Friday, November 30th, 2012
It’s been British Chick Lit fest for me this week! It all started with:
— Trisha Ashley, Twelve Days of Christmas.
You know my weakness for house inheritance books, right? This one isn’t an inheritance– the heroine is hired to house-sit for the Christmas holidays– but it’s still the fun of the heroine exploring a draughty old manor house and becoming part of the dotty local community. I really enjoyed it.
— Kate Saunders, The Marrying Game.
Once the British chick lit bug bit me…. The Marrying Game begins and ends on Christmas, so it seemed like the right follow-up to Twelve Days of Christmas. It is a beautifully written book that wears its erudition lightly and it has one of my absolute favorite characters: Berry, who’s sort of a cross between Turnip and Miles.
— Kate Saunders, Bachelor Boys.
You can see how one thing leads to another. I adore Kate Saunders’s writing style, so once I’d started, it made sense to go on and re-read her Bachelor Boys, another novel of matches, mis-matches, dealing with loss, and learning about love.
Next up? Probably Elizabeth Young’s Fair Game, which is an annual re-read for me, taking place, as it does, over the Christmas holidays. The US edition has the appalling title A Promising Man (and About Time, Too), but I’ve clung to my beloved old UK edition.
This orgy of British chick lit does have another purpose. The modern segment of the book I’m currently working on (the second non-Pink book) is set in a suburb of London, and I find it helps to immerse myself in contemporary British fiction and television to get the idioms and rhythm of speech right.
What have you been reading?
Thursday, November 29th, 2012
The wonderful Ashleigh just discovered that the Japanese edition of The Secret History of the Pink Carnation is now in print and available for sale via amazon.co.jp.
The cover amuses me mightily:
The Masque of the Black Tulip should be following shortly.
In other happy Pink news, I just received word that The Secret History of the Pink Carnation and The Masque of the Black Tulip are both being translated into Italian.
Pink Abroad to be updated shortly!
Thursday, November 29th, 2012
For today’s Thursday Give Away, we have Lori Wilde’s The Welcome Home Garden Club, the latest in her contemporary romance series set in Twilight Texas.
Here’s the official blurb:
Traditional meaning of Pink and White Roses: I love you still and always will.
Caitlyn Marsh stopped believing in happily-ever-after when high-school sweetheart, Gideon Garza, left for Iraq. Now she raises her small son while her matchmaking gardening club members drive her crazy. Then Caitlyn’s world turns upside-down when Gideon swaggers back to Twilight.
Gideon had left town in the middle of night with threats ringing in his ears. A lot of things have changed since then. This bad boy-turned-Green Beret bears scars from the war, the timid girl he loved is an independent mother, and the father who refused to recognize his son in life has, in death, left him a vast cattle ranch.
He still aches for Caitlyn, and now there’s a dark-haired boy who looks exactly like Gideon did at that age. Could the child be his? And can this war-weary soldier overcome the scars of the past to claim the family he so richly deserves?
The series is loosely enough connected that you don’t have to read the previous books to enjoy this one (although for anyone looking for a Christmas read, you might want to also check out The First Love Cookie Club).
So, for copy of The Welcome Home Garden Club, here’s your question:
What’s your favorite flower?
Winner to be announced on Saturday….
Wednesday, November 28th, 2012
I’ve been working around the clock on revisions for The Passion of the Purple Plumeria, aka Pink X, which is why there was no Teaser Tuesday yesterday.
In case you haven’t seen it yet, you can find an excerpt from The Passion of the Purple Plumeria here. Can we pretend that counts as a belated Teaser Tuesday?
We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled program tomorrow, with a Thursday Give Away….
Monday, November 26th, 2012
That’s Turnip singular (and very singular he is, too!), not a sack of turnips.
It has come to my attention that both editions of The Mischief of the Mistletoe, hardcover and trade paperback, are currently on sale at Amazon.
If anyone would like a signed bookplate to paste into a gift copy of Mistletoe, just email me and let me know!
Monday, November 26th, 2012
Having grown up with PBS’s Mystery on Sunday nights, one of my particular pleasures is the British mystery. I’m not talking any of the more recent offshoots of the genre, the historical mystery, and so forth, but the standard, bread and butter fare: the Detective Chief Inspector or dedicated amateur who goes around solving a murder at a time, either via Scotland Yard or in a small town with the proper quirky cast of inhabitants. With, of course, the proper pause for tea.
If you like British mysteries, you’ll probably like:
— The classics of the genre: Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple and Poiot and Dorothy Sayers’s Lord Peter Wimsey (Gaudy Night is one of my all time favorites, although if you’re being responsible about it, you should probably start with Whose Body?);
— Georgette Heyer’s golden age mystery novels, such as Duplicate Death. We tend to think of her as the mother of the Regency romance, but in her day, she was just as well known for her mysteries;
— Josephine Tey’s Inspector Grant books. For years, I thought of Tey as merely the author of The Daughter of Time, the famous novel in which a bed-bound detective attempts to solve the conundrum of Richard III and the princes in the Tower (not that there’s anything mere about that). It turns out that Grant has a number of other more contemporary adventures in the course of his time at Scotland Yard, including A Shilling for Candles and The Man in the Queue;
— Sticking with Scotland Yard for the moment, it’s hard to ignore Elizabeth George’s magisterial Lynley series (starting with A Great Deliverance, which came out back in the late 80s, all the way up to, most recently, Believing the Lie, featuring an earl who has worked his way up in Scotland Yard and his prickly, working class partner, Barbara Havers;
— In the spirit of Lynley, Deborah Crombie’s Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James mysteries, starting with A Share in Death (these are a recently new find for me, so I still have the joy of reading my way through);
— P.D. James’s Adam Dalgliesh novels, of which the most famous is arguably The Murder Room;
— Caroline Graham’s Chief Inspector Barnaby books, starting with The Killings at Badger’s Drift, all set in the fictional county of Midsomer– which my fellow British television addicts will probably recognize as the ITV series Midsomer Murders.
What are your favorite “an inspector calls” British mysteries?
Sunday, November 25th, 2012
And the winner of the copy of Eloisa James’s A Kiss at Midnight is…
Julie K, of Comment #25!
Julie, if you’ll email me with your snail mail details, I’ll pop the book in the mail to you.
In the meantime, stay tuned for another give away (book TBA) here this coming Thursday!
Friday, November 23rd, 2012
Happy Friday! As we recover from yesterday’s excesses, here’s this week’s reading in review:
As I may have mentioned a while back, I let myself be talked into judging a contest that shall remain nameless in a category that shall also remain nameless, so this week was largely about bludgeoning through large stacks of contest entries. In the between, though, I turned to some relics of my Cambridge bookshelf for comfort:
— Elizabeth George, A Great Deliverance.
There’s really nothing like the original, is there? I got a little obsessive about Elizabeth George’s Lynley series back in law school. Reading the first one again eight years later, I was struck both by how the story still held me and also by how fascinatingly dated so many of the descriptions seem now. It’s always interesting seeing books that you viewed as contemporary (although this one would already have been fifteen years old when I read it the first time) turning into time capsules.
— Jo Beverley, Dark Champion.
My romance collection expanded radically during law school. Whenever torts got a bit too much, I’d take myself off on the Red Line to Downtown Crossing and raid the big B&N (sadly now no longer there) for the romances that weren’t stocked at the Coop in Harvard Yard. I found Gaelen Foley’s The Duke there and an entire shelfful of Jo Beverley. Dark Champion is one of her medievals, and I found myself liking it better the second time around (back in 2004, the headstrong heroine irritated me; I found her much more comprehensible this time around). My favorite Beverley medieval back then, which seems to have disappeared along the course of subsequent moves, was The Shattered Rose.
Right now, I’m rounding up the bookshelf nostalgia jaunt with Judith McNaught’s Paradise, which, after all these years, still has the power to make me cry.
What have you been reading this week?
Thursday, November 22nd, 2012
Happy Thanksgiving! By popular demand, here’s another Thursday give away, to while away those hours of post-turkey coma.
Our special Thanksgiving Thursday give away is the first in Eloisa James’s fairy tale series, A Kiss at Midnight.
Here’s the official blurb:
Miss Kate Daltry doesn’t believe in fairy tales . . .or happily ever after.
Forced by her stepmother to attend a ball, Kate meets a prince . . . and decides he’s anything but charming. A clash of wits and wills ensues, but they both know their irresistible attraction will lead nowhere. For Gabriel is promised to another woman—a princess whose hand in marriage will fulfill his ruthless ambitions.
Gabriel likes his fiancÉe, which is a welcome turn of events, but he doesn’t love her. Obviously, he should be wooing his bride-to-be, not the witty, impoverished beauty who refuses to fawn over him.
Godmothers and glass slippers notwithstanding, this is one fairy tale in which destiny conspires to destroy any chance that Kate and Gabriel might have a happily ever after.
Unless a prince throws away everything that makes him noble . . .
Unless a dowry of an unruly heart trumps a fortune . . .
Unless one kiss at the stroke of midnight changes everything.
I love this series (especially the second, When Beauty Tamed the Beast, based off the classic fairy tale and the television show House). As you can guess from the title, A Kiss at Midnight is based on Cinderella. And who doesn’t like a Cinderella story from time to time?
So, for a copy of A Kiss at Midnight, here’s your question:
What is your favorite fairy tale?
The winner will be announced on Saturday– once I’ve recovered from Thanksgiving dinner.
Monday, November 19th, 2012
I was chatting with a friend the other day about popular history books that read like novels. They haven’t quite reached the “add dialogue and stir” stage (i.e. Jean Plaidy), but they’re way too much fun to be assigned in history classes.
If you like biographies and history books that read like novels, you’ll probably like….
— Antonia Fraser’s Mary, Queen of Scots. It may be nearly fifty years old, but it’s still a wonderful read. Also recommended by Fraser: Faith & Treason: The Story of the Gunpowder Plot and Marie Antoinette: The Journey;
— Flora Fraser’s Pauline Bonaparte: Venus of Empire and The Unruly Queen: the Life of Queen Caroline (Prinny doesn’t come out so well in this one);
— Alison Weir’s The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Mary Boleyn: The Mistress of Kings, The Children of Henry VIII, The Princes in the Tower, et al;
— C.V. Wedgwood’s A Coffin for King Charles, about the last phases of the English Civil War and the badly botched trial of Charles I (which has some wonderful, unintentional slapstick as the Parliamentarians go tripping over their own buckled shoes);
— Caroline Moorhead’s Dancing to the Precipice, about the tumultuous life of Lucie de la Tour du Pin from Ancien Regime through Revolution, to the U.S. and beyond;
— Theo Aronson’s The Golden Bees, the book that got me started on the Bonapartes back when I was ten, tracing the tumultuous Bonaparte clan from its inception through the final, weak sprigs on the family tree;
— Deborah Cadbury’s The Lost King of France, about the poor little missing Dauphin;
— David Cordingly’s Under the Black Flag, about the heyday of piracy in the Caribbean;
— Frances Osborne’s The Bolter, about the scandalous Idina Sackville (I read this book for fun, and wound up writing The Ashford Affair);
— Sara Wheeler’s incredibly engaging biography of Denys Finch-Hatton, Too Close to the Sun;
— and pretty much anything by Barbara Tuchman, but especially her account of the tumults of the 14th century, A Distant Mirror.
AMENDED TO ADD:
— And how could I forget one of my very favorite authors, Garrett Mattingly? His The Armada is a rollicking good read (you’ll never look at Francis Drake quite the same way again), and his Catherine of Aragon is a sensitive and thought-provoking portrait of the discarded queen.
What are your favorite histories that read like novels?