Wednesday, January 30, 2013

My Top Favorite Books of 2012

Of all the 142 books I read in 2012, some of the books were published in 2012 and some were from my to-be-read pile and those pubbed before 2012. As a result, I have a list of favorites of all the books I read in 2012 (some of them re-reads) and a list of favorites of all the books that were published in 2012 and that I read in 2012. The items in the lists are in no particular order. (For a complete list of my books, go HERE.)

Published & Read in 2012

At Your Pleasure by Meredith Duran
The Garden of Happy Endings by Barbara O'Neal
When Maidens Mourn by C.S. Harris
Bringing up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman

Read in 2012

Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James
The Garden of Happy Endings by Barbara O'Neal
Frederica by Georgette Heyer
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
At Your Pleasure by Meredith Duran
My Dearest Enemy by Connie Brockway
The Proposition by Judith Ivory
Untamed by Pamela Clare
When Maidens Mourn by C.S. Harris
Bringing up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman
The Rake and Refromer by Mary Jo Putney
A Grand Design by Emma Jensen
Lord Carew's Bride by Mary Balogh
Confessions from an Arranged Marriage by Miranda Neville
Kiss Me Annabel by Eloisa James
Kissing Comfort by Jo Goodman
Never Love a Lawman by Jo Goodman
Marry Me by Jo Goodman
Hazard by Jo Beverley
Devilish by Jo Beverley
The Irish Warrior by Kris Kennedy
Defiant by Kris Kennedy
Reforming Lord Ragsdale by Carla Kelly
Libby's London Merchant by Carla Kelly
The Devil's Delilah by Loretta Chase
Knaves' Wager by Loretta Chase
Isabella by Loretta Chase
A London Season by Joan Wolf
Lord Richard's Daughter by Joan Wolf
The Arrangement by Joan Wolf
Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypas
Blue-Eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas
Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas

Monday, January 28, 2013

Books I Read In 2012

The list of books that I read in 2012 are grouped by various sub-genres of romance and then by various genres. Within each category, they're listed in no particular order. Books marked with "(2)" indicate that I re-read those. Go here to read the list in its entirety.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Pride & Prejudice Quiz

Happy 200th Birthday, Pride & Prejudice!

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that we all like a good literary quiz," so in honor of the birthday, The Telegraph has put together a fun quiz on the story.

Do give it a try, and let me know how you did.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Picture Day Friday: Chatsworth House

The 2005 movie version of Jane Austen's book Pride and Prejudice features Chatsworth House, the stately seat of the Dukes of Devonshire in North Derbyshire, as Mr. Darcy's Pemberley.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Pride and Prejudice Turns 200 on January 27

Celebrating the 200th anniversary of the first published copy of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, the BBC is putting on an authentic recreation of a Regency ball, titled Netherfield Ball. It is to be filed on location at Chawton, Hampshire, where Austen spent the last eight years of her life.

According to The Independent, "in the 90-minute [BBC] special, Pride and Prejudice: Having A Ball at Easter, experts will re-stage the planning and rehearsals for an early 19th century ball, as well as [look] back at the first-hand testimony of ball-goers of the time."

The program will look at all aspects of the food, beverages, costumes, dances, music, furnishings, and decorations. Experts—such as food historian Ivan Day, literary expert Professor John Mullan, author Amanda Vickery, curator and expert on the history of dress Hilary Davidson, and Stuart Marsden and Dr. Anne Daye who will choreograph the dancing—will ensure that all the details are authentic to the time period, place, and Austen's work. The program will also explore the social history of Austen's world.

Note, this ball is not open to public, even at exhorbitant fees, so I wonder who's going to get chosen (and how) to participate in the filming.

Would you be interested in participating in such a ball, or do you prefer to watch it on your television?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Archelogical Evidence of Jane Austen's Home

Jane Austen was born in 1775 at the old Steventon Rectory in the Hampshire countryside and lived there for nearly 25 years. She wrote Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility there. After her family moved to Bath, the rectory was soon demolished and the land became a pasture over the years.

A recent archeological dig at the site has unearthed foundations and objects and revealed secrets of Austen's early home life.

"Contemporary records and an initial geophysical scan of the ground was used to identify the exact position of the house. No visible signs of the building remained, aside from a blocked-off well. Project director Debbie Charlton, of Archeo Briton, said: 'It was nerve wracking when the first bricks appeared. We weren't 100% sure we were in the right place when we started.'"

The revealed foundations match the description of the house published by Austen's nephew. Even then, he knew that Austen was going to be popular and fans would be seeking all such details about her.

The scientists unearthed nearly 500 shards of china, storage jars, wine glass stems, and clay pipes and 1,000 nails. Plate shards reveal the famous blue willow pattern that the family would've eaten off of. "The initial studies of the finds of pottery and storage utensils have revealed a more down-to-earth existence of the family" than depicted in Austen's books.

Scientists hope that "the finds will go on display at Basingstoke's Willis Museum when a full study has been completed."

Friday, January 18, 2013

Picture Day Friday: Indus Valley Civilization

Pottery from the Indus Valley Civilization at the Mohenjodaro Museum in the Larkano district of Sindh, Pakistan.

The Indus Valley Civilization was a Bronze Age civilization (3300–1300 BCE) located in the northwestern India and Pakistan. It is one of the world's earliest urban civilizations, along with its contemporaries, Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt. However, at nearly 487,000 square miles, the Indus Valley is the largest ancient civilization.

Carnelian handicrafts, carved seals, daily items made from copper, bronze, lead, and tin, and so on have been discovered during the excavations of Mohenjodaro and Harappa among other Indus Valley Civilization sites. One of the hallmarks of the civilization are the civic structures: cities built of brick, public baths, roadside drainage systems, and multi-storied houses.

[Image copyrighted by the Mohenjodaro Museum.]

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Books I'm Looking Forward To Reading In 2013

As a new shiny year begins, my thoughts turn naturally to the books I will be reading this year. So I visit author websites of my auto-buy authors, listen to Twitter buzz on what people are reading, look through Amazon and trusted people's recommendations to try to read outside my comfort zone, be it, a different sub-genre of romance novels or something entirely different. Here are a sampling of the books I'm anticipating reading this year.

"That Scandalous Summer" by Meredith Duran
"His Very Own Girl" by Carrie Lofty

"The Good Daughter" by Jane Porter
"Crystal Cove" by Lisa Kleypas
"Crazy Thing Called Love" by Molly O’Keefe
"The Autumn Bride" by Anne Gracie
"The Conquest of Lady Cassandra" by Madeleine Hunter
"What Happens in Scotland" by Jennifer McQuiston (debut rec by PJ)
"Conor's Way" by Laura Lee Guhrke (rec by Wendy the Super Librarian)

"As You Wish" by Eloisa James
"What Darkness Brings" by C.S. Harris
"The Foundling" by Georgette Heyer
"Simon the Coldheart" by Georgette Heyer

"Love Irresistibly" by Julie James
"The Bridgertons: Happily Ever After (2nd Epilogues)" by Julia Quinn
"One Texas Night" by Jodi Thomas
"Vienna Waltz" by Teresa Grant (rec by Isobel Carr / Kalen Hughes)

"Once Upon a Tower" by Eloisa James
"It Had to Be You" by Jill Shalvis
"The Dragon's Bride" by Jo Beverley
"The Duke's Wager" by Edith Layton (rec by Miranda Neville)

"The Sum of All Kisses" by Julia Quinn
"Can’t Stop Believing" by Jodi Thomas
"Vixen in Velvet" by Loretta Chase
"A Woman Entangled" by Cecilia Grant
"The Duchess Hunt" by Jennifer Haymore

"The Burning Sky" (Elemental Trilogy) by Sherry Thomas
"An Ideal Scoundrel" by Miranda Neville
"Redeeming Love" by Francine Rivers (inspy rec by Darlene Marshall)
"Sunshine and Shadow" by Sharon and Tom Curtis (Amish inspy rec by Joanna Bourne)

Book by Jane Porter

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

London Underground: 150 Years

The London Underground or The Tube recently celebrated 150 years of existence as an underground metropolitan transportion system.

The sight of a chuffing steam locomotive engine emerging from the underground tunnel led to cheers and rapid snapping of photographs recently as people rode the passenger carriages and spectators watched history in action. The journey from Kensington Olympia station in west London of Met Locomotive No. 1 commemorated the 1898 historic trip, according to the BBC. Original look-alike burgundy and gold tickets were issued to a few lucky passengers.

"Chugging along at a speed of 25mph—modern day Tube trains can reach 50mph—it headed through central London via the Circle line; taking in stations including Edgware Road, Baker Street, King's Cross and the Barbican before arriving into Moorgate."

The person who had the daunting task of ensuring there was enough steam to drive the train was Oliver Furnell from the Forest of Dean.

The fireman, who ordinarily drives trains through heritage lines in the countryside, said there was no real difference in how to drive it, but the "environment that it's happening in, that's the unusual bit".

Fireman Oliver Furnell from the Forest of Dean was tasked with making sure there was adequate steam to make it around the journey and especially up Notting Hill. "It's quite surreal to be rolling through a modern Tube station and people seem to be pleased that you're there," he said wryly.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Picture Day Friday: Chaos & Creativity

In the midst of chaos lies poor sobbing me. I'm an organizational freak. Messes drive me batty. Creativity will come dead last in a messy room or where the day-to-day schedule is highly unpredictable.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Meme: First Sentence of the First Post of Each Month

Date: January 1
Title: Happy New Year!
Line: Wishing all of you a very, very happy new year filled with joy, laughter, hard work, and success. And of course, tons of books!

Date: February 1
Title: Life List
Line: Reposting blog from January 3, 2011.

Date: March 2
Title: Picture Day Friday: Chocolate Cakes
Line: Following Wednesday's post about a book featuring chocolate and chocolate recipes, here are two pictures of wedding cake confections.

Date: April 2
Title: Sir Walter Scott and the Modern Novel
Line: The quotes in this post are from Beacon Lights of History: Great Writers by John Lord (©1896).

Date: May 6
Title: Domain Maintenance
Line: I apologize for my absence from the blog here this past week; I expect a few weeks of outage.

Date: June & July
Title: no posts

Date: August 11
Title: Resuming Posting
Line: The domain is still down.

Date: September 3
Title: Compiling Dictionaries: by Crowdsourcing or by Subject Matter Experts
Line: In an ongoing battle between which words are appropriate to enter into a lexicon, Deborah Cameron, who teaches linguistics and grammar at Oxford University, wades in with an op-ed on Berfrois.

Date: October 8
Title: Guardian's Crime Fiction Recommendations
Line: The UK newspaper The Guardian recently posted an open thread blog for best crime fiction among its readership, asking: "Who are your favourites, and which are their best books?

Date: November 5
Title: Home Offices
Line: Office supplies and home offices are my two favorite hobbies after buying and reading books by the pound.

Date: December 3
Title: Writing Advice by the Famous
Line: A couple years ago, UK's The Guardian ran a list of dos and don'ts of writing fiction by well-known writers—here are some highlights.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Missions, Goals, Schedules: define, design, discharge

Here are three of my posts that have proven to be among the most popular on this blog. They have all to do with setting and achieving goals. Click on the links to be taken to each of them.

A Personal Mission Statement is a set of mottoes for your life that define the boundaries of who you are, what your deepest held beliefs are, how you interact with others, and what you think of yourself.

A Life List is a mondo-beyondo list of your life's dreams. There are no limits as to how many items there can be on this list. It's a personal list, so don't be shy of wishing for the most outrageous, the most selfish, the most greedy, the most anything. Every deeply held desire needs to be on this list. Don't compromise on your dreams.

Goals Making and Keeping and committing to bringing your resolutions to fruition. Goals give you something concrete to work towards and to measure progress against. Goals also give you a sense of accomplisment once you've reached them.

Scheduling Your Life is important, because if you don't label your time to dedicated actions, then that piece of time is either attached to another task or frittered away. The most basic rule of thumb when keeping to a schedule is: There is no making up lost time.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Picture Day Friday: Ralli Quilts of Thar

Ralli quilts are traditional quilts made by the Thari women of the Sindh, Rajasthan, and Gujurat regions of Pakistan and India that border the Great Thar Desert. I blogged about the Thari women a month ago HERE.

The Thari women of this region have been quilting for thousands of years. It's a home-based cottage industry that used recycled and hand-dyed cotton cloth. The rallis come in three categories of design: patchwork, appliqué, and embroidery. The traditional colors are called satrangi or seven colors: white, black, red, yellow orange, dark green, blue, and purple. They are made in a simple way with only fabric, thread, needles, and scissors.

An interesting historical note: Rallis are also quilted by far northern Finland's Saami people. Just as the Finno-Ugric languages, or Uralic as they're currently known, are one of the main offshoots of the original Indo-European languages, quilt-making techniques could have traveled north the same trade routes through central Asia. (Of course, I'm speculating here, but it's plausible.)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Best Books of 2012: Romance

I love lists, particularly, looking back to books published and read in a year and analyzing trends and unusual quirks. I will have my book analyses posts up in the next few weeks. To start us off, here are the best books of 2012 in romance compiled by well-know review publications.


Bedding Lord Ned by Sally MacKenzie
Blue Moon Bay by Lisa Wingate
Can't Buy Me Love by Molly O'Keefe
Forever and a Day by Delilah Marvelle
The Great Escape by Susan Elizabeth Phillip
A Lady Never Lies by Juliana Gray
The Lord of Illusion by Kathryne Kennedy
The Night Is Mine by M.L. Buchman
Rainshadow Road by Lisa Kleypas
The Ugly Duchess by Eloisa James

Publishers Weekly

The Bridegroom Wore Plaid by Grace Burrowes
A Week to Be Wicked by Tessa Dare
Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand by Carla Kelly
Love on the Run by Zuri Day
Dog Days by Elsa Watson

Library Journal

Lady Louisa’s Christmas Knight by Grace Burrowes
Firelight by Kristen Callihan
Scandal Wears Satin by Loretta Chase
A Week to Be Wicked by Tessa Dare
A Gentleman Undone by Cecilia Grant
’Twas the Night After Christmas by Sabrina Jeffries
The Great Escape, Susan Elizabeth Phillips
The Witness by Nora Roberts
Tempting the Bride by Sherry Thomas
Bride of the High Country by Kaki Warner

Kirkus Reviews

Seven Variations on a Love Story by Joan Wickersham
Office Girl by Joe Meno
The Great Escape by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Somebody to Love by Kristan Higgins
Rainshadow Road by Lisa Kleypas
I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella


Bared to You by Sylvia Day
The Witness by Nora Roberts
Darker After Midnight by Lara Adrian
Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews
The Recruit by Monica McCartey
Redwood Bend by Robyn Carr
Lothaire by Kresley Cole
When the Duke Found Love by Isabella Bradford
Forever and a Day by Jill Shalvis
How to Be a Proper Lady by Katharine Ashe

[Edited 1/3/13 to add the following...]

Just Janga

How to Dance with a Duke by Manda Collins
Rainshadow Road by Lisa Kleypas
A Week to Be Wicked by Tessa Dare
The Witness by Nora Roberts
A Gentleman Undone by Cecilia Grant
Can't Buy Me Love by Molly O’Keefe
Ravishing the Heiress by Sherry Thomas
The Ugly Duchess by Eloisa James
His Very Own Girl by Carrie Lofty
A Notorious Countess Confesses by Julie Anne Long
Barefoot in the Rain by Roxanne St. Claire
The Importance of Being Wicked by Miranda Neville
From Paris With Love by Eloisa James

Jane @ DearAuthor

Riveted by Meljean Brook
A Lady Awakened by Cecilia Grant
Easy by Tammara Webber
Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
Heat by R. Lee Smith
Hearts of Darkness by Kira Brady
Ravishing the Heiress by Sherry Thomas
Can't Buy Me Love by Molly O’Keefe

Sunita @ DearAuthor

Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold
Lean on Me by HelenKay Dimon
The Chocolate Thief by Laura Florand
One Starlight Night by Carolyn Jewel (novella in Midnight Scandals anthology)
Irregulars by Nicole Kimberling, Josh Lanyon, Astrida Amara, and Ginn Hale
Dark Soul series by Aleksandr Voinov
The Girl With the Cat Tattoo by Theresa Weir

Kati @ DearAuthor

Archangel’s Storm by Nalini Singh
On Dublin Street by Samantha Young
Motorcycle Man by Kristen Ashley
Chaos Burning by Lauren Dane
Tempting the Bride by Sherry Thomas
Breath on Embers by Anne Calhoun

Janine @ DearAuthor

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
A Lady Awakened by Cecilia Grant
Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovitch
About Last Night by Ruthie Knox
Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor
A Lady Awakened by Cecilia Grant
A Gentleman Undone by Cecilia Grant
The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan
Confessions from an Arranged Marriage by Miranda Neville
The Importance of Being Wicked by Miranda Neville
Fair Game by Patricia Briggs

Of those books, I have read these:

Rainshadow Road by Lisa Kleypas
The Ugly Duchess by Eloisa James
From Paris With Love by Eloisa James
A Week to Be Wicked by Tessa Dare
Scandal Wears Satin by Loretta Chase
Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand by Carla Kelly
Tempting the Bride by Sherry Thomas
Ravishing the Heiress by Sherry Thomas
A Lady Awakened by Cecilia Grant
The Chocolate Thief by Laura Florand
Confessions from an Arranged Marriage by Miranda Neville

[Edited 1/10/13 to add the following...]

King County Public Library

They don't have a specific romance-only Best Of list, but rather, a general fiction list. In that, the only mention of a romance novel is:
Along Came a Duke by Elizabeth Boyle.

[Edited 1/18/13 to add the following...]

All About Romance

Defiant by Pamela Clare
The Devil and the Diva by Renee Valois and David Housewright
Tangle of Need by Nalini Singh
Lothaire by Kresley Cole
His Very Own Girl by Carrie Lofty
Suddenly You by Sarah Mayberry
A Kiss for Midwinter by Courtney Milan (a novella)
The Duchess War by Courtney Milan
Breath on Embers by Anne Calhoun (a novella)
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
At Your Pleasure by Meredith Duran
Ravishing the Heiress by Sherry Thomas
Beguiling the Beauty by Sherry Thomas
Her Best Worst Mistake by Sarah Mayberry
Room at the Inn by Ruthie Knox (a novella)
A Different Kind of Forever by Dee Ernst
Bared to You by Sylvia Day
Castaway Dreams by Darlene Marshall
The Sleeping Night by Barbara Samuel
Practically Wicked by Alissa Johnson
The Siren by Tiffany Reisz
Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen
Edge of Midnight by Leslie Tentler
Aftershock by Jill Sorenson
Last Renegade by Jo Goodman
About Last Night by Ruthie Knox
Rainshadow Road by Lisa Kleypas
Confessions from an Arranged Marriage by Miranda Neville
The Importance of Being Wicked by Miranda Neville
The Garden Intrigue by Lauren Willig
I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella
Grace Grows by Shelle Sumners
Lord’s Fall by Thea Harrison
Oracle’s Moon by Thea Harrison
Mystery Man by Kristen Ashley
Games of the Heart by Kristen Ashley
Lover Reborn by JR Ward
Firelight by Kristen Callihan
A Notorious Countess Confesses by Julie Anne Long
A Lady Awakened by Cecelia Grant
A Gentleman Undone by Cecelia Grant
A Week to Be Wicked by Tessa Dare

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Resolute about Resolving your Resolutions

Happy New Year 2013!

Are you resolute about resolving your new year's resolutions this year? Here are some tips to help you on your way that have helped me tremendously.

Don't make generalized resolutions, such as "Be Happy." Instead make specific, measurable ones, such as "Do a yoga retreat in Hawaii over the summer"—you can measure whether you achieved this goal or not and how you felt about it.

By all means, make smaller sub-goals with deadlines that will keep the bigger goal on track to being finished.

Write it down. Well, the mind's not good about keeping everything in the foreground. Old things often get pushed into the background, even though when the thoughts first came in, they were deemed high priority. We forget; we fall into old habits by, well, habit; new issues crop up that require our immediate attention; we're tired so we say we'll do it tomorrow; etc.

Accountability is the sticky glue that binds us to our resolutions on paper. If you have to report in to a friend or a group of like-minded individual or even to your online journal, it serves as a reasonably pressured deadline that has to be achieved.

Don't have only negative or "you-must"s resolutions. Have fun ones as well, such as the yoga retreat mentioned above. If you plan only drudgery for the year, then it's guaranteed that your list of resolutions will have nary a checkmark. This is the main reason, I call them goals, not resolutions.

And the complementary one to the above is that you should feel free to abandon a resolution part-way through or even before beginning, if you feel that it's something that's never going to happen no matter how many years it shows up on your list. For me, that would mean giving up on reading Tolstoy's War and Peace in this life at least.

Revisit your list constantly to revise, add to, or subtract from the litany. It keeps the energy alive about what needs to be achieved next and it keeps the list fresh and current.

So, what's on your list of goals for 2013?