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Better late than never - CatyM's 2008 reads

75 Books Challenge for 2008

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Edited: Dec 7, 2008, 11:48am Top

I wasn't going to join the 2008 group - I figured it was too late by now - and have already signed up for the 2009 group - but I finally caved and decided that I'd add my 2008 books here as well.

1. (book #7 read this year) The Lord's Prayer - Selwyn Hughes
2. (book 12 read this year) 84 Charing Cross Road - Helene Hanff
3. (book 94 read - well, you get the picture) The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street - Helene Hanff
4. (20) Paradise Regained - John Milton
5. (24) Georgette Heyer's Regency World - Jennifer Kloester
6. (32) The Peasant Speech of Devon - Sarah Hewett
7. (35) Georgian and Regency Houses Explained - Trevor Yorke
8. (52) Q's Legacy - Helene Hanff
9. (64) Home Comfort: a history of domestic arrangements - Christina Hardyment
10. (65) Hubbub - Emily Cockayne
11. (70) Wannabe a writer - Jane Wenham-Jones
12. (72) English Grammar for dummies - Ward and Woods
13. (74) A New History of Plymouth (vol. 2) - Crispin Gill
14. (85) Not Everything in our Bibles in Inspired - Neil Rees
15. (86) Is John 3:16 the Gospel? - David Pawson
16. (114) Reading Lolita in Tehran - Azar Nafisi
17. (159) No Plot, No Problem - Chris Baty
18. (160) English Society in the Eighteenth Century - Roy Porter

Dec 6, 2008, 4:09pm Top

Fiction - General
1. (Book #8 for the year) A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseini
2. (Book #10 for the year) The Jane Austen Book Club - Karen Joy Fowler
3. (Book #21 etc.) The Inheritance of Loss - Kiran Desai
4. (29) The Dressmaker - Elizabeth Birkelund Oberbeck
5. (31) The Absentee - Maria Edgeworth
6. (47) The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
7. (61) Going Postal - Terry Pratchett
8. (63) Making Money - Terry Pratchett
9. (67) Notes from an Exhibition - Patrick Gale
10. (76) Stand into Danger - Alexander Kent
11. (83) Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
12. (89) Diary of a Nobody - George and Weedon Grossmith
13. (100) Miss Pettigrew lives for a day - Winifred Watson
14. (101) Random Acts of Heroic Love - Danny Scheinmann
15. (104) Belinda - Maria Edgeworth
16. (109) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
17. (120) The Sixteen Pleasures - Robert Hellenga
18. (125) Pompeii - Robert Harris
19. (139) Just Over the Mountain - Robyn Carr
20. (141) Night Watch - Terry Pratchett
21. (152) Deep in the Valley - Robyn Carr
22. (153) Down by the River - Robyn Carr

Edited: Dec 7, 2008, 11:50am Top

Fiction - PG. Wodehouse
1. (Book #28 for the year) The Inimitable Jeeves
2. (36) Leave it to Psmith
3. (48) Something Fresh
4. (53) Summer Lightening
5. (54) Heavy Weather
6. (60) A Damsel in Distress
7. (62) The Clicking of Cuthbert
8. (68) Psmith in the City
9. (71) Piccadilly Jim
10. (77) Uncle Fred in the Springtime
11. (150) Laughing Gas

Fiction - Georgette Heyer
1. (1) Arabella
2. (3) Beauvallet
3. (17) Cotillion
4. (18) The Quiet Gentleman
5. (22) Black Sheep
6. (23) The Talisman Ring
7. (25) Cousin Kate
8. (27) The Reluctant Widow
9. (79) Duplicate Death
10. (106) The Unfinished Clue
11.(126) The Grand Sophy
12. (144) Charity Girl
13. (166) The Unknown Ajax

Edited: Dec 6, 2008, 4:48pm Top

Fiction - Crime, thriller and mystery
1. (Book #2 for the year) The Mysterious Affair at Styles - Agatha Christie
2. (4) Sovereign - CJ Sansom
3. (11) The Interpretation of Murder - Jed Rubenfeld
4. (19) The Body in the Library - Agatha Christie
5. (34) The Potter's Field - Ellis Peters
6. (51) Police at the Funeral - Margery Allingham
7. (66) The Maltese Falcon - Dashiell Hammett
8. (69) St. Peter's Fair - Ellis Peters
9. (78) Have His Carcase - Dorothy L. Sayers
10. (134) Why Didn't They Ask Evans? - Agatha Christie
11. (146) The Immaculate Deception - Iain Pears
12. (167) Oscar Wilde and the Candlelight Murders - Gyles Brandreth

Edited: Dec 7, 2008, 11:51am Top

Fiction - Chick-lit
1. (Book #9 for the year) This is how it happened - Jo Barrett
2. (13) A Whiff of Scandal - Carole Matthews
3. (15) Going the Distance - Christina Jones
4. (16) Jumping to Conclusions - Christina Jones
5. (33) The Chocolate Run - Dorothy Koomson
6. (50) Theodora's Baby - Penny Culliford
7. (82) Head over Heels - Jill Mansell
8. (87) Going Dutch - Katie Fforde
9. (88) Kiss - Jill Mansell
10. (103) Perfectly Correct - Philippa Gregory
11. (108) The Cupid Effect - Dorothy Koomson
12. (151) Hysterical Blondeness by Suzanne Macpherson

Dec 6, 2008, 4:26pm Top

Fiction - Historical Romance
1. (26) The Viscount who Loved Me - Julia Quinn
2. (30) Deceived - Nicola Cornick
3. (42) On a Wicked Dawn - Stephanie Laurens
4. (49) The Truth About Love - Stephanie Laurens
5. (98) How to Marry a Marquis - Julia Quinn
6. (107) Wicked - Shannon Drake
7. (113) Too Wicked to Tame - Sophie Jordan
8. (115) The Dangerous Mr Ryder - Louise Allen
9. (123) At the Bride Hunt Ball - Olivia Parker
10. (129) An Improper Aristocrat - Deb Marlowe
11. (132) To Catch a Rogue - Amanda McCabe
12. (137) Brighter than the Sun - Julia Quinn
13. (138) Gifford's Lady - Claire Thornton
14. (140) The Venetian's Mistress - Ann Elizabeth Cree
15. (142) Temptation of a Proper Governess - Cathy Maxwell
16. (143) Not Quite A Gentleman - Jacquie D'Alessandro
17. (148) Guilty Pleasures - Laura Lee Guhrke
18. (149) Regency Christmas Weddings - Nicola Cornick, Margaret McPhee & Miranda Jarrett
19. (155) The Lost Duke of Wyndham - Julia Quinn
20. (156) Mr Cavendish, I Presume - Julia Quinn
21. (157) Splendid - Julia Quinn
22. (158) To Catch an Heiress - Julia Quinn
23. (161) The Bride Hunt - Margo Maguire
24. (163) Miss Winthorpe's Elopement - Christine Merrill
25. (165) Her Cinderella Season - Deb Marlowe

Dec 6, 2008, 4:28pm Top

Fiction - Romantic Suspense
1. (Book #57 read this year) What the Lady Wants - Jennifer Crusie
2. (81) Keeper of the Bride - Tess Gerritsen
3. (90) Butterfly - Sharon Sala
4. (95) Don't Look Down - Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer
5. (99) Snowfall - Sharon Sala
6. (164) Agnes and the Hitman - Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer

Dec 6, 2008, 4:33pm Top

Fiction - Romance
1. (Book #5 read this year) Causing Havoc - Lori Foster
2. (6) How to sleep with a movie star - Kristin Harmel
3. (14) He loves Lucy - Susan Donovan
4. (37) The Kept Woman - Susan Donovan
5. (38) Hot Stuff - Elaine Fox
6. (39) Just for Kicks - Susan Andersen
7. (40) Never Too Much - Lori Foster
8. (41) Too Much Temptation - Lori Foster
9. (43) Step on it, Cupid - Lorelei Mathias
10. (44) Stuck in Shangri-La - Kasey Michaels
11. (45) The Trouble with Paradise - Jill Shalvis
12. (46) Love in Blooms - Judith Arnold
13. (55) Anyone But You - Jennifer Crusie
14. (56) Charlie All Night - Jennifer Crusie
15. (58) Getting Rid of Bradley - Jennifer Crusie
16. (59) The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes - Jennifer Crusie, Eileen Dreyer, Anne Stuart
17. (72) Bet Me - Jennifer Crusie
18. (75) Fast Women - Jennifer Crusie
19. (80) Special of the Day - Elaine Fox
20. (84) Switched, Bothered, Bewildered - Suzanne Macpherson
21. (91) Diamond - Sharon Sala
22. (92) Queen - Sharon Sala
23. (93) Lucky - Sharon Sala
24. (96) Lola Carlye Reveals All - Rachel Gibson
25. (97) True Confessions - Rachel Gibson

Dec 6, 2008, 4:38pm Top

Fiction - Romance (continued)
26. (Book #102 for the year) Hard to Handle - Lori Foster
27. (105) Sighs Matter - Marianne Stillings
28. (110) Be my Baby Tonight - Kasey Michaels
29. (111) Man at Work - Elaine Fox
30. (112) Men of Courage - Lori Foster, Donna Kauffman, Jill Shalvis
31. (116) The Art of French Kissing - Kristin Harmel
32. (117) Coming Undone - Susan Andersen
33. (118) Sex, lies and online dating - Rachel Gibson
34. (119) I'm in no Mood for Love - Rachel Gibson
35. (121) Dear Miss Lonely Heart - Aisha Ford, Terry Fowler, Linda Lyle, Pamela Kaye Tracy
36. (122) Love Overboard - Janet Evanovich
37. (124) Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evie - Marianne Stillings
38. (127) An Offer he can't Refuse - Christie Ridgway
39. (128) Nerd in Shining Armour - Vicki Lewis Thompson
40. (130) Coming Undone - Stephanie Tyler
41. (131) The Haunting - Hope Tarr
42. (133) Nerd gone Wild - Vicki Lewis Thompson
43. (135) Just a Hint, Clint - Lori Foster
44. (136) Jamie - Lori Foster
45. (145) Sex, Straight Up - Kathleen O'Reilly
46. (147) Unleashed - Lori Borrill
47. (154) Not Another Bad Date - Rachel Gibson

Edited: Dec 6, 2008, 4:53pm Top

So... my total so far this year is 167. That's a lot more than I expected to read this year, although it includes a lot of re-reads. I've not had much work for the last few months, so that's increased the time I've spent reading, and various personal and family crises have caused me to read more light and fewer serious books than usual.

The best books this year have been:
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day - Winifred Watson
Going Postal - Terry Pratchett (I had never read Pratchett before, and had three or four people keep on telling me to read this book; I finally caved, and loved it)
A Damsel in Distress - PG Wodehouse
84 Charing Cross Road - Helene Hanff
A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseini
Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
Cotillion - Georgette Heyer
Have His Carcase - Dorothy L. Sayers
Hubbub - Emily Cockayne
Paradise Regained - John Milton
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - Mark Haddon
The Talisman Ring - Georgette Heyer
Pompeii - Robert Harris
and because I'm a romance junkie:
The Trouble with Paradise - Jill Shalvis
Bet Me - Jennifer Crusie

There have been three more that I've started but given up on:
The Last Year of Being Single - Sarah Tucker (I thought this was so bad I binned it)
Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Márquez (will try again later)
Remind me again why I need a man - Claudia Carroll (just didn't care about the characters, and found them and the plot shallow and annoying)

Dec 6, 2008, 4:49pm Top

If you liked Going Postal...which I think is not one of Pratchett's better books...you may want to try a bit more. IMO, his books focused on Death, on Sam Vimes and the Tiffany Aching books are his best.

Dec 6, 2008, 4:55pm Top

*Makes mental note:* More Terry Pratchett.

Dec 7, 2008, 12:30am Top

Definitely more Terry Pratchett!! I see you read a lot of Heyer--probably rereads? I love Heyer and don't think any other Regency romance writers come close to her wit and characterization. Cotillion is probably my favorite overall; I'm glad you liked it as well. How was Georgette Heyer's Regency England? I've read the biography of Heyer, but not this book.

Dec 7, 2008, 10:39am Top

>13 ronincats:, I really enjoyed Georgette Heyer's Regency World. It wasn't the most detailed social history of the period I've read, but it's great on the details and has a pretty good bibliography. It's also very readable and does a good job of relating Heyer's characters and plots to the real historical context, which I loved because I've read most of her books at least a dozen times and I feel like her characters are people I know. I've not read the biography yet (I assume you mean The Private World of Georgette Heyer) but it's on my wishlist.

Dec 7, 2008, 10:44am Top

A superb set of books you have read this year - PGW is one of my favourites and I love Historical Fiction, too. I have added a Crime, thriller and mystery category for 2009. Not sure if it is my thing but I am goind to try it. I look forward to your contribution in 2009.

- TT

Dec 7, 2008, 10:53am Top

I'm glad to see someone else is a romance junkie too! I've just re-discovered them this year, though I read all the Heyer's in High School years ago. Now, I'm discovering Julia Quinn, Lisa Kleypas, Julie Garwood to name a few. I try to intersperse romances with more literary works and classics too. I loved The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time as well.

Edited: Dec 7, 2008, 11:47am Top

>16 ktleyed: ktleyed, I discovered Julia Quinn a year or two ago, and I've been working through most of her books. I'm still trying to get hold of a few of the earlier ones, but I've read most of them.

I've never read any Lisa Kleypas, although people keep telling me I should. I expect I'll give in to curiosity and try her books soon.

Dec 7, 2008, 7:35pm Top

Welcome, Caty! Impressive booklist. Are you doing one of those 888 and 999 challenges too? Your books seem very well categorised....

Dec 8, 2008, 5:59am Top

>18 FlossieT: No, I'm not. Not at the moment, at least. Maybe I just have OCD tendencies.

Dec 9, 2008, 6:48am Top

Hi CatyM
Welcome! Your list of books is impressive. I haven't read Terry Prachett, but will do so in 2009.

Edited: Dec 9, 2008, 6:22pm Top

I had one of those evenings tonight where you just decide you don't care anymore and retreat to an isolated corner with a hot drink and some comfort reading.

Two historical romances. No touchstone for either of them. I thought that they were both pretty good, and the second better than the first, but that neither was outstanding.

168. Miss Winbolt and the Fortune Hunter - Sylvia Andrew
Nice enough, but nothing particularly memorable about it. I was deliberating between 3½ and 4 stars; I gave it 4, but I might go back and change it.

169. Captain Fawley's Innocent Bride - Annie Burrows
These characters were so annoying they were entertaining, but it was very well written. I debated between 4 and 4½ stars, and went for 4½. It seems I'm feeling generous tonight. According to my library I have another book by this author, but I have no memory of it. Might have to search the bookshelves and see what it was about.

How many big misunderstandings can you cram into 300 pages? Whatever you thought the maximum was, double it. These two jumped to every conclusion going, and a few more besides. They got the wrong end of sticks that no-one else would even notice were there. However, their mutual grumpiness and stubbornness were very well-written, and you could quite understand why they were both so touchy and vulnerable. Instead of giving up on them I had to persevere to see if they were ever going to actually talk about the nine million and six things they each thought the other one had thought/said/done/not done, because I really wanted them to break free from all their baggage. I'm not normally a big fan of 'big misunderstanding' stories, but I did enjoy this one. Of course, that might also be because I've got a sneaky liking for marriage of convenience romances and tortured heroes, and it's got those elements too. Short on plot, it ain't.

Edited: Dec 10, 2008, 3:26pm Top

170. Dancing at Midnight - Julia Quinn
171. Minx - Julia Quinn

Really enjoyed them both, but I thought they were very good rather than outstanding. 4/5 each.

That makes six Julia Quinn books I've read in as many weeks; I think there's just one full-length novel of hers that I haven't read yet (Everything and the Moon), plus one or two novellas.

Dec 10, 2008, 4:38pm Top

I love Julia Quinn though I've only read the first few of her Bridgerton series so far, but I'm looking forward to reading everything by her eventually. I enjoy the humor in her books and the complexity in her romances, so far they all seem to have a little something more to them than just your standard frothy regency.

Dec 11, 2008, 8:11am Top

Prompted by #18, the size of my TBR pile (currently standing at 140 books I already own; we won't mention the wishlist), and the fact that I woke up this morning thinking about books categories (don't ask), I joined the 999 Challenge.

Thread here.

Edited: Dec 12, 2008, 6:50am Top

172. A Very Unusual Governess - Sylvia Andrew

I seem to be on a regency romance kick at the moment. This one was pretty entertaining, but nothing remarkable. A solid 4/5, and worth reading. I've also made it past page 300 of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, so I'm hopeful of finishing that by the end of the year.

Dec 12, 2008, 7:50pm Top

Started The Night Watch by Sarah Waters, but invoked the Pearl Rule. Technically, to be pedantic, I didn't quite get far enough for the Pearl Rule. Really not my kind of book.

I remember buying this on the recommendation of a friend, and much against my better judgement. It's a shame I was right. Then again, I ought to know by now that if a book was shortlisted for the Booker Prize there's a 95% probability that I'll either give up on it or loathe it, or both. (Does that officially make me a philistine? ;) )

Dec 13, 2008, 12:06am Top

#26 CatyM: If it does, I am philistinized right along with you. I made attempts to read several of the Booker Prize winners this year, and IMHO, they choose books that are so weird or off the beaten path that the general public will never read them.

Dec 13, 2008, 7:37am Top

>27 alcottacre: alcottacre: I'm glad I'm not the only one. I have several old Booker winners/shortlisted in my TBR, and three of them down for my 999 challenge. I am trying to be openminded about them. I don't like the fact that I can pick up a book, think 'that looks interesting', and then be put off by the fact that it was up for a literary prize because past experience tells me that if the judges liked it I probably won't.

Dec 13, 2008, 7:48am Top

The really sad thing about it is that I do not consider myself to be unintelligent, but some of those books are, to me at least, unintelligble! Not all of them - I discovered J.M. Coetzee through the Booker List (at least I think I did) - but some of the ones I picked up to read, I could not even make to the 50 page point before ditching the book.

Edited: Dec 13, 2008, 8:24am Top

173. The Serpent Prince - Elizabeth Hoyt.

Quiet country miss Lucy Craddock-Hayes discovers a man stripped and beaten unconscious in the road, and takes him to her home to look after him. He turns out to be Lord Iddesleigh, and to have been attacked at the behest of a group of men on whom he himself is seeking revenge. As Iddesleigh recovers his health, he and Lucy become closer – but his bloody battle against his adversaries is far from over.

The period detail is pretty good; the ubiquitous violence and promiscuity of mid eighteenth century London and the sense in which the powerful were, in some ways at least, above the law is well captured. The characters were well drawn and generally convincing, although I did occasionally feel that a couple of them were slightly inconsistent. The writing veered a little too close to erotica for my tastes, particularly in the tone and language of certain scenes, but for others this will be beneficial rather than detrimental to their enjoyment of the book.

Dec 13, 2008, 8:25am Top

>29 alcottacre: I know exactly what you mean!

Dec 16, 2008, 7:01am Top

174. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall - Anne Brontë

I finally finished it! I don't really know why it took me so long: while I was reading it, I was really into it; once I put it down, it was a little difficult to pick up again. In summary - I loved this book. I didn't like all the characters - good grief, were some of them annoying - but I really liked the book. Despite having taken weeks to get to the end of it, this was one of those books that made me want to turn back to page one and begin all over again. It was just... edible.

Dec 16, 2008, 7:11am Top

>32 catherinestead: Caty, The Tenant of Widlfell Hall is one of the most beautifully written books I have ever read. I like your description : "It was just... edible."

Yes, must re-read it.

- TT

Edited: Dec 17, 2008, 4:58pm Top

175. Venetia - Georgette Heyer.

Pure comfort reading. This is an old favourite.

176. Spider's Web - Agatha Christie
Adapted as a novel by Charles Osbourne. Not bad, but it still reads a bit like a play in places - there are several scenes in which parts of the narrative read like stage directions. I've read it before, but couldn't remember who'ddunnit, so the denouement was interesting. On the whole, I thought this was likeable and intelligent, although a little lacking in substance.

Dec 17, 2008, 10:37pm Top

I love Venetia too. Great comfort reading indeed!

Dec 19, 2008, 6:14pm Top

177. The Prisoner of Zenda - Anthony Hope.

Another re-read. I couldn't really get interested in it this time, although I've enjoyed it in the past.

Dec 19, 2008, 9:41pm Top

...And you weren't going to join the 2008 group! Hehe. Go you!

Edited: Dec 22, 2008, 12:12pm Top

>37 yasmeenx: *grin*

178. Bath Tangle - Georgette Heyer

I have a cold and I'm feeling rotten, so I am feeding my Georgette Heyer addiction. I haven't re-read this one for years, although I can't imagine why. The hero is not a man I'd want to spend a lot of time around - far too stroppy and autocratic - but he and the heroine suit each other admirably, as do the stepmother and her man. Happy Endings all around, which is just what I want at the moment.

Dec 22, 2008, 9:25pm Top

I hope you feel better soon! Take good care of yourself.

Edited: Dec 24, 2008, 1:06pm Top

>39 Whisper1: Thanks.

179. A Greek God at the Ladies' Club - Jenna McKnight
I was trying to read Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms and getting fed up with it, so I turned to something more frivolous instead (and thoroughly enjoyed it).

Dec 30, 2008, 8:25am Top

180. A Farewell to Arms - Ernest Hemingway.
Bleak and depressing, with annoying characters. Didn't do it for me. I made it to the end, but it was a struggle in places.

Dec 30, 2008, 4:22pm Top

181. Over Hexed - Vicki Lewis Thompson
I loved this story. It was wonderfully silly and wonderfully sweet, and at the same time a distinctly hot romance. The characters were great - very rounded and real, even though the setup was distinctly surreal. I hadn't read any of Vicki Lewis Thompson's books for years, not since some category romance in about 2001-2, but I've picked up several second-hand recently and added quite a few more to my wishlist. She is fast moving up my list of favourite romance authors.

Dec 31, 2008, 6:03pm Top

I will likely start the year with A Farewell to Arms....bummer you didn't like it.

Edited: Dec 31, 2008, 6:57pm Top

>43 blackdogbooks: I hope that you like it. I had high expectations of it, but it hit a lot of discordant notes for me. I did think I might keep hold of it, though, and try it again in a few years' time to see if I like it better then.


Right, that's it for 2008. I shan't finish anything else in the next 32 four minutes.

The summary of the year:

181 books
18 non-fiction - a nice, round 10%, which is higher than I'd have expected because I don't read a lot of non-fiction for recreation.
163 fiction
of which 108 could be categorised, definitely or loosely, as romance of some kind

52 re-reads - 29%
129 new books - 71%

34 books rated 5/5
54 books rated 4½/5
15 books rated 2/5 or less, plus 4 books that I couldn't get to the end of.
Many of the highly-rated books were re-reads, others were unread books by favourite authors. I haven't been very adventurous this year.

Most books by a single author:
1. Georgette Heyer (15)
2. PG Wodehouse (11)
3=Julia Quinn (9)
3=Jennifer Crusie (9)
(I think. Every time I count them, I get different totals.)

Happy New Year!

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2008

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