Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A Lean Mean Listmaking Machine

OK, OK - I'm not lean. And I don't like to consider myself mean. But I'm a listmaking machine. I have two more for your reading enjoyment

Top 10 reads from previous years

My previous top 10 list was books published in 2005. This list is those that I read in 2005 that were published before 2005 – in some cases 20 years ago. This months ATBF column at AAR is asking about pre 2004 best reads. I posted there already so I’m going to repeat myself here with four of the books that really stood out for me

Sunshine and Shadows by Tom and Sharon Curtis (published 1996). Although it was written in 1986, I didn't read it until 2005. What a beautiful story it is!! It seems a bit dated, having been written almost 20 years ago now - I smiled when Alan put on a phonograph, but still it has a timelessness about it that raises it way above your average book.

Bliss by Judy Cuevas (published 1995) is another one I read for the first time this year thanks to Robin who read my sad yearnings when it was being discussed once again, took pity on me and sent me a copy. While I was reading it that song kept running through my head "they don't write 'em like that anymore". Now I can understand why this book is so raved about.

Bad Karma by Theresa Weir (published 1999). What an unusual heroine this one had. I loved this book. I remember Ms. Weir posting sometime this year that she had queried her editor or agent about some of her older books being re-released and the answer didn't sound encouraging. What a terrible, terrible shame that is because her old books are wonderful and I really think today's readers would love them too. I have a few of them already but my mission this year – and I’ve decided to accept it, is to get hold of her entire back list.

Bed of Spices by Barbara Samuels (published 1993). This is a medieval story with a Jewish hero who is a healer during the Plague. I don't know if such a book would be published in today’s generic climate but I am so glad I had the chance to read this beautiful story.

Shades of Honor by Wendy Lindstrom (published in 2002) This is the first book in the Grayson brothers series. After reading Lips That Touch Mine, I simply HAD to track down her back list. It took some time and a lot of help but I did get my hands on her older books and this one was wonderful, simply wonderful

Across A Moonlit Sea by Marsha Canham (published in 1996) I don’t know how I missed this one when it came out. Maybe I hadn’t discovered Ms. Canham yet – I don’t know. But after reading The Iron Rose the previous year, I knew I wanted to read this one. One of my few Amazon purchases, it was well worth the money. It was a most excellent rollicking Pirate adventure with a very strong kick-ass heroine. I had a real run of them this year and it was right up there.

Once A Pirate by Susan Grant (published in 2000) Now this one is a pirate adventure with a twist! It’s a time travel pirate adventure!!! Combine the two and when they are done well, although completely unbelievable, you have one heck of good yarn. This one was hard to come by but well worth the effort. Amazing that this is her first book!

The Pirate Prince by Gaelen Foley (published 1998) I can hear the laughter! Yes 2005 truly was The Year of the Pirate for this happy reader. Now you know why I was bummed when I was a day late for Talk Like a Pirate Day. I read 3 old (new to me) ones this year and they all made to my best of list! Although I’ve read Foley for years, I didn’t discover her until her second book The Princess, thus missing this one when it first came out. Another hard to find book, this one too, was well worth the effort.

I Got You Babe by Jane Graves (published 2001) Moving (reluctantly) away from Pirates, this is another book I read for the first time this year and really enjoyed. For some reason you rarely hear about Jane Graves books but she is a real buried treasure for me whether writing series as Jane Sullivan or single titles as Jane Graves. This is the first book in her DeMarco family series and I’d been wanting it for quite some time. I’m so glad I found it! She is an author I highly recommend – well except for one book which I loathed with every fibre of my being (and that would be Wild at Heart) whose name I would love to see get more recognition.

Lightning That Lingers by Tom & Sharon Curtis (published 1991) This couple has got to be the greatest loss to the romance book industry bar none. This book by all rights should not have worked. The hero was a stripper (these days he would be referred to as an exotic dancer – but since the book was written in 91 he was still called a stripper). The heroine was a shy retiring virgin. It is corny, it is dated and it is an absolutely beautiful, moving and rich love story. I adored it. That’s the sign of excellent writers, when they take a book that shouldn’t work; that is full of clich├ęs, and turn out a truly remarkable story.

My Top Ten Turkey’s of 2005

I am very bad for not finishing books I’m not enjoying so I wasn’t sure if I would have enough to do this list. But as I was checking my spreadsheet lo and behold, there are at least 10 that fall into this category. So here they are – in no particular order – the top 10 books I either could not finish or if I did, I did not enjoy. Keep in mind, these are all my personal dislikes and just cause I didn’t like them, it didn’t make them a bad book.

He Loves Lucy by Susan Donovan. I made it over ¾ of the way through this one before I gave up. I like Susan Donovan’s books and I will continue to read them, but I just did not like this one. I was turned off this one at the very beginning when Lucy chocked on the candy. It was supposed to be a funny scene but I found it very sad and upsetting and not the least bit funny. Still, because I like her writing I continued on. But in the end even the good writing couldn’t save this one for me

The Trouble with Valentine’s Day by Rachel Gibson. I have a love/hate relationship with her books. When she is good as she is with See Jane Score, she is very very good, but when she is bad as I found this one, Lola Carlyle Reveals All and Daisy’s Back in Town, she is awful – at least to me. I will also continue to read her books because she can hit them out of the ballpark, and continue to hope she is very good.

The Perfect Desire by Leslie LaFoy. I can’t put my finger really on why this one didn’t work. I think it might be because she is an auto-by author and up till this book every one was a keeper. Maybe it’s disappointment that she seems to be stuck in merry old England when many of her other books were such different and unique settings. I checked her website and while it seems she has been writing series and women’s fiction for Harlequin she does have a historical coming up – not in Regency England. But sigh in Victorian England. Come back Ms LaFoy to America where you belong – I beg of you!!! Come back!

Heart Choice by Robin Owens. This was a DNF for one reason and one reason only. The stupid damn Fam or cat. Now I know the author loves cats. I love cats. They are my favourite animal. I want a cat. I’m presently working on my husband on getting us another cat. If we do I can scan pictures and show everyone just like Nicole and Gambit. I will probably be a dotty old lady with a house full of cats when I’m old.
But by the time I was on the fourth chapter of this book I wanted to yell – “ENOUGH WITH THE FRIGGIN’ CATS ALREADY!!! Is this book a romance or an ode to an obnoxious cat?”

Leaving Normal by Stef Ann Holm. I blogged about this one. Nuff said since I know many people liked this one. To much of a women’s fiction for my taste.

Too Perfect by Julie Ortolon. I blogged about this one too. I don’t want to say anymore because Tara (who's been playing around with her blog I see) bought it and she might like it and then we would disagree. Then I would feel bad and then she would too. The ending was good though. I liked the ending.

The Stone Prince by Gena Showalter I couldn’t finish this one even though I quite liked another Showalter book I read this year and one of Alyssa’s faves, Heart of the Dragon. The heroine is a real twit in this one though. This is the death knell for any book. If the heroine is a twit – that’s it. Adios! Can’t believe I wasted my time, they killed a tree for this? And so on, and so on. I should have know it was really going nowhere when the 30 something virgin heroine kissed a stone statue. Twit!

What do you say to a Naked Elf by Cheryl Sterling. Well maybe not to the naked elf but to the author what I would say is what the heck kind of medication are you on Ms Sterling? Honestly, this was the most – well – for lack of a better word – frantic book I’ve tried to read. It was like the books took place at double speed or something. Zing, zing, zing, I felt like I was a spectator in the middle of a hardball game. This one was faster than I could keep up with. I got about half way through and was too tired to continue.

Lord of Sin by Madeline Hunter - I read and didn’t care for her books since she left medieval times behind. I managed to finish the others, but I got part way through this one and just couldn’t get any further knowing how wonderful her medievals were and how few good ones there are anymore. The books she’s writing now are a dime a dozen and I just don’t want to invest any more dimes in Madeline Hunter. Unless of course she goes back to Medievals. Then I’ll invest a lot more that 10 cents.

My Surrender by Connie Brockway I so wanted to like this book, I really did! I gave it more chances than most books and tried four different times but just could not get into it. Ms. Brockway is an incredible writer and darn it all I should have put her on my top ten authors list. But then of course there was this book. Sigh She is switching to contemporaries and I think this may have been her last historical. I’ll follow her but what a sad way to end a brilliant run of historical books.

Qustion of the Day

Why did they move the office hottie kiddie corner from me. Now we have high walls so we can't see each other but hearing is very good. I love a can of caffine free diet coke in the afternoons. You should have seen the contortions I made trying not to ummmmmmmm

'til later


sybil said...

la la la... do you realize I have posted in the last two days than in the last two months. hee you guys have got to be ready for me to go away again ;).

Judy Cuevas so doesn't seem to be my thing but I think you have finally sold me on Tom and Sharon Curtis. I need to track down Lightning That Lingers.

I have Bad Karma, Bed of Spices and Once A Pirate all tbr because of you ;). And Shades of Honor I kick myself for not buying. If it is the one I am thinking of, there were two when I picked up your copy. And Across A Moonlit Sea by Marsha Canham was already in the tbr mountain.

I am so going to get my hands on Leslie LaFoy american backlist. I liked Lord of Sin, not my fave but good. The series has some I really like but I do have to agree her medievals rocked. I recently reread them all.

Kristie (J) said...

I notice you've been posting more and glad I am to see it!!! I (we all) missed you while you were gone. I'd say which one you should start with but looking at all of the ones you have I can't decide. I lurved them all!

Tara Marie said...

I don't seperate books by publishing year, that's how I ended up with several oldies but goodies on my favorites list. Maybe I'll keep track of the 2006s this year. I've read most of the books you listed with the exceptions of Tom and Sharon Curtis--can't find them, maybe I should try trading for them.

I read 10 pages of the "Elf" book and thought "No way, I'm not wasting my time." My sister thought I was crazy when I said I didn't like the LaFoy.

Kristie (J) said...

Tara: you would not believe the intricate and all powerful spead sheet I have. What with filtering and all, in the wink of an eye, I can come up with what book I read, in what year it was published, in what year I read it, in what genre, how I rated it, how many I have by any particular author etc, etc etc. It is an amazing thing to behold. I can send you a copy if you're ever interested in setting one up. When they let me go at my old job, I almost panicked because I hadn't kept my home copy up to date. I did most of the updating at work over lunch. Thank goodness my sister works there and could send it to me. My (almost) very first thought when I got home that night was "OMG!!!!! My spreadsheet" I kid you not - true story.

Jay said...

Aww I liked the 2 Rachel Gibsons you hated and I cant bring myself to read See Jane Score because I know its a hockey story. And truth be told, I dont really like heroines named Jane. Hmm, there was something else I wanted to say but se fue, gone! I can't remember at all. Time for bed.

Giselle said...

Hey Kristie,
I have several of Weir titles somewhere. Off the top of my head I have Last Summer, Pictures of Emily, American Dreamer and Amazon Lily. Maybe more. Seeing as how I've owed you some books for a century or so lemme know if you want any or all of these and I'll pack them off to ya :)

Suisan said...

Great list.

Course I'm not sure if I've read ANY book published in 2005 in the year 2005. Wait, I read A Singualr Lady & Hot Spell this year.

But usually I'm about a decade behind the regular romance reading public.

CindyS said...

*hand waving madly in the air*

Me, me, a spreadsheet already done! How sweet that would be!

My hubby knows excel but everytime I go there it's like starting from scratch again. If you use it daily it sticks, when you don't, it rots - you can take that any way you like ;)

I'm just going to start printing off your blog recommendations because for the most part, we are reading opposite of each other.

I really want to get that Bed of Spices book! I think I keep getting it confused with another books about Bed of Tears or something. I just received Sunshine and Shadows from the trade list but it will linger there for a while because someone ::cough:: Rosario ::cough:: has called me on my 'gonna read Balogh' promises. I had no clue people were actually listening to me ;)

Now I'm going to follow your lead once again and blog about books from other years!


CindyS said...

P.S. I couldn't figure out the sentence about the office hottie. I kept thinking, 'wouldn't she be happy not to have the child day care near her?' (kiddie corner).

I mentioned not being bright, right?


Kristie (J) said...

Giselle: Wow!! If your serious, American Dreamer, Pictures of Emily and Last Summer are all books I don't have. I would LOVE them if you are sure.

Jay: Well, if you're Canadian, and if you love Romance, hockey romance is simply a "must read" Dierdre Martin is so so. She had some major no no's in her second hockey book, but I LOVED SJS.

Cindy: I have one I can send you shortly. It's not the entire spread sheet but just the ones since I started working where I am now - habits don't you know. I will send it to you along with instructions on how to use the filter tool. Of course that either means you will have to delete and replace or go out and buy all the books on my list *grin*.

And I laughed when I read the comment about the office cutie. "how come she doesn't know what a hottie is?" I wondered at first. Then it dawned on me (even though you used quotes) you meant the kiddie part. I guess it should have read kity corner *grin*

Rosario said...

Ugh, I was so happy when I was reading the part about Jane Graves, because I just pulled one of hers from the TBR. And then I realized it was Wild at Heart. Double ugh.

Rosario, who also has an incredibly complicated spreadsheet to track books read. It makes graphs and everything ;-)

Kristie said...

Rosario:Well Wild at Heart might be fun to read to get rid of all your unexpressed hostility. The hero(????) in this book deserved to have his balls removed - slowly, painfully, without any kind of numbing medication to ease the pain. Then the heroine should have sued his ass until he was forced to sell his blood. Kicking him to the curb isn't nearly enough. The bastard deserved to suffer - for the rest of his natural born life. There! See! Good way to express aggression. Now I'm dying for you to read to see what you think. A real good "I haaaaattttteeeeee this book can be fun sometimes. Really! In a picking scabs kind of way. It is a complete abberation on all her other books and I've read quite a few. And I'm going to have to ask you how you get graphs! I've been trying to do those for years but all I get is a huge lumpy mess.

Nicole said...

Oooh...I have See Jane Score in my tbr pile. And hockey...The Wild won last night. :-)

Kristie said...

Nicole: You simply MUST read this one being the hockey fan you are. This is my favourite Gibson.

Interesting tidbit no one probably cares about.
Although Canada is a "hockey mad" country, it's not the "national" sport. Lacrosse is. Odd that!

ag said...

I love a good pirate book now and then. And seeing as how you've got a thing for pirates, I got a hunch you may like Gaelen Foley's next Knight Miscellany instalment -- bringing you Jack's story.

I take my hat off to you!! Excel spreadsheet... hmmm.

Rosario said...

Erm, Kristie? After what you say about Wild At Heart, I'm kind of not too eager to read it!

I'm emailing you about excel...

CW said...

The Sterling was a wallbanger DNF for me. As for the Weirs...lucky gal!

cw, who should keep up her spreadsheets.

Rosario said...

BTW, I thought you should know, since you're the one responsible: all day today (and it's already been 6 or 7 times so far), I've been catching myself chanting to myself "I'm a LEAN, MEAN list-making ma-CHINE, I'm a LEAN, MEAN list-making ma-CHINE!" over and over. Thank you, Kristie! ;-)

Kristie (J) said...

Suisan: Oh my - how can you resist buying current books?? I see ones I want and my heart starts beating harder, I break out in a sweat and I simply cannot rest until I take the particular book that's calling me home with me.

Ro: It was the kick him to the curb comment wasn't it? I knew I went to far with that one. And I see that voice running around in your head is making itself known.

Ag: Believe me, I'm starting to get excited over that one already. I'm hoping the release of the next Pirates of the Caribbean will get writers writing them again. And although they didn't quite make the top ten another few really good pirate books I read this year are For Her Love, Into His Arms and Nobody's Saint by Paula Quinn. Also there are a few good yarns by Jennifer Ashley that didn't quite make it either. It truly was THE YEAR OF THE PIRATE.

cw: I bought the Elf one based on the excellent review it got at AAR and 'cause it sounded different. It was different alright!!

ReneeW said...

You are so right about the Curtises. It's a real crime they aren't still writing. I loved both those books. Haven't read any of your pirate books :) but I did read The Iron Rose and loved it. I laughed at your turkey list (especially the FRIGGIN' CATS). I like cats in books but there is a limit. However, I did like Leaving Normal more than you, but I can see your point. The first half was way into Women's Fiction territory (and I almost tossed it). But the second half saved it for me. And that 'Elf' book... horrible, I heaved that one at the wall around chapter 2. Stupid title, stupid book, gag!

PS. I was thinking the same thing as Cindy about the 'kiddie' corner. Really threw me off till you explained it. LOL.

Kristie (J) said...

Renee: Sigh, yes the Curtises. And I like cats in my books too, but the cats in these books are thinking and talking cats. And obnoxious thinking cats. The book is trouble when there is just as much dialogue between the cats and other cats and/or cats and their owners than there is between hero/heroine. I've read her other books and although the cats annoyed me, it wasn't until I tried to read this one and it went on and on and on and on about how this really dislikeable cat wanted her own room and had little cat temper tantrums. On almost every page!!!
Maybe that's why subconciously, when I got to the thought of the day my mind wouldn't let me use kity. Still in obnoxious cat mode. And I found the solution to the pop. Open it earlier so it's gone a bit flat and I don't have to try so hard not to let out an extremely large belch.

Wendy said...

I read ONCE A PIRATE for review way back when (I even remember where I finished it - in the hospital waiting room while Mom had back surgery!). Loved it with every fiber of my being. I really need to do a reread of that one.

You lost me with I GOT YOU BABE, which I hated with a burning seething passion. I found the heroine completely brain dead - and since the hero put up with her crap I thought even less of him. I hated it so much I vowed "never again" when fate stepped in and I had to review LIGHT MY FIRE. That baby was one of the best books I read in 2004. Cannot recommend that one enough! Go figure.....

Jay said...

aww but the burp is the most satisfying part of drinking Coke lol

Kristie (J) said...

Wendy: I had to laugh. Sounds like my Wild at Heart is your I Got You Babe *chuckle*. I'm with you on Light my Fire though.

Jay: it is unless you sit *KITY* corner from the cutest guy in the whole place.