Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Friendly Reviews

I love my friends. Honest. Truly. But... well, sometimes a book that they love and rave about is just... meh. Have you ever had that happen to you? Recently, with the whole vampire hunters genre there are two or three authors who apparently have a huge following for their series and their fans are running rabid in the streets. Now I appreciate the concept of series and fans, but every single person out there does NOT have to be a fan. See, there are enough fans to go around. And fortunately, there are enough series to go around, too.

So when a wild-eyed fan (yes, even over the internet you can sense the wild glowing red eyes) grabs you by the throat and insists that such and such is the best book ever--well, let's just say that it's time to back away from the computer and go do laundry or count the mosquitoes on the screen door.

I'm pretty loyal to the authors that I read. I'm perfectly happy to recommend my favorite stories. There are two or three of my favorite authors that one of my friends can't stand. I was dismayed when I discovered this in a casual conversation. Why? It didn't lessen my personal enjoyment of those authors' books. I think though, that I felt sad because I wanted to share the joy I'd received from reading them. Alas. My friend will miss out on that. Just as I have no idea what she sees in a couple of her favorite authors. That's how these things work.

No matter how I struggle to restrain my initial gasp of astonishment, I'm always appalled for all those regency writers who confess that they've never read a Georgette Heyer. Or the mystery writers who never read a Dorothy L. Sayers (Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries). And yet we are blessed with a world full of books on every subject imaginable so I suppose everyone has to pick and choose as judiciously as possible.

The one thing I don't understand (no doubt because I would rather read than eat or sleep) is the person who brags that they haven't read a book since high school or college. With all the books at our disposal, why on earth would a person pass them by in favor of television reruns and video games. How is that possible?

The other thing I find incomprehensible are the people who never reread a book. So... if they don't intend to reread it, why is it called a "keeper"? How does that work? I have about four thousand books crammed in my overflowing bookcases. And another eight hundred e-books on my computer and digital reader. A lot of them are fiction, but I also have a collection of fascinating books on everything from calligraphy to the founding of the OSS. The thing about rereading is that you're never without something to read. Ever. No matter what your mood, you can reach out and find something to fit just right.

So I open the floor up for recommendations. I'm not promising to read them, but your favorite might be just what another reader is looking for so speak up! Tell us what your favorite is and why! If there are more than twenty comments, I'll do a random drawing and award a surprise gift.



  1. I've re-read The Flame and The Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss so many times, I've re-bought the book at least three times (maybe more) and I've done the same with the entire Amanda Quick list. I have them all and they are so worn. I have a passion for historicals. Cry No More by Linda Howard made me..well, CRY and Dream Man gave me the creeps but I loved it. I love all of Sandra Hill's Viking and Cajun Books because they are hysterical. Just the kind of humor I love. I enjoy books that make me cry, laugh and feel.

  2. Hmm how about some non-romance - Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth
    Dorothy Gillman's Mrs Pollifax series,
    Janet Laurence's Darina Lisle books
    Simon Brett's Mrs Pargetter series
    Lilian Jackson Braun's The Cat Who books
    and Damp Rat by Gaelyn Gordon

  3. Okay -
    -all Georgette Heyer
    - any Victoria Holt books
    -all MM Kaye books
    - the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich
    - Past Caring by Robert Goddard
    - A Fortunate Life by Albert Facey
    - Zemindar by Valerie Fitzgerald
    - Jane Ayre
    - Ken Follett books
    - Amanda Quick
    ....I have a few books.... I could go on...

  4. I have so many keepers that by the time I get back around to them they seem new again. How about Barbara Kingsolver, early Joyce Carol Oates and May Sarton?

  5. Two that I bet no one else will recommend, both of which I've read multiple times.

    1. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. Technically a YA book, it's still perfect for adults, and especially for writers. About a British family living in the habitable part of a ruined castle. The father is an esteemed writer with the world's longest case of writer's block. The younger daughter is practicing to be a writer. The book is in the form of her journals. Really, really excellent on all kinds of levels. There's a bit of romance, though it's more of a side-story. There was a movie made of this a few years ago, but it stank. If you've seen the movie, forget everything and read the book.

    2. Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini. The movie version of this book, with Errol Flynn, is one of my favorite movies. The book blows it out of the water. Honorable pirates motivated by the opinion of a woman. Adventure, bad guys, damsels in distress--you name it, it's got it. The language can be a bit difficult, and it's helpful to have a map handy, but it's fun even if you have to blip over certain words.

    Those are my two perennial choices for book recommendations. Hope someone enjoys them.

  6. Hmmm. Agree with a lot of what's already been said, not so much with others. Anything ever written by Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels. Jane Austen, of course. I'm currently enjoying the heck out of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files books. A number of the currently hot vampire series just don't do it for me, but Lyndsay Sands have a lightly humorous tone and a unique mythology that I enjoy.

  7. I've read Little Women so many times the cover no longer exists and is held together with duct tape.

    John Jakes' North and South series

    Herman Wouk's Winds of War and War and Remembrance

    Nora Roberts' Key Trilogy

    Kathleen Woodiwiss's Shanna, Flame and the Flower, The Wolf and the Dove, and the Civil War one...can't think of the title right now. Alaina and Cole are the main characters.

    And speeding up the worn-out list (as if they could wear out!) is Ms Cook's Everything Lovers Can Know and Jacqui Roth's Access Denied. I've read both of those e-books 4 times. Dakota's Hello I've read 3 times.

  8. Pillars of the Earth, Julia Quinn's When he was Wicked, Clan of the Cavebear, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Silas Marner, Gone with the Wind.

    There are so many more! I don't understand the bragging about not reading either. That just makes one sound intellectually challenged or clueless.

  9. My all time favorite book is Bram Stoker's Dracula. (Surprise right?) I have 17 copies of this book in all different forms. Hardcover, torn-apart paperbacks, etc. Every time I see it with a cover I do not yet own I buy it again.

    The Mr. has been trying to read it for months now. He cannot get through it. And I am absolutely confunded by this. So I TOTALLY understand where you're coming from. The Mr's favorite book is "Alas Babylon." But I can't stand apocolyptic stories. To each his/her own I guess.

    I am also a huge fan of Gone with the Wind. And From a Buick 8 is my most favorite Stephen King book ever.

    Dakota Rebel

  10. Oh, wow! What wonderful recommendations! It occurred to me that I didn't give my own, though many of them have been listed here. I'll toss in a couple not listed. Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick--a history written by a mariner from the diaries and letters of the colonists. Excellent. Windflower by Laura London (Tom and Sharon Curtis)my favorite pirate romance. Anything by Dorothy L. Sayers and Georgette Heyer and Louis L'Amour.

    Bring them on! I've already started a list!

  11. Ack! I forgot! Morning Glory by LaVryle Spencer! Jostling up there at the top of my list.

  12. Totally there with you. Sometimes I just don't get why friends or other people just LOVE certain books.

    I'm also there with Morning Glory. I LOVE that book. I also like Lynsay Sand Vampire books -- they're atypical and funny.

  13. Molly - the Civil War one is Ashes in the Wind--my personal fave from Ms. Woodiwiss.

    Anny, I'm not sure I can pick a favorite book altho a short list would include The Uninvited and The Haunting of Hill House (both wonderful ghost stories that far eclipse the movies that were based on them). And of course as we've discussed, I love Alistair MacLean's books. The Black Shrike and Bear Island are my favorites of his.

  14. Shogun by James Clavell
    Dune by Frank Herbert
    Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
    Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
    All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
    Cloud Splitter by Russell Banks
    Meetings with Remarkable Men by G.I. Gurdjieff
    Souls on Fire by Elie Wiesel
    The Dragons of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey
    anything at all by Sharon Kay Penman
    The Winter King series by Bernard Cornwall
    The Dragon Bone Chair series by Tad Williams
    and last but not least, the series A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin (except the most recent installment)

    Julia Barrett

  15. *Hugs to Molly* Thanks dear.

    When listing my favorite books the top of the list is Xenogenesis by Octavia Butler. It's been rereleased under the title "Lilith's Brood" but it is one of the best science fiction/fantasy pieces I've ever read and has an interesting take on sexuality.

    Going more mainstream, Tamora Pierce's Wild Magic is wonderful and my favorite Jane Austen book is Persuasion. It has one of the best, most romantic epistles a man could write to his beloved.

  16. Another keeper I have on my shelf is Caught in the Devil's Hand by Ruby Duvall... and the Magic trilogy by Mercedes Lackey.

  17. Some of my favorites are the Anita Blake series and the Merry Gentry series, both by Laurell K. Hamilton, of course i just read the last book in the Anita Blake series and am starting the Merry gentry series over. The trilogy that starts with Morrigan's cross by Nora Roberts, the Eve Dallas Series by JD Robb,The Skye O'Malley Series by Bertrice Small and Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn.

  18. Mmm. With you on Morning Glory by Laveryl Spencer and her Hummingbird. Also want to add The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy. Wonderfully descriptive and moving account of this horribly disfunctional family and the ways in which people survive.

  19. I can never get enough of the Eve Dallas series by J.D. Robb. Never gotten a bad story from Angela Knight. I have gotten my entire family hooked on Katie MacAlister's Aisling Gray series - including my 64 year old father. But the book that opened up the entire scifi/fantasy world for me was The Beasts of Eld by Patricia McKillip. Kept the book checked out from the library the whole 3rd grade year. Also, still love the Bunnicula series - gotta love a vampire bunny that sucks veggies dry.

  20. Adding another comment just to get us to 20 so Anny has to give one of us something:

    I'm quite fond of Sharon Shinn's books. They are light fantasy, with more or less of a romance plot (depending on the series) and just enough deeper issue to keep you intrigued. Her Angel/Angelica series is a wonderfully unique world, and the Twelve Houses series has a more classic fantasy world. But both have great characters (both good and bad), and you really grow fond of them.

  21. There are too many books to list. LOL

    I reread a lot--Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick/ and all her other pen names, Linda Howard, Stephanie Laurens, Dinah McCall/Sharon Sala, Nora Roberts, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Christine Feehan, J.R. Ward...

    The list goes on and on and on.

    Non-romance books--I love Louisa May Alcott. Joan Brady's God on a Harley is one of my all-time favs.

  22. Great list so far, the majority are on my keeper shelf too. Two new authors that I've recently added are Kathleen Dante and Anna Windsor. Both have paranormal romance stories with a bit of magic and suspense, and I can totally see me reaching for them again.

  23. The Power of One by Bryce Courtney. A story of a little boy in Africa who is sent away to school because his mother is mentally ill. He takes with him his pet rooster, Grandpa Chook.

    A story to first break and then heal your heart.

    I am reading a fabulous mystery right now, Bleeding Heart Square by Andrew Taylor. Talk about tangled threads and a gradual weaving into a whole.

  24. Doomsday Book by Connie Willis is my favorite book. I've read it just twice but many copies have been purchased due to my raving about it, and I believe I've read everything she's got out there. Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters is another one I adore and can read multiple times. For mysteries, Margaret Maron is my favorite. In romance, off the top of my head, I love Robin Owens' Celta books.

  25. Can I add some children's books that I've reread within the last two years? The Edward Eager Magic series - harmless fun with a bit of a lesson in each

  26. Have read almost all you guys listed and love them all. For me, Dorothy Sayers, all of them. Of course Jane Austen, but who wouldn't agree with that? Julia Quinn, she's so witty. ALL of Mary Balogh. Just too darn many to list.
    Never enough time to read all I want.

  27. Anny! I found my way here from Kelly's Place!

    I have read Georgette Heyer & I do reread books! :)

    Anny, I have posted an article on James Goodman's The Dance , which I think you might be interested to read!

    I would be delighted if you grace it with your presence!

  28. Didn't get a chance to check back yesterday. Thank you Teri for the title!

    My fav Lavryl Spencer is Separate Beds, but I also love Morning Glory and Hummingbird. Hell, all of her books are outstanding:)

    You're welcome, Jae:)

  29. Wow - do a lot of these books bring back memories...Kathleen Woodiwiss, Beatrice Small, Nora Roberts are among my favs.

    Paranormal would be Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunters and so many Ellora Cave's paranormals - Reread the Dalakis Brothers all the time. There are so many that I reread from Ellora's that I can't even begin to mention them all.

    General Fiction - I just read a great book - The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield.

    I am with you all the way about people that don't read or brag about not reading - I don't know what I would do without my books.