Samantha_kathy's 75 Books Challenge - A New Reading Year Begins
Join LibraryThing to post.
My 2011 thread
My introduction on the intro thread
1. Flowerbed of State by Dorothy St. James
2. Affairs of Steak by Julie Hyzy
3. Serving Up the Harvest by Andrea Chesman
4. Jamie at Home by Jamie Oliver
5. The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht
6. Sixteen Brides by Stephanie Grace Whitson
7. Last Rituals by Yrsa Sigurdardottir
Dandy Detects by M. Louisa Locke (short story)
8. The Use of Man by Aleksandar Tisma
9. The Shadow in the River by Frode Grytten
10. Raptor Red by Robert Bakker
11. The Three-Arched Bridge by Ismail Kadare
12. Still Life with Murder by P.B. Ryan
13. A Plague on Both Your Houses by Susanna Gregory
14. Cooking by the Seasons by Kari Ann Allrich
Masks by Evangeline Anderson (short story)
15. Promise of the Wolves by Dorothy Hearst
16. Nigella Express by Nigella Lawson
17. My Enemy's Cradle by Sara Young
18. Winnie and Gurley: The Best-Kept Family Secret by Robert Hewitt
19. Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson
20. Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It by Natalie Jobity
21. La Desperada by Patricia Burroughs
22. A Place Beyond Courage by Elizabeth Chadwick
23. Remote Control by Andy McNab
24. Under the Snow by Kerstin Ekman
25. Far Afield by Susanna Kaysen
26. Zwarte merel in een veld met pioenen by Borislav Cicovacki
27. Death Comes As the End by Agatha Christie
28. Irish Chain by Earlene Fowler
29. Hoe schrijf je een familiegeschiedenis? by Marijke Hilhorst
30. Gods and Kings by Lynn Austin
31. Lily of the Nile by Stephanie Dray
32. The Unsung Hero by Suzanne Brockmann
33. Fatal Fixer-Upper by Jennie Bentley
NO BOOKS! Oh the HORROR!
34. Spackled and Spooked by Jennie Bentley
King of Clubs by Agatha Christie (short story)
35. The Killing Way by Tony Hays
36. Honeymoon in Purdah by Alison Wearing
37. The Forgotten Legion by Ben Kane
38. The Divine Sacrifice by Tony Hays
39. The Beloved Dead by Tony Hays
40. The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick
41. A Palm for Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman
42. Founding Father by Richard Brookhiser
43. Genealogical Proof Standard by Christine Rose
44. Trespassers in Time by Anne Patterson Rodda
45. Death at Devil's Bridge by Robin Paige
46. Milestones to Disaster by Winston Churchill
Hi! I just read in your introduction that you're a quilter - I've just recently started trying to quilt myself and am in love with it, so I thought I'd track you down here and say hello!
Hello back! I've been quilting for three years now, although I don't have that much time for it. I've got 1 finished quilt and lots and lots of WIPs quilts :D. It's a bit the same as reading, never enough time, some books finished and lots and lots still to read :D.
Hi Samantha, I saw your introduction and wanted to say hello and good luck for this year. I'm also 24 and working on my Masters degree. What are you studying?
Hi Samantha, I've always enjoyed your comments so far, so I dropped a star here.
8, 9, 10 & 11> Thanks for dropping by! I was on holiday, which is why I'm only now responding.
1. Flowerbed of State by Dorothy St. James (2.5 stars)
Cassandra "Casey" Calhoun's passion for gardening has carried her to President's Park on which sits the White House. But when she finds a dead body in a trash can, Casey has to root out a killer before she ends up planted herself.
This series has the unfortunate luck of being compared to The White House Chef series by Julie Hyzy, which I love. And even worse, it pales in comparison. Where Julie Hyzy makes her characters competent like you would expect from people working in the White House, Dorothy St. James’ characters seem bumbling, Casey especially. It makes you wonder why they haven’t been fired yet. Besides that, they seem to do very little actual work….but that could just be me.
Casey thinks she knows everything just because she loves to read mystery books, but if she’s so good a detective, then why doesn’t she at least question the sudden interest of Templeton in her while he reportedly only dates supermodels and celebrities? But Casey is not the only one to act especially stupid. I cannot believe that a member of the elite CAT team of the Secret Service would take a civilian who’s a material witness to a murder – not to mention someone he seems to like – with him to apprehend a murderer. The characters behaved silly and that made things seem unrealistic.
The final nail in the coffin of this sub-standard series was the fact that the author dropped a rather broad hint about the true occupation of Casey’s parents, yet didn’t pursue it at all. An obvious hook to get the reader to pick up the next book. Perhaps she knew she needed one?
The only good thing about this was the mystery, I quite liked the puzzle of figuring out who did what and why. All in all this was a good idea but a bad execution, and I will not be picking up the next book in this series.
Ooohhh... here is hoping your second read for 2012 is a huge improvement over the first!
Sorry to hear that the White House garden series isn't that great!
13> I've started my second book and it is turning out to be much better, thankfully.
14> Well, some people seem to like it, judging from the reviews. It just wasn't for me, I think.
I think I can safely add Flowerbed of State to my 'do not read' list.
I hope your next read is a better one, Samantha!
16> Definitely add Flowerbed of State to you 'do not read' list. If you want a good cozy mystery series set in the White House, go with Julie Hyzy's White House Chef series.
I just finished her latest one, Affairs of Steak on the day it came out and it's so great! This series just remains good, in fact, I think it's getting better. I'll have the review up later today or else tomorrow.
#17: Unfortunately, my local library does not have any of the Julie Hyzy series. I need to check PBS. Off to do just that. . .
Thanks for giving us an honest appraisal of Flowerbed of State. I think sometimes it's as important to find books to avoid as it is to discover new treasures. I love Julie Hyzy's work, although I've yet to get into the White House chef series.
I'll be watching your thread to see what other treasures (and potholes) you have to recommend.
19> I often rely on reviews to know which books to avoid and I always try to be honest in my own reviews. It was hard this time, because I liked the mystery-plot of the book and I honestly wanted to like this one, but I just didn't.
2. Affairs of Steak by Julie Hyzy (5 stars)
White House chef Olivia Paras and her arch nemesis, White House Sensitivity Director Peter Everett Sargeant, must work together to solve the double murder of one of the First Lady's assistants and the Chief of Staff-before they become the next victims of a merciless assassin with a secret agenda.
The latest book in the White House Chef mystery series by Julie Hyzy is probably the best one yet. I don’t know what I loved more about this book. All the little threads of the mystery adding up to the big finale, done in a masterful way. The small mystery which turned out to be a red herring but still important on a more personal level. The closer look we get at Sergeant, who's even a little likable after this book. Or Ollie's progress in her relationship with Gav, which demonstrated perfectly how wrong Tom really was for her – especially during the instances we got both Tom and Gav’s reaction to the same situation.
All of it made for a book I really, really loved and I read through it in one go, starting the moment it automatically downloaded on my Kindle due to the pre-ordering I did in December. I cannot wait until the next book and I’ll be gushing about this one until then. Highly, highly recommended! But do be sure to start this series at the beginning, because there are several red threads throughout this series, especially concerning Ollie’s relationships with other characters.
#21: I found the first book in the series available on PBS, so I have requested it. Thanks for the reminder, Samantha!
22> I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
I am slowly but streadily working my way through Sixteen Brides by Stephanie Whitson. Set in 1872 Nebraska, it is not a book that is suitable to read in one go. The amount of characters make slow reading a must to avoid getting confused, but the tale is good. It's not a bad book by any means, but I think it could have been so much better if there were less characters that it focussed on, or just told from one POV, or even if each character she uses as a POV character had her own chapter.
On another note, I picked up The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht from the library today and I'm really looking forward to that one. I'm going to start that tonight and see if I like it as much as everyone else that has read it over on the Orange January/July group.
3. Serving Up the Harvest by Andrea Chesman (5 stars)
Serving Up the Harvest is a delightful book that is so much more than just a cookbook. It is divided into seasons, but not your ordinary spring, summer, fall and winter. No, it has gardening seasons, like early to mid-summer and fall into winter. Each of the seasons have chapters devoted to specific vegetables that are bountiful in that season, as well as a height of the season chapter with recipes that combine in-season vegetables to the max. It makes cooking in tune with the seasons (and thus with cheap vegetables) easy.
The recipes are simple, clear and concise – it’s hard to screw them up even if you don’t have a lot of experience in the kitchen. Oftentimes the recipes are vegetarian, but just as often a suggestion to add meat is made, or you can simply serve up some meat with the vegetables like you’d normally do. And from experience I can say the recipes in this book are very tasteful. Recipes range from side-dishes to main dishes to deserts for each vegetable, how much of each category depending on how a vegetable can be used.
Aside from these recipes there are some ‘introductory’ chapters, talking about stuff to keep in your pantry as well as some basic methods and recipes that serve as a base for many other recipes. There’s a bit about preserving the harvest in the back of the book, as well as a list of resources and an index. There’s even some anecdotal interludes and a short anecdotal intro to each vegetable that are fun to read. But what makes this book more than your ordinary cookbook is the fact that for every vegetable in the book there’s a page with information about growing the vegetable, harvesting it, how much weight/size equals cups, how to use it in the kitchen, how much time different cooking methods take, and some notes on nutrients. Everything from seed to food on one handy page for each vegetable make this into one of the most useful, basic cookbooks I’ve ever seen.
>24 That sounds like a cookbook I would use frequently, so I've added it to my wish list!
25, 26> It's a great cookbook, especially if you've got a vegetable garden
I've been enjoying the cookbook challenge over on the 12 in 12. I don't collect cookbooks anymore, have a house full of them, but I still love hearing about others cooking successes.
28> I think the cookbook challenge is brilliant. I've got a shelf full of cookbooks and most of them I've never even cooked a recipe from. But that's going to change this year!
I'm juggling quite a lot of books at the moment. I'm still reading Sixteen Brides by Stephianie Whitson, I'm reading The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht for Orange January, and I've started my tutored read of North and South by John Jakes.
Also, since this is 2012, and we've got 12 months, and I'm in the 12 in 12 challenge, I got the brilliant (as in, oh my God what am I doing!) idea to finally read Winston Churchill's The Second World War, of which I have the 12-volume edition. The plan is to read one a month, and I've started the first volume Milestones to Disaster.
I'm still steadily working my way through Sixteen Brides, which I'm liking more and more now that I finally got a good idea of who is who; although it did take me until half-way through the book before I could easily remember.
I'm also half-way through The Tiger's Wife. I like the book, but I'm not so sure where it's going. Still, it's interesting.
I'm also steadily working my way through Milestones to Disaster, as well as enjoying my tutored read of North and South. An yet...I still want to start Last Rituals by Yrsa Sigurdardottir, which I picked up in the library today. *sigh* Too many good books really is a curse.
4. Jamie at Home by Jamie Oliver (4 stars)
Jamie at Home at first glance looks a lot like Andrea Chesman’s Serving Up the Harvest. Like her book, it is divided into seasons, although Jamie uses the traditional four seasons, and further divided by main ingredient. Jamie also provides information about growing seasonal products. But that’s about where the comparison ends. Where Andrea’s book deals solely with vegetables, Jamie at Home deals with seasonal products – which include things like fruit, eggs, and certain meats like lamb. That makes this book very interesting for those who aren’t such vegetable lovers – or those who like to cook seasonal with more ingredients than just vegetables.
As for the recipes, like always with Jamie Oliver’s books, they are delicious. However, I must make the remark that although they look deceptively simple, the recipes are always is more work than they seem at first glance. No matter how delicious his recipes, most of them are of the ‘special’ variety – which means I cook them on weekends or on holidays when I have the time – but in my opinion they are not so suitable for normal, everyday, nine-to-five working days. Nonetheless, I’m very pleased with the culinary results from trying the recipes – the taste is superb and well worth whatever work the recipes take.
Aside from the recipes, there are amusing anecdotes that accompany every chapter, a list of Jamie’s favorite varieties of many vegetables and some fruits, and a very useable recipe index that includes an indication for which recipes are vegetarian (more than you’d think). All in all, a lovely book that I won’t mind cooking from more often.
Added the Jamie Oliver book to my wish list. When I went over to Amazon (where I maintain the list), I noticed that they said the photography is gorgeous in the book!
32> It is. It always is in his books, but in this book even more.
Out of loyalty to my favorite chef, Gordon Ramsey, I'll have to pass on the Oliver book (he's not a fan). :)
34> Oh, I remember their figths! Don't know if they're still (publicly) at it, but I reckon they don't like each other much :D. I watch Gordon Ramsey's Hell's Kitchen sometimes and he seems like a great chef as well, just different, but I've never actually seen one of his cookbooks. I do have an abundance of Jamie Oliver cookbooks though, so guess on which side of the divide I fall ;).
5. The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht (5 stars)
The time: the present. The place: a Balkan country ravaged by years of conflict. Natalia, a young doctor, is on a mission of mercy to an orphanage when she receives word of her beloved grandfather's death far from their home under circumstances shrouded in confusion. Remembering childhood stories her grandfather once told her, Natalia becomes convinced that he spent his last days searching for "the deathless man," a vagabond who claimed to be immortal. As Natalia struggles to understand why her grandfather, a deeply rational man, would go on such a farfetched journey, she stumbles across a clue that leads her to the extraordinary story of the tiger's wife.
How to review The Tiger’s Wife? It’s hard to put a label on this book, let alone explain exactly how this story engages the reader. It’s a powerful book, with lots of story strands that are told in a meandering yet somehow logical way. This book has so many layers, stories within stories that are all connected in a way that you don’t fully understand until you have read the last sentence.
When the book was finished, I was left behind still not knowing everything and being content with that. It resonated with something deep inside of me, was always on my mind when I wasn’t reading it, and I found myself slowing down so I could savor it longer. It is certainly a story that will stay with me for a good long time. I cannot recommend it enough.
Thank you! I can highly recommend the book, so it's certainly worth it to make it your next read.
6. Sixteen Brides by Stephanie Grace Whitson (3.5 stars)
Sixteen Civil War widows living in St. Louis respond to a series of meetings conducted by a land speculator who lures them west by promising "prime homesteads" in a "booming community." Unbeknownst to them, the speculator's true motive is to find an excuse to bring women out West in hopes they will accept marriage proposals shortly after their arrival! When the women discover the truth on the way, six of them decide to stay in the fledgling community Plum Grove, Nebraska and try to make their original plan of homesteading work anyway. But each woman carries her own burden which she must overcome to make life on the frontier a success.
The historical setting in this book is amazing. The details are part of the story, never interfering with the plot, yet they paint the picture of 1872 Nebraska in great detail. No lengthy expositions, just information sprinkled through the story in a logical fashion – something that’s hard to do and Stephanie Grace Whitson does with seeming ease.
What I also really liked was the way these women felt so real. All of them were different, had different reasons for trying to homestead alone, yet they never felt like a modern woman transposed into a historical setting. It was the same with faith – this book is technically Christian fiction – it was woven into the story in a believable way; there’s no beating anyone on the head with a stick with the moral of the story or with God. Just simple faith of people in a setting where that faith existed, and each one believing in their own way. No cookie cutter characters to be found here!
However, the amount of characters make slow reading a must to avoid getting confused. Especially in the beginning it was hard to keep track of who was who. It took me until about half-way through the book before I could easily remember, but then the story truly took off for me. Don’t get me wrong, it's not a bad book by any means, but I think it could have been so much better if there were less characters that it focused on, or if it was just told from one POV, or even if each character she uses as a POV character had her own chapter. Even just a list of characters to refer to would have helped a lot.
But, all in all, I found this a very enjoyable book. Stephanie Grace Whitson has a way of bringing the historical setting alive using nothing more than some well-placed details while telling a compelling story with realistic characters. I will definitely try more of this author’s books.
I'm on the library reserve waiting list for The Tiger's Wife. Only 62 people ahead of me!
40> Ouch! I was pretty lucky, The Tiger's Wife was simply sitting on the shelf in my library. It doesn't have the big hype here that it does in the English speaking world, so most people don't even know about the book.
7. Last Rituals by Yrsa Sigurdardottir (4.5 stars)
After the body of a young German student—with his eyes cut out and strange symbols carved into his chest—is discovered at a university in Reykjavík, the police waste no time in making an arrest. The victim's family isn't convinced they have the right man, however, so they ask Thóra Gudmundsdóttir, attorney and single mother of two, to investigate. It's not long before Thóra and Matthew Reich, her new associate, discover something unusual about the deceased student: He had been obsessed with the country's grisly history of torture, execution, and witch hunts. As Thóra and Matthew dig deeper, they make the connection between long-bygone customs and the student's murder. But the shadow of dark traditions conceals secrets in both the past and the present, and the investigators soon realize that nothing is as it seems . . . and that no one can be trusted.
This book was definitely a page-turner. With every bit of the puzzle revealed the mystery grew deeper, urging me to keep reading to figure out what really happened. The pace was fast – the entire investigation is done within about a week – but it never got too fast, nor did it ever become unbelievable, despite the sometimes bizarre subject matter. The good writing and the likeable Thóra as main character made me fall in love with this book. The setting of the story in Iceland was icing on the cake.
However, I have one quibble with this book that made me give it four and a half stars instead of the full five. The ending – the conclusion of the mystery – was in my opinion fairly sudden. I like the solution, the whodunit and the why – but the way mainly Thóra pieced everything together was too easy in the end, too much like a lucky coincidence. I thought that took away from an otherwise brilliant book with a very well thought out plot.
But all in all I highly enjoyed this book. I highly recommend it and I will definitely go in search of the next book in the series about Thóra!
Oh, another author to add to my list of Scandicrime that I eventually want to get to. Last Rituals sounds very good.
It's very good. I just wish I remembered who recommended it to me! I know it was someone on the Europe Endless challenge group or the Reading Globally group, but other than that?
The end of January is in sight - where did the month go? I've got two more books in progress that I would really like to finish before January is officialy over.
The Use of Man by Aleksandar Tisma is one I will definitely manage to finish - it's not that big and the story flows really well making reading it a breeze despite the rather heavy subject matter.
Second World War: Milestones to Disaster by Winston Churchill is another story. It's a good book, an interesting book, but due to the fact that it's solely politics it's rather slow to read. And I'm not even half-way yet, so the chances of finishing it in January are pretty low.
January in Review
The first month of the year is over - well nearly. I'm not going to be finishing any more books today, at any rate.
This month I read 7 books.
5 of those I owned, 2 were from the library
3 were Kindle e-books, the other 4 were paper books
5 were fiction books, 2 were non-fiction
6 were written by female authors, only 1 by a male author
3 books were rated with 5 stars:
Affairs of Steak by Julie Hyzy
Serving Up the Harvest by Andrea Chesman
The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht
Samantha, Thanks for pointing out serving up the Harvest. We just received a donation at our little library to be used to get more food and cook books in the collection. This one looks like just the ticket!
Short Story: Dandy Detects by M. Louisa Locke
In the fall of 1879, San Francisco swelters under a heat wave while Barbara Hewitt, a reserved school-teacher, uncovers a mystery with the help of her son’s dog, Dandy.
This is a story from the author of the full novel Maids of Misfortune, and this short story uses a minor character from that novel as the main character. I liked the fact that because a minor character from Maids of Misfortune was used (and not the main character), I didn’t feel like I was missing something even though I haven’t read that novel. But after reading this charming short story I would very much like to read Maids of Misfortune. I did figure things out before Barbara Hewitt did, but that didn’t dampen my enjoyment in the least.
8. The Use of Man by Aleksandar Tisma (5 stars)
The Use of Man is written in a very literary in style – not my usual choice at all – but in this case, with this topic, I actually think it might make the book easier to read. Tisma doesn’t shy away from the difficult parts of this tale – neither in his descriptions, nor in the emotions the characters feel, or the ones he evokes in the reader. The subject matter is a harsh one, and it is not easy to read about. The book itself though is very readable, which I think says something about how good of a writer Tisma is.
One of the reviews of this book I read said that Vera’s tale about the day she was deported to Auschwitz until the day she returned in Novi Sad is one of the most realistic and terrible descriptions of a nazi-camp in literature. However, I found her story after her return to be so very poignant, perhaps one of the best pieces of the whole novel. In fact, the scenes dealing with the time period after the war were the ones that had the biggest impact on me. Freedom doesn’t automatically mean that everything is fine now, and the fact that this tale takes place in a part of Europe that became communistic after the war only makes that more clear.
All in all, The Use of Man is a very powerful book by a great author. I’d definitely recommend this!
9. The Shadow in the River by Frode Grytten (3 stars)
I have to say, The Shadow in the River is unlike any other Scandicrime novel I have ever read. No cold setting with ice and snow, but a heat wave instead. No beautiful, pristine landscape, but a polluted, declined ex-industrial town. It’s surprising, to say the least, but it’s also nice to see a different side of Scandinavia.
Unfortunately this book was not nearly as good as the last Scandicrime novel I read (Last Rituals by Yrsa Sigurdardottir). I didn’t really like the main character, but the flow and pace of the story was good enough for me to keep reading. About halfway through the book several things happen at once that changes the situation in such a way that the main character becomes active instead of deliberately passive in the events – which definitely helped the book in my opinion. I never did like passive characters much.
In the end things are a little worse and nothing is really resolved. There isn’t even an inkling of a happy end. It fits the tone of the book, but it’s not exactly cheerful. I’m still not entirely sure what I should think of the ending – if I like it or not. Either way, it fits my feelings about the book. I kind of liked it and I kind of didn’t. It averages out to three stars. There were many things I liked about the book and a few big things I didn’t. But all in all it was a fairly good book.
10. Raptor Red by Robert T. Bakker (4 stars)
A year in the life of a dinosaur named Raptor Red, this book is unique in the fact that the dinosaur is the main character and we see the world from her point of view. Written by a professional paleontologist, the Age of Dinosaurs truly comes to life in this book.
The story is good and gripping, and the author is very skilled in showing more than just Raptor Red’s narrow worldview by drawing other dinosaurs into her story, interweaving several small storylines into the big plot of Raptor Red’s struggle for survival. Only when the author gives too much scientific detail – a mistake he makes mainly in the first few chapters – the pace of the story stops and that’s a real shame. But other than that, I loved this book. A very unique prehistoric novel that deserves the four stars I gave it.
11. The Three-Arched Bridge by Ismail Kadare (5 stars)
The year: 1377. The place: the Balkan peninsula. An Albanian monk chronicles the events surrounding the construction of a bridge across a great river known as Ujana e Keqe, or "Wicked Waters". If successful in their endeavor, the bridge-builders will challenge a monopoly on water transportation known simply as "Boats and Rafts". The story itself parallels developments in modern-day Eastern Europe, with the bridge emblematic of a disintegrating economic and political order: just as mysterious cracks in the span's masonry endanger the structure and cast the local community into a morass of uncertainty, superstition and murder, so the fast-changing conditions in the 14th-century Balkan peninsula threaten to overwhelm the stability of life there.
Despite the book’s description, there’s actually a pretty solid storyline in the book. The book isn’t gloomy either –something I’ve come to expect from Balkan authors – but is a historical novel that breathes the medieval atmosphere. The characterizations are excellent, the voice of the monk is sublime. The ending had a great surprise and was icing on the cake. This book wholly deserves its five stars!
Hi Samantha_kathy, I just came by to give you the link for Mystery March. Hope you can come and join us.
Oh, I'm joining! I'm only planning 2 mysteries for March, as the one I am reading now I will probably finish before then. And I've got quite a bit of other books on my stack as well.
12. Still Life with Murder by P.B. Ryan (5 stars)
Boston 1868: The wealthy are enjoying the height of the Gilded Age--but not all are wealthy. As governess to the Hewitt family, Irish immigrant Nell Sweeney is sent to discover the truth behind the rumor that their son--thought to be killed in the Civil War--is still alive and in prison.
I loved this Gilded Age mystery. Nell Sweeney is a great character and very well thought out by the author. Her position as a governess coupled with her background gives her the ability to move through virtually all layers of society. How she got to where she is plausible, and on the whole she felt like a real person from that time. Coupled with a great plot with interesting twists and turns, this book was really great. I have high hopes for the rest of this series and will definitely seek them out.
Samantha_kathy - nice review of Still Life with Murder - my library doesn't have it, but it sounds interesting enough I may have to buy it!
BTW, I think you have an extra 'is not' in your review.
Thanks for pointing that out! It's fixed now :D
It really was very interesting. I got lucky and got it as a freebie for the Kindle, wihtout knowing anything about it. This was one of those rare freebie gems that you sometimes get - and a very effective marketing tool, for I will be sure to seek out the rest of the series and my library doesn't have them either.
February in Review
The first month of the year is over - well nearly. I'm not going to be finishing any more books today, at any rate.
This month I read 5 books.
3 of those I owned, 2 were from the library
1 was a Kindle e-book, the other 4 were paper books
All were fiction books
1 was written by a female author, the other 4 by male authors
3 books were rated with 5 stars:
The Use of Man by Aleksandar Tisma
The Three-Arched Bridge by Ismail Kadare
Still Life with Murder by P.B. Ryan
I've got quite a list of books I want to read in March.
I'm still working on Milestones to Disaster by Winston Churchill and North and South by John Jakes. I've also already started reading La Desperada by Patricia Burroughs, which I'm liking, and My Enemy's Cradle by Sarah Young, which I'm not sure about yet.
I'm looking forward to reading A Plague on Both Your Houses by Susanna Gregory a lot, as well as Promise of the Wolves by Dorothy Hearst, which will be a shared read over on Reading Through Time group with another group member.
Masks by Evangeline Anderson has been on my list for awhile, hopefully I'll get to it this month. Zwarte merel in een veld met pioenen by Borislav Cicovacki will be my last read for the first quarter theme read over on Reading Globally. Under the Snow by Kerstin Ekman will be my book for Sweden in the Europe Endless challenge. Remote Control by Andy McNab is the first book in a series I want to try out, if I get to it this month.
Plenty of reading to do - and oh, right, this will be one of the busiest months of the entire year for me! Go figure...
I'm steadily chugging along with La Desperada. It's quite good, better than I expected actually. It's an Early Review book and for me they seem to fall into two categories - either I really love them or I can't finish them because they're just 'ugh'. This one thankfully falls into the first category.
And while La Desperada is a sort of slow but steady book (when it comes to my reading tempo, not the story itself), A Plague on Both Your Houses is a book I'm zipping through. I started it today and it's even better than I expected. I'm already 1/4 of the way through, and I've only touched it during my commute. It's really, really good. I'm so happy it's the first in a series, because that means there are more books to read after this one :D.
I'm so busy at work and am making such long days that the only time I have to read is during my commute. So of course I'm at my destination just when things are starting to wrap up in my book - leaving me with the mother of all cliffhangers because I can't read further!
Please, someone, make the train ride a little longer!
13. A Plague on Both Your Houses by Susanna Gregory (5 stars)
A Plague on Both Your Houses introduces the physician Matthew Bartholomew, whose unorthodox but effective treatment of his patients frequently draws accusations of heresy from his more traditional colleagues. Besides his practice, Bartholomew is teacher of Medicine at Michaelhouse, part of the fledgling University of Cambridge. In 1348, the inhabitants of Cambridge live under the shadow of a terrible pestilence that has ravaged Europe and is travelling relentlessly eastward towards England. Bartholomew, however, is distracted by the sudden and inexplicable death of the Master of Michaelhouse - a death the University authorities do not want investigated. When three more scholars die in mysterious circumstances, Bartholomew defies the University and begins his own enquiry. His pursuit for the truth leads him into a complex tangle of lies and intrigue that causes him to question the innocence of his closest friends, and even his family. And then the Black Death finally arrives and Bartholomew is dragged deeper and deeper into a quagmire which threatens not only his life, but the continued existence of the University and the future of the town.
I loved this book! Really, really loved this book! The historical setting is done perfectly, it’s very realistic. The characters think and act like medieval people without being so alien to modern readers that you don’t make a connection to them, not something that’s easy to do. And the mystery – oh, that was brilliant. Sure, it takes a bit of getting used to the limited knowledge that can be gather about the crimes – no fingerprints or other forensics, like in modern mysteries, and not even fledgling criminal investigative tools like in historical mysteries set in the Victorian period and later. But on the other hand, people were much more superstitious, and feared God and hell, making them confess to things modern day criminals would keep their mouths shut about. Also, people knew each other’s business far better, so odd behavior was noticed. All in all, the mystery in this book was well thought out, had many twists and turns, and managed to surprise me right until the end. Susanna Gregory has truly written a great novel and I will definitely be reading the rest of this series!
Ooohhhh..... A Plague on Both Your Houses looks GOOD! Crazy as this may sound, thank you for the book bullet!
65> You're welcome. :D I thought A Plague on Both Your Houses was really, really good and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
OH.....you've definitely hooked me. I'm off to find the Plague book. Have you read any of Ariana Franklin's Mistress of the Art of Death Series? They sound very similar. If you've not had a chance, you might look them up.
67> No, I haven't. But the series is on my TBR list - although that's so long it might take me years to get to them :D.
March is turning out to be a pretty bad reading month for me. Part of it is that while I am working on a lot of books, none of them seem to hold my attention for long. Another part is, I think, the fact that I am feeling too much pressure to read things with deadlines.
La Desperada desperately needs to be reviewed, as it's an ER book I've had lying around for a while. Some books I'm reading are for theme reads that are ending at the end of this month, others are for my self-imposed goals this year, while others yet have to be brought back to the library at the end of the month. So while I am trying to finish at least some of them, I've decided to take April "off" so to speak. No obligations - except for three themed reads, two of which I am leading, and that I am pretty excited about anyway. No, in April I''ll just be reading whatever I want!
On another note, today was the first truly nice day here this year - warm, sunny, it really is spring!
Lovely pictures Samantha-kathy. It's nice to see people sitting outside in their shirtsleeves again. I live in the Pacific Northwest and although today was very nice and sunny, it is still quite chilly here yet.
Today is shaping up to be even warmer. Unfortunately, a pile of computer work will keep me inside. I could take my laptop outside, but I know myself - I'd never get any work done :D.
14. Cooking by the Seasons by Kari Ann Allrich (4 stars)
Cooking by the Seasons is a vegetarian cookbook that’s written as a way of cooking with pagan Wheel of the Year – which basically means with the rhythms of nature. While there’s talk about the Goddess and for all eight of the year feasts on the Wheel of Year, anybody can use this cookbook simply as a seasonal cookbook. No religion – or no pagan religion – needed to enjoy these recipes!
The book is divided into four parts – spring, summer, autumn, winter – and each season is further divided into sub-chapters based on type of dish. There’s beverages and bites, seasonal soups, everyday feasts, savory sides, that season’s salads, and sweet endings. The titles really say it all. And then there are the very helpful appendices. There’s a list of resources for pantry supplies (really only helpful if you’re in the USA), a list of US to UK translations of cooking terms and ingredients, and – the most helpful appendix for me – conversion tables for liquid measurements, oven temperatures and dry weight measures from the American measures to the European system. For instance, 1 cup (8 oz) is about 225 ml. It’s not always very accurate – a cup of rice is different from a cup of flour – but it comes close enough for the recipes to work.
The recipes itself are lovely! Very tasty, with normal ingredients you don’t have to hunt for in specialty shops, and the directions are clear and easy to follow. There’s an abundance of pasta dishes though, although personally I don’t consider that to be a problem. They’re all different enough in taste anyway. The only comment about the recipes I have is that the portion sizes are pretty big. Now, I know my family aren’t big eaters, but if I take a recipe for 4 people, make only half and can still serve 3 people who all take seconds – yeah, big, big portion size! Not a problem, just something to keep in mind. Other than that, I like this cookbook a lot.
Short Story: Masks by Evangeline Anderson (2 stars)
A short erotic story, which was basically some really hot sex with a plot so thin it's not even worth mentioning. It’s a shame, because even a short story can have a good plot, erotica doesn’t mean without plot either. But everything was just hand-waved away, between the sex and the obligatory happy ending. Not a good advertisement for this author – I won’t be picking up any of her full-length books.
15. Promise of the Wolves by Dorothy Hearst (3 stars)
The time is 14,000 years ago. Kaala, a young wolf of mixed blood, should have died at birth. But against all rules, she was allowed to live. But as she grows up, she continues to break the rules that rule the Wide Valley wolves. It could mean the end of her pack, the Swift River Wolves, or it could be their salvation – and that of the humans living in the valley.
This book raises very mixed feelings in me. I liked the fact that it was told from Kaala’s point of view, and I liked the characters in it. Dorothy Hearst obviously has extensive knowledge of how a wolf pack works and manages to portray the wolves in such a way that the reader can relate to them, while still keeping them as wolves, not humans in a wolf skin. And within those confines, she manages to tell a story about the bond between humans and wolves and how that might have evolved all those thousands of years ago.
But what kept me from saying “wow, this book is so good!” was the whole spiritual/religious concept in the book. I could have dealt with legends that wolves tell each other, I could have dealt with a ghost wolf helping Kaala. I could even have dealt with them seeing the Earth and the Moon and the Sun as a sort of gods. But the whole organized religion thing they had going, with the Greatwolves and rules and chosen packs to enforce those rules – that was taking things a step too far. It felt so contrived – so human, in a way. The pieces where the whole religion thing wasn’t at the foreground were great and pulled me into the story. And then the religion came up again – it was an important driving force of the story, so it came up fairly often – and I had to put in a lot of effort to keep reading.
In the end, I am still not sure if I can say I like this book. It wasn’t a bad book, just the opposite. But the religious aspect felt off to me – too much for the story to feel in any way realistic. So instead of a good book I would heartily recommend, it remained a middle of the road kind of book. Not bad, but not particularly great either.
16. Nigella Express by Nigella Lawson (4 stars)
Nigella Express is a book filled with recipes that are fast and tasty. They’re easy to make, using ordinary ingredients, and as such many of them are suitable for a busy week. Aside from the normal suppers, there’s also a chapter filled with breakfast items, one with lunch items, and one with party recipes. There’s also a chapter filled with holiday recipes that are fast and easy, so you can actually spend time with your guests instead of in the kitchen. And in true Nigella fashion, there’s a good amount of desserts and sweets to be found in this book. Personally, I also thought there was a larger than usual amount of recipes with fish, but that could just be my idea and not the truth.
All of the recipes in this book are tasty, the instructions are clear, and Nigella’s fun writing style appeals to me a lot. Still, I am not giving this book the full five stars. This is mainly because with a good portion of the recipes I felt I could have thought of that myself – not what I look for in a cookbook. Steak with lemon and thyme, for instance, is tasty but not a recipe I would buy a cookbook for. Thankfully, there are some gems of recipes in this book as well, and as always her desserts are to die for. Therefore, a better than average cookbook, but not full points.
Larger than usual amount of recipes of fish? Love fish....and I love Nigella. Thanks for the lead....this is one I'll definitely have to check out.
And thank you for the gorgeous pictures. I do love seeing where other people live and how they enjoy their springtime.
76> Well, it seemed to me that there was a larger than usual amount of recipes that used fish as an ingredients. Could just be me though, it's not like I counted them.
Seeing those photos, I had to check your profile page to see where you live. I could tell it was the Netherlands, but it looked so familiar, and I see that you live in Leiden so that's not surprising. I grew up living in Noordwijk/Noordwijkerhout/Rijnsburg and we used to go shopping in Leiden most Saturdays (back in the 1970s mainly) when I was growing up. Lovely to see those nice sunny views of people enjoying being outdoors in the spring!
I've only peeked in a few times before , but your thread could become very dangerous for me, I've already added 8 books from your 16.
shakes her head.....dangerous, very dangerous
78> gennyt, I have to admit to not taking those pictures myself. (No access to my camera at this time). And they were actually taken in Amsterdam. Although, yes, in Leiden the scenes were very much the same for the past few days what with almost 20 degrees Celsius outside in the sun. Today, unfortunately, was grey and cold. Ah, the fickleness of spring.
79> cyderry, I'm not apologizing, but you do have my sympaties. I know how dangerous threads around here can be :D. Still, I'm glad you're hanging around!
17. My Enemy's Cradle by Sara Young (5 stars)
The Netherlands, 1941. Cousins Anneke and Cyrla are identical in every respect but one: Cyrla is half-Jewish and in hiding, and her neighbors have started to whisper. Anneke, carrying a German soldier’s child, is destined to move to the maternity home which houses the Lebensborn programme. But Anneke’s death and the danger Cyrla is in just by being Jewish push Cyrla into a terrible situation as she takes on Anneke’s identity and place in the Lebensborn. She will need to fool everyone around her – both doctors and fellow mothers-to-be – if she and her unborn baby are to survive.
It took a few chapters for me to get into this story, but once I did I was totally engrossed. When reading about a Jewish character in the Second World War, often a stay in one of the Holocaust camps is included in the book. Those scenes are always horrible to read. But the understated horror of the Lebensborn and all it stands for – all it did and the consequences that are still felt today because of it – are much less known and hit me quite hard. This story hit something deep inside of me, right at the core of my womanhood – I simply cannot describe it in any other way. It were sometimes the most simple things that chilled me to the bone in this story. It’s very good, story-wise, but I think it’s even more important history-wise. Highly recommended – I wish this was mandatory reading for everyone.
This is a subject that has always fascinated me in a horrific way, but I have never read anything about it. I'm so glad to see this recommendation. Thank you!
82> You're welcome! This book hovers somewhere between young adult and adult novel, the writing style is remiscent of young adult, but the content is definitely adult. Still, it's a fairly easy read, despite the topic. Great if you want to read something about it.
I've had My Enemy's Cradle on my TBR shelves for quite some time, sounds like I should give it a little nudge.
It was on my own TBR list for quite a while as well before I picked it up, and now I'm wondering why I didn't do so earlier!
My Enemy's Cradle sounds surprisingly appealing - it doesn't sound like something I'd normally, read, but I may have to give it a try! Happily, my library system has it....Thanks!
86> " it doesn't sound like something I'd normally, read, but I may have to give it a try"
That's exactly what I thought when someone recommended it to me! I was glad I gave it a try, hopefully you will be too!
18. Winnie and Gurley: The Best-Kept Family Secret by Robert G. Hewitt (4 stars)
The first half of this book tells the story of how the author learned more and more about his grandmother and a family secret came to light, raising a lot of questions. The second half tells the story of his grandparents as far as he and his wife were able to trace it with records from all over.
This book kept me riveted. It’s interesting to those interested in family history, but I think also to those who love buried family secrets coming to light. Some reviews have said there was no new information in the second half of the book, but I disagree. The basic details of the family secret are the same and no big new revelations are made, but the chronological story of Winnie and Gurley gives the reader a much better understanding of the how and why of certain events. And as a genealogist and family historian myself, I admire how clear, concise, yet engaging the second part was written. Recommended!
19. Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson (4 stars)
Fever 1793 is based on an actual epidemic of yellow fever in Philadelphia that wiped out 5,000 people--or 10 percent of the city's population--in three months. During the hot mosquito-infested summer of 1793, the dreaded yellow fever spread like wildfire, killing people overnight. The rich fled to the country, abandoning the city to looters, forsaken corpses, and frightened survivors. In the foreground of this story is 16-year-old Mattie Cook, whose mother and grandfather own a popular coffee house on High Street. Mattie's comfortable and interesting life is shattered by the epidemic, as her mother is felled and the girl and her grandfather must flee for their lives.
This book is a quick read, but thoroughly enjoyable. The author really knows what she’s talking about. The historical details are amazing, but they never take over the story. And the story itself is really a coming-of-age tale, where the difficult circumstances force Mattie to grow up. I liked this book, it’s a good read for anyone who likes a historical story despite the fact that it’s fairly light reading.
March in Review
The first quarter of the year is over, and I've made an end-sprint when it comes to finishing books. For a while there, I thought I might not finish any books this month!
This month I read 7 books.
5 of those I owned, 2 was from the library
1 was a Kindle e-book, the other 6 were paper books
4 were fiction books, 3 were non-fiction
6 were written by female authors, only 1 by a male author
2 books were rated with 5 stars:
A Plague on Both Your Houses by Susanna Gregory
My Enemy's Cradle by Sara Young
April Reading Plans
I plan to finish La Desperada by Patricia Burroughs - which I really should have finished already, but still haven't. I'm also going to finish Zwarte merel in een veld met pioenen by Borislav Cicovacki, which I started reading for the Reading Globally theme read for Jan-March, but didn't get to finish in time. Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It by Natalie Jobity is also a book I'm about half-way through and want to finish in April.
I'm very excited to read A Place Beyond Courage by Elizabeth Chadwick, my first Chadwick novel. She gets such rave reviews that I simply have to try her! Another historical novel I plan to read this month is Pope Joan by Donna Cross.
And then I've got two detective/mystery novels planned for this month: Under the Snow by Kerstin Ekman and Death Comes As the End by Agatha Christie - the latter is a re-read for me.
If Remote Control by Andy McNab gets delivered in time, I'll try to fit that one in this month as well. As if I need another series!
I am also still reading Milestones to Disaster by Winston Churchill and North and South by John Jakes. Both are slow going, and I don't really expect to finish either one this month, but I do hope to make some progress at the very least!
Popping in to say hi, you got me again with My Enemy's Cradle. Sounds like a great book for my selection to the Netherlands for my Endless European adventure.
92; Dejah_Thoris> I hope your library system gets Winnie and Gurley because if you like family histories this one is a great book.
Fever 1793 really is as good as everyone says it is, but it's also a quick read. It won't clog up your reading stack for too long!
93; Cyderry> My Enemy's Cradle was amazing to read - although not in a happy way, considering the subject. But it's set mostly in Germany, so it might not work for the Netherlands when reading it for the Europe Endless challenge - depending on how you count your books.
20. Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It by Natalie Jobity(5 stars)
In "Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It", Natalie Jobity, a fashion expert and professional image consultant, arms readers with the know-how, tools and advice so that they too can become one of those effortlessly stylish women they admire. With down to earth and practical wisdom that is delivered with encouragement and sass, Natalie leads the way for the woman who is ready for her image to catch up with the rest of her life. This book is an invitation to change how the world sees you and how you see yourself, on your terms. You'll learn how to dress to elevate your image so you look and feel amazing. Wherever you are on your image journey-from fashion challenged to emerging fashionista-with Natalie as your guide you will be inspired to "Flaunt It!"
This book truly covers it all – from body shapes to colors to shopping to clothes for all occasions, as well as make-up, accessories, and most importantly self-image. With practical tips and written with humor, this is a book to read and then go out and do! I’ve never been so glad for a book to be on my Kindle, as I highlighted like crazy! There are always parts that aren’t about you, like in the chapter about body shapes, only one body shape is mine. But I highlighted the parts that were about my body, tips for my type of clothes, and now all of those things are neatly together in ‘My Clippings’ on the Kindle – handy indeed. After reading this book I am no longer dreading to open my closet, instead I’ve taken the time to go through it and toss what’s ‘frumpy’. Now, armed with a shopping list and a good idea as to what I can and cannot wear to look fabulous, I am finally seeing why so many women think it’s fun to go clothes shopping! For anyone wanting to look fabulous and convey their unique personality with clothes that show the world how beautiful you are – no matter what size or shape – this book is highly recommended!
21. La Desperada by Patricia Burroughs (5 stars)
With her husband dead and his brother trying to kill her, Elizabeth Dougherty breaks into the jail and holds a cold-blooded murderer at gunpoint, promising to release him if he’ll agree to her terms. “Take me with you.” But when Boone Coulter grudgingly agrees, he has no idea that her would-be killer is the sheriff — an enemy from his past who now wants them both dead.
Set in the Texas and New Mexico of Billy the Kid, their passionate tale of love and sacrifice becomes the stuff of legend... The legend of “La Desperada.”
Originally titled What Wild Ecstasy, this edition also has Patricia Burroughs’ award-winning script Redemption in it, which was based on What Wild Ecstasy. The problem I had with that is that I’m not too keen on reading a script – especially not when it’s the same basic story as I just read – and it makes the book seem longer than it actually is, since only 2/3 of the book is the actual story.
But, when looking at the story itself, I loved it! This had it all – romance, great historical setting, the old West gun-slinger feeling, a sensitive hero who’s still very much a man, and a woman who’s strong without being modern. The only minor quibble I had was that in the end there’s a solution that leads to the situation as it is in the epilogue, yet we never learn what that solution is. That’s a shame, but it doesn’t otherwise detract from a wonderful story! Highly recommended.
You've written some great reviews here. I've added A Plague On Both Your Houses to my wishlist.
97, tymfos> Thank you! I hope you enjoy A Plague On Both Your Houses as much as I did!
Finally I had the time to sit down and do a summary of the first quarter of this year. I’m doing pretty good, if I say so myself :D.
First Quarter Summary
Books read: 19
13 I owned, 6 were from the library
14 were paper books, 5 were Kindle e-books
14 were fiction, 5 were non-fiction
13 authors were female, 6 were male
11 were from the USA, 3 from the UK, 5 were from other European countries
6 books were part of a series
1 series was new to me, the other 5 were not
8 books were rated with 5 stars
1 book was rated lower than 3 stars
Best book so far (fiction): My Enemy's Cradle by Sara Young
Best book so far (non-fiction): Serving Up the Harvest by Andrea Chesman
Worst book so far: Flowerbed of State by Dorothy St. James
22. A Place Beyond Courage by Elizabeth Chadwick (5 stars)
The early twelfth century is a time for ambitious men to prosper, and royal servant John FitzGilbert Marshal is one of them. But when the kin of the deceased King Henry battle each other for England's throne, John’s relatively easy life ends and he has to fight in order to protect all he has. His wife, fragile, naive Aline is hopelessly unequipped to cope with the demands of a life lived on the edge. Sybilla, bright, forthright sister to the Earl of Salisbury, finds herself used as a bargaining tool when her brother seeks to seal a truce with his troublesome neighbor, John FitzGilbert. But unlike Aline she’s no shrinking violet. Will John and his family get through the war for the crown intact?
Absolutely amazing! There’s no other words to describe this book. I thought it was better than A Plague on Both Your Houses – which I loved. Now I see what people meant by A Plague on Both Your Houses not being authentic enough for the medieval time period it portrays. There’s so much historical detail here, so much research that has gone into this book – yet never does it detract from the story. In fact, it enhances it and makes it all the richer. I highly, highly recommend this book!
23. Remote Control by Andy McNab (4 stars)
Nick Stone left the Special Air Service in 1988, soon after the shooting of three IRA terrorists in Gibraltar. Now working for British Intelligence on deniable operations, he discovers the seemingly senseless murders of a fellow SAS soldier and his family in Washington, DC. Only a seven-year-old daughter, Kelly, has survived - and the two of them are immediately on the run from unidentified pursuers. Stone doesn't even know which of them is the target. On his own, Stone stands a chance of escape. But he needs to protect the girl and together they plunge into a dark world of violence and corruption in which friend cannot be told from foe.
Remote Control is a good thriller, which reminded me a bit of the Mitch Rapp series by Vince Flynn. Nick Stone is far more cold than Mitch, survival is everything to him. He long ago lost the idealism that Mitch still possesses. This coldness and unfeeling (although not completely) makes it sometimes hard to connect with the character, although you're of course rooting for him. But, he does go through some change in this book, both good and bad, on the human relationship level.
Of course, the action is great. Then again, Andy McNab has been there, done that, so he knows his stuff. Although sometimes too much knowledge of the subject leads to detailed explanations in the wrong place, taking speed away from the plot, that doesn’t happen here. All details flow seamlessly within the plot, never slowing anything down. Some of the details of this thriller show that it was written over ten years ago, but nothing blatant enough to jolt you out of the story. All in all, a good start to this series, and I fully intent to pick up the next book.
I've heard a lot of great things about Elizabeth Chadwick's books. I'm definitely going to have check her out. Do you have a favorite?
I've finally got some time to sit down and read again. Trying to finish Under the Snow tonight. While it's not your typical murder mystery at all, it's pretty intriguing in its own right. The further into the book I get, the more drawn into the story I am.
On a different note, I am still reading Milestones to Disaster, which I started in January, I think... It's heavy and dense, with lots and lots of political debate in it. A big problem for me throughout the book has been the fact that a lot of names - well known at the time it was written, right after World War 2, and perhaps even today in Great-Britain - are not familiar to me at all. So I'm frequently lost - trying to figure out who belongs to what party. But this past week there was a movie on the tv called The Gathering Storm, which is about Churchill in the years before WW2. Basically, it covers the period of Milestones to Disaster, and not only did it clarify a lot of things, and solidified the who is who now that I have 'faces' to go with the names, it also showed a side of those years that doesn't come forward in the book at all - the personal one. Very nice to watch, and perhaps the push I needed to finally finish Milestones to Disaster.
24. Under the Snow by Kerstin Ekman (4 stars)
In a village nestling at the foot of a snowy mountain in Lapland, Constable Torsson receives a phone call from an outlying district. He skis off to investigate the death of a teacher following a drunken brawl. The dark deeds of winter finally come to light under the relentless summer sun.
How to review this book? It’s far removed from a traditional detective story. The clues are subtle, reminding me a bit of Poirot, with a big reveal at the end. The tension builds up until it reads as almost a thriller at the end. But while the investigation revolves around the death of one of the villagers, the book itself is a sketch of the village and life in an area where part of the year the sun doesn’t set and part of the year the sun doesn’t rise.
I had two minor quibbles with the book. The first one is the fact that apparently it’s set in the early 1960s – contemporary when it was published, now only noticable by one or two minor details. If you don't know this - I didn't until after reading the book - it can make for some strange moments while reading it. Another thing I didn’t like very much about the book was one of the main characters, David. He’s a friend of the dead teacher and a bit…odd. I got frequently annoyed by his behavior, although I did eventually get used to it.
But despite these things, Under the Snow was a good book. It grew on me, the further in I got the better it became. I’d recommend this book to anyone that likes a mystery, but also to anyone who likes more intimate sketches of life in a different place.
I'm all prepped for Queens Day - which is tomorrow. It's a national holiday here in the Netherland, in which we celebrate our Queen. There are lots of festivities all over the country, but the part that I love is the free market. One time a year, all children (and although technically only children, plenty of adults do it too) are allowed to sell things right on the street, something normally not permitted without a license. Think several streets filled with blankets on the sidewalk, and on it all kinds of stuff for sale at very low prices - like toys, clothes, and most importantly: books.
For years, ever since I was little, I've been going to the free market in the early morning and buying loads of books. I've become a bit more discerning in the last few years, as my TBR stack is growing ever larger, but I still come home with quite a lot of finds. There are several books I'm really looking for, like the Agatha Christie novels I don't have yet (not that many), and that also goes for Enid Blyton's books. Then I buy the books I encounter that I've either read, loved, and like to have as part of my permanent collection, but that I am not prepared to pay full price for - like Crusade in Jeans and Around the World in Eighty Days. Books that are on my TBR list are ones that get picked up as well - The Lord of the Rings for instance. And then there are those books that just look plain interesing and are cheap. Yeah, my TBR stack takes quite a hit each year. And yet...I love it! Oh, I wish it was tomorrow already!
That sounds like a fun day, Samantha_kathy. I hope you strike it rich in books that you are looking for. Have a good time and let us know what you pick up.
Queen's Day sounds wonderful. I hope you enjoy yourself and bring home lots of fabulous books!
I had so much fun today! It took me over an hour to peruse everything - actually, it might have been closer to two hours. In the end, I ended up with 24 books! Yes, 24! Gah, as if my TBR stack wasn't big enough :D. I paid 24,50 euro for them, so that's just a little over 1 euro per book. Very cheap - which makes me very happy!
Picture from the free market, found through Google
Notre Dame de Paris by Victor Hugo (in French! Oh, what have I got myself into!)
The Romance of Tristan and Iseult by Joseph Bedier
The Iliad and the Odyssey by Homer
The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
Books already on my TBR list
Killing Floor by Lee Child
Wild Swans by Jung Chang
Versluiering by Monaldi and Sorti (short story, special edition for thriller month, part of the Atto Melani series)
Honeymoon in Purdah: An Iranian Journey by Alison Wearing
Secretum by Monaldi & Sorti
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Books I am collecting (and also reading, of course)
Code to Zero by Ken Follett
The Key to Rebecca by Ken Follett
The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie
Five on a Secret Trail by Enid Blyton
Five Go to Mystery Moor by Enid Blyton
Second Form at St. Clare's by Enid Blyton (replacement book for one I already had that's falling apart)
Just because they looked like fun reads
Met de trein door China (By Train Through China) by Jesse Goossens
Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
Cry of the Panther by Adam Armstrong
De Valse Meesters (The Fake Paintings) by Javier Gonzalez
Circles of Stones by Joan Lambert
Reading Lolita in Teheran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (already read once, but nice to own)
De Medici: opkomst, bloei en ondergang van een Florentijnse familie in Europa (De Medici: Rise, Rule and Downfall of a Florentine Family in Europe) by Dr. E. Brasseur-Peeters
Oh, the Free Market sounds like so much fun - and wow did you get a great haul!
110> Yeah, it was a lot of fun! And it haul was great indeed, I get happy just looking at the huge stack of books I brought home.
April in Review
I had an excellent reading month. Not so much in numbers – although 5 books are pretty good for how busy I was – but definitely in the quality of books. From the 5 books I read, 3 were 5 star and 2 were 4 star books.
This month I read 5 books.
4 of those I owned, 1 was from the library
2 were Kindle e-books, the other 3 were paper books
4 were fiction books, 1 was non-fiction
4 were written by female authors, only 1 by a male author
3 books were rated with 5 stars:
Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It by Natalie Jobity
La Desperada by Patricia Burroughs
A Place Beyond Courage by Elizabeth Chadwick
May Reading Plans
I’m still reading North and South and Milestones to Disaster. And I want to finish Pope Joan and Zwarte merel in een veld met Pioenen.
I’m planning to read Bone Rattler: A Mystery of Colonial America, Memoirs of a Geisha, Far Afield, and Death Comes As the End. I hope to have time for Gods and Kings and Thomas Cromwell: The Rise And Fall Of Henry VIII's Most Notorious Minister as well.
And, if I still have time – like, when hell freezes over, or when pigs fly, whichever comes later – I want to read Kindred Spirits and Circle of Bones.
You got some great books to add to your library, great prices as well!
How fun! You found some good bargains. Your picture suggests that the weather cooperated. Books and rain don't mix very well!
Yes, the weather was bautiful. It remained dry all day and it was 20 degrees Celsius, which is summer temperatures. Knowing it was cold and rainy all week before, and it will be cold and rainy again this week, we really lucked out!
Lunch break at work. Had a very busy week, so not much reading got done. But during my commute I'm greatly enjoying Far Afield. It's so much better than I thought it would be. I'll admit to picking it up mainly for the setting (the Faroe Islands), but I'm sure glad I did!
Today is Remembrance Day here in the Netherlands. Tomorrow, we celebrate our liberation from Nazi Germany, and the freedom we enjoy today. But today, we remember those who fought and died for our freedom, and the victims of the Second World War, as well as all those who died fighting for our country since then, in wars and on peace-keeping missions around the globe.
Today, I remember my paternal great-grandfather, who fought in the Dutch East Indies against the Japanese and spent time as a prisoner of war in a Japanese prison camp. He continued to serve in the Navy until his retirement.
Today I remember my paternal great-grandmother, who died in a Japanese prison camp from lack of food, not long before the surrender of Japan.
Today I remember my paternal grandfather, who was interned in a Japanese prison camp as a teen during World War Two, and served in the Navy until his retirement. He died far too soon, fighting an enemy inside his body he couldn't win against.
Today I remember my great-uncle, who was also interned in a Japanese prison camp during the war. He died before I could get to know him.
Today I remember my great-aunt, also interned in a Japanese prison camp during the war. She passed away this past year, but not before passing on the stories of the war to me. They shall be told.
Today I remember my maternal grandmother. She hid Jewish people in her home during the war, risking everything to do the right thing. She has my admiration and I wish she was still here to tell the tale.
Today I remember my maternal grandfather, who was forced to serve as a medic in the German army. His open support for the Dutch cause caused him to be sent to the Russian front. The horrors of the war continued to haunt him until his death.
Today I remember my maternal grandfather's brother-in-law, one of the higher ups in the Dutch resistance. He risked his life fighting for our freedom, and nearly died in an assasination attempt at the end of the war. He was lucky, several other resistance fighters weren't. His tale is still remembered, his bravery still known.
Today, I remember all those who fought for our freedom and died. Today I remeber all those who suffered in the war and died. Today I remember all those who fought and suffered and made it through the war, those who spent the rest of their lives rebuilding this country - the horrors seen never forgotten. Their numbers are dwindling, but their stories live on in their descendants. They will be remembered. Their tales are still told.
Thank you for sharing such an inspiring tribute to your loved ones. How blessed you've been to have them in your life.
That's beautiful, Samantha_kathy. What a wonderful way to remember your family and others. Thank you for sharing.
Samantha_kathy, what an extraordinary and touching tribute to those members of your family who sacrificed so much so that the Netherlands could again be a free country, and who helped free the world from a terrible tyranny. Thank you for sharing your remembrances with us. They will stay with me for a long time.
119, 120 & 121> Thank you. I think it is important that these stories are told, especially today, when those who lived it are almost all gone, and the world is such a grim place at times.
I'm incredibly busy, making long days, but I still find time to read. Five minutes there, a fifteen minute lunch break here, it all chips away at the book I'm currently reading. Which is Far Afield by Susanna Kaysen, an unbelievably good read. I'm not even sure I can write a proper review for it, it will probably be all gushing and little substance :D. In fact, Far Afield is so good, I've done something I hardly ever do. Half-way into the last chapter, the ending so near, I've put it away. I laid it aside, to savor what I've read just a little longer, to delay the inevitable ending of this book just a few days more. I will finish it, probably at the end of this week. But not now, not yet. Let me enjoy it just a little bit longer.
Hi Samantha_kathy, you must be very proud of your family of heros. Thank you for sharing their stories. My Dad served in the Canadian Army during WW II and I know he was in Belgium and Holland, but he never spoke much about his experiences.
"an unbelievably good read" You haven't even written your review of Far Afield and I have already added it to my wishlist.
123> Glad to know occasionally I fire the bookbullet, instead of getting hit with it :D.
124> Yes, I am very proud. And thankful for all those who fought, one way or another, for our freedom.
Also glad to know that I don't have to write a review to get Far Afield on people's wishlist. It thoroughly deserves to be there!
I've got a cold (or a mild flu, take your pick) and as such don't feel up to much reading. I did start Death Comes As the End, which while a nice mystery doesn't charm me as much as it used to. Somehow, after all the truly great historical fiction I've read over the years since I last read it, the ancient Egyptian setting doesn't feel alive.
25. Far Afield by Susanna Kaysen (5 stars)
Jonathan Brand visits a group of Scandinavian islands in order to do his anthropology fieldwork, but in adjusting to the local culture, he finds himself caught up in the supposedly simple way of life.
What to say about Far Afield? It’s a book that sneaks up on you. The events in the book are normal – well, what counts as normal for the Faroe Islands anyway – and there’s no great mystery or drama. Jonathan goes through profound changes and the questions he asks himself make you think about your own life. The story pulls you in and refuses to let you go. Putting this book down was hard to do.
The writing itself is beautiful – stark and poetic at the same time, a perfect accompaniment to the story. She lived for a time on the Faroe Islands, which really shows in the book. The complexity of life that seems so simple on the surface has been captured to perfection by Susanna Kaysen. Highly, highly recommended.
I had the Faroe Islands down as a bonus setting for my Europe Endless challenge and that book is one of the ones I put down as a possibility for it. I've now starred it on my possibilities list because of your review. It's probably the one I'll read. It sounds very interesting.
127> It is very interesting. I'll admit to picking it up solely for the setting, but I am so glad I did!
I finally feel better after a solid week of feeling crappy. It's no wonder I'm making a lot of headway with my reading - I have a lot to catch up on!
I'm getting immersed in the Kosovo war with Zwarte merel in een veld met pioenen again. It's fairly heavy at times, but the literary style and the fact that it shifts the focus onto new characters constantly keep it at a comfertable emotional distance.
I'm also still reading Death Comes As the End. The murder mystery is classic Agatha Christie - small cast of characters who could have done it, all of them close to the one another. Do you really want to know? Or is burying it and forgetting the best? But still, even half-way through the book, the setting is kind of flat. It's authentic, I'll give you that, and as detailed as ever. But that "I'm really there" feeling I have with Agatha Christie's contemporary novels (now kind-of historical), that's not present here. Quite frankly, I've seen the Ancient Egypt setting done far and far better. It doesn't detract from the rest of the book, just keeps it from being the masterpiece it could have been.
26. Zwarte merel in een veld met pioenen by Borislav Cicovacki (4 stars)
In the end, the civil war in Kosovo knows only victims.
“Zwarte merel in een veld met pioenen” is an account of these victims. By following their lives – either for a long time or a short while – we get to see what the war did to people on all sides of the conflict. It's fairly heavy at times, the author doesn’t shy away from atrocities. But the literary style and the fact that it shifts the focus onto new characters constantly keep it at a comfortable emotional distance. On the other hand, this constant shifting and the literary style sometimes made it hard to follow what was going on and who we were with. But all in all, this was a very good book that really gave me some insight in how the war erupted and the effect it had on people. Recommended.
27. Death Comes As the End by Agatha Christie (4 stars)
After the death of her husband, Renisenb returns to the house of her father, the ka-priest Imhotep. But soon after her father brings home a concubine and everything changes. Dark things that have always been buried now come to the surface, starting with the death of the concubine. Renisenb must face that someone in her family is a murderer – but does she really want to know who it is? Can she afford to stay ignorant, or will that end in her own death?
The murder mystery in this book is classic Agatha Christie - small cast of characters who could have done it, all of them close to the one another. But different from her usual novels, this one is set in Ancient Egypt. And that right there is my problem with this book. Agatha Christie has done a lot of research to write this book and the setting is very authentic, I'll give you that. It’s also as detailed as ever. But that "I'm really there" feeling I have with Agatha Christie's contemporary novels (now kind-of historical), that's not present here. Quite frankly, I've seen the Ancient Egypt setting done far and far better by other authors. It doesn't detract from the rest of the book, just keeps it from being the masterpiece it could have been. The mystery is engaging as always with Agatha Christie’s books and the setting doesn’t seem so important when it gets really going. The ultimate solution is so logical looking back on it, yet I didn’t catch on until the reveal. All in all, I did like this book a lot.
Took a trip to the library today in order to stock up on some books for our family holiday - we'll be leaving on Friday and I've got no time to go during the week. Mostly this trip was to get books for my mother, as I'm taking my Kindle and a few TBR books from my own stack with me. Out of the 8 books on the list she gave me, only 1 was available! Good thing I have some books she might like on my TBR stack.
On another note, I've started work on my garden. Due to circumstances beyond my control it has been severely neglected for the past two years. Which means it's a weed jungle right now, with weeds as tall as I am and stems as big as my thumbs. I hacked down about half of it. Hopefully during the week I'll have some time to hack down the rest. And the the task of removing the left-over stems and roots still remains. *sigh*
I've got to run to the library this morning also. I've got a couple of books to return and a couple I need to check out!
I only checked out two. I've got about ten or so piled up to read already. Since it's "murder and mayhem" month, I overcommitted myself. I'll never get to all of them, but I am going to make sure that I get to the ones that were on my library list as well as any matched reads that I can. Unfortunately, the waiting list is too long on the e-book of one of the matched books. I'll never get it before the end of the month. It's part of a statewide shared e-book project and there are only a couple of books for the entire state, and it's fairly new.
135> Sorry for the late reply, but I was on holiday without internet (gasp! The horror!). I always overcommit, every month again, with my reading list.
Back from holiday, where I didn't do much reading. Which is so not like me, but the weather was beautiful and I spend most of my holiday enjoying the sun and quilting.
I've got two reviews to write, but can also scratch one review off my list. I tried reading Bone Rattler by Eliot Pattison. But although it's a well written book, it wasn't for me. It's a historical mystery, but it was far more gritty than I expected, as well as leaning towards horror a bit. For someone who likes that kind of thing I would definitely recommend this book, because the historical setting is pitch-perfect and very interesting. So, recommended, but for me it was a 'Did Not Finish'.
I've also put aside Pope Joan for now. Maybe I'll pick it up again in the future, but right now it's just not for me.
On a brighter note, I'm enjoying Memoirs of a Geisha and Gods and Kings - which I got as a Kindle freebie - is amazingly good.
May in Review
Considering I had a week-long holiday, the amount of books I managed to read this month is pretty meager. But I do think I might have read the best book I'm going to be reading this year - unless there's an even more amazing book waiting for me.
This month I read 5 books.
4 of those I owned, 1 was from the library
1 was Kindle e-books, the other 4 were paper books
4 were fiction books, 1 was non-fiction
4 were written by female authors, only 1 by a male author
1 book was rated with 5 stars:
Far Afield by Susanna Kaysen
28. Irish Chain by Earlene Fowler (3.5 stars)
When Benni Harper got roped into throwing a prom for San Celina’s local retirement home, she never expected to be confronted with another body – let alone two! Of course, Benni can’t help but get involved, especially as it seems that everybody on the suspect list is someone she cares about. Despite the warnings of her police chief boyfriend, she continues to dig, risking not only her relationship but even her life.
This is a fun, light cozy read that’s exactly what you expect. Continuing in the line of the first book in the series, Benni keeps being nosy – despite repeated warnings from several people to stay out of it. I know some people are on Benni’s side and think her boyfriend is being chauvinistic (which, admittedly, he is), but mostly Benni’s in the wrong here and she knows it. I like the fact that the dilemma’s an amateur sleuth with a police boyfriend faces are not swept under the rug, nor is everything swept under the carpet to keep the relationship happy and without friction. Another touch of realism is added in a secondary story line in which Benni is involved in a project that’s about the ‘forgotten’ history of American-Japanese people during World War 2.
The combination of history, quilts, and mystery in this book made it a highly enjoyable read for me. However, I’d guessed pretty early on in which direction the killer had to be sought, even though the exact identity remained a mystery to me until the reveal. At the end of the day, this book is a little above average for a cozy mystery, but still recommended for those who like this genre.
29. Hoe schrijf je een familiegeschiedenis by Marijke Hilhorst (3.5 stars)
Translated the title of this book is “How to write a family history”. Unfortunately, as with so many books about writing family histories (or biographies, which I find a closely related topic), it’s so focused on interviewing living people and gathering memories, anecdotes, etc, about people who are either still alive or have died recently enough that living people still have personal memories of them. For a genealogist like me, who likes to write family history and biographies about people long since dead – people where interviews with living people won’t help – books like these are often for a great part ‘useless’.
In this particular book, there’s some useful information about using sources (other than interviews) to write a family history, and some really helpful tips for writing a family history that’s applicable to whatever type of family history you’re writing. But, oh, I so long for the day that a book about family history writing stops emphasizing interviews and starts giving me real, substantial and helpful information in turning all those paper sources of my fifth great-grandfather (or another relative equally far removed from the living) into a great family history!
30. Gods and Kings by Lynn Austin (5 stars)
Gods and Kings is the story of King Hezekiah, heir to the throne of King David. When his evil father plots to sacrifice him, Hezekiah's mother, Abijah, searches frantically for a way to save him. But only two men can help her, and neither of them seems trustworthy. In a time and place engulfed by violence, treachery, and infidelity to Yahweh, Abijah and her son must discover the one true Source of strength if they are to save themselves and their country.
Christian fiction – yes. I’ll admit it right from the start. But, this book is so incredibly well written. Lynn Austin takes the bible story of Hezekiah and turns it into one of the best historical fiction books set in biblical times I’ve ever read. The multiple viewpoints offer us a chance to see each of the main characters of this story as real-life, 3-D people. No cliché evil person to find in this novel, not even Hezekiah’s father.
The historical details are very good, and even if you know nothing about Hezekiah or the Bible, Lynn Austin sweeps you away to ancient Judah, where a king rules who’s squandering his land and the brutal Assyrians are encroaching on every bit of land they can reach. And in the midst of all this chaos the Jewish religion is slowly being forgotten in favor of other gods and idols. And it’s this religious shift that threatens Hezekiah as he grows up.
All in all, heartily recommended for anyone who loves historical fiction! Please, don’t be scared away by the Christian background of this book! If you love a good story, set in ancient times, this is the book for you!
I'll have to try Gods and Kings at some point. I've read a couple of Lynn Austin's novels set in more recent historical eras (Civil War & early to mid-20th century) and wasn't impressed. It seems like biblical historical fiction may be her forte.
141> I haven't read any of het other novels, so I couldn't tell you of this one differs a lot. You could be right. It might also just be that back then the pressure to 'produce' a book every year or so wasn't so high - a lot of authors have a marked decline in quality the moment they start to put out one or two books a year. Or we like different types of books and you won't be impressed with this one either :D. Either way, I'd love to hear your opinion on it.
*Dusts off this thread*
I'm sorry to have been absent from LT for so long! I've been (and truthfully, still am) very, very busy. I'm at the end of my master at the university, and the work is piling up. If all goes well, I should be done at the end of August.
However, for the first time in almost two months I've picked up a book this week! It feels good to read again.
I've still got a few reviews I need to do, so expect to see some activity on this thread!
31. Lily of the Nile by Stephanie Dray (4 stars)
In the aftermath of Alexandria's tragic fall, Princess Selene is taken from Egypt, the only home she's ever known. Along with her two surviving brothers, she's put on display as a war trophy in Rome. Selene's captors mock her royalty and drag her through the streets in chains, but on the brink of death, the children are spared as a favor to the emperor's sister, who takes them to live as hostages in the so-called lamentable embassy of royal orphans...
Trapped in a Roman court of intrigue that reviles her heritage and suspects her faith, Selene can't hide the hieroglyphics that carve themselves into her flesh. Nor can she stop the emperor from using her for his own political ends. Faced with a new and ruthless Caesar who is obsessed with having a Cleopatra of his very own, Selene is determined to honor her mother's lost legacy. The magic of Egypt and Isis remain within her. Can she succeed where her mother failed? And what will it cost her in a political game where the only rule is win or die?
I liked Lily of the Nile a lot better than Michelle Moran’s Cleopatra’s Daughter. This Selene was likable, strong, and in no way a whiny little girl who’d never have made it as far as she did in real life. I like the way she takes after her mother, without being so obvious about it that it will be her downfall in Rome. The magical elements took a bit of getting used to, but they are not as overpowering as I thought they might be. The only thing I wasn’t as enamored with was Selene’s relationship with Juba, but that’s probably more because I’m a hopeless romantic and I would have liked to have seen them have a better relationship. But all in all, highly recommended!
It's great to have you back, Samantha-Kathy! That book sounds quite intriguing.
145> Thanks! The book is pretty good. I'd been a bit anxious to start it, both because Cleopatra's Daughter disappointed me so much and because of the magical element. But it turned out great.
32. The Unsung Hero by Suzanne Brockmann (4 stars)
After a near-fatal head injury, navy SEAL lieutenant Tom Paoletti catches a terrifying glimpse of an international terrorist in his New England hometown. When he calls for help, the navy dismisses the danger as injury-induced imaginings. In a desperate, last-ditch effort to prevent disaster, Tom creates his own makeshift counterterrorist team, assembling his most loyal officers, two elderly war veterans, a couple of misfit teenagers, and Dr. Kelly Ashton-the sweet "girl next door" who has grown into a remarkable woman. The town's infamous bad boy, Tom has always longed for Kelly. Now he has one final chance for happiness, one last chance to win her heart, and one desperate chance to save the day.
Is it real or imagined? That’s the question Tom Paoletti asks himself for much of this book, and eventually even the reader isn’t sure anymore if the terrorist is real or imagined. I like the fact that the reader doesn’t know any more than Tom does in this book – about the terrorist plot, anyway. There’s a secondary plot running through the book about World War Two, with flashbacks to that time, which is just as interesting. The only thing I could have wished for was a little more action, which didn’t start until nearly the end of the book. And while it is a romance book, the romance doesn’t overpower the plot in any way. All in all, this is a really well told story with engaging characters, and multiple plot lines which all come together beautifully in the end. Highly recommended.
33. Fatal Fixer-Upper by Jennie Bentley (3.5 stars)
Avery Baker was once a New York designer, but inheriting her aunt's old Maine cottage has led her down a new career path - home renovation. Now, with help from hunky handyman Derek Ellis, Avery starts learning the ABCs of DIY. But when the designer-turned-renovator finds clues that lead to a missing professor, she wonders if she can finish the house - without getting finished off in the process.
Fatal Fixer-Upper is a good example of a themed cozy mystery. This book is the first in a Do-It-Yourself series, where the main characters buy derelict houses, fix them up, and sell them again. This one had original characters and a nice plot. I did have a hard time getting into it, though, because of the first chapter. It was heavy on a really unlikable character, but after that he was (mostly) out of the picture and the story picked up. The rest of the book was a nice, cozy read. Recommended if you like cozy mysteries.
34. Spackled and Spooked by Jennie Bentley (3 stars)
Avery Baker and her boyfriend, Derek Ellis, are flipping a seriously stigmatized house rumored to have ghosts. Soon they'll have even bigger problems - and this renovation project might haunt them forever.
The second book in a Do-It-Yourself series, where the main characters buy derelict houses, fix them up, and sell them again. It was a nice story, but the plot was thinner than the first in the series. I liked it because of the characters, but easily figured out many of the plot points. Still, it was an enjoyable read. And there were several instances where it became apparent that the author is good at writing well-rounded characters, even those that are antagonistic. Recommended if you like cozy mysteries.
Short Story: King of Clubs by Agatha Christie (4 stars)
Prince Paul of Maurania plans to marry the famous dancer Valerie Saintclair, but she is involved in a nasty scandal, and he wants Poirot to investigate. She entered the home of the Oglanders, her dress stained with blood, and fainted after crying: Murder!" At the neighboring villa Mon Desir, impresario Henry Reedburn, "The King of Clubs", lies dead.
A funny, little Poirot story. I liked the mystery, and the atmosphere of the story. But I will admit that I found Poirot’s decision in the end faintly disturbing on some level. But, it’s one of Agatha Christie’s better short stories.
35. The Killing Way by Tony Hays (5 stars)
It is the time of Arthur, but this is not his storied epic. Arthur is a young and powerful warrior who some would say stands on the brink of legend. Britain's leaders have come to elect a new supreme king, and Arthur is favored. But when a young woman is brutally murdered and the blame is placed at Merlin's feet, Arthur's reputation is at stake and his enemies are poised to strike. Arthur turns to Malgwyn ap Cuneglas, a man whose knowledge of battle and keen insight into how the human mind works has helped Arthur come to the brink of kingship.
Malgwyn is also the man who hates Arthur most in the world.
After the death of Malgwyn's wife by Saxon hands, he became Mad Malgwyn, killer of Saxons and right-hand lieutenant to the warrior Arthur. Right hand, that is, until a Saxon cut his sword arm off and left him to die on the battlefield. Arthur rescued him. Now a one-armed scribe and a heavy drinker, Malgwyn rejects the half-life that his liege gave him. But loyalty is sometimes stronger than loathing and Malgwyn is pulled toward a puzzle that he can't walk away from.
Oh, where to begin with this review? Let’s start by saying that this book is absolutely amazing in all aspects! The mystery itself is well plotted, well thought-out and so complicated while still being so incredibly logical. The fact that we’re in a time period where forensics weren’t available and evidence is scarce, means that everything has to be thought out. There’s an added complication of politics, tricky in any time, more so in a time where it can literally cost several people their head and Arthur’s people their freedom.
The man who is the main character of this novel is Malgwyn, a shrew character that’s not particularly happy with his life at the beginning of the story. He’s a man of many depths and, unlike many characters I’ve encountered in mysteries, actually capable of changing during the story. He’s not static, but actually reads like a living, breathing human being. In fact, Tony Hays’ characters, even the bad guys, all read like complex, realistic people.
The historical details feel incredibly authentic, despite the fact that very little is known about this time, it’s very clear that the author has done his homework. Not only the time period rings true – it’s a feast of recognition for lovers of the Arthur legends. Except for a few characters that the author explains in the author’s notes at the end are clearly later additions to the story, most familiar characters are present: Arthur, Merlin, Guinevere, Kay, Gawain, Mordred, to name a few. And all those magical, mystical things in the Arthur legends are given a place – without it ever straying from a story that could have taken place. From where the name ‘Camelot’ could have come from, to Merlin as a wizard, to the sword in the stone, this story shows historically possible happenings that could have grown over time into the myth we know today. It’s masterfully done!
All in all, this was a very, very good read. And the best part? It’s the first book in a series, which means more of where this came from! I, for one, cannot wait to get my hands on the next book in this series! Highly, highly recommended! Perhaps the best historical mystery I’ve read in years.
Oh, that does sound good. I've gotten stalled on my Arthurian series but I hope to read the next volume in September for the Series and Sequels. The Killing Way is going on my wishlist.
36. Honeymoon in Purdah by Alison Wearing (3 stars)
A young woman convinces her friend to go on a journey to Iran. Dressed in purdah, she travels to places usually hidden for Western eyes. The book is full of meetings with people, every one different and showing a part of Iranian culture.
I have heard it’s not a very reliable representation of Iran. I don’t know much about Iran, I’ll be the first one to admit that. The author normally writes travel stories for a magazine. She writes in the foreword that the story in the book are sketches of Iran as she experienced it, and that the atmosphere they convey is more important than the details. She also admits to having clubbed together several anecdotes into one anecdote in order to protect identities.
Is it ridiculous nonsense? Closer to fiction than fact? I doubt it. Wearing shows good and bad sides of life in Iran, private life and public life, people in favor of the revolution and against it. Nice people and not so nice people. It seems like a well-rounded view on Iran. But then again, I am not an expert on this country.
As for the book itself, it's very readable and I enjoy it. The author is a good writer, evoking place and feelings very well. However interesting it was though, it never became more than mere ‘sketches’ and there was no real line to find in reading it. Not even the travelling provided a red thread to the story, because even with the map in front of the book, I’m still not sure what route they actually took. As a travel story I found it a bit sub-par, as a look into the different faces of Iran I enjoyed it immensely.
August in Review
After a month of not reading, I slowly got back into swing in August. Not many books read, but one of them was absolutely amazing, so I'm calling it good!
This month I read 3 books.
2 of those I owned, 1 was from the library
None were Kindle e-books, 3 were paper books
2 were fiction books, 1 was a non-fiction
2 were written by female authors, 1 by a male author
1 book was rated with 5 stars:
The Killing Way by Tony Hays
September Planned Reads
I'll be reading Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi for the Reading Globally quarterly theme read of Middle Eastern literature. It's not exactly fiction, but it's the only Middle Eastern author currently on my (huge) TBR stack, so it'll have to do.
For the Reading Through Time monthly theme read of seasons I plan to read Gold Under Ice by Carol Buchanan - ice is sufficiently wintery to count - and The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell. The last one will do double duty as a read for the Reading Through Time quarterly theme read of Arthurian Britain.
I also plan on reading Orion's Belt by Jon Michelet for my Europe Endless challenge. It's set on Svalbard.
Should I have time left this month, I'll be picking up The Silver Eagle by Ben Kane - the sequel to The Forgotten Legion that I finished today, review of that will be up in a bit. I'm also looking at two of the sequels to The Killing Way by Tony Hays. Here's to hoping I'll get to them!
37. The Forgotten Legion by Ben Kane (3.5 stars)
Tarquinius is an Etruscan, a warrior and a soothsayer, born enemy of Rome, but doomed to fight for the Republic in the Forgotten Legion. Brennus is a Gaul: the Romans killed his entire family. He rises to become one of the most famous and feared gladiators of his day – and mentor to the boy slave, Romulus, who dreams night and day of escape and revenge. Romulus and Fabiola are twins, born into slavery after their mother is raped by a drunken nobleman. At thirteen years old they are sold: Romulus to gladiator school, Fabiola into prostitution, where she will catch the eye of one of the most powerful men in Rome.
The lives of these four characters are bound and interwoven in this story, which begins in a Rome riven by corruption, violence and political enemies, but ends far away at the very border of the known world, where Romulus, Brennus and Tarquinius find themselves fighting against the Parthians and impossible odds.
The Forgotten Legion, first in a trilogy, is a fast-paced, gritty story set in the Republican Roman Empire at the time Caesar’s star is risings. Unlike many of the historical fiction I’ve read, this does not revolve around the higher echelons of society. Instead, it takes place at the lowest of social classes – those of slaves, prostitutes and mercenaries. It gives a different point of view of the Roman empire, and it’s not a very pretty sight.
Although very well written, there was one big point of irritation throughout this novel. Ben Kane is very fond of using the Latin terms for things like coins, gladiator types, and weapons. That’s not a problem on its own, but it does become a problem when it starts to confuse the reader. There’s very little explanation of those terms in the story – there’s never a real explanation of Roman monetary systems, so I’ve got no clue what the different coins are worth. Sure, the occasional mention of gold or the reaction of the character gives a hint, but that’s it. Some of the gladiator types get an explanation, others never do – and the terms are thrown around enough that it’s impossible to keep them apart. The same goes for weapons – in the middle of a fight scene, I’ve got no clue what it is that they are fighting with! Are they using spears, axes, swords? Something else? Color me confused. This would have been easily solved with a glossary at the back, giving definitions of the terms. Would have saved me a lot of confusion along the way!
But apart from that, this was a well written, fast-paced, action packed book. The characters are engaging, grow throughout the story, and are sympathetic without being out of character for that time. A nice book if you like gritty stories, but beware that the details are fairly graphic. Recommended for lovers of this genre. I’ll be picking up the sequel for sure.
I'm reading Circle of Bones by Christine Kling at the moment. I've read the prologue and two chapters and am unsure what to think of it. I'll give it a bit longer, but if it doesn't get better soon, I think I'll put it aside. The writing isn't bad and for a thriller the pace is good, but there's no connection to the characters - and if I don't care about what happens to the characters, it's not really thrilling, now is it?
DNF: Circle of Bones by Christine Kling (2 stars)
I made it through the fairly confusing prologue and three chapters before throwing in the towel. The writing isn’t really bad and for a thriller the pace is good. However, there was no connection to the characters for me at all. Their introduction was fast, with lots of telling and very little showing of who and what the characters are. This caused me to not care at all about the characters, and if I don’t care, then it’s not really a thrilling read for me.
If I compare this with thrillers I’ve read and enjoyed, then I think the big fault of Circle of Bones is that the story begins too abrupt. There’s a mysterious ‘them’ for one character, and a love affair gone bad with a spook, a bombing two years ago, and a dead brother under unexplained circumstances for another – and that’s in two fairly short chapters. There’s no real chance to get to know a character, so their back story is told in a fast and dirty info-dump. The action of the story could have saved it – that is after all why we read a thriller – but the one nice bit of action in the present time is broken off to go to another character, and then we’re back to info-dump time again.
To be honest, I do see the potential for this book. The first chapter, set during World War Two, was well written and I liked it. It was when the modern day chapters began that the author lost me. Neither the action, what there was of it, nor the characters could hold my attention long enough for me to read on. Perhaps if you’re less inclined to stop reading so early the book improves, but I just don’t have the patience with this book to continue for the ‘maybe it will get better’ reason. Some of that might be that this was a Kindle book – it sometimes seems to me that I have less patience for Kindle books than paper books, although I don’t know why that is. All in all, I think this book is not particularly bad, it just wasn’t for me.
Too bad Circle of Bones didn't quite fit with you. That is one amazing cover though.
Yes, the cover was why I picked it up originally. It's an amazing piece of cover art.
I just finished The Divine Sacrifice by Tony Hays, which was just as good as the first in the series was. I'm very glad I picked it up.
I'm about half-way through Reading Lolita in Tehran which, apart from being well written, is making me think and drawing me in. Orion's Belt is also still on the TBR list for this month, although I think I won't start it until next week.
As for Gold Under Ice, well, I have started it, but it's not really pulling me in yet. I'll give it until page 50 to do so, or else I'm putting it down as a DNF. It was a gamble as to whether I'd like it or not anyway.
I've got a meeting in like half an hour and I am so nervous! I know I've got nothing to be nervous about - the people I have the meeting with are kind and helpful and on my side - and still, I am nervous. Enough so that I'm venting here. It's ridiculous and I wish the meeting would just start already!
Samantha_kathy, I hope your meeting went well. I'm sure you did a great job!
Rosalita: the meeting went well, although some difficult decisions were made. On the other hand, one of those decisions bought me some more time on one of my deadlines, so that's good :D
It's always a mix of good news/bad news, isn't it? Much better than all bad news, anyway!
169> Yes, there's always something. But a bit of good news always helps!
38. The Divine Sacrifice by Tony Hays (5 stars)
Arthur and Malgwyn are called to the abbey of Glastonbury to settle a matter of great political importance - tin is being mined for export to the Empire. While there, Malgwyn and Arthur meet St. Patrick, a legend in the Church who is there on a mission of his own, to root out the heresy of Pelagius.
When an aged monk is found cruelly murdered in his cell, Malgwyn is set with a problem that will test his skills as an investigator. His search for the truth may uncover a conspiracy that could endanger the kingdom.
Just like the first book in this series, this is a very good mystery. I kept turning page after page, wanting to know what was going on. Malgwyn remains an interesting character, who keeps learning from his experiences and changes accordingly. Also, Christian religion plays a large role in this book – and all that it entailed during this time. So that made it interesting from a historical perspective as well. I could expound on all of the things that made this book just as amazing as the first one, but I think the best thing about this book is that it didn’t disappoint. After such an amazing first book, it could have paled in comparison, yet it did not. Highly, highly recommended!
39. The Beloved Dead by Tony Hays (5 stars)
To consolidate his power, Arthur decides that it is time to take a noble wife. But in this Malgwyn knows not only his lord's ambition but his personal grief, because in order to take a queen Arthur must set aside his love Guinevere, because he believes that the scandal surrounding their affair has tainted her for the crown.
Malgwyn is sent north to fetch the young woman who is to be Arthur's bride. The way is fraught with tension and disaster for there are forces who would not see the king wed. When Malgwyn discovers a string of killings involving young virginal women who are slaughtered in a horrific manner - not unlike a ritual sacrifice - he is left with a question that he must answer quickly. Are these murders portents of the gods taking vengeance on the intrusion of a new faith? Or mortal men plotting to unseat the king?
The third book in the Arthurian Mysteries series by Tony Hays. Like the two before, this is a very strong, amazing mystery. The setting is ever vibrant and real, and the characters are evolving, living, breathing people – except for the fact that they are of course fictional, although I’d believe you if you said they truly existed back then. That’s how well they are written. This time the mystery central to this book hits a lot of characters – including Malgwyn – very personally. Because by this time I’d become so involved with these characters, the story kept me on the edge of my seat, especially in the last quarter of the book.
I really, really love this series. Each book seems to be just as well written as the previous ones. But what I love most about it is that events in the previous books effect character interactions and the plot of subsequent books. There are no ‘oh, there was a murder, but everything is back the way it was’ summary moments, which I see a lot in cozy mysteries where “village life” continues on as if there hasn’t been dead after dead which were solved by the main character. That, most of all, makes this series worth reading. But beware, while all the books in this series are fairly gritty and graphic in places, the murders in this book are especially gruesome. It’s not for the faint of heart! But otherwise, The Beloved Dead is another great installment in an amazing series.
Reading has been almost at a stand-still these last few months. I've been reading in dribs and drabs, never staying long with one particular book - which is why I've got a stack of half-read books lying around.
I managed to finish 1 book in October and 1 book in November so far, the review's of both still need to be written. But, I'm feeling hopeful that I can at least add two more books this month that I really want to finish: Wolf of the Plains and Founding Father. Well see, I guess.
I did not manage to finish any more books in November - but that's okay. It was a very stressfull month, but that's over now, so more time to read.
December 1st was my birthday and I got a lot of money which I used to buy me some books. I pre-ordered Fonduing Fathers by July Hyzy for my Kindle, and Tresspassers in Time: Genealogists and Microhistorians and Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case by Christine Rose are on their way to my house.
Tonight was Saint Nicholas here in the Netherlands, which means presents - and more books! I got Cookie Dough or Die by Virginia Lowell, If Fried Chicken Could Fly by Paige Shelton, and The Defiant Hero by Suzanne Brockmann. I also got The Collected Poems of William Wordsworth, which will keep me busy in 2013 with over 1000 pages.
Is it Christmas holidays with unlimited reading time yet??????
40. The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick (4.5 stars)
The Greatest Knight is about the first part of William Marshal’s life, because, as Elizabeth Chadwick herself describes it, he lived so much in his life that it could not fit into one book. This story takes us from his meager beginnings as a new, impoverished knight to his marriage – with his triumphs, downfalls and political maneuvering in the Angevin court between it.
Just like the book about William’s father John, A Place Beyond Courage, the writing was superb. However, I did not connect with William as much as I did with John. For much of the book William seemed to just be going with the flow, only doing enough to keep his head above the water. His ambition had to be spurned on by others, while it burned in his father. This, perhaps, is why I was sometimes annoyed with him and did not enjoy this book as much as I did A Place Beyond Courage. Having said that, The Greatest Knight is still a very good book and highly recommended.
>174 Nice haul! Do you still have Christmas presents to look forward to as well, or is this the end of the gift giving for the season?
176> Christmas is nowhere near as big here as it is elsewhere in the world, but I do get one or two Christmas gifts. Last year I got two quilting rulers (from Omnigrid, and those things do not come cheap, since it were two big ones). I've heard mention that my Christmas gifts "have already been bought" so requesting something specific will do me no good. Considering the long list of books I asked for, for Saint Nicholas, I'm thinking I might add some more books to my December haul come Christmas!
It snowed last night! There's a white blanket of snow covering the world outside my windowm - about 2 cm thick. It's really pretty and everything is so quiet here because the snow muffles the sound of cars and people going by. But boy am I glad I don't have to go through the snow and ice to work today because I'm working at home.
I thought I was the only one who spent my gifted funds on books?
How could I think that when there are so many here who love boks.
Glad you are enjoying the idea of Christmas holidays with unlimited reading time.
Happy belated Birthday, Samantha_kathy. I am planning on reading The Leopard Unleashed by Elizabeth Chadwick this month for the Reading Through Time Quarterly. I am a big fan her historical fiction.
180> Thank you! I'm also a big fan of Elizabeth Chadwick.
So, I had the most awkward conversation today. I mean, what do you say when the guy you broke up with a month ago offers you a belated birthday present? I mean, it was the first time since the break-up that I saw him, and from my side it was just very, very awkward. I broke his heart a month ago and now he was giving me a present? We haven't exactly stayed friends....we only knew each other for two months before we started dating, and that only lasted four months. So yeah...very awkward.
Despite the awkward, stilted conversation that thankfully lasted maybe 10 minutes at most, I'm pretty happy with the present of two books I had on my wishlist. Elizabeth I by Margaret George and Men of Bronze by Scott Oden.
41. A Palm for Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman (5 stars)
Mrs. Pollifax goes to Switzerland, ostensibly to recover from an illness in a Hotel-Clinic However, her real mission in going there is to search for stolen plutonium. Unfortunately, the mission is not led by the CIA, but by Interpol – and they don’t have much faith in Mrs. Pollifax. This leads to complications when Mrs. Pollifax uncovers much more than just the missing plutonium.
The by-now familiar elements of the Mrs. Pollifax series are present in this book, making it seem like a cozy story. At the same time, the unexpected twists and turns make it a page-turner. There’s humor, but also some serious situations - I had the feeling there were a few more dark moments in this book compared to the previous ones. All in all, I really liked this installment in the series and am eager to pick up the next one!
42. Founding Father by Richard Brookhiser (4 stars)
“Founding Father” by Richard Brookhiser, is a biography about George Washington and divided into three parts: Washington’s career, his character, and Washington as founding father. I came to this book knowing next to nothing about George Washington or the history of the United States. And while it is clear Brookhiser writes for an American audience – as evident by some remarks about “common knowledge” that are totally unknown in Europe by the majority of people – his story about Washington was easily to follow. Throughout the book, there’s a dry wit in the writing that I enjoyed.
The first part about his career left me with the impression Washington was a good, honorable man with high morals, possessing the intelligence to know when to speak up and when to keep silent. The chapter about the constitution dragged a bit in places, but that’s probably due to personal taste, as I didn’t particularly care for the back-and-forth quoted opinions in this part. What most struck me after reading about Washington’s career was how much influence he had on the forming of the United States of America as we know it now. I believe that the independence of the USA would have been lost under any other political leader, or it would have fallen apart in self-governed states or regions eventually.
In the part about Washington’s character, I thought that Brookhiser truly showed his objectivity. He neither hero-worshipped Washington, nor did he put him down as some of the other biographers (contemporary and historically) have done. He presented his arguments clearly and showed how he formed them, so that the reader could either agree or disagree based on the evidence he presented to make his point. It’s this that many biographers fail at, and I commend Brookhiser for doing it right.
The last part, about Washington as founding father, was not as strong as the rest of the book. I understand what Brookhiser was trying to do here, namely exploring the term founding father as it applied to Washington, but compared to the other two parts it fell flat. There was a lot of philosophical ideas discussed here, and that made it more about an abstract idea than about Washington. However, the part about slavery stood out as being strong again, mainly because it did deal directly with Washington.
All in all this was a moving book about a great man. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a good overview of Washington’s life and a balanced view of who he was as a man.
43. Genealogical Proof Standard by Christine Rose (4 stars)
Genealogical Proof Standard is the very first book I found that explains the key concepts of the Genealogical Proof Standard in ordinary, clear to understand language. Christine Rose has managed to take a difficult and often debated concept and boil it down to its essentials. She also includes explanations for the key concepts behind the Proof Standard – which I find lacking in many writings dealing with this. It’s nice to explain why we need to do “a reasonably exhaustive search” but almost nowhere is it explained what is meant by “reasonably exhaustive” – but this little book does! I do wish the author had expanded it a bit more, but it’s still the best book on the subject I’ve read so far.
44. Trespassers in Time by Anne Patterson Rodda (3 stars)
I bought this book because I was very interested in how Anne Patterson Rodda, a professional genealogist for over twenty years, combined genealogy and microhistorical research. And I have to say, despite her book being self-published, it’s pretty good. There were a few minor quibbles here and there – little side-paths she took or remarks she made that had nothing to do with the topic at hand – but overall it was well written.
However, this book still disappointed me. There are three chapters with case-studies, supposed to show how microhistorical research can be used to add to genealogical research. The only time I really saw that was in the last of the case studies. The other two seemed to me to be using records I would normally use in genealogical research. I did not clearly see the distinction between genealogical research and microhistorical research. Either I’ve been adding microhistorical research to my genealogical research all along, or she did not make her point clear enough. Either way, I had expected to get more out of this book. Therefore I felt disappointed that after a few lengthy chapters about historical research in general – most of which is not applicable to genealogical research according to the author (and I concur) – there was nothing concrete to follow that. The political history case was all about the people she was researching, and the sources would have been consulted anyway. If there was microhistorical research there, I did not see it. Land occupancy case, same thing really. It was more indirect evidence than real microhistory in my opinion. Only in the professions case did I see some microhistory – namely true historical research about blacksmiths and their role in the community where the people researched in the case came from, without it leading to direct or indirect evidence about those people. But it still added to their story. This was the kind of microhistory I was expecting and hoped to see more of.
So in conclusion, it was a decent book but I ended up disappointed in it because I had expected more. If you’re still stuck on the very general genealogical documents – like census, birth, marriage and death records – you might find this book helpful. If you’re already digging up all kinds of historical documents pertaining to your ancestors, going beyond the “typical” genealogical documents, you will probably end up disappointed by this book.
45. Death at Devil's Bridge by Robin Paige (4 stars)
Charles and Kathryn are newlyweds and living at Bishop’s Keep. Bradford Marsden asks Charles for a favor: to host an automotive exhibition and a balloon race at Bishop’s Keep. None of them could envision the troubles that would bring or the tragedy that would end a life – or is it more than a simple tragedy?
As with all of the mysteries in this series, there are some historical figures occupying the pages. Charles Rolls, Henry Royce, and Harry John Lawson (called Harry Dunstable in the novel). All of them are of course connected to automotive history, which plays a bit part in this book. As I’ve come to expect, it was a good story, with great mystery that had many unexpected twists and turns. It culminated in a realistic, yet satisfying ending. I thought it was nice to see all the historical and scientific details, but I can imagine that for some readers it will be too much “boring” details. However, I felt it took a while for the mystery to get going, and the slow start makes me give this 4 stars instead of five. For lovers of historical mysteries, I would certainly recommend it.
I'm frantically trying to finish Milestones to Disaster today (or what's left of today here in the Netherlands), so I can concentrate on finishing Reading Lolita in Tehran tomorrow. This will leave me free on the 31st to enjoy whatever book I want, which will probably be An Unholy Alliance, which is trying to lure me away from Churchill right now.
I'm not quite done reading in 2012, but I've set up my 2013 thread. It can be found here.
46. Milestones to Disaster by Winston Churchill (3 stars)
“Milestones to Disaster” is about the years between World War One and World War Two, and ends just before Germany invades Poland. It’s a heavy, dense book, full of political facts. It’s pretty hard to get through, not helped in the least by the fact that Churchill bandies about names without regard to the reader’s knowledge. To be honest, when this was written in 1948, those names of both British and non-British politicians were well known. But now, over sixty years later, only a few names still sound familiar – those that played a (large) role in World War Two. This made things hard to follow in places, not helped by the numerous direct quotes and often long from letters, other written pieces and speeches that were used. While those direct quotes give perhaps the greatest accuracy as to the facts that led up to World War Two, it does nothing for the readability of the book. This is especially evident in several of the later chapters, which had far less quotes and were far easier to read.
Having said that, this book has its good points. Churchill, despite being in the middle of things, even in these pre-war years, has managed to write a very objective book. Of course, no book can ever be completely objective, but he tries and mostly succeeds. He also condemns actions, but not the people who took them – for he found their reasons honorable, even though he did not agree with them. Especially so shortly after the war, it could have been easy to write “in the heat of the moment” but instead he does so quite composed. His frustration in the years leading up to the war are evident, but he does not let his feelings cloud his writing. This is, and will remain, one of the best books you could ever read if you want to understand the how and why of World War Two. How it could have come so far, why nobody stopped Germany before, it’s all explained within these pages. Difficult as it is to read at time, it is worthwhile. I can recommend the book to anyone who is serious about the history of World War Two, but it is certainly not for the casual reader.
Hmmm, I am definitely interested in that period of history but like you I fear I'd be lost trying to figure out who all the lesser players are. Sounds like what's really needed is some sort of annotated edition!
190> Maybe there is. I know there's an abridged book made from the entire (?) series. In the end, I took it one chapter at a time, with my laptop next to me and trusty Google helping me out. Eventually, instead of doing that, I just divided the players: agreeing with Churchill, disagreeing with Churchill, German, Italian, French, Russian, etc. That was enough to figure it out.
192> Well, I started it in February, and finished today. Considering I read pretty fast under normal circumstances, you can guess how difficult the book was at times to get through - despite it being interesting.
YEAR IN REVIEW: 2012
Books read: 46
Short stories read: 3
Pages read: 14,301
Fiction books: 74 %
Non-fiction books: 26 %
Books owned: 70 %
Books from library: 30 %
Paper books: 80 %
Kindle books: 20 %
Female authors: 68 %
Male authors: 32 %
Authors from USA: 59 %
Authors UK: 19 %
Authors other countries: 22 %
# of books part of a series: 22
Books read from series started before 2012: 36 %
Books read from new series: 64 %
Books rated 5 stars: 37 %
Books rater between 3 and 5 stars stars: 50 %
Books rated 3 stars: 11 %
Books rated lower than 3 stars: 2 %
Books published in 2010 or later: 22 %
Books published 2000-2009: 46 %
Books published 1990-1999: 20 %
Books published 1980-1989: 4 %
Books published 1970-1979: 4 %
Books published 1960-1969: 0 %
Books published 1950-1959: 0 %
Books published before 1950: 4 %
Top 3 fiction books 2012:
1. Far Afield by Susanna Kaysen (5 stars)
2. The Killing Way by Tony Hays (5 stars)
3. My Enemy's Cradle by Sara Young (5 stars)
Top 3 non-fiction books 2012:
1. Frumpy to Fabulous by Natalie Job (5 stars)
2. Serving Up the Harvest by Andrea Chesman (5 stars)
3. Founding Father by Richard Brookhiser (4 stars)
Worst book 2012:
Flowerbed of State by Dorothy St. James (2.5 stars)
I still have a few comments for your 2012 thread so I'll comment here first. Mrs. Pollifax is a mixed bag for me. I've read some I liked and others in which I've been disappointed. Glad that one worked reasonably well for you.
As to the Trespassers in Time book, I think I liked it better than you did, but I'd first seen it in a post by Elizabeth Shown Mills on Facebook and then read Harold Henderson's review of it which was very well done. At the time I read it, I had been helping some senior history majors become aware of sources that they could use to research local history. Each student was really using a microhistory approach for his or her project, and this book would have been useful for them to have read before they began their approach. Here's Harold's post: http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com/2012/08/book-review-how-history-and-g....
This topic is not marked as primarily about any work, author or other topic.