Turning The Page . . .

Cara/Andrea here,

Books4 Well, we’re almost at the end of the traditional Twelve Days of Christmas. Tomorrow is celebrated by many Christians as the day that the Three Wise Men arrived in Bethlehem and presented their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the baby Jesus. So, it marks an end to the holiday merrymaking—a time to take a last slurp of champagne, a last bite of fruitcake and refocus on the year ahead, which lays before us like a brand-new notebook, the pages still pristine white and waiting to be filled with our daily scribbles.

Books1 I’ve done the usual reflection on resolutions. My list has a lot of little—and not so little—things I want to accomplish in the coming months. Some are wishful thinking (Oh, if only I could lean to write faster!) Some are tedious chores (organize household bills, clean up files—I’m executrix of my mother’s estate so have extra paperwork to deal with) And some are more fun endeavors. Like going over the hefty pile of books that has accumulated in my writing room, and sorting the just-finished ones go to the storage bookshelves in the attic and the TBR to keep close.

So I thought I’d share a few random thoughts on book I loved in 2010 and books I’m looking forward to reading in the first months of 2011.

It goes without saying that the books of my fellow Wenches were all a source of much pleasure—and much inspiration—in 2010. The incredible talents of my wonderful friends make me sigh, and keeps me striving to get better with my own writing. So a heartfelt huzzah to Jo, Joanna, Nicola, Anne, Susan, Mary Jo and Pat. Being part of this amazing group (including our multi-talented webmistress Sherrie!) is a source of great joy throughout the year.

Book2 Now, on to the rest of the pile. In looking at the stack waiting to be carried up to the attic, I see a few things that deserve special mention. I was late coming to Steig Larsson’s The  Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I’m not a huge Noir fan but I really loved the trilogy. And for some reason, I had never gotten around to reading Bernard Cornwall’s Sharpe novels. Ha—it took me a couple of months, but I went through every single book. Pure bliss, combining swashbuckling adventure with wonderful period detail. I’m also a huge historical mystery fan and Ireally enjoyed the latest books by Tasha Alexander, Lauren Willig and Deanna Raybourn. As for nonfiction, I adored Richard Holmes’s The Age of Wonder! And David King's 1814, which recounts the Congress of Vienna (more on that later this month) is already dog-earred from all my constant rereadings. It served as a fabulous research resource for two books I wrote in the past year.

Books3 Turning to the TBR, I have both fiction and nonfiction awaiting. I recently picked up several titles that look really interesting. The Vertigo Years is all about Europe 1900-1914, and looks fascinating. I’m toying with some Edwardian-era ideas so think it will be great background.) Sailing back a few centuries, I am also intrigued to start Pirates of the Barbary, which focuses on the tumultuous Mediterranean during the 1600s. Other interesting research books include a history of opium and a history of cotton. Oh, and Peter Ackroyd's Thames, The Biography just arrived from the Edward Hamilton catalogue.

I’ve also got Wolf Hall waiting. I’ve peeked at the first chapter, and find the writing style a little daunting. But will give it a try. On New Year's day, I kicked off 2011 by delving a new genre—steampunk! I had been hearing great things about The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook and am finding it very cool. (I would love to write a steampunk story someday, but I'm not sure I'm smart enough to create all the tech stuff!) I’m also looking forward to delving into more of my favorite historical mystery writers. Charles Finch, who writes a very charming low-key Victorian series, has a new one called A Stranger in Mayfair, and C.S. Harris has a new Sebastian St. Cyr book coming out in March.

Those are just a few of the books that have caught my fancy lately. How about you? Any real favorites from last year? And what’s on the top of your TBR read for the start of 2011?