Best of 2008 and New Year’s Resolution for 2009

A lot of people are posting a year end post for 2008. It's nice to see people looking back at the books they read for the year and picking out their favorite reads, and it's interesting to see what they picked. I thought it would be a good thing to try myself because with it recorded, I can look back in later years and see what my tastes were like.

Out of a total of 77 books read this year, very few got into my best list, but book ratings are highly subjective.  I just went with my gut and rated them according to how I felt about the book as soon as I finished reading them. These lists are compiled from ratings I put down in my private notes.

All the links to my reviews here are to my Livejournal.

The Books that Blew Me Away  – These books are those I gave top marks to when I first read them. It's a very hard list to get onto because I have to feel like I'm falling in love and cannot be parted from the book for it to get on this list. Only three got on it this year.

Books that Came Close to Blowing Me Away – These came very close to getting top marks from me. This is a personal thing, but the books above I would put down and then obssessively think about when I could pick them up again. The books below, I didn't feel as consumed by the book, but still felt really impressed by them.

  • Games of Command by Linnea Sinclair (my review)
  • Wicked Game by Jeri Smith-Ready (my review)
  • Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (I need to review this when I have the book in my hands)
  • The Outback Stars by Sandra McDonald (review coming soon)

Books I Really Liked/ Keepers. These each had several moments where I loved the book and overall I think these are books that deserve to be loved and read by others, but for some reason or other these didn't get into the top 7. I still consider these keepers, and all these authors are pretty much autobuys/ must read backlist authors. There are 19 of these books this year (Linnea Sinclair's name comes up a lot here, I was reading her backlist in 2008):

  • The Down Home Zombie Blues by Linnea Sinclair (my review)
  • Exit Strategy (Nadia Stafford, Bk 1) by Kelley Armstrong (my review)
  • Private Arrangements by Sherry Thomas (my review)
  • Grimspace by Ann Aguirre (my review)
  • An Accidental Goddess by Linnea Sinclair (my review)
  • Urban Shaman by C. E. Murphy (my review)
  • Wanderlust by Ann Aguirre (my review)
  • Cry Wolf (Alpha and Omega, Bk 1) by Patricia Briggs (my review)
  • Easy Freedom by Liz Berry (my review)
  • Jinx by Jennifer Estep (my review)
  • Finders Keepers by Linnea Sinclair (my review)
  • Gabriel's Ghost by Linnea Sinclair (my review pt 1, pt 2)
  • The Good Neighbors by Holly Black (my review)
  • The Nanny by Melissa Nathan (my review)
  • Grave Sight (Harper Connelly, Bk 1) by Charlaine Harris (my review)
  • Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler (my review)
  • Burndive by Karin Lowachee (my review)
  • An Ice Cold Grave (Harper Connelly, Bk 3) by Charlaine Harris (my review)
  • The Decoy Princess and Princess at Sea by Dawn Cook (my review)


And for my New Year's Resolution – it's the same resolution as last year , to read 100 books.

  • 2006 – 103 books
  • 2007 - 99 books
  • 2008 – 77 books
  • 2009 – let's get it back up to 100!!

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Private Arrangements by Sherry Thomas

Private Arrangements
Sherry Thomas

I won this book at Dear Author a couple of weeks(?) ago with the promise to post something about the book. I just got it on the 21st and so I've been reading like mad (well first I had to finish Exit Strategy) to post about it before the 25th when it comes out. That's today! I made it!

This book blew me away. I felt completely depressed reading half of it – Lord and Lady Tremaine have a "marriage of convenience", living in different continents, not saying a harsh word about one another, but for all purposes they are strangers – not seen together since the night of their wedding, ten years ago. In between the present story there are flashbacks that explain the past and what happened to make things the way they are now. Gigi betrayed Camden when they were both young and in love because she was desperate not to lose him, but conversely it was that very act that tore them apart. Camden is completely immovable in his decision to leave her and reside elsewhere, no matter how much she begged at first, even though this separation was probably as heartbreaking to him as it was to her (I could have just screamed). When Gigi finally gave up, they both took their own lovers and lead their own lives, far apart.

What brings this situation to a head after ten years of separation is the start of this story. At the beginning of Private Arrangements, London is agog over the gossip that Lady Tremaine has petitioned for divorce, because she want's to marry someone else! Even more shocking is the news that Lord Tremaine himself is in England, and knocking at her door. 

Gah. I can't even explain how wretching this was. Their first meeting and talking is shown to the reader in flashbacks, in complete contrast to the present time of the story. They are both engaging and witty characters, clearly well-matched for one another and no one else. And I loved the writing – it had a light, lyrical touch, with a lot of wit. I really felt them falling for each other, I felt how desperate Gigi was, and how devastated they both were over what happened after their wedding. I saw the betrayals on both sides, and the stupid decisions which led to even stupider ones. And worst of all YEARS go by. TEN years, that kills me. I wish it was one year! I could have handled that better, the timeline and all the missed chances in that time just sent daggers into me. I was getting annoyed – the author is toying with my emotions, why is Camden being such a jerk?! Why can't he forgive her?  Is this author perhaps EVIL?

But then the more I read the more I understood. It was a different time then, the rules of honor were different, and that played a part in this. The book is set in the 1880's and 90's and it adheres to that well. Dispite his own past decisions, Camden comes back and no matter how calm they pretend to be, the chemistry is sizzling. Not only that, the tables get flipped and Camden begins to realize how desperate Gigi was not to lose him ten years ago. Now it's his turn to contemplate doing all he can to keep Gigi his wife, tied to him always. I was quite pleased when I realized that – Poetic Justice? Good.

But 10 years?! TEN!!! I suppose this is the one thing that kills me with this book since I keep going on about it.

My favorite part was the last 50 pages. A keeper, just to read and get to that part.

Meanwhile there is also another side story that I quite liked – with Gigi's mother, Mrs. Rowland, the pushy mother, hell-bent on her daughter marrying a duke, and then hell-bent on her daughter and son-in-law getting back together. When Gigi files for divorce, and she sees that Gigi may actually go through with it, she looks around for *other* dukes in the neighborhood, which leads to some amusing consequences that I really liked reading about. And she's hell-bent there too.

Here is a excerpt

Here are less ranty about 10 years reviews at Dear Author and The Good, The Bad and the Unread (1, 2)

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