Happy New Year to you all!
I don't know if I can come up with enough for a "best of" list this year. I wrote up so few reviews this year (BAD LORI, BAD...), and am so scatterbrained that I can hardly remember anything I didn't actually review. Sheesh. But what I can do is to list off some standouts.
Most surprising and fun new author: Cindy Miles
I read all 3 of her books, and reviewed 2 of them: Spirited Away and Highland Knight (Into Thin Air is the book published in between them). Her books are refreshingly different. Fun, funny, and warm. Somehow believable, even as they are so crazily unbelievable. The books are about 21st century women who meet up with medieval Scottish knights (usually in ghost form). She manages to do it with a charming voice, humor, and fun; manly, alpha heroes, who manage to be sensitive at the same time (and always whisper love words in Gaelic to the heroine - yum); strong quirky female leads; and always an eccentric, lovable secondary cast that sometimes threatens to overtake the book all on their own. Definitely someone to watch in the future if she can keep the streak going. It might be a tough one to keep fresh and different.
Most fascinating read: Rhett Butler's People
This character study into Rhett and his family and friends was intense, riveting, heartbreaking, poignant, touching, fascinating, sad, depressing, and fabulous. And any other adjective you care to come up with. I loved seeing Rhett from a different perspective, and seeing him as a whole individual instead of the larger than life hero from GWTW.
Best series: Hearts of the South by Linda Winfree
I reviewed the Hearts of the South series here, here, and here. It's not often that a book grabs me by the heart and squeezes it from page one to the last page, but that's exactly what happened with What Mattered Most, the "prequel" to the Hearts of the South series. I grabbed each and every book on release day after that. Each one was a well written, jaw-droppingly, heart-wrenchingly, emotionally satisfying read. How often can you say that about an entire series that is now 6 or 7 books long? The next book releases from Samhain on Jan 6.
Redeemed author: Lorraine Heath
The last few books from Lorraine Heath have been a pretty big disappointment to me, and I'm fairly certain that everyone agrees with me on that. But I absolutely adored In Bed With the Devil. It reminded me very much of an early Kleypas novel, in both its characters and its settings. I loved that the characters are not all from the aristocracy - they can be rough, yet we see them as human, not caricatures. I loved that we saw into the journal of the hero rather than the heroine - a nice juxtaposition on the norm. And Luke reminded me of my all time favorite hero - Nick Gentry. Most excellent.
Most controversial: Into the Fire by Suzanne Brockmann
With Dark of Night getting ready to release, everyone is still talking about Sophia, Decker, and Dave. And they weren't even the main love story. Or the secondary love story, LOL! I don't know whether to be happy with the outcome or not. But it sure was nice to see a different side of Dave in this one (literally, I suppose, considering the scene with his butt under the desk *g*). And I know Suzanne Brockmann is just sitting back in her easy chair grinning away at all this controversy, loving every second of it. She's a rabble-rouser, that one.
Most disappointing series: Nightwalkers
I started off loving Jacob. It totally rocked. I found Gideon to just be creepy. The old guy with a hard on for a younger woman freaked me out and was just gross. Damien and Elijah were pretty good, and Noah was soooo long I thought it got lost in itself. Perhaps rather than disappointing, the correct way to put it is "most uneven, and therefore disappointing". It got off to such a great start and then fizzled out too quickly for me. I couldn't even see my way to reviewing the last three. I wanted to, but they couldn't inspire me out of my reviewing slump. Nuff said. I don't know if I'll pick up the Shadowdwellers or not.
So I left a lot off this list, and didn't go about it the way most of you have done it. But it worked for me. I'm really hoping to review more in 2009. I know I read a lot of really great books in 08, but I don't have a tracking system (I tried, but couldn't keep it up!), and without it (this blog is my tracking system, GAH!), my senior brain just failed me.