Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Reading with Betty Sutapa

Reading Habits of a Betty

Image result for the road goes ever on and on

  1. Introduce yourself (Be as vague or as specific as you like).
Hello everyone! Betty Sutapa here! I am a mom, wife, and homemaker. I grew up in India and received
my B.A. from Delhi University. I was a high school teacher in India for five and a half years. Thereafter, I
moved to the U.S. as a graduate student, received my M.A. in Economics, and taught undergraduate and
associate degree students in the U.S. for nearly six and a half years. I have loved being a teacher. My
students in both countries were simply awesome! I am still in touch with many of them on Facebook.
Betty Sutapa was the kind of teacher you wouldn't forget.
I got married to my Professor, and after my daughter was born, decided to stay home to raise her. I felt
blessed that I was able to make this choice. Once we decided to settle down in the U.S., we moved to
Middle Georgia with my husband’s job. We have lived here for almost nineteen years! I love small towns
and we have enjoyed raising our daughter here, among wonderful friends. She is now a junior in college
(speaks three languages, reads everything under the sun, is a really gifted writer, and is a huge Jane Austen

I have managed to nurture the passion for reading through all the busy years of my life. I was thrilled to
discover all you wonderful and smart Bettys on TUJD. It’s been such a joy to discuss so many interesting
topics every day! Thank you, Betty Keira, for giving us this opportunity to introduce ourselves on TUJD
and share our reading habits with kindred spirits. I love to travel, have tea with my friends, bargain shop
like a true Araminta, cook, and decorate my home. I am also a germaphobe and a neat freak. (The
Professor’s favorite mode of addressing me: “YOU’RE CRAZY!!!)
Working Theory:
Betty Sutapa is Ferris Bueller.
  1. When did you start reading Betty Neels?
My first TGB book was Cobweb Morning (high school, grade forgotten). I really liked it, but I was reading
so many genres at that time, that I did not read her entire work in quick succession. I read a lot of Mills
and Boon too, but it was a mix of authors. A few were bought from local bookshops, but the rest were
mostly borrowed from our school library. It should come as no surprise that I resumed my journey with
Betty after joining TUJD. Most of my books were bought after that date. So far, I have collected 109 Betty
books on Kindle and in paperback. I have not read all of them yet.

  1. What is your favorite book (s) and why?  
Tough question. The Promise of Happiness and A Gentle Awakening run very close. Strong heroines who
win against the heaviest odds, gentle giant heroes (when not in a towering rage) who love family and
children, rich descriptions of England and Holland, tons of yummy food, lovely FFRs, jugs of lemonade
(the decline and fall of Wanda the Witch), and delightful HEAs - classic Betty recipes for coziness make
these books my favorites. I also like A Girl to Love, Damsel in Green, and Only by Chance. Same reasons.

  1. Least favorite and why?
So far, Sun and Candlelight is my least favorite. I find the cruel behavior of the children very disturbing.
And their nanny is very scary too! I did not care much for All Else Confusion either -heroine too doormatty
and hero too pompous. He comes across as a, “I did you a favor by marrying you,” kind of guy. Not my
cup of cozy tea, I am afraid.
Coziness will always play in BettyLand

  1. What appeals to you about Betty Neels novels and why do you find yourself
attached to them?
They are books for lazy weekends. Or for bedtime reading in a quiet house. They are daydreamy books
you enjoy with hot tea. There’s dignity, chivalry, kindness, and love in Betty’s novels which soothe and
delight us. They show privileged and ordinary people’s lives in juxtaposition. And yet, the rich hero and
the often-poor heroine, share similar values in what really matters for lasting happiness. It’s not the
woman coming from the hero’s world who wins his love. It’s the woman from a very different world that
he decides to spend his life with. How fabulous that good folks end up happy in the end! (The Nigels,
Veronicas, and horrible family members just fade away from the scene…yay!!!). Add to this vivid travel
diaries, clothes shopping, the comforts of home and family, FFRs, and the often humorous and accurate
descriptions of the lives of doctors and nurses-what a perfect recipe for a delightful, clean book! No one
does it quite like Betty Neels.

  1. What is your favorite genre (s) to read?
Classics, mystery, historical romance, and humorous fiction are my favorites. I like poetry and short stories

  1. Do you have a favorite book (s) in any of these genres?
  • Children’s/Picture Book – Asterix, Tintin, Winnie the Pooh, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and 1,001 Arabian

  • Classics – All of Jane Austen, The Mill on the Floss, Far from the Madding Crowd, Jane Eyre, Little
Women, Gone with the Wind, and most of Shakespeare  

  • Mystery – All of Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Dystopian – All of Ayn Rand, and Brave New World
(I am also a huge Star Trek and Star Wars fan)

  • Biography/Autobiography – The Diary of Anne Frank, The Footsteps of Anne Frank
  • Non-Fiction – Travel books (love Rick Steves’ Europe on PBS)
  • YA – Anne of Green Gables, The Hunger Games Trilogy, and The Giver
  • Poetry – W. de la Mare, W. Wordsworth, R. Frost, R. W. Emerson, Rumi, and R. Tagore
  • Short Stories – Guy de Maupassant, Anton Chekov, and F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Other – The Prophet (Kahlil Gibran), The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho), The Thorn Birds
(Colleen McCullough), all of Victoria Holt, Georgette Heyer, P.G. Wodehouse, and Leon Uris

  1. What are the five books you would take if you were stranded on a deserted
  1. P.G. Wodehouse boxed set – (when the airline restricts luggage, I get devious…hope Betty Keira
won’t mind )
I love Book-Babies too.

  1. Emma – Jane Austen
  2. The Promise of Happiness/A Gentle Awakening – Betty Neels
  3. Exodus – Leon Uris
  4. The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho/The Prophet - Kahlil Gibran

  1. Where do you do most of your reading?
At the breakfast bar, with a cup of cardamom tea and tea biscuits. Also, at night in bed.  Strangely,
reading on flights and in cars gives me a headache. I watch light movies instead, when available.

  1. What books are in your TBR pile? (Too many to list, but here’s some of them)
Middlemarch – George Eliot, The Age of Innocence – Edith Wharton, My Cousin Rachel – Daphne du
Maurier, The Good Earth – Pearl S. Buck, And Quiet Flows the Don – Mikhail Sholokhov, and A Thousand
Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini. Also, anything by John Grisham, and maybe other modern authors
recommended by the Bettys here.  

  1. Do you listen to books? Any favorites on Audible?
I read reviews about them often, but have not tried any yet. Not sure whether I would like them.

  1. Do you have any memories of being read to or reading with others?
My family had a great tradition of reading to children and storytelling by elders in my childhood.
My mom would read to us a lot, and to a lesser extent, my dad. But the most spectacular of them all
was a favorite uncle who had also been a freedom fighter under the British colonization. He was a big
fan of Jim Corbett’s stories. Summer vacations found us all (cousins etc.) in our grandparents’ home,
sitting on the floor in a semi-circle, mesmerized by his narration of how the great hunter, Jim Corbett,
had delivered men and livestock in remote Indian villages from ferocious tigers.
Tigers! I know I would be mesmerized.
I have such fond memories of those family story times! It was also the stage of my life when I began to
read the works of famous Indian authors in Bengali and Hindi.

  1. What book was the first one to ignite your interest in reading?
As far back as I can remember, first Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and then the journey with Enid Blyton. Her first
book that I read was The Mystery of the Tally-Ho Cottage. I never looked back. I had finished 90% of her
work by 5th or 6th grade, and moved on to Nancy Drew, and the Classics. After that, I just read whatever
caught my fancy, and I do the same even to this day.

  1. What’s a book (s) you find yourself constantly recommending?
The Razor’s Edge (W. Somerset Maugham), The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho), Trinity, Exodus (Leon Uris),
Sense and Sensibility (Jane Austen), and The Mill on the Floss (George Eliot).

“So often, in the past as well, a visit to a bookshop has cheered me up and reminded me that there
are good things in the world.” Vincent van Gogh

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Reading with Betty Lucina

Introduce yourself (Be as vague or as specific as you like.)
Hello, I am Betty Lucina. 
When did you start reading Betty Neels?
I stumbled on one book I fell in love with about 15 years ago.
What is your favorite book(s) and why?
I cannot say for certain, maybe The Secret Pool

I love it too!
Least favorite and why? 
Cannot say for certain
What appeals to you about Betty Neels novels and why do you find yourself attached to them?
They are cozy, and the detail is breath taking and the women are really nice. 

What is your favorite genre(s) to read?
Usually Non-Fiction

Do you have a favorite book in any of these genres?
  • Children's/Picture book  Velveteen Rabbit
  • Classics To kill a mocking bird
  • Mystery An then there were none
  • Sci-fi/Fantasy Through The looking glass
  • Biography/Autobiography Mindy Kahlings books and Augusten Burroughs 
  • Non-fiction  Holy-Blood Holy Grail
  • YA Twilight lol 
Is Betty Lucina Team Edward or Team Jacob?
What are the five books you would take if you were stranded on a deserted island? 
( see above) 
Where do you do most of your reading?
On couch
What books are in your to-be-read pile?
Mostley stuff on Aliens TBH
Do you listen to books? Any favorites on Audible?
Do you have any memories of being read to or reading with others? No, although my mom read to me a lot. Sometimes even her Harlequins
"She sat back against the leather seats as his great, socking Bentley ate up the miles..."

What book was the first one to ignite your interest in reading? 
Babysitters Club

What's a book you find yourself constantly recommending?
Celestine Prophecy 

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Reading with Betty Melissa

Introduce yourself (Be as vague or as specific as you like.)
I’m a librarian living in the Midwest of the United States.  I’m a lifelong reader, a trait I think I inherited from my mother.  I’m also an avid amasser of books. If I find a topic that interests me even a little, it isn’t odd for me to buy a book (or five) on the topic to learn more.  I have no idea how many books I currently own, but it’s a lot.
Betty Melissa likes books the way some people like breathing.
When did you start reading Betty Neels?
Not too long ago, less than ten years ago.  I was going through a bad patch with a lot of trauma and stress in
my life.  My father was ill and my job at the time was toxic. I found a refuge in reading “comfort reads”,
which I really hadn’t done before.  I’d seen Betty’s name mentioned in various lists of recommended authors
but was very smug and thought a Harlequin writer could never be any good.  I was wrong. Very, very wrong.
The story I love to tell:  I was at a library book sale and somebody had apparently donated their Betty Neels
collection.  I hesitantly picked up one book and bought it, thinking that if I didn’t like it no harm no foul.  
And if I did, I would go back and buy a few more. I read the book—it was The Vicar’s Daughter—and went
back and bought every other Betty Neels book there.  Roughly 65 total. It was a great start to my collection!
Sixty-five books, sir. Sixty-five. It IS all flowers and fairytales.
What is your favorite book(s) and why?
Favorite Betty Neels: The Promise of Happiness.  And it snuck up on me. I read it, moved on, didn’t think
much about it.  Then I ran across the Jersey Dress blog and was struck by how much the book was loved in
the review and the comments.  So I read it again and found that the heroine had to be the strongest, most
resilient of all of Betty’s gals, the vast majority of which are incredibly strong.  Plus I loved the hero, the plot,
the pets, and slimy Basil.

Other Betty Neels books I love: Dearest Love, The Magic of Living, Caroline’s Waterloo, Winter Wedding,
The Gemel Ring, Damsel in Green, Tabitha in Moonlight, Pineapple Girl, and one of Betty’s oddities without
a doctor hero, A Girl To Love.

Other books…far too many to list.  My favorite authors are D.E. Stevenson, Anne Hepple, Elizabeth Cadell,
Raymond Jacberns, Mrs. Alfred Sidgwick, and Mable Barnes-Grundy…most of which will have people saying
“who”?  I love authors who wrote in the first half of the last century, from 1900 to about 1950. The home
front of both wars is a special fascination for me. Stevenson, Hepple, and Cadell all write lovely family
stories with a romantic element.  For strong heroines, you don’t get better than Jacberns, Sidgwick, and
Barnes-Grundy, and considering they are all writing around of the turn of the last century, that’s pretty
amazing. I don’t usually like male authors but love Nevil Shute and Nigel Balchin.  
Least favorite and why?
I hate to say it, but any time a book has awards it won listed on it is an immediate turn off for me.  I read
largely for entertainment, and the authors I love aren’t the sorts to win awards. Nothing against those
books, but they just aren’t for me.
Life is too short to be bored to tears.
What appeals to you about Betty Neels novels and why do you find yourself attached to them?
The heroines.  Nearly every Betty heroine is a strong, resilient, intelligent woman who gets things done.  
Even if they seem “weak” they aren’t. They tend to know exactly what they want, and aren’t afraid to stand
up for themselves.  Romance novel heroines are often dismissed as weak or silly. I think anybody who reads
Betty Neels will know this is nonsense. From what I’ve read of Betty’s real life, she herself was a strong,
resilient, intelligent woman who got things done…so it isn’t surprising that is the kind of woman she wrote
On top of that, Betty had a brilliant way with a descriptive phrase.  “She swung around in a whirl of pink
dressing gown” from The Magic of Living is one of my favorite examples.  Just lovely.
Top all that off with wonderful travelogues of England and the Netherlands, fascinating descriptions of food,
and great descriptions of clothes!
What is your favorite genre(s) to read?
What is generally referred to as either middlebrow fiction or comfort reads from roughly 1900 to 1950.  I
view these as books that give a modern reader an insight into what life was really like for “normal” people
back in those years.  The books I most enjoy generally feature ordinary people, not celebrities or artists or
politicians, etc. Not famous people. Just women going about their daily lives.  I think it really gives you a
glimpse into what life was like back then. I tend to read more British books than American.
I’ve also recently become fascinated with “Girls Own” stories.  These are stories aimed at British schoolgirls,
again written largely from 1900 to 1950.  Many are set at boarding schools but others are stories of family
life. Like the books written for adults I talk about above, I think they give modern readers an idea of what it
was like to live back in that era.
Do you have a favorite book in any of these genres?
Children's/Picture book
Probably thousands.  Picture books-- I love Curious George and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.  As I said
above I’ve recently become interested in “Girls Own” stories, and one of my favorite authors in that genre is
Raymond Jacberns, who wrote about independent young girls and women way back in the late 1800s.  She
died in 1911, but her books have some incredibly tough little girls in them, which for the era just fascinates
me. I also like a series called Milly Molly Mandy by Joyce Lankester Brisley, which are gentle little stories of
a little girl living in a small English village with her loving extended family.  Very sweet, and quite funny too.
I also love the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary.
I was a literature major in college and pretty much exhausted my interest in classics back then.  I used to
love John Steinbeck. No idea what I’d think of him now.
'Tolkien' is my safety word.
I used to be a hardcore mystery fan, and that was all I read for years.  Then the genre just started getting too
repetitive and the same themes seemed to be used again and again, and I lost interest.  Every once in awhile
I’ll pick up a new mystery but I’m usually disappointed. I do still like some of the older authors. Craig Rice
is one of my favorites.
Not my thing.
I really enjoy reading books about authors.  If I like an author I try to learn as much as I can about them, but
most of the ones I like are so obscure I can only find a tiny bit of information online.  But I do have
biographies of Nevil Shute, Elizabeth von Arnim, and Nigel Balchin that I’ve enjoyed.
I do enjoy a lot of non-fiction.  Generally if I’m interested in a topic, I’ll wander onto Abebooks and try to
find a book or two or five on the topic.  Which often means I’ve moved on to another interest, and then I’ll
find yet another book in my TBR pile on Land Girls that I bought a year before (this actually just happened).  
Some of the topics I enjoy: I like old movies and am always buying biographies of the classic movie stars.
Pretty much anything to do with the home front, especially of England during World War II, like the Land
Girls, rationing, or just everyday life in general.  There are also some historical true crime cases I’m fascinated
by, like Lizzie Borden and Madeline Smith.
Not really my thing.
The Hunger Games was way offended.
What are the five books you would take if you were stranded on a deserted island?
Five books, or five pallets of books?  Gosh, just five…I don’t really know. Probably The Promise of Happiness
by Betty Neels, Miss Buncle’s Book by D.E. Stevenson, The Corner Shop by Elizabeth Cadell, A Family of Girls
by Raymond Jacberns, Trustee from the Toolroom by Nevil Shute, The North Wind Blows by Anne Hepple,
Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons, Cynthia’s Way by Mrs. Alfred Sidgwick, Two in a Tent and Jane by
Mabel Barnes Grundy, Sally’s Family by Gwendolyn Courtney, and Mr. Skeffington by Elizabeth von Arnim.  
Hmm, that seems to be more than five. But math was never my strong suit.
Where do you do most of your reading?
Either in bed or the bathtub.
What books are in your to-be-read pile?
Not enough room to list.  If I can manage it I’ll include a picture of a portion of my To Be Read pile. If the
picture goes through okay, <part> of my TBR pile is on top of the bookcases.  There are other parts of my
TBR scattered throughout the house, though they are organized, as befits a librarian. No idea how many
total—I’m certainly never going to count because I then might be compelled to stop buying books and I
can’t have that.
The books on the shelves are my fiction books.  I have other bookcases for other interests.  The books on the top are part of my To Be Read pile.  A small part of it.  Books on the top left are "Girls Own" books.  Books on the top right are fiction.  You can see some storage boxes on the bottom shelves.  Those are my unread vintage Harlequins.  
As to what I’m currently reading now, I’m reading a lovely story by Mabel Barnes-Grundy, one by Mrs. Alfred Sidgwick, a girls’ spy story by Gwendolyn Courtney, and a few others.  I’m generally reading anywhere from five to ten books at a time. I think right now I’m reading about seven.
Do you listen to books? Any favorites on Audible?
I do.  I have a half hour commute each way every day and having something to listen to keeps me from
insanity and road rage during that time.  One of my favorites is the Audible of The Corner Shop by Elizabeth
Cadell. The narrator is brilliant, and does an amazing job bringing the book to life.  I’m also fond of Agatha
Christie stories narrated by Hugh Fraser. He does a very good job with the Poirot stories. I like the ones he
does better than the ones narrated by David Suchet.
Do you have any memories of being read to or reading with others?
I taught myself to read before I was in school, and family lore says I was reading at the age of three.  No
idea if it’s true but it certainly wouldn’t surprise me. So I don’t really remember being read to. And a small
humblebrag—I won a prize for the most books read in my kindergarten class.  I think I read something like
120 books. The nearest other person read about twenty. I won a little plaster bank. It’s pretty much the
only thing I ever won so I’m quite proud of it.
Betty Melissa knew when her mother skipped pages.
What book was the first one to ignite your interest in reading?
I sometimes think I was born reading, so nothing really ignited it.  Just always loved to read. I’m one of
those people who, if they don’t have a book, is reading the cereal box.  Just need to be reading all the time.
What's a book you find yourself constantly recommending?
I know people bash Facebook but I love being on the various groups for book lovers on there.  Usually great
groups of kindred spirits who don’t mind me rambling on about my love for Elizabeth Cadell or Raymond
Jacberns.  Some of them even know the author! I’ve tried to recommend Betty Neels to “real” people, but
generally just get a blank stare.  I’ve never even tried with most of the authors I read.
Despite knowing that Amal would have loved Caroline's Waterloo,
the Clooneys refused to join the book club.
So it is wonderful to be able to write an enthusiastic post on Raymond Jacberns on the Facebook page for girls’ stories and have people not only knowing who she was, but saying they love her too.  I talk about Raymond Jacberns a lot on Facebook!
Ditto Elizabeth Cadell, who wrote such fun books. Romance, but usually with a hint of a mystery.  The
Corner Shop and Mixed Marriage are my favorites. The Corner Shop is about a woman who runs a
secretarial agency and goes to a remote house in the wilds of England to find out why three of her best
secretaries refused to work for a professor.  She ends up organizing his life for him, and falling in love
with him to boot. Mixed Marriage is laugh out loud funny, about a British girl who marries a Portuguese
man and ends up in serious culture shock.
Anything else?
I love being part of the Uncrushable Jersey Dress group on Facebook!  Such a great group of women!