Love That! for Diabetes Research

I am excited to be participating in the Love That! launch event happening today. There are a bunch of authors participating in the Facebook party today and I am sure there will be plenty of online hoopla to be had. Join the Facebook party here.

Love That! by Brenda Novak is a cookbook of healthy, easy meals. All proceeds for this book are going to the University of Miami’s Diabetes Research Foundation to help find a cure for diabetes. Brenda’s youngest son suffers from diabetes and she has tirelessly worked to raise money and awareness for diabetes over the years.

The cookbook is well laid out, with beautiful pictures. It is full of wonderful dishes that are healthy and delicious. My family eats soup in the winter and salads in the summer and this book has a large variety of both, plus a ton of other things. I can’t wait for cold weather so I can try the Mediterranean Vegetable Soup. With summer coming, I want to try the Citrus Salad with Avocado and Bacon and the Salmon Stacks.

For the launch today, I made the Nine Layer Dinner. On the night I made it, we had a meeting at church, so it ended up being a dinner on the go. It traveled well and it was a big hit with the boys.

Cheese? Check. Refried black beans? Check. Sour cream? Check. Really, what could be bad with those three things in it?
Cheese? Check. Refried black beans? Check. Sour cream? Check. Really, what could be bad with those three things in it?

Here are the assembled ingredients: 1 lb ground turkey, 3 large tomatoes, fresh basil, cheddar cheese, pasta, black refried beans, red peppers, black olives, romaine lettuce, sour cream. I should note that I rarely follow recipe instructions as written. Because this was for an event, I did my best to follow the instructions. It was hard, but I succeeded.

You could add onions here is you wanted to go rogue on the recipe.
You could add onions here is you wanted to go rogue on the recipe.

I browned the turkey. While the meat was cooking, I used my food processor to chop up two of the tomatoes. I was feeling very lazy, so I threw in the fresh basil too.

Everything smells awesome. I could just throw pasta in this and eat it the way it is now.
Everything smells awesome. I could just throw pasta in this and eat it the way it is now.

When the tomatoes and basil were chopped, I added them to the cooked turkey along with the red pepper. I added some salt at this point. If I was cooking in my usual style aka using the recipe as a guideline rather than a prescription, I would have added some chopped garlic to this mix. Really, can you ever have too much garlic? The answer is no. No you can not.

Many tomatoes in the store are not as good as they used to be, but I have found that the smaller varieties are delicious and great for recipes or snacking.
Many tomatoes in the store are not as good as they used to be, but I have found that the smaller varieties are delicious and great for recipes or snacking.

While the pasta cooked, I left the turkey mixture to bubble and chopped up some lovely little colored peppers and small, yellow tomatoes. I put the tomatoes and peppers in a to go container since this meal was going to have to travel. I also put the refried beans into a small pot and started heating them up.

If you were feeling lazy, you could just eat it now.
If you were feeling lazy, you could just eat it now.

When the noodles were done, I added them and some of the shredded cheese to the turkey and tomato mixture. When is was combined well, I poured the mixture into a 9×11 dish.

I refrained from adding more and more cheese. This a healthy dinner, after all.
I refrained from adding more and more cheese. This a healthy dinner, after all.

On top of the turkey noodle mix, I spread the warmed refried beans and topped them with more cheese.

Colorful and pretty! If you wanted to add spice, you could add green chilis to the top layer.
Colorful and pretty! If you wanted to add spice, you could add green chilis to the top layer.

On top of the cheese, I spread some of the chopped peppers and the can of black olives. I put the lid on my baking dish and whisked it into my casserole carrier. I packed up the sour cream, lettuce, extra tomatoes and peppers, and threw in a small bottle of garlic lime Cholulah. Everything is better with a little kick of Cholulah.

This was my plate. Mr. R and G had more than double this amount.
This was my plate. Mr. R and G had more than double this amount.

To assemble the layers, place a scoop of the turkey noodle mix onto a plate. Top with lettuce, sour cream, peppers, tomatoes, and a hot sauce of your choice.

If we had this dinner at home, I would have made guacamole or sliced avocados to add to the top.

The verdict? My husband and boys loved it. It was easy and traveled great. Spreading the refried beans was not easy though. You could use whole black beans instead and get the desired effect. If you use whole beans, be sure to rinse them first. If you have trouble finding good tomatoes, use canned low salt ones.

Now go buy a fabulous cookbook and support diabetes research. Too lazy to cook because you have all those books to read? There are boxed sets for you: Sweet Dreams, Sweet Seduction, and Sweet Talk. Like the cookbook, all the proceeds go to diabetes research.

 

The Recipe

Nine Layer Dinner

Each Serving: Cal: 334 Carb: 36 g Fat: 10 g Protein: 23 g Sodium: 446 mg Sugar: 5 g

1 lb. ground turkey
3 large tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes, crushed
2 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
1 1/2 cups low-fat cheddar cheese, grated
8 oz. Mastaccoli pasta
1 can refried black beans
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 Tbsp. black olives, sliced
2 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
4 Tbsp. fat-free sour cream

Fry ground turkey and drain. Add chopped tomatoes, water, pepper flakes and fresh basil.

Cook breaking up the chopped tomatoes to form sauce. Add 1/2 cup of grated cheddar cheese and the cooked pasta, and mix well. Divide pasta mixture onto 8 plates. Top with remaining ingredients. Add spoonfuls of warm refried beans, sprinkle with cheddar cheese, bell pepper, black olives, romaine lettuce and tomato–and top off with 1/2 Tbsp. sour cream.

8 servings

Books Read in 2014

Total Books Read: 56

Most Books Read in One Month: January with 8

Least Books Read in One Month: The fall was abysmal. I read an average of 2 books per month. At the time, I was slogging through the last two Outlander books and book 7 (Echo) was a hard read for me. I think it has replaced Voyager as my least favorite.

Summary: I read a ton of wonderful things this year. This list does not include my DNFs (Did Not Finish) so if a book was really bad, it is not on here. I admit, I plowed through a couple bad ones, but they were few. My list is chock full of historicals, paranormals, and paranormal historicals. It is pretty obvious what my reading tastes are.

Favorite Reread: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I reread it along with the show and fell in love again and again. I wrote a post about sexuality and marriage in Outlander because I love it that much. Outlander has been my favorite book since I first read it in high school and it has yet to be replaced. I also reread Castle of the Wolf by Sandra Schwab, again. I’m sorry. I can’t help myself. Did you know Sandra has some lovely novellas out right now? They are on the list below.

Favorite New Read: I am going to go completely off track and choose a nonfiction as my favorite read because it was THAT good. Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink blew me away. It was like reading about a beautiful, heartbreaking train wreck everyone knew was coming and yet no one prepared for. The way Fink writes about the doctors and staff and the absolutely crazy things that happened during Katrina in New Orleans wrecked me. Even if you hate nonfiction, you need to give this one a try.

A close second was The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. This book is gorgeous. The plight of the common German citizen and the impact the Nazis had on their daily lives is beautifully wrought by Zusak. I adored this book.

Authors I Can’t Get Enough Of: Sandra Schwab, Lauren Dane, Eloisa James, Courtney Milan

Authors Who Were on my TBR List Forever, Finally Got a Read, and Now I Love: Nalini Singh, Kevin Hearne, and Bec McMaster

January – 8
Blade to the Keep by Lauren Dane
Springtime Pleasures by Sandra Schwab
Damon: The Protectors Series by Teresa Gabelman
Blade Song by J.C. Daniels
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by CS Lewis
Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster
Heart of Iron by Bec McMaster
Nightfall by Rebecca York

February – 6
The Silver Chair by CS Lewis
Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink
Strong Enough To Love by Victoria Dahl
The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan
Wrecked by Meljean Brook
Castle of the Wolf by Sandra Schwab

March – 5
Following Isabella: Travels in Colorado Then and Now by Robert Root
Riveted by Meljean Brook
The Horse and His Boy by CS Lewis
When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James
Angel’s Blood by Nalini Singh

April – 6
The Ugly Duchess by Eloisa James
Archangel’s Kiss by Nalini Singh
A Kiss at Midnight by Eloisa James
The Magician’s Nephew by CS Lewis
Archangel’s Consort by Nalini Singh
Taken With You by Shannon Stacey

May – 6
Defending the Faith: Apologetics in Women’s Ministry by Mary Jo Sharpe
Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
Runaways: Dead End Kids by Joss Whedon
Skies of Gold by Zoe Archer
Chasing the Lion by Nancy Kimball
The Bride Prize: Allan’s Miscellany by Sandra Schwab

June – 6
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Archangel’s Blade by Nalini Singh
Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi
Fury of Fire by Coreene Callahan
Moon Shine by Vivian Arend
Heart of Stone by Christine Warren

July – 6
Tactics by Gregory Koukl
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Last Battle by CS Lewis
Amulet: The Cloud Searchers by Kazu Kibuishi
Amulet: The Stonekeeper’s Curse by Kazu Kibuishi
Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon Hale, Dean Hale, and Nathan Hale

August – 5
Hounded by Kevin Hearne
A Tangled Web by Sandra Schwab
Devil’s Return by Sandra Schwab
Falling for Max by Shannon Stacey
Dragonspell by Donita K. Paul

September – 2
An Echo In The Bone by Diana Gabaldon
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

October – 2
Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon
The Suffragette Scandal by Courtney Milan

November – 3
Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare
Blade on the Hunt by Lauren Dane
Confessions from an Arranged Marriage by Miranda Neville

December – 2
No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah MacLean
The Duchess War by Courtney Milan

Book Reviews From People I Know Too Well

Now that people I love, people I see everyday, and people I randomly run into at holiday parties are reading my book, they all tell me what they think of it. The reactions have been positive and, dare I say, enthusiastic. It is still amusing to me to have people I know talk to me about characters that used to only live in my head. Some of these conversations are funny, because I know the people so well and I can read between the lines.

A little fun for Friday and some words to make you smile.

Dear Readers, I give you Book Reviews From People I Know Entirely Too Well. Enjoy.

From Mr. Rochester (my dear husband): The beginning was a little slow. I know you were doing some world building, but there were too many emotions and feelings.

Please note: Mr. R is an engineer with a heart of ice and any mention of feelings, tender or otherwise, is entirely too much for him. If Petra and the gang just got into fights in the saloon all the time, he would probably enjoy the book much better. I told him he would like Marina’s book more because the fighting to feelings ratio was higher. He is of the opinion that men only shed actual tears while watching Rudy. Any other emotional display is unacceptable. Good thing I have feelings for him.

From my Mother-in-Law: You write good descriptions. You don’t go on and on forever about the mountains and I’m thankful for that.

Please note: This comment from the woman who once went on a cruise to Alaska. When asked what she thought of it, her reply was, “The only thing to see was mountains and trees. It was boring.” I think she missed the point of going to Alaska.

From my Mom: It was really good. I really liked it.

Please Note: Even if it was rubbish (it’s not, I promise) she has to say that. She gave birth to me.

My Adoring Aunt: You’re the most beautiful writer in the entire world.

Please Note: This was after only reading the dedication and the acknowledgments. I have to admit; I love that lady to pieces.

Happy Friday everyone!

Book Review: The Bride Prize by Sandra Schwab

I started to just write a tweet about this, but then I realized I had more than 140 characters worth of things to say.

Anyone who has been reading this blog long enough to see my reading lists, knows I adore Sandra. Not only do I love her books, but she is a nice, intelligent lady who lives in Germany and has a fantastic job as an English professor. All that to say, this review may be biased but it is all still true.

The Bride Prize is, in a word, delightful. It is the first in a series which centers around a satirical periodical titled Allan’s Miscellany. Robert Beaton, the hero of the story, is an illustrator for the magazine. One of the major conflicts of the novella is that Florence Marsh’s father does not hold with those satirical rags and Florence, of course, is falling for Robert.

Schwab has included some hilarious excerpts from the magazine which made me pull down my own copy of Eighteenth-Century English Literature so I could flip through the section on Addison and Steele. A discussion of literature in The Spectator, issue Number 62 starts like this, “As true Wit consists in the Resemblance of ideas, and false Wit in the Resemblance of Words…”

I sat on the floor for a good thirty minutes thumbing through my lit book and chuckling. I then proceeded to talk Mr. Rochester’s ear off about the cultural force of true satire in the 1700s long past his eyes glazed over. He patted me on the shoulder and said something like, “That sounds nice, dear.”

Back to the book.

The Bride Prize is set a generation after Addison and Steele wrote The Tattler and The Spectator, but the need to drive change in society with the power of a well placed word is a theme throughout this small but fun novella. I do not want you to think The Bride Prize is all about social change, though it is mentioned. I do want you to know that the English major, librarian, geek that I am loved the references Sandra sprinkled throughout the story about history and literature of the early 1800s. If you are really a geek, and I know you are, you can signup for her newsletter and get a 24 page pdf which includes illustrations and historical explanations of all manner of things mentioned in the book. You can also buy a copy of the ebook with the extras for a bit more, see the link at the beginning of this post.

The Bride Prize is well worth your time. I smiled for a long time when it was over. I can not wait until the next installment in this series.

Highly Recommended

 

 

Here is what I’ve been reading…

I have read some fantastic books in the last month or so and I wanted to share them with you, dear readers. I know all of you have plenty of time to read as many books as you want, right? Exactly.

ProTip: I keep track of what I have read and when on a Google Calendar called Books Read. It makes creating a list at the end of the year a breeze and I can access it easily.

I read mostly fiction, but every once in awhile I will read a nonfiction for research or for fun. I recently read Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink and it is the best nonfic I have read in a very long time. Fink’s style is approachable and she does an excellent job of both laying out the events at the hospital and how the legal case was compiled. Where I think this book excels is the way Fink gives the reader a sense of empathy for all the major players in this heart wrenching story. I highly recommend this book.

I have a weakness for wounded heroes and in the past couple months I have read multiple books with this trope, as you shall see from my list. I read the first two books of the Bec McMaster series London Steampunk and enjoyed them. I want to get back to this series soon. They are paranormal steampunk with very wounded heroes so what could be bad about these?

In a fit of being unable to find something to read (I tried an old Garwood western but it let me down), I reread Castle of the Wolf by Sandra Schwab. One of these good days, Sandra will fulfill my deepest desires and get a digital copy of this up. It is currently out of print but if you ever find a copy, it is worth it’s weight in gold. Fenris is still one of my all time favorite wounded heroes. Lucky for you, Sandra has some other offerings which are digital. Of her recent novels, Bewitched is my favorite.

After a discussion with a friend regarding wounded heroes, she strongly suggested (read: beat me over the head) I read When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James. The witty dialog between the two main characters is what makes this book sing. The glimpses into early medicine were also quite fascinating. I am glad I took my friend’s advice. (Thanks, Katy!)

I caught up on Meljean Brook’s The Iron Seas series. Brook has a way with world creation that explodes my mind every time I read her stuff. The vivid characters she creates to fill her worlds take my breath away. These books are so good I want to devour them, but they end up eating me instead.

I am way, way, sadly late to this party, but I started reading the Guild Hunter series by Nalini Singh. I am embarrassed to tell you how long all of her series have been on my TBR list. If the rest of her series are even half as good as the first half of the first novel of Guild Hunters, Angel’s Blood, you can all expect to hear nothing from me until I consume them all.

What are you reading?

Books Read in 2013

Here is the annual list.

I have to admit, the number of books I read this year disappoints me. It is the lowest since I started tracking my numbers. I went back to work part-time this year and I think that made an impact. I also spent more time writing and researching for the new series I started in September.

Along with the lower numbers, almost all the books are some sort of romance genre. I did not stray far this year from my first love. In 2014, I am going to try to branch out a bit. I would like to have more scifi/fantasy on the next list.

Books Read – 34

Least books in a month: April and July with 1 each
Most books in a month: October and December with 5 each

Best books: The first two books on this list are auto-buy authors for me. Not only do I adore their stories, but they are lovely ladies online as well. I wish I could tell you how much I adore them. If I ever meet either of them in person, my head might explode.

How Beauty Loved the Beast by Jax Garren (May) – A wonderful culmination to a trilogy that has captivated me. By captivated, I mean this series is like the best kind of drug. I have no will to resist. (See Best Rereads below)

Bewitched by Sandra Schwab (August) – Bewitched is a touching tale of magic, love, and the miracles love can work in our lives. Schwab has a way with words that reminds me of Austen and she makes me swoon. She is a wonderfully smart lady who throws references to literature, history, and culture into her books. Fabulous.

A Spear of Summer Grass by Deanna Raybourne (December) – Every once in awhile you find that book whose words drip from the page into your pores. This is one of those books. The way Raybourne paints Africa you can feel the heat of the sun and hear the animals hidden in the grass. Raybourne uses complicated, but beautiful characters, to draw you into a timeless story. It is perfect.

Best reread: The Jax Garren Beauty and Beast books. They are irresistible to me. I go to read one and then have to read them all. It’s a sickness, but I don’t want the cure. In fact, just writing about them makes me want to read them again.

Unexpected find: Stone Guardian by Danielle Monsch – Sexy. Gargoyles. I don’t really think I have to say more.

Hottest read: Takhini Wolves series (Black Gold, Silver Mine, Diamond Dust) by Vivian Arend – No one, I think, does shifters like Arend.

Books By Month
January – 2
Lady X’s Cowboy by Zoe Archer
All He Ever Dreamed by Shannon Stacey

February – 4
Firelight by Kristen Callihan
How Beauty Met the Beast by Jax Garren
How Beauty Saved the Beast by Jax Garren
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling

March – 2
Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce
These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer

April – 1
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

May – 3
The Lady of the Rivers by Phillipa Gregory
How Beauty Saved the Beast by J. C. Garren
*How Beauty Loved the Beast by Jax Garren

June – 3
Ten Days by Olivia Mayfield
Working for the Devil by Lilith Saintcrow
Dead Man Rising by Lilith Saintcrow

July – 1
Critical Digital Literacies as Social Praxis ed. JuliAnna Avila and Jessica Zacher Pandya

August – 4
*Bewitched by Sandra Schwab
Betrayal by Sandra Schwab
Black Gold by Vivian Arend
Harry Potter and the Half -Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling

September – 1
Silver Mine by Vivian Arend

October – 5
Diamond Dust by Vivian Arend
Stone Guardian by Danielle Monsch
Simply Love by Mary Balogh
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling

November – 3
Once Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
A Perfect Blood by Kim Harrison

December – 5
*A Spear of Summer Grass by Deanna Raybourne
All She Wanted by Nicole Deese
Far in the Wilds by Deanna Raybourne
Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare
Love A Little Sideways by Shannon Stacey

Book Review: Tales of the Underlight series by Jax Garren

This review is for the first two books of the Tales of the Underlight series by Jax Garren. The third book comes out today, so guess what I am doing for the rest of the day. You can read a mini review of the first book, How Beauty Met the Beast in my Books read in 2012 post.

Here is the blurb from the publisher for the first and second books:

How Beauty Met the Beast: Book 1

The Beast

Scarred. Damaged. Living with a terrible secret. Agent of the Underlight Wesley “Hauk” Haukon has nothing left but the fight for liberty against the oppressive Order of Ananke. He’s starting to lose hope…and then he sees her.

The Beauty

Despite her night job as a burlesque dancer, grad student Jolie Benoit has always played the mostly good girl. That all changes following a scorching sexual encounter with a stranger whose face she doesn’t see. After she’s kidnapped by thugs and rescued by a man with a very familiar voice, Jolie becomes a pawn in a struggle she never knew existed.

Hauk knows he cannot have her, and resolves to protect his heart and his secrets. But as they work together and grow closer, he finds new reason to keep fighting. Dare he risk hope in a new life, one where Jolie can see past his ravaged face and where their friendship can grow into something more?

 

 How Beauty Saved the Beast: Book 2

Jolie Benoit left her old life behind to become an agent of the Underlight. Training under Sergeant Wesley Haukon, she’s honing her combat skills, all the while coping with the intense sexual attraction she feels for Hauk. She keeps their friendship casual, but when his high school sweetheart transfers into their division, Jolie finds herself grappling with jealousy.

The Underlight gave Hauk a purpose, but he can’t escape his past completely. The physical and emotional scars from the fire that killed seven fellow Army Rangers will mark him forever. Jolie sends his protective instincts into overdrive, but he’s convinced he’ll never be worthy of her love.

Hauk is determined to keep Jolie from harm. But when the Order of Ananke ambushes them with a new weapon that neutralizes Hauk, making him vulnerable, it’s Jolie who must tap into her hidden strengths to rescue him–or risk losing him forever…

 

A tortured hero makes me swoon. A tortured hero who is a gentleman and does not use his baggage as an excuse to be an overbearing idiot is even better. A tortured hero who is also not conventionally handsome hits all my spots, the good ones.

Hauk is isolated physically and emotionally from others, even his friends, and this distance makes his growing relationship with Jolie nail biting. The way they gravitate towards each other, only to fling themselves away, builds the tension between them. Garren crafts Hauk and Jolie perfectly so their relationship woes are never forced or irritating to the reader. On the contrary, the reasons, especially on Hauk’s side, were heart wrenching.

Jolie has had all of the advantages of a privileged upbringing but has retained a decent moral character. Unfortunately, this has isolated her from most of her family and leaves few she trusts. Unlike Hauk, who is isolated because of his appearance (and that pesky thing about being suspected of murder), Jolie is isolated by her last name and her money. Both of these characters have some serious baggage dragging along behind them.

The pages are fairly smoking from the chemistry between Hauk and Jolie. The first novel starts off with an encounter that could set a sheet aflame (ahem) and the tension never drops from there. Hauk and Jolie, after the initial encounter, do not touch often but the reader keenly knows every time they do. By the time I finished reading the second book, the book was scorching my hands.

The romance is great, but the plot is not too shabby either. There are pagan, excuse me, heathen gods, good guys fighting evil power hungry men, magical mysteries, and people trying to build a better world. There are subtle, and not so subtle, references to steampunk, anarchy, fairy tales, science, burlesque, and Austin culture in the story line. It is a wild mix that Garren weaves together fluidly for a very fun ride.

These are books that I frequently recommend, and by recommend I mean beat over the head with, to people, and by people I mean anyone unfortunate enough to admit they read books. There are three books in this series, all increasing in length, and all very reasonably priced from the wonderful Carina Press. The third book, How Beauty Loved the Beast, comes out TODAY.

Do yourself a favor and make a very nice lady (Jax Garren) happy. Go. Buy. Read. And fall in love.

P.S. I will admit without coercion that I have read Met three times and Saved twice and all the bits around the web as well. I am head over burlesque heels.

Jane, has received nothing for this review except perhaps the right to stalk Jax Garren at the next conference we both attend.

 

Books Read in 2012

Total Books Read: 69
Most Books Read in One Month: November, 9
Least Books Read in One Month: February, August, and September all had only 4 books

Summary: As always, my list is dominated by romance, with a smattering of other things lest I become boring. There are a ton a good books on the list and a lot of returning authors I love. I could go on for paragraphs about many of them, but I will spare you. I wish I had more time to write reviews, but I can not do everything I wish. Almost everything I read was an ebook.

Favorite Reread: The rereads on my list this year were all Harry Potter books. We are reading them to Gideon and as I am doing some reading and listening, in turn, I included them. My favorite reread this year is not actually on the list because technically I did not read the entire thing, but the story is funny enough I wanted to share. While doing some research for the book I wrote last year, I wanted to flip through some books to see how they handled a couple things. I picked up Castle of the Wolf by Sandra Schwab and started reading a few chapters in. I think I started a little before the scene with the bat. It was a quiet evening, Mr. R was playing on the computer, and I kept reading and reading and reading. Before I knew it, I had finished the entire book, again, in one sitting no less. Somewhere in Germany, Sandra is laughing at me.

Favorite New Read: I hate this category every year because I can almost never pick one. This year is no different. I have a short list of books that I positively swooned and swooned and swooned over. You must all go read these books right this moment. For different reasons, each of these books or series grabbed me and still have not let me go. Here they are:

The Blades of the Rose Series by Zoe Archer (April) – This is a great historical series with some steampunk and steamy romance. The characters are delightful and the stories, which revolve around different cultures and artifacts, are interesting and filled with adventure. The romances in all four books will delight. Archer writes dialog that sticks with you and brings her characters from the page.

Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison (June) – This urban romance is the first in a wonderful series. You will love the main characters, but the supporting cast is equally delightful. It will make you laugh and the romance will make you grab for a glass of ice water. Urban fantasy is a saturated market, but Harrison stands out among the others. Dragon Bound won a RITA Award from RWA last year.

The Iron Duke (The Iron Seas Series) by Meljean Brook (August) – Oh My Goodness. The first two books in this series completely blew me away. Brook has a way with words that brings new worlds to life with poignancy. The steampunk world she has created in this series is gritty and damaged, but the ability of people to overcome war and circumstances shines in this novel. The hero is definitely an alpha, but he won my heart. I had given up on steampunk, but this series has be begging for more. Brook is a master.

Newsflesh Trilogy by Mira Grant (November) – ZOMBIES! This book is part zombie thriller, part political commentary, part media commentary, and all fun. They are hilarious, tense, and sad all at once. Grant has created the best zombie book since World War Z. The pop culture references, instead of being dated, are fabulous. If you even remotely like zombies or you want to give them a try, this is a magnificent place to start. ***Repost Freely*** ***Repost Freely*** Georgia Mason Lives. ***Repost Freely*** ***Repost Freely***

How Beauty Met the Beast by Jax Garren (also November!) – November was a great month for books. This is the first of a trilogy. The next one comes out February 11th, which gives you plenty of time to read the first one. This book is set in Austin, the capitol of my home state. I adored this story because it is a beginning, one that starts with a tentative friendship between two people you fall for, hard. Plus, it has burlesque dancers which is all kinds of awesome and win. Hauk is a war veteran, horribly burned, and a member of an underground society with some steampunk elements. Jolie is a graduate student and a burlesque dancer. Their friendship and budding romance is sweet and full of all kinds of warm fuzzy things. You will never look at a sheet the same way, either. Though this is a novella, it did not strike me as too short. I am often frustrated by novellas, but this one left me just satisfied enough with the story and aching for the rest of the tale. I have so far resisted the urge to reread this, but I think I will give in right before How Beauty Saved the Beast, the second book, comes out.

January – 7
(W)hole by Ruth Madison
Falling Hard by J.K. Coi
Witch and Wizard by James Patterson and Gabriella Charbonnet
Dangerous Magic by Alix Rickloff
Slip Point by Karalynn Lee
Entwined by Heather Dixon
The Viking’s Sacrifice by Julia Knight

February – 4
Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving
Marry Me by Jo Goodman
Viper’s Kiss by Shannon Curtis
Chaos Tryst by Shirin Dubbin

March – 5
Miss Foster’s Folly by Alice Gaines
Homespun Bride by Jillian Hart
Lament: the Faerie Queen’s Deception by Maggie Stiefvater
Chesapeake Blue by Nora Roberts
Charming the Shrew by Laurin Wittig

April – 5
Hunger Aroused by Dee Carney
Rebel: The Blades of the Rose by Zoe Archer
Scoundrel: The Blades of the Rose by Zoe Archer
Stranger: the Blades of the Rose by Zoe Archer
Warrior: The Blades of the Rose by Zoe Archer

May – 7
Super Zero by Rhonda Stapleton
Wolf Signs by Vivian Arend
Reiver’s Bride by Amanda Scott
What Happens in London by Julia Quinn
Armies and Warfare in the Middle Ages: the English Experience by Michael Prestwich
Ashfall by Mike Mullin

June – 6
Snowbound With a Stranger by Rebecca Rogers Maher
Chain Reaction by Zoe Archer
Ruined by Rumor by Alyssa Everett
Skies of Fire by Zoe Archer
The Restorer by Amanda Stevens
Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison

July – 6
Storm’s Heart by Thea Harrison
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Steig Larsson
Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman, Andy Kubert, and Richard Isanove
Serpent’s Kiss by Thea Harrison
Geekomancy by Michael R. Underwood
Slow Summer Kisses by Shannon Stacey

August – 4
Kilts and Kraken by Cindy Pencer Pape
The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook
Beyond the Night by Joss Ware
Enclave by Ann Aguirre

September – 4
Heart of Steel by Meljean Brook
Burning Up by Angela Knight, Nalini Signh, Virginia Kantra, Meljean Brook
All He Ever Needed by Shannon Stacey
Stolen Love by Carolyn Jewel

October – 7
Inheritance by Christopher Paolini
Chains and Flames by G. A. Aiken
Dragon Actually by G. A. Aiken
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling
Matt Archer: Monster Hunter by Kendra C. Highly
Never Seduce A Scot by Maya Banks
Beast by Marian Churchland

November – 9
What I Did For A Duke by Julie Anne Long
Feed: Newsflesh Trilogy by Mira Grant
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
Deadline: Newsflesh Trilogy by Mira Grant
Blackout: Newsflesh Trilogy by Mira Grant
How Beauty Met the Beast by Jax Garren
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg
Heart of the Dragon Realm by Karalynn Lee
Moonlight and Mechanicals by Cindy Spencer Pape

December – 5
All He Ever Desired by Shannon Stacey
Shattered Magic by Rebecca York
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling
A Galactic Holiday by Anna Hackett, Stacy Gail, Sasha Summers ed. By Angela James
An Infamous Marriage by Susanna Fraser

–Jane, thinks her time this year was well spent

Books Read in 2011

There are a lot of books on the list this year, due mostly to the fact that Washington, the new Wee Bairn in the Rochester household, joined us in March. You can see the reading numbers spike up after his arrival. You might wonder how a new mom can read so much. Easy! I read during breastfeeding, which for the first few months is about 20 minutes or more every 2 hours. Awesome!

The list has a lot of romances, as always. I went back and read some older Nora Roberts that I had not read. I realized that there are quite a bit Roberts I have not touched and decided to remedy that. Interspersed in the list are some award winners and non-fiction. I also read some YA and sci fi/fantasy.

Total books read in 2011: 67
Most books read in one month: May, 11
Least book read in one month: February, 2
Worst book read: The Debutante’s Dilemma by Elyse Mady – I could have bought the whole stuck between two lovers at the same time thing, but the ending just did not seem plausible to me. It was all a bit silly and made me realize that the menage genre was definitely not for me.
Best new to me book: I read a lot of great books this year. A plethora, you might say, so choosing one is really hard. So hard in fact, I am completely cheating and putting four books here.
One is a series and one is non-fiction. This is my list so stop complaining. The fiction series is an older Nora Roberts: Sea Swept; Rising Tides; and Inner Harbor. – I fell in love with the family in this book. The non-fiction goes easily to Everything I Know About Love I Learned From Romance Novels by Sarah Wendell. – I am a huge fan of Sarah. I even have a picture of us when she came to ALA last year. I have shielded my share of scoffers for my reading tastes, but this book reminded me why romance novels are not just good, but great for the soul.
Best reread: The Bride by Julie Garwood – I have a whole shelf of old Garwoods and they are my go to books when nothing else appeals. What is not great about a man in a kilt?
Worst book I did not finish (and thus it is not on this list): Battlefield Earth by L. Ron Hubbard – all around awful.

Books Read
January – 3
Mr. Cavendish, I Presume by Julia Quinn
Serenity: The Shepherd’s Tale by Joss Whedon, Zack Whedon, and Chris
Samnee
Goose in the Pond by Earlene Fowler

February – 2
Fallen by Lauren Kate
Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas

March – 3
Start Your Family by Steve and Candice Watters
Torment by Lauren Kate
Betrayed by Claire Robyns

April – 3
Sea Swept by Nora Roberts
Rising Tides by Nora Roberts
Inner Harbor by Nora Roberts

May – 11
A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon
Jewels of the Sun by Nora Roberts
Tears of the Moon by Nora Roberts
Heart of the Sea by Nora Roberts
Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison
The Spurned Viscountess by Shelley Munro
I Wish (The Witches of Desire) by Wren Emmerson
Collision Course by Zoe Archer
Blue Galaxy by Diane Dooley
The Spiral Path by Lisa Paitz Spindler
Blood of the Maple by Dana Marie Bell

June – 7
Allegra Fairweather: Paranormal Investigator by Janni Nell
The Bride by Julie Garwood
Almost Innocent by Jane Feather
Tongues of Serpents by Naomi Novik
The Debutante’s Dilemma by Elyse Mady
The Twisted Tale of Stormy Gale by Christine Bell
The Dead Travel Fast by Deanna Raybourne

July – 5

The Lion’s Lady by Julie Garwood
When She Woke by Hillary Jordan
Ashes by Ilsa Bick
Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers
X-Isle by Cosby, Nelson, and Scott

August – 4
Lionheart by Sharon Kay Penman
Offworld by Robin Parrish
Superman: Red Son by Miller, Johnson, Plunkett, Robinson, Wong
The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova

September – 7
Defying Convention by Abby Niles
Pale Demon by Kim Harrison
Undeniably Yours by Shanon Stacey
Yours to Keep by Shannon Stacey
Cat’s Tale: a fairy tale retold by Bettie Sharpe
Sevenfold Spell by Tia Nevitt
Tankborn by Karen Sandler

October – 7

The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs
Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs
Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale
Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase
Sparks in the Cosmic Dust by Robert Appleton
The Outlaw Bride by Kelly Boyce

November – 8
My Lord Jack by Hope Tarr
Goddess With a Blade by Lauren Dane
Captive Bride by Bonnie Dee
Everything I Know About Love I Learned From Romance Novels by Sarah Wendell
The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
Born In Fire by Nora Roberts
Born in Ice by Nora Roberts
Born In Shame by Nora Roberts

December – 7

Daring to Dream by Nora Roberts
Holding the Dream by Nora Roberts
Finding the Dream by Nora Roberts
Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Brighid’s Choice by P. C. Cast
Altered Destiny by Shawna Thomas