Weekly wrap-up!

1. Show and Tell will be available for your reading pleasure on Tuesday!

2. I went to see the Les Miserables movie last weekend. I had FEELINGS. Here’s the thing: I love Les Mis. I saw it on Broadway twice. I have an ex who also loved it, and the original cast recording got a lot of play on long car trips, during which time we would both sing along loudly and badly. I own two different cast recordings. I watch the anniversary concert whenever it’s on PBS. I LOVE IT, okay?

Although I generally enjoyed the movie, I wanted to like it more than I did. On the plus side, Hugh Jackman is fantastic and has an even better voice than I expected. (I was a little worried. He totally pulls it off.) Eddie Redmayne totally won me over. I loved Aaron Tveit and Samantha Barks. (Someone please put Aaron Tveit in all of the movies, thank you.) It was fun to see something I’d only seen on stage brought to life with real sets and things. On the other hand, I thought Russell Crowe was horribly miscast. The problem with singing live instead of lip-synching is that there were a lot of scenes that were just close-ups of one character singing a solo, and that made the movie drag. (Also, I wanted there to be more singing and less emoting, especially on Anne Hathaway’s part.) Somehow I had also forgotten how unrelentingly unhappy the story is, and I walked away from the theater thinking, “Why was this made into a musical again?” (I watched Chicago again recently and had a similar reaction. Like, “Wow, every one of these characters is a terrible person. Why am I watching this again? Oh, right, I love the music.”)

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m still going to sing all the parts from “One Day More” using different voices while I take a shower, but the movie fell just short of being awesome for me.

3. On New Years, I participated in a New Year’s Kisses Party. You can go on over here to read Matt & Iggy’s first kiss (from Out in the Field) and enter to win prizes. The contest was extended through January 7, so there are still a few more days to enter.

4. Just for funsies, I thought I’d pick 10 books I read in 2012 that I enjoyed. This is going to be a genre smorgasbord, so bear with me. I hesitate to even call these the best books of the year, because my reading habits were really odd, so these are basically A Bunch of Books that Kate Really Liked. (And somehow, I read 102 books in 2013, so it took some time to winnow down this list.) In the order I read them:

Nowhere Ranch by Heidi Cullinan. I had put off reading this one because I’d heard there was a big scene featuring a sex act that makes me kind of squeamish (I’m a wuss, okay?) but it wound up being maybe my favorite of Heidi’s books, and The Scene? It totally, totally works within the context of the book.

Bonds of Earth by G.N. Chevalier. Maybe the best m/m historical I read this year, a pleasant surprise given that I bought the book almost entirely because of the evocative cover.

What Binds Us by Larry Benjamin. This probably falls more on the gay lit end of the spectrum. There’s a love story, but it’s not the central arc of the book. Beautiful writing, emotional intensity, well-drawn setting. Highly recommended to everyone.

Armed and Dangerous by Abigail Roux. 2012 was the year I gave the Cut & Run series a second chance. (I’ll admit, I didn’t love the first book in the series. But I was looking for something to read in March and thought, “Everyone loves these. Maybe I missed something.” I did miss something, because this series is great, with a really wonderful emotional arc that spans the books.) This was my favorite entry in the series thus far. Can we have the next book now please?

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin. I’mma finish this damn series if it kills me. I’m not a big epic fantasy reader, but I loved this book. Read in conjunction with Alison Weir’s book on the Wars of the Roses got me all excited for medieval history, too. [/nerd] (My youngest brother, actually, recently became a total GRRM fanboy, so I’ve been enjoying discussing the books with him. He and I don’t have a ton in common, so it’s nice to have something to bond over.)

The Murder of the Century by Paul Collins. Nonfiction book on a crime in New York in the 1890s that reads like a novel and is tremendously compelling.

Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward. 2012 was also The Year Kate Finally Got Around to Reading Those J.R. Ward Books. It’s a truth universally acknowledged that Zsadist and Bella’s book is the best one, right? (I am so dying for Lover at Last, I can’t even tell you.)

The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie by Jennifer Ashley. I think this one made everyone’s favorite romance novel list a couple of years ago, but I only got around to reading it this fall. No lie, it’s really good. If you’re a fan of m/f Regencies, this is required reading.

Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner. Speaking of things I finally got around to reading! It’s brilliant and unusual and though it takes a while to get off the ground, once the plot gets going, it makes a lot of interesting twists.

Ethan, Who Loved Carter by Ryan Loveless. If you want a sweet, feel-good romance, this is your book. A character with Tourette’s meets a character with a traumatic brain injury, and though there’s not a lot of conflict between them, I really liked it.

Bonus #1: A Rogue by Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean. I did a reading with Sarah in March and got to talk to her some, and she’s super fun. So, I read her backlist. She becomes a better writer with every book, and this was my favorite of her books so far. (I know my audience here, though. This is another m/f Regency. Put down the pitchforks.)

Bonus #2: Pressure Head by JL Merrow. I’m a sucker for a story about a psychic. It’s not flawless, but Merrow has such a wonderful writing voice that I just want her to keep writing books forever. I want for there to be a sequel to this one.

Bonus #3: Know Not Why by Hannah Johnson. I read this whole book on New Year’s Day when I was recovering from my hangover and I loved it to pieces. It’s sweet and cute and laugh-out-loud funny.

There’s a lot of m/m on this list, which is funny considering I read many fewer m/m books in 2012 than in recent years past. I did read A LOT of just-okay m/f Regencies. I love them, but they become sort of same-y and interchangeable, particularly if you, like me, tend to read, like, six of them in one go before wandering off to read something else. I found most of the ones I read this year fun and entertaining but forgettable.

5. Now that it’s 2013, my official tenure as Vice President of the Rainbow Romance Writers has begun! Honestly, I am feeling equal parts “Let’s do this!” and “What the hell did Heidi and Damon talk me into doing?”

I was jotting down resolutions and yearly goals in my offline journal yesterday, and one of them was simply, “Be awesome.” I think that is my general command of 2013. Be awesome, 2013!