Archive for November, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Safe travels, all, and happy turkey eating!

For next year, I think there should be A Very Eloise Thanksgiving as an extra here on the website. What do you think?

If You Like….

Monday, November 25th, 2013

There was much excitement this weekend over the fiftieth anniversary of Doctor Who, that quirky British time travel show that’s so very hard to explain. It seemed like a good to do an If You Like about Doctor Who– but for the fact that I’m drawing an (almost) blank. Only two books came to mind:

— Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and

— Charles Stross’s Laundry Files Novels

both of which mesh modern Britain with quirky paranormal and alien activity, with that same sort of tongue in cheek sense of humor.

Other than that, I’m having a hard time thinking of anything that fits the Doctor Who bill. What would you recommend for hard core Whovians?

Weekly Reading Round-Up

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Right now, I’m reading Kristan Higgins’s latest, The Perfect Match. While I’m extremely partial to the early Higgins (Fools Rush In is an old favorite), this may be her best so far.

What have you been reading this week?

If You Like….

Monday, November 18th, 2013

This week’s If You Like comes courtesy of Christine, on a topic that certainly rings a bell for me: books you discover and then wonder what on earth took you so long.

I recently had a conversation with someone about coming in late to a book that has been around for years. She has just started reading Outlander. When I read Outlander, in 2010, I couldn’t believe I had never read this book before. It was like, where have you been all my life? Or, rather, where have I been for the last 18 years? (or maybe it’s that I was 11 in 1992 and it would’ve been really inappropriate for me to have read it then) Here are some other books that it took me a long time to find.

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation – published 2005, read 2008

I’ll start with an obvious one. When I read Pink Carnation, I absolutely couldn’t believe I hadn’t found this series before. It covered just about every genre I love – historical fiction, spies, romantic comedy. I fell in love.

Harry Potter – published 1997, read 2001

Back in 2000, my little cousin was raving about a book she was reading. I had no idea what she was babbling about – wizards, scars, Volde-who? I just thought it was cute that she was so into it. A year and a half later, the first movie came out. My roommate had the first two books so I thought I’d give it a shot. I finally understood why my cousin had been so excited.

– Susanna Kearsley – Mariana first published in 1994, read in 2012

I know a lot of people on this site rave about Susanna Kearsley, and it’s completely warranted. Her books are fantastic. Unfortunately, not all of them are currently in print in the US. I use Mariana as the example because it’s her oldest book that is currently available in the US. The Splendour Falls, first published in 1995, will be available in the US next year and I’m so excited. I’ve been waiting to read this one. My first Kearsley was The Rose Garden, and since then, I’ve read all the ones that are available here and each one is unbelievable. The history is incredibly well-researched, to the point where I really thought all the characters and events were fictional, only to learn that, in some of the books, she had inserted her own characters into the lives of real people. She brings characters alive and you feel like you actually know them. I want to hang out with some of them.

Daughter of the Game/Secrets of a Lady – Tracy Grant – published 2002, read 2010

This book was first published as Daughter of the Game, then re-printed as Secrets of a Lady. The sequel, Beneath a Silent Moon, was published in 2003. I read both in 2010 and loved them. Also historical fiction, with spies and a bit of romance, but darker than the Pink Carnation series. After the first two books, Tracy got a new publisher and the rest of the series was published under the name Teresa Grant. The names of the characters, and some of the details, have been changed, but it’s largely the same series. The character name change took some getting used to (I still think of them as Charles and Melanie), but the books are the same great quality. Wonderful, vibrant historical settings, and great mysteries.

The Firm – published 1992, read 1996

I haven’t read a Grisham in years (mostly because I felt there was a noticeable drop-off in quality) but the first four were amazing. The Firm was my first, followed quickly by The Client, The Pelican Brief: A Novel, and A Time to Kill. Heart-pounding thrillers, great characters, books I could read over and over again.

The Ring – published 1980, read 1996

I read a lot of Danielle Steel in high school. I loved the historical fiction, wasn’t so crazy about the contemporary ones. The romances were always over the top and sweeping, the historical settings were always time periods I was interested in, and there were just so darn many of them! You knew exactly what you were getting into with a Danielle Steel book. I even wrote my AP English final paper about Danielle Steel. I don’t think my teacher was too crazy about that. I devoured these books. The Ring came first for me (after I saw the made-for-tv movie), followed by many many others. I spent the summers of 1997 and 1998 reading every historical Steel book that had been published up to that point that the library had. Over time I outgrew the books, but there are a few, like The Ring and Message From Nam, that will always hold a special place in my book-loving heart. And along a similar line…

A Woman of Substance – published 1979, read circa 1997

Sweeping historical family saga?! Why couldn’t I have been born sooner so I could’ve read this when it first came out?! Another series of fantastic books. This book kicked off a huge Barbara Taylor Bradford kick that lasted years, but, unfortunately, I felt a drop-off in quality in her books as well. The original Emma Harte trilogy was the best. The ones that came after in the series were not so great., but I read them anyway. There were also a handful of stand-alones that I loved.

What books did it take you years to discover? And when did you first read a Pink Carnation book?

I feel vaguely smug that I discovered Outlander and the Kearsley books right when they came out, but there are a number of others to which I came late. To add my list to Christine’s:

– Susan Elizabeth Phillips’s Chicago Stars series, starting with It Had To Be You (published 1994, read 2007). My sister had been telling me for ages that I had to read these…. It took me a while, but I quickly made up for lost time.

— Elizabeth George’s Lynley novels, starting with A Great Deliverance (published 1988, read 2002). So much better than the PBS adaptation!

— Julia Spencer-Fleming’s Clare and Russ Van Alstyne mysteries, starting with In the Bleak Midwinter (published 2002, read 2009). I owe this one to social media buzz. Once I read that first book, I rushed out and bought all the others to date.

— It feels like it took me a very long time to discover Kristan Higgins’s contemporary romances, starting with Just One of the Guys, but now that I look it up, I discover that I was only two years late to the Higgins party: the first, Fools Rush In, came out in 2006 and I discovered Just One of the Guys in 2008, thanks to an All About Romance review. (Thanks, AAR!)

Which books did you come late to?

Weekly Reading Round-Up

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Do you ever have books that you mean and mean to get to– and then finally do, a decade or so later?

Back in the early 90’s, when I was all about paperbacks with atmospheric looking houses on the cover, I picked up Alexandra Raife’s Drumveyn— and when I saw that it was women’s fiction rather than a Gothic, promptly put it down again.

I read other Alexandra Raife novels over the years– Wild Highland Home and Belonging are old favorites– but I never got back around to Drumveyn until now.

It’s a bit like Monarch of the Glen (complete with a young laird named Archie), but the protagonist is the laird’s mother, and it’s more heart-wrenching than madly comic. Alexandra Raife is brilliant at tugging the heart strings, as well as conjuring up the Scotland of twenty years ago, right down to the wet wellies.

What have you been reading this week?

If You Like….

Monday, November 11th, 2013

… will return as scheduled next week.

Apologies for the delay!

In the meantime, I’ll try to think up something special for Teaser Tuesday tomorrow.

Weekly Reading Round-Up

Friday, November 8th, 2013

What with working away on The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla and a certain little someone deciding that sleep was highly overrated, there hasn’t been much in the way of recreational reading for me this week. But a box of books I was waiting for just arrived, so stay tuned….

What have you been reading this week?


Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla is now available for pre-order on Amazon!


Given that I’m still in the thick of writing it, I find that absolutely terrifying.

There are several Pink veterans making an appearance in this novel. (I just finished writing a scene which included both Miss Gwen and Turnip Fitzhugh– not to mention Sally’s stoat.) So, for your amusement, here’s our hero’s first meeting with Miss Gwen:

From Chapter Fourteen of The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla:

“You did right to summon me,” the woman in purple said grandly.

Lucien looked at her in confusion. “But we didn’t summon you.”

“Well, then, you ought to have. Fortunately, Fate remedied your oversight for you.”

Miss Fitzhugh stepped in before Lucien’s head could start spinning. “This is Mrs. Reid,” she explained. “The author of The Convent of Orsino.”

Lucien could feel the beginnings of a headache. He regarded the purple-garbed woman with a distinct lack of enthusiasm. “You— you wrote that book?”

Mrs. Reid looked down her nose at him. “This is no time for autographs, young man.”

An autograph? Lucien wanted an apology.

If You Like….

Monday, November 4th, 2013

We all have plot devices we don’t entirely love. One of the ones that I tend to shy away from is the “girl in breeches” trope. On the other hand, once I started thinking about it, I realized that there are a vast number of exceptions to my “no books about women posing as men” rule.

If you like books with women posing as men, you’ll probably like….

— There’s nothing like the master! Shakespeare’s As You Like It, in which Rosalind flees into the Forest of Arden disguised as a young man named Ganymede, and, of course, Twelfth Night, in which the shipwrecked Viola disguises herself as the page Cesario, falling hopelessly in love with Orsino, who eventually reciprocates the sentiment (as my Shakespeare prof in college used to say, “We know what the pet names in that family will be!”).

— Georgette Heyer’s The Corinthian, sheer, madcap fun in which the heroine poses, as various points, as a schoolboy, the hero’s cousin, and his nephew;

— Also Georgette Heyer, These Old Shades, in which the heroine, Leonie, has been raised as Leon, and serves as the hero’s page before being schooled as a lady;

— Going very Old School, Kathleen E. Woodiwiss’s Civil War set Ashes in the Wind, in which the heroine, Alaina, poses as “Al”, the lad who helps out in the hospital (until the brooding Yankee doctor takes him under his wing and tries to make “him” take a bath);

— And more Old School, that classic of high camp, Johanna Lindsey’s Gentle Rogue, in which the heroine, Georgina, can only get passage home to America by posing as “George”, a lowly cabin boy;

— While we’re on the high seas, Carole Nelson Douglas’s seventeenth century swashbuckler, Fair Wind, Fiery Star, in which the heroine, Miranda, goes disguised as a boy on two separate occasions, once as a cabin boy, and once as a young man come to town in London;

— More recently, Eloisa James’s Duchess By Night, one of her Desperate Duchess series, in which the widowed Duchess of Berrow decides to spice up her life by attending a house party as a young man;

— And even more recently, Juliana Gray’s Princesses in Disguise trilogy, beginning with How to Tame Your Duke, in which three princesses from a German principality with a Wodehouse-esque name are whisked to safety disguised as boys– and adventure and romance ensues.

What are your favorite girls disguised as boys novels?

Weekly Reading Round-Up

Friday, November 1st, 2013

Have you ever bought a book and found that it’s missing a large chunk of pages in the middle? I have very vivid recollections of sitting on the train from New York to Boston with Julia Ross’s The Wicked Lover only to discover that I could read one segment of the story twice, but the next segment not at all.

The very first time this happened to me was with a Barbara Michaels novel: The Grey Beginning. This was back in the late eighties or early nineties, way before the internet. The defective book had been the only copy in my local bookstore. So I put it aside and forgot all about it– until last week, when it occurred to me that, with the wonder of the internet, it might be possible to read the Only Unread Barbara Michaels novel.

So that’s what I’m reading right now. I’ve also been lucky enough to get my hands on an advance copy of Juliana Gray’s How to Master Your Marquis, which is coming up next in the queue.

What have you been reading this week?