Interesting Options for Setting Reading Goals… and Why You Should

From expanding your vocabulary to boosting your brain activity to just being downright entertaining, reading has a plethora of benefits.

BooksTabletThis is the time of year when most people decide on what changes to make in their life and what they want to accomplish in the coming year. If reading more is anywhere on your resolution list, you might want to consider setting a solid goal for yourself.

If reading isn’t on your list anywhere, I refer you back to the first sentence of this article for reasons why it should be.

Here are a few ideas for setting and reaching a reading goal:

 

By Stephan Brunker from Wikimedia Commons

1. Set a Number

This is a pretty common, traditional way to set a reading goal. Do you want to read 20 books this year? 52? 100? Maybe you don’t read much and just want to increase to reading a book a month.

Whatever your number is, make sure it’s reasonable. If you take weeks to finish a book, don’t shoot for 100.

 

Help for Achieving Number Goals:

* Track your reading on a site/app like Goodreads or Shelfari. Pick your favorite book tracking site and log your reading. This will make it easier to remember what you’ve read.

Set your reading goal on Goodreads to keep track of it.
Set your reading goal on Goodreads to keep track of it.

* Make a sticker chart. Remember those charts when you were a kid? You got gold stars for anything and everything your teacher or parent could think of rewarding you for. Your inner child probably still finds some satisfaction in those gold stars. Print out a chart with a spot for each book you want to read. Then mark it off with a sticker when you finish it.

2. Expand Your Genres

Maybe numbers aren’t a problem. You’re constantly reading, but most if not all of those books fall into the same general genre. You might consider setting a non-fiction goal or an out-of-the-norm novel goal.

Help for achieving genre expansion goals: 

* You can set a ratio goal such as one non-fiction book for every three novels. One caution on this one: I tried this about three years ago and I ended up not reading anything for months because I was struggling so badly to get through the non-fiction book I’d chosen. Don’t let that happen to you.

* Consider joining a book club. If you join a monthly book club and commit to reading whatever book they are reading, it will pull you out of your comfort genre and make you try other things. Plus you’ll get he camaraderie of a book club. Try googling book clubs in your area or search for one on The Book Club Network. Goodreads also has a large assortment of online book clubs. You can also google online book clubs by specific genre you are hoping to expand into.

3. Use a Non-numeral Gauge

Maybe numbers aren’t your thing. You might have trouble grasping your progress on a numeral scale. Join Jon Acuff on his Empty Shelf Challenge. The concept is fairly simple. Empty out a bookshelf and read until you’ve filled it back up again. There’s even a Pinterest support group.

The empty shelf challenge on pinterest
The Empty Shelf Challenge on Pinterest

What are the benefits to this? You’re in a group with people of various reading speeds. Some are doing audio books, others are putting eBooks on a virtual shelf. Some are already on book five while others are still working on book one. Some devour non-fiction self-enrichment books while others read business books and still others almost exclusively read novels.

Unlike a normal book club, people are reading whatever they want, so you might get some good book recommendations. I know I have.

Other non-numeral challenges can be found on places such as Goodreads. Some I’ve seen in the past year:

* The Rainbow Challenge: Where your book covers have to make a rainbow OR books with the colors of the rainbow in the title.

* The State Challenge: Read books set in each state.

* The Dewey Decimal Challenge: For the non-fiction lover, read a book for each fifty number chunk of the Dewey Decimal system.

4. Use a Timer

Maybe all you really want or need is to make reading a priority in your life. Set aside a time to read every day. Thirty minutes, fifteen, maybe even an hour. Don’t worry about how many books you get through, just enjoy the time and benefits of reading.

 

Are you setting a reading goal?

If you’re looking for a good place to start, check out any of the books on our Inspirational Regencies list, particularly those by your favorite Regency Reflections author. You can also look back through our December posts for some recommendations on traditional regencies. And keep an eye on this blog throughout the year as we tell you about more great Regency-set books.

Looking for something outside the Regency? Two of our authors just published a couple of non-Regency books that will still warm your heart and given you an enjoyable read. Check them out.

The Nonesuch

I’ve enjoyed reading this month’s posts about “keeper” regencies—those stories we go back and reread. Even though we’re familiar with the story line and it’s hero and heroine, we once again fall prey to its magic as we open to page one.nonesuch_sml

One of my favorite regencies, which I revisit every couple of years or so, is Georgette Heyer’s The Nonesuch. I’ve loved all the Georgette Heyer regencies I’ve read, but a few stand out. I think this latest reread may be my fourth of The Nonesuch. Why is it so special? As Laurie Alice Eakes wrote in an earlier post about her favorite regency, the story line is not terribly unique. In The Nonesuch, the heroine is the classic poor, yet well-educated and high-born, lady, a bit past her prime (aka marriageable age) at 26. The hero is “top-of-the-trees” (aka out of her league). They meet by chance in a village way up in Yorkshire, where she is governess to a spoiled beauty.  He is the typical perfect catch who at 35 has not yet been caught by any woman of marriageable age. He is also a Corinthian, which means he is an athlete, excelling at all the sports popular with regency bucks. The heroine is suspicious of Corinthians because of those who engage in the regency version of extreme sports (like racing their high-perch phaetons), often leading younger men astray. But she is hard-pressed not to be impressed with this Corinthian, who is not only handsome, but considerate, mature, thoughtful, and with a sense of humor to match her own. He also singles her out, so no matter how much she tries to guard her heart, it’s a losing battle from the starting line.

The Nonesuch is a classic Cinderella tale of an impoverished heroine winning her prince’s heart. I am sure I will be rereading it again sometime in the future as well as other Georgette Heyer regencies (Frederica and Faro’s Daughter come to mind).

Last month I blogged here about revisiting and re-editing a regency of my own, The Rogue’s Redemption. It’s now available online at Amazon. Here is a copy of the cover:

What do you think of this rogue’s killer blue eyes? Does the heroine stand a chance?

raxtell_roguesredemption

 

For a description of this and other books by Ruth Axtell, visit her website at www.ruthaxtell.com

Ruth Axtell (2)

“Gentleman Rogue”,Traditional Regency book reviewed by Susan Karsten

Prepping for this post, I read “Gentleman Rogue” by Barbara Neil, for the third time. I am not usually a re-reader of books, favorites or not. My Regency reading habit is voracious, but I don’t keep the books, unless they are VERY special — I just don’t have the shelf space. Most of my Regency shelf is taken up by paperback editions written by my two favorite authors. Far down to the right end are the other ‘keeper’ books and that is where “Gentleman Rogue” resides.

Front & Back covers
(the blurb does not do it justice)

Quite often, the best traditional Regency books are the ones published by Signet. “Gentleman Rogue”, written by Barbara Neil, however, was published by Harlequin in 1993.

The book is intelligent and hilarious. Enough so that I was willing to read it a third time for this blog, and my husband can attest that I was laughing (chortling) out loud last night.

Hero: Ryder Starr, Heroine: Aurora Valentin (her nickname is little Miss Bishop). The preposterous, yet entertaining premise is that hero Ryder Starr is going around trying to cause scandals which he hopes get back to his nefarious inheritance-stealing cousin. He hopes the cousin will pay him off, via his share of the inheritance, to stop the embarrassing contretemps. His path crosses with the lovely and high-minded Aurora Valentin, and sparks fly, with her resisting all the way.

A favorite quote from “Gentleman Rogue”:

“Perfection is one of those ideals that may have been conceived solely

in order to be dashed.”

This quote is my personal favorite from this book, because I have frequently thought or said similar sentiments.

I have been reading Regencies for about twenty years. I get most of mine at used book stores/sales, thrift stores, and at the library. I enjoy the setting and social mores, and appreciate that most traditional Regencies are “clean” and not full of bedroom scenes, infidelity, and immorality.

I hope you can lay your hands on “Gentleman Rogue” ~ it’s highly enjoyable.

P.S. I believe Barbara Neil also wrote under the name Barbara Sherrod.

 

Naomi here, with a couple of Regency novels to add to your Christmas reading list.

I’ve long been a fan of inspirational romance novels, but I must admit Regency Romance is a rather new addition to my romance collection. The Lady of Milkweed Manor was the first inspirational Regency novel I ever read, followed closely by The Silent Governess. Both are by the same author, Julie Klassen. And while these novels don’t have some of the overt romance that some other Regency stories do, they both do a good job of combining mystery, history, and yes, a touch of romance.

Here’s the description for The Lady of Milkweed Manor:LadyOfMilkweedManor

Even a proper vicar’s daughter can make a mistake…and now Charlotte Lamb must pay a high price for her fall. To avoid the prying eyes of all who know her, she hides herself away in London’s forbidding “Milkweed Manor,” a place of mystery and lore, of old secrets and new birth.

But once there, she comes face to face with a suitor from her past–a man who now hides secrets of his own. Both are determined, with God’s help, to protect those they love. But neither can imagine the depth of sacrifice that will be required.

Scandal, ruin, secrecy, mystery. It’s all very “Regency,” even down to the details of a rich lord taking advantage of a naive young miss. Julie Klassen’s third book, The Silent Governess, is much the same way, and it went on to win some rather prestigious inspirational romance awards. Here’s more about that book:

The Silent GovernessBelieving herself guilty of a crime, Olivia Keene flees her home, eventually stumbling upon a grand estate where an elaborate celebration is in progress. But all is not as joyous as it seems.

Lord Bradley has just learned a terrible secret, which, if exposed, will change his life forever. When he glimpses a figure on the grounds, he fears a spy or thief has overheard his devastating news. He is stunned to discover the intruder is a scrap of a woman with her throat badly injured. Fearing she will spread his secret, he gives the girl a post and confines her to his estate. As Olivia and Lord Bradley’s secrets catch up with them, will their hidden pasts ruin their hope of finding love?

So there you have it, another inspirational Regency filled with secrecy, mystery, class strife, and a bit of love. Both of these stories create a perfect place for inspirational romance and Regency novels to meet. If you’re interested in learning more about this author, we did an interview with Julie Klassen almost two years ago.

Since I won’t be blogging again before Christmas, I hope you all have a very merry one, filled with family, food, and lots of time for reading! 😀

The Miser of Mayfair ~ A Regency Read

Kristi here.

I didn’t grow up reading a lot of Regency books. It wasn’t until I was nearly twenty that I discovered the era and fell in love with it as a story setting. As I studied the authors that I fell in love with, I discovered a whole list of traditional Regency writers that inspired the authors I knew.

My list of books to look up is long, but I will be forever thankful to the friend who pointed me to Marion Chesney.

Her A House for the Season series was recommended to me and I pass that recommendation on to you.

The first book in the series is The Miser of Mayfair. It isn’t your typical set-up.

The Miser of Mayfair by Marion ChesneyThe setting for the series is a home in London, available to rent but plagued with bad luck. This makes the rent ridiculously low, something Mr. Roderick Sinclair needs desperately if he’s going to take his ward to London for the Season.

The ward, Fiona, is not your typical heroine either. It’s very possible that she is a good bit more than she initially appears to be. Which is a good thing, because if she’s going to make a good match, she has an enormous amount of obstacles to overcome. Not the least of which is a lack of funds, connections, or proper wardrobe.

Enter the wily butler, Rainbird, who plots with Fiona to make her and the beleaguered staff of Number 67 Clarges Street a success.

For me, the book was a refreshing look at the Regency world. The style, plot, and story structure are very different than books I see published today, but that only adds to the story’s charm for me.

Unless you’re lucky enough to find an old copy in a bookstore, The Miser of Mayfair is only available through a Kindle reader. If you’re looking for a fun, easy read while you travel this month, give it a try. If you are an Amazon Prime member, you can even borrow it for free.

Have you read The Miser of Mayfair or one of Marion Chesney’s other Regencies? What did you think?

Regency Research

I have been editing and proofreading a manuscript I published some years ago, to which I have recently received the publisher’s rights back. I am going over the story in order to self-publish it as an e-book on Amazon. What strikes me about rereading a story written a while ago is how much research goes into writing a regency—or any historical, for that matter. When one is in the process of writing it, one takes this for granted. But when you read it long afterward, it’s enough to make you shake your head. Did I really know all that stuff?

In this story, which takes place in London ballrooms, a country estate, and on the U.S. frontier of Maine, I had to research both the social mores of regency society, the low-class pastimes of regency rakes (cockfighting, gambling, etc.), the sports that the athletic sorts– aka Corinthians–indulged in, before turning to the fledgling settlements of “the Maine Territory,” and the wealth being generated from its pine forests.

So, you can see that a whole range of information was needed in order to build the framework for the love story between my hero and heroine.

Take the gambling game of faro, for example. I’d read enough Georgette Heyer regencies to be somewhat familiar with the game, but I never knew until I researched it that it was played on a board, upon which the cards were laid out like so:

Farolayout
Layout of a Faro Board. Source: Wikipedia

I was fortunate to be able to take a trip to England during the researching of this book. Not only did I visit the London Museum, which has a wealth of information and artifacts on everyday life in the city over the centuries, but I also discovered a wonderful mansion not too far outside of London. This estate served as a model for the setting of a house party in my story. I was able to tour the rooms and grounds and get the layout for my hero and heroine’s stay at a fictionalized version of Osterley Park. As I walked the area, my plot grew.

Osterley_Park_House,_London-25June2009-rc
Osterley Park House, London. Source: Wikipedia

Lastly I needed to research the city of Bangor, Maine and the logging industry of 1815, before Maine had its statehood. It was still a part of Massachusetts and known as the Maine Territory. But following the War of 1812, those involved in the lumber industry were making a sizable profit cutting down the majestic pine trees of the Maine forests and selling them for ship masts, lumber, and shingles both to Europe and to the American cities farther south. My plot advanced as I imagined my hero going from the ballrooms of London to the rough lumber camps of the Maine woods in winter, then risking his neck on a river drive in spring as the picture below depicts:

lumbermen
Selections from Picturesque Canada, An Affectionate Look Back, Sketch no. 40, 1882-85, Pandora Publishing Company, Victoria, B.C.

Of course my hero is a former soldier, who survived the Battle of Waterloo, so he is used to danger. But as a Redcoat among Yankees, he must face many challenges before being accepted into the ranks of the lumbermen. All for the sake of winning the girl.

I hope those who read the updated version of A Rogue’s Redemption will enjoy both the historical detail as well as the timeless love story.

 

 

A Reluctant Courtship Grand Prize Winner

We are happy to announce that “Lis” is the winner of the Reluctant Courtship Grand Prize. Lis left a comment on Thursday, October 17, about how much she likes when authors share about their spiritual journeys and how authors then incorporate those journeys into their novels.

Congratulations, Lis!

Tea cup and saucer

Thanks to everyone who participated in our Reluctant Courtship Contest. Several of you also won gift cards:

Monday, Oct 14: Marianne

A Reluctant Courtship
A Reluctant Courtship

Thursday, Oct 17: Martha J Strum

Monday, Oct 21: Melody D.

Thursday, Oct 24: Camille

For all the participants who stopped by and showed interest in A Reluctant Courtship, we enjoyed chatting with you. Thank you so very much for your interest both in Regency Reflections and A Reluctant Courtship. If you’d like to learn more about the novel or Laurie Alice Eakes and her other books, please visit her website at www.LaurieAliceEakes.com.

From Acceptance to Exile: A Reluctant Courtship and Give-Away

In writing classes, we are taught to make things as bad for our characters as we can. Honore should have been easy. In A Necessary Deception, in which she made her debut into society, and in A Flight of Fancy, where she rusticates in the country with her injured sister, Honore managed to make things terrible enough for herself.

But I wanted to make her situation even worse!

A Reluctant CourtshipLord Bainbridge, the father of the three sisters, is an autocratic man, a political animal who wants things the way he wants them. He manipulates his children to his will as much as he can, and he can do a great deal. But Honore is the baby and pretty and lively and a daddy’s girl. She got away with too much. Daddy cleaned up her messes for her.

So I had to take her daddy away from her.

And then we introduce Americus Poole (Meric to his friends) now Lord Ashmoor. Most men fall at Honore’s feet. Ashmoor looks at her like most of us view rattle snakes—the further away the better. He has his own issues, and Honore’s presence in his life will only make them worse. After all, a man under suspicion of treason cannot be involved with a young lady with a questionable reputation.

Beyond the romance and adventure that springs from Honore and Ashmoor’s stories is the theme of exile. Honore has been exiled from her family and from society because of her past mistakes. In turn, this physical exile makes her feel exiled from God. Everything that happens to her seems to indicate that God has rejected her, and this rejection of the heart and spirit drives her decisions and actions until her very life hangs on the edge.

Cliffs_Clovelly_Coast_West
Cliffs in North Devon (Wikipedia image)

As with Cassandra in A Flight of Fancy, I related to Honore’s spiritual struggle. I attended a Christian college and my friends were going off to be doctors and pastors, and the wives of doctors and pastors. I, however, had no calling that I saw. I interpreted this as God rejecting me. The decisions I made over the next several years—most of them terrible—stemmed from this sense of exile from God.

The simple response is that God doesn’t reject us; we reject him. Romans 8:38-39 assures us that nothing separates us from the love of God. Yet what I had to learn, what Honore has to learn, is that we often have to be taken out of our comfort zone of the life we think we want or should have, to circumstances we can’t control, for the Lord to shape us into the people we are intended to be to thus serve him better.

I hope you enjoy Honore’s journey back from exile.

For a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card today, answer the question below in the comment section. Your name will also be entered into our Regency Gift Package Giveaway in honor of the release of A Reluctant Courtship. The giveaway includes another gift card, a tea cup, and chocolate.

What types of things do you like to learn from authors? For example: How they work, their non writing life, their spiritual life…

A Reluctant Courtship Contest and Giveaway

A Reluctant CourtshipI’m excited to introduce a new Regency novel today. It’s entitled A Reluctant Courtship and is written by Regency Reflection’s own Laurie Alice Eakes.

To celebrate the release of A Reluctant Courtship, we’re running a special two week long contest. Starting today through Monday, October 28, we’ll feature thought-provoking questions at the end of each post and giving away a $10 gift card to either Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) to one person who answers that day’s question. Your name will also be entered into our Regency Grand Prize giveaway.

The Grand Prize will include:Tea cup and saucer

  • A tea cup
  • A box of tea
  • A box of chocolates
  • A $10.00 Amazon or Barnes and Noble

Before we get to today’s question, let me tell you more about A Reluctant Courtship, and why I enjoyed reading it so much.

Honore Bainbridge has been courted by two men, one of whom turned out to be a traitor, the other a murderer. Banished to her family’s country estate, where she will hopefully stay out of trouble, she finally meets the man she is sure is exactly right for her: Lord Ashmoor. Tall, dark, and handsome–what more could a girl ask for? But he too is under suspicion because of his American upbringing and accusations that he has helped French and American prisoners escape from Dartmoor Prison. For his part, Lord Ashmoor needs a wife beyond reproach, which Honore certainly is not. Amid a political climate that is far from friendly, Honore determines to help Ashmoor prove his innocence–if she can do so and stay alive.

From the rocky cliffs of Devonshire, England, comes the exciting conclusion to the lush Daughters of Bainbridge House series. Award-winning author Laurie Alice Eakes thrusts her readers into high drama from the very first sentence and keeps them on their toes until the final page.

Laurie Alice EakesA Flight of Fancy has generated recommendations from places such as Booklist, which said: “Eakes seamlessly blends romance and intrigue, faith and history.”

I’d have to agree with Booklist about how wonderfully Eakes blended romance, suspense, history, and faith in A Reluctant Courtship. I also loved how Honore struggled as a woman who had made past mistakes and ruined her reputation, but with God’s help, she was able to overcome those mistakes and restore her good name by the end of the novel.

Today’s question: When you hear the words “Regency romance” what comes into your head?

Remember to leave your answer in the comment section below to be eligible for both today’s gift card as well as a chance to win the grand prize. Then come back Thursday for Laurie Alice Eakes’s post on what it’s like to write a Regency novel plus another chance to win.

The Love of Reading in the Young

The beauty of books is that they can transport you anywhere and anytime. During the Regency (and indeed many, many years before and after) reading was a past time enjoyed by the whole family.

Before television and radio became the focus of family entertainment, books had the ability to share stories and start conversations. We’ve talked before on this blog about books, including how they were bought or borrowed during the Regency and how we fell in love with reading in the first place.

This past week, I’ve been privileged to see a love of reading blooming in younger generations. My eldest daughter is starting to enjoy the story complexity of longer, chapter-style books while my youngest son had begun carrying picture books around in case a lap becomes available. A teenager I work with recently asked me for a list of author suggestions as she transitions from YA books. As a book lover myself, I get excited to see children and teens finding the same love.

Books are the perfect place for young, creative minds to grow. They realized this even in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. This is when the children’s book as we know it began to exist.

Illustrated books with two to six lines of writing on each page appeared in the late 1700s. John Newbury, who is honored annually in America with the Newbury Medal, began publishing these happy books to fill a growing need in children’s literature.

By the Regency, children’s books became more involved, more targeted. Some even had movable parts, such as an illustrated dolls head or arms moving.

Perhaps it was this surge in the idea of children’s literature that propelled the success of the Grimm Brothers. Late in the Regency, the Grimm Brothers began publishing their collections of German folklore. They were very popular in England as children fell in love with Snow White and Rumpelstiltskin.

In August we celebrated Jane Austen and the role she played in the modern romance. It is interesting to know how much modern children’s literature was influenced by authors from the time as well.

What was your favorite children’s book? Were you a lover of fairy tales?