Monday, December 29, 2008

Read any good books lately?

So it’s the end of the year and I’m taking stock of the past 12 months. Thinking about New Year’s resolutions and definitely procrastinating about those closets I didn’t clean last year. In the midst of all this preparation for January 1st I’ve been thinking over the books I’ve read the past year. And I was wondering...

1) What's the best book you've read in the past 12 months?
2) Why?
3) How has it affected your thinking (or your writing)?

This can be fiction or non-fiction.
I asked a group of friends these questions last year about this time. It was fascinating to hear their answers. I’m curious to hear your answers, too, as I’m always looking for new authors to try!

I was very surprised to find that the book I’d started the year with, I’m ending the year with as well. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. I read it last year over the Christmas break on the recommendations of both a friend and a family member. It was quite wonderful. Gothic in tone, it reminded me of my favorite book growing up—Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca. This year, I don’t believe I’ve read anything that’s topped it. This has made my "top ten best of all time."

Ms. Setterfield really knows her way around sentence structure. The way she wove the words together painted such incredible pictures in my mind. It was a pleasure. I felt I was “bathing” in the language. Sometimes, I get somewhat impatient with that, but not here.

I think more than anything, I didn't analyze the writing, I just enjoyed it. It was the first time in a great while that's happened for me.

As to how it's effected my writing...Certainly it has encouraged me to stretch myself more in describing things. In writing suspense I tended to get very sparse in the interest of tension. Looking back at what I learned from Setterfield, I rediscovered the beauty you can have in meaty language, even in the suspenseful, tension-filled scenes. The importance of wrapping a few more words around the action and painting more visceral pictures.

How about ya'll? What have been your great reads this year?

A commenter will be chosen randomly to receive a copy of my debut January release, Better Than Bulletproof. I’ll post the winner tomorrow morning along with our grand Free Rice total. (See "Vegging on the Internet?..." December 10th post) If you've been keeping track- include your Free Rice number, too. (ex. FR 3340)

Hmm, reading is so much more fun than cleaning out closets!

Merry New Year!

Kay Thomas (FR 3340)
Better Than Bulletproof ~ January 13, 2009


  1. Hi Kay,
    I love finding new authors who inspire me and my latest amazing find is Loreth Anne White. In the midst of selling our home and moving to Texas, I snuck in the next installment of her 'Shadow Soldiers' series, "The Heart of a Renegade." I have her next book in the series, "MANHUNTER," but between boxes and the holidays, I haven't read it - yet. :) To me, she writes the most incredible description, her books are action packed and best, her characters are amazingly real. It's like I'm standing in the jungle, desert, forest, or wherever her setting is. Flat out AMAZING writing! I'm jealous in all good ways. :)
    I wish you a fabulous 2009. May it be your best yet!

    Diana Cosby
    His Captive/Alexander MacGruder
    His Woman/Duncan MacGruder - 4 star Romantic Times review
    Title TBA/Seathan MacGruder - Date TBA
    Title TBA/Patrik [Cleary] MacGruder

  2. Right now I'm re-readin the first 6 books of the Cynster series by Stephanie Laurens, her newest "Cynster" book comes out in March, "Temptation and Surrender" and since she started the series back in 1998, I kind of felt the need to go back to the beginning; to remember how it all started out. The best book I've read for 2008? That's a hard question! OMG, there's just too many "good" books LOL! There is one that made me ponder; about how we as a society treated our returning veterans and it was "Dark Light" by Jayne Castle. When she wrote how the people, society, government, intelligentsia, ect., treated retired "Ghosthunters", I couldn't help but compare that to our returning vets. How we "vocally" support and pat them on the back, but what do we do to support them.

  3. Hi, Kay!
    Best book I've read this year ... dang, I can't remember any that really jumped out. Recently I read DON'T SCREAM by Wendy Corsi Staub and I thought that was pretty good. There were so many plots and subplots going on--that's what my writing lacks, I know, so I guess that's what I'll be focusing on.

    Also read a YA paranormal called GENERATION DEAD, author escapes me (Daniel someone). It was pretty good--really different.

    I HAVE to clean out closets! Ugh.

    Kara Lennox

  4. Good morning, Diana
    Thanks for stopping by. Oh, I just love it when a book takes me completely away to another place. That feeling of escape is why I first fell in love with reading as a child. How great to find an author who does that description so very well!

    hi wstridgerunner-
    I have never read the Cynster series but you've made me realize I should. It's so fun to anticipate the next book from an author I really love and I know what you mean about going back and "refreshing" the memory on a series that has spanned several years.
    DARK LIGHT sounds fascinating as well. Those are compelling parallels you draw.
    Thanks for your suggestions. I'm getting some great ideas for my "to be read" list for 2009.

  5. If I had to pick just one really great read this year it would have to be Loreth Anne White's MANHUNTER. But that's not fair to all the other great authors and books as I had a lot of other books that could fall in the great category. However I will say that this book had me reading until the end barely putting it down to do anything else. Intrigue writers are good about keeping me reading straight through also including the FIVE ALARM BABIES series and 43 LIGHT STREET series and THE SILVER STAR OF TEXAS.

    Ok as for free rice my total is 43,420.

  6. I read a lot of fantastic books this year, so it's hard to pick just one. But, the book I got the most excited about was All About Evie by Beth Ciotta. Evie is 40 and fabulous. This book has passion, romance, adventure and humor. I loved the sequel too- Everybody Loves Evie and I cannot wait for the final book- Evie Ever After which will be out March 2009

    On an aside, I too am a big Loreth Ann White fan, I am reading her Shadow Solidiers series and Manhunter is in my TBR pile. Her books are some of the best I read this year.

  7. I read so many books that it is difficult for me to pick one outstanding one. I read Karen Kingsbury's Sunrise Series recently. All of her books totoally draw me in and keep me reading. I become so wrapped up in her characters that I forget that they are fictional and feel as if they are personal friends. I also read all of Julie Miller's lastest series set in Kansas City. I so enjoy her books because her characters become s real and when I read about places I've been I get a mental picture of that character in that setting. When reading a series that draws me in, I hate for them to end.

    Happy New year to you all!

  8. Good morning Kay.

    I've read some really fantastic books this year, too many to pick just one. I've been finishing up the Stephanie Meyer "Twilight" series, reading Breaking Dawn right now. (I know everybody else read these ages ago, but I'm behind on the reading, been trying to do more writing.)

    Good luck with your sales, looking forward to reading your books.

    Kathy Sullivan

  9. Hi Kara
    Yes, I've heard fabulous things about DON'T SCREAM.
    As for closets, my daughter is performing a "closet intervention" today for me. She's a great organizer- so I'm very excited about that. The after part...that is!

    Ellen Too,
    I'm absolutely going to have to get Loreth Ann White's MANHUNTER. You, Tammy and Diana have convinced me! Kudos on that Free Rice!!!

    I hadn't heard of ALL ABOUT EVIE (great title- I loved the classic movie- ALL ABOVE EVE) I love to read about heroines in their 40s and beyond.
    I just read a wonderful new debut author Sherrill Bodine TALK OF THE TOWN who wrote a humorous heroine in her 40's as well.

    Isn't Karen Kingsbury terrific?! I think that feeling of forgetting the characters are fictional is exactly what a writer is striving for in all their stories.

  10. Oh wow you would asked that question. I have read so many great books it would be hard for me to just pick one. I read Carrie Lofty's What A Scoundrel Wants and it was really good. But then again when I read an intrigue book I tell myself that book was the best. So it is really hard to pen it down to just one book.

  11. Hi Kathy,

    Thanks for stopping by. It's great to have you here.
    Oh, yes. I loved the TWILIGHT series. My daughter (a teenager) handed me the first book two years ago and said "Mom, you have to read this. ALL my friends are reading it." Well, I was so anxious to see what ALL her friends were reading (because I knew some of them didn't read unless forced to.)

    So I dove right in and I was hooked. Stayed up till 5 a.m. several nights running reading the first books of the series. Meyer's done something there that has certainly captured the teenage generation's imagination. And well...mine as well. I initially started reading TWILIGHT to figure out what my child was so interested in and ended up being fascinated myself. There's some literary magic afoot there. : )

  12. Hi Kay!

    I've actually been reading a lot of screenplays lately. I'm fascinated by the great story telling, especially the show don't tell aspect. My favorites so far are Love Actually and Shawshank Redemption. In very few words the writers are able to reveal SO MUCH about their characters.


    Pat White

  13. I discovered Dick Francis in the last few months, specifically his Sid Halley novels, and I've become a big fan. I got one of his other novels for Christmas and I look forward to reading those.

    I also just read TALL, DARK AND LETHAL by our own Dana Marton and ARMED AND DEVASTATING by our own Julie Miller. Loved them both.

  14. Hi Kay!

    I'm so VERY excited about your debut release!

    Every book is my favorite while I'm reading it, and I'm looking forward to reading a whole slew of new ones in 2009!

    Nancy Haddock
    La Vida Vampire
    Last Vampire Standing

  15. Hi Kay! Best book I've read this year? Hard to say. Maybe BLUE EYED DEVIL by Lisa Klypas. BUT today I got a new book in the some new author...KAY THOMAS??? Sound familiar??? That could be the best book I've read this year! :) Seriously, I got BETTER THAN BULLETPROOF in the mail today (THANK YOU!). I finished Unravel Me by Christie Ridgway a day or so ago and was debating what to start next. (Unravel Me was very good. Scorching HOT sex scenes. YUM)

    So, tonight, it's Better than Bulletproof for me!

  16. Kay:

    Wonderful question. As an avid reader, I just LOVE when I find a new author I haven't read before. Thanks to a dear friend, I discovered the amazing Anne Stuart and her ICE series - wow! - what an incredible ride those books were.

    I continue to devour as many Intrigues as I can get my hands on as well. Rebecca York, Joanna Wayne, Tracy Montoya, Pat White and so many wonderful others - I've always got a stack of those lovely purple covers stashed around the my my work bag :-)

    I am anxiously counting down the days to read BETTER THAN BULLETPROOF!!


  17. I read approximately a book a day and everyone is my favorite while I am reading it.
    Nora Roberts Circle of Seven Trilogy is probably my overall favorite.

  18. Hi Kay. Barely two weeks to go until BtB! Woot!

    Best book I read in '08 was Jonathan Carroll's THE GHOST IN LOVE. His books are everything I want to write--unexpected, uplifting, funny, romantic--and his use of language blows me away. For example:
    The angel said, “I like black-and-white films more than color because they’re more artificial. You have to work harder to overcome your disbelief. It’s sort of like prayer.
    I consider him the writing mentor I've never met. Hee.

    Congrats on the release. Can't wait to read it.


  19. Hi Kay,

    I don't know if I could pick one but I really enjoyed reading The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd and I also enjoyed reading Dark Lover by J.R. Ward. Congrats on your debut book and I will be adding to my to be read list.

  20. Hi Kay,
    Congrats on your upcoming debut release. I love romantic suspense and my favorite books include Cindy Gerard's "Show No Mercy" and Debra Webb's "Nameless."

  21. Virginia and Nancy,
    I know it is hard to pick just one. When I'm caught up in a good book, things can go completely haywire around me and I don't notice a thing- including dustbunnies! But oh, when that "good story" is over, I have to find another immediately. I'm loving all these suggestions.

    I'm very excited about LAST VAMPIRE STANDING!

    Hi Pat,
    Shawshank Redemption is one of my favorite movies of all time. I bet the screenplay is fascinating. And Love Actually, doesn't it have all the different characters? That would be really interesting to see how they do that.

    Hi Paula,
    Thanks for stopping by. Dick Francis is terrific. It's so fun to get new books for Christmas!

    Arkansas Cyndi!
    My blog winner from earlier this month! You are so sweet. Thank you! I'm adding "Unravel Me" and "Blue-eyed Devil" to the TBR list.

    Addison! Hi!
    Yep, Anne Stuart is one of my favorites, too. : )
    I can't get enough of those baaad boy heroes. Her "Ice" series was amazing. I'm so looking forward to your "Warrior Ascended."

    Wow, a book a day. That's awesome. I have not gotten to the Circle of Seven trilogy yet but I keep hearing amazing things about it. It's going on my list.

    Hi Tiffany,
    Great to have you here. JR Ward is another one of my favorites. Her sense of character is just fabulous and I just loved "Dark Lover" : ) I can't wait for the next installment in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series.

    Hi Jane,
    Good to see you again. I really enjoyed "Nameless" , too. And "Show No Mercy" is already in my TBR pile.

    Okay, my TBR pile is growing mightily and of course it's wonderful to have all those Intrigues in there as well. ; )

  22. Hi Sally F
    Thanks for stopping by. Yes, the countdown has begun and I'm getting very excited about the release. : )
    I haven't heard of "The Ghost in Love" but it sounds amazing. I'm always thrilled when I read a book that inspires me to write better. When it pushes me and my craft further. That's exciting stuff for a writer, isn't it?

  23. Congrats on the debut, Kay! I love the cover -- looks like my kinda hero :)

    And thank you so much Diana, Tammy, and Ellen for the compliment!

    PS: Diane Setterfield's 13th Tale is definitely one of my favorites. Absolutely loved it.

  24. Hey Loreth! Thanks so much for stopping by! Hands down- yours is the favorite book of the year! MANHUNTER. Lots of fans here!

  25. Tammy Yenalavitch, you're our winner today! Please email me and I'll arrange to get your book to you.

    Also Ellen Too, with your marvelous contribution we had a grand Free Rice total of 46,760. Now that is some serious "vegging on the Internet" for a very good cause. Thank you very much. I have a cover flat and bookmarks for you. Please contact me and I'll get those in the mail to you this week.

    Thanks everyone for stopping by yesterday. Hope you all have a safe and prosperous New Year filled with good friends, good fortune and good books!


  26. Kay,

    I can't believe i won. I am beyond excited. I am home today using my last vacation day, so I can work tomorrow (hoping they let us go early!) Also I did try free rice. My score is 400. And All About Evie is an HQN book. I found it on e-harlequin. I just sent you an e-mail, let me know if you didn't get it. And Happy New Year!

  27. Kay, I LOVED the Thirteenth Tale. My daughter, a person who reads a lot of very deep books, gave it to me for Christmas last year. It took me a little bit to get into it, but it was wonderful -- just like she said it would be. :)