My “Top Ten” List – Favorite Books and Why! by Toni LoTempio
I’ve always loved to read – since I was three – which might explain why I became an author. I’m happy to share my top ten favorite books with you, and why I chose them.
In reverse order:
#10: The Secret in the Old Attic – Nancy Drew #21 – original text: The first mystery I ever read, it heightened my love of series books and mysteries in general. I developed an appreciation for finding that “hidden clue” and also a love of blue roadsters!
#9: Little Women – Louisa May Alcott’s classic tale of four sisters has always been one of my favorites, which I take out every so often and re-read. I probably liked this because I don’t have any siblings, so it was fun to read how they relate to each other – and I could also identify with Jo’s independent spirit and desire to become a writer.
#8: The Entire Perry Mason series — Erle Stanley Gardner: It’s impossible for me to single out just any one of the 46 books in this series – they all fascinate me. I never tire of reading the adventures of Mason, a lawyer who fights hard on behalf of his clients and who takes pride in the unusual, difficult or nearly-hopeless case. Gardner wrote an excellent supporting cast, from the hardboiled DA Hamilton Burger to the efficient Della Street, each is perfectly fleshed out. The thing that intrigued me most was the way he’d just accept cases on a whim, often financing the necessary investigations himself. What lawyer today would go to such lengths for his clients? Perry’s the best, bar none, from The Case of the Velvet Claws right on down to his last, The Case of the Postponed Murder (published posthumostely). I could read ‘em all over and over again (and I have!)
#7: The Cat Who Could Read Backwards – Lilian Jackson Braun – The first in the “Cat Who…” series, mysteries which feature a reporter named Jim Qwilleran and his Siamese cats, Kao K’o-Kung (Koko for short) and Yum-Yum. Although Qwilleran (no u after the q) is an ex-reporter used to ferreting out clues, the mysteries are often solved by some sort of “coincidental” action on the part of the cats, making them the real detectives in the story – and honest, who doesn’t love a good cat detective!
And speaking of cat detectives….
#6: Wish You Were Here – Rita Mae Brown – Mrs. Murphy Series #1 – the first adventure of the tiger cat, Mrs. Murphy, and her human companion, Mary “Harry” Harristeen. Another good mystery where the intrepid detective (in this case Harry) gets an assist in deceiphering the clues from her feline assistant, Mrs. Murphy – oh, and Tucker the Corgi too. Whetted my appetite for more and Now I have read and own the entire series – in hardback, no less!
#5: Night of the Loving Dead – Casey Daniels – Pepper Martin Mysteries #4 – Even though this isn’t the first book in this series, this one was the one that solidified Pepper as one of my all time favorite paranormal detectives. This book was a bit more outrageous than the three that preceded it (I don’t want to reveal too much, but body-switching is involved) and set the tone for the adventures to follow. Pepper’s quick wit and snappy comebacks have easily made her one of my all time favorite gumshoes!
#4: Ceremony In Death – JD Robb – Eve Dallas Series #5 – As with Perry Mason, I love ALL the Eve Dallas books, but Ceremony in Death stands out. It was the first one to bring in witchcraft and magic and also the first one to show Eve in a vulnerable position against an adversary. If you’ve never tried the”In Death” series this is a good one (written by Nora Roberts, BTW – JD Robb is a pseudonym)
#3: Cat in an Emerald Eye – Carole Nelson Douglas – Midnight Louie Mysteries – Once again, a series where it’s hard to single out just one – I mean, a black cat detective who talks like Bogart? Who can resist Midnight Louie? This one is my favorite because, once again, the setting is a haunted house and a séance on Halloween (see a pattern here?) Psychic cats, ghosts, magicians – plus a good murder mystery – really, what more does one need? (A satisfactory resolution to Temple Barr’s love life would be nice…but that could be a whole post in itself)
#2: – The Thorn Birds – Colleen McCullough – the classic tale of forbidden love in rural Australia was one of my very favorites long before it steamed up the small screen with Richard Chamberlain as the hapless Father Ralph and Rachel Ward as the strong willed Megan. Once again, I’m drawn to the strong, independent heroine, which Megan typifies throughout the book. Which brings me to my very favorite of all time:
#1 – Gone With the Wind – Margaret Mitchell – This saga of love and rebirth in the Old South before,during and after the Civil War will always be my favorite. I love the setting, I love the characters, I love the romance between Scarlett and Rhett and I definitely list Scarlett O’Hara as my all time favorite female fictional character of all time. Her fiery spirit, sense of independence, and all around sex appeal made her a character truly ahead of her era, and while I wouldn’t exactly call her a role model, she was certainly inspirational to me in lots of ways!
So there you have it – my top ten books! Do you agree with my choices? What are some of your “top ten” must reads?
Toni LoTempio is an admin by day, writer by night! Toni is the author of several paperback and e-books of paranormal suspense – as well as the upcoming Nick and Nora mystery series from Berkeley Prime Crime. She and her cat Rocco fundraise for Nathan Fillion’s charity, Kids Need to Read, when they aren’t interviewing authors on Rocco’s blog! You can keep up with all the latest interviews and news (the release of the forthcoming Meow If It’s Murder included) at www.catsbooksmorecats.blogspot.com
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