MelanieM’s Best Books of 2014

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Best Books of 2014

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MelanieM’s Best Books of 2014

 

Winnowing down my list of Best Books is always a near impossible project.  To me it always feels like trying to leave a book shop during a particularly wonderful sale.  My arms are full to overflowing with books, with ones toppling off the pile here and there as I totter over to the sales counter.  My impulse is to go back and get more because all are books I loved and need to have near me.  Sigh.  And this year makes it particularly hard.  So many great books came out this year,  terrific short stories,, fabulous endings to series I love…..so this is as close as I got…check it all out below:

Best Series:

 Best Holiday/Whatever Time of the Year Anthologies:

Best Contemporary Fiction:

 

Best Science Fiction:

Best Fantasy:

 

Best Supernatural/Paranormal:

 

In The Spotlight: An Interview with Amy Lane on The Granby Knitting Series (Giveaway)

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 The Granby Knitting SeriesGranbyKnittingMenagerie[The]LG

by Amy Lane

 

 

 

 

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The Winter Courtship of Fur Bearing CrittersHow to Raise An Honest Rabbit coverKnitter in His Natural HabitatBlackbird Knitting in a Bunny's Lair cover

 

 

 

 

 

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One of my favorite series just got a long awaited update with the release of Blackbird Knitting in a Bunny’s Lair by Amy Lane.  It’s a story I waited to read for over 2 years.  And I loved it.  To celebrate its release and the new printed series collection, Granby Knitting Menagerie by Amy Lane and Dreamspinner Press, I invited Amy to stop by for an interview about the series, its characters, and perhaps, even its future.

Contest:  To celebrate the release of Blackbird Knitting in a Bunny’s Lair and the Granby Knitting Printed Collection, we have 2 prizes to giveaway to some lucky commentators.  From Amy Lane…an e-book copy of Blackbird Knitting in a Bunny’s Lair, OR a random skein of yarn from Amy’s stash!  I can hear you knitters salivating already! And from me a paperback copy of The Granby Knitter’s Menagerie.   

You must be over the age of 18 to enter and from the continental US or  Canada.  Make sure you leave your email address in the comment where you can be reached should you be chosen.  Contest ends 6/26 at midnight.

Introduction to the Granby cast of characters (via DSP series blurb):

Welcome to Granby, Colorado, a small town at the foot of the Rocky Mountains where it snows eight months out of the year and knitting is a mashup of art form, necessity, and religion. Here you will meet:

* Rance “Craw” Crawford, owner of the local alpaca farm and fiber mill, who courts tenderfoot Ben McCutcheon with awkwardness and the most lovingly handcrafted knitted garments known to man.

* Jeremy Stillson (also known as Jeremy Bunny), ex-con and ex-grifter, who comes to work for Craw and learns the secrets to being honest are in both the yarn he learns to use and in Aiden Rhodes, his young co-worker, who has a very direct way of dealing with life and seducing Jeremy.

* Stanley Schulz, yarn buyer and Craw’s ex-lover, who discovers the joys of knitting alone—and then discovers the joys of knitting for Johnny, a delivery driver with a shady past. Join this menagerie of knitters as they craft to keep their toes toasty and their hearts warm.

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You’ve met the people, now meet their creator, Amy Lane!

Now on to our interview with Amy Lane….

STRW:  Does the Granby Mill really exist? Why Colorado?

Amy Lane: About five years ago (okay, *exactly* five years ago) Mate and I went on a 20th anniversary vacation to Colorado. Why Colorado? Because our timeshare went there. There is NO other reason– I kid you not. While I was there, of COURSE I went looking for yarn– and it turned out that there, at the end of what looked like a long country road (but what started out as a little suburban road) was an alpaca and sheep farm/mill. They had a little shop (I took no pictures!) but the yarn was… lovely. I haven’t knit any of it up– not even five years later–because I can’t stand the thought of not making something lovely enough to do it justice. Here is the blogpost I wrote back then– and I did manage to get some pictures of the alpacas 🙂 http://writerslane.blogspot.com/2009/…

STRW: How did a series/story about wool, knitting and such a diverse group of characters come about? What was your inspiration for this series?

Amy Lane:  As for the characters? Well, Rance came from Granby itself. The people there were nice– friendly, kind– but not exactly chatty. Granby really *is* in a bowl valley. There is a sense of isolation there– of intense community. It was lovely, but we obviously did not fit in. So that made me wonder… what would Rance Crawford do with a tenderfoot? Well, mostly worship him from afar, actually!

STRW: I love the patterns you incorporate into your stories. How do you choose which ones to use. Pattern or storyline? Which comes first?

Amy Lane:  I actually write the story first, and then decide which of the projects the characters talk about can make something simple enough and interesting enough to work! With Jeremy, the half-mittens are some of my all-time favorite projects. So easy, and so useful. Every writer I know wants a pair!

STRW:  Jeremy Bunny. He’s my favorite. Why was what happened to him so necessary? How did such a wounded, beautiful man happen and become such an important part of this series?

Amy Lane: Jeremy Bunny… wow. See, I wrote two sentences about him in the first story– I said he was an ex-con that Craw found panhandling on the streets of Boulder, and that he wanted to go straight. And I implied sort of a chemistry between him and Aiden. The rest of it… I had to make an ex-con/ex-conman who was redeemable. Oddly enough, working with kids sort of gave me the way to do this. I worked with a number of young people who HAD been arrested–and the thing that caught me most often about these kids was the things they didn’t know about life. Some of them were so VERY innocent about the things we take for granted– things like food, or clothes that fit, or how people could be kind with no underlying motive. It sounds cliched–but very often, they just didn’t know. It’s this core of innocence in the center of all these really questionable “life skills” that drove Jeremy for me. LIke Aiden said, emotionally, he was the same age as Aiden– just coming into adulthood. But in the meantime, he’d accrued a sort of horrific karmic backlog. It was nice and all that he’d reformed–but that part of his life cut a swath through innocent people. That’s why, for me, it was so important that he protect Stanley. Stanley was innocent, and Jeremy had some dirt on his hands. That fact that he would do this gives us the last puzzle piece of redemption. He’d more than earned it.

STRW: I loved that Angora rabbits and alpacas are represented along with sheep in the creation of yarns. As a knitter I gobbled up these stories as well as a lover of romance. What’s your favorite yarn to knit with?

Amy Lane: I’m a sucker for basic wool with a touch of luxury fiber in it– and I am a color way *slut*! The color way truly depends on what mood I am in that day– or eve THAT HOUR that day. All the pretty colors– I want to knit them all.

STRW:   Is the series truly over?

Amy Lane:  No! I have a plan for Eli and the Naked Alpaca Hats Band 🙂

STRW:  *still cheering over the news*  Do you have a favorite character in this series and why?

Amy Lane:   LOL– I’m a bad mommy, because I think I just sort of outed my favorite character by writing him a whole other book. Jeremy–hands down, he’s my favorite. I know a couple of people got upset that he was so much older than Aiden, but I know, by the end of the story, most of them realized that Aiden was the dominant one, the protector, and the old soul in that relationship. I loved that– loved that reversal, and loved Jeremy’s tentative sweetness. Yes. He’s my favorite, but Aiden was a close second. But it’s a hard fight– grumpy Craw, flamboyant Stanley, gentle Ben, suave Johnny– I really did love them all.

And it’s been my pleasure to answer the questions– thanks for asking them 🙂

Cover art by Catt Ford who created all those incredible covers in the series. I have included all of them as well.

Books in the series in the order they were written and should be read:

The Winter Courtship Rituals of Fur-Bearing Critters (Granby Knitting, # 1)
Super Sock Man
How to Raise an Honest Rabbit (Granby Knitting, #3)
Knitter in His Natural Habitat (Granby Knitting, #4)
Blackbird Knitting in a Bunny’s Lair (Granby Knitting #5)

Book Details:
Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press      Amazon

GranbyKnittingMenagerie[The]LGThe Granby Knitting Menagerie by Amy Lane Paperback: Buy links above.

ebook, 244 pages, A Granby Knitting Novel

Published May 2nd 2014 by Dreamspinner Press (first published May 1st 2014)
ISBN 1627988742 (ISBN13: 9781627988742)
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.dreamspinnerpress.com
seriesKnitting #5

(Catt Ford, I love your covers.)  Here is another to drool over…..

Author Bio:

Amy Lane dodges an EDJ, mothers four children, and writes the occasional book. She, her brood, and her beloved mate, Mack, live in a crumbling mortgage in Citrus Heights, California, which is riddled with spiders, cats, and more than its share of fancy and weirdness. Feel free to visit her at http://www.greenshill.com or http://www.writerslane.blogspot.com, where she will ride the buzz of receiving your e-mail until her head swells and she can no longer leave the house.

You can follow Amy Lane via:

Website
Twitter
Blog
Goodreads Author Page

 

 

Winner Announcements, Knitting with Amy Lane, and the Week Ahead in Reviews

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Its Father’s Day today. And that combined with my M/M DC Metro luncheon yesterday means I am already running behind this morning.  So again, this Sunday’s post is quick and sweet.  Check out all the great contests and reviews this week.  Something for everyone, including knitters.

Now for our weekly announcements…..

 

Book Contest Winner Announcements:

Announcement clip artWinners of  L.C. Chase’s Let It Ride Contest are:

Let It Ride:
Lori M – signed print copy of LTD
Jill P – 1 ebook from backlist
Jen CW – pencil drawing
(extra winner, Lorena – 1 book from backlist)

 

I have a great week ahead for ScatteredThoughts.  A new series, Endangered Fae by Angel Martinez, a new book in Abigail Roux’s Cut & Run side  series, Sidewinder is here.  Get ready for a cut excerpt from Cross & Crown.  Amy Lane is here on Wednesday to talk about the latest story in the Granby Knitting series, Blackbird Knitting in a Bunny’s Lair.  Amy is giving away your choice of either fabulous yarn from her personal stash or a copy of the first book in the series.  I have a printed copy of The Granby Knitting Menagerie to go along with it to giveaway as well.  Books with bondage and sexy men along with adorable puppies and their owners.  It’s all here.   Don’t miss out on a day this week!

The Schedule This Week:

Monday, June 16:                       Finn (Endangered Fae #1) by Angel Martinez

Tuesday, June 17:                       On the Hunt for Cross & Crown with Abigail Roux and her Sidewinders (Cut Excerpt and contest included)

Tuesday, June 17:                       Review:  Cross & Crown (Sidewinders #2) by Abigail Roux

Wed., June 18:                            My Amy Lane Interview and The Granby Knitting Menagerie Giveaway

Thurs, June 19                            On Tour with KC Wells and Dance for Domination (contest)

Thurs., June 19:                          Review: Diego (Endangered Fae #2) by Angel Martinez

Friday, June 20:                          The Dog Trainer by Owen Keehnen

Sat., June 21:                               Book Blast with L.M. Somerton’s The Edge Series Book Tour & Contest