I just got this fabulous e-mail from Kristan Higgins. She is our November Guest Judge for the Veterans and Rookies contest. Charity gathered up all of the entries and put them together, minus the names, for Kristan to be able to read through. She picked the winners. Yes, I said winners, plural. Since there were way more entries than we thought there would be, I just didn't feel right about only having one winner. So, First place will get the books already mentioned: Fools Rush In, Talk Gertie To Me, gods In Alabama, Whitney, My Love, and Don't Look Down, as well as Nearlyweds. However, as I know the winner, I also know she already has DLD, so we'll figure something out. Second and third place will both get a copy of either gods In Alabama or Between, Georgia, or another one of the books that we've reviewed here this month. Contact me right away (like TODAY, if possible) so I can get your addresses.Post a comment here, or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include "I'm a November winner!" in your subject line!! Now, without further ado, here's Kristan!
This was the first contest I've ever judged, and it was, well, wicked hard! The answers were diverse, well written and funny, and trying to rank them kept me up till one a.m., so if my kids find waffles in their lunchbox today, you're all to blame.
THIRD PLACE - winner is HOPE
Well, we all love a Crusie. Personally, it's the banter that draws me to her books. In my own humble opinion, the dialogue is what sets Ms. Crusie above most other writers, those zinging one liners that have us wheezing with laughter. I also liked the way this entrant described Sue Ann Jaffarian's novel...that she bought it for the plus-size heroine and ended up so drawn into the story that her original reason faded. When the story is that powerful and well crafted, you know the author has succeeded in writing a memorable book.
1. Crusie, I will read anything buy her because I know that it will be good. Also anything by Alesia Holliday or Lani Diane Rich are great books that I will pick up just because.
2. For Crusie, Faking It was the first one that I read, and just the banter and fun caught me, but the basement scene when she confesses all her sins hooked me and I haven't passed a book since.
3. The banter in all three of the books are great. They are things that I would say provided I had someone to write for me and I was able to come up with a comback that quickly.
4.Sue Ann Jaffarian. At first I just wanted to see how she would portray a plus size lead character, but as I got into the mystery, I became hooked on her character portrayal. It was real and made me feel what all the characters were going through. Also the mystery aspect of the story was one that kept me guessing to the end.
SECOND PLACE - winner is Orangehands
I confess to not knowing the authors that this reader chose, but now I'm dying to read them. This answer hit the nail on the head of why we love an author--characters who engage our hearts and minds. The response was beautifully written, too.
Considering how many books I have read over the years, it is surprising that I can easily pick out my favorite veteran author. But I can. Chris Crutcher. There is no other author that engages so much of my heart and mind. There is also no other author who so unflinchingly looks at the reality behind teen life and writes about it. There are a lot of authors I like, a good amount I even love, but Crutcher is the top of it. (Besides which, all of his novels have been banned. How can you beat that?)
I actually don't remember which of his books was the first I read (and the first hooked me), but I do know the one that means the most to me: Staying Fat for Sarah Brynes (though Whale Talk and Ironman are close seconds). This book helped me in numerous ways, but first and foremost, it made me think about things that I never really saw teen books address before. It gave me even more ammo to fight for a cause I had at that time already spent a lot of years on, and it also made me sit up and take notice of the other side and their thought process. It was smart and it was well-written, and it didn't hide behind the easy road.
Rookie: I just discovered J.R. Ward and so far I am really enjoying her series about the Black Dagger Brotherhood. She writes in a seemingly casual way, she's telling a new slant on an old story (vampires) and making it one of the best ones I've read (though to be fair I still haven't tried Anne Rice), and I love her characters.
FIRST PLACE... - winner is McB
Congratulations, Lovely! I chose this entry because this reader picked veterans who bent the genre of historical romance long before anyone realized it needed bending. As the reader so wisely points out, we'd all been swimming in a pool of heroines who were inept to the point of the ridiculous, just waiting for the literal knight in shining armor to save her from her own boredom/silliness/evil father. Writers McNaught, Garwood and Deveraux (a personal fave) gave us heroines who fought, kicked, swore, led, thought and quipped...oh, sure, they all had sapphire eyes and flaming tresses, but they had brains, too.
As far as the second part of the answer, I liked this reader calling Jen Crusie a rookie. Points for just being creative.
Whitney, My Love
Dee, oh my - you have opened the flood gates, my dear! I LOVED that book. Actually I totally adored all of Ms. McNaught's historicals. And yeah I still have every one of them. I'm such a sucker for a good historical. They were my introduction to romance. Ms. M, along with Julie Garwood and Jude Devereaux. I had fantasies involving the Montgomery men for years!
Before I found those ladies, I didn't read romance. I was very heavily into mysteries and still really enjoy reading them now. What changed my mind? What made these authors so special is that they wrote not just fabulous historical romance, but they did so without resorting to the then ubiquitous bodice-ripper trend. They showed me that romance fiction could be GOOD fiction, with great heros, heroines who were capable of more than waiting around to be saved, and wonderful humor. They've moved on to writing great contemporaries now, but its these early, historical romances that live forever in my heart.
And from them I eventually braved reading *gasp* category romance. My previous experience with these was my grandmother's occasional Barbara Cartland and Harlequin books(rich European doctor learns about love and laughter from the brave village miss who ventured into the big city to work as his receptionist).
And I discovered through trial and error that there was some worthy fiction mixed in among these little paperbacks. Among them and among my very first discoveries? GETTING RID OF BRADLEY by the Cherry, Jennifer Crusie. Oh my Bob I laughed so hard reading this book. I still recall snorting with laughter on the subway as I read those words for the first time "Oh no, dead dog?" (okay, you had to be there). That wasn't Jenny's first book, but it was an early one, so does it qualify for rookie status?
No wait a minute. I have another that most definitely qualifies for rookie status on account of her first book has not *yet* been accepted for publication. But I've beta-read it and I'm guaran-dang-teeing you its going to be on your bookshelves one day soon. When that day happens I promise to spread the word, and then she can be your rookie find too.
So there you have my veterans and my rookie.
Thanks for inviting me to judge the contest. Enjoy your gifties, winners, and Happy Thanksgiving to all.