Welcome to Smugglivus 2009 – Day 14!
Throughout this month, we will have daily guests – authors and bloggers alike – looking back at their favorite reads of 2009, and looking forward to events and upcoming books in 2010.
Today’s Guest: Kate Noble, writer of Historical Romance and one of Ana’s favourite discoveries in 2009. Her debut novel, Compromised has been reviewed here and you can read our interview with the author here.
Recent Work: Revealed, which by the way, is on Ana’s top 10 reads of 2009. Reviewed here.
Please, welcome Kate Noble with her amusing list of all the cool stuff from 2009!
Hello Ana and Thea, and thank you so much for including me in your year-end round up! I’m terribly flattered. Let’s get down to business, shall we? I give you Kate Noble’s list of all the cool stuff from 2009!
Now, I don’t really have any idea of how many New Authors or releases I read this year. I am a bit behind in most everything: perpetually 15 minutes late, never have the latest cell phone, a day late and a dollar short, blah, blah, blah. But I can tell you what I read this year that I loved.
Favorite things I read this year:
(Note: not necessarily published this year. Or this century. Or last century. I’m just saying, I got a little behind in my reading.)
(Also, not necessarily books, in a traditional sense.)
1. Irredeemable, by Mark Waid, artwork by Peter Krause
I have slowly been getting into comic books/graphic novels. (Sloooooooooowly…) But this series has me hooked and stalking the local comic store on Wednesdays. What would a superhero be like if he wasn’t raised by a kindly couple with solid middle America morals (ala the Kents?) If instead, he’d been kicked around in foster care and didn’t have anyone to help him understand his own strength? He wouldn’t have the emotional makeup necessary to handle the true weight of superherodom. Mark Waid takes the traditional tights-and-capes genre and asks it the hard questions — and I can’t get enough.
2. Fables by Bill Willingham
On the long journey to being a full-fledged comic book geek, my comic book geek mentor (every good padawan has one) pointed me towards these books as being up my alley. Turns out, they’re so up my alley, they’re in my living room, sitting on my couch and eating my pistachios. Fairy tale characters live in modern day Manhattan and deal with humans and their own community’s tricky politics. The best part for me though, is that they answer some fun questions – such as how could both snow White and Cinderella marry Prince Charming? Answer: he’s the same guy – divorced Snow to marry Cinderella. And what happened to the three little pigs? The pigs crash on the wolf’s couch since he blew their houses down. There are about a zillion books in this series and its spin-offs, so it’s going to keep me busy for a while.
3. The Rogue and the Rival by Maya Rodale
This came out in late 2008, and it may be the closest I get to a 2009 release on this list. This is the follow up to The Heir and the Spare, in which the author plays with one of romance’s favorite conventions, the good and bad twins. What could be pat is transformed by the writing – its obvious Maya Rodale is having a lot of fun as she’s spinning her story in ways you won’t expect. The Rogue and The Rival is the Bad Twin’s book – and who doesn’t love the Bad Twin?
4. Conversations with the Fat Girl by Liza Palmer
A very funny, very thought provoking story about an overweight 20something (although how overweight, she cunningly never tells) dealing with her newly-thin best friend’s wedding, and her own stalled life.
5. Arcadia and The Invention of Love by Tom Stoppard
(I may have read these late 2008. Sue me.)
I’m lumping these two plays together because I read them back-to-back. Arcadia is a must read (or see) for anyone who love’s the regency genre. On the first page, Stoppard makes a joke about onanism – and had me hooked. The Invention of Love is much different in tone, far more somber, but too, too beautiful. A quiet Victorian poet’s love for his best friend is his lifelong secret, and in some ways, his savior. The ending had me in tears as I was reading on the subway — and I didn’t even care.
6. Goddess of the Hunt by Tessa Dare
(I totally forgot that Tessa Dare is new! Yes! I am up on the times!)
I am ridiculously blown away by Tessa Dare’s writing pace – she had an entire trilogy come out in 2009, and is set to have another trilogy come out in 2010. Meanwhile, I bear the deep, deep shame that is associated with being a “slow writer.” (I told you, I’m behind in everything.) But I was even more blown away by the fact that I really, really dug her writing. She creates smart, strong characters that have the ability to surprise the reader, and make you enjoy the ride.
I’m MUCH more up on what’s on TV or at the movies. I think its good marketing on their part (“you must watch this now! It will be gone from the theaters and/or deleted from your DVR at random – we will not wait for you!”) Whereas books are more leisurely in their haste.
Favorite things I watched this year:
1. The Single Ladies performance on Glee, episode “Preggers”
Can we just agree that Glee is all things awesome? And the moment when Kurt gets the football team to distract their opponents by doing Beyonce’s Single Ladies dance is the moment all the awesome in the world collided, creating an awesome big bang of awesomeness.
2. Star Trek
Yeah, not a trekkie. I’ve seen most of the original series, most of the movies, some of the Next Generation, but my life would not be any better or worse had I never been exposed to the trekverse. So, to have the JJ Abrams reboot absolutely rivet me was a bit of a surprise. They played with the story arc very smartly, making it so the new movie(s) and new stories they create are completely plausible within the series canon.
3. Mad Men Mad Men Mad Men.
Two Words: Lawn. Mower. And foot. And the superb Joan. And hot Duck action.
4. The Hurt Locker
An incredibly tense film that gave us the adrenaline junkie’s war story. I don’t think I blinked the entire time.
5. (500) Days of Summer
At one point in the film, after a particularly, er, lucky evening, Joseph Gordon-Levitt looks at his reflection in a window and Han Solo winks back at him. This moment explained men to me in a way that no one has ever been able to before.
6. Tammy and Julie Taylor’s post-sex conversation on Friday Night Lights, episode “The Giving Tree.”
Not having Direct TV, I have to wait until the spring for my Dillon Panthers football. But first, a caveat: I love my mom. She’s a good mom. But, can’t Tammy Taylor be my mom too?
Books I WILL get around to reading in 2010:
1. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Graeme-Smith
2. The next Lisa Kleypas Hathaway series book. She ended Tempt me at Twilight with such a cliffhanger! I cannot wait for this one.
3. Incorruptible – the flipside of Mark Waid’s Irredeemable coin. Because… yeah.
4. I think it unfair for me to commit to anything else, until I find out what Ana and Thea are going to recommend, thus making my reading choices for me. ?
And now, because it’s Smugglivus, and you’ve all been so good to read down this far, here’s a small treat – an excerpt of my next book (different from the excerpt on my website, so this is an exclusive!), The Summer of You, due out in April 2010.
“The Cottage? Minnie, are you sure?”
Victoria Wilton paused at the bank of the Broadmill River, one hand hiking up her skirts from getting wet, the other looped around the base of a particularly stubborn sprig of mint. It grew wild on the riverbank that cut through the small park of the Wiltons’ residence, and she needed the whole thing for the mint jelly she and Mother were intent on setting up for preserves this afternoon. But suddenly all her attention was given to the Wiltons’ stout housekeeper, Minnie.
“Yes, miss,” the housekeeper replied, her hands fluttering over her thick muslin apron in excitement. “The butcher had it directly from the Cottage’s housekeeper—she said she was roused in the middle of last night by a rider with the missive. The rider told her he had been paid at double his normal rate to get here quick.” Minnie raised her eyebrows at this lavish display of coin.
But it was not the money spent that made Victoria’s heart move as a hummingbird’s wing. “Goodness, that must mean they intend to be here soon.” Victoria dropped her skirts and ran her hand over her blonde locks. She had just started to wear her hair up last year, and in the warmth of the sun found no small comfort in having it off her neck—but somehow she found herself yearning to twist her curls around her fingers like she did as a child when nervous.
Instead, she concentrated on her next inquiry, and keeping very, very still.
“Perhaps the Duke has decided to rent the Cottage out for the summer?”
But Minnie shook her head. “Nay, Miss Victoria. The housekeeper said the missive came straight from Lady Jane’s hand! It is the family that comes for the summer at last!”
Lady Jane! Oh, Victoria had not seen Lady Jane in ages—not since she was almost thirteen and Lady Jane fifteen. She had been utterly refined then, but surely Lady Jane was the most elegant creature now, what with her impeccable schooling and fine Town fashions and London soirees—goodness, Victoria herself had never even been as far away as Manchester, and . . . oh, what would she think of Victoria’s hair? Surely its simple country style was not at all the thing . . .
“The Duke and his daughter, come to rusticate at the Cottage,” Victoria breathed. Finally, something worth talking about in Reston!
“Nay, miss.” Minnie began, causing Victoria’s mouth to fall open in confusion.
“But you just said—”
“Yes, miss, but I meant to say—the family is coming. The whole family.”
But . . . but that meant . . .Jason.
The mint was forgotten—thrown ruthlessly to the ground as Victoria picked up her now-soaking skirts—far above the ankle, terribly unladylike, Minnie thought—and began to run toward the house.
“Michael, Joshua!” Victoria cried out to her two younger brothers, playing cups and bowls beneath the large apple tree by the house, “Go and fetch Mother back from the rector’s! Now!”
The boys (used to being scolded by their elder sister but rarely with such panic) were shocked out of their game and into action. They sprinted toward the gate to the road, but Michael’s dirty hand had barely touched the latch before the gate was swung open from the outside.
“Good afternoon, Dr. Berridge,” the boys said, clambering to a halt and giving the most cursory of bows before scrambling past him and through the gate toward the village.
“What on earth . . .” Dr. Andrew Berridge said to the retreating forms of the boys and turned back to the Wiltons’ garden, only to see Miss Victoria Wilton sprinting toward him as if her skirts were on fire.
“Oh, Dr. Berridge!” Victoria came to a halt, curtsied with the same ingrained good manners that her brothers displayed, and then smiled up at him. Dr. Berridge—Andrew, as he had told her once to call him but she never had the nerve to do so—had only come to Reston within the past year to join Dr. Lawford’s practice, but in that short time he had become quite a good friend to her father. Initially, Sir Wilton had been suspicious of having two doctors in their village, thinking that this was a sign the town would grow out of proportion to its unique quaintness. But upon being assured by Dr. Lawford that he intended to retire and merely wished to introduce his replacement into Reston life as kindly as possible, Sir Wilton took to the new Dr. Berridge like a long-lost brother. The young doctor was twenty years Sir Wilton’s junior, but they had both studied at the same university, and Father enjoyed talking about his years at school so much, Dr. Berridge found himself invited to dinner almost thrice weekly. And since Victoria often found herself seated next to him, they, too, had struck up an enjoyable friendship.
“Miss Victoria, whatever is the matter?” Dr. Berridge said, concern overflowing his voice. “Is someone injured? Let me fetch my bag—”
“Oh, no, nothing like that—the boys are off to bring back Mother from the church,” she said breathlessly, her face warmly flushed with exertion. Behind her, Minnie had caught up to her young mistress, breathing even heavier.
“Minnie, you too?” Dr. Berridge inquired, his eyebrow reaching new heights of suspicion. “What has the Wilton household running like lunatics?”
“Minnie, we need to find my pin money—I’m so sorry, Doctor, I expect you’ve come to accompany my father on his daily walk,” Victoria apologized.
“Never mind that—would someone please tell me what is wrong? Why are the boys to fetch Lady Wilton?”
Dr. Berridge—Andrew—grasped her hand with his, concern emanating from his frame. Suddenly Victoria realized that her breathless countenance had shocked the always calm and good-natured doctor into intense worry. She laughed then and squeezed his hand reassuringly.
“The most wonderful news! Jason has come back to Reston, and I desperately need a new gown!” And with that, her eyes alight with pleasure, Victoria half skipped, half ran back to the house, leaving a stunned Dr. Berridge, and a still-breathless Minnie in her wake.
Dr. Berridge looked down at the small bunch of wildflowers he carried in his hand. “Minnie,” he said, startling the poor housekeeper to attention, “would you please be so good as to tell me who this Jason is?”
I am happy to give away one copy of my 2009 release Revealed (the precursor to The Summer of You) to a lucky reader. Just leave a comment below and the Smugglers will use their magical computer choosing thingie to pick a winner at random.
And that’s all she wrote. It’s been one helluva 2009. Ana, Thea, thank you so much for having me — Happy Smugglivus all, and to all a good smuggling!
And a Happy Smugglivus to you , Kate!
Giveaway Details: Leave a comment on this post for a chance to win. Contest runs till Saturday 19th 11:59pm (Pacific) and is open to US, Canada and UK. Good luck!