Monday, December 18, 2006

Top Ten Books I Read in 2006

In Between Men got a great review from Trashionista! She compared me to Jennifer Crusie!!!
And what did I do in return? Stole Trashionista's idea for a Top Ten list. So here we go:

10. When you find a book with a heroine named Cynthia Lopez who is aided by two fairy god-fathers, you can't pass that up. Berta Platas cracked me up with her romantic comedy, Cinderella Lopez that was at times bitter, spicy and then oh so sweet when Cyn kicked some evil step-sister ass in some bitchin' high heels.

9. I don't know what I was thinking by leaving Most Wanted by Michele Martinez on my TBR pile for a year. What an idiot! I picked it up and couldn't put it down till the end. And because I read it so fast, I had to reread it for the parts that I missed. If you love mysteries, New York and a tortured heroine who is a federal prosecutor, new mom and caught between two sexy, imperfect men, then check out the first book in the Melanie Vargas series.

8. When I mentioned that I love Emily Brightwell's Mrs. Jeffries Mystery Series to my editor, she just about fell out of her chair with delight. She described Emily perfectly, "She's the coziest of the cozies!" The latest book, Mrs. Jeffries Appeals the Verdict was the most complex and suspenseful of the series. Emily had me wondering if Mrs. Jeffries and her crew would actually solve the case. I won't say more other than if you want a book to keep you warm during the winter months, Emily has more than 20 Mrs. Jeffries mysteries to keep you occupied!

7. The Devil In Winter by Lisa Kleypas is one of those stories rich with turbulent emotions and an unrepentant hero paired with a wounded, yet resilient heroine. I used to be one of those people who scoffed at historical romances until the owner of New and Recycled Romances insisted that I try one of Lisa's books. I immediately saw the error of my ways and I'd say that 75% of my keeper shelf consists of historicals, especially those by Lisa.

6. Even though I read Match Me If You Can by Susan Elizabeth Phillips last summer, I reread it again a few months ago. (What else can a girl do when she has to wait so long for Susan's next book?) Anyway, Susan Elizabeth Phillips always makes me forget that I'm reading a book. The characters are so vivid they're almost real. Just when she cracks me up, Susan turns around and smacks me upside the head with a scene that is so emotional, I'm suddenly crying. In public, no less.

5. When I first heard Reyna Grande read at the Chica Lit Conference in Miami, I was in awe of her. She is truly a storyteller and one of the most humble people I have ever met. Across a Hundred Mountains is one of those stories that stick in the memory. Even though there is ugliness and horrific tragedy, there is also salvation and grace.

4. If you read my blog regularly (read the post from 1/15/06), then you know how I feel about Do They Wear High Heels in Heaven by Erica Orloff. If I say anything more, you'll think Erica and I are lovers.

3. I'd always noticed A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly on the book shelves but for some reason never picked up till last week. Couldn't put it down, even when the Little Dude found some knives and began throwing them at Rascal. (That didn't really happen, by the way.) Jennifer's crystal clear prose and especially her heroine, gave me courage to plump the depths of a character who has been popping into my head.

2. Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin is another book that I've raved about on this blog. As I go down this list, it gets harder to explain why I love these books so much. The best I can do is say that they make me forget about being a writer; I can be a reader with them. But when I've reached the end and the writer in me wakes up with excitement, eager to stretch out of my comfort zone.

1. This summer my family went to Carmel for a week. My mother-in-law and I had numerology and aromatherapy readings done at Pilgrim's Way Bookstore and Garden. While waiting for my numerology appointment, I found Thich Nhat Hanh: Essential Writings. Among other things, I had been wrestling with issues about someone whom I had thought was a friend but turned out not to be. This book helped me to realize that this person's behavior was a mirror of my own negative traits. It was a very profound, very liberating lesson to understand that the people who "challenge" us are often our most profound spiritual teachers. That is, if we open our eyes to the lesson.

Every time I open the pages of this book , I feel as if my eyes are opened anew and it will be one of the books I'll reread in the final days of this year.



Emily Brightwell said...

Mary, thanks so very much for mentioning my series - I'm so delighted that you like it and I'm very flattered by your kind words. Thanks for sharing your top ten list and when I get my B & N Gift card for Christmas, not only will I be able to buy "In Between Men" but I'm also going to try some of your recommendations.
Have a wonderful Christmas.

Sandra D said...

Hi Mary,

How wonderful to get a review like that! I loved Hot Tamara and In Between Men.! I am also an avid read of Mrs.Jeffries series.

I am home sick..yet again..but I will make a stop at B&N as soon as I am better and will purchase some of your choices.

C' can tell me the truth..Little Dude really did throw a knife or two..hey I booted a dog into the rose bushes heavy with thorns as you know:-)

Love to you all,

Mary Castillo said...

You're so welcome, Cheryl. But I have to tell you that I'm really nervous about you reading my books! I hope you at least have a good laugh!

Okay Sandy, I'll confess. William didn't throw a knife at Rascal but he does try to wrestle him to the floor. I'm trying to teach kindness to animals but sometimes I can't help but watch and see who will win!


Emily Brightwell said...

Mary, - you have nothing to be nervous about, I know you're a wonderful writer and I can't wait to read your work! I know it's going to be a real treat and that I'm going to enjoy them thoroughly.

ShoeGirl said...

Thank you for all the great book suggestions!