Best of the Year!

Happy New Year’s Eve, everyone!!!  I hope you all have lots of fun plans for tonight, and a great plan for a fresh new start in 2014.  I am actually feeling a bit under the weather, so instead of sequins and champagne I may stick with tea, flannel pajamas, and my new “Downton Abbey” DVDs, which sounds like a party to me!

I like to take a look back at the year and remember some of my favorite reads.  Here are a few books that have stayed in my mind.  (As usual, most of them end up not being romances!  I can’t read a romance novel while I’m writing one, and since i always seem to be on a deadline it doesn’t leave much time for them.  But, as you will see, I did find a few…)

I read a lot of good historical fiction!  Such as:

Queen’s Gambit by Elizabeth Fremantle–a story of Queen Catherine Parr.  Of course we all know how it’s going to end (spoiler: not well), but I love Catherine Parr, and this book was a great, suspenseful page-turner

QueensGambitCover

Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan–a story of Marie Van Goethem, the model for Degas’s famous “Little Dancer” sculpture, a vivid, fascinating look at the real bohemian life of late 19th century Paris.  One of my favorites of the year!

Painted Girls

Queen’s Vow by CW Gortner (one of the best authors of Tudor-era fiction, IMO)–the story of Isabella of Castile, one that paints her as a real person, not the easily-vilified figure we often think of now

QueensVowCover

Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton Disclafani–a posh boarding school for young ladies in the early 1930s, with the Depression crowding in on their world, and a headstrong, independent, lonely 15 year old exiled from her family.  I loved the “voice” of the narrator and the world she painted for us!

YonaRidingCover

The Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett–how could I not love this one??  It centers around bookstores and antiquarian manuscripts!  There’s also lost love, new love, and a variety of eccentric characters, moving from 1995, to the Victorians, to Shakespeare.  Just read it already!!!

BookmansTale

I also read some great non-fiction!

Two books about queens I knew about, but didn’t actually know much about–and they turned out to be much more complex than I thought.  Elizabeth of York by Alison Weir and Queen Anne by Anne Somerset…

ElizOfYork

QueenAnneCover

The Pinecone: The Story of Sarah Losh, Forgotten Romantic Heroine by Jenny Uglow–I love finding stories of historical figures I’ve never “met” before!  Sarah Losh was an early Victorian heiress from Cumbria, from a large, fascinating family, and also an amateur antiquarian and architect.

PineconeCover

I did find a couple of romance novels to rave about, too!!!  (I’ve been reading romance for soooo long, I think it just takes longer for me to lose myself in a story now.  So when I do, i know it’s very, very good…)

For the Love of a Soldier by Victoria Morgan–gambling!  A heroine disguised as a boy!  A hero suffering from PTSD from the Charge of the Light Brigade!  I ate it up…

MorganCover

Rumors That Ruined a Lady by Marguerite Kaye–a scandal-ridden heroine, saved by the hero from an opium den!  Fab opening, and the story just races on from there.

RumorsKaye

I haven’t seen many new movies this year (have a lot to catch up on!), but I loved Joss Whedon’s charming Much Ado About Nothing, and I just saw American Hustle last weekend.  I may have to see it again…

MuchA

AmricanHustle

What was your favorite from 2013???  What are you looking forward to in 2014?

About Amanda McCabe/Laurel McKee

Writer (as Amanda McCabe, Laurel McKee, Amanda Carmack), history geek, yoga enthusiast, pet owner!
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