Scattered Thoughts Best Books of 2012

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What a spectacular year for great books in every genre from historical to fantasy! I have read so many wonderful books and series this year that it is hard to even begin to narrow down the list, although I have tried. What makes a book great for me? So many things, that it needs its own list.

The books I listed here are ones that moved me to tears and made me laugh out loud, they took me to places I have never been to see sights fantastic, miraculous, and awe inspiring. I have watched dragons soar and seen twin suns set over alien worlds. Through these wonderful authors I have met people who continue to stay with me through the power of their stories and the connectedness that I feel with each of the characters I have read about. Sometimes the books have taught me something about myself and how I looked at others or just gave me a deeper appreciation for my fellow beings.

I have grieved with men who have lost their soul mates, been with them as they worked through the trauma and loss, and celebrated as they moved forward with their lives. I watched men fall in love, whether it be with shifters, wizards, or just a man they met on the side of the road. Love lost, love found or lovers rediscovering the best about each other…that seems to know no boundaries as far as who you are and what world you inhabit. It doesn’t even matter whether the story is set in the past or goes far into the future. The authors and books listed here are ones that I cherish and return to often to visit with them once more. If you haven’t already read them, I hope you will add them to your list of must reads, as they are surely mine.

Oh, and by the way, this list is not complete. There are some wonderful books still to be released in the last two weeks of December, and there are some that I just missed from my own reviews. So look to see a revised list after the first of the year. Really there is something for everyone here. Happy reading!

Best Historical Book:
All Lessons Learned by Charlie Cochrane (Best Series) review coming in 2013
The Celestial by Barry Brennessel
The Mystery of Ruby Lode by Scotty Cade

Best Short Story

Eight Days by Cardeno C
Fair Puckled by Bella Leone
Lily by Xavier Axelson
Leather Work and Lonely Cowboys, a Roughstock story, by BA Tortuga
Too Careful by Half, a Roughstock story, BA Tortuga

Best Contemporary Romance – Standalone

Fall Into the Sun by Val Kovalin
Marathon Cowboys by Sarah Black

Fallout by Ariel Tachna

Good Bones by Kim Fielding

Legend of the Apache Kid by Sarah Black

Mine by Mary Calmes
Play It Again, Charlie by RC CooperScrap Metal by Harper Fox
Sidecar by Amy Lane

The Cool Part of His Pillow by Rodney Ross

 Best Novels – Part of a Series

A Foreign Range by Andrew Grey
Acceleration by Amelia C. Gormley
But My Boyfriend Is by KA Mitchell
Chase the Stars by Ariel Tachna
Cherish, Faith, Love & Devotion 4 by Tere Michaels
Frat Boy and Toppy by Anne Tenino
Full Circle by RJ Scott
Hope by William Neale
Inherit the Sky by Ariel Tachna (Best Series)
Second Hand, a Tucker Springs story by Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton
Stars & Stripes by Abigail Roux (Best Series)
The Journal of Sanctuary One by RJ Scott
The Melody Thief by Shira Anthony (also Best Series)
Who We Are by TJ Klune

Best First Novels
The Cool Park of His Pillow by Rodney Ross
Shattered Glass by Dani Alexander
Inertia by Amelia C. Gormley (Best Series)

Best Supernatural Book:
A Token of Time by Ethan Day
Crucible of Fate by Mary Calmes (Best Series)
Druid Stone by Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane
Ghosts in the Wind by Marguerite Labbe
Hawaiian Gothic by Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane
Infected: Life After Death by Andrea Speed (Best Series)
Riot Boy by Katey Hawthorne
The Gravedigger’s Brawl by Abigail Roux

Science Fiction Books:
Emerald Fire by A. Catherine Noon and Rachel Wilder
The Trust by Shira Anthony

Best Fantasy Books:
 Black Magic by Megan Derr
Burning Bright by Megan Derr (Lost Gods series)
Chaos (Lost Gods series) by Megan Derr
Magic’s Muse by Anne Barwell
Poison by Megan Derr (Lost Gods series)
Treasure by Megan Derr (Lost Gods series)
Best Series – new books this year:
A Change of Heart series by Mary Calmes (supernatural)
Blue Notes series by Shira Anthony (contemporary)
Cambridge Fellows series by Charlie Cochrane (historical)
Cut & Run series by Abigail Roux (and Madeleine Urban) (Contemporary)
Faith, Love & Devotion series by Tere Michaels (contemporary)
Infected Series by Andrea Speed (supernatural)
Knitting series by Amy Lane (contemporary)
Lost Gods by Megan Derr (Fantasy)
Sanctuary series by RJ Scott (contemporary)
Sci Regency series by JL Langley (science fiction)

So Many Great Series, here are more of my favorites:

A Matter of Time series by Mary Calmes (contemporary)

Jewel Bonds series by Megan Derr (fantasy)

Superpowered Love series by Katey Hawthorne

Wick series by Megan Derr
Best Anthologies:

Three Fates
Animal Magnetism
Lashings of Sauce
Making Contact

I know that many books are missing but I just did not get to them this year, including JP Barnaby’s Little Boy Lost series, Andrew Grey’s Range series, and so many more.  Look for them in 2013.  Do you have a favorite I should know about?  Write me and let me know.

When a Tit Should Be A Nip Or Leave Those Orbs Alone!

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It is rant time on Scatteredthoughtsandroguewords because my breaking point has been reached, people!!!!  Since I became a guest reviewer on Joyfully Jay and started my blog, the number of books I have been reading has gone off the charts.  So it won’t surprise you all that some of the books I have been reading have been less than stellar and some have been just outstanding. The quality of the books has been all over the place but some truly awful world usage has popped up again and again.  And I can’t take it any more! So to all authors out there (and you know who you are), please I am begging you, cease and desist from the following:

Orbs: The use of the word orbs when describing eyes. No, no, no, and absolutingfuckatively no!  Eyes may be described as many things, windows of the soul, soulful, leering, squinty, bedroom, vacant but never an orb. Unless you are describing an alien, no that still doesn’t work.  Then its eyes on stalks, like these beauties pictured here.  Orbs are spheres, globes, balls, spheroids, spherules, circles.  One can say “My what a lovely orb you are carrying today, destruction of the universe on the agenda?” What I don’t hear or want to hear?  “My what lovely gray orbs you have? From your mother’s side of the family?” Yet, I have picked up two books in a row (and read several more) in which the main character describes the hunk in front of him with blue gray orbs, or fiery orbs, or who cares what color orbs.

It stops me cold. Especially when the author has done a wonderful job otherwise.  So please stop. Run over to Val Kovalin’s site and read/buy the article How To Describe Eyes  on obsidianbookshelf.com.  Then laminate it and stick it above the laptop or whatever you use to write with. When you get the urge to splurge with the vocabulary and start to type orb – stop.  If you have already done the deed, then become acquainted with Find and Replace.  Use it often. Find “orb” replace with “eye.” It’s simple.  I am begging you here! Don’t make me come find you!

Of Tits and Nips: There I was, happily ensconced in bed with my Kindle, reading this smoking hot sex scene.  I have my glass of wine and I’m popping bon bons like bullets shooting out of a AK 47 as the two main characters finally strip off each others clothes as a prelude to some hot man love.  John/Ethan/Insert Name runs his hands lovingly over Zane/Troy/Adam/Whoevers chest and then gives his tits a twist. Wait! What?  Did I just read that right?  I quickly put down the bon bons and scan that paragraph again. I enlarge the font and read “Hank/Ralph/Morey then proceeds to lick and bite Stan/Harry/Mordecai’s tits like a milk-starved calf reunited with his mother.”  Yep, it’s still tits.  The Kindle gets cold in my hands as I contemplate a chest and sex scene gone wrong.

When I think of a man’s chest  (and the good Lord knows I do), it’s those wonderful sexy nipples that grab my attention first.  Large or small, tight or at ease, all colors, it doesn’t matter.  I just love them.  I like to look at them. I like to read about them. Except when they are described as tits.  Right or wrong, to me the word tit has feminine connotations.  Woman have beautiful tits, gorgeous breasts, outstanding tatas, basooms, gazongas, whatever.  We have oodles of names for womens breasts.  Men who gender identify as women and men transitioning to women have tits. But men? Straight or gay men? Well then, it’s nipples all the way or nips if you prefer.  If you have a man nipping the nip in a story, I am allfor it.  Go on, lick that nip! Have your way with it! Just please don’t call it a tit.  I have read descriptions where they were called tight buds, and I am okay with that.  Nubs?  That’s good too.   Rub that nub !  But tits? When you get the urge, just take a gander at the picture above. And just say no.

 
Smiling Crookedly:  This is just a minor pain that is looking to evolve into a major one with each new book that I read.  Again, don’t get me wrong, I love characters that have that snarky, crooked grin. Usually it is pasted on the face of some scalawag trying to get a rise out of our hero and that grin just says you know he will succeed.  But lately, some authors just can’t leave it at one or two references a story, or even a chapter.  Once they start, the use of that crooked grin just steamrolls until it is the only facial expression that one character has.

I love it when the character beams, smiles from ear to ear, or has a broad or shy grin. And what has happened to the scowl? The frowny face?  The leer?  Please let us not forget to have our characters frown, glower, glare, grimace, give the occasional black or dirty look.  I do see lots of smirks these days as well.  Let’s not forget our characters can still be smug, snicker, and have a smothered laugh every now and again. This is just a cautionary plea to all authors.  Please don’t botox your characters into facialimmobility and one expression hunks. The characters,your stories and the reader deserve far better than that.  Just picture your male ideal, leaning in that oh so sexy manner against the wall, watching you.  Could you take a crooked smile all day or after a few hours or so are you ready to slap his face off? See?  Let’s keep those crooked smiles at a minimum please.  Thank you.

I am winding down here.  Just writing about these things will give me nightmares. Oh, and I am sure this is only Part 1 as other poor or overused word choices come to mind.  So let me leave you with a visual to make some of this come together
.What do you see when you look at these? Are those orbs on tits? Or eyes in jars?  Can orbs with crooked smiles and tits be far behind? Thoughts like these will send me running into the closet and shutting the doors. *shudder*   You authors out there !  You have the power to stop this!  Use the force wisely!  We beg you!

And send me those words that make you hurl when you see them in a story.  I am making a list. And checking it twice!

And stay tuned for more Vocabulary Gone Bad!

Review of Fall Into The Sun by Val Kovalin

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Reviewed for JoyfullyJay blog on 4/10/12:

Rating: 4.75

Bobby Gallegos and Alejo Sandoval met when they were 6.  It was 1972 at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church.  Alejo was being picked on by three boys who had stolen his marble.  Bobby came to his rescue and into his life.  From that time forward, they were inseparable even though their families were so different.  Bobby came from a rough family of four boys whose dad was in prison. His older brothers were petty criminals following in their fathers footsteps who only saw the youngest boy as a punching bag.  Alejandro’s family were strict, ran a family restaurant and was devoutly Catholic.  But none of that mattered as the years passed and their connection deepened into love.

The summer of 1982 changed all that with a series of devastating events that would separate the boys for 22 years.  Over time, Alejo got married, and had a family and ran the family restaurant, his bisexual tendencies buried deeply in the closet.  Bobby  moved away, went to law school in Houston, Texas where he was now a gay successful criminal lawyer. Only once did they try to reconnect but bad timing and distance interfered.

Now they are both 40, their lives at an impasse. Alejo is divorced and Bobby has returned to Albuquerque to persuade Alejo to make a change so they can finally get their happily ever after they have been denied for so long.  Bobby has seven days.  Will it be enough time?

Let me say right from the start that I love stories about first loves getting their second chance at happiness so this pushed all the right buttons.  Val Kovalin also did such a wonderful job with her characters that identifying with them was easy.  There is never any doubt as to who these men are and how their pasts molded them.  Both men have real depth and layers to their characters, including their flaws which help drive them apart.

Bobby was the easiest of the two to empathize with.  His obstacles to overcome are so clearly black and white, starting with an abusive family that he managed to escape from while staying true to who he is.  Alejo had it much tougher in a way.  His parents love, expectations and strict adherence to the Catholic church buried Alejandro’s own career choices and sexuality under a blanket of guilt and parental love.  Now at 40 and getting ready to attend his ex-wife’s marriage, his children, especially his wayward son, keep him from reaching out to Bobby and a new future.  The reader’s frustrations with Alejo’s indecision and inability to parent his son mount with Bobby’s .  Yet, so skillfully is Alejo drawn that his rational is clear and in keeping with his history.  Both the reader and his lover understand his actions even if you don’t like them.  It’s your flaws that make you vulnerable and oh so human. So you are never ready to give up on Alejo and neither is Bobby.  I thought their entire relationship realistic as it grows and adjusts from ages 6 to 40.

I really enjoyed this book and notice that it is called Fall Into The Sun Bobby and Alejo #1.  I am hoping that means we will be seeing more of these two and their hard won future together.  Keeping my fingers crossed.

Cover:  I loved this cover.  The models were perfect for Bobby and Alejo.  Just wonderful from the expressions in their eyes and that they seem more in keeping with the age of the characters.  Great job.

Available at Amazon and ARe.