My Favorite Reads 2010
Last Christmas, my husband bought me a Kindle. I wasn’t sure I’d like it. I liked holding a book in my hand, hearing the pages turn.
Yeah, that was last Christmas. This Christmas I’m wondering how I’m going to manage my rapidly growing collection of Kindle books. My husband is thrilled that he doesn’t have to put together more bookcases. And I’ve read more this past year than I have since college.
To mark the end of the year and my Kindle’s first birthday, I’ve compiled an alphabetical list of my favorite books of the last year. These books weren’t necessarily published in the last year, just read by me during the last year.
Beautiful Darkness, Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Ethan Wate used to think of Gatlin, the small Southern town he had always called home, as a place where nothing ever changed. Then he met mysterious newcomer Lena Duchannes, who revealed a secret world that had been hidden in plain sight all along. A Gatlin that harbored ancient secrets beneath its moss-covered oaks and cracked sidewalks. A Gatlin where a curse has marked Lena's family of powerful Supernaturals for generations. A Gatlin where impossible, magical, life-altering events happen.
Together they can face anything Gatlin throws at them, but after suffering a tragic loss, Lena starts to pull away, keeping secrets that test their relationship. And now that Ethan's eyes have been opened to the darker side of Gatlin, there's no going back. Haunted by strange visions only he can see, Ethan is pulled deeper into his town's tangled history and finds himself caught up in the dangerous network of underground passageways endlessly crisscrossing the South, where nothing is as it seems.
Last year, my favorite book was Beautiful Creatures, the first book in the Caster Chronicles series. I enjoyed reading a YA book told from a guy’s POV (Ethan rocks, btw), and the Southern gothic setting clinched it for me. To say I was waiting on pins and needles for the second book is understating it … a lot.
As much as I love Beautiful Creatures, I love Beautiful Darkness more. In Beautiful Darkness, Ethan goes on an incredible journey to learn about himself and his family and to save the girl, and he comes out stronger for it in the end.
It’s a long, long wait until book three. *wasting away*
Drawn Together, Z.A. Maxfield
Rory might just be a simple southern boy from St. Antoine’s Parish Louisiana, but he knows what he wants. He’s been in love with the girl of his dreams, reclusive and mysterious artist Ran Yamane, since junior high school. And now he has the chance to meet her. He’s going to chuck everything and travel 1,500 miles to Anime Expo in Long Beach to tell her, and no one and nothing is going to stand in his way.
Ran Yamane is not a girl, but he gets that a lot. People come to him with teddy bears and chocolates and disappointment by the truckload. He’s trusted fans in the past and been tragically wrong. So when he meets Rory he’s understandably wary, but resigned. What he’s not prepared for is his magnetic attraction to the young man, Rory’s apparent willingness to overlook his gender, and the fact that their lives are both thrown into chaos when his number one fan (and psycho stalker) shows up to get revenge.
I have to admit that the cover of this book is what initially drew me to it. (P. L. Nunn, I want you to design all my books covers when I, you know, actually get published.) I’d read (and enjoyed) Z.A. Maxfield’s Stirring up Trouble, and, when I checked out her website, this cover just jumped out at me.
I seriously don’t know how to express how much I absolutely adore this book. Rory and Yamane are completely meant to be, even if they don’t always know it themselves. And the psycho stalker? She is one scary individual. (And, when I went back and looked over this book to write this post, I ended up reading the entire thing again.)
Hammer & Air, Amy Lane
Graeme and Eirn have no words for what they are to each other. Children, clinging together in a crowded orphanage; friends, battling back to back in a school yard; and bedmates, finally bridging the gap between sleeping next to a body and allowing it to touch you in the night—all of these roles are summed up by just their names: Hammer and Air.
The innocent exploration of their newest roles is brutally marred when a violent, ill-tempered master threatens Eirn, and Eirn's "Hammer" kills the man in a fair fight. The two run off into the wide world with only each other for safety. It's difficult to forge a good life with only a blacksmith's hammer and a printer's cleverness, but together, Hammer and Eirn will learn to negotiate the dangers of magic and motion, of sex, obsession, and tenderness, and of the word that can make sense of it all—one word they must earn for themselves.
This book snuck up on me. Sure, I couldn’t put it down. True, I was completely sucked into Eirn and Hammer’s story. And there were times I wondered where they were going to end up. Then I reached the end of the book and I CRIED. Big crocodile tears even.
“There will always be a Hammer and an Eirn.”
*sniffle* See, I’m doing it again.
Junjou Romantica, Shungiku Nakamura
Misaki is struggling to pass his college entrance exams, and has taken up a tutor: the cool and sexy Akihiko Usami, who also happens to be a famous boys' love novelist. At first, Misaki is disgusted by Akihiko, but slowly, Misaki realizes he may be developing feelings for the older man. And so begins the bumpy relationship of this odd couple, filled with comedy and pure romance.
Come on, did you really think we’d get through a list without JR appearing on it somewhere? Yea verily and henceforth, let us refer to 2010 as The Year Kerry Discovered Junjou Romantica. *blare of trumpets*
What can I say that I haven’t already said? Junjou rocks. The End.
Knight Errant, KD Sarge
From pickpocket and con artist to little brother and trusted comrade is a tough transition, but Taro is making it. His new sister, former Marine Eve Marcori, promised his dead mother she'd "look after" him. To her that means family, home--her interstellar freighter--and a solid future. In four years she has trained Taro extensively; the next step is college. Taro would rather be shot, but he never forgets his debt to Eve, so he means to honor her plans or die in the attempt.
When Eve rescues former joy-boy and current layabout Rafe Ballard, death seems the likely outcome. Rafe is so apparently useless that Eve calls him 'the baggage' and appoints Taro his custodian. Irritated into disobedience by his carefree charge, Taro tries to get rid of Rafe. Instead he gets them both kidnapped by the jealous husband Rafe was fleeing. Though they are off-planet before Taro can act, his training may be enough to bring them safely through--but now he has bigger problems. Forced into partnership--and freedom--with Rafe, Taro begins to see him differently. Kind, funny, and caring, Rafe is everything Taro never knew he wanted. And all he can't have. Eve's plans leave no room for a playboy boyfriend who can never measure up, and Taro can't let her down.
Caught between the sister he'd die for and the man he's beginning to live for, Taro decides it's time to start making his own plans. And if the new skills aren't enough, he'll give the old ones a try.
I don’t know why I keep saying I don’t like sci-fi. Two of my favorite authors (Frank Herbert and Madeleine L'Engle) are sci-fi authors. Two of my three favorite books (by aforesaid authors) are sci-fi books. I’m just sci-fi picky, I guess.
Knight Errant is a great book, and Taro and Rafe are a great couple. Watching Taro accept who he is (not the co-ed type) and who he wants (definitely the Rafe type) is thoroughly entertaining. The secondary characters are just as colorful as Taro and Rafe. And, as much as I love a naughty book, I didn’t miss the sex scenes. Don’t get me wrong, Taro and Rafe are not celibate creatures by any means, but KD leaves all that up to the imagination … and I have a very, very dirty imagination ;)
Mistletoe at Midnight, LB Gregg (from the His for the Holidays anthology)
Owen McKenzie has traveled to Vermont to spend an old-fashioned Christmas with his family when he finds himself staying at the same inn as his first love. Owen is disconcerted to realize he's still attracted to Caleb Black but refuses to pursue him. Caleb left him once, and Owen's not going down that road again.
Caleb is ready for a second chance with Owen and gets it when fate and the matchmaking McKenzies conspire to strand the two men in a rustic cabin during a snowstorm on Christmas Eve. Can Caleb convince Owen to rekindle their romance so they can stop spending their holidays apart?
While all the stories in the His of the Holidays anthology are seriously good, Mistletoe at Midnight is my favorite. I’m a sucker for stories involving a return to your first love, and Owen and Caleb are great characters to root for. The story also has a great humor running through it, which makes it a wonderfully cheery story to read.
More, Sloan Parker
For fifteen years Luke Moore has lived by three rules: stay off his father's radar, never spend more than a single night with any man, and never fall in love again. But one night of explosive sex and two men whom he can’t get out of his head have Luke breaking them all. Richard and Matthew push him past all his boundaries—both sexually and personally—and now he’s no longer hiding from his senator father; he’s taking him on. And he isn’t just falling for one man; he’s falling for two. If you're going to break the rules, might as well break them big.
But Luke’s father has his reasons for hating how his son lives, and he’ll do whatever he can and use all his power to keep Luke away from Richard and Matthew.
Can this threesome find a way to make their unconventional relationship last with the world around them trying to pull them apart? And will Luke be able to keep breaking his rules for Richard and Matthew, or will he head back to his familiar way of life just when his new lovers want to bind him tighter?
I didn’t just add this book to my list because it’s hot (it is) or because Sloan is awesome (she is). I included it because I really enjoyed it. The main and secondary characters are really interesting (can’t wait to read Walter’s book Sloan’s working on), and it’s got a good undercurrent of mystery. Did I mention it’s hot? ;)
I also asked my writing buddies to tell me their favorite read of 2010:
Will Grayson, Will Grayson, John Green & David Levithan
One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two teens—both named Will Grayson—are about to cross paths. As their worlds collide and intertwine, the Will Graysons find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, building toward romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history’s most fabulous high school musical.
"Not one but two Will Grayson's, both with incredibly authentic and endearing voices, both struggling to figure out their identities as they navigate high school, their lives intersecting on one fateful night outside a porn shop. Throw in the larger than life, flamboyant Tiny Cooper and a final scene that takes place during a musical and you have a recipe for pure win."
Tessa Conte chose:
Raised By Wolves, Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Adopted by the Alpha of a werewolf pack after a rogue wolf brutally killed her parents right before her eyes, fifteen-year-old Bryn knows only pack life, and the rigid social hierarchy that controls it. That doesn't mean that she's averse to breaking a rule or two.
But when her curiosity gets the better of her and she discovers Chase, a new teen locked in a cage in her guardian's basement, and witnesses him turn into a wolf before her eyes, the horrific memories of her parents' murders return. Bryn becomes obsessed with getting her questions answered, and Chase is the only one who can provide the information she needs.
But in her drive to find the truth, will Bryn push too far beyond the constraints of the pack, forcing her to leave behind her friends, her family, and the identity that she's shaped?
"I wasn't expecting much when I started to read this - just another YA-ish shifter story, right? Kind of a Mercedes Thompson for young adults. But then I started reading...and could not put the book down until I was done. Well written, engaging characters and lots of tension … definitely my favourite read of the year!"
Anna and the French Kiss, Stephanie Perkins
Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris - until she meets Etienne St. Clair: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.
As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near - misses end with the French kiss Anna - and readers - have long awaited?
"Stephanie Perkins creates a fantastic story with sympathetic, real characters. I was able to read it in a matter of hours and I did a lot of sighing, laughing, gasping, and didn't want to put it down the entire time. I fell in love with imperfectly perfect Etienne' St. Clair and thought that Anna was a great anti-heroine as she was funny, snarky, smart, and seemed like a real teen girl but was not annoying. Perkins had the perfect literary storm of snark, brains, silliness, and sweetness. I adored this book :)"
Kimberley Dane tagged:
Channeling Morpheus series, Jordan Castillo Price
These novelette-length stories are scary as hell and packed with freaky sex. Michael is a waif in eyeliner who's determined to wipe vampires off the face of the earth. Wild Bill's got his eye on Michael, and he's willing to do anything to go home with him. If the romance between Gomez & Morticia gives you goosebumps of delight, if you look forward to Halloween movie marathons all year long, if you've got a soft spot for fake fog and black lights, then Channeling Morpheus is the series for you!
"My favourite read of the year would have to be the Channeling Morpheus series by Jordan Castillo Price. I've always been a sucker for a good vampire story, couple that with a pretty boy in eyeliner and lots (and I mean LOTS) of very, very hot sex and Channeling Morpheus is a shoe in for my top spot."
What was your favorite read of 2010? Which book are you looking forward to in 2011?