Archive for December, 2009

Best Books of 2009

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

As the old year draws to a close, I’ve been seeing “best of” lists popping up all over the place. It made me stop and think about what I’ve been reading this year. Some of the books that caught my fancy were new releases, like Gail Carriger’s Soulless or Meredith Duran’s Bound by Your Touch; others were long overdue catch-up, like Lisa Kleypas’ Dreaming of You and Laura Lee Gurhke’s And Then He Kissed Her; and others were marathon reads of whole series, like Julia Spencer-Fleming’s Adirondack mysteries, Kristan Higgins’ contemporary romance novels, and Jen Lancaster’s entire non-fiction oeuvre. It’s been a good reading year.

Which were the books that made the deepest impression on you in 2009?

Tuesday: the Official Day of the Pink Series

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

Consulting a calendar, I just realized that:

— the paperback of The Temptation of the Night Jasmine comes out exactly a week from today, on Tuesday, January 5th, while

The Betrayal of the Blood Lily comes out exactly two weeks from today, on Tuesday, January 12th,

— and, just to keep up the Tuesday trend, I give my New York reading at Borders exactly four weeks from today, on Tuesday, January 26th.

Happy Tuesday, all! It is my new favorite day of the week.

More Casting Fun

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

My family has a holiday tradition of giving each other movies– almost always BBC comedies or costume dramas– and then watching them all in great, multi-hour marathons. One of this year’s BBC haul was Lark Rise to Candleford, from which my little sister chose this actress to play Letty from Deception of the Emerald Ring:

And here’s Miss Eliza’s pick for Letty, from her casting series on Strange and Random Happenstance:

Who would you cast as Letty?

p.s. you can also see Miss Eliza’s picks for Geoff, Mary, and Lord Vaughn on her site.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

I just wanted to pop in from gingerbread baking (we will ignore the fact that I may have absentmindedly put in an extra cup of flour while thinking about something else– oops) to wish everyone an absolutely splendid holiday. I hope all of your planes and trains arrive on time and your stockings contain candy rather than coal.

While it’s always a bit tacky to re-gift, here, once again, is my last year’s present to you: Ivy & Intrigue, the Selwick Christmas novella. Enjoy!

See you back here once all the presents have been unwrapped….

Holiday Reads

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

Hi, all!

I was just beginning to pack for the holidays and realized I’d run through most of my traditional seasonally themed reads already.

I tend to read them in subcategories. I have British chick lit Christmas books (Kate Saunder’s “The Marrying Game”, Liz Young’s “Fair Game”, Harriet Evans’ “Going Home”), mysteries (Barbara Michaels’ “Stitches in Time”, Kasey Michaels’ “High Heels and Holidays”), historical romance (Judith McNaught’s story in “A Holiday of Love”, Jo Beverly’s “Winter Fire”, Elsie Lee’s “Silence is Golden”), contemporaries (Debbie Macomber’s “Angel” books, McNaught’s “Paradise” and “Perfect”), and so on.

Any recommendations for other good holiday reads? What are your seasonal favorites?

Turnip Gets a Book!

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

Since today is Miss Jane Austen’s 234th birthday (happy birthday, Miss Austen!), it seemed an appropriate time to make my grand announcement about the next book. All this past summer, I’ve been secretly working away on a special project: a book set in Bath in Christmas of 1803, featuring Jane Austen, Turnip Fitzhugh, and a lot of Christmas pudding. The Christmas Book, as I’ve been calling it, has a name now: The Mischief of the Mistletoe.

The book is loosely– very loosely!– based on the plot of Jane Austen’s unfinished novel, The Watsons, which was written around that time. Little did Austen scholars realize that my heroine, Miss Arabella Dempsey, was the inspiration for Austen’s incomplete work! I’ve been having a grand time with Austen’s books and letters, as well as skulking around the Austen exhibit at the Morgan, which couldn’t have come at a better time. It’s one thing to read a transcription of Austen’s extant letters, quite another thing to actually see them.

The Mischief of the Mistletoe will appear on shelves in October of 2010, a few months before Pink VII (nope, no title for that one yet– I may need to appeal to you all for flowery aid sometime soon). I’ll be posting more about the book soon, as well as a special opportunity to read a few advance chapters….

The Crimson Rose Playlist

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

I’ll be posting the Night Jasmine playlist in January, just in time for the release of the paperback. In the meantime, though, we have a very different set of songs for Mary and Vaughn:

What’s Love Got to Do With It, Tina Turner

Let’s face it. This is basically Mary and Vaughn’s anthem. I can just hear them singing it in dueling keys.

Not Your Year, The Weepies

My wonderful little sister made me a mellow mix for working that included several Weepies songs. The title of the mix? The But I DO Love You More Than JQ! Mix. There had been some sisterly discussion about a certain sibling naming someone else her favorite author. Hmph. But she made up for it with the mix, which I listened to on infinite repeat while working on Crimson. This song fit Mary’s mood at the beginning of Crimson Rose perfectly, especially that line that goes, “While you wonder/What else you’re doing wrong….”

Hazy Shade of Winter, Simon & Garfunkel

All of my other books, up until Crimson, took place during the summer. They were bright, happy, sunlit sort of things. Crimson Rose was an autumn book in more ways than one. It begins in October of 1803, as the days are getting shorter, darker and colder. I wrote Crimson during the autumn and winter of 2006, seeing the sky tinted gray through my office window, listening to random shuffle on my ipod as I did doc review. This song came up again and again, and seemed to fit the book, the weather, and my mood.

You’re So Vain, Carly Simon

I know, I know. But, really, it was too Vaughn not to add. He probably does think this song is about him.

Water Music/ Music for the Royal Fireworks, Handel

This plays in my head every time Vaughn’s barge sails down the Thames. Ever since Black Tulip, I’ve heard a flourish from it every time Vaughn steps into a room. Trust Vaughn to choose music composed for a king as his theme song.

Do you have any good Mary and Vaughn songs to add to the list? When I post the lists to the Diversions page in January, I’ll be adding a “Readers Recommend” section to each list. So please recommend away!

More fun with casting…

Saturday, December 12th, 2009

… from Miss Eliza! What do you think of her choice for Henrietta? (Who, by the way, once again absolutely swept the character popularity contest, beating out Amy, Letty, Mary, and all the guys.)

For more fun with casting, you can also check out other peoples’ picks on Storycasting.

Weekly Reading Round-Up

Friday, December 11th, 2009

Sorry! I’m a bit behind today on my posting. It’s been one of those weeks. However, I have read some good books this week, starting with:

The Exile of Sara Stevenson, Darci Hannah.

I’ll be honest. This wasn’t what I expected at all. But what it turned out to be was even better. I met the author last year at a conference, where we bonded over our love of things Scottish. When she told me she had written a Scottish-set Napoleonic historical novel, my mental image was… well, Almack’s with a Scottish accent. Instead, Hannah conjures up the culture of lowland Scotland in a way that’s absolutely flawless. It’s not a world of lairds and plaids, but of hardworking Calvinist bourgeois– the sort of people who have no idea what to do with a high-spirited daughter. There’s also a paranormal twist to it, but I’m not telling what it is, since it will give too much away. Oh, and Sir Walter Scott puts in a guest appearance!

Chapel Noir, Carole Nelson Douglas

A dark, fascinating fin de siecle thriller by the author of Good Night, Mr Holmes. For those who haven’t encountered the Irene Adler books before, I suggest starting with Good Night, Mr. Holmes (although I believe it has also been reprinted under another name– I hate it when that happens). The narrator, Nell, is very much a first cousin to Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody.

Possession, A.S. Byatt

I went through a huge A.S. Byatt kick in college, but it’s been years since I had re-read Possession. As with many books that you loved once, I went into it skeptical, convinced it wouldn’t hold up to my memory. But, yes, it is still that good. Although it’s having a weird effect on my prose, which is starting to want to come out as heavily allegorical Victorian verse.

What have you been reading?

BLOOD LILY Giveaway!

Friday, December 11th, 2009

Miss Eliza just reminded me that we’re down to the last few hours to win a copy of The Betrayal of the Blood Lily on her website, Strange and Random Happenstance. Good luck!