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Topic: 2009 H/F - #3 - Year Old Book from TBR

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Subject: 2009 H/F - #3 - Year Old Book from TBR
Date Posted: 1/13/2009 8:42 AM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
Posts: 3,823
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3. Read a book of Historical Fiction that has been on your shelf for at least a year. If you don't have a year-old book, read one of the books you have had the longest.

Date Posted: 1/13/2009 10:13 AM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
Posts: 10,414
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Finished "The Spider King" on 1/12/2009. Great book written by an excellent author Lawrence Schoonover (died in 1983). Historical facts were intricately woven with fiction - especially re the king's personality and medical condition. Schoonover wrote about a king who was not quite as benevolent in reality as he was in this novel, but nonetheless, a great king. This book kept my attention , because even though it started out a little slow, it definitely picked up to the point that I didn't want to put it down. I would recommend this highly to anyone interested in HF.

Kat (polbio) -
Subject: #3
Date Posted: 1/14/2009 8:52 AM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
Posts: 3,067
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I am almost done Blind Justice by Bruce Alexander which is set in 1768. It is book one of the Sir John Fielding Mysteries. I solved the mystery already which is very disapointing. I like books that keep me guessing till the end.  Blind Justice is about a real life blind magistrate in London. The author inplanted a fictional character to narrate. It is very well written. It has some parts I didnt like, however were fairly common in European Society of that time. (Aristocratic men taking advantage of serving girls) The villain is the most vile of aristocrats, which makes it easy to see him guilty. Like I said, a little predictable, but otherwise a good book.

Date Posted: 1/15/2009 2:10 AM ET
Member Since: 8/30/2007
Posts: 3,237
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I like the Bruce Alexander mysteries--I don't think I've read them all but I've read quite a few. Can't remember if I read Blind Justice or not, though. I thought the settings of the stories were really well-drawn.

Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 1/15/2009 6:58 AM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
Posts: 3,067
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Janelle,

Yeah, I loved the writing of the book and the characters. like I said my only problem is I dont care for books dealing with Rape. There were several non-chalant references in here pretty much saying it was acceptable since it were serving girls (even if they were 13). Thankfully the whole book wasnt about that or I would have been really turned off. The mystery started off really well and then I solved it well before the end of the book, I hate when I do that. lol. Oh well, I will still read the rest of the series.

Kat

Date Posted: 1/19/2009 12:52 PM ET
Member Since: 7/21/2008
Posts: 437
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I finished my first challenge book yesterday, from this category: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See.  I know most people here read this a long time ago, and it was on my TBR pile forever.  I loved it; I read almost the entire book in one day of travel.  I love HF about Asian culture, so I'm not sure why I held off on this one for so long.  It does a great job of giving you a glimpse into the life a woman faced in Asia through the life of 2 sworn sisters.  If you anyone hasn't read it, I definitely recommend it! (and I'm posting it to my bookshelf now).  I'm also off to order the sequel: Peony in Love.



Last Edited on: 1/19/09 12:55 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/19/2009 1:11 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,402
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Michelle, Thanks for your ringing endorsement of this book. You could have been speaking for me with your comments: I, too, have had this book on my shelf for far too long and I also like Asian culture HF. I will definitely plan on getting Snow Flower... read soon.

Kelly

 

Date Posted: 1/27/2009 12:24 PM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
Posts: 2,481
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I am just about finished with Mr Midshipman Hornblower by C. S. Forester.  If anyone saw the A&E miniseries several years ago on television, it covers a lot of those stories in this first book.  The book takes places in the British navy during the Napoleonic wars.  I was interested to learn that even though chronologically it is the first book, the author didn't write the novels in that order.  I've enjoyed it and will probably read some if not all of the others.  I still think I like the Aubrey/Maturin (Master and Commander) novels better though.



Last Edited on: 1/28/09 5:53 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/27/2009 3:38 PM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2007
Posts: 2,507
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Peony is amazing - I actually liked it better than Snow Flower, but it isn't a sequel, just so you know.  It is also a fairy tale, so read it as such and enjoy.

Date Posted: 1/27/2009 3:55 PM ET
Member Since: 7/21/2008
Posts: 437
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I assumed it was a sequel since the name of Snow Flower's daughter is Peony.  Thanks for the heads up - it's on it's way to me now, I'm looking forward to it.

Date Posted: 1/28/2009 5:26 PM ET
Member Since: 3/6/2006
Posts: 3,070
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I loved Snow Flower!!  I've had Peony on my wl for some time, not too far form the top now :)

Date Posted: 1/28/2009 6:39 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
Posts: 1,755
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Oh, so it's not a sequel?  Good to know. I ordered Peony quite awhile ago, then I read that Snow Flower was a book the preceeded it.  Now I've got both.  LOL!  Hopefully I can get to one of them soon. 

Date Posted: 1/28/2009 7:10 PM ET
Member Since: 8/12/2005
Posts: 809
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I adored Peony in Love. You do have to suspend disbelief and read it like a fairy tale.

Date Posted: 2/9/2009 7:37 AM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,402
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I just finished The Game of KIngs by Dorothy Dunnett.  Kelly (my daughter) read this a couple of years ago, plus the rest of the 6-book series, and has recommended the series over and over, sent the books to my house, and there they have set.  Other readers on other forums refer to Dorothy Dunnett as one of the greats, along with Sharon Kay Penman and I've read all of her books.  Why have I waited so long to pick up this book?  It is all I was told it would be -- not an easy read, but so well worth the time and concentration.  Lots of characters, amazing writing, historical intrigue.  Dunnett develops many memorable characters, people you wish you could meet.  And, of course, Crawford of Lymond has become a favorite. 

Linda

Date Posted: 2/9/2009 7:40 PM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
Posts: 2,481
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Oh, Kelly I am so glad you enjoyed it.  Ms Dunnett is a HUGE favorite of mine.  She really is worth the time and effort it takes sometimes to get used to her style of storytelling but if you like it you are hooked!

Date Posted: 2/15/2009 1:01 PM ET
Member Since: 4/25/2007
Posts: 849
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I finished my first book for the challenge yesterday - Abundance by Sena Jeter Naslund.  Thought it was good but a little long in places.  It's told in first person by Marie herself so it tends to be a pretty sympathetic portrayal of her and a one sided view of the events that took place.  I liked it better though than Carolly Erickson's book (The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette).

Date Posted: 3/7/2009 3:31 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,402
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Finished City of Dreams, by Beverly Swerling today to satisfy this challenge category. Even though this book has languished on my bookshelf for over a year, I knew it was going to be a great book and it did not disappoint! I'm looking forward to reading the sequels and other books by this author.

Kelly

Date Posted: 4/11/2009 10:49 AM ET
Member Since: 6/26/2008
Posts: 456
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For this part of the challenge I decided to read Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley as I bought it years ago at a garage sale and it's been on my TBR list since I became a member.  Though it is listed as a biography/memoir, Haley admits in the book that much of it is fictional like conversations between people that existed before he was born, so I'm counting it for this challenge since I know if I wrote a book about my ancestors, the bulk would be fictional too.  All-in-all, I really enjoyed this book, though as I mentioned in my review, a few things kept me from giving it 5 out of 5 stars (I gave it 4).  It really does put you in the middle of a slave plantation in the early period of American history and goes from the pre-Revolutionary area to the end of the Civil War (then it goes to "modern" American in the 60s quite quickly, so that last part feels really rushed).  You become emotionally attached to earlier characters but start to lose that for the later set (after Tom'’s story, I didn't feel as attached anymore).  It certainly took a while to read this book, but in the end, I feel it was worth it! :-)



Last Edited on: 4/11/09 10:59 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/11/2009 12:13 PM ET
Member Since: 6/1/2007
Posts: 1,892
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Last night I finished The Favored Child by Philippa Gregory.  Not as good as Wideacre (but much less dark).  I'm on to the 3rd in the trilogy now and this makes my 2nd book completed for the challenge!

This book was about the two heirs to the Lacey Legacy of the Wideacre estate.  Richard and Julia are joint heirs but there is much competition and animosity between the two because Richard feels like he should be sole squire of the land while the village that works the estate believes that Julia is the true heir.  Julia seemed to be a much weaker character than Beatrice who was the focus of the last book but it still ended up being pretty good and she did end up getting a little bit of a backbone by the end of the book.

If I hadn't read the Constant Princess I would think that Philippa Gregory couldn't write a bad book. Still all the other ones I've read by her have been excellent. 



Last Edited on: 4/11/09 3:25 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/11/2009 9:25 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
Posts: 1,755
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Holly - LOL on The Constant Princess.  I didn't like that one either.  However, for me, it wasn't so much Gregory's writing but the fact that she made me dislike Katherine of Aragon.  I'm not a big Henry VIII buff, but so many people here have said that Katherine is their "favorite" Henry wife, and Gregory's version of her didn't impress me much.  I can't remember exactly why.  I just remember not liking the book or Katherine very much.  The only other Gregory I've read is The Other Boleyn Girl.  (Is that the name of it?  LOL!  I can't recall.)

Brenna - Roots is such a classic, and I've never read it.  I remember the big deal the mini series was when it aired on TV when I was a kid in what?  The 70s?  Probably one of those books I should put on the "read before I die" list.  LOL! 

Date Posted: 5/15/2009 12:04 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2008
Posts: 1,356
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I've just last night completed my #3 Year Old Book challenge. I chose a classic no matter how you categorize it--Charles Dickens' Great Expectations.  One of the few true classic that a) happily is also proper historical fiction and b) my free ranging liberal arts education had managed to miss over the years.  I picked it up two or so years ago, intending to read it as my son did for a school reading list....but he didn't complete the list and this was one of the titles not read.

 

I loved it! The main character is an orphan called Pip who has an exceedingly wry voice, and he relates his own life story with wit and fairly objective critique about his own behavior at earlier points in his life. The story is possibly the original rags-to-riches tale, and is shot with fabulous period detail--I learned a few things from the level of detail, words I'd seen in other writing but didn't quite know what they were, perhaps.  Really a nice read.

Date Posted: 6/25/2009 4:19 PM ET
Member Since: 3/11/2008
Posts: 924
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I just finished A Plague on Both Your Houses by Susanna Gregory. It was a pretty complicated mystery with many layers. It kept me guessing right up until the end. I quite enjoyed it. I thought the time period was interesting too, but not as interesting as the mystery itself. I'm planning to order the second book in the series after I get back from vacation next month. So far, it's not one of those series that I just HAVE to get to the next one ASAP, which is nice right now since lately I'd rather jump around to different books and series.

Date Posted: 8/19/2009 3:38 PM ET
Member Since: 8/10/2009
Posts: 13
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I don't actually have any historical fiction books that I HAVEN'T read on my shelf for that long. Historical fiction, when I get it, is the first to be read. THOUGH, I do have a book called Out of Africa, which is history... but not fiction. Can I still read that?

 

<3

Date Posted: 8/29/2009 6:16 PM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2009
Posts: 388
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I read Ken Follet's Pillars of the Earth for this challenge. It didn't sit in my TBR pile for quite a year, but it was the oldest unread book in my stash...maybe 10 months old.

I enjoyed the book. It wasn't up there with the best historical fiction I've ever read, but it was one of those "I can't wait to see what happens next!" sort of books, and that's always fun. It annoyed me that William Hamleigh, one of the villains, was the epitome of pure evil, but didn't really suffer enough for it, IMO, by the end.  I was anticipating a mighty big downfall for this guy, and his fate just wasn't enough for me. I wanted to see more regret from this character. I also wanted to see more about how became so insecure, vicious, and cruel. (There are a few hints as to why, but I wanted more! And in a book this big, I felt like reader deserved more backstory on his childhood.)  I don't think anything could've redeemed him in the townspeople's eyes (or mine! lol), but I would've liked to see him want to be redeemed, if that makes sense.

The rise and fall of the plot frustrated me at times. The characters would have so much hope and happiness, and it would come crashing down through the evil intentions of others. It was almost too much up and down for me. The good guys were almost 100% good, and the bad were irrevocably bad. I like shades of grey in my characters.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. I'd probably give it 3.5-4 stars in my personal rating system. Despite my complaints, it really did keep up late reading and I do plan on reading World Without End as well!

Date Posted: 8/29/2009 9:13 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
Posts: 1,755
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Arika - Good assessment of Pillars.  I totally agree.  I too got really tired of bad stuff happening over and over and over again to the "good guys."  It was a bit too much.  Just once it would've been nice if something would've gone their way.  LOL!  I too enjoyed it, but I didn't love it!

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