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?

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.

Ask an editor: What do you love?

I think it’s only fair to follow the “what do you hate” post from earlier in the week with a post of the three things that are just about guaranteed to grab me when I’m reading

1) Injure the heroine: Yes, I’m a bit sick in the head, but I love it when the heroine is in mortal danger, and it makes the hero realize he can’t live without her and loves her. I love it when the heroine is shot, stabbed, traumatically injured in some way (not rape, ha!) and it creates a moment of loss for the hero so horrible, he can’t believe how bleak and colorless life will be without her (but you can do it without the melodrama of my description, lol).

2) Grovel: I love love love a good grovel. If the hero or heroine have wrongly accused their love interest of something, if they’ve thought they did something heinous, and treated them accordingly, and then find out…oh noes! they were wrong, then I love a good grovel. And I mean make it good. Make the person delivering the grovel mean it, and work for it. I don’t want easy forgiveness, I want them to crawl on their knees with the grovel. But this is a fine line, because I also don’t want the other person to drag on granting forgiveness for too long. And I don’t want the hero/heroine to lose their strength while groveling. I want them to grovel because of the strength of their personality, to make them seem even stronger. I also don’t want a grovel just because the other person feels wronged (and they really weren’t).

3) Insurmountable odds: I adore a book that creates a conflict so strong, so wrenching, that I have no idea how the hero/heroine are going to overcome it. The caveat here is that I need to also know and believe that they ARE going to overcome it (ie, have some sort of happy ending). I don’t want to be taken through the wringer and not get some sort of positive payoff in the end. This is why I love romance. I know the positive payoff is there. It’s also the reason I sometimes peek at the end of non-romance books, so I know if I should invest my emotional energy in the book and characters, or walk away.

Your turn. What things in a book will instantly grab you?

Ask the editor: What do you hate?

I am so fortunate. Today I said on Twitter and Facebook,  “Do you have a burning question for an editor? I need a blog topic.” I got a tremendous response of some really great, amazing questions. Not all of them about editing, either! So I’m going to be using my blog, and the Carina Press blog, to answer the “ask the editor” questions in the coming weeks. If you’re not on Twitter (or Facebook), and you have a question, feel free to leave it in the comments!

Today, @romancinkatrina asked: Three things that make you hurl a book across the room faster than seeing a spider on the wall.

This seems like it should be such an easy question, right? But I really had to think about it, because I couldn’t immediately think of the huge hot button issues that I always know won’t work for me. But I did finally come up with a few things I came up with that are issues for me in reading:

1) Rape: no, not the use of rape in a book in general, but when the main character (usually the heroine but sometimes it’s a hero) is shown as having been raped recently, especially within the book’s timeframe, but seems to suffer no emotional or psychological trauma, and just merrily goes on their way. Rape is a horrible act, and using it as a plot device or a character device, simply to add conflict to the book, and then disregarding all the consequences of that conflict makes me insane, and it strikes me as disrespectful of all the people who’ve suffered this. Don’t show the heroine (or hero) as jumping into bed with their romantic lead soon after the event, don’t ignore that the tragedy of having this happen has the potential to change how they act and react, and who they are. Don’t make it just a convenience. Don’t just use it because you want something horrible to happen to your characters to show you’re not afraid to torture them. (for the record, I remain impressed with how Patricia Briggs handles this in the Mercy Thompson series)

2) Big Misunderstandings: I’m not a fan of this plot device, so it can pretty often make me want to kick someone’s characters in the head. The problem, for me, with the Big Mis, is that it’s just so often the result of two people who are too stubborn and stupid to just say “Why did you do this” and instead play these passive-aggressive games that keep them apart. Passive-aggression doesn’t make ANYONE likeable, and when the only conflict keeping two people apart is stubborness and stupidity, I figure they don’t deserve to be happy anyway!

3) Unclean sex: Oh, just ew here. I apologize to anyone who’s easily embarrassed, but this one’s going to be a little more graphic (Dad, stop reading). There’s a few things in erotic romances that bother me in regards to “unclean” sex. I’m no prude but I draw the line at books that portray the hero going from the back hole to the front with no sanitary clean up in between. Do you have any IDEA of the kind of bacteria and illness that can introduce to women’s bodies? Say it with me, “ewwwww!” Also, if you’re going to show your hero/heroine in a masturbation scene, and something happens immediately after where they have to go answer the phone/door, etc., can they PLEASE wash their hands somehow. Because again…ew. That makes me want to run for the hand sanitizer and bathe in it.

Bonus: I’m not entirely sure “hint of tuna” while kissing would make me stop reading, but if a book becomes too gross as far as bodily functions and “reality”, I will toss the book. I’d like some mystery in the relationship, please.

I also won’t continue a book if I can’t connect with the characters or if I don’t understand their motivation. Sure, I might not agree with their motivation, but I need to know why they’re doing something. Unlikeable characters I don’t understand can be a deal breaker for me in a book I’m reading.

Okay, you got mine. Your turn. What will make you throw a book (or wish you could throw it if you’re reading digitally) faster than seeing a spider on the wall across the room?

Goodreads part II

Last week I mentioned I’d been using Goodreads to track my reads and my thoughts on some of the books. Some of you said you liked my reviews, thanks! One of the things I wanted to ask in that post, and didn’t, is how you use Goodreads. I often feel like there’s a lot more potential I could be getting from the site that I’m not, because in the past I’ve focused on just tracking my books, and I feel a little overwhelmed about venturing outside my own library.

For instance, I know there are discussions that occur there, but are those only in group areas or are there non-group areas? And how do I track people’s reviews and get notified of them? By following? It appears that I have lots of friends, but am not following anyone. What does following do?

Also, what groups do you recommend? When I first joined Goodreads, I wanted to use it to track what I was reading. I moved “up” to adding mini-reviews when I felt moved to do so. It’s nice, because any time I’ve reviewed here on the blog, I’ve always felt like I need to have a lengthy, more detailed and formal review. On Goodreads, I can just slap a few thoughts down, mostly for myself but if someone else finds them useful, yay!

I guess what I’m looking for is to hear from some of you as to how you use Goodreads, other than just tracking your own reading. What are some of the best features of Goodreads, in your opinion, and what do you wish more people would take advantage of, that they might not know about?

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