read Ilona’s grocery list at this point. But this book made me SO HAPPY. This was the installment in the series that really makes a romance reader’s heart go pitty pat. Reooowr. I actually re-read this entire series this year and I loved it just as much the second time around. There are a lot of things I appreciate about this series, but one of them is that we’re not forced to wonder who the romantic interest is (Curran, meow) and each book moves the overarching story and plot along in a way that makes us believe it’s not going to go on forever. Not that I want it to end, but I also hate that feeling of an author stringing me along (except JD Robb, she can string me along forever). Very short Goodreads review here.

Archangel’s Kiss by Nalini Singh (urban fantasy) Nalini is another author who’s grocery list I’d read. And I also re-read both this series and her Psy-Changeling series in 2010. Again, they did not disappoint on the second read, and I’d happily have a 3rd go at all of these books. I particularly like this archangel series because it’s a bit grittier and darker, with more edges on the characters. Also? I love how well Nalini does the “show, don’t tell” concept and isn’t tempted to spoonfeed the readers obvious bits.

* The Chief by Monica McCabe (historical romance) I don’t even remember how I came to pick this book up, but I remember reading and loving it and emailing Jane at Dear Author to tell her she needed to give it a try. It reminded me in a way of an early Garwood. What’s even more amazing to me about how much I enjoyed this book is that I’d sampled a few of this author’s books before and they didn’t work for me, and I’ve since read the 2nd book in the series and didn’t love it. But this particular book hit just right for me and I’m glad to have it in my top ten.

* Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (contemporary YA romance) This book came out of nowhere for me. A few people mentioned it on Twitter. Then it showed up on a Dear Author best of 2010 list and I realized that it sounded quite familiar. Turns out? I had it on my Kindle. I’m still not sure how but it had to have been offered free at some point, because I know I’d never have bought it without first reading the sample, and it was completely new to me when I opened the book. So contemporary isn’t really my fave genre, and contemporary YA even less so. In fact, I read like almost no YA and even less contemp YA. But I really enjoyed this book. I loved the protagonist’s voice in 1st person, loved the progression of the friendships and story and was happy when I read the last page. Goodreads review here.

Exclusively Yours by Shannon Stacey (contemporary romance) Yeah, yeah. I edited this book. Sue me. I loved it and it goes on my top ten list for 2010. It’s my list! I wrote more about this book already in this post about my 2010 editing.

Iron Duke by Meljean Brook (steampunk romance) I know I said these are in no particular order but…this was my favorite book of 2010. I didn’t list the novella from the Burning Up anth, Here There Be Monsters, but that novella and this book seriously rocked my world. I was glad to get an ARC of this book and glad to urge people to read it, you must read it! I think I’ve since given away 3 or 4 copies because it’s just that great. The only thing I didn’t love about this book? The cover. Not my favorite steampunk cover, unfortunately. Goodreads review here.

Honorable Mentions, these are books I enjoyed but that didn’t quite make my top ten list:
Song of Scarabaeus— a science fiction romance. I’m anticipating book 2 quite a bit. My Goodreads review is here.
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner — I’d had this recommended to me several times and the voice hooked me in once I finally picked it up. Really enjoyed the twists and turns.
No Place to Run by Maya Banks– One of my final reads of 2010, this and the first, Darkest Hour. I liked the action and the hero/heroine as well as the secondary characters. There’s a lot to like here.
Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah Maclean — someone recommended this to me on Twitter and I was really charmed by the heroine and the story. The Chief just barely edged this out of my list. My Goodreads review is here
C.S. Harris — I read three of her Sebastian St. Cyr books in 2010, and any author that can get me to read not one, but three, historical fiction books deserves an honorable mention. I do own the others in the series and fully intend to read them. Sebastian is a great protagonist.

So 3 of my top 10 (and 7 of my top 15!) were new-to-me authors, which I’m really happy about. Of the 7 who weren’t, 4 of the books were installments in series that I’ve been reading for a few years, so it’s great for me that these authors continue to produce high-quality books.

One of the things that’s interesting to me about this list is that there are three contemporary romances on it (if I include the YA) and one historical romance because I often say that those are the two genres I read the least. That’s particularly true of historical romance. However, if you look at my Goodreads account, you can see that it actually looks like I read a lot of contemporary romance. But if you look closer, you’d also see that 90% of that is in the form of Harlequin categories!

Urban fantasy series continue to be good to me, yet I find myself not picking up a lot of NEW urban fantasy authors or series, and even less paranormal romance.

In 2010, I’d like to find and read even more futuristic romance, space opera, steampunk and fantasy/fantasy romance. Those are genres that I find myself more and more willing to take chances in, rather than urban fantasy and paranormal romance.

2010 was a good reading year for me. I read 277 books total for pleasure, and that doesn’t count a few books I was unable to list as having read for various reasons (shhh) and all of the Carina titles, acquisitions, and submissions I read. I’m extremely happy with how much reading I did this year, even when I had a period of about 3 weeks in September when I didn’t read anything. Every year I vow to make my reading diverse and to reach outside my comfort zones, and I was happy with how I did at that this year, and I’ll continue to make that a goal for 2011.

Thursday reads: Steampunk!

First, I finished up A Matter of Magic by Patricia Wrede, which I mentioned here last week. In this case, finishing up means reading book 2, since it was actually a two-book omnibus. I enjoyed book one but I liked book two even more. Though the storylines are all nicely tied up, I liked the characters so much I looked to see if the author had ever written more books in that world, but sadly she had not. Recommended.

Next I read a few samples, and emailed with Jane and Sarah, to see what might catch my attention. One of the samples I read was Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld. I liked the sample but I couldn’t bring myself to pay $8.99 for it. I’ve put it on my “maybe if the price comes down” list.

I also read the sample of Almost to Die For: A Vampire Princess Novel by Tate Hallaway but it fell in the same category as Leviathan. I liked the sample, but not well enough to pay $8.99 for it.

So I moved on to looking at my existing books because, seriously? I have a load of them. I realized that Amazon had auto-delivered Katherine Allred’s second Alien Affairs book, Close Contact: An Alien Affairs Novel, Book 2, back in June (I’d pre-ordered it) and I should read it. But first I decided to re-read Close Encounters. I read Close Encounters last year when it released and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m a futuristic romance fan and I thought the worldbuilding in Close Encounters was superb, as was the development of both the romantic relationship and the heroine (who is really the main focus of the book). I liked it just as well in re-read, and was quite satisfied when I “closed” the book (I read digitally so it’s not quite the same as closing the book). Close Encounters is recommended.

Unfortunately, I didn’t like Close Contact: An Alien Affairs Novel, Book 2 nearly as well, and it’s not a book I’d reread. I didn’t dislike it, but I was actively aware of its flaws as I was reading. I found this heroine (also the focus of the book) less easy to warm up to and not as likeable. In fact, I found her a bit silly. Because of that silliness, there were areas of the book that felt overdramatic to me, and I never bought into the romantic relationship as much as I did in the first book. Overall, if I’d picked up Close Contact first, I probably would not have moved on to another book, because while it was fine, it didn’t ring my bells. However, since I have seen what the author can do in Close Encounters, I’ll be looking forward to a third book in this world (which continues to be very well drawn, despite my reservations about this particular book).

In the interest of continuing to read books I have, I decided to move on to Nalini Singh and Meljean Brook. First, I read both of their offerings in Burning Up. I’m a long, longtime fan of Nalini’s work, so I wasn’t surprised to love her novella, Whispers of Sin, in this book. But Meljean’s novella–Here There Be Monsters–is an introduction to her upcoming steampunk, The Iron Duke, and oh my Lord, I loved this novella so much. So much that I was really, incredibly thankful I have Iron Duke because I didn’t want to leave that world. Love. I admit that I didn’t read the other two novellas in this book, but I think it’s worth it just for these two novellas.

So, currently reading? The Iron Duke I’m just over halfway through it. It was hard to work today because I wanted to be reading. Actually, I want to be reading now so it was hard to take the time to write this post. So far, I’m loving it. Meljean Brook is a master at steampunk. This world is…incredible. I want to read faster to find out what happens, but slow down because there’s not another book in the world to read! Final report next week but right now? So recommended!

Announcement and random thoughts

As announced on Twitter this morning, I’m super excited to tell you that Samhain is going to start offering our front and backlist in DRM-free EPUB format starting in May. We’ve got a good jump on this, we just need to give our over-worked formatter time to get it all together. Many of you know that I’m a big fan of standard formats, like EPUB, and also a huge believer in not using DRM. Samhain (and really, most epublishers that I know of) don’t use DRM and never have so for us the big announcement is really the addition of the new format, not the DRM-free.

Did you know that Samhain editors are on Twitter? www.twitter.com/samhainpub You’ll find most of the Samhain editors Twittering there, as well as our submissions coordinator. They Twitter about submissions, edits, editing, and life in general. Plus, we’re going to start doing some Twitter contests coming soon!

In the conversations from Twitter file: this past weekend I asked for recommendations for political thrillers and action adventure novels in the vein of Nelson Demille, Clive Cussler, Tom Clancy and Robert Ludlum. I got some great recommendations (and am always happy for more if you have them). I started with two recs. One from agent Deidre Knight for The Girl She Used to Be by David Cristofano. I bought it and loaded it onto the Sony last night. And devoured it. It’s a totally compelling read. The author has a very readable narrative voice and I had to keep turning the pages to see where the story would go next. The main character is interesting, though not entirely likeable, but that actually works for the book because she’s not a perfect character, but an entirely real one with real flaws. I don’t regret spending the $10 for this book and I highly recommend it!

The other recommendation that I followed up on was James Rollins. I decided to go with Sandstorm, the first in his Sigma Force series. I read the first few chapters after I finished The Girl She Used to Be and enjoyed them. I’m looking forward to this evening when I can pick Sandstorm up and keep reading!

The Twitter pitch (twitch) post is still going strong. I’m going to pull some of the favorites and highlight them in a blog post this week.

Last, unrelated to publishing but relevant, I’m going to be traveling a lot in the month of April. We just decided (today) to road trip to my parents’ in North Dakota for Easter. We’ll leave early next week and won’t come back until the following Wednesday. I’ll have a day to pack and regroup before I head to WRW retreat and from there to RT for a week! I’m a little tired just thinking of it but excited because we’ve never gotten to spend a holiday with them since we’ve been married (or since Brianna was born) because of the distance and work schedules. So yay!

TBR Day: Price of Passion by Susan Napier

Yesterday, when I realized TBR day was today, I also realized just how little I’ve read for pleasure in the last month. I think part of this is because I’ve gone through a huge number of submissions and read more fulls in the past few weeks than I did in the previous six months. Mostly due to the fact that I had a really large number of submissions to my shifter anthology.

So I was pretty well resigned to the fact that I hadn’t read anything that would qualify for the TBR challenge because every night I pick up my Sony Reader and page through the 200 books on there, start a few and stop reading. Depressing. In looking at my Library Thing while reading this post, I realized that yes, I hadn’t read a huge number of books, especially in the past two weeks, but in the past month since the last TBR day, I’d read at least two books that qualified and that I very much enjoyed: Pride (Werecats, Book 3) by Rachel Vincent and Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr (I’m still working on Ink Exchange (Wicked Lovely) by Melissa Marr, it’s going a little more slowly for me).

But last night I decided on a whim to turn to my old standby: category. And more specifically, Harlequin Presents. Cheers to HP for always giving me mind candy that I can enjoy without investing too much time or thought (and I mean that in a purely complimentary way, honest!)

In browsing my Sony (hurray for being able to browse by collections I set up, like categories, rather than just the author/title)I found Price of Passion (Harlequin Presents: Pregnant Mistresses) by Susan Napier and decided to give it a go, though most anyone who knows me well will tell you I’m so not a fan of the secret baby trope (which doesn’t explain why I bought this. Maybe because it’s Susan Napier?)

The Amazon blurb:

Kate had learned certain lessons as Drake Daniels’s lover:
Lesson number one: the price of loving Drake was not to love him.
Lesson number two: never give him what he expected.
Discovering she was pregnant certainly fulfilled lesson number two. Drake had made it clear commitment and children were not on his menu. Now Kate must break her news. But when she sees Drake, passion kicks in, begging to be indulged again…

Category is often hard for me to write a review of, because I don’t always have a lot to say. But I did enjoy this book, particularly the heroine. I didn’t find her dense, silly, to suddenly lose brain cells or some of the other things that sometimes prevent my enjoyment of category books. She was smart, she stuck up for herself, she didn’t let the hero walk all over her and she was likable. The book is entirely in her POV, so it was harder to feel close to the hero, but he wasn’t a total asshole and I never wanted to wrap my hands around his neck and squeeze it like a tube of toothpaste. So clearly the book was a win for me!

I should say that I particularly liked the opening, and I did enjoy the setup/plot of the book and the progression of the story. It just felt very well-structured and oddly believable (oddly because that doesn’t always happen in HP). If you’re a fan of category, I do recommend this one!

And since I had brain freeze and forgot I’d read the other two books that would qualify for this month’s TBR challenge (even if I’ve yet to actually meet the genre/category goal) I will say that I also recommend Pride (Werecats, Book 3) by Rachel Vincent and Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

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