Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish that allows us to list our top ten answers to a different question each week.

This week’s theme is: Top Historical Romance Books

1. When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James

The first of many Beauty and the Beast adaptations on my list, James’s take on the classic tale features a cranky protagonist modeled after the television character House.

2. The Proposition by Judith Ivory

Men are rarely the subjects of makeover tales, which makes Ivory’s reverse-Pygmalion adaptation all the more compelling.

3. Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase

Another take on Beauty and the Beast, Chase’s novel features some of the most electrifying dialogue between protagonists that I’ve come across in the genre.

4. Married by Morning by Lisa Kleypas

Love-hate relationships are one of my favorite romance tropes, and Kleypas writes the progression of emotions at a perfect tempo. This is the fourth in the Hathaways series, all of which is recommended.

5. Romancing Mister Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

Another favorite trope is the ugly duckling scenario, which Quinn writes to perfection. This is the fourth in the ever-humorous Bridgertons series.

6. Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean

Another book with an imperfect heroine, MacLean’s story also features one of my favorite rake characters. This is the first in the Love by Numbers series.

7. A Matter of Class by Mary Balogh

Providing deceptive depth for its slim page count, you’ll want to read Balogh’s story again from the start after finishing. For fear of giving the secret away, I’ll let you discover the reason on your own.

8. Ravished by Amanda Quick

Another favorite Beauty and the Beast retelling, Quick’s novel features two imperfect leads with great chemistry.

9. The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie by Jennifer Ashley

I’m always intrigued by imperfect male protagonists, yet Ashley is one of the few authors I’ve read who has delivered that imperfection in a mental rather than physical form. It makes for a powerful and impressive read.

10. Yours Until Dawn by Teresa Medeiros

I had to give you one last Beauty and the Beast retelling, and this one has a twist that sets it apart from its peers.

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Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish that allows us to list our top ten answers to a different question each week.

This week’s theme is: Top Ten Books I’d Recommend To Someone Who Doesn’t Read X

I’m going to cheat a bit, since I can’t decide among the genres I usually read, and do five books each for romance, fantasy, and young adult.

Top Ten Books I’d Recommend To Someone Who Doesn’t Read Romance

1. The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

This one might not be considered a romance in the strictest sense, but it is simple and innocent and so lovely.

2. The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie by Jennifer Ashley

This novel defies romance reader expectations, going against the grain to deliver a hero unlike any I’ve seen in the genre before.

3. Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

Crusie infuses her novel with enough humor and palpable chemistry between her leads to win over even the harshest critics.

4. Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase

Considered one of the seminal historical romances, Chase’s dialogue  is highly engaging and the plot substantial enough to pique picky readers’ interest.

5. When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James

James creates a relationship between her two characters that is sustained by mutual equality and respect rather than misunderstanding and manipulation.

Top Ten Books I’d Recommend To Someone Who Doesn’t Read Fantasy

1. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Any Gaiman work could win over fantasy-wary readers; Neverwhere just happens to be my favorite.

2. Enchantment by Orson Scott Card

Card effortlessly weaves Russian folklore into a tapestry of fairy tale, horror, romance, and coming-of-age triumph.

3. Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

While not an urban fantasy, Snyder’s writing has all the accessibility of the genre along with a unique plot and a heroine to root for.

4. The Native Star by M.K. Hobson

Part steampunk magic, part romance, and part western adventure, Hobson’s world is unlike any I’ve encountered before.

5. Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire

Each book in the Toby Daye series is better than the last. This is one of the best urban fantasies out there, with fae, folklore, romance, a genuinely relatable and capable heroine, and humor to spare.

Top Ten Books I’d Recommend To Someone Who Doesn’t Read Young Adult

1. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

It does a disservice to Marchetta’s writing to limit it to young readers. The complexity of her stories can appeal to young and mature readers alike.

2. I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

A lesser known work by the author of the much lauded The Book Thief, this coming-of-age story is thought-provoking and highlights the beauty that can be found in even the most dire circumstances.

3. The China Garden by Liz Berry

Sadly overlooked amidst the masses of paranormals, this is a quiet modern fairy tale that treads new ground without abandoning its simplicity.

4. The Realm of Possibility by David Levithan

A novel in verse that explores the divergent yet resonant voices of high school students.

5. Beauty by Robin McKinley

This Beauty and the Beast adaptation transcends generations. It remains one of the best and most beautiful iterations of the tale.

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish that allows us to list our top ten answers to a different question each week.

This week’s theme is: Top Ten Favorite Books I Read in 2011

1. The Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop

There are two series that have shown up consistently on every favorites list since I started blogging. The Black Jewels Trilogy is one of them. Bishop’s world might be dark, convoluted, twisted, and heavy-handed, but it’s engrossing nonetheless. I adore Daemon, Saetan, and Lucivar, with their family dynamic that was both hilarious and heartbreaking at times.

2. Fever series by Karen Marie Moning

The second perpetual resident of my favorites lists, Moning’s Fever series was nothing like I expected it to be. I had avoided it for years, having heard it was very much angst with very little joy to be had for the heroine. Thankfully, I decided to ignore those reviewers this year, and was immediately swept away into Mac’s world of fae-infested Dublin. In a year of great character discoveries, Barrons is definitely one of my favorites.

3. Blackout by Rob Thurman

I’ve been following Thurman’s Cal Leandros series for years, yet for some reason, I always manage to forget just how great it is before reading a new installment. Blackout likely cured me of that habit for good, for as great as the series had been until this point, the sixth book is her best by far. Blackout is like a love letter to fans who have stuck it out since the beginning. I won’t explain how that’s the case for fear of revealing too much, since the reward lies in piecing together each bit on your own.

4. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

It was with reluctance that I purchased this book at the start of the year. Everything about it seemed too young to resonate with me: the inane title, the saccharine cover, even the description failed to truly appeal to me. Yet it was receiving such rave reviews that I knew there had to be something deeper lying beneath the surface. What I found was one of the most charming, realistic, and sympathetic love stories I’ve read. Anna and the French Kiss captures utterly what it is like to be in the beginning stages of crushing, friendship, and love. Its characters aren’t perfect, but Anna is such a relatable and likable narrator that your devotions and hope never sway.

5. Hunt the Moon by Karen Chance

I believed that I had given up on the Cassie Palmer series, having read and been slightly annoyed by Cassie’s incessant whining in Curse the Dawn. While Cassie’s relationship with Mercea was interesting at the start, I didn’t really care for the direction it was going in, and Cassie herself wasn’t compelling enough as a heroine for me to stick with her story. Yet after several years’ hiatus, the series returned this summer with Hunt the Moon, and the excellent reviews prompted me to pick it up despite myself. The fifth installment returned to the action-packed, high-speed storytelling of the first novels, yet for once Cassie seemed confident and competent. She still did her fair share of whining, but it no longer came across as petulant. Shockingly, as I became engrossed in the story, I realized a faux pas of my own that I rarely make, yet that will affect how I view the series going forward. It’s not often that I jump on the wrong ship at the start, but suffice it to say my affections have shifted, and having reread the series with that perspective in mind, I’m now fully on board.

6. Secret Society Girl series by Diana Peterfreund

This series is so far outside my comfort zone that I expected to set it down within the first twenty pages. I care nothing for chick lit, especially when the heroine is a rather self-absorbed, promiscuous college student being sucked into the underbelly of secret society life. Yet while I never managed to warm up to Amy fully, I fell in love with the camaraderie she shared with her fellow Diggers and with the unusual courtship she shares with one particular Rose and Grave member.

7. Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

Despite my love of romance, I tended to stay away from pure romance novels, particularly contemporaries. Yet this title showed up so frequently on Best Of lists that I had to give it a try. Bet Me wound up being a rare one indeed, one in which I was consistently surprised yet never disappointed. I hugged it when I finished, which is a rare honor.

8. The Wolves of Mercy Falls series by Maggie Stiefvater

I made it halfway through Shiver in college before putting it down, having determined that the instalove romance was nice yet not intriguing enough to take time away from the other books in my TBR pile. After winning a copy of Forever this summer, I decided to give the series one more chance, and while I had the same initial impressions, by the end of the book, I realized that Stiefvater’s lovely writing and the conviction with which she writes Sam and Grace’s relationship elevates this series above its peers despite its questionable premise.

9. The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta

After months of searching for this title, I finally found an arc for a dollar in a thrift store. While I hadn’t read Saving Francesca in a while, I remembered having liked Tom’s character in the previous novel and was interested to see how Will and Francesca were faring. As with every Marchetta novel, I was captivated by the storytelling, yet The Piper’s Son took me to a place that Saving Francesca only hinted at. I’m confident that adults and teens alike can enjoy Marchetta’s novels, yet this was the first that I felt really deserved a spot in the general fiction section. Tom’s story is frustrating, heartbreaking, and ultimately uplifting, yet it wrings your emotions out several times before it achieves its ultimate goal.

10. The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner

While reading this series, I knew I was enjoying it, but I wasn’t sure whether I found it merely entertaining or compulsively readable; since I rarely start a book without finishing it in the same day, I wasn’t able to set it down and answer that question. It wasn’t until I had completed the third book in this series that I realized how brilliant it is. As Turner follows Gen through triumph and tragedy, she shifts perspective in each novel so that, even with Gen as the narrator, no one is ever as they seem. Thus, even those revelations guessed ahead of time taste all the sweeter.

 Honorable Mentions

Ravished by Amanda Quick, When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James, and The Proposition by Judith Ivory

I read at least a dozen Beauty and the Beast-inspired novels this year, and of them all, these three were my favorites.

What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones

A quick, easy read, this novel written in verse tells one of the sweetest love stories I read this year. Unfortunately, you have to wade through quite a bit of teen melodrama to get there, but the payoff is worth it.

The Curseworkers series by Holly Black

White Cat and Red Glove are the first two in a trilogy of young adult urban fantasy novels that introduce a world unlike anything I’ve read in the genre before. Throw in a male narrator reminiscent of Cal Leandros, and my love for this series is sealed.

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

This young adult book about love and loss managed to take multiple tropes that I despise and work them is such a way that I loved the story and the characters anyway.

One Salt Sea by Seanan McGuire

Every book in the Toby Daye series is golden, and the latest upped the game in such a way that my expectations for Ashes of Honor are ridiculously high.

Aftermath by Ann Aguirre

This penultimate book in the Sirantha Jax series was hard to read, yet it cemented my dedication to the characters. Sirantha has displayed one of the most pronounced character developments in any series that I’ve read, and while her ending has no guarantee of happiness, I have no doubt that Aguirre will give these great characters a worthy finale.

Review: When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James

My standards for Beauty and the Beast adaptations are high. Perhaps it’s because I hold the story to dear to my heart, or maybe it’s due to the fact that I’ve read so very many different permutations, but while it’s easy to at least put a smile on my face with a new version of this classic tale, it takes something special to really take my breath away. Eloisa James’s version is special indeed.

When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James

Perhaps if James had not immediately come clean about her inspiration for this story, I wouldn’t have loved it as much, as I feel that most authors dealing with an adaptation should incorporate an original storyline free of other literary influences. Yet James’s unabashed transportation of TV character House into a Beauty and the Beast story wound up being a stroke of genius, made even more surprising by the fact that I’ve never been a fan of Hugh Laurie’s cranky medical persona.

When I first started the book, I had to resist the urge to roll my eyes a few times. The events that lead to Linnet’s necessity to find a husband are ridiculous and border on the absurd, as do the reactions of those who learn of her predicament. Luckily, the farcical atmosphere dissipates as soon as Linnet is introduced into Piers’s household, as from that point on, the story is dominated by the witty, wry, and charming interactions between these two characters. I’ve not seen an episode of House in a while, yet I feel that James did Piers a favor in tempering his surliness, as even at his most insufferable moments I never faltered from rooting for him. Likewise, rather than offering Piers a delicate, shrinking violet as a partner, James imbues Linnet with enough fire to make her interesting yet not conceited.

Apart from James’s deft construction of characters, she also managed to craft a storyline that was compelling in its own right, yet worked flawlessly to update and incorporate the message of the original tale. Add to this a secondary romance that was nearly as lovely as that of the main characters, and When Beauty Tamed the Beast became one of my favorite BatB adaptations to date.

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? is a meme created at Book Journey to catalogue everything read in the past week, what you’re working on now, and what you hope to get to in the coming week.

The Past Week

When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James

The Bite Before Christmas by Lynsay Sands and Jeaniene Frost

The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott

Saving June by Hannah Harrington

 Reading Now

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

 The Week Ahead

Supernaturally by Kiersten White

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? is a meme created at Book Journey to catalogue everything read in the past week, what you’re working on now, and what you hope to get to in the coming week.

It’s the week before finals, so I’m not sure how much pleasure reading I’ll be able to manage this week. My guess is either next to none, because I will be studying obsessively, or a whole lot, because my brain will be incapable of studying anymore.

The Past Week

Cascade by Lisa T. Bergren

Torrent by Lisa T. Bergren

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James

Reading Now

The Bite Before Christmas by Lynsay Sands and Jeaniene Frost

 The Week Ahead

Saving June by Hannah Harrington

Book Beginnings on Fridays

Book Beginnings on Fridays is a meme hosted at A Few More Pages designed to feature the book you are reading right now by sharing the first few lines of the story.

This weekend I’ll be reading When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James.

When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James

Once upon a time, not so very long ago…

Beautiful girls in fairy stories are as common as pebbles on the beach. Magnolia-skinned milkmaids rub shoulders with starry-eyed princess and, in fact, counting two eyes in each bright-eyed damsel would result in a whole galaxy of twinkling stars.

This is the last BatB adaptation that I have stashed away for the time being, and from the reviews I’ve read, I’m hoping I’m in for a treat.

Here’s the summary, taken from Goodreads:

Miss Linnet Berry Thrynne is a Beauty . . . Naturally, she’s betrothed to a Beast.

Piers Yelverton, Earl of Marchant, lives in a castle in Wales where, it is rumored, his bad temper flays everyone he crosses. And rumor also has it that a wound has left the earl immune to the charms of any woman.

Linnet is not just any woman.

She is more than merely lovely: her wit and charm brought a prince to his knees. She estimates the earl will fall madly in love—in just two weeks.

Yet Linnet has no idea of the danger posed to her own heart by a man who may never love her in return.

If she decides to be very wicked indeed . . . what price will she pay for taming his wild heart?