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.

Recommend me a book, please

I’m ready to load some new books on my Sony (really, I have 100s of unread books on there, but what does that matter?)

Here are the parameters:

It has to be from a digital publisher, not from a large press publisher. I want to support small presses this weekend.

It cannot be your own book (sorry!).

It has to be longer than 12,000 words (I can’t bring myself to spend money on anything shorter).

You have to have actually read the book.

Genre doesn’t matter.

Who’s got something amazing for me to read?

(and yes, I am alive. I’m just taking some time off from blogging. I’ll be back!)

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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