Thursday, January 07, 2010

What are you reading Thursday - Kate Hardy

This is where I have a terrible confession. Not to being a bookaholic with a TBR bookcase rather than a pile (because I think that one might be quite common)… but I read more than one book at a time. And I, um, have different books on the go in different rooms in the house.

So what am I reading?

On my desk, I have a carrot for working. I’m trying to swear off the internet until I’ve done my daily quota (is anyone else addicted to wordgames?), but after an emotional scene I need a break to clear my head. I daren’t read fiction at my desk because I know I’ll get sidetracked and not do my quota, but nonfic is another matter. So I’m reading Kevin McCloud’s Grand Tour. It’s the book of the TV series – basically Kevin touring Europe (mainly Italy) and viewing the buildings that had a huge effect on architecture in Britain during the age of the ‘Grand Tour’. Visually stunning (and I like the way he writes, too).

I also have a break at lunchtime (on the grounds that working straight through lunch is not good for you – reforming from the days of a sandwich at my desk). This means sharing my chicken salad with the dog and reading in the kitchen… and it’s natural that I’d be reading a foodie book in the kitchen. My best friend bought me a fabulous book on ice creams for Christmas (David Lebovitz’s ‘The Perfect Scoop’), and DH bought me Nigel Slater’s newest, 'Tender', so I’m a very happy bunny indeed with those two. (I could claim that this is work, as I am sort of planning a gelaterie book. But that is in several books' time - I have three Medical romances and my Venetian Modern Heat to write first.)

And then there’s my ‘wind down for the night’ read. (That’s where my TBR bookcase comes in.) I read an absolute beauty over the holidays – The Lost Recipe for Happiness, by Barbara Samuel. It was recommended to me by lovely Liz Fielding (whose duo pre-Christmas were an absolute treat). As she put it, it’s a romance and it has a gorgeous dog and recipes: right up your street. How right she was. There were lots of layers to the story, the heroine was very complex (read: rounded), I really liked the hero (clever men always do it for me), and I just loved the dog.

And the doggy theme has continued – when I saw the RNA longlist, I couldn’t resist ordering some of the ones I hadn’t yet read. Am enjoying Lucy Dillon’s Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts (though it’s already put a lump in my throat – I was banned from watching Lassie films as a child because they made me cry, and I haven’t been able to read Marley and Me (or watch the film) because I read an excerpt in the Sainsbury’s magazine and I was sobbing my eyes out). I’m hoping this has a happy ending, being a romance, so if anyone’s already read it and I’m going to need more than one box of tissues, do let me know…

Do you have more than one book on the go at a time? And what would you choose to read as a carrot for work, a lunchtime browse, and a bedtime wind-down?

In the UK, you can still get hold of Kate’s book Falling for the Playboy Millionaire from the Mills and Boon website – it’s also on the shelves this month in Australia. Temporary Boss, Permanent Mistress is on the shelves in US and is already on the Waldies list (thank you very much to everyone who put it there) and Kate is thrilled to report that it got 4.5 stars from Romantic Times.

You can find out more about these books, and Kate, on her website ( and her blog (


  1. Oh I loved 'The Lost Recipe for Happiness' - one for the keeper shelf.
    When you have a passion for words and music I feel that it feeds your soul to indulge yourself- and with your output you deserve your Treats.
    More books please! LOL

  2. Great blog.

    I'm with you on the lassie films. Me and DH2b *did* watch Marley and Me. Both of us crying like babies at the end - I kid you not!

    For me the "carrot for work" is a good "How To" - the best by a long shot is Kate Walker's 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance. Always good to get the creative juices flowing. "Lunchtime browse" - not exactly a book - but blogging - it winds me down. And "bedtime" *always* a romance of somesort. The perfect wind down before sleep. I could never read horror before bed - I would never sleep! Take care. Caroline x

  3. Am definitely going to give The Lost Recipe for Happiness it sounds right up my street.

    Personally I can't multi-task on books, only one at a time for me (a bit like the way I write!). Given the cold weather I'm currently on an Anna Campbell binge. 'Untouched' has just arrived and I'm going to dive into it tonight (the cover alone is already warming the cockles of my heart - and I few other things besides).

    Finished Julie Cohen's Girl from Mars which is already on my keeper shelf. Fantastic read, warm, witty, wonderfully quirky and moving all at the same time, plus a heroine with blue hair (which as I once had purple hair myself is something I can relate to) - and as my younger son is a Forbidden Planet junkie and I have already wasted far too much of my life in that shop it was nice to finally feel like it has all been worth it...!

    Heidi x

  4. Nina - it's on my keeper shelf, too. And thank you!

  5. Caroline - glad I'm not the only one like that about Lassie films! I thought M&M would be too much for me. And agreed, Kate W's book is v good.

    As for horror... yeah. In my copyediting days, I did a couple of Steve Jones's anthologies. When I emailed the author queries, I told him I'd had nightmares and it was *all his fault*. He just laughed and said it proved he was doing his job right!

  6. Heidi - it's really good. Nic M said I should try the rest of Barbara Samuels, so that's more on my list.

    Agreed on Julie's, too. (And you had purple hair?? I want to see pics! I wanted to have purple hair, when son did his like that for Mad Hair Day at school, but read the instructions on the spray can first first - would've turned my highlights permanently purple. Did it to my heroine instead. And the kids say now that I am not allowed to embarrass them by having a turquoise-blue streak in my hair now. Bah, humbug.)

    I think my oldest would be a FP junkie if he could get away with it...

  7. Carrots: I try not to do the Chicago Tribune Word Jumble game until mid-morning. It's my reward for getting that far.

    As for books, I frequently have more than one going. I'm glad to get some ideas from you (like the Samuels one), because, as I told the checkout person at the library the other night, I'm in a lost phase. I'm just not finding good books! Amazingly enough, she was in the same kind of funk. For her, I recommended the Spenser books by Robert Parker. She recommended Robert Craig, I think his name was. I was checking out and didn't want to go back.

    So at the moment, I'm floundering, fiction wise. On the other hand, I'm also on a tear to redecorate (I usually get this bug in June) so I'm looking up all kinds of things online for ideas, and have as my new Bible, so to speak, "At Home with Laurie Ann." Great professional pointers for room by room makeovers, and even ways to do season-to-season changes. I love this. And the photo gallery is something else.

    On to my library web site to get that Barbara Samuels book. Thanks.

  8. Liz - uhoh, I think I'd be bad with the word jumnble game, too :o)

    I can recommend a few more. If you like historical mystery stories, I'd definitely recommend Susanna Gregory (both her Bartholomew series and the new Chaloner series), CJ Sansom, and Arianna Franklin. Karen Maitland is pretty good, too - I don't have her new one yet but it's on order, and "Company of Liars" was very good.

    Romance - best historical *ever*, in my view, is Diana Norman's "The Vizard Mask" - absolutely gripping. I'd also recommend anything by Nicola Cornick, Jane Jackson and Jan Jones. (I should say here that those last three are good friends of mine - but they really do write good stories.)

    Some other really good reads for me last year were James Long's "Ferney" (timeslip), Shirley Wells's "Into the Shadows" (first of her detective stories - again, she's a friend, but I liked it enough to order the entire series), Susan Mallery's "Falling for Gracie" (I must read more of hers), and Jenny Crusie's "Bet Me" and "Anyone but You" (I read a few others of hers and enjoyed, but those two were standout).

    I also enjoyed "The Highest Tide" by Jim Lynch - a coming-of-age story (and I loved all the marine stuff in it - learned lots from the book).

    And if you like biographies - "Digging up the Dead" by Druin Burch is the bio of 19th-century English surgeon Astley Cooper - I enjoyed that thoroughly. (I do have a couple by Kate Williams - on Victoria and Emma Hamilton - on my TBR and they came well recommended.)

    Hope these are some help. :o)

  9. Kate, it sounds like you're having a wonderful time with those wonderful books. I saw the Kevin McCloud one and was hooked right there.

    If you're enjoying the dog theme then try Kandy Shepherd's 'Love is a Four Legged Word' which is a fast, funny, warm-hearted romance that made me feel so good.

    At the moment I'm between books and I'm not letting myself pick up anything new as I've got revisions to do. You can tell by the fact I'm on the net...

    Happy New Year. Congratulations on the fab RT review.

  10. Annie - I know you share my enjoyment of Kevin McCloud's series! Thanks for the book rec, and good luck with the revisions. (Know waht you mean. I'm two days past a deadline. And the kids are home on their second snow day in a row...)