Petit Fours » A group blog of authors writing in different genres

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From the Keeper Shelf by Constance Gillam

Do you ever wonder why some books appeal to you and others don’t? Do you ever get a recommendation from a friend about a great book, then read two chapters and give up? Reading is a very subjective thing. What works for one person doesn’t always work for another. Some readers like mystery, some comedy, some suspense, some horror. For example, I don’t understand the fascination with zombies and the series, “The Walking Dead.”  To each his own.

I selected four books from my keeper shelf: Cry No More by Linda Howard, Rangoon by Christine Monson, A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux, and Timeline by Michael Crichton. At first glance, four very different books.   “Cry No More” is a contemporary suspense, “Rangoon” a historical, “A Knight in Shining Armor” is a historical time travel and “Timeline” is a historical time travel mixed with science fiction.

So why are such different books on my keeper shelf?

I’m not an emotional person. It takes a lot to make me cry, and you’ll never see me cry in public. It turns out that under my tough exterior, I’m just an emotional softy. With the exception of the Crichton novel, these books were an emotional read. I cried copious amounts of tears in the beginning, the middle and the end. So why would those novels appeal to me? A catharsis read? Maybe. A release from the stress of work and day to day life? Maybe. Whatever it was, it worked for me. I love science (my college major) so Crichton’s book is a little more understandable.

What works for you? What’s on your keep shelf and why?

Mary Preston - February 25, 2013 - 3:08 am

I have a deliciously eclectic mix of books on my book shelves. They have all obviously touched me in some way.

You will see me laugh & cry. I’m the one person you may not want to take to the movies with you, for example.

Marilyn Baron - February 25, 2013 - 7:15 am

Like Mary and you, Connie, my reading interests vary. However, I prefer fiction to non-fiction.
Tomorrow, J.D. Robb’s new book is coming out and I’m looking forward to reading it.

I’m about to finish Back to Blood by Tom Wolfe.
For my book club I’m going to start Sweeping Up Glass by Carolyn Wall. I just picked up Alex Cross, Run by James Patterson. I also have Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness, on my TBR shelf and a few others I probably won’t have time to get to.

I like any book with humor and romance as well as thrillers.

Linsey Lanier - February 25, 2013 - 7:53 am

Interesting question, Connie. Oddly enough, I don’t like horror but I LOVE The Walk Dead. Go figure, lol. I also LOVE Linda Howard and Cry No More was one of my favs by her. I’ll have to check out Michael Crichton’s Timeline. It sounds good. No rhyme or reason for my tastes. I just love a good story. :)

Susan Carlisle - February 25, 2013 - 8:46 am


I like strong heros and heroines who end up together even when they think they have nothing in common. A good happily-ever-after with a great aw moment are the best. Those are my keepers.

Sandra Elzies - February 25, 2013 - 8:59 am

Hi Connie,
Thought provoking read today. Like Susan, I like strong heros and heroines and a HEA ending. (That’s a MUST if I’m going to ever reread the book) I also love family…continuity and love within that family. Guess I’m a heart, hearth & home girl.

As to my reading, I’m reading Dorie Graham’s Espresso in the Morning (HQ Super Romoance).

Donnell - February 25, 2013 - 9:33 am

Hi, Connie, :waves: interesting post. I think you summed it up perfectly. I think we read to feel and for the emotion and those books obviously resonated with you. I’ll have to check them out. Your books are always an emotional read!

Elaine Calloway - February 25, 2013 - 9:47 am

Great post, Connie :)

I don’t really know, but what you say is so true. Some books that fans just RAVE over don’t appeal to me at all. Some really appeal to me, and people slash them with bad reviews.

It all boils down to voice, I guess. Some of my favorites are Dennis Lehane (crime fiction), Cornelia Funke (YA/Fantasy), Kami Garcia (YA/Fantasy), Laini Taylor (Fantasy), and more. All of them have a way of making the language come alive on the page.

Guess we all go for what appeals to us :)


Connie Gillam - February 25, 2013 - 10:02 am


I think its great that you release your emotions. I think its healthier.

Edie Ramer - February 25, 2013 - 10:03 am

Connie, like Susan, I like strong heroes and heroines in any romance genre. But I also have mysteries with no romance and nonfiction keeper books. If I read the same genre all the time, I start to know what will happen before it does. That’s not good. I like surprises.

Connie Gillam - February 25, 2013 - 10:06 am


I two enjoy fiction over non-fiction.

I loved JD Robb’s first book, Naked in Death. I’ve read it twice. I’ve read a Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness, but can’t get into the sequel. I hope you like it.

Connie Gillam - February 25, 2013 - 10:07 am

I’m with you Linsey. I just love a great read.

Connie Gillam - February 25, 2013 - 10:10 am

Susan and Sandy-

A HEA is a must. I don’t think I’d reread a book that left me feeling depressed.

Anonymous - February 25, 2013 - 10:15 am


You are one of the sweetest persons I know. I can’t wait to read your newest release, Deadly Recall.

Connie Gillam - February 25, 2013 - 10:20 am


As a young adult author, I read a lot of YA. I loved Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone. The imagery practically leapt off the page. A another great read.

Connie Gillam - February 25, 2013 - 10:23 am

I agree, Edie.

Reading the same genre would get boring after a while. Even though I don’t read non-fiction, my taste in fiction ranges from crime fiction to young adult.

Constance Gillam - February 25, 2013 - 10:38 am


That anonymous comment was from me. I forget to add my name. Moving too fast over here. LOL

Tamara leBlanc - February 25, 2013 - 11:09 am

I LOVED, LOVED A Knight inShining Armor. I remember reading it years ago and just now when you mentioned it, it brought back such vivid memories. It’s funny how the books one keeps on their keeper shelf and the storys those novels contain stick with you. If, God forbid, they were destroyed somehow, those particular novels, their characters and their worlds would still stick in our heads. In truth, the books on our keeper shelf aren’t necessary as tangible objects. They are so profoundly rooted in our brains we really don’t physically need them there.
But, regardless, I wouldn’t give up my keeper shelf for all the tea in China. Thumbing back through the pages, rereading them and savoring every word makes me a better writer.
My keeper shelf contains, A Knight in Shining Armor: Deveraux, Outlander: Gabaldon, Remembrance (the only book I ever cried real tears for) by Jude Deveraux, and Velvet Chains by Constance O’Banyon.
Thanks for the post and the memories, Connie!
have a great afternoon,

Pamela Varnado - February 25, 2013 - 11:22 am

Connie, please, please, please give The Walking Dead another try. It’s an awesome TV show. And I can’t wait for World War Z to open in the theaters! :-))

Yes, personal taste is a subjective thing. That’s what makes the world wonderful, but a great character connects with a reader emotionally, no matter the genre. I don’t always remember a detailed plot or title of a book or movie, but I always remember a great character. In fact, I’m still upset with the Academy Awards organization for not nominating Brad Pitt for his portrayal of Achilles in Troy. The level of emotional angst he brought to the role was Oscar worthy.

Connie Gillam - February 25, 2013 - 1:05 pm


I’d forgotten the Outlander series. The characters are what I remember. In fact, I mentioned James Malcolm Alexander McKenzie Frasier in my post last month.

Connie Gillam - February 25, 2013 - 1:09 pm


Get over it! Brad Pitt was not nominated. As far as The Walking Dead… Ah…no!

Debby Giusti - February 25, 2013 - 4:28 pm

Hi Connie!
Great post today. I’m a suspense fan. Loved reading Linda Castillo’s SWORN TO SILENCE. She pulled me in from the first line.

Anyone notice how we start to read like an editor the longer we’re on this writing journey? It’s not often a book transports me to another place and I can forget I’m in this industry as well. Usually I’m thinking, “Interesting how he/she (think author) included that action tag or described that character.”

With Linda’s book, I was 100% reader.

Debby Giusti - February 25, 2013 - 4:31 pm

Pam, have you been to Senoia when they’re shooting The Walking Dead? A couple of guys in my area have been on the show…one is a regular. It’s fun to hear the stories he tells about the set and cast.

Connie - February 25, 2013 - 4:51 pm


I really liked Linda Castillo’s first book. And yes if the book is good (not great), I find myself falling into critique mode.

Pamela Varnado - February 25, 2013 - 7:33 pm

Debby, thanks for understanding my passion when it comes to The Walking Dead. I love the show and will definitely have to plan a trip to Senoia.

Carol Burnside - February 25, 2013 - 9:59 pm

My reading choices change with my mood. Sometimes I like western historicals, sometimes contemporary, sometimes rom-com or a mystery. I even like gritty policy procedurals and some YA’s. It just occurred to me that my movie watching is much the same way.

Hubby enjoys The Walking Dead. I don’t get it, but then again he doesn’t like some of my shows either. To each his(or her) own. :)

Pam Asberry - February 26, 2013 - 12:02 am

I like books about strong women who succeed despite insurmountable odds–whether or not they end up with the guy. Which probably explains why I am not yet published as a romance writer, LOL!

Sia Huff - February 26, 2013 - 11:14 am

It’s a good thing everyone has different favorites, that way more books can be successful. I love Jude Deveraux and Linda Howard. I haven’t read “Cry No More” but I agree with the title.

Maxine - February 26, 2013 - 12:49 pm

I enjoyed your post. I have a keeper shelf too. Some do make me cry, some laugh, some both (I really like those) and some I just can’t put down. I have not read your keepers, but Cry No More and Rangoon jumped at me. Will have to give those a try. Thanks.

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